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Does anybody have an advice to keep cables from entangling horribly during field recording?

I have the cable from the microphone and the cable from the headphones, both longer than I can handle with only two hands. Rolling them ended up in terrible knots and twists. Folding them was not much better, it looked like a spaghettis dish...

How do you do it?

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If you put the cable in a figure 8 pattern, it is less likely to twist and tangle. Sometimes you can also put a velcro strap around the middle of the figure 8 to hold them in place.

I've worked with long cables (towed arrays on large ships), and if not using a winch, I try to figure 8 the cable in its storage. I can then deploy directly from the storage case without problem (that would be unwise if the cable had been stored in simple loops).

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In the past I've had good success with a simple garden hose reel, and depending on the length and diameter of your cables, you could even use the smaller and lighter versions available for electrical cables. Alternatively, a static cable winder can be made from a simple board with two posts. The static winder is especially effective in combination with figure eight technique suggested in Shannon's post.

Hose reel and static winders

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Several years ago, a sound engineer showed me a technique. As it is really hard to explain here is a video: https://youtu.be/5ifFk7NTalk?t=65

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  • $\begingroup$ The technique shown in the video will not work with all kinds of cables. In particular, coaxial cables like the RG58 type happen to be extremely stiff and generate loops as soons as they get twisted. In that case, the reel is the only option I know of. And there should be only two states: rewound patiently on the reel or fully deployed. $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2023 at 20:09

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