Electrical tape can cause cancer

How to fix damaged or broken audio cables

While most people repair wires by winding them straight together, you can lose quality and strength that way. When connecting cables - whether audio or not - soldering makes a huge difference.

Cable break and soldering

Broken audio cables of all kinds can be repaired fairly easily and painlessly with a little time and a touch of solder. Small, inexpensive cables are consumable, but nicer cables - especially those attached to expensive equipment - are not that easy to throw away. In general, thicker cables can be attached more easily and without loss of quality and also require a more powerful iron for soldering. Thinner cables require more care and you can damage them if you are not careful.

Many wonder if soldering is important. When it comes to digital cables, skipping the soldering won't affect your quality, but it will affect your cable strength. Soldering is an absolute must for analog audio, otherwise the quality will deteriorate considerably. There is no real reason not to solder. You get better quality, better cable strength, and longer lifespan. This is essential if you want a solid connection for things like your car radio where vibration and shock can get rid of it.

Be sure to check out The How To Use A Soldering Iron: A Beginner's Guide if you aren't sure what to do, but it's pretty simple and straightforward as long as you are careful.

Cut and connect wires

First, insulate the damaged area of ​​your cable.

Cut this part of your cable and start stripping the wires.

If you want to use heat shrink tubing, you need to clip these onto the wires now. My cord is small, so I'll stick with the electrical tape.

Again, this depends on the type of cable you have, which may be more or less a hassle. The most important thing is that you want to know which wire is which and that you want space. My cables are pretty small, so I have 1 to 2 inches of stripped wire to work with. Cross a harness.

Twist one end of one cable around the other and vice versa.

Try to get a good, tight wrap without tangling things and potentially breaking the metal.

When done, heat the connection and add some solder.

As you can see, I added a little too much solder to the connection. You don't need that much, just enough to fix the joint and make a good connection.

Soap, rinse, and repeat with the other wires. Make sure that you put matching colors together, otherwise this can lead to unintended consequences.

Electrical tape or heat shrink tubing

You can coat the unshielded parts of the wires in electrical tape and then wrap the connection as well. For larger cables and when strength is a concern, consider shrink tubing.

(Image credit: makerbot)

"Shrink tubing" is plastic tubing that shrinks tightly over the joints and ends when heat is applied through a heat gun. If you have a really powerful hair dryer, this may be enough as well.

(Image credit: makerbot)

Above you can see different sizes of solder seal heat shrink. “When used with a heat gun, the special solder melts at a relatively low temperature and bonds to your joint. It's a one-step solution, but soldering quality can vary.

The shrinking gives the can a professional touch, really help keep your cables strong, but make sure to thread them onto your wires or cables before you start soldering. However, in basic applications, electrical tape windings work fine. Either way, make sure that all wires (except the bottom) are covered. You don't want to short out anything or have mixed signals by touching them!

A little bit of solder can go a long way in securing cables. This is especially important when working on your car's speakers and the like, as it makes it easy to undo easier methods. The soldering is not affected by vibration and shock, and the shrinkage gives you that professional touch.

Do you have any tips or stories about cable fastening? Share them in the comments!