Andy from the blog OneFromTheRoad.com writes: “I work full time as a live sound engineer for theatre and concerts in NYC and on tour, and was pleasantly surprised to see an audio cable tester on here, so here’s my suggestion in that vein.
“In addition to my Ebtech Swizz Army Tester, the other ‘must have’ in my toolbag is the Rat Sniffer (and it’s companion, the Rat Sender) — an XLR cable tester designed by touring sound engineer Dave Rat (sound guy for, among many other big name bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers).
“The Rat Sniffer is a little gadget about the size of a standard XLR connector, with three bi-color LEDs on one end, and a male XLR connector on the other. When you use it to test a cable, it lights up three green lights for a good cable, and a combination of red and green lights to indicate what exactly the problem is, if anything’s wrong.
“What’s brilliant, though, is that it can work single ended, on a cable that’s already been run — where you can’t get to both ends of the cable at once. (The Swizz can do this too, but requires an extra DIY piece, and involves multiple steps.) All it needs to work is to see phantom power on the other end of the cable! Can I tell you how many times this has saved me precious time troubleshooting before a show went up?!? It’s repaid for itself many times over.
“If you don’t have phantom available on the cable you want to test, they also make the Rat Sender, which uses a 12V car alarm battery to provide appropriate power to the tester. (Heck, with a Y-cable it can even provide limited 12V phantom to a mic!)”
That’s a nice one, and I’ll certainly add one to my collection. Even in my small-time work it was a major PITA to disconnect the cables first before testing. In a huge stage installation, I’d guess it’d be downright miserable.
The other nice thing about this tool is that it looks to be quite small. The Swizz is pretty large, and not so nice to carry around — which means I always left it in the box until I really needed it. You could toss the Rat Sniffer in your pocket.
From Rat Sound Systems, it retails for $45.95 — both sniffer and sender. The sniffer alone is $24.95.
The Rat Sniffer [Rat Sound Systems]