New Toys

Rat Pack Sniffer from Rat Sound

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Rat Pack Sniffer Rat Sound's Rat Sniffer system is an XLR cable checker that checks the entire length of a cable without having to remove or unbundled it from its installed position or from within a multi-cable snake. The Rat Sniffer system is comprised of two components: the Rat Sniffer and the Sender unit.

The Sniffer looks like standard male XLR connector and attaches at the female end of an XLR cable. The Sender is larger (with the Sniffer connected, it is almost the size of half of a set of karate nunchakus), is battery-powered and goes at the other end of the cable--even hundreds of feet away. The battery is a standard miniature 12-volt used in most key chain car alarm remotes and is readily available. Lasting hundreds of hours, there is no drain even if you leave the Sender on and not connected to the Sniffer.

When the Sender is turned on, the Sniffer instantly reads the condition of the cable and indicates it using a small multi-colored, three LED "stoplight." A small, wallet-sized plastic decoder card comes with Sniffer to point you right to the problem for fixing. There are nine possible problems with any XLR cable and the Rat Sniffer system tells exactly which one by a combination of the three LEDs. The simple readout will indicate shorted and open wires, crossed pairs and whether phantom power is present. Three green LEDs means the cable is fine.

A great feature I have not seen before is the ability to use phantom powering to check microphone lines in the studio or within a snake. Mic lines, especially in a wired studio, are in the walls and not very accessible at either end--the wall plate in the studio or the patchbay back in the control room. By turning on phantom power (at the console) on a suspect mic line and, by substituting the Sniffer for the mic, I could tell whether the mic itself is bad, the mic's cable is bad or the mic line to the console is bad.

Rat Sound's Rat Pack Sniffer and Sender sell for $45.95. You can buy additional Sniffers for $24.95. A very handy device you'll want if you've ever scrounged around (like I have) filthy recording studio floors or live stages looking for bad XLR cables. Contact Rat Sound Systems at 888-545-8271 or visit If you call in to order and mention Music Connection, they'll give you $5 off.

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