How to roll up your cables (properly!)

I've always wondered why my cables are all tangled and dangling from a coat hook on the back of my office door. Now I know. I was reading this page about training courses for roadies (or 'stagehands' as they like to be called). It quickly becomes clear that roadies' main issues are: a) Incorrect cable rolling b) Abuse of flight case castors c) Lewd language d) Body odour.
I had no idea about the politics surrounding cable rolling: "Our company rolls all cables in the circular method - thumb and forefinger style. However, we also teach over-and-under, because stagehands also need to know how to do this for other customers.". I was baffled by this, and unfortunately this explanation didn't help. Finally, I found this page from the Sound Institute which promises "nice-looking, twist-free cables that provide fast set up". I wonder if someone who can do this could post it on YouTube, a bit like this...
UPDATE: Thanks to Kåre, my dream has come true: Here is a video explaining how to wrap cables correctly, using the 'over/under' technique.

I paid waayyy to much for a degree in recording engineering where this concept was shoved down our throats. Not to mention how to make a good pot of coffee. And yes, these were questions on our finals.
yeh this was one of the first things i learned at the rec. studio (didnt pay for a degree tho)

easiest and fastest way of wrapping cords IMO is the 2 thumb method, where you grab about 10" of cable between your two thumbs, and see-saw the cable until the last few feet, then wrap that around the middle and tie it off.. you end up with a bow-tie shape that never ever unwraps in a tangled mess - plus it unwinds alot faster than the standard coil too
I spent part of a summer after high school crewing a schooner. We had proper rope coiling and storage beaten into us on day one. Pretty similar to the over-under method they show, but you also have to be aware of the natural twist of the fibers of the rope (though that tends to be standardized on sailing vessels). Useful habit to develop, especially when a rope tangling at the wrong time can mean you drown. I imagine rock climbers have their own habits.
Rock Climbing Method

1. Grab one end of the cable in your closed fist. The plug/jack should extend below your pinky.

2. With your other hand, pull the cable across the inside of your forearm and loop it around the outside of your upper arm.

3. Pull the cable back up across the inside of your forearm, so that it crosses itself.

4. Open the fingers in of your fist,

5. Loop the cable across your palm and around your thumb.

Repeat 2, 3, 5 until you're out of cable.

This is great for hanging on a wall. If you're laying them down, save the last two feet of cable to wrap around the middle.
I feel like under over is the best way... Anything with knots or wrapping around the middle makes the cable weird when it is uncoiled.
Thumb and forefinger style is good for studio but it doesnt uncoil neatly if you toss it out across a stage.
Just googled video cable coiling and found this:
Our band always did the half-half-half-loop pretzel tie with our cables (bad), but once i started assisting photographers i had to learn that damn over-under. Luckily i found that video linked above. You really have to have someone show it to you or watch the video because these illustrations are just unwieldy.

(Thank you Chris Babbie, he has this shit SO down)

But if your cables are already pretty kinky, then they may never look smoov, no matter what technique.
there really is not a better way than the over under method. Notice how when it it is thrown, it doesn't tangle or leaves knots, but unfurls smoothly. This is best especially with new or well maintained cables because it keeps to the natural desire of the cable to twist over on itself.
People who can't cable properly drive me nuts!!

Oh yeah, rap it round you arm why don't you ..

I am a location sound mixer and swear by the over under method. Once you get the hang of it, you can do it just as quickly as the standard over over method. The key to it though is that when you throw your coil it unravels into a straight line. When you throw an over over wrapped cable, it will fall in a generally straight line except for what I can only describe as the pigtail effect. If I can get access to a DV cam and a few spare minutes, maybe I'll make a little vid.
This is crap. I'd fire someone for over-undering a cable in my shop. It's a good method for bulky, really long cables like audio snakes, lighting cable and feeder, but for mic cables, instrument cables, etc., this method doesn't work. It seems to be about a 50/50 shot everytime you unroll one that it's gonna be tied up in knots every 6 inches for the length of the cable. You might as well use the wrist to elbow technique. My two cents, take it for what it's worth.
They pound this into our skull at the engineering school I go to. When we turn in a bad cable after a session, the studio manager will undo the cable into a knotted mess and make you re-wrap it.

I guess it's not really such a bad thing to be moulded into a Cable-Nazi.
Every professional in audio should know over-under. If you don't, you aren't a professional. Simple as that. Use it or not, according to the situation, but know it you must. I've used it consistently for many years, and only get kinky cables when some union lamehand insists on rolling my cables to speed the out. Yes, you have to be smarter than the cable to avoid a long series of overhand knots if you pull the cable off the wrong side of the coil, and everyone needs to agree on either clockwise or counterclockwise coiling, but these are minor considerations when you're talking about your #1 potential point of failure.
I guess we need an expert here about ropes & climbing :)

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I also had this garbage shoved down my throat in my one year of music school. However, I was told that the best way to store cable is to hang it off a hook on a wall. Don't even roll it up. The whole reason for this rolling method bitchiness is to keep the cables from getting so tangled they get ruined inside.

I say this, but me and 1,000,000,000 other musicians will always have a tangled mess on the floor...
I'm left handed (i.e., better than you). These instructions assume one is right-handed. I feel discriminated against.
you are, lefty.
I work in a recording studio and teach this to everyone who starts with the stipulation that not using this method is a sure-fire way to not make friends here. It works, and the technique is easy to grasp - just practice it a few times and you will never look back.
There are multiple twist-free methods to coil cables. The "over under" method seems the most common for XLR cables. Technically this is "alternating half-hitch" coiling with "feed through" being the most common problem: when one end of the cable feeds through the coil the result will be a cable full of overhand knots.

Other methods include figure-8 coiling (either in the hand or on the ground) and winding and unwinding on reels.
"technically known as alternating half-hitch"???????

I have never heard this in many years of studio and stage work. Please provide some authority for this statement.
Here is another video that is smaller than the first and comes in the .wmv flavor as well.
This was taught to me as 'The Roadie Wrap' method. It happens to be the only bit of knowledge I retained from my high priced studio sound recording classes I took in Dallas back in the 80's.

... and now the secret is out and on the internet. Damn you's!
""technically known as alternating half-hitch"???????

I have never heard this in many years of studio and stage work. Please provide some authority for this statement."

I'm not surprised you haven't heard of it. It isn't an audio term, it used to describe a method of coiling rope--the coiling of which somewhat predates the coiling of audio cable. I think it is mentioned in the Ashley Book of Knots--which I don't have handy at the moment.
At USC film school sound dept. they teach over-under as well as what they called the quarter-twist method, which I ended up going with. Gives you the same results as o/u.

Basically you hold the coil in your left hand and grab a length with your right hand's thumb and forefinger. As you bring your thumb and forefinger to your other hand, you twist the cable in its natural coiling direction to bring it around.

I've gotten to the point where I'm pretty fast with it. But I never really got good at o/u. Sadly that translated to me getting fired off a movie set once because the boom op was insistent on o/u even though my method gave her perfectly coiled cables.
haha, Ive been coiling cables the right way all along I guess. Maybe it's because my friends a dj and he used to do it the right way... I must have picked it up there.
When I started engineering this was about the only thing I did at work for about a year before I got onto front of house. Now I'm doing a sound design course (desgin being the operative word?) and guess what I'm learning...I shall never escape it!!!
Does anyone know how to "retrain" a badly wrapped cable? I just bought a bunch of recording gear from a guy and lots of the cables won't coil properly. Any ideas?
To retrain a cable just keep coiling and using o/u, carefully massaging out the kinks, and eventually the cable will smooth out over time. It also helps to grab the loops that you've already coiled like a steering wheel and twist it around to loosen up the rubber shielding (only do this with cables that have shielding for every internal feed otherwise you risk damaging the fibers inside).

Another way is to attach a weight to one end (not too heavy) and attach the other end from a high place. Let the cable dangle freely (not against a wall) and untwist itself. This method is not good for long cables since you'll need a really high place, but it will get the kinks out instantly for shorter ones.

I too paid too much money for film school only to develop an OCD for coiling every length of wire, rope, or cable into neat loops. It's surprising how many people think you've got issues if they haven't worked back stage or on a film/tv shoot. Someone really needs to warn people about these academic programs that don't do much except take good money from people just trying to achieve their dream professions.
Heres another method from lifehacker. It comes three months after you mentioned your system. And here are audio stuff to really check out, CNet's top 5 year ender best audio.
audio cables guide
For what its worth, this is refered to as "Flacking Cables".
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