Patch cables are a necessity for modern guitarists, but they are often treated as an afterthought; cables rarely have the same sex appeal to guitarists as a new pedal, amp or instrument, but their importance shouldn't be underestimated. I've seen all kinds of random assorted cables used to connect pedals on stage or used to wire up pedalboards, but as with any chain, your signal path is only as good as its weakest link, so using quality cables is mandatory if you care about sound quality. Today we're looking at two products from respected cable manufacturer Evidence Audio - their Monorail cable and new SIS (Screw In Solderless) plugs - that can be used together to create your own custom length, very high-quality patch cables.
This isn't magic cable sprinkled with some kind of wild claims and audiophile fairy-dust, nor is it designed to color the signal; Evidence Audio's Monorail is a no-bull, high-quality cable with a very detailed, neutral and unobtrusive sound. If you're using lesser-quality cables the improvement in transparency, transients (note attacks and definition) and overall clarity is going to be a real eye-opener for you, although you may notice a less dramatic improvement if you've been using other premium low-capacitance cables.
When coupled with the cleverly engineered SIS plugs, Monorail cable creates custom length patch cables of outstanding quality. Assembly is quick and easy, and really hard to get "wrong." True, it can occasionally take a bit of effort to get the stems and caps screwed together; mainly because sometimes the stem can be hard to grip and turn, but it's nothing a rag wrapped around the stem to protect it and a pair of pliers won't quickly overcome. Even better, you can disassemble and re-use both the cable and connectors again and again if you need to reconfigure your setup later, and the resulting patch cables and plugs are exceptionally compact and utterly reliable. The high-quality Monorail cable would also be very suitable for use as hook-up wire in other places where shielded wiring is required, such as inside amps, guitars and effects pedals, and can be used with soldered plugs too, although with solderless units with the quality of the SIS plugs available, I can't imagine why you'd want to go to the extra effort of firing up the soldering iron.
If you're looking for a solution to your pedalboard or rack wiring needs, Evidence Audio's Screw In Solderless plugs and Monorail cable are well deserving of your attention. In this reviewer's opinion they are the finest DIY solderless patch cables currently available due to their combination of ease of assembly, compactness, outstanding reliability and excellent sound quality.
Evidence Audio Monorail cable ($2.95 per foot MSRP)
Evidence Audio SIS Screw In Solderless Plugs ($7.95 each MSRP)
Evidence Audio product web page
SIS assembly video
Want to talk about pedals, pedalboards and patch cables with fellow musicians? Then be sure to check out the Effects Forum right here on Harmony Central!
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.