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Reviewing cables can be really boring—but then you run across something like this

By Phil O'Keefe

 

Instrument cables are an important, and sometimes overlooked aspect of a great rig. After all, a chain is only as good as its weakest link, and if you use poor quality cables to connect everything, it really won't matter how great the rest of the gear in your rig is - the signal quality - and your tone - are going to suffer. However, some cable companies make  claims that are hard to justify or prove, and it's easy to get snookered by unsubstantiated marketing hype if you're not wary.

clearconnect2.gif

 

Having said that, there are definitely legitimate factors to consider when shopping for any cable - including instrument cables. The capacitance of the cable - the amount of high frequency loss - can be measured, and can definitely have an effect on your sound if you're using passive pickups. Other factors are important to consider too, such as the shielding, as well as the flexibility and durability of the cable's outer covering or "jacket" material. Of course, it helps if the cable sounds good too. The question is, how well do the Lava Clear Connect II cables measure up?

 

What You Need To Know

  • The Lava Clear Connect II instrument cables are available in a variety of versions, including 3 foot, 6 foot, 10 foot, 12 foot, 15 foot, 20 foot, 25 foot and 30 foot lengths. Clear Connect cables are also offered as patch cables in 6 inch, 8 inch, and 12 inch lengths.

Lava Clear Connect II cable.jpg

 

  • Right angle plugs at one or both ends are available as an option. Plugs are manufactured by G&H Industries / Abbatron, and use their patented Pure Plug™ with Clear Connect Technology™ solderless design. The cable's hot and ground wires are very securely crimped directly to the plug's tip and sleeve under high pressure. G&H claims this results in less parts per plug and fewer (three, as opposed to eleven) metal to metal transitions than a soldered plug, resulting in less distortion and purer sound.

GH\_cctpic.jpg

 

  • Heavy-duty shrink-wrap tubing provides protection and strain relief for the plugs.
  • The outer diameter of the cable is .260", with the outer PVC shell being .305" in diameter. The Lava Clear Connect II instrument cable has proven to be nice and rugged - it resists cuts and tears quite well, even under heavy-duty use.
  • The cable features 98\% shielding. The conductor is 20 AWG. Noise and interference are admirably low with this cable.
  • The Clear Connect II also features 99.999\% pure OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) for both the shield and conductor.
  • As with all wire leads, there is some capacitance. Capacitance is rated at 26 pF per foot for the Lava Clear Connect II, which Lava claims is the sweet spot - it's slightly on the low side of average, but not unreasonably so. Since capacitance isn't overly high, it means that more of your highs make it to your amp without being rolled off by the cable, resulting in a brighter, more open and transparent sound. Of course, you still have to consider the output and input impedance of what you're connecting, and you'll want to use the minimum cable length required to adequately get the job done if you're concerned about minimizing high frequency roll off; particularly if your instrument uses passive pickups and electronics.

 

Limitations

  • Because of the relative thickness and strength of the jacket material, the cable is a touch on the stiff side, although not so much that it can't be easily coiled for storage after use.
  • After a while I noticed some oxidation starting to show up on the plugs. This was easily polished off with some Caig DeoxIT, and it can happen to any plug, so it's mentioned not so much as a criticism against the cable under review, but as a reminder that the sound of any cable can degrade and deteriorate if it's not properly cleaned and maintained.

 

Conclusions

With some of the "snake oil" claims out there about cables and wire, it's easy to be skeptical when you read some of the claims that Lava and G&H make about this cable (and the plugs), but after extensive use, I have to say I'm convinced. The Clear Connect II cable is really a first-rate product. It has low capacitance, great shielding, low noise, and it has proven to be a completely reliable, long-lasting and durable cable that has held up well under heavy use. Best of all, it sounds great too. Sure, there are cheaper cables on the market, but when everything you have connected with them relies on the quality of the cables, it just doesn't make sense to compromise your tone by using inferior quality cables. You won't have that problem with Lava's Clear Connect II instrument cables. You can pay more for cables than this cable costs, but why? These premium cables feature excellent components and construction at a reasonable price - they give you what you need, without any malarkey. Definitely recommended.


Resources

Musician's Friend Lava Cable Clear Connect II Instrument Cable online catalog page (Prices range from $35.95 - $84.95 MSRP / "street" depending on cable length. 3' and 30' prices shown - review cable is 15', and is $54.95 MSRP / "street")

Lava Cable's Clear Connect II Instrument Cable web page

G&H Industries Pure PlugTM with Clear Connect Technology Q&A (PDF)

 

 

 

Phil\_OKeefe HC Bio Image.jpgPhil 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.

 

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