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Cables; Is there really a difference?


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  • Cables; Is there really a difference?

    A buddy of mine came to my house the other night with a Lava cable, telling me it was the best there is. I'm using a 20 year old Ames department store cable.

  • #2
    I like ProCo because they're made in my home town and have a lifetime warranty. There's a difference of quality in cables and the prices reflect it. Cheap jacks are probably the biggest difference, but I'm not the expert on this.


    • #3
      The differences that matter, are in the quality of the construction, and the components used. There are a lot of over-priced, under-performing cables that get marketed to folks who don't know the difference. I detest cheaply constructed cables, with inferior quality connectors and inadequate strain-reliefs. I also stay away from the "hyped" marketing" cables.

      Most of my cables are from EWI (Audiopile.net). Very well constructed from quality components, and very popular among the pro-sound guys. I've probably got 50 or so mic and instrument cables, plus an 8/4 stage-snake, 16/8 reel-snake, a bunch of 8-channel patch-snakes, etc, and not a single failure in the last five years that I've been using them. I've also got a few Digi-Flex cables that are quite nice.
      Veni, Vidi, Velcro;

      (I came, I saw, I stuck around)


      • #4
        Guitar cables or others?

        Guitar cables can make a big difference to the sound because the cable becomes an element of a tone circuit with the guitar's pickups and volume control. Of course what might sound great with one guitar might be a problem with another because of the differences in pickups and volume pot impedance.

        As far as mic cables, line cables (low impedance) and speaker cables they generally make were little to zero difference sonically compared to guitar cables.
        Don Boomer


        • #5
          One thing that I look at now is exactly how chinese is the cable. I have bought a couple 20' cables that I got a good deal on, but the end is a tiny bit larger than other cables. It doesn't matter on a guitar type plug, but I have a couple effects boxes that apparently have some tighter tolerances inside the jack.

          I had several cables that I bought years ago that were still good and only recently had to start replacing them. I have found that you just can't trust the off the shelf cables from samash or GC anymore. You have to shop around and find ones that you have testimony aren't crap. In the past 3 or 4 years I have bought probably 15 cables that turned out to be ****************te in one fashion or another.

          I had a friend who used to say "Pay me now, or pay me later." I think that applies
          This space intentionally left blank


          • #6
            I've used a lot of kinda homemade cables from Redco. A bit of a paradox because it's only fun to make a cable once in a while. But you can only justify buying a spool of cable if you have a lot to make like to wire a studio. I'd still recommend it though.

            Like, for example,

            100 feet of Mogami instrument cable for 81 bucks.


            10 Neutrik connectors for $47

            http:// http://www.redco.com/shopdis...=TS+Connectors

            And you have five of these top end $60 18 footers for a little over $24 each.


            Not for everyone, but pretty awesome for some. It's also strangely rewarding. I just realized you can order in as small of quantities as you want. That makes it more appealing.
            Free prog-related metal from Michigan.



            • #7


              • #8
                Like everything else, there is a point of diminishing returns - for each extra dollar you spend on the cable, you get less and less improvement.

                The cheapest cables have poor shielding and guaranteed to fall apart jacks.

                Most moderate priced cables have great shielding and good jacks.

                Super expensive cable have great shielding and good jacks and not much more than most moderate cables.

                I go for the mid-range myself.

                Bob "Notes" Norton
                Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


                • #9
                  There is definitely a point of diminishing returns. The EWI cables Telecruiser posted above are a great choice for the money. For what it's worth, I've never broken a cable or even seen one break, with the exception of Monster Rock cables. I've seen multiple connectors break on those things, but with the warranty the guys still use them. I am a huge fan of Neutrik connectors though. They just have that reassuring feel to them. But then again, do did the monster cables.
                  Free prog-related metal from Michigan.



                  • #10
                    For years I made my own cables, I had access to Belden shielded cable (scrap lengths from production could run 22'), and to Mil-spec jacks (collected damaged units, pieced together enough rings tips and sleeves), and I am a NASA certified solderer. Then Monster, ProCo, etc offered lifetime warranties...at reasonable prices (on sale) with great quality and I said...'hell, why not?'.

                    Would I buy cables for more than $1 per foot? Not a chance....

                    A good friend of mine has an endorsement deal with one of those hoity toity cable companies (also with PRS and a few others), and was trying to convince me not only was the cable better, but there was a +terminal and a - terminal to the cables. I whipped out a multimeter and showed him that the resistance was identical either way. He still insists I am wrong, because the company told him to plug the cable in a certain way...

                    BTW, I noticed that SLScott86 mentioned making 18' cables... I learned this many years ago, and all my guitar cables are 18' or shorter. The reason not to go over 18'? It is one wavelength of the signal from the guitar.
                    "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

                    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
                    "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley


                    • #11

                      Quote Originally Posted by daddymack
                      View Post

                      The reason not to go over 18'? It is one wavelength of the signal from the guitar.

                      ??? Educate me here. An 18 foot wavelength would correspond to a sine wave of 62 Hz. What does the length of that have to to with electron flow in wire?
                      Don Boomer