Iconic Sound Light Lead Analog Optical Instrument Cable
By Chris Loeffler |
Iconic Sound Light Lead Optical Analog Cable
A New Way to Connect With Your Amp
By Chris Loeffler
Please note this technology is a working prototype... Iconic Sound is currently working to license this products technology. Think of it as a sneak peek of things to come!
Players who dive deep into the world of cables know that everything that touches the output of a passive pickup (typically high impedance output) will have some effect on it… traditional cables all bleed some high-end. The reason certain cables sound better has more to do with complimenting the connection between the guitar and the amp and tonal preference than one being objectively better than the other. Iconic Sound’s Light Lead may be the first substantial innovation on instrument cable technology since, well, the cable was invented.
Originally designed to address the issue of traditional cables’ tendency to pick up radio waves or interference, what the Iconic Sound Light Lead does is take and maintain an analog signal and pass it through an optical cable as opposed to the standard copper-wire leads. The result is the world’s first (and only) optical analog jack-to-jack guitar/instrument cable. Patent pending technology I won’t pretend to fully understand ensures the guitar’s signal is never digitized or converted in the cable.
What You Need to Know
- The benefits of the optical cable, aside from removing potential to receive external signals, are zero loading and zero capacitance, two things standard cables can’t touch. In short, it passes through more sound and has no treble roll-off. An additional benefit to the optic cable is entirely removing the possibility of cable crackle. The cable can detect active versus passive pickups and makes slight adjustments. There is also a slider on the side of the guitar jack that adjusts the volume. Very peculiar. Adjusting the volume has zero impact on tone.
- So does the Light Lead sound fuller and retain more high-end? Yes. The difference is most noticeable with a high-impedance output guitar (Fender Stratocaster, for instance) into a high-impedance input amp (Modified Vox AC-15), basically any vintage-style technology. The cable carries through a noticeable increase in treble when compared to a Monster Jazz or George L cable of the same length. Using guitars with active pickups (EMGs) yields much less of a difference as the signal is already active and less effected by loading, meaning the cable just sounds great and doesn’t have anything to clean up.
- As a final test, I used the Light Lead between a Fender Standard Strat and a standard germanium fuzz face (MXR). The result was less obvious and obnoxious than a quality buffer but somehow slightly less chaotic in the gain structure than a standard cable with the same setup. The typical reason guitarists avoid buffers (or really any devices) between their guitar and fuzz is because they dramatically affect the interaction the fuzz circuit has with the guitar pickups. Without the cable load present, the saturation and texture of the fuzz seems to fight with itself slightly less through the Light Lead. The amount of gain and volume are the same, and adjusting the volume knob on the guitar still impacts the gain characteristics, but there’s slightly more clarity to the distortion. There is considerably less of this with high output or active pickups, and it was the sort of thing that is only noticed in a quiet room.
- The only limitation to the Light Lead is the requirement of an AA battery at each jack and the slightly bulkier nature of the plugs to accommodate the batteries. The swiveling jacks make the bulkiness of the plugs a non-issue once connected.
The Light Lead I demoed was a working prototype that is representative of (but not guaranteed to be) the final product. Iconic Sound is currently courting cable manufacturers to license the technology for their guitar cables, microphones, headphones, etc. While the Light Lead isn’t on the market yet, it is a very cool application of a new technology that a lot of guitar players would love to get their hands on. Preserve tone!
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.