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  • Lava Cable Blue Demon, Clear Connect, Ultramafic, and Van Den Hul Instrument Cables

    By Chris Loeffler |

    Lava Cable Blue Demon, Clear Connect, Ultramafic, and Van Den Hul Instrument Cables

    When  geothermal energy is flowing...


    by Chris Loeffler





    Instrument cables are the (literal) lifeline between your instrument and amp, and while the impact they have on your tone is subtle when compared to, say, a ring modulator, they are often the elusive 5% of the tonal equation players are seeking to right as they dial in their rigs. Lava Cables, formed by CEO and veteran of the Afghanistan war through the US Special Forces Battalion, has been focused on marrying the highest quality materials with the staunchest design standards to offer players premium cables that are rugged and precise.


    I was sent four different types of instrument cables to compare and evaluate, all the same length; Lava Cables Blue Demon, Lava Cables Clear Connect, Lava Cables Ultramafic, and Lava Cables Van Den Hul.


    What You Need to Know


    When asked to review an instrument cable, the challenge is to suss out the subtle differences between what the cable offers (durability, construction, capacitance, the elusive “feel”) and how it stacks up to the dozens of brands (each with dozens of technologies) to achieve the seemingly simple task to sending an electronic signal along. As such, when comparing Lava to Monster to Cleartone to George L to whatever the forum-appointed how new thing, there are too many reference points to find common ground for everyone. 


    By providing four different lines within their brand, Lava Cables offered the opportunity to understand how their cables compare not just against to competition, but also in comparison to their siblings.


    The Blue Demon cable has a 99.9% pure copper low strand count conductor, 23 pF/ft low capacitance, and a 93% spiral shield for RF rejection. The most affordable of the four cables reviewed, I found the Blue Demon to perform at least as well as the unnamed premium cables I have for reference. Running through Pro Tools, I did pick up a slightly expanded frequency range passing through as compared to my standard George L's, and there was a subtle shift in the speed of response.


    The Clear Connect cable, by contrast, features solder-free G&H Pure Plugs™ by Abbatron and Clear Connect Technology™ — a patented process where the connectors are high-pressure crimped onto the cable. The intent is a purer signal path , with more efficiency at 26 pF per foot capacitance. An increased 98% shielding, and 99.99% pure Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) for both the shield and conductor make for an even tighter-tolerance cable than the Blue Demon. While the Clear Connect passed the sonci test with flying colors, I was most impressed by the quality and durability of the connection given the solderless approach. In the past, I've used solderless cable kits with some hesitancy and have had more than a few dozen instances of chasing down a signal-killing break due to constant pedal swapping, but the Lava Cables Clea Connect felt solid even after intentionally stressing the connections for an extended duration.


    The Ultramafic cable is where Lava clearly jumps from premium to boutique worlds, with a specially designed purple outer jacket and dielectric, 18 AWG CDA102 (highest purity) silver plated low strand count copper conductor, and 97% silver-plated copper shielding with 99.99% OFHC silver. The Ultramafic felt even beefier than the Clear Connect both in its connections and in the cable itself without reaching the cumnbersome level of girth some overbuilt cables provide. While the Clear Connect and Blue Demon both sounded great, the Ultramafic was the point in the evaluation where the differences really became obvious. There was more low end, sparkle, and presence, and swapping back and forth between the Ultramafic and a Monster Jazz of the same side revealed the Monster cable to be dull and a bit more congested.


    The Van den Hul cable is the apex of the Lava instrument cable line, boasting state-of-the-art FUSION SERIES audio interconnects and loudspeaker cables from van den Hul. Triple-shielded, quad-core audio interconnects are specifically designed for both balanced and unbalanced use, with four stranded "Fusion Technology" conductors in a star quad configuration. The craftsmanship of the cable I evaluated far exceeded your garden variety instrument cable. I did notice the slightest drop in percieved mids when run into a clean amp, which I was also able to capture through inspecting the wave form, but I couldn't state with certainty how much of that change is the cable and how much was me adjusting my attack slightly to the cable. The cable is meant to be unidirectional, and was evaluated as such.




    While the boutique world has caught up and even exceeded the retail price of Lava cables, there’s no denying they are priced at a premium when compared to the standard music store imported instrument cable.




    All four Lava Cables instrument cables reviewed were of incredibly high quality, both in terms of their construction and in the signal they passed through. I’m not going to split hairs as to how much the progressive materials and construction upgrades of the higher-end lines contributed to perceivable tonal differences as opposed to just being impressive specs on paper, but a blind comparison with a couple of local guitar players did skew towards them, so there’s certainly substance to the decisions.While a new player playing an imported Strat into an entry level tube practice amply not be a blend to coax the full benefit of the Van den Hul line, every rig would see benefit from Lava cables.    - HC -




    Lava Cables Instrument Cable Product Page ($18.95-$59.99 for 12" cable)






    rszchrisphoto-21e10e14.jpg.e5d57b5d73409f7c585b0c44c3d9232d.jpgChris 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. 


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