Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Instrument Cables: What's worked the best for you.  (Read 2370 times)
whiskeyjack
Senior Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 949




Ignore
« on: January 22, 2007, 01:00:11 AM »

I just recently heard the difference between one instrument cable and another.  I have LR Baggs IBeam pickups in all my guitars and there just shouldn't be any quackiness with these pups.  'Couldn't figure out what the problem was. 

I was using a Planet Waves Circuit Breaker cable.  Nice concept for a noiseless transition between instruments.  Anyway, I was fiddling around at my luthiers place recently asking him about the slightly quacky sound of the IBeam he'd installed.  He handed me a fifteen-foot Quantum Audio Design cable and says, "Here.  This is gonna' make a difference."  And. . . .it did.  I heard it with my own ears.!!!  Prior to this, I never would have dreamed there'd be such a humongous difference in instrument cables.

Again, recently, I swapped out a generic microphone cable and replaced it with a Mogami cable.  The difference was absolutely amazing!!  The PA system's adjustments suddenly became alive: I could hear the difference in a 1/8 turn of treble, bass and reverb.  The sound was crisp and infinitely more adjustable.

And now that I consider it, you can have the best guitar, the best amp (or PA), the best monitors and the best microphone but nothing will function at optimum levels in that signal chain without good cable.  I'm currently considering replacing all my cables with either Mogami or Quantum Audio Design Oxygen Free cables.  But before I do that, which instrument cables have you been impressed with?
Logged

whiskeyjack:  Perisoreus canadensis.  aka, gray jay, whiskey jay, whiskeyjack or timber jay.   A small, friendly bird of the northern coniferous forest.
maxferry
Guest

« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2007, 04:17:17 AM »

I used to be the same way...I just figured that as long as a clean connection was made, it should be fine. Then I heard the difference when I tried out a Monster Cable...big difference indeed. Turns out that, as with a lot of things, the whole system is only going to be as good as it's weakest element. I now use nothing but Monster cables; I think they were one of the first companies to mass-market higher-end cables using this rationale, but there are several more around now, including Mogami.

An added benefit is that I've never had to replace a Monster cable in 10+ years of using them. The first one I ever bought works as well today as it did the day I bought it. I hear people complaining about the price of these cables, but before I started using them I was lucky to get a year out of a cable. Worth every cent!

Eric Johnson is famously fanatical about his cables, signal path, even the batteries he uses in stomp boxes. He's been saying this for years while a lot of people were sort of winking and touching their heads...turns out he was right.
Logged
whiskeyjack
Senior Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 949




Ignore
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2007, 08:12:37 AM »

Thanks for that, Max.  At least I'm certain now I'm not loosing what's left of my mind.!!

Mogami and Monster cables seem to come up pretty frequently on the other forums as well.
Logged

whiskeyjack:  Perisoreus canadensis.  aka, gray jay, whiskey jay, whiskeyjack or timber jay.   A small, friendly bird of the northern coniferous forest.
maxferry
Guest

« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2007, 02:20:45 PM »

Whiskey...it's definitely not your imagination

Incidentally, I also use these on all my recording and PA gear, so I have a LOT of them, representing a pretty significant investment...taken as a whole, one of the more expensive pieces of gear I own, aside from the guitars.

These types of complicated set-up are notorious because all this cabling is a potential source of introduced noise and capacitance. A poor-quality cable can act just like a pickup. The Monster Prolink cables are incredibly quiet in these applications because they readily reject external signals.
Logged
mischultz
Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 96




Ignore
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2007, 03:26:15 PM »

One resource I'd suggest is the Lava Cable site at lavacable.com. Mark has brief descriptions of the various cables he carries across all price ranges. Something to try immediately with the stock you have is to make certain that the printing on the cable jacket is oriented toward the amplification/away from the instrument. There is some directionality imparted by the process of drawing out the conductor metal and manufacturers will generally follow the above orientation.

As for specific recommendations, I have a few friends here who really like the Quantum stuff as well, along with George L's. I think the Quantum's the more neutral of the two, with the George L's tightening the bass somewhat. You can often use that to your advantage in keeping things clean and focused, but it's all in the eye/ear of the beholder.

Best,

Michael
Logged
sgarnett
Senior Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 523




Ignore
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2007, 03:53:24 PM »

Something to try immediately with the stock you have is to make certain that the printing on the cable jacket is oriented toward the amplification/away from the instrument. There is some directionality imparted by the process of drawing out the conductor metal and manufacturers will generally follow the above orientation.

The cable quality definitely makes a difference.

However, the signal is AC. While any "directionality" in the wire itself could certainly affect the signal by making the waveform asymmetric, reversing the cable should be irrelevant. Let's say it attenuates the positive half of the cycle (which will change the sound). Reverse the cable, and it will attenuate the negative half of the cycle. Your ears won't know the difference; it may be distorted, but the distortion will sound the same both ways.

If reversing the cable DOES make a difference, then something is different in one end of the cable compared to the other: different plug, different soldering, damage to the cable, whatever.

I've never heard of any semi-conduction properties being created in copper by drawing it, but assuming that's true, the copper is drawn in very long, uniform strands, MUCH longer than an instrument cable. Any directionality in the wire would be the consistent.
Logged
maxferry
Guest

« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2007, 05:13:40 PM »

I think the idea with the directionality of the cables is that if you have a situation, especially in studio or sound reinforcement, with multiple cables in the signal path, they all need to be in phase. If you have some transmitting + to - and others going - to + you will have electronically induced phase coloration and a generally poorer signal to noise ratio. They'll still work, just not as they should.
Logged
mischultz
Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 96




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2007, 08:32:51 PM »

Hey guys,

Not claiming my own expertise here. Just check out Mark's site. He and several of the builders he represents are quite certain that the directionality is an actual phenomenon - as opposed to perceived - and happens at the micro, rather than macro, level.

Best,

Michael
Logged
whiskeyjack
Senior Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 949




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2007, 10:28:06 PM »

Thank you each for all the insight.  It's good to know there are distinctions and I'm not completely losing it!

Mike: I never would've given directionality a thought had you not brought it up.  I've checked the cable and, yes, the printing is as you suggest: away from the instrument and toward the amp.

Sgarnett & Max:

Thanks a lot for chiming in with the technical stuff.  Greatly appreciated.

Logged

whiskeyjack:  Perisoreus canadensis.  aka, gray jay, whiskey jay, whiskeyjack or timber jay.   A small, friendly bird of the northern coniferous forest.
maxferry
Guest

« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2007, 07:57:43 AM »

My pleasure whiskey....

Here is what is said about the issue of directionality from the Monster website FAQ:

"There are two typical types of cable construction; coaxial and twisted pair. Coaxial construction, as used in our P500 Rock cable, consists of one conductor and the shield. Twisted Pair construction, used in our P500 Jazz and all Studiolink cables, utilizes two conductors and a shield. Connectors such as the RCA type and mono ¼" are considered Unbalanced connectors; due to their two contact surface areas, the tip and the sleeve. (Connectors such as XLR, TRS ¼" (Tip/Ring/Sleeve,) etc. are considered Balanced.) A coaxial cable terminated with an unbalanced connector, uses the conductor as the positive lead, terminated to the Tip, and the shield as the negative lead, terminated to sleeve. Monster Cable makes our Unbalanced cables, "Semi-balanced" by utilizing twisted pair cable. We use one conductor as the positive lead, terminated to the Tip, one conductor as the negative lead, terminated to the sleeve, and we terminate the shield to the Source side of the cable; thereby making the cable directional. The theory goes, if you ground the shield at the Source end and leave it open to "Drain" at the Destination end, any noise or interference which enters the shield, will be kept from making its way into your destination device. Source is considered where the signal is originating from, (think it terms of your signal flow,) Destination is considered the device to which your signal is going."

sgarnett was correct in his assessment...there is a difference in the way each end is terminated.
Logged
bucky1
Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 73




Ignore
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2007, 01:41:13 AM »

Quote
sgarnett was correct in his assessment...there is a difference in the way each end is terminated.

This is a very controversial subject in the audio world. If you want to get a flavour of the debate go to the forum at www.digitalhome.ca and do a search under 'luxury cable' . Generally the skeptics say the true test is a double blind comparison between a regular cable and a super -deluxe one. I've never seen a report to say the super deluxe ones are any better. Remember, these people are in it to make a buck, or in some cases, a lot of bucks. In fact one report the reviewer faulted the Monster cable because the connectors were so tight they pulled out plugs on his receiver when he disconnected the cables.

The guitar world is a little different because the cables are meant to be plugged and unplugged on a regular basis. That's where a quality connector is a benefit. The plating on a cheap connector will soon wear off resulting in a good case of 'snap, crackle, and pop'.  As mentioned in another post you want something that won't come apart after you've unplugged it for the thousandth time. Here, mechanical properties take priority over electrical ones.

As far as cable having directional properties, the product of that phenomenon, if it existed, would be distortion of one kind or another- just the thing you don't want. I'm an electrical engineer and have been in the field for more than 30 years and have never heard of copper wire having directional properties. If it is true, the effect would certainly be well below what any of us could hear.  I don't claim to know everything but I would file this with the Elvis sightings. If there is a published test report with a double blind test, that shows it's true, I'd love to see it.

There are lots of interesting gizmo's out there to separate people from their money. Many of them bury the general public and even the experts in a load of technical baloney. Then, after paying a good amount of money we tend to rationalize our purchase with the belief that the promised results are there when they don't exist. Generally I believe that quality costs, and you do get what you pay for. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that this is always true.

One of the most bizarre things I've seen is a wooden knob to replace the metal one on your amplifier. The claim was that it would reduce vibration and give a less distorted sound. The cost? Only $99. It's true. I saw it on the Internet!

Keith
Logged

L-03R Lefty
maxferry
Guest

« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2007, 04:10:15 AM »

I guess the salient point here is the difference in the sound...it isn't even subtle. I don't really need anyone else's studies to tell me what I hear. I trust what I hear, and that's something I've been doing for nearly 40  years.

There isn't anything in the "Monster" blurb that claims that copper wire has directionality; they are saying that it has to do with the way the shielding is terminated. And hey! That could be BS for all I know...or care. All I know is that the sound I get from these cables, for whatever reason, is very obviously cleaner and more phase-coherent. Also, as previously stated, I've never before run across a cable that lasted as long as these have, in near continuous trouble-free operation. I've never had to replace one in 10 years of using them.

I don't have any personal experience with the other high-end brands, because I haven't had reason to shop around since I started using these.
Logged
whiskeyjack
Senior Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 949




Ignore
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2007, 11:54:51 PM »

Quote
There are lots of interesting gizmo's out there to separate people from their money. Many of them bury the general public and even the experts in a load of technical baloney. Then, after paying a good amount of money we tend to rationalize our purchase with the belief that the promised results are there when they don't exist.

ya mean like, vitamin supplements??   

Quote
It's true. I saw it on the Internet!

Well. There ya have it.  If it's on the internet, it absolutely MUST be legitimate!!    

Thanks for your comments, Bucky.


Quote
I trust what I hear. . .

Or, put another way. . . ."I trust my ears."   And THAT is certainly the definitive proof in the realm of objectivity.  Physics and quantum mechanics have opened some wonderful doors but I'd be hard put to describe what they are: I have to experience them.
____________________

I mention vitamin supplements earlier because it is CLEARLY a rackett on most levels.  Most of the folks I know who take these things can't articulate their effects.  They just take pills because somebody said the pills would keep them younger longer, more energetic, less forgetful, more bulletproof, prettier, more handsome, bigger boobs etc. etc.  There's lots of stuff that way like Bucky says. 

For myself there has to be dramatic, almost immediate and measurable improvement in anything advertised as being "better".  I clearly heard a dramatic and immediate difference between the Planet Waves Circuit Breaker cable and the Quantum Audio Designs Q2100 Oxygen-Free cable.
And it's interesting to hear pro's and con's about directionality or the finer points of electron movement - I learned a lot here - but the proof of the pudding is in the sound. 

Thanks to all who posted to this thread.  It let's me know there is indeed a quality difference in cables and it is audible.
Logged

whiskeyjack:  Perisoreus canadensis.  aka, gray jay, whiskey jay, whiskeyjack or timber jay.   A small, friendly bird of the northern coniferous forest.
drmlabs
Senior Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 261




Ignore
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2007, 03:06:58 AM »

The minute its ever proven in a double-blind test that 100 dollar cables 'sound better' than 10 dollar cables, I'll buy them.
Oh, and as you probably guessed, they never win a double-blind test.
Thats not an opinion.
But hey buy what ever you want - I always do.
Logged

Larrivee LS-10 (sold)
Larrivee parlors - satin mahog. / FQMS Special Koa / FQMS Special Braz.
Everett Laurel Dread
Martin 000-28ECB (sold)
Kopp  419 cutaway
Kopp Betty Swing #1  (sold)
Kopp 000-18 style
maxferry
Guest

« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2007, 03:34:39 PM »

Here's an article, formatted as a FAQ page, regarding cables. It only addresses the controversy to the extent that it's ackowledged, however they are allowing that there appears to be something to the claims. They specifically mention "linear crystal copper", in which the copper atoms are aligned in such a way as to reduced boundary effects of a non-aligned crystalline structure, which can act as semi-conductor.

The article has a large bibliography, should anyone want to research this further.
http://www.cardinalproaudio.com/main/instrume.htm

I also recall an article in Guitar Player magazine in which they conducted a comparison of several high-end cables and generic types in regard to sound and durability. This was quite a while back, and was informally conducted by the magazine, however I believe that they came to the conclusion that the higher-end cables were in fact better sounding and lasting. This was a comparison of perhaps a dozen well-known cable manufacturers.
Logged
jimmyp
Senior Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 214




Ignore
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2007, 01:33:22 AM »

In the guitar player shootout, a few years back, Carvin cables came out very well rated, with a tremendous value point. I've used them for years.I don't doubt what you hear, I've just never heard the differences myself. JP
Logged

Do3R, PavanTP20, 64 Melody Maker, 4or5 Teles, Godin SA, Carter SD10, Regal Reso,OM03RE,MIM Strat, Tak SC132
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to: