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Author Topic: Lets Talk Cables!!!  (Read 1677 times)
TomRC
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« on: August 20, 2012, 11:13:46 AM »

I’ve really gotten into this “electric” thing this past year. Upgraded to a Deluxe Reverb (still wondering if I should have gotten a Princeton ), built a custom Strat from the ground up to Gilmour specs, accumulated some nice “Gilmour” pedals (can you tell I really like Gilmour??) and started a DIY pedal board build out in the garage this past weekend.

I’ve been using a set of basic Planet Wave patch cables and the el cheapo Planet Waves Guitar Cable.  Now that my pedal board is almost complete I want to upgrade my cables. I have “decent” soldering skills so I am debating whether to build some instrument and patch cables from bulk Mogami 2524 cable and Swithcraft connectors or totally dive of the deep end and get some Evidence Audio Lyric HG cables or who knows…..maybe some other cable option.  The Evidence Audio stuff is high as a kite but I have read that people say they really make a difference although I’m having a bit of hard time buying totally into this. I only play around the house.

Any thought???? Thanks!

Tom
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Barefoot Rob
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 11:41:32 AM »

Make your own cable's.Don't forget to tin the wire and tin and score or sand the connection points on the connecters.You end up with tighter cleaner pedalboard.
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 01:40:53 PM »

As far as pedal board cables go I use George L's non soldering cables.  They've held up at home and on the road for me with no problems to speak of and they're super skinny. Lava cables has some great stuff to and they offer non soldering cables as well as ones which can be soldered.

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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 02:55:27 PM »

I did the Mogami/Swtchcraft build-yer-own and posted here with pics:
http://www.larriveeforum.com/smf/index.php?topic=40469.0
Still very happy with them - 90 deg ends are nice for couch playing too.
Only thing I would do differently is get a few Neutric "silent" ends and some George L's
stress relief jackets also.
Re: pedals - I went with a Strymon Blue Sky reverb, still playing with the settings and I'm
very impressed with Strymon.
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 02:56:38 PM »

You can buy cable and connectors from Bill Lawrence's website as well, and I'm sure the quality is equal to the George L stuff, don't know how they compare in price (I've been using some Bill Lawrence cables and stombox cables for over 10 years with no issues).

I think Planet Waves cables work fine (I use both some of their cables and some of their short stompbox connecting cables).  But I also think there's a law of diminishing returns you need to consider here; you can spend a LOT of money on cables and not hear ANY real change in tonal quality (and you said you're primarily playing at home).

So be careful ... your money might be better spend on better tubes or a speaker upgrade or an extra speaker cabinet...

 
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 03:24:27 PM »



So be careful ... your money might be better spend on better tubes or a speaker upgrade or an extra speaker cabinet...

 
    tho if making your own give you great pleasure and even expensive options are really not that much. Giver i say.
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 04:37:05 PM »

Out of curiosity, I dove into the audiophile stuff briefly and my comments on cable affecting tone are simple:  Use low capacitance if you're adding a lot of length before the amp (including pedals), make sure the shielding is decent, and make sure it's durable.  Anything else is hocus-pocus nonsense and you end up wasting money.  I could barely hear a difference in a 20pF and a 60pF set of 22' cables I made... and all the other 'frills' stuff is negligible.  Also, I'm an electrical engineer in the test/measurement field so cabling is definitely something I have knowledge in.  Seeing the marketing of some of the audio cabling is just completely wrong and absurd.  Skin effect at 20kHz?  Low thermal EMF concerns for 1Vpp plus signals??!  RRRRIIIIIIGHT.... :/

For the money, the Gepco XB20UB  instrument cable is as good as you can get all around.  Flexible, durable, awesome shielding, low capacitance, cheap.  http://www.gepco.com/products/proav_cable/analog_audio/guitar_xband_M.htm   Mogami is overpriced.  I have a Gepco instrument cable that's over 10 years old and still kicking.

Phil

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TomRC
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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2012, 07:19:29 PM »

I'll check out the Gepco. Think I’m going to build them probably from Mogami / Switchcraft. It was a lot of fun building the strat and I just learned how to check and adjust bias on my tubes………why not learn to build cables!

For those with lots of soldering experience is there any benefit to using higher priced Kester 44 solder over the typical solder sold at Radio Shack? Probably should have put this thread in the technical forum.
Thanks!
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2012, 02:17:52 AM »

I've been using Radio Shack 40 watt pens for years.I buy 2-3 at a time when they die I open a new,Hey for 10 bucks why not.
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2012, 12:40:35 AM »

RE: solder, the main difference you will find among solders is the flux composition.  Rosin core you're fine unless you're doing some other kinda critical stuff (if you're just working on analogue audio electronics you don't need to worry).  Silver solder is technically stronger but if you are doing a decent solder job, it should never fail there anyways (more likely it will fail at the joint where the solder meets the strands or if active flux has wicked up inside the insulation).  Just use decent 63/37 or 60/40 flux core solder and you'll be good!

Make sure you get connectors with good strain relief.  That's why I prefer the Neutrik stuffs.  Really solid fool-proof strain relief system.  Poor strain relief is why most cables fail.

Phil
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« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2012, 10:56:23 PM »


I think Planet Waves cables work fine (I use both some of their cables and some of their short stompbox connecting cables).  But I also think there's a law of diminishing returns you need to consider here; you can spend a LOT of money on cables and not hear ANY real change in tonal quality (and you said you're primarily playing at home).

So be careful ... your money might be better spend on better tubes or a speaker upgrade or an extra speaker cabinet...

 

Hear Hear! (literally and figuratively).

Solderless - sorry, but it's gonna take an electrical engineering project to prove to me that this is better than a well-soldered connection.  I think Mr. George L has been very very fortunate that there are some folks that think this is a better way to pass electrical signal along a path than soldering.  I'm sure glad my electronics throughout my computers, phone, TV, automobile, electric guitars, keyboards, etc. etc. etc. have soldered joints.

-Scott
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« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2012, 04:33:18 PM »

Hear Hear! (literally and figuratively).

Solderless - sorry, but it's gonna take an electrical engineering project to prove to me that this is better than a well-soldered connection.  I think Mr. George L has been very very fortunate that there are some folks that think this is a better way to pass electrical signal along a path than soldering.  I'm sure glad my electronics throughout my computers, phone, TV, automobile, electric guitars, keyboards, etc. etc. etc. have soldered joints.

-Scott

Scott, the Bill Lawrence cables are pretty much just like the George L's in construction - solderless connections. I've been using several Lawrence cables that I assembled about 10 years ago from 50 feet of cable and 10 connectors, and I've never had one short out on me, and never had any static/noise from one. And I grab the cable (not the metal 1'4" plug) to pull them out of my guitar's jacks all the time, just like Bill L. demonstrates that you can do! It's a very solid connection.
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« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2012, 06:07:55 PM »

Regarding solderless connections...  Most connections that are made in the world are solderless.  This includes everything from the microelectronics in your phone/computer, to your car, to military/medical electronics, to the highest-fidelity cables used for precise voltage/current measurements.  Solder is still used for PCB manufacturing not because it's a better connection, but because it's the cheapest and offers best density for this technology (look up wave soldering on youtube and you'll see what I mean) - there are definitely come critical high frequency components that do NOT use solder joints and while it may be more expensive, it's required and creates a better electrical connection.  Cabling is a completely different technology... a *proper* crimp is preferred for several reasons, including (some of which don't matter for the audio rhealm):

- Removal of an added dissimilar metal junction.  Different alloys against each other generate electricity - this is how many sensors such as thermocouples operate.  In sensitive measurements, this is not negligible.  A crimp makes a better electrical connection because of this.

- No chance of flux wicking under the insulation.  This can create a weak point in the cable as the flux (since it generally cannot be removed) continues to 'eat' the alloy.

- No thermal damage of insulators/dielectrics.  This is particularly of concern on high frequency RF cabling with any dielectric distortion will cause the cable impedance to change in that localized area.

- Controlled 'shape' of the conductor.  Again, important for RF stuff.  Crimps ensure the shape and size of the conductor is correct when the termination is complete - soldering does not.

- Ease and consistency of assembly.  A properly crimped connection is actually a sealed connection (even on stranded conductors).  Many folks don't realize this.  A crimper is designed to assemble the connection the same way every time.  Professional 'arbor' crimp machines and their dies are machined to precise tolerances and most have jigs for proper contact and wire alignment.  The downside is that these types of crimpers are not cheap.  Even a quality handheld crimp tool will run anywhere from 150 to 1000$.  And most are designed only for a very specific type of contact.  Despite this, a crimped connection is generally faster than soldering and can be very easily be automated.

- Strainrelief.  Most crimp contacts for discrete (and even multiconductor like ribbon) have a small strain relief that mechanically crimps the insulation.  This ensures the weakest part of the wire (where it was stripped/no insulation) is mechanically sound.  Soldering a wire to a contact does not have this - in fact it's actually worse (see above regarding the flux wicking problem).

I honestly don't know why someone hasn't designed a crimper and connector for audio stuff.  Maybe it's just a volume issue or maybe they realize most folks wouldn't spring for the correct tool.  Or maybe it's just not needed.  You can hire inexpensive labour to solder cables up all day.  

Either way, a *correct* crimp made with the right crimper is preferred over soldering.  For audio cables, we can probably just say 'who cares' and worry mostly on the reliability aspects of a termination (mostly the strain relief).

Phil
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« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2012, 11:39:36 PM »

Regarding solderless connections...  Most connections that are made in the world are solderless.  This includes everything from the microelectronics in your phone/computer, to your car, to military/medical electronics, to the highest-fidelity cables used for precise voltage/current measurements.  Solder is still used for PCB manufacturing not because it's a better connection, but because it's the cheapest and offers best density for this technology (look up wave soldering on youtube and you'll see what I mean) - there are definitely come critical high frequency components that do NOT use solder joints and while it may be more expensive, it's required and creates a better electrical connection.  Cabling is a completely different technology... a *proper* crimp is preferred for several reasons, including (some of which don't matter for the audio rhealm):

- Removal of an added dissimilar metal junction.  Different alloys against each other generate electricity - this is how many sensors such as thermocouples operate.  In sensitive measurements, this is not negligible.  A crimp makes a better electrical connection because of this.

- No chance of flux wicking under the insulation.  This can create a weak point in the cable as the flux (since it generally cannot be removed) continues to 'eat' the alloy.

- No thermal damage of insulators/dielectrics.  This is particularly of concern on high frequency RF cabling with any dielectric distortion will cause the cable impedance to change in that localized area.

- Controlled 'shape' of the conductor.  Again, important for RF stuff.  Crimps ensure the shape and size of the conductor is correct when the termination is complete - soldering does not.

- Ease and consistency of assembly.  A properly crimped connection is actually a sealed connection (even on stranded conductors).  Many folks don't realize this.  A crimper is designed to assemble the connection the same way every time.  Professional 'arbor' crimp machines and their dies are machined to precise tolerances and most have jigs for proper contact and wire alignment.  The downside is that these types of crimpers are not cheap.  Even a quality handheld crimp tool will run anywhere from 150 to 1000$.  And most are designed only for a very specific type of contact.  Despite this, a crimped connection is generally faster than soldering and can be very easily be automated.

- Strainrelief.  Most crimp contacts for discrete (and even multiconductor like ribbon) have a small strain relief that mechanically crimps the insulation.  This ensures the weakest part of the wire (where it was stripped/no insulation) is mechanically sound.  Soldering a wire to a contact does not have this - in fact it's actually worse (see above regarding the flux wicking problem).

I honestly don't know why someone hasn't designed a crimper and connector for audio stuff.  Maybe it's just a volume issue or maybe they realize most folks wouldn't spring for the correct tool.  Or maybe it's just not needed.  You can hire inexpensive labour to solder cables up all day.  

Either way, a *correct* crimp made with the right crimper is preferred over soldering.  For audio cables, we can probably just say 'who cares' and worry mostly on the reliability aspects of a termination (mostly the strain relief).

Phil

Now, a lot of that makes sense.  Thanks for taking the time to type it all out.

-Scott
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