The cable. Is it the missing ingredient in the perfect tone | Page 13 | The Canadian Guitar Forum

The cable. Is it the missing ingredient in the perfect tone

Discussion in 'Effects Pedals, Strings and more' started by guitarman2, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. Diablo


    Dec 20, 2007
    Holland landing, ON
    is it really necessary to be this hostile to a fellow member in a post about cables?

    In fairness, although mixed in with a ton of verbage, all you have said in a nutshell is "I've spent a lot of money on cables because the value of the rest of my equipment warrants it, I enjoy splurging on my hobby, and I think I can hear the difference regardless if others can or can't". Thats fine, we get it. no need to justify your purchase so fiercely. Even those who dont think they can hear a difference between cables probably dont think less of you for saying you do.

    But although your guitars tone may be pristine, your postings tone leaves something to be desired.

    The above posters point about the value is a valid one. even if thieves arent singling out cables as something to steal, gear does frequently go missing, and they arent likely to leave the cables behind, so whether they know the value of them or not, you're out quite a few bucks if you have expensive cables. That can be a consideration for some.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  2. guitarman2

    guitarman2 Gold Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Brantford, Ontario
    I think I had quite a bit of patience ignoring his sarcasm and useless posts through out this thread. Sure I probably should have continued ignoring him.

    If this is what you think then either your reading comprehension is bad or you didn't read and therefore you speak without knowing what your talking about. I don't defend what I have yet to prove to my self yet. I am listening to many views on this subject based on scientific knowledge and practical experience. This thread for me, has been very informative. This thread may spawn a public test.
    I thank Wildbill, jarsee, pneumonic, mhammer, hollowbody and some others for their contributions and helping to educate me.
    I may well be back in this thread after testing the cables, when the arrive, posting that I could not hear a difference and the nay sayers were right. Of course if I do hear an improved difference then I guess I'll have to agonize over why, based on supposed scientific information given here, states it should not.
    As far as cables going missing, my pedal board goes with me at the end of the night as well my guitar cables go away. The only cable that might stay is the cable to the amp. Its usually not a concern any way as 90% of my gigs are one nighters. Any 2 nighters or more and I sometimes even take my amp heads out at the end of the night.
  3. mhammer


    Nov 30, 2007
    Ottawa, Ontario
    I just wanted to draw attention to part of guitarman2's original post: "So I'm trying to do as much research as possible so that hopefully I can select the right cables for me first time."

    I like that attitude. In the intervening 180-odd posts, I think we may have lost that sense of curiosity in the original post, and maybe mistakenly assumed the gist was "I think THIS cable is the be-all and end-all". There has been no such assertion, and I see every sign that guitarman2 would likely be the first one to admit that there may well be no audible difference between one cable and another costing 6 times as much with 20x as much sworn testimony form experts.

    Differences in cable quality DO exist. The key questions have been, and remain:

    1) what sorts of complimentary relationships might exist between cables and sources?

    2) where are the points of diminishing returns?

    3) what are the design features that might consistently be found to deliver "better" (more faithful) sound?
    4 people like this.
  4. keeperofthegood


    Apr 30, 2008
    Burlington, Ontario
    kqoct I have read 1/4 of the posts. Long thread is long kqoct

    I think (my 2 cents, just being logical) a lot of the questions are moot, because wire is only 'wire' for a short time, then it is something else and the reason I say that follows:

    1) What I am unaware of is any wire that is what it was when bought inside of a few months, or manufactured for that matter, due to atmospheric environment. As it cools off the machinery, before it is encased it is being degraded by its environment. I have never seen a guitar or audio wire with ISO certified gaseous or moisture barrier qualities in it's insulation. I have seen that kind of insulation on double shielded communications cable and that stuff is tough, hard, and pretty inflexible and also rather annealed to the wire itself, when you strip that wire it does not just slide off like butter, there is some definet pull needed. By comparison, the highly flexible audio wire is like loose taffy. So whatever the quality of the originating metal, there are so many points in time that quality can be rapidly lost, and continue to be lost even as it sits sealed in store packages.

    "Wire is wire" is a truth, but there is a truth that comes before that, and that is "wire is metal".

    2) Metal is variously reactive to varying degrees, and more reactive to some compounds than to others. Copper is reactive to CO2, forming carbonates. Hot copper is reactive to O2 forming red or black oxides. Copper as a metal also has a crystalline structure. This structure is lost by hammering and die pulling, but is enhanced by bending. The reason you don't 90 degree leads on components is because of this crystal nature. Bending forms high resistances, and are also more likely to break mechanically because crystals are less mechanically strong.

    So, I think that that: Bending, folding, rolling, stepping on, running equipment over, all bend or hammer the teeny weeny tiny copper strands inside the cables, causing various conditions of crystal to exist in that wire. I think that compared to what you bought; in a week of walking around with it, slapping it this or that way, stepping on it, rolling it up, unrolling it, etc it is now different, and in a few months probably nowhere near, electrical signal wise, what it started out as. I say PROBABLY because I have not seen a "0 months of service, 1 month, 10 months' etc comparison.

    So as much as I think Mark Hammer has raised good points about using good quality (you really dont want to put your jack in and have it fall right back out for instance and yea, Ive had that with a 2 dollar cable) I also think that guitar cables are a wear item same as picks and should be seen as something that should be replaced somewhat regularly.
  5. guitarman2

    guitarman2 Gold Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Brantford, Ontario
    This morning before I left for work a white van pulls up and delivers my cables. Of course I don't have time to do anything this morning but I couldn't resist pulling out the guitar cable and plugging in quickly I quickly.
    I plug in directly and play a few quick notes, then plug in my planet waves and play a few notes. I didn't really hear any difference but its hardly a fair test as I'm running a bit late for work and in a hurry. But it tells me that more than likely the results won't be jaw dropping. Of course I've almost always heard that expression in relation to the Van den hul cables that cost about twice as much.Hopefully this weekend I'll get a chance to run a fair test of these cables. Possibly it will make much more of a difference running through the whole rig as the cable run will be much longer.
  6. pattste


    Dec 30, 2007
    Montreal, QC
    I'm sure that I'm not the only one interested in the full report. Although you're not the first one to upgrade your guitar cables, your situation is interesting for a few reasons.

    You are starting from a good quality cable (not junk) and upgrading to what's universally recognized as a very high-end cable.

    You have an open mind on the subject; you're willing to admit that it may make no difference or could make a difference but don't expect that it will be "like taking a blanket off my amp" or such stupid hyperbole.

    I'd be curious to know how much cable you're actually using (i.e. the breakdown) from guitar to pedal board, between pedals (how many pedals) and between pedalboard and amp, anything going to an effect loop?
  7. guitarman2

    guitarman2 Gold Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Brantford, Ontario
    A bit of an update:

    First off I'm using 10' from guitar to pedal board; Pedal board is 7 devices consisting of a Sonic research turbo tuner an axxes buffer pedal and 5 effects pedals. Pedals and tuner are true bypass. Then a 15' cable from pedal board to reverb. and 6' cable from reverb to amp. I replaced the 6 foot Planet waves speaker cable from amp to cabinet (6' being the shortest I could get) with a 2' Evidence Audio speaker cable. If anything at least its a little neater back there.
    Cable for cable one on one with the planet waves. Plugging the 10' Evidence audio cable in direct to amp then plugging planet waves in direct I had to struggle to hear any difference. I was using my Circuit breaker Planet waves. I have a Nuetrik silent plug on the evidence audio cable which is more convenient then the circuit breaker. With the circuit breaker you have to manually engage it. Sometimes it can get engaged when you don't mean it to. The Nuetrik silent plug engages it self when you unplug the cable.
    As I said there was very little difference between cables. Certainly not a "one is better scenario." I did like the tone of the Evidence Audio as the Planet waves had a slightly harsher mid. The Evidence Audio was smoother in this respect and the highs seemed less spikey. But this doesn't come down to improvement but rather preference. Someone else might have liked the harder mids and spikey highs. On a different rig it could even be a different result.
    Now testing the whole rig with the Evidence audio cable there was a problem that made it so I was unable to truly evaluate. At first it seemed like the planet waves cable was slightly fuller and more powerful sounding. Then I realized I was getting some volume drops. At first I thought it was my outboard Dr Z Zverb as I've had some issues with that. I ended up taking it all apart cleaning it and swapping tubes to no avail. It seemed like it was the reverb as I would lose almost all power if I turned the mix knob on even a little bit. But then I decided to try each cable directly in to the amp to see if I could isolate it to a cable. I had to run through each cable twice but finally found a fault in the 6' cable. It didn't seem bad but there was a buzz in the cable. When I touched the end of the cable while plugged in to the guitar it stopped buzzing. Is this a ground problem? Was the soldering done on the ends faulty? Maybe some of the more technical can answer those problems. When I moved the cable around it made some noise and crackling as well.
    So at any rate when I replaced the faulty cable with the planet waves the rig sounded normal again. So rather than mix cables, for now I continued some testing with out the reverb. Still though Planet waves versus Evidence Audio there was nothing jaw dropping. However where the cable did excel is when I took the axess buffer of the board. Plugging the planet waves cables in minus the buffer quickly reminded me why I bought the buffer. When I used the evidence audio in place of the planet waves it did however regain what the planet waves lost. These differences didn't make as much difference when going through the buffer. This is an interesting test to me. It shows me that the buffer was doing its job. However The buffer does color the sound. I felt I got a more transparent sound with the evidence audio cable with out the buffer. In my case I like the tone color of the buffer though For me it accentuates the bell like voxy chime that my amp was designed after and the Celestion Blues excel at. So the buffer will be staying.
    Most likely so will the Evidence audio. It is a slightly different smoother tone than the Planet waves. And even saying this I need to test further when I recieve the replacement cable that Mark from lava cables has already sent out.
    Hopefully this gives you a general idea of where I'm at. I havent really been wowed at all. And I'm not likely to be. There may be some small improvements that are guaranteed to be lost on a live stage. Even at home you'd need critical listening. I don't expect a 6' cable to make a world of difference. Although one of the other claims about these high end cables is that they need a break in period where they start sounding better. Who knows.
    I never really noticed speaker break in until I had my celestion blues and noticed a big difference after they broke in. But cable break in? Hmm, Yeah I'm suspicious.
    Well sorry for the rambling and hope at least some of this makes sense. It wasn't an easy straight forward night for testing as I'd hoped.
    4 people like this.
  8. Terry, what a fascinating read. Thanks for taking the time to post that.

    It does indeed sound like the sheild on your 6' cable isn't soldered to the sleeve of the jack.

    Excellent to hear the buffer does its job and very interesting to hear it colours the sound. I wonder if its an impedance difference between the buffer's input and the amp's input? Not sure what else would make it colour the sound. Certainly points to how the system as a whole has to be considered when evaluating stuff.

    Keep us posted on how they work live. The mechanics of them.
  9. ronmac


    Sep 22, 2006
    Nova Scotia
    That was a great post. Removing the emotional attachment from reviewing a new toy(s) is not an easy thing to do. You did good.

    I commend you on your commitment and struggle to improve your rig and elevate the quality of your art. It isn't all about the WOW! moments, but rather a steady march towards the beat of your own drum. If you continue, I am sure that you will be rewarded.

    Terry, you should also be thanked and congratulated for keeping your perspective intact, especially considering the very public way you have laid out your quest, and the number of responses that ranged from skepticism to "what, are you out of your mind?!". It takes a mature and insightful mind to come back to us with your true findings and feelings, and not try to defend a predetermined or biased position.

  10. greco

    greco Gold Member

    Jul 15, 2007
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Ronmac stated this better than I would ever be able to.

    Terry, thanks for all the (ongoing) time and energy you have put into this thread.

    With my utmost admiration and respect,

  11. whammybar


    May 7, 2008
    somewhere in the middle
    To me this simple statement is the basis for all choices of all gear period. We start out with some gear, hear something that works with our ear we like better and we make a change.

    In my personal experience with cables, or any piece of gear for that matter, the longer you ues it the longer you milk the tone out of it and it becomes your tone. For example you pick up a strat for the first time and go 'yuc' how does anybody play this thing? Then you slowly find sweet spots, the tone knobs, the 2 and 4 position etc. So it is, at least with me, with cables (perhaps my financial situation as had something to do with it). I plug in with the cable I've got or the place I'm in has got, and after a bit of tweaking with knobs and playing I find my sweet spots, maybe in slightly different places than with other gear, and I just start to sound like me. It doesn't really matter what I'm using.

    I'm glad to read about all the testing don't get me wrong, but in the end whether you spend the money or not, you'll find the sweetness in the gear you're using and that becomes your tone, your number 1.
  12. guitarman2

    guitarman2 Gold Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Brantford, Ontario
    I got the replacement cable from lavacable friday but didn't really do much critical listening as I've been preoccupied with my new purchase a 61 reissue SG. I couldn't really judge any improvement in tone with the SG as its a completely new guitar for me. It sounds great through my amp though even though I haven't even changed the strings. They are pretty dead.
    But lastnight I plugged my CS Nocaster in for the first time this weekend and it did sound like it had more punch especially in the high end. To me it sounded like an improvement but who knows as it could be the fact that I haven't had my tele plugged in since I got the SG last week. Not good to have too many purchases all at once when you're trying to determine if something is an improvement.
  13. tojoe


    Apr 5, 2009
    I like George L's, simplicity and a small diameter cable..
  14. guitarman2

    guitarman2 Gold Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Brantford, Ontario
    Just an ending post to this thread to let everyone know my final opinion.
    Tone wise I think there was a difference but after many, many listening tests and comparisons it is miniscule.
    To address the Evidence Audio cables directly I have found them very unreliable. One cable came to me defective and the guitar cable with the silent plug didn't last the first night of the first gig I used it on.
    I will be sending it back for hopefully, a refund. I'll likely keep the remaining working cables and hope they last.
    In my opinion I think that high end cables can be important and that most likely for what George L's cost or even maybe Marks Lavacable would be fine for anyone. You don't spend too much and you still get a good low capacitance cable. I'll most likely pickup a couple of George L's for my guitar cables.
    4 people like this.
  15. dan_


    Feb 5, 2008
    Markham, ON
    Thanks for the follow-up on this...was looking forward to the update!

Share This Page