Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

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jpdennis
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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by jpdennis » Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:15 am

JUS wrote: ... "Ring out" your cables with a mulitmeter ... interference is another question ...
Drat, there goes my secrets LOL :lol:

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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by bluestometal » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:45 pm

Of course they make difference in sound. Just A/B some random Proel or other "basic" brand cables with any higher-end cables (Reference, PW, Monster, George L's) and you'll spot a huge difference on the noise a cable can add and the clarity, upper/lower frequencies it can cut off. Of course it also depends on the rest of you rig (any very bad element in your chain can ruin the whole sound despite of how good intrument/patch/speaker cable you use). I wasn't so aware about cables years ago 'till I started using more expensive rigs and a guitarist I was sessioning with asked wich cables I used and when I said "I don't know, I just buy random cables of the lenght I need" so he looked at me with a "you drink champagne in plastic cups?" expression :D

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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by thunda1216 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:27 pm

JUS wrote:Here is a test. "Ring out" your cables with a mulitmeter. You will find for similar length cable, the resistance is similar across brands. This is the only factor that will "inhibit" sound, the resistance of the conductor.

Now, interference is another question. So long as the insulation is good (last time I checked, cross linked poly ethylene is....cross linked poly ethylene), and there is sufficient shielding attached to an appropriate gound, the amount of interference should be similar.

Bottom line, avoid the cheapest, Made in Kazhakstan cables on the market, but do not buy into the hype of adverstising.

-JUS-


ps. Planet Waves cables work great.
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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by Deathf***ingmetal » Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:22 am

benjamin801 wrote:
Deathf***ingmetal wrote:Also AC-power cables do improve your tone, if you're using tube amps. Here's the trick:

http://www.mercurymagnetics.com/pages/mainframe.htm

These are the best $10 you could spend to improve your tone, I'm serious.
Eh. Crack open your amp. Look at the wire running from the IEC jack to the power switch. Understand that any current that's flowing through your AC cable is also flowing through that, and ask yourself why a thicker AC cable, or one of a different composition, would make any difference. Hell, if you have a newer, mass-produced amp, power may even be flowing through PCB traces.
Well... to be honest... I don't mean to be rude but I don't give a rat's a$$ about theorical stuff. I just go with what I hear, and if there's an audible improvement, then it's all good. I've done several A/B tests with the the standard AWG 18 cables and the thicker AWG 14 cable and it always makes the amp sound better, so there must be a good technical reason for that.
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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by benjamin801 » Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:42 pm

Deathf***ingmetal wrote:Well... to be honest... I don't mean to be rude but I don't give a rat's a$$ about theorical stuff. I just go with what I hear, and if there's an audible improvement, then it's all good. I've done several A/B tests with the the standard AWG 18 cables and the thicker AWG 14 cable and it always makes the amp sound better, so there must be a good technical reason for that.
In that case, more power to you! If it sounds better to you, that's what matters. :mrgreen:

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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by J.J » Fri Feb 03, 2012 6:40 pm

There is more to a cable than just its resistance, though speaker cables are more about resistance. I thought someone else would have mentioned it already, but the capacitance of the cable can have a large effect. A lot of cheap cables tend to have a high capacitance and this can roll the top end off quite a lot. Some people like that effect (Jimi hendrix) others don't.

Using shorter cable runs and a good buffer can do wonders.

Personally I am a little fussy with cables and so far the best cable I have used is the Dimarzio one, which also happens to be very low capacitiance.
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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by JUS » Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:56 pm

benjamin801 wrote:
Deathf***ingmetal wrote:Well... to be honest... I don't mean to be rude but I don't give a rat's a$$ about theorical stuff. I just go with what I hear, and if there's an audible improvement, then it's all good. I've done several A/B tests with the the standard AWG 18 cables and the thicker AWG 14 cable and it always makes the amp sound better, so there must be a good technical reason for that.
In that case, more power to you! If it sounds better to you, that's what matters. :mrgreen:
All cables, by design, are capacitors. Could you please explain what makes one cable more capacitive than another?

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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by J.J » Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:15 pm

Sure, its easily explained.

Capacitance is formed between the two conductors in a regular cable. The surface area, kind of insulation used (between the conductors)and thickness are the big variables that effect the capacitance value.

With all things being equal a cable that uses thicker insulation will have lower capacitance.

I just went and measured 3 cables I own, two 20 foot leads (one I consider very good and the other average) and a 10 foot lead that I don't like.

The good cable came to about 600pF, the average cable 800pF and the 10 foot 700pF. A good number of cheap multimeters can measure capacitance so almost anyone can check themselves.

I should also mention where the cable capacitiance comes into play. A passive guitar pickup will generally have a fairly high output impedance and when combined with the cable capactiance will form a low pass RC filter. So if you have a setup with 2 20 foot cables (say 1000pF each), a true bypass pedal in the middle and guitar with an 8k Ohm passive pickup the top will have rolled back 3dB around 10Khz, but will have started the roll off around 5Khz. A buffered pedal or active pickups in that situation diminish the roll off to almost nothing at the frequencies we expect to hear from guitar amps.
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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by purpledc » Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:56 pm

I dont think monster cables are any better than horizon or pro co or my planet waves. But I do believe in buying quality cables. There just seems to be a point where spending more than 30 bucks on a 20 foot cable doesnt get you anything more than your normal cable. But Ill tell you those thin cheap pedal cables with the non servicable ends are horrible. They shouldnt even make those things. They are simply create noise.

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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by Guitar GeeK » Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:38 pm

It does!! Honestly, the cables with the silver wiring and the gold jack makes a BIG difference. It's like plugging straight into the amp, without a cable. It's tonal modulation is just about as close as transparent as you can get!
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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by KH Guitar Freak » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:20 am

Silver is a better conductor than copper in the ideal world. However, to purify silver is a more difficult task than copper, and much more expensive too. Also, the silver wiring would be more susceptible to oxidisation, whereas copper would be less so...

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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by elvis » Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:10 pm

The conductivity of silver is higher than copper. BUT not by much. To use a guitar application, a 20-foot piece of 24-gauge copper wire is about 0.52 Ohms. For silver, the same wire would be 0.48 Ohms.

Driving that cable into a 1Meg Ohm guitar amp input will give a drop in signal of 0.000052% for Copper and 0.000048% for Silver. No way you'll hear that.

Driving into a really junky FX pedal with 20k input impedance, the drop will be 0.0026% for Copper and 0.0024% for Silver. No way you'll hear that.

For reference, 1dB is 10%.

Combined with 20pF capacitance to ground, 0.52 Ohms causes significant frequency change at 15.3GHz (15 BILLION Hertz). Combined with a 1uF coupling capacitor, the filter effect (assuming zero input impedance, which is impossible) is around 300kHz. For a real system it is in the GHz range again.

Copper and Silver both oxidize. This can cause MANY Ohms of resistance at the plug, and can also cause intermittent contact. Gold does not oxidize nearly as much, and can make a more reliable contact. Outside of plug/jack pairs, it is not so good because it is higher resistance than copper.

It is questionable whether or not gold is useful if the plug is gold-coated, but the jack is not. This is almost always the case when using gold cables. The jack still oxidizes.
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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by capnlee » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:45 pm

I read through this whole thread and was surprised to see that no one mentioned Whirlwind cables. This may sound strange, but I haven't bought a guitar cable in probably 10 years (maybe more). All of my cables are either Whirlwind or custom made cables from a local guitar shop. None of these cables broke the bank, but they weren't "budget" cables either. I've had enough cheap, noisy and prone to short out cables in my time. I had one Monster guitar cable and it developed a short in no time at all. I'm sure this isn't typical of Monster cables, but it put a bad taste in my mouth after forking over some significant dough for what was supposed to be a good cable. No more Monster and no more cheap cables for me. The way the quality of things changes these days I don't even know if Whirlwind still makes a good cable, but I know all the wws I bought between 10 and 20 years ago are still going strong, and they get used heavily.
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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by gonzo » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:24 pm

still using my .225 diameter George L's cables, and quite happy.
since 1980, haven't found another cable i liked better.
yea, there are better cables, if you've got money to waste.

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Re: Are good cables REALLY worth the extra dosh?

Post by barfly » Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:24 pm

I've been through a bunch and I notice................nothing different in sound. I see the better
cables last longer is all.

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