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Instrument Cables

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I'm looking for a good quality instrument cable (after seeing the video below around the 9:20 mark...Wirewell Cable). Did a search online for it, but couldn't find a dealer for it. What do you guys use and recommend?

This video was also very informative.

 

 

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I go for medium priced cables.

The cheap ones fall apart, the high end ones are over-engineered past the point of diminishing returns IMHO.

That point of diminishing returns is that X amount of additional money spent gives you less benefit for every X amount of money spent.

Since the closing of my local mom & pop music store, I've been getting my cables from Sweetwater. Their "Pro Co" brand has nice connectors, good shielding and a lifetime guarantee. I've had good luck with Hosa cables and some other brands. Long ago I bought a "Radio Shack" brand and it was too low end. The phone plugs fit loosely in the jacks causing a connection problem. That was decades ago, I never went back.

I bought a "Monster" cable once and decided it wasn't worth the price for me - YMMV.  I closed a cable in the lid of a road case, it left me without a spare, and the only thing I could find was the Monster brand. I carry a spare of every cable at all times. The show must go on, and to miss a gig because a cable failed is not an option.

It was a 25',  1/4" phone plug cable to feed a monitor. I used it to replace a Planet Waves brand. No audible difference except the price. I eventually had to replace plugs on both, and the Planet Waves was much easier to replace the plug due to a more cooperative shield. Both had approximately 100% shielding and the same gauge center conductor. The dielectric looked to be made of the same material.

Yes I know I can send the cables back for a replacement, but for 15 minutes work I can put a new plug on and not pay shipping charges and wait weeks for a return.

I took electronics in college, communications option - radio frequency, especially. What I learned about coax is that if you have a good conductor, proper dielectric around it, and a good shield around that, the differences become minimal. Now if there is a kink in the cable, all bets are off as the propagation depends on that center conductor to shield distance.

This is especially true with radio frequency signals. I don't know how much effect it would have on audio frequency, but I'm sure it would be much less.

I don't know about 200'. I would never use anything that long unbalanced. I have used 100' balanced XLR conector cables to powered speakers (two 50' cables daisy chained) and didn't have a problem.

If you find the Wire World cables and if you can hear the difference, let me know.

Well that's my recommendation. I'm sure others will have other opinions.

Notes

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Thanks Notes, very informative!!

I won't be using this for live purposes, but mostly in the DAW setting. Looking into cables that don't add any noise to the signal flow. Will definitely check out Pro Co.

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3 hours ago, Mesh said:

I'm looking for a good quality instrument cable (after seeing the video below around the 9:20 mark...Wirewell Cable). Did a search online for it, but couldn't find a dealer for it. What do you guys use and recommend?

https://wireworldaudio.com/where-to-buy/

 

 

 

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33 minutes ago, Mesh said:

Thanks Notes, very informative!!

I won't be using this for live purposes, but mostly in the DAW setting. Looking into cables that don't add any noise to the signal flow. Will definitely check out Pro Co.

I have a MIDI studio, and don't do that much vocals here, but I play live a lot in places where noise can be a big problem depending on the wiring of the places I play.

Here is some advice, if you already know this, feel free to ignore:

1. If you have a choice between balanced and unbalanced cables - always used balanced. Simplified explanation: Balanced cables invert the signal on one conductor and re-invert to recombine at the other end. Any noise that enters both conductors cancels itself out when re-inverted at the end.

2. Clean power. If the power in your studio is not clean you will have problems. If you're serious, and electrician can be worth the money

3. Power conditioner. I use a power/line conditioner and plug everything into it. The conditioner boosts temporary brown outs and suppresses surges. Plugging everything into the same conditioner minimizes the potential for ground loops. At home I plug everything into the same heavy duty UPS as it serves the same function.

4. Make sure there are no light dimmers around or motors on the circuit.

I'm sure there are others who have better suggestions than mine out there. My philosophy is to eliminate the problem rather than try to mask it. I can do that in my small MIDI studio.

But playing live means I have no control over the power so a lot of masking is necessary. 

We play one hall about twice a year where I can't keep the hum out. I need to put my guitar on humbuckers, single coils roar. There is something wrong there, even their house music hums. I can keep the hum at a minimum, the conversation in the room masks the hum, but I know it's there. If I didn't have balanced cables wherever I can, it would be terrible I'm sure. I suspect the line conditioner helps too.

Notes

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On 9/13/2019 at 3:54 PM, Mesh said:

Thanks Notes, very informative!!

I won't be using this for live purposes, but mostly in the DAW setting. Looking into cables that don't add any noise to the signal flow. Will definitely check out Pro Co.

I did quite a bit of testing using a 50s era Les Paul Jr and a Custom ESP (not the metal kind, one built for tone with custom wound pickups stright from Lollar himself into the best sounding amp ever made, a Trainwreck Rocket.

Out of about 20 different cables (mostly high end) The Evidence Audio Lyric HG was the cable that was the most pleasing to the test group (David Gilmour's guitar tech came to the same conclusion, for what it is worth).  

This is not a robust cable due to the solid core design, so Studio use is fine.

I use the Lava Ultramafic for stage use.  

Don't get too caught up with all the hype though, yes unbalanced cables can sound different, but realistically even with great gear, the person listening to a recording isn't really going to hear a difference.  

Keep cable runs short (10ft) and that will prevent a lot of the tone suck and make sure the Capitence isn't too high or too low as too low can sound brittle and too high will make things dull.  

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Length is more important than price. Shorter is better.

I like cables that have some difference between them so I can keep them straight. Some variance in colors or ends helps there. I wouldn't want 16 identical cables b/c I'd have to mark them myself. 

I've acquired my cables over decades so they look different. It has been decades since I've had one that went bad. They do sometimes go bad, but not that often if you treat them lovingly.

Don't walk on your cables. Definitely don't bounce on them as you jump to the beat. I was running sound for some band in the Boulder band shell when some guy did this. haha. Nothing I could do to help that!

I got a 25 ft snake this year and it has been handy. A nice thing to be able to have the DAW a nice distance from the amps. Previously, I've linked two mic cables when necessary.

Guitar output is actually kinda strong (electrics). I didn't know that when I started.

Phantom Powered mics do ok with distances up to 100 ft too.

Be cautious with the ribbons. They have a very faint signal.

Jerry Garcia said once that the longer your cable the more it's like turning down your tone nob on your guitar. When he first found himself on enormous stages, he got really really long cables for fun and was like, 'What happened?' 🙂

At 12:31 he says get cables that won't break. I totally agree with that. If you ever have a bad experience with a cable, mark it like a bad climbing rope. 

Edited by Gswitz

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