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The Great Cable Myth

Discussion in 'Maddrakkett's Caffe' started by jester, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

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  2. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Believing in high end instrument cables is a religious act. Discussing it always ends nowhere. But I must be honest.

    Fact is, and the laws of physics dictate this, it's nothing but complete and utter marketing rubbish.

    Any copper strand with decent plugs attached will perfectly carry your signal. There is absolutely no audible difference between cheap and expensive ones. Just get one that won't break easily. If it has Neutrik plugs this usually indicates the quality is good.

    It is true the electrical signal travels through the outer layer of the copper strand and that this skin effect occuring has an influence on the signal, but this happens at frequencies way way WAY beyond the audible spectrum.
     
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  3. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    I dunno. Many years ago we gathered together some guitarists and bassists, we all brought our high end cables and did some blind tests. I don't care for a long time, as long as it doesn't break, but the difference was there. There are many similar articles about wood that doesn't matter, and this is not hte experience of most Warwickers. What I noticed about cables: cheap ones- no surprises there, sound was a bit flat. With more expensive cables sound had a pretty audible more depth. You could hear that and you could feel that, especially on passive guitars. I found Monster to be excellent, some double the price (I forgot the name) were a bit harsh. I loved Spectraflex ones, they had depth, and more mellow high end. I remeber Laboga sounding cheap, while being rated as top tier cables.
     
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  4. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    We also tested that power cord, that doen't make any sense to me, but it was a difference with a tube guitar amp we tested. I guess it is all about how much we are willing to pay for a change in sound nobody except you really cares.
     
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  5. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

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    I am most certainly one of those people.

    I was about to ask if those tests were blind Flo, but you already said they were blind.
     
  6. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    Of course, otherwise you just hear what you want :) I was playing the same really basic pattern to hear open strings ring, and while doing that, 2 friends were switching cables, one was at the amp side, one was on the bass side. Many times they were faking it, so they were plugging in the same cable more times in a row. @jester, you think wood doesn't matter?
     
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  7. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Wood has a mechanical function together with the strings to generate sound. The instrument lead's only function is to transport the electrical signal created by the coils to your amp. That should not have any effect on your tone unless the wire has capacitance. Any cable that is 6m or shorter is of zero influence.

    Signal deteriorating can be caused by poorly designed effect pedals, bad onboard preamps in your bass (I replaced a sicky bart pre to fix this once) or impedance mismatches between the instrument output and amplifier input.

    As an owner of many bass amplifiers I can tell you this: Most input circuits on bass amps are their #1 cause of sounding bad or good with your instrument.

    The Mesa, Darkglass, Fender, Tech21, Ibanez, Trace Elliot (Peavey) Elf and some others would sound nice and powerful with one bass and not good at all with another, with neutral EQ settings. Thankfully the LWA1000 and my trusty Hexa Valve do not suffer these problems.

    The problematic amps also had an impact on the output volume of some effect pedals. As a result I started using my compressor or a bass pre (Le Bass or TE Transit-B) as a buffer, always at the end of the fx chain since some of the amps would destroy my volume when using some of the fx.

    Maybe we just all need to use some sort of buffer to make sure the amp input impedance can't mess up your signal. When it does, it usually weakens your treb and mids.
     
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  8. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    We tested on a single (guitar) tube amp, even the basses. The differences were more obvious on passive instruments. And it was quite obvious as "depth" of sound more than anything. Basically it was no way I could not tell if it was a monster cable or rockcable (for example) :) Between those the difference was significant, between the higher grade cables it was a matter of taste. Evidence audio were really crisp, Spectraflex was mellow, but they were all sharing that 3d depth of sound that was pretty obvious when playing let's say a '60's Fender STrat with a matching vintage Fender amp.
    Clean sound no distortion btw.
    I also changed a few times the speaker cables in my stereo system home, I am not sure if I can tell a difference between the latest premium ones, but the difference between them and the cheap one I got first was quite significant.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
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  9. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    I think if you play a Warwick Thumb with a darkglass electronics distortion into a LWA1000, you will not hear any difference. But if you play one of those sweet vintage Pbasses into a nice tube amp the cable will make a noticeable difference.
     
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  10. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Well I don't hear any. I have a lot of cables and never noticed. But: it is not important!

    Everything else influences the low end much more anyway. Room acoustics, air pressure, humidity, speaker placement, stage material (wood or concrete), how you feel that day, etc. etc.

    Bottom line is buy cables that won't fall apart as you see fit. Whatever works for you is good enough!
     
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  11. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

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    No, quite the opposite. I think it matters and very much. Of course there's scientific proof that it doesn't matter, based on formulas, but that doesn't stop the difference from being there. :)

    Does this apply to an audio interface as well? Mine has a Inst/Line switch but I don't use it since I can't hear any difference. Which could be tha case because I don't use the switch much. :) That doesn't mean it's not there.

    My guess is: Active bass -> Line, Passive bass -> Inst, right?

    Also, if you plug into a random amp that you can't touch, what kind of bass would have the most chances of sounding good, active or passive? What I am trying to figure out is which combo is the most problematic, passive bass in "active" (lo-z) input or active bass in "passive" (high-z) input?

    By the way the "active/passive" switch on amps can be misleading. This name can be used for a) setting the input impedance b) activating/deactivating a pad.
     
  12. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    Any bass with solid mid content will sound good by default. When I am new in a band and don't know where to start, I pick a Streamer LX. It is slightly compressed, have really solid lows and crisp highs, the 2 band EQ is spot on. You can easily take any gig with this and a passive DI :)
     
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  13. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

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    Mostly I mean what Marco says about the amp input stage, specifically its impedance. Which is worse, low-z to high-z or high-z to low-z. I think a low-z output (onboard preamp on your bass or outboard preamp) will sound good in both high-z, low-z amp inputs, whereas a high-z passive bass will have trouble with a low-z input. Not sure though.
     
  14. Hardy

    Hardy Good Vibe Sponsor

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    It‘s all in your fingers, mates! :p
     
  15. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    It's all in your mates fingers!
     
  16. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Quote from Harmony Central:

    Amp Input Impedance

    When sending a signal to an amplifier, some of the signal gets lost along the way—sort of like having a leak in a pipe that's transferring water from one place to another. Whether this leak is a pinhole or gaping chasm depends on the amp's input impedance. With stock guitar pickups, lower input impedances load down the guitar and produce a "duller" sound (interestingly, tubes have an inherently high input impedance, which might account for one aspect of the tube's enduring popularity with guitarists).

    Impedance affects not only level, but the tone control action as well. The capacitor itself is only one piece of the tone control puzzle, because it's influenced by the amp's input impedance. The higher the impedance, the greater the effect of the tone control. This is why a tone control can seem very effective with some amps and not with others.

    Although a high amp input impedance keeps the level up and provides smooth tone control action (the downside is that high impedances are more susceptible to picking up noise, RF, and other types of interference), it also accentuates the effects of cable capacitance. A cable that robs highs when used with a high input impedance amp can have no audible effect with a low input impedance amp.

    There's one other consideration: the guitar output impedance and amp input impedance interact. Generally, you want a very high amplifier input impedance if you're using stock pickups, as this minimizes loss (in particular, high frequency loss). However, active pickups with low output impedances are relatively immune to an amp's input impedance.
     
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  17. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    What that last quote tells me is I should keep using my tube amp. LOL.
     
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  18. woody2shoes

    woody2shoes

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    Canare GS-6 w/ Neutrik ends

    /thread.
     
  19. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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  20. Hoggles

    Hoggles Supporting Member Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I'm constantly needing new things to blame for my poor playing.

    I think it's the cables.
     
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