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"EXPENSIVE CABLES"

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by KTek, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. KTek

    KTek Guest

    ok my good friend preached to me about cables recently. now i know that you're sound is only as good as your weakest link.. so he told me about "MONSTER 1000" cables. told me how different frequencies travel at different speeds and how they clutter eachother up by the time they reach the other end. so he says that you should use ALL monster 1000 cables between everything from mics to guitar to between pedals, etc.... reason being that they split the frequencies off into 3 bands at the one end, then merge them back together at the other. i have a bunch of regular ole black XLR cables of different brands,,, but all seem to give off the same signal.. now being that i'm not rich, and do physical labor to buy my gear, what i'm wondering is if you HAVE TO USE these super-expensive cables to have achieve a professional sound, or is this something that isn't as big of a deal than he's saying??? cause if i have to replace all my cables with these things?!?!?!?!?!?! GEEZE!!!!!! please give me your opinions guys! thanx
     
  2. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    I'm a believer in good cables, but I buy bulk Mogami Cable and Neutrik ends from Redco Audio and make my own. Much cheeper.
     
  3. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    There is a lot of nonsense going on around cables. Avoid listening to it unless you have a lot of money to spend. (And I mean a LOT -- some people willingly pay $1.000 for a loudspeaker cable).

    The marketing thing about cables is that you may sell them to the people who has already invested a lot in their equipment. And you can make them at home in your basement and use all kind of quasi-scientific arguments talking up your stuff. Mind you, I´m not saying all of it is snake oil, but there sure are a few of the guys around that would not make it in a normal physics test.

    If you avoid listening to the talk, you will not hear any difference. If you listen too much to the talk you may get infected by a virus, which makes you believe that your ears can hear the difference.

    There are almost no true blind A/B tests done on this kind of stuff, from the simple reason that the listeners do not hear any difference unless they know what cable they are listening to. So most of it is a pure phsycological effect. Mind you though, for the people hearing it, that is quite as true and real as any other effect. And after all, if you have the money to spend, why not spend them on something that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling of beeing content.

    And of course, if you are connecting your loudspeakers, I´m not suggesting you get the cheapest hair-thin cables. Buy some good sized power cable and make your own loudspeaker cables.

    I suggest a small experiment: sneak into the home of one of the worst audiophiles and steathly exchange one of his loudspeaker cables with telephone wires. I can bet money that he will not hear the difference until you tell him. (Well, don´t, you will loose him as a friend, simply switch things back).

    As for mic cables, the really important thing to spend your money on is the connector. I´m not talking fancy gold plated or such, only decent brand-name quality stuff. It pays of in reliability, but makes no difference in sound really. For the cable as such, decent quality is OK. Stay off the esoteric stuff.

    Well, anyway, only my opinions.

    Gunnar.
     
  4. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Have him do a blind test with several different cables (less than 50% odds of guessing correctly). See if he can reliably pick the Monster cable sound.

    Only as good as you're weakest link is true - but with everything else that makes up a system, I can assure that cables are not your weakest link.
     
  5. xaivious

    xaivious Guest

    Something to it

    I have worked in studio design and pro audio sales in the past. Monster cables (500 series or better) are no joke. That company fights hard to preserve their patents.

    I built my studio around Monster cabling (mostly 500 series "studiolink", with a few 1000 mic cables). In pro audio sales I was skeptical when if first heard the Monster sales rep talk. But then I sat down and tested them. They do sound a lot better. Some of the Monster cable in particular sticks out from the crowd. The 500 "line level" studiolink (also jazz and keyboard models) have a signal flow design that will noticably reduce inducted noise. The 1000 series mic cables add noticable clarity to most mics. Monsters are expensive, but do offer a lifetime guarantee (no questions) exchange policy with any dealer.

    One person comments on saying it is mostly psychological. I study psychology and quantum theory, I know how perception affects things. But there is a science to the phasing and other techniques applied with Monster. It is NOT, mostly psychological. That is like saying it is a gimmic. Though some may make them sound more necessary and better then they are (in that case it has relation to psychology, called preference). People tend to make what they like sound better. For instance the debate about 2in Analog verses, 24/96 digital. With equally high-end systems, the digital is by far better "quality" or original sound representation. However, people will swear up and down that the analog is better, saying it sounds so much more full and warm. That warm sound they like is imperfections in the sound, meaning a lessor quality. Sometimes the best is not always the necessity. Sometimes it is not even the preference.

    The cabling is at least one of the weakest links in recording. It can be quite the bottle neck. Always go good cables.

    The phase handling of the 500 series (2-way) and 1000 series (3-way) or the signal flow designs are not a necessity. Just high end cables is what you need to focus on. Other than those unique patented techniques (only on some of the Monster cable models), they are just high end cables. Even the 1000 series speaker cable has no significant advantages other than high quality metal alloy (good signal flow design) and low resistance connections (does not use the more noticable phasing or noise reduction techniques). So I would say they are certainly not needed for all connections, like floor pedals, speakers, etc.

    Two of the better cable companies (other than Monster) are Canare and Mogami. Canare is just as good as the Monster minus the patented techniques, having nice braided shielding (same as the Monster 100 series). Canare actually has better connectors than Monster, but can be expensive anyways (and do not offer such a nice lifetime guarantee). Mogami is great but use mostly foil shields. Foil shields are the best, but usually risky with other than permanent installs. The foil is fragile and tears easy. Braided is the way to go in most non-install studio needs.

    So to sum up, any good cable is the most important, not just Monster.
     
  6. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    FWIW, I did not intent to imply that cables don't matter. I have a tub full of Canare star-quad cables. :cool:
     
  7. tubes4tone

    tubes4tone Guest

    There are certain aspects of cables that are important and actually do make a difference, and then there are "features" that make little to no difference in sound.

    Consider as an example: a basic microphone cable. All of these cables have similar elements of construction: 2 insulated conductors that are twisted together (carrying signals that are opposite polarity with each other) and some sort of uninsulated shield that surrounds these two connectors. Now let's consider two different "mic cables": a the free cable that came with your Shure SM57 and the one that you just made with supplies from redco (because you're smarter than "they" are ;)).

    Things that matter in a MIC cable:
    1) Good shielding. Shielding is important because it keeps the outside electrical noise from getting into the inner conductors where your main signal is carried. Most of the really cheap cables have insufficient shielding. This is normally quantified in percent coverage of the inner conductors. Good cables have 90% or more coverage and are usually made with braided shielding (wires are woven together). Bad cables can have less than 60% shielding and usually have spiral shielding (wires are just wrapped in circles around the cable). Braided shielding not only covers more area, but holds up better to use and even abuse. Spiral shielding has a tendency to "slip" with lots of usage and can create gaps where noise can get in. Look for cables with braided shielding and greater than 90% coverage.

    2) Conductor gauge (size). Wire size is important because the larger the wire, the more current it can carry. If the wire is small, then it resists the flow of the electricity through it. Now, in microphone cables, we have a very small amount of current flow, so conductor size is not as important as in speaker wire. Typically, you will see conductor sizes of 20, 22, and 24 gauge microphone cable (note: a smaller gauge size indicates a BIGGER wire). Speaker cables that need to carry a lot of power typically should use 14, 12, or even 10 gauge cable (depending on the length of the run). For mic cables, if you have a super long run (150ft or greater), it might be worth looking for 22 or 20 gauge conductors, but for everything else it should be fine.

    3) Cable Construction. This is the area where you are mentioning some confusion with regard to the Monster 1000 series cables. In mic cables, the standard procedure is to twist the two center conductors together. This helps reject noise. Some manufacturers have even taken this a step further and put 4 conductors inside, twisting them together in pairs, for further noise reduction. This is proven to work and actually helps. The use of multiple gauge wire to carry different frequencies is more of just a gimmick.

    4) Connector Quality. Different manufacturers make different versions of the same style of connector, all supposedly conforming to a standard. In mic cables, this is usually a 3 pin XLR connector or TRS plug. As you can imagine, some manufacturers come closer to the standard than others, and this accuracy is usually reflected in the cost. Another thing to look for in a connector is good strain relief. Most cable failures happen right at the connector, either from faulty (or broken) solder joints or a wire break from being bent too much, etc. Having good strain relief will reduce the number of failures.

    There are several other areas of comparison, but I consider these to be the most important.

    So in these four areas, lets compare the free cable and the custom made cable (that you are about to make ;)).
    Free cable: spiral shielding with 60% coverage, 24ga. wire, standard twisted pair conductors, cheap connector that doesn't fit very well in other connectors and decent strain relief.
    Custom cable: braided shielding with 95% (or greater coverage), 23ga. (equivalent) wire, star-quad (4) 26ga. conductors twisted together, standard sized connector made to exact tolerance with excellent rubberized strain relief that accomodates small diameter cables.

    <if you are still reading this post I will buy you a steak dinner>

    While both conductors will have similar signal transmission (because of similar wire gauges), the custom cable will reject much more noise and will last a very long time with repeated use. The free cable will be prone to picking up noise (especially in a studio environment with AC power, CRT monitors, amps, computers, etc.) and has more potential to break and cause intermittent connection headaches.

    Practical Application (or, putting your money where your mouth is):
    For connectors, Neutrik is the accepted standard. They make high tolerance connectors with a good chuck-style strain relief that even helps support small diameter cables, like those found inside a snake. I buy mine from Audiogear.com usually. They have great prices. For XLR, I use the NC3MX (male, black or nickel) and NC3FX (female, black or nickel); for TRS, I use the NP3C (black or nickel); for line level, unbalanced, or guitar I use the NP2C (black or nickel). These are available for less than $3 each.

    For balanced cabling (microphone), Mogami and Canare are two of the best quality and most used brands. Both brands make cables with excellent shielding, twisted quad, etc. I use Canare Starquad cable, and you can find it priced per foot at Redco.com or Markertek.com, between $0.39 and $0.32 per foot, depending on the quantity of cable that you order at one time.

    So you can see that making your own cables is probably the best way to ensure that you have good quality cables, and you can save a "monster"-load of money too! Quality ingredients + quality construction = quality cable. And if you can't do it yourself, look for pre-made cables with these quality ingredients. Esoteric ingredients (pure silver conductors! triple gauge wire! solid gold connectors covered in diamond dust!) offer only marginal improvement, if any, and in my opinion NO WAY JUSTIFY THEIR COST!!!

    I hope I haven't bored you all or typed all this in vain, but I thought I would share what I feel are the major factors that must be considered when buying or building quality cables. You may now wake up and continue to the next post.
     
  8. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    great post tubes! Now lets get out that old trusty soldering iron and roll our own
     
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Where do I go for the steak dinner??

    A guy that used to do my maintenance in SF and I talked about this at length when we were reconfiguring my studio. I was thinking about some high end wire for the monitor system.

    I respect this person very much ... He was a recording engineer and maintenance tech for Columbia / CBS for years and has been currently doing work for Neil Young, Tom Petty and those types . Over a six year period we were associated, all the advice he gave me was spot on ... and when ever I ignored his recommendations, I was eventually sorry I didn't listen to him ... He was never wrong

    His take ... Mogami, Belden or Cannare for the mics, Mogami, Belden or Cannare studio wire for interconnect of the console, outboard and monitor amps ... and 10 gauge electrical wire for the speakers. Monster cables are all sales hype in his opinion ... and I agree with that.
     
  10. KTek

    KTek Guest

    YES!!!!!! I DON'T HAVE TO SPEND ALL THAT MONEY!!!!!!!! :lol:


    thanx for the replies guys! i won't be telling my friend of the decision NOT to get monster cables. but i've learned a good bit from you all and will probably get Mogami, Belden or Cannare cables.

    tubes4tone, you just offered a STEAK to a TEXAN.... at DINNER time!!

    Outback New York strip PLEASE!!!!! :D

    jk

    THANX A BUNCH YOU GUYS!!

    God bless and goodnight!
     
  11. xaivious

    xaivious Guest

    Over simplification

    With all due respect, it is a bit more complex then that. There is a lot more to the multi-frequency handling then multiple gauge wires.

    Here is how I understand it.

    It is a combination of metallurgy and phasing science. Sound travels through cables as an electrical current, as electrons. Every metal alloy has different conductivity principles regarding signal flow. When such electrical signals vibrate to frequency, similar differing conductivity principles apply also. In other words, some metal alloys will more naturally conduct certain frequencies.

    What Monster cable does (exclusively under patent) is create different strands of cable applying such techniques in metallurgy. Each strand designed to attract and conduct certain bands. They are not just buying bulk high quality ACME copper strand to make different gauges and twisting them.

    Once these cable strands are created to respective frequencies they are then coiled in a computer controlled manufacturing process applying phasing science. During this process the different corresponding cables are made to do slight phase alignment, by coiling them at different rates. Keep in mind there is no defined crossover point. It is all done with a manner of some variance.

    The idea is all frequencies travel at different speeds, even when traveling through a 20 ft cable. The frequencies become slightly separated in phase. This is a very minor thing, but happens never the less. This process corrects that a little, maintaining a more natural signal. It sends the high and lows (or Highs, Mids, and Lows) down different paths (coils) to compensate for the lag in phase by having them arrive more the way they started. Each coil takes different times to arrive at the end, each being of differnent overall lengths. This phase alignment is also being done over broad bandwidth too. So the affect is a slight coloration in a way, but in a positive manner, bringing things in a little better phase. Without a trained ear or testing equipment in a controlled environment it is hardly noticeable. That is why it is not so important. But it is happening, it does something and is more than just different gauges.

    However, just as I mentioned on my other post above, such things are not needed for good recordings. I know for a fact Monster has a 60% mark up, which is too much in my opinion. It is the kind of purchase that you should do only if you got the money. It is definitely not just sales hype, either way. Anyone who says that is just a little ignorant to the product, and maybe being bias to what they like (no offense).

    It is always most important to just have a good cable with proper gauge and quality copper, strong (well-soldered) connectors, excellent shielding, etc.
     
  12. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Lets see here - electrical impulses in wire travel at roughly 2/3 the speed of light - or about 124,000 miles per second - or 655 Million feet per second.

    If one were to record at 192 KHz sampling rate, the amount of wire required to delay a signal by 1 full sample would be about 3410 feet.

    The wavelength of a 40KHz signal in a wire is about 16,400 feet.

    I'm having a REEEAAAALLLLLL hard time seeing how an audio signal is going to get smeared in a 20 ft mic cable because of different propogation speeds of different SONIC wavelengths? Differing propgation rates of different sonic frequencies through copper wire is not a concept I'm warming up to either.

    Capacitance, inductance, sure - those can cause problems.
     
  13. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Xaivios,
    I say only one thing. To each his own.

    This to me sounds like something that uses all the scientific words, but has very little with science to do. I would like to see actual measurements qualifying this phase difference on actual length cables. My guess is that, just perhaps, using very esoteric measurement equipment you could just barely measure something. Let me see these measurements, with descriptions of the full setup and a record of what references the instruments are calibrated to. Now, once I´ve seen that I can believe that there is a difference. Secondly, once I know how large the difference is, I can safely ignore it, because it is probably too small to have any influence on any audio signal. Now, if it was GigaHertz radar signals, thats a completely different story.

    Secondly, if you compare to how you double blind test pharmaceuticals, this stuff would never get any prescripions. There are ways to quantify and measure the effect of different things on humans, but hard won, expensive experience shows that it has be double blind tests. Look up the placebo effect.

    Anyway, to each his own. If it gives you that warm feeling, go ahead.
     
  14. bart

    bart Guest

    I use Monster cable for guitars.I noticed big difference,especially in highs .I have belden with neutriks and there are big difference between them.IMO ,cable quality is critical with small voltage source like microphones,instrument signals etc.If cable is not the best ,after amplification of this signal You can hear difference with ease.
     
  15. JeffreyMajeau

    JeffreyMajeau Active Member

    Just to add fuel to this - Monster is citing the skin effect as "velocity propagation" and saying that their fancy wire corrects for it. Hm. I'm not an EE, but that really smells like BS to me.

    They're trying to blind you with science. And if they state that they're "splitting" the signal into band for transmission down the wire and then recombining it - well that's going to do nothing but add shmutz to your signal. That's whats known as a crossover.

    Wires are carrying electrical impulses to and from eqiupment, which will interpret that impulse into something that we can understand. Putting a mic in front of a 20Hz source does not mean that you're sending a 20Hz waveform down your wire, AFAIK.
     
  16. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Isn't mogami about the same or more than monster? At least I went to GC the other day to get some mic cables and the mogami were more than moster... I needed 4 cables and they didn't have the monsters in one of the sizes I needed so I ended up paying a bit more for the 4 mogami than I would have for 4 monster-
     
  17. tubes4tone

    tubes4tone Guest

    I had not priced pre-made Mogami cables; I was speaking of bulk wire and self-assembly being cheaper than a pre-made Monster cable, but it is also almost always cheaper than pre-made cables that use the same components! Let's look at a pricing example for Mogami cables.

    Ingredients:
    Mogami 2534 Neglex Quad mic cable: $0.76 per foot
    http://www.markertek.com/SearchProduct.asp?item=2534&off=5
    Neutrik NC3FX-B (female XLR, black with gold contacts): $2.69
    Neutrik NC3MX-B (male XLR, black with gold contacts): $2.49
    http://www.audiogear.com/Neutrik3PinXLR.html (both connectors)

    Comparison 1
    So a hand-made 25ft mic cable = (0.76*25) + 2.69 + 2.49 = $24.18
    A pre-made cable with exactly the same components: $48.95
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=home/search/detail/base_pid/338010/
    That's a 50% savings just by making it yourself.

    Comparison 2
    3ft Mogami hand-made = (0.76*3) +2.69+2.49 = $6.56
    3ft Mogami PRE-made = $27.95 (same link as above).
    That's a 76% savings! The really get you on the short cables!

    AND the $0.76 per foot for the Mogami cable gets even cheaper if you buy it in quantity (from Markertek at least: 0.76 for 1-99ft, 0.68 for 100-655ft, 0.59 for 656ft and up). If you were going to make several cables, you would easily order more than 100ft.

    I always order more cable and connectors than I think I will need because something always seems to come up and you need a certain cable right away. As an example, last night I wanted to patch in a hardware compressor to my PC/DAW and needed a TRS to XLR-Female cable. I just went in the back, soldered up what I needed and was up and running in fairly short order. Saved me a trip to Banjo Mart as well as another wallet-cleaning.

    BTW, I have absolutely no affiliation with any of the websites/businesses whose prices I am quoting, other than the fact that I order from them.
     
  18. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    ruk ruk! "Banjo Mart" ...
     
  19. xaivious

    xaivious Guest

    Don't get me wrong I am not trying to defend Monster Cable or anything alike. I am just providing information. I think most people are just poorly informed, which is why I am trying to explain. The reason I know so much on their stuff is because I worked in Pro Audio Sales for several years. I have read the material, talked with the major reps. It was my job years ago to know what the difference is, and I admit I'm a bit rusty on their techniques (being years ago). Let me try to clarify some things to add my 2 cents to those on here who are looking for information.

    A crossover is to separate bands and will not usually recombine them, gets the name from the crossover point. That is a total different issue then phase correction. Electronic devices that do such phase adjustments exist. They are usually called things like Aural Exciters, Spectral Enhancers, etc.

    The fact of the matter is, it does have a lot to do with science. I think a lot of people are just somewhat ignorant to that science, perhaps thinking a little too much with their skeptism. But everyone does have the right to be that way, and to each there own, certainly. However, people should make more of an educated guess. Read the history of that company. It was not started by some businessman with an idea for a gimmick, sales hype. It was started by a dedicated musician, engineer, and audiophile. They do not spend millions on lawyers to keep their patent's extended past the standard 17-year maturity, for nothing, for a gimmick.

    I agree, such wire phasing only does VERY little. In fact, I mentioned that it could only really be heard in a controlled environment (and only more prominent with the high end models, like 1000 series). You need that quiet environment, the ears good enough to here such SMALL differences, and you need to use a high-end mike (AKG 414 or better). I have done it at the request of customers, years back, with skeptism. I found there is a difference, even if only a tiny bit. The problem with double blind test as mentioned, is MOST people do not have ears trained enough to recognize such small differences in sound. What engineering books often referred to as 'Golden Ears". As opposed to pharms, where everybody has a similar physiology.

    The placebo effect is mentioned. I am a quantum theorist. If you really want to get down to the affects of consciousness, the truth is, the mind is a powerful thing. It is not impossible that if a person only thinks a cable WILL improve the sound, that it will. "There is no longer such a thing as the observer but only the particpator", Neils Bohr, Nobel Science Fair 1928 (may not be word for word, but close). Our minds affect things much more than most people want to know.

    I cannot say that I totally understand how the stuff works with the alloys, I am not a metallugist. I also do not know enough about that area of science to say that it is implausible either. What I do know is there is more affecting things around us, or in a simple wire, then most people are even capable of realizing. I do know that even when I was skeptical, and pondered if it was just a gimmick, I could hear the difference (having trained ears). I know that I have done blind tests, with customers, and they heard the difference (regarding Monster XLR 1000 series, specifically, all in controlled environments with high-end mics).

    I am not saying anyone needs such things. It does only affect things a tiny, tiny bit. It is like an extra, not necessary.

    However, it is not just a gimmick, I do know that. If you are making a decision on cables, remember good basic properties are all that really matters, not the extras.
     
  20. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    So create a 1-second test tone - 100Hz sine with a 10K sine on top of it.

    Same tone on the left and right channels. Run one channel through a Monster cable, the other signal through a good quality non-monster cable.

    Record them back into the left and right channels of a stereo track. I don't have any of them fancy monster cables, or I'd do it myself. If there's phase shift - even very slight - it should be visible in the recorded track.

    I'd love to see the resulting file - if you can't post it, email it to me and I will put it on my FTP site.
     

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