Quality Cables?

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by Drewslum, Dec 28, 2007.

  1. Drewslum

    Drewslum Active Member

    Dec 27, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    Home Page:
    I have a question about cables. What is the difference between qood quality cables other than that they won't last as long? Is there a BIG difference with the sonic quality?
  2. 00420

    00420 Active Member

    Dec 27, 2007
    It depends on the type of cable.

    Cheap digital cables will not affect the sound quality.

    However, cheap analog cables will sound pretty bad. I like Mogami cables personally, but any decent brand of cable will provide you with good results.

    Monster cables are not worth the money, stay clear of them.
  3. id also like to add that i have cables that i've used for live sound and other projects around the house,but have come to find that these cables are terrible sonically in my studio or just flat dont work. go figure that one.
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Most of this is simply not true and simply bad information.

    Cheap digital cables WILL most definitely affect the sound quality. A poorly terminated cable can introduce jitter and timing errors. A poor construction in general can definitely smear the imaging. Brent Butterworth had done some serious analytical analysis of both optical and coaxial digital cables shortly after they came to common market and found even minor differences in construction to make a significant, quantifiable difference. I'm sure if you search, you'll find the results.

    Also, please define "any decent brand." This is as vague as it is useless. Personally, I find many other brands to perform better than Mogami and many that perform far worse.

    In regards to Monster, this is simply false. Monster Cables are well designed, well-thought out and well worth their money. Granted, I think their 1000 series is stupidly expensive, they expect most people to think this way. Their 500 series is as good as any other cable if not better than most on the market. Their time-correct windings do actually make sense and work (though I don't agree with the magnitude at which they work.)

    I can tell you that I personally build cables using any of the following brands and find that all of them provide solid build and years of use:

    To answer the original question, it's not just the ability of a good cable to last as long (but hey, isn't that worth the money alone?? Wouldn't you hate to be in the middle of a session just to have your cable crap out on you? I've had it happen - it ain't fun!), it's also that the termination is solid (for example, using a clean soldered joint on a Neutrik or Switchcraft connector). Personally, we use silver bearing solder from either WBT (for our super high-end cables) or Kester (for all of our other cables) and are VERY cautious as to how we heat our joints.

    A cold joint which is made by incorrectly heating the solder and not the joint itself, can cause not only failures in the cable but intermittent sound as well as just plain bad transmission leading to bad sound that's hard to track down.

    Also, a joint without enough solder can be a problem as well - mostly for cable longevity.

    Also, I've seen some knock off cables lately that have been coming with fake Neutrik connectors. They look like Neutrik, but they're not NEAR as solid. This is disturbing as the cost for the Neutriks is VERY reasonable per connector.

    The biggest key is the quality control. Does the company that makes your cable care? Some of them do - Monster, Mogami, ProCo etc. Some of them simply put the stuff out as quickly as possible and get it off the shelves (H*sa, L*veW*re, etc.)

    Investing in quality cable is one of the smartest things a studio owner can do. It is, afterall, a true investment.


  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I'm not sure how this would be possible. If it works in one place but not another, something's wrong with the gear, not the cable. That is unless you have a connection that's lost its solder joint and sometimes (based on angle, pressure, gravity) in contact with the pins and other times not.

    I would throw that stuff away!

    Quality cables aren't expensive guys. I'm not trying to advertise or Spam here, I swear, but check out some basic prices on my site. I'm not the only one who offers custom high-quality cables in the world either. Check out Redco and others.

    Why fight a bad cable? Get rid of it and spend just a little $$ on a quality cable.
  6. AwedOne

    AwedOne Guest

    Hi. I just wanna jump in with a quick question.

    Starting when I was 12, (43 years ago), I built microphone and instrument cables from Belden 8412 cable and Switchcraft XLR and 1'4" plugs.

    Amost 50 years later, are those components still considered to be top quality, or have they been surpassed? After just a quick search, I found bulk Belden cable cable and Nuetrik connectors that would allow me to build 20' mic cables for $16 ea.

  7. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2007
    Cocoa, FL
    Home Page:
    Belden is a quality cable, we practically buy it by the truckload.

    Switchcraft and Neutrik connectors are very good, I prefer Neutrik over Switchcraft (simply because I've grown tired of tiny screws and drivers) but both are very solid and roadworthy. I work with a bunch of Samsonite gorillas - if there's cheap gear out there they'll destroy it in a day.

    Will wrote:
    As far as live cables not being as good as "others" for lack of a better term - I'd love to hear which are good and which are not.
    Every premade and bulk cable Jeremy mentioned (ProCo, Mogami, Canare, Belden, Etc.) is in use at my job everyday (primarily live sound in a concrete carnival), as well as in my old studio.
    Those cables connect everything - mics to splitters, preamps to mixers, playback units to patchbays, x-overs to amps, etc... They are perfectly fine in both to this day. Some are older than you can probably imagine.
  8. taxman

    taxman Active Member

    Sep 22, 2006
    I think that Monster Cable's time corrected windings are pure marketing mumbo jumbo that could not possibly work and certainly do not add value. Monster Cable is good because it is well shielded with a strong cover. Even if you could time correct the winding, it would be "correct" at only one frequency and only one cable length. Any change to either variable would ruin the effect, or cause reduced performance at non-resonant frequencies. Monster markets different instrument cables for rock, jazz or bass guitar, more silliness

    I once attended a lecture by Julien Hirsh of Hirsch Houck (?) Labs that ran many tests for Stereo Review as a guest at my amateur radio club. He thought wire was wire.
  9. AwedOne

    AwedOne Guest

    I was reading once about some high end audiophile speaker cables that cost over $4K for a 20' length. I was almost convinced that in order to get top quality sound from my $200 monitors I needed $8,000 worth of wire.

    Fortunately, I also came across an article written by an electrical engineer with a reusme as long as a fashion model's leg, that showed test results that proved that 16 gauge lamp cord was just as good as anything for transmitting electrical signals to speakers. same stuff we used 40 years ago to wire up PA's.

    I paid $.34 a foot at the local hardware. works just fine. wire is wire. For mic and intrument cables, as long as the shielding is adequte, the leads are twisted not solid, the connectors are good quality, the jacket is durable, and the soldered and mechanical connection is done right, sonically it should be just fine.
  10. HansAm

    HansAm Active Member

    Jun 4, 2005
    cucco: you suprise me.

    In what context was this tests done?

    I'v witnessed a CD being ripped to wave, transfered ower optical and regular digital links, then be burnd back to a CD and compared to the original. No suprise, this was identical in every way.
    Due to correction.

    This introduces a slight delay so for live/recording this is'nt always acceptable. BUT anyways. If you still have problems with your digital signal transferes there is usually a serious problem. NOT the cable.

    Regarding Monster Cables. I think they are utterly CRAP and ower priced. Mambo jambo.

    In Klotz We Trust.
    Klotz and Neutrik.
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    No offense, but it's responses like this that surprise me.

    To state that a digital cable has no effect on transmission is utter absurdity. Instead of relying on what others have done, test it yourself. I have.

    Using various brands of optical, coaxial (terminated both with BNC and RCA), and AES, I've been able to determine a NOTICABLE and quantifiable difference in jitter and when playing waves out of polarity transfered across different cables, I have heard the remaining artifacts.

    To say that one digital cable is the same as all others is complete ignorance. Lower capacitance cables will have better jitter rejection than higher capacitance cables. Too much capacitance and you'll simply obliterate the digital stream.

    If the cable is not capable of passing the required bandwidth as many budget cables aren't, you'll have all sorts of issues - this is most true of coaxial type cables where manufacturers utilize the equivalent of video cables instead of high-bandwidth-capable SPDIF coaxial cable.

    There are so many variables in digital cables and error correction can simply not account for them. Error correct handles dropped bits - that's it. It doesn't handle jitter or timing errors.

    Regarding Monster's Time Correct Windings- I think you all have been duped by sales people and thus do not understand the capabilities.

    High frequencies do travel faster and better over thinner wire. Low frequencies are less impeded by thicker guage wire. By combining this into multiple strand thicknesses, regardless of distance, the flow appears better.

    Is it marketing hype? Maybe a little. Does it work? Yes.

    Why people say Monster Cable is so expensive yet it's magically the same or LESS than the comparable Mogami cables which people all across this world own baffles me.

    It seems more like a matter of -
    "I don't use Monster Cable because I can't afford it or Mogami, so I'll just bash it and say it's useless and over priced."

    That kind of behavior is simply childish.

    Buy it or borrow it and use it. If after using it you can report back that they're crap and their hype isn't true, fine.

    I can tell you, I use it everyday and I don't need to praise its virtues to make me happier about my choice to use it. I have 8 rolls of Mogami, Canare, and Belden sitting in my shop that I can use at any time, plus a roll of Belden snake cable yet, for some reason, I keep using my Monster Cable snake.

    Why? It sounds good and it works every time (not that my other cables don't - heck - I make them, they better work every time.)
  12. taxman

    taxman Active Member

    Sep 22, 2006
    Monster cable is high quality cable. It is very well constructed with good shielding. Its special features, including the business about the time corrected windings are marketing hooey. Monster's is high price is more related to its its advertising budget than material cost.

    The electrical property that matters is not the cable's capacitance, but rather, its impedance. Impedance is a vector sum of capacitance or inductance and resistance. The effect of the first is dependent on frequencey and the latter on cable length. Given those variables, and the fact that frequency is constantly changing, there is no way to design an optimum time corrected cable.
  13. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    Mar 3, 2006
    you guys are forgetting that the only real thing that matters with Monster cables is the lifetime return policy.

    buy it once, own it forever. thats why you pay extra for them.

    are the sonically superior? nope. do they have a pretty rugged design? yup.
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Let's not forget that Monster never used (to the best of my recollection) the term:
    "Time Correct"

    This would imply all frequencies arriving at exactly the same time.

    They use(d) the term:
    "Time Coherent"

    Which implies to me that they are paying attention to the arrival difference but in no way suggesting that all of the frequencies will arrive at the same time.

    If you check their current literature, they've all but removed any references to time coherency and have stuck with the other fine attributes of their construction.

    Oh yeah...and a lifetime return policy...
  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Pardon my mis-statements above -

    Rather than edit, I'll let them stand and correct here.

    Yes, on their 1000 series, they state "Time Correct." This, IMO, is a false representation. However, I have forever, and will continue to suggest that the 1000 series of cables is outrageously expensive and not worth the money versus other cable types and brands.

    If I were going to spend that kind of money on cables, I'd make sure I got the $120 jar of stones that I could place around in my room to enhance the positive aura of the room and adjust it's frequency spectrum...
  16. bwmac

    bwmac Active Member

    Mar 15, 2007
    I really believe that Planet Wave Cables for the musician or studio are the best.
    I would get monster for my home theater, DVD, Playstation, that kind of thing. (Just my personal opinion)

    The key term to look for in a quality cable is [oxygen free]
    stated on the Planet Wave site.
    (100% oxygen-free, 24-gauge copper conductor wire offers low impedance and high flexibility.)


    BTW you will pay top dollar for good cable like Planet Wave
  17. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    I've recently become very interested in wire guages and cables of different brands and such as I've recently begun making my own cables. What I've found is that I prefer a straightforward insulated cable of relatively thick (more important that it's not too thin) guage for the application.

    I have used Monster cables for a long long time because I actually believed that if I paid that much for a cable that it would be the best cable that money can buy. Recently I had to replace one of my Monster cables with a Pro Co cable and INSTANTLY noticed a difference. The entire audio range seemed wider, more balanced, and more powerful. It just seemed to be a more efficient transfer of signal without coloring what was being transferred. I got this all from a single cable swap, the rest of my rig is still Monster and in the process of being replaced.

    The cable in question was to go from my tube amp to my cabinet. I assembled the cable myself from 14 guage Pro Co cable and some heavy duty connectors. By comparison, the Monster 500 series speaker cable seemed to be around only 18-20 guage if I had to wager a guess, which could account for the loss of low end and power, but the Monster cable seemed midrangey and gunky sounding with less high end definition and more fizz. That must have to do with the time correct windings or something. I don't prefer them is all. Monster cables are good quality cables that are built well and the lifetime warrantee is nice, but THEY COLOR YOUR SOUND. If you want a cable with 'mojo' then it's your ticket, but if you are weird like me and want your cables to pass your sound and nothing more then use something else. Other than that I agree with everything Cucco has said.

    Just for giggles, here is the 'proof' that this one cable has made a large difference in sound.
    (Expired Link Removed)
    (Expired Link Removed)

    As I said there are still plenty of Monster cables on this sound and I look forward to further improvement as they are replaced. Cucco, what sort of guage do you recommend to use for XLR cables? I am using 18 for instrument cables and 14 for speaker cables.
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    Although I clearly feel cable does make a difference but in this example I got to say, I think I'm going deaf cause I can't really tell. I think B is slightly clearer but its a hard one for me. Could be the music is a bit too busy for me to get a firm gip on one particular section but its hard man.

    Now, I did this test with Mogami and Accusound 6 months back and it was a lot more apparent but I used my musical girls as Guinna Pigs and they both picked out the Accousound as better sounding.

    I'm interested to hear what others have to say here. I hope I'm not the only one that can't tell enough o do a Pepsi challenge here or I'm worried!

    Love your playing and doing this test though!
  19. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Here you go, I forgot I had the guitar only files uploaded as well. I'll post these as well.

    (Expired Link Removed)
    (Expired Link Removed)

    I hear it mostly in the 'texture' of the sound. Tonally, the Monster clips to me seem more midrange focused with less lows and highs whereas the Pro Co clips seem more like what the guitar and amp are supposed to sound like. It's almost like the Monster cables were designed to have a Tubescreamer sort of effect to them...
  20. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    Remember that ProCo makes 5 grades of cable. The AC1 is the most common bulk cable they sell. IIR they list the gauge on the wire jacket. I just got back home from rehearsal (driving through a blizzard partway) so I am not looking it up now.

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