Instrument cables DO affect the sound....

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RockerRocker Frets: 2655
Last Sunday our little band played a gig.  An outdoor event, we were not the main attraction but provided the music as per the advertised 'live music'.

For about the first half hour, I was not totally satisfied with the sound from my Markbass amp.  I kept thinking that it sounds very closed in and attributed the change to the fact that we were playing out of doors.  I used a plastic like red coloured cable but during an announcement by the organizer, I changed the cable and used a well worn guitar lead instead.  The difference was close to mind blowing.  The closed in sound had disappeared.  The Markbass sounded as it normally does.

I have long noted that cables in a hi-fi system do affect the sound you hear. This idea has long been done down by those in the know, but I can only report what I hear and that is that the cables used do affect the sound.  And now I know they affect the sound of my bass too.  I had always thought this to be possible but discounted it as you can always EQ out the effects of the cable.  But you can't EQ out the closed in sound I heard when I started playing that gig.

There is always the possibility that further use of the red cable will iron out it's closed in sound.  Perhaps, if it does I will report back.


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • markblagdonmarkblagdon Frets: 633
    Perhaps you had it plugged in with the electrons flowing in the wrong direction.... IGMC.
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17853
    I'd argue this wouldn't survive a double blind test.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 8320
    Anyone who owns a Vox curly lead knows that instrument cables affect sound, the output from a passive guitar pickup is a fragile and interactive thing. 

    Turning that into an argument that you need to spend 10k on hi-fi speaker cables, or worse, the last three feet of mains cable between a power station 50 miles away and your stereo is still bollocks though. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31577
    Instrument cables definitely affect the sound, for the simple reason that their capacitance is in the range which affects the frequency response of an electric guitar/bass to a noticeable degree. It’s only the capacitance that matters, not the inductance or resistance (both are far too small relative to those of the guitar circuit) or any other ‘magic’ properties. The effect is easy to measure or hear in a blind test, and you’re right that it can’t just be EQ’d out, because it actually changes the sound of the pickups by altering their resonant peak, as well as by removing high frequencies.

    But I can see where this is leading ;).
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • maltingsaudiomaltingsaudio Frets: 890
    It’s not only leads that can do this, transmitters as well
    www.maltingsaudio.co.uk
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  • prowlaprowla Frets: 898
    Cables do indeed affect the sound - they are part of a circuit, not just a neutral signal path.
    A coax cable is a capacitor, ie. a filter., and the longer it is, the more effect it has.
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  • thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 2988
    edited June 2
    I definitely notice a difference in sound if I use a faulty lead

    And if there's anything good about me, I'm the only one who knows

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  • SporkySporky Frets: 13175
    I wonder if there's any electronic difference between a guitar and a hifi component.

    Oh, hang on, no, I don't, because it should be obvious to the meanest intellect that there are lots of rather important differences between them. 
    Be your own evil twin. 
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17853
    ICBM said:
    Instrument cables definitely affect the sound, for the simple reason that their capacitance is in the range which affects the frequency response of an electric guitar/bass to a noticeable degree. It’s only the capacitance that matters, not the inductance or resistance (both are far too small relative to those of the guitar circuit) or any other ‘magic’ properties. The effect is easy to measure or hear in a blind test, and you’re right that it can’t just be EQ’d out, because it actually changes the sound of the pickups by altering their resonant peak, as well as by removing high frequencies.

    But I can see where this is leading ;).
    I'm not disputing this at all.
    I am saying that people react differently when they know something to when they don't know something.

    Rocker knew he was swapping from one cable to another.
    The cable he swapped to he described as a 'well worn guitar lead'.
    Confirmation bias is a real thing and leads people to conclusions that are either not valid, or at least exaggerated.

    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 2655
    Well I am glad that others have noticed this characteristic too. The English language is poor for descriptions of sound, hence my use of 'closed in sound' to describe what I heard.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • JayGeeJayGee Frets: 451
    Yes and no.

    Badly constructed, poor quality, horribly abused leads, or the wrong kind of cable certainly make a difference but once you reach a certain minimal standard of materials and construction using the right cable I don’t believe any amount of unobtainium conductors, exotic construction, snake oil, or gold-plated plugs will make any difference.

    I really miss Rob and his KaBL business...
    Don't ask me, I just play the damned thing...
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 782
    It’s not only leads that can do this, transmitters as well
    And ears  ;)
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1365

    What missing from this discussion is that a guitar / bass pickup is a high impedance source, ie very poor a driving signal into a capacitive load, eg a guitar cable.

    The complex impedance of the pickup generates a resonant circuit with the cable capacitance; there are plenty of data on this effect and it is both audible and measurable.

    Here's a nice paper on the subject:

    https://www.princeton.edu/ssp/joseph-henry-project/electric-guitar-pickup/Guitar-Pickup-Theory.pdf


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  • soma1975soma1975 Frets: 330
    One cable makes my guitar say Yanny and the other one Laurel. 
    My Trade Feedback Thread is here

    Been uploading old tracks I recorded ages ago and hopefully some new noodles here.
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  • Modulus_AmpsModulus_Amps Frets: 503
    yes it can make a huge difference to tone but also noise levels.

    I had a guitar show a fews years back where I plugged my amps and guitars in and there was a noise that was not there before, I first thought something had happened to the amps in the long commute down, but I changed the cable to another in the box and sorted it. That cable has now been binned.
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  • pintspillerpintspiller Frets: 512
    My first lead was a curly job and lacked mids and top. Only noticed it when I got my first straight one. I didn't know how to tune the fucking guitar in those days but I noticed the difference in sound with the leads straight away.
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  • mudslide73mudslide73 Frets: 1650
    JayGee said:

    I really miss Rob and his KaBL business...
    This. I'm still running a full KaBL signal path. Wonderful stuff. 
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