This maybe rocket science but is there a difference in the tone quality in the brand of cord used ie. wire gauge, type of wire , insulation, plug ends. kinda like monster cables used in stereo world.
I personally use the “Pro Co Excellines” brand of instrument cables available from Sweetwater. They are very high quality and come in several different lengths.
HTH and all best, Joe
There is a difference in the signal to noise ratio. That’s more critical with saturated / high-gain sounds (guitars) but the difference exists with basses too, obviously. There is also a difference in quality, reliability, durability.
It all depends on what you plan to do with your cables. If it’s pure training at home, it won’t be a huge problem if you have an issue with a cable. If you’re gigging or doing serious studio work, everything is different
I use expensive cables (high end ProCo) since at least 15 years, the same cables are still here and working. But, yeah, that’s expensive when you have to buy the cables.
I’d say middle-range cables must be good enough for most players. But I’d also say that expensive cables are not a bad investment.
I use the absolute cheapest cords I was able to find that were still shielded. Sound fine to me
That said, I run in to defective cables all the time in work (and at home) for computers and so on, and it’s a huge pet peeve of mine when cables go bad. And they all eventually do. So I have found over the years that I feel less bad about throwing away the cheap ones and replacing them 1.5x more often, than I do buying the expensive ones.
My take - if a cable works and is made out of quality components (i.e. Canare or Mogami cable, and Neutrik or Switchcraft connectors), then it’s good enough for me. It’s never made sense to me to pay for the cables that cost hundreds of dollars.
To be fair, I’ve never tried one or done A/B tests. I would love to.
BUT, reality check - here’s a sample “real life” signal path:
Your bass ->
Your VERY AMAZING EXPENSIVE CABLE ->
DI running to the house ->
Whatever cheap XLRs they happen to have at the venue, running for many many many feet to the sub snake ->
Whatever board they happen to have ->
Whatever cables are running to the speakers ->
Whatever speaker system the club or festival decided to pay for
All being colored of course, by the random lottery game called “Does the Sound Person Suck Tonight?”
So I question how much that ONE 20-30 foot cable run out of many is really impacting my tone. Or who would even notice, if it did.
yeah I think that’s a good guideline. about “expensive cables” I was not necessarily speaking about very exclusive $3000 cables made out of diamonds and unicorn soul to me a Mogami/Neutrik cable is a high end cable already.
That said there is an important thing to point out : cable quality is MUCH MORE important when the signal impedance is high. It means than the XLR cable between the DI and the PA is way less critical than the instrument cable (+ the XLR pinout uses a symetrical signal which is way less subject to parasite noise than a jack cable), at least in the case of a passive bass.
With an active bass the signal impedance is low and so there is much less concern about all that. Still the connectors and internal solders have to be good enough to be reliable, but the signal to noise ratio will be easily OK. That’s a good point for active basses, and also for buffers in a pedalboard. By the way, every standard non-true-bypass pedal acts as a buffer and lowers the signal impedance, so the cable quality between a passive bass and a pedalboard is much more important than between the pedalboard and the amp.
I’ve had different teachers and mentors at different times with very different approaches to this question.
My teacher in college had a custom made, legit silver component, zero oxygen (etc etc) instrument cable. It was about an inch in diameter. No Joke.
He plugged his upright into a Walter Woods custom amp and cab.
His tone was always… the tone of an upright bass pickup through an amplifier. The cable was impressive, but I couldn’t tell a difference.
I hung out with Bobby Vega a few times, and he is a Lord of Tone. He has gone through every component many times with many fine toothed combs. His cables were also custom (though not silver, or as thick as pythons). So was every pickup set up on every bass. And the string selections. And the amp and cab combinations that he used.
His argument (and one I can’t disagree with) was this: Every piece of your bass is adding to your overall sound. No piece should be taken for granted or ignored.
I completely agree - but again, a food analogy comes to mind. If you know wine, then when someone opens an extraordinary bottle of wine, you can appreciate it. If your ears (like mine) are used to hearing bass through PAs and amps in the context of a loud band… sometimes a good bottle of wine tastes the same as a really really really good bottle. Doesn’t mean there’s not a difference - just not a difference to me.
I use HOSA brand cables for all my mobile DJing audio and lighting needs for my gigs. They make a few different tiers of products, Edge, Pro and Standard, with Edge being the premier series. I use the Pro series stuff myself, it’s quality made, moderate priced, and durable, and have been happy with them. Here is a link to there instrument cables https://tinyurl.com/y5g6f7pr
If you are just looking for something to practice with and it’s not going to take the abuse of something used to gig, I assume you can find stuff a lot cheaper that would work fine.
I guess my problem with expensive cables is that I have never found any cable for any application that involves frequent handling that does not eventually go bad.
Sounds like a law of nature to me
Well yea… I agree, cables are a consumable item, eventually after enough abuse they will need to be replaced. When ever I have a DJ gig I always bring spare cables, you never know when something is gonna go bad…
very often it’s just a solder : 3 minute repair. but, yeah, when you’re gigging you need spare obviously.
Josh, I’d argue that because the cable is at the beginning of the chain it is important because everything that comes after is dependent on the quality of that signal. Garbage in, garbage out.
@rob.buck Welcome to the BassBuzz forum.
When you have time, join us on the Introduce Yourself! thread.
I’m still happily buying the cheapest cables I can find that are still shielded, and having no issues whatsoever. Sure, they will wear out sooner, but all cables wear out in my experience.