March 06, 2018

Cables are the lifeblood of any rig. Quarter inch cables connect your instrument to your amp, and link all your effects pedals together. XLR cables get your vocals heard, and speaker cables connect your amps to speakers. Without cables, your rig will still be great to look at, but it just won’t make any sound! However, many musicians spend thousands of dollars assembling their dream rig or buying the perfect microphone, only to skimp on the cables. In this piece, we will talk about why it’s important to spend a little extra for quality cables.

Just like in any other industry, musicians need to devote the proper time and attention to making sure that their tools of the trade are working correctly, so that performances and rehearsals go off without a hitch. For musicians, there’s a lot to keep track of, from strings to instrument setup, intonation, taking care of your voice, and so on. Buying quality cables is worth it in that it gives you one less thing to worry about, and added peace of mind during performances.

Here are some useful features on high-end cables that may seem trivial at first, but make all the difference:

  1. Durability: Cables take a lot of abuse. They are often stuffed into gig bags and cases, sometimes not being wrapped properly. They are stepped on frequently on stages and have amplifiers rolled over them. As such, it is essential that the cable have adequate protection. Professional cables tend to have a tougher, thicker jacket to ensure long life and protection from the rigors of the road and rock and roll mishaps.
  2. Flexibility: Ever not wrapped a cable properly after a rehearsal or gig? The next time you take it out, chances are it is all tangled, twisted, or coiled up. Well designed cables are flexible and easy to roll, so that you spend less time straightening out cables that were difficult to roll up properly in the first place.
  3. Shielding: If cables are not adequately shielded, meaning their internal wires are not protected from noise created by other electronics nearby (amplifiers, fluorescent lighting, and monitors all count!), the results can be show stopping. Quality cables have proper shielding to prevent extraneous noise and keep your signal quiet.
  4. Quality of connectors: Consider all the plugging and unplugging you do with your cables. If the connectors are poorly made, there is higher chance of those connectors becoming deformed, cracked, or damaged just due to simple wear and tear. Better cables have high quality connectors that are often anodized for increased durability. If the connectors go, the whole cable is most likely a loss too, which is especially unfortunate if it’s a longer, more expensive cable.

While it may be true that cables serve the same purpose and offer a negligible difference in sound quality to most ears, the better design and durability of higher end cables, more so than any perceived or expected difference in sound quality, is always worth the extra coin. You wouldn’t want your amp to fail at an important label showcase right? The same goes for cables.

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