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Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by DenisW, Mar 5, 2003.
Is the sound quaility better with a shorter cable or does it matter?
I can matter with a passive bass, it depends on your ears if it's a bother or not.
Active basses are not affected.
This is because passive basses have a high impedance output signal, that is degraded (loss of highs) because of the cable.
Active basses have low impedance output signals.
How long? Are we talking 5' vs 20' or 5' vs 200'. Certainly, an active bass wouldn't any problem with either of the first two (in fact, I'm pretty sure a passive bass would probably be okay as well). If you're talking extreme lengths, I'm less sure, not having tried it.
What's your intended application for this knowledge, DenisW?
Thanks for the replies.Just wondering really as I will only ever be playing in Bars and small clubs.So I will not need a very long cable,say 10ft or less.But 20ft and more, are more popular in music shops in my area.
20' gives you a bit more room to wander round and hear what it sounds like when you're not standing on top of your amp. However, it can give you more 'stage spaghetti' to negotiate!
I tend to use a 20' lead into whatever pedals I'm using and then a 10' lead out of the other side of the pedal array to the amp. Active bass, and it works fine.
Thanks Wulf,any recommendations on cable brands.Are Planet Waves and Monster cables good or is it all just hype?
My cables are pretty cheap ones - I think the shorter two were sold under the 'Venom' name, but although they're well made and reliable, I don't think there's any particular magic claimed for them.
I haven't properly tried 'cheap cable' vs 'super cable' (I've tried both but with so many other variables that I can't properly compare) but I'm sure a search on talkbass will yield plenty of opinions and maybe even a bit of insight....
I'll use a shorter cable, even with an active Bass. But during soundcheck, I always use a longer one to walk out infront of it ALL to hear (not just myself) the WHOLE MIX.
That way you can make the whole band sound better.
I think it's worth having the option. The cables I have are mid-level probably.
With a passive bass, the lower capacitance of a shorter cable will cause less high-frequency roll-off than with a longer one. Depending on the instrument, the cable, and the amp input, though, the roll-off might be at frequencies too high to worry about for bass, or they might be easily compensated by adjusting your EQ.
Because they have low output impedances, active basses are more immune to the high-frequency roll-off effects of cable capacitance.
A long cable will tend to pick up more noise than a shorter one of the same type. If the wire has very good shielding, though, it's not necessarily a problem.
Use a cable that's long enough for what you want to do. If you want to roam around while you play, get a longer cable. I use several cables; I have 20-foot ones for when I play stage gigs or for band practice so I can walk over to confer with bandmates, and I have short 6- and 9-foot cables for when I play a sit-down-next-to-the-amp-or-DI gig.
Wire is a commodity. You can buy good cables for not much money, so if you're serious about playing, get yourself an assortment of what you think you might need so you'll be prepared for any situation.
Thanks Bob! That is really good advise.
Denis- I use a 15' Planet waves from my active bass to tuner-amp-whatever. I find the legnth to be good for what I do. Sonically, I haven't heard much difference on bass. But I did notice it on guitar.
I will tell you from personal experience that different cables DO sound different.
I used to think that was a lot of hooey, but I noticed a significant difference between several cables I own.
I'm using a Monster cable right now and it DEFINITELY provides more low end than my other cables.
Also, it's lifetime guaranteed, so how can I go wrong.
Is this the same deal as with using a coiled patch cord? I was asking a while ago about coiled cords and was warned off immediately because of RF interference and high frequency roll-off. Is it just because there is a longer amount of wire in a coiled cord or do the coils actually introduce other problems?
It's pretty inexpensive--downright cheap, actually, when you look at the bulk prices of good wire from Belden, West Penn, Horizon, etc.--to make straight high-quality shielded cable.
Making coiled cable adds to the cost of the fabrication process and to the material handling, since you can't just run it onto bulk reels like with the straight cable.
Consequently, many coiled instrument cables might not be made from wire that is as good in quality wire as similarly priced straight cables are.
A cable is passive, so it cannot boost a signal or part of a signal, only attenuate. IOW, you can't get "more," only "less."
Consequently, you can't get "more low end" from a cable, but you can get "less mids and highs" if it has unusually high capacitance. That is usually not an indicator of quality, though.
Bass or no bass, I have noticed a fuller,clearer sound from the Monster cable. Hence, I have wired my entire rig from bass to preamp to pedalboard(3 effects) back to preamp(effects loop) to BBE to crossover to amp. Whew! I customized the lengths by purchasing the Monsterbass in a long length and cut and soldered like a freak, using Switchcraft ends. Yea!
Fuller and clearer than what?
Interesting -- could it be that my other cables were giving me less bass then, and therefore that's what I'm hearing in reference?
Indeed, the differences are subtle, but they are there and they are distinct. "Better" is subjective, I suppose.
As to cheap versus expensive, it's a trade-off. "Cheap" cables run about $20-25 and might last a couple years to failure -- then you have to buy a new one.
The Monster was about $50, and even if it only lasts that long, I can get another free. I agree , three failures in a year would be unacceptable -- for any cable.(Good heavens, what have they been doing with them -- swinging from the chandelier? ) But that hasn't been my experience with it.
The key to preventing catastrophic onstage failures, I suppose, is to carry spares (I have one or two old cheap ones I keep in my gig bag).
Cables don't attenuate bass. To roll off bass passively, you need a capacitor in series with the signal; the cap will pass higher frequencies more easily than lows.
Series caps aren't something that you put in cables, though, unless you're building or modifying one for some specific application.
The HF roll-off in cables is due to shunt capacitance. That is capacitance between the inner conductor and the shield, both of which carry the signal. By providing a lower-impedance path for the highs through the shunt capacitance instead of the amp input, you lose some high end.
I remember back in the 60's and 70's we used the same cables for EVERY application. And, at that time, they were ALL coil cables. Whatever was laying on the floor, you used.......kind of the same as ACE guitar straps.......there wasn't any choice. :^>). I used it for instrument cable, speaker cable, used it to tie amps down in the truck and then used it to play again.
I didn't know that there WAS a difference in cables until I bought my first Ampeg SVT and you HAD to use their speaker cables. I think that they knew the world was full of meatheads like me and that we'd be plugging in line cables and routinely blowing up SVT heads.
My experience (I was alive before "Mom's with Mini-
Vans" and we actually had to WALK to get where we wanted to go) has taught me a thing or two.....and one thing is that, with cables, like everything else, you most often GET what you pay for.
Want a real shocker? Try plugging a cheap cable into a GOOD tuner...............Now, do the same thing with a REALLY good cable. Schwing! The difference can be extreme.