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Monoprice cables microphonic???

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by smeet, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    On the advice of several TBers, I got an order of 1/4" monoprice cables. They cheap as heck, look and feel great, heavy duty plugs, thick sturdy cable, etc. They sound fine with my active basses.

    But... With passive basses or with my active basses in passive mode, the cable is horribly unusably microphonic. As in, tapping on the cable sounds like tapping directoly on the bass strings.

    What the heck??? Did I get a bad batch??? I got some straight plugs, some right angles, so they weren't all identical. But it seems they are all microphonic with passive basses.

    Is this just the hidden cost of cheap cabling? Should I demand my money back, exchange, or...?
  2. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    What you found is real. I've whined here about it a couple of times. It's just that the cable itself is microphonic. On an active bass it doesn't matter because the cable driver keeps it from being a problem. As you note it only shows up on passive (high Z ) basses.

    I do use monoprice cables on my basses, but I use the TRS ones because I need the stereo for "Phantom power" for active basses. The TRS cables are MUCH less microphonic.

    I do own some "ultimate" Chinese bass cables which look just like the monoprice and were sold by GC. They are fat rubber cables and look really nice. I bought one on a bargain table at GC and it was AMAZING. Gold plugs and the whole nine yards.

    So I went back to get more. I bought a bunch. But even though the name and stock number were the same and the cables LOOKED the same, they were NOT the same! The rubber cable was just like the monoprice and VERY microphonic. I should have taken them back but it's too late so now I've got a bunch of cables for active basses!

    I've tried to find more of those great cables but only found a couple more. Apparently that superb Chinese wire is no longer made and has been replaced with microphonic crap that looks just like it.

    Hey, Welcome to real life.
  3. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Thanks for the info.
    Real life hurts. :(
  4. Same thing here. I stopped using them.

    Phantom power? Can you give more detail?
  5. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I call it "phantom power" but it's not true phantom power like a mic. The mod is I install a 1Spot pedal power wall wart inside the amp and feed the 9v power out the ring terminal of the input jack. You use a TRS stereo cable and in most active basses the ring terminal is used as a switch for the battery and goes to the battery minus wire. So you take the battery out of the active bass and wire a clip to short the clip where the battery was. This then powers the active bass with 9v and no batteries.

    This allows heavier current draw for things like LEDS and fret markers, but those are wired at the jack so if you need to take the short out and put the battery back in, the LEDS etc. do not run off the battery. Also there is a grounding switch on the amp so the ring wire is grounded and that allows an active bass still using a battery to work without going to a mono cable.

    There is a thread about it somewhere in this forum where a couple of us discuss doing this. There are commercial supplies that do this too.
  6. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    Bad cables do happen. That's always a risk when you buy based on price. Microphonic behavior is typically due to the insulating material generating voltage when moved (piezo or triboelectric effects). There are other failure modes too.

    I've had one inexpensive (but not Monoprice) cable that worked fine with active basses but sounded like it was shorting out with a passive bass. I was using my Carvin BX500 at the time, which has a history of internal ribbon cable problems, so my first thought was the amp had the problem. It took me a while to narrow it down to the cable itself.

    A good cable should have no conductance at all between the core and shield. Sure enough, when I put an ohmmeter on the cable, it read a lot less than infinity, somewhere in the Kohm range. I cut the ends off, and tried to cut off lengths to get rid of the defective part, only to find it was ALL defective. I had to throw all the cable away - but I did keep the plugs for later use.
  7. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Yeah, I know. That's why I never buy cheap cables. Except this time, when I saw glowing recommendations from many people. As I said, I bought several of them, and they all behave the same way, so it's not just a single bad cable.

    Lesson learned. For me, it's back to good mid-priced cables with a lifetime warranty, like Planet Waves.