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How much do cables matter?
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jbird712
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20th December 2012
Old 20th December 2012
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How much do cables matter?

So my group and I just purchased a new Sennheiser MK4 mic this last week, and the salesman insisted that we get a set of Mogami cables to compliment the mic.

We were not aware that the proper cables can instantly improve your sound. We've been using the cable that comes with the mic right out of the box, which we now regret.

My question is, how much of a difference do proper cables make?

Also...

We had a Samson CO1 mic along with the stock cables, and we have switched to the MK4 with Mogami cables. How noticeable of a change in the the overall quality of our sound will there be?

I'm extremely excited and feel that this is a huge step for our group as a whole. Let me know what your opinions are on this. Thanks.
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20th December 2012
Old 20th December 2012
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Mogami is like Monster. expensive and does the same thing as more inexpensive cabling. retailers will try to sucker you in to spending more money is all. I heard this story befor and just recently experienced it. I was at best buy like 2 weeks ago looking for an optical cable and the sales rep that directed me to the cabling saw me pick up an optical cable and said I should spend the extra money for a gold tipped cable and it would be worth it to achieve a better sound. shocked and disappointed, I handed him the cable and walked out as I told him ill just use my RCA cables.
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20th December 2012
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Do cables matter? Yes and No.

For mic cables, they make very little difference. It's mostly about how strong the construction is. If you will be plugging and unplugging all the time, get something sturdy.

For line level balanced cables, again very little difference. It's mostly about how strong the construction is.

For unbalanced line level cables, here depending upon other factors it can make a difference, but with rare exception it's going to be closer to negligible than noticeable.

For high impedance instruments (ie. guitars) yes it will make a LOT of difference what cable you use.

Are you seeing a general trend here? Good, you should. The lower the impedance, the less it matters. The higher the impedance, the more it matters. Unbalanced means it matters less, balanced means it matters more.

Do you need a Mogami mic cable for your Sennheister MK4? Well, if it makes you FEEL better, then yes. It's a few bucks more for piece of mind. In the real world? Probably doesn't make a damn bit of difference PROVIDED the mic cable has construction quality above the kindergarten level. If you noticed a difference, it was because the mic cable you were using was either defective or it was 10 times worse than the worst cable you can buy from Walmart or Radioshack.
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20th December 2012
Old 20th December 2012
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Im not sure your going to notice much difference Sonically, the Mogami cable will probably last longer because it uses quality components but other then that I dont think its going to greatly improve your setup. you would probably be wise to invest in some good cables if you were running 100 + feet.

just my $0,02
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20th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skillz335 View Post
Mogami is like Monster. expensive and does the same thing as more inexpensive cabling. retailers will try to sucker you in to spending more money is all. I heard this story befor and just recently experienced it. I was at best buy like 2 weeks ago looking for an optical cable and the sales rep that directed me to the cabling saw me pick up an optical cable and said I should spend the extra money for a gold tipped cable and it would be worth it to achieve a better sound. shocked and disappointed, I handed him the cable and walked out as I told him ill just use my RCA cables.
Actually, there is something with gold. It doesn't oxidize. It won't sound better, but you'll have to do the jiggle-the-cable thing less often. There is also an impedance issue with digital cables. SPDIF electrical I think is 75ohms? I can't remember (someone correct me if I'm wrong). It's the same as coaxial cable like for your TV (which you can use by putting RCA connectors on it). Regular RCA cables, particularly for shorter runs, will generally work well enough. But I wouldn't rely on them in critical situations. And for longer runs, playin wit fiya!

EDIT: oops, just saw you were talking about optical spdif. The main difference between optical cables (aside from structural integrity and pliability) is how tight of a turn they can make while maintaining good signal. The really cheap ones that often used to come with stuff could only make a 6" loop or worse without degrading the signal significantly. There's a spec name for how tight of a turn they can make, but I can't think of it off the top of my head.

I agree though on ignoring anything a salesperson at Best Buy says about audio....
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20th December 2012
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Don't think Mogami makes a Optical cable...
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20th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
oops, just saw you were talking about optical spdif. The main difference between optical cables (aside from structural integrity and pliability) is how tight of a turn they can make while maintaining good signal. The really cheap ones that often used to come with stuff could only make a 6" loop or worse without degrading the signal significantly. There's a spec name for how tight of a turn they can make, but I can't think of it off the top of my head.

I agree though on ignoring anything a salesperson at Best Buy says about audio....
Isnt it Attenuation? also there are newer types of optical cables that are made out of plastic instead of glass now. In turn these are more durable and for some reason can operate with much more bandwith and carry signal for much longer distances. I believe they are called APF or all plastic fiber.

sorry thought you were looking for the name of the degradation and not the amount of bending the cable can handle befor the attenuation. I have no idea what that spec is but Im going to look into it. so thanks.

Last edited by skillz335; 20th December 2012 at 05:36 PM.. Reason: missread
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20th December 2012
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I was just thinking about this as I was trying to straighten out a bunch of cables in storage this morning. I've been doing this quite awhile and I stay away from cheap chinese connectors and some budget wire is really funky, especially the ground wire...but you can buy switchcraft connectors and good belden cable at a reasonable price and make excellent cables way cheaper than buying Mogami. Good cable also tends to wind up easier and stays straight. Some of the MF cheapo cables get real weird after a few uses. Making cables is easy and if you need a lot of them, is a good skill to acquire.
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20th December 2012
Old 20th December 2012
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Mike Shipley talked about using high end mic cables on the AKUS Paper Airplane recording sessions, and indicated that the difference was "night and day". He can probably hear the difference and he is in the money is (almost) no object category.

For us mere humans, I would think we want cables that are rugged enough to last awhile.

I started making up my own cables recently. When one of my cheapie-charlie HOSA cables gives me more than just a little trouble, I replace it with a roll-yer-own.

However, I guess it is just like any other piece of kit....you always want better, and when you get a chance to obtain a better piece, you really want it to sound better....
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20th December 2012
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I imagine that hearing the difference in cables or the type of metals they use for that matter is years of mixing and isolating whats wrong with the mix. I know each of my mixes Im never truely 100% happy with as I am always trying to isolate things I find wrong with them and in most instances cannot single out the exact cause of the thing/s Im hearing. to do that I think is where the exp lies.
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20th December 2012
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I have never heard an audible difference between cables. However, that doesn't mean I cheap out. I use Mogami or equivalent on anything that matters when someone else is in the studio. Mic cables, monitors, pre's, main outs, etc. On anything that only I use, I will go with Hosa or similar. That's for things like samplers and outputs I usually would not use while others are in my studio. I also try to not buy molded plastic cables as they have a higher failure rate. Nothing is worse than having a critical cable fail during a session and having to reach back behind somewhere hard to reach or not having a replacement on hand. So, even though I cannot hear a difference, that doesn't mean I won't spend a bit more where I find it to be critical.

I have used some really crappy cables and I will admitt that if you are using something really bad, it can be noticeable. I am talking about using a $2 set of RCA's from a TV for audio. Once you are out of that really bottom end, I wouldn't worry about it.
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21st December 2012
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Cables are everything, you can't make billboard hits if you don't have the best cables in the world. You might as well quit.
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21st December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isawsasquatch View Post
Agreed. 100%.
Exactly, I mean that's where all the ideas and creativity comes from, cables.
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21st December 2012
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cables matter in that if you don't have them, you can't hear anything.
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21st December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imixrecords View Post
cables matter in that if you don't have them, you can't hear anything.
I can hear myself quite well when I sing with my acoustic guitar.
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21st December 2012
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How long are the cables?

There are various benefits to having high quality cables. The two main reasons are signal preservation as you can tend to lose some high frequency signal over long lengths... this varies considerable between Hi/low impedance and balanced/unbalanced cables. Generally, if you are working in your bedroom studio and need to use a 3mtr cable.. no drama.

Secondly, if you are going to constantly be pluging and swapping the cables over, you may want to go with higher quality connectors ...

This is just a basic overview, but the bottom line here is that unle4ss you are not running a huge long cable that is constantly going to be plugged in and out all the time you will be fine.

In any case... the salesman was being a salesman... do you want fries with that? it's just an upsell.
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22nd December 2012
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Im a Canare dude. I did notice a huge different when i upgraded my bass cable to a Monster from the sam ash brand.

Sent from my SPH-D710
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24th December 2012
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I want to reiterate what other people have said. Quality of cables does matter IF there is distance involved. It's not the quality of sound but the constancy of frequency. I have had several cables that I just could hear that something wasn't right. If I had to describe it, it was like an audio signal going through an old circuit board that couldn't maintain it's response. Very minimal. But once I bought a more expensive cable I heard more consistency and a flatter response. Otherwise if your running short cables I don't think I would worry about it.

I mean we can get into a debate that analog waivers by nature and that what's makes analog so great, but this wasn't a mojo thing. It improved my problem significantly.
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24th December 2012
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i thought cables were always some sort of gimmick
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24th December 2012
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The difference between cables is pretty damn obvious to anyone if you have a sensitive system. You think all of these people are just making this stuff up?

Do a test, if you can't hear the difference, don't worry about it. You have bigger problems than cables!

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus
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26th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spice house View Post
The difference between cables is pretty damn obvious to anyone if you have a sensitive system.
I have a very sensitive system and no, the difference is/was not pretty damn obvious. I tried... I drank of the cool-aid but didn't go back.....
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27th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spice house View Post
Then, no, you don't have a sensitive system.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus
What is you definition of a sensitive system? because yes..in fact I do.. BUT there are plenty of much better setups than mine out there.
.... easily.

I have invested thousands into my signal path, monitoring room and own a variety of cables from cheap to foolishly expensive. Within 2m, even 3m there is nothing to write home about, especially to the degree you mention and certainly not in the scenario where the salesman needs to upsell a few 'Mogami' cables. (next week it will be another hi tech company).

In the context on this thread, going from a samson mic to a cheapie senhieser... the calble will not be an issue for the application/desired outcome.
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27th December 2012
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Well, this is a very old argument that rears it's ugly magic dust sprinkled head from time to time and cables have many roles in todays studio.

But for the OP.. lets keep it simple.

Mic cables... you probably want these to be durable.. so sure maybe spend a bit extra on something with good reinforced cable and good connectors. Does Mogami fall into that category? yes.. yes it does.. but they are at the higher end. Do you need to buy Mogami? no.. no you dont. You can get what you need for half the price. Long distance isn't going to bother you as much with a balanced mic cable as it would unbalanced instrument cable but.. still, its worth thinking about.
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27th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
Do cables matter? Yes and No.

For mic cables, they make very little difference. It's mostly about how strong the construction is. If you will be plugging and unplugging all the time, get something sturdy.

For line level balanced cables, again very little difference. It's mostly about how strong the construction is.

For unbalanced line level cables, here depending upon other factors it can make a difference, but with rare exception it's going to be closer to negligible than noticeable.

For high impedance instruments (ie. guitars) yes it will make a LOT of difference what cable you use.

Are you seeing a general trend here? Good, you should. The lower the impedance, the less it matters. The higher the impedance, the more it matters. Unbalanced means it matters less, balanced means it matters more.

Do you need a Mogami mic cable for your Sennheister MK4? Well, if it makes you FEEL better, then yes. It's a few bucks more for piece of mind. In the real world? Probably doesn't make a damn bit of difference PROVIDED the mic cable has construction quality above the kindergarten level. If you noticed a difference, it was because the mic cable you were using was either defective or it was 10 times worse than the worst cable you can buy from Walmart or Radioshack.
This is the right answer to the question.
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27th December 2012
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so are sampler and synthesizer high impedance instruments? if so what are the specs to look for if i want to build my own cables?
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27th December 2012
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Yea in my experience I haven't heard much difference in quality between cables. With the higher-end cables I feel you're paying more for the longevity rather than any quality boost. Reliability I suppose
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27th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spice house View Post
The difference between cables is pretty damn obvious to anyone if you have a sensitive system. You think all of these people are just making this stuff up?

Do a test, if you can't hear the difference, don't worry about it. You have bigger problems than cables!

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus
I bought some Mogami Gold and ran some null tests with my mediocre, generic cables. Total null.

I guess my system wasn't sensitive enough. Damn.
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27th December 2012
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Yes, cables are everything in the music business. Most of the music is in fact done by cables. And for cables.
But no seriously, the sales will push cables because they have insane profits from them. They can sell you mic and special cable and earn most of the money from the cables, not from the mic. It really doesn't cost any more to make Mogami or Monster cables than the classic good from monoprice and similar wholesaler. They are probably done in the same asian factory anyway.
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28th December 2012
Old 28th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbird712 View Post
We had a Samson CO1 mic along with the stock cables, and we have switched to the MK4 with Mogami cables. How noticeable of a change in the the overall quality of our sound will there be?

I'm extremely excited and feel that this is a huge step for our group as a whole.
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28th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raffael77 View Post
It's really simple. To understand the difference you need to hear it for a while.

It's the same thing with HD1080p LCD's. If you only look at it ones your brain recognize the image no longer but after a while it will recognize the sharp details more and more. Whe you are use to the sharp detail you don't want to go back to your old widescreen tv.

You don't have to be a genius to hear the difference.
What is your answer to sound passed through cheap and expensive cables nulling? Am I missing something about science here? The signals are sonically identical.
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