Cable Conspiracy

I understand the physics that explain why high-quality analog audio/video cables are a good thing. Ok, at least I understood it in college. Bottom line is that they lower distortion. But I also understand there is a law of diminishing returns, which is governed by the limitations of the human ear and eye and the quality of your A/V components. Long story short, you want decent speaker cables and component or S-Video cables.
     But digital cables don?t need to be super high quality. When you think about it, they?re just computer cables. I?ve been around computers my whole life, and have troubleshot a lot problems. I think the cable has been an issue twice, and it is always a source of amazement, and the last thing you?d check. (This doesn?t include the times when you attempt to pull out a FibreChannel cable by the wire instead of the tiny plug, and the wire comes out but the plug stays there, and you?ve broken it just like the 8 admins before you, because they are the worst designed cables ever.) The point is that all those cables carry the same type of digital signal that your digital audio, HDMI, or DVI cables carry. It?s bits of data, 1s and 0s, on or off. Nobody in the computer industry sweats over cable quality, because if the system can?t tell the difference between on and off, you probably don?t have a cable, but what we call a resistor. Don?t use those.
     Agent Assassin has some A/V components that the average Joe would describe as terribly expensive and high quality (and what his roommate ? your truly ? would call ?good enough for the time being?). He has researched the living daylights out of these things, and the consensus among the smart people is to get stuff from Blue Jeans Cable. They make really good stuff, but don?t rip you off. (Like Monster Cable allegedly does. Not that you heard that from me.) Their website is also educational. There is a catch, though: you have to attach the plugs/ends to the wire yourself. If they do it, it’s $27 per cable, including the connectors they sell for $3.50/pair. It’s like they really hate doing this, so they’ll charge you an exorbitant fee hoping you’ll say no. It does seem like a pain, but so does shelling out $100 for them to do it for you.

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2 thoughts on “Cable Conspiracy”

  1. It’s interesting with cables because in the world of music and recording, the cable is one of the FIRST things you would check for trouble-shooting problems. And I’m not necessarily referring to proper connections but the actual quality of the cable itself and how it’s wired/soldered to the male or female connections. I’d like to find a similar way to purchase a good quality reel of 1/4″ guitar cable and male connectors and solder them generously, to prevent interference. I wonder if the same logic can be applied with computer cables.

  2. The difference between recording and computers, as I think you’re describing, is that there is so much more that can go wrong on a computer, and most of it is more likely to. Another issue is that computers, cables, and peripherals are usually pretty stationary, whereas musicians often like to move and jump around when playing, without too much regard for where their cable is. At least to my eye. So amp cables probably get a lot of wear and tear, especially around the plug.

    I would email Blue Jeans and ask them about guitar cable, they mention they’ll try to make you anything you need. And it doesn’t look like all their cables have that assembly fee, so you could possibly get a good deal on an assembled cable. They’re certified experts, so I’m guessing they’d do a lot better soldering job than you or I. I haven’t done a lot of soldering since HS, and there is some skill to it.

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