Lava Mini ELC or Evidence Monorail? The definitive thread

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by dB, Feb 2, 2008.


  1. dB

    dB Member

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    At this price point, these seem to be the top options. Who has used both and can offer a comparison between the two?

    I have an entire board of George L's and am contemplating a change to one of the two. Evidence is nice because I can reuse the plugs I already have and save myself a good amount of money. On the downside, I am not a huge fan of the plugs, and Evidence cables are red (which seems a little too flashy for my taste)

    Lava has the great plug design, but I am curious just how different they will sound from George L's.

    Anyone?
     
  2. JKoeth

    JKoeth Supporting Member

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    I haven't used both but I'd go with the Evidence. It's not really a flashy red color. It's more dark than you think. Also, sounds fantastic!

    You can always solder your ends on if you like.
     
  3. dB

    dB Member

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    Thanks...anyone else have an opinion to weigh in?
     
  4. tonefreak

    tonefreak Member

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    I just rewired my entire board with Monorail using the George L plugs because I wanted to see for myself if they sounded better and if the Monorail was difficult to install.

    IMO, the Monorail added dynamics to my tone that was not there before when I used the George L cables. Also, Monorails are no harder to install than the regular George L cables.

    PS. Color doesn't affect tone... if the Monorail were puke green, I would still use them.
     
  5. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    I just replaced my GL cables with Monorail, using the GL RA plugs and there was a very noticeable improvement. I suspect the new Lava cable will be similar, and the new Lava plugs are a big improvement over the GLs, but they only work with the ELC cable.

    It was a pain in the ass for me to make a bunch of cables though, because it doesn't always work the first time, no matter how careful you are. So give yourself some extra cable to work with, in case you have to re cut it a few times to get it right. The Monorail is a dark reddish brown color - not at all flashy.
     
  6. mrboy

    mrboy Member

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    Does anyone know the capasitance of Monorail?
     
  7. Ben C.

    Ben C. Member

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    Improvement in what?
     
  8. nrvana8775

    nrvana8775 Member

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    This seems odd, as my reasoning for switching to different cables would be to get away from the george l right angle plugs.

    Monorail with bill lawrence plugs?
     
  9. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    Improvement in clarity, detail, fullness, richness, 3D quality. Also, I use a 14' Lyric HG for guitar > pedals, and 20' Canare/Neutrik for pedals > amp. I compare the tones with how it sounds when plugged directly into my amp with the Lyric HG. With the Monorail, it now sounds closer to directly plugging in.
     
  10. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    I've got a couple of other solderless plugs that also worked well with the Monorail. It is recommended to solder the Monorail, but I just wanted to see what sort of improvement there would be with just a cable swap.
     
  11. Fixxxer

    Fixxxer Member

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    I'd like to hear this as well....
     
  12. Ben C.

    Ben C. Member

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    So it has more or less mids than the cable you were using before?
    Bass? Because sometimes bass and smeared mids = "richness" for some. For instance, some people said the Melody was 'rich', and I thought it was 'undefined'. I guess the only way is for me to buy som bulk Monorail and try it out!
     
  13. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    I would say more mids than the GL cable, but not just increased mids, rather, more 'natural' mids, ie: more like the mids of the Lyric HG, and the Bass as well.

    The Monorail is only $2/foot, so it's not a costly experiment.
     
  14. jamison162

    jamison162 Member

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    Yep, done it. I prefer the BL cable. Don't forget the monorail has a solid center conductor and to me that's just to risky and doesn't really make sense (to me) to be using solderless plugs with it.

    Decide for yourself. This is from the EA Monorail FAQ site.


    Q) Can I use The Monorail as an instrument cable?
    A) The Monorail is not intended to be used as a standard instrument cable like a "Guitar to Amp" design. Instrument cables require flexibility for movement and the Monorail has a stiffness that does not respond as well for those applications. It is intended for applications that require seldom movement like pedalboard patches, studio patches, guitar cavity wiring, pedal wiring, etc. For instrument cables, a better experience will come from the Melody, Lyric or Lyric HG.

    Q) Should I solder plugs to The Monorail or use solder-less plugs?
    A) You should solder plugs to The Monorail. There are many plugs available in various shapes and sizes to choose from. Different people have their favorites; most all will offer a better LONG TERM connection than you will get from using a solder-less plug.
    With regard to patch cables; several things work in favor of solder-less plugs. However, sound quality and reliability are neither of them.


    Q) How did solder-less cables become so popular? A) The short answer is that solder-less cables are relatively cheap and easy. The typical patch cable requires no more than six inches of cable. The cost of six inches of cable ranges from pennies to a couple of dollars depending on the cable. The largest contributors to the cost of a patch cable are the plugs and the labor to attach them. (This assumes you have already spent a few hundred dollars on the hand tools, soldering iron and solder, and have spend many hours of time learning how to solder properly).
    The average cost and trouble to solder a few patch cables cables for the uninitiated quickly adds up.†

    Enter solder-less cables. Finally a solution where anyone can make patch cables quickly with nothing more than a razor blade and screwdriver!
    There's the "easy" component. As for "cheap" -- you have just taken the labor component out of the price equation which means an instant 70% discount.
    Well done! †Note: The experienced hobbyist with proper tools can make quick work of a pedal board and wonder what the fuss is about. If this person is in your circle of friends, do not let him leave it. Embrace him or her and prepare to treat them very well in exchange for services they might some day render.

    Q) What are the pros and cons of solder-less cables?
    A) The pros are described well enough above. The cons? Let's break it down. While a mechanical connection is actually superior to a soldered connection, this is not the sort of mechanical connection we are talking about. You need a good mechanical connection where a joint is made from two similar metals pressed together so hard that they actually form an alloy. This can be described as a cold-weld. Or a crimp. A connection which is gas-tight; preventing any oxidation from occurring where the two materials make contact.
    With common solder-less cables you've got two connections to make. The center conductor must mate with the tip portion of a 1/4" plug and the shield must provide the ground contact by mating with the ring portion (or body) of the plug.
    One of the challenges of building a quality cable is to maintain concentricity. Simply put concentricity is the ability to keep the middle in the middle. This happens fairly well however when you feed the cable into a solder-less plug, any tiny amount of slack coupled with any tiny deviance in concentricity means the small center pin inside the plug will make limited contact with some number of small strands available to it. Plus or Minus. It might end up between most of them. It may end up to the left of the strand bundle. Or the right.
    Whatever number of small strands the center pin lies against, there is a fixed amount of contact area available which doesn't approach "optimal". More importantly there is a fixed level of contact pressure which falls well short of that adjective.
    If you solicit feedback on solder-less cables you will find people falling into two camps with regard to the assembly process: "Love it" or "Hate it". The lovers woo the haters by convincing them to spend more time and caution building their cables. Cut carefully so as not to crush and change the concentricity. Develop the "feel" for how far in you need to push the cable to get good contact with the center conductor. The haters generally give up and tell the lovers they need to learn how to solder or find a friend who can do so.
    But wait there's more! We're not at the ground connection yet. I'm going to go fast here so stay with me... Solder-less cables in this application generally require you to turn a screw in order to cut through the jacket of the cable to make contact with the shield. Screws are meant to be durable. If they are soft they strip on the head or the threads. Soft metals such as copper conduct very well. Sadly copper plugs are impractical because they are so soft they would bend and oxidize. So we create alloys for our plugs with things like bronze and brass, and plate them for durability with something reasonably conductive like nickel. If we want to get fancy and charge more for something which sounds worse, we'll put a layer of gold over the nickel but that's a lesson for another day.
    But a screw? A screw must be much more durable than the plug. Keep in mind there is an inverse relationship between a metal's hardness and sound quality. When you realize how plugs are a step backwards from a good cable in terms of sound, think about the fact your ground connection is being made by a very hard screw made from material far worse than the plug itself -- with about the same random contact pressure and contact surface area obtained with the center pin. You're actually better off stripping the jacket off most solder-less cables, taking your chances on getting good contact with the center pin, and then screwing hard enough to press a large amount of the shield against the inside of the plug body on the opposite side of the screw. You heard that here first.
    With enough practice one can eventually achieve"reasonable" results in terms of making an electrical and mechanical contact with most solder-less plug solutions available today.
    Getting back to your question: The "Cons" then, as a result of the above factors, are a limitation placed on sound quality and ultimate reliability.
    For some, these cons are outweigh against the pros of a solder-less cable system being cheap and easy.
    The Monorail is an opportunity to exceed the sound quality in these applications while matching the reliability conditions. Easy? The Monorail is equivalent in the amount of initial frustration presented, but anyone already familiar with putting together solder-less cables will find The Monorail no easier or more difficult than the alternatives. Cheap? Not exactly but the delta (increase) over wiring a rack or pedal board with The Monorail instead of other cable options is far less than what you will pay for a couple of plugs. Read that previous sentence once more.

    Q) Why does The Monorail have an outer diameter of exactly 0.155"? Was this chosen at random?
    A) This number was chosen primarily because it is small. The cable can be used where space is a premium. The fact it is 0.155" also means it is backwards compatible with the most popular solder-less plugs on the market today. Some plugs may require a bit more finessing than others in order to attain the best results possible.
    Whichever plugs you decide to futz with, any extra amount of fussing required to use your particular favorite will be rewarded with superior sound.

    Q) What am I trying to accomplish with a solder-less connection?
    A) Here's how it works. The various plugs out there have a hole you stick the cable in. At the bottom of this hole is an inverted needle which presses alongside the center conductor to make the positive contact with the plug's tip. Then a screw gets tightened on the side of the plug body until it cuts through the outer jacket and touches the shield to make the ground connection. Sounds pretty simple right? Well it is with some practice. You also need a nice clean cut that leaves the cable as round as possible. You may find yourself making three our four attempts before nailing a nice connection, but don't feel bad. You are not alone.
    If you can't get a nice cut after 2 or 3 tries you are using the wrong tool. Put the scissors away and try something else. Once you've got that clean cut, make sure the ground screw is fully backed out of the way. If it hits the cable as you push it in, you will be starting over.
    Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's a look at a nice clean cut of the Monorail and another popular cable:

    [​IMG]

    The objective and technique are the same. It's just that with the Monorail you will be pushing the needle against a larger center conductor drawn from IGL copper. With other cables it will be smaller strands of tough-pitch or tin-plated copper.
    Screw out of the way? Great. firmly hold the cable and slide it into the hole until you feel resistance. That's usually the needle kissing the conductor. We want more than a kiss, so press the cable in enough to overcome that resistance. You should feel the cable move in about another 3mm. Not much we can do about the size of your needle. Just move on.

    Here's a picture to show you what should be going on inside the plug:

    [​IMG]



    Once that's in place, you screw down the screw on the side of the plug (or in the case of some right-angle plugs you bend the cable down whilst keeping forward pressure on the needle and screw down the end-cap).
    It's not very glamorous but the end of the screw cuts a circle and its circumference marks where the screw makes contact with the shield. In the case of the Monorail it is a spiral shield with minimal and consistent strand interaction. With other shields it may be a braided shield of questionable material. I'm sure it's very nice.

    [​IMG]

    Q) Can I improve on the ground connection?
    A) I hinted at this earlier. You can generate a much larger surface area for your ground connection, and avoid the limitations of using the screw to run your signal through if you performa a slight modification to the cable before pushing it into the plug.
    The modification is simply removing enough of the outer jacket material on your cable, so that when you tighten the set-screw you are pushing a large amount of the shield on the other side of the cable directly against the inside of the plug body.

    [​IMG]

    This is a great upgrade to your solder-less cables even if you don't change the cable or plugs. It requires a bit more time and care, but if you're determined to make solderless cables a part of your life, you might as well go all the way.

    Q) You've spent a lot of time arguing against solder-less plugs. Why make a cable that is compatible?
    A) People do bad things. People smoke and cheat on their taxes. After many years trying to convince people that they should replace their solder-less cables with properly built patch cables which take up a bit more room and cost as much as a pedal or two, I've come to realize this is practical for only the most devoted worshipers of tone. To those who do: Congratulations! Your pedal board will live a long and healthy life filled with good vibrations.
    Still, there are people out there who will continue to drive home fast on under-inflated tires from the bar in order to engage in dangerous sex with a random stranger. Unable to convince these people to change their evil behavior, I have decided to provide them with the opportunity to behave badly with better results. You know who you are.
    Please don't use The Monorail with solder-less connectors. But if you must, at least use a cable that will sound good.

    Q) What might it look like if I use solder-less plugs?
    A) Here are a few photos to give you an idea. Other plugs work well also:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  15. nrvana8775

    nrvana8775 Member

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    Hmm, so just straight up get the bill lawrence patch cable and connectors?
     
  16. nrvana8775

    nrvana8775 Member

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    There was another thread where a guy used mogami microphone cable, but didn't say what kind of connector he used. Now that sounds interesting.

    I will be keeping my gl for guitar to effects, and effects to amp, but I need something more sturdy in the middle.
     
  17. Ben C.

    Ben C. Member

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    What made you go with the BL? More to the point: can you describe the difference you heard?
     
  18. musickbox

    musickbox Supporting Member

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    I just switch from GL's to Monorail, and it's a nice upgrade. Much "fuller" sound. The wire is much better quality, and I noticed a difference right away. Haven't played the ELC's yet. I'll let you know how I like the cables after a few gigs.
     
  19. gtrshow

    gtrshow Member

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    I just ordered a length of Monorail to replace my George L's patch cables. Maybe it's all in my head, but my tone has seemed a little thinner and fizzy of late. I can't help but think the recent addition of George L's may have something to do with it. The Monorail will be a pretty inexpensive way to find out.
     
  20. jamison162

    jamison162 Member

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    Yep, GL's sound that way to me. You can really hear it whan you a/b them with other cables.
     

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