The sound of cable capacitance

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678
Ever wondered how big the difference can be between good quality cables? Well, I made a video to showcase just that:
1. one extreme test with cables of different lengths to clearly illustrate the impact of capacitance on treble
2. one with identical length (3m) cables with different capacitance values, the difference is subtler but still there!
First with guitar, then with bass. It was really surprising for me to hear too! Enjoy :beer


And always keep in mind: BY FAR the most important cable is ALWAYS the cable between your passive instrument and the first buffer in your chain (either an always on pedal or your amp).
 

NJD3VIL77

Member
Messages
193
I have a Mogami Overdrive Platinum cable that sound so crisp and clean if I’m going straight into the amp with it. However if I’m using even one pedal it feels like a minute amount of high end tone is rolled off. So I don’t use it anymore because it’s making me feel like my pedals are a problem when in reality they aren’t.
 
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1,113
Cable capacitance does make an audible difference when it's the cable connected to your guitar. Sometimes the effects of an "inferior" high capacitance cable can even be desirable:

 

aman74

Silver Supporting Member
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9,997
High quality doesn’t necessarily equate to low capacitance.

Low capacitance is definitely not always “better”.

The resonant peak is created, in part, by the cable capacitance, but the LCR network is formed by the pickups, electronics in the guitar, cable, and the first thing it’s plugged into.

YMMV
 

KFBR392

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,449
High quality doesn’t necessarily equate to low capacitance.

Low capacitance is definitely not always “better”.

The resonant peak is created, in part, by the cable capacitance, but the LCR network is formed by the pickups, electronics in the guitar, cable, and the first thing it’s plugged into.

YMMV
Correct.

Mogami 2524 has decently high capacitance, just as an example. Yet it’s sort of the industry standard.

I’ve also found that super low capacitance cables can make recordings sound a little too crisp when running straight into an interface, so they’re not always a good thing in my opinion. But that’s purely personal preference.

The sweet spot for me are cables in the neighborhood of 40 pf/foot. They’re not as bright/transparent, but don’t subtract too much high end either. It’s the range where you don’t notice them when you’re using them.
 

Mongoosiest

Member
Messages
73
I would just echo what @aman74 said - use your ear and if it sounds good it is good. I spent a good chunk of money purchasing Evidence Audio SIS cable and plugs for my large (about 25 pedals) board.
Got it all wired up, switched on and there was a certain frequency that I absolutely hated - it sounded like a wah pedal was parked on. Couldn't believe it was just the cables making that much difference so went through setting after setting, EQs, removing and moving pedals etc. for about a week.

Finally went back to the EBS flat patch cables and everything was perfect. I'm not saying the EA SIS cables are bad - I'm sure they are great! - but I hated whatever resonant peak they were letting through.
 

Classic09

Member
Messages
2,599
To echo what others have said, it’s about the sum of the parts and not down to one unique component (although this can make it break the chain).

My favourite example is that Hendrix used high capacitance cables with bright amps and pedals that weren’t TBP.

Setting up a signal chain with what is perceived to be the best can result in cold and clinical results that sound awful, yet it’s the imperfections of certain pieces of gear that make the whole sound perfect.

I’ve tried top of the line EA cables and SIS kits but that didn’t work for me, so I’ve used Mogami for years and it does the job for me. I’ve used passive pickups, active pickups, buffers, wireless units and there are pedal manufacturers that like a certain EQ or resonance from their pedals that I don’t Like. etc etc. ultimately it’s what sounds right for the person playing.
 

MikeMcK

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,679
I found this chart to be incredibly helpful. Note that these measurements are pF/meter, so to get pF/foot multiply each value by about 0.3.

IMHO, lower is better, though. You can always use your guitar and amp controls to roll off high frequencies you don't want, but you can't get them back if they're rolled off by cable capacitance. If you use a 20 foot cable (which I do sometimes) it can make a big difference.

The good news is that you can get pretty high-performing cables for a lot less than you'd pay for some of the boutique-name cables. And you don't have to get sucked in by the "luxury" marketing used by some of them... one cable company was marketing high-priced "Jazz cables" a few years back. They were just fancy plugs on the ends of the cheapest garbage cable available.
 
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Lullaby

Oh what you do to me! no one knows
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
417
great thread. I definately believe cable cap. makes a difference, in some finer electronics a cm of super thin wire makes a very noticable capacitance difference. I don't think low cap is all that, I think there is something in that holding capacity. Maybe even how different cables release that energy, which gets into resistance et al. On longer run we could get into coiled vs. looped or straight runs . . . just kidding. BOT.
I hear the difference in the video, but I gotta believe as soon as you throw that in a mix, the difference is imperceptible.
It's just a "if reasonable maybe you should do this" issue. It's pretty maddening if you just moved thing and notice it strongly. "WHAT HAPPENED"{sob}
 

KFBR392

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,449
None of this matters once the drummer kicks in
Absolutely true. I only care when I’m recording something, particularly bass. I don’t like low capacitance cables with bass guitar in recording situations.

Again though, purely personal preference. No right or wrong approach here.
 

The-Kid

Pedal Art: Providence Dealer
Messages
4,458
High quality doesn’t necessarily equate to low capacitance.

Low capacitance is definitely not always “better”.

The resonant peak is created, in part, by the cable capacitance, but the LCR network is formed by the pickups, electronics in the guitar, cable, and the first thing it’s plugged into.

YMMV
There really isnt a definitve tone of two two cables being of the same or similar capacitance IMO. Capacitance plays a role but its not the only thing that plays a role or the biggest factor in a cables tone IMO and IME.



Take a look at Providence P203 and H207. Both identical capacitance and use the same wire but use different components and methods overall to make the final cable. The H207 is based of the P203 with the exact same capacitance but when you get two of the same length and test against one another you get different frequency response curves when using equipment and well they sound different and play and react different.


Showing that capacitance in itself is not the only factor in a cables tone. Other things like construction method and well materials make a big difference and play bigger contributions IMO and IME.
 

Produktsumme

Funkensprühender Feuerregen
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,422
For rehearsal/gig I only care about cable endurance, but at home I use a high end solid copper core cable (Vovox) because it matters. The Vovox especially seems to be a nice recipe of high frequency detail without any harshness.
 

aman74

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,997
There really isnt a definitve tone of two two cables being of the same or similar capacitance IMO. Capacitance plays a role but its not the only thing that plays a role or the biggest factor in a cables tone IMO and IME.



Take a look at Providence P203 and H207. Both identical capacitance and use the same wire but use different components and methods overall to make the final cable. The H207 is based of the P203 with the exact same capacitance but when you get two of the same length and test against one another you get different frequency response curves when using equipment and well they sound different and play and react different.


Showing that capacitance in itself is not the only factor in a cables tone. Other things like construction method and well materials make a big difference and play bigger contributions IMO and IME.
Capacitance is the only thing that is gonna change the frequency measurements. It’s fact. IMO and IME simply don’t enter the equation. As long as the cable is of decent quality concerning shielding and handling noise, the only thing you’ll ever hear a difference in will be related to capacitance. This can be proven. The opposite assertions cannot.
 
Messages
678
Capacitance is the only thing that is gonna change the frequency measurements. It’s fact. IMO and IME simply don’t enter the equation. As long as the cable is of decent quality concerning shielding and handling noise, the only thing you’ll ever hear a difference in will be related to capacitance. This can be proven. The opposite assertions cannot.
Correct.

Also important for all to remember: a cable is a completely passive element of the circuit. The only thing cable capacitance can do is attenuate high frequency response. Bass and mids are not affected by cable capacitance. Nor can a cable boost any frequency. The cutoff frequency point is determined by capacitance and can be calculated. As can be heard from the video, only the highest frequency presence suffers in most scenarios.

The advantage of low capacitance cable is that you can use other devices (pedals, amp controls, guitar tone knob) to attenuate your treble only when you want it, as opposed to all the time, as is the case of high capacitance cables. And as for which tone (with intact or attenuated highs) is better, that can only be determined individually and subjectively by every one of us personally :beer
 

59Jazzmaster

Member
Messages
721
All I can tell you is that I A/Bed Evidence Audio Lyrics cables, a Mogami cable (can't remember, gold or platinum), and an Asterope cable by Fishman recommended to me by Matchless Amps. Going straight into a vintage Fender or Marshall on a 10' cable playing a vintage Strat.

The Mogami cable was absolute mud compared to the other two. My grandmother could hear the difference, it was not subtle. She plays an Ibanez though.

The Evidence cable was extremely clear and articulate, the name suits it, it was the most revealing. The Asterope cable sounded really good, like too good, everything sounded good on it unlike the Evidence cable which revealed every flaw. I only use Evidence cables, but they tangle easily and damn expensive, I am gonna start the A/B quest again soon.
 




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