Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review - Low Impedance Oxygen Free Silver Cable - UK Made

YES cables matter!  Particularly when dealing with the low level broad frequency signal passive guitar pickups put out.  A cables impedance and capacitance will dictate the frequency response and overall impact of the tone.  A higher capacitance/higher impedance (which is measured per foot) will mellow out the tone, cutting out the high end.  This may or may not be desirable.  Typically with this loss of high end comes a loss of punch and overall dynamics, again, not necessarily a bad thing.

GFS Stock Photo

As well, silver is a better conductor than copper, and copper is a better conductor than gold.  In the case where the metal is exposed to air, though, gold trumps both as it is more resistant to deterioration.

Is the difference dramatic... from one extreme to another, sure, a "bad" cable can totally ruin your tone with hum and total loss of high end and dynamics... but if a cable does not introduce hum it is "good" and the differences are certainly more subtle than going from a humbucker to a single coil pickup... although the overall effects are relatively similar.

With the prerequisite knowledge out of the way we arrive at the meat of this review - how performs the GFS Low Impedance Oxygen Free Silver Cable (its labeled Rosetti, apparantly a UK company)?

For comparison purposes I have here a 10 foot run of the GFS "noiseless" value cable (a great deal as well!) and a 20 foot run of the typical big box sort of 1/4 "instrument" cable.

Between the 3 cables the 20 foot run of big box stuff has the least high end and dynamics out of the bunch -  somewhat to be expected from a longer run of cable, I'm talking the difference between tone knob @ 10 and tone knob @ 7.  The GFS noiseless cable is slightly better, I'd suspect the 20 foot run of noiseless would be slightly better than the big box, if not the same.  A note, I have an older "noiseless" cable that has developed a bit of hum, but I've used it heavily for about 6 months and no cable is indestructible.

The GFS silver cable (Rosetti), on the other hand, blows the other 2 out of the water.  The difference is ASTOUNDING!  Not only is the high end clearer and extended, the entire range of the guitar seems to be cleaner and more punchy.  Noise rejection is as good as any 1/4" cable I've used.  Its not a total game changer, I could certainly "get by" with the 20 foot big box run, but for just a bit more $ the silver cable is absolutely worth it.  Actually the silver cable reviewed here is cheaper than alot of 10 footers out there that are only copper and do not have gold plated connectors.  Most silver cables start at a much higher price.

The increased high end is in no way undesirable.. in fact I find myself rolling UP the tone knob now to get yet more of the new found "crisp" high end into the picture, whereas with my other cables the high end is relatively harsh and annoying.  I draw comparison to speaker crossovers, where the difference between an elecrolytic capacitor and a metal film capacitor is the difference between a smooth high end and a harsh one.

The build is pretty solid, but I'd really love to have a strain relief.  The insulation is pretty tough, though, which is both a good and bad thing as it makes the cable relatively stiff.  The connectors will probably last forever, extremely solid 1/4" plugs.

Really I don't see a reason to buy the cheap stuff, this cable is noticeably better and doesn't cost that much more.  Once signals get to a higher output the differences fade, but if your connecting your guitar to that first pedal/straight into the amp this cable will absolutely transfer more of your tone.

You could pay more for a cable that will muffle your tone, or just go straight to silver, which I am convinced absolutely is a better choice for guitar cabling.

Go check it out, definitely worth the investment.
Link to GFS Website