For this non-scientific test, wel used the following components:
- My Martin OMC-16RE Aura direct into my Bose L1 PAS pa system
- My Fender Strat direct into my Mesa/Boogie LoneStar Classic 1x12 combo.
The test were between these 10' guitar cables:
- Planet Waves Classic ($11.95 street)
- Sommer "the Spirit" ($34.99 street)
- Van de Hull "Integration Hybrid" ($149.95 street)
The votes are in, and here's what we came up with. I tested all 3 cables more than 10 times each, over the course of 6 hours - with plenty of breaks in-between. When playing the strat I had the amp set to "clean" most of the time. With the Martin I used a blend of 80% UST and 20% Aura. As much as I wanted to "bust the myth", the cables did consistantly perform per their price point. The most expensive cable is the best-sounding one, the least-expensive cable sounds inexpensive (in relation to the other two), and the middle-cable is definitely "a step above".
I must admit - before this test I did not know what my trusty Planet Waves cable lacked, if anything. It was only after hearing the Sommer and the VDH that I found the tone deficiencies in the PW. I would describe the three cables in this manner...
Planet Waves Classic (ECONOMY CABLE)
- bass strings are muddy
- midrange is fair
- highs are thin and borderline scratchy when played hard
- compared to the other cables, this sounds slightly dull with no overtones
- I give this cable a C, now that I've heard the others
Sommer Spirit (MID-GRADE CABLE)
- bass strings are clear and defined
- midrange is better with improved sustain
- highs are rounder, and stay smooth when played harder
- sounds full, balanced, and smooth
- easy to hear each string clearly
- strong overtones & harmonics
- I give this cable a B+
Van de Hull Integration Hybrid (HIGH-END CABLE)
- bass strings are crystal clear and deep at the same time
- midrange is very open with great sustain
- highs are fat and lush
- this cable has an open tone with great dynamics & overtones
- fundamental notes decay into rich harmonics
- this cable is the very best way to connect your prized instrument to the amp or PA
- I give this cable an A+
This comparison really opened my eyes to the truth that cables do matter. Sustain, harmonics & overtones have always mattered to me... I just never thought cables could have anything to do with it. They do. Do I want a clean, well-defined tone from my guitars? Sure... but again, I never thought of asking my cable to help. What I learned from this experience is that preserving my guitar's inherint tone (and overtones) with a good cable sounds far better than cheaply connecting to the amp and trying to twist knobs to make up for it. You don't need great cables ... I'd be a hypocrite if I said otherwise. But if your old cable is robbing your guitar of sustain, harmonics, clarity and depth - all the EQ in the world won't put them back once they're gone. You cared enough to buy the right guitar. Take the last step now ... get a good cable. You'll hear it.