Cable Buyer's Guide
Thank you for taking the time to read the Sinasoid Cable Buying Guide. Hopefully, by the end of this, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on what cable type and configuration will work best for your application.
For starters, you’ll want to consider the following when deciding on an instrument cable:
Knowing these beforehand will make determining your “perfect fit” cable quicker and easier. Also, please note that all products listed on Sinasoid.com have been tested to meet minimum performance and durability standards. Because of this, we won’t go over certain topics as they’re just assumed to meet our stringent requirements - shield RFI and EMI rejection, center conductor performance, electrostatic shield performance, etc.
WHAT TONE PROFILE DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
What about a cable affects the tone? In short, everything, but the number to pay attention to is the capacitance rating of the wire - the ability of the wire to collect and store energy as an electrical charge. This is expressed in picofarads per foot (pF/ft) in imperial figures and picofarads per meter (pF/m) in metric units. For simplicity in comparing models, the numbers have all been converted to pF/ft in this guide, as well as our site. Capacitance is one of the most important specifications of an instrument wire (with respect to impact on tone) because a higher capacitance rating translates to attenuation of high frequencies. This means that cables with higher capacitance pass audio with less high frequencies and cables with lower capacitance allow the signal to pass with more of the high frequencies intact.
To reiterate: ↑pF=↓HF and ↓pF=↑HF
We’ve assembled a chart below with all the wire options available at Sinasoid. This makes it easy to see how each model compares to the next. You can expect a capacitance below 22pF/ft to sound “bright”, 23pF/ft - 35pF/ft to be more “balanced” or “transparent”, and 36pF/ft and up to be “dark”. Keep in mind that the tone descriptors are subjective, but it should give you a general idea of how the cable impacts your tone.
WHAT KIND OF LOOK AND FEEL WORK FOR YOU?
Cables each have their own unique look and feel based on materials and construction. Each come jacketed in different colors, textures, materials, and are extruded in different ways that, together, all give each model their individual characteristic.
The look is fairly straightforward - pick a color and surface finish. Most of the wires available through Sinasoid come in black, with a few models offered in colors. If you choose to have TechFlex applied, the color will show through the flex and combine with the flex pattern to create unique colors. Each wire also has its own surface finish - some have a slight sheen while others have a flat matte quality.
Not so straightforward is the feel of a cable. The flexibility, softness, and tackiness are all important to the way the cable acts while in use. The outer jacket is important to the “hand feel” of a cable, but the innards play a huge roll in how the cable winds up or lays down on the stage/floor. The center conductor and insulator can add stiffness based on the materials and the extrusion. Generally speaking, a higher strand count center conductor and thermoplastic insulators will be more flexible. The electrostatic shield doesn’t add stiffness, but the shield can. Shielding plays a role in electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI) rejection and every wire we carry has superior rejection characteristics, so it’s not important to stress over this - but, it is important to think about how it affects the feel of the cable. A braided shield will generally make the cable less flexible while a single-serve or double-serve shielded cable helps maintain flexibility.
Here’s a quick chart showing each cable’s flexibility index and jacket feel, without any exterior coverings applied (TechFlex, braid, shrink tube, etc.):
* Monorail is a solid core wire, so while flexible, it has significant wire “memory” and retains its shape when bent.
The higher the Flexibility number, the more flexible it is, and the higher the softness, the softer the jacket. Softer and more flexible cables do not necessarily correlate to higher quality, but simply shows how a cable will feel and act while in use. All the wires listed above have superior performance, so it’s more a matter of how you want your cable to feel.
HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR CABLES TO LAY ON THE FLOOR/STAGE?
The jacket material and flexibility combine to determine how the cable will lay on the floor and how the cable will move around with you. Stiff cables tend to lay down with areas raised up while flexible cables generally lay flatter against the floor. Stiffer cables will have larger sections shift across the surface as you move around whereas flexible cables flow in a more fluid fashion. The jacket smoothness also largely affects the movement - the Sinasoid Slate, for instance, is somewhat tacky and adheres to the floor and peels away when you move. This, along with its sonic characteristics, makes the Slate a favorite amongst our touring artists. Harder jacket materials will slide across the floor, and even more so with flex-type covering. Braided flex coverings add great visual appeal and durability, and as mentioned, make the cable stiffer and slicker on the floor.
WHAT GEAR ARE YOU CONNECTING?
Connecting different types of gear means you’ll want to consider your connector options. We’ve already done the difficult work of vetting connectors for performance and durability, so your decision will come down to your personal preferences and what gear you’re connecting.
Our flagship connector line, G&H Industries, offers nickel and gold plugs with matching nickel, gold, or gunmetal shells in ¼” Tip-Sleeve (TS) and Tip-Ring-Sleeve (TRS) configurations. These are similar to the classic longtime industry-standard Switchcraft connectors but with improved insulation and a copper core center conductor, creating an extremely reliable connection. G&H’s Bigfoot Series are offered in “straight” or “right-angle” TS and straight TRS configurations. These connectors are robust with a smaller off-jack profile than the Neutrik series of plugs, which allows pedals to be positioned closer together and cables to drop straight down from the back of keyboards or sides of guitars.
Neutrik serves as our secondary flagship line with connectors offered in nickel or gold plugs with matte nickel or black shells, all in a straight or right-angle configuration in TS or TRS, and an available upgraded “Silent Plug” feature in TS format. Also offered is a straight white shell. When used properly on the gear send side, a Silent Plug will prevent pops when plugging or unplugging. Neutrik plugs can be further customized with colored boots, which can be useful when looming multiple cables or using a multichannel configuration.
The final series of connectors that have been extremely popular is our own Sinasoid line. We offer models geared towards patch cables in right-angle ¼” “pancake” style plugs and subminiature Slivers. Our nickel Short Stack pancakes are offered in TS and TRS configurations while the Slivers are TS only. The Short Stacks are affordable and reliable and have become an industry standard for everyday patch cable applications. The premium Slivers are the smallest soldered ¼” TS connector in the world and have been the standard for our high-end pedalboard setups where space is a premium. They are constructed with a soldered hot conductor lug and solid copper core through-conductor paired with a 360-degree compression clamp for the shield. This offers better strain relief than any single point soldered shield on the market and creates an incredibly reliable patch connector.
All Sinasoid connector lines are heavily tested to withstand the rigors of the road and are field serviceable if needed. There will be no audible difference between our connectors and they do not affect the tone.
XLR AND BALANCED CABLES
Like the instrument cables and connectors available through Sinasoid, XLR and balanced cables are fully customizable, and we’ve done the research and vetted the materials for you. All balanced cables we offer will have exceptional noise rejection and superior durability. That said, unlike instrument cables, the wire itself will have little to no effect on the audio but can help maximize potential noise rejection and lower the noise floor. You shouldn’t notice any frequency attenuation between the different wire types, so the decision will be based on the jacket feel, color, and connector compatibility.
Mogami W2549 balanced wire, an industry and studio standard, is flexible with a durable outer jacket and is offered in multiple colors for easy personalization. That, along with the Canare L-2T2S round out our balanced wire options. Both wires are known to be superior and are perfectly suited for the Neutrik X-Series XLR plugs paired with them. Similar to the Neutrik ¼” plugs, the XLR connectors are offered in matte nickel or black shell colors.
POWER AND SPEAKER CABLES
Selecting power and speaker cables is not as complicated as it may seem. The important thing to understand is that neither will impact your tone, except in the case of undersized wires. An undersized power cable can affect the way electronics perform, though it’s rarely the case. Below is a chart of the maximum recommended distances for the current draw of a load on the wire - and it’s clear that you likely won’t run into problems with your gear. Sinasoid power cables are offered in 12-16 AWG, with the larger 12 AWG able to handle larger loads over longer lengths and offering more durability. 14 AWG is our best seller as it offers a good balance between load capacity and durability and can accept the flex-style tubing for personalization and additional durability. We use industrial standard Hubbel Edison plugs, top of the line Schurter IEC, and Neutrik PowerCon connectors.
Speaker cables are similar to power cables in that they will not affect your tone, except in the case of undersized wire. Combo speaker cables generally do not need more than 14 AWG even for the highest wattage output amps, and most do well with 16 AWG. Short combo amp speaker cable runs can operate with smaller sized cables, but there is a compromise in durability at the connector solder joints with the thinner wire. Anything smaller than 16 AWG has a tendency to break where the wire meets the joint simply due to the thinner copper.
We use industry-standard Neutrik X-Series ¼” and Speakon connectors and G&H Bigfoot and Megafoot ¼” for the best combination of materials.
If you have any specific questions or need additional information, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or email. We’re happy to help in any way we can.
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