Friday, January 22, 2010

Elixir Instrument Cable Review

Hey, check out this cool 20 foot instrument cable Elixir sent me to review. As much fun as it is to get free stuff, I am not going to let that influence me and will give my honest opinion.

First off, I have been a huge fan of Elixir guitar strings for a long time because, like most people, I like to save money. So what, if you spend a couple of bucks extra to buy the strings if they last three times as long as anything else out there? My personal favorites are the Nanoweb strings. They just don't wear out or lose tone and, I usually don't change them until I break one. I play a lot and gig at least a couple times per week and still get several months of use out of a set.

But, back to cables; this is a new product for Elixir and I want to see how it compares to the two cables I normally use - Monster and Century Music Systems. Just looking at the package, first impression is that this is substantial cable - a big fat, heavy wire with nice gold plated connectors that are large enough to actually get a grip on without having to pull them out by the cable.

Let's get this thing unpacked and see how it sounds. That's the bottom line anyway, now, isn't it? The unpacking is my first criticism - this sucker is welded into some kind of super strength, space age polymer that, I suspect, Elixir engineers somehow retrieved from the future in much the same way transparent aluminum arrived in Star Trek IV. Somehow I managed to unseal this vault without cutting the cable or an artery.

My second minor criticism is that the cable could be a little more flexible. You can forget about it every coiling up in a neat little circle like your Monster cable, nor is it going lie really flat on the stage. I got this cable yesterday and actually played a gig with it last night and wondered if I might hang a toe on it on stage but, it didn't seem to be much of a problem. It pretty much laid down after I walked around on it for an hour or so.

Now, packaging and flexibility are part of the picture but, the real test is sound. This morning I got the Elixir cable out along with my favorite Monster cable and Century Music Systems cable. I hooked these up, one at a time, between my Stratocaster and Fender amp. Without changing any guitar or amp settings I tried all cables. I admit, I had a preconceived notion that the differences would be very subtle, if any. Therefore, I got Peggy, our keyboardist, who has a much better ear than I, to listen as well. We were both surprised at the differences and both agreed that the Elixir Cable beat the others by a mile. I was not expecting this result and would not have believed it if I had not heard it with my own ears.

Here is the result that we both agreed upon: First was the Elixir cable, a distant second was the Century Music Systems cable followed closely by the Monster cable in third. Just to confirm the results I did one more test. I had Peggy, with the great ears (other parts are pretty darned good too), do a blindfold test. As I randomly changed cables, she was able to identify, with 100% accuracy, which cable I was using. This was a real eye opener for me!

As for price, I have not had a chance to compare prices yet but, I intend to start using these cables and would say, they would be worth something extra. I'm not saying they definitely cost more than say, Monster - I just don't know what they cost but, they are better, without question.


John D. Lueckenotte said...

I was part of the giveaway too, and I'm loving my new cable! I do wish it was a little easier to handle - coil up.

Looks like we have quite a bit in common - I'll be reading this blog from now on!

Best wishes!

The Night Watchman said...

Never owned a monster cable, but I think the their premium cables price out about the same as the Elixir, about $80.

I found the Elixir to sound slightly better than a custom-made cable I use (self-built), and much better than other cheapies.

he problem I have is the price. I can assemble my scustom cables for about $10-15 apiece, versus $80 for the Elixir...and the tonal difference just isn't great enough to justify the extra money, IMO.

Lloyd and Peggy said...

I have to say I agree with Night Watchman - if these cables are $80, that would be hard to take! We are, after all, musicians and often play for tips (or nothing). LOL Could you comment on where you get your cable and connectors, and what type you use?

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