If you get into music full-bore to make up for 20 years of lost time, your effort quickly begins to ascend into the monetary stratosphere as costs pile up to bowl you over in that everlasting and neverending chase for “that sound.” The latest example of my overweening ear interest is demonstrated in my new obsession with Evidence Audio
amp, speaker and guitar cables. This is my story.
I came to know Evidence Audio cables through my new obsession — err, “association” — with my new David Gilmour Black Strat.
Included with the Gilmour guitar is a Melody cable from Evidence Audio. Melody is the same cable David uses in performance. I was especially intrigued by this claim on the cable’s packaging:
Cables sound best after carrying a signal for approximately 40 hours. This is due to dielectric forming. As the conductor’s insulation material stores and releases an electric signal, its molecular characteristics stabilize with regard to how they store and release the energy applied by the conductor. Expect any cable to sound its best only after passing a signal for 40 hours. Note that (approximately) 80% of the change occurs during the first 10 hours a signal is presented to the dielectric. Don’t expect too much after that.
I couldn’t believe what my eyes were reading. I was fully prepared to call “Snake Oil” on that Evidence Audio claim.
I went to my favorite online guitar forum to ask for more experienced feedback from the gut of the group. Here is what I asked:
Do amps and speakers need to be “broken in” to get great sound?
I’m an old time radio guy and there was — and is, I guess — always an argument if new headphones had to be “broken in” or not to get the best sound out of them. I was always on the side that an older set of cans sounded better than those fresh out of the box, but others said it was/is physically and scientifically impossible that “breaking them in” had any effect whatsoever on the quality of sound produced.
I know some people think a tube amp needs burn in time and that any sort of speaker also need to be “exercised” with sound to produce the best results — but is there any truth in that or is it all a folk tale?
To complicate matters a little in my mind, the Evidence Audio cable included with my Gilmour NOS claims you won’t get the best sound out of the cable until you’ve used it for 20 hours! Huh? They enclosed card claims 10 hours is enough to start to really “hear” the capabilities of the cable, but it will take 20 to fully break in the sound. That whole paragraph I wrote sounds like the definition of witchcraft! SMILE!
I bought a second, more expensive Evidence Audio cable with “silent plug” technology — turns out the Evidence Audio cables are quite noisy! I went back to my 100% Mogami cable setup and everything is quiet again. The Mogami Silent Plug Platinum guitar cable is worth every cent spent in the pops, bangs, and hisses it cures.
Here is the most prescient reply I received in the forum:
Hi Boles, if it’s okay, I’d like to touch on the break-in subjects. It’s my experience, that the speaker will need 10-20hrs, at various volume settings to flex the surround sufficiently. The electronics of the amp (all functions) just need to be run up to operating temps and tested at their full sweep.
One way, is to play and test for 15min, take a break but leave amp on (in play mode), play again and test, and so on. You’re just checking for early component failure. I agree with you about the headphones, it’s the same case as the surround on speakers, especially the larger old ones. The ones I use for recording are from the early 70’s, and make me look like I should be out on the taxi-way directing jets. But they’re sweet and easy on the ears.
That deal about the guitar cable is great! Does the cable need to have 20 hours of a 0.1V peak signal to align it’s molecular structure? The George L’s are good low capacitance cables. ART
I confessed my love of Mogami cables in that forum — I have had a 100% Mogami cables setup — and that was an expensive proposition. One Mogami cable can cost $150.00USD and you certainly need more than one.
And so on.
And that’s why you always see hardcore musicians arguing online about the best cable available and it is usually the first brand they paid down a lot of good money to buy that they love the most. You never forget — or forgive — your first guitar cable love.
Replacing all your amp, speaker and guitar cables is slightly more silly than having all your amalgam tooth fillings removed in favor of a safer “white composite” material that won’t give you mercury poisoning — and so I decided to do just that: Forsake all my Mogami and spend my own hard earned money to fly 100% Evidence Audio to hear it all with my own ears: If Evidence Audio is good enough for David Gilmour, it is certainly fine for me!
So, here I stand with several Evidence Audio cables in hand and “dielectrically dialed-in” for the requisite 40 hours and I am, frankly, delighted and surprised.
Evidence Audio Siren II cables now run between my speakers and my amp. The sound is cleaner and truer. There’s more “there” there now that I never knew was missing!
Evidence Audio Lyric HG cables now tether my guitars to my amps. I get a sharper, spinning, shine and a greater, glistening, chime from the Lyric cable than with the Mogami — even though they fall into the same price range. The bass lines also thump just a little bit heavier and more forcefully with the Lyric HG.
In my non-scientific testing, the Evidence Audio Melody cable was muddier than the Lyric HG, but the Melody is also less strict in its want to hold its shape and that might be important to some musicians.
The Lyric HG cable sounds the best, but it is also the most ill-behaved in situ in that it retains its looping arc even in the unwound state and those elevated, thicker, twists can cause a tripping hazard on stage, but I say, “Who cares?” — this is all about the chase for the absolutely right sound — not the reason for stumbling in performance.
Yesterday, in anticipation of this article, I contacted Evidence Audio to ask a few questions. I was impressed that a few hours after my inquiry, Tony Farinella, the one-man Wizard behind Evidence Audio, answered all my questions.
The first thing I wanted to know was how he was able to quantify his dielectric claim about wearing in the cables for 10 hours to get the best sound and this is what he said:
I can only quantify my claim by relaying personal experience which is fortunately an experience shared by others. This is not a methodology which will satisfy the scrutiny of the engineering community. The dialog between the subjectivists and objectivists gets quite heated. Almost religious. I see both points and try to keep an open mind and healthy skepticism. But at the end of the day I don’t deny what I hear and can demonstrate to others. I find it easier to accept the phenomenon of break-in than the existence of God; for in my experience I have more proof of the former. …
When I take lengths of bare metal between plugs and compare them (by ear), and the only variable is the amount of “time” a signal has been applied to bare copper, I can’t hear a bit of difference between them.
The only time I notice the effects of “time” on a conductor material is when it has an insulation material extruded on top of it. I’d be a bit shy making these claims if I were the only one doing so. Probably not the quantifiable data that would put to rest a team of E.E.s.. but at least I’m not crazy AND alone.
I also asked Tony about his cables versus Mogami — here is his reply:
As for Mogami: Fine cable. Warm and forgiving. Well-engineered and you can make/record/pass perfectly wonderful sounding music with it.
I personally like mine better for what I hear against various models and configurations they make: notably articulation and speed in the bottom end. I hear that first. Their midrange is a little rounder and out of focus. Less dimensional. But hey a guitarist may wish to paint with those colors. Nothing wrong with that.
That final observation by Tony was the sealing cut against Mogami and the reason for my permanent switchover to Evidence Audio: If you want to hear your guitar’s genuine, clean, unguarded, personality — you don’t want anything blocking the natural being between bonding fingers binding ears.
Evidence Audio cables ring out the true sound of your guitar while Mogami dresses up the sound just a little bit to match the middling, midstream, mainstream, untrained, wringing, ear.
It takes bravery, not bravado, to use an Evidence Audio cable because those cables exposes the reality of your amps, speakers and guitars in ways you might not really enjoy if you’ve previously been fooled by your cables setup.
When we talk Evidence Audio, we’re discussing the necessary need for a naked, pure, sound without masks or mysticism — and some ears cannot, and will not, handle that reality. Those frightened folks are happy enough to mash down the impurities of their sound with stompboxes and cables that yearn to please with a predetermined, dull, aesthetic.
Those “musicians” will purposefully never care about the potential richness of their sound, and they will never hope to submit the guts of their gear to the stunning difference between Evidence Audio and all the rest — because they can’t begin to regret what was never risked or wagered to hear.