Taking its Place: Reviewing Elixir Low-Resistance Cables
(ShackMan | Posted 2010-06-21)
It’s a little known fact that the same company that brought out the Elixir coated string was the same company that developed the thick fuzzy stuff we know as GORE-TEX that makes hikers, farmers, and hunters alike all so very happy in the winter. It’s hard to deny the success of either of those products. Elixir strings are kept on Ibanez, Tom Anderson, Brian Moore, Carvin, Melancon, Taylor, Santa Cruz, Lakewood, CA, and Goodall guitars and basses to name a few. As for the fabrics, you can find that in just about every other pair of boots in every shoe shop around. So when Elixir wrote to the MGR staff to let us know that we had to try their new cables, we had to give them a listen.
“Players can have the finest guitar, amps and effects pedals around, but if they’re not using the proper cabling their guitar may not sound the best it can,” boasts Craig Theorin, Elixir Strings’ product manager. “Ordinary cables distort the sound of players’ guitars by artificially boosting the mids and cutting the highs. Using our full line of patch and instrument cables reduces capacitance and minimizes tone loss from their entire setup.” I heard all about all the causes of tone loss that could occur at the show, and Elixir had two fully identical setups: one with Elixir Cables, and the other with Monster Cables (a brand not unknown for quality cabling). I have to admit, Craig’s argument is sound. It’s scientifically proven that over growing distances of cable higher frequencies become less apparent and can get lost on the amplification end. Less resistance would, of course, remove some of that problem. Amid all the chaos, hoopla, and marketing scams with no basis in reality that claim to save your tone, this has merit.
So we tested the cables and went back and forth between Monster and Elixir. Playing a Fender Strat copy through several Hardwire pedals and well over 20’ of cable left more than enough room for audible high-end tone loss, and it turns out that there was, in fact, a difference between the two.
Now, was it better sounding than Monster Cable? I’m not 100% sure. What I do know is that Elixir has the right idea, and that I did hear a difference. The Elixir cabling had a brighter, more open sound than Monster Cables, which is a tone quality I’ve come to expect from them. Playing through Elixir cables felt…cleaner, not in the sense that there was less effected distortion, but cleaner in the same way that makes you happy when there’s less RF interference on your favorite radio station in the car. It bordered on making the Monster Cable sound muddy, which is a feat none too small in the music world.
What I can say with certainty is this. Elixir has solidified itself, as far as I am concerned, as a high-end cable maker whose gear deserves to get a good look from any player who cares about his tone, and all players should care about their tone.
Second opinion with Laklander:
One of the more eye-opening moments I had while attending Summer NAMM In Nashville in June 2010 was actually being able to hear the difference between Elixir® Cables when tested side-by-side against Monster Cables.
The setup used a standard Elixir guitar cable and shorter patch cords (which had just been introduced) to route signal through several effects into a headphone setup. With well over 20 feet of cable involved, there was plenty of opportunity for signal loss. It took only a few notes to discover that the signal through the Elixir cables was substanially more clear than that through the Monster cables.
Elixir claims that other cables boost mids and cut highs, drastically affecting the signal of any instrument. Why spend $4,000 for a guitar with killer tone, only to have that tone destroyed by your cabling?
Elixir patch cables feature dual-shield construction to protect against both EMI and handling noise and use an abrasion-resistant jacket for maximum flexibility while still providing superior cut resistance. The cables are also crush resistant and use a heavy duty center conductor to improve flex life and overall reliability. Patch cables are available in 6-inch and 12-inch lengths with a right-angle-to-right-angle plug configuration. The standard 15-foot guitar cable has street price of around $50 USD, which compares favorably with other high-end cable brands.
Elixir also has revamped its packaging to help to avoid the "memory" kinks that develop in the cable after it has hung, coiled up, at retailers for several weeks. Elixir promises that its new line of cables will be less prone to kinking after being unpackaged. The new packaging is also easier to open, allowing players to inspect the cable more easily at retailers. Based on what I saw at NAMM, all this is true.