Cables can be sexy too. By Peter Hodgson
Cables can seem like the most unexciting gear in guitar-dom. They’re usually the last thing we think of upgrading, and that sucks. Why? Because the cable is your lifeline - it stands between you and the rest of your equipment. You know how a chain is only as good as its weakest link? That’s doubly true of a signal chain, where your precious, clear-sounding $5000 guitar can be instantly rendered muffled and noisy by cheap cords. Nordost to the rescue! They make pro-level audio and video cables: the kind you’ll find in obscenely expensive audiophile home stereo setups. They show the same love to your guitar signal, too - Nordost sent us a few cables from their AX Angel series to try out, which are equally at home, onstage or in the studio. Of course, that’s usually just marketing speak for “It’s just a cable - of course you can use it in the studio or onstage,” but this particular package of goodies really does pack the punch you’ll want to make your recordings better.
AX ANGEL POWER CORD
Ever lived in a house with dirty power? I have. Whenever my mum used the washing machine, my amp would crackle. Guess how much recording I got done on laundry day. The Ax Angel Premium Power Cord is designed with the same principles Nordost uses for hi-fi audio systems: it uses many of the company’s proprietary technologies, including Micro Mono-Filament tech which reduces insulation contact by 80 percent - therefore improving mechanical damping - and Nordost’s unique technique of high performance FEP extrusion, greatly reducing dielectric properties and propagation delay. So, how does this help your recordings? It means your amp is receiving the cleanest power it can get out of your wall outlet, reducing background hum and interference. In swapping back and forth with a regular kettle cord over several weeks of testing, I definitely started to appreciate the clean signal of the AX Angel. It’s subtle, but it’s exactly the kind of subtlety that the pros insist on. And just as a product, it feels extremely durable and high quality, which is not something you can say for the generic cheap-o kettle cords bundled with most amplifiers.
AX ANGEL INSTRUMENT CABLE
The Ax Angel Instrument Cable uses many of the same technologies as the AC cord, with Micro Mono-Filament and advanced FEP extrusion tech for low dielectric properties and wide bandwidth. It’s available in multiple lengths with both straight and right-angled phono connectors, and it’s the only mechanically tuned cable purpose-built for pro audio applications. I tried it with a variety of different guitars and pickup types - single coils, humbuckers, mini humbuckers, actives - and found that the cable very faithfully reproduced the individual qualities of each guitar. For recording purposes, this means you can get a nice, clear sound into your DAW, and it sounds great for clean guitar tones (and nice and quiet for distorted ones). Shorter versions with right-angle plus for pedalboard applications were also provided for review, and again they revealed themselves to be exceptionally quiet - even when violently stomping a wah pedal - and exceptionally high quality.
AX ANGEL SPEAKER CABLE
Speaker cables are another area where many amplifier companies tend to bundle a cheap generic cord. Take control of your amp/speaker signal chain with one of these bad boys, which are available in both 1/4 inch phono and Speakon connectors. I used this one between my Marshall head and cabinet, as well as between my head and a Mesa CabClone load box/speaker simulator and found the sound to be very crisp - especially with the CabClone, where the extremely clear signal seemed to eek a little more headroom out of my recordings.
AX ANGEL MICROPHONE CABLE
The Ax Angel Microphone Cable is constructed using 4x 24 AWG stranded, OFC conductors which have been wrapped in Nordost’s proprietary Micro Mono-Filament technology and then enclosed in a layer of extruded high-performance FEP, and protected with a braided shield. As an added precaution against the strain microphone cables are subjected to from constant plugging and unplugging, Nordost has added an Aramid Fiber Strength Member to its cable design, so if you’re using one for onstage vocals - especially with a singer who likes to move around a lot, bless ‘em - this cable will provide a clear, consistent sound, and is also likely to survive intact even when they chuck the microphone at the monitor engineer.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) insulation
• Mechanically tuned lay, Micro Mono-Filament design
• Female XLR to Male XLR, 1/4” Stereo Phono, 1/4” Mono Phono, RCA or Speakon connectors
• Highest quality cable on the Australian market
• Vibrant colour for stage use
• Great quality
• Low noise
Advance Audio Australia