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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Echoluxe Custom Cable 2017 (ECC17)

 
 Cabling is one of the most crucial aspects of your sound.  It is certainly not a glamorous aspect of the fun.  Does it matter?
 I ran A/B testing with a Tele through a Champ, no tone controls.

Mike at Another Recording Studio did the initial recording. 

Test 1:  https://youtu.be/DQf2AsK_slc
Why build a better cable?  Sounds like reinventing the wheel.  Well, if it's better than what you're currently using do you want one?  This is one of the clearest sounding cables you'll hear, hand made locally with only the best components available.  You can change pickups, play around with pedals, swap tubes, mod circuits...to me it all begins with cabling.


Another 1 minute capacitance test of two cables, quite different sounds:


Questions:
Q:  Materials and components?
A:  I studied this for quite some time, this is the best stuff.  And simple, no bells and whistles.  I've developed a meticulous 20+ step process to produce this.

Q:  What's the durability?
A:  I've used a similar George L with Switchcraft plugs for 8-9 years, gigged on it with No Blood Orphan, Comme Reel, Mal Madrigal, Sun-Less Trio, Virgasound.  Never a repair or resolder.  Might not be the cable for hardcore or heavy dance.  Though I've stepped on mine a hundred times, closed it in the side of cases, etc.

Q:  Is it really clearer, or are we adding treble or taking away bass?
A:  Cheap cables add capacitance to your instrument's signal.  This acts as a low pass filter, shelving high end and clarity.  This could be desirable, but why not control that at the corresponding EQ circuit?  Imo we want to deliver maximum harmonic content, output and sensitivity.  Transparency.  We want the strongest, most pure representation of the instrument, as it sounds at the instrument, getting to the input jack/grid of the first tube.  Once amplified we can manipulate from there. 

Q:  How does it compare to other flagship cables?
A:  Mogami Platinum (40pf/ft.) $165, Asterope Pro (21pf/ft.) $129, Monster Studio (48pf/ft.) $129, Pro Co Evolution $74, Planet Waves Stage (28pf/ft.) $70, PRS/Van Damme (27pf/ft.), $67, George L (23pf/ft.) $60, Lava Blue Demon (23pf/ft.) $45.  These are great cables.  I've measured some Fender and cheap cables at 40/50+ pf/ft.  Ours are around 17pf/ft raw, 21 with ends.  Not sure if the others are measured raw cable or with ends.

Another way to word that:  say "cable X" measures 1000pf of capacitance, rolling off high end accordingly.  Our cables measure 325pf.  Using one "cable X" is the effect of running three of our cables connected.  If you're running two "X cables" to and from your pedals it's more capacitance than running 100 feet of ours!

Q:  Downside
A:  I do think the pros outweigh all cons.  The cables have a different feel some may not like, I like it and they stay out of the way.  Some might perceive a thinner cable as weaker, I've yet to break one.  Might not be the cable for super high gain, though I can't say that with certainty.  Some might perceive restored high end as a treble boost, it's not boosting but passing signal more clearly.  Our bass player simply loves his.
"Here is some audio, I was really surprised by how much better Mike's cable sounds...  It's not night and day by any means, it's a subtle difference but in a studio setting the differences definitely stand out...It is just my fano guitar direct into my small old Harmony, Coles 4038 Ribbon Mic, Coil SA-70 Tube Mic Pre..."  Mike M. (Owner/Operator, Another-Recording-Company, Omaha)

"Woah!!!! Thanks for sending this Mike. Great side by side example. It sounds clearer to me for sure."  Phil S. (Proprietor, Ground Floor Guitar, Omaha)

"The clip with cable has more noticeable more clarity/less mud, That's wild!"  Steve B. (Audio Engineer, New York)

"Best guitar tone I've ever achieved; '75 Tele Deluxe into a 30watt '54 Knight PA head, straight in with the Saklar custom cable (believe the hype, we tested it; not subtle)."  Ben B. (AudioEngineer, Omaha)

"It's definitely easy to spot how much hi-frequency content is lost in more standard cables when compared to yours. The first time I A/B'd yours against some rapco horizon stuff I was pretty stunned. I had to readjust my Bassman's EQ as I had been overcompensating for the frequency loss with my older cables. I wish I could outfit my whole studio with it!"  Bryce H.  (Audio Engineer, Omaha)

"I think its way above anything I have .  to be honest I didn't test it against anything because straight away , I could tell it is better than anything I have . I would describe it as... Very musical with a complete pure tone , None of that unwanted coloration crap. ive found over thw years that almost all cables have a coloration of some type , you just hope for the best really . But i think its a f...ing great cable and  id really like to order a set ."  Joseph G (Guitarist/Engineer, Omaha)

Mike, the Marshall is a blood thirsty animal.  It's exactly what I needed from it. And the cable is phenomenal, everything to me is louder, more chimney and more harmonic. It's like I took a blanket off of my cabinet. John Claus (Touring and Recording Artist)

"Don't want to bury the lead: The cable is very nice.  There is a difference.  More clear in all frequencies.  Most noticeably the high frequencies are louder, but I feel like even the bass is more present as well.  The neck humbucker has more clarity, the bridge is just more open.  

It is hard to begin to form an unbiased opinion when I am predisposed to other opinions, especially from a prominent engineer whose opinion in this are would weigh heavy.  It's just too easy to join the bandwagon and expect similar positive results.  With some time those opinions begin to fade from my conscious memory and I began to formulate my own opinions, though still admittedly somewhat tainted from the onset.  At worst I thought maybe I wouldn't hear much of a difference in my setup, but that wasn't the case.  
Your cable was tested against a Lava Magma cable, 20' in length with 29.5 pf/ft.  They were swapped as fast as possible between the EGC and JMP with nothing in between.  Also tested the cables between the guitar and pedalboard, with another 20' Magma cable out of the board into the amp.  I was a bit weary of what the buffer in the DL4s would do to the signal but the change in cable going into the board was noticeable here too, which was most surprising to me.

The thinner cable feels a bit awkward compared to the normal thick insulation of most other cables.  However, it does wind and lay on the floor with ease and less prone to tangles.  Also doesn't drag on carpet as much, which may be a weird note.  The jacks and strain relief feel very sturdy, probably could withstand a bit of abuse in addition to the normal wear and tear.

I didn't want to look up the Magma specs before I tried the cable to help prevent my opinion being influenced by the math:
Echoluxe  17 pf/ft x 18.5' = 314.5 pf
Magma    29 pf/ft x 20' = 580 pf
Double the capacitance for using two cables (into and out of the pedalboard): Echoluxe at 629 pf vs Magma at 1160pf.  That's almost doubled!  So running 37' of your cable is almost equivalent to using one 20' Magma.  This is not taking the jacks into the equation, hoping they are similar in capacitance.

The only question left is how much are you charging?  I see a benefit to making a change."  Jeff P. (Audio and Visual Artist, Omaha)

"I saw a Waddy Wachtel interview for Premier Guitar's Rig Rundown series a few weeks back and his philosophy toward the signal path. He stated that if he could, he would just plug straight into the mixing board without any interference to his signal. When I use your cables I feel like I am getting the clearest signal from guitar to amp. I have used the cables across multiple guitar pickups and amps and I find a noticeable increase in output with a more dynamic range in the tone. These cables are fantastic!"  David F. (longtime guitarist/enthusiast)

"Mike, the Marshall is a blood thirsty animal.  It's exactly what I needed from it. And the cable is phenomenal, everything to me is louder, more chimney and more harmonic. It's like I took a blanket off of my cabinet." John Claus (Touring and Recording Artist)

"I finally got around to test driving the cable over the last couple weekends.  Used it last weekend in Iowa, then last Friday in Kansas.  Had time to A/B it against a 20' Monster cable on Friday. There was no comparison- yours sounded louder, clearer in the top end, and fuller in the low end.  Damn!  Well done.  I will take another - Let me know how to pay ya for 'em."  Jay H. (Touring Musician/AudioEngineer)

"I've been enjoying the one I purchased from you awhile back on a almost daily basis . I would love to add my name to the list and purchase two more cables."  Joe G. (longtime guitarist/enthusiast)

"It's like getting new pickups...in all your guitars in one fell swoop."  My own comment

Echoload






EP-2




The Fantastic Maestro Echoplex (and a few others)...


EP-2 EP-3 Sireko Red Green

EP-3Tape delay is a precious enhancement to any live sound or reproduction.  If you've experienced it you understand.  The myth of "prone to fault" is greatly exaggerated by non-users.  One could say they are high maintenance, yes.  You'd have to include the guitar itself to that category (tuning, string change, bridge set up).  It is what it is, a little maintenance and know how goes a long way.

If beyond your skills I highly advise one to find your best local tech for this work.  Shipping is expensive and can be risky to such units.  Repairs can sometimes require follow up visits and tune ups.  In the event you have no local options you may email me to discuss availability and pricing.  I've been through many units including Maestro Echoplex, Roland Space Echo, Korg Stage Echo, Univox, Bruno, Schober, WEM Copicat, Fender, Klempt, others.  I won't tell you all units will easily work again though I do have about 90% success over 25 years.




Tape Echo Service:  I offer a detailed tune-up job on tape echo units for $XXX (plus parts/shipping) including what I see fit to bring the devices to full capacity.  This may or may not include the following:

*Clean and degauss heads
*Rejuvenate rubber parts
*Head alignment/azimuth if needed
*Replacement/reloading of lubricated backcoat tape (I do not sell cartridges, and F*Tone tapes do not work, I've seen countless numbers of jammed/eaten F*tone tapes, be weary of "mastering quality" tape).
*Cap Job Signal Path
*Readjust tape bias
*Pinch roller refurb/replacement additional $75-125.  Further electronic issues are additional charges.

Some Tape Echo pics, I unfortunately haven't documented the majority.

Rare Echoplex EP-1 EP-1  EP-1 
EP1 guts.  Oddly there are 3-4 in town I see periodically.  Note dual blend volumes.


EP-2
EP-2
EP-2




EP-3EP-3 




EP-3

EP-2 green mint conditionSuper Clean EP-2


EP-2

EP-2 Pair, different modelsEP-2 greenOne with Sound on Sound, one without.
Fender Tape Echo
EP-2 with aftermarket cartridge

Klempt Echollette

Roland Space Echo RE-201

Roland RE-501 Sample 1


 The Plex by Hard rock, some form of pre-Tubeplex not by Battle
not Mike Battle

EP-1

EP-3 vs. EP-4 EP-3 vs. EP-4

Fender Echo-Reverb II oil can delay by Tel-Ray
Tel Ray oil can delay echo reverb

Oil Can sample 1

Oil Can sample 2

c. 1995.  I used to tour with 2 Space Echo units.

Roland RE-501 #2 sample 1

 WEM Copicat #2 four jacks, white power cable

Schober Unit, pulled from an organ.  I built this into a vintage box with controls
Schober Tape Echo

WEM Copicat #3Three jacks, black power cable.
Watkins Copikat
WEM Tube Copicat
I had a tube unit, really neat blue box.
 Oh wait, here it is.  Tube.  Not the blue box one.

Some Echoplex Details:

The original transport cover
Cartridge Echoplex
 SirEko model, 8-track type cartridge (pinch roller in cart)
EP-3 rare red
 rare Red faceplate
EP-3 light blue faceplate
 Early light blue-grey faceplate, black pointer knob
EP-3 faceplate
 A faceplate removed
EP-3 dark faceplate
 Later dark color faceplate, circle knobs.
EP-2 brushed aluminum logo green tolex
 Brushed aluminum logo EP-2
EP-2 with sound on sound
 EP-2 original cartridge w/sound on sound
lid and pointer
 Lid and pointer
EP-2 Reverberation numbers, serial number sticker
 Reverberation numbers, serial number sticker
three chassis circuit boards caps resistors layout Echoplex ep3 service red ep4 repair tape echo delay TIS98 Playback
 guts!
dark red circuit boards Echoplex ep3 service red ep4 repair tape echo delay TIS98 Playback
 Dark red brown main boards
cream circuit boards Echoplex ep3 service red ep4 repair tape echo delay TIS98 Playback
 Cream main boards
circuit boards Echoplex ep3 service red ep4 repair tape echo delay TIS98 Playback
 3 color main boards
Circuit boards EP-3 Echoplex ep3 service red ep4 repair tape echo delay TIS98 Playback
 a whole mess of Plex
Echoplex ep3 service red ep4 repair tape echo delay TIS98 Playback
Mess O'Plex

A day at the office, EP-1's & 2's to boot.
Lid and text EP-2
 The original inner lid diagram
mint condition with brochure, cartridge box, foldout
 The cleanest example ever, courtesy Stephen Bartolomei.
mint condition with brochure, cartridge box, foldout
 EP-2 NOS
mint condition with brochure, cartridge box, foldout
 Original brochure.
Rare full red EP-3, a la Jimmy Page.  I think these were later units.  This one I did not have in person.

Here's a story

At one time I was hell bent on creating a cleaner, better EP-3.  I wasted about a week subbing the JFETs for high spec modern equivalents.  Biasing and rebiasing each stage, cap swapping, ad nauseam.  The noise floor dropped.  Less hiss.  Wider bandwidth, clear bass, sparkley treble.  I'll stop short of audiophile.  But it was a vast improvement.  A vast improvement for the worse.  After a few days I became really depressed.  A lot of the magic was gone, the old warm unit that buffered the Plexi-just so right-was not the same.  I couldn't live with it.  So I spent yet more late nights re-inserting all the vintage TIS transistors, biasing the circuits back with the old carbon comp resistors.  After this two week success/failure the EP-3 was back to the '70s.  Hiss and all.  And peace was restored upon the land once again.
 Ok, let's get one thing crystal clear.  The Echoplex preamp pedal is NOT the preamp from an Echoplex.  Talk about false advertising ploy.  That's like saying a Dunlop Wah is a Clyde McCoy, a Boss Fuzz is a Dallas Arbiter or a Mackie is a Neve.  Is this a joke?  The original EP's had TIS58/98 transistors.  Vintage transistors with 20+ volts on them.  This was a large part of the sound.  If you change the transistors (+resistors+capacitors+voltages) in, say, a Neumann u87...it's no longer a Neumann u87?  It may serve a fuction, so would about any clean booster or active pickups.

Neither is this:
tube tape echo
This is just not for me, does not contain the magic.  Not to mention the ratio of local guys using these vs. tapes eaten is about 1:1.  One guy sent them an email trying to explain...got a sour email in return.
 tape echo cartridgetape echo cartridge
etc.
 
I offer two reissue footswitches, one featuring NOS gray Switchcraft cabling.
EP Footswitch