Accusound® Silver Studio Pro cable features silver- plated copper strands, unique winding techniques, and a black, braided nylon jacket. It's made in the USA and comes with a lifetime warranty. Do silver plating and custom winding techniques make a difference in the audio? Yes, absolutely. You can measure it. My friend Dave did this for me using an Audio Precision test unit. Can I hear this difference? No, not personally. I really wanted to, but I tried various objective tests and couldn't. These were ten ft lengths though, and problems introduced by cable are compounded at longer lengths. It's worth taking a look at the Audio Precision tests.
We tested the ten ft Accusound XLR against a ten ft XLR cable made with Mogami Neglex 2534, both with Neutrik connectors. While frequency response was flat for both cables from DC to 200 kHz (where the Audio Precision stops), there was a little bit of distortion in the sub-20 Hz region on the Mogami that was not present in the Accusound. Also, the Mogami exhibited 0.2 degrees of phase shift at 20 kHz, with more shift at higher frequencies. The AP can test with different input and output impedances, so we tried 600 Ohms into 600 Ohms-the old school way of wiring audio, as opposed to the low-impedance output feeding a high-impedance input method of today. With matched impedances, the differences in the cable were more pronounced. The Accusound measured the same as before while the Mogami had a little more low-end distortion as well as a tiny bit of distortion around 20 kHz. Also, its phase shift was more pronounced-a full degree at 20 kHz. This difference in phase between the cables is probably due to capacitance. Cable capacitance forms a filter with the impedance of a given input. All analog filters have phase shift many times below their cut off frequency. The higher the value of capacitance, the lower the filter cut off. The capacitance value increases with the length of the cable. For really long cable runs, it's worth worrying about this, but for most of us, this filter will never effect the audio band. However, as we discovered with the Audio Precision, a phase shift is present because of this filtering, even in a short Mogami cable. (If it's proven one way or the other whether humans can hear absolute phase, I cannot find it. I've heard very respected people argue both sides. My guess is that Geoff Emerick, in the sidebar to the Rupert Neve article in Tape Op #26, might have been hearing phase shift because of the ultrasonic filtering that was found on the three mysterious channels of the console.) I used a multimeter to confirm that the Accusound XLR had significantly less capacitance on all pin relationships than the Mogami. If you've been following the cable race over the last 20 years or so, this is pretty big news.
I also measured some instrument cables against the Accusound and the rankings were as follows: Monster Jazz (with the most capacitance), followed by Monster, Accusound, Zaolla, and George L (with the least amount of capacitance per foot). Some guitarists complain that low-capacitance cables sound too bright and EQ'ing out the highs doesn't sound the same. As stated earlier, in various tests, I couldn't tell a difference in sound. I also tried laying the guitar cables across a 30 V DC transformer that is known to cause audio problems, and none of these cables had any additional noise in the signal. Unless you're doing a long instrument cable run, I think high-end cable is a lot less important in this category. As always, your mileage may vary.
In use, the Accusound's nylon jacket resisted tangles and when tangled, was a lot easier to untangle than my other cables. I checked the solder connections on the mic cable's Neutrik connector. They were shiny and the shield wire was coated. I'd have never thought to check commercial cable until I saw cold solder joints on cable from a very popular mic manufacturer. The Accusound cables I reviewed are made with lead solder but the manufacturer has since switched to silver solder.
My only minor complaint is that the body of the XLR connectors is not connected to pin 1 (ground). I asked the manufacturer why, and they said it prevents ground loops. I've heard of cutting the shield connection to pin 1 at one end to stop a ground loop, but not at both ends. Neutrik clearly labels the solder tab for the case with a "1" just like pin 1. Regardless, my complaint here is that if I'm going to purchase a cable, I would rather have the option to cut the connections as appropriate myself than to have both ends precut off-the-shelf.
I applaud Accusound for making this technical leap at this price. A 10 ft Mogami XLR streets for $39 at a couple well-known discount stores. Considering that an Accusound costs $6 more and outperforms the Mogami, the Accusound is a fantastic bargain. It's also exceptionally durable and easy to handle because of its jacket. Five stars! Thanks a lot to Dr. Dave Berners (PhD EE) for his help with this article. (ACC-10-XI $44.99 direct, ACC-10-XM $49.99; www.accusoundproaudio.com)