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Cable Guy

About a million years ago, when I was in the middle of the British invasion/blues revival high school garage band explosion, guitarists made do with whatever cord they could get their hands on. They usually ended up finding those long and skinny gray tethers with cheap, molded-plastic plugs that seemed to constantly crackle and quickly short out. At some point in the not-too-distant past, it was discovered that a better cable with better connectors would indeed increase reliability as well as improve the sound of guitars, keyboards and anything else that depended on a wired connection to get the instrument’s sound into an amplifier. Today, in the musician’s world, it is a given that high-grade cords inevitably deliver notched-up performance, and no player worth his or her salt would question spending premium bucks for a premium cable.

Funny thing, though: If you take a peek behind the home audio and video systems of those same musicians, you’ll almost certainly find the consumer electronics version of those chintzy guitar cords from days gone by: tiny gauge brown or white lamp cord hooking up the speakers, and nests of those unshielded, ultralightweight giveaway cables that come with the CD player, the DVD player or the receiver, complete with those same cheap, molded-plastic plugs, long-forgotten in the field of live music. It would seem that folks who dedicate such a sizable part of their lives to music, and have long equated improved equipment with improved sound, would transfer that same knowledge to their personal stereos or home theaters.

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