By Alec Lee
Divine Noise is a company based in Portland, Oregon that specializes in premium cables. Founded by guitar tech Gil Divine, Divine Noise takes advantage of Gil's years of experience making cables for touring guitarists in bands such as Yo La Tengo, The White Stripes, and Lucinda Williams. I got one of Gil's 20 foot cables to try out against my old standby: a 20 foot custom cable made by my favorite tube-selling curmudgeon, Lord Valve.
My review unit was the 20 foot ST-RAS cable ($55.99). It was equipped with a G&H Industries ¼" plug at one end and a Neutrik right angle silent plug at the other. I chose the 20 foot length first because it's my preferred length. The second reason I opted for the 20 footer was because over that distance, the cable's capacitance--or lack thereof--really shows through. A 20 foot high-capacitance cable will suck treble like a tone vacuum cleaner.
As the saying goes, "You only get one chance to make a first impression". My sample cable did not need a second chance. The quality of the cable was obvious from the moment I took it out of the bag. The cable is nice and flexible, significantly more so than the "Lord Valve Special" (LVS). It's flexible enough to "drape" nicely but stiff enough to avoid kinks. Connectors are high-quality units that are well attached with robust strain relief. No wonder Divine Noise offers a lifetime warranty. I also appreciated the humorous way the warranty was defined:
If you ever have a cable of mine that fails you--hasn't happened yet--just ship said accursed item back to me and I'll fix it, or, if it is un-fixable, I'll send you a new one for free. There are exceptions, like if you try using it underwater or using a cable of mine to tow a semi-truck and it breaks--I still might replace it. Maybe. Other than that, as long as you are not taking sharp objects to the cable, not submersing it in liquid, not setting it on fire or any other ludicrous action, we will forever stand behind our product.
But enough of the superficialities, how did the cable perform?
It performed just the way that you'd expect of a cable built by a touring guitar tech. Microphonics were undetectable. I beat on the cable with it plugged in to a high-gain amp and I heard nothing. It was so quiet, I wondered if the silent plug was engaged. It wasn't. It's just a dead silent cable. My LVS is pretty good as far as microphonics but it was far noisier than the Divine. As I switched back and forth between the two cables, I was quickly spoiled by the Divine's silent plug. It was most convenient to not have to worry about handling the plug when plugging into the guitar. That's not a huge issue when plugging into the amp (just plug into the guitar before the amp) but it's really nice when switching guitars.
Plugged into my amp, the Divine sounded great but the LVS held its own in this regard. I recorded clean and dirty clips with each cable and it took several A/B listenings to tell any difference. In the end, I decided that the Divine Noise was a bit different in the midrange but very subtly so. Both cables qualify as "hi-fi": If you want something that'll roll off some highs, this is not the cable you're looking for. Treble, mids, and bass are all well-balanced, leaving the guitar's signal uncolored.
Overall, I'm impressed. The tone is equal to that of my favorite cable and the construction and components are top-notch. The price is not cheap but in my opinion is well-justified. The Neutrik silent plugs aren't unique to the cable but they definitely enhance its utility. The cable's flexibility, durability, and lack of microphonics make it a great choice.