By Scott Auld
I’m not normally the type of player who would spend a lot of time (or money) on custom-length cables for my pedalboard. When Tony Farinella at Evidence Audio (www.evidenceaudio.com) asked me to review his new cable system, I really didn't want to. I don't like the idea of stripping and assembling connectors myself; I know I can do it but I just don't want to. He agreed with me about how the law of diminishing returns and the usual barriers to entry seem to keep it from being worthwhile - But Tony told me about this new Screw In Solderless plug system (SIS) and it seemed so different from everything else I've seen advertised on the market that I had to see for myself. Okay, I also admit, he really drew me in when he mentioned that eight of these have found home in David Gilmour’s new rig.
There's been an explosion in the boutique pedal market, and of course manufacturers of “solderless patch cables” have been riding that wave for a while now. The field has grown crowded with options from at least eight suppliers, all based on a variation of the plug having a needle that sticks into the center of a stranded conductor to pass signal.
Tony told me that he was sitting on the sidelines of the solderless DIY phenomenon because his cable design philosophy doesn’t allow him to build typical stranded cables. He wasn't willing to compromise the audio performance of a cable in order to make something that is sonically equivalent to what already exists in the marketplace. I mean, really, does the world need a ninth option?
So Tony & Evidence were focusing on selling his solid-core patch cables, which he calls The Monorail, to people who build pedalboards but are able to solder. That's not really a large percentage of the patchcable market. Then Tony found a way to build a Solderless DIY connector that works with his solid-core Monorail cable, and do so in a way that yields two meaningful results:
a) Better sound through the use of Monorail cable
b) A more reliable physical connection than even solder
The really big deal here is that the solid core of the cable screws into the tip, self-tapping itself into the connector. I don't think anyone else is doing this. That’s the differentiating/performance feature that I think sets the SIS system apart from every existing solution out there. They cables look the same pretty much on the outside so it can be hard to grasp what Tony has come up with here. I'm not sure people will fully understand the impact here until they have it in their hands.
Tony has tested the connector strength at around 34 lbs of weight before the conductor will break in half (before the conductor slips free of the plug). You can see Tony demonstrate the strength of the connection by hanging a bicycle from a conductor here at www.sisplug.com
Here's photo of the conductor after it was screwed into the SIS plug and then removed here:
You can also unscrew the conductor/cable from the plug and use it again. It’s not permanent at all. It’s like screwing in a light bulb, but with air-tight results to prevent future oxidation.) Tony's standard kit is “8 plugs and 5 feet of cable” and that's what I tested. It was simple to build cables but more practically, the connector is SOLID - I pulled on it and could not pull the cable out of the connector. I'm convinced.
Tony decided also to supply a second kit for a giveaway to a lucky TGP member, since the kit he sent me was chopped up to lengths that suit my board requirements, effectively ruining them for anyone else. You probably won't see Evidence doing a whole lot of advertising out there, but offering to let us try out the product and give away a set to a lucky member was a nice gesture. This is the only DIY cable solution I think I would pay for, and it's definitely the only one I would recommend to someone who asks about them.