Posts Tagged ‘guitar snake oil’

A buddy of mine sent me a link to the latest in tone-improvement: Essential Sound Products’ MusicCord Pro, a six-foot, $179 power cord that they claim will improve your tone because of its more efficient power delivery. C’mon now! A power cord? I suppose that if you have a fluctuating power source a power cord will help, but you’d have to have some sort of built-in power conditioning to make sure the power you feed to your device is consistent. The MusicCord doesn’t have that. ESP simply claims that they use 14-gauge wire as opposed to their standard 16-gauge wire.

Frankly, I don’t know what to believe, though I’m leaning on the side of extreme skepticism; and even though some major trade rags such as ProAudio Review and Premier Guitar have weighed in with glowing reviews. I read through all the reviews that ESP provides and ALL of them are purely qualitative reviews. None include frequency response charts or RTAS charts to show that the sound wave is different using the MusicCord Pro as opposed to a standard power cord. Without hard data, it’s kind of hard to believe all the hullabaloo. Truth be told, I think it’s a crock.

Here’s an excerpt from the Premier Guitar review:

The second stage of the test was less ambiguous. Are you going to hear a difference? Yes. Simply put, hearing is believing. Is it a big difference? For me it was. I tested the MusicCord Pro with a pair of EL34-powered amps (Goodsell Black Dog 50 and 50W Egnater hot-rodded. Plexi-type) and a humbucker-equipped guitar (Duesenberg MC signature); the improvement in clarity was immediate and unmistakable.

Imagine sitting in a convertible with the top up and the windows down all the way… adding the MusicCord Pro to your rig is like dropping the top-you get the idea. While you might not need it to power your practice amp, it’s an investment worth considering for just about any other application.

The reviewer’s second stage of his test might’ve been less ambiguous than his first test, but his description of his second test is all qualitative and just as ambiguous as the first. I think the effect is more psychological than anything else… Another review that a friend mentioned from Vintage Guitar stated that the MusicCord Pro actually reduced the 60Hz hum from his single coil guitars. Now that’s really pushing it. Are you telling me that the MusicCord Pro actually modified the magnetic field of his pickup? Yeah… uhh… right… Wonder if he just happened to turn in a different direction once he plugged in that power cord, which usually solves the 60Hz hum. Methinks those two reviewers have been spending way too much time on The Gear Page forums. πŸ™‚

All the reviews harken to the used car salesman who gives you a wink and winning smile and says, “Trust me.” Uhhh… no thanks… Like I said above, give me hard data, preferably in the form of charts and graphs that definitively show a positive modification of the sound wave, and I’ll take it a bit more serious. A graph may just show an improvement, but I think one reason why ESP nor any of the reviewers show them is that the improvement is meager at best.

But I will admit that my ears may not be as sharp as other folks’, so I’ll let you decide for yourself. I downloaded two clips of a song from the ESP site to compare where the sound engineer claims there’s a huge improvement in the quality of the recording due to the MusicCord Pro. Here they are (note the file are raw, unmastered WAV files so I have links to them as opposed to using the player):

Here’s the song with a stock power cord…

Here’s the song using the MusicCord Pro…

Personally, I can’t tell a difference between the two, and I used flat-response studio cans to evaluate the clips. I would say that my hearing is normal, so if there is any difference, it’s subtle at best.

I think you could get by with a good quality power cord. Me? I use medical grade power cords for all my equipment. These are tested and certified for reliability. Also, I recently had a dedicated power source with its own breaker run out to my garage/studio to handle all the equipment I was plugging in, and I had the electrician also install a power conditioner so my power load would always be consistent. I think a consistent power load will do more for your tone than a cord.

But hey! If you want to buy into the latest snake oil, I have a couple of properties in Peru, Indiana that I could sell to you… πŸ™‚

Read Full Post »