Traditionally, a reliable cable does nothing more than accurately reproduce the input at the output. However, the people over at Gibson wondered whether a cable could do something more. After what undoubtedly took many hours of brainstorming and product development, the massive American gear manufacturer released their take on an upgraded cable which is rather special in its own right. Dubbed the Gibson Memory Cable, this cable is capable of recording all signals that pass through it. The recordings are marked by date and saved to a MicroUSB, which the user can insert into a computer to access their recordings. Though recording instruments seems to be the primary use for this functionality, it could also be used in conjunction with the master track of a PA or mixer to provide a backup recording. Furthermore, the Memory Cable proves useful in capturing spontaneous ideas generated during jam and writing sessions. Clearly, this cable can find its home anywhere in the signal path that recording is required. Pretty cool!
Whether the recording unit is active, inactive, or even unpowered, the Memory Cable will still function as a conventional cable. For the most part, the signal passes unhindered, though it can be difficult to shake the suspicion that passing through the recording unit attenuates some of the upper frequencies. However, this effect is minute enough that the vast majority of players will find the sound quality more than acceptable, and those who don’t will already have access to higher quality recording equipment. For the rest of us, the Memory Cable sounds clear enough to rely on for both day-to-day practice and gigs.
Players definitely ought to consider the volume of the recording unit before purchasing Gibson’s Memory Cable. The actual recording unit is a little more than twice the size of the rest of the cable; furthermore, the unit is fixed just a few inches from one of the cable tips. Players with older, looser jacks have reported the unit falling out of their instruments when plugged in with the recording unit closer to the instrument, so it may be better to position the recording unit closer to the pedal board or amplifier. It should be noted that this cable will only record sound coming from upstream in your setup. That means that you should place it as close to your armp as possible to make sure you capture sound after it passes through your effects pedals.
Perhaps as an effort to account for the width of the recording unit, the rubber Gibson chose to clad the Memory Cable in feels very thick and rugged. On the inside, Gibson utilizes high quality tips, pure copper wiring, and a generous ground shielding. All in all, this unit feels well-made and should stand up to many hours of usage.
There’s no denying the Memory Cable is a niche item, and as a result Gibson offers no customization options. The cable only comes in one length, 16 feet, and can only be outfitted with straight tips on both ends. Furthermore, the cable only comes in one color: a grayish black.
If players wish to upgrade their cable, Gibson does offer some flexibility in storage space. While the cable typically comes with a 4GB microSD card, other microSD’s with higher storage capacities may also be used. Gibson also realizes that most computers cannot read microSD cards directly and provides a converter to a standard SD size with new Memory Cables.
As previously mentioned, the Memory Cable qualifies as a niche product. For this reason, its $70 price tag is a fantastic value for players who will actually utilize the recording function regularly. Few other cables on the market offer this functionality, and Gibson could easily have justified charging far more for the Memory Cable. However, players should take a moment to consider how often they’ll use the recording capabilities of the Memory Cable, as cables with similar sound reproduction abilities can be found for much less than $70. It should be noted however that it’s hard to find a decent recorder for less than 70 bucks, so in that respect the cable is a real bargain.
Another effect of the Memory Cable’s niche status is its low availability. Few small music shops carry this product, though larger retailers like Amazon.com have been known to stock Memory Cables. All in all, Gibson has developed an interesting, reliable product, and if suits your needs, this cable is a great value.