Plussound Apollonian+ cable.
Everything I mentioned in the packaging section of Plussound X8 cable applies to Apollonian+ as well which arrived in a giftbox quality cardboard black box with a magnetic flip cover. Similarly, the cable and the included adapter were sealed in individual clear plastic bags, and foam lining was used for extra cushioning. And included were a rubber band and Custom Cables card with lots of interesting details about the wires, components, installation instructions, care, and warranty info.
Design ($499 as configured with gold plated copper wire, and a bonus 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter for additional $75).
The Apollonian+ cable was pre-configured for the review purpose with 2pin shell connectors and was also terminated with 2.5mm TRRS balanced plug and included with the same 2.5mm TRRS to 3.5mm TRS adapter. Similarly to X8 cable, chin slider and y-splitter were anodized aluminum cryo treated pieces, and the shell connector and the plug also made with anodized aluminum under a cryo treatment wrapped in a heatshrink which provides a better non-slip grip and extends into a strain relief. As expected, everything is customizable and you have a choice of different types and brands of plugs and shell connectors.
But unlike X8, Apollonian+ has Plussound “signature” design with a sleeve covering the portion of the cable between the y-splitter and a plug. My cable was equipped with 4 gold platted copper Type 6 Litz 26AWG conductors shielded in their “standard configuration” which includes dual insulation (with PE and MF), tri-shielding (with copper, carbon, and mylar), and multi-dampening (with cotton) all wrapped in NV customizable (color) sleeve. So what does it all mean? In theory you get a perfect isolation and interference free shielding, but in practice you get a heavier and stiffer cable. Luckily, you are not dealing with 6- or 8-conductors which bulk up the cable. Of course, I did notice the additional weight and the cable was not as flexible as braided X8 design when I wrap it for storage, but using 4-conductors was a good compromise.
Going up from y-splitter to shell connectors you get traditional 2-wire twisted conductors where you can clearly see gold plated copper strands grouped inside of a clear shielding. The shell connectors had the same design with outward facing locking screws, except here you had a standard 2-pin connector. Similarly to X8, there was no memory wire or an earhook heatshrink piece. Instead there was a pre-shaped flexible bend in the twisted part of the cable right after the connector housing for an over ear fit which many people with glasses will appreciate.
For this test I used Lotoo PAW Gold (SE only connection) and Opus#1 (SE and BAL) as a source for testing. Prior to testing, I kept the cable on a burn in with U12 for 100+ hours.
w/64 Audio U12 – While going from a stock OFC cable to Apollonian+, I hear an overall characteristics of the low end to be similar, except for one noticeable difference where I hear a little better control with a better separation from lower mids in comparison to a stock cable. Also, I hear a shade of veil is lifted off the mids, with a little more details especially when it comes to vocals shining with more clarity. Treble sounds close, though I do hear a little better definition and a touch more clarity. Next, I switched from Apollonian+ to TWau cable where I hear the bass tighter and more articulate, mids gaining a little more clarity like yet another layer of the veil was lifted off, and I hear a little more sparkle in treble. I didn’t know what to expect in this case, but I guess there is another level of refinement when going from gold-plated copper to gold-plated silver.
w/UM Maestro – Going from stock ofc cable to Apollonian+, I hear the bass getting tighter and more articulate, and even a little faster in speed, but other than that I don’t hear a significant change in low end performance (the same sub-bass extension and a similar mid-bass punch). Mids are as clear and detailed between both cables, but I do hear them being a little smoother and having a more natural tonality when using Apollonian+. I actually felt that stock cable made upper mids a bit grainy, while Apollonian+ worked its magic to smooth them out, even making them slightly more transparent. Also, I hear a better definition of treble, with a little more sparkle. The effect of TWau cable upgrade was nearly the same. The only thing I felt uneasy about was the recessed socket of Maestro where 2pin connector of my review cable didn’t plug deep enough. It made a good connection without causing any sound cutoffs, but it didn’t feel as secure. Obviously, this is a not a showstopper since another type of 2pin connector could be selected when you know which earphone you are planning to use.
w/Noble K10UA – In this case, while going from stock SPC cable to Apollonian+, I only noticed the sound becoming a little brighter and crispier, but overall sound performance was very similar to Noble’s stock SPC cable. Perhaps Apollonian+ cable introduced a bit of smoothness to the sound, but I found this difference to be rather subtle. Coincidentally, TWau had a similar “update” results when used with K10UA. This is a good example of where I think Noble did their homework selecting a specific type of cable to bring up the best in the sound of their monitors.
It has been awhile since I posted a dedicated cable review, and typically include a cable pair-up section in all of my flagship IEM/CIEM write ups. In here, while talking about the new Plussound Audio cables, I also wanted to take the opportunity to share a few of my thoughts about cables in general. It’s hard to have an objective opinion about sound improvement when upgrading the cable because we are not talking about a sound signature change or anything that drastic, but rather a level of refinement which has a subjective perception.
That’s exactly what Plussound cable offers, a refinement of sound which going to vary depending on the pair up between different sources and the chosen headphone/earphone. Plussound cables are priced above budget alternatives but not as high as some fancy exotic cables. When you factor in their build quality, selection of the fine materials, engineering behind the cable assembly, and a dedicated support, you will see more value to justify the price. Regarding the sound improvement, don’t expect miracles, but in my opinion you can never go wrong with a pure copper cable upgrade, and I was very impressed with X8 cables, both in terms of the look and the performance. 8-conductor braided cables are usually stiff and bulky, while X8 feels light and has a comfortable fit. Apollonian+ pair up might be a bit tricky since with a few selective IEMs used in my testing the improvement wasn’t consistent, but this has nothing to do with a cable but rather with a synergy of my earphones under the test. Either way, I had a very good experience dealing with Christian and his Plussound Audio, and look forward to continue testing and featuring his cables in my upcoming IEM/CIEM reviews.