PROS: brings more focus and natural details to mids, has noticeable improvement in soundstage expansion, features all new design of plugs/connectors, lightweight and comfortable to wear.
CONS: pricey, sound improvement varies depending on pair up.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer website: PlusSound.
I’m aware that some people don’t believe in cables and have very strong opinions about it. It’s not my intention to start the argument here, and instead I would like to share what I hear during my testing. Perhaps, I can’t fully explain why there is a change in sound, but I do hear it and don’t believe it’s a placebo effect. What makes sense to me, a metal wire is a material with physical properties of resistivity, conductivity, purity, and unique geometry, all of which put together act as a filter between your source and headphones. Variations of these physical properties can affect the conductivity of analog signal, resulting in a sound change, from a subtle to a more noticeable level. Also, the sound change introduced by a specific cable is not universal because it will depend on the design and the synergy between the source and earphones/headphones.
In many of my previous PlusSound (PS) cable reviews, I mentioned how the company grew up and matured since 2012 when they first started to build their cables. Their product line was also expanded with IEMs, Bluetooth wireless cables, and they continue to introduce new cable designs. But while wire design was evolving, their connectors remained the same, still sporting a DIYish heatshrink look. This new release introduces not only their new type of wire, but also an all new design of plugs and connectors.
PlusSound still offers many different signature copper, silver, gold and silver plated, and hybrid wires, described in detail here. And still, regardless of the type of cable material, they all have Type 6 Litz configuration where wires have 6 enamel-coated groups with multiple strands to decrease electrical anomalies (such as skin and proximity effect causing microphonics), to minimize oxidation (preventing wires turning green), and to improve conductivity since electric signal usually travels on the surface of the wire, thus multiple thin strands will have a better conductivity and a smaller resistivity than a single wire.
Another important fact is that PlusSound wires are cryogenically treated for strengthening purpose to enhance their reliability and longevity. Furthermore, the wires itself are UP-OCC manufactured, referring to Ultra-Pure Ohno Continuous Casting process developed and patented by Professor Ohno of CIT in Japan. All PlusSound cables have a wide degree of customization, featuring 9 wire types, 12 connectors and 8 terminations with various color logos and accents, and different y-splitter and chin slider material/designs.
Unboxing & Accessories.
Some find it’s crazy to talk about unboxing of a cable, but when a manufacturer puts the extra effort, I think it’s only fair to acknowledge it. Like their other cables, the product arrived inside of a compact giftbox quality cardboard black box with a magnetic flip cover. New external sleeve with a glossy artwork of a cable is there as well. The sleeve is on a tighter side and instructions printed on the back are hard to read due to poor contrast with black background. As previously mentioned, maybe PS can use another print color to make it more readable.
Inside the box, cable was kept sealed in a clear plastic bag, a nice touch with every PS product, including custom addon accessories (like adaptors). I noticed that packaging was updated with a new set of accessories. In addition to included amplifier rubber band, I also found a cable organizer (a genuine leather strip with a snap button), IEM cleaning tool with a magnetic tip to attach to desktop equipment, and a cleaning clothe.
I typically request a cable to be terminated with 2.5mm TRRS balanced plug because then you can use 3.5mm or 4.4mm adaptors, depending on your source. I already have PlusSound ultra short adaptors, featuring the original heatshrink design. Those usually have a very tight and secure connection, never a wiggle at the joint. Not sure if PS going to update these adaptors using the new connector housing in the future; would be nice if they do.
I already covered the details of Type 6 Litz wires used in this cable. It’s the same type of wires PS uses with all their cables, still with 7 cores, high purity, 26AWG gauge, cryogenically treated. But while the core of the wire design remains the same, PS always experiments with different cable materials and wire combinations, and after their successful release of Tri-Copper (a mix of pure copper, silver-plated copper, and gold-plated copper), now they introduced Tri-Silver, combining pure silver, gold-plated silver, and palladium-plated silver in one wire.
The new wires will be available with all non-shielded PS cables, such as X series (2 wires), EXO series (4 wires), X6 series (6 wires), and X8 series (8 wires), featuring their latest insulation, a proprietary jacket with improvements in durability, softness, and flexibility. Together with thinner 26AWG wires and a new transparent insulation jacket, cable is pliable, relatively lightweight (great for use with IEMs), and has no microphonics effect. Through a transparent cable jacket, you can see a clean silver look of the wires. Certainly, a nice-looking cable.
The one I received for review is from EXO series, with 4 neatly braided conductors between the plug and y-splitter, and two twisted pairs going to each earpiece connectors where you have a flexible pre-shaped earhook. There is no memory wire or heatshrink earhook tube. If you want your cable to be light, X series with 2 wires is a good choice. For full-size headphones where you don’t move around as much and want minimum impedance to improve efficiency of your demanding cans – a thicker X8 or X6 will be more appropriate. For IEMs, EXO strikes a perfect balance of performance and ergonomics.
You can customize the cable any way you want to, including flexibility to select different y-splitter and chin slider. The rose-gold y-splitter I received with an aluminum black ring chin slider had a classy rich look. But the highlight of this design were new plugs and connectors. PS is known for their heatshrink connectors which do make cable look more DIYish, while offering a nice grip enhancement, making it more practical than glamorous. It’s their signature look which Christian, the man behind PS, transformed into an all new design.
Here you will find the headphone plug and IEM connector shells to be made of anodized aluminum with a matte finish which still provides a non-slip soft feel with a secure grip. And to keep that classic “heatshrink” strain relief look, they have an all new end-piece accents, available in gold, silver, blue, red, rose gold, and black. It doesn’t just look sleek and modern, but also functions as strain relief, and depending on material selection can be used to ID left/right side. You will still find a signature screws and option to have a PS logo printed in different colors, but the look is more polished and no longer DIYish. Just remember, when attaching earpieces, the screw should point out relative to Left/Right sides.