PROS: supple and comfortable with IEMs, great workmanship, provides a smoother and fuller body fine-tuning of the sound.
CONS: heatshrink split and heatshrink around the plug look DIYish.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
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; 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 flow 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 or headphones under test.
Founded in 2010 by Peter Wong, PWA (Peter Wong Audio) decided to mark their 10-year anniversary with a release of No10 cable. Many probably remember their 5th year anniversary was celebrated with pure Copper (Cu) No5 release. To continue the tradition, Peter decided to celebrate this year with No10, though chose to keep wire material as a mystery. But mystery or not, based on the price of around $190 and the overall look of the wires, it would not be hard to guess that we are probably dealing with Silver Plated Copper (SPC) wires.
There are many other Cu and SPC cables out there. So, why is this No10 getting extra attention and what makes it special? In my opinion, the answer to this question is very simple, it has to do more with the name and the reputation of the company. PWA shot to fame with their 1960 flagship series, a well-known premium upgrade cable. Thus, when a company of PWA caliber announces a budget cable, it will catch attention of many audiophiles. After using this cable with various IEMs in the last few months, I would like to share more about it.
Unboxing and Accessories.
The cable arrived in a traditional PWA small box with a foam cutout in the middle where you have a cinch carry bag (a small cotton drawstring bag with PWA logo) and the actual cable inside of it. The box was no different than the one I remember from 1960 unboxing. The only other accessory was a leather snap-on organizer to keep cable winded together.
As part of additional optional accessories, I asked PWA for a pigtail adapter. Majority of DAPs I have access to come with a balanced 4.4mm output and this has been my go-to cable plug. But there are still some devices with 3.5mm termination, and when dealing with a larger 4.4mm connector it’s more convenient to use pigtail adapter with matching wires to reduce the bulk.
While we don’t know exactly the wire material used in No10, some other design info is available. As I mentioned in the intro, based on the price and the looks of the wires, which is clear to see through its transparent flexible PVC jacket, you can guess this is probably Silver Plated Copper (SPC) wire. PWA did mention that No10 cable features single crystal OCC wires and that it uses four 24AWG thickness conductors with a fiber core for extra strength.
I’m starting to notice more cables with 24AWG gauge which is a little bit thicker than typical 26AWG earphone cables, and certainly not as thick or as stiff as 22AWG wires. Another thing to keep in mind, cross-section area of the wire is directly related to the impedance where thicker wires have lower impedance. With 24AWG gauge wire you are hitting a sweet spot where in theory the impedance should be lower than 26AWG, and the cable will be more flexible and more portable than 22AWG, especially for IEM use.
The No10 I receive was terminated with 4.4mm balanced connector, not sure which brand it was but it had a compact housing and a custom “No.10” etched label. Typical of PWA cables, the plug has a logo heatshrink to enhance the grip and to provide strain relief since it extends beyond the housing. There are 4 conductors, hand braided, not too tight so the cable is more flexible. Y-split is another heatshrink with a logo, followed by a wooden round chin slider with a logo as well. The material of chin slider is chosen to keep microphonics of the cable down to minimum.
Toward the IEM connectors, you have a typical pre-shaped flexible thinner shrinkwrap which serves as earhook. The 2pin connector housing is color-coded with a black/red rings for Left/Right sides, making them easy to ID. Of course, when ordering your cable from Music-Sanctuary, you can choose between universal 2pin or mmcx connectors, a total of 7 different IEM connector options and more if necessary. Plus, different termination options, such as 2.5mm, 3.5mm or 4.4mm are available, including premium Furutech plugs.
As mentioned above, the looser braiding and 24AWG gauge of the wires makes this cable very supple, quite flexible, and almost microphonics free. The fit with many IEMs I tried was pretty good, cable didn’t feel too heavy, especially since you are not dealing with heavy Y-split and chin slider. But in my opinion, use of heatshrink around the plug and Y-split makes the cable look a bit DIYish.