Plated in luxury!
PROS: brings more analog flavor to the bass and mids, noticeable improvement in soundstage expansion, new design of plugs/connectors and packaging, lightweight and comfortable to wear, even 8wire version.
CONS: pricey relative to other PS cables, 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; 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.
Since 2012 when PlusSound (PS) started to build their cables, the company continued to grow with more quality releases and even expanded their product line to include BT wireless cables and IEMs. This year marks their 8th anniversary, and PS decided to celebrate it in style with something more premium. Following the previous releases of Tri-Copper and Tri-Silver, they took it to the next level with Palladium Plated Hybrid design, featuring a premium blend of Palladium plated Silver and Palladium plated Copper wires.
In addition to this new Palladium plated hybrid, PS still offers many different signature copper, silver, gold and silver plated, and other hybrid wires, described in detail here. All feature 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 and multiple thin strands will have a better conductivity and a smaller resistivity than a single wire.
Another important point 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 10 wire types, 12 connectors and 8 terminations with various color logos and accents, and different y-split and chin slider finishes.
Unboxing & Accessories.
Some find it unnecessary to talk about the unboxing, especially of a cable. But when a manufacturer puts the extra effort, I think it’s only fair to acknowledge it. Last year PS introduced new custom housing for their connectors and plugs, this year they updated the “housing” of their actual packaging box.
The box is still compact, but looks more like a premium jewelry giftbox with a gold-printed logo on the cover and the gold inner edges. The box looks good enough to showcase on your desk. With the box open, I found another new addition, a clear plastic display cover with a message: Designed and Hand Assembled in Los Angeles, California, USA. It brings a nice custom touch, filled with pride.
The cable itself was kept sealed in a clear plastic bag, which you will find with every PS product, even custom addon accessories (like adaptors). The included accessories were also updated. No more amplifier rubber band or IEM cleaning tool. Instead you will find a new pleather storage pouch branded with PS logo, PS branded cleaning microfiber cloth, a cable organizer leather band with a rustic “palladium” finish, and a warranty card.
The cable I received came terminated with 4.4mm balanced plug. If you decide to go with 2.5mm balanced plug and need 4.4mm and 3.5mm adaptors, PS makes their own ultra short ones or regular ones with pigtail extension, per request and at a reasonable pricing. I’m sure they can make one to go from 4.4mm to 2.5mm or 3.5mm as well.
I already covered in the previous section the details of Type 6 Litz wires used in their new Palladium Plated hybrid. It’s the same type of wires PS uses with all their cables, still with 7 cores, high purity, 26AWG gauge, cryogenically treated. And while the basis of their wire design remains the same, PS likes to experiment with different cable materials and wire combinations, and following the release of Tri-Copper (pure copper, silver-plated copper, gold-plated copper) and Tri-Silver (palladium plated silver, gold plated silver, pure silver), they moved to Palladium plated hybrid where half of the wires is Palladium plated Silver and the other half is Palladium plated Copper.
The new cable will be available in all the usual PS flavors, such as X series (2 wires), EXO series (4 wires), X6 series (6 wires), and X8 series (8 wires), featuring their custom insulation, a proprietary jacket with a focus on durability, softness, and flexibility. Together with thinner 26AWG wires and a 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 palladium silver-ish look of the wires, a distinct and classy looking wire finish.
The one I received originally for review is from EXO series, with 4 loosely braided conductors between the plug and y-split, and two twisted pairs going to each earpiece connector where the wire was pre-shaped to form the 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 is the best choice with a balance of performance and ergonomics.
You can customize the cable in many ways, including being able to select different y-split and chin slider finish. The cable I received had silver y-split and a matching chin slider ring, complementing nicely the palladium/silver color tone of the wires. Also, the recently redesigned plug and connectors had the same matching silver end-piece accent, along with their anodized aluminum housing with a matte finish. The logos were printed in gold, but could be requested in different colors, just like those accent pieces. And of course, you should expect PS signature screws which always point out, relative to left/right connectors.
Audiophiles go for CIEMs to customize the look of their monitors. Here, you are in control of customizing the look of the cable, giving you the opportunity to match the cable to your IEMs and headphones.
After my original review was published and shared, I received a handful of questions with requests to compare 4 wire (PPH4) vs 8 wire (PPH8) of the new cable. I typically don’t review multiple versions of the same cable, but on rare occasions make an exception, and was able to receive PPH8 loaner for comparison.
Both cables look beautiful, but the thicker 8-wire square braid of PPH8 gives this cable a more authorative look. The PPH4 4-wire braid was looser and more flexible in comparison. PPH8 is tighter, though still flexible, but that square braid looks richer and more mesmerizing. Y-split is the same, and chin slider is a little bit bigger to fit a thicker cable. Above y-split, cable is still tightly twisted, and next to connector plugs the wire is pre-shaped to function like earhook without use of any plastic heatshrink tubing. Despite being a thicker cable, it was still very comfortable to wear and didn’t feel heavy at all.
The fit (PPH8).