A Decade of Pluses!
PROS: noticeable improvement in soundstage expansion, improvement in bass and more natural tonality (hybrid), improvement in transparency and better retrieval of details (silver), lower noise floor perception (due to enhanced shielding), lots of customization options, great workmanship and durable build.
CONS: due to new wire design, the cable is a little stiff; the 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 opinion about it. It’s not my intent to start an argument here. 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 earphones. 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 under the test.
Last year when I had a chance to review PlusSound new Copper+, I didn’t realize it will be a prelude to their 10th Anniversary release of Silver+ and Hybrid+ cables. Time definitely flies since PlusSound was founded in 2012, and this year Christian decided to celebrate big anniversary with CanJam SGP announcement of their complete set of ‘Plus’ wires which now includes silver version and both copper and silver combined together into a hybrid combo. And as I already mentioned in my Copper+ review, according to Christian, the idea behind these new wires was “…to match or exceed performance of Echo+, so we built everything from the ground up: layout, OD thickness, strand count/thickness, etc.”
As a refresher of previously released PS cable models, their Apollonian series has extra shielding below the split, Dionysian has extra shielding above the split, and Echo+ has extra shielding top to bottom. The use of this extra shielding material has its benefits, though additional bulk isn’t one of them. The new ‘Plus’ series continues the main design principle of extra shielding along the cable length, but with a different approach to make this cable less bulky and more supple & portable in comparison to Echo+. I spent the last few weeks testing and comparing these cables between various IEMs, and here is what I found.
Unboxing and Accessories.
The unboxing experience of new Silver/Hybrid+ cables is identical to Copper+ and features a very elegant compact box that look more like a jewelry giftbox with a gold-printed logo on the cover and the gold inner edges. With the cover off, you will find a clear plastic display cover with a message: Designed and Hand Assembled in Los Angeles, California, USA – a nice custom touch filled with pride.
The cables are kept sealed in a clear plastic bag, something you will find with every PS product, even their addon accessories (like adaptors). The other included accessories are a pleather storage pouch branded with PS logo, PS branded cleaning microfiber cloth, a leather cable organizer band in black, and a warranty card.
Cables 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 also makes their own ultra short or regular ones with pigtail extension, per request and at a reasonable pricing.
Just like with a pure Copper+ cable, the material of new cables is very straight forward since we are dealing with pure silver wires in Silver+ and pure copper and silver wires combined into Hybrid+. And just like Copper+, these are not the same as PS typical Type 6 litz variant. Those usually feature bundles of twisted wire stands with fiber material at the core of each bundle and another main core dampener in the middle of the cable to absorb vibrations. With Copper+ and Silver+, in addition to multiple twisted litz bundles, there is also a secondary twisted litz wire bundle used as the core with a more durable dampener to support outer wires. And similar to Copper+, in Silver+ each silver strand has enamel coating to prevent oxidation and crosstalk. Also, according to Christian, “mechanically, we did tweak the thickness of the strands for this one as silver can brittle and affect its performance at certain diameters.”
In order to keep the overall wire size close to other PS cables, they implemented a new unique shielding using a silver layer between the insulation and wires. This new shielding is two-sided and in addition to protecting the wires from outside interference to eliminate EMI, could also serve as a ground. And the secondary silver wire at the core could be either grounded or conduct a signal separate from the litz bundles around it. In a way, the cable has a coax-like structure with two wires in one, allowing more design flexibility.
For Silver+, PS implemented a new matte grey outer insulation, still non-microphonic and comfortable to wear. But as a result of the updated design, the wire is approximately 15% larger in size in comparison to a standard Type 6 litz. And the wire is also a little stiffer because of that, but Exo cable (4wire design) I received had wires braided instead of twisted like in Copper+. Both Silver+ and Hybrid+ had braided wires. I wouldn’t say the wire is very stiff, just stiffer than other tradition Type 6 litz cables PS offers. And I even found braided wires to be a little less stiff in comparison to twisted Copper+ wires.
As far as the design goes, PS offers a ton of customization options where it feels like you are designing CIEM. You have a choice of braid shape, different termination plugs (2.5mm, 3.5mm, 4.4mm, USB Type C (with built-in dac/amp), RSA/ALO, and 1/4 “), iem termination connectors (every variation of 2pin, mmcx, and every other available connector), termination end (black, gold, chrome, rose gold, blue, red), y-split (black, silver, chrome, gold, rose gold, carbon fiber, red fiber, silver fiber), slider (black, silver, chrome, rose gold, none), and even color of left/right indicator (black, gold, chrome, rose gold, blue, red).
For now, it looks like ‘Plus’ wires are only available in Exo series (4wires), and Silver+ and Hybrid+ cables I received had rhodium plated 2pin, rhodium plated 4.4mm, and new matte grey outer insulation (while hybrid had a combination of black and grey). Silver+ cable I received had chrome y-split and chin slider, while Hybrid+ had chrome y-split and black chin-slider, a very thoughtful combo to match the insulation jacket of corresponding cables.