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BTG-Audio Starlight CIEM cable

Posted

Pros: Price, Overmolded Pins, Great aesthetics

Cons: Could be just a little more flexible

Originally posted on CYMBACAVUM in April 2013. See full review with pictures and science editorial here: http://cymbacavum.com/2013/04/07/btg-audio-fitear-starlight-cable/

 

 

 

The FitEar TO GO! 334 has been my favorite IEM for quite some time.

My only complaint has been that the tubby, heavy housings tend to pull away from my ears, causing me to constantly feel the need to push them in more snugly. The stock 01 cable is no help in this regard — the memory wire has virtually no holding power and might as well not even exist! In addition, while being on the thinner side, the stock cable is very unwieldy and stiff. I also have no love for the straight-terminating connector, as this is one area where the cable seems to develop (bad) memory from being bent the same way during normal usage.

Needless to say, I’ve been wanting a replacement cable. Up until now, the only replacement cables have been from FitEar themselves (the 00 Cable) and Portland-based ALO Audio(SXC Cable), both of which are very expensive and (reportedly) more stiff and unwieldy than the stock cable. Other cable builders, such as Whiplash Audio and 93East offer FitEar-compatible cables by using DIY-style Sennheiser HD-25/600/650 plugs, but do not offer cables with overmolded connectors. What I wanted was an affordableeye-pleasingreplacement cable that offered improved ergonomics and durability without sacrificing existing audio performance.

Enter Brian Goto of BTG-Audio.

I first stumbled upon Brian’s services about a year ago and sent in a Fischer Audio DBA-02 with an aged, brittle and stiff cable for modification. Brian was able to source the pins and connectors necessary for modifying the DBA-02 from a fixed cable IEM into a removable cable IEM. Brian’s modification was not only successful but was also expertly done, all for a fair and affordable price. It wasn’t long after that Brian started his own line of IEM cables.

BTG-Audio has created two successful and affordable lines of CIEM cables: the Sunriseand Starlight cables. After reviewing a sample of the Sunrise cable, I approached Brian about creating a FitEar cable for my TO GO! 334. After some short back and forth on potential pin connector solutions, Brian sent me a sample pin connector to test. To my excitement, the connector was a perfect fit — and with that news, the FitEar cable was officially under development.

Brian offers the FitEar cable in both the Sunrise (OFC Copper) and Starlight (Silver-Plated Copper) variations. I chose the Starlight version. The build is identical to the CIEM versions of those cables. The standard braid is the Milliot/round braid, which I find to be more flexible than other braid styles. The Y-split is robust and durable; the neck cinch is tight and will not slide down with wear.

Above the Y-split, the wire sheathing is clear, so the OFC Copper or SPC shows through. I must admit the silver color of the SPC looks great against the piano black body of my TO GO! 334.

Below the Y-split, the cable is covered in a black nylon sleeve for durability, while remaining very flexible. Although the sleeving is standard, it can be ordered without sleeving for lighter weight and improved flexibility, as Mr. T did with his own Starlight FitEar cable.

Compared to many aftermarket cables, BTG’s offerings are some of the best when it comes to flexibility and ergonomics; however, they still fall a little short of the superior soft flexibility of the Whiplash Audio TWAg line, which is my benchmark for ergonomics in cables.

Brian offers a wide variety of terminating connectors, from Viablue, Oyaide, Neutrik, etc. My personal preference is a right-angle Neutrik plug, to reduce stress on the cable with my pocketable setups.

Held to any standard, the BTG-Audio FitEar cable is as functional and durable as they come, while still maintaining great flexibility. Some suggestions for future BTG-Audioofferings would be to maybe offer multiple sleeving color options, perhaps a silk upgrade option over nylon, and perhaps some exotic wire options for those inclined to the more expensive boutique wire options.

It’s important to note that the overmolded pin connectors used on the BTG-Audio FitEarcable are only truly compatible with the flush connections of the universal-fit FitEar IEMs, which include the TO GO! 334 and the F111. The stock FitEar pin connecters, while seemingly larger than the BTG-Audio pin connectors, have a longer tapered area that allows for the ridged connection points on FitEar‘s customs. Due to this ridge, and the die used to overmold the BTG connectors, the cable is not necessarily compatible with FitEar‘s custom-fit IEMs, as some of their custom-fit IEMs have thick, protruding faceplates that may rub against the thicker taper of the cable’s overmold.

The BTG-Audio pin connectors are also slightly cloudy-looking and have a less defined shape than the FitEar stock pin connectors and BTG-Audio‘s normal Westone-style CIEM connector, which I assume is again due to the mold die used in the overmolding process.

After extended use and wear, I can happily report that my entire wishlist for a TO GO! 334replacement cable has been realized. No longer do I feel as though the housings are pulling away from my ears, thanks to the very functional memory wire, and happens to be in one of the best lengths in a removable cable — not annoyingly long or uselessly short, but perfect for holding the IEMs in place, forming the shape of your ear and disappearing out of sight. I can listen to my TO GO! 334 for long sessions and forget about the housings and the cable. The BTG-Audio FitEar cable not only looks great, but has also added to the joy I get when using my TO GO! 334.  Thanks Brian!

For more information on the BTG-Audio FitEar cable or to view more offerings, please visithttp://www.btg-audio.com

Posted

Pros: Value for money, great quality, looks great

Cons: Cable might be sightly stiff, not crazy thin

My background
I am pretty new to the world of audio, only having 2 pairs of iems currently: Custom art Ei3 and the Shure SE425, so as you would expect I don't have that much experience with higher end cables like DHC or whiplash. As such this review will largely be about the BTG starlight 2pin IEM cable vs stock cable. I am writing this review because I found that there aren't any reviews of the 2pin IEM version of the starlight cable which I thought would have been useful while I was shopping for an aftermarket cable.

How/Why I got the cable
I purchased the Starlight cable because my custom art stock cable got pretty screwed up by twisting it wrongly(I have since learnt the way to properly coil and keep my IEM cables), the cable had kinks in it that caused it to tangle even being kept in my pelican case. In my search for a replacement cable, 2 things pushed me to choose the starlight cable: it was ranked number 1 on the list of headphone cables was the sunrise cable by BTG audio and BTG was having its first sale(15% off everything in the store). Hence I went ahead and picked up one of the "ready to ship cables" for $96.75 including shipping to Singapore. The original price of the cable was $105 excluding shipping so I would say I got a pretty good deal!

A month later I received the cable in a nondescript orange padded envelope, the cable itself was in a plastic ziplock bag. There really isn't much to say about packaging for cables.

Build quality

If you have read any of the other reviews for BTG's other cables, you would know how well made these cables are. They are solid, flexible and seem durable. I don't really want to rave too much about the quality of the cable because many others have already done so. Instead I would like to comment on the jack, 2 pin connector and nylon sheathe because these 3 parts of the cable seem underappreciated.

The default jack is a Neutrik right angle(didn't get a choice because I bought the ready to ship version), it plugs into my iPhone 6 perfectly with the case on, my case is pretty thick so this feature was greatly appreciated. Besides this, the jack feels extremely solid(solid metal, big as hell) so I don't think opting for a viablue or oyaide plug would be necessary($25/30 more). One thing to be noted is that because the jack is so big and the cable isn't dental floss thin, the cable kind of jutts out to the right when the jack is parallel to to the screen. My stock cable jack was way smaller and the cable was more flexible so the cable would just fall straight down. To counter this I face the jack downwards, perpendicular to the screen such that the cable falls straight down.

Next, the 2 pin connector. It looks really good, maybe it's just me but I really like the clear finish on the connector. It also flushes to the sockets almost completely while the original stock cable had a 1mm ish gap but I don't think this really affects your experience in any real way. Tho not part of the connector, the memory wire portion of the cable is pretty good, the cable above the Y split is a 2 wire loose twist which is thicker than the same part of the stock cable so the memory wire portion is thicker and feels better to me.

Lastly, the nylon sheathe. When I ordered the cable, I was wondering if getting the ready to ship version was the right decision as I couldn't not opt for the unsleeved version(which I guess would look nicer and would be $10 less). However having received and tested the cable I realized that the nylon sheathe actually reduced the microphonics of the cable, this was in comparison to other cables I've tried like the Shure cable or the flat cables of the klipsch R6 or even my friend's effect audio Thor copper cable(the custom art stock cable has non existent microphonics, even less than the starlight cable so kudos to custom art haha). The sleeve also appears to make it more durable(I hope) at the cost of a negligible increase in weight and thickness. So no regrets getting the default starlight cable there! As usual, I try to end off the paragraph with what I think could be a flaw of the component in writing about so I can provide a balanced-ish opinion. If there as a problem with the nylon sleeve it's that it makes the cable slightly stiffer. To me however this is a good thing as it makes the cable easier to coil and keep since it holds its shape better after you properly coil it.

Looks

For many people a large part of the allure of after market cables are its looks. To me the cable looks absolutely terrific, the silver looks fantastic with the black sleeve(looks better than the copper of the sunrise cable or black of the midnight cable). Of course a sleeveless version of the starlight could be even more gorgeous as it exposes the quad braid. Tho the sleeved version has its own unique look to it that some might prefer to the typical quadbraid cable look that is ubiquitous amongst aftermarket cables.

Sound

Brian has written in detail about his opinions on the audio effects of his cables. Basically he thinks that cables do not cause a change in sound quality no matter what other cable makers say. However testing the custom art stock cable and the starlight using the exact same tracks at the exact same volume with my Fiio X5ii, I found that the bass actually hit slightly harder while the mids and highs stayed the same. Maybe it was just in my head or my IEMS weren't good enough to hear finer differences. But whatever it is, I think the acoustic qualities of the starlight are not lacking at all and most buyers would be happy with it.

In conclusion, I absolutely love my new starlight cable and believe anyone would enjoy Brian's cables. They have me as a loyal customer and I will surely be returning for new cables if the need ever comes.

Here is a picture of the cable with my ei3s, picture was taken and uploaded with with an iphone 6 so picture quality isn't the best.
BTG-Audio Starlight CIEM cable
Description:

My verdict on the cable. The cable looks great as soon as it arrived and because Brian's sight does describe the performance of the cable I was eager to find out. The terminals on the end of the cable have a Red and Blue dot on each terminal ending, the Red dot is for the right monitor ( Westone 4r in my case) and the blue is for the left one. The appearance of this cable is great and Brian does stick to his word with professional and robust build quality, I especially like the hard metal jack that replaces the rubber one the stock West one cable came with. As for the sound the sound is greatly improved from the stock Westone cable the bass is much more punchy and harder hitting than it comes across in the stock cable and for a electronic dubstep/ drum and bass listener it makes the sound great, although I do like bass in my songs I don't like it overwhelming and I like the sound to keep well balanced, the bass is also much tighter and a slight extend to it which is nice in the dubstep. I have my classical music and other non electronic that I will test out to see how it delivers Mozart and Bach. The mids seem fairly un - touched and not a huge difference with a bit more clearness to them making the clarity better and seeming less flat. The highs are really good and much better than they were with the stock cable, although when I first used the Westones with their cable I was blown away but adding a custom cable completely adds a new realism and experience to the music. The highs are much more crispy and detailed and a slight extend and airy end to cymbal crashes which is great. The snares and high hats are sharp and delicate which is great to get the bass and highs fixed up for my liking. This is my own opinion but I have made it non biased to the music I listen to and will add more to this on their performance on the original classical and less thumped bass music. The looks. As I said the right angled plug is far better than to be honest the crap westone plug, all the time I feared that the rubber thing connector would break and that would be music over for a while. With the Starlight I don't even think about the plug and cable disconnecting it is almost a unbreakable chain. The black nylon sleeve is a nice addition and makes them look really professional and supreme and as always it protects the cable itself reducing the cable memorizing strange shapes when you leave it alone for a while. Both the jack and the split on the top have the btg audio logo which looks cool but not over exaggerated. My only concern is the cables that connect up to the monitors. The actual starlight cable element of the cable looks very thin when I first saw it, with just 2 small cable strands on each ear it may be weak and worth keeping an eye on. Saying this they are made by Brian and I am sure they are sturdy despite their thinness. The last thing I don't like is Brian's use of a wire slider which is shown in my pictures, the thin slice of rubber tubing is used to slide up and down the cable to adjust to your liking. I would of liked this element to have a bit of a more pro look to it rather than some thin rubber tubing on the cable but apart from this I would say the overall looks are great and fit the name perfectly. Performance on classical music genres. I had had my worries on this because when I listened to the drum and bass the bass was very thumpy and some listeners may list this as a drawback. I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to Giovanni Allevi's Symphony of life. I had expected the cello to be very low as the bass was during the drum and bass but it was very controlled on the song and the only change was the detail. The detail of the bow being drawn against the string was more clear and more realistic than the stock cable. Although the bass was fine on this song it sometimes comes across a bit too much on some other songs with a lot of low piano notes. The sound of piano is a bit off on the cable with the mids and it does not sound clear, it may be that I only have a low bit copy of the song so I may be wrong . Not to mention high praise in the highs but cymbals again in classical music are great, you get to here more of it because there is no hard hitting drum with the drum and bass. The cymbal is incredibly air and the cable brings it across with a very delicate detail feel which I love and am always looking for good clear reproduction of the highs. The cable came across bass heavy but balanced out surprisingly well when faced with a different genre of music. Although you will benefit a huge amount if you predominantly listen to electronic or rock music because your cable will get full use and clear sound reproduction. Compatible with Westone, UM, JH, and other CIEM headphones. Also compatible with reccessed sockets. This is BTG-Audio's line of sleeved cables specially ordered for CIEM headphones. This cable utilizes BTG-Audio's custom SPC OFC at 4ft in length (~1.2m). Made with robust professionally molded pins giving you the quality and durability that BTG-Audio is known for. These pins are custom rolled nickel alloy plated in gold. Also, they come with a built in memory wire system that employs annealed stainless steel. MADE IN THE USA! Sleeved in nylon to protect and increase the life span of the cable. Non-sleeved versions available for lighter weight and cheaper cables. Sleeve is also made in the USA. Shining Silver plated copper emerges from the black night on the Starlight cable characterizing it's very name. The cable will have you dazzled in amazement by the twinkling starlight sheen.

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