Pros: Service, Packaging, Build quality, Warranty, Price?
Cons: Y-Split could be nicer, Price?
I was on the hunt for a well-made copper cable to complement my stock and third party cables for my Fitear IEMs when I came across Forza Audioworks. Good quality wire, ergonomics and aesthetics were on my mind during my search. A reasonable price and short waiting time would be added bonuses if I found what I was looking for.
I had not heard or seen any of Forza’s actual products prior to this as I did not know anyone from here (Little sunny island of Singapore, for those who are curious) that owned any. I gathered what knowledge was to be had from what little reviews that were available online. Along with information from the website and through asking questions by email before deciding to take the plunge and give cables from Forza a try.
And I am very glad I did.
Forza Audioworks, FAW for short, is a small two man, soon to be maybe three so I have been told, boutique custom cable company hailing from Poland and headed by Matthew Przychodzien. They feature a wide range of custom headphone/IEM cables and inter-connects as well as recabling services and even iPod modifications.
Their website, a very visually nice and user-friendly one, has most of their products and services though not currently updated last I checked. If you have anything in mind that you cannot find on the site itself, I recommend dropping them an email to find out what choices are available to you. I am sure they will try to tailor to your needs as best they can.
Customer service was impeccable. Matthew was nothing but accommodating with my incessant questions and requests. Email replies always came soon with answers forthcoming after my inquiries were sent. A really nice and friendly guy that was a joy to deal with and who greatly smoothen the process of me making my purchase.
Shipping was cheap (6 Euro for me) and fast as well. From start of the order to building of the cable to my eager desecration of the box the cable came in, taking about ten days in total to reach faraway Asia.
UNBOXING and BUILD QUALITY
I have always somewhat believed the pride in how a cable is presented aesthetically shows in a small way the quality of the actual cable itself. If a cable maker stinges on something which can be so easily seen on the outside, what makes you think they will not scrimp on the actual "meat" of the item itself? My own superficial paranoid opinion, of course. Pay no heed but you have been warned.
Glad to say, in this regard, FAW has delivered in spades and far exceeded my expectations despite having already seen photos from other forum users beforehand. I ordered a Copper Series IEM cable with Fitear connectors to be terminated with a TRRS balanced plug. The cable is stranded 4 core made from Cryo treated 7N UPOCC copper wire covered in PE insulation. I have been told the current Copper Series range are newer Mk2 versions that have an anti-oxidation coating and are more flexible.
My FAW copper cable came in a small cloth bag, no cheap ziplock bags here, within an eco-friendly cardboard box, together with an envelope with my name on it containing the printed receipt and plastic warranty card. Nice touch on the last one.
The cable speaks for itself and the quality of the product is apparent. From the copper wire used, which my photos do not do justice, to the double wrapping of heat-shrink at the plug and Y-splitter, a hard plastic or metal one, to the perfectly even lengths of heat-shrink at the connectors. Everything is exquisitely done. Nicely printed FAW logos are subtlety placed along the cable without being too loud. All these little aesthetic details being very much appreciated by superficial me.
I have tried and seen quite a number of cables from various companies including the more “’established” and “bigger” ones and this cable is the most flexible non-sleeved cable of its kind, meaning cored and not co-axial cabled like the Piccolino, which I have come across.
I do not know if it is due to the ridiculously tight (Hard to believe these were braided by hand and not machine) and even braiding that was done or the wire that FAW uses or both. It has not kinked or taken any drastic change in shape despite me coiling it rather tightly whenever I do not use it.
An absolutely well-made and gorgeous cable.
If I were to nitpick, I would say the choker could be something better than the transparent plastic being used. It is a wee bit tight to use smoothly and I can imagine it turning yellowish over time especially with the humid climate I live in. A wooden choker or some such would be nice.
Oh, and did I mention, FAW products come with two year warranties. Says a lot about the faith they have in their products.
Before I begin to comment further, I would like to make my stand on whether cables make a difference in sound quality when it comes to audio, especially for portable rigs and headphones/IEMs.
I am in the camp that they do. I trust my ears more than any scientific fact presented or frequency graph shown to me. However, I would also be the first to admit that the difference is very small and the returns in sound improvement may not likely seem worth the amount of money, and time waiting, put into obtaining an upgraded cable. This being relative, of course. People with better ears than mine hear more differences than me and swear by what cables can do for you no matter how small or expensive the upgrading cost may be. But factor in aesthetics, ergonomics and comfort and the cost may not be as painful.
Cables are always the last thing I advise friends and acquaintances to invest their money into and should definitely not be the bulk of money spent in their rigs, whether home or portable. An Apple iBud with an upgraded cable is still going to going to sound like an Apple iBud. Albeit a better one with its shortcomings becoming ever slightly more obvious.
Gear used: Wide genre of lossless files off a HM901 (IEM and Balanced cards) and Fitear TG334 IEMs. Cable burnt it for a couple hundred hours at least.
A slight warmth and added lushness can be heard throughout the frequency range from top to bottom. Everything is still smooth and coherent with no pronounced emphasis anywhere or sharp spikes. Very natural sounding with no veil whatsoever especially after “burn-in”. There is slightly less sibilance and hissing on tracks that I test for these sound qualities, which is great.
Soundstage takes a small hit, I think probably due to the small decrease in treble extension. Treble roll-off is apparent and to be expected but seriously only by a little bit. And for me, there is enough soundstage running off the IEM card anyway and more so with the balanced card. Sound up-top is fuller and thicker though, as it is with everything else. Instruments are still very well separated but seem closer. Also due to, I think, the small difference in treble.
Mids and vocals may not be as crisp, not to say they are not as they very much still are, in comparison with other cables I have, but ever so much sweeter. Vocals becoming ever slightly more lush and organic.
As for the bass, how do I describe it… The bass is awesome. This is the biggest and most obvious improvement to me when I use this cable. I had to put back one of my other cables in to confirm what I was hearing with one of my test tracks, an EDM one titled Reboot by Ummet Ozcan in case anyone is curious. The bass is fuller and seems to reach lower. It is also tighter and fast. The whole lower frequencies just “rumbles” and I feel it more. Truly enjoyable.
Overall, the cable is a step-up from the stock cable sonically and pretty much on par overall with any silver cable I have tried thus far. Adding a musicality and warmth to the sound presented and providing a different sound quality. Though on the whole not as airy and detailed as compared to using a pure silver cable, FAW’s Copper Series cable does not lose as much of these as compared to other copper cables I have tried. Actually the amount of these qualities that they retain is quite remarkable and surprising. For what it gives you, the cable takes really very little away.
Rose-tinted glasses is the best way I have heard a good copper cable, and no doubt what you will be getting from FAW is a damn good one, being described (from fellow Headfi member, Kiats) when compared to a silver cable. It adds a little "rosey sweetness” to the sound but becoming a little myopic to some details. Not a bad thing depending where you coming from and what you are looking for.
It may be said that such minute attention to detail and customer service may be due to the company still being relatively small and not swamped with as many orders etc.
I am however writing this review based on my recent experience and purchased product. For now, and I am hoping even after more of the audio community recognizes them, FAW stands tall amongst any cable maker currently in the market.
Not only for the quality of their cables but also the unparalleled manner in presentation as well as service that is provided. As a complete package, Forza Audioworks definitely deserves accolades.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.