Pros: Superior Build Quality, Excellent Usability, Value
Overview: Heir Audio’s Magnus 1 is a superbly built upgrade cable for custom in-ear monitors. The cable itself is strengthened with kevlar, and both the connectors for the earphones themselves and the jack are much more strongly built than the stock ciem cable. Unlike other upgrade cables, however, the Magnus 1 is just as comfortable and easy to wear and store as the stock. Sound improves with gentle improvements in detail and extension over the stock cable as well. The Magnus 1 is also reasonably priced at $149 ($110 with an Heir Audio custom iem or free with the flagship Heir Audio 8.A).
Introduction: Heir Audio is the brainchild of Dr. John Moulton. Backed by Chinese giant Micro-DSP, Heir Audio has made quite an impression in high-end portable audio with its line of custom monitors. The Magnus 1 is Heir Audio’s first upgrade cable.
The stock custom in-ear monitor cable: The stock cable on one company’s custom iem is pretty much the same as the stock cable for another company’s. That’s because each custom iem company, from Heir Audio to Future Sonics, to JHAudio to Westone to Sensaphonics to 1964 Ears to Aurisonics, etc. etc. etc. all buy from the same company for their stock cables. There are some options to choose from in terms of appearance and the like, but the cable is basically the same standard copper design. It’s very flexible, thin and very easy to wear and use. Most upgrade cables are much thicker and less flexible.
The Magnus 1: The Magnus 1 starts with a silver plated copper cable and adds kevlar for added strength. This strength is important because the cable—be it the cable itself, the connection to the earphones or the jack at the other end—is the most common part to break or fail. It’s also a quad-braided design over the stock cable’s tri-part. What’s so nice about the Magnus 1 is that it is very much like the stock cable when it comes to flexibility and easy of use. It’s as easy to wear and coil for storage as the stock cable, just much, much stronger.
The Magnus 1 is on top, with the stock below for comparison.
The jack is an angled Neutrik 3.5mm plug with gold plated contacts. Again, much beefier and stronger than the stock termination.
The Magnus 1 is on top, with the stock cable below for comparison
The connection to the earpieces themselves is also stronger.
Sound: The notion of sound improvements for cables is a little controversial and Heir Audio doesn’t make any claims at all for the Magnus 1. I, however, am going to make a modest claim. I have found small but audible changes in sound for upgrade cables over stock. For the Magnus 1, you should expect a subtle improvement in extension above and below and slightly better detail. It’s subtle, as are all cable differences that I’ve heard, but it’s also audible. If you have both, try listening to the Magnus 1 for a week straight and then listen carefully when you switch back to the stock. Then, listen using the stock cable for a few days in a row, letting your ears adjust, then pay attention when you switch back to the Magnus 1. It’s small, but enough of an overall difference that I found I don’t want to listen to my Heir Audio 8.A without the Magnus 1. For me, it’s just better. But, if you don’t believe in sound differences for cables, that’s okay, the Magnus 1’s far better build quality is more than enough to commend it.
Conclusion: Just in case you might have been thinking it, yes, the Magnus 1 is like the stock cable on steroids. It’s stronger in every way and at every point without giving up any of the usability that makes the stock cable appealing. And it’s available for a very reasonable price. Given that the cable is the most likely point of failure in a portable audio set-up, the Magnus 1 is more than worth it.