Dr. Moulton of Heir Audio frequently browses HeadFi. I'm sure he couldn't help but notice that when folks post pictures of their beautiful Heir Audio custom IEMs, they are often accompanied by an aftermarket cable from one of the many firms who make that sort of thing. His response? Release a high quality IEM cable of his own. It makes perfect sense - as a maker of audio gear, when you see a need in the market, you fill that need.
But how to keep from becoming just another pretty cable in the sea of brands that compete in this space? You already have an audience since the customer is ordering IEMs from you. But that simply isn't enough. How does one differentiate their product from the rest? Dr. Moulton took an interesting path, one that I think many people will appreciate, by focusing on different things than most others. He spent a lot of time searching for a manufacturer who could build the cable to his specific requirements. Not just concerned with things like cable geometry or materials (though of course those are accounted for), the Wizard was looking for a cable that "felt" right. His search would eventually take him outside of China (where Heir Audio is based) but he finally found what he wanted.
The Heir Audio Magnus 1 cable ($149, or $110 when bundled with an Heir CIEM) is made of silver-plated copper, with a much higher amount of silver than a stock cable. How does the Wizard know what a stock cable is made of? By analyzing it with an electron microscope, of course. Very few aftermarket cable companies have the resources to do something like that - in fact, most would simply order cable from another (usually unnamed) vendor, terminate it themselves, and sell it to you as their own cable - having no way of verifying what the real content might be. So your fancy new "pure silver" or "OCC copper" cable might in fact be made of tin, and you would never know. Heir Audio definitely knows.
Inside, the Magnus uses braided kevlar for added strength, compared to the nylon found in a stock cable. Externally, you'll notice the quad-braided construction as opposed to the twisted three-strand stock cable. It comes terminated with an angled Neutrik 3.5mm plug with gold plated contacts, but could be easily reterminated for balanced use thanks to the four-strand design.
The cable doesn't look all that different than a stock model, especially the newer Ultimate Ears stock cable. But in fact the Magnus uses a softer extrusion material for the "jacket" of the cable. So it's tougher than stock but also stronger, and has a better "feel" to it. It's kind of hard to explain but if you get the chance to touch it you'd instantly know what I mean. One last detail - the cable is a bit longer than the typical stock model. Maybe 6 inches or so depending on which stock cable we are comparing it to. A good portion of this extra length comes above the Y-split, so folks like me with a large noggin will have extra slack to play with. Some cables leave me choked at the Y-split, so I appreciate the added length, and I don't find it too long where it becomes unwieldy.
Heir Audio makes no specific claims about the sound of the Magnus cable. They don't say it will brighten your highs, sweeten your mids, or make your lows extend deeper. Cable audibility is a very personal thing, almost in line with discussing religion or politics. It's one of those things that you sort of need to figure out for yourself. I think Heir has made a wise choice by leaving this aspect up to the user. A few people will report massive gains, but for most it will come down to one of two options: it either sounds the same but looks/feels better, or else it gives a subtle but enjoyable boost in the sound quality.
Some people around here already have reported noticeably improved sound by using the Magnus. I tend to focus on the improvement in functionality, comfort, and even looks, as compared to stock, just like I do with all my custom cables. I admit that it does give one a boost of confidence when using a high end custom IEM, knowing that you've got a deliberately nice cable instead of a basic stock one.
The "weakest link" approach to audio is often brought up, and it makes some sense - if you've got a high end source, DAC, amp, and a nice set of Heir Audio custom IEMs, it feels like you might be holding something back by using a basic cable that came bundled in the package.
I need to emphasize the fact that I do like stock "Westone" style cables. Sometimes these reviews tend to read like the stock cable is a piece of garbage, which is simply not the case. I do occasionally have complaints about the memory wire on certain variants of the stock cables - some companies make them too short, others make them excessively long. And of course I have a love/hate thing going on with the stock silver colored cable - I love the look, but hate the way they invariably turn green after some use. Overall though, the stock cable is very respectable and is not something that demands to be replaced immediately.
But I do find that the Magnus cable is superior in daily use. It has become my go-to cable that I carry with me at all times, despite the fact that I own multiple other (more expensive) IEM cables. I even use it with some of my other customs that aren't from Heir Audio (shhhh.... don't tell The Wizard). It fits well with my UM Merlin that has a recessed socket.
The Magnus is a joy to use - it resists tangling, and it doesn't coil up or have any "memory" effect. It can take a beating too, as I learned when I snagged it several times during workouts. It remains looking brand new, a testament to the build quality.
Do you absolutely need an aftermarket IEM cable to enjoy your Heir Audio customs? Nope. The stock cable gets the job done just fine, as Heir Audio will happily tell you. But do you think you might ever want one? If you're already spending hundreds of dollars (or more) for a custom IEM, you very well may. If so, and especially if you are just now placing your order with Heir, you might consider adding the Magnus 1 cable to your cart. It may stop you from spending several hundred dollars more for a different cable down the road.
Is it possible to justify ownership of a cable like this even if you aren't a rabid cable believer? Sure it is. The feel and durability alone is very impressive and it really is the "ninja" of CIEM cables in terms of appearance (pictures simply don't do it any justice). The story behind it's creation is typical Wizard attention to detail, and I'd say he nailed exactly what he was trying to do. Highly recommended.