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Sennheiser HD650 Cable Shootout: Stock, Zu, Equinox and Grace Five Two

post #1 of 147
Thread Starter 
I know that various comparisons of the popular HD650 replacement cables have been done before, but I could not find one that covered the stock, Zu, Equinox, and Grace Five Two that I had available. Also, I have done the comparison live on both a SinglePower MPX3 and a Corda Prehead Prototype to hear any differences that appear using tube and solid state amps. That said, I make no claims to having particularly keen ears or other qualifications to support my impressions. I have just attempted to listen to the differences and report them here, in my first attempt at a product review/comparison.

Physical Description of Cables

Thin and supple cable that does not display any microphonics. Lighter and less chunky connectors than all replacement cables, but surely not "cheap."

Zu Mobius:
Thicker cable with attractive black and silver flex material. Brushed metal connectors, including aluminum connectors on the headphone end. These connectors can be difficult to seat properly, but it becomes easier with use. The cable itself it too stiff IMO, and is very microphonic. That combination can make wearing the Zu unsatisfactory if you are moving around at all.

Stefan Audio Art Equinox:
Beautifully made cable with a softer black flex cover up to the split, and twisted white wire without any covering up to the shrink-wrapped connectors. Equinox has a very solid and rather lengthy 1/4" connector and much smaller and easier to seat plugs that connect to the 650s. It is much more flexible than the Zu and does not display much if any microphonics.

RnB Audio Grace Five Two:
Very well-built and attractive cable, with a black flex up to the split, and red/black for the right side and black for the left. Substantial 1/4" connector and the connectors for the headphones are sized between the Zu and Equinox, and nicely shrink-wrapped. The G52 is thinner and more flexible that the Equinox but it does exhibit some micorohonics, although not as pronounced as the Zu. Special thanks go to thanks to PFKMan23 who loaned me the G52 for this comparo. Also, RnB180 has graciously offered to send me a prototype G52 that he thinks is closer in sound signature to the Equinox, so I may add some further impressions on that later on.

All cables have seen many hours of use, and are well broken in.

Equipment Used

Sennheiser HD650:
Well broken-in, with foam removed and replaced with sheer hose

Tube Amp Setup:
Maxxed SinglePower MPX3
Onix CD-1
Crystal Cable Reference ICs
Crystal Cable Reference power cord on Onix, stock on MPX3

Solid State Amp Setup:
Corda Prehead Mk. II Prototype (crossfeed not engaged)
Onix CD-1 for some songs and 2G iPod Mini for others
Crystal Cable Reference ICs w/ Onix, Monster mini-RCA w/iPod
Crystal Cable Reference power cord on Onix and Prehead

Comparison Method

To get used to the sound of each cable, I listened to a compilation disc that I burned with a variety of music I like. Using the CD-1 and Prehead, I listened straight through the disc with each cable in turn--that was a long night. This idea worked to an extent, and allowed me to make some basic notes on the differences, but I did not try to make major comparisons based on this listening session.

For completeness sake, the songs on the sampler disc are as follows:
1. Personal Jesus, Johnny Cash; 2. Yellow Dog Blues, Louis Armstrong; 3. Danny Boy, Jacintha; 4. Sunrise, Norah Jones; 5. The Luck One, Alison Krauss; 6. Little B's Poem, Bobby Hucherson; 7. Freddie Freeloader, Miles Davis; 8. Focus on Sanity, Ornette Coleman; 9. Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia), US3; 10. Jazz Music, Stephane Pompougnac; 11. Chill Out, John Lee Hooker; 12. More Than This, Roxy Music; 13. American Idiot, Green Day; 14. Who Is This America Dem Speak of Today?, Antibalas; 15. Vertigo, U2

After that, and over a couple of weeks, I listened to a series of songs on the tube setup and then on one or the other of the solid-state rigs. I did not listen to the same song list on each rig, I just listened to the each song identified below either once or twice on each cable in turn on the given system. I also varied the order, so that I didn't base my thoughts on preconceived ideas any more than necessary, and so that I wasn't always tired of hearing the song every time when I used the same cable. This sequential comparison, song by song, proved to be most revealing for me. Sometimes the differences were starker than others, and my preferred cable certainly changed for specific songs. I am already a believer in the differences that pretty much all components can make in a system--and truly believe that cables play a big part--but even cable skeptics should try this sequential method sometime, because it is hard NOT to notice the differences when all others pieces are constant.

Sonic Impressions

Although I have a personal favorite, I do not think the decision of which replacement cable to choose is at all black and white and really depends on a number of factors. The type of music you prefer, the style of presentation you like, your source, and perhaps most of all your amp can make a huge difference on your choice of cable. That is a general statement, but seems quite appropriate in regard to this choice. My thoughts and impressions are influenced by all of those factors, and my goal here is to express those as I go along with this already over-long review.

I believe my MPX3 and Prehead systems are both highly resolving and engaging, and I strive for a transparent sound in my audio equipment to the extent possible. The Prehead is a very detailed and powerful amp, but it does not suffer from harshness or brightness as a rule. I chose not to engage the very fine cross-feed switch because I wanted to hear how the cables handled the music without that assistance. I have to say that most things sound better to me on all of these cables when the cross-feed is on. As for my MPX3, I am not even aware of all the upgrades going on in there, but Mikhail described it to its original owner--Sleestack--as having all of the upgrades he could think of. I believe it has Solen 1, paper-in-oil caps, and silver wiring throughout; it has both the 12V option and the preamp out features, but it does not have the Plitron transformer Mikhail sometimes uses. Anyway, it is a very fine amp, and I ran it using a Tung Sol round plate 6SN7 driver and Sylvania VT 231 6SN7 output tubes. It certainly has that warm tube magic, but it is not overly "tubey" and there is no mushiness to be heard.

So, here goes, with summary impressions first and then listening notes for each song. The notes really were made while listening, although I went back and made comparisons and additional comments after listening with other cables, and to make myself sound less stupid.

Stock Cable:

Without having heard the other options, I thought that the stock 650s sounded great. It is a quality stock cable, and it enhances the darker, warmer, Sennheiser sound. After comparing the stock cable to several other options, I think you can hear that the stock cable limits the capabilities of the headphones from the perspective of soundstage, resolution, and clarity. The stock cable has a noticeable "three-blobs-in-the-head" effect, which is more pronounced in some music than others. Nevertheless, the stock cable has a pleasing and intimate sound, and does not create fatigue.

Prehead Listening Notes:

Sample disc: Dark, deep, occasionally muddy.

Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine: Slower and darker beginning; vocals are in my ears, not in a natural setting/soundstage; blobs are r/l without any forward extension; transients not nearly on the level of other three.

Allison Krauss, Lucky One: Warmer less string instrument-heavy presentation than Zu; voice sweet and smooth; bass noticeably deep and stands out of mix nicely; separation of instruments is clear but the more intimate or even compressed sound image is very noticeable.

Amadou & Mariam, M'Bife: As expected an overall darker and warmer sound; high extends higher, low still strong and deep; bass vocals nice and weighty; blobs in the head effect more pronounced than with other cables; separation is good but follows the blobs; soundstage more compressed; no fatigue indications.

Dave Brubeck, Take Five: A little flat on the intro and sax; nice echo effect with the snare drum--goes left to right and out front a bit; bass string twang noticeable; ride cymbal sounds smooth stays on the left; piano stays in right ear while sax is mostly left ear.

Dire Straights, Water of Love: Fine but boring presentation; warm and deep but not as exciting as others.

MPX3 Listening Notes:

Sigur Ros, Takk/Glosoli: Deep bass, with a blended wall of sound effect on Glosoli while vocals reach high pitch and come forward; drums thumping and non-descript; guitars piercing and clear while background stays muddy.

Tierney Sutton, Just Squeeze Me: Warmer and less distinct bass notes on the intro; slower overall; voice is not as clean and real as the Eq or G52 or Zu but it is very smooth and nice to listen to; piano is not as clear or fast, but has similar effect to the vocals; flatter overall soundstage presentation/image.

Muddy Waters, Good Morning Little School Girl: One of the better songs on the stock cable; some of the detail is lacking but the depth and warmth lend themselves to Muddy's voice and the low down bass line; guitar sounds clean but not as crisp as other alternatives; sense of the room lacking.

Zu Mobius:

The Zu was the first replacement cable I heard and owned, which was largely based on my reading of many Head-Fi reviews and my thought that the 650s could use a little more "life" and a little less veil. With the MPX3 (both my older, less upgraded one and the Maxx) I liked the Zu's ability to change the sound of the 650s with many types of music I listen to. The Zu can be magical with jazz, well-recorded rock music, and especially vocals. To my ears, some things sound better on the Zu/MPX3 combo than any other cable. For example, the Ron Carter/Rosa Passos disc Entre Amigos sounds amazing, and the extra high-end energy of the Zu lifts the presentation to a degree that I find perfect.

Once I took out the foam and had the Prehead in the house, however, my Zu love diminished. On the Prehead, the Zu can sound very good but I find that it has the potential to be too bright and is more prone to causing fatigue. It is sometimes unlistenable at reasonably high volumes with electronic music. Sigur Ros was screeching and horrid through the Zu/Prehead at 12 o'clock when it sounded fine through the Equinox at that admittedly loud level. It isn't always that way at every volume level or for every type of music, as my listening notes demonstrate, but I don't think it is the best choice for a high-end solid state rig, especially if you have other bright components or interconnects.

The tonal balance on the Zu is not particularly accurate or natural to my ears. It has a well-earned reputation for being brighter than the stock cable, and that brightness comes from a tipped up presentation in both the treble and upper bass/lower midrange. This upper register energy can be a good thing, but it also can tend toward being metallic or glaring, especially with the Prehead. The bass tends to go a bit deeper than the other replacement cables I have heard, but it is neither as controlled nor as clear and detailed as either the Equinox or the Grace52. The bass might be deeper and more impactful but it is more smeared and muddy. The sometimes boomy bass appears to swallow some of the higher frequencies.

The Zu is lively and fast, with pretty good transients as a whole, and decent PRaT. The Zu is more resolving than the stock, but not as detailed or resolving as either the Grace52 or the Equinox. The sound is far less cohesive through the Zu, and although the soundstage is wider than stock it is more compressed than the other replacement options I am comparing. The Zu's soundstage does not have the same level of extension side-to-side or front-to-back. However, it does not have the blobs problem of the stock. Lastly, the stiffness and microphonics of the cable actually do impact the sound negatively unless you sit very still while listening.

This review sounds more negative than I would have imagined, but it is mostly just in comparison to two other cables I like better. There are many people who love this cable, and it has some strong attributes. Even if you don't want to take out the foam, it can surely brighten up your 650s. With a good tube amp, many of the negatives diminish, and the Zu can really make jazz sing, but even the Maxx MPX3 cannot make the Zu more resolving or balanced.

Prehead Listening Notes:

Sampler disc: Deep, more high end energy but not screechy or overly bright; not as detailed as Eq or G52 and soundstage more constricted but very intimate and pleasant sound.

Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine: Low end nice and deep and strong but high end extended too high at times (hiss pronounced?); less cohesive than Eq or G52.

Allison Krauss, Lucky One: String instruments very pronounced but overall pleasant and detailed; still have the sense of fatigue; vocal presentation somewhat above (^) the instruments.

Amadou & Mariam, M'Bife: Very energetic presentation; vocals sound tipped up; balance not great; bass deep and at times boomy; fatigue potential high.

Dave Brubeck, Take Five: More lively sax than stock on the intro--treble energy more pronounced; ride cymbal has a tizzy edge to it; echo on snare nice and more obvious than stock; reed and breathing more noticeable; decay and finish not on par with Eq.

Dire Straights, Water of Love: Good sound but not as tight as Eq or G52; balance tipped to the high end and vocals do not have the same resolution and presence; bass line deep; muddier sound compared to Eq or G52 but overall a pleasant listen for this song.

MPX3 Listening Notes:

Sigur Ros, Takk/Glosoli: Less distinct intro in Takk than Eq but more than stock; clearly hear clicking and scratching at transition; bass deep and meaty; treble controlled early in Glosoli; clarity and separation not on par with Eq; march comes through but kick bass is less cleanly presented; really rocks on the finish much stronger than Eq although the background is pretty dense; turned up volume on second listen and came closer to that same overwhelming/fatigue feeling from Prehead--too much grainy high end energy that is not controlled.

Tierney Sutton, Just Squeeze Me: Solid bass intro; vocals sound sweet; piano fast [faster than G52?] and lively; confirms my feeling that jazz vocals are a strength of MPX3/Zu/650.

Muddy Waters, Good Morning Little School Girl: Extra top end commences from first riffs; bass deeper than G52 but not as tight and clear as Eq; guitar strum/slap clearer on Zu than any other cable; Muddy does not sound as natural or as deep--mid-range and mid-bass lost to the extreme high/low.

Stefan Audio Art Equinox:

The Equinox was the second replacement cable I bought, and for me it has the greatest combination of strengths of all the cables I have tried. It manages to be highly resolving, detailed and transparent, while maintaining a natural, easy and engaging sound. It is smooth, but not boring, and I never have had a sensation of fatigue with the Equinox. In many songs, I can hear far more sonic information with the Equinox than I can with any other cable. That resolution does not tend toward sterility or harshness. As my notes reflect, there were drum, bass, guitar and cymbal sounds, and even breathing and reed sounds on the sax in Take 5, that appeared more clearly and naturally through the Equinox than any of the others. This ability also expressed itself in the cable's ability to convey the sense of the room and the air around the notes.

The tonal balance is incredibly natural to my ears, and in many cases I get the greatest sense of "being there" with the Equinox. The treble extension is excellent, without reaching to harsh or overly bright highs. As Vertigo-1 recently wrote in another thread, the midrange with the Equinox "actually has better resolution and coherency than stock, yet simultaneously sounds clearer and cleaner." That is very accurate way of describing what I heard. Sometimes the midrange is laid back to the extent of being more flat and less 3-dimensional, but that tendency is not uniform. The Equinox has a much more controlled and tighter bass presentation than the stock cable. It also exceeds the Zu in this measure, but not to the same extent. The biggest difference is the way bass is presented: the Equinox has a good and distinct range of bass presentation, with overall nice separation of the upper to lower. Some say that the Equinox does not have the same weight or impact, but to me that is because it doesn't boom as much and may not extend as deep. The Grace52 has the most similar presentation, but it does not resolve the bass quite as cleanly.

Real strengths of the Equinox lie in its soundstage and imaging capabilities. There is no "three blobs in the head" effect, and the sound image extends outward in both depth and width. I do not find the soundstage overly extended, it just sounds like a more natural presentation of music with separate but cohesive imaging. Again, I think in some part the level of musical and ambient information conveyed through the cable increases the sense of space.

Although there has been some question about the PRaT qualities of the Equinox, I think that it is a very transparent cable that follows the source, the amp, and the music. I agree that the Equinox is not the fastest 650 cable--both the Zu and the Grace52 usually exceed its speed--but it has a very pleasing pace and rhythm, and I think it is strong in terms of transients because it is more natural. There is decay and presence to the notes, especially on the treble end, and the notes are more "complete" to my ears rather than being clipped and choppy. Equinox does not present itself as a speedy and overly live cable, but I don't translate that to excessive mellowness or laid back presentation.

As others have said, the Equinox is transparent enough to take what is good about the 650s and improve upon it in most ways without altering the 650's sound signature. I like the Equinox on both the Prehead and the MPX3, although I like it best with the latter. There were no really glaring differences to note.

Prehead Listening Notes:

Sampler disc: Clean, balanced, natural; soundstage expands in depth and width.

Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine: Natural but somewhat flat/laid back sound--meaning 2-D as compared to G52; nice vocal presentation; bass controlled but not particularly deep.

Allison Krauss, Lucky One: Vocal presentation has a broader perspective; balance is right; string instruments come across detailed and separated; bass line cleaner than other cables and sounds just as deep; most natural again.

Amadou & Mariam, M'Bife: Nice vocal separation and deep bass vocals on chorus; electric guitar clear and precisely imaged; soundstage broader than Zu; good high end, but not as harsh or metallic as Zu.

Dave Brubeck, Take Five: sax sounds more real and separate from the rest; can hear high hat along with ride cymbal in the intro; separation the same as others in terms of recording (right ear piano, left ear/forward horn and drums; echo sounds like it really should, while tom toms sound better than other cables--natural drum sound like you are there; bass string twang can be heard to tremelo; reed sounds from sax and breathing noticeable and natural sounding; faster that stock; decay and finish best yet.

Dire Straights, Water of Love: Polished, fast and detailed, this cable has a pleasing mix of vocals and guitars; not as live as the G52.

MPX3 Listening Notes:

Sigur Ros, Takk/Glosoli: Distinct strands of sound from synth(s) and bass; quiet vocals more audible in Takk; initial bass notes have more weight and fret work audible; vocals more natural than stock and not as high; guitar more resolved and natural sounding compared to stock; "drums" sound more like a march/stomp plus kick bass; soundstage and image refined and defined completely differently; neither vocals nor instruments enter into high piercing register; wall of sound has individual instruments/sounds.

Tierney Sutton, Just Squeeze Me: Bass is so crisp and lively that my toe was tapping on this the 4th time in a row with this song; Tierney's voice is so perfect that she is "there" in front of me; saying it is natural is not enough--real, present; just heard a little bass riff that was missed or at least more blended with other cables; piano jumps at you, fast and crisp.

Muddy Waters, Good Morning Little School Girl: Soundstage expands from the stock and the sense of the room is more present; bass is taught and deep, with runs in the background clear in my left ear; Muddy sounds perfect and the feeling is intimate; separation is nice and more natural even though the recording is very L/R separated; guitar licks are crisp and bright.

RnB Audio Grace Five Two:

As I mentioned, I borrowed the Grace Five Two to check out the sound and to do this comparison. I have to say that it was the biggest and most pleasant surprise in the lot. I think RnB has achieved something very special, especially for a DIYer entering into production. The Grace52 doesn't take my top spot overall but many others would likely prefer it to the Equinox. The overall presentation, imaging, and sound signature are similar to the Equinox in many ways, although the Grace52 seems more lively and energetic. I perceive that difference as coming from the slightly forward midrange presentation that makes the sound pop a little closer to you. On some songs, that slight tip forward actually provides a more 3-D effect because it does not come at the cost of soundstage or the rest of the sound image.

The Grace52 has the same kind of natural presentation as the Equinox, with beautiful tonal balance. The resolution and detail are excellent, and the soundstage is broad and deep. Only the Equinox presents slightly more sonic information, but what is "lost" is minimal. The midrange is sweet and well-separated from the bass and treble. The bass is also controlled and ranges more naturally from deeper notes to mid- and upper-bass than the Zu.

Where the Grace52 might win out against all comers is in the PRaT categories. It's lively and energetic, and gets the toes to tapping. The pace and rhythm are very natural. The speed is probably a little better than the Equinox, but I already described above what I like about the way the Equinox handles transients. The decay and "finish" to notes is not quite as refined or complete as with the Equinox. As with the Equinox, I did not discern a big difference in the sound of the Grace52 between tube and solid state. The amp characteristics were conveyed, but the cable did not prefer one or the other.

The Grace52 is an excellent cable and may be the replacement of choice for someone looking for detail and resolution but with a little more energy and excitement than the Equinox. Kudos to Myo for his fine work on this cable. I look forward to hearing his earlier prototype cable.

Prehead Listening Notes:

Sampler disc: Clean, balanced, natural, like Equinox but with a little more mid "energy".

Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine: natural sound; mids a bit forward but created a nice 3-D effect as compared to Eq; nice vocal presentation--if not "in your face"; bass controlled and pretty strong.

Allison Krauss, Lucky One: vocals quite forward and intimate/close; strings pronounced but pleasant and detailed; potential for fatigue; bass line is nice and clean; fast transients; dobro twang and tremelo sounds good; a bit of the blobs, but it may be the mix on the recording.

Amadou & Mariam, M'Bife: again the vocals are forward and a bit more charged than the Eq; volume is higher than with Fiona Apple and it is a bit more fatiguing than the Eq and more muddled sound (distorted at even higher volume).

Dave Brubeck, Take Five: similar in overall presentation to Eq but more high end extension and less detail--high hat was somewhat lost in the mix, tom toms not like "being there", breathing, reed and bass twang less detailed and present; decay and finish not the same Eq.

Dire Straights, Water of Love: Sounded very good through this cable; the vocals were up front and Knopfler guitar sounded fast and clear; high hat had a good tone and was very clean, although the Eq might have edged it on detail in this and other criteria; the transitions were tight and the vocal separation and harmonies came through most pleasing of the cables; bass line is tight and relatively deep.

MPX3 Listening Notes:

Sigur Ros, Takk/Glosoli: Less distinct at intro to Takk than Eq and vocals more ethereal and less clear; clicking and scratching at transition is clearly audible but less defined than Zu; bass is deep and more pronounced than Eq; pleasing presentation but not imaged or separated on the same level as Eq; march and snare sounds more blended with background; guitars reach higher at climax; able to handle higher volume better than Zu (10-11 steps, rather than 7).

Tierney Sutton, Just Squeeze Me: Bass line at intro has nice weight and twang on the strings; vocals clear and across the front of the image--well placed up front and center but not too localized; tight and fast transients; piano comes through naturally with good attack.

Muddy Waters, Good Morning Little School Girl: Opening riffs sound good and crisp; bass not as tight/weighty/deep as the Eq, although it sounds good and present; some sense of room but soundstage not as deep and space not recreated the same as Eq.

Concluding Thoughts:

I promised myself to get this thing posted before 2006, so Happy New Year! Hopefully, people looking to make this choice will have a little more ammunition after reading this comparison if they are not lucky enough to be able to sit down and compare all of these options. My brief time with a Headphile Blacksilver a few months back did not rank that cable with the three replacement options discussed here, but I didn't have it for live comparisons so I am just basing that comment on memory. Personally, I would still like to hear the Moon Audio cables, and I tried to borrow a Cardas from a local dealer but they were out of stock. So many cables, so little time…

Cheers, Volt
post #2 of 147
Wonderful, thanks very much for a great review! I was looking for something like this.

I'm interested in opinions from people who have recabled their 580s, preferably with the Equinox and whether or not it was worth it.
post #3 of 147
Truly great review! The Equinox has ben my first and favorite of replacement cables since I first purchased the hd600 at least five years ago an now have hd650. I have the moon v2 and zu also but like the v2 over the latter. I'm hoping PS Audio will make some with their silver conductor material because of how good their transcendent interconnects sound and costs, I made the suggestion to paul several months back and he thought it was a good idea! And said he would put it in the "Idea bank".
post #4 of 147
Excellent review, thanks Voltron. Makes me want to purchase a 650 and Equinox cable
post #5 of 147
Graet comparo Al...Hmm... given this revision of the Grace Five Two, I mght have to get a second one...

BTW, what does PRaT mean?
post #6 of 147
Hi there PFK,
the gft, does not have a revision that changes its sonics. The proto cable Voltron speaks of was a proto made with different wire that had a darker tonal quality but was less flexible. but I prefered the current versions I have out ATM for release as it suited my personal tastes and the proto took a back seat.

I do not believe I will be offering a second darker version to the public unfortunately.
post #7 of 147
That's too bad. In any case, I might have to get a Equinox cable for myself,as I don't really like the brightness and dryness of the Zu, but it seems that the warmth of the pure copper may also be to my liking.
post #8 of 147
Originally Posted by PFKMan23
BTW, what does PRaT mean?
Pace, Rhythm and Timing

Nice review! I totally agree with all you said about the Zu. I've heard nothing but good comments on the RnB, gonna have to try one out sometime
post #9 of 147
Originally Posted by PFKMan23
That's too bad. In any case, I might have to get a Equinox cable for myself,as I don't really like the brightness any dryness of the Zu, buut it seems that he warmth of the pure copper may also be to my liking.
the equinox may be up your alley!

regarding the GFT and the prior proto.
I chose the GFT design, because of soundstage depth and width. Coming from a background listening to a lot of open live performances, I chose to go with the current one I have simply because it was sound style I was familiar with.
post #10 of 147
Very well made comparison, Voltron!

Of the reviewed cables I only own stock and Zu Mobius. The latter has been my favorite since quite a while, but in my now setup sounds a bit too dry in the midrange and too sharp at the upper end, also not overly spacious, although instrument placement is excellent. Still I find it quite organic, and it's still the liveliest and most dynamic of my HD-650 cables (the others being Silver Dragon, Headphile Silver, Oehlbach, stock and several homegrown designs) and together with the Silver Dragon the most detailed. I can't reproduce the bass inaccuracy you're describing, but wish it had a slightly leaner bass. And I wish I knew which cable is the most accurate and neutral; despite my current alienation the Zu Mobius is still one of the hottest candidates for this title (IMO), together with the Silver Dragon, my current favorite.

It's important to consider that your test was made with removed foam pads on your HD 650. In original state the results may very well have been quite different, as briefly hinted by yourself, especially in view of the Zu Mobius' qualities which may be underrated in this configuration -- which brightens the sound to a degree and in a way I personally dont find favorable.

Nevertheless, I'd like to try Equinox and RnB; on the other hand, I already have enough HD-650 cables...
post #11 of 147
Thanks Voltron. You pushed me towards trying the MA BD v2 first but then JaZZ came in and hurt my wallet I need to finish my Senn 650 v Beyer 880 comparison but unless I fall on my head the Senn 650 will be staying. So very soon it'll be cable shopping time
post #12 of 147
Thanks for this extensive review. Very informative! I'd so much like to hear Equinox but I think there aren't many of them in Finland.
post #13 of 147
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the positive feedback so far because I really agonized over this thing. I wanted to be as accurate and fair to the different cables as I could, so I ended up including a lot of background information and notes to show the basis for my impressions and opinions. None of what I say is meant to be definitive truths, and different ears, different setups, and different preferences will lead others to different conclusions.

Originally Posted by JaZZ
I can't reproduce the bass inaccuracy you're describing, but wish it had a slightly leaner bass. And I wish I knew which cable is the most accurate and neutral; despite my current alienation the Zu Mobius is still one of the hottest candidates for this title (IMO), together with the Silver Dragon, my current favorite.

It's important to consider that your test was made with removed foam pads on your HD 650. In original state the results may very well have been quite different, as briefly hinted by yourself, especially in view of the Zu Mobius' qualities which may be underrated in this configuration -- which brightens the sound to a degree and in a way I personally dont find favorable.

Nevertheless, I'd like to try Equinox and RnB; on the other hand, I already have enough HD-650 cables...
JaZZ--I have read your various threads and posts on 650 cables with great interest and your thoughts on the Silver Dragon have fueled my interest in the Moon cables. In comparison to the Equinox and GraceFiveTwo, I really found the Zu bass to be less accurate and less detailed. But, the other two cables have a less weighty bass presence, which would turn off many listeners, but it is their somewhat airier presentation of bass that may allow the more distinct separation that I hear. That said, I do not intend to sell my Zu because I still like its sound for certain music and just as an alternative.

My Equinox is currently on loan to PFKMan23 to return the favor of his loaner GraceFiveTwo, but I would be willing to send that cable on a little European tour if there is interest. You, Patu, and saint.panda all have expressed the same interest. We might be able to get someone to loan a GraceFiveTwo and send them around together. I have read somewhere about similar Head-Fi product testing tours. If any of you are interested, get in touch through PM to get that going. I would like to hear all of your impressions after trying out these alternatives.
post #14 of 147
Very exhaustive and informative review. Great job - great reading!

I agree with you in basically everything you wrote about the Equinox and the GFT. They are both very good cables and I have considerable difficulties in deciding which to have attached. Lately, I have grown into the opinion it is simply a matter of taste. Technically, or Hi-Fi wise, they are equal IMO.

The joyful character, as I choose to call it, of the GFT is hard to resist. The Equinox is more collected and draws much on the composed character of the HD650. Actually, as many have said, I think the Equinox is what the stock should have been. The Equinox does not change anything particular in the sound in comparison to the stock. It is just better. The GFT does add something, or more correctly, exposes something. You described it as a slightly forward mid range, and I too think that pretty much is what it is about. Mind you, the GFT is not a forward cable: The joyful character is subtle in its manifestation, but nonetheless, destinct.

The Equinox is in this respect slightly, well, boring actually, in lack of a better word, and that is IMO one of the very few negative traits of the Equinox: It lacks the "glow" of the stock. The stock has an intimate aura, which make, among other things, your favourite singer's voice your heart beat a little faster . Some would probably call it certain warmth. The Equinox, being way better than the stock over all, lacks that IMO. The GFT has it, but in a different way by simply, then perhaps, a slight mid range energy enhancement. It is not the same thing.
post #15 of 147
Originally Posted by Voltron
My Equinox is currently on loan to PFKMan23 to return the favor of his loaner GraceFiveTwo, but I would be willing to send that cable on a little European tour if there is interest. You, Patu, and saint.panda all have expressed the same interest. We might be able to get someone to loan a GraceFiveTwo and send them around together. I have read somewhere about similar Head-Fi product testing tours. If any of you are interested, get in touch through PM to get that going. I would like to hear all of your impressions after trying out these alternatives.
The GFT and the Equinox will be present at the Dutch meet in February.
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