Hello fellow Head-fiers! This is a review I just posted up on my blog and I thought I would share it on the forum too. Let me know what you think.
After perusing Head-fi for months, I finally decided to order from Null Audio Studios even though there wasn't too many reviews on the cable, the feedback that I gathered is that the cable is definitely worth the upgrade. I browsed the website for a couple of days before deciding to pull the trigger on the cable.
I did some further research and found that many people were not satisfied with Null Audio's customer service. The consensus seemed to be that the cables took forever to ship and communication was lacking. I'm a patient person so I waited over a week before contacting Null Audio about the status of my order. A day later, I received an automated message from Null Audio that my order has shipped. Great!
I waited some more and never got a tracking number until another week goes by. The website updated with a tracking number for DHL. After many attempts to look up the tracking number on DHL's site, I realized that the number might not be for DHL. I did some more research and found out that the tracking number is actually for USPS. Feeling a bit more reassured after finding that my package actually shipped, I waited another two weeks until the cable landed in my possession.
Overall, the buying experience wasn't too horrible but I can see why people would be apprehensive about dropping over a hundred dollars on a cable to not have clear, timely communication with Null Audio. I know Kevin at Null Audio is swamped with orders but there should really be better communication. If there are delays, please let the customer know. My Lune cable was shown on the website as shipping in 3-5 days but I waited much longer than that.
Would I buy from Null Audio again? I'm not sure.
When I received the cable, I was pleasantly surprised that I received something that I didn't order. The website and the pictures showed that the Lune Cable would ship with a Pailiccs straight plug. Instead, my cable came with a much nicer ViaBlue straight 1/8" plug. I love the ViaBlue plug because it feels super durable and I love the gold on black color scheme. It probably doesn't enhance the audio quality any but it's a nice, albeit unexpected, upgrade.
The cable itself seems very sturdy with the multifilamant nylon sleeve. The Y connector where the left and right channels meet seems very sturdy as well with solid plastic and shrink wrap over it. The only thing about this cable that gives me pause about its build quality is the ultra thin gauge cable for the left and right channels. Only time will tell if this cable will hold up. I wish that the cable was outfitted with some flexible shrink wrap to prevent it from snagging on things. I have been using this cable for the past 4 days and everything seems find and the cable hasn't disintegrated yet. Only time will tell if it will last.
The connectors that go into my Ultimate Ears Triplefi 10 are very solid and stay plugged in. The connectors do not wrap all the way around the connection terminals like the stock cable so it looks a bit awkward being exposed but I don't mind it too much.
I was surprised by how comfortable this cable is. Although I gripe about the tiny gauge wire used for the left and right channels, it makes the cable extremely lightweight and comfortable. I listen to my UEs at work for almost 7 hours a day and this cable is much less fatiguing than the stock cable, which tend to pinch the tops of my ears. The hooks for your ears are made of a flexible silicone tubing, not memory wire like the stock cable. I like this better as I don't have to shape the wire myself. The hooks are also angled in a way that seemed strange to me at first but ultimately made sense. The hooks seem to angle themselves perpendicular of where I would expect them to but this forces the cable to touch the side of your head, reducing microphonics and reducing the weight of the cable.
Speaking of microphonics, I get a strange "twangy" sound from the exposed cables from the left and right channels when I move around a bit. It doesn't bother me much but the sound is quite strange. It reminds me of flexible metal being shaken.
Although my portable rig is modest, I still experienced significant differences in sound quality. My gear is as follows:
Source: iPhone 4 with all ALAC encoded songs.
iBasso CB07 Line out dock connector/AW Audio Gold Dragon LOD (they sound identical)
iBasso T3 headphone amp
Null Audio Lune Cable (Black)
Ultimate Ears Triplefi 10
I was immediately impressed with the difference this cable made to the sound quality of my songs. I will break down the differences in specific songs that I am very familiar with.
Pink Martini - "No Hay Problema"
The immediate difference I heard from the Null Audio Lune cable over the stock UE cable is the quality of the bass. Bass impact and extension both improved. Percussion hit harder and deeper. I also noticed that imaging of the instruments were easier to picture with my eyes closed. The stock cable made it difficult to picture the position of individual instruments. I suspect that the ease of imaging has to do with the increase sound stage depth the Lune cable gives my Ultimate Ears. On this song, the highs seems unchanged but remained vivid airy. Instrument separation was also much better with the Lune cable.
Pink Martini - "Autrefois"
Whoa. The slam of the opening percussion immediately grabbed me. I never heard my Ultimate Ears create so much bass impact before. The vocals on this track seemed a bit brighter than the stock cable but not overly bright. I find the Triplefi 10s to be very forgiving, not exhibiting any sibilance at all. The vocals of China Forbes were effortless and slightly more forward in presentation than the stock cable. Again, I was very impressed with the increased sound stage and depth that the Null Audio Lune cable gave to this track.
Vladimir Ashkenazy and the London Symphony Orchestra - "Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3"
I was curious how much this cable would affect classical music. While more subtle, differences still presented themselves from the stock cable. The first thing that I noticed was the increase in sound stage. The piano seemed more forward in presentation while the orchestra seemed more in the background. This created a more realistic acoustic space like I was in a concert hall. The Lune cable gave great instrument separation here as well and helped to expose micro details within the track. I was spooked by the level of detail that I heard from this track that I have never heard before though my Ultimate Ears. I could hear members of the orchestra shifting around, page turns, and the breathing of Ashkenazy, which seemed right up against my face. I could heard the clicking of the valves on brass instruments and the basses extended deeper and were more dynamic than before, but not overwhelmingly so. I also heard the slap of the strings more vividly than I could with the stock cable.
Norah Jones - "Turn Me On"
The bass drum hit harder and pop of the drums sounded more upfront. The strings of the bass vibrating against its neck were more vivid and punchy, cutting off immediately instead of lingering in the air. Jones' vocals were silky smooth and effortless. The cymbals seem to sizzle just a bit more than the stock cable.
I am very impressed with the audio quality gains that this cable has provided. I feel I have reached the full potential of my Ultimate Ears. I'm glad that the bottle neck of the stock cable is gone. I am a little apprehensive about the build quality of the cable but only time will tell whether or not it will last. I sure hope it does because it makes my iPhone and iBasso T3 sing. Although the customer service from Null Audio Studio can be hit or miss, if you're patient, you will not regret ordering from them. I hope they can get their delays and customer communication sorted out as they make a fantastic product.