Overview: Amp City’s pure silver Fortis Cables are a durable, stylish, well-designed choice for those looking for an upgrade for their custom iem cables. Particularly after about 125 hours use, they provide a clearly audible improvement in detail over stock copper cables. At £140 for a 50” cable, these come at a highly competitive price and with an all-silver design you can trust. For those looking to get the very best level of detail from their custom in-ear monitors, Fortis Cables are excellent in terms of price/performance.
Introduction: Whether for professional musicians or audiophiles, custom in-ear monitors are a way to get the best sound combined with the best fit and sound isolation. Once you move up to customs, there are a number of other upgrades, such as aftermarket cables, available. Compared to stock cables, these cables often are made of different or higher quality metals, such as pure silver, or copper/silver alloy and boast better stereo jacks. People debate about whether these really offer any improvement to the sound. Well, this review is about how I went about hearing the difference between my custom iem, the Futuresonics MG6Pro, using its stock copper cable and the new Fortis pure silver cable.
History: My interest in pure silver cables started after I bought my custom iems. I wanted to bring out their very best and a custom cable seemed like the way to go. However, there were several choices in terms of oxygen free coppers and various ways of covering the copper with silver, etc. The whole issue made me interested in the idea of what a truly pure silver cable would sound like. I also decided I needed to work with someone I could trust. It just so happened that I knew the man who makes cables for Amp City. At the time, I bought an earlier version of a pure silver cable from him and haven’t looked back. He later contacted me about reviewing his newest pure silver cable for Amp City, which leads me to the disclaimer.
Disclaimer: As I mentioned, I bought an earlier version of a pure silver cable directly from the man who makes the Fortis Cable for Amp City. The Fortis I’m reviewing was sent for free. I think it’s important for reviewers to mention how they’ve gotten their products and if there is any conflict of interest. I’m not selling these cables myself or anything and Amp City has made it clear that the only thing they want from me is the most honest review I can give. That sounds pretty good to me, so let’s look at their Fortis cable.
Description and Appearance: This is a beautiful silver cable, with four braids below the Y-spilt and two above to each ear. They are made from stranded silver. The cable is terminated in a single-ended mini Viablue jack. I should note here that I was given the option of a different jack. If you want to run with a balanced amp, you can do that with a Fortis Cable, just let the folks at Amp City know before you buy. The Fortis is a lot thicker than the stock Westone ES copper cable and so it’s less tightly coiled and less easy to store away. With the stock cable, I was able to use a small pouch for storage. With the Fortis, I use an otterbox for both customs and cables—which is a better idea anyway as it is a lot better protection.
Amp City also offers a LOD uses a similar looking pure silver cable and a larger viablue jack. Again, you have the option of a different jack for an amp that runs balanced. There is also a low-profile pure silver-cabled LOD available (I’ll include it in the pictures so you have an idea of what it looks like).
The happy family, Fortis cable with full size LOD and low-profile LOD
Build and durability: This is a big issue as nobody wants to spend extra for a cable that falls apart. Guess which part of an in-ear monitor is most likely to fail? That’s right, it’s the cable. Well, I’ve used the Fortis as my main cable for two and a half months. That means the subway almost every day. The Fortis has held up excellently. It’s really quite well made, I’m happy with the quality. There’s an optional protective sheathing available as well. I would say that if you’re going to buy customs, it would be crazy to mistreat them or their cables. Treat them right and these cables are built to last.
Sound: Okay, here’s the fun part. First, I’ll give a basic overview of the sound after 125 hours playtime. Then, I’ll describe how I went about comparing silver Fortis Cables with the stock copper Westone ES which comes with JH, Westone, Futuresonics, and many other custom iems.
Overview: The pure silver Fortis Cable’s main improvement is in clarity. Some of the warmth which can fuzz over your music is cleared away and you hear all the details. There’s better extension in the bass and treble and the midrange seems more precise in its tone. Music sounds a little more real, a little less colored and I feel like the Fortis helps bring out the most from my custom iems. That’s not to say that the copper stock cables are bad, you may even like their added warmth, but I found the Fortis to be a very nice complement to the sound I wanted.
Gear: I should describe the other parts of my portable set-up. I have the Futuresonics MG6Pro, which uses a 13mm dynamic driver with a variable vent system for low-frequency response. I ran them out of a TTVJ Slim amp and a 5.5 gen ipod classic.
Comparison and Burn-in: Let’s talk about burn-in. A lot of people don’t believe that running a new set of cables (or anything, really) has any effect on their sound. That’s okay, just read carefully! Basically, I notice that it’s easiest to tell the difference between two different pieces of audio gear if my ears have become accustomed to one over a long period of time and then I switch to the other. So, here’s what I did:
First: I directly compared the old silver cable (which has 100s of hours on it) to the new Fortis silver cable. I also listened to the stock copper cable for a few days and then compared the new Fortis silver cable to it.
Second: I went back to the stock copper cable for another week. While I was listening to the stock copper cable, I let the Fortis play at medium high volume for most of those days on another player in a drawer, out of sight, out of ear.
Third: I again compared the stock copper cable with silver Fortis Cable which now had about 125 hours playtime. I then took some time with the Fortis and later compared it to the old silver cable.
Please note that any differences I heard occurring are not due simply to becoming acclimated to the Fortis’ sound as I didn’t listen very long to the Fortis when it was new, just enough to compare it to the stock copper cable and the old silver cable. I let the Fortis play for about 125hrs in a drawer before going back to it.
Between my old pure silver cable and the pure silver Fortis Cable: When the Fortis was brand new, it didn’t have the full clarity of the old. This was particularly noticeable to me in the mid and treble range. After the 125hr period, the two cables were difficult to distinguish.
Between the stock copper cable and the pure silver Fortis Cable: When the Fortis was new, there was a clearly audible difference in clarity in the mid-bass range. The Fortis was also a bit less warm. Other than that, the differences were relatively slight (disappointingly so). After 125hrs, the differences were much more apparent. There was a clear improvement in detail at all ranges. While I don’t want to overstate the following differences, keep in mind that they are cumulative. The bass extends deeper and has a more textured feel, while the copper has a bit more punch, to my ears. The midrange sounds less warm, with better clarity and more precise reproduction of instruments’ tone. The sense of spaciousness in the music (soundstage) seems improved as well in both size and placement. The copper cable may also be accentuating the mid-range warmth of the amp I am using, the TTVJ Slim. The treble has more clarity and sparkle with the Fortis.
Conclusion: The pure silver Fortis is a clear improvement in sound than the stock copper cable that comes with many custom iems—and the difference is in the improved details (and extension and soundstage, etc.). When it comes to cables, if I had to choose again, the Fortis is the one I would go with both in terms of a high quality product and an excellent value when compared with other silver cables on the market. I’m happy with it and I think you will be too.
Amp City UK's page for the Fortis is:
Edited by Kunlun - 5/20/12 at 6:39pm