First off, please forgive me. My very first post / review in Head-fi of the cables I got from Charleston Cable Company was much, much too long and really without enough relevant information to be worth the 20 minute read. I may have been a little over enthusiastic about the whole idea and together with having some time on my hands made for, I think, an agonizingly long and rambling review...
Still, I really do want to tell everyone about this great, independent cable maker and the great new cable he sent me to try out, so I'll try this again...
Charleston Cable Company is really a guy named Chris who has a nice Ebay store and offers custom analog cable solutions for headphones and interconnects of all types. I understand he may soon be offering AC power cables as well. I am still pretty new to Head-fi and in the process of getting my system built up. At the time I was really just looking for something a little better than the stock cable for my K702s and stumbled across CCC's Ebay listing for a Cardas headphone cable at a very reasonable price. If you have time to read my aforementioned review of Chris' great, custom products and you are in the market for a new leash, or some RCA intercons, it may well be worth your time.
This latest offering is something new that CCC has put together, evidently designed to compete directly with the big kids like ALO and some of their excellent - and high priced - headphone cables. The K702 cable Chris sent me uses Auric high purity copper wire in a typical braided configuration. It has a Neutric (or maybe Switchcraft) 3-pin mini XLR on the "headphone end" and top of the line gold plated Furutech 1/4" on the other. Everything is perfectly done, neatly braided and appropriately shrink wrapped in all the right places. This is a really nice cable and while I haven't held the ALO equivalent in my hand it would be hard to imaging anyone could do much better than this at any price.
I am comparing this to my other Charleston K702 cable, a custom job using high end Cardas cable and the same high quality connectors. I am using a PS Audio Digital Link III DAC feeding a Burson HA-160 amp. Source is an iPad with Home Sharing streaming wireless from iTunes into the DAC via the "bit perfect" camera connector scheme, which works exceedingly well IMHO.
In my previous "review" of the Cardas cable compared to the stock K702 leash, I tried to articulate the subtle (but definite) improvements in SQ which, for a noob like me without a huge "audio vocabulary" wasn't as easy as I'd imagined. Now I'm trying it again with an even better cable and it hasn't gotten much easier in the intervening weeks. Versus the stock cable, the big difference with the Cardas cable seemed to be, simply detail. I couldn't pick up a dramatic improvement in either the bass or in the very high frequencies, it was just the actual image just seemed to become more clear. I guess I would say the soundstage improved, in depth mostly, with the Cardas cable, but it was more than just that. There was an overall improvement in clarity, which probably is due to some improvement in the far high end, despite my not being able to quite put my finger on it.
With this new "Auric" cable, this gets quite a bit easier! There is a DEFINITE improvement in the bass regions which is the most obvious and immediate improvement. This isn't so subtle and while I thought this headphone/amp/DAC setup was pretty bass competent, this new cable really brings everything [down] to another level. I truly wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't heard it for myself. The difference is so profound, in fact, that I would again be quite comfortable submitting to a blind AB/X with this Auric cable somewhere in the system. When I try to further define what I'm talking about here my weak vocabulary starts to show again, but I would use words like layered, PRat (don't know the exact meaning, but I think I'm close here), clean and tight, and, of course, controlled. Bottom line - if you want your cans' bass performance to be all it can be, you really need to try this cable!
I've read before that silver is in fact the "silver bullet" if you want to wring the most out of the high end, high freq detail your system and cans has to offer. Maybe so, but this Auric cable definitely brings some benefits over the stock cable on the other end as well. It's a little less overt and in your face and is basically in line with the improvements the Cardas cable has to offer. It is still there though, without a doubt and it's still something your stock cable will have a very hard time keeping up with. Personally, I will go back to calling it an improvement in "clarity", rather than in the high treble, because I don't think my ears are quite golden enough to really sense any additional change up in the 15 - 20KHz range. Doesn't matter. Both of these cables sound a h**l of a lot better than the stock - which isn't really bad, either - and for the price, you can't beat this with a stick...please pardon the pun
When it's all said and done, Charleston Cable Company is well worth your time to check out if you're looking for some very nice cables, custom made to your needs (or preferences) and typically priced somewhere around HALF what the big boys are charging for what I have to think is a very comparable product. I guess anyone could sit around splitting hairs over details like cryo treated Cu vs plain ol' OCC or OFC and what percentage of PTFE or what have you in the insulation make up. At the end of the day, I just want a high quality, good looking and great sounding cable for my expensive cans and components and Charleston Cable Company really delivers on that point.
Do yourself a favor and look 'em up on Ebay. If there's something you want that isn't listed there, I'll just bet Chris would be more than happy to talk to you about it and come up with something you'll be happy with.
Good sound to you!
-The Texas Trader