Here is my review the AudioMinor Copper + Silver wire braided LOD cable for all iDevices.
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WHY NOW: I have a habit of only reviewing gear that I like, or have a use for. After my CablePro Reverie and EarCandy Lite line out dock (LOD) review over 2 years ago I thought I was done reviewing these cables, because I had everything I needed with my top of the line Reverie, TWag and Piccolino LOD's, but I was wrong. The problem is that these are all expensive LOD's, ranging from $120 - $250 each, but I keep getting asked for recommendations for more affordable LOD.
I stopped buying LOD cables just like I stopped buying portable amps and DACs when I had the ones I was happy with. After owning better, I just didn't think that my assorted $50-60 LOD cables made by various head-fi members and eBay'ers had the same transparency and micro-detail as my favorite but more costly LOD cables. More expensive doesn't always mean better sounding, but switching from my nicer docks to the budget ones left me feeling that something was missing. I've actually sold off most of the budget LOD since then, to help those forum members who needed help finding an affordable LOD. How was I supposed to recommend those to people with a tighter budget?
But not long ago I had a chat with head-fi user compicat (Bogac Tekman) who runs the website http://www.audiominor.com (eBay store) and builds copper and silver combination line out docks for $54.99, which in the past would normally cost over $100. So, I was interested to try one out and see how this LOD might affect sound, or not. My son is also interested in using an LOD with his iPhone and a small amp where a 90 degree LOD wont work well for his situation - the cable could block the headphone out or hit the volume knob. So, going back to the basic design of an LOD with the wires coming straight out of the bottom fit our needs as well. My Piccolino LOD is made this way, but I'm not handing that over to a 14 year old who might not appreciate it for what it is, so he's been using my EarCandy Lite LOD.
BUILD and FEATURES: Often an LOD at these prices have a compromise and maybe don't work with all iPhones or iPods with speakers, or they use inferior materials. This LOD cable works with all iDevices and is made from two 22 awg 99.999% pure copper and two 24 awg solid silver cables, braided together. Standard length is about 3" but custom lengths can be made. He also uses a Switchcraft 3.5mm gold plated plug, and for an additional $10 you can get this cable as a mini-mini instead of a LOD.
The AudioMinor cable ships insured from Turkey, but I think it took only a week to arrive which was pretty good. Shipping is included in price, which is also pretty remarkable. When I received the LOD I was impressed with the build quality and solid feel to the LOD. This looks and feels similar to my old ALO Audio Jumbo Cryo Silver X LOD - it is fairly stiff and retains the shape that you bend it into for use. It also uses exactly the same 30-pin plug as my stevenkelby built Piccolino LOD. Both ends of the cable have a strain relief where the wire enters the plugs. Later, after the review was done I pulled and tugged on the plugs and they are soldered tightly to the wires and undamaged.
AudioMinor advertises the cable as compatible with ALL iPods, iPhones, and iPads - and I haven't found one that it doesn't work with yet. It seems that the newer iPhone iOS has stopped giving warnings about "item not made for this device" when an LOD is plugged in, and so I don't get any of that with the AudioMinor LOD (nor my old docks anymore).
GEAR: I still consider my Piccolino, Reverie and TWag v1 LODs to be my gold standard against which all others are compared, so I listened to my iPhone 4S with these various LOD through my RSA SR-71b and Pico Slim, using my Westone ES5 since they are extremely revealing IEM. I also used a 3G Nano for comparing to my barqy made silver plated copper LOD and an un-named eBay LOD which don't work on iPhones. I used only lossless ALAC files for my listening, with a variety of audiophile jazz, classical and acoustic recordings.
I also ran about 200 hours of music through the LOD for those who would say my findings were altered by not "burning in" the cable. I self-hypnotised myself into thinking there was a slight opening up of the sound with the first 24 hours of "burn-in", and I'll leave it at that.
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SOUND: Often, when listening to a new piece of gear as the first thing that I try for the day it will sound great, and then I'll switch to a much nicer piece of gear and I will hear only some mild improvements. On the other hand, usually if I listen to the nicer gear first and then I switch to the lesser gear, the differences will feel more dramatic to me. Hearing what I'm losing tends to be more striking to me in a quick back to back comparison. So, I listened to the AudioMinor LOD first, just to get a feel for how pleased I was with the sound, having not been tainted by anything better yet.
Overall the transparency and detail of the music when using the AudioMinor LOD was quite good. I'd listen to entire songs and feel like I could hear every little detail present in my recordings. There is no way to get a quick enough cable change done that would allow me to rapid A/B compare the AudioMinor cable with my other line out docks, as audio memory is short and unreliable. Switching to my Reverie or Piccolino LOD as quickly as I could, after spending a few minutes with the AudioMinor, did not reveal huge improvements.
As best as I could tell, the treble detail and sense of air and space is slightly increased when switching to my $259 CablePro Reverie LOD or my Piccolino LOD. The differences with my TWag v1 LOD were more difficult to ascertain. Listening to entire songs in a row, I did feel that the depth of the music was a little better, and more immersive with these docks costing 4-5x as much, but switching back to the lower priced AudioMinor LOD did not leave me with a sense of disappointment at all. It might just be that last 5% that I'm getting from a higher investment in docks. I didn't hear much of a change in the sonic signature of the source or IEM due to these docks, as much as a better sense of extra micro-detail, space, and information in the background.
I was listening to Jimmy Cobb Quartet "Jazz in the Key of Blue" track 3 "I'll still be in Love with You", and vs my other budget LOD I could hear an improved separation in the background noise when someone is moving or bumping an object in the 1st 30 seconds of the song. With the lesser IEM or LOD it's not as clear when someone is bumping a music stand, and again around 2min 11second into the song I think that something was bumping into the bass guitar and one of the strings of the bass guitar was tapping the fret without plucking the string. This is more difficult to pick up with the other LOD, but not a problem with the AudioMinor LOD or my gold standard line out docks.
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SUMMARY: I think the AudioMinor LOD sounds at least as good as my $120 EarCandy Lite LOD from Cable Pro (now $99). And, it's not far behind a $250 CablePro Reverie or $250 Piccolino LOD from StevenKelby. It has better micro detail than my other $40-80 silver plated copper or silver/copper combo LOD which turned green years ago, so maybe all cables don't sound alike.
If you are looking for an LOD to use with a wide variety of amps on your iDevice, I do think the AudioMinor LOD is an excellent choice, especially at the price. You won't be missing much by not going with a more expensive product, and you'll be able to wring out more from your portable rig without wringing out your wallet in the process.
Manufacturer Notes Below:
Return Policy: If any item is defective, they offer a replacement or refund. Return shipping costs must be paid by buyer.
Shipping: All items are sent insured, via registered airmail from Turkey at no charge. You will be emailed a tracking number with the shipping date. Estimated delivery time is 5-21 business days.