There are over a dozen aftermarket headphone cable makers known on the market today. While most of the popular brands steal the top positions when it comes to popularity and design schematics, sometimes the underdog can reign as the new champion in the world. Toxic Cables have done just that, they’ve managed to make a superior sounding and well built cable coupled with a very affordable price. The Viper is one of those cables that makes you re-think what is possible in an under $100 cable.
Toxic Cables have a few different design schemes in place when it comes to the look, build, and feel of each cable. My Viper arrived in a naked sleeve (which is one of my favorite looks) but can also be ordered in a nylon sleeve and woven wired tight to the cable to give it that winded look. The Viper, being SPC, is one of the coolest and simplest looking cables that I have ever tested. The 26 AWG wire is perfect for a simple desktop setup and doesn’t interfere with anything. While I personally like the look of bulky cables, the small diameter size of the Viper really looks good in any system, and stands out among the crowd when it comes to the silver gleam that the Viper seems to give off in the right light.The actual build quality of the Viper is absolutely fantastic, and that’s putting it into a simple, easy to read statement.
The minute details of the Viper show a lot throughout the perimeter of the wire and parts, and feature some of the most well known DIY parts known to cable makers. The ViaBlue quarter inch plug is used by many cable makers and despite being quite expensive, is easily one of the best built and modern looking plugs. The matte finish is solid to the touch, and the gold plating is very durable, with a high amount of shine and tackiness (in terms of the gold adhering to the actual plug itself). The connectors seem to be made by Cardas (at least that’s where the majority of Sennheiser HD6XX plugs come from) and are kept perfectly in place by Toxic Cables branding on the sides of the connectors, which can also be seen on the cable splitter and on the termination end of things.
The Viper has all the usual characteristics of a pure silver cable. In a nutshell, the Viper is bright (which becomes tamed after a few days of burn in), extremely well extended on both ends of the spectrum, very sparkly, and a transient response that is to die for. I’ve always felt as if though silver cables seem to lack a bit when it comes to the lower end of the spectrum, and that same statement can be said for the Viper. It’s certainly not a downside, as Toxic Cables makes a copper cables, but silver tends to be a lot less meaty than copper. The low end still has the same amount of surge as a stock cable, but with a little bit more speed and agility in the attack and decay response of the notes. The midrange seems to be a little less full than what I would like (I love a lush and coherent midrange presence), but the Viper soars in both clarity and vocal pronunciation. Again, if you want a little more meat and body, go with a pure copper cable, but you’ll be loosing out on the clarity and detail retrieval.
When you start to enter into the top frequencies, the Viper tends to soar yet again, with treble sparkle and detail retrieval being off the hook. The Viper can simply be described as one of the most cold (in a good way), detailed, and most brutally revealing cables that I have ever tested for the Sennheiser HD650. If you were to compare it to something like the Whiplash Audio TWag V2 HD650 cable, which is three times the price, you’d notice that the Viper soars in detail, but lacks in body, and that’ll be a personal preference among people. It’s comparing apples to oranges, detail versus warmth. Lastly, I feel as if the Viper has a superior soundstage and imaging experience. The depth of the HD650 is doubled, and the width seems to expand both left and right ever so slightly, and seem to have much more layering and proper instrumental separation than a pure copper cable.
I have yet to hear a silver cable as detailed and revealing as the Viper from Toxic Cables. At such a small price, it’s easily one of the best values available on the headphone cable aftermarket today. The build, sonics, and price are totally unparalleled by that of higher end cables, and that includes some of the highest and biggest players in the game like ALO Audio and Double Helix Cables. Toxic Cables may one day take the crown as the most affordable and best cable manufactures of this century.
Edited by Austin Morrow - 5/30/12 at 12:28pm