I've been spending quite a lot of time with the "Scorpion" IEM cable by Toxic Cables lately and this is my review
While Toxic Cables appears to have been in business for quite some time producing cables for various high-end full-size headphones it was only recently they got into the IEM cable market. Toxic Cables is run by Frank (who is a real nice guy by the way) and the cables are nothing short of gorgeous.
You can check out their website over at http://toxic-cables.co.uk/
While the pictures below aren't relevant to my review per se I felt I'd show off some of the beautiful IEM cables made by this company.
The Current Lineup (& pricing)
Toxic Cables offer various IEM cables ranging from copper to silver with a small percentage of gold. Below is a quote from Frank explaining the different cables and mentioning the current promotional pricing.
They also offer a variety of terminations such as TRRS, iBasso, Oyaide rhodium (RA and straight), Oyaide gold (RA and straight) and many more.
I've been using a 24AWG version of the "Scorpion", which is the copper version. Do note that the pictures below of my cable to do not represent the final version fully as future cables will come with clear overmolded connectors rather than the black ones.
Ergonomics are well above average with my only concern being that the cable is a bit large which might very well be due to the fact that I've been using the 24AWG version. It's not huge by any means, merely larger than your average stock cable.
Rather than using memory wire the cable utilizes a "pre-bent" part of the cable that keeps the cable in place snuggly around the ear. It works rather well and reminds me of the solution used by Beat Audio on the Thor cable.
The build quality seems very high and the cable comes with overmolded connectors which fit the recessed sockets offered by Unique Melody and others. Of course the cable works with non-recessed sockets such as the one found on my JH16 as well.
There's a generous length down to the y-split which I find quite comfortable and the wooden ball slider looks quite cool.
Also, the length seems to be quite generous as well. I haven't had the change to measure, but it's definitely longer than both my stock cables and my TWag V2 (48"). This is lovely and while I'm not giant (a mere 185cm / a bit more than 6 ft) I often find myself wishing for other cables to be just a little longer.
Listening for differences when A/B'ing between two cables has it's obvious elements of pointlessness. I know there are quite a few cable skeptics out there and proving that cables make a noticeable difference would be quite tricky if not impossible. Despite the fact that I have been A/B'ing with other cables I always know which one I am using which might obviously cause a placebo effect to some extent. Therefore, take my thoughts on the sound with the JH16 with a grain of salt - I find differences to be present and I'm sure others will too - despite the fact that they may indeed be psychological for the most part. Either way, as long as it sounds better to my ears I usually find various stuff to be worth paying for.
I've been doing my listening with my JH16 using the following setups:
FLAC --> Yulong D100 (fed via optical) --> JH16 with the Scorpion cable
FLAC --> iPhone 4 --> JH 16 with the Scorpion cable
FLAC --> RoCoo-BA --> JH 16 with the Scorpion cable
Sonically it seemed the overall musical presentation became a bit more full and thick while also adding a bit of smoothness to the otherwise quite ruthless JH16. To my ears a bit of warmth was added which is definitely a plus when dealing with the JH16 that many find a bit too analytic and clinical in the mid and top notes. What I'm hearing when I use the Scorpion is also a bit more depth to the soundstage which is where the JH16 really lacks compared to it's (now many) competitors in this price range. I wouldn't say the change is huge or obvious but I if I listen closely I find it to be present and actually worthy of the upgrade.
I've said this many times before and I feel like I need to do it again: "expensive" IEM-cables should not be your first upgrade when dealing with custom in-ear monitors. If I had $200 to upgrade for, I would pick up a good portable amp or even a cheap DAC rather than a cable. But once you've got a DAC & amp you're satisfied with I feel a cable might be the natural upgrade - and this appears to be a good one as that. The "Scorpion" is certainly able to hold it's own against other cables such as the Beat Audio Thor (which reminded me a lot of this one) and a Twisted Cables SPC-one I have lying here (although it's quite different)
While I would definitely recommend this cable to fellow JH16 owners, I can't help but wonder if the JH16 would benefit more from either the SPC or the pure silver w/ gold cables. I guess I'll need to pick some up to find out!
The connectors fit perfectly with my JH16.
I'm actually a bit sad that they're phasing out the black connectors as they go so well with my solid black CIEMs.
Scorpion left, TWag V2 middle, UE stock CIEM cable right
Scorpion bottom/middle, TWag V2 middle/bottom, UE stock CIEM cable top
TWag V2 left, Scorpion middle, UE stock cable middle/bottom
IEM cables from Toxic Cables now ship with 2 bands. They're pretty neat!
Edited by Staal - 7/9/12 at 12:10pm