Toxic Cables – Viper IEM Cable (A Short Review)
Those of you who are aware of ‘’Toxic Cables’’ will know that they have started to make quite a name for themselves of late by producing very high quality Headphone Cables. They are a young company fronted by a very enthusiastic audiophile by the name of Frank. I have known Frank for a little while and I do own a couple of his Silver Poison Cables for both my LCD-2 and HE-6. However I am not affiliated in any way shape or form.
Frank has a passion for decent sounding cable and now he has gained a name within the market place for manufacturing high quality products. He has his very own specifications of various types of wire (Copper, Silver Plated Copper and Pure Silver) manufactured for him. This wire is available for the DIY crowd out there by the foot via Frank’s website. Being able to buy wire and cables like this is a bit of a wow for those of us based in the UK because previously if we wanted wire like this or an aftermarket cable made from similar quality materials we had to order from across the pond which comes with all sorts of financial implications.
I have tried and tested a fair few IEM’s both universal and custom and after many years of searching for the Holy Grail I am in a happy place and not presently look for upgrades from my Westone ES5 (Custom) or W4 (Universal). I am however a believer in cables making a difference and have been a long time user of a Moon Audio Silver Dragon IEM cable (Hirose balanced for iBasso PB-2) for my ES5’s but I’m not here to do a direct comparison the Silver Dragon.
Frank sent me a prototype of his new Silver Plated Copper IEM cable (The Viper). It’s an apt name for this cable because it has certainly bitten hard… I’ve had it for a while and have spent many, many hours listening and making notes but I’m not used to writing reviews, Frank just knows I have an ear for quality and wanted an unbiased view from your everyday Joe, so please excuse my terminology or writing style (or lack of).
First off, anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that I’m a fussy git regarding Aesthetics. I won’t go into the detail but I am anal about quality. The Viper does not disappoint, it is beautifully crafted, it is supple, flexible and just has a lovely quality look and feel. I don’t actually know what these will retail at but it is very, very high quality and I wouldn’t expect it to be a budget option. Anyone serious about a quality upgrade (especially those in the UK) should give this cable some serious consideration.
I asked Frank to terminate mine with a Hirose balanced connector for testing for use with my iBasso DB2/PB2 rig. I do have a matching single ended adapter on route but for clarity, all tests were done in fully balanced mode as this is the mode/signature I am most familiar with. I don’t know if I believe in burn in but there are a few peeps who believe that using a cable over an extended period rids the cable of artefacts resulting in an improved SQ. Like I say I’m not sure if this is true but I usually leave a new cable playing for a few hours just in case.
In terms of sound quality it was immediately noticeable that the Viper has an openness and clarity that is rare. I don’t mean more noticeable high frequencies I mean that other cables seem almost veiled in comparison. I am a fan of SPC anyway as it always seems to somehow get the best of both elements, the warmth and lush sound of pure copper coupled with the sparkle and air associated with pure silver. Anyone familiar with high end tube amps will know that with the right phones they somehow manage to sound lush, warm, hugely expansive but still retrieve amazing levels of sparkling detail and resolution. It can be a magical experience when you find that sweet spot. If I had to make an analogy I guess it would have to be that the Viper and the DB2/PB2 CLAS combination are as close as I’ve come to that tubey sweet spot in a portable/transportable rig. It’s a truly amazing cable both in terms of aesthetics and sound quality. It sounds lush, deep but wide open with amazing resolution and retreival of micro details. This cable is a must especially for ES5 owners out there, nothing comes close in terms of listening enjoyment or musicality it’s serious improvement over stock and a notable improvement over the quite brilliant Silver Dragon.