I’ve been lucky enough to have been using the Reference TWag v2 AND TWcu 26 Hybrid IEM replacement cable with my JH16 for quite some time now and I figure it’s about time I share my thoughts on this cable with the rest of the community.
I’ve been meaning to do this review for quite some time. I’ve been busy with exams and had a lot of personal stuff to attend to so it hasn’t been done as soon as I had hoped it would.
I keep getting questions about this cable from a lot of people that are curious about it and I figured I might as well post my initial impressions before I finish the entire review rather than having to explain it several times via PM’s and the alike :-)
I should mention that Whiplash Audio also offer a matching hybrid LOD cable with various termination options.
Most of us already know the company Whiplash Audio. They do the immensely popular TWag cables that many CIEM-owners prefer. While the TWag V2 is a great product it seems Whiplash Audio has not been relaxing as they’ve come out with quite a few exciting products lately. Besides the hybrid cable they also offer a variety of other new IEM cables such as an 8 conductor TWag v2. You can check it all out over at their website.
I’ve dealt with this company several times as a customer and I’ve always been very pleased. I usually have my cables within weeks which is quite impressive considering that they have to make the cable according to my order and then have it shipped it all the way to Denmark. Craig who runs Whiplash Audio is usually quick to respond to e-mails and I’ve always been getting very informative replies.
This new hybrid cable is 8 conductor balanced and utilizes both 26AWG TWag v2 Eclipse silver and 26AWG TWcu 26 copper. More information about this cable can be found on the Whiplash Audio website: http://www.whiplashaudio.com/cables/headphone-cables/reference-twag-v2-and-twcu-26-hybrid-iem-replacement-cable.html
Ergonomics aren’t as superb as they are with the TWag V2 mainly because this cable is a little thicker. It’s also a bit more stiff which makes sense considering there is a lot more going on with 2 different types of cable and 8 conductors. Despite the cable being somewhat less flexible than the TWag V2 (and stock cable for that matter) it could easily be used in a portable setup. I haven’t done it much since I’m still babying the cable quite a bit but the few times I did bring this cable with my out and about the ergonomics weren't a problem at all.
The cable uses memory wire and is quite big at the part that goes over the ears compared to the usual aftermarket cable. Again this is due to the 8 conductor configuration and it’s actually much more comfortable around the ears than it may seem when you’re looking at the photos on the website.
The build quality appears to be very high and the cable comes with overmolded connectors which fit the recessed sockets offered by CIEM manufacturers such as Unique Melody. Of course the cable works with non-recessed sockets such as the ones found on my JH16 as well.
There's quite a generous length down to the Y-split.
I covered this intro in another review of mine as well, but I find that it’s worth placing here as well: Listening for differences when A/B'ing between two cables has its 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 Whiplash Audio Hybrid cable
FLAC --> iPhone 4 --> JH 16 with the Whiplash Audio Hybrid cable
Using the Hybrid cable with my JH16 I find it to be taken to a whole new level of refinement. The soundstage is vastly improved resulting in a much more 3-dimensional sound. I’ve seen the JH16 get bashed quite a lot for its limited soundstage – especially with all the competition it has nowadays and I’ve always agreed on this matter, so I find this improvement to be very valuable.
I have never felt like the JH16 lacked when it came to instrument separation – quite the contrary. It can feel forced at times and the Hybrid cable seems to improve in this regard by adding a bit of coherency between the different levels of the music creating a more realistic musical experience. I had to check a few times to make sure that this was actually what I was hearing as I found it to be quite a large improvement, but I kept hearing this change in presentation. Keep in mind that these are my initial impressions and I plan on updating my review once I’ve been spending even more time with this cable and I’ll make sure to update on this matter.
Bass continues to be fast paced, precise and quite impactful. I hear a slight increase in the amount of bass thickness & depth as well as some added wamth but nothing huge. I’m quite pleased with this as I’ve always loved the bass of the JH16 just the way it is and find these minor improvements to be very enjoyable..
I've said this many times before and I continue to do so as I still find it to be relevant: "expensive" IEM-cables should not be your first upgrade when dealing with custom in-ear monitors. If I had $500 to upgrade for, I would pick up a good portable amp, a good DAP or a good desktop DAC rather than a cable. But once you've got a source & amp you're satisfied with then I feel a cable might be the next natural upgrade. If you’re craving for an upgrade and have the rest of your gear figured out I would highly recommend the hybrid cable. Out of all the aftermarket cables I have been playing around with I feel the Hybrid is by far the best (and most luxurious).
While the hybrid cable most likely will not make your JH5 sound like a JH16 I find it to add a substantial amount to the sonic value of the JH16. I highly recommend the Hybrid cable for the JH16-owner who has the money to spare and is looking for a very premium aftermarket cable. The hybrid cable has rapidly become my “go-to” cable.
Edited by Staal - 7/26/12 at 11:22am