This is my first after market cable for a full size phone, and while I have had some experience with after market cables for IEM’s, this is kind of a new world for me. Actually the full size headphone world is kind of new to me since I got the HD650 a year ago. But from there I have been going with the upgraditis pretty quick, and I have seen myself getting the W3000 Anv, the HD800 and a desktop rig which includes the Yulong D18 DAC, Violectric V200 and the Mjolnir amps.
So bear in mind the only cables I am familiar with are the stock cables of the W300, the HD650, and my beloved HD800. So it was a matter of time for me to start looking for a good aftermarket cable for my HD800. I consider myself as someone neutral regarding after market cable benefits. But to my ears they could make a difference to the sound, but not such a difference as to completely upgrade or change the sound profile of a headphone.
I would like to add that I’m not an expert on writing reviews…I don’t have a lot of experience with audio equipment and I don’t have the knowledge and skills of some of the more experienced Head Fiers. I write this as a fan of headphones and music.
So as son as I decided I want it to try an aftermarket cable I started reading the forums in search of good alternatives. My first priority was to find a cable that could help me tame the sometimes harsh treble of the HD800 and the easy listening fatigue I was getting with them. But since I really love the sound profile of the HD800, and I’m addicted to how clear and detailed it is with a 3D soundstage.
I was ready to pull the trigger with the Zana 22 gauge OCC cable after Reading some users feedback…they seemed to be the perfect alternative in order to get rid of the shrillness of the phones while adding some push to the bottom end which I thought sometimes was lacking (even though I tend to dislike bassy phones). I was willing to sacrifice some detail in order to have a warmer sound.
After reading some impressions in this forum I also got interested on the Bellatone Reference Balanced Cable so I contacted Phil from Bellatone, who was very responsive to all my queries and explained in depth the concept behind his cables.
After giving it some thought and backed with a gut feeling I was making the right decision (I was lucky to got a promotional price) I pull the trigger and got the top of the line cable from the newly developed Bellatone cables.
I had a very good experience on communicating with Phil, and he was very proactive on keeping me on the loop with the status of my cable.
I have to say one of the things I really like about this cable i show gorgeous it looks. It feels exclusive, well build and it really matches perfectly with the HD800. The package presentation was very nice and I felt I had a very luxurious product in my hands when I received.
The cable has a silver nylon sleeve, which looks very classy and completely outclasses the HD800 stock cable in terms of looks. There is not a single flaw on the cable construction and it uses a Neutrik plug (I went with the 4 pin plug and a TRS adaptor in order to be able to use the cable with the V200 or any other SE amp).
The cable is very light and flexible, which for me is an important factor Since I hate bulky cables.
The same day I received the cable I also got the D18 Dac so I decided to not use the DAC in order to be able to determine the difference vs. the stock cable without any other new component, which could bias my perception.
As soon as I changed the cable it was immediately clear to me that there was a difference in sound. I spent the whole night listening to different genres from jazz to pop, rock, classical, etc.
This cable really refines the HD800 highs, and it allows me to hear details I didn’t hear before without any hint of coloration. The harshness that bothered me before is almost gone without changing the sound profile of the HD800. The cable does not make the HD800 warm at all. It preserves its sound characteristics but you are able to get a better sense of the music from top to bottom. The bass also is more detailed while giving the sound a strong coherence while having a large and natural soundstage.
Everytime I changed to the stock cable I start to get the bothersome peaks of the highs and the whole sound feels more congested and less detailed.
Finally I would like to thank Phil for giving me this awesome cable along with a top-notch package and customer service. If you are looking to upgrade your HD800 cable I strongly encourage you to include the Reference cable into your options.