Originally Posted by pataburd
Preliminary Impressions of the FiiO RC MH1 v. Pipeline ET-4
Put the RC MH1 into the system, cold, straight out-of-the-bag: EVS-modded Sony BDP-S780|SoundSilver Trilogy IC|Fitz-improved Bada PH-12 w/1x GE 6SN7GTA--great driver tube for the Bada & 2x Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB (tall bottle)|RC MH1|ML Mikros 90.
In short, the RC MH1 represents a viable, enjoyable and affordable cable option for the Mikros 90. Available for $30.99 shipped from Amazon.
Unlike the Pipeline ET-4 (at $20-$25--Radio Shack or online), there are no input "fitting" issues. The FiiO's narrow(er) plug fits easily into the access hole in the left earpiece of the Mikros 90.
Soundwise, my notes about the FiiO read: slightly fuller, richer, rounder, mellower, sweeter and more liquid-sounding than the ET-4. The MH1 also seems to resolve tonal shifts/differentiation with an added finesse/ease.
There is generally more bloom and an injection of warmth with the MH1 v. ET-4. Midbass is a little fuller. The MH1 will not transpose the Mikros 90 into "Darth Logans" but I think the added warmth might be welcomed by many ML users. When listening to Ten Years After: Cricklewood Green: "Workin' on the Road". (and the remaster is not a great recording, either), the MH1 gave the bass a little more push/warmth--think of the difference between 50 degrees and 57 degrees F--but not the ultimate in midbass thrust for inveterate midbass "heads". The increase is noticeable, I would say "additive" in a "positive" way, but not overwhelming, and does not emasculate the Mikros 90 of their balance, extension and detail. So the MH1 reveal a midbass presence that should attract many, though perhaps not enough to totally convince the venerable vienbo or doctorjazz.
I would submit that the ET-4 may be perceived as more "neutral" than the MH1, more straightforward/unadorned in its presentation, yet no less musically enjoyable.
Shirley Horne's "Once I Loved" came across a bit more warm- and forward-sounding with the MH1. But the added warmth/ease from the FiiO does not compromise low level resolution. In fact, one could argue that the tonal sophistication of the MH1 helps resolve better in some respects. For example, the slip, peel and click of Shirley's mouth parts and the sense of her being close to the mike were easier to pick up with the FiiO. The subtle brush work on drum head and cymbal seemed to be more finely resolved with the FiiO as well. Astrud Gilberto's slightly "frayed larynx" vocal on "Dindi" were, I thought, slightly better resolved with the FiiO. Joao Gilberto's beautiful "Meditaao" had a welcome tinge of "orange" glow which helped round out the vocal a bit more fully with the RC MH1 (although the ET-4's clear, pristine rendering of this vocal was also meritorious/enjoyable in its own right).
The relative "ease" of the RC MH1 may also contribute to an enhanced sense of spaciousness compared with the ET-4, but that is a very close and subjective call.
So is the RC MH1 substantively "better" than the ET-4? That is a tough call, because differences are ascribable to slightly different emphases. If the Pipeline with its clarity, focus and freshness is like a crisp, slightly tart and refreshing Riesling, then the FiiO with its slight warmth, mellowness and ease is like a softer, more complex but effervescent Lambrusco. Or think of a slightly whiter flame [ET-4] versus a slightly yellower flame [the RC MH1]. It's more about subtle shading, less about stark contrasts, IMHE.
Well, I can--and will--live with both. < -- Mikros 90 w/ET-4 <-- Mikros 90 w/RC MH1
The RC MH1 will continue to burn in throughout the day. Deo volente, I will do some additional a/b-ing tonight. Over time, I hope to find out and report which of the two I'll tend to wear more often.
If you are looking for an affordable and compatible cable for the Mikros 90, but don't want to whittle,/grind/file down the too-fat input plug barrel of the Pipeline ET-4, the FiiO RC MH1 is worth a listen, IMHO.