Prior to receiving the Silver Poison, I was situated in the camp of cable agnostics. I hadn’t enough firsthand experience to judge for myself what, if anything, a high-end cable can do for the pursuit of great sound.
I have personally replaced a couple of stock headphone cables on my cans with relatively inexpensive aftermarket ones, but the changes were due to issues I had with the stock cable (too long for intended usage, flimsy or otherwise unwieldy, frayed or snapped cable) as opposed to actively seeking to upgrade. I’ve heard higher end headphones with an aftermarket balanced termination sound different from the single-ended stock cable on the same amp, but can’t say I feel comfortable attributing the change to just the cable modification with the other variables in play. Cables are something I’ve been curious about, but haven’t dropped the $$$ on due to my priorities in reaching an endgame amplifier/DAC/headphone chain before toying with the “less important” stuff.
Now that I’ve reached that point and am satisfied with the desktop/portable setups I have, it was with the greatest of interest that I received the Silver Poison.
On the Cable
The cable looks damn good. It was a very welcome change in the realm of aesthetics as compared to the stock cable my CIEM came with. I gave the section of the cable under the Y-connector a gentle tug, and the build quality of the cable felt durable and strong. Plugging them into my CIEMs and taking the cable for a spin, I immediately noticed and was thankful for the lack of memory wire – the cable strands near the connectors are very flexible and easy to guide around the ears. Fantastic! After several listening sessions, the cable managed to hold its form and resist my unconscious attempts to tangle it as I moved about with the CIEMs in my everyday active life.
I didn’t directly test the Silver Poison against the stock cable in the sense of playing songs on one cable, and then switching to the other cable with the exact same songs to see if I could detect any perceptible differences. I believed this would be setting myself up for the placebo effect and straining to hear “magical” subtleties, if you will. Putting in hours of intense concentration on individual tracks and attention to minute details in the background music was a taxing mental burden that I didn’t feel like subjecting myself to.
Instead, I decided to go about it by swapping out between extended listening sessions and comparing my overall sense of enjoyment between the two cables. After a week or so of this process, it was clear that the Silver Poison won out by a substantial margin. The memory wire on the stock cable made it feel clunky and chunky every time I looped it around my ears, making me long for the lack thereof on the Silver Poison. Ergonomically from a cable sense, the Silver Poison also provided me greater comfort and peace of mind – I wasn’t irritated by the cable brushing against clothing or foreign objects. Finally, the cable just felt “right” with my setup. From my humble abode in Texas, I’ve taken my portable rig to Los Angeles, to South Korea, and to Phoenix in the days I’ve been auditioning the cable, and have to say I noticed significantly more stares and comments on my CIEMs due to the attention the aftermarket cable attracts. Call me vain if you must, but the Silver Poison connecting my CIEM and AK100 is a fitting (read: good looking ayyyyy) link between the two. It made not having the aftermarket cable in the chain an almost painful difference visually when I swapped to the stock cable.
I’ve decided to not comment on the audible differences I heard between the cables. Did I find myself hearing perceptible variations listening to some of the same songs with both cables over the days? Perhaps so, and yet with all of the uncontrolled variables in play during the listening sessions, it’s not enough for me to steadfastly declare my allegiance to the cable wars on one side or another.
I will say however, that this program has allowed me to gain a more open mind in regards to how much of an enhancement well-designed aftermarket cables can be. I would still advocate focusing your attention on the products in the chain that make an easily perceptible difference until you reach a point where you are satisfied with what you have – once you do reach that point, an aftermarket cable could very well be just the thing you’re looking for on your journey to audio nirvana. Such was the case for me.
A huge thank you to Project86 (John) for allowing me to participate in his loaner program, what a fantastic experience!