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Headphone Cables item created by Pingupenguins, Jun 30, 2012
Pros - Excellent build quality / Lots of options / Good customer service / Reasonably priced
Cons - None. Totally serious.
The BTG-Audio Sunrise CIEM Cable Warning: This sophmoric review was written after repeated viewings of The Big Lebowski, and some may find it annoying. I am the walrus. The Industry Abides... We audiophiles (or whatever the hell we are), new to the hobby and old-timers alike, are living in a sort of golden age; the manufacturers have finally caught wind of the lengths people will go to, as in the money we're willing to spend, to put together a system that induces an out of body experience (at least that's what I'm after), and it no longer involves spending 5 figures for a hi-fi system for the home. The quality of portable audio products has reached a point where those who can't afford the home system of their dreams (who are legion) are able and more than willing to plunk down $2,000 or more for a stellar portable setup. A wide array of companies are pining away (and they should be) for a segment that has proven to be anything but tight-fisted, even in a weak economy. Custom-molded in-ear monitors (aka CIEMs) have become an essential component of many a portable setup and more companies have stepped in to satiate this growing market in the last year. A side effect of this spike in the demand for CIEMs is the market for the replaceable cables that come with CIEMs.
Introducing BTG Audio: I like their style.
This brings me to one very small company, BTG Audio, headed by a fella by the name of Brian Goto (he may or may not hate the ******* Eagles, I dunno) who has a simple business plan: Produce a product with great build quality using high quality materials, and leave the rest to word-of-mouth. If you visit his website (http://www.btg-audio.com/) and poke around a bit, you'll find that he has opted not to tout the sound-altering qualities of his cables, in spite of the fact that it would likely result in higher sales. Much has been made of this debate here on head-fi, but Brian makes it abundantly clear where he stands: he does not believe that a perceptible change in sound quality results from using his products, no matter what type of copper is used, silver-plated or otherwise. In keeping with the spirit of his website and Brian's beliefs on this matter (which can be found here: http://www.btg-audio.com/cable-facts), I will not poke the proverbial hornet's nest and just let the debate rage on in the appropriate threads here on head-fi - after all, that's just like everyone's opinion, man.
The Build Quality: Over the line! (in a good way) Brian sent me a sample of his Sunrise CIEM cable a few weeks back and I was immediately impressed with the build quality. The one I received was terminated with a right-angled Neutrik plug, also covered with black heatshrink with his logo, and had black sheathing below the split that was quite soft and maneuverable. The sheathing leads up to a sturdily-built split, also featuring his logo. When in use, the cable does not have a mind of its own; it does twist a bit, but it was never a nuisance when walking around with my J3 in my chest pocket at work. The stock Westone-style cable is certainly thinner and less noticeable, but the Sunrise has a very robust build that feels like it will be around for the long haul.
What I probably most appreciate about these is the result of a minor problem I've had with my Quads since they were re-shelled; the sockets on the left earpiece leave a 1-2mm gap and simply would not allow the pins of the stock cable to be inserted flush (non-recessed sockets). I didn't bother to send them back to UM to be fixed since I figured it was a minor detail that I could perhaps remedy via a helpful DIYer here on head-fi. When I plugged in the Sunrise, I got a flush connection on that troubled socket. I'm not exactly sure why it "fits right in there" (as the Cowboy said about the Dude), as there is surely a logical explanation for this, but I can't help but put that down as a positive, a sort of happy accident. Lebowski references aside, the custom-made connectors and pins do look very well made and feature a visible strand of memory wire inside the clear earguides to keep them wrapped comfortably around your ears.
The wire used by BTG-Audio in the Sunrise is 30-strand 26 AWG (the guage or thickness) OFC (Oxygen-Free Copper) and is braided in the milloit pattern (in the parlance of our times). He offers a variety of options for the Sunrise and also has other products available on his website. These retail for $78 which is very competitively priced considering the build quality and the price of its competitors. The Sunrise is certainly a product worthy of your attention if you're looking to upgrade your CIEM cables, and especially so if your wallet is still smarting after CIEM purchase itself.
His reputation for making good kit is spreading and has recently led to an affiliation with The Audio Guild aka Q Audio Cables, a nice reward for attention to detail and perhaps also for his refusal to market his wares in a way that contradicts his beliefs about what a cable can and can't do. Okay, it's time for me to get some shuteye, Dude. I'll leave you with a couple more shots of the Sunrise....
Disclaimer: This cable was a loaner and has already been shipped back to BTG Audio. No compensation of any sort was offered by Brian. Sometime after this review, my well-liked Quads were liberated from my possession by an urban achiever on a motorcycle here in the mean streets of Saigon. I should have included my dirty undies...This review was originally written in 2012, so if it seems dated, that's because it is.
Very good option for aftermarket cable for CIEM at lower cost
Pros - Quality, build, flexibility, price and customer service
Cons - You can't brag you spent and arm and a leg
BTG-Audio: The Sunrise Cable
Everyone seems loves the look and feel of aftermarket and boutique cables. Just one look on the different threads dedicated to pictures of Head-Fi members’ gear and you will see countless pictures of headphones and custom IEMs with aftermarket cables. In many cases these cables look like pieces of art, and unless you are handy and can create your own cables, buying one can quickly become an expensive venture. I’ve priced IEM cables of varying wire and craftsmanship anywhere from $150 to $400 or more. Until recently the only choice for IEM cables under $100 has been the $30 stock Westone/UE variations from the CIEM manufacturer themselves. If a budget priced but robust and well built CIEM cable has been on your wish list, then you’ve found the right thread!
Some of you may know that I stumbled upon Brian of BTG-Audio’s services several months ago in relation to an IEM mod. Back in March of this year, I sent a Fischer Audio DBA-02 to Brian, due to an aged, brittle and stiff cable. He was able to source pins and connectors necessary to modify the DBA-02 from a fixed cable IEM to a removable cable IEM. Brian’s modification was not only successful but was expertly done for a fair and affordable price. Since then he has performed this modification on many different fixed cable IEMs like the Silver Bullet, W4, UM3X, B2, and many more. You can visit this thread for more examples of this modification: http://www.head-fi.org/t/601360/universals-modded-with-removable-cables-fischer-audio-dba-02-brainwavz-b2-um3x-sleek-audio
It wasn’t long after he began performing these mods, that Brian started developing his own aftermarket cable for custom IEMs: The Sunrise Cable.
Compatible with Westone, UE, UM, JH Audio, FS, Aurisonics and many other CIEMs using the same standard pin configuration
Overmolded connector pins with clear markings for R/L
Memory wire standard
Compatible with recessed sockets
OFC 26 AWG stranded copper wire
Quad braid in round or milloit braid style
Nylon sleeved below the Y split
Neutrik 3.5mm nickel connector (straight or right angle) standard- Viablue, Oyaide, etc available at additional cost
Heavy duty Y split and functional but slim heat shrink chin cinch/choker
Pricing: Standard-$70 ($67 to $100 depending on 3.5mm connector options. Balanced/specialty connectors will push the price above $100.)
The Sunrise Cable is very well built- solid and durable, yet maintains very good flexibility due to the style of braid BTG-Audio uses. I recently had the opportunity to use a very expensive boutique silver and gold cable alongside the Sunrise. This cable is more than 4X the price of the Sunrise, yet this cable didn’t have overmolded pins, lacked a chin cinch and was extremely stiff due to the very tight, regular styled braid. Putting it in an IEM case was like trying to coil a live and angry snake. The Sunrise Cable is very manageable and easy to store without annoying memory effect.
I’ve also compared the Sunrise to a Whiplash Audio Twag V2. In my experience, the Twag V2 is the model by which the usability of all aftermarket and boutique cables should be judged. It has some of the best flexibility I’ve seen, also has overmolded pins and is quite pleasing to the eye. The Sunrise cable holds it’s own against the Twag, giving up some in flexibility but otherwise goes toe to toe in build quality and durability. Not to mention the Sunrise cable is artistically pleasing to the eye as well, and costs considerably less.
The Sunrise Cable’s memory wire is very well done. I’ve always thought that it was too short on the genuine Westone Epic cable, making it difficult to get just the right shape without irritating my ears. Then the generic versions sometimes have too long a memory section, with useless ear guide sheathing extending way beyond the actual wire. The memory wire section on the Sunrise seems to split the difference of these; with a length of wire long enough to form over the top of my ear and slightly behind but not so long that it extends beyond my ear.
BTG doesn’t make any claims about the sound of their cables; only to offer affordable, functional and professionally made products. I will also leave descriptions of the sound up to other owners and buyers. For me, purchasing an aftermarket cable is more about the build, durability and yes, looks. A nice looking CIEM certainly looks even better when paired with a great looking cable.
BTG-Audio is also looking at the possibilities of releasing 2 new IEM cables. The first is a SPC version of The Sunrise Cable. The SPC would be a silver plated copper cable of the same specs but would show silver above the Y split versus copper. The second is an IEM cable compatible with the FitEar universals. I’m hoping for an SPC Sunrise styled version of this!
Is it affordable? Check. Is it professionally and well made? Check. Does it look good? Check. Is BTG-Audio friendly, courteous and responsive? Check. I can’t recommend Brian’s services enough and I really think he’s hit one out of the Head-Fi ballpark with The Sunrise Cable.
BTG-Audio website: http://btg-audio.webs.com/
Pros - Customizable, top notch quality, flexible cable, looks and sounds great
Cons - None
For nearly the price the Westone Epic cable (retail $50-60), it cannot compare to the quality and craftsmanship of BTG-Audio Sunrise CIEM cable. The quality is on par to the very high end CIEM cables from Whiplash and ALO audio, but a much better value. I highly recommend this cable and Brian's customer service.
I bought Brian's Sunrise cable for my 1964Ears Quads. The cable's build quality is top notch, very professional, and incredibly flexible & comfortable. BTW, it looks lovely too. It paired quite well with the Quads in that it delicately articulated the Quad's native tuning (smooth, natural, studio sound with slightly boosted bass).
Brian's customer service, attention to detail, and prompt turnaround is as good as I've experienced & his pricing is very fair & honest. I'd definitely recommend him for any of cable/modding needs.
Pros - Great sound , durable , low cost
Cons - Not a real negative but Cable is thick. Not dental floss thin if that's what your looking for
Just want to tell you Brian and service at BTG-Audio is absolutely top notch! I had a problem with my SM3 v1 the right channel kept cutting out. After some brief emails with Brian, he gave me my options and I sent my earphones. Communication was excellent throughout. He said he received them and immediately went to work, He preformed a removable cable mod and emailed me links to pictures rather than just giving a verbal status. He also fitted them with his own BTG-Audio IEM cable which turned out to be very high quality. They work great! I give Brian my highest recommendation. Great work. Terrific turnaround time. The level of service I got was just unheard of. I love how he follows up on everything. As consumers we're the ones that end up chasing people but this time it's the other way around, like it should be. Thanks again Brian!! I'm enjoying tunes as I type this thanks to you.