Separate names with a comma.
Headphone Cables item created by WoahReQQuiem, Nov 29, 2012
Pros - Value, performance
Cons - None
plusSound Exo Series Custom IEM Cable Review
I would like to thank plusSoundAudio for providing me a loaner of the cable for this review. I would also like to thank you, the readers, for taking the time to read this review.
I received the cables in a fairly secured package, sealed in a zip-lock bag, wrapped with the invoice, another wrap of brown paper, and, finally, the USPS box.
BUILD & ERGONOMICS
The Exo Series line is the “budget” line of plusSound, aggressively priced at $84.99. However, do not let the low price fool you – the build and sound is really good, and I suppose that plusSound treats all of their cable lines equally.
The Exo Series cable is made up of 4-wire braids insulated with a polyethylene material. plusSound offers multiple choices in their wires – copper, silver-plated copper, and silver + 1% gold as stranded wires, and copper, silver, silver-plated copper, and gold-plated copper as solid (single-core) wires. plusSound also offers a wide range of options for connector styles – UE, Shure, Westone/Aurisonics, Sennheiser, and many more.
The cable is surprisingly well-built for the price. A little stiffer than stock cables, but that is expected, due to the thickness of the cable. The cable has a reassuring solid look and feel. Comfort is good, but it makes its presence felt. However, it’s not really intruding.
Cable debunkers may say that aftermarket cables make no difference in sound at all, and cable fans may say that aftermarket cables improve the sound dramatically. These two conflicting sides makes it all more confusing, especially for beginners. However, the reality lies somewhere in between. Cables make a difference in sound. Not too large to call it a “necessity”, but just enough to improve what is there, and small enough to be considered as a luxury.
My setup consists of an iPhone 4, with a Matrix Mini-Portable headphone amplifier connected through a FiiO L9 LOD, and the Aurisonics ASG-1 revision 2 with the Silver+1% Gold plusSound Exo Series Cable. My commonly played genres is Classical, Math Rock, Pop Rock, Soul, and Electronic. I did not do a blind A-B test, since that was somewhat impossible in theory, due to the differences in comfort by both cables.
The sound improvements brought by the cables overall made the ASG-1.2 smoother and more enjoyable. The treble is smoother and more present. The mids are less congested, and are clearer. The bass is tighter. The soundstage slightly improves. Music flows through with less effort.
For those who want to try aftermarket cables on a lower budget, plusSound is the way to go. The small improvements are worth it, for me. Aside from the good sound, the build quality is good as well, and the customer service is great. Should something go wrong, never hesitate to contact them!
All plusSound Cables come with a 1-year warranty.
Pros - Great Looking, Clear Sound
I recently purchased an Exo Series cable from Plussound for my HD650s. I chose the silver/gold 26/50 wire and a Rhodium straight 1/8" plug. Now that the cable has burned in, I can hear a definite increase in detail and clarity compared to the stock cable. It matches up very well with the Sennheiser's and helps bring them a bit more alive. No more Sennheiser veil, at least to my ears. I like the sound of my HD650s with this cable better than the sound of the much more expensive Beyerdynamic T1s I am trying out. So this aftermarket cable will actually end up saving me a lot of money!
In addition, I found Christian at Plussound to be incredibly patient, helpful and flexible before and after the sale. It is a treat to find a company that offers such great customer service.
A while ago, I bought some DIY cabling from Los Angeles-based plusSound Audio and loved the immediacy of their customer service. Being a native Angelino, I also wanted to support SoCal businesses as well, so I decided to check out their Exo series cable.
plusSound Audio specializes as a bespoke, handmade, full-service boutique cable service, and the Exo is one of six different cable series offered by plusSound, along with the Dionysian, the Apollonian, the Echo, the Poetic, and the X8 (as well as an upcoming X6 that I know little to nothing about) — each of which are available for IEM cables, headphone cables, interconnects, and more. The Exo is the “bare” cable, with no nylon sheathing, while the other cable series have varying degrees of sheathing on them, save for the X8 and X6, which are cables that use specialty braids over the usual round or flat braid (plusSound lets you choose during the ordering process), with an additional plethora of other options as well.
CABLE MATERIAL, ERGONOMICS, BUILD QUALITY & AESTHETICS
The Exo cable is a four-conductor, round (Milloit) braid 7N (well, technically 6N+, since measurement machines have trouble assessing metallurgic purity over 99.99998%) UP-OCC stranded copper cable. While I thought the strand count (10-ct) was slightly low, it didn’t seem to affect sound negatively in any way, so, whatever. Those that are concerned with the strand count can take solace in the fact that copper is not the only material offered; there are numerous other (more exotic) options. Of course, these other cable materials will come at a price, but it’s nice to see that they offer so many variants. I personally like either just pure copper or pure silver (without gold); hopefully, they’ll replace the current copper cable with one that’s higher in strand count, if only for durability and redundancy’s sake, rather than for any sonic benefits.
While the cable gauge is 28 AWG, the LLD-PE (linear low-density polyethylene) sleeving is quite thick — the OD feels more like a 24, 25AWG cable; I imagine that they ordered it in this thickness because the dielectric properties of LLD-PE aren’t quite as good as PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene, a.k.a. Teflon) in the same thickness. Why not PTFE sleeving then? Well, PTFE insulation is much more microphonic than polyethylene (linear or cross-linked).
Despite the OD being thicker than that of a typical wire at 28AWG, it didn’t feel unwieldy at all. In fact, it was quite flexible, and had a minimal amount of memory, less than my BTG-Audio Sunrise cable. I would not hesitate to use this cable indoors or out.
Build quality is really quite impressive; whether it’s the termination, the Y-split, or the pins, plusSound builds the Exo cable like a tank. Everything is secured down and doesn’t seem like anything would break unless someone lets loose on it with a hammer.
plusSound equips IEM cable terminations with the excellent Viablue T6s (small) 3.5mm plugs by default; customers can choose between Oyaide plugs, 6.3mm plugs, balanced Kobiconn (RSA/ALO), balanced Hirose 6-pin (iBasso), and others as well.
The pins are nice and tight; some aftermarket pins, while not loose, don’t quite have the same tension. They seem to use the full-width 0.78mm pins, with an additional round-barreled shroud for reinforcement.
As rock solid as the build quality is, however, the liberal use of black heat shrink does detract from the overall aesthetics just a bit. The neck slider wasn’t a looker and was a bit loose; I’d recommend people putting in the extra $3 for a wooden bead instead. The heat shrink constituting the strain relief at the 3.5mm termination had plusSound‘s logo imprinted, but was lacking a bit of resolution compared to what I’ve seen from other companies. The pins, with their round barrel and additional heat shrink reinforcement, may possibly never break, but they look a bit obtrusive and get long in the tooth pretty quickly. In its defense, I just personally prefer less use of heat shrink in my stuff; there was absolutely nothing about the worksmanship of the cable that detracted from the aesthetics (i.e. excess glue, jagged edges, etc.).
I don’t like to comment too much on sound, since I believe it’s a matter of personal preference; however, I will say that the “sound” of the Exo copper cable is what it “should” be, meaning that it’s a clean, honest sound that doesn’t suffer from EM interference or self-inductance. Nothing sounds muddy, and the ends are well-extended — indicators that plusSound did a great job with the braiding and soldering, to go along with a cable made from high-quality materials.
Is plusSound‘s OCC copper necessarily better than the Mogami OFC of my BTG Sunrise? Theory says yes, perception says “I don’t know.” If I had to make a statement, I’d say that the BTG Sunrise has more of a “solid” sound, while the plusSound Exo sounds a teeny bit more transparent, but it could also be my mind playing tricks on me. There are so many minute factors to cables, from the insulation material, to the braid consistency, and the type of solder used that may possibly alter sound in a cable. I don’t try to tease all those things apart. At $99, it doesn’t really matter, either (since a BTG Sunrise cable configured with a Viablue plug and no sleeving is at $93, making the two very similar in price).
I found the Exo copper cable from plusSound Audio to be great in terms of build quality, ergonomics, and price. I’m a bit of a stickler for aesthetics, so I did feel that the Exo had a little bit to work on in the heat shrink department, but I’m sure plusSound has been making improvements. The paramount advantage to plusSound is that it is truly a one-stop shop for anyone’s cabling needs. plusSound headquarters may be a ways off from Melrose Avenue and Rodeo Drive, but it makes them no less of a made-to-order, specialty shop when it comes to audio.
[Original Review is posted from: http://cymbacavum.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/plussound-audio-exo-cable-hollywood-boutique/]
Pros - Great cable build, cleans up SQ slightly
Cons - need an ear guide for IEM cable
The exo cable is a great cable to go with, especially with the CIEM, which in my case is the UM Miracle. It cleaned up the slight bluriness of the sound in comparison with stock cable, which is great. The cable is quite stiff, but that is understandable.
the sockets and plugs are very well built, and I am thoroughly impressed by the aesthetics too. The only thing i wished for is an ear guide for IEM cables, cause my cable consistently fall off over my ear, which is quite annoying. Once this is done, there is no reason not to love this cable anymore
Pros - Rich midrange, Detail presentation style, Customization options, Customer service
Cons - A little backness may be added to the background
plusSound is an American cable maker located in California, US. They have a good reputation among audiophiles. They offer many different cables such as headphones and IEM upgrade cables, and interconnects. There is also a high-class amplifier Cloud Nine, Audeze headphones and a wide variety of DIY parts in their store.
plusSound IEM cable selection is very rich; we can choose both sleeving/insulation type and cable material in almost all models. For example, Dionysian series can be made both by copper and silver conductors as well as many other wiring combinations. Like conductor selection, there are many options to customize our cable.
Christian, the guy from plusSound is a very nice person and superbly responsive. He always replies to my mails maximum in one hour. I have to say that he is one of the most responsive representatives in the industry.
I have reviewed plusSound Apollonian+ cable a while ago, which is one of my favorite cables in my invertory. This review consists of Exo series made by 4 silver/gold conductors. For whose is interested in Apollonian+ pure copper cable, please check the review link below:
The picture is an excerpt form plusSound website.
Exo has 3 silver/gold-combined conductors. Considering 4 braided build, it can be seen as a lightweight cable. In comparison with similarly priced Apollonian+, Exo is easier to use outdoors. However, Apollonian+ has a better look with its sleeving. On the other hand, the reviewed Exo has a beautiful Y splitter in a shining silver color.
Overall build of Exo is not very stiff and we can easily wrap to put in a case. The most beautiful point on Exo is its pins. Indeed, there are pins in gold and silver color in accordance with its combination. Additionally, there is no memory wire here. In fact no need for it, since it has a very good shape and build to stay stable.
In general, silver cables have a bright and open sound and they can be harsh to throw details. In fact, plusSound Exo has a rich tone with impactful low end and it doesn’t create a piercing or cold presentation. Overall tone is a little warm in accordance with mid-bass presentation.
The review and comparisons have been determined with using Lear LCM-BD4.2 custom in ear monitor and its stock cable.
Lear stock’s sub-bass has lower resolution, while Exo has more bodied presentation by using larger area of bass-room. Exo significantly has better texturing and hits deeper regions. Overall sub-bass tonality is similar, but Exo’ punches are slightly more emotional and alive.
Overall mid-bass presentation is less prominent on Lear stock, while Exo has a more full-bodied and prominent notes. However, the mid-bass quantity is not exaggerated; Exo doesn’t tighten the stage and doesn’t warm the overall atmosphere more than limits and necessity for smooth touches. It can be thought that Exo has a balanced mid-bass presentation in terms of control and warmth. Additionally, Exo’s resolution is much better than Lear stock.
When compared to Lear stock, Exo has similarly located midrange with same amount of prominence. Exo doesn’t have a laidback presentation here, but neither too forward. In comparison, Exo makes instruments’ positioning in a larger picture by tightening impact and keeping their overall sizes on the stage. On the other hand, Lear stock has non-controlled note releasing and instruments are closely located to each other. This difference makes Exo to create significantly clearer and cleaner picture overall.
In transparency comparison, Exo has slightly better performance, but it has a definite superiority over Lear stock in terms of tone’s richness and resolution. Additionally, it seems that they have similar performance on note thickness, but Exo has slightly fuller notes in accordance with its overall refining superiority. Also, overall tonality is similar, but Exo has a better timbre in accordance with its rich presentation.
Exo has slightly more quantity in this region when compared to Lear stock cable. Lear stock’s treble has significantly uncontrolled note releasing, while Exo has better resolution here. Even if Exo has slightly more prominent treble, it is more forgiving overall and doesn’t try to throw details in a harsh way. Treble notes are weightier and their tone is better on Exo.
Soundstage and Separation:
Exo performs slightly better in terms of width, but it has a significantly deeper stage with recreation of a cleaner picture overall. This stage depth difference makes Exo to have a better layering too. Background blackness performance is similar, but Exo puts cleaner and clearer distances between instruments on a larger space with an airier presentation overall. Additionally, Exo has a better separation by creating more controlled and tighter notes.
plusSound Exo series silver/gold cable has a smooth sound and weighty low end for a standard silver cable. It is also very impressive in accordance with detail creation style and rich midrange. As always, built quality and looking is very nice and plusSound’s customer service is one the best in the industry. Lastly, Exo silver/gold cable is priced at 299 USD at the time of this review posted.
For more information please check plusSound website: