CapistranoCables XLR Cables - Reviews
- John Massaria
- 5.00 star(s)
Pros: All of these cables provided good sound, all connectors are excellent and very durable (two of the three use neutrik gold connectors the other using a gorgeous 'carbon' accent with silver connectors
Cons: None except your budget-and preference silver or copper? which is best? we will shoot it out here
BOOKMARK- Review To Come over Next Few WeeksIf you think cable is cable - then move on. A shirt is a shirt designed to cover and clothe a person shield them from elements somewhat and maybe inject some fashion sense along the way. Some clothes fit better than others, and maybe let a person breath more, feel comfortable and maybe even look or feel better while wearing it. Some clothes give a person confidence like a suit of armor some could say. Clothing is subjective to say the least- but a good fit is key to making the clothes look best. Same with cables- the right fit for a system is vital. A match is vital. With so many superior cable designers working toward an essential cable configuration that captures their technical and sonic footprint- sonic excellence in order to arrive near that asymptotic goal. Designers are ever in state of constant tweaking mode- always doing refinement, small adjustments which all command exhaustive attention. Some are just making pretty cables, some using cutting edge technologies- there is a difference and yes you can hear it. Over the next few weeks, I hope you will follow this article as I explore different cables and add to this article. Cable makes the connection in every sense of the word.
XLR Shoot Out CapistranoCables Silver Diamond 16 & Copper Diamond 16 vs Grimm TPR vs Chifi XLR vs ????
XLR Shoot Out
CapistranoCables Silver Diamond 16
CapistranoCables Copper Diamond 16
vs Grimm TPR vs Chifi XLR vs ????
XLR Shoot Out CapistranoCables Silver Diamond 16 & Copper Diamond 16 vs Grimm TPR vs Chifi XLR vs ????
XLR Shoot Out
CapistranoCables Silver Diamond 16
CapistranoCables Copper Diamond 16
vs Grimm TPR vs Chifi XLR vs ????
" When I’m comparing cables, the question that I ask to myself is not “does it sound better” but “can I hear more or do I hear less”. It’s all about the information content, so my question is “am I as close as possible to the original signal or did I lose something somewhere”- Jurg Vogt (Vovox Cable President).
For me- cable are like anything else- a tool to get the job done- but some tools fit and work better together- people are the same way- lubricants for metal parts same thing- depending on the exact material make up- you can say pairing is everything- for me what sounds the best with the pairing is a synergy few may understand- warm yet detailed is my goal... I don't want to be bombarded with heavy details that etch my brain with no warmth - I'm thinking of the Khan worm. No no, listening should be pleasurable but not fatiguing or pondering- it should flow and transport us emotionally.
Cables like the Canare, Pig Hog, Mogami Gold Studio XLR(w/ 100% Spiral cooper), Morgami 3173, Mogami 2549, Hosa Pro and Edge and others similar to these were all not close to the performance of the Grimm TPR - All of the other so called pro wire are all similar with shileding and construction- thus they sound similar- the Grimm, The Vovox and Capistrano and Chifi all use different types of weaving technqiuires and shielding if any at all, and different blends of metals making them stand out in character. I will say the Morgami performed the closest to the Grimm but details and slam and stage was much better with Grimm...so I skipped them in this shootout since they are all similar "pro wire" with similar shielding and similar performance to each other- with the Grimm standing out sound wise. I mention that here before we get started...
Price $200.5m pair
CapistranoCables "Copper Diamond 16"- Custom hand braided copper 6n OCC 99.9997 cable with male 4 pin XLR cable to 4pin female mini XLR - 8 strands per conductor, 16 conductors total. This is a main cable . Shielded only through braid
as shown. Price $150 .5m pair
Price $68 Pair 1m
AliExpress Chifi- 1Pair OCC Silver plated XLR Audio cable Balance cable XLR Cable Male to Female M/F Audio Cable 8AG Twist Cable, 8AG Twist OCC Silver plated able, Isolation:Teflon, Carbon fiber Silver plated XLR
Price: $42Pair 1M
Equipment used to connect the XLR was Topping D90 to Topping A90.
Headphones used- Sennheiser HD600 with Dekoni Elite Hybrid pads, Kennerton Gjallahorn GH50 Modded by JM (me), Kennerton Magni, Kennerton Wodan, Sony MDR-Z1r, Denon AHD720 and a few IEMs like the ETYMOTIC ER4p/s and Penon ORB with balanced wire. I also have access to a second reviewer on this who will weigh in- he owns the Stax SR-OMEGA and we will be using the THEKK from Kennerton as well.
Before we get started - What does reality and things like human faces look like under different light colors in the range of kelvin? Me personally I like people and my music to be around 4000K to 4500K- a little warmer than dead neutral or natural. I like my light bulbs around my house to resemble the actual sun temperature of kelvin which again is between 4500-4900K. Some rooms look best in more blue light like a hallway or bathroom and some rooms like the bedroom look better in a warmer light. But no place looks good under blue light over 6K in my opinion.
We all know the saying silver plated wire usually sounds harsh or brighter than pure silver and copper would sound the most neutral. If that is the case why do I prefer the Stealth of all wires I ever heard? They are most similar to some sort of crazy copper - Pound for pound, wet-spun carbon nanotube-based fibers have greater capacity to carry electrical current than copper cables of the same mass - it is that simple. Usually copper is king for the money- you can not go wrong with UPOCC or similar purity. The problem comes to cable ends. Where does it end? At the end. But I do not expect people to buy Stealth Audio wire unless they have the means to do so without any thought or concern on price- or are a gift from a wealthy friend. Just know Stealth Audio is the the pinnacle of the cable world. Bar none. How do I know? My close buddy who gave me the cable years back is a very wealthy audio enthusiast with a disposable income of way over a million a year to spend on toys around his home (he is a pioneer of proprietary software and an engineering genius) - and he has literally tried just about every high end piece of gear around- he has over 6 systems at his home and is always playing for the last 15 years. Manufactures stay at his home for week long stays. Yes. He is very blessed. He came to America with $100 bucks some 25+ years ago and I have been friends with him since he moved here. Enough about other peoples wealth... lets get back to testing the cables... A very unfair comparison but good for a control to all the cables I will test here- to my now discontinued RCA Stealth Audio Nanofiber Pure Carbon Hybrid (price is an insane $3400 - yes they were a gift) - these use a crazy Carbon Nanofiber signal path that is as straight and clean as it gets: it is free of any kind of solder or crimp because it is composed of very thin conductive carbon fibers (nano-fibers) which directly transform into the center pins of the proprietary STEALTH RCA connectors at the ends of the cables - they are like a euphoric microscope into micro and macro details that never seems harsh or sibilant but as musical as if you just melted the two amp and dac together. They are the best cables I ever used. Again not a fair comparison but they are ez to compare real time since all I do is flip the switch on the Topping A90 and change volume to match the XLR I am comparing... its not a fair comparison I know but used as a control for the shoot out... and we continue to the shoot out!
For all those wizards of burn in time- I do think their could be some legit reason to conclude this a good practice- ALL WIRE TESTED AND WARMED/BROKEN in with a musical load FOR AT LEAST 24hrs before first impressions...
First impressions- AliExpress Chifi - The OCC Silver Plated XLR exterior looks like a million bucks with their carbon fiber accent bands and silver gorgeous braided wire, construction is first rate... but that's where the party kind of ends- drop dead looks fade after you plug them in- sound wise they are as bright as a LED blue in the 5700 - 5800 kelvin area of color - this particular Chifi XLR cable is unflattering paired with the Topping D90 + A90. I think it could work well with a system needing a boost in perceived details on high end of the audio spectrum. Don't get me wrong- if you ever seen blue light at night shining on a persons face they look robotic and nearly fake - natural skin tones gray and sickly looking. This cable isn't that bad - but it is not a good match here. They sound ok- hovering around 5800-6K Kelvin on the light scale as I continue to listen- if I had to keep on using that comparison for sound. They look so nice- they are a looker for sure and seem sonically balanced matched (left and right). But they stink at making music sound pleasant on this amp/dac. It's probably safe to say these are good for a very warm system say a tube dac you want to extract more sparkle and tame up the warm sound of tubes or R2R dacs- and at an affordable price- I wouldn't use these on super high end equipment. One thing I can say- leave them on your desk and let people admire how nice they feel in your hand. The heavy pure genuine chromed XLR ends with pseudo (reproduction) carbon fiber facade accents are captivating and the alluring multi braided silver shimmering wire looks so dam sexy. I would say spend the $40 try em out and if they dont work out you may want to just keep them as a conversation piece (maybe on how sometimes drop dead gorgeous looks don't match the brains or skills )
The GRIMM TPR- The first thing I noticed was the bass- wow. These are a pleasurable bass, tight and musical. The mid range is juicy and ripe with organic feel. Treble region is as smooth as tube amp- not really to say rolled off but very pleasant like a tube sound. So smooth as I listen as I type. Dam these cables sound nice. No harshness what so ever. Musical. Groovey. Toe tapping joyful. Vocals sound so smooth- like a finely smoothed and polished piece of wood with a lacquered finish of satin or semi gloss sheen- smooth and wonderful to the touch. On the light scale of kelvin I want to say it shines like the sun, nourishing and refreshing after listening to the Chifi wire. Is it as good as the control in my system a now discontinued Hybrid Nanofiber Pure Carbon wire by Stealth? no. Its not as revealing into the recording but what wire could be especially at this price range. The Stealth Audio Nanofiber Pure Carbon is lightening quick where the Grimm TPR is a tad slower- which is okay. It's very enjoyable wire. I like. This is a match made in heaven with the Topping D90+A90 for sure. The Grimm TPR- winner across the board so far- the [airing reminds me of my Bottlehead Crack with speedball upgrade amplifiying my Senhesier HD600s - turly a blissful pairing warm & engaging . It proves that plain Jane looks when it comes to "cable jewelry" means zip, 'nada', zero and nothing in the world of sound... Makes me wonder why... or care less... I'm just listening to the music and I can say yes, yes yes. This is a great pairing... For all those into the mathematics of it all...
(GRIMM TPR + Topping D90 + A90 = BLISS÷Cost = INSANE DEAL)Do I have to keep testing wire now? Am I done? Can I go now? Nope.... we march forward in reviewing more cable...
Day three of using Grimm TPR and well... its hard to believe I am loving it more... Jesus Joesph and Marry these cables are just are the cats meow on this pairing (actually I prefer dogs- okay okay... lets go there- these cables are a joyful dogs bark and jump for joy as the owner comes home after a week away- licks and tail wagging so hard the wapp of it could make a supper sonic sound.... yea they are that good... - I have used all my headphones and again- I love my Kennerton GH50 Modded by me the best bar none- but I still have to pull away and disconnect these and begin testing the other wires... why is it so difficult? Parting can be such sweet sorrow- but I can always come back to these TPR latter since I bought all these wires myself...
Next... we are serving up the "top" cable by Grimm- the ‘star-quad’ shielded SQM (IF THEY EVER SHIP THEM to me the owner hasnt confirmed shipment) and then we go on to compare custom hand made non shielded except for the actual wire braid as the shield cables by CapistranoCables in both pure silver and pure copper ....
First Impressions: CapistranoCables "Copper Diamond 16"
The reported material used in this custom wire from Capistrano Cables- " OCC-6N Copper Hook-Up Wire - These solid core bare copper wire are made by OCC (Ohno Continuous Casting) process from Japan. These are some of the highest purity copper wires available on the market from Japan. Extremely natural sounding without any hints of edginess or graininess." I just received them today and I am confirming the construction- the copper has a slight shimmer of silver color- so I am wondering- but I spoke to Jason the owner and he did confirm the material is in fact OCC6n or 6n Upocc. These are unshielded in the traditional sense- the wires act as a shield themselves because of the weave of the physical wire. The plug #1 on the XLR is not connected at all on either end- again I am questioning the maker on why this is the case- he stated that is by design to utilize the most amount of wire for the leads. The Silver Diamond 16 did have a ground wire (pin number 1) utilized from end to end on both left and right XLR plugs- Jason also confirmed he should have used all the wires for + and - and nothing for neutral but he made it this way and regretted making the wire this way- he said after extensive testing he found the max leads for + and - sound best eliminating neutral altogether- again the braid is the shield creating a faraday type cage from EMI. I used my cell phone to check for any noise while making a call as I had it right up on top of the wires - nothing at all - zero noise or EMI. HERE IS A VERY INTERESTING PAPER ON RFI and shielding - SCIN: Shield Current Induced Noise. Quad shield construction is not without its drawbacks -- star quad cables have far greater capacitance between conductors than conventional cables. It has observed that placing an excessive capacitive load on the output stages of audio equipment causes distortion of high frequency transients. SCIN will cause RF to be coupled to the signal pair, so audio equipment must include good low-pass filtering to reject it OR just eliminate that shield as done here with the Capistrano Cables. Structured cable (CAT 5, etc.) achieves its relatively high noise rejection by virtue of a high twist ratio. For a century, virtually all telephone lines have run for miles on unshielded twisted pairs. Some people report a traditional shield (wrapped wire in aluminum or weaved braid made of aluminum or copper around the wires) shuts down the openness of the sound closing it in- and an unshielded wire is best for air and stage (so long as it doesnt pick up EMI- which here it does not have any feedback or noise what so ever) - so lets see ...
Initial sound impressions of the "Copper Diamond 16" for day 1 seems like it has all the befits of the GRIMM TPR with a slight rise in the higher frequencies- bass seems solid and faster as well. Their is zero noise of hum or hiss despite the ground pin/drain not being used. The weave of the wires must be shielding it physically as intended - and it works. The sound is completely open and transparent so far after several songs and comparisons.
Very solid performance here and the Copper Diamonds sound amazing!
Songs like "Who Do You Love" Absolutely Live by The Doors played back at 16bit 44.1Khz is a great test for vocals and harshness since the recording is so raw filled with intended distortions of electrical instruments swaying back and forth with silent transitions between- the snap of the drum is spot on and the cymbals sound so damm nice- a refreshing balance of warmth and focus into the performance unlike the GRIMM- the GRIMM is a bit more polite.
I like blues- live blues is one of my favorite things to listen to when I'm sipping on wine or port or whiskey or ummm rum or ummmmm tequila- you know I like them all... however right now its a one finger glass of Fonseca 10 Year Old Port (saving the Fonseca Vintage Port 2016 for another time) while listening to - Sweet Black Angel (Black Angel Blues) (Live) by Buddy Guy from Live! The Real Deal on Amazon Music imagining I am in the crowd (before COVID-19 ruined it all) - and this Copper Diamond 16 does it- it brings me there... to the live performance- I am not listening to wire (or port)- I am listening to the live performance as if I was there- transported with near physical presence of being there- enrapture - I can nearly see it all if I close my eyes and just listen...
Jolene by Ray LaMontagne from Trouble on Amazon Music another fantastic track for all kinds of dynamics and vocal checks and percussion of strings all sound really musical....next track... Morning Sunby Melody Gardot from Currency Of Man (The Artist's Cut) on Amazon Music- amazing tight bass and vocals that float in the air reaching your ears causing a near hypnotic state- these cables are so joyful and musical. Stop reading now - and "take my money" for these is what I am thinking-
Another track I adore and sounds so good-
Let there be music and exploration-
Riders On The Storm by The Doors from Riders On The Storm on Amazon Music
One of my favorite tracks by the Doors is this particular one- issued only to Amazon Prime users as far as I know. The one issued by Spotify with same name is not the same- the Prime version has a lot more ambient and back up vocals added devoid in the Spotify version. The dynamics and added special effects are a treat to the ears through headphones especially. Using my Kennerton GH-50's modded by me- I want to absolutely stop writing and immerse myself into the music- I am diving into the recording as the rain drops fill my head with tingles of the undeniable beat and percussion- the cables are truly reference quality - extremely music- much better than I would have ever though possible in this price range. Do they beat the GRIMM TPR- whole heartily yes. The next level. The "Copper Diamond 16" provide micro details at all frequencies without a hint of fatigue or harshness- remarkable. So this is what it is like to have your cake and eat it too- with the Topping D90+A90 the Copper Diamond 16 is a match for sure that will bring out every single last detail while still being warm. Where do they fall on the kelvin light scale? Well if the Grim TPR is 4500-4700 the Copper Diamond 16 is 4800-4900 making it a tad bit more open. Retaining all the great things I love about the TRP but ever so slightly more revealing with more open wider stage and pin point accuracy with instrument placement and excitement. This cable keeps on making me want to find new and old tracks---dam this sounds sooooo right- Good Stuffby Griff from Good Stuffn Amazon Music
hairs raise on the back of my neck listening to this track
man I am happy-
I can not seem to stop suggestion songs- this cable is that good...
the way this girl dances (after 2mins 55 seconds in) and feels the music is how I feel when i listen to this Copper Diamond 16... Aurora is pure music, her body and soul is pure music. She's always leaving the real world, when she is performing. Her other songs are really deep stuff.
CapistranoCables "Copper Diamond 16"
I need to continue to compare and see if it could get any better than this- I seriously think these cables beat my Hybrid Stealth Audio wire- no kidding.
First Impressions: CapistranoCables "Silver Diamond 16"-
As I continue to evaluate the cables- now the Silver Diamond 16, they have been burning in for some time and are ready for full evaluation- constructed extremely well for custom cables, no flaws what so ever in sound signature, but they don't get me jumping for joy like the Copper Diamond 16- female vocals are sharper- cut deeper and are not as fun as the supper warm and super fun and cheap GRIMM TPR or to the really revealing yet super pleasing Copper Diamond 16. These are no where near the hard to listen to performance of the Chi-fi XLRs - these are smoother by leaps and bounds- my guess on brightness or kelvin scale is somewhere around 5,000 to 5200 kelvin paired with the A90 + D90 anyway. I should note I am using silver headphone wire- let me switch that up headphone cable to copper. (DONE) Bass has increased a bit, sharpness is still there- my guess is these would work best with a less revealing system- maybe a class A amp like my PASS Class A headphone amp or better yet a tube. I kind of expected this already and a main reason why I think the Topping D90+A90 crave a very neutral copper wire- they are a extremely revealing amp and dac combo- showing (by listening) me any change of wire across the connection base- be it cable for power wire (I chose from a half dozen and found the Signal Magic Power PC (10 AWG 3 conductor twisted design all copper no shield!) best for DAC better than the MagicPower Digital High Current (12 AWG High Purity Copper conductor, double shielding, and 100% Teflon Insulation) - and is best with the Topping Pair and T.G. Audio Labs HSRi Power Cord for the A90. The USB wire is also all copper- sounding better than any other silver wire variant I tried. Same thing with the COAX cable for digital- it is also pure copper. What can I say- the Topping A90+D90 do not need the expense of pure silver - a good thing for my pocket book. As I type I am listening to Carte Noire by Andre Winter- it sounds great with the silver XLR wire and copper headphone cable- BUT my ears are little acute and hairs standing on edge- the cable is not sharp but too much of a good thing. I am switching back to the Copper Diamond 16 now... ok.... the same track - copper leads going to the headphones (stock wire from Kennerton)- the GH50s sound a little bit less lively, bass is dam tight, upper frequencies are spot on ears not tingling with too much upper sparkle. Switching back to silver wire for headphones... hell yes. A perfect combination. Why? Well the copper matches perfect with A90 in my opinion- the GH50 is a slightly dark headphone with gobs of bass and bliss at all frequencies BUT they may be a tad too dark- using the silver leads from headphone to amp is bringing out all the dynamics and sounds much much better- this combo - CapistranoCable Copper Diamond 16 wins this bout. I am not going to go any further with the Silver 16's since I have so many other cables I need to test. Lets get going... I plan on visiting my buddy who owns the Stax SR-Omegas and I plan on bringing over all the cable, headphones and amps/dacs I have to his home. How exciting... I will tell you more latter... stay tuned!
CONCLUSION: The DIAMOND COPPER 16 sounds best with the Topping D90+A90 for me. The CapistranoCables offer the best sound over the Grimm TPR XLR- for the money though the toe tapping fun of the GRIMM TPR is a sure winner above beyond anything I heard by other companies of similar nature by leaps and bounds (Canare, Pig Hog, Mogami Gold Studio, Hosa Edge etc) and a safe bet- you will not be sorry you bought them. If you want slightly more detail and slightly more sound stage and all the details without a hint of harshness the CapistranoCables Copper Diamond 16s are state of the art from what I heard- they even bested my Hybrid Stealth wires that are insane in price- but they do not sound as good as my Nano Carbons by Stealth but are so close- and for the money the Copper 16 is a winner -and I don't think anyone will be regretting their purchase from this small caring boutique company made in USA.
I will be trying to reach out to other companies like VOVOX and GRIMM for their top all copper wires to test out in a future article- but for now- I am super happy and not looking back with my choices and recommendations here. Please feel free to reach out with suggestions or follow me so you can keep informed of my future articles on this and more...
I AM PUTTING BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS INTO THIS ARTICLE- AND MY OWN MONEY AND TIME- IF ANY OTHER MANUFACTURES WANT TO CONTRIBUTE TO SENDING CABLES FOR EVALUATION PLEASE MESSAGE ME-
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