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Cross Lambda Stardust

Rating:
5/5,

Recent Reviews

  1. akared
    Vocals
    Written by akared
    Published Feb 16, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Vocals
    Midrange density
    Cons - Paring-dependent
    Cross Lambda Stardust Review

    Disclaimer: Crosslambda Stardust was provided to me free of charge for a limited amount of time in exchange for my honest review.

    Introduction: Improvement in sound quality resulting from upgrading the cables is such a controversial topic in the audio world – Some people hear the dramatic difference resulting from swopping cables while others do not. With my relatively limited experience with upgrade cables, I would put myself somewhere in between the two groups of people – I do hear differences that upgrade cables have to offer but I don’t hear it to the extent at which upgrade cables can TOTALLY change the sound signature of the IEMs. For example, if an IEM has too much mid-bass, the leanest-sounding silver cable can slightly alter the signature to a certain degree; However, at the end of the day, that IEM will still be too mid-bassy for me.

    IMHO, even though, generally, each upgrade cable offers certain characteristics to the sound, the change in sound is very much dependent on the pairing. For instance, a cable might elevate the bass for a particular IEM but the effect might not be observable on another IEM. Therefore, in the review, I will comment on each pair-up separately.

    Stardust + Zeus XIV (vs. Ares II)

    Great pair-up. Starting from the bottom end, there is slightly more rumble in the sub-bass region. The bass definitely feels more ‘beefy’ – there is more body to it in the way that the bass can be felt as opposed to just being heard. The catch, here, is that while the bass is slightly elevated, it gains more control as well. Bass definition, i.e. resolution, is slightly better. I would say that it is easier to visualize each bass note as being on its own ‘isolated’ island.

    Moving up to the mids, the range that is more affected by this cable swop is definitely the vocals. The positioning of vocals is slightly more forward compared to Ares II. However, vocals gain a significant amount of body in the lower mid region – male vocals, especially, benefit from this. Upper mid retains its body with increased smoothness. Instruments like electric guitars and piano are less affected – their bodies and forwardness are similar to Ares II but they have slightly lost some of the bites and edges in exchange for extra smoothness.

    I do not hear any significant change in the treble area coming from Ares II except that the peaks, when paired with Ares II, that cause sibilance are “slightly” smoothed over. Not by much though, since the Zeus’ trebles, paired with the stardust, still sounds slightly peaky and hot after a long listening session.

    To be honest, I am not very good at describing soundscape and visual field of IEMs. I can’t really distinguish between different “shapes” of the stage that IEMs construct, i.e-Oval-shaped vs rectangular-shaped. However, I still do have pretty decent ideas regarding the dimension, i.e.-width, height and depth, of the stage. Dimension-wise, I found the stardust to be able to maintain the qualities of the Zeus while slightly increases the depth of the stage, resulting in more 3D staging. Layering improves with the stardust as well as separation, where each note has slightly clearer ‘edge’ and is easier to distinguish.



    Stardust + AAW W900 (vs. stock)

    This is an interesting pair-up; the W900, to my ears, is strongly affected by cable swap. When I first paired the stardust with W900, I was wowed with the vocal-centric tracks. However, later when I switched to mainstream music, i.e.-pop, instruments-based or electronic music, where bass is one of the most important driving forces, I found this pairing to be lacking in the bass region. It took me by surprise, since I don’t consider W900 to be bass-light. Don’t get me wrong, the bass is definitely still there, but I found myself looking for it most of the time, which shouldn’t really happen as I was supposed to just sit back and enjoy the music rather than having to constantly analyze and tell myself “oh hey, there’s the bass”. With this pairing, the bass does ‘carry’ the music so it does not sound ‘lacking’, but it does not engage nor does it add the welcomed excitement. The note size gets significantly smaller where the bass does not surround or envelope you like it does when paired with stock cable (or even better, with Effect Audio Thor II – my personal favorite pairing so far). On the bright side, definition and resolution of each bass note is definitely better. For faster bass lines, each note is easier to pick out.

    As I mentioned earlier, the stardust do wonders to the mids of the W900. To my ears, this cable turns the W900 into a mid-centric-ish IEM. Midrange, especially vocals, gains body and weight. With the stock cable, midrange, IMHO, sounds hollow and diffused. Linearity in the upper treble region gives the upper edge of vocal notes a sense of clarity; however, in doing so, the notes sound big but NOT dense. Swopping the stock with the stardust smooths out this effect and the resulting vocals are dense and solid vocals. The sheer size of vocals may have been reduced, but the additional density is definitely capable of eliminating the hollowness of the vocals. Consequentially, timbre, which is one of the weak traits of the W900, is greatly improved. Positioning of vocals is also brought slightly forward. Instruments are benefited from the stardust as well as they gain body and timbre is, though not to the extent of vocals, improved.

    The stardust gives W900’s treble region in general a boost in overall quality. I have read a couple impressions on the treble of W900 being ‘metallic’ sounding, i.e.- not natural sounding, something I totally agree with. With the stardust, treble gains control – the ‘piercing’ quality decreases and the region, as a whole, takes a slight step back in terms of positioning. Extension, however, is maintained.

    Staging-wise, I do hear an increase in width while depth is unchanged. As with the Zeus, I do hear improvement in layering and separation where it feels as if each instrument and each note is surrounded by air. However, with the smaller bass quantity, even though the stage becomes more open, I do feel that the stage, as a whole, is not complete or full – I feel as though there are too much of blank space between instruments and the stage, in general, lacks weight.

    Overall, this pairing is excellent for vocal-based or acoustic music since the stardust improves the presentation of the treble and, especially, the mids. However, for genre like pop, rock and EDM where bass does more than just accompanying the music, I would not recommend pairing the W900 with the stardust.

    Verdict: Crosslambda stardust is a cable that excels in technicalities with overall smooth presentation in the mids and treble. Vocals are given the power and forward presentation it’s due. Effects on sound quality and signature are strongly dependent on the pair-up, as this holds true with almost every upgrade cables. Paring with W900 results in vocals that sounds throatier and more powerful while sacrificing a tiny bit of clarity. This loss this clarity is not observed (well, at least by me) when paired with the Zeus, even though vocals of the Zeus do sound smoother due to the increase in lower mid.


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      ArlakTheRecluse likes this.

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