General Information

Sovereign Symphony​

The Final Authority.

An experimental project that was never meant to exist, brought to completion on the insistence of multiple community members. Please consider carefully whether or not the heft of this cable is suitable for your use case. Also note that certain chains and IEMs will not be able to translate the image size and scale presented by the Symphony, and the bottleneck can be heard as congestion. In general, if you are unsure, we suggest you opt for the regular Sovereign instead. However, for those crazy and adventurous enough, Symphony stages like nothing else if the chain can support it. Both physically and sonically massive, experience an extreme level of granularity and gradation in every domain: dynamics, transparency, scale, timbral precision, and layering. Collectively coming together to form an uncompromised symphony of grandeur, emotionality, and effortless technique.



Conductor: 7N OCC Copper for signal, Copper & Pure Silver mix for ground
Geometry: Multi-Gauge Shielded Litz
Sleeve: Ultrasoft PVC
True Gauge: 19.0 AWG
Resistance (Including Connectors): 0.04Ω
Solder: Custom Silver Blend
Pins: AEC Tellurium Copper
Jack: Furutech Rhodium-Plated Pure Copper
Default length: 1.2m (Inquire for other lengths)

MSRP:
5000USD

https://nightjaracoustics.com/pages/cable-info

Latest reviews

tone.texture.soul

Previously known as Tokpakorlo
Epic, Passion, Mastery & Grace
Pros: -Sonically flawless
-Incredible dynamics
-Absolutely massive sounding
-Extremely resolving
-Transparent, balanced and musical
-Timbre, realism and texture all summit
-Beautiful hardware
-Realistic, vibrant, and effortlessly technical.
Cons: -Nothing sonically
-Price
-Thick and heavy
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Greetings dear fellow Head-fi’ers and audiophiles the world over, I bid you welcome to my review of the Nightjar Sovereign Symphony IEM cable! This is my very first NJ product, and what an introduction to a brand; the SS is… insanely good. Madness even. If nothing else seeps into you in this presumably very lengthy review, let it be known that the SS is one of (if not) the best cable I have ever heard. In the past few years I have reviewed an enormous amount of TOTL cables, and I think I’ve heard basically everything out there. As many of you might already know, I’ve spared no shortage of overwhelmingly positive rants and great outpourings of love over different products that I have reviewed. I know, I wear my emotions on my sleeves and when I love the gear, I can’t help but gush on its merits. That being said, there has always been a caveat, something mixed in there that I didn’t like, something that could be improved, something missing from a “perfect” sound. There’s always a little nitpicking going on in the back of my mind. Some if only’s or I wish’s softly lingering as I deeply enjoy some amazing, yet ultimately imperfect audio gear. Well, that stops now - I will go on record to say the Sovereign Symphony is the first and only cable I have reviewed/heard/experienced that is sonically perfect. Seriously. I was in love at first listen, and amazingly enough, after many weeks with it I only love it more. And more and more. Never thinking about what could be better, it is simply breathtaking. There is no sonic sacrifice, no limit on any one aspect to make room for another, no comprise, no loss. A perfect balance. Some cables have magic aspects, but in the end they always take something away to feed the bleeding edge somewhere else. Not so with the SS. It has everything, (and then some) with nothing missing. I have yet to hear a more massive sound from an IEM, I didn’t know portable could sound this enormous. It’s not just for the STORM folks, this one is pure fire and should be given its due all by itself. I will admit I didn’t know it was even for sale by itself, but only as an upgrade option for the STORM. I can tell you now, everyone should know about this one, and paired with my Traillii Ti, the SS is nothing short of a revelation. I first heard this combo in Amsterdam at the EU Cooler Meetup ’24, and I was hooked instantly, game over. I’d never heard anything like it.


I’ll get way into the sound in a bit, but for now, TL-DR - Sovereign Symphony = GOAT of GOATs.


You’ll notice I said SONICALLY PERFECT - I stand by that completely. But there are two non-sonic things that may indeed bother some. One is it’s extremely expensive - like $5k USD. The other is it’s very thick and heavy. In a world where cables have skyrocketed in price, I am also seeing a trend of “sonics-over-everything-else”, sacrificing some level of comfort for the extreme qualities a behemoth no-compromise-monster cable can give. People seem to be more ok with it now. When I was starting out people complained about the Orpheus, saying it was “as big and/or heavy as anyone could handle”. Now, we’re seeing waves of cables using thicker and thicker wires, stuff that was meant for full size headphones is now showing up for IEMs. But that’s the whole point. If it sounds better, to hell with the rest right? I’m a firm believer in best of the best, and I’ve put up with a good deal of discomfort to get there. I like companies that are wiling to push the envelope, giving the crazies like me the option to buy their limitless fantasmic creations. Enter the SS. Yeah, it’s expensive, and very heavy. I’ve come to really enjoy the solidity and sturdiness that comes with using what could essentially be 2 channel speaker wire for my IEMs. It stays in place, lays like a gorgeous piece of jewelry, and seems fairly indestructible. In fact, I use it everyday: walking in the park, on the tram or train, in the studio while I’m shooting, in the airplane, jamming out in the darkened hallways of my studio building after hours, or even while cooking, vacuuming, and picking up after my 2 year old.

I said I’m crazy already right? I’m in love for sure - this is serious. (I even bought the matching IC)


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Cue my usual cable merits explanation paragraph, and the testing gear rundown/disclaimer in favor of transparency:

“I’m a firm believer in cables, so much so that I have invested stupid crazy money on my personal cables. While not as important as your IEM or DAP, I believe the cable plays a vital, and sonically recognizable role in your signal chain, one that should not be overlooked. While not having a sound of their own, the increased “potential” and “ability expanding” effect of cables can indeed be quite noticeable. It can be a slight change in favor of smoothing or brightening an IEM, adding resolution or stage size, more laid back, more punchy or energetic, or really anything in between. That’s the fun of cables! Sometimes, with the really great stuff, it even brings a paradigm shift in everything it’s plugged into, revealing things you didn’t know were even there and making your IEMs sing with serendipitous glee. I know some find this a silly waste of time and money - either not believing in it, or simply not caring - and that’s totally fine. The staggering prices alone give cause for emotional turmoil and even anger, I totally get it. I don’t have to remind any of you about the insane hobby-ending gambles some companies are doing now. It’s awful, I know. But, quality is quality, and when one is searching for the very best, companies make this stuff for people that care - if you don’t care then you’ve saved yourself a LOT of cash. That’s my view, and while I would be just as happy with something cheaper if it gave me the same level of enjoyment, I recognize you get what you pay for. So, I will be focusing ONLY on sonics and ergonomics for this review. At the end of the day, for me at least, how it sounds and how it makes you feel, is all that matters. “


- For source I used my LP6 Ti AE, E7 EE, and Sony WM1ZM2, along with short tests with N30Le and P6Pro Ti. IEMs were Traillii Ti, Supreme V3, TSAD Model2, and my usual 64A 18t for reference, along with several sessions with STORM.

- I purchased the SS myself, directly from Nightjar. Nothing was asked of me, only to share my impressions, feelings and experience. My thoughts are my own.

- I review because I love doing so, it’s a great source of joy for me. I don’t do this for work, and I spend an enormous amount of time on these. I take it very seriously, as I know people rely on reviews before they shell out cash, just like I do myself. For that reason I only review things that interest me, things I would maybe buy for myself. That doesn’t mean my reviews are in any way slanted, I pride myself on being very neutral and sharing my thoughts in a way that will benefit the community. Honesty and no fluff. If I recommend something it’s because I genuinely loved it, and I think you may too.

- I start out with a very varied playlist of testing tracks to form my initial thoughts, and then spend several weeks/months with the review sample simply listening to whatever inspires me, like I normally would. I then come back to the testing tracks to solidify my impressions before sitting down to write the review. I also listen while I write, one of my favorite parts.

- I love all kinds of music, and to form an honest opinion for any piece of gear I think it absolutely necessary to test with lots of different kinds of music. If you’re taking a reviewer’s word about a piece of gear you want to spend your hard earned cash on, in my opinion, you absolutely should take into consideration how their musical tastes match or differ from your own.


A few excerpts from my latest listening roster, in no particular order:

Jazz: Snarky Puppy, GoGo Penguin, Nubya Garcia, Mathew Halsall, Robert Glasper, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Hunter, Avishai Cohen, Kandace Springs, Chris Potter, John Scofield, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Esperanza Spalding, Gregory Porter, Julian Lage, Aaron Parks, Funky Knuckles, Ghost Note, Lettuce, Mark Littieri.

Rock: Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Talking Heads, Mark Knopfler, Rage Against The Machine, Eric Johnson, Michael Landau, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Them Crooked Vultures, Tom Petty, Jackson Brown, Jethro Tull.

Vocals/Modern: Jordan Rakei, Tom Misch, Lianne La Havas, Asgeir, The Comet is Coming, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Glass Animals, Jacob Collier, Hiatus Coyote, RY X, Vulfpeck, Fantastic Negrito.

Electronic: Joe Armon-Jones, Hidden Orchestra, Om Unit, Yosi Horikawa, Archie Pelago, Arovane, Madlib, Emancipator, Kryptic Minds, Bonobo, FKJ, Djrum, Synkro, Moonchild, Little Dragon.

Heavy Music: Animals as Leaders, Tool, Gojira, Polyphia, TesseracT, Meshuggah, Trivium, Sevendust, Periphery, Sepultura, Intervals, Plini, Polyphia.



Without further ado, let’s get into it!


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DESIGN:

Foundation is everything in audio - the most famous circuits and designs are often imitated, but very often fall short since the love, passion and genius that made the originals so good just isn’t there. Some brands start with a splash, others grow and learn over time, evolving. Sometimes inspiration strikes twice, and the fantastic original can be improved, furthering the creator’s dream and vision. NJ’s first flagship cable was the Mira, then came the Sovereign, and finally the SS. Since we know the SS is a 4 wire Sovereign, we should take a look at the latter, to get an idea of where the former was born, and where its roots and inspiration come from.


This is what the Nightjar website says about the Sovereign:

“The culmination of two years of R&D after the Mira. Sovereign is powered by a blend of OCC copper conductors from the top Taiwanese foundries. Featuring a meticulously designed geometry, specifically designed to harness the organic and transparent nature of the best OCC conductors, and then carefully integrated with a calibrated quantity of silver to mitigate the few remaining weaknesses of top-tier copper. Experience huge sound-staging, extreme resolution, and uncapped dynamics, all tied seamlessly together with an organic and transparent tonal presentation. Sovereign takes the grand presentation of the original Mira 4-wire to the next level in a far more compact form factor. Why choose between comfort and sound quality when you can have both? Unleash your chain with the effortless fluidity of Sovereign.”

Conductor: 7N OCC Copper for signal, Copper & Pure Silver mix for ground
Geometry: Multi-Gauge Shielded Litz
Sleeve: Ultrasoft PVC
True Gauge: 22.0 AWG
Resistance (Including Connectors): 0.07Ω
Solder: Custom Silver Blend
Pins: AEC Tellurium Copper
Jack: Furutech Rhodium-Plated Pure Copper
Default length: 1.2m (Inquire for other lengths)



Sounds awesome right? Keeping all that in mind, and then adding in some more, this is what the Nightjar website says about the SS:

“An experimental project that was never meant to exist, brought to completion on the insistence of multiple community members. For those crazy and adventurous enough, (the) Symphony stages like nothing else if the chain can support it. Both physically and sonically massive, experience an extreme level of granularity and gradation in every domain: dynamics, transparency, scale, timbral precision, and layering. Collectively coming together to form an uncompromised symphony of grandeur, emotionality, and effortless technique.”

Conductor: 7N OCC Copper for signal, Copper & Pure Silver mix for ground
Geometry: Multi-Gauge Shielded Litz
Sleeve: Ultrasoft PVC
True Gauge: 19.0 AWG
Resistance (Including Connectors): 0.04Ω
Solder: Custom Silver Blend
Pins: AEC Tellurium Copper
Jack: Furutech Rhodium-Plated Pure Copper
Default length: 1.2m (Inquire for other lengths)




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While I’m no tech expert, what I take away from this is the Sovereign is really a pure copper cable. Using a small amount of silver on the grounding side seems to bring a touch of silver’s performance and tuning flavor, (counteracting copper’s final flaws) but this is a flagship copper cable at heart. Super cool. When looking deeper I start to see the SS’s presence growling into focus: it’s waaaay more wire. Going from 22AWG to 19AWG, plus doubling the wire count (from 2 to 4) means the SS is more than meets the eye, and uses far more material to build. The resistance also drops to a very impressive nearly nothing 0.04 ohms. This is not just sticking two Sovereigns together and calling it a day, it seems the foundation of the Sovereign has been amped up, rethought, ‘suped up with the SS, offering more than just extra wire. I love this, not resting on laurels, see how far things can get pushed.


I also see that this was a community requested project, and like many legendary audio gears, was created a bit by accident, as a test. The Brise Tsuranagi comes to mind here; they used it to test their cables for flaws, someone heard it at a show, and the rest is history. Genius gets lucky sometimes, and just going with it can reap great results. The SS was most certainly not an “oops” kind of moment, probably more like, “can we really make this work?”. Or “This thing is nuts, who is crazy enough to use it?” I feel the end result is perfectly summarized: “an uncompromised symphony of grandeur, emotionality, and effortless technique”.



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BOX, PACKAGING:

As the SS is a new product, the final packaging and accessories weren’t ready when I made my order. I was offered the cable and leather case immediately with the accessories to follow, or wait on the whole order. Obviously I didn’t wait, who could!? So all I have for now is the cable and case, which for me is just fine. I don’t know what else is coming, I certainly don’t need anything else. I will say the case is the most unique I have received with a cable. It’s more of a pouch, like a coin purse even, avoiding the traditional “puck” style case in favor of a lush, soft and ever so classy wine red case. It’s pretty basic structurally, the leather is very high quality and textured, the inside is lined with a velvety kind of cloth. Sovereign Symphony is emblazoned on the side in gold lettering which is a nice touch. It’s big enough to carry the huge cable with IEMs attached, although I will say since the case doesn’t have a “top” you’re sliding the IEMs in horizontally. It’s very padded and protected, but if you’re used to placing your IEMs on top of the cable in the puck, this may require you to adjust your insertion technique somewhat. It’s a very premium carrying case, pretty spacious too. At this time I am not using it with the SS, (my SS is basically superglued to my Traillii Ti which has its own VanNuys case) but I do have my Supreme V3 in there with the RSD FC4W cable which is massive. They look very cosy in there, which makes me happy. Our babies should be snug and content don’t you think?

The SS is a very expensive premium product, and the case fits the bill nicely. I use it all the time, as opposed to sitting somewhere in a drawer. It’s not outlandish or extreme, even understated, which I prefer and approve of. A cable needs no more in my opinion, well done Nightjar.

When I received my SS IC (interconnect) it came in a cool road case looking box. Black hardware, with a spray-painted looking NJ logo that adds a rad touch of touring cred. Inside is some padding dividers that can be moved around, as well as a small black leather case that holds the IC itself. Also emblazoned with the NJ logo, this one carefully embossed into the leather with shining silver accents. It’s a really nice little case, soft plush lining, and something that I am already using daily.

Overall I really like the NJ design style. Useful stuff, usable stuff, beautiful stuff, done really well.


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ERGO and WEAR:

This is a very big and heavy cable. Some, even most, may say it’s way overboard actually. Nightjar even say it themselves clearly on the website:

“Please consider carefully whether or not the heft of this cable is suitable for your use case. Also note that certain chains and IEMs will not be able to translate the image size and scale presented by the Symphony, and the bottleneck can be heard as congestion. In general, if you are unsure, we suggest you opt for the regular Sovereign instead. However, for those crazy and adventurous enough, Symphony stages like nothing else if the chain can support it.”


I can attest, this is all true. It’s not for everyone, but I suggest a moment’s digression here. In use it’s not bad at all. And if you can’t handle it, this is why we have the 2 wire Sovereign. And if you don’t have a TOTL chain you may not get the best out of it perhaps, though in my experience it sounded insane with everything I tried. High end gear scales massively, and the SS is no exception. Through desktop gear you’ll hear things you didn’t think were possible with IEMs, mind-blowing things. And honestly, if you’re considering getting one of these you probably have a great chain already. Just be warned. It is nice for a company to be transparent and honest about it - most will indeed opt for the Sovereign. But you might not be most people. 😈


If you do have a chance to try it, you’ll notice immediately when you pick it up how soft it is. It’s very supple given its size. It’s very pretty too - as someone who generally hates anything that isn’t dark and mysterious, the SS is a looker. Pale copper wires interlaced with silver streaks, melting into matte textured golden hardware. I don’t find it gaudy or posh. Nothing is shiny, it’s more like softly gleaming. It looks like a very exclusive product made to last a lifetime. The Y split is my favorite part, that black moon deeply embossed into its golden frame. I can tell you, it looks far cooler in your hands than you’d expect. I also really like the 4.4mm plug - it’s huge and chonky, like a headphone cable. Especially given the weight and size of the wires, it’s nice the plug is bigger and more sturdy in hand. It’s plated with Rhodium, which is my new favorite, as all my gold plated cables’ connectors have lots of scratches and missing flakes of gold from all my AB testing and reviews. Both the Y split and 4.4mm have the same textured gold finish, both are chunky and robust, and I really like the look despite my usual preference for matte black everything. The 2-pins are also nice, with similar texture on the metal shells, a red stripe to annotate the right side, and a sleek look modern look. The SS is available in several color schemes: gold 2 pins with purple moon insert, or black 2 pins with a black moon. You can also mix and match to your heart’s content.



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A first for me, the SS has no preformed ear hooks or shrink. Nothing at all actually, the cable just goes into the 2 pin connectors. I was worried at first, but it’s genius. For a cable this size, the lack of ear hooks means the cable just drapes over your ears in a way that feels very solid while also unobtrusive. I adjust and fiddle with them less, and they seem to put less stress and pressure on my ears than the shrink style.


One thing I will mention, the 2 pin connectors feel a touch fragile. The Y Split and 4.4mm exude confidence and stability, but I don’t quite get the same feeling from the 2 pins. Obviously this a huge cable, and any 2 pin would struggle to hold such behemoth wires, so take that with a grain of salt. The 2 pins connectors, the shells themselves, are very good quality, and look great. But the opening where the cable feeds in is wide open to accommodate the wires, so the wires themselves aren’t super snug inside, there is some minor play between the wire and the outer shell, or casing. That means when sideways pressure is put on the connector, for example when using the cable with IEMs in your ears, because of the weight, the wire and soldered inner connector tends to bend or flex inside the casing a bit. This results in the inner connector sometimes appearing bent against the outer case. (I hope that’s understandable) I would have preferred the casing to be loaded with either more stress relief shrink, forcing the wire bundle directly in contact with the casing snugly, or filling it with silicon or hot glue. Once the screw-on casing started to loosen up, I could of course just screw it back in, but this seems like something that should be glued or lok-tighted in as well.

***EDIT*** After speaking with NJ about this there are indeed reasons behind the 2pin construction. The extra space inside the barrel is there as a secondary strain relief, giving the cable room to flex without breaking the connection. Also the lack of silicone or glue allows the cable to bend easier coming out of the barrel, so it forms around your ears more naturally. As I guessed, there is indeed a reason for every little detail, which just goes to show the length NJ goes in their designs. I have been reassured that the soldered connection is indeed super strong; so have no fear friends! :) ***


I know this is nitpicking, I am super OCD about this kind of thing. I just want the cable to hold up to the 1000s of hours I’m going to use it for, and the 2pins are the weakest link. I’ve spoken to NJ about this and perhaps they will change this in the future. Just my opinion of course, perhaps I am asking too much, I’ve been known to do so.


The SS IC is essentially a super short version of the SS, with 4.4mm plugs on both sides. It feels really study, with a nice heft and weight to it. I really appreciate the larger 4.4mm plugs here, since the cable is so short it feels secure when plugging and unplugging it. I’ve tried it with a few amps and it felt rock solid, looks the part too. No moving parts, nothing to worry about, just a really well made IC.


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So how does it sound?

Godly - almost unholy even. Insanely good. Dynamics like a freight train and a hummingbird had a baby. A transparent monster that adds cavernous staging, massive note weight, ridiculous detail and a delightfully musical elegance unlike anything I have tried. And I’ve tried a lot. For anyone that has read my reviews I do get quite excited when I like something, but this time it’s different. It’s different because the SS somehow manages all of that, but without a single negative sonic aspect. I said similar in the introduction (TL:DR SS = GOAT if I remember correctly). I will qualify this, don’t you worry, but I just need to get the main statement out there, and off my chest. Remember that cables don’t have a “sound” per se, only your gear’s potential that can be unlocked, unearthed, or brought to life. The That said the SS is the most noticeable upgrade in sound over any cable I have heard. I don’t mean that the sound is colored, or made different, it’s simply means that the upgrade, the improvement, the unleashed potential is the most apparent. What it does is rather spectacular.

The first thing you’ll notice is the staging. It’s monstrous, the largest of any cable I have heard. Instruments are HUGE! There is fantastic weight, but not thickness. The space, the spread, the height, depth and positioning, is totally nuts. The sound is all around you, above and below, like being inside the music while also having incredible space around each individual sound and texture. Paired with the Traillii Ti I have the sense of listening to large floor standing speakers, the physicality and percussive impact is rather overwhelming. Bass is rumbly all around you, taught and tight but with slightly slower decay. Mids are exquisitely detailed, but also so tender and juicy you feel you touch them, taste them even. The smooth and effortlessly detailed treble lifts off in front of you, extending to infinity all around you. Nothing is exaggerated, nothing is thrown out of place, it’s all realistic and believable, but just so massive it’s quite a shock. Gone are the limitations or compromises of other cables I’ve heard: exchanging natural timbre for resolution, width for height or vice versa, dips and peaks for detail, or being overly technical while turning the sound cold, analytic or lifeless. The SS is extremely resolving, but it’s super musical too. Carrying just this tiny hint of glow around the edges, and a touch of warmth, so as to keep the magic alive while also giving you every single detail in crystal clarity. Not a smeary glow, more like a halo. Like having your cake and eating it too. This comes to mind a lot when trying to explain the SS’s sound. I’ll try to use as few superfluous adjectives from now on, I just have a hard time explaining how music makes me feel when using the SS. It has certainly rewritten in my mind what a cable is capable of. Considering it’s (essentially) pure copper makes this statement carry even more weight in my opinion.

I recently reviewed the Rhapsodio family of cables, and was blown away by the Fantasies Copper 4W. Having owned the PW Orpheus for quite some time, which is also a tremendous cable, I called it “as close to perfection as possible”. Truth be told, the SS has stolen the throne, and my heart. I couldn’t help it, it was instantaneous and unavoidable. I even tried to tell myself it wasn’t true, especially for my wallet’s sake, but no dice.


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While I could endlessly compare many TOTL cables vs the SS, I feel these two are the only ones that really stand up. All three are pure copper, all three have amazing technical abilities while staying musical and super enjoyable, all three have the biggest and most spacious stages an IEM cable afford. They have different tonalities and differences in approach - the end result of years and years of R&D from their makers. Bleeding edges, science experiments gone horribly right, pushing boundaries in synergies and constructions. I won’t claim to understand what really goes on, how it works, but I will attempt to say how they make me feel, because that’s the most important thing. While all 3 are amazing, the SS is the most realistic, the most natural. The biggest sound too. The FC4W is faster, punchier and brighter, the Orpheus more laid back, smooth and analog. The SS seems to occupy the space in between them, borrowing the best from each and finding a way to mix it all into a symphony of sonic perfection (pun intended).

Far from a surprise, the SS IC sounds like the SS, meaning glorious. After AB’ing several high end ICs over a period of days it became crystal clear how much of an impact this little cable was making in my chain. Some might discredit an IC of this price range as a stupid waste of money, however I must disagree here. As is the case with the SS, this IC has a much more noticeable effect on the sound than any of the ICs I’ve heard. Especially in the staging and note weight, I was very impressed with how much of an improvement I heard when using it. Even when using a different IEM cable and the SS IC, the same increased dynamics, staging, and detail were clear as day. This is extremely impressive, and while it was painfully expensive, I think it was totally worth it. Some may not, that decision I leave wholly to you.

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Let’s get into the nitty gritty-


BASS:


The SS has tremendous bass. You feel it as well as hear it, like a sub-woofer in a great concert hall, it emanates from all around you. Bass isn’t directional, we know this from studios, but never did I hear it in an IEM before. It can also be laser focused and intimate. Like in a jazz club, I can hear and feel the upright bass player right in front of me, the gut strings creating waves of frequency and amplitude that decidedly affect the surroundings. The pluck, the thump, the decay, like sitting next to him. On some recordings I really feel like I’m on stage, bass decay in front and behind me. I can feel the amp as it rumbles my guts, the texture I can touch and grind. For electronic music I cant find the precise location of the bass, like a club it just engulfs you. Rumbles and throbs, thunderours drones, it handles it all with ease. It has amazing texture, hold, grip, and reach. It’s a touch on the slower side, giving you a lush DD speaker movement kind of feeling. It can also snap when called on, speeds right along with a double kick pedal metal track, or throbs into a deep pad that shakes your kidneys. It can be sweet, it can blow your head off, like a chameleon, adapting to what you use it with, not adding anything but simply magnifying your gear’s abilities.

The quality is fantastic, the quantity is a touch over neutral. I don’t hear much more bass really, it’s just not hollowed out or ultra lean like some might think when I say transparent. There is a very satisfying grunt to the low end, with very deep reach and excellent rumble. When called for it is thunderous, if not then it’s fast and punchy or clean and held back. That’s the beauty of a transparent cable - there isn’t less of anything, it’s just way, way better. The SS has some of the best bass I have heard, and that’s saying something.


COMPARISONS:

The Orphy and FC4W both have extremely good bass. The FC has the fastest and most punchy, with a slight emphasis in the sub-bass region while the midbass is more neutral. It snaps and pulls it super taught, like a well strung tennis racket, keeping the attack and decay lightning fast. Using a DD IEM I hear the speed and accuracy, taking on the personality traits of an ultra fast BA. It’s awesome bass, where the quantity is more on the neutral side. The Orphy is a bit slower, more woofy and with some extra weight in the mid bass giving the low end serious presence and thump. It’s very punchy too, but comes about it in a different way, giving you more of a lush and rounded bottom end where the decay is longer and less tight, more DD like. I hear a noticeable increase in bass quantity, especially in the mid/upper bass. While it’s not overtly boosted, there is certainly more of it and it makes its presence known. The SS sits in between the two: not quite as rocket punchy as the FC, but not as slow as the Orphy. There is no hump, sub and mid bass are equally portrayed, and I hear both punchy and tight attack or more relaxed decay that envelops you. The SS seems to reach a bit deeper than the others, and since its quantity is more neutral, but not quite as light as the FC, it feels very balanced. The trend we will see throughout this entire review is the SS consistently sitting between these other two giants, while feeding on their strengths.



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MIDS:

As a self professed mids-man, I really, really need my mids to be the best possible. Not to overshadow the rest, but if the mids aren’t great then I lose interest. The SS has really, really fantastic mids - this is an easy statement to make. It has the largest instrument presentation of any cable I’ve heard, and that starts with the spread, size, weight, impact, and thunderous quality of the mids. Positioned slightly forward, everything comes to life in this grandiose almost overwhelming sensation of “biiiigggg”. Guitars are huge, textured and effortlessly detailed. Drums like toms and snares have this addictive weight that makes you feel like you’re sitting behind the kit yourself. Put on “When the Levee Breaks” or “The Pot” to have your mind blown. Vocals are massive, occupying a seemingly endless space in front and above you. Someone like Jordan Rakei or Lianne La Havas have somewhat lighter voices, and in some presentations they can even come off as nasal or overly thinned out - not so with the SS. They retain their delicate nature, the airy floating qualities, but they have substantial, measurable, and impactful weight that brings out this sense of realism that I have yet to find anywhere else. A deep male voice like Gregory Porter is massive too, not thickened or bloated, just super realistic and lively. Live music has this ability to physically alter your emotions, and I feel the mids of the SS do the same. Things really do sound more like live music with the SS, especially the mids.

Transients are nice and clean, but not overly sharp. The detail, both micro and macro in the mids is as good as anything I have heard, giving you a startling amount of resolution and transparency. Unlike some reference tuned cables that can be overly cold or clinical, the SS gives you the insane information, but brings it with that hint of honey or golden glow, keeping it super musical. The SS also has the most space between layers of any cable I have heard, allowing you to place instruments clearly all over the huge stage, in width and height, but also depth. On drum solos I can hear where on the kit the drums originally emanated from. Guitars on a well produced record aren’t just panned left and right, I can hear the individual tracks layered on top of each other, the differing tonalities and timbres clearly recognizable and separate from the others. As an example - take the new Sevendust record, on the heavy parts I can hear the two different kinds of amps they used, plus the acoustic guitar added in for percussive qualities, plus the baritone used to double up an octave below - as though I was in the room with them, and they were placed around the room at different distances from me. So dope. Put on something like Yosi Horikawa, an amazing producer who mixes real world sound bites with instruments - something like “Crossing” will totally blow your mind. I hear the car sounds, the scooter panning left to right, all these tiny bits of information and specks of sound flying around. Then add the massive drums as they slams away, a completely different tonality and timbre as anything else - but occupying the same sonic space, somehow totally discernible, clearly articulated, and portrayed faithfully with nary a bleed or crosstalk. Like I could mute the rest of the tracks and hear each one individually, and then bring all the tracks back in and the single track would still be as clear and precisely portrayed as when it was alone. It’s really crazy! Everything is so big, and so clearly defined against everything else. It’s pure resolution, pure power, amazing details without sacrificing musicality or realism.



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COMPARISONS:

I’ve often said the Orphy was the king of mids, but the SS certainly makes that statement harder to say now. It may still be true, but not without a caveat. While the SS has massive mids that are amazingly detailed and clear, there is just a touch more micro details and spread in the Orphy mids that nothing else quite matches. But while the Orphy is a touch smoothed out, the edges slightly softened, the SS doesn’t do that, coming across as slightly more punchy and clear - even with the Orphy bringing a bit more detail. The Orphy’s micro details do sound slightly compressed in comparison, not in a negative way, but with the softer edges and immense detail, they kind of pop out or “plink” more. It reminds me of Eric Johnson’s clean guitar tone, or a very well produced pop record, there is this slight compression that makes the details standout against the musical background, separated a bit. The SS’s micro-details are more contained inside the music, mixed in, giving a sense of great detail all around and perhaps a touch more “live” where Orphy is more “studio” if that can be understood. The Orphy does have a small lift in the upper midrange adding clarity, but also occasionally affecting higher voices, or even saxophones or horns, giving them a touch of a nasal quality. It is subtle, but it’s there. The mix of slightly compressed and more forward details mixed with a subtle rise in upper minds gives Orphy its characteristic ultra resolving nature, while staying really smooth and analog at the same time. Orphy is also more spread width wise, but much less tall - so you get this 2 channel sound which is very impressive. The SS sounds more like live music, as the stage is perhaps a bit less wide, but much more deep and tall, and seems to come from everywhere around you. Both are insanely good.

The FC4W has amazing mids too. It’s rather unique in that the mids are very forward and intimate, even “close”, but the rest of the stage is massively around you, especially in the mid depth department. Vocals and instruments are very clean with crisp transients, fast and articulate too. Great note weight that feels impactful, energetic, but also sultry and delicious too. Paired with the Supreme V3 gives some of the best mids ever, full stop. As is the fashion for RSD, everything is tight and clean, with insane resolution and a slight uptick in energy in the upper mids/lower treble around 8k that adds a touch of sizzle to the otherwise very natural tuning. Where the Orphy goes for emotion and smoothness, the SS is more transparent, and the FC doubles down on detail and energy. Vocals are fabulous, guitars and drums too, but depending on the pairing the upper mid energy can be slightly distracting. Also with some IEMs the mids are so close that it can feel almost claustrophobic - even though the FC stage is one of the biggest ever. (Super contradictory thing to say, but it’s true). Orphy is slightly compressed, spread, warmer and very emotional. The SS is natural and hugely thunderous, with the biggest instruments and stage space. The FC4W is more energetic, faster and a bit lighter on its feet.

Really hard to pick a winner here, it really all comes down to what you want - and more importantly, what piece of gear you’re starting with. These 3 kings of mids do create myriad hard 1st world decisions….



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TREBLE:

The SS has the perfect portrayal of treble for my tastes. It is incredibly detailed, vast and endless, sparkly and clean, but so natural and even, it blows my mind. As I said in the intro, normally one would have to make some kind of compromise, especially in the treble region, to have so much detail, so much space and air, but also be so natural, weighted and realistic at the same time. The SS has amazing treble weight, even in the tiniest specks of detail, a bit like a BCD, where every aspect of the music has some tangible physicality to it. With most cables one gets a bit of pyramid effect in the treble, getting thinner and thinner as we go higher in the spectrum. With live music there is no such effect, so why in portable audio is this commonplace? This is done to create space and make you think there is more detail, but I find it somewhat unrealistic. Thankfully, for me at least, the SS avoids this completely, adding to its sense of grandiosity and hugeness even in the highest regions. Very cool!

There is no roll off, no extra sizzle, no dips or peaks to distract from the incredible technicalities and details the SS’s treble brings. That’s the specialty of a transparent cable, it wont dull a bright IEM, or brighten a dark one, you retain the same tuning, just a big uptick in technicalities, extension, resolution and clarity. In the high end I hear an incredibly vast extension, with mind boggling detail, without a hint of harshness or brightness. There is nice sparkle, clean and clear transients, but very musical and enjoyable. As was the case in the mids, the staging is incredible. That depth and height, layers upon layers of information that are clearly discernible and clear. Details pop up all over the space, creating a fully 3D immersive experience. Like looking up at the sky and seeing each star alone - and then taking in the whole sky as a whole. Or looking through a microscope, every sliver of detail is there, but when you sit back and pull away it’s also musical and enjoyable too.

When I was in Munich High End this year, I heard some incredible 2 channel Hi-Fi setups. With melt your mind performance, and life ending piece tags, staggering as they were, there was one thing that really stuck with me. The way the treble was so large, even thick and percussive, as big as the mids and bass. Things like cymbal crashes and pads, airy spacious textures, and the most minute details, all had some sense of physicality to them. This is what the SS does for me. This is something unique to the SS from all what I have found. This is something I have been searching for ever since I entered the hobby. Well done Nightjar, this seals the deal for me!




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COMPARISONS:

In continuation of compromise, here is where the SS most certainly pulls away from the competition. While other areas are subjective, how you like your mids and bass are preference, the SS treble is simply more correct, realistic and natural, without some trade-off. The Orpheus has a noticeable roll-off on the top end, leaving me feeling like someone lowered the ceiling by a meter or two when I come from the SS. Like something is missing, something has been covered up or forgotten. In certain cases it can help to smooth out an overly bright or spritely IEM, but in general I find the treble of Orphy to be taking away too much. The FC4W has incredible treble extension, detail and space, but it does add a touch of extra energy that doesn’t play well with all IEMs. While the quality of the FC4W treble is fantastic, that extra sense of energy does limit its pairings. And it does thin out a bit up top, going for a slightly more ethereal and floating nature - to its credit the staging in the treble is something one needs to experience in their lifetime. The SS makes none of those sacrifices, staying true and natural without giving up one iota of technical ability.

Of course some people like a more spritely top end, or some extra sparkle, or even a bit of a roll off. I know many love the ethereal sound, there’s a lot of you. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s simply not what I prefer. I’m used to being in the minority for such things, I am a purist after all. But this is what makes the SS so special to me, it doesn’t miss out on anything, while avoiding the pitfalls or exaggerations others cables employ. Just my feeling, but it’s something really special, and in all ways that matter to me, uniquely masterful.


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STAGE:

Please allow me to copy paste a quick blurb I use in all my reviews:

“As always, stage size is hard to quantify and explain. Let’s look at the root of the term “soundstage” for a moment. To me we’re talking about the space around you- in front of you, above and behind you, to the sides- where music is emanating from one central area and the surrounding environment is portraying, affecting, or mirroring this sound into a 3D environmental experience for your ears. There is clearly a stage, with performers, and you the listener are positioned somewhere in the space. You may be in front row center, or “rows” back, like a concert, or in a closed space like a 2 Channel system at home. Some may prefer sitting in the middle of a crowd at a festival, moshing or swaying back and forth to the beat, subs shaking your chest with giant vocals floating above your head and a light show emblazoning the sky. A concert hall perhaps, a big enclosed space with high end speaker arrays and acoustic baffling. Or you’re in a smaller club, smaller system, but the band feels like you can reach out and touch them, emotions flying high as you brave their cigarette smoke and sweat. Or, like a Snarky Puppy live album, the crowd is literally mixed in the space, fist bumping along to the crazy inspired jams like you’re in the band. So which is bigger? Which is better? Thankfully we don’t have to choose, everyone can enjoy whichever makes them happy, hooray for choices!”


The SS stage is one of the most massive, spherical, and endless stages I have ever heard. It extends in all directions evenly, creating a sense of being on stage, or in the band, while performing in a cathedral, or giant hall where the usual constraints of reality don’t apply. Bass emanates from all around you. The mids are both super wide and deep, but also keeping them close and forward enough to feel their distinctive texture, and presence. If I close my eyes I can reach out and feel the space between the layers. The top end is endless. It all seems so vast, all the while retaining the largest instruments and bigger than life presentation - a very impressive feat. The SS is the most immersive experience I have had with an IEM. While such a large stage is possible with other cables, the difference the SS makes is how big the instruments are perceived. I have never heard such big instruments; textured swirling organs and shrieking guitars, throbbing bass and pounding drums, or vocals so sweet and serene cascading in a stadium sized orbit around you. But it doesn’t sound far away either - I feel the percussive nature of the drums as the heads reverberate and thump around me. Guitars are guttural and wide, but never feeling stretched or thinned out to create space. I can discern clearly where in the stage each instrument is located, how far away from me it is, how high or low, and with so much space between it all that I don’t quite understand how Nightjar have done it. This is a GRAND stage, in all senses of the word.

For an extra sense of wonder, plug it in to a high end desktop system and prepare to have your face melted. Talk about stage size, totally ridiculous. With the SAEQ Hyperion Ge or DCs Lina, I was as close to a full HP sound as could be possible with an IEM. It defied rules, greeting me with such a large presentation it resembled floor standing speakers, or far field monitors more so than an IEM. Massive, massive, massive. Mind-blown.



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Another Interesting Comparison(s)


vs PW 1950s Shielding

While not included thus far, I think this is a a very interesting comparison. Despite rather large pricing differences, they are more similar than different. Both are copper builds. Both are targeted as neutral, transparent and reference in their presentations. Both feature clear and articulate edges, but soft enough not to fatigue. They both have punchy bass that extends deep. They both err on the side of clean over warm, very technical yet musical. Both have very detailed mids, and treble that is nicely smooth but resolving. Both have spherical stages too. But the SS takes everything about the 50S and moves it up several notches. It is noticeably more resolving - a clear step up. The bass digs deeper, and is more textured. Mids are more vast, more detailed, more articulate while remaining very musical too. Treble is more extended on SS. While the 50S has the Cardas trademark slight roll off, the SS has none and feels more spacious. Stage wise the SS is bigger too, and the instrument size and weight is larger. One could call the 50S something like a cousin to the SS, they come from the same kind of heart and soul. Both pair with anything, are very enjoyable and musical, and sound awesome. The SS is just a much bigger, grander, and more monstrous sounding 50S - with the same traits physically too. 50S is indeed much cheaper, much thinner and lighter, so it’s a great choice, especially for those more budget limited. The SS is for the insane ones like me, where limits are meant to be stretched, and rules broken. I realize the 50S is somewhat outgunned in this comparison, which is why I used the Orpheus mainly, but I think it should make this guest appearance for reasons I made above. It’s fantastic, and for the price I still think it’s the best value in the cable world for a copper sound.


vs Sovereign + Mira

I realize that I haven’t included the 2w Sovereign, or the Mira. Unfortunately I didn’t have access to either of them at this time - as I said I bought the SS myself, and my budget is already way overextended. I did hear the Mira 2W a year ago on the STORM, but that has now been updated to MK2 and my faded impressions would no longer be valid or useful. I would very happily review these two in the future, if the opportunity comes to reality. This is my first review of Nightjar’s gear, and suffice to say my appetite is whet and ready for the next meal!


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CONCLUSION

If you wanted to get the gist of this review, you needn’t have read past the first few lines really: the SS is the best cable I’ve ever heard. It has no sonic flaws, nothing out of place. It also accomplishes the impossible: it sounds insanely huge without muddying up or overly thickening the sound. It sounds amazing with all IEMs I tried, all sources, with a transparent and resolving sound that rivals full size speakers in its presentation. It’s not dry, cold or analytical. It’s like a microscope with a highly technical sound, and yet everything sounds especially musical, with that hint of golden glow that doesn’t affect its technical abilities. In a crowded room full or summit gear, I personally put the SS on a pedestal all it’s own, sonic perfection. It’s only my opinion, so please take the statement for what it is.

How music makes me feel is the most important thing to me. Gear is nothing without this, a senseless technical marvel perhaps, wrapped in gold and glittering hardware at best. The SS is different; a seamless and ludicrously enjoyable package that blows my mind each and every time I use it. I always get this grin and a sense of “how the f&^&%k did Nightjar manage to pull this off?? The FC4W and Orphy blow my mind too, but somehow this “perfect” blend of the two has stolen my heart, and earned its spot at the very top. I loved it so much I even bought the matching IC, what does that say about it, or my mind for that matter!? :)

Does it have faults? Sonically no. But ergo wise it’s definitely not going to be for everyone. It’s huge, heavy and crazy expensive. But, for those that want it all, the absolute summit of audio perfection in a portable package, the SS plays hard for that spot. Big sound, big cable, big cost. Sometimes genius strikes, and the previously unattainable comes within reach. Add in that Chang, NJ’s founder, is the nicest guy ever. It just makes the whole deal even sweeter. Paired with my Traillii Ti, it’s the best I’ve ever heard in a portable package. Add in summit desktop gear and it’s possibly the best I’ve ever heard in any combo. Strong words I know, but I choose them carefully. If you want the best, the SS is it, and receives my highest recommendation.


I hope this review was helpful, or at the very least entertaining. A big thanks to @Chang for his help, and patience in answering all my insane questions. He was very kind to me, and I never forget a thing like that. If you want to get one for yourself he’s the guy to talk to - or simply head over to NJ’s website and order. You won’t regret it.


Thanks for reading!

If you'd like to check out my other reviews and photo work you can by clicking here for my WEBSITE.
Last edited:
Ike1985
Ike1985
How does it pair with Jewel and what do you think is the cause for the jump in performance? In other words, looking at the construction it looks very unique, any ideas how they did it?

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