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Exo series Gold Plated Silver IEM cable

PlusSound Exo GPS

Rating:
5/5,
  • Exo Gold Plated Silver
    4-wire cable
    Material: Gold Plated Silver Type 6 Litz
    Gauge: 26AWG
    Cores: 7
    Insulation: PS
    Cryogenically Treated
    Price: US$599.99

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Recent Reviews

  1. Wyville
    PlusSound Exo - Gold Plated Silver
    Written by Wyville
    Published May 23, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Punchy, clear and detailed sound, durable build quality, great ergonomics, highly customisable
    Cons - Price
    PlusSound Exo GPS

    Disclaimer
    I would like to thank PlusSound for providing me with the Exo cable in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favourable review.

    Exo Gold Plated Silver
    • 4-wire cable
    • Material: Gold Plated Silver Type 6 Litz
    • Gauge: 26AWG
    • Cores: 7
    • Insulation: PS
    • Cryogenically Treated
    • Price: US$599.99

    Links:
    http://www.plussoundaudio.com
    https://www.facebook.com/plussound/

    Preamble
    PlusSound Audio is a small, but increasingly popular company based in Los Angeles California, mostly know for its aftermarket cables. Although such cables are still a controversial topic for some, there has been a real drive for innovation among the different manufacturers and a rise in the use of exotic materials and different combinations of more common ones. PlusSound is no stranger to this, as they have had materials such as their T-Metal on offer for some time already and recently introduced their Tri-Copper and Tri-Silver materials. I have tried a number of these exotic cables, including the Tri-Copper, which really impressed me. PlusSound however also offers cable materials that can these days almost be considered "classics" such as Silver-Plated-Copper (SPC), which is a very popular option with manufacturers for more premium quality stock cables, or Gold-Plated-Silver (GPS). Now GPS is an interesting one because during my audiophile journey many people have hinted at the special qualities that this material brings. Just subtle hints mind. A bit along the lines of... "Stay away from GPS cables man, those are addictive as heck!" or "Once you have heard a GPS cable, you will be calling Boris the Backstreet Butcher to see if he will accept the other kidney as well". Of course that is like waving a red flag in front of a bull and so I have always been curious to hear for myself what such a cable does with my favourite IEMs. Well, as luck would have it, here is an opportunity now!

    Unboxing
    The Exo cable came in the familiar satin black box with black sleeve around it that, apart from the nice glossy black artwork, contained information on the back about the cable, instructions on how to use and care for it and warranty details. Inside the box was of course the cable that was sealed in a clear bag (which I removed before taking the pictures because I was far too eager to have a quick listen first) and alongside a small box with accessories. The accessories are an amplifier band, a microfiber cloth, a cleaning tool and a leather strap to help organise the cable. I have addressed these in more detail when they were first released and I still think it is a very useful set of accessories, as well as a very convenient box.

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    Of course ultimately it is all about the cable and it is yet another gorgeous cable with great attention to detail. The cable is a Gold Plated Silver cable and this theme comes back in the colours of the new parts that I will discuss in more detail later. The 2-pin connectors have different colour caps with the right side rose gold and the left silver, a combination that returns with the silver aluminium y-split and rose gold slider, and the cable is then completed with the 2.5mm balanced termination that also has a rose gold cap. It makes for a wonderful looking cable, especially combined with the colour of the cable material itself, which I have unfortunately not been able to do justice in my pictures.

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    Build quality and ergonomics
    Before this review I already had the opportunity to have a closer look at two other PlusSound cables, the Exo Silver+Gold and the X6 Tri-Copper, and I absolutely loved the build quality of those cables. The parts that PlusSound used were very solid and felt like they were built to last. Indeed, I used the rather silly term "utilistic" to describe the design, referring to the feel of the parts that gave me the impression of being purposely designed to be used and used extensively. The connectors and termination were quite chunky with a heat shrink cover that gave a solid feel to the parts when plugging and unplugging, and it made the cables a pathological cable-roller's dream. Since I can't ever just settle on one cable paired with my IEMs that would be me, and I greatly appreciated it.

    For 2019 though PlusSound developed new parts to replace their trademark heat shrink, a somewhat risky move considering it was very much a part of what distinguished PlusSound cables. But as soon as I saw and started using the new parts, I realised that it was very much an evolution of the design. On the connectors and termination the heat shrink is now replaced by a cover that feels just as solid, but is a little thinner and has a coloured cap that works as a left and right indicator (although they can also be the same colour). For the termination there are four colour options, black, gold, silver and rose gold, while for the connectors there are two additional options with red and blue (often used to indicate the right and left sides respectively). The feel of the new cover is very similar to the heat shrink and it is still a dream to use when switching between cables.

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    The ergonomics are very much the same as the Exo Silver+Gold I reviewed earlier and it is among the very best for a 4-wire cable available today. It is very supple and comfortable to use. I can often listen to my IEMs for eight hours a day and the Exo cables with the PS insulation never give me any issues, even though I do wear glasses. There is also no heat shrink or tubing of any kind that is used for the bend around the ears, which I am very tankful for because some of those such as the PVC ones can become very painful for me if I wear them for too long. Something about that material just does not agree with my skin, making it feel like my ears are on fire. No issues like that with PlusSound's cables!

    Source and IEMs
    All listening was done with the Cowon Plenue 2, a neutral DAP, from the 2.5mm balance out. As synergy is very important with cable pairings, I tried a number of different IEMs. Because of the excellent synergy, the main impressions I give here were made with the 64 Audio Tia Trio and I will give more succinct impressions of additional pairings further down.

    Presentation
    I always like to emphasise just how important good synergy is to get the most out of an aftermarket cable. Even the most expensive cables can sound "off" if the synergy is not there, and so I enjoy exploring different pairings in order to find one that I feel works best.

    The pairing with the Trio is an excellent one in my opinion, as it does exactly what I would like it to do. With a stock SPC cable (I used one from Custom Art, as I did not have the stock 64 Audio cable available) the Trio have a slightly fuzzy warmth to them and the Exo GPS cleans that up brilliantly, while adding extension to both the bass and treble. The stage expands a bit more and becomes a lot more airy. While listening to the Goo Goo Dolls I noticed a clear improvement in transparency and detail retrieval. I feel the Trio really benefit from this, as it shows off their excellent technical ability much better. The image feels more effortless and the music flows in a very natural way, more out of the head and immersive. It is of course a matter of preference, but I preferred this pairing over the Trio with the X-Series GPC (that I reviewed at the same time) because it gives a slightly brighter, clearer and more detailed result, which I think the Trio benefit from, although I do find the X-Series GPC to give a more musical result. Still... That bassssss.

    Bass
    One of the main reasons I really enjoy the pairing of the Trio with the Exo GPS is the bass that this pairing produces. Much like with the X-Series GPC, the Exo GPS extends the bass and gives it a more analogue quality that is both textured and more airy. However, in this case the bass goes to guttural depths and digs so deliciously deep. With the Goo Goo Dolls the track Bullet Proof has this growl at the start and it is so much deeper and full of texture than with the stock SPC. It is the just sort of deep growling bass that I also love when listening to Astronaut Ape and so far there have been only few times where I have heard Awaredance as good as with this pairing. There is real physicality to the bass and I think in this the Exo GPS really does the Trio justice. It does not quite get to the level of my favourite bass canon's the Empire Ears Legend X, and oh how I do wish I had those around to pair with this cable, but it is still the type of deep brain massaging bass that my inner bass head loves ever so much!

    Mids
    The thing about this cable is that while it has the physical and analogue bass, it also offers significant improvements in mid range clarity. The tonality gets a little brighter overall, but without loosing too much naturalness. With warmer IEMs like the Trio I find that instruments come through a bit more clearly and although brighter, actually sound more natural/realistic. Vocals too are refined a little, they become smoother, yet with a brighter overall tone that makes them cleaner and more natural sounding. While the Trio do not have the best vocals I have heard, the Exo GPS makes enough of an improvement that I can really enjoy listening to my favourite albums by Agnes Obel or Caro Emerald. Of course the latter benefits from the insanely good double bass that accompanies Caro's voice in a lot of the tracks... Yeah sorry, my inner bass head just keeps popping up with this pairing. Mids are also (relatively speaking) a bit less important with this pairing, as most of my attention keeps going towards the bass and treble.

    Treble
    I am generally not a treble head and indeed I can be quite sensitive to some treble peaks, such as often-used lower treble lifts to aid clarity and detail retrieval. The Trio of course have the Tia drivers for the treble and those offer a wonderful amount of sparkle and I really enjoy it with the stock cable. The one thing I was a little worried about was that perhaps a silver cable would accentuate the Tia treble a bit too much and push it straight into "needles in my ears" territory, but I needn't have worried. Although the Exo GPS extends the treble, it also does a great job in smoothing out the treble response of the Trio and the result is a very sparkly and natural sounding treble that I thoroughly enjoy. Indeed, I can happily put on the soprano vocals of Elin Manahan-Thomas and just drift away in its smooth, yet crystal clarity. I am actually quite surprised by how much I enjoy listening to it with this pairing, as I generally do not use it for classical music because of the prominent bass. Indeed, ignoring the bass, I think the treble in Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker is some of the most sparkly and fairy-like I have heard to date. It maintains a hint of sweetness that I think is beneficial to the Christmassy atmosphere and extends really well. Yes, I think this pairing is able to dig deep into the furthest recesses of my soul and finding a treble lover hiding in there.

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    Pairings
    -Empire Ears Phantom-
    The Phantom are my babies and I have been cable rolling with them ever since I got them and finding amazing synergy with some cables (the X6 Tri-Copper among them), so how did the Exo GPS do? Pretty darn good actually. With the stock Ares II the Phantom have quite an intimate and warm sound. The Exo GPS reduces the intimacy by expanding the stage significantly while maintaining the holographic shape and reducing the warmth a little to allow more air around instruments. The overall sound is quite clean for the Phantom and I really like the image this creates. The bass stays nice and punchy with great texture and weight, but benefits less than was the case with the Trio. Vocals perhaps balance a bit better, reducing the Phantom's inherent bias towards male vocals, and are nice and clean. The treble gets a hint of extra sparkle and loses some of the sweetness/warmth of the stock treble.

    -64 Audio U12t (M20)-
    This pairing works well without adding too much warmth to the signature. I generally like a bit of added warmth for the U12t, like with the X-Series GPC, but this pairing works very nicely too. The bass gets a nice bit of kick to it and is a little more prominent without coming too much forward, leaving the rest of the signature pretty much unaffected by it. Mids feel cleaner, airier and more stable, with vocals improving in much the same way as with the Trio. Vocals sound a little more realistic than with the Trio and have the same smooth clarity. In the treble too I notice that while it is more extended, it is also a bit smoother overall. I do not like the result quite as much as with the Trio because there is a bit less sweetness to it, but still very much a high quality treble. I think this pairing is great for people who prefer to maintain the U12t's more technical sound, while still adding a bit of a kick to the bass and an improvement in clarity, detail retrieval and transparency.

    Conclusions
    The PlusSound Exo Gold Plated Silver is a great cable for warm IEMs that could benefit from a little less warmth and some extra punch and texture in the bass, but pairs also very nicely with closer to neutral IEMs such as the U12t. It extends the treble well and can smooth out some treble peaks. Build quality is top notch with the new parts introduced this year and PlusSound still offers some of the most extensive customisation options around.
      deafdoorknob and ezekiel77 like this.
    1. deafdoorknob
      great review! another pairing i really enjoy with the trio is the dita truth spc, have you tried? if yes, how was it compared to the PS GPS? cheers
      deafdoorknob, Jun 11, 2019
    2. Wyville
      @deafdoorknob Sorry, haven't tried that pairing. I tried the Truth Copper with the U12t, which I loved, but the springy cable made me switch back within 5 minutes and I did not try any more. If I have time I will try the Trio + Truth Silver later this week and let you know.
      Wyville, Jun 11, 2019
      deafdoorknob likes this.

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