Tri Audio Onyx IEM cable

Dsnuts

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Higher end crystal copper plated in pure silver gives nice transparency to your IEMs. Increases space and stage, helps with technical aspects of your IEM sound.
Cons: Thicker black with gold flake PVC finish makes the cable a bit stiff. I initially thought the gold flakes was a flaw in the finish. Gold flakes does not add to the desired bling factor these folks probably wanted to achieve.
Tri Onyx
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Earphone cables are as numerous as the earphones they are connected to, probably even more so with greater variations of the cables than you would imagine. But there is so much you can do with copper and or silver and the combination thereof and just because your earphone manufacturers throw in a cable that looks and feels similar to these aftermarket cables. I can assure you there is a reason why the industry has thrived on selling the aftermarket cable. There is a clear reason why these cables cost the way they do and why you are seeing the growth of the IEM cable industry.

The Onyx is a brand new cable from Tri audio and the idea with the aftermarket cables like the Onyx is to provide a plus for your earphone. “The plus.” is that with the right match up to your earphones you will get one better than what was provided out of the box from the earphone manufacturers and I am not talking about just looks but more importantly, the sound.
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Being an earphone reviewer, I can honestly say it is rare to see an included cable with an earphone package that actually optimizes the absolute best sound that is coming from the earphones and that is at all levels of earphones not just the budget sector. Unless your paying a lump sum of money for a top of the line flagship model which throws in a stupid expensive cable adding to the bottom line cost of the IEM. I would say a good 90% of all earphones just provide the bare minimum for a cable that while doesn’t limit the sound of the earphone they are attached to but does not do anything to really optimize the sound either.

In many cases I have had cables that actually enhance the worst aspects of an earphone sound, be it a cable that enhances treble that is already very detailed to begin with or a bad matching warm copper cable included with a bassy IEM. Yes there is such a thing as throwing in a bad cable that limits a sound or enhances the bad parts of an earphone sound. More times than not this is the manufacturer not paying attention to how the end product actually sounds with the throw in cable included in the box. Believe me, just about everyone is guilty of this at one point or another. Whether this was done intentionally or accidentally, there is the need for aftermarket cables.
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Standardly disclaimers. The Onyx was provided from Ann at keephifi for the purpose of a review. You can read more about the Onyx and can be purchased on Keephifi web site store here. I know burning in cables sounds hokey but I try to get at least a week's worth of run time on the material before doing any real analysis. People already think burning in earphones is a sham. I mean what do they think about cable burn in? In any case. The Onyx was tested using variety of my best earphones and these here are my findings based on perceived changes I am hearing using the Onyx.

The Onyx at its core is a 6 core 252 total strands of silver plated crystal copper sleeved in a shiny black and gold flake PVC coating. These are moderately thick in their substance as an earphone cable and therefore are not as pliable or soft as they could be. The black and gold flake PVC coating makes them a bit stiff actually. I don't know what the effect of the coating on the cable cores will be in the long run after years of use but for now from what I know about this particular finish is that on one hand it is a good looking cable the other is that this particular finish is done to prevent seeing any oxidation of the cables. Usually silver plated copper cables turn color over time but with a black PVC finish they can turn rainbow colored and you won't notice for the better.
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Arguably and over all shiny black is easy on the eyes not to mention goth hip, but then they added gold flakes? To be honest I am not sure if the gold flakes on the finish achieved a more premium look. When I first noticed the flakes on the finish I thought it was a flaw in the finish I literally took a cloth to the cable. Never seen gold flakes in the finish of a cable so I will give props to a unique finish at least but a more premium look, that is debatable.
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I suppose it is a unique aspect of the Onyx is that the cables are not 100% shiny black however when viewing casually the cable looks more like a flaw in the finish of the Onyx. Flaw or gold flakes it seems to be uniform on all parts of the Onyx. So with that shiny black you also get specs of gold metal flakes for a little bit of an added bling factor to the cable.

No need to color match the Onyx as they will match with everything. They are like your one pair of black jeans for your wardrobe. My first experience with the Onyx was on the KBEAR Aurora earphones which comes with a stock cable that is similar in design to the Onyx. Once switched out to the Onyx I can tell right away the sound was better and more expansive. My impressions of what the cables do here is based on how they perform vs the stock cable the manufacturers include.
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The reason for the price of the Onyx has to do with its material base as most cables are priced accordingly. Crystal copper cables unto itself is a highly resolving copper cable and one that has some micro properties to its finish that are officially called crystal copper. I happen to own crystal copper cables that cost more than the Onyx so I have a firm idea of how resolving this material is. Next to pure silver it is copper that has the best transmission of sound but one which gives a different, some might consider more natural tonal qualities to sound. While not as expensive or as technical in its presentation as pure silver, the crystal copper material is a much higher end pure copper variety that comes very close to ultra pure copper used for very high end copper cables. Then particular strands are coated in a liquid form of pure silver to enhance its resolving ability even further. Thicker cores translate to thicker sound which is also evident in how the Onyx performs.

How they affect sound.
The Onyx is a classic silver plated copper cable but is using a higher end more resolving crystal copper. Most included cables with earphones are of some type of copper variety and I am seeing more and more silver plated copper cables that are included with some of the nicer earphones being sold. Even over the stock silver plated copper cable of the Aurora with the Onyx the sound clearly expands and has greater note weight and fullness. I can tell the Onyx is a much more resolving cable just by the sound differences I am hearing. And truth be told it isn’t a leap in sound it is more subtle than substantially different. Going back n forth yes I can tell the sound expands giving the Aurora a weightier, deeper and expansive sound profile.
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The idea of silver plating on a crystal copper cable is to enhance what crystal copper does. A more resolving copper cable on one hand but at the same time it is clearly not a pure silver cable or a pure copper one. In combining the two in a seamless cable. Silver aspects of the cable support the technical aspects of your sound like imaging, sound separation, detail and stage. The copper has an affect on tonal character, note weight and timbre enhancing mids warmth, bass impact and its texture. Combine the two aspects and you get a cable that is versatile and will match up with just about any type of sound signature you throw the cable on.

For first timers that have never tried matching up their earphones with a more premium cable. It is the SPC or silver plated copper cable that you will do well with. SPC cables are more or less safe to try out as they are the most versatile type of cables in the market. This being said, not all SPC type cables are the same. For example the cable that comes with the KBEAR Aurora is also a silver plated copper cable and you would figure since both the stock cable and the Onyx are using similar materials. This would mean that the Onyx should have a very slight influence on the sound compared to the stock cable. But in reality there is a difference.
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Cables are a lot like the TVs you see at the local shops. They all look good but some are cheap and some are much more expensive. Does a $100 cable do better than a $30 one? Most of the time in my experience, yes. I suppose it will come down to trusting a manufacturer of the cable. When I say trust, if you have had products from them in the past that you trust, then more than likely the descriptors of these cables and the idea that they are selling you a higher end item is probably for real. Not to mention the said item should have a positive effect when used with your favorite earphones.

Again going back on the TV analogy. What constitutes the higher cost is their resolution. They all do HD nowadays but now you got ones that show even higher resolution. Colors are more colorful. Blacks are more blacker. This is also the case of the aftermarket cable. The Onyx represents for the group a higher end SPC cable that you will never have to worry will turn color and should prove the test of time. In testing the Onyx on the Aurora IEMs the sound expands to to greater degree also revealing a bit more of the sound the Aurora can do. If you can’t notice changes from one cable to another. It is easier to hear differences when going from a higher end cable and then switching to a lesser stock or the throw in cable.
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You will clearly hear what is missing once you adjust to hearing the earphones with the higher end cable. In this case the Onyx stays consistent in what it does with the host of IEMs I tried using them with.

They expand the stage. The resolving ability of the Onyx is on display with every IEM it is attached to. Details are easier to hear, imaging more clearly heard, better sound separation with greater note weight to music. Once you go back to the stock cable all these aspects will be slightly lesser. The one consistent of the Onyx is that it shows the best of both copper and shows a bit of silver properties in how it enhances sound, therefore more versatile in approach vs just being a pure silver or pure copper cable.
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Overall the Onyx is a good solid SPC type cable while on one hand it is nothing revolutionary for cables. It sticks to a safe formula with a silver plated resolving copper that will match up well with most types of earphones it is used with. The benefit of having both materials in use here is that it does nothing to drastically change tonal qualities but more so enhance the technical aspects of a sound while enhancing a bit of stage and note weight properties. If your looking for a safe black colored cable that will match well sonically with your IEM the Onyx is certainly a contender at their price point for what it does. As always thanks for taking the time to read.
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