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Danacable Lazuli Reference Thread

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by Gibson59, Jul 13, 2017.
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  1. Gibson59
    I can't believe there's not more talk about these incredible cables on the forum. I've seen a bit here and there with regards to the Utopia, but little from HE1000 owners like myself. It's time for owners and inquirers to unite and discuss this amazing TOTL cable!

    To kick it off I did a review... (This is my first substantial review attempt so please bare with me)

    I've now spent more money on a cable than I ever thought i would... and I'm totally OK with it! I'm a proud new owner of the Lazuli Reference cable for my HE1000 v2.

    I've been auditioning the Lazuli Reference (and others) for a few weeks and each time I considered sending it back due to the price being way more than I wanted to spend I just couldn't do it. This thing is so special I couldn't let it go. I also auditioned the WyWires Platinum, Moon Audio Black and Silver Dragon, and a really nice custom cable a friend made me. I am firmly at the place in my headphone adventure where I am searching for that allusive last 5% that's going to be the finishing touch on my end game sound. This is a really fun place to be because I am really fine-tuning the sound to my preferences.

    I feel so strongly about these cables I that I was inspired to share my findings in case others may enjoy them as much as I do. I will also add, I know there are many who think cables make no difference at all and it’s insane to spend this kind of money on a cable. You are totally entitled to your opinion, but please don’t hate on those of us who do hear a difference and choose to spend our money on what pleases us. I strongly believe (with my own two ears) in the difference a cable can make. This is not even a debate for me. Another note is that I’m not going to get into the specs and science behind the cable build (see their website). I don’t know enough about those things to even try to speak to them. This review is based solely on what pleases my ears, not graphs and specs.

    For the record, I was not paid to do this review, nor did I receive anything for free, this is purely my honest opinion.

    My Chain is: Roon (Mac Mini)->AQ Carbon mini-toslink->Schiit Bitfrost Multibit->AQ Golden Gate RCA->Wells Audio Milo->Danacable Lazuli Reference->HE1000 v2

    I listen to the following genres: Jazz, blues, classic rock, female vocals, classical, 90’s rock, world music and a bit of hip-hip and pop at times.

    So the cable... The build quality is INSANELY good. I completely admit to having expensive taste and usually paying a bit more than I originally intended to get something that will last me a lifetime. I do a ton of research before buying something and am crazy about details, aesthetics, durability and usability, and the build quality of this cable scores the highest marks on each of these criteria. It's clear that great attention was paid to every detail and its look is just eye catching. I also appreciate how it keeps its form so well when coiled, but it's not overly stiff in use. I think this is due to the fact that the cable is not completely round, but rather an oval shape (hard to see in the photos) and has flexible sheathing. This also seems to help the cable keep it’s shape during use and not get twisted up over time, which is a pet peeve of mine.

    The sound… I appreciate a fairly neutral and fluid sound, maybe with a slight lower mids emphasis. I have quickly gotten to a place in my headphone journey where I am almost always listening critically and absolutely love hearing the details like fingers on the strings of a guitar, turning a page of sheet music, a subtle cough in the background, the breath of a singer, etc. These to me are the things that make the music come to life and makes me feel like I’m in the room with the musicians. Completely and utterly neutral lacks just a touch of life in my assessment, and I do enjoy a little “fun” or energy to the music, so it has to have some body to it. I have found that for me this is usually accomplished in the lower mids or upper bass region. But I really don’t want anything overly emphasized, which is why I would say I tend to enjoy a sound that leans towards neutral overall. Hopefully that makes sense.

    Here’s the problem I’ve come across as I’ve auditioned all these cables recently… Whether they are interconnects or headphone cables, it seems like I’ve found cables that mainly fall into three categories, each having strengths, but also weaknesses. In an effort to expose how well rounded the Lazuli Reference cable is, I will attempt to describe what I like and dislike about the alternatives.

    The first kind of cables are treble monsters that really pull out all the details, offer some nice treble sparkle and have an airiness to them that gives an element of spaciousness and a vast soundstage, but these cables either tend to end up being a touch bright or offer somewhat thin or overly airy representation of the music that saps some of the energy and thus (for me) emotion. These cables sound very refined when they handle the treble with finesse, but far too polite and they don’t pull at my gut like I need at times. Because of the lack of low-end and energy, they aren’t dynamic to me.

    Another kind of cable I’ve come across are the bass monsters that offer a strong low-end and full mids that give me the body and energy I’m looking for. The downside is they tend to be overly warm, with a narrow soundstage that’s inside your head (not personally what I’m after), they tend to lack the treble sparkle and not to pull out those all important subtle details in the music. While the treble monsters can sound a bit bright and fatiguing at times, these are quite the opposite as they smooth off the treble too much, kind of muffling any attempt at sparkle and the syrupy representation of music blends the instruments and notes together rather than letting them stand distinctly apart. They sound a bit to warm and at times dark to me. Because of the lack of treble sparkle and details these are not dynamic to me either.

    There is a third kind of cable, which in my case was represented by the stock HE1000 cable. This cable was actually fairly dynamic to me and surprisingly pleasing until I heard the Lazuli Reference. It offered some nice sparkle at times, good low-end at others, and was fairly full enough through the mids giving me that energy I’m looking for. In fact, when comparing the HE1000 stock cable to some other high-end custom offerings, I kept thinking maybe I’m crazy here, but these other cables just aren’t as well rounded across the spectrum as the hifiman cable and aren’t as fun to listen to. So why on earth would I look for an alternative if this cable was actually pretty good? Here’s why: 1) The notes sound unrefined and lack finesse, kind of gritty and unnatural. They’ve got some edge to them, which at first is intriguing, but after a while comes off as a bit ragged. 2) The treble offers sparkle, but it can get bright very easily, like it’s overreaching for that sparkle. 3) The low-end is very present, but not particularly controlled. 4) While the sound is somewhat dynamic, somehow it also manages to be kind of sterile and lacks a bit of depth and emotion… not organic at all. 4) I HATE the material used for the sheathing. It’s rubbery and not pleasant to the touch, it’s almost sticky and binds to itself, and because of the rubber it’s bouncy, meaning it doesn’t want to stay coiled and it's hard to control. 5) The microphonics aren’t that bad within the cables themselves, but the 2.5mm connectors are really shoddy where the cable meets the connector and it makes an unpleasant kind of clicking noise if you move your head while listening. Maybe I got bad pair, but this was very distracting and yanks me out of the music. It also doesn't give me that high-end feel I demand when listening to $3k headphones.

    So finally we get to the sound of the Lazuli Reference cable. Part of the reason I took the time to describe the previous three cable types was that the Lazuli Reference quite literally has all of the strengths of these other cables, and somehow avoids all of the weaknesses. I’m not kidding. It accomplishes providing sparkly treble with finesse that is never bright and manages pulls out every detail possible. It provides a vast (but not unnatural) soundstage. It offers energetic and detailed mids and a full and tight low-end that in conjunction with one another provides such a nice full-bodied sound, but without muffling any detail and becoming overly warm. The cable makes the sound incredibly dynamic from top to bottom, and gives you the beginning and end of every note in such beautiful way. It offers an organic sound where every instrument and both male and female vocals so sound true to life. The background is black and provides for great instrument separation and imaging. The analogy of looking through a hazy and dirty window then cleaning it and it being fully transparent best describes the transparency of this cable versus some others. I know this sounds like a ton of hyperbole, but to my ear this is exactly what this cable accomplishes. I can honestly say that the only potentially negative thing I can imagine someone else thinking about this cable is that is might be a little heavy. This does not bother me one bit, but it does have more weight than some of the other contenders. I would deal with a few extra ounces any day if it means the sound quality meets my high demands (especially with the HE1000 which is a light headphone anyways). I don’t know what they’ve done here that other cable manufacturers have not been able to figure out, but to my ears they have made the perfect cable. There’s not a single thing about the sound characteristics I would change… I really mean that, and honestly I’ve become quite an overly critical sound snob.

    I want to finish by saying I am lucky to have the most understanding fiancé in the whole world, who has been hearing the same 15 test tracks for weeks straight through my open-back headphones as I was rigorously testing all these cables. I’m a lucky man.

    I look forward to hearing everyone else's impressions!

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    Oblio-83, xxx1313, MN8372 and 7 others like this.
  2. Sarnia
    Thanks for the excellent review.

    I'd really appreciate it if you could expand on your impressions of the other cables you auditioned. I've got a WyWires Platinum in the process of being re-terminated for my HE1000v2, so I haven't heard it yet. Very interested to know what you found it's strength and weaknesses to be, and which of the three cable types you categorized it as.

    I'm also really pleased you mentioned the clicking with the stock cable. I have exactly the same on the right side, but hadn't figured out what was causing it. It drives me nuts too!
     
  3. Gibson59
    I'd be happy to. The WyWires for sure fell within the first cable I described as the "treble monster." Each of those three descriptions were more of broad strokes to try and explain each cable type I came across. I really didn't want to do a specific review on each each, so I tried to categorize them. Also part of the reason is that I didn't want to sound overly critical of the cables I didn't choose, because I genuinely appreciated each of them for different reason. I acknowledge we all have different tastes so I didn't want this review to steer anyone away from any of the cables I didn't choose, just to explain what my ears liked and didn't. The WyWires was my second favorite cable, but lacked that full bodied sound I'm looking for. But I felt its strengths paired very nicely with those of the HE1000. The highs were very controlled and sparkly and just when you thought they'd get bright they stopped just short of it, which was awesome. They exposed great details in the music as well. Definitely give them some time to burn in if they're not already. While the mids and low-end weren't as strong as with the Lazuli Reference, they were by no means bad and burn-in definitely opened them up a bit.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
    llamaluv and Sarnia like this.
  4. Sarnia
    Thanks for that. I like a full-bodied sound too, as long as the bass isn't overpowering. I might have to investigate the Danacable Lazuli Reference now.
     
  5. Gibson59
    @Sarnia on an unrelated note, I have camera envy that you have the A7Rii. I have a first gen A7 and have been eager to upgrade one of these days. Love the A7 system!
     
  6. Sarnia
    I had the original A7, then the A7II before the A7RII. I'm lusting after the A9, but the headphone hobby has taken up a lot of funds.

    The A7RII is fantastic, but with a three year old daughter the faster the autofocus the better.

    I'd wait for the inevitable A7III or A7rIII. Hopefully they'll get the touchscreen, joystick and even better autofocus.
     
    Gibson59 likes this.
  7. MacedonianHero Contributor
    I have to say, I always used to recommend a cable upgrade until the very end...then I plugged in the Lazuli Reference cable into my Focal Utopias and wow! Night and day...improved soundstaging, detail retrieval and transparency right off the bat. Reviews like the one I'm doing for this cable are always very fun to do!
     
    xxx1313 and Gibson59 like this.
  8. rgs9200m
    I have a Norne Draug 2 on the HEKv2 and was just what it needed, taking care of the upper mid glare and making the bass more transparent and adding liquidity and ease. It also does the same on the LCD4. The Draug is a great cable.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  9. pervysage
    Another Danacable owner here and I completely agree with your impressions. These cables are something else.

    I have a regular Danacable Lazuli for my HD800 and a Lazuli Reference for my Utopia. Both are awesome and the best I've heard the HD800 and Utopia sound.

    If anyone is curious about the Danacable, you should just go ahead and order one and try it for yourself in your OWN system. Sure, it's expensive but it's also risk free as they offer 30 day money back if you are not satisfied. Once you hear it there is a very good chance you won't want to return it though, so it will leave a burning hole in your wallet :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

    I also want to mention that I had a great buying experience with the guys at Danacable as well, they answered all my questions and got back to me very quickly (something that seems to be an issue for these custom cable companies). Also the turnaround time was less than 2 weeks which also impressed me. There are companies out there that will take your money and make you wait 6 months before you get the product.... pretty ridiculous IMO.
     
    muski and xxx1313 like this.
  10. Gibson59
    Great call mentioning the customer service. Immediate attention to my every question and they got my cable to me within a week. Definitely makes it easier feeling good about who your hard earned money is going to!
     
  11. tunes
    Is there a reason why you neglect to mention what you paid for these? How long is your cable? Is this interchangeable for use also with the Focal Utopias?
     
  12. twsmith
    Have you (or any other Focal Utopia user) had an opportunity to compare the Lazuli Reference with the Kimber Axios? I'm currently using the latter (balanced) with my Focal Utopia fed by the GS-X MkII. I've heard so many good things about the Lazuli that I'm been tempted to spring for it, but I'm wondering if it would really be that much better than the Axios. I do like the upper freq detail and "air" that the Axios seems to have, and the soundstaging seems pretty good -- but if the Lazuli improves on this, then all the better. I also read on the Focal Utopia thread that some of the Focal people have specifically recommended the Axios for the Utopia but I'm not sure whether this is really true or perhaps they never heard the Lazuli?
     
  13. Liu Junyuan
    Here is a cable shootout for the Utopias which pretty much corroborates the findings of the OP:

    https://audiobacon.net/2017/03/22/danacable-lazuli-reference-headphone-cable-for-the-focal-utopia/
     
  14. twsmith
    Your reference to the link above is much appreciated. I have read this before, and although interesting and thorough, I also felt that there was a fair amount of subjectivity to this shootout (although I realize that this is often the case). I happened to find another post on the Utopia thread (comparing stock, Axios, and Lazuli Ref) that implied that the Axios was the better cable, the Danacable being more "forgiving" and somewhat laid back. It sounds like the best option may be to order the Danacable and then return it if not satisfied - I understand they have a good policy in this regard. Has anyone tried the Lazuli Reference Utopia cable and then decided to return it -- e.g. it was not detailed enough, attenuated highs, etc)?
     
    Liu Junyuan likes this.
  15. Liu Junyuan
    True enough. I just thought it was useful at least because the person actually had those cables at the same time.

    Perhaps more telling is that he, and others on the thread you cited, have since sold off the Utopias and the cables. In the end, I guess it wasn't enough for what they were seeking.

    If you have the disposable income, I don't see why it wouldn't be a good idea to do the trial. That's really amazing this is offered. Your own impressions, even if subjective, would likely be of great interest here.
     
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