HD800 Vortex Balanced Cable REVIEW
Oct 3, 2009 at 12:52 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 49

johnwmclean

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Here I am with my very first formal review, the review subject being a HD800 Vortex balanced cable with BAXLR connectors. The cable is made by Jeremy (qusp) of Twisted Cables.

I’ve had the cable now for a month or so and have used it exclusively with my Buffalo Sabre32 DAC and balanced β22 amplifier. The Vortex replaced the balanced stock Sennheiser cable which I had terminated with Neutrix XLR connectors. I was very accustomed to the sound signature of the system when I introduced the Vortex, and was not sure what it would bring to the table, I was sure the system was at it’s maximum potential.
From my own personal experiences headphone cables in particular seem to make the biggest differences that I can audibly hear compared to other after market audio tweaks. When I owned the HD650 I noticed a very big difference over the stock using a Moon Audio Silver Dragon cable, it opened the sound right up adding more life and zest. The HD800 is a different kettle of fish, Sennheiser has clearly done a superb job with the stock cable, although thin (32awg) it’s extremely well made, and having had first hand experience in cutting open this cable to re-terminate I can truly vouch for it’s quality. Cable makers in general now have more of a battle on their hands with the HD800 stock cable, although in contrast the HD800 is a lot more resolving so any cable differences should be easier to discern.

The Vortex cable is made from Cryo-treated OCC copper, physically it’s flexible and lightweight, very comfortable and has a soft feel to it. Contrastively the baxlr connectors from Bocchino Audio are huge, the biggest connector I have ever seen, they dwarf the front panel of my β22. The quality and build of Twisted Cables products is exceptional, this little Aussie company kicks some big serious arse.

Perhaps I should start my listening impressions with the character of the stock cable.

Stock Cable
I was very happy with the stock quite frankly, if I never had never heard the Vortex, I would have been none the wiser. It has a ruler flat balance, and did not get in the way of the music, only upon using the Vortex have I found the stock to have shortcomings, I’ve found the stock to be a little lifeless and lack naturalness, the best way I can describe it would be a sheen over the music. Instruments leading edges are little grainy, at first it seems like a little more detail but longer listening reveals imaging and midrange purity suffer. There’s less dynamic shift which sounds like a slightly higher noise floor, I noticed less driving force with up beat tempo music, also micro dynamics are not as easily resolved. The treble is good and could not discern any real differences over the Vortex, on the other hand bass is dryer and less natural and does not seem to extent to the degree as the vortex.

Vortex Cable
I like this cable a lot, it brings about a freshness and naturalness that are so important with my systems overall balance. It’s transparent, and does not seem to have a sound signature, it will not transform or shift the sound signature of the HD800. It improves upon the stock cables weaknesses (which are few), and gives the HD800’s a boost in performance that I for one value.

Conclusion
Thanks for taking the time to read this, it’s a very sketchy topic with opinions so divided. I did not ABX or blind test the cable, the differences I experienced were taken listening for a week with the stock then a week with the Vortex. I have found acclimatisation over long period of time with a wide selection genre to be the best test for my ears. Thanks nismohks for the photography.

For further reading another review can be found here:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f21/tw...cables-437569/











 
Oct 3, 2009 at 12:59 AM Post #2 of 49

Covenant

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Great review John
beerchug.gif


Those BAXLR connectors still scream sex appeal. A shame Nismo didn't get any shots of them unplugged to show the gold plugs.
 
Oct 3, 2009 at 3:27 AM Post #5 of 49

kool bubba ice

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Bottom line. You hear a difference & you like what you hear. Your ears. Your gear. No one can tell you different. Congrats. I envy your set up so much.. The HD800 remind me of a mini DT48, but much better in key areas....
 
Oct 3, 2009 at 5:31 AM Post #7 of 49

johnwmclean

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Quote:

Originally Posted by IPodPJ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Congrats on your new cable. I'm surprised you never got one sooner.

Question though -- how can you be sure it has a ruler flat response? Did you measure it?



There were no abnormalities or deviations that emphasised any part of the frequency that I could hear, of course it’s unmeasurable, maybe in context the choice of words “ruler flat” could have been better - as this does refer to a measurable definition.
 
Oct 3, 2009 at 5:55 AM Post #8 of 49

wink

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Forget the semantics - enjoy the music.
Listening to Dwight Yoakam on the HD800's - pure gold.
 
Oct 3, 2009 at 6:37 AM Post #9 of 49

M3NTAL

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First - your photo hosting site has "adult" pop ups that include audio. You might want to take them down or put a warning on this thread.

Second - I'm all for reviews, but it should be single ended versus balanced not stock cable versus Vortex cable. The topology change is doing most of the work not the cable design (but this is just my opinion)
 
Oct 3, 2009 at 7:03 AM Post #10 of 49

johnwmclean

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Quote:

Originally Posted by M3NTAL /img/forum/go_quote.gif
First - your photo hosting site has "adult" pop ups that include audio. You might want to take them down or put a warning on this thread.

Second - I'm all for reviews, but it should be single ended versus balanced not stock cable versus Vortex cable. The topology change is doing most of the work not the cable design (but this is just my opinion)



M3NTAL, thanks the host has been changed. I was using a stock cable that had been re-terminated to balanced, so there was no topology differences, it’s all there in the review, did you read it - or just look at the pop ups.
 
Oct 3, 2009 at 8:21 AM Post #11 of 49
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Thanks for the review JWM.
smily_headphones1.gif


The cable itself looks very like the CryoParts OCCC I use on my DIY HD-800 cable, which seemed to alleviate what I felt was some harshness in the HD-800s (with my arguably, and at least in the case of the DAC, measured dead-neutral rig) and bring just the touch of body to the bass needed for enjoyable listening.

By the way, can I suggest smaller pictures in the posts? It's very hard to read a review when the text goes off the sides of the screen.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Oct 3, 2009 at 8:48 AM Post #12 of 49

krmathis

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Thanks a lot for the review.
smile.gif

It is a mess to read though, because of the large pictures. Scrolling sideways for every single line...
 
Oct 3, 2009 at 9:09 AM Post #13 of 49

Covenant

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Currawong /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The cable itself looks very like the CryoParts OCCC I use on my DIY HD-800 cable, which seemed to alleviate what I felt was some harshness in the HD-800s (with my arguably, and at least in the case of the DAC, measured dead-neutral rig) and bring just the touch of body to the bass needed for enjoyable listening.


It is Cryoparts UP-OCC.
 
Oct 3, 2009 at 1:34 PM Post #14 of 49

wink

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"It is Cryoparts UP-OCC." Technical-speak for insulated copper wire. The difference is in the detail.
KRMATHIS, meanwhile is sailing rapidly toward his 29,000th post. Congratulations KR, when you get there. With that many posts you could make a very long fence.
 
Oct 3, 2009 at 1:38 PM Post #15 of 49

wink

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Quote:

KRMATHIS Said
It is a mess to read though, because of the large pictures. Scrolling sideways for every single line...


I like large pictures. Even though a picture is worth a thousand words, it still needs a caption.
 

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