High end (IEM) cable thread: impressions, pics, comparisons and reviews.
Jul 27, 2018 at 12:24 AM Post #2,146 of 4,131

ayang02

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Yes unfortunately so, and it is strange. I can't say I know the reasoning behind it.

I read somewhere that the extra GND is for single-ended 4.4 mm plugs (do these even exist on the market today?) and I also wonder which 4.4 mm devices actually utilize this GND for shielding purposes, without needing to mod the device of course?
 
Jul 27, 2018 at 3:40 AM Post #2,147 of 4,131

LCeh

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So I guess it's time for a bit of impression on the billow 8-wire. I am not too articulate in describing sound, but I will try to go into detail of the journey and hope that gives you guys where I am coming from.

On a sidenote, I think It's a slight shame that Beat Audio cables don't have much coverage on head-fi, I think they make a lot of fantastic cables with great after-sales service.

To begin, let's start with why I was looking for a new cable. My setup was the AK SP1000 SS with Rhapsodio Galaxy Ciem. I was using the Rhapsodio copper wizard 4 wire. I think most would agree that the Galaxy is slight V-shaped, and the ciem puts a bit more emphasis on the lower end due to better seal. The result is that the bass sometimes overpowers the vocals. So I was looking for a cable that can keep the bass authority, but brings the mids a bit more forward, and ideally with a bigger soundstage, so I can hear the different sounds from the music more clearly.

I had a chance to listen to quite a lot of cables from different brands, and I tried most of the flagships from pw audio, effect audio, toxic cables, plusaound etc. My experience from all the different cables is that at the end of the day, it comes down to synergy and sacrifice. For example, I see a lot of positive reviews on cables such as the pw audio flagship cables, but I tried the pw 1950s and wasn't especially impressed. It provided a clean sound, but somehow it didn't sound natural with my setup. So at the end of the day, synergy with the setup is utmost important.

And it's all about balance. When I was looking for big soundstage, sometimes I find one that gives me that, but the end result is too thin sounding. Which is why I think cables are all about sacrifice. What are you willing to sacrifice to get what you want? Smaller soundstage for more bass? Bigger soundstage but thinner sounds? So I was looking for a cable that gave me what I wanted, but with the least sacrifice.

So I finally got a chance to listen to the billow 8, and it gave me a very balanced sound. Let's start with the bass. The bass is still punchy, decent quantity, maybe slightly less than the copper wizard, but when music calls for it, the bass is there. It's there, but it doesn't interfere with the mids. The mids are warm, slightly forward, and sounds quite natural to my ears. I was most impressed when I listen to male vocals with this. The highs are smooth, with decent presence.

The overall sound I would say is slightly on the warm side, but with a big and 3D soundstage that gives you all the frequencies without interfering with each other much. It brings the mids forward, so the billow might not be for those who already has a mid-centric signature.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your setup and ymmv, but I was very happy with this purchase.
 
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Jul 29, 2018 at 3:43 PM Post #2,149 of 4,131

edwardsean

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It's strange that after going through the trouble adding another ring (TRRRS) that Sony doesn't end up using the isolated ground. My cable has shielding that goes to the separate ground sleeve, if my DAP, like the WM1A/Z, hasn't incorporated that into their design is all that shielding useless?

Yes unfortunately so, and it is strange. I can't say I know the reasoning behind it.

I’m still trying to get a handle on this. It seems like you are saying that shielding is effective but only when the design of the cable and amp allow for an isolated ground. I thought that the majority of amps don't have an isolated ground plane. Wouldn't that then render the shielding in those top cables useless bulk for the most part? I always thought shielding can be effective even just going to a common ground.

Also, if having the separate ground in the 4.4 plug has no benefit without an isolated ground in the amp is there a reason why HSA incorporated the separate 3.5 shielding connector in their TOTL Venom? Wouldn’t it be as useless with DAPs like the WM1Z/A and DX200 as the 4.4?

I defer to your expertise. I'm just not sure I’m understanding this right.
 
Jul 29, 2018 at 7:16 PM Post #2,150 of 4,131

ayang02

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Also, if having the separate ground in the 4.4 plug has no benefit without an isolated ground in the amp is there a reason why HSA incorporated the separate 3.5 shielding connector in their TOTL Venom? Wouldn’t it be as useless with DAPs like the WM1Z/A and DX200 as the 4.4?

I've seen someone use a single 4.4 mm plug with the HSA Venom where the ground shielding signal is directed to the unused GND on the 4.4 mm plug, thus eliminating the need to use a dedicated plug for ground shielding purpose. He also had to modify his WM1Z 4.4 mm output port so that its GND is connected to a separate ground to make this work of course because most 4.4 mm balanced output devices only utilize 4 terminals.
 
Jul 29, 2018 at 9:04 PM Post #2,151 of 4,131

artpiggo

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If you separate 4.4 and ground, it will be like this.

1532912631737.jpg
 
Jul 29, 2018 at 10:16 PM Post #2,152 of 4,131

edwardsean

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I've seen someone use a single 4.4 mm plug with the HSA Venom where the ground shielding signal is directed to the unused GND on the 4.4 mm plug, thus eliminating the need to use a dedicated plug for ground shielding purpose. He also had to modify his WM1Z 4.4 mm output port so that its GND is connected to a separate ground to make this work of course because most 4.4 mm balanced output devices only utilize 4 terminals.

Yes, that is the configuration I'm using with my iBasso DX200. The shielding is connected separately to the ground sleeve of the 4.4. Paul at iBasso has confirmed for me that the ground terminal is used in the DX200. It's just not an isolated ground. I wonder if the modification to the WM1Z was to simply use the separate ground terminal or whether it was to actually connect it to an isolated ground.
 
Jul 30, 2018 at 3:07 AM Post #2,153 of 4,131

ayang02

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Yes, that is the configuration I'm using with my iBasso DX200. The shielding is connected separately to the ground sleeve of the 4.4. Paul at iBasso has confirmed for me that the ground terminal is used in the DX200. It's just not an isolated ground. I wonder if the modification to the WM1Z was to simply use the separate ground terminal or whether it was to actually connect it to an isolated ground.

That's interesting to know, did Paul explain what the ground terminal is supposed to be used/good for? I think I recently asked about WooAudio's WA11 and it seems like they aren't using the 4.4 mm ground at all.
 
Jul 30, 2018 at 3:54 AM Post #2,154 of 4,131

edwardsean

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That's interesting to know, did Paul explain what the ground terminal is supposed to be used/good for? I think I recently asked about WooAudio's WA11 and it seems like they aren't using the 4.4 mm ground at all.

The ground terminal is normally connected to one end of the shielding to conduct away electrical interference from the signal bearing cores. Without being connected to the ground the shielding acts like an antenna only increasing capacitance in the cable. My understanding was always that this is useful even if the ground is not isolated from the common ground plane. But, some of things that @flinkenick wrote earlier confused me. So, I'm hoping he could clear this up as he is the expert.
 
Jul 30, 2018 at 4:05 AM Post #2,155 of 4,131

ayang02

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The ground terminal is normally connected to one end of the shielding to conduct away electrical interference from the signal bearing cores. Without being connected to the ground the shielding acts like an antenna only increasing capacitance in the cable. My understanding was always that this is useful even if the ground is not isolated from the common ground plane. But, some of things that @flinkenick wrote earlier confused me. So, I'm hoping he could clear this up as he is the expert.
I think you are describing the use case where cables with shielding are involved, that I understand. I wasn't sure if that's the only useful use case to utilize that 4.4 mm ground and I was really wondering if there was another use for that ground since a handful of DAC/AMP/DAP manufacturers choose to ignore it.
 
Jul 30, 2018 at 4:21 AM Post #2,156 of 4,131

edwardsean

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I think you are describing the use case where cables with shielding are involved, that I understand. I wasn't sure if that's the only useful use case to utilize that 4.4 mm ground and I was really wondering if there was another use for that ground since a handful of DAC/AMP/DAP manufacturers choose to ignore it.

I see. I remember a post somewhere that was speculating a different use but not as any kind of ground. If the sleeve of the 4.4 is being used as a ground it would be for the shielding. The fact that so many audio manufacturers are ignoring it isn't because of a different use case altogether, but they don't think the ground is necessary. I think most headphone cables today favor a design without shielding.

Again, I'm no expert so please do post anything you learn about this.
 
Jul 30, 2018 at 4:45 AM Post #2,157 of 4,131

flinkenick

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Alright let me start by assuring I am absolutely no expert on the matter either. What I know I know from the guys at Music Sanctuary, and they had to explain it three times when I got the Venom ; )

I assume the Venom was originally designed for the AK players, to separate the ground by using an additional 3.5 as follows.

IMAG1586.jpg

With 4.4 this is also possible using the 5th pole. However, the Sony daps, and perhaps most daps (I don't know) do not automatically connect the ground to 5th pole, rendering it useless. As to the more existential question why they would design the 5th pole this way, and then not apply it in the dap, beats me. So in the Sony daps this needs to be manually modded to make the active shield work. An alternative route is just getting it with dual 4.4 and 3.5 jacks like for the AK.

A second question is how much effect the active versus passive shielding has in the first place. Venom has an especially black background and high resolution. However, does the active aspect of the shielding take it to another level compared to passive shielding? I'm not sure I can fully say so. Cables with passive shielding like the Rhapsodio Copper Wizard, Silverfi's, and 1960's provide similar characteristics. Even so, one would need to compare a passive vs. active shielding in the same cable to answer this question. I have heard that the guys at MS tested two configs of the 1980's cable, and the active one sounded worse for some reason. Which isn't to say that active shielding always sounds worse of course, just that it is one of the many aspects of cables that can have an effect on the sound, and it comes down to testing a specific configuration.
 
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Jul 30, 2018 at 5:39 AM Post #2,158 of 4,131

artpiggo

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Alright let me start by assuring I am absolutely no expert on the matter either. What I know I know from the guys at Music Sanctuary, and they had to explain it three times when I got the Venom ; )

I assume the Venom was originally designed for the AK players, to separate the ground by using an additional 3.5 as follows.



With 4.4 this is also possible using the 5th pole. However, the Sony daps, and perhaps most daps (I don't know) do not automatically connect the ground to 5th pole, rendering it useless. As to the more existential question why they would design the 5th pole this way, and then not apply it in the dap, beats me. So in the Sony daps this needs to be manually modded to make the active shield work. An alternative route is just getting it with dual 4.4 and 3.5 jacks like for the AK.

A second question is how much effect the active versus passive shielding has in the first place. Venom has an especially black background and high resolution. However, does the active aspect of the shielding take it to another level compared to passive shielding? I'm not sure I can fully say so. Cables with passive shielding like the Rhapsodio Copper Wizard, Silverfi's, and 1960's provide similar characteristics. Even so, one would need to compare a passive vs. active shielding in the same cable to answer this question. I have heard that the guys at MS tested two configs of the 1980's cable, and the active one sounded worse for some reason. Which isn't to say that active shielding always sounds worse of course, just that it is one of the many aspects of cables that can have an effect on the sound, and it comes down to testing a specific configuration.

What does an active shielding mean? Do you mean active is putting both two plugs into DAP and passive means putting just one balanced plug and leave ground 3.5mm hanging outside.
 
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Jul 30, 2018 at 5:41 AM Post #2,159 of 4,131

edwardsean

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Alright let me start by assuring I am absolutely no expert on the matter either. What I know I know from the guys at Music Sanctuary, and they had to explain it three times when I got the Venom ; )

I assume the Venom was originally designed for the AK players, to separate the ground by using an additional 3.5 as follows.



With 4.4 this is also possible using the 5th pole. However, the Sony daps, and perhaps most daps (I don't know) do not automatically connect the ground to 5th pole, rendering it useless. As to the more existential question why they would design the 5th pole this way, and then not apply it in the dap, beats me. So in the Sony daps this needs to be manually modded to make the active shield work. An alternative route is just getting it with dual 4.4 and 3.5 jacks like for the AK.

A second question is how much effect the active versus passive shielding has in the first place. Venom has an especially black background and high resolution. However, does the active aspect of the shielding take it to another level compared to passive shielding? I'm not sure I can fully say so. Cables with passive shielding like the Rhapsodio Copper Wizard, Silverfi's, and 1960's provide similar characteristics. Even so, one would need to compare a passive vs. active shielding in the same cable to answer this question. I have heard that the guys at MS tested two configs of the 1980's cable, and the active one sounded worse for some reason. Which isn't to say that active shielding always sounds worse of course, just that it is one of the many aspects of cables that can have an effect on the sound, and it comes down to testing a specific configuration.

Flinkenick. Thanks for taking the time to respond. What you wrote makes sense but my real question isn't about having the 5th pole connected or not. It has to do with the differences between 1) having the shielding share the 4th pole (in a 2.5) going to a common ground, 2) having the shielding separated (as in the Venom dual 2.5+3.5, or 5th pole of a 4.4) going to a common ground, 3) having the shielding separated (as in the Venom dual 2.5+3.5, or 5th pole of a 4.4) going to an isolated ground.

When I reterminated my cable from 2.5 to 4.4 I was able to go from scenario 1 to scenario 2. In light of what you said, I was wondering if that move rendered any benefit because I was not able to go to scenario 3. In my situation, the IBasso DX200+Amp8 4.4 connects the 5th pole separately to ground, but it isn't an isolated ground. I tend to think that if HSA created that dual connector design, they believe a separate ground is beneficial--even without an isolated ground plane, because you rarely get that.

At any rate, the background from my cable is very black, and, as you said, that could stem from any number of reasons. At this point I'm going to stop asking questions and just enjoy it. I'm happy with the sound. It could be pixies and faeries shooing away electrons.
 
Jul 30, 2018 at 6:00 AM Post #2,160 of 4,131

flinkenick

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What does an active shielding mean? Do you mean active is putting both two plugs into DAP and passive means putting just one balanced plug and leave ground 3.5mm hanging outside.
Active shielding is when the shield of the cable is connected separately to ground, like by using the additional 3.5 in the pic above, or the fifth pole of 4.4.
Flinkenick. Thanks for taking the time to respond. What you wrote makes sense but my real question isn't about having the 5th pole connected or not. It has to do with the differences between 1) having the shielding share the 4th pole (in a 2.5) going to a common ground, 2) having the shielding separated (as in the Venom dual 2.5+3.5, or 5th pole of a 4.4) going to a common ground, 3) having the shielding separated (as in the Venom dual 2.5+3.5, or 5th pole of a 4.4) going to an isolated ground.

When I reterminated my cable from 2.5 to 4.4 I was able to go from scenario 1 to scenario 2. In light of what you said, I was wondering if that move rendered any benefit because I was not able to go to scenario 3. In my situation, the IBasso DX200+Amp8 4.4 connects the 5th pole separately to ground, but it isn't an isolated ground. I tend to think that if HSA created that dual connector design, they believe a separate ground is beneficial--even without an isolated ground plane, because you rarely get that.

At any rate, the background from my cable is very black, and, as you said, that could stem from any number of reasons. At this point I'm going to stop asking questions and just enjoy it. I'm happy with the sound. It could be pixies and faeries shooing away electrons.
Ah I see, yes I missed that apologies. I think you are underestimating how little of an expert I am on this :D I'm going to tag @Kozato as he does the Sony mod and is much more up to speed on these matters, so hopefully he can give a satisfactory answer. I will say personally, I would attribute the majority of effects to the shield itself, rather than the active part or the isolated vs ground aspect. But this is the first cable I have heard with an active shield.
 

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