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Low end. Cheap. Generic. Otherwise bang for buck cable thread!

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  1. PhonoPhi
    Scientifically, improving the signal-to-noise ratio has general validity for all signals. As well, removing the impedance/resistance of the source as a factor is universally applicable.

    Practically, Resistance Adapters work well, and the success of high-impedance offerings in earbuds supports this point as well.
    requal likes this.
  2. hakuzen
    no, 133 is more flexible. not the most flexible, but quite decent. i tried microphonics after your first question. found more microphonics in a flexible wire (moondrop crescent stock) than in both 133 and 160. touched and moved the wire while listening to music, and didn't hear any microphonics.

    the resistance of your cable gets added to the output impedance of your gear.
    while dynamic drivers impedance uses to be more or less uniform along the frequencies, balanced armatures impedance can vary a lot. if your total output impedance is big, you'll experience tonal alterations from your armatures.
    so resistance of your cable can be critical when using BA or hybrid iems.
    that's the main reason of looking for low resistance cables. of course, if your gear output impedance is 4 ohms, for example, 0.5 to 0.1 ohms in your cable means almost nothing.
    there are other minor reasons, like more power and dynamic range perception at same voltage when resistance is lower, or damping factor.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  3. candlejack
    I'm having a bit of trouble with this statement of yours:
    Are you assuming that the increased voltage comes clean, i.e. without an increase in noise?
  4. PhonoPhi
    The background noise of few mVs is constant, so using higher voltages brings better signal-to-noise and dynamic range, assuming the same "cleanness"/fluctuations of the driving voltage.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  5. PhonoPhi
    The resistance of IEMs alone is from 14 Ohm to much higher values, so how can 0.1-0.3 Ohm difference matter?
    Impedance adapters are routinely used to reduce noise of sensitive multi-BAs IEMs.

    In my limited experience, 75 Ohm (Dunu) adapter helps a bit with the sound of some multi-BAs and does not make much perceptible (to me) difference with others.
  6. randomnin
    @hakuzen, a lot of cables you've measured seem to have black versions (at least judging by the similar plugs and makers and sellers; NiceHCK branded ones, for example). Do you have any idea whether there are differences in impendances?

    Also, there seems to be a paucity of L-shaped plug cables... why is that?
  7. Kenneth Galang
    my qdc anole has an impedance of 17-19 ohms. what should I look for when it comes to cables and sources?( rn I have the se100 which I think has an output impedance of 1 ohm balanced and 1.5 ohm SE)
  8. archy121
    Do you intend to use this with your phone or some new DAP ?
    Do you expect sound improvement using a balanced cable with this adapter to unbalanced 3.5mm source ? Curious ..
  9. KimChee
  10. hakuzen
    tonal alteration depends of the impedance curve of the iem/BAs, and of the total output impedance of your gear (source+cable). with high output impedance (like you get with a 75 ohms adapters), you'll get harsher highs for some iems, or just the opposite, depending of iem impedance curve.
    for example, you tame highs peaks with kz zs6, but they are harsher with kz zs5 ( https://www.head-fi.org/threads/kno...essions-thread.698148/page-1553#post-13777787 ).
    in general, it's not a good idea to use that kind of simple impedance adapters just for reducing hiss with multi-BA iems, except if you know the exact iem impedance curve and you are seeking for a particular tonal alteration.
    you can learn in this great thread: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the...urements-in-post-3-tutorial-in-post-2.800208/
    for instance, check what a 100 ohms output impedance do to some BA iems: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the...torial-in-post-2.800208/page-10#post-13107087
    of course, if you don't notice 5-10dB differences at important frequencies, or don't mind them, you can use whatever you like..

    i add measurements of every color versions i own, so you can check them. if there aren't measurements for an specific color, you can't ensure that the wire used for that color will be the same than other color versions. in fact, wire used is different for each color frequently (cables 052, 053, for example). sometimes, the manufacturer/distributor states that difference about wire used in the description of each cable, like in cables 062 and 063.

    dunno why straight jacks are more common than L-shaped jacks. it should be great to be able to choose the type of jack, like in boutique expensive cables.
    about 2pins plugs, L-shaped plugs don't allow different polarities (and there are 3 types of polarities at least), so straight 2pins plugs are more versatile.
    let me answer this, because i also have many of these adapters, and every cable i purchase now is balanced.
    no sound improvement, but the adapter allows you to use balanced cables in single end outputs. the opposite (single end jacks/cables in balanced output) is not possible. so balanced cables are more versatile, but you need the adapter.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
    bk123, archy121, PhonoPhi and 2 others like this.
  11. hakuzen
    the lower, the better, always.
    ideal is to stay under 1 ohm (output impedance + cable); if your SE output is 1.5 ohms, a total of 1.7 ohm will be better than 2.1 ohm, after adding the cable. but there won't be big difference between 1.6 ohms and 1.8 ohms, for example.
    hope you get an idea of the proportion.
    Kenneth Galang likes this.
  12. PhonoPhi
    OK. We can agree that 75-100 Ohm impedance can affect some IEMs strongly, especially, as your evidence suggests, using less than optimal sources.

    OK. 5-10 dB extreme differences can be measured for 100 Ohm added impedance, but how much of the real difference for changing from about 0.5 Ohm to 0.1 Ohm (several hundred (!) times less), plus this change being on top of typical 16+ Ohm for the overall circuit - should be unperceivable in practical measurements, as it seems to be the case.

    Now, if you have a good cable to recommend with a 2.5-mm L-shaped plug, 2 pins, for under $40 - we can disregard all the "scientific mumbo-jumbo" and fully enjoy the audiophilic experience :)
    (I love my 8-core cable - beautiful and comfortable - other than its straight plug killing my fragile DAP).
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  13. Kenneth Galang
    gotcha thanks! does 125 still stand as your least resistive cable? I think it's this one on Lunashop

  14. perfecious
    I will be using it with my Axon 7 phone for the time being (the reason why I bought that particular adapter was because it's 90 degrees, and it's reasonably priced ofc). I've ordered cable 125 in balanced, so when I get a good player with balanced output, I can use the cable without having to buy another one. I am thinking of buying an ES100 at some point, or a spiritual successor to it (if somebody makes it), or get an actual good DAP, although that will take a long time for me :ksc75smile:. The axon 7 has really good channel separation, so the only step up would be completely differential balanced (dual DACs and so on). No point in dealing with single end anymore. I've just checked crosstalk measurements of the Chord Mojo/Hugo btw, out of curiosity (those devices have only single end outputs), and it blew my mind, that for such an expensive gear, very average (although, totally expected). The only way it can be used without sacrificing stereo imaging and accuracy, is with a separate amp (a good one), using it only as DAC. Anyway, that's a different story. :)

    - - -

    And about resistance and adapters and cables and stuff, I believe that in most cases ANY "artificial" resistance (added load) acts like a filter, to some extent (not very good/conductive cables, impedance adapters, and crossovers - that one is obvious ofc :ksc75smile:). Depending on how good the amp is, and if It can offset the "artificial load" with enough "power", you might get better/worse results, but nonetheless, you are always messing with the signal when you do it, usually filtering very high frequencies. That's why you are "killing the amp noise" when you use the adapters (like my 20ohm adapter with the 27ohm TRN V80). You are also killing your signal, something I've experienced first hand with my DM6 and a couple of phones, using an 80ohms adapter. That's also the reason why even higher impedance adapters like the 80 ohm one "balances" the frequency response to such extend, that it kills the resolution of the DM6. Yeah, the noise is gone, but also a good chunk of the "good signal", because it basically gets "filtered". There must be a ratio between the actual "work impedance" (that of the drivers, which for the DM6 for example is ~20ohms), and the artificial (filter) one (80ohms for example),but I havent researched that yet. All I know is, the 20ohm impedance has very little effect, but the 80ohm pretty much kills the SQ.

    - - -

    Another interesting thing that I wanted to share a few days ago, is that I tested cable (060) with my CCA C16 (thanks to a friend that gave it to me for testing), a cable that has very respectable ~206mOhms, vs. the TRN V80's cable (which is #043 and measured to be ~720mOhms), and... with the NICEHCK cable, didn't have almost any amp noise with the axon 7, while the TRN cable had the noise, almost as bad as the noise I get with the DM6. The TRN cable also has a very strange characteristic, which introduces some sort of strange distortion, similar to that of a tube amp. :ksc75smile: There is this "thickness/muddiness" to the notes, and the subbass/timbre is very extended, and soft/warm, as if I have turned on the "tube amp simulation" on my galaxy s7 edge. No Idea why I get this behavior, but the more interesting thing to me, is the question why the lower resistant cable (the $9 #060 NICEHCK) was much cleaner, without amp noise (or at least almost inaudible), while the higher impedance (more filtering) TRN cable had this noise problem. Now, I've talked about "variable output impedance" on phones, as well as how difference of the conductive properties of the surface of the wire changes sound, so this could be due to several things:

    1. That difference of ~500mOhms between the cables is enough to put the amp on the axon 7 in even higher impedance mode, which is something I don't think is the case (most devises have 2, one is the lower impedance mode for things up-to ~17ohms, and everything above is in high-impedance mode), but I'm still leaving it as a possible option (reason why I even entertain this option will be below under the context section, because of the CCA C16 and it's peculiarity);

    2. The TRN wire is the most strange wire ever, causing this strange behavior, apparently some sort of cheap SPC, which results in more amp noise (hiss), but that doesn't explain the extended (bigger) bass response, that we don't usually get with typical cheap SPC. So, not really sure what to think yet, but I will find out.

    3. The cardinal rule of pure copper vs spc, which no mater the overall resistance of the cable, a silver plated surface will always have more treble extension, BUT, again - the 060 cable was cleaner, the notes/ were fast and precise, with better clarity in the treble, and it had better treble extension than the TRN cable (which kinda sounds rolled off and too smooth, in addition to the thickness and muddiness). It's bizarre. Could be all of these things to some degree.

    And now I have to give some context to all of that. So here it goes:

    #1 - Device used: Axon 7 in SuperHiFi mode (it's like high gain + DAC filters), high internal impedance (I can't give exact number, because it varies, but it was measured to be around 6ohms in that mode, so - very high, but it also makes the C16 sound amazing, with no recess in the mids, more on that below);

    #2 - IEM used: CCA C16 (8BA IEM), rated to be 32ohms at 1kHz, but it was measured to be around ~41ohms at the pins, so - this is the most important point of context - we have basically a rough idea of the "dip in the impedance" of that IEM (the mids), which is why they get forward with the axon 7 in SuperHiFi (High Gain/impedance mode), to the point it sounds like a totally different IEM (amazing if I might say, even with the hiss problem). The overall sound/behavior is the same with the cables.

    #3 - The cables: The TRN V80's (043) trn spc 4c (black,thick coat) ~720mOhms, and the NICEHCK's (060) hck ct3 ofc 8c cable ~206mOhms. I've also tried another cheap KZ silver plated cable which I believe is cable 032 (Typical cheap silver plated sound I would assume - sound is thin, treble extension is more - which is exactly what I need with the C16, but unfortunately it's too grainy/fuzzy, and it has the most amp hiss/noise of all the cables, so... I guess, it does it's job as a silver plated cable :ksc75smile:, but it's drawbacks are more than it's benefits)

    #4 - Music used:

    Fleetwood Mac - Never Going Back Again
    (HiRes 24-96 FLAC) for testing acoustic performance, note thickness and treble;

    * * *

    Tangerine Dream - Turn Of The Tides (16-44.1 FLAC) for testing the bass/subbass/low-end extension in complex tracks (best example where I hear this "tube-amp like distortion" with the TRN cable).

    (Not available on youtube, check the link if you want :))

    * * *

    The Black Eyed Peas - My Humps (16-44.1 FLAC) - Just for bass, hard to notice the "distortion", but good for evaluating bass quantity.

    * * *
    Here's some pics (sorry about the KZ cable and the mess, it just doesn't wanna behave :ksc75smile:):


    And also sorry about not having a pic of the 060 NICEHCK cable. I kinda forgot to take one. Ofc, these are just some "initial" ramblings about my experience with cables the last month. Once I get my 125 cable, I will go real insane, testing and figuring out what's happening, but I need that "reference" cable first. It will be very interesting (to me at least). :gs1000smile:

    (Damn, this damned post turned in to a book again...)
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  15. candlejack
    I just noticed that Acrolink has 16 core versions of their 8 core cables as well. They seem to be the same in terms of material used with just geometries being different:
    A) 8 core, 19 * 0.10mm per core (link to cable)
    B) 16 core, 7 * 0.10mm per core (link to cable)

    A has a larger equivalent cross-section so should have better conductivity, but I imagine B should be softer because of the more distributed thickness (and also being thinner overall). Then again, you have more "sleeve" material, so maybe the opposite is true. Any thoughts? I'm hoping B might be the best compromise for me between build, performance and ergonomics.
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