Picture Sunday: Aftermarket Cables

The stars of this week’s Picture Sunday are aftermarket cables. Check out other recent Picture Posts Here, and Here

 This Sunday I want to have a little chat about aftermarket headphone cables. A couple of years ago the aftermarket cable sector suddenly started to boom and nowadays you have hundreds of cable companies from small to big offering aftermarket cables in all price ranges from $3USD to a few thousand, there is no limit.

There are so many cable companies out there that it’s impossible to list them all but the recurring cables at Headfonia’s HQ seem to be those of Forza AudioWorks, Effect Audio, PlusSound, Linum, C3Audio and MusicSanctuary. I’m not saying these are the ones you need to buy, as the others certainly offer good quality too.

Why aftermarket cables and why not just buy a $3 one from Ebay?

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Every single head- or earphone comes supplied with a stock cable and some obviously are better then others. Some companies just add a generic cheap cable with their inears or headphones while others now are supplying their units with aftermarket cables. The “cheap” cables don’t necessarily sound bad, but a lot of people think a good aftermarket cable simply sounds better. I know a lot of people don’t agree to this and that’s perfectly fine. It also brings us to the second group of people who buy after market cables just because they look a lot prettier (see main pic) and/or offer more comfort. (Pic above is the new Quartette from Music Sanctuary)

And last but not least, after market cable companies can make you adapters so that you can use your favorite cable on other headphones. I tend to buy all my cables terminated in Audeze mini-XLR and then I simply use a short, neutral sounding adapter to go from Audeze to Hifiman old style, to Hifiman 2.5mm, to Sennheiser HD800 etc. You can also get an adapter to go from balanced at the amps’ end to Single ended 6.3 or 3.5mm. Of course there also exist universal cables like the one from C3 Audio which we looked at several months ago. (Picture below are Effect Audio adapters)

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My questions are:

Do you believe in after market cables?

If yes, which one do you use and why?

If no, why not?

Picture Sunday: Aftermarket Cables
3.45 (69.09%) 11 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. Coming from a musical family he's always been interested in good sound. Unlike his family members the only musical instruments he plays are amps and DACs. He loves playing with old tubes and discovering new products while staying faithful to the good old Sennheiser HD650.

6 Comments

  • Reply November 20, 2016

    Jesse

    “The “cheap” cables don’t necessarily sound bad, but a lot of people think a good aftermarket cable simply sounds better. I know a lot of people don’t agree to this and that’s perfectly fine.”

    Not only do a “lot of people” disagree, but physics disagrees as well.

  • Reply November 20, 2016

    Richard

    I have some Linum cables because I like the lightness of the cable. Downside it’s a little bit springy. Also got a Forza Audioworks cable but I feel it’s a bit bulky for me.
    The Linum and Forza Audioworks are not cheap but your getting quality in return. All the other cables are plain overpriced in my opinion. It has a small impact in the way the speakers sound and certainly not worth a couple hundred USD or Euro’s.

  • Reply November 21, 2016

    Leo

    Depends on the headphone. If we’re talking 300-600 ohm headphones, cable impedance hardly changes the overall impedence to power ratio.

    If we’re talking about IEMs with 8ohm impedance, then crappy cables can be a huge differentiator. For example, my SE846 sounds like crap with the stock cable, but if you switch to aftermarket cable you get better sound.

    However for my MDR-EX1000 (32ohm), I don’t really think after market cables make a lot of difference, especially when the stock cable is already of extremely high quality.

    If I remember correctly, Fidelio X1 had an unusually high impedance cable and Philips fixed it in X2.

    • Reply November 22, 2016

      Sean

      If you could, try your ex1000s with a whiplash twau cable. Would love to hear from you about your findings. I had that combo for a while and I felt that the twau did wonders with the ex1000

  • Reply November 24, 2016

    James

    I sprang for aftermarket cables not because I think they sound better, but becasue they are simply better made and I care about stuff lasting.

    I dont think that spending headphone money on cables is a good idea, but some people in their relentless war to prove through ‘physics’ that cable quality doesn’t matter tend to forget that physics will also dictate that cheap materials and connectors will wear out much quicker.

    I want cables that will last as long as my amp/dac/headphones will and that offer more features/look more stylish than the cheap plastic ones that come with many products do. End of story.

    • Reply November 25, 2016

      dale thorn

      I like that idea. I bought a Cardas for my Beyer DT1770 Pro. Even if it doesn’t sound a lot better, it should sound good for a longer time than the stock cable.

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