Build Quality and Ergonomics
I didn’t know what to expect from 64 Audio’s new cable. They are not a cable manufacturer and the only experience I had with their cables is with those that come bundled with their IEMs. Which do their job, but certainly are not at the level of boutique brands like Effect Audio, PlusSound or Double Helix Cables. That’s fine. As said, 64 Audio is not a cable company.
But when the new Premium Silver Cable arrived I was pleasantly surprised. The looks and ergonomics are far and beyond their regular cable. The new cable is a four-wire braid that is very flexible and soft. The braiding after the headphone plug is a little looser, which again gives the cable itself more flexibility.
The Y-split is the same as we’ve seen on 64 Audio’s previous premium cable, just bigger. It’s a black, round piece of plastic that holds 64 Audio’s logo on it. After that we have a cylindrical plastic chin slider, that does what it’s supposed to. Hold the cable in place. At the top of the cable 64 Audio opted for a memory wire, which is definitely welcome in the Pro Audio scene, but might not get the best resonance in the audiophile community. Other manufacturers have ditched the memory wire a long time ago and are only using pre-formed tubing, which is a lot easier on the ear. That being said, as someone who doesn’t wear glasses, I don’t have issues with the memory wire. It’s only when I put on my sunglasses that the metal wire annoys me.
At the very end of the cable we have the angled 2-pin connectors. These are again made of black plastic and seem to be the very same as on 64 Audio’s other cables. The 2-pin connectors are for flushed sockets only, so you can’t use it with recessed sockets. This meant for me, that I could use the new cable with all my 64 Audio universal IEMs as well as my A18t and A12t. The A18s and N8 both have recessed sockets and therefore it was impossible for me to use it with them.
The materials used for their Y-split, chin slider, 2-pins and headphone plugs might lack behind in luxury when compared to boutique brands that have a clear focus on delivering the utmost high end experience. I am thinking of Effect Audio’s leather infused split, the titanium barrels of Double Helix Cables’ 2-pin barrels or the impressively designed 4.4mm plug from Eletech. But again, 64 Audio is not a traditional cable company, they look for simplicity and durability rather than extravagant designs and materials.
Cable reviews are always a very hot topic. The discussions between those that hear differences with new cables and those who don’t have caused for long lasting arguments. In the end, the only thing that matters is what you personally experience and your enjoyment of the gear and music. No other person in this world can take that away from you. If the cable investment proves to be worth it to you, then go for it! If you don’t think a cable makes a difference in your chain, then enjoy the hell out of your stock cables and save some money.
Some IEMs are not as likely to pick up changes brought in by cables. Usually I fall back on my Noble Katana for cable reviews as it’s the most cable-responsive monitor that I own. But since this is a 64 Audio product I started out by using my IEMs from them. The following impressions were gathered using the Tia Trió, Tia Fourté, Fourté Noir and A18t as well as other IEMs from their competition. My source of trust has been the Lotoo PAW Gold Touch.
The most notable change that the new Premium Silver Cable brought in to me, was in detailing, resolution and staging. All my monitors stretched wider and deeper into the room and created a more holographic experience. In terms of signature, the Premium Silver Cable is a neutral to bright sounding cable.
It enhances the low end extension and gives a tighter sounding bass with better control. The Premium Silver Cable adds texture and resolution to lows, which gives especially the dynamic drivers in the Tia series an even finer touch. To my ears, the bass stayed the same in quantity but gained quite a bit in quality. Lows sound a touch denser and fuller, but with the same amplitude than they had before.
The mid-range becomes more open sounding, where there is extra air surrounding the instruments and singers. Overall I feel that the Premium Silver Cable especially darkened the background to a degree where the contrast to the musicians gained. The background is almost pitch black with the new Premium Silver Cable, which enables the monitors to achieve higher resolution and better contouring. The mids sound a little lighter and more nimble feet. Vocals become more emotional and grander in appearance.
In terms of technical performance the Premium Silver Cable is a great achiever. It stretches a wider and deeper stage and creates a nicely holographic experience. It puts the scene more in front of you while portraying the musicians with accuracy and precision. With the Premium Silver Cable my monitors were able to go a level up in layering, imaging and control. They also brought out details with finer nuances.
Treble is the only area where I could make out a shift towards in the Premium Silver Cable’s signature. The highs appear a bit more forward, especially lower treble is a frequency area where my monitors seemed more agile and energetic. To an extent, where monitors that are already on the edge of sharpness could potentially surpass that and become hot. I also noticed a wider extension into the upper registers of treble, where higher beeps sounded more upfront.
In this segment we’ll check out how 64 Audio’s cable compares against other products from industry heavy weights such as Effect Audio or PW AUdio. Both are dedicated aftermarket cable companies.
All comparisons were done using the A18t and the Lotoo PAW Gold Touch. Mentioned prices are correct at the time of writing and in USD.
Effect Audio – Ares II (149$)
The Ares II is Effect Audio’s bread and butter. While they are famous for their über high end pieces like the Code 51, their best seller remains the Ares II. In terms of build quality EA uses higher end materials for their hardware and no memory wire. Ergonomically speaking it’s also a bit more comfortable than the 64 Audio cable.
The sound of the two is rather different. The Ares II has a fuller and sweeter presentation, while the Premium Silver Cable is more focused on neutrality and technical performance. The Ares II has more body and weight in the bass section and might even go a tad further down low. But the 64 Audio cable has better texture and resolution.
The mids of the EA are again fuller and richer, vocals sound sweeter and more emotional. The Premium Silver Cable on the other hand sounds more transparent and airier. It gives instruments and vocals more space to move around in. It also sounds more open than the Ares II.
Both of these cables do have a certain lower treble pitch that can make them sound more forward and add sharpness. In that regard they are quite similar to me. But the Premium Silver Cable does have a slightly brighter tuned section that sounds a bit edgier than the Ares II. The 64 Audio cable however also comes with a wider extension into the highs. And in terms of technical performance I also give the Premium Silver Cable the nod. It has higher resolution, a darker background and better layering.
PW Audio – No. 10 (189$)
The No. 10 is PW Audio’s anniversary cable for their 10th year in existence. It’s a 24 AWG sized cable that uses conductors of undisclosed material. Although the price and coloration might suggest it’s also silver-plated copper. Only Peter Wong himself knows for sure though. I am not the biggest fan of PW’s build quality, as I don’t think heat-shrink is justified in an aftermarket cable to be used as Y-split or to cover the plugs.
Sonically the No. 10 has a warmer and richer tonality than the Premium Silver Cable. It sounds more organic and analogue than the 64 Audio cable. 64’s alternative however has a more transparent and neutral signature in comparison.
The bass on the No. 10 is fuller and heavier weighted. Both reach similarly deep, but the No. 10 puts some extra attention to the sub-bass registers. The Premium Silver Cable however gives a bass that has higher resolution and finer texture. It enhances the technical abilities of the lows, rather than changing them altogether. With the PW cable bass sounds a tad more forward, these changes also make their ways into the lower mids, which can sound a bit chestier.
The Premium Silver Cable doesn’t put much change into the signature of the mids, it again enhances technicalities of them. It makes mids sound more open and a bit lighter, the PW does add body and weight again here. The coloration here is more towards a sweeter and richer timbre with the No. 10, and a neutral and precise sound with the Premium Silver Cable.
In terms of stage dimensions the No. 10 and Premium Silver Cable are pretty much a head-to-head race to me. Both create a larger venue and a holographic experience. The Premium Silver Cable however might have a slight upper hand when it comes to resolution and detailing.
Treble on both cables again is different. The 64 Audio cable is brighter and sharper, where the PW Audio cable is richer and softer. The Premium Silver Cable has a wider extension to my ears though.
64 Audio’s new Premium Silver Cable shows that they are heavily interested in offering their audiophile customers a way to get even more out of their monitors. It’s no surprise that the new cable matches very well with the majority of their own IEMs. The only one I could not use with the Premium Silver Cable is the Tia Fourté due to the added brightness in the top end. All other universal and custom IEMs from 64 Audio were a good match and especially the Tia Trió and Nio seemed best paired with it.
All in all, I think it is a good move from 64 Audio towards the premium cable market and a clear step up from their previous offer. When you’re already shopping for one of their In Ear Monitors, you might as well check out the Premium Silver Cable to complete that IEM.