The Brise Audio STR7-Ref is a $875 USD high-end upgrade IEM cable from Japanese Brise Audio.
Disclaimer: I received the Brise Audio STR7-Ref as a review sample free of charge. I tested the cable mainly with the PEARS SH-3, InEarz Nirvana and M-Fidelity SA50 CIEMs, along with some other universal IEMs.
The popularity of IEM cables has increased a lot. People already realized a long time ago that those cables make a difference. Although I still come across people who say cables don’t change anything, it seems most of them know that they actually do. In my opinion cables do affect the sound quality, but of course, that doesn’t mean the sound will always be better. It’s all about synergy.
It’s also quite important to have an ergonomic and durable cable. Since the market has shifted its focus to portable audio in the last couple of years, people demand long lasting and flexible cables. Let’s see how this Japanese offering performs for all of those points and most importantly, in sound.
About Brise Audio
Brise Audio is a high end cable manufacturer from Gunma, Japan. It is a renowned brand in the Japanese market but not very famous in the other markets yet. However, they’re trying to make some ground especially in the portable field, where boutique audio cables are quite important.
When they started back in 2015, the company’s initial target wasn’t the portable market however, it instead was home audio solutions in Japan. After 1-2 years they decided to enter the portable audio field. Yet I’m sure that they often use their knowledge from home audio for their portable solutions.
The company’s CEO is Naoki Okada, who I personally met in CanJam London 2019. He’s a very nice man to share opinions with, and he really wants to showcase how his cables perform with good IEMs. I personally think he did just that and I hope he will be around in 2020 show. I personally hope that we can continue for future reviews as well.
This is Brise Audio’s “reference” cable which utilizes oxygen-free copper and some authentic solutions. The OFC might not sound flashy or impressive to you. Having said that, the important thing for Brise Audio is not building the cable with some unique materials. The important thing here instead is the correlation and harmony between the materials with the insulation design.
The STR name comes from the “strand” word. As you can guess from the model designation, this cable has a 7 strand structure for a wire, which you can see in the below picture. Brise Audio calls this as the “Spiral 77” design.
They also boast a 11-layer “MURAKUMO” structure for the insulation part. As you can see right below, the magnetic filtering is very complex and it shows how much detail was involved for crafting this cable. The materials are balanced for the best shielding, best tensile strength and the best flexibility altogether.
This is not an easy task to accomplish and it seems that Brise Audio takes things very seriously. It also shows that they indeed derived some experience from their home audio appliances for their IEM/Headphone cables.
Build Quality & Ergonomics
The Brise Audio STR7-Ref is one of the best cables I’ve ever seen in terms of build, if not the best. The craftsmanship is incredibly good and to me this cable can survive any kind of usage. I think Okada-san gives big importance to the build quality considering their design choices and attention to detail.
My sample is terminated with a 4.4mm BAL jack and 2-pin connectors. I really like the 4.4mm connection for its sturdiness with my Sony WM1A. The jack is L-type and it’s very durable with a very professional look. There are some low profile solutions with smaller jacks in the market, but I think this L-jack is also very easy to operate.
The 2-pin connectors are more rounded than some other cables and they have red & blue markings, together with Brise Audio logos. They look pretty nice and complementary to the rest of the design and they also feel rock solid to me.
One thing I really liked though is the memory wire area. The memory wire is short with a good balance between flexibility and stiffness. Also the material on the memory wire is soft, so it doesn’t bother your ear with its presence, even with long listening periods. This is critical for my experience with aftermarket cables.
Another exceptional detail for the memory wire is that, Brise Audio used a slim titanium rib for bending the memory part around the ear. Also, the tips of that titanium rib is twisted to prevent any tearing problems with the wire (which happens with some stock or aftermarket cables), and also for the users’ health. The attention to detail here is astounding.
The overall strength and flexibility of the cable is really good. Brise Audio tried to make this cable more softer and more flexible than their earlier offerings, and I can say that they’ve done it. This isn’t the most flexible cable you would see, but judging the materials and the craftsmanship, this level of flexibility is actually a success.
Of course, aesthetics-wise the STR7-Ref doesn’t make you “wow” with its looks. For me this is simply unimportant but if you like to showcase your TOTL IEMs with flashy looks, then you can find other options. This is not a cable to show-off, it instead is a cable to get the best sound possible with the best materials and structural design. Yet, one detail I liked is the cable slider which is made from genuine rosewood. It’s such a great and classy touch to this full black design.