As Christopher didn’t want to tell me what material the cable was made of I had no idea what sound signature I could expect. Most of the time at home I use Forza Audioworks & Effect audio cables for my Audeze’s and Linum and Effect audio cables for my CIEMs. My Sennheisers most of the time use a Forza cable or even the stock cables. I’m still waiting for Beyerdynamic to start making replaceable cables on their higher end units.
Anyway, most of these cables have a specific impact on the sound of the headphone: more bass, clearer mids, more extended treble, less bass, etc. Everything is possible with cables. With this cable however there’s none of that and I mean that in the best way possible. It doesn’t add anything to the sound, it just makes it better. It’s amazingly clear, open, detailed and transparent without putting a focus on anything. When I mailed my findings to Christopher, he said: “Your description is exactly what I set out to design, a cable that remains neutral but enhances the detail, imaging, and sound stage of a pair of headphones.” He then finally revealed what material this cable was made of:
“Regarding materials, I worked really hard to find a dialectric that I like and decided that cross linked polyethylene gave the best sound presentation. It’s standard cryogenically treated UP-OCC wire, but to my knowledge it is the only high end headphone wire currently insulated with cross linked polyethylene. I also did a lot of experimentation with sleeving. I arrived at the conclusion that insulating the entire cable instead of each conductor cut down on microphonics quite a bit. My main design philosophy is to give people something sleek and impressive, but not gaudy or ostentatious. I only use Cardas solder. All cables are braided by hand. Each cable comes with a lifetime warranty. Obviously if a kid cuts the cable in half with scissors I can’t do anything, But if a connector or solder joint breaks, I’ll repair it for free”.
Availability & Pricing
If I understood Christopher correctly, the price for the middle 5′ cable like mine is $310 and each (headphone) adapter costs $140. A standard 6′ UP-OCC headphone cable costs $300, so you can save quite a lot in the long run if you own multiple headphones with different connector types like I do. The pricing can be a bit complicated because there are so many options but I’ll give you some examples. According to Charleston, the most basic system would be this: “2′ Hifiman adapter, 3′ Universal cable terminate with 4 pin XLR = $310. This system would come with an adapter for HiFiMAN headphones and a 3 foot cable terminated with standard 4 pin mini XLR. If a customer bought another pair of headphones they would simply buy the adapter for that pair of headphones at $140, and they’ve saved $170 compared to the initial purchase”.
You can of course find a whole lot more information on the Charleston Website. Christopher always replies very fast whenever I shoot him an email and he loves making custom cables for those who have special wishes. I actually just sent him another email to order a Kobiconn adapter, something special I hope I can show you soon. It might be a first.
If you’re in to after market cables, I would certainly look at Charleston too. Sure there are a lot of others on the market but just compare prices and delivery times and you might end up owning a Charleston cable sooner than you think. * As I got to keep the cable in the end, I was thinking of sending the cable on a European demo tour, but I still have to check that with Christopher. And then there’s the matter of the shipping costs. Stay tuned though. Those interested can always leave a comment already.