Adding an aftermarket cable can often bring some pleasant changes to the sound, but it can also go the other way. In my opinion it is very important to find the right match for a monitor. Though it has to be stressed, that not every monitor responds the same to cable alterations. Don’t expect a cable to change the sound of a monitor by 180°, you can fine tune the sound with cables, but you can’t magically make them into new beasts. On my pursuit to audio nirvana I have gathered quite a few cables at home already, most of them I like for distinctive qualities or how they match with specific monitors. Here are a few pairings I found particularly good.
The original Leonidas cable beholds a special place in my audiophile heart as it is one of my absolute favourites and go to cables for new monitors. With the A12t attached to it, I hear a wider sound stage with clearer positioned details. A smoother midrange and clean treble with enhanced transparency. This is an excellent pairing that I could listen to for hours.
Effect Audio – LBE Leonidas
Sublime – truly by the means of this word. The stage gets wider and deeper with crazy resolution where even the finest details are portrayed with wonderful accuracy. Treble gets more energy and sparkle. Bass is perfectly controlled as before. Transparency gets to almost A18t levels. Midrange kept its smoothness in tact with all the emotions and body. This pairing has marked the end of my search for the best sparring partner for the 12t. Word on the street is that Effect Audio is soon coming to an end of the production run for Leonidas, and I honestly hope that, if they’re going to bring out a new version, it will be like LBE Leonidas. More people should be able to enjoy and hear what I’m hearing. This is ridiculously good.
PlusSound categorizes their cables by the amount of wires used for braiding. The Exo series consists of four wires and this very cable is their gold-plated silver version of it. I’ve been holding on to this for quite some time now, and you can expect a full review of it very soon.
The GPS Exo is also a smoother cable with great details and sound stage, a well controlled bass and harmonuous midrange. All that gets transported into the A12t. An even smoother midrange, sparklier treble and a tightly bound bass is the outcome. Sound stage size does stretch a notch further on the X-axis.
I have also tried the A12t with a few other cables, most of which though have brought out elevations in specific regions that were not to my liking. They were either too full and boomy bass or too bright and sharp treble. The three above have been the most pleasant to me, thus I only included them in this section.
Most of my listening time has been done using the Astell&Kern SP1000. Since it’s my daily driver it gets the most playtime. That heavily plays in the before menitoned sound-description. Unfortunately I don’t have any high output impedance gear to test the LID technology. Should I run into something worth mentioning I will make sure to add it to this review. In the meantime the following list of products has to suffice.
Chord Electronics – Hugo2
The Hugo2 is one of my favourite sources and the A12t pairing with it is exceptional. Wide and expanded sound stage. The combination brings out a lot of details with superb resolution and layering. Hugo2 has a more neutral character with slight warmth in lower mids and treble. High notes are silky soft and very extended. Bass is fast, punchy and delivers great rumble and resolution. Vocals are nicely holographic and smooth, with good emotions and blood. Instruments carry decent weight with perfect separation. Transparency is one of the best I’ve heard. Midrange overall sounds organic and natural.
Chord Electronics – Mojo
The more pocket-sized Chord FPGA DAC/Amp is warmer with great textured bass. It’s a more relaxed and laid back than the Hugo2, but also highly resolving with a wonderful sound stage. Treble is a notch softer, mids are full and engaging with a natural character. Bass goes deep with good punch. There is wonderful separation and transparency in the Mojo-A12t combo. If you’re in for a highly resolving, yet warmer and enjoyable pairing, this is it.
Luxury&Precision – L5 Pro
With most of my IEMs there is noticeable hissing with the L5 Pro, not with the A12t – it’s completely silent. It’s a very smooth and organic sound, with wonderful layering. Sound stage is not as wide or deep as with the Chord’s or the AK, but it still is great. Treble is sparkling and crisp, not overly forward but on the slight north of neutral side. Mids are full with big body. Transparency is good, but not the best. It’s a nicely engaging and energetic sound,
Luxury&Precision – L3 Pro
Just like between the Chord brothers, the L3 Pro is the more laid back between the LP DAPs. It’s smoother, more musical and definitely more relaxed than the L5 Pro. I love the easy to like signature of the L3 Pro. When I’m on business trips for my daytime work, I almost always take the L3 Pro for its low weight and small formfactor (compared to the SP1000). Sure the UI isn’t the best, but the sound convinces with a warmer tone. It goes really well with a lot of my monitors, and the A12t is no exception. Though sometimes I’d wish for more transparency and less warmth. The emotions of this pairing are wonderful though. Treble is not the most extended, but rich and nicely warm.
Comparisons and Conclusion on the last page