Cables, a nice way to slightly change the sound of an earphone or headphone. As always it is not given that one cable will match every IEM perfectly, there has to be good synergy between them. So always audition with your own gear before you decide on pulling the trigger. We will look at the usual suspects for this review.
Effect Audio, also a company from Singapore, offers a nicely smooth and detailed sound, which would complement the W900 very well. We‘ll see how Leonidas and Horus affect the stand alone sound of the neighboring hybrid.
One of my favorite cable brands is plusSound, they offer exceptional build quality and great sounding cables. Their two-wired gold plated copper X and T-Metal Exo cables are among my most used items. Transparency and organic are the keywords here.
Labkable is a Hong Kong based manufacturer of audiophile aftermarket cables with a vast portfolio to offer. Their Samurai III cable is a very organic, linear and detailed cable with emphasis on mid-body. A short while ago I have received their top of the line Titan Au, a ten-wired gold plated silver cable, with outstanding sound.
AAW has also provided me with a new Null Audio eight-wire pure copper cable, the Vitesse Cryo. Null Audio is also a Singapore based manufacturer. AAW has said that this would become the standard cable, but since I haven‘t noticed the change on their website I have put it in here and will describe the changes in sound which I perceived.
Null Audio – Vitesse Cryo
This cable has provided two very welcome changes to the signature of the AAW W900. Sound stage and layering have both improved a bit, as did treble. High notes got softer, but on occasions still are too forward for my taste, leaving me with discomfort. Bass and mids also saw some slight changes. Bass is softer, but also a tad slower. Mids are a touch fuller.
Effect Audio – Leonidas
Leonidas is one of my all time favourite cables, as it matches well with almost all of my monitors. It is impressively detailed and has great resolution, both features which the AAW W900 can use for its micro detail retrieval. Lows are a tad tighter and closer bound, mids receive a touch of blood and highs get softened out a bit, but not enough to make them pleasing to my ears. The sound stage got a notch bigger in terms of width.
Effect Audio – Horus
Horus is EA‘s current flagship. It‘s made out of four gold plated silver wires that feature Effect Audio‘s reference geometry. It is impressively flexible and soft with the build quality you‘d expect from a 1600$ cable.
Horus is just like Leonidas very organic and detailed, but takes all that a step further. It sports an incredibly big sound stage and brings out every little piece with W900. Treble still is crisp and clean, but got enough organic warmth breathe into it to become enjoyable over a longer course. This is one of the best matches for W900.
I only borrowed Lieven‘s sample, but wish he would forget that I have it… It is so damn good.
Labkable – Samurai III
Samurai is similar to Leonidas. It is also made of silver and uses gold for plating, but in addition to that it also uses a very rarely seen Platinum alloy. Samurai III is part of labkable’s higher end Master Series. It is again very detailed, transparent and has great amounts of resolution. Everything finds its way into the AAW W900. The added mid-body gives the presentation more harmony and an organic signature. Lows are well controlled with good body but treble still has this unpleasing discomfort over it.
Labkable – Titan Au
Ever since I have received this cable it has seen most of its ear-time with the W900, for one because the W900 was next in line to be reviewed and because their mix is nothing short of perfect.
AAW’s flagship got more organic, more precise with very good micro detailing and resolution. The sound stage also got considerably bigger with better layering and imaging. Lows are still nicely organic and dynamic but a touch tighter, mids are more emotional and fuller. Highs were softened out to excellent levels, with the same insane extension and air. It became especially richer in tone with the perfect amount of warmth. Just how I like it.
One thing should be noted though: with a ten-wire braid we clearly have left portability behind, as the cable itself gets rather thick and heavy for an IEM cable. So if that‘s one of your priorities, look elsewhere.
PlusSound – X (gold plated copper)
In theory a copper cable with gold plating should be an excellent complement to the W900. As copper cables are known for their warmer tone. Eric of Effect Audio has explained us in his interview that gold often gets used to enhance body and harmonics, which the AAW also could use very well. PlusSound‘s hyper portable X-series has a greatly transparent and resolving nature. Sound stage, separation and layering are at almost the same levels as before. Bass is a notch punchier and harder hitting, but has kept its organic sound. High notes are a bit softer, but not enough for my taste. Hi-hats and cymbals still sound too bright on occasions. Mids didn’t see any alterations.
PlusSound – Exo (T-Metal)
Also one of my favourite cables. Though I primarily use it hooked up to my A18 Tzar. It is made out of three different conductors in each wire. Silver, gold plated silver and gold plated copper. I love this mix. It unleashed Exo’s detailed, transparent and incredibly organic sound. Crystal clear highs with great sparkle. Unfortunately not the best match for W900. Sound stage, separation, resolution and layering all improved with Exo. Bass got tighter and a tad bigger in body. Mids got breathe in some life. If it weren’t for the treble it would’ve been a sick match.
I hope that the new Null Audio Vitesse cable is now provided as standard, as it is a definite improvement over the original Ethos, which was not the best partner for W900 in my opinion. Out of all tried cables I definitely preferred the Titan Au by labkable with the AAW. It better be an awesome cable for 2300$ though.
Page five for Sources, Comparisons and conclusion.