Disclaimer: It’s been seven months since C3 Audio sent these cables for review. All of C3 Audio’s cables come with heaps of options, and commensurate prices. I paid nothing for the ones in this review and I think you’re going to like that! Check out myriad C3 Audio options here: C3 Audio.
C3 Audio keep things simple. Name the headphone brand. Name the headphone model. Name the cable property. Choose your length. Choose your connection type. The major properties are OFC, SPOFC, and UPOCC. Above them all is C3 Audio’s glorious logo. Like a throwback to the late nineties, it has me both missing, and dissing Minidisk. Yet again.
And like the late 90s, the interface behind choice is simple. A couple of clicks, and the cable of your choice, at the length you want, and for the headphone and termination of your choice, is in your shopping cart.
Unlike late-90s Minidisk, C3 cables are strong stuff. No bad battery compartments, no scuff-prone metal. Naturally, main stalk tension, energy, and other sundry changes depend on what material you choose. I asked C3 to put together one of each variant: SPOFC and UPOCC, and had each made up for three different headphone platforms. Those are:
The most interesting – and perhaps most thought-provoking – of the bunch is the Sennheiser cable. It’s like this: the Sennheiser cable’s been around forever. Everyone and their dog’s best friend’s pet hamster makes one. It’s a market both confusing and diverse. And it’s one in which duds come up and are shown duds in the face of good options.
One of C3’s thoughtful touches is facing the L/R logos inward, mimicking a number of high end (just not Sennheiser HDxx) headphones. The HD650 puts its L/R marks above the ear cups, and below the HD650 logos, and are small, and barely visible to anyone. Strange in such an otherwise thoughtfully designed headphone. C3’s L/Rs are big, semi-reflective, and catch the eye. With the C3 in place, you’ve got L/R labels on both the outside and inside. Bingo.
Claiming one of the coolest logos in the business, naturally C3 show it off on every surface they can. Opposite the L/R labels you’ll find C3 scrawl. It’s there on the y-split, too, but in full late 90s glory. C3 Audio. Bada boom, bada bing.
The liberal use of heat-shrink at cable joins, plugs, and around certain jack elements is mundane, but there’s a good reason for it. Heat shrink is light, printable, not terribly expensive to work with, and slim. The last one is a life saver. Every C3 cable I’ve got is the 2-metre variant. Considering the wire makeup, quality Neutrik 4-pin XLR plug hardware, and even the solid nylon sleeve, even the SPOFC cable is substantial. Some cable companies add shiny carbon fibre or stodgy wood y-split and cinch parts. I get the branding angle. I get the geek lookame angle. But they are buggers to use, and often heavier than they need to be. Most, if not all of them are unwieldy.
Both C3’s SPOFC and UPOCC cables are about as light as I’ve used in this category, and easy to use. They even wrap up nicely, which is a big bonus next to the stock cable. What’s surprising is that despite general cable stiffness up to the y-split, post-split, the two ends are flexible and light. Sennheiser’s stock plugs more easily slide into their posts, but also fall out easier. I wish the C3 cables had is more to grip when removing. I also wish they were as easy to insert as the stock HD650 cables. HD650 jacks tend to wear. If you have to wiggle your cables around to get them out, they wear faster.
This complaint is meaningless when using both MyST and HiFiman headphones, which terminate in 2,5 and 3,5 jacks. Amazingly, even in that configuration, C3 found room for both L/R labels and the C3 logo at the headphone-side plugs.