To describe the sound I’ll be using the following headphones: Audeze LCD2.1 & LCD-XC and the Hifiman HE-400i and HE-560.
Using the short smc to mini xlr adapters on the HE-400i is extremely easy, I bought these adapters for like $75 but they have already saved me a lot of money by not having to buy cables with different terminations. The X16 cable makes the HE-400i a clearer and clean sounding headphone that is more balanced than with the stock cable. With the stock cable the HE-400i has more body in bass and mids and especially the bass has bigger presence. The X16 makes the HE-400i sound a little more like the HE-560, more precise and detailed. Clean, detailed and precise, those are the keywords for how the HE-400i sounds on the X16 and especially the midrange improves. The sound stage is good but not as wide as the HE-560’s. While the bass body isn’t as bigg, the X16 cable does seem to extend bass further down low. Switching to the Apollonian+ cable increases the bass body and impact. The clarity, detail and precision (especially in the mids) aren’t at the same level as it was before but they’re still an improvement over the stock cable. The music sounds more concentrated compared to the X16 but it is still less so than with the stock cable. Treble on the AP+ seems less extended though and I would especially recommend this cable if you want a little more bass presence and body in the lower mids.
The Hifiman HE-560 already is a very clear, clean, precise and detailed headphone with a wide soundstage (depth could be better). The HE-560 is the more balanced sounding headphone compared to the HE-400i but basically the same thing happens as described above. The Apollonian+ cable gives it a little more presence down low and in the lower mids while the treble softens up a little. On the X16 you get good precise bass that goes lower and which has better layering. You also get good layering up to the highs, very rich mids and energetic treble. To me this is the most balanced setup of the Hifimans and you have the richest, cleanest, clearest and most detailed sound. I don’t think the HE-560 can sound any better. The sound stage width is very good and I don’t think the depth can improve even more on the HE-560.
The Audeze LCD-2.1 always has great bass and the X16 brings it out the best it can. Good depth for this Audeze, great body, punchy, tight and good layering. The mids are rich with good body and the treble is good. It’s not the most energetic or extended but they’re lively enough to make a perfect mix. The X16 makes the LCD2’s mids shine and it made me fall in love with my LCD2 all over again. That was until the headband started annoying me, once you’re used to listening to the new Hifimans and the Sennheisers , the Audeze’s simply aren’t comfortable (anymore) for longer periods. For some reason the LCD-XC is a lot more comfortable and with the X16 you get superb clarity, precision and detail. The X16 makes the voices jump out a little more. The mids are very detailed and the overall presentation is clean, clear, tight and precise. Bass is awesome and the treble is more energetic than on the LCD2. The X16 again delivers.
The Apollonian+ on the LCD-XC again adds a bit of extra body in the bass and lower mids and bass doesn’t have the same layering and depth as with the X16 cable. The higher mids and treble get more presence with AP+ though but to me personally it sometimes got a little sharp. The mids aren’t as rich and clean as on the X16 and personally I find the pairing of the Apollonian+ with the XC a little less good. On the LCD-2.1 the Apollonian+ did remarkably better with really good bass, treble and mids. I couldn’t hear the treble sharpness on the LCD2.1 and in fact the AP+ to me makes the LCD2.1 sound like it was intended to sound. The X16 makes it a little better in every way but it also makes it more civilized and that’s something I think the LCD2 shouldn’t be. This Audeze is great because of its unique way of how it does bass and treble and I don’t feel I need to change that typical sound.
Website + Pricing
PlusSound’s website is a bit strange to work with in the beginning but it grows on you. On the home page you can either click on the picture of the item you’re looking for or you can click on the + icon on the left which will make the complete navigation appear on the left side of your screen. All the information you can possibly need can be found on the website. PlusSound has no secrets about the cables and parts they use. If you have difficulties navigating or selecting options you can of course just use the contact form to get in touch with Christian, or you can just email him.
When I configure my cables in the headphone cables shop, the Apollonian+ costs $599 while the X16, with the double amount of strands, only costs $200 more. PlusSound offers cables for all budgets and depending on the chosen type of cable and your options, your price will of course vary. The X16 is PlusSound’s TOTL cable and while I don’t have the most expensive version of the cables I find the price to be correct for the material used and the craftsmanship shown. There are a lot of cable companies charging a whole lot more money for the same type of cable with similar or less stellar build quality. Some others will probably find the above mentioned prices “crazy” already but like I said there are cheaper cables available as well and you can always DIY your cable with PlusSound material as well.
PlusSound clearly are cable experts and they have something in their product line for everyone and for every head/earphone. The number of available options is impressive and their customer service and build quality are as good as it gets. All in all I find the prices for both of these cables to be correct, they’re well-built and look and sound great. If you’re not into cables that much or they’re out of your budget than you can always buy their DIY-pieces. I myself also use their short IC’s for on the go. Don’t forget to check out that sublime battery driven Cloud Nine amplifier.
The X16 is their TOTL headphone cable and I can only confirm this after months of extensive testing. It makes every headphone sound as good as it gets but it might not always be what you want, like with the LCD 2.1 in my case. Detail, clarity, precision, sound stage and layering simply are really good but it’s not the most comfortable cable. The Apollonian+ cable performs a level lower than the X16 but it still sounds great and it is more comfortable. In my opinion the AP+ overall adds a little more body to the bass and mids and it’s just a level lower in everything than its big brother but it’s still really good.
Doesn’t that X16 look gorgeous?