Sennheiser Aftermarket Cables Comparison

Here is the results that we find:

First of all, is there a difference between the stock Sennheiser cables to the aftermarket ones? Yes. This is the easiest part to detect during our cable review. The HD25-1 stock cable is a very bad quality one, the HD650 cable is better, but any aftermarket cable we tried simply betters both of them by quite a margin. Upgrading from the stock cable to any of the cables we tried (including the DIY CAT6) will give you a much improved transparency, detail, and soundstage.

The first step up from the stock cables are the CAT6. The CAT6 DIY cable had a noticably large soundstage, bigger than all the cables in this review. Its sound signature is mostly neutral, though it tends to be a little bit on the warm side. Its weaknesses, however, is refinement. The sound from the CAT6 is noticeably rougher and less refined than the more expensive choices. Another problem with the CAT6 is that the cable is very stiff, and not very convenient for headphone use. Overall, however, for the price, the CAT6 can be a very shocking improvement over your stock cable.

The Apuresound cable has a distinction in that it’s the most laid-back cable in the review. Keep in mind it’s not a slow, boring, or recessed laid-back, but it’s like taking two steps back from the music so you can examine everything better. It’s a very enjoyable kind of laid-back, even with the already laid-back HD650. It also makes the slightly forward HD25-1 more neutral and more enjoyable overall. Normally when a certain frequency range is more forward, that frequency range takes the spotlight and you cannot hear the other frequencies as well. What we love with the APS is that it results in a clearer presentation of the entire frequency range.

Opposite to the Apuresound, The Equinox has a more forward sound. Some people with a preference for this type of sound will prefer the more “exciting” Equinox over the “laid-back” Apuresound. Paired with the HD650, the Equinox adds a nice sparkle in the high frequency. Keep in mind that when talking about cables, the description of “laid-back” and “forward” means a very small adjustment, rather than sound signature changing adjustment. All of these cables are still mostly neutral. So when we say the Equinox pushes the high frequency forward, it’s might be a two steps forward, whereas a Grado might be a 10 steps forward. The laid-backness of the APS, or the forwardness of the Equinox, will fine-tune your headphone rather than rearrange your headphone’s presentation.

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64 Comments

  • Reply October 8, 2009

    dw1narso

    Hi Mike,

    The Double Helix part might need some more information… about it’s characteristic… You only mention about it’s increased base…

    But none the less… terrific review…

    Two Thumbs UP!

  • Reply July 23, 2010

    Shawn L

    Just reviving this old 'review'. The cardas cable is pretty popular. Any reason why it wasn't included?

    • Reply July 23, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Shawn,
      We were quite new back then and couldn't find somebody who owns a cardas cable. 🙂

  • Reply July 23, 2010

    Rick

    I am considering a new cable for my HD600's and found this quite interesting. I would like to see a comparison of the Zu Mobius cable to the others here and possibly the Cardas. I may even go the DIY route and would like further impressions on the Double Helix too.

    • Reply July 23, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Rick,
      There are so many cables at the moment. I've heard the Cardas and I think it is good. Never heard the Zu though. At the moment I'm particularly liking the Whiplash TWAg, and not because they are a sponsor. 😀

  • Reply August 4, 2010

    Tony

    Hi Mike,

    Hope you don't mind that I continue your conversation with Rick.

    What makes TWag good? Any impressions upon sound signature?

    Is it even better than APS or SAA Equinox in terms of sound quality and flexibility/softness?

    Have you heard the new SAA Endorphin?

    Thanks.

    Tony

    • Reply August 4, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Tony, I was typing an answer to your question, but I was typing a 1,000 words before I know it, and so I think it's better to make it into a post format. Check back later, I'll publish the post later today.

      Cheers.

      • Reply August 5, 2010

        Tony

        Thanks a lot Mike, glad that you made my questions into a full review/comparison/post 😀

        Can't wait to read it :p

        Anyway what's the post titled as? I couldn't find it even on the homepage?

        Thanks again.

        Tony

        • Reply August 6, 2010

          Mike

          Sorry man, I had to do something else yesterday. Every new post will be listed on the front page. Gimme a week to post that okay? 🙂

          • Reply August 6, 2010

            Tony

            Sure Mike, not a problem.

            I'm sure a lot of readers will rave over that post, especially me who's looking out for good cable at the moment 😀

            Anyway, what's your recommendation for great XLR interconnects? Any impressions Mike?

            Thanks.

            Tony

            • Reply August 6, 2010

              Mike

              Hi Tony, the post is done. I just have to find some photos to get it online. 🙂

              I am quite a newbie on XLR interconnects. Most of them are too expensive for my wallet. 🙂 At the moment I'm using mainly the Transparent Musiclink Plus XLR, which is a few thousand dollars cable. (Don't ask me how I got it).

              Budi, who loaned me the Omega2 and KGSS rig, uses a DIY XLR interconnect that sounds pretty good as well. It uses silver plated copper wire that's designed for amplifier hookup wires, and the bang for the buck ratio is fairly good. My RCA interconnects are also DIY stuff with pure copper amplifier hookup wires. Perhaps you want to find a good DIYer that can build you a good cable. Where do you live?

    • Reply August 13, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Tony,

      Here is the article. Sorry for the delays. http://headfonia.com/whiplash-audios-twag/

  • Reply August 6, 2010

    Tony

    Hi, what a quick response, LOL

    Glad that the post is done 🙂

    I live in New Zealand at the moment.

    Wow! You said you're newbie but you got a few thousand bucks cable, I envy you man 😀

    How's yours sound like?

    Yeah there are so many brands of interconnects & most of them are hilarious $$$, let say Van Den Hul, AudioQuest, Cardas, Monster, Nordost; each claimed to be the best and has patent of their own well-researched technology. It's either quality or bull****.

    Any recommendation of DIYer?

    Or maybe what's your colleague audiophiles use for their XLR interconnects?

    Thanks a lot Mike, nice to know you.

    Tony

    • Reply August 6, 2010

      Mike

      Well, I really don’t know of any “recommended” DIYer. Most of my friends here, and I, we built our own cables. Let me ask around if someone is willing to make you a cable. What’s your budget, and what length? Normally 1 meter is a good length.

  • Reply August 12, 2010

    Michael

    Wow!

    So there's going to be a new cables shootout, interesting!

    Looking forward Mike.

    • Reply August 12, 2010

      Mike

      Nope, sorry there won't be any. Sorry if I gave the wrong impression with the previous comment.

  • Reply August 19, 2010

    Bagus

    Hi Mike,

    What a good review you have there..

    I have one question in mind :), it is about SCSCag. I know that SCSCag is for interconnect cable, not for headphones cable. But, what makes it so interesting is (you have mentioned in your previous article) that SCSCag is the best silver interconnect wire that you've tested.

    I am curious what if SCSCag is used for headphones cable?

    Or maybe you've ever heard some comments or impressions from people that use SCSCag for headphones cable?

    Thanks Mike for your response.

    • Reply August 19, 2010

      Mike

      Hey dude, I know that some people apparently made headphone cables from the SCSCAg wire. I don't know about them, but the SCSCAg wire is a solid core wire. I really don't think it would stand up to the abuses and frequent bending of a headphone cable.

      Think of a solid steel wire, and the SCSCAg is like that, just a little softer.

      • Reply August 19, 2010

        Bagus

        Wow prompt reply!

        Ah i see, so SCSCag is lack of flexibility.. Hmm.. I can't imagine if my little brother/sister play with the cable and suddenly bent it up sharply.

        What about Silver dragon? Have you ever tested it? I want to increase the detail of HD650, and i think silver-based cable is a good choice.

        Waiting for used Equinox or silver-based cable on sale then 😀

        Thanks Mike.

        • Reply August 19, 2010

          Mike

          I've tried the Silver Dragon with a HE5 and it actually smooths out the treble over the stock cable. With HD650, I've tried both the Equinox and Blue Dragon, and both are nice for adding details.

          I want to increase the detail of HD650

          The HD650 is VERY detailed. You just have to learn to listen to a dark headphone. It has very high low level detail level, more detailed than some electrostatic set ups and only loses to the top Dynamics such as HD800 or Beyer T1.
          What you want is not detail, but perhaps a brighter presentation, a treble boost.

          • Reply August 20, 2010

            Bagus

            Perhaps you're right.. a treble boost.

            Time to hunt Dragon or Equinox.. 😀

            Thanks bro!

        • Reply August 19, 2010

          Mike

          Yep. I won't recommend the SCSCAg wire for headphones.

        • Reply August 19, 2010

          Mike

          Perhaps if you think the HD650 is not bright enough for you, it'll make more sense to change the headphone, rather than the cable. Try something like the HE5 or the HE5LE.

  • Reply September 14, 2010

    Robbie

    Hi Mike, I just found this old post while browsing.

    Do you think SAA Equinox able to lift the Sennheiser HD650's darkness?

    Other than being forward or laid-back, what other sonic traits differentiate SAA Equinox and APS V3?

    What do you think of their soundstage, imaging and separation?

    Thanks.

    Robbie

    • Reply September 15, 2010

      Mike

      The Equinox helps in adding a slight treble sparkle, but the rule of thumb in cables is that they'll never be able to change fundamentally how a headphone sounds. Hence, I think you'll still find the HD650 mostly dark sounding. It's been a while since I did this comparison, but from what I remembered, the brand name cables have roughly a similar soundstage/separation performance.

  • Reply November 16, 2010

    donunus

    Just stumbled upon this review and i agree with the sound of the equinox (The only aftermarket senn cable Ive owned). I felt that the equinox on my hd600s vs the stock cables were like hd600s with worn pads even on the new stiff pads. For some reason though, when the hd600s pads got worn I ended up liking the stock cable better 🙂

  • Reply March 30, 2011

    Chuang Wei

    I heart that Stefan AudioArt Endorphin is a quite good upgrade for HD650. And I was wondering is that upgrade as good as Beyerdynamic T1 itself? Because now I have A1 as amplifer and I guess I have soundstage problem with HD650, which gives me a upper soundstage.

    • Reply March 30, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes I heard the Endorphin is a good cable too. I think the Equinox is the same cable before they changed the name?

      • Reply March 31, 2011

        Chuang Wei

        I guess yes. Should be the same cable, just new models. The upper soundstage really make me sick and I am not sure which part of the system cause this problem.

        As to the cable, I thought the price for HD650 with aftermarket cable would be as much as T1, which is an idea partner for A1. So if HD650 does not work, I will switch to T1 and forget everything about cables.

        • Reply March 31, 2011

          Anonymous

          I don’t quite understand the part where you say “upper soundstage making
          you sick”.

          • Reply March 31, 2011

            Chuang Wei

            Oh, I mean that the image is not horizontal, I feel that the positions of instrument are in my upper front. I don’t quite like that position.

            And the vocal part, well, it is too close to my ear. As a result currently I am not satisfied with my setup and I do not have a clue.

            • Reply April 1, 2011

              Anonymous

              I am not sure if a cable can fix those issues for you. Perhaps be best
              to change headphones.

  • Reply April 29, 2011

    iamidaho

    Hi Mike,
    Do you think that your findings here on recabling headphones with DIY cat 6 would transfer to interconnects made with CAT6 as well? I’m not very handy with a soldering iron but cat6 cable is easy enough to come by and would be great practice before trying on more expensive cable. Also, do you have any suggestions on sites detailing DIY headphone recabling technique?

    Thanks!

    • Reply April 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes, you can use CAT5, 6, or even 7 for interconnects. A few friend has
      used them with good results.

      A headphone recabling guide?
      Basically you need to open the housing, desolder the original cables,
      and solder in new cables in. I don’t think a beginner should attempt to
      do it, since it’s very easy to overheat the voice coils and you’d kill
      the driver that way. But if you’re confident you can do a quick, clean
      job, then by all means go ahead. I normally desolder one terminal on the
      driver, then wait a few minutes before going to the other terminal, to
      give time for the voice coil to cool down. You don’t want the voice coil
      to overheats — that’s the most important thing.

      Also, CAT6 cables are very stiff and not recommended for headphones.
      It’s much better for interconnects. We just throw it out there to see
      how it would perform against the others.

    • Reply April 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      Here is a thread discussing the crosstalk issue on the Audio Technica
      M-50 and how Earfonia fixed it by doing a recable job with separate
      ground cables. It’s in Indonesian language, but if you scroll down the
      page you’ll see some pictures that can help you get a sense of what to
      expect:

      http://www.audiophile-id.com/index.php?topic=6017.0

      Here is something else on the Superlux HD669

      http://www.audiophile-id.com/index.php?topic=10181.0

    • Reply April 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      This guy torn off the soldering pads on his Grado driver (tough
      situation there):

      http://www.audiophile-id.com/index.php?topic=2573.0

      Again, scroll down the page to see the pictures.

  • Reply January 18, 2012

    Ed

    Hello
    SAA has introduced an ultra high end line called Endorphin.
    I contacted James(owner SAA) & he believes that the Endorphin are the best upgrade cables bar-none. 
    Does anyone have any experience with these cables for the HD650?

    • Reply January 19, 2012

      Mike

      Ed,
      The Endorphins are very good for the HD650. Can’t go wrong with them.

  • Reply January 24, 2012

    LzaH

    Hey Mike, could you provide a more detailed comparison between the Double Helix cable and the Blue Dragon?

    • Reply January 24, 2012

      Mike

      Aww sorry don’t think I can do that.

  • very nice review. I’m planning to replace my HD25-1 II stock cable with a custom one for nomad use, is it worth it on such headphones ?

    • Reply January 9, 2013

      Mike

      I can’t answer that for you. Some of the cables are worth the same price as the headphone

      Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

      • skipping the price issue, i was wondering if it would be an improvement over the stock cable on the HD25

        • Reply January 10, 2013

          L.

          try listening to an aftermarket cable and decide for yourself. I think that’s the best advice we can give you

        • Reply January 10, 2013

          Mike

          Yes definitely

          Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

  • Reply January 11, 2013

    Calvin Purnomo

    Hey Mike, any idea on where to buy the stock Senn 650 cable in Indonesia? Hard time looking for it. Thanks! 🙂

    • Reply January 11, 2013

      Mike

      Check with distributor, and they should be able to order them for you

      Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

      • Reply January 11, 2013

        Calvin Purnomo

        Just called Astrindo’s sales office & service center, and they said that they don’t have the cable, and cannot help me on ordering them from Sennheiser.. what the heck.. hahahaha.. Any other channel Mike? Sorry for the hassle though 🙂

        • Reply January 11, 2013

          Mike

          I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Try sennheiser Singapore

          Sent from my mobile device. Sorry for any mistype.

  • Reply November 6, 2013

    thibault

    Hi Mike,
    Have you tried ALO audio green line cable ? do you think it’s a good choice for Senn 650.
    Thanks

    • Reply November 6, 2013

      Mike

      Yes I think it’s a good cable for the price. Good clarity boost without being too bright. Good midrange bloom and relatively spacious. Of course the more expensive cables give an even better sound.

      Disclaimer: Just for the record I sell them at my store.

  • Reply November 7, 2013

    thibault

    The more expensive cables on ALO audio (R16, R8 and salty pepper) don’t have the Senn 650 plug option. The green line it is better than moon audio silver dragon V3 cable ?

    • Reply November 7, 2013

      Mike

      I think the green line gives a more all-rounder boost rather than just the treble on the silver dragon. The green line tonality is a bit similar to the blue dragon, but you get more improvements with the green.
      Again I feel very bad here making a comparison between the green with the SD. I’m sure people have their preferences. I’m not a big fan of silver cables, they boost the treble and clarity but tend to be shallow in depth and also dry. Personally I like full copper but if I need a bit of a treble boost I’d go for silver-plated-copper rather than pure silver.

  • Reply December 29, 2015

    Centiel mungiel

  • Reply December 11, 2016

    David J. Kozirovsky

    Even a DAC isn’t worth the prices of any of these cables, yet alone a cable. Yes, on low level signals over long distances, high quality cables with good shielding can make a difference. For headphones? The only way there can be a noticeable difference in sound that isn’t placebo is with a really bad cable. Maybe the stock cables are that. However, it doesn’t take any of the prices of any of these cables to make one of decent quality, ESPECIALLY DIY. Redco.com should prove that point quite well. If you’re paying over $40 for a headphone cable, you may as well be buying snake oil.

    Perfectly good 5 ft Magami cable with Canare 3.5mm connector: http://www.redco.com/Custom-Cable.html?cableid=q4KgR

    $24.30 ($21.44 + $2.86 shipping (US)) + $13.60 (http://www.partsconnexion.com/CARDAS-71677.html#1067) for the headphone connectors to solder separately. Redco has them too for ~$20 and you can probably call in to have them attach them for you for not that much more.

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