How To Choose IEM Upgrade Cable: Cable Rolling 101!!
Being an audio enthusiast, we want our audio chain to be perfect. We want the perfect synergy between the Source and said IEMs/Headphones. We want the perfect fit, perfect seal, perfect synergy, after all the main motive is to get the best out of our gears. While Tip Rolling is suggested for fit, Cable Rolling is a topic that has created some flakes in the audiophile community. Some people believe Cables can bring drastic changes to the sound and performance of a given pair of IEM or Headphones, while some belief otherwise. What do we believe you ask? We have noticed IEMs and Headphones changing in sound with cable rolling mainly because of the different cable core materials, differences in core counts, and several other factors. A bad cable might also introduce distortion or noise in the output signal. Today, the HiFi audio market is full of IEM Upgrade Cables available in different price segments. One can have a replacement cable starting at 10$ and the price for them can go as high as a few thousand dollars. The main concern here is, are these really worth it, or are these just some snake oil to get money out of the buyer’s pocket??? All this seems to create a lot of confusion among the buyers. Every day our customer service team gets thousands of questions related to Cable rolling. We get questions like, What change in sound can this given cable bring? Which cable is better suited for my IEM, Copper or Silver, or Hybrid? Does core count affect the sound by any means? And the list keeps on growing every single day. To help the community with all these questions and save the trouble, we have brought this guide as your one-stop solution for IEM cable rolling. So without any further ado, let’s begin.
Different Cable Material Type:-
If you look at upgrade cables in the market, you will see they have different material ratings. We have got high-quality monocrystalline copper cables, Pure-silver cables, Silver-plated Copper cables, Silver and copper hybrid cables, and many more. The primary difference in sound with any given cable and IEMs/Headphones is brought mainly because of the cable material type. The better the material, the better signal conductance. Each material has its own internal resistance characteristics that affect the signal transmission affecting the output signal. Usually what we get with budget IEMs is either an SPC cable or a monocrystalline copper cable, while mid-fi and high-end cables usually have pure-silver or gold wire cores.
Different Cable Material Types:-
>Pure Copper cables(Widely available).
>Silver-Plated Copper cables(Widely available).
>Hybrid cables(SPC+Pure Copper or other combinations, usually available easily).
>Pure-Silver cables(With premium IEMs/Headphones or Premium cables).
>Gold-plated Cables(High-end aftermarket cables only).
Another thing to notice here is there’s usually a number associated with Pure Copper or Pure Silver in Cable name written as 22AWG or something similar. This number denotes the thickness of the core wire material used in making the cable. The higher the number, the thinner the cable and hence lower the resistance it shows. Some people also consider that different material for any headphone or IEM cable affects the impedance rating of the connected pair. This is a skeptical claim as the difference in resistance with such a small cable(usually 1.2m) is very minimal.
How Does Different Cable Material Effect Output?
Let’s discuss how different cable materials affect the sound performance of any given pair of IEMs or Headphones. We will start with the Pure Copper/SPC cables first.
Monocrystalline Copper Cables:-
Single-Crystal copper(Monocrystalline Copper) cables are the most common type of cables found today with most HiFi audio products. Some IEMs have got Silver-plating over monocrystalline copper cable, the silver-plating protects the cable from any given microphonic issues. Pure copper cables add a touch of warmth to the sound signature of the connected IEMs/Headphones. The notes get extra tonal weight and feel heavy. The lower end gets an extra of punch with thick slams with a copper cable(provided the IEM is capable of scaling too). A good copper cable will always pair well for a fun and engaging sound.
Copper Cables At Our Store:-
Single-Crystal Silver or Pure Silver Cables adds a bit of energy to the sound signature of our connected IEMs/Headphones. With added energy, the output becomes more dynamic and clear. Nowadays you can see some brands including Monocrystalline silver cables as stock with their mid-fi and above category products. With a pure silver cable, IEMs and Headphones tend to have a faster and cleaner presentation, promising a lively listening experience for the users. Pure Silver cables are suggested to use with Dark or warm sounding IEMs.
Silver Cables At Our Store:-
Hybrid IEM Upgrade Cables:-
Just like the term “Hybrid” for IEMs mean a pair with two or more type of drivers arranged and tuned in a professional manner, in Cables it means the same as when a cable is crafted with two or more different type of materials, it is called a Hybrid Cable. Commonly, in Hybrid Cables, we get either monocrystalline copper and silver mix cables, or copper and SPC cores wrapped together in a braided structure. The Hybrid cable tends to bring us the best of both worlds, warmth and meaty character of a copper cable and liveliness of a silver cable packed in a single package. A point to be noted here, every other hybrid cable model has its own characteristics when it comes to sound. This is because every brand design different models with different ratios of Copper and Silver wire cores, hence defining their different sound characteristics. Do note that a hybrid cable might have different materials too, like gold, silver, and copper hybrid cable, or gold and silver combinations.
Hybrid Cables At Our Store:-
Pure Gold or Gold-Plated Cables:-
Gold is a rare and precious metal that is very premium and costly. There are only a very few top-of-the-line cables that have pure-gold wires. Most products in the market have got gold-plated silver or gold-plated copper cables. Gold-plated copper wires tend to have a thick and meaty presentation just like that with the copper cables, but they also have a vivid and lively character. They sound fluid and smoother than silver-plated or pure-silver cables, in fact, they tend to show an extremely clean and punchy response with the connected IEMs/Headphones.
Gold-Plated & Gold Hybrid Cables At Our Store:-
How To Choose An Upgrade Cable For Your IEMs:-
There are a bunch of things that you need to check upon before deciding on an upgrade cable for your IEMs. Well, actually you need to decide on several different factors about what you want with this cable.
>Preferred Termination Plug:-
While buying a new cable for your IEMs/Headphones, you should first decide on the type of termination plug you want. You can choose between 3.5mm single-ended or 2.5mm/4.4mm balanced plugs while buying your new cable. Nowadays many new upgrade cables have interchangeable termination plugs allowing the users to change the termination at their will and need. So first decide what type or what termination plug you want for your next IEM/headphone cable.
>Choose Cable Material Based On How You Want It To Affect The Sound:-
You can check above where we described the effects of different cable materials with IEMs. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to give a pure copper cable to a dark or warm IEM as it will make it sound warmer(unless you are looking for a warmer tonality). Similarly, silver won’t be a very good match for already energetic IEMs/Headphones. After all, you are going through all this because you want the perfect synergy for your IEMs/Headphones.
>Choose According To Your Budget:-
The best part about upgrading cables is that they are available across almost every single price point. One can choose while being limited to their budget, you can choose an upgrade cable for as low as 10$. And if your budget allows you can go as high as 1500-2000$ for a top-tier product.
>Cable Thickness, Core Count, & Braid Structure:-
Some people might wonder whether the cable thickness, core count, or braid structure has any effect on the sound performance, but it will impact on the overall efficiency as of the change in overall impedance of the cable, this is again a very skeptical topic. We believe it decides the flexibility and looks of the pair. Usually, a 16-core thick cable will not be as flexible as a 4 or 8 core cable. Some people find a flexible cable more comfortable to use, so personal preference matters here.
Well, this closes our guide for how to choose your next upgrade cable. We have tried our best to present you with this deep discussion in a simple manner, making you understand the basics of cable material and their effect on the sound performance. We are pretty sure this will help you decide your next cable easily, for any other questions or queries, feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.