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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Joe's comparison vs the big stuff

The cable I sent him had a weak connection to one of the pins and I'll take 100% blame for that. This is a purely handmade product and it is possible for me to slip up, it's very rare, but it has happened and I always take care of my customer at the end of the day no matter the expense.

This is the review he wrote for me:
(Note: after receiving the initial review demo piece, he actually came back to buy more!)

Chris_Himself's Cable $75 + shipping
I first saw the Chris_Himself (CH)cables by accident and with a little more research found that Chris (and Ted) make silver cables at low prices with an amazing warranty, and Chris is also very nice and responsive! Ted put a had written note in with the cable explaining the cable pin orientation, a nice touch (red is right ground, blue is let ground among other things). The cable looks good, but isn't quite the eye candy that some of the others are, although the wooden Y-split and cable cinch are classy. Chris will ship anywhere.

P1010096.JPG P1010100.JPG P1010102.JPG P1010106.JPG P1010104.JPG P1010110.JPG P1010111.JPG P1010113.JPG P1010117.JPG
Images (from left to right, click on image to enlarge): cable; cable un-tied; free-form; 3.5mm jack; Y-split and cable cinch; shell connectors; with UERM; with UERM; with JH16

Ergonomically the cable isn't the best as it uses solid core silver wire that is noticeably stiffer than stranded wire, but is usable. The stiffer wire results in a memory effect and the cable doesn't just fall to where you would expect it to go as the stock cables do. With much less flexibility than all the other cables I have tried to date the cable can be unwieldy at times and has more microphonics than other cables during movement. However, when properly bending the memory wire into place, which is more difficult than is typical due to the very stiff memory wire, the microphonics go away. It is more difficult to get the memory wire to conform to the ear as I had to over-bend the memory wire, but it is necessary to get a good fit due to the microphonics. This is a case where a little longer bit of memory wire would be nice.

Another ergonomic issue is kinking, which is not necessarily more prevalent than other cables, but possible due to the stiffness if the wire retains a shape, as it will, and then you straighten the cable. However, due to the memory effect and stiffness the cable is very tangle resistant. With all that said, the CH cable is user friendly enough for daily use, especially at a desk and light walking. Build quality looks good and Chris told me he builds them to last since he can't afford to replace them at the prices he sells at. Ted will repair the cables if something should fail, but of course this only covers the workmanship and not rouch use.

Before any testing I did burn the cable in for about 300+ hours. During my testing I did encounter an intermittent failure on the right channel near the shell connector, seemingly in the cable area covered by the memory wire. Chris will repair the cable after I send it back to him and I think this may be more the solid core wire than the build quality. This is something I experienced when I worked with solid core silver wire, which is a random break in the wire every once in a great while. This isn't common, but more common than with stranded wire (although I have had many people contact me because their stock/aftermarket cables have had issues), so it didn't take the build quality score down too much. I will get the cable repaired and test longer term to see if I can repeat the issue.

with SA-43: The cable fits the SA-43 pins well, is very secure, and doesn't easily come out. Sonically space and instrument placement improve with the CH cable vs. the stock cable resulting in higher definition of the already good recreation of space. Clarity is also increased as is treble presence resulting in a more refined sound with more apparent detail. Bass is more powerful and enhanced as well and the sound and overall the sound is a little more punchy and dynamic, adding a nice touch to the more neutral sound with the stock cable. A nice upgrade strengthening some of the SA-43 attributes while keeping the strengths intact.

with JH16: The cable fits very well and looks great with the JH16. Sonically the JH16 is taken to another level of refinement and the soundstage space improves in proportion, recreating a more 3D space, which is the biggest weakness of the JH16 in my opinion. The changes have a trickledown effect improving the realism, clarity, instrument placement and instrument separation. Highly recommended for any JH16 owner that doesn’t want to spend a lot.

with LS8: Unfortunately the connectors don't fit in the recessed sockets.

with EM3 Pro: Unfortunately the connectors don't fit in the recessed sockets.

with UERM: The cable fits the UERM fine and won't fall off even though the sockets are extended vs. flush. Sonically the CH cable has a brighter and even more analytical presentation than the stock cable as well as expanding the soundstage and adding clarity to the already clear presentation. Bass is more impactful and improves the texturing, treble is slightly smoother with more apparent micro-detail to go along with a small bump in dynamics. While the changes themselves aren't large, the overall affect when switching back to the stock cable leaves me wanting the CH cable even though it is brighter. The sound signature can be bothersome to me with brighter songs when using the CH cable, but overall it is still difficult for me to go back to the stock cable as the overall presentation is more refined and realistic.

with TF10 Reshell: The pins don't fit all the way into the sockets in the Kozee reshell, but the fit is secure. Sonically the TF10 improves dramatically with a more 3D presentation, better clarity, and an overall more refined and smoother sound. The midrange is brought to a more forward position, more than likely because the added soundstage depth. Switching back to the stock cable is a huge disappointment, but with the CH cable the TF10 actually takes a step up the performance ladder and stops me from wanting to take the TF10 out of my ears after a few seconds of listening.

with Infinity X3: The fit is the same as with the Kozee TF10 reshell, the pins don't go in all the way but the fit is secure. As far as the sound goes, the changes aren't all that large here with a slight increase in the depth of the presentation and a bit of added clarity and smoothness.

with wx i9pro: The pins are a little looser than that of the stock cable, so the fit isn't all that secure. Of course you can use pliers to expand the pins and get them to stay. The stock cable uses FST, so this is more than a difference in cable quality. And with the stock cable the i9pro does sound more spacious and more alive than the CH cable. The CH cable does have a more traditional flatter presentation and the i9pro is brightened with better instrument separation and the detail levels are taken up a notch, but at the expense of the spacious and dynamic presentation the FST gives. This might be a cable to try with the i9pro to get a different sound.

with aud 5X: Fit with the CH cable is extremely tight and will not come off in use as the cable is a little difficult to change for my testing even though the pins don't go in all the way. Sonically, as with most other IEMs the CH cable offers a noticeable difference with a larger space and a little more treble presence. The larger space results in more instrument separation, clarity, and apparent detail. Overall the presentation is improved and refined, again boosting performance.

Summary: One of the best sounding cables I have heard at a very affordable price and synergizes well with most of the custom IEMs I have paired it with. But the ergonomics make this cable one of my least favorite to use. Chris is very nice, responsive and the warranty seems pretty good with Ted repairing the cables if anything happens. I did have an issue with this cable, but per Chris that is not normal. For this price and performance, if you can deal with the stiff wire, you may want to get 2 so you can have a backup just in case!

Ergonomics: 5
Tangle Resistance: 9
Memory Effect: 3
Build Quality: 7 (was 9.5 until I had the issue)
Works with recessed sockets: No
Options: Chris will work with you

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