plusSound X Series Custom Cable – Gold Plated Hybrid Wire

Impressions: plusSound X Series Custom Cable – New Gold Plated Hybrid Wire


Website: PlusSound




Product description and details:              

Price: U$150 for the X Series cable, +$300 for the Hybrid wire.





Design:


First of all, the plusSound (PS) cables arrives in a simple yet elegant and hassle-free black cardboard box. The cable is packaged in a plastic back, and a rubber amplifier band is included along the information card.

As for the cable itself it is from the X series. These series are only available for IEM (any kind), and this we got the MMCX connectors with regular 3.5mm termination. The X series are the more affordable cables from PS and focus into bringing the best portability with a minimalist most compact and comfortable design. Yet, like the rest of the PS products, the X cable boosts high build quality and well put design. It simply consists of two main cables twisted together from the plug to the y-split and then separates into a single cable for each right and left sides.
The standard straight plug is large in comparison to rest of the cable and carries the whole weight of it; it’s very solid and tightly sealed by the heat shrink tube. The current y-split is 3D printed, made of acrylic and available in different colors (and can be also ordered in aluminum. The slider consists of a simple short heat shrink tube as well that just does the job.
Lastly, for this MMCX version the cable uses the new connectors made of black aluminum with a screw design. The quality is superb, well covered by the heat shrink plastic tube. The connectors are larger than the standard plastic made MMCX ones, but also much stronger and more durable for continuous use. The idea behind the screw design is to improve connection between the connector plug and the IEM, and in practice it has proved to work properly. In fact, trying to detach the cable is more difficult than usual; extra care is when removing the cable as for not to damage the MMCX IEM socket.

Now, for the featured Hybrid wire it is one of the latest addition of plusSound that mixes gold plated silver and copper 6 Litz wires in the smaller PS 26 Awg for better ergonomics. At a closer look it’s possible to see the two wires tightly twisted together inside the outer plastic transparent tube.
While the X cable might not look as tough as the 8-wire series, on the other hand it features a much more ergonomic and very comfortable fit. Microphonics are not an issue at all, and while not tangle-free it is still well behaved. It can be more springy than other cables, mainly next to 4-wire ones (2 per side) which can adopt a better shape around the ear, but nothing that a single pair of earguides cannot fix.









Sound Impressions

Getting to analyze the sound of the so called “upgrade” cables is no easy task and the differences/improvements are not always present. This is the second cable I got to try from plusSound company, and this time in a MMCX variation with many IEM models, from the low budget tag of ~$20 up to $400 ones. Just to mention some, we have the Westone UM 20 and 30, the LZ A4 and A3, the Shure SE535, Advanced Model 3, Musicmaker Shockwave III, and the last Vsonic iterations of the GR07, both the Classic and Bass 2017 MMCX versions. Comparisons were taken against stock cables of all the IEMs, plus the Meelec and LZ upgrade cables, and some extra DIY silver-coated copper ones. Main sources used were the Fiio X5ii, PAW5000 and new Aune M1s.

The overall changes in signature that the hybrid wire presents is a mix of both wire types, silver and copper. Sound gets more lively but not necessarily more aggressive, and actually has a smoother transition between frequencies. The bass is stronger and yet smoother, with farther and noticeably deeper extension. Bass power is more impressive with a punchier impact and slight extra mid-bass emphasis carrying some more warmth to the whole lower-end. Even though, the bass remains well-layered, fuller and richer in texture. While speed is not affected nor improved, the decay feels more natural.


The midrange remains mostly unaffected in terms of distant, however, the added coloration can make the lower midrange a little less than neutral. Such is the case with the GR07 Classic and Shockwave earphones, where the mids take a little step behind giving a little more priority to the bass (and treble as well). Overall, the midrange is slightly more clear and detailed, neither too thick nor too thin, but more shows a more refined texture, especially for lower instruments and vocals. In overall balance, the midrange is not as aggressive as the bass and treble giving a more fun, ‘v-shaped’ presentation to the earphone.

The treble is more prominent and bit crispier, but less harsh and more controlled. If there’s sibilance, the hybrid cable won’t eliminate it, but at least it tends to be more tolerable at higher volumes. As with the bass, there’s also a bit of extra treble extension making the overall sound more effortless and accurate, yet more lively and somehow colored.

The presentation is probably the real strength on the Hybrid type wire. It has a better sense of space and separation with improved soundstage width and depth. It tends to sound less intimate so not best suited for vocals focused tracks, but it feels more immersive with a more natural and realistic timbre. If anything, there’s some sense of air and openness that is still missing for such a priced cable.

Getting the right source is important to show the changes made by the plusSound cable. With the new PAW Pico, there weren’t too much differences, however with the PAW5000, Fiio X5ii and moreover the Aune M1s, it’s easier to appreciate the real characteristic of the hybrid type cable and probably due cleaner midrange and more open overall sound that these DAPs provide.


X (MMCX) vs X8 (Standard 2-pin)



X vs MeeAudio P1 cable



X vs LZ A4 upgrade cable

BA: Westone UM 20 and 30 Pro

These two multi-BA based well known IEMs showed excellent synergy with the hybrid cable. As they feature the usual BA drivers characteristic, the main gain was noticed in the low-end response achieving better dynamics and substantial bass texture. Soundstage is the most noticed improvement on both as they’re usually aren’t wide enough, but with this plusSound cable it feel more realistic and convincing. Micro details weren’t major but some small boost on the treble frequencies made the sound more vivid and crispy.


                                                      

Hybrid: LZ A4 and Shockwave III

Another two well-regarded hybrid models that offer an outstanding value even at their retail price. Similar results as with the pure BA above options, but obviously a stronger improvement in the bass part, being more effortless and layered. With the M1s the A4 sounded particularly special with better coherence and transition from the two driver types.

with LZ A3 and A4


with LZ A4 + Aune M1s

Single Dynamic: Vsonic GR07 Classic & Bass

Probably the less favorable results among the various IEM tested with the X hybrid cable. I didn’t find a good match with both Vsonic GR07 flagship options, and especially with the Classic version. Changes were minimal, but the main thing was the less neutral signature presented. The GR07 itself is almost colorless sounding and the little coloration of the X cable made it sound somehow off and less balanced. Not a best match, but could still work for other dynamic based in-ear options.



Final thoughts…

While the X series cables from plusSound may be the lowered priced ones, there’s nothing cheap on them at all, boosting an excellent build quality mixed along with the better ergonomics for In-ear earphones. The simple cable made out of just to wires makes everything more compact and comfortable for everyday use. As for sound quality changes or even improvements, that would depend on the internal wire type chosen. The hybrid copper and silver wire asks for a higher price, but also make noticeable changes on the overall sound. plusSound describes the signature of this wire as being warm, detailed and having a better stage, and from the different earphones and sources used, that description is very accurate.

And again, many thanks to plusSound for providing this cable for the review purpose.

Extra photos of the X series, taken from PlusSound site: