Linum IEM cables (MMCX)

Impressions: Linum G2 – Music, BaX & SuperBaX – IEM Cables (MMCX)

SuperBaX & 1216.ears 3RM




Products page(s): Music G2 ; BaX G2 ; SuperBaX



Music (left) & BaX (right)


SuperBaX



Technical Specifications:

Music
  • Available connector types: MMCX, 2Pin
  • Termination: 3.5 TRS (90° angled)
  • Silver plated copper litz wires
  • Single cable – 42 strands
  • Weight: 4-5g / 0.14-0.18oz
  • Length: 127 cm/50”
  • Impedance: 2.0 Ω
  • Pull strength of cable: 60 N/13lbs
Music G2



BaX
  • Available connector types: MMCX, 2Pin, T2
  • Termination: 3.5 TRS (90° angled)
  • Silver plated copper litz wires
  • Double-twisted cable – 84 strands
  • Weight: 5-6g / 0.18-0.2oz
  • Length: 127 cm / 50”
  • Impedance: 1.50 Ω
  • Pull strength of cable: 60 N / 13lbs

BaX



SuperBaX
  • Available connector types: MMCX, 2Pin, T2
  • Termination: 3.5 TRS (90° angled)
  • Silver plated copper litz wires
  • Quad twisted – 168 strands
  • Weight: 8-9g / 0.28-0.32oz
  • Length: 127 cm/50”
  • Impedance: 0.75 Ω
  • Pull strength of cable: 120 N/26lbs
SuperBaX




Price:
  • Music – € 69
  • BaX – € 79
  • SuperBaX – € 199


Note: The SuperBaX arrives with a hard case and cable winder.







Design

The three Linum G2 cables are the new version of the previous in-ear cables of the company, keeping the same high quality and usability. These are probably the thinnest and among the most comfortable in-ear cables ever made. Despite the so compact and minimalistic design, the build quality is really good, combining excellent materials that provide high durability and perfect ergonomics. These are not your standard upgrade cables that usually focus in better looks and tougher outer design with extra wires that end up being extra heavy and less practical. The Linum cables are made by the Danish company estron specialized in quality earphones cables for professional aid use, and the designers definitely know their job.


Linum G2 cable diagram (from Linum site)


Starting from the internal wiring, the Linum G2 utilize silver-plated copper 6-litz wires, each one consisting of 7 super thin strands. Thanks to the transparent outer coating, it’s possible to see the different wire colors inside that are tightly twisted together into a single wire. Assuming the specifications are correct, each single cable consists of 42 strands that together with the outer sleeve doesn’t even reach the 1mm of thickness.


3 connector types: MMCX, 2-Pin, T2 (from Linum site)


The three cable models differentiate in the amount of cables used. The Music is the thinnest one as it has a single cable (42 strands) from the plug to the y-split and then separates into a single cable for each side. The BaX model has two cables (84 strands) from the plug to the y-split, softly twisted and then divides into a single cable for each right and left sides. Lastly, the higher SuperBaX model doubles the number of cables of the BaX model, made of four twisted cables (168 strands) that then split into two twisted cables to each side. Also, the SuperBaX rates a double pull strength than both the Music and BaX, boosting higher durability for its more expensive price tag.

Moreover, the Linum wires inside are covered by enamel material, while the outer sleeve is made of TPA and UV resistant materials, which prevent the inner cable to turn green from oxidation and yellow from sunlight, and also are very skin-friendly. My use of the three cables limits to around a month of use, but can confirm that despite the hot summer days the cables are still practically like new.

The new G2 versions are terminated in a 90° angled plug that in spite of the light weight it is still robust and well finished to complement the compact design of the cable. Same goes for the y-split, made of the same material as the plug with a simple slider that runs smoothly up to the cable connectors. The three cables here on the review all use the common standard MMCX connection, which have a soft and compact rubber covering, easy to attach/detach to the earpieces. Lastly, on both Music and BaX there is a very thin tube attached to  connectors that acts as a strain relief, and on the Music is also present on the plug; the cables are extremely soft and very flexible, anyway.

In terms of comfort, these IEM cables weight almost nothing. The Music and BaX are around 5g, and even the SuperBaX is barely felt. The Music and BaX are almost invisible due the single cables on each right and left sides. Microphonics effect is very low when moving around, unless you really force it. The cables are advertised as being resistant to tangling, and compared to the usual cables, including upgrade cables, this claim is quite accurate. They have a unique coil effect present on the lower half part of the cable (from plug to split) that helps the cable return to their compact coiled shape very easily. The effect is mostly noticed on the Music model and also on the BaX (on a lesser degree due its dual twisted cable section), and almost none with the SuperBaX higher cable with its multiple twisted cables design. This coil feature can be present when wearing the cable, however, thanks to the thin and soft materials used it does not affect the so ergonomic design.


Music (left), SuperBaX (center), BaX (right)

MMCX connectors - Music and BaX




Sound Impressions

The 3 cable models were tested with different sets of IEM, all with standard MMCX connections. The earphones’ list starts from below the $100 price mark and goes up to the $500+, and includes the three kinds of current in-ear drivers’ setup available, dynamic drivers (single and dual), balanced armature (BA) single and multi-drivers sets, and also hybrid sets that combine both driver types into a single shell. Just to mention some of the earphones used: Westone UM20, UM30 Pro, W40, Shure SE215, SE535, Vsonic GR07, MeeAudio P1/P2, Dunu DK-3001, Oriveti Primacy, Lear Turbo, CA Orion, and the almost unknown 1216 3RM.

The sources used include various digital portable players from brands such as Fiio, Cowon, Lotoo, Aune, Sandisk, and a few portable amplifiers from Topping, Fiio, Fireye, and Headamp Pico Slim. Smartphones like iPhone 4 & 5 and Samsung Galaxy were also briefly used. Extra MMCX cables were considered for comparison as well, from Dunu, Fiio, MEEAudio and PlusSound, and a few extra DIY cables.

As described above, despite using the exact single wires, the three Linum cables differ in their design and number of wires. This is not just a physical difference, but a fact that contributes in their impedance rate, sound transmission and channel separation, that may reflect into the overall sonic performance. The real differences may depend on the earphones and sources used.

Music & BaX with Vsonic GR07 (MMCX ver.) and MeeAudio Pinnacle P2

Music G2

Starting from the Music cable, made from a single cable all the way it also rates the higher impedance of 2Ω. This single configuration and impedance has some noticeable influence on the earphones’ sound. With low output players, and regardless the IEM used, the sound is immediately smoothen down, asking for a higher volume to reach an acceptable listening level and yet remains smoother from the midrange to upper treble, eliminating certain peaks and harshness with brighter earphones like the MEE P2, GR07 or 3RM. However, with darker/warmer sounding IEMs like the SE215, SE535 and Lear Turbo, the results were actually the opposite, a stronger emphasis on the lower frequencies with thicker texture on the vocals region. The Music cable certainly is the more fatigue free among the Linum G2 cable line.

The higher gain setting on some players like the Fiio X3 or X5 (mk2) improved the sound even more, though the best results were obtained with some extra amplification. Also, the DAMP function on the Lotoo player (PAW5000) worked as wonder here; greater dynamics, more coherence and more natural texture. There’s slight higher level of detail, though the overall smoother presentation is more focused into ‘musicality’ rather than micro detailing or wider staging.







BaX G2

With a lower impedance of 1.5Ω and dual cable, the BaX brings a bit different sound presentation. The just 0.5Ω less than the Music may not mean much, but together with the two cables configuration it is slightly more efficient. The benefits of extra power or amplification is less relevant, too. The cable setup means a single signal for each earphone side, and the sound is noticeable more effortless and detailed. There is a subtle elevation on both lows and highs ends giving a slightly more lively overall signature, with more energy, but not really too aggressive even with more energetic sounding IEMs. The BaX cable seems to work well with the same earphones as with the Music, be it dynamic or BA based sets. However, the most significant change is the more pronounced channel separation; probably as it tries to reduce the crosstalk effect, so right and left sides are more separated and distant. In fact, the control and accuracy are better, with a clearer image, cleaner background and better coherence and sense of air.


Music & BaX plugs


SuperBaX G2

Lastly, the higher SuperBaX cable, which not only doubles the cable material but also the price of the BaX version. The twice number of wires halves the rated impedance to a lower ~0.75Ω and makes it more efficient with any source. As it price may suggest it is more suited for higher earphone sets, and advertised for multiple driver based options. Surprisingly enough, this is a very accurate claim, but not for every earphone tested. The SuperBaX has a similar effect as the BaX, with the better separation and higher detail. The gain on bass and treble is less noticed as this higher cable gives a more neutral almost flat sound. With the lower impedance it pairs much better with multi-BA and hybrid IEM sets where a crossover system is used, rather than on single dynamic based earphones. The overall presentation is even more effortless, cleaner and finely balanced. There’s really no elevation nor a slight hint of coloring, just a clearer and more airy sound. Like with the BaX, the channel separation is noticed, however with the SuperBaX it feels much more natural and vivid.

It was a good match for the W30, W40 and 3RM as for pure BA sets, improving the dynamic range and extension. Also, with the hybrid sets like the Primacy. However, I personally didn’t like the synergy with the Dunu DK-3001 as I found this IEM benefits better from some extra coloration, and with the SuperBaX it sounded flatter and less energetic with a less engaging soundstage.

Extra amplification is not needed here, and in fact the lower than 1Ω impedance combined with also low impedance earphones can make the sound too aggressive and less natural with amplifiers or strong output power sources. On the other hand, with the PAW5000 DAP from Lotoo the combination was excellent, with a clean and very natural treble texture and detailed midrange.




SuperBaX upper part, right and left sides





Comparisons

Music G2 Vs MeeAudio P1 upgrade cable

The upgrade MeeAudio P1 is also a silver-plated copper cable that was designed for more dedicated audio sources, with a higher rated impedance than regular cables. It is not as effective as the Music G2 with any kind of players, but both cables show better results with some extra power. In terms of sound, the MeeAudio cable makes the sound more aggressive, fuller in bass and treble, while with the Music it is smoother and more linear with a cleaner image.



BaX G2 Vs MeeAudio Balanced cable (w/3.5mm adapter)

Next is the newer MeeAudio cable, with a 2.5mm termination, but able to connect to any kind of player with the included adapters. For a more fair comparison against the Linum BaX, this cable was used with the single 3.5mm converter. Like the above P1 cable and the BaX, the MeeAudio Balanced cable also carries a silver-plated copper wire, but much easier to use with portable sources. The BaX has the upper hand in terms of separation and air, whereas the MeeAudio offers a slightly thicker and richer tonality.





SuperBaX G2 Vs Dunu Upgrade cable & PlusSound X series (hybrid wire)

For the last comparison, the SuperBaX against two ‘hybrid’ upgrade cables. Both the Dunu (last SHOCS2401 model) and this specific PlusSound X mix the pure silver & copper wires on each strand. Compared to the SuperBaX, these two cables add some color to the sound, with a fuller bass note, richer midrange and crispy and occasionally more laid back treble. As described above, the Linum higher option is much more linear, thinner towards the midrange and brighter in the treble region. The soundstage is most favorable with the PlusSound in single 3.5mm connection, though the Dunu highly improves the sound when in its balanced mode.


PlusSound X series & SuperBaX






Summary & Value


All in all, the three Linum G2 cables not just work as advertised, but even exceed the expectations. With the most minimalistic design ever that also keeps a strong build quality, and carefully chosen materials improve the durability of the cables and also make them user friendly with best ergonomics ever found on any earphone cable. In terms of sonic quality, the improvements are well noticed, bringing higher resolution, cleaner background and better clarity overall.
For their price, both Music and BaX models are easy to recommend for most IEM sets, depending on the source or user preferences. As for the SuperBaX it is well worth for higher class earphones that benefit for the specific cable technical characteristics. Nonetheless, the Linum cables are solid options and good reference of what upgrade cables should be.

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