A personal headphone cable epiphany

The Backstory
Like most, my audiophile journey has been a dynamic series of progressions of both signal chain and headphones, with each upgrade to any part of the equation moving further up in the hierarchy. But there has been one component in the signal chain that I haven’t paid much attention to as I thought it a matter of aesthetics more than anything else. That component being headphone cables.

The catalyst for this was recent acquisition of a headphone that I consider to be an end-game contender and is a prized piece in my collection. As I typically do for each new phone, I immediately started looking for a custom cable. However, this time I wanted to get a cable that was also an upgrade.

OK Let’s get some snazzy cables
I wasn’t really sure where to go, and also pretty confused on what to go for honestly. I have never used a higher tier “boutique” cable. I’ve been using (happily) “value conscious” custom cables, but now that my sources have evolved along with what I consider as my top 2 headphones (HE1000v2 and TH900mk2 limited edition pearl white) I decided it was time to venture out. I looked at Norne, Plusssound, Doublehelix etc., to name a few. Sticker shock hit me hard in the face, I will not lie, and the whole time the little bugger in the back of my head was saying “Really dude, cables are cables”. Meanwhile, real friends from the forum are sharing experiences with me indicating that yes, cables can make a difference. Again, that bugger in the back of my head kept saying “Yeah, but they have golden ears and yours are nickel plated stainless steel at best - $700 for a cable? You’re crazy man”…

Well, what did you do?
I ended up ordering a cable from Forza Audioworks, a Noir Hybrid HPC for the HE1000v2. The Forza cables were coming in 1/3rd the price of others that I was looking at while still getting good reviews so I figured they would be a good starting point to help me determine if I can hear a difference in sound using a higher tiered cable, and without breaking the bank.

How did that work out?
I am actually pleased with the purchase of the Forza Noir Hybrid HPC. Both, with Forza AudioWorks, and the cable. The cable was built and shipped very quick. As for the cable itself, I was expecting there could be some difference, but wasn’t prepared for how much of a difference. The bass is hitting with more authority and control with improved detail retrieval in that FR, mids/vocals lower treble are clearer and layering and instrument separation has improved. Treble is smoother while slightly more extended. The overall tonality is much improved, IMO.

No, the cable did not change the headphone, but I do believe that it is allowing the headphone to present itself more as it is intended to be. The ultimate effect being - It is much more enjoyable.

Not the expected outcome!
This was not something I was prepared for, as now the cost for any new headphone for me, will also need to factor in the cost of a new cable too, and of course, there is the unexpected cost of retro fitting some of my other phones - many of which I have purchased value tier custom cables for already…

Whether or not it is all in my head or not who knows? I’ve ordered cables for a couple other phones and from different cable makers so I’ll have to wait until they arrive and had a chance to listen with them first before determining if my current experience is a one-off, or not…

The preceding is from my own personal accounting and experience. As Always, YMMV.


Well, after reading this first post I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to write this! But then I thought ‘Fuck that.’ This may not be about a mega-buck, Grey Poop-On cable, but it’s important because I have definitely figured out that cables DO matter. Don’t let this @WaveTheory guy try and tell ya different.

I kid, of course. His work on the “Cables Matter” series on YouTube is what inspired me to do this. In fact, I have spent the entire evening matching headphones to cables. Fortunately for me, this whole thing was facilitated by the fact that all three phones used 3.5mm connectors. The more I played around with this, it seemed like just the cable itself wasn’t the only consideration. All in all it turned out to be a pretty cool exercise, and I think I have things dialed in the way I want.

  • The HP-2 got the silver-plated OCC Copper. Love the added top end and detail with these cans now
  • The Elegia gets the Periapt. These 2 things were just made for each other.
  • The Sundara ends up with the Flow cable, and again, it’s a great fit. Nothing is lost here at all.

From an aesthetic standpoint, I couldn’t be happier, as I feel that each cable definitely matches the personality of the phones they are attached to. This was an unexpected outcome, and I consider myself fortunate that it worked out this way. I have never done this kind of intensive testing before, and it was fun. More than anything, though, it was finally made clear to me that cables - even these reasonably priced examples - actually have an impact on the net product. That is my epiphany. I was a hard core skeptic regarding this matter in the past, but I get it now.

And now, back to the music…


Haha. Doesn’t it make you a little bit angry, though? Did you have that moment where you’re like “Ugh, now I have to spend more $$$ on wires instead of stacks of gear!?!?! WHYYYY!?!?!?!?” I definitely had that feeling when it clicked.

Either way, enjoy the journey!


Yessir, for sure! I didn’t want to believe it, but it’s true. Having said that, I do not see a day where I drop a thousand bucks for a cable. That’s just not going to happen. Truth be told, I don’t have the setup to support those kinds of things, and that is fine. I feel quite OK with the choices I have made. We’ll see what happens down the road. :+1:


It did / does still because it is now not just a matter of headphone cables making a difference - pesky things like USB, power, and other interconnects all wanted to join in the game of “Hey we matter too”…

I can appreciate that - Some (not all) of these cable upgrades are not detectable if the gear its connecting to is not capable in resolving differences. However, targeting cable upgrades that match your gear can have noticeable differences and improvement. But yeah, a $1k cable for even a $1K headphone doesn’t make sense. I figure roughly 20% of the item I’m cabling up - it usually works out a bit more but still, that is the target in my mind.


That seems reasonable to me. Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to experience a truly high end system and everything that goes with it, including those exotic cables, just to see what these systems actually deliver. But the odds are I will not get that opportunity. And I’m OK with that. Music can be enjoyed on a shitty little transistor as well as a 100,000 dollar juggernaut system. We all do what we can. Again, never say never, and we will see what happens down the road. But this exercise has let me know that infrastructure does need (and should receive) consideration and a proportional budget.


That’s why I like mid-fi. My Hart Audio Cables sound just fine to me. I did buy a Periapt and was unimpressed.

I will admit thought that a few years ago, when I was starting out, I compared a cheap cable to a nicer (but still not expensive) Amazon cable and there was a Noticeable difference.

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So you went with the Apos Flow for Sundara. I need a new one (mine is wearing at the hp joints) Can you tell me more. I am using an Asgard 3 which is a bit warmer but I like the sound I’m getting so don’t want to go much darker,… however, since getting and loving my new Nordost usb I am very interested in this vs say Hart, etc. Thanks.

I would say the Flow cable is very close to what the Hart would sound and look like. They look nearly identical, actually. The flow cable definitely brought a bit of warmth to the sound signature as opposed to the silver-plated OCC cable that I had on there. That cable was a bit too bright for the Sundara, but for some reason was a much better match for the HP-2. The periapt cable also sounded really good on the Sundara, but it sounded too good on the Elegia not to pair them together.

The Kennerton cable was also good on the Sundara, but when very technical passages would play I noticed some loss of detail and clarity. That cable was also single ended, so I am unsure if that had anything to do with it. It should be noted that the 3 cables that were under test last night are balanced.

In the intangibles area, All three wear very well, but the Flow was the one that won in that category. It’s dead quiet and so comfortable to wear you sometimes forget it’s there. The periapt, if anything, felt a bit heavy at times but was the best built cable of the three in my view. The perceived heaviness is certainly not a deal breaker for me, but was something I noticed. At some point I may end up getting another Periapt for the Sundara.

And, final and full disclosure, we are talking about my screwed up ears, here! But this is what I experienced. I hope this helps.

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These topics should come with a public health warning. You do know that at some point somebody will probably read this and waste their money?

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I wish that was the case with ASR as well, really should be government mandated to give that warning before entering that site. Sad to see how many more people waste their money over there vs here


Can we put a public health warning on @syscrusher’s posts? You know at some point someone will probably read them and develop improper discussion etiquette?

We can have differing opinions and debate but, we should refrain from attacking individuals personally.

Helpful, thank you. I’m a bit of a detail freak, but the Sundara and 880/600 take care of that, lol. Sounds like the Flow is a good possibility.


You are welcome. All I can say is that it is working well for me. I know full well this is a contentious topic, and I was on the other side of it until very recently when a bright young scientist began presenting a strong series of videos that made me want to try a few things myself. I have never been in a position to do anything like this before. The process was interesting to execute. And the rest, as they say…

The cool thing is, these are not over-the-moon high end pieces. These are very accessible items that still seem to follow the basic principles of the premise.

I mean shit, I heard it. Didn’t want to, but I did!