July
2021

Country of Origin

USA

HPX-1se headphone cables

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Gaia & Avatar, Soundaware D100Pro SD transport; Headamp: Kinki Studio THR-1; Phones: HifiMan Susvara;
Headfi: Amplifiers: Bakoon AMP-13R, Questyle CMA-800 monos, COS Engineering H1, Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature, Schiit Jotunheim R, Enleum AMP-23R [on review], Ferrum Oor/Hypsos [on review]; Headphones: Raal-Requisite SR1a, HifiMan Susvara & HE1000, Final Sonorous X & D8000

Review component retail: $330-$420/4ft [price depends on connectors – 15ft adds $110]; as reviewed $415 for 2m 3.5mm⇒6.3mm HifiMan Susvara, $319 for 3.5mm⇒XLR4 HifiMan Susvara; $310 for 3.5mm⇒6.3mm Final D8000/Sonorous X

Noodles. Ramen in a cup is popular with students. It's dirt cheap. Pour on hot water. Break open spice pack. Stir. Done. Student headfi is similar. Stick earbuds in. Press 'play' on Spotify app on the smartphone. Done, no stirring required.

Newdles. Step up to cost-no-issue headfi. Everything changes. Headphones expand to over the ear. Weight could exceed 700g. Hello HEDDphone. Better grow a stiff neck. Like nomads turned sedentary shop keeps, mobile kit goes stationary. Now headamps get earnest. That could mean big, heavy and hot-running. It could mean exposed valves or hidden class A transistors. Power could exceed 5 watts, expense €5'000 just for an amp. Hello $15'500 MSB. Best grow a thick skin. Rather than translucent barely-there Chinese rice noodles, now it's fat eggy fettucini which connect earspeakers to posh amp. Enter the noodle connoisseur. Just in Asia she knows of egg, ramen, udon, soba, mung bean, rice, hokkien and shirataki variants. On shapes, the Italians alone harbor spaghetti, linguine, fusilli lunghi, vermicelli, capellini, spaghettini, bucatini, tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine, mafaldine, stringozzi, trenette, conchiglie, lumache, lumaconi, fusilli, trofie, strozzapreti, caserecce, gemelli and rotini.

Gusto confuso?

Welcome to aftermarket headphone cables. If you're still in a ramen/futon era, you didn't know they were a thing. Fast forward 10 years. Your income has risen. So has your taste for fine hifi. You have no kids but your wife has a good job like you. Suddenly it becomes a question if not concern. What cables to wire your elite HifiMan Susvara, Raal-Requisite SR1a, Final Sonorous X or D8000 up with? Driving stock is for mugs. When Rob Fritz of San Diego house Audio Art Cables asked for a review, I suggested headfi noodles for any/all of the mentioned models. Upgrade me mug. One or multiple 2m lengths would be swell. The rest I left up to him. What kind of Southern Cali noodle dish might our man cook up? Being just north of the border, perhaps something with chili peppers?

Cable's equivalent of wheat, mung bean or rice are copper, silver or mixed conductors. If you're insider enough to demand providence, for conductors it becomes purity, mono-crystal extrusion process or cryogenic treatment. For connectors it could be Furutech, Neutrik, Oyaide, Switchcraft or Viablue. The designer sauce which coats our headfi noodle is shield and outer jacket. Capellini, conchiglie and rotini become coax, twisted pairs or braids. Fork'n'spoon or chopsticks become 6.3mm, dual XLR3 or single XLR4 decision. So yes, it's deep connoisseur stuff where tastes differ as do beliefs in what's best. Regardless, cables can change a can's voicing. It's why rolling cables—and ear cushions which is a bit like changing rooms for loudspeakers—becomes the aficionado's way to season their headfi experience to taste. While whether to slurp or not remains unanswered for proper ramen consumption, making noise is decidedly uncouth for any respectable headfi noodle. Microphonics from a cable that moves across a pullover are verboten; or should be with any fine hifi dining. As to white linen or paper napkins, it's cable splitters in polished chrome or lowly heat shrink. You decide whether that has any effect on your experience and is worth paying extra for.

This is a perfect place to state unequivocally that one very fine reason for upgrading a headfi cable has nothing to do with sonics but drape. If a cable is so wiry and stiff as to twist upon itself even to eventually break off—that's what happened to my stock Raal cable above—you could want the proverbial limp noodle. It's a cable that hangs loose and relaxed like a fine silver necklace not spiked dog collar. Yes pasta al dente is terrific but for headfi noodles, I much prefer cooked to death.