By now attentive readers will wonder. Why do Forza not offer pure silver cabling? "At least for now, that's off the table. We'd have to get our hands on a silver wire as good as the copper or hybrid cables we already have. More importantly, we don't do products we personally dislike. And in truth, I have very mixed feelings about pure silver. I experimented with it in the past. The outcome wasn't as pleasing as our hybrid silver/copper solution. We get the occasional inquiry—less often than you might think—but for the reasons given, can't accommodate them. We're not about beefing up our model count. We only release new products when we believe them to be absolutely uncompromised. And so far a pure silver cable hasn't met those criteria." This tallies with my own belief and practice to never try to be all things to all people whilst ending up standing for nothing. Have convictions, live by them and let the chips fall where they may. For the time being then, no pure silver cables from Matt!

How about connectors? Did Matt have a good-better-best hierarchy? For the Noir Hybrid HPC, the core specs are "eight strands of high-purity 26-gauge cryo'd 7N UPOCC copper/silver wire in a semi-Litz geometry with PE insulation, anodized CNC-cut laser-engraved aluminium splitter pod and carefully chosen termination." A 4 x 2 geometry claims superior EMI reduction and reduced stereo crosstalk without the need for bulky screen braids which would compromise the cable's flexibility. Available connectors include Furutech, Neutrik and Viablue. "Every cable is custom tailored to fit your unique needs". Standard length is 1.5m, then half-meter increments. Amp-end plugs can be 3.5m, 6.3mm, dual 3-pin XLR, single 4-pin XLR or RSA/ALO mini balanced. Right-angle mini plugs and other specialty items are a mere email inquiry away.

Dollars and sense. What I'd get would cost from €159 to €419. I'd have three hybrids and three pure copper - or Hybrid HPC and HPC MkII in Noir talk. The hybrids leashes were built to walk the Hifiman HE560 and HE6 (€239), Audeze (€344 with Furutech Rhodium mini XLR and jack) and MrSpeakers (€249). The copper cords would do the Sennheiser (€419 with all Furutech Rhodium connectors), HE1000 (€244) and AKG (€159). Default plugs for the Noir range are the Viablue 6.3mm and Neutrik 4-pin XLR for single-ended and balanced terminations respectively. "Each extra 0.5m is €55 for Noir Hybrid and €35 for Noir HPC MkII. The other end termination is usually from Neutrik, Viablue and Furutech accordingly to many factors like sound quality, ergonomics, usage and looks. Connectors also attach to certain series, i. e. Furutech is off limits for my budget Color family. Of course it is possible to use any other components on demand but they have to fulfil the quality criteria. Certain standard features like the CNC-milled splitters or black sleeves are exclusive to the Noir range. The connectors indeed play a huge part in the final outcome but an even more important aspect is the soldering - your technique, tools and the solder itself. Many people could use the best possible solder extant but without proper tools and skills, their work will still be sub par especially whilst using lead-free solder. It's harder to work with but sonically superior and less harmful to nature. I'm very serious about our environment. It deeply connects to who I am as a person. Those are the reasons why all Forza AudioWorks cables are made with lead-free solder of high silver content."

'Organic' delivery by UPS was in three cardboard boxes with raffia-type fill and two each coarse cotton bags professionally imprinted with the company name. Inside each bag was a cable, its splitter pod protected with layers of soft taped tissue.

Each semi-flat braided cable in smooth black sheathing was surprisingly light, slinky and pliable, the 6.3mm plugs either Furutech's FP-704 or premium CF-673 Rhodium-plated equivalent with Carbon-finished housing. Channel identifiers on the other ends were by means of colour-coded heat shrinks, the right channel with a green 'a' of the FAW logo, the left one with a black one. The AKG cable terminating in a single cup plug obviously didn't need or get a splitter or channel markings.

Just looking at and handling my loaners communicated great workmanship and quality. This is how one wishes flagship headphones were outfitted straight from their manufacturers. Alas they aren't. This opens a niche for specialty suppliers like Matt. Et voilà, today's game is afoot.

Time to hightail various cans, from the HD800 on the desktop being driven from Simon Lee's Stello HP100 MKII processing Tidal Hifi to...

... the HifiMan HE1000 and Audeze LCD-XC in the bedside system where a review loaner Musica Pristina Virtuoso DAC converted iPod digits decrappified by a Wyred4Sound Remedy before being amplified by the fabulous Bakoon AMP-12R.

More on his connector options, Matt had this: "First let me reiterate my opinion that the influence of plugs on the sound quality is smaller than choice and execution of soldering. Of course customers have preferences for Furutech, ViaBlue and so forth. Those are quality parts and I like them very much. The Furutech CF763R is by far my favourite 6.3mm plug. It is refined, elegant, very musical and a good companion to cables with and without silver content. It is like a cherry atop a cake. There are only two demerits. The first is a weaker synergy with gold-plated components. Some sort of incoherence has the music lose its inner message. Those differences are rather subtle but real. That is why in my opinion the CF763R is limited mostly to Rhodium-plated Furutech headphone connectors for an optimum environment. I assume that was the idea of Furutech's engineers in the first place. The second drawback is price, making it suitable only for higher-end cables. From a purely subjective aesthetic, it also adds up. In my opinion the cable for your HD800 looks quite nice and—important to me—visually coherent. It wouldn’t look as good with a black/gold Furutech plug on one end and Rhodium-plated cup connectors on the other. Those are small details but a customer pays for them too so I’m doing my best to deliver product that performs on every level including the aesthetic one.

"The Furutech FP704 jack is the sweet spot and I generally have no major concerns about it. It could be a bit lighter but many people like the weight. With our Noir cable, it could be used as a self defense weapon. Sonically it is quite flat and even, with good dynamics and musicality. Generally it's the best bang for the buck. The Viablue T6s is the first choice for people looking for a low profile and light 6.3mm jack that’ll go with something like the Resonessence Labs Herus where a Furutech would be nearly bigger and heavier than the device itself. This plug has the weakest gold plating. That’s why after heavy usage, the nickel plating beneath the gold shows up. Over time and after heavy use, it loses some charm and warmth in favour of mild harshness. If you want a sturdy, subjectively good-looking connector as a purely mechanical cable part, the Neutrik NP3X-B is the way to go. Made for the pro audio industry, it is a good pick for lower to mid-end headphone cables. You get what you pay for: a sturdy clever construction without any visual wow. Sound wise it is the most transparent of all the connectors though for higher end cables it can become a bottleneck. Its limitations having mostly to do with the materials used in the plug will show up. In terms of pure reliability, based on almost 2'000 cables I made with all four connectors thus far, they are equal. I never had a warranty issue with any of them."