A Copper Snake
- Sound more transparent, clear and clear, deeper bass, more extensive treble, better detail.
- Short pins.
- If its use is over the ear, it can get to bother with the passing of time, not having protective ergonomic coating.
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One of the most necessary components within the audio, are the cables. Each time technology tries to improve to avoid them. But currently, the cable is still associated with the best audio quality. However, it has always been a protagonist, either as a basic element or as part of audiophile esotericism.
The function of the cable is simple and known to everyone: it is the medium through which the audio signal flows, which is ultimately current. Thus, the main virtue of a good cable must be the conductivity, or rather, its impedance must be minimal. In the specific case of audio, this impedance must be minimum and equal, throughout the entire frequency range of the audio signal.
All these specifications should be easily measurable and their influence on the signal clearly demonstrable, using the appropriate measuring equipment.
My measurement systems are very limited and, perhaps, inaccurate. The most inaccurate of all is the ear. First, because it is a totally subjective sense, which can also be influenced by factors other than the final sound. Second, because auditory sensations are almost impossible to measure. So how can I determine if this cable is better than another? Well, divide and you will win.
The cable must first be evaluated for its construction and physical properties. Then, by its electrical specifications. Finally, its influence on sound must be assessed.
But what are the reasons for changing the cable of some IEMs? One reason may be that the standard cable is rigid, uncomfortable. Another, simply for aesthetics. Sometimes the cable is changed to improve connectivity, a better plug, a better grip, pins that cause a stronger connection … And finally, to improve the sound, either because the standard cable is bad or because the cable is not at the height of the IEMs.
In my particular case, I have used the ISN C16 to replace the cable of the LZ A6mini, because the standard cable is rigid and uncomfortable to handle. We’ll see, then, if the sound also improves the sound.
- Brand: ISN Audio
- Model: C16
- Material: Single Crystal Copper
- Number of cores: 16 shares, single share is 19 cores, a total of 16 × 19..
- Connector: MMCX/2pin 0.78mm
- Pin: 3.5mm audio/2.5mm balanced, gold plated.
- Cable length: 1.2M
- Measured Impedance: 0.4Ω
The cable comes in a box sealed in transparent plastic, dimensions 122x78x38mm. In its front part it is transparent, allowing to see the plug, the two connectors and the cable. Both the plug and the connectors are embedded in a very thick and compact foam block.
On the back of the box comes a black sticker, which contains the model name, specifications and a description of the virtues of the cable.
Inside the box is simply the cable.
The packaging is simple and effective. It does not have a box or carrying bag. There is also no velcro tape to pick it up.
Construction and Design
On the back of the box, you can read it, literally: High purity single crystal copper woven, soft and tough body, ecellent connection structure can effectively shield external interference, reduce internal conductor sound distortion and auscultation effect, bring you better quality sound. The strength of the product has been greatly improved
As I have already indicated in the specifications, the ISN C16 is a 16-core cable, each core consisting of 19 single crystal copper wires. The result is a totally oversized, thick cable with a clearly perceptible weight. In my case, the model described has a 3.5mm plug, totally gold-plated. The connectors are two-pin, 0.78 mm, also gold-plated. The sleeve of the plug is also thick, cylindrical, bears the letters of the mark on a part whose surface is smooth. At the farthest part of the plug, separated by a blue notch, the surface is rough, to improve the grip to the fingers. The cable embedded in the connector sleeve is protected by a transparent plastic, approximately 10mm long and 1mm thick. This protection is quite rigid and does its job perfectly.
The splitting piece is metallic, in the shape of a flattened oval. Behind it, there is a pin ring for adjusting the cable under the chin. The two-pin connectors are two plain black cylinders, each with the letter on its inscribed side. The cables embedded in these cylinders do not have plastic protection.
Each core is covered by a transparent plastic that allows to see the intense color of the copper.
The construction of the cable is irreproachable. Even though it is so thick, it is not rigid and it allows a more than correct manipulation, without taking shape.
The result is a cable with a very low impedance, only 0.4 Ω (according to my own measurements), which is precisely half the resistance of the serial cable of the LZ A6mini (0.8 Ω, measured by me).
The negative points that I have found, are two:
The length of the pins may be somewhat short for some IEMs.
In case it is used over the ear, due to the weight and lack of ergonomic protection, it can become annoying in long listening sessions.
I have measured the frequency response of the LZ A6mini, using their standard cable and the ISN C16 cable. In the graphs, you can see two things: one, the ISN C16 cable has lower impedance, so the volume is somewhat higher. There is a positive incidence in the high frequencies.
There is no change in the other frequencies. In this way, the sound is not altered. Except in the upper zone. In this case, the incidence is positive, because the original cable reduces the extension of the treble, while the C16 improves it.
Continuing with what is written on the back of the box, the manufacturer says textually about the sound: In addition to the sweet, transparent and good texture of the medium frequency, the strength of the product has been greatly improved. The low frecuency is firm and powerful, making the full frequency more flat, the sound vivid, rich in details, the sound field has been significantly improved, the sound image presents clearly, and make the music background is more quiet.
In my opinion, the first thing I feel after using the C16 cable is a slight increase in volume, due to its lower impedance. Then, the next remarkable improvement is an increase in the level of transparency and clarity in the sound. As a result, the separation is perceived to be greater, so the image and scene feel wider, as does the feeling of three-dimensionality. With these improvements, it is true that the background feels quieter and darker. In addition, the sound seems to acquire a greater richness of detail and more resolution.
In the lower zone there is more depth and definition. The bass is felt with a better stratification and its execution is even cleaner and faster. In the midrange the texture is richer, the level of detail is greater and the improvement in transparency generates more delicate and soft voices. The high zone gains in clarity, air, extension and naturalness.
Reviewing a cable is, without a doubt, a complicated task. The first thing a cable should do is justify its price. In this case, the cable is already worth its price, only for the materials used, the quality of the connectors, its final thickness and the small elements that compose it. All this exaggerated initial presentation, finally it is translated in an improvement in the sound. Such an improvement can be seen in any of the lEMs I have used for analysis. For all these reasons, the ISN C16 is one of the best cables you can buy in its price range.
Sources & IEMs Used During the Analysis
- LZ A6mini
- TFZ Tequila 1
- TFZ No.3
- Jerry Harvey TriFi Special Limited Edition 10º Anniversary
- Burson Audio Playmate
- xDuoo X3II