The Most Transparent Copper
- Improved detail, separation, dynamics and scene broadening of all axes.
- Bass with more body and definition.
- High level of construction.
- Very low impedance.
- Low weight.
- It has no guides on the ear.
- Slightly rigid and susceptible to shaping.
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The cable market is always in the spotlight and its reviews never leave anyone indifferent. There are those who see this market as a way to make money with something whose influence on the sound is not so relevant. There are others who only change the cable for convenience, to change the connection/plug or even for aesthetics. Be that as it may, the world of cables exists as a necessity to improve the cables that come as standard with the headphones. We all agree on that. But when you decide to change cables, not all manufacturers are reliable. Just as there are many brands of headphones, there are not so many good cables. One of the most reliable brands when it comes to making cables with a great quality/price ratio is Penon Audio. This time I am going to review a high quality model, the Penon Fiery, a 4-strand monocrystalline copper cable. Let’s see how it has performed with some of my current IEMS.
- Material: 4 strands 19 cores of high purity monocrystalline copper.
- Splitter and slider made of carbon fibre.
- Length: 1.2m
- Weight: 23g
- Impedance: 0.1 Ω
- Plug: Choice of SE 3.5mm, BAL 2.5mm and BAL 4.4mm
- Connection: Choice between MMCX and 2PIN 0.78mm
The Penon Fiery have arrived in the typical Penon cardboard box. Inside is a blue case with a gold zip. It’s quite a big case, but it’s really ideal for storing the cable with our favourite IEMS. The cable was inside the case, inside a zip pouch. The rest of the accessories are a cleaning brush, a metal clip and a velcro strap with the Penon logo. It is a cable, the case is great, the velcro strap is a bit short and there is no narrow grip tape.
Construction and Design
Penon Fiery is a high purity monocrystalline copper cable consisting of 4 strands. Each strand has 19 cores, making a total of 76 cores. The 4 strands are intertwined with each other and are coated with transparent plastic, which allows the brilliant colour of the copper to be seen. The quality of the cable really stands out at first glance, thanks to its vivid colour, which gives you an idea of its purity.
In my case, I chose the 2.5mm balanced plug. The sleeve of this plug is a simple cylinder, formed by a carbon fibre pattern. Lengthwise you can read the brand logo in brown. The cylinder is 9.1mm thick and 25mm long. Of course, both the plug and the connections are gold-plated. The divider has the same construction, except that it is slightly smaller and the model name «FIERY» is written on it. Its dimensions are 9mm thick and 16.5mm long. The carbon fibre pattern is repeated and the internal parts are gold plated. The sliding adjustment piece is a black disc with a diameter of 13.9mm and a thickness of 6.3mm. It uses a grooved pattern of concentric circles on its faces and has two holes running through it on its thick side. The cables pass through these holes to each channel. The sliding is adequate and they perform the tightening function relatively well, although it is not the highest quality cable clamp I have tested in this respect.
In my case, the cable has a 2Pin 0.78mm gold-plated connection. The sleeve, like the rest of the parts, follows the same carbon fibre pattern and cylindrical shape. This time the length of the cylinder is 12.2mm and a diameter of 6.4mm. On the edge where the cable enters there is a metal ring, the colour of which indicates the cable channel: red for the right side and blue for the left side. The 2-pin plugs are mounted on a black plastic base. On one side there is a slot indicating the mounting position: this slot must be visible from the outside, i.e. pointing outwards.
Finally, it should be noted that the cable is free and does not have an ear sleeve to shape it. This detail is very important for some people because it facilitates the use with earbuds and other headphones that do not have to be strictly IEMS. But, in my case, whose extensive use are IEMS, I find it a little inconvenient, also because its use over the ear, tends to bother me after a few hours.
On another note, the cable is not too thick and its weight is low. It is slightly stiff and is susceptible to a bit of shaping, which can be corrected. It is not the smoothest cable in this respect, though.
According to my multimeter measurements, the measured impedance of the cable is 0.1 Ω, a really low value. To give an example, the silver-plated cable that comes with the Reecho SG-01 OVA gives an impedance of 0.5 Ω.
Influence on Sound
There seems to be an established theory about the musical capabilities of each cable, depending on its material of manufacture. High-purity copper is associated with warmth and softness, while silver or silver-plated cables tend to emphasise treble and technical capabilities.
In reality, critically and objectively, the differences from one cable to another are in their conductive properties as well as their impedance, or in other words, their impedance. Even the stranding of the strands can influence both of these parameters. But in such a short cable with small power, their impact may not be quantifiable, nor observable.
It is clear that high-end headphones often use cables of the same category. In these cases, the impact on sound when switching to another cable may not be as noticeable. But when used in low to mid-range headphones, that’s where the Penon Fiery is easily felt. To my surprise, I expected the Fiery to highlight properties such as smoothness, sweetness and musicality. But I found that the level of definition, as well as the sense of transparency, were the points I noticed the most. Thanks to the improved separation, the feeling of transparency is superior. The notes are sharper and more crystalline, while the background appears deeper and darker. Silence is enhanced and resolving power is improved. Starting with the low end, I expected an improvement in body and what I got was an improvement in note definition, noting an increase in agility in bass development, as well as greater descriptive power and a cleaner texture. I have not noticed an increase or decrease of power in any range, but a better stratification of the layers.
The midrange becomes more dynamic, the image is enlarged and the projection of voices and details is amplified. The treble becomes more musical, despite having a more explicit and cleaner definition, there is no harshness in it. Their representation is concise, precise and purer. Thus, the sound flows more freely and more information is provided to the listener.
Finally, all of the above improvements directly influence the perception of the scene and the feeling of three-dimensionality. Both the higher level of transparency and the enhanced separation, favour a more evident and larger scene, as well as a better position/location of the elements. All this, together with a greater amount of air, generates a more appreciable three-dimensional effect.
Recommending cables is always tricky. I can neither convince the naysayers, nor support the followers. From an objective point of view, the Penon Fiery offers superior conductivity to many of the cables that come as standard in the low to mid-range headphones we have. Thus, it is clear that its influence on the sound does exist. How far this influence goes is the point that can lead to controversy.
In my case and after testing the cable with different IEMS and Earbuds, I would recommend this cable for those who want to improve the level of dynamics, transparency, clarity and cleanness of the sound. But not only that, the separation as well as the level of resolution and definition also feel increased. All this without losing the musicality of the sound, which can be felt in the perception of the treble, the expressiveness of the bass and the expansion of the mid-range.
Sources and Headphones Used During Analysis
- S.M.S.L Sanskrit 10th MKII + iFi ZEN CAN.
- xDuoo Link BAL2.
- Earmen Colibri.
- Hidizs AP80 PRO-X.
- Penon Sphere.
- Penon PAC.
- Penon Globe.
- Penon ORB.
- Reecho SG-01 OVA.
- Letshuoer S12.
- NiceHCK M5.