The Necessary Alternative
- The level of transparency is improved, a cleaner and darker background is obtained.
- The high notes are projected, but without losing delicacy.
- Resolution and definition are increased, achieving a more technical sound.
- You get a life with warmer and darker IEMS, providing light and a wider and more three-dimensional image.
- High level of construction, very elegant design.
- Very low impedance.
- Low weight.
- No guides on the ear.
- The pin slides too much, making it less useful.
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As if it were black or white, heaven or earth, sea or mountain… There is no copper wire without a silver wire. Yes, it is true that there are cables made of other conductive materials, such as palladium. But the classics in audio are copper and silver-plated. More universal is the gold plating of connectors, but rhodium is also used, for the sake of perfection in this type of accessories.
But what I bring here today is more common, but of very high quality. It is a silver plated cable in Type-4 Litz configuration. Without a doubt it is the ideal complement to the Penon Fiery cable that I recently reviewed. Let’s take a look at its characteristics and its impact on the sound.
- Material: 4 strands of 154 cores of silver-plated OCC wire, 616 cores in total.
- Carbon fiber metal splitter piece and integrated CNC manufactured slider.
- Length: 1.2m
- The plug contains 68% copper.
- 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 presentation of the Penon Orbit is typical of the brand: the blue and brown cardboard box, inside a blue case with a golden zip and the logo of the brand in golden letters on the upper side. After opening it, the cable is inside a transparent zip pouch. The accompanying accessories are a cleaning brush, a metal clip and a velcro strap with the Penon logo. As I usually say with the Penon case, I like it a lot, because it is large and the headphones are stored safely inside. On the other hand, the velcro strap does not attach to the cable and is not very useful to use.
Construction and Design
The Penon Orbit cable is a silver plated OCC cable, consisting of 4 strands with 154 cores, 616 in total. Its configuration is Litz type 4. The 4 strands are intertwined with each other and are coated with transparent plastic, thus enhancing the pure white colour of the silver plating.
Again, the plug of choice is 2.5mm balanced and the 2PIN connectors are 0.78mm. The sleeve of the plug, this time, is a little more sophisticated. It measures 27.2mm, with a diameter of 9.9mm. The sleeve has a carbon fibre pattern, but there is a gold detail between the boundaries of each square of the pattern, something that gives it a superior, more premium and subtly elegant look. The pattern doesn’t cover the entire cylinder, but near the edge it becomes smooth, though not completely, as you can see three indentations in the shape of a scrolling water droplet. There is no writing on this sleeve. The plug and connections are gold-plated.
The splitter is similar, but smaller. It has the same diameter of 9.9mm and a lower length of 18.3mm. It has the same checkered pattern with gold edges, but on the non-patterned part you can read the brand and its logo, in white. The lettering is on the lower perimeter of the cylinder.
The pin is a narrow, metallic, black metal disc, 9.9mm in diameter and 4.9mm thick. Two holes go through the circular face, through which the wires pass into each channel. Orbit can be read on the edge in white letters. It is CNC machined. The sliding of the cables through it is good, but the fixing inside it is not so much, so the fit is light and it can be moved easily.
The chosen model has a 2Pin 0.78mm connection, gold plated. Both sleeves are made in the same way as the other cylindrical parts of the cable. The diameter is 6mm and the length is 13mm. Next to the cable exit end there is an indentation around the entire perimeter, which is painted in red or blue to indicate the channel. 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.
Again, the cable is free and there are no over-ear guides. But, this time, the thicker strands make the cable run smoother and more comfortably over my ears.
This cable is thicker than the Fiery, it is less stiff, softer and the ability to take shape is much less, as it is less rigid.
The measured impedance matches, being 0.1 Ω. Again, a great value.
Influence on Sound
On this occasion, I wanted to pair the Orbit cable with IEMS that I consider somewhat darker, warmer or more congested. My intention has been to verify the special characteristics of a silver-plated cable, or what is presupposed for it. In the case of the union with somewhat congested IEMS, with cohesive background and less evident separation, I have managed to reverse that sensation, obtaining a more separated sound, with better definition, more delicate notes and a more analytical sound. Just enough to bring more light and vibrancy to a more attenuated and trapped sound. The Orbit cable has added a superior expansive capability, giving more width and depth to the sound. I also wanted to get more resolution out of these IEMS whose level was not quite taking off, because they had a subdued, muffled-like brightness. It’s not that the Orbit adds a clear emphasis on treble, but I did notice that the projection of the high notes is increased, helping to prolong them, gaining in delicacy and definition.
In warmer or darker IEMS it’s a curious combination, how they seem to have an alternative dynamic and a more subtle sparkle. It’s not that the warmth disappears, far from it, but the accent is different. It is like a new pleasure to discover, to observe that the details have a more incipient brilliance. The level of transparency seems to enlarge and the aftertaste appears cleaner, the sound more detached and wider. The music becomes more ethereal, the projections longer and more depth is appreciated.
In all these combinations I was looking for air and I found it, also a better separation, a cleaner background, as well as a wider and wider scene. I also expected the details to return to a closer plane, to be more splashy, noticeable and visible. This was the case and I was happy about that.
It is clear that cables do not sound, they are just a transport of energy. But a lot of things can happen during this transport, and not always good things. What no audiophile wants is for our favourite music to get lost along the way. That’s why some cables are better than others. But cables can also have a bit of personality.
I looked for a silver-plated cable like the Penon Orbit to enhance the music in those duller or more congested headphones, in situations where I needed to improve the separation, the level of transparency, gain resolution, dynamics, clarity and project the treble. And I have succeeded. On other occasions, the tests have even served to obtain a different approach to some of my favourite IEMS, observing several very pleasant subtleties in a familiar sound, but with new nuances to discover.
Sources and Headphones Used During Analysis
- S.M.S.L Sanskrit 10th MKII + iFi ZEN CAN.
- xDuoo Link BAL2.
- Earmen Colibri.
- Earmen Sparrow.
- Hidizs AP80 PRO-X.
- Penon Sphere.
- Penon PAC.
- Penon Globe.
- Penon ORB.
- Letshuoer S12.
- ISN H40.
- Yanyin Aladdin.
- Dunu Falcon Pro.
- Rose QT9 MK2.