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May 2015
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Best Audiophile Product Of 2015 Blue Note Award
World Premiere!
Double Helix Cables Symbiote Fusion 4 And Symbiote SP 8 IEM Cable
Two terrific cables that go great in different dimensions.
Review By Steven R. Rochlin

 

Double Helix Cables Symbiote Fusion 4 IEM Cable

 Nowadays, Warren Chi is a bad influence. During my high school teen years this 'bad influence' was two very attractive ladies at the same time; a blonde 1st chair trumpet player and a sultry petite brunette if you must know. Today, in my mid-life, things have turned more towards audio and my statuesque (classic beauty) wife Heather. Perhaps not in that order mind you. Hmmm, on second thought maybe it is (thanks Heather for understanding). Warren is a man's man. Strong, bold, and like my brother from another mother. We both seem to share the same love in music, sound signature preferences and spend far too much time computer coding, 3D printing, and working at least 20 layers deep within Photoshop. Coding and Photoshopping along to music is like the soundtrack of our lives.

Within this go-go world of get things done, rarely do we have time to relax and dedicate ourselves to simply, and only, enjoying the music. Yet when those, albeit rare, moments do occur we want the very best available. And so it is with the Noble Kaiser 10 CIEMs in special Tiger Strip Italian rose gold. Rose gold matches many of the fine mechanical watches and jewelry that roam this home from time to time. So where is this all going? Well, you see Warren was adamant about me trying the Double Helix Cables. So when Peter Bradstock, the owner of Double Helix Cables, told me he was working with 3D printing my Geek-Sense tingled! Then Peter informed me about having the ability to provide rose gold accoutrements for his Double Helix Cables and I was sold.

Art and science, at times, can be one in the same. Fashion has many examples of form following function. Yet rarely in the 'real world' can one person produce art, science, and handcraftsmanship within the same product. Peter Bradstock of Double Helix Cables successfully single-handedly combined state-of-the-art 3D printing tech with high-end Litz wire and personally crafts each and every Double Helix cable by hand.

 

So much style without substance
So much stuff without style
It's hard to recognize the real thing
It comes along once in a while
Did I mention that Warren Chi is a bad influence? First he gets me to review the Noble Kaiser 10, the best darn CIEM I have ever heard (and I've heard more CIEM and IEMs than most). Anyone who has seen Noble's highly artistic CIEMs knows how they are far better visually from the mainstream. In fact during AXPONA I ponied up some serious currency to get my wife a set of Kaiser 10 CIEMs (in pink of course with added bling). The Kaiser 10s are that good both sonically and stylishly. Ok, so Warren was right about the Kaiser 10 CIEMs, yet could he pull it off again suggesting I try custom Double Helix Cables? And what makes them so special anyway?

Peter Bradstock, the owner of Double Helix Cables, first sent me his Symbiote Fusion 4-wire IEM cable ($339) with rose gold splitter ($85). This CIEM cable is a true hybrid peptide with 25.2awg cryo Litz consisting of oxygen-free silver and copper. The wire itself is type 4 Litz, which are bundles of twisted wire that are twisted around a center core. Whilst I could give you all the advantages of Litz construction, as it is used within the medical, aerospace and many other sectors, you can read all the technical do-dads at Wikipedia. The main point is to reduce unwanted skin effect and proximity effect loses that can alter the purity of the audio signal. Of course you also want to keep resistance, inductance and capacitance in check too. While the hybrid Symbiote Fusion 4-wire IEM cable combines silver and copper and sounded impressive, I'm a huge fan of pure silver. Silver is a better electrical conductor over cooper and since we can't easily walk around with liquid nitrogen cooled superconductor wires at this point in time, then silver it is. Pure silver cables are within my home systems nearly exclusively. Silver cable is used within my car audio system too because, well, did I mention how much I love silver wire?

 

My Precious
After about three weeks of enjoying how the Double Helix Cables' Symbiote Fusion 4 with its four strands of Litz 4 hybrid cable sounded, and I can see why they are extremely popular, then arrived the very special Symbiote SP 8-wire IEM cable ($784) with rose gold splitter ($85), rose gold IEM barrels ($110 for two), and rose gold 3.5mm plug cover ($70). The difference being that instead of a hybrid, the Symbiote SP 8 IEM cable is 100% silver and you get 8 strands of Litz 4. It is the very best model Double Helix Cables makes and, well, dad raised me saying you regret getting the very best. Add to that, I added their complete top-to-bottom rose gold 3D printed splitter, barrel and covers so one achieves the stunningly sexy CIEM cable you see below.

Double Helix Cables Symbiote SP 8 IEM Cable

 

Curves And Lines
Of Grand Designs...
Of course comes the listening portion of this review. During this review I used the Noble Kaiser 10 and Ultimate Ears UE 18 Pro with the Astell&Kern AK240 and Sony NW-ZX2. Since the Symbiote SP 8-wire IEM cable was spec'ed in balanced configuration, it was easy PnP for the Sony and I needed a 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter for the AK240. Normally you'd think one cable is always better than another, yet here it is not the case. Read on...

The Ultimate Ears UE 18 Pro can be a bit sterile sounding, and thus I preferred the more harmonic-sounding silver/copper hybrid Symbiote Fusion 4-wire IEM cable for both the Astell&Kern AK240 and Sony NW-ZX2. The UE 18 Pro is great for mastering music as you hear things 'as they are'. With the Symbiote Fusion 4 bass was more extended as were the highs to a small extent, yet the midrange took on a slightly more tonally rich character versus the stock cable. The highs are also smoother and more liquid in the way sounds and textures flowed within the music. Other reviewers have noted how the UE 18 Pro are more for mastering than for music enjoyment, and here is where you can use the Symbiote Fusion 4-wire IEM cable and bring about a bit more melodic harmonics versus the stock cable whilst also improving bass depth and smoothing out a bit of the uppermost tonal sonic registers.

Noble's Kaiser 10 have an almost cult-like following and I can hear why. Music ebbs and flows with the stock cable, and I also have a specially made balanced stock cable version here too. Yet when switching to the Symbiote Fusion 4-wire IEM cable, once again the bass was extended and the fluidity of the uppermost frequencies was apparent. Perhaps the midrange was a teeny tiny bit too rich with the Sony NW-ZX2, which is already DSP'ed (imho) to sound a bit luxuriant. If you use the Astell&Kern AK240, the Double Helix Cables' Symbiote Fusion 4 was an excellent match to my ears. But what if I changed cables to the top-of-the-line Symbiote SP 8 IEM cable that is 100% silver?

 

No Cable Is The Best In All Situations
Here's where the plot thickens! The AK240 and UE 18 Pro with the Symbiote SP 8 was not a good match. You see, or should I say hear(?), the all-silver cable achieves excellent bass and does amazing magic with the uppermost octaves, yet the midrange is a touch forward centered around 2000Hz. So when you combine the neutral-ish UE 18 Pro with the AK240 you get something very detailed to the point of being too much so. What I mean by detailed is akin to the Wilson Audio reference speakers, they sound good for brief periods of time yet that touch of forwardness gets audibly tiring (to me) in a short period of time. If you're an 'ear-searing-accuracy-above-all-else' freak than maybe this combo is for you.

So what if we combine the Double Helix Symbiote SP 8 and UE 18 Pro with the Sony NW-ZX2? Ahhh, this combination still gives you that accurate sound yet without fatigue. The bass is the moist impressive I have ever heard with the UEs. The highs are well-extended too, yet the slightly posh midrange of the Sony is tamed down a bit to a more neutral side of the spectrum. Still more forward than the Noble Kaiser 10, yet when you consider the Sony likes to error on the side of richness, this brings things a bit back into perspective.

Lastly, we grab the Noble Kaiser 10 with the Symbiote SP 8 all silver cable and plug this into the Sony NW-ZX2 and you get something truly special. This is really going to be more a personal choice over the hybrid silver/copper Symbiote Fusion 4. If you want to stay a tiny bit on sumptuous side of tonal harmonics then I'd suggest the Double Helix Cables Symbiote Fusion 4 and Noble's with the Sony NW-ZX2. On the other hand, if you want to tip the scale a bit towards the more neutral side yet still have deeper bass and OMG this is impossibly extended highs, then use the Symbiote SP 8 all silver CIEM cable is the way to go. In fact, the Symbiote SP 8 is so revealing that I am struggling to get the Sony's EQ exactly perfect with some music. The problem, per se, is that their EQ is not adjustable in its Q and 1dB adjustments are far too crude. Sony should provide an advanced user 0.1dB adjustability, or at least 0.25dB instead of the crude 1dB stock adjustment capability. Yeah, the Symbiote SP 8 is that friggen amazing. When was the last time you read a reviewer complaining about the last of a 1/10th of a dB of adjustment?

Oh, and the highs. OMG those highs! The Nobles are already King Of The Hill, yet when using the hybrid silver/copper Symbiote Fusion 4 it gets even better in smoothness, resolution and extension with the Sony NW-ZX2. Swap that out for the Symbiote SP 8 and OMFG there is no way ever a CIEM could do stratospheric highs this great... but they are! My custom recording of crotales, which reside right here within my home so can hear them anytime I want for a comparo, and I can even hear when they are too dusty that reduces the way they can easily produce frequencies over 25kHz, and the Noble Kaiser 10, Symbiote SP 8 and Sony NW-ZX2 combo is the most realistic-sounding extension with accuracy and smoothness my ears have ever heard within a portable setup. In fact very, very ( did I mention very?) few home audio systems can get this right. And yes I've heard some of the best silk soft domes, titanium dome, aluminum dome, beryllium dome, ribbon...  tweeters. I'd say that, to some degree, air motion transformer gets closest. Of course all generalizations are wrong, yet hopefully you get the point.

 

Side Bar
Why all this love for CIEM (and headphones)? Because you have taken the room/speaker integration and that whole host of problems out of the audible equation. Furthermore, you need not worry about off-axis listening or the way a room causes time-smearing as the sound waves bounce all over the place. Furthermore, you also highly reduce unwanted ambient noise. You'd be amazed at how high your noise floor is. Have you ever stepped into an anechoic chamber or highly sound-isolated recording studio? CIEMs have none of the inherent problems that need to be overcome by the typical room / loudspeaker. Of course there are disadvantages, too, such as the way music is aurally (physically in 3D space) presented, yet there are work-around to that, too. GoPro just purchased a company and is soon going to be expanding/focusing on virtual reality type experiences. Imagine if you could merge the ability of an Oculus Rift, Windows HoloLens, etc. and binaural audio combined with head-motion sensing and the ability to provide a fully seamless 360-degree audio/video experience. Did your head just explode? These are the things in the works today within the lab, and hopefully mainstream delivery in 2016 or 2017. Of course you need the ability to easily produce such content combined with consumers to experience this to be 'blown away' on how good it is and then buy into it to expand the consumer install base so it grows and is a financially viable entertainment / experience format. Got it?

 

Final Thoughts
Double Helix Cables are truly high quality and their Symbiote Fusion 4 hybrid silver/copper is an excellent upgrade for stock IEM / CIEM wires. Smoother and slightly more extended highs, excellent midrange and bass are your rewards. If you want the ultimate in extended highs and perhaps tame a slightly rich midrange, the Symbiote SP 8 all silver cable may be just what the doctor ordered. Me? I purchased the Double Helix Cables Symbiote SP 8 you see pictured within this review. Yes, what you see within that photo that is literally now my cable and my bank account may be a touch lower numerically, yet the smile on my face is wider. Sometimes when enjoying music it involves my jaw dropping, yet such is my love for music. On average, my ears enjoy about 10 hours of music daily and if I amortize this out between the UE 18 Pro and Noble K10, oh, and the JH Audio JH13 Pro that are here, this investment into my happiness is well worth the entry fee. Darn, just realized I forgot to mention how the JH13 Pro sound with the Double Helix Cables. UGH!

Please carefully review my rating below. They are an average of each cable in general. So you really need to first use whatever IEM / CIEM you are using as a 'base' and then apply the Blue Note rating. Thus if your IEM / CIEM are a bit crisp within the midrange then the Symbiote Fusion 4 hybrid silver/copper may be your preference. On the other hand if you already have plenty of richness, then the Symbiote SP 8 may be the way to tame this. Of course you could buy both, which I am actually thinking about doing and using cables as a type of passive EQ depending on the CIEM being used at the time. For mastering it is the UE 18 Pro with Symbiote Fusion 4 and for music it is the Noble Kaiser 10 with Symbiote SP 8 or perhaps the Symbiote Fusion 4 depending on the music and my mood. Tube amp guys swap tubes, so IEM / CIEM guys can easily swap cables. Makes sense to me.

Er, um... Peter Bradstock (of Double Helix Cables), yes I sent back the Symbiote Fusion 4 hybrid silver/copper cable yet think you need to invoice me for one of those, too, and send a very basic version back my way. I miss them as mated with the UE 18 Pro and JH Audio JH13. If you want to play it safe, get the Symbiote Fusion 4. If you want to play at the edges and try the best, then the Symbiote SP8 is for you. Again, it is personal preference combined with system you are using. For me, the precious metals option is an easy choice and really dresses up the cables and adds high style to your setup. So, who will be the first manufacturer to produce a top-quality limited edition rose gold personal media player? Anyone? Hello, is this mic on? As always, in the end what really matters is that you...

 

Enjoy the Music (custom Tiger Stripe rose gold Noble Kaiser 10 and complete rose gold 3D printed precious metals Symbiote SP8 cables right now)

Steven R. Rochlin

 

Symbiote Fusion 4 Symbiote SP 8

Tonality (IEM Dependant, See Review)

Sub-bass (10Hz - 60Hz)

Mid-bass (80Hz - 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz - 3kHz, See Review)

High Frequencies (3kHz+, See Review)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Value For The Money

 

Specifications
Symbiote Fusion
Starting at $339
Pure OCC silver x 3 litz bundles + pure OCC copper x 3 bundles + damping center core, type 4 OCC litz, clear PE insulation
Cryo treated
Round braid geometry; compact 1.1mm wires
Custom-engineered connectors from Eidolic
"Capsid" carbon fiber/CNC beadblasted aluminum y-splitter
For all IEMs
25awg (4 wire) or 22awg (8 wire)
Starting at $339

Symbiote SP
Pure OCC silver x 6 litz bundles + damping center core, type 4 OCC litz, clear PE insulation
Cryo treated
Round braid geometry; compact 1.1mm wires
Custom-engineered connectors from Eidolic
"Capsid" carbon fiber/CNC beadblasted aluminum y-splitter
For all IEMs
25awg (4 wire) or 22awg (8 wire)
Starting at $409

 

Precious Metals Option
Rose gold splitter $85
Rose gold IEM barrels $110 for two
Rose gold 3.5mm plug cover $70 

 

Company Information
Double Helix Cables
E-mail: peter@doublehelixcables.com
Website: www.DoubleHelixCables.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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