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
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?
Curves And Lines
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
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.
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...
Precious Metals Option