When In Manila and you have been a long time audiophile or an audiophile beginning to reign on high-end headphones, amplifiers, audio players. You cannot miss out on upgrading your stock cables. These may just be cables, but trust me, they have a HUGE effect on the sound quality of your headphones. Specially if you are sporting high-end audio equipment already. Even the simple 3.5mm to 3.5mm interconnect cable or line-out dock cables that you use to connect to your amps have an effect on audio quality already. So what more with changing your headphones cable through modification. Or through changing the detachable cables of top-end headphones right? I’ve tried tons and tons of different cables ranging from copper, silver, gold plated copper, silver plated copper, gold and silver, cryogenic treated, different purities, and the list goes on and on. As far with high-end cables, one cannot pass up and not notice ALO audio who craft extremely beautiful cables and with amazing sound quality to back the craftsmanship up. You may find it odd that I am writing here about cables. But for our audiophile viewers, this is NOT “just some cable”. Cables are probably one of the bottlenecks to maximizing the sound of headphones and audio equipment. If you tried a stock cable against a different composition, for example; a silver cable against the stock copper, it really does give a difference in the sound properties. That’s also the reason why it is important also to talk about cables when dealing with the audiophile world.
The ALO audio SXC Lariat cable that I have is terminated to fit the Audeze LCD-2 headphones that I have. You have the option on ALO audio‘s site to choose for which headphone the ALO audio SXC Lariat cables you are purchasing would be fitted on, as well as the termination of the input to match your player or amplifier. You can also have the option to have the input termination be a mini-XLR and then get additional mini-XLR to different terminations of your choice so that you have more compatibility with other players or amps. For example; the one I have is terminated with a mini-XLR for the input and I have a mini-XLR to 3.5mm so that I can use it for my other portable amplifiers, and a mini-XLR to Kobiconn balanced so that I can use it in balanced mode for the ALO audio RxMK3-B. I can just easily swap either the mini-XLR to 3.5mm or the mini-XLR to Kobiconn balanced, depending on which amplifier I will be using the Audeze LCD-2 and the ALO audio SXC Lariat with. Although, getting an extra detachable end would cost you more, but it’s great for more compatibility.
Build: I will be skipping the ALO audio SXC Lariat‘s packaging part since they just simply come inside a properly sealed plastic with the ALO audio logo inside the normal FedEx box. Doesn’t really matter since having them packaged inside a box would take up too much space. So moving on to the build, the craftsmanship of the ALO audio SXC Lariat is just hands down incredible as always from ALO audio! I love how the ALO audio SXC Lariat cables are twisted and braided securely and aesthetically beautiful! The twist from the Y splitter to the headphones and the braid from the Y splitter down to the mini-XLR termination are well secure and far from detaching from the braids and twists. The ALO audio SXC Lariat cables also are inside a plastic or rubber like plastic jacket which makes it twice durable, yet still easily manageable and light. Yes, the cables are light! When I saw the ALO audio SXC Lariat upon arriving to my doorstep, I thought that they might add weight to the Audeze LCD-2. Well apparently after opening them and picking them up, they are surprisingly light! Even lighter than the ProCo cables that I had used to modify my old Sony XB500 before. The ALO audio SXC Lariat can definitely be used for a portable set-up. The ALO audio SXC Lariat is just really beautiful to look at, even the shrink tubes that ALO audio has used to secure the connection of the cables to the termination points are well labeled and designed.
Sound Quality: Now here is the main point of this review, how they change or upgrade the sound of your top-end headphones. I only used the Audeze LCD-2 alone for this review due to the termination that I had it done, which is matched only for the Audeze LCD-2 and Audeze LCD-3. I tested on different amplifiers though, namely; ALO audio RxMK3-B, Triad-Audio L3, ALO audio The National, ALO audio PanAm tube amplifier and DAC, Furutech ADL Cruise. Using and testing it on the RxMK3-B were done using both the 3.5mm adapter cable and also the Kobiconn balanced adapter.
So how do they work with the Audeze LCD-2? Much much much better than using the stock cable which I have heard, uses Cardas cables. The SXC (silver plated copper) composition of the ALO audio SXC Lariat just increased the details a notch and have made the vocals/mids much more lush and emotional. Listening to vocal tracks just gave me the chills! Playing the “Best Audiophile Voices VII” album was such a lush and intimate listening session with all the beautiful voices ringing clear and fully bodied. Having tracks such as Elisa Fiorillo’s “Don’t Be Afraid”, the Saxophone’s notes sounded so natural and they had the natural sustained tones at the end which was not much evident on the stock cable. The bass on different songs also had slightly more bass balance. Soundstage also improved much much more than the stock cable which were picky about soundstage depending on the tracks. Instrument separation was already superb with the stock cable on the Audeze LCD-2, but now, they were much more positioned naturally on how they were recorded. I mean, you can spot exactly where they are distanced and even have a sense of how far apart they are.
Ever since receiving the ALO audio SXC Lariat, I have never used the stock cable. That’s how much the Audeze LCD-2 achieved so much more capabilities using the ALO audio SXC Lariat cables. It is not a big night and day difference, but the bottleneck that the stock cable was giving to the Audeze LCD-2 became well evident. The ALO audio SXC Lariat can be purchased from ALO audio‘s website starting at $449
ALO audio SXC Lariat upgrade cables for high-end headphones