DDHiFi BC130A Air Nyx ($249-$399, length dependent): DDHiFi moves into Airy territory
Intro: A continued review effort between DDHiFi and me saw this gem of a cable come my way. The first “truly” upscale cable effort from DDHiFi sees this move into true accessory category, what with the price and construction, but if you have followed DDHiFi for any length of time you could see something such as this coming, and expect it to be not only of exceptional build but potentially yet another offering of which we did not know we needed. All of that glorification stated above, one should know by now my like and deep respect for DDHiFi and their offerings for not only are they good to excellent, they set the tone for many of the accessories offered to me. Plus, the Janus2, what with its retuned efforts fits much better into the role of sub-$200usd offering. The only offering I have close to this is the excellent Eletech Socrates cable, which I purchased for my Legend X after a test of their insanely good (and pricey) cables. I will of course compare the two along with the
I again thank DDHiFi for the offering and will of course offer my honest appraisal of the cable across a couple of my favored IEM’s. It is not perfect, but what follows is my word for word review of the product.
In The Box:
4.4bal 0.78mm 2-pin cable (120cm)
Denim DDHiFi case
27.2AWG (core) + 24.9AWG (spiral shielding).
Litz Type Il high-purity pure silver (core)
Lit high-purity oxygen-free copper (black)
Litz silver plated over long crystal copper (silver).
©0.05mm× 7×7 strands x 4 strands (core
©0.05mmx 7×14 strands × 4 strands (shielding).
Japan NUC chemical foam HDPE (made in Japan).
High transparency SoftFlex PVC (Made in USA).
Weight / Length:
L-shaped 4.4 mm balanced, 24K gold-plated copper material.
2-pin 0.78mm, 24K gold-plated copper-silver alloy* material.
*93.91% copper and 5.62% silver
DDHiFi Janus 2 ($199)
Empire Ears Hero ($1399)
Empire Ears Legend X ($2299)
Eletech Socrates ($699)
DDHiFi BC120B Sky ($117)
DDHiFi BC110A Silver-plated OFC ($46)
Reckoner, Avalon-Peter Frampton
The Peppery Man-Natalie Merchant
Number 5-Jesse Cook
Lewis & Clark-Tommy Emmanuel
Guitar Boogie-Tommy Emmanuel
Hotel California-The Eagles
Smash Up On Highway One-Brian Setzer
If you have read any of my previous DDHiFi reviews, you will know I fully respect the build of all their items from the single adapter to the Janus & Janus2. All are top notch and could easily find their way into a museum. Or an engineering class for that matter. Take for instance the use of an L-shaped 4.4bal jack here on the Nyx. Most are straight jacks, which can of course put undue pressure on the insertion point. This was one of the main reasons many switched from 2.5bal to 4.4bal connections. I did hear of some cases where the jack would break as a result, but I found myself always being careful. But the use of the L-jack just makes sense. It keeps the pressure point out of harm’s way, and to be honest does not hinder access to your device bottom (or top). Plus, I’m not sure what else you would be using at that point anyway.
The downfall of course is that during the build, the cable wires must be started by hand, including the connecting. Then of course, it can be properly wound. Again, I find no bother here for many of the best items are built mostly by hand. I do wish for a bit more strain relief as it comes out of the right angle, but then again this may hinder operation a bit. That said, I have never had any cable fail at that point regardless.
Moving up to the industrial looking Y-splitter, you get a look at each cable as it enters, then a gold colored cinch ring comes out the top. I will note here my only qualm with the build. I could fairly easily move the Y-splitter up and down, which could put stress on the cable. It is not tightly mounted to the cable, and hence could move a bit with undue care. My solution was not to play with the darn thing!
Moving to the top, the over ear guide is tight and svelte. With just enough to give a nice bend, you can easily use the cable on the Janus for over ear use. In fact, the ear guide is so subdued, it isn’t seen, nor does it take away from the look of the cable. Finishing with the standard 0.78mm 2-pin, which are shielded from each wire entering the pin housing. 24k gold-plated and copper alloy is used for the pins.
The shielding layer inside of the Nyx continues down the whole cable into the 4.4 jack and the 2-pin connectors as well. This means that once inserted (each way), the whole cable is isolated as well as grounded, thus reducing interference. This seems like a simple, straightforward solution, and I will be honest; I do not know if other manufacturers follow suit. One would assume so and hope so.
This is a good-looking cable, even if it is a bit stiff for my tastes.
Lily suggested I start with the Janus2, so I did. Putting a cable, which cost 2x the IEM itself may seem antithesis, but it works. I really like the cable, which comes standard with the Janus2, but the performance difference is clear. No really, it is very, very clear. Deeper reaching note of bass, better clarity and detail all the way around. Many will scoff at this and call for triple-duper-blind-person-crumbcake-testing; but they can just bug off. There is no denying that this cable costs significantly more than the regular, and to me offers much, much better clarity and detail without that somewhat artificiality one can get sometimes from silver-based cables. I do prefer copper for the richness, and warmth, which pervades my senses, but this is a really fine cable.
Moving to the Empire Ears Hero, I started with the cable I currently use; the PW Audio Helix Initiale in 2.5bal. I added the DDHiFi 2.5bal female to 4.4bal male adapter to keep the jacks in common. Originally purchased for my Legend X, once I used the Socrates, this cable was “relegated” to the Hero. Since it is a copper wire, I found it added a nice layer of richness and warmth to the Hero; which some call overly bright. This cable tames the highs nicely for my tastes, making the Hero my go-to at that price.
Switching to the Air Nyx, and since it is silver based; those high notes opened back up to me. Detail is quite good still, and the layering of instruments stays true to the music. I could certainly live with this combination and be happy, but the PW fits the Hero’s “discrepancies” better to me than the Nyx. Both are really good, but I sense that the Nyx works better with a warmer signatured IEM. That is unless you want to open up an IEM, which sounds quite airy or bright even more.
There is no hiding that the Empire Ears Legend X is my pinnacle IEM. Even with the new Evo (which I would dearly love to try), the Legend X satiates my desires for a flagship IEM completely. Yes, there are better ones out there, which do not drown much of the good stuff in the bass like the Legend X; but I do not care. Using the Eletech Socrates, the sound is perfect to me. Wonderfully orgasmic bass quantities along with better detail than the Legend X has a right to permeate through my cranial matter. Yes, the top end is rolled a bit, but that is as much the Legend X tuning as the copper Socrates cable. Soft, supple of use and drop dead gorgeous in that all black with copper accents; the Legend X/Socrates duo is one badass looking combination.
Switching to the Nyx, this was probably the most dramatic of the changes. Mind you I love the Socrates, but it can be a bit too warm sometimes. The Nyx lightened up the sound enough to enjoy the thoroughly satiating sound of Shake from Jesse Cook. This is a really good pairing. I could easily take both cables with me for the Legend X and be happy. This is probably the best example of a cable that “tames” the overtly rich, warm signature of the Legend X to me, and makes a thoroughly palatable combination.
The DDHiFi trends continues with the Air Nyx. It seems whatever they put their minds to, turns out brilliantly, if a bit odd at first thought. Many of their adapters were not necessarily “needed,” but yet they produced many and improved upon what we had. One could even state that DDHiFi moved adapters into the needed accessory market. The original Janus was not needed either, nor the Janus2 (my favored of the two), but in order to survive; one needs to adapt. And hence the development of additional cables such as the Air series. To date, the Nyx is the culmination of that vision in the cable spectrum, and I can honestly say that it competes with the other big-name cable producers at this price. This is another fabulous addition to the DDHiFi line up, and one I will use this cable regularly on any of the IEM’s listed here but most likely it will stay at home mostly on the Janus2 for it seems fitting. Pricey? Yes. Needed? If you have to answer that one, then you should probably keep right on looking.
I again thank DDHiFi and Lily for the continued faith in these feeble abilities. Their products continue to be top notch and worthy of talk when we do of products at the top of their game.
Happy New Year, all.