In my review of the Campfire Audio Cascade Closed-back Headphones, I highlighted its ability to scale with better sources and cables, this was observed during the course of the review, where I have had the privilege to listen to the Cascade with the ALO Audio SXC 8 Headphone Cable and the Effect Audio Ares II+ for Campfire Audio Cascade.
Prior to the founding of Campfire Audio, Ken Ball founded Audio Line Out in his basement where he started out handcrafting some of the finest cables for portable fidelity. Today a successful line of amplifiers and cables cemented the business as one of the respectable brands around, better known as ALO Audio.
With the release of the Campfire Audio Cascade, Ken took the highly successful SXC 8 cable for IEM, reconfigured it and released it as the ALO Audio SXC 8 Headphone Cable, specifically designed for use with Campfire Audio’s Cascade headphones. The cable is available in 2.5mm balanced, 3.5mm single-end, 4.4mm balanced as well as 6.3mm single-ended source termination. The review unit I received for review features the 4.4mm balanced source termination which I have used with the Sony Sony NW-ZX300 during the review process.
The SXC 8 Headphone Cable features eight 22 AWG fine stranded silver plated high-purity copper conductors instead of the 24 AWG found in the IEM variant, each custom annealed to an extra soft temper. The cable is braided in-house in a stereo symmetrical design with opposing currents, the firm asserts that this produces a cable with a supple feel that is unlike other silver plated or even pure silver cables.
The SXC 8 Headphone Cable is exceptional in aesthetics with a transparent Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) jacket insulating its silver strands. Known for its exceptional resistance to discolouration, the use of FEP will ensure that the aesthetics will remain for the larger part of the cable’s lifetime.
Designed for use with the Cascade, the SXC 8 Headphone Cable features the 2-pin push/pull Lemo connectors aka HD800 connectors and therefore is only suitable for headphones which utilises the same connectors. Overall, the build of SXC 8 is what you would expect from an established cable maker like ALO Audio.
Compared to the silver-plated copper Litz cable with cloth jacket which came with the Cascade, it is not exaggerating to say the SXC 8 Headphone Cable truly unleashes the potential of the headphones and lives up to the ALO Audio’s claim that the cable has been specifically designed for Cascade.
The SXC 8 features a unique warm sounding signature bringing the “open” sounding Cascade up a notch in terms of openness. The cable is clean sounding with excellent layering from low to high frequency, resulting in an ideal concoction of details and clarity for the Cascade.
The SXC 8’s ability to unleash the potentials of the Cascade has allowed me to pen down the observations from the low to the high frequency when reviewing the headphones, something which otherwise would not have been possible with the stock cable. Below is extracted from my earlier review:
The Cascade had constantly entertained me with its plenitude of sub-bass and energetic treble. Without a doubt, the Cascade is well-tuned and exhibits the strengths of a dynamic driver configuration. Clearly V-shaped, the Cascade is not lacking in coherence across the spectrum of frequencies.
At the sub-bass level, the Cascade is characterised by its precise reverberation, coupled with a mid-bass that is more conservative and an upper-bass that is somewhat neutral to allow it to be more than just a thud, the low-end on the Cascade has the right degree of warmth, full-bodied and punchy with plenty of ambiences, volume, clarity and just the right amount of decay. The extension at the sub-bass level is what defines the Cascade and is one of the two key attributes of its sound signature and an exhibit of the company’s tuning mastery.
The midrange of the Cascade is transparent and slightly bright with a minor bump at the lower-midrange as well as the centre midrange to compensate for the superior bass which the headphone exhibits. The slight attenuation has in my opinion allowed Campfire Audio to achieve a balance which allows both male and female vocals to be well-presented with a slight bias of the vocals over instruments while managing to maintain excellent tonality however at the expense of slight discolouration to the body and coherence. This has also allowed the headphones to layer well facilitating high-resolution background detail retrieval, ensuring the midrange is refined.
Treble on the Cascade is resolving and transparent, transiting between the upper-midrange to the lower-treble, there is an observation of a slight dip which is later elevated at mid-treble aiding airiness and sparkle. The elevation at mid-treble is the second key attribute to its sound signature. This has contributed to Cascade’s spacious soundstage with an all-rounded presentation, exhibiting airiness, excellent treble extensions while maintaining coherent sound imaging both in terms of width and depth.
- Excellent build
The ALO Audio SXC 8 Headphone Cable is my choice cable for the Campfire Cascade and in my opinion, an essential upgrade for the Campfire Cascade owners.
In terms of sound quality, it unleashes the potentials of the headphones and allows one to enjoy the Cascade the way it is meant to be.
At USD 349 (SGD 519), it is about 43% the price of the handphones which in my opinion might be a bit pricey for an upgrade cable for the Cascade.
This review unit is provided by Connect-IT by Jade Gift Shop.
- Sony NW-ZX300
- Campfire Audio Cascade Closed-back Headphones
- Dimension: 22 AWG
- Cable Material: Silver plated high purity copper
- Insulation: Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP)
- Connectors: 4.4mm Penticonn Plug and 2-pin push/pull Lemo connectors
- Price: USD 349 (SGD 519)
- Warranty: 1 Year
- Website: www.aloaudio.com