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ESP2009's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 16/02/2009 - 19:54
Posts: 1786
Earphone Cables

Forgive me if this topic has been dealt with previously, but if it has I missed it.

Since the latter end of 2009 I have been enjoying the combination of the iBasso Boa D2 DAC/headphone amp and Shure SE420 earphones, linked either to an iPod or my trusty Dell laptop.  Most marvellous!  Quite whether they are the best combination my ears can get for under £300 is another debate, but I am well impressed by the sound isolation and the lack of interraction between lead and clothing, etc, which causes irritating scratching friction sounds with lesser 'phones, and the iBasso is so conveniently light and portable.

However, one question that sprang to mind, partially in response to the configuration of the Shure 'phones and their titchy lead plus extension cable attachment, and partially due to a problem I had when I first purchased the iBasso, was one of as-supplied cable suitability.

The problem was, I discovered, a feature of the 3.5mm jack connector on the Shure extension lead: it has a barely discernible ridge at its base that makes the connection with the iBasso less than precise.  Result?  Periodic loss of signal.  I found a well-rated and reasonably priced replacement (Sony, I believe) and the problem vanished - approx £15 well spent.

But the purchase made me wonder, particularly in combination with the obvious design feature by Shure; can you upgrade the extension cable in much the same way that we do with I/Cs, speaker cables and power leads?

OK, obviously the design of earphones has to take into account the practicality of their function - to be a light-weight device - especially in this mobile world.  Headphones tend to be bigger and have thicker cables since the emphasis is generally less on being portable.  So earphones, arguably, need a compromise to render them light, which gives us those stringy little leads even though they don't need the same power to drive them.

Yet, if you are sitting at your desk, or wherever, and aren't worried about the weight of your connecting cable (other than it not being heavy enough to drag the 'phones out of your ears or, at the very least, make them uncomfortable to wear), is there any practical benefit/advantage to be had by using a thicker extension?  Indeed, given that the extension eventually has to give way to the spindly  wires that branch off to your lug-holes, is it worth it?

Any opinions?  Any known sources of upgrade extensions that are acknowledged to enhance performance (ooer, missus!) of earphones?  Should I be trawling the pages of Maplin's on-line catalogue?  Does Russ Andrews have an expensive and anaconda-sized cable I can buy?


PS.  Aaaargh!  Where did the furry critter come from?  Oh, thanks for fixing my Avatar...and after hours, too.  Splendid job WHF.