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Oriveti Affinity Review – Affection for Perfection

Introduction –

Oriveti very quickly made a name for themselves with the original Primacy, a $300 USD triple driver hybrid earphone that shocked reviewers and users alike with its coherence and ergonomics. Further yet, Oriveti followed this model up with the brilliant Basic and New Primacy that I personally purchased and use to this day.  But while their IEMs have received no shortage of applause, Oriveti’s cables are less coveted; I couldn’t find a mention of their ultra strong upgrade cable and their new Affinity completely flew under my radar. Perhaps that has something to do with my location but the Affinity is definitely a cable to watch. Coming in at $199 USD, it represents a step up over the Oriveti’s past cables and takes aim directly at some midrange custom cables. Let’s see whether Oriveti’s cable game is as strong as their in-ears.

 

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Marco from Oriveti very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Affinity for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the cable free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Design –

The Affinity isn’t really a custom cable though it does come in a number of configurations, offered in MMCX and 2-pin varieties with the option of a conventional 3.5mm or 2.5/4/4mm balanced terminations (4.4mm is an extra $20). In addition, the cable does certainly feel more professional than the majority of custom cables with moulded terminations and connectors, the general fit and finish of the cable is top notch.

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And while not quite as striking as models from EffectAudio, Plussound and even ALO, Oriveti’s more subdued sandblasted aluminium connectors are perfectly machined and very thoughtfully shaped. For instance, the plug is dimpled for easy removal and the chin slider clips into the y-split, creating a coherent aesthetic. While I would prefer a slightly lower profile y-split, the cable is continuous throughout and well relieved at the plug which should reflect well on the cable’s longevity. The Affinity certainly feels magnitudes sturdier than any stock cable and even among similarly priced 8-core cables, the Affinity is one of the best I’ve handled.

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The cable does use memory wire, I would argue that it is supple enough to permit the removal of ear guides entirely, though Oriveti’s implementation is one of the best I’ve come across. The guides keep their position and are very easy to shape, they are certainly less stubborn than the guides on the Campfire Litz cable though I did personally prefer the pre-moulded guides on EffectAudio’s cables.

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The cable itself is also quite excellent, the Affinity is composed of 8 cores woven together in a tight circular braid. And while the stock New Primacy cable has a similar setup, the Affinity features more individual conductors in addition to higher quality 6N OCC and SPC components. Ergonomically, the cable is a pleasure to use with zero memory and great compliance, easily coiling for storage. It is also far suppler than the Oriveti’s lower end Ultra Strong cable that uses tinsel wire which I usually find a bit stiff and the Affinity is a bit more compliant than the stock New Primacy cable too. It is quite a thick cable, just slightly slimmer than EffectAudio ARES II and EROS II though it is far lighter and thus notably less cumbersome during activity. The cable also doesn’t produce too much microphonic noise due to the use of a looser braid pattern above the y-split that absorbs some shock. I opted for an Affinity outfit with MMCX and a 2.5mm balanced connector which has a compact straight plug though the 3.5mm unit comes with a right angle plug that is better suited towards portable use.

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Red and blue MMCX connectors denote orientation more clearly than lettered markings and the plugs themselves are tight and clicky with even tension on both sides. While the Affinity wasn’t quite as tight as the Beryllium coated ALO connectors, I experienced no intermittency during my weeks of testing nor did the cable ever accidentally detach like Fiio’s cables. I did also note that the cable was better shielded than the stock New Primacy cable which would occasionally pick up static from my jumper.

 

Sound –

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While some question the effect of cables, subjectively, I am quite a firm believer that they can have a notable impact on sound. A cable can’t transform the presentation of an earphone, but each does carry its own character and can enhance existing qualities of a particular IEM. While they aren’t the most economical upgrade out there, their ability to improve a familiar set of earphones or headphones grants them with plenty of appeal to a lot of buyers. To my ear, there are certainly a few qualities that really good cables possess, perhaps most notable to me is their sense of composition and separation providing a “dark space” around elements that can really enhance the entire sound. Certain earphones that come with better cables like the Campfire Audio earphones and Cardas A8 do possess such a quality from factory. And it is very palpable in listening, the A8 especially should not be anywhere near as separated and spacious as it is given its style of tuning. The Affinity is no different, while Oriveti may not be known for their cables, the Affinity provides much of the same experience as similarly priced and even more expensive units from experienced cable manufacturers. I will go into more detail below, please consider that the extent of the changes described are all quite subtle in the grand scheme of things and that all comments are relative. That being said, I feel that each small change surmounts to a clearly noticeable difference overall.

It can be hard to characterize a cable because every earphone will respond quite differently due to the differences in quality among manufacturer provided cables and differing sensitivities to impedance. However, there were some common traits that I did notice among the earphones I tested the Affinity with. Most immediately apparent was the cable’s separation, which is good even among custom cable standards. This was most notable on my more mid-forward earphones like the Rose BR5 MKII where the Affinity really aided definition of previously overshadowed elements. In addition, the cable provided a slight bump in resolution and a noticeable increase in clarity throughout with more extended vocals and clearer layering of instruments. I didn’t notice huge changes within treble but the Affinity did provide a cleaner presentation when things got busy and both higher and micro details were more apparent. The Affinity slightly improved soundstage space and though it didn’t compensate for my more intimate earphones, the cable’s separation did provide the impression of a larger soundscape. Finally, with the Affinity, I noticed that bass had slightly better extension, better resolution of rumble and deep bass had more weight. This was most notable with my hybrid and dynamic earphones like the Campfire Polaris and New Primacy, but even armature based earphones like the BR5 MKII received a little boost to extension and rumble. Of note, since I did receive the cable with a balanced connector I used an adaptor to test the Affinity with my unbalanced sources and reduce bias.

 

Pairings –

New Primacy: The New Primacy comes packaged with an 8-core silver plated cable from factory so it would seem that there is little room for improvement from perusal of basic specification alone. However, I did find the New Primacy to find appreciable benefit by swapping to the Affinity, finding almost perfect synergy. The cable really opened the earphones up, both mids and highs though bass was also improved. Of note, the Affinity provided increased clarity of midrange elements and produced slightly better bass definition and rumble. Soundstage space increased slightly and separation was greatly improved with better resolution of background details. Most importantly, the Affinity really opened up the high end of the New Primacy, they still didn’t sound as extended and resolving as the 64Audio U3 for instance, but detailing and high-hats were enhanced. Treble notes that once sounded thin were granted with extra extension and texture. Furthermore, details were more presence and extension was notably increased. The improved separation and generally increased energy of the Affinity was an excellent companion to the New Primacy’s more restrained, balanced sound.

BR5 MKII: Like Oriveti, Rose already provide buyers with a pretty solid cable, the unit installed on the BR5 MKII is an 8U silver plated unit. However, switching over to the Affinity and it becomes clear that not all SPC cables are created equal. The Affinity was immediately much cleaner than the stock cable, space, balance and especially separation were all improved over the stock Rose cable. Bass depth was enhanced and due to the Affinity’s improved separation, smaller details that were previously overshadowed by the midrange were much easier to discern. Mids were just as silky as before but space and extension were improved, enhancing immersion. Resolution was also perceptibly higher, the BR5 MKII sounded clearer and more layered within its midrange. Treble was slightly enhanced with a generally cleaner presentation that sounded more composed with complex songs. Extension was also improved and resolution of higher elements was increased. While the BR5 MKII did retain its brighter, upper mid forward tone, the added separation and bass depth provided by the Affinity really enriched their presentation, I honestly wasn’t expecting such a profound difference.

Campfire Jupiter: The Jupiter makes an interesting pairing since it is extremely sensitive and resolving so I would intimate that it would be quite sensitive to cable changes. Ironically, the differences aren’t as immediately noticeable as with the BR5 MKII and New Primacy since the cable provided by Campfire/ALO is already quite nice. That being said, I did feel the Affinity was a subjective upgrade though tonally, the Litz is already very good match for the Jupiter. As expected, the Affinity is more separated and sounds slightly larger in space though both are similarly well presenting in terms of immersion. Both cables have great sub-bass extension with nice definition, the Affinity had slightly more rumble while the Litz had slightly more body. Mids are smoother and more coherent on the Litz but clearer, more spacious and more extended on the Affinity. Highs are similar, I felt that the Affinity was more detailed and had a little extra shimmer over the Litz though extension is excellent on both. The Jupiter ironically improved the least of the bunch, both due to its natural strengths being similar to the Affinity’s and due to its superior stock cable. The Affinity did still provide a noticeable improvement with regards to clarity and engagement and even more separation and space never hurt. As a side note, the Affinity is perfectly colour coordinated with the rose gold screws on the Jupiter, it’s a truly astonishing aesthetic combination.

 

Comparisons –

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ALO/Campfire Litz Silver ($150): The ALO Litz cable is characterized by its slightly richer yet very defined bass, very refined midrange and extended high end. It is probably the most balanced cable in this comparison and the easiest to live with ergonomically. I especially enjoy the ALO’s general midrange presentation, it’s very composed and layered even if elements aren’t as delineated as the Affinity. In return, the Litz cable doesn’t quite achieve the same level of separation and clarity as the Affinity nor does it resolve like the ARES II+. The Litz cable’s plastic connectors also don’t draw the eye as much as the other cables though their lower profile design is definitely preferable during portable use. Moreover, ALO are utilizing custom MMCX connectors that are constructed from beryllium rather than brass, they are noticeably snappier than conventional cables. The ALO Litz is one of those cables that provides a general enhancement of the attached earphone. It does have subtle hints of character, most notably that refined midrange presentation, but it is a nice, versatile and ergonomically excellent upgrade that will work with almost anything.

Plussound EXO Copper ($200): The EXO has the most full bodied presentation of the bunch. It has a more coherent over spacious soundstage though vocals extend nicely and separation is good, about the same as the ALO Litz. Mids don’t have a lot of clarity but are natural and full. Treble is similarly bodied and very well detailed. The EXO Copper isn’t the most immediately impressive cable in this comparison, it doesn’t have enormous resolution, clarity or exquisite sound staging but it is the most coherent and natural sounding with great detailing on top, well suited towards thinner earphones. The EXO also has an excellent build that is the most configurable of these cables and its loose braid soaks up more microphonic noise than competitors. My main issues stem from Plussound’s MMCX connectors that are fixed with grub screws. The screws protrude quite a bit from the connectors and can wear on the ear after more extended listening. Furthermore, the cable is quite stiff, lacking the supple feel of competitors.

EffectAudio ARES II+ ($220): The Ares is more forward whereas the Affinity is more u-shaped. The Affinity’s greatest asset is its separation that even the ARES II can’t match though Effect’s cable does have slightly more resolution and a cleaner presentation. While I love the smoothness of the ARES II+ and its exceptional build, the Affinity is subjectively the more versatile cable. For my brighter and more mid-forward IEMs, the ARES II+ could, at times, sound over forward. On the contrary, the Affinity never had such issues, finding great synergy with almost every earphone I tested it with. It does come down to preference because for users of more V-shaped IEMs, the ARES II+ provides a nice compensation where the Affinity does little to correct any tonal deviations. Both cables are built impeccably with the Affinity looking a bit more mass produced and the ARES having more DIY charm. EffectAudio also have that proprietary insulation which is super clear, allowing the strands of copper underneath to shine through, it is a stunning cable to look at.

 

Verdict –

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The Affinity really surprised me, most manufacturer offered cables are just so unremarkable. But at $200, the Affinity can’t get away with being just good enough, Oriveti’s asking price is more in line with mid-level custom cables than OEM replacement cables. However, those concerns quickly faded upon listening, I’m honestly not the best versed in cables but I have heard enough to give me a general feel for a particular cable’s performance. Oriveti may not be known for cables and the Affinity may not look quite as unique as designs from custom cable manufacturers, but the Affinity is definitely one of the nicest sounding cable’s I’ve heard around their $200 asking price. Moreover, the cable is very compliant if not super supple and it is much lighter and sleeker than most of the custom cables out there, making it less obtrusive during daily use. The Affinity is a well-performing, practical and, dare I say, thoughtfully priced cable that not only finds great synergy with Oriveti’s own earphones but almost all others. For the vast majority of earphones that omit a balanced cable from factory, the Affinity also provides the option to go balanced which can produce some very tangible benefits from supported sources, the Fiio X7 II being a prime example.

Verdict – 9/10, The Affinity has a super solid build with excellent finish. It isn’t aesthetically customizable but comes in a variety of plug configurations to suit the vast majority of earphones and sources. Most importantly, the cable sounds brilliant with especially strong separation and excellent clarity.

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