Slim and lightweight design, Very clean sound, Natural midrange, Super supple insulation
Aggressive lower-treble can affect versatility
Plussound’s professional build quality and ultra compliant insulation realises a clean, controlled and detailed sound.
Born and made in the US of A, Plussound has been doing a simply terrific job for almost a decade. In the process, they’ve procured an understanding of what makes a livable and sturdy cable and, most importantly, a great sounding one. Their T-metal conductors marked the beginning of their more exotic combinations announced more recently. Yet it remains timeless for its transparent tone and unique sonic character. With the X-series, this sound can now be had in a slender, unobtrusive form-factor. The X-series can be purchased and configured here.
I would like to thank Christian from Plussound very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the X-series T-metal 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.
The X-Series differentiates itself with its slim, compact and unobtrusive design. Where most cables make use of 4-wires, the X-series has just two with two internally braided wires inside. This produces a cable that is half the thickness of the EXO and just as slim as the majority of stock manufacturer included cables. For smaller IEMs such as the Xelento, this is a godsend as it maintains the portability of the unit and doesn’t affect fit by weighing down the earpiece.
Users are also treated to Plussound’s wonderful new insulation that is the softest I’ve handled among custom cables. It is almost impossibly supple and, from my experiences, doesn’t harden over time. It is very transparent, providing a window for the buyer to view the customised conductors inside. A 90-degree bend near the IEM connectors routes the cable over the ear without producing hotspots or compromising stability. All terminations are nicely relieved through the implementation of tapered heat shrink and a one year warranty grants confidence in the cable’s longevity.
Despite having a 2-wire construction, the cable isn’t microphonic at all and it coils with ease. However, due to the nature of the braid below the Y-split, the cable can become twisted when coiling and retain bends, something that doesn’t affect the EXO. My unit has Plussound’s previous terminations while newer units come with their sleeker revised plugs. All are customisable by colour and are finished with mastery. Plussound is making truly terrific cables here and their experience is demonstrated by the finished product.
Most definitely Plussound is one of the more experimental brands when it comes to conductors and they pride themselves on their unique combinations. I opted for Plussound’s signature T-Metal, a combination of gold plated copper, silver and gold plated silver. All are realised through a Litz 6 geometry, the most sophisticated currently available.
The T-Metal is a slightly bright cable yet its coherent image is reaffirmed by an especially natural midrange. Treble is defined by crunch and crispness, augmenting detail retrieval in every manifestation. The cable’s raison d’etre is its ability to enhance cleanliness and transparency throughout.
Bass is linear and controlled. Sub-bass extension is noticeably deeper than stock copper cables delivering more power, slam and volume to the sound. That said, sub-bass is not brought more forward. Meanwhile, mid-bass is slightly attenuated, contributing to a cleaner and slightly more defined image. Upper-bass, on the other hand, is quite untouched. Resultantly, this cable is well-suited towards earphones with a mid-bass hump where it serves to increase linearity and clean up tone.
The T-metal also noticeably increases bass quality, especially with regards to definition and control. Notes are concise in their impact and the increased sub-bass depth is counterbalanced by a tightened presentation with impeccable control. Note size actually remains similar as any reduction in mid-bass is augmented by an increase in sub-bass though this does serve to provide a more neutral tone. The T-metal therefore, provides a substantially cleaner low-end with more power and gusto while also heightening definition through the mid-bass.
The effects on the midrange are quite interesting. I noticed greater vocal clarity in culmination with more substantial notes with greater fill. This, I can attribute to a slight bolstering of the lower-midrange in addition to greater linearity and a touch of emphasis through the centre midrange. Meanwhile, attenuation of the upper-mids provides slightly greater density that helps to aid the complete resolution of midrange notes.
As a result of this emphasis, vocals are a touch biased over instruments, especially in culmination with the cable’s more restrained mid-bass. Nonetheless, greater density and lower-midrange body contribute towards a very natural midrange reconstruction that is, if anything, a smidgeon warmer than stock copper and most certainly more cohesive. As the cable’s extended sub-bass also tends to draw more attention, the T-metal achieves a harmonious balance and a highly accurate timbre.
Detail immediately stands out as improved. The T-metal offers a touch of additional lower-treble crispness and foreground detail is presented with a touch more aggression and crunch. This is offset by a clean background that retains plenty of air and headroom through heightened extension. Paired with an earphone like Campfire Audio’s Andromeda, this is very apparent, and background detail is copious without overdoing sparkle and skewing instrument timbre.
Resolution is noticeably improved which contributes to the cable’s greater detail retrieval in addition to its generally more resolving sound. Foreground instruments are a touch thinner than copper, a result of slightly decreased body on account of increased crispness. As such, this cable best suits earphones with a 5KHz as opposed to 6KHz peak where it serves to increase linearity rather than bolster pre-existing aggression. Regardless of signature, those looking for excellent top-end extension and increased headroom will find solace with the T-metal.
With increased extension on either end of the spectrum, the T-metal effectively provides a grander, more immersive sound to the attached IEM. Width is most notably improved and while depth is also improved, it is not always apparent due to the cable’s slightly forward vocals. Nonetheless, imaging is superb, centre image is strong and its aggressive lower treble aids sharp directional cues. Separation is enhanced by stronger foreground/background delineation in addition to greater distinction between vocals and instruments. As bass is cleaned up, the whole image becomes more neutrally toned which works hand in hand with its natural timbre.
Beyerdynamic Xelento ($1000): A match made in heaven, the Xelento benefits from heightened balance and linearity throughout. Bass is tightened and its tone cleaned up, its mid-bass hump is lightly attenuated while its recessed lower-midrange is brought forward. Vocals are brought forward and they are presented with greater clarity and transparency as a result of reduced bass warmth. Meanwhile, treble is more linear, its 5KHz peak softened and augmented by a touch of additional crispness. The background remains clean and extension is enhanced. The width of the soundstage is improved as is separation, producing an overall more coherent and immersive image.
Campfire Audio Andromeda ($1099): The Andro is also a strong pairing, made slightly more balanced, through treble may be too crisp for some. Most notably, bass extension is improved, delivering more physical slam and rumble. Mid-bass is slightly cleaner and, as a result, bass definition is improved. The midrange becomes more natural and notes are more filled-in. This is especially true with female vocals that lack the raspiness of the stock Litz pairing as a result of greater density and a smoother bass/midrange transition. Lower-treble is very crisp and detail retrieval is enhanced. However, as the earphone already has emphasis here, body is slightly compromised in so doing. Extension is improved a touch and resolution is immense. The soundstage is slightly larger in all axis and separation is improved.
ALO Litz ($150): The ALO Litz is a lightly warm cable with a clean background. The T-metal has better sub-bass extension and, thus, more power and rumble. On the contrary, its mid-bass is slightly cleaner while upper-bass is similar on both. The T-metal offers a more defined and controlled low-end presentation. Meanwhile, the Litz provides a slightly more vivid midrange with a thinner body but also slightly greater clarity. The T-metal is more linear and more coherent. The lower-treble on the T-metal is more prominent where the Litz offers a slightly warmer treble with greater body. As top-end extension is enhanced, the T-metal provides a slightly more spacious sound and separation is improved as a result.
Hansound Redcore ($500): The Redcore is a similarly coherent and natural cable but comes across as more mid-focussed. In terms of bass, the Redcore has a faster presentation with slightly more detail retrieval. However, this isn’t always apparent as it emphasizes the mid-bass, producing slight overall warmth and lowering its low-end transparency. It also has a centre midrange push that brings vocals forward and increases vocal clarity. The T-metal is more linear here yet as the Redcore has enhanced low-end warmth, it avoids any thinness. Up top, the T-metal comes across as more aggressive while the Redcore is more linear. Both provide excellent extension and resolution though the Redcore sounds slightly more layered with its more evenly balanced foreground and background.
Plussound Tri-Copper ($549): The Tri-Copper most differentiates itself with its tone, being warmer and fuller. This is most noticeable in the mid and upper-bass that are essentially converse to the T-Metal. In terms of character, the T-Metal is the cleaner and faster presentation, the Tri-Copper being more dynamic and rich. The T-Metal has a clearer midrange, due to its cleaner bass, the midrange is more tonally transparent. The Tri-Copper, on the other hand, is more linear so for already balanced earphones, it sounds more accurate. Up top, both have a similar presentation, with additional lower-treble crispness and excellent detail retrieval. Both cables also provide a clean, dark background and impressive top-end extension and sparkle. Both offer enlarged soundstages, the T-Metal has better separation on account of its more neutral note size and tone.
The X-series is no doubt most appealing due to its form-factor, being exceptionally slim and light. Yet, the ability to choose a high-quality conductor ensures that it is not merely an aesthetic or ergonomic upgrade, but a sonic one too. With a clean, controlled bass presentation, accurate midrange and crisp treble, the T-metal incarnation of the X-series is a great pairing to many V-shaped earphones on the market. It also does so without introducing the bulkiness of most custom-cables, in fact, this cable is slimmer than most OEM units. Furthermore, Plussound’s ultra compliant insulation ensures low microphonics and excellent wearing comfort.
The X-Series can be configured and purchased from Plussound for $399 USD. I am not affiliated with Plussound and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.X