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Norne Audio Premium Headphone Cable Review

amirm

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This is a review and technical measurements of the three Norne Audio "high-end" cables made out of Litz wire of different material. It was kindly sent to me by a member for testing. The cables are slight variation of what is sold currently although visually they seem the same:

Norne Audio Headphone Cable Review.jpg


The one on the left appears to be the Draug 3 "4x20awg - copper occ litz - 24-wire Tri multi-conductor - ultimate copper upgrade cable."

Middle is Draug Silver 4x20awg - 24-wire - Tri multi-conductor (cotton cores) - Flagship headphone cable.

Last one is copper silver hybrid is a Solvine Series likely v2S which was described as a 4x18.5awg - 16-wire - Silver occ litz / Copper occ litz - fusion.

Not sure of the exact prices but we are talking about US $250 to $800 range.

All cables were terminated in balanced connections for the Drop X Focal Elex headphone.

The cables themselves had a very light feel and were much more flexible than the stock stiff braided cable Focal supplies.

Headphone Cable Testing
I first tested the cables using the Elex on my measurement fixture. Extreme care was taken to keep the headphone stationary while changing the cables. Here are the frequency response measurements of all three compared to the stock supplied cable by Focal (all use unbalanced connection):

Norne Audio Headphone Cable Acoustic Frequency Response Measurements.png


As you see, all the graphs land on top of each other indicating identical tonality.

Distortion test showed almost the same outcome:

Norne Audio Headphone Cable distortion Measurements.png


The variation is within the scope of the test other than perhaps that difference at 120 Hz highlighted by the cursor. The stock cable appears to have lowest amount of that mains induced frequency. We did not however try to keep the cables routed identically so that may have something to do with it. Follow up testing of the cables by themselves using a transformer to induce interference showed more or less the same performance so I am not thinking much of that difference. Stepping back then, nothing has been impacted as far as non-linear response of the headphone no matter which cable is used.

Acoustic measurements are subject to noise and of course performance of the headphone itself. So I thought I also test the cable electrically and see if there is a difference there. Here, a Topping A90 amplifier is driving the cable at one end, and the other end goes into the Audio Precision APx555 analyzer for analysis. Here is the frequency response now:
Norne Audio Headphone Cable Frequency Response Measurements.png


This is an incredibly zoomed vertical scale of just quarter of a dB yet the three graphs land on top of each other again (ignore the little wiggles below 20 Hz). So no way is the tonality is changed with this cable.

Headphone Cable Listening Tests
This is tricky business to do objectively in that cable swap takes a minute or so. As such, no way short-term memory is able to remember the sound of the last cable to compare to the current one. My son and I tried anyway but could not detect any difference.

Conclusions
Objectively there is no way for these cables to change the sound of the headphone. Frequency response that impacts tonality is absolutely the same as the physics would predict. Distortion/non-linearity is the same for the same reason: the headphone dominates by far. The cables by themselves provide wider bandwidth than the amp can use resulting in no measured difference.

"Quick" AB test shows no difference in any way that I or my son could identify.

Everything points to these cables being differentiated by how much money you spend toward them than any fidelity difference.

Needless to say, I do NOT recommend that you buy any Norne Audio Cables for performance. For feel, there may be some value there and I let you decide on that.

Edit: video review also posted to youtube:

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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CREMA

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Every time you wear headphones, there is a slight deviation.

Usually it doesn't mean much, but when you replace the cable, the difference made by wearing it is mistaken for the cable.

Audio is something that easily tricks you. Always be in doubt.
 

wwenze

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Performance is excellent. Basically a straight wire with no gain.

A completely transparent product that does not degrade the sound in any known way? Sign me up for one.
 
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amirm

amirm

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polmuaddib

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I understand how some expensive cables can sell, where they have thick shields made from luxury materials. But i will never get why these Kimber like products sell. They look so DIY. Looks like someone's grandma knitting a sweater... Not to mention how delicate and unprotected it all looks...
 
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amirm

amirm

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I understand how some expensive cables can sell, where they have thick shields made from luxury materials. But i will never get why these Kimber like products sell. They look so DIY. Looks like someone's grandma knitting a sweater... Not to mention how delicate and unprotected it all looks...
I think these are DIY cables. People just follow the formula for what sells and then sit in their bedroom for hours and hours braiding these cables, and soldering them to connectors. It is horrible, repetitive work. I don't know why they think this is what they should dedicate their life to.
 

Tks

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I don't get it.. These look like simple re-badging of OEM stuff offered on Ali Express, but simply using higher cost connectors and terminations..

Here are the problems. The company website gives no indication of who the entity is. The first page has a 2014 date of copyright, and the store page has 2018. It's been a while since I've not seen an "About Us" portion to a website.

They offer the bog standard clear-cable weave patterns that are super common among IEM cables that can be ordered on Ali Express for example.

They also offer paracorded cables, which are of DIY quality at best. Also, paracord is hardly luxury, in fact, it's terrible. Terrible for microphonics when rubbing up against your clothes (not the audiophile kind). It's also nowhere near as supple as something like a basic Sennheiser HD600 series cable. But if you're settled on a paracord cable, might as well get something with customizability, and far more aesthetically pleasing tight weave patterns. A normal seeming company, with a sensible website, with labor producing in the country of origin, understandable pricing. Not a simple twist that looks also loose with these novice DIY-looking from Norne.

Lastly, OCC Copper (and OFC)? Does anyone, manufacturer or not, have any evidence of the sorts of foundries processing and selling this type copper with certifications, or technical documents legally guaranteeing any of these claims of composition to this degree? I cannot believe this stuff can still be legally espoused anymore. Why would any of this matter at the point where the solder joint comes into the discussion? I want just ONE single confirmed case where misalignment of copper boundary to such solder joint can be audibly detected... Since measurements "can't capture everything we can hear".
 

domiji

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In my opinion soundquality is not the only thing when it comes to cables. I bought a Forza Audio Works Noir Hybrid cable because i think it is the most beautiful cable out there and the ergonomics are just crazy good for me.

Does it sound better? I don't care :D

72-432-thickbox.jpg
 
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