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Norne Audio Premium Headphone Cable Review

izeek

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Finally!
I bought these to.replace 1of 3 that wouldn't stay seated AND because I thought they looked good.
They sure improved my bass. :rolleyes:
 

CyrusTheGreat_600BC

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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 …

Thank you, Amir, for every test that you do. I’ve been reading these reviews for years, and they have changed the way I buy equipments… from Marantz to Denon, and recently to Chinese DACs ;)

I have a couple of questions regarding your equipments and the testing methodology on the cable testing subject as a fellow scientist with a couple of peer reviewed papers published in IEEE and other journals/conferences albeit in different area (visual perception). With my user study research, I have seen a big variation between people on how they perceive visual elements, so that’s why I’m interested in hearing differences here.

As for the questions, you send tone A frequency in and measure tone A at the output. Does the equipment also measure the latency, lingering, and decay of each of these frequencies? If so, by how many precision points of a seconds? What is the error level on that?

I’ve listened to pure silver cables on a couple of occasions, and I “believe” I could hear differences. I didn’t like them by the way, but it wasn’t about things I could not hear in the other cable, but more like the whole rendition of music had a different feeling to it. Maybe as you said it’s all in the brain, but if some frequencies arrive sooner or at a later timing, things would change a bit. Hence, the reason for my question above.

Again, thank you for all these golden reviews! They’re so much work even after you’re done with the testing/measuring.
 

CyrusTheGreat_600BC

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I could not edit my last post, so here is an add-on to it. I just want to emphasize on individual differences and share some first hand experience with human subjects and visual feeds in my own research.

Among the hundreds of user studies’ participants that come to our lab, there was this one person who could see infrared lights coming out of our motion capture cameras like it was laser beams shooting in a rave concert! We all were very surprised since the common belief is that humans can’t see infrared light, but there it was, the guy who could see unseeable!

We also get a constant ratio of 8-10% of people who cannot see stereograms, that is making a 3D image by shifting pixels on the other eye. They usually disqualify to enter the user studies, so they try really hard to pass the test but they fail. Again, individual differences.

Of course, these are all from visual perception research which is currently considered cutting-edge, and we get millions of dollars of funds coming from government and non-government sources, so I understand if audio is not a priority or not on that level actively researched.

Lastly, the reason I asked for precision of the testing device is that computers can only get to like 10 nano seconds in their internal clock/time stamps.
 
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welsh

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Hey, HD650 single ended stock and Sennheiser XLR cable do sound differently, XLR is brighter, even my non-audiophile girlfriend noticed difference in quick test. I think difference depends on how ****** stock cable is
Was she, perchance, in the kitchen at the time?
 

boonips

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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:

View attachment 123899

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):

View attachment 123900

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

Distortion test showed almost the same outcome:

View attachment 123901

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:
View attachment 123902

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:

------------
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/
For me the only reason I look at aftermarket cables is to get a connector type or length that isn’t offered as oem. Also some cables are too stiff.
 

maverickronin

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For me the only reason I look at aftermarket cables is to get a connector type or length that isn’t offered as oem. Also some cables are too stiff.
Or microphonic.

There's practically an inverse correlation between the price of a headphone and ergonomics of its stock cable.
 

Jimbob54

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There's practically an inverse correlation between the price of a headphone and ergonomics of its stock cable.

Anyone unfortunate enough to see/touch/use the horror that is the recent Hifiman "blind sausageworm/ medical equipment" effort can attest to that.

Grado should be ashamed too.

Some of the IEM makers need to have a long hard look too. There is no excuse for the loose weave braided nonsense that comes with Moondrop etc
 

A Surfer

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I purchased a very nice (in terms of quality of material and construction) Norne Audio Solv X speaker tap cable. My NAD M3 did not have an output for headphones so I started researching using speaker terminals and I was very happy to learn that with a well designed amp it was actually a pretty good idea. I had Trevor at Norne design the 12 foot cable in two sections joined by a 3 pin male and female connector.

The quality of workmanship and materials is fantastic and I have enjoyed it with many headphones. I had small adapters made so that I could accommodate the major ear cup connector types. Very pleased and money quite well spent in my opinion. Notice that I am talking about sound because I don't believe that cables make audible differences. I needed a custom cable for a very specific purpose and it just turns out that I ended up with a grand slam in my opinion for fit, finish and functionality.
 

boonips

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Or microphonic.
Oh microphonics, the bane of my cable headphone cable shopping so far. That and the connectors on an ali express that damaged the connectors on my IEM’s.

I really wish sennheiser made a shorter cable for the hd800’s.
 

Count Arthur

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Some of the IEM makers need to have a long hard look too. There is no excuse for the loose weave braided nonsense that comes with Moondrop etc
I've got a set of Moondrops:

iu


I have no complaints about the supplied cable, it's a bit bling-y perhaps, but it's soft, flexible, not overly prone to tangling and doesn't seem to mechanically transmit much noise to the ear pieces.

In fact of all the headphones and IEMs I've had or currently own, these are the ones I've been most happy with right out of the box.

With most of the other IEMs I've had, I've had to experiment with aftermarket ear tips to get a good fit and others have had cables that transmit a lot of noise as it brushes on your clothes, buttons and zips, etc..

The Sennheiser HD650 and 560s both came with really long 3m cables, although that's a fairly easy fix, just cut to length and fit a new jack plug.

My Focals came with three cables in the box of various lengths and with different jack plugs; nicely made, but realy stiff.
 

Jimbob54

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I've got a set of Moondrops:

iu


I have no complaints about the supplied cable, it's a bit bling-y perhaps, but it's soft, flexible, not overly prone to tangling and doesn't seem to mechanically transmit much noise to the ear pieces.

In fact of all the headphones and IEMs I've had or currently own, these are the ones I've been most happy with right out of the box.

With most of the other IEMs I've had, I've had to experiment with aftermarket ear tips to get a good fit and others have had cables that transmit a lot of noise as it brushes on your clothes, buttons and zips, etc..

The Sennheiser HD650 and 560s both came with really long 3m cables, although that's a fairly easy fix, just cut to length and fit a new jack plug.

My Focals came with three cables in the box of various lengths and with different jack plugs; nicely made, but realy stiff.
The Blessing cable isnt bad. The Starfield was a little flimsy and scratchy
 

Count Arthur

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I've not seen the Starfield in person; in pictures, other than the colour, the cable looks very similar to the one that comes with the Blessing, same 4 cable braid, same splitter and connectors. I assumed it was essentialy the same.

iu


I wanted to try my Blessings with the balanced output on the little HiDizs S9 I have. I considered fitting a new 4 pole 2.5mm jack to the existing cable, but those tiny jack plugs are really fiddly to work with, so ordered one of these: https://shenzhenaudio.com/collectio...g-mmcx-2pin-connector-for-trn-v80-v90-v10-v60

I've never tried a headphone with a balanced connection before, so I'm curious to see if there's much, if any benefit. It hasn't arrived yet, but at that price I doubt I could buy the cable and connectors separately, without taking into consideration the time it would take to assemble something so fiddly.
 

Jimbob54

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I've not seen the Starfield in person; in pictures, other than the colour, the cable looks very similar to the one that comes with the Blessing, same 4 cable braid, same splitter and connectors. I assumed it was essentialy the same.

iu


I wanted to try my Blessings with the balanced output on the little HiDizs S9 I have. I considered fitting a new 4 pole 2.5mm jack to the existing cable, but those tiny jack plugs are really fiddly to work with, so ordered one of these: https://shenzhenaudio.com/collectio...g-mmcx-2pin-connector-for-trn-v80-v90-v10-v60

I've never tried a headphone with a balanced connection before, so I'm curious to see if there's much, if any benefit. It hasn't arrived yet, but at that price I doubt I could buy the cable and connectors separately, without taking into consideration the time it would take to assemble something so fiddly.
I have my blessings balanced- only because I had a nice soft 2.5mm cable already (think it might be a Linsoul)- makes no difference if I use it balanced on my E1DA S3 or unbalanced on E1DA D from a sonic perspective. I doubt the S9 struggles for voltage into the Blessing single ended- it will just be louder over the balanced connection for any given volume on your slider.
 

Count Arthur

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Given that the Blessing 2 aren't diffucult to drive, I thought that would most likely be the case, but was curious to try it.
 

Rottmannash

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Given that the Blessing 2 aren't diffucult to drive, I thought that would most likely be the case, but was curious to try it.
I bought a set of these balanced IEM cables from Hart Audio for my Blessing 2's and they're nice and soft but almost not long enough to fit over my ears then under my throat.
 

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garbulky

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The one that came with your headphones.

The manufacturer won't be supplying one which degrades their performance, it would be foolish.
The only reasons to change would be for a different length or one which picked up less mechnical noise rubbing on clothing.
Buying an expensive one one liked the look of would be a justifyable extravagance as well IMO :)
OMG. Tell that to Sennheiser cuz their cables have all failed me :( :( I just want a good Sennheiser cable that lasts forever. Is that so much to ask? :D :D
 

KeithPhantom

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I've not seen the Starfield in person; in pictures, other than the colour, the cable looks very similar to the one that comes with the Blessing, same 4 cable braid, same splitter and connectors. I assumed it was essentialy the same.

iu


I wanted to try my Blessings with the balanced output on the little HiDizs S9 I have. I considered fitting a new 4 pole 2.5mm jack to the existing cable, but those tiny jack plugs are really fiddly to work with, so ordered one of these: https://shenzhenaudio.com/collectio...g-mmcx-2pin-connector-for-trn-v80-v90-v10-v60

I've never tried a headphone with a balanced connection before, so I'm curious to see if there's much, if any benefit. It hasn't arrived yet, but at that price I doubt I could buy the cable and connectors separately, without taking into consideration the time it would take to assemble something so fiddly.
I have the S9 Pro and the Blessings. At least the Pro can drive them pretty loud at half volume in unbalanced. Balanced connections sound the same as single ended.
 
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