There's an industry legend that it wasn't until The Beatles played the Shea Stadium in 1965 that monitors of any kind were used to hear clearer music. The story goes that the sound of screaming was so loud that the band could barely hear themselves, let alone each other, so their road crew frantically laid down some extra sets of amplifiers to direct the sound straight back at them. Foldback monitors became the norm for live performance but this quickly led to extreme increases in volume as the outward facing speakers competed with the monitors to be heard. A solution was needed to minimize this increased volume emanating from the stage. Step forward the IEM (or in-ear monitor), a headphone that isolates the audio signal by sealing off all other ambient sound from the ear canal. These versatile units swiftly moved off the stage and into the audiophile market to become one of the main pillars of modern listening; standing proudly alongside it's over-ear and on-ear cousins. As the years have progressed these headphones have become so technologically advanced that certain brands of IEM can support 3rd-party re-cables, (like FiiOs own RC-UE2, RC-SE1 and RC-WT1) it's time to explore why a change can bring unexpected benefits. Here's the AV Shop's 5 reasons to buy a new IEM cable.
1. The look's the thing
One thing that the smartphone case industry has proven is that we all like to customise things to best show off our personalities. If we can change something to define ourselves away from others, we probably will. The same is true with re-cables, as different brands all have different ways of presenting their product. FiiO is no different. Each of the three IEM re-cables is made from silver plated PCOCC-A copper elegantly woven to increase signal response; creating overall aesthetic was too cool to hide away under black PVC. Instead FiiO have coated the silver weave in clear Teflon FEP; giving your headphones a very classy finish.
2. If it gets broke, fix it
The worst thing about cheaper ear-buds and even budget level IEM's is that the supplied cable can literally be the weakest link. No matter how much you reinforce the output jack, it will always be the point of greatest stress. In my youth I used to regularly spend £10 on headphones that would barely last the month; it was the falsest of economies. Luckily most high quality IEMs now support a variety of first and third party re-cables meaning that should anything happen to the original cable you can easily install a quality replacement.
3. Low cost, high reward
There are many in the audiophile community who swear that it's worth paying through the nose for the purest cables money can buy and there are those who don't. CNET's Steve Guttenberg has the interesting rule that you should never spend more money on a set of cables that you would on a good bottle of wine. This is mostly because though changing cables can provide noticeable audio benefits, the cost is often too darn high. With companies like Atlas Cables charging £1,200 for the 2 metre Mavros cable, you need to be sure the cost is worth it. Unless you have an expensive audio set-up, it very much isn't. Luckily the price point of FiiO's RC series puts it firmly in the realm of a quality New World red so you can be safe in the knowledge that a small change will provide a tangible effect on your audio. Which leads me nicely on to...
4. Enhance your audio world
Regular readers of this blog will know that I tend to describe every FiiO product as the one that will 'enhance' your sound and bring out the best in your audio; the reason being that it's true. FiiO products are built to make your listening pleasure greater for the lowest investment possible and the RC series of re-cables is no different. In the hunt for the perfect audio reproduction these cables will give you that little added extra in presentation, body and highs to make your headphones sing.
5. The Goodness of change
If, like me, you seriously enjoy listening to a wide variety of music then taking a modular approach to your headphone re-cables will help you tailor the best sound for every genre. If you need an organic bass boost for heavy metal or a true analytical sound for classical sonatas then simply switch your cable. Manipulating the EQ physically will naturally bring out frequencies you may not necessarily hear with either a digital EQ or an alternate cable. Quite simply, the more you have, the merrier!
These are just a few reasons to maybe thing about swapping your IEM cable. FiiO's range covers Ultimate Ears IEMs with the RC-UE2; Shure IEMs in the RC-SE1; and a mix of Westone, JH Audio, Earsonics with the RC-WT1. As ever, click here to like our Facebook and here to follow us on Twitter.
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