PlusSound is a boutique custom cable company with roots in Los Angeles, California. Headed by Christian Oliver, the American company have built a legion of followers and have recently occupied the high-end arena. Throughout the years, their approach has been simple yet effective – the provision of high-quality products with an excellent customer service. It is refreshing to see that there is such a personalized level of service with honest advice and recommendations.
As of late, cable manufacturers have been employing exotic materials in a bid to achieve a desire sound. Palladium, in particular, has been the rare metal of choice for its unique sonic properties. Though palladium is less conductive than silver and gold, its resistance in wiring has been important in the overall fine tuning. Since palladium is a relatively expensive material to procure and process, palladium wires have a higher cost compared to their silver and gold counterparts.
The PlusSound Tri-Silver X8 is an IEM cable which makes use of exotic and regular materials in a mix of pure silver, gold-plated silver and palladium-plated silver. The Tri-Silver comes in two variants – a four-wire build (retailing for $799) as part of the Exo series and an eight-wire build (retailing for $1599) as part of the flagship X8 series.
The Tri-silver X8 incorporates ultra-pure OCC Type 6 Litz wires in a 26 American Wire Gauge (AWG) . The Type 6 Litz is the one of the most advanced wire compositions in the market and features dampening cores to reduce vibration as well as providing consistent conductivity throughout. The construction is made of bundles of Type 4 wires twisted around a central fiber core, each of which has its own bundles of Type 2 Litz wire around a smaller fiber core.
The PlusSound Tri-Silver X8 has a luxurious appearance with its intricately woven wires in a translucent jacket finish. Compared to the Exo series 4-wire version, the X8 is a step above with a thicker design, more robust build and excelling aesthetics. It is easy to appreciate the individual strands of wire and craftsmanship that went into completing this high-end boutique product.
PlusSound enable customers to choose from a wealth of customization options including lower braid shape, connector type, Y-splitter, slider type and termination. Here, we have a brilliant rose-gold barrel Y-split which matches the finish of the connectors. PlusSound have improved the quality of the termination jacks over the years with a more seamless design language and robust aluminum anodized finish. The jacks offer some of the best quality in the business and are supplied in either single-ended 3.5mm or balanced 2.5 mm/ 3.5 mm terminations
The Tri-Silver cable is very supple and manoeuvrable for its eight-core structure. Although there is no memory retention material near the connectors, the cable feels very secure and stable over the ear. The Y-split is positioned at a good distance from the connectors providing necessary slack when monitors are attached.
Overall, the cable feels great to touch with little to no microphonics and tangle-resistance.
Packaging & Accessories
The cables come in a black box bearing the ‘PS’ brand logo complete with a microfiber cloth, cable band, cleaning tool, leather carrying pouch and acrylic glass material.
The transparent acrylic embossed with ‘designed and hand assembled in Los Angeles, California’ is a nice addition to display the USA-made product. Together with the gold accents of the under-box, the X8 Tri-Silver is delivered in a refined overall packaging.
Overall, the X8 Tri-Silver excels in holographic projection with a fantastic degree of separation and sense of space. Despite comprising of a hybrid of silver designs, the X8 does not sound heavily top-end inclined or bright. Instead, there is more of a neutral predisposition with excellent technicalities across the board. As with PlusSound cables, the X8 delivers a large note size amidst a grand presentation.
At the low-end, the X8 Tri-Silver retains sub- and mid-bass bloom with added texture and control. Here, the frequencies are not elevated but display an unusual yet outstanding balance between body and decay. To this end, the low-end warmth is kept in check and there is no substantial spill of weight into the lower midrange portion. The X8 Tri-Silver still manages, however, to maintain a full and slightly analog sound to its midrange.
Compared to the PlusSound Gold-Plated Silver (GPS), the Tri-Silver X8 delineates a cleaner sound owing to its discipline over the low-end. The GPS, on the other hand, teases a warmer signature with its bountiful bass and emphasis on rounded harmonic vocals. Stepping up to the midrange, there is good note size with excellent dynamics across both the micro- and macro-scale. There is a nice neutral tone throughout which does not hide itself in stridencies or artificially elevated upper midrange patterns. It is appreciable that the Tri-Silver crafts such a pleasant tonality interspersed with air, depth and even-headedness. Compared to the Leonidas II, the X8 Tri-Silver manages to inject more air and body between and within notes but does so at the expense at the slightly silkier tone of the former cable.
As we descend upon to the treble territories, the Tri-Silver retains its sense of space and holographic power. Though I would not consider this cable to be treble-focused, there is excellent extension and detail. The Leonidas II, in this regard, has more of a sense of sparkle with tendencies to stridency compared to the slightly more held back Tri-Silver treble.
Imaging & Soundstage
Throughout the frequency spectrum, the Tri-Silver manages to instil an uncanny sense of scale in both note size, air and sonic cue projections. To this end, it is perhaps the most holographic IEM cable I have come across. This, coupled with its excellent sense of separation, really does provide an all-encompassing listen.
PlusSound Gold-Plated Silver Exo Series ($599)
Compared to the more entry-level PlusSound Gold-Plated Silver, the Tri-Silver X8 maintains a more level and balanced approach. While the Gold-Plated Silver provides more low-end body and warmth, the X8 maintains body with better resolution and texturing. There is more bottom to top contrast with the GPS contributing to a v-shaped sound whereas the X8 projects a more reference tonality.
Dita Audio OSLO cable ($599)
The Dita Audio OSLO cable is an interesting cable with strands of extruded PC Triple-C copper soaked in a suspension of gold and silver nanoparticles. Compared to the Tri-Silver, the OSLO is more musically orientated with a predisposition towards a rich and organic sound. Compared to the Tri-Silver X8, the OSLO is smoother with a roundedness that accentuates the euphonic nature of certain monitors. Given this emphasis on musicality, the OSLO does compromise a certain sense of transparency and air which the Tri-Silver so powerfully capitalizes on. However, given its swing towards warmth, the OSLO still maintains a nice level of resolve and micro-dynamic gradations.
Effect Audio Leonidas II ($888)
Like the Tri-Silver X8, the Leonidas II employs palladium-plated silver as part of its wire composition along with Litz silver. Though both share a similar sense of scale and space, there are some differences between each model. For example, where the Leonidas II has a more focused sound with more discipline in the lower-end and sparkle in the top-end, the Tri-Silver infuses more body and fullness mixed with a reference neutrality. The Leonidas II fits more in line with a classical silver wire description whereas the Tri-Silver X8 depicts a more nuanced and balanced presentation.
The Tri-Silver X8 pairs with well a range of monitors including 64 Audio Tia Fourte, Tia Trio & U18. With these monitors, there is a synergy that works incredibly well with the holographic nature and spaciousness already present in 64 Audio’s top-end products.
The Tia Fourte, for example, has sonic projections cast further out with even more body to rival the staging of certain full-sized headphones. The U18 develops more of an emphasis on nuances, dynamics and technicalities with added sense of scale. Finally, the Tia Trio benefits from the added soundstage as well as improved resolution and body to its notes.
Some other monitors which worked well with the Tri-Silver X8 are the Fiio FD1 IEMs as well as Fiio’s flagship FA9 IEMs. One thing worth noting is that the Tri-Silver X8 does not represent the best pairing for monitors with an already stronger midrange presence such as Vision Ear’s VE5 or Heir Audio’s IEM 8.0 headphones.
It is interesting to see PlusSound cause some disruption in the high-end custom cable IEM market where the likes of DHC, Effect Audio and Norne Audio have reigned. With the Tri-Silver X8, PlusSound brings a unique and yet refined sound composition into the mix. Particularly impressive is the Tri-Silver X8’s passion for sense of scale and imaging. While the X8 is inherently silver combining three different mixes (palladium-plated, gold-plated and pure), the sound is not classically a ‘bright’ silver sound. Instead, the emphasis is placed on neutrality with excellent technicalities and dynamics. At $1599, the Tri-Silver X8 is no doubt expensive. However, PlusSound have really stepped up with the beautiful new connectors and supple high-end eight-core braids. For those wishing to extract the best from their monitors without a budget in mind, the Tri-Silver X8 should be an easy consideration.
PlusSound X8 Tri-Silver Cable
Available from: PlusSound