Review by: Paolo Tellano
Source/choice of tips/cables:
Price: P13,999 (approximately $264)
Ibasso DX120 (Sound Mode: Reference and Digital Filter: Sharp roll off)
IEM: Soranik SS-1
FLACs. DSDs, DSFs, and MP3s.
Introduction on the maker/page description
“Bespoke HiFi Audio
Handmade Desktop & Portable Amplifiers, Cables, and Interconnects”
Just like his “Merkur” cable, Jayvi Vilar reached out to me and asked if I can do a review on the rest of his cable lineup. Now the aesthetics of Vikabel Akustik’s lineup might look redundant, but that’s certainly not true about their sound signatures.
Jayvi didn’t pay me or anything like that, so there isn’t any bias in reviewing these cables. When he made me review his first cable, he asked me to be honest so that he can know where he can improve on.
The cable comes in a plastic ziplock with the logo of Vikabel attached to it. It’s simple and clean. Nothing noteworthy.
Now, I’m not really much of a hardware guy. The maker told me that the Neptun is a four wire copper cable. In terms of ergonomics, it isn’t as prone to being flimsy as the Merkur. I’m guessing this is because it is thicker. So the cable doesn’t flail around. This is true whether you use the cable over the ear on just wearing it straight down.
Something that Vikabel Akustik does well, the build and aesthetics are on point. Although the latter is subjective, you’ll be hard press to find someone who would call these ugly-looking. It has sleek black sleeves and a sturdy build overall. One of my favorite things about the lineup is how the strain relief is implemented. So these cables might be pricey, but they can take a beating.
Sound (Tested with the Soranik SS-1)
Gained a bit more extension, negligible though. You can hear that the last note goes deeper if you listen critically, but I don’t believe there is a substantial difference between the SS-1’s stock cable.
Here, the impact is much more noticeable. The mid bass became a bit tighter than the stock cables. Thus, the decay is now quicker. Flee’s (Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist) bass lines have more weight to them now. Noteworthy is the control of the mid bass. It doesn’t bleed into the mids, the latter being clean in presentation.
Much cleaner and more detailed, albeit leaner, in comparison to the stock. Also, instruments seem to be more crisp. This is especially true with electric guitars. It was a delight to listen to Bamboo’s “50 ways to leave your lover” as Bamboo’s voice became more clearer and leaner. The electric guitar was much more crisp without sounding too thin.
There is a noticeable difference found with female vocals and snares. The female vocals seems to be positioned less forward than the stock cable, which didn’t push the upper midrange to begin with. Snares are less harsh and crisp, so for someone who likes me who doesn’t like the spike here would like this. However, if you like an emphasis in this area you might want to look somewhere else in terms of cables.
The early roll-off continues, the cymbal crashes in Michael Jackson’s tracks, also with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’, seemed to decay fast. Brilliance is cut off a bit. Great cable choice for people who find their IEMs a bit sibilant. However, it will sacrifice a bit of detail and shimmer in this frequency.
This help improve the imaging on the SS-1. Positioning is much better compared to that of the stock cable. The stock cable had great resolution although positioning sometimes felt like it was just a resonance. With the Neptun, it was able to help distinctiveness between the instruments. This is very good, especially for the people who are fond of details and separation in their mids. The Neptun will help with that.
Nothing changed that much, A bit of extra texture but nothing that significant in comparison with the stock cable.
The stage has certainly become more wide. The SS-1 has a relatively narrow soundstage. The Neptun changed that weakness by adding lateral space.
If you want an extra push, detail, and clarity in the mids, these cables will be a viable option. Despite the hefty price tag, if you have $264 to spare and you like clean mids these will be a good investment. Plus, it won’t break on you anytime soon because the build is great. Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to have great-looking cables. However, if you want your upper mids to pop this isn’t the cable you’d go with.