Headphone Cables/Builds w/ Pictures - DIY

diy
mods
cables

#1

I thought it might be interesting to share a few headphone cable builds I’ve done, and see what other people have come up with - both in terms of components/wire used as well as the aesthetics.

Descriptions and pictures of the end-result very much of interest!

I’ll start with a couple of very basic ones, and one more interesting build, and then add a few here and there if/when the thread gets going.

This first two are simple builds for the various HD6XX variations (I liked the purple/titanium contrast between the cable and the headphones w/ the HD650 specifically). The wire is Canare L-4E6S, which I stripped the insulation and plated-copper shield from, but left the paper wrap on and kept it in Star Quad form up to the splitter - and then two wires each to the ear-cups. It’s encased in #550 Paracord. The splitter is a little Eidolic piece - and kind of a bugger to get #550 through the two top holes. Headphone connectors are Cardas. Amp connector is a Neutrik NC4XX-B, which are the easiest to work with, and most flexbile, XLR connections I’ve found.

And then another variation that was done to complement the Massdrop HD6XX … which was, beyond what was done above, cryo-treated as well - since I have access to equipment that’ll allow it:

And finally, for now, a basic braided cable, using stripped down L-4E6S cable, sheathed in #275 paracord, another Eidolic splitter and Neutrik plug, but this time finished for the super-fiddly MMCX connectors that HiFi-Man used to use.

Electrically I do not like the simple, open, braided approach nearly as much as some other topologies/geometries I’ve built, but I do like the way such cables look.

So … what have you built?

I’ve got some more interesting builds to share later on …


Where do you source custom cable parts from?
#2

Nice!


#3

Here’s a one-shot of a few that are currently being utilized.

  • Headphone Cable: Sennheiser HD650 stock cable reterminated with Neutrik NC4FXX-B XLR. I’ve tried some other cables with my 650s and either felt they were different/not better or worse, so I just stuck with the stock cable and swapped it to balanced. This particular cable is hardwired for the Phase Reversal Trick.
  • RCA: GAC-1 UltraPro cable with KLEI Copper Harmony connectors (found them for less than Neutriks at Sonic Craft at one point). Had Techflex on it until yesterday but I decided I didn’t like it on there and got rid of it.
  • DC Cable: This used Cable Matters 16AWG until yesterday. I noticed that putting my longer pair of RCAs against the power cable would cause it to hum a little at max volume. Easily solved by moving the cables or putting them perpendicular to it. But… I decided to try some GAC-1 UltraPro remnants I had since they’re heavily shielded. Switching to those yielded perfect results. Absolutely no hum even if I’m trying. The 2.1mm x 5.5mm barrel is just some Xenocam thing and the terminals on the LPSU side are Harbor Freight bulk ass forks.

Pardon the grease and whatever other nonsense is back there.

Edit: Raided the drawer next to me for a couple more:

  • DC Cable: Uses a dismantled Volex 17604 10 B1. Sexy name, right? It’s shielded, and works way better than the below. It occurs to me that I totally didn’t need to make the GAC-1 UltraPro-based cable above, but hey, it was quick.
  • DC Cable: The one with Techflex on it uses Cable Matters 16 AWG. It picks up noise despite being twisted. It’s perfectly fine as long as there’s not a noise-making cable or devices right against it, but hurts my audiophilia.
  • The RCA cables are the same as the ones above, just much longer (~9" vs. ~6’)
  • 1/4" to XLR: Uses Ye Olde Neutrik NC4FXX-B (actually, that might be NC4FX-B looking at it) and the original 6.35mm stereo male from my HD650’s stock cable.
  • This last adapter looks pointless. It’s 4 pole XLR to 4 pole XLR. What gives? Ah ha! That’s the Phase Reversal Trick cable. It reverses the phase on the Right channel for some special magic bass cleanliness in many amps. It doubles as a phase correction cable for my PRT-hardwired cans when I can’t reverse phase using whatever amp it’s connected to.


#4

Here are a few that I’ve built:

Similar in construction to those built by @Torq using Mogami, Canare or Van Damme cables, paracord and a combo 3.5mm/6.3 screw on connector


#5

Some nice looking cables. Is it strictly a hobby or are you looking to try your hand at selling your work?
I’m going to have to track down more info on the phase mod as I don’t know about it, or even if my amp would benefit from it. But I do use balanced HD650s so I’ll take a look around for the info and see if I can find out if I can hear an improvement :wink:

Again, nice work.


#6

Here are a few cables that I’ve made and sold:

image

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I’m planning on making a “How to” for people that want to try their hand at making cables themselves.


#7

I’ve been gathering materials to try my hand at making my own, I look forward to your how to!


#8

Here is a cable I’ve made for my HD650’s. Sounds great and these are fun to make. I think the greatest challenge I had when making these was where to source parts from. What connectors to use, where to get cable for a reasonable price, etc.

Would anyone be interested if I start a thread on equipment sourcing for custom headphone cables? I think this would help a lot of newcomers who don’t know where to buy this stuff! It took me a few days just to find where to buy, and a few months to decide which products I liked best.


#9

I posted a brief description of what the “Phase Reversal Trick” is, and where it might be beneficial, in another thread, here.

And then I have something more akin to a tutorial for doing it, including software configuration (for OS X/macOS at least, I never got around to writing it up for Windows - though the principals are the same) and step-by-step instructions for building the necessary cable here.


#10

I would love this. I’m currently in the midst of sourcing better options. Prices on connectors vary SO MUCH in this hobby!


#11

That would be fabulous! If anyone needs solder advice, i hold a solder inspection card and 30 years of experience


#12

I’ve been looking to do a balanced cable but I was unsure which viablue splitter to get. Is this the SC-4/2 or just the SC-2?


#13

That’s the SC-2


#14

I have created a parts thread here where you can go and share your experience with sourcing parts!


#15

Some very cool builds here, with neat aesthetics!

Here are a few more of my progressively more involved builds:

This is dual 3-pin XLR to Focal Utopia cable, built originally to connect an iFi Pro iCAN to the Utopia. It was one of the first cables I did where instead of using a typical flat or round, four or eight wire, braid (sheathed or unsheathed), I actually wound my own geometry … which is a very fiddly to do properly (I’ll come back to that):

Then I wound up building a bunch of similar cables for Audeze, Abyss and HD800 (as well as another for the Utopia) with a slightly different aesthetic … just so they were all the same:

And then the same fundamental geometry, topology and wire, but a neater, lighter, build terminating in a 1/4" (6.35mm) TRS connector:

Again, these cables are cryogenically processed (largely because I can) and then undergo electron-beam-irradiation to improve flexibility and reduce microphonics.


The actual geometry of these cables is what I’d describe as an “interleaved dual-helix”. It’s fiddly to do, and requires spacers as well as the actual conductors, and an outer retaining wrap to maintain that geometry as part of the build. That’s then covered with a high-density copper matrix shield and sheathed to keep it all together.

Some more advanced stuff to follow in a bit …


#16

Hi,
What are the Canz third from the left (or second from the right). The ones In the middle.
Just curious.


#17

Cardas headphone cable…
I move it between different Canz .
Definitely makes a difference. Significant improvement.
This is 5ft (only) I was able to get jacketed with bare ends for only $115 (seriously) wth Rhodidium mini plug.
He’s retired now, so I can’t get more.
I know the ones with sennheiser plugs at 6” are $400.
Wow. (And you have to send them away) usually 6ft bare ends sell for $180. 5ft or less is all I need for a hand held mobile DAC/amp.


#18

Was wondering if most or any of us use…
Quad Eutectic solder. (Sn, Pb, Cu, Ag)

Yeah, I was told I had to change my solder. So I did…

http://www.cardas.com/solder.php


#19

Sure, though it depends on what I’m actually building and precisely what materials are involved.


#20

Ok, good, cuz I was using pluming solder for years.
Ugh.