Home Accessories Whiplash Audio TwAu Reference cable review – eclipsing the disadvantages

Whiplash Audio TwAu Reference cable review – eclipsing the disadvantages

by Vadim Kolchev

Choosing correct cable for your favorite setup is like adding final chord to a song. It can be a cherry on a cake, and it can be a sh…, well, I’d better not say this in public. Any setup is individual and you cannot say how certain headphones will play with a certain source in advance. The same goes for cable (and probably even more so). The result may be positive, negative or… there may be no result at all. It can also be a matter of mere preference. Other than that, it’s up to customer to choose. Apart from just appearance, cables can be very thin (like Linum) and can be really bulky and monstrous, like Dunu Hulk.

I’m not too fond of audiophile cables, since usability is as important as sound. If the cable is not thick, but slightly stiff, you can live with it, but if it is not convenient you will end up choosing another cable despite the sound you get. That’s why it was a hard decision for me to get a ‘double’ version of TwAu Reference (Eclipse) from Whiplash Audio. Honestly I love this brand and use their iconic TwAg of version 2 and 3 with many headphones. Each version has its own advantages in sound and ergonomics. However cable world, as well as audio world as a whole, has a lot of interesting things and now the trend goes to combination of silver and gold. I have decided to try this cable, so meet the latest and greatest TwAu with gold-plated silver (UPOCC) conductor.

It looks just good, semi-transparent dark isolation of brown color is beautiful and allows to see spiral internals. Despite it consists of 8 cores, the braiding is really good and tight and the cable is not too thick. Ergonomically it’s good as well and given its size it is rather soft.

Cable length is standard — 120 cm (4 feet), the brand traditionally uses quality connectors and you can choose them depending on your needs from the website during the order. In my case, the cable has pentacon 4.4 from Nobunaga labs. Other connectors are Japanese Rosenkranz as well. I have changed them, but not because of convenience or bad quality. Whiplash Audio do not use traditional Y-split with their cables, instead they use a small piece of transparent thermosetting with manufacturer logo (that unfortunately goes off after some use) and wooden clampband. I like this solution. If you wear cable on the back splitters can really hurt, if they are big. The clampband is beautiful and has good harmony with isolation, also has good fixation. Ear hooks in my case have been formed with transparent thermosetting and are convenient. Neither isolation, nor the cable change their color over time. There is a very slight microphone effect but it is almost non-existent due to over ear wear. There is no memory effect, so you can store the cable as you like. It’s prone to tangles.

I don’t speak about accessories, since if you order a cable, you get a cable. Nevertheless, the manufacturer adds clampband with their logo for those who like to use external DACs with sources. It’s of average size, so it might not fit for ALO Audio Continental Dual Mono, but will be good for smaller variants. I don’t like such cases too much, but still it works. As a source I have iBasso DX200 or DX220 together with Stax SRM 001 or 002. Unfortunately the clampbands are not too firm and couple of them are already broken and I’m still to hear about it from the manufacturer.

As for the sound I should again note that the change will be individual with every headphone and I cannot predict the result. Despite that, I have found something common in sound signature in all cases and will speak about it.

Upon the whole the sound is noble, natural, with precision throughout the frequency range, good micro and macro details, with macro details prevailing, good dynamic range, smoothed analogue presentation and good range borders that seem accentuated because of that.

Lows gain better length thickness and weight and do not lose in speed and control. Slams sound more natural and become more textured. On the other hand the dynamic range becomes better and it works well for slams variations. It provides the impression of slight accentuation with weight and thickness.

Mids get more details and are better shaped, becoming more emotional and getting better overtones and decays but not losing musicality at the same time.

Highs get better length and details. Decays become more rich and neat and this brings additional naturalness. Attacks are a little bit softened but the overall sound becomes more full and thick. It sounds a little bit accentuated, but it is not — it’s just better nuances revealing.

The soundstage becomes bigger as well. I can’t say that the changes are drastic (no cable is capable for that), but they are visible. There is more room between instruments and the borders are more distinctive. Positioning is better, as well as layering.

Selected comparisons

Of course we should compare this to Dunu Hulk. It’s more thick because of different braiding, it’s more heavy, less ergonomic and more thick. The cable is more v-shaped and underlines frequency range borders more, sounds more simple and harsher.

ALO Audio Reference 8 A must-have for Andromedas, is slightly more stiff, but at the same time is thinner. The presentation is more condensed, sound is not as whole. The micro details are on the same level, but less neat.

ALO Audio Pure Silver Litz Less thick and more soft cable, offers great balance of micro and macro details, however is still slightly behind in terms of detail retrieval.

Dita the Truth Replacement cable (silver) A thinner and stiffer cable. The main ergonomic problem is in the fact that the cable has memory effect, so you can’t store it as you like. The sound is great. In comparison to subject the presentation is similar, but with more accent on microdetails. In all, it has a good frequency range, layering and neatness that provides sound with needed naturalness.

Linum SuperBax Erognomically it is miles ahead — it’s lighter, thinner and software — like a spider web. The cable is neutral and does not influence sound in any way. It, however, has worse decays and micro details.

Of course, having other Whiplash Audio cables, it’s interesting to compare TwAu with them.

Whiplash Audio TwAg v3 Ergonomically the cable is quite the same, the manufacturer uses a soft conductor and if you order the same configuration as in my TwAu, their shouldn’t be any real difference. However, since I have a standard version of 4 cores, it’s slightly thinner and softer. It is similar in sound, but has less micro details, sounds more whole.

Whiplash Audio TwAg v2 Long ago the manufacturer has used a thinner conductor, so the old version is much thinner and is almost on par with Linum SuperBax due to different braiding, but is stiffer and is similar to TwAu.
The cable reminds of v3 but is less whole, so it reminds more of TwAu with more harsh, energetic sound.

I can suppose that this cable will be good with detailed technical headphones with good soundstage and layering or if you want to add emotions and naturalness to them. For me, the Reference word hints on the fact that the cable is neutral enough not to bring any major changes to overall presentation, but allows to achieve more natural sound.

Translated by: Vadim Kolchev

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