Something there is in the minds of serious audiophiles and music lovers that can’t resist trying to make good things better—a philosophy that, in a nutshell, is the guiding force behind the North Carolina-based firm Moon Audio. Those of you who have met and talked with Moon’s leader Drew Baird will already understand what I mean by this statement, but for the benefit of those who have not yet met Mr. Baird, let me simply say that he is one of those individuals who loves the challenge of finding ways to tweak and improve what many regard as top-tier products. Accordingly, Moon Audio makes a plethora of specialty high-performance audio cables, many of them tailor-made to fit the often unique requirements of high-performance headphone and earphone enthusiasts. A classic case in point would be the Moon Audio Silver Dragon V1 IEM cable set that is the subject of this review.
As those of you who have followed Playback reviews for a while know, we typically consider today’s top-tier custom-fit in-ear monitors the very highest expressions of the earphone art form. But good though today’s top-of-the-line in-ear monitors are, there can still—as Moon Audio sees things—still room for improvement. With this thought in mind, Moon has done one of the things it does best, which is to great a set of ultra high-quality (but not insanely high-priced) signal cables that can be installed as drop-in replacements for the good (but perhaps not great) signal cables that originally shipped with our in-ear monitors. Happily, three of the top in-ear monitor makers—JH Audio, Ultimate Ears, and Westone—happen to use a common signal-pin arrangement on their monitors, which means Moon can create one common model that fit’s all three. Even so, customization options abound, so that users can specify exactly what type of connector(s) they want on their cables, the length of the cable, and so on.
Our review sample of Silver Dragon V1 IEM cable came fitted with JH Audio/Ultimate Ears/Westone connectors of the earphone end, and with a gorgeous, Oyaide right-angled 1/8-inch mini-jack plug on the other. The cable sells for $185, which might at first seem steep until you consider the fact that top JH Audio, Ultimate Ears, and Westone monitors sell for around if not over $1000. When you’ve already spent that kind of money, spending another $185 to get a noticeable increase in sound quality starts to make sense—even though some might consider it an exercise in “gilding the lily.” Ah, but this raises the most central question of all: does Moon Audio’s Silver Dragon V1 IEM cable really make a significant sonic difference? Read on, for answers.
Moon Audio Silver Dragon V1 IEM cables, highlights:
• Length Options: Moon’s IEM cables are offered in three standard lengths: 48”, 64” (+$15), and 80” (+$30).
• IEM Connection Options: Moon’s IEM cables are available with terminations to fit either JH Audio/Ultimate Ears/Westone monitors (same connector type fits all three), or to fit Livewire monitors (+$10). Moon is also working to develop connection options to Shure, Sennheiser IE8, FitEars, and other earphones and in-ear monitors.
• Source Connection Options: Moon’s IEM cables are offered with an extensive range of source component connectors, as noted below:
o Premolded right angle mini-plug
o Oyaide straight mini-plug (+$10)
o Oyaide right-angled mini-plug (+$10)
o RSA (Ray Samuels Audio) connector to fit 4-pin output jacks found RSA’s Predator and SR-71B Blackbird amplifiers (+$10)
o Mini 4-pin male XLR connector for adapter systems (+$10)
o iBasso hirose connector (+$20)
o Dual 3-pin male XLR connectors (+$25)
o Dual 3-pin female XLR connectors (+$25)
o Furutech Rhodium-plated XLR connectors (+$125)
• Cable Construction: Moon describes the Silver Dragon IEM cable’s construction in this way:
“The Silver Dragon IEM is a coaxial design using a 99.99998% UP-OCC Stranded Silver 26AWG center conductor for the positive leg. The center conductor uses the same Kevlar reinforcing as the other Dragon cables. The center conductor is wrapped concentrically by a 99.99998% UP-OCC silver-plated single crystallized UP-OCC pure copper stranded 26AWG gauge conductor with 7N purity 99.99998%. The left and right signal cables run parallel to each other resulting in a very low inductance. Both signal jackets are polyethylene and the cable is extremely flexible yet very resilient and resistant to flex failure.”