Plussound EXO Tri-Copper Review – Spirited

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Pros – 

Excellent ergonomics and build quality, Great resolving power, Dynamic low-end

Cons – 

Upper-bass emphasis doesn’t find synergy with many already warm IEMs

Verdict – 

The Tri-Copper combines excellent ergonomics with a natural presentation, high resolving power and clean background.


Introduction –

When perusing the handful of veteran Custom Cable manufactures in the West, Plussound is a name that immediately springs to mind. They’ve been making upgrade cables in the US for almost a decade, utilising high purity wire and bespoke components to offer both an aesthetic and sonic upgrade. However, since the company’s inception, aggressive competitors have sprung onto the market. In turn, Plussound have recently updated their cable line-up with improved geometry and massive upgrades to ergonomics. Their new Tri-Copper pioneers this transition, demonstrating great creativity and expertise with a price tag to match; its $549 USD asking price making it Plussound’s second most expensive EXO configuration to date. You can read more about their new cables and purchase one for yourself here.

 

Disclaimer – 

I would like to thank Christian from Plussound very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Tri-Copper for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the cable free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Design –

Besides the newly enhanced jacket that I will detail further below, the new Plussound cables are essentially identical to their progenitors in design. That’s not to be taken as a negative as Plussound’s cables have always impressed with their construction; from their beefy but well-relieved plugs and sleek aluminium y-splitter to their bespoke connectors, they feel built to last. This impression is reinforced by a high level of finish with an even braid and heat shrink at all terminations. Their cables are handmade and highly configurable with wide support for various connectors, colour schemes and wiring configurations.

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The Tri-Copper EXO is an especially great looking cable. Plussound’s new insulation is more transparent, providing a lens that showcases the interweaving conductors below. They’ve also made huge steps forward in ergonomics; where Plussound’s previous designs have bothered with their stiff, springy construction, their new insulation is almost impossibly supple. The EXO conforms like few other cables I’ve handled and its loose braid soaks up microphonic noise. I can imagine this makes their higher-end 6 and 8 braid models infinitely easier to live with than before. I spent almost 6-months with the cable and didn’t notice any hardening or discolouration, all photos in this review were taken just prior to writing.

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The ergonomic feel of the cable is especially impressive given that it’s slightly thicker than most competing 4-braid models. Though it is on the larger side, it’s still perfectly portable and compact enough to fit inside the majority of IEM cases. Its aluminium y-split doesn’t weigh down the cable nor does the cable itself prove cumbersome during daily use. Though I had long held Effect Audio’s cables as the gold standard in ergonomics, manufacturers such as PWAudio have demonstrated that they’re not alone at the top, and Plussound has confidently joined their ranks.

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Configured with standard 0.78mm 2-pin connectors and a 3.5mm straight plus, my review unit demonstrated a high level of finish and general construction quality, all backed by a one year warranty. The 2-pin connectors are nicely relieved as is the 3.5mm plug, both further secured with a grub screw. Of note, the screw faces away from the ear on the connectors, avoiding discomfort and imbuing the handmade DIY charm that makes custom cables such as pleasure for enthusiasts. There are no ear guides, but a 90-degree bend near the connectors that directs the cable over the ear. As the cable is so soft, it reliably hugs the back of the ear with no inclination to spring off while providing plenty of stability during more active use.

 

Sound –

I don’t personally believe that the material of the cable should purely dictate expectations but one would have a hard time guessing what kind of sound the Tri-Copper carries. Its internals are stuffed full of goodies, a combination of pure copper, silver and gold plated copper conductors, all in a Litz type 6 configuration, the most sophisticated of its kind. And once connected, its sound is equally unique to match.

 

Tonality –

The Tri-Copper is a lightly warm cable with well-controlled treble, a smooth midrange and generally full-bodied notes. It has a darker background set to a hint of additional lower-treble crunch which brings smaller details to the fore regardless. It also has impressive air that maintains atmosphere and a sense of openness despite its warmer tone. It, therefore, achieves excellent synergy with brighter, thinner earphones though it can also suit mid-bass focussed earphones with a thinner midrange. Testing below was done using the iBasso DX200 with AMP5 and its core qualities extrapolated through pairing with various IEMs.

 

Bass –

The Tri-Copper has a warmer low-end though its qualities aid the retention of fine detail. Extension immediately stands out as improved, with heightened slam on both armature and dynamic driver in-ears. This is reaffirmed by an increase in tightness, producing a solid, concise and hard-hitting presentation. Most notably, however, is the Tri-copper’s fair mid-bass emphasis and slightly lifted upper-bass that serve to increase bass weight and fullness. It isn’t excessive to the extent that notes become bloated or congested rather contributing towards a bolder bass note presentation.

Though added fullness is not usually conducive towards higher detail, the cable’s improved control means that it is still very discerning of fine detail. Bass speed is retained if not improved, and notes remain focused; increased in size while mitigating the exacerbation of bloat or muddiness. Accordingly, the cable yields a larger, fuller and warmer presentation while benefitting bass definition. It’s noticeably more dynamic, augmenting the attached IEM with solidity and scale.

 

Mids –

The Tri-Copper has a slightly richer midrange voicing. This mostly stems from its fuller bass as opposed to elevation of the lower-midrange, in fact, the Tri-Copper’s midrange is very even. Resultantly, the cable doesn’t enhance clarity or alter vocal presence, but the nature of its surrounding frequencies contribute towards a smooth, refined and slightly full-bodied presentation. As a result, thinness and dryness are mitigated and tone is slightly warmed. It isn’t a cable that specialises in absolute transparency, however, as the cable injects additional body, it tends to produce more complete and wholly resolved notes in addition to a very natural vocal reconstruction.

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This is especially effective when paired with brighter earphones as their midrange tends to thin out, losing that fine detail. Instruments such as acoustic guitar and piano are also flattered with organic body and improved resolution of micro-details. Vocals are especially excellent, delivered in a smooth and natural manner. In addition to its enhanced bass, this is no doubt aided by the cable’s controlled higher-frequencies and clean background that directs attention towards the foreground and prevents over-articulation or an excessive sense of forwardness.

 

Highs –

Up top is where the bulk of the Tri-Copper’s technical enhancements can be heard. It increases extension in addition to a slight increase in both lower-treble energy and control. It does so all the while imbuing a more organic treble instrument body. Tested with the Noble Katana, timbre is excellent, delivering some of the most realistic cymbals and high-hats I’ve heard. This can be attributed to the cables smoothing of peaks and dampening of middle-treble, contributing towards a cleaner background and a more refined yet more focused foreground. Through greater linearity, the cable also heightens detail retrieval in addition to permitting more textured notes. Strings and cymbals are especially flattered, presented with more accurate shimmer and decay.

Though middle treble is attenuated, the cable’s excellent extension retains air. Similar to Effect Audio’s cables, I hear a touch of additional upper-treble energy that adds a touch of clarity to treble instruments and brings micro-details to the fore. The cable also endows higher resolution which, in conjunction with its lower and upper-treble emphasis’, contributes to a presentation teeming with nuance without a hint of fatigue. This is where the cable most differs from lower-priced models such as the PWAudio No.5 that provide a similar increase in note body but lack the same kind of resolving power.

 

Soundstage –

The Tri-Copper provides a tangible benefit to soundstage expansion as it has a more laid-back background and greater treble extension that increases perceived space, especially with regards to width. Layers are also more delineated and, as the cable smooths peaks, instrument separation is improved. Its greater linearity yields more accurate imaging, especially within the midrange where notes are more wholly resolved. Due to increases in resolution, background detail retrieval remains high despite their slightly more laid-back presentation. Separation overall is improved, most notably with regards to the high-end though on already warmer IEMs, low-end separation remains the same as the cable’s higher control is set to an increase in bass note size.

Next Page: Pairings, Comparisons & Verdict

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About Author

Avid writer, passionate photographer and full-time student, Ryan's audio origins and enduring interests lie within all aspects of portable audio. An ongoing desire to bring quality audio to the regular reader underpins his reviewer ethos as he seeks to bring a new perspective on the cutting edge and budget dredge alike.

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