Lavricables Ultimate V3 Cable Review – Sony Goes Silver

Vs Kimber Axios. While it’s not entirely fair to compare an $800 16-wire cable to a value-priced 4-wire silver cable, I consider the Axios Cu as the gold standard of MDR-Z1R cables (of those I’ve heard anyway), and as such it’s interesting to hear the differences between the two.

Physically the build quality and aesthetics of the Axios are a class apart – with hand carved exotic wood terminations (including locking connectors), and a unique braiding design that splits the left and right cables without a physical Y-splitter. Ergonomically the Axios is also twist free, but is much thicker and heavier than the Lavricables Ultimate, and also more microphonic. If you dislike bulky cables, the Lavricables Ultimate will be the better choice.

Sonically the differences between the two are more about preference than technical performance. Compared to the Axios, I hear the Lavricables Ultimate to have more sub-bass emphasis with leaner midbass, whereas Axios is more balanced between the two. Lavricables Ultimate has the tighter bass with faster decay, while Axios is slightly warmer with a more natural decay.

The midrange notes present as lighter and airier with the Lavricables Ultimate, with similarly excellent resolution between the two but fractionally more glare in the upper mids with the Lavricables Ultimate. The Axios is a touch fuller and wetter by comparison, with a less extruded upper midrange. Treble notes are lighter and nimbler with better delineation and more prominent edges with the Lavricables Ultimate, where Axios treble is more relaxed and not quite as forward by comparison. The two cables present similar stage width and depth, with the Lavricables offering an overall lighter, more neutral presentation to the slightly fuller, warmer, but not quite as delicate Axios.

Verdict. While it might not be as aesthetically integrated as the stock cable, or as beautifully made as the Axios Cu, the Lavricables Ultimate has a unique and pristine appearance with superior ergonomics to both. 

Sonically the Lavricables Ultimate delivers on the promise of a good silver conductor: smooth, silky and highly resolving, with excellent extension at both ends. It tones down the warmth of the MDR-Z1R, making it tighter and bringing it closer to what some would consider a ‘reference tuning’, yet retains some of the big, bold notes and clarity that make the Sony such an easy listen. 

It also opens up the stage, blurring the lines between the closed-back design and an open-back alternative, and takes the Sony’s already excellent technicalities up a notch. Most importantly, it corrects the most obvious sonic flaw, the upper treble peak, without introducing any significant flaws of its own. What it won’t do is add weight or warmth, or romanticize the sound of the headphone any further, so if that’s what you’re after, there are better alternatives.

The Lavricables Ultimate is an easy recommendation as an alternative to Sony’s comparably average stock cable for the MDR-Z1R. It won’t make the Sony sound as warm, full or powerful as it does with the Axios Cu, but for those whose tastes veer more towards classical, ballroom jazz and intricate acoustic music, you’ll find much to like about its delicately refined presentation. 

At one third the cost of the Axios, it also represents great value, and makes me wonder how much more refinement and resolution this wonderful headphone is capable with Lavricables’ more advanced Master and Grand alternatives.      

Continue to Lavricables Ultimate for Sony IER-Z1R…

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.

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