I would like to thank Christian from plusSound for providing the X8 GPC in return for my honest opinion.
PlusSound started making cables around 2012, and has consistently been growing since then. Ater rapidly making their name for high quality cables, they successfully collaborated with Unique Melody to provide upscale stock cables within a few months of their conception. PlusSound slowly started expanding there workforce, allowing them to reach a wider audience through a network of distributors. Not long after, they started looking forward to new lines of development, resulting in the well-received Cloud Nine amplifier, and more recently their 3D printed earplugs. From what I understand, there not leaving it there, but will continue to expand their horizon in 2017 with even more products. But for now, we’ll focus on one of their cables: their gold-plated copper cable, a smooth sounding cable with a very natural tonality.
plusSound X8 Gold-Plated Copper
Alloy: Gold-plated copper
Conductors: 8 braid
Construction: Litz construction
MRSP: $825 (4-braid = $400)
PlusSound delivers the cable in a stylish matte black box with the recognizable plusSound logo. Inside the box, you’ll find the cable comfortably seated on a foam bed for protection. Besides the cable, there’s a greeting card with product information and a plusSound band for stacking dac/amps.
Build & Design
With its 8 wires, there’s no denying the GPC is a full-sized cable that you’ll feel, and others will notice. I’m not sure if people usually don’t notice the large customs and cables I wear when walking around, but with the GPC I got a few remarks. Nothing negative, just basically acknowledging its existence. ‘Huh, fancy cable’.
The beige brown wires are on the thicker side, so in the full glory of its 8 wires configuration its among the larger cables I own. For someone coming off a stock OFC it might be a significant difference, although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m accustomed to upgrade cables and personally enjoy a quality 8-braid in looks and size, so I don’t mind its presence. Despite its thicker size, the cable remains flexible and has good ergonomics for practical use. It doesn’t pass on microphonics during portable use except when rubbing on hard surfaces, but nothing out of the ordinary for an upgrade cable. Overall, while the cable might be heavier than usual, in remains easy in its use.
The wires are braided together tightly in a cube braid, the craftsmanship is very good. The connectors and splitter are all in a matching matte black. The GPC comes with plusSound’s own gold-plated jack with golden screws, finished off with the plusSound name and logo. The splitter is a similar matte black color with golden screws. It’s somewhat sober compared to the wooden or metal splitters other brands use, but there’s also a certain elegance to the simplicity. The cable is finished off with matching connectors with golden screws on the outside, and the PS logo on the inside.
The GPC has a smooth midcentric tonality, with a focus on tonal accuracy. While the tonality is on the warmer side, the cable doesn’t sound overly warm. It’s an inherent warmth in the midrange that gives it a natural sound, rather than a warm atmosphere due to an enhanced mid-bass presentation. Compared to a stock OFC copper cable, the GPC has slightly more body in the midrange, and a transparent upper midrange. The midrange has greater resolution, resulting in better definition and air around individual notes. As such, notes aren’t overly colored or thicker than neutral. More importantly, the mid-bass isn’t overly warm and very well controlled. This results in a clean stage and accordingly, very good separation. This makes for a detailed yet smooth presentation. While the GPC doesn’t necessarily affect the width of the stage, it offers nice depth to the presentation.
While there are more expensive cables that might offer a higher resolution, the GPC’s focus is on tonality, and dare I say – it outperforms most of those in this regard. This is where the GPC excels: by simply having a very natural presentation, with an accurate instrument tonality.
The GPC has a relatively neutral bass in overall quantity, leaning slightly towards north of neutral, specifically its mid-bass. There’s slightly more mid-bass compared to sub-bass, resulting in a warm and softer tone, rather than emphasizing a deep or punchy bass. This results in a natural, lifelike bass; an instrumental bass, rather than a hard-hitting punchy bass suitable for electronic music. As such, bass lines are mostly characterized by a satisfying tone and definition. In addition, the GPC offers a nicely resolved mid-bass, with good control. This isn’t an overly warm mid-bass, which benefits the airiness of the stage. Similarly, the sub-bass quantity is not enhanced, but tighter in its definition and positioning.
The GPC shines in the midrange. Not by coloring the signature with warmth or size, but by sounding natural, smooth, and accurate. This is a midrange that has just the right amount of warmth and density to sound natural. The midrange isn’t as forward and warm as something like SilverFi’s IEM-R2, but at the same time it doesn’t impose its signature on the iem as much. It might not be as emotional, but it provides a more uncolored sound, which can equally be seen as an advantage. There’s an inherent warmth to the midrange that not only adds smoothness to the sound, but aids in recreating an emotional vocal reproduction. The lower midrange has enough presence, but isn’t overly forward. Similarly, the upper midrange sounds clear and beautiful, without overpowering the lower and center midrange. The tonal balance throughout the lower to upper midrange is simply very good. Accordingly, the midrange sounds natural, but also quite clean and airy.
The vocal presentation is smooth, with a nice bit of body and density, making the GPC my preferred cable of choice for iems that already excel here like Zeus or the 8.2. Similarly, the upper midrange can be considered uncolored, but transparent. This adds a nice bit of realism, a natural form of clarity, rather than an artificially brightened upper midrange. Cables like Labkable’s Samurai III or the Rhapsodio Golden add a bit of brightness here that gives it more clarity, though sacrificing on naturalness and accuracy. While I’ll use something like that to listen to electronic music with the S-EM9 or NT6pro, the GPC has a tone that brings the best out of instruments from an audiophile perspective, by sounding accurate.
The GPC offers a smooth treble presentation, an essential finish for its natural presentation that fits very will in the complete picture. While the treble isn’t laidback altogether, it has a warmer tone that sounds tonally accurate. Snare drums or cymbals can easily sound too bright, especially with iems that might have a brighter treble like the NT6pro or Samba. While a brighter treble can improve the note articulation, a warmer, smoother treble will sound more coherent, bringing the music together rather than dissecting it in tiny pieces.