Satin Audio Griffin and Chimera – New Standards

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Satin Audio Chimera

Technical Specifications

  • Wire composition: 26 AWG OCC Type 4 Litz copper + Type 4 Litz silver-plated copper
  • Default configuration: 4-wire
  • Key feature(s) (if any): Kevlar damping core, proprietary Satin Audio hardware and insulation
  • Price: $116.90
  • Website: www.satinaudio.com

Sound Impressions

Despite the stereotypes that exists regarding silver, its inclusion in the Chimera has actually made it a thick, punchy and bass-driven cable. A mid-bass lift brings low-end instruments front-and-centre, and infuses a thickness towards the mids as well. There’s a boldness to instruments that didn’t exist on the Griffin. But, that doesn’t mean the Chimera lacks any definition either. Headroom is admirably maintained, so that bass emphasis never translates to boomy-ness. And, the top-end has been augmented to have a bit more body and texture too. As a result, the nuances and clarity there don’t get drowned out by the bass at all. Rather, it all comes together to create a bold, musical and playfully-coloured sound.

With the Chimera, the bass is the star of the show; lively, full-bodied and muscular. But, its greatest quality is how well it balances wetness and texture. I find this shines most with more constant bass sections like Disclosure’s BOSS or Larnell Lewis’ Change Your Mind. With less dynamic bass lines, the low-end is allowed to have fun guilt-free. Whereas, if you play tracks like Joji’s SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK, where the gradual crescendo of the bass is key to the impact of the song, the Chimera doesn’t fare as well. The bass just sounds present at all times, and doesn’t really build slowly as the track demands. Despite this, the Chimera’s low-end is ultimately as fun as it is well-shaped; thick and proud, but resolved too.

The Chimera’s bass lift adds body toward the mids. Instruments have a certain bellow to their timbre, so electric guitars sound more tube-ish, and female vocals come across a bit heavier. It does make them more pleasing tonally, even if it may not be ideal for those who prefer their vocals more crisp and compact. Thankfully, this fullness doesn’t compromise resolution at all. In fact, it’s superior technically to the Griffin. A more stable background allows notes to pop more as fully-developed images. Nuances that may’ve felt a tad surface-level are more fleshed out here. The Griffin does have the advantage of having a more even, uncoloured tone. But, the Chimera has the edge in sheer power and vibrance.

The Chimera’s top-end is vibrant and lively. But, it’s still refined and smooth too. If your monitor lacks bite, the Chimera won’t necessarily provide that. This is more so a cable that’ll add body and texture to the treble. Hi-hats will sound more three-dimensional. Beyond plain tizz‘s, you’ll hear more of the instrument’s tone. This is particularly true with albums like Benny Greb’s Grebfruit or Cleverson Silva’s Just In Time. The effort they’ve invested into hi-hat selection and stack building is rewarded more here than on the Griffin, for example. In addition, this added body balances the bass out nicely. But, put together, they do produce quite a bit of energy. The image can get pretty saturated with more upbeat, complexly-arranged tracks. So, the Chimera is more ideally paired with calmer-sounding in-ears, than energetic, upbeat ones.

General Recommendations

The Chimera’s coloured sound adds thick, bass-driven musicality. While that may mean that it requires mindful pairing, it also means that it can complement leaner-sounding IEMs exceptionally well. Here are three of its standout attributes:

A warm, full-bodied, rounded bass: The Chimera’s low-end is its driving force. It’s muscular, guttural and fully-stocked. So, if you find your monitors lacking low-end impact or lower-mid thickness, the Chimera is an excellent option to consider.

Superior resolution over the Griffin: The Chimera is a decent step-up over the Griffin in terms of background blackness and resolution. Although it’s not a direct upgrade considering the tonal differences between the two, it’s a suitable upgrade path if you find yourself requiring more transparency and you don’t mind the extra presence down low.

A more complete top-end timbre: The Chimera possesses a complete top-end presentation, where you’re able to hear the tone of instruments like percussion, rather than just the initial attack. Although it doesn’t add sparkle, it complements the low-end fullness very well. And, it’s ideal if you find your in-ear monitors requiring more top-end body and decay.

Obviously, the Chimera’s colouration will not be universally appreciated. Again, mindful pairing will be required. So, if the following three qualities are those your in-ear monitors don’t need any more of, the Chimera may not be ideal for you:

Crisp-sounding, tight instruments: The Chimera’s inherent thickness prevents instruments from sounding super-compact and ultra-defined. Although it resolves instruments capably, it won’t be to the liking of those who prefer their monitors more airy than full. Again, electric guitars will have a more bellowing timbre, female vocalists will sound heavier, etc.

Minimal tonal colouration: The Chimera has a colour to it that stems from its extremes. The lower-mids have more fullness to them, for example. And, the top-end has a bit more sheen to complement the low-end. So, if you want a more linear, transparent-sounding cable for a more laid-back, unadulterated response, the Griffin is more ideal.

An adaptive, transparent bass response: The Chimera’s bass is full, meaty and impactful, but it’s always that way. Although it’s a lot of fun with tracks that simply rely on thump, it’s not as ideal if you have tracks with dynamic range down low. If your playlists typically rely on a gradual build in bass volume to succeed, the Griffin is the more suitable alternative.

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About Author

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

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