I have been very lucky to be sent some Atlas Zeno headphone cables, hand-built in Kilmarnock, initialled and packed by ‘BM’. And this is the first key thing with Atlas Cables. Rather than relying on bulk production of price restricted cables, Atlas assemble their cables by hand using a cold crimped method called ‘Metlik’. It is solder free, therefore more consistent, direct, air tight and delivers metal on metal connectivity. There is no compromise both here, or on price.
The cables are really nice to feel. The cable itself is dark red in colour, with silver coloured terminations to gold coloured speaker jacks. The cable is stiffer than you may usually expect making them certainly more durable than others but possibly too stiff for some; for me too stiff to be portable but fine in the lounge, office or relaxed listening environment. The cable inside is (OCC) Ohno Continuous cast copper conductors and this is where the money is. The cable comes with various terminals including 3.5mm & 6.3mm amplifier jacks and XLR terminations. The headphone end can be left/ right 2.5mm, 3.5mm or mini XLR.
I have the standard two ended 3.5mm ‘portable’ cable and a 6.3mm amplifier style cable into a split headphone set-up. I have run the cables through for a few days so that they are correctly prepared. This is advised by Atlas and as it happens I have their run-in CD which consists of a series of different frequency notes set on repeat.
My review set-up for this is on a MAC, with various high bit rate tracks, and few familiar tracks. They run through the J River music player through an Acoustic Research UA-1 DAC headphone amp (see my review UA-1 DAC). I am the listening to the cables through the Oppo PM-2s (my review here PM-2) of which I am familiar and enjoy greatly.
I have also been listening to my ‘portable’ set-up, my Nexus 5 into the Oppo HA-2 (see my review here HA-2) and then through the rather good PM-3s.
These Atlas Zeno cables are a must listen if you are serious about your headphones
It is very difficult to point to specific on improvements from these cables. They are sold as an upgrade and there is sonic quality to be realised here. I have personally found the better improvement from the 3.5mm cable on my portable set-up, this maybe because the cable that comes with the PM-3s is inferior, though I’ve had no complaints previously. The sound is definitely fuller and more relaxed in my ears, and I am happy about this. The HA-2 amplifier is working less hard, indeed I have interestingly had to turn down the volume from the set-up, presumably because the cables are less resistive. But overall this is a real improvement, more detail, a full sound and a nice outcome.
Turning to my other set of cables running into the Oppo PM-2s, the replacement cable delivers less clear cut results for me. I am wondering if the Oppo PM-2 cable is of a sufficient level to render upgrade less clear cut. But still I have kept the Atlas Zeno cables going into the PM-2s on other equipment that I have and the sound is familiarly excellent. The 3m cable is sufficient for my needs and the recent receipt of the T+A R2000 Series has led me to bend my ear further into the PM-2s with the Atlas upgrade. It is all very nice indeed.
These Atlas Zeno cables are a must listen if you are serious about your headphones and are a worthy upgrade, if you have the equipment to hear it and the money to fund it! I’m not switching back anytime soon and the distinctive cables look like they may outlive most of my equipment, and me!
Atlas Zeno Price Points
Atlas Zeno 1:1 (standard termination – stereo cable 3.5mm )
1.50m £ 145.00
2.00m £ 155.00
2.50m £ 165.00
3.00m £ 175.00
3.50m £ 185.00
4.00m £ 195.00
Atlas Zeno 1:2 (standard termination)
1.50m £ 215.00
2.00m £ 225.00
2.50 m £ 235.00
3.00m £ 245.00
3.50m £ 255.00
4.00m £ 265.00
Atlas Zeno 1:2 (custom termination) = Atlas Zeno 1:2 (standard termination) + £50 (available on request)
* Custom lengths available upon request. All prices include UK VAT at £20%
For more information, visit the Atlas Cables website here Atlas Zeno link