Replacement Hi-fi cables are something that is always not enough for anyone. Whenever there is a new cable release, Audiophiles likes to have it in his collection. I have at least 10/12 cables right now still I want to have more and more cables. A few years ago, buying a good cable under budget was a daydream but in 2019 it is a different scenario. Under 50$ ISN Audio cables are my personal favorite, their 8 core cables are exceptionally good. A few months ago, INS Audio has released a 4 core version, i.e. ISN Audio S4. ISN Audio S4 Cable is their top of the line product from the price point of view, and I would like to thank Penon Audio for sending me a unit for this review. Let’s try ISN Audio S4 and see it justified its price or not.
Specifications of ISN Audio S4 Cables
- Length – 1.2M/ 4ft,
- Core – 4, single strand is 63 cores, a total of 252 cores,
- Conductor – Single Crystal Copper Silver-plated,
- Coating – PU/Teflon,
- Connector – 2 pins 0.78 mm or MMCX,
- Termination – 2.5mm Balanced, 3.5mm Single-Ended, and 4.4 Balanced,
- Weight – 25 grams approx,
- Resistance – 0.1 ohms (Test instrument – HTC Instruments DM88)
Buying Link – Here
IEMs used with Origin in this review
Presentation, Design & Build Quality of ISN Audio S4 Cables
As always, ISN Audio S4 Cable comes in the same blue paper box like other ISN Audio products. The cable is visible through the transparent window on the box. All the specifications printed backside of the box, the cable has been secured using foam inside the box.
ISN Audio S4 cable is a 4 core cable as its name suggests. 4 soft lightweights, 24 AWG individual wires have been hand-braided till splitter, then every two wires separately twisted till the MMCX plugs. Braiding is perfect and not so tight. The matching black carbon fiber 3.5 plug and splitter are neither too heavy nor too light-weighted. The whole cable feels very soft in hand. The rounded chin slider is the only bulky part in ISN Audio S4. Both the 3.5 mm and MMCX male plugs are gold plated and good in quality. ISN Hi-Fi branding has been done on the 3.5 mm plug outer shell.
The only objection is the cone-shaped outer shells of the MMCX plugs. Once attached to the IEM, they are very difficult to hold and pull out due to that shape. The silicone memory part is soft too but not aligned around the ear properly. After applying a little heat from my hairdryer and keep holding them till it cools down, it returned to its proper shape. The overall design & build is good but could have better. I have opened the 3.5 mm and MMCX to inspect further, the wires are properly soldered with the plugs.
After spending more than 50$ on a replacement cable, everyone expects good improvements in his existing IEMs but when reviewing cables, I always mention that these improvements are very mild and have hard to notice instantly. No this is not the situation with ISN Audio S4 cable. Improvements are there and can be easily noticeable by anyone.
The first noticeable improvement/ change that can be noticed in the lower frequency part. SPC cables usually reduce boominess from the lower frequency part but with ISN Audio S4 the quantity of lower frequency has been reduced but the quality enhanced drastically. The sub-bass region reduced with a good margin. So ISN Audio S4 could have a better replacement cable for IEMs with over-powering bass.
ISN Audio S4 has added more texture in the Mids of my existing IEMS and now they feel less recessed. It has also reduced the warmth from the Mids-forwarded IEMs and sounding more transparent than before. In higher frequency part with ISN Audio S4, both presence and brilliance are more prominent, as a result, trebles are sounding sparkling in comparison with the stock cables. Though the lower frequency part has been extended further, harshness nowhere near.
Sound-stage, instrument separation and detail retrieval where ISN Audio S4 just nailed the other cables available in this price range. All my existing IEMs with ISN Audio S4 sounding more crisper and the added holographic stage is a nice experience.
Effect Audio Vouge Virtuoso Vs ISN Audio S4
Sonically both these cables are almost similar. ISN Audio S4 doesn’t have any boost in lower frequency part like Virtuoso. Other than that It’s very hard to tell the difference between them. The ISN Audio S4 cable available for half of the price of EA Vogue Virtuoso so ISN Audio S4 is a clear winner here. Another thing I don’t like in EA cables, over time EA cables becomes stiffer but ISN Audio S4 after using for at least 4/5 months still feels like soft in hand.
ISN Audio Cables are undoubtedly a bliss for budget audiophiles. ISN Audio S8 was my previous favorite under 50$ price range but now I can easily say that ISN Audio S4 cable is one of the best SPC cables under 100/150 $ price range too.