FORZA AUDIOWORKS NOIR HYBRID HPC - IMPRESSIONS
Special thanks to Forza Audioworks for sending me this cable for review. Admittedly when asked I kind of felt reluctant. I considered it not an easy task as while I have had several headphone cables over the years, I have not really taken them too seriously. Sure, I do like the slight increase of performance they offer but as a custom, they are one of the last components I worry about upgrading. I actually hear bigger differences between cables connecting my DAC and amps but there are a myriad of reasons why that can be so; none of which point to any conclusions of headphone cables making less of a difference. At the back of every enthusiast’s mind though is ‘what changes can I make to get the best out of my system and at what point does it make more sense to just buy new gear’. It is that thought that reasonably makes, in my opinion, spending uber amounts of cash on the fanciest headphone cable useless. Enter the Flagship headphone cable from Forza Audioworks; the Noir HPC, coming in at a sensible 250 USD.
I had the cable terminated single ended for my tube amps and made to be used for the Odin which also works for my ZMF Atticus. The Noir HPC Hybrid cable is made of UPOCC copper and silver, anodized CNC cut aluminum. From their website:
“- High purity, 8 strands of 26AWG cryo 7N UPOCC copper/silver hybrid wire in semi-Litz geometry with PE insulation. NOT silver plated (SPC), but true hybrid UPOCC silver/copper wire. Blend of the best materials available for superior sound experience and ergonomics.
– Proprietary 4x2 geometry for superior EMI reduction and reduced stereo crosstalk without the need for bulky screening braid altering flexibility of cable.
– Highly flexible thanks to custom formulated PE insulation, 56 individual strands in 7 groups in semi-Litz geometry. With addition of our proprietary braid the cable is pure pleasure to use both at home and on the go.
– Exquisite, elegant black design finished with black anodized, CNC aluminum splitter with laser engraved Forza AudioWorks logo. Just look at this beauty!
– 100% handmade in Poland with meticulous care and proudly covered by 3-year warranty.
– CUSTOMISATION: No matter if it is 1m or 5m, Switchcraft or Viablue, balanced or not, we can do it. Every cable is custom tailored to fit your unique personal needs. If you cannot find a setup for you, just write us email”
It is said to be their best product. Let’s see if it is now my best headphone cable (not much competition in my stable)…
This cable definitely feels and looks premium. It is flexible and the sleeving and brading is top notch. It far outclasses my other cables.
Words like PRAT and full-bodied are used on the website to describe the sound of the cable. I honestly don’t know if I hear it like that. It can’t call this headphone cable dense and punchy but it’s not laid back. However, I did hear the following:
What I noticed about the bass with the Forza Flagship is that it sounded slightly more textured but didn’t increase any presence. In fact compared to most of the other cables, the bass seemed only slightly less warm but a shade cleaner.
The nice thing about this cable is the midrange that seemed just a shade bigger and clearer. It is full in regards to “presence” not thickness, and a tad forward without ever darkening up the upper mids and lower treble. I kept wanting to say that I heard a smidgen and minute bit of grain in the midrange but that could be because my Peptide cable is smoother sounding yet less open and clear.
The treble follows suite of the midrange but while the midrange to me seems like what this cable allows to sound forward and a little open, the treble seems balanced without sounding dark. It is overall decently clear in the treble and detailed.
The Forza Flagship cable gives a decent soundstage presentation and made the headphones sound slightly more open compared to stock. While I didn’t hear an increase in dynamics, I did experience what sounded like more energy overall and I don’t find the cable to sound laid back and smooth. Clarity is good as well as detail but I did hear a larger difference when changing my stock HD650 cable and its upgraded Silver cable. That could be because the stock cable of the HD650 is pretty bad but in it’s case the differences were more dramatic than what I am experiencing with the Forza; all be them noticeable and appreciable nonetheless.
vs. Stock Kennerton Odin Cable:
The Stock Kennerton cable in comparison is very slightly V-Shaped with not much extension in the treble. The Forza opens up the midrange just a little bit and makes it sound more clear. The Forza sounds very evenly balanced without much warmth but decent clarity in comparison. Pretty easy to call the Forza the better cable on this one.
vs. Peterek Silver Peptide Fusion cable
Tough call. Actually they sound extremely similar in tonal characteristics. The bass seems slightly more focused on the Forza Audioworks cable while the Peptide sounds just a hair warmer. The Peterek modded cable is very close though. None of these differences are night and day but comparing the Forza to the Peterek Fusion cable makes me feel like it is only a very slight upgrade. The upper mids sound just slightly more open on the Forza. The Peptide fusion cable is a little thicker sounding but with the same midrange presentation. It does sound a little more laid back than the Forza flagship.
vs. ZMF Stock Cable
The ZMF cable is slightly thicker sounding. Also again the Forza sounds clearer in the midrange. The separation is very slightly less fuzzy on the Forza as well with better distinction. The ZMF Stock cable is just a tad bit warm sounding and I would kind of want an even brighter cable for the Atticus but that is due to the dark nature of the headphone itself. The Forza would most definitely be an upgrade cable here.
I would say that were I in the market for an affordable headphone cable that sounds good but doesn’t break the bank then I would definitely purchase this one. The differences are not transformative but they are audible.