The aftermarket IEM/headphones cable market has been growing rapidly in recent years, with more and more companies offering their unique approach and new interesting technologies surfacing regularly. Because of that, the prices of this kind of product have also been raising significantly, reaching multi-thousand dollars quite recently. We’ve got some big players like Effect Audio, Eletech, Erua Audio, and Cross Lambda, the hero of today’s review.
Let’s address the elephant in the room, the new flagship cable by Cross Lambda, the Apollo GB is priced at $6000. Yes, six thousand dollars, you’ve read it correctly. I’ve seen some prices going as far as $3000-$4000 lately, but I’ve never seen an IEM/Headphone cable costing that huge amount of money. Hear me out though. I’ve worked in the big boy stereo market for a while, and I’ve been using many super-expensive audio cables in my life. I’ve been selling flagship cables from the Dutch company called Siltech, which are going for as high as $50000, and there are people that buy these cables. I myself sold so many cables that were more expensive than $6000, that I can’t even count them.
To evaluate this kind of product we must put the word “value” into the drawer and don’t look at it ever again. I’m not gonna tell you that this $6000 cable changed my headphones completely, that I’ve experienced nirvana and my morning coffee never tasted better. Let’s put aside all the different opinions whether this kind of price is even remotely close to being “fair” or “worth it”. You’re not paying for the materials, you’re paying for the technology, for the experience, and most importantly, to push the limits of your multi-thousand-dollars audio system even further.
The Apollo GB is an IEM cable, to begin with, but it made me wonder. I don’t even have a single pair of IEM that is priced remotely close to it, but I’ve got the Hifiman Susvara, coming at $6000, just like the Apollo GB. I then thought to myself – this is the perfect headphone to test that kind of cable with. It’s one of the most (if not the most) detailed headphones in the world, it’s a Summit-Fi gem that offers the highest possible sound quality. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the Apollo GB made specifically for my Susvara, with a 4pin XLR on the other side came into my apartment.
It’s an IEM cable at the end of the day though, so I also got an IEM version of the Apollo GB. Let’s dive into this experience.
Let’s begin with the unboxing experience. This is definitely a bag of mixed-feelings for me. The Apollo GB comes in a wooden box, which might sound really, really good at first. However, for $6000, you’d expect a really high-quality wood and perfect craftsmanship in every single thing, naturally including the box we’re speaking about.
And here things start falling apart a bit. The wooden box feels rather cheap and the craftsmanship is definitely nothing to write a book about. Yes, the intentions were good, a great quality wooden box would have been nice to have, as a display box for example. The box that comes with the Apollo GB won’t be that though.
I’m sorry to see that missed opportunity. This is the most expensive IEM cable to ever hit the market, and the unboxing experience is definitely not on the same level as some of the competitors. Effect Audio and Eletech both provide a much better experience when it comes to the unboxing.
Of course, this is just a tiny aspect of a final product, but it is the price that sets the expectations incredibly high.
What’s great though, is that the Apollo GB uses a conX system by Effect Audio, allowing you to have both mmcx and 2-pin connectors with one cable. When you’re spending $6000 for an IEM cable, you definitely don’t want to get 2 to suit your 2 favorite IEMs, which happen to use different sockets. Actually, I’d go as far as calling the conX system mandatory in this budget.
Design, Build and Comfort
Let’s now focus on the Build Quality and Design of the Apollo GB. There’s always that discussion about how a cable should look like to feel “premium” enough. So, having that in mind, the Apollo GB looks…well, alright.
The XLR plug is a well-known Neutrik, but I have to admit one thing here. I specifically asked for this kind of termination and having in mind that the Apollo GB is an IEM cable in its core means that it is not a “standard” type of termination (who uses IEMs with XLR plug instead of 4.4mm Pentaconn?). I’m aware of the fact that my request has been rather unconventional and they simply used a well-known, good-quality plug, and for all of you wanting 3.5mm or 4.4mm plugs, you’ll probably be getting some custom-made, super high-quality connectors, just like with other models from Cross Lambda. I’ll input my photo of my Future Jr here for you to get an idea.
The splitter is a black, metal splitter known from other Cross Lambda models. While you might be right wishing for something more premium for their flagship, this splitter is still great and very comfortable, and it sports the proud “Made In Thailand” phrase.
The cable itself is a type 4s Litz made of 4 wires. The part from the splitter to the headphones is made of two wires per channel in a dark-green braid. I’m not gonna lie, I absolutely love this color, like all earth tones. It is questionable if it’ll fit your headphones or IEMs, but you can probably customize the color to match your request perfectly. South of the splitter, the cable is braided altogether, so you don’t have to worry that the braid will undo by itself, which has happened to me a couple of times with some aftermarket cables.
Let’s talk about comfort for a while. It is quite simple this time – the Apollo GB is fairly comfortable. Nothing tiring, nothing extraordinary. It is a bit stiff, but nothing to write a book about. I don’t have any problems while using it, it’s not too thick nor too stiff, but it’s not Forza Audioworks level in terms of comfort.
The IEM version of the Apollo GB uses conX connectors, just like I stated above. On the other end, there’s a custom palladium 4.4mm connector. The connector looks very high-quality, and I’ve got absolutely no complaints about it.
Cross Lambda has always been proud of its shielding technology, and the Apollo GB is a culmination of all these years looking for the best shielding possible.
Thanks to that, the Apollo GB uses an “Absolute Shielding Technology Pro”, which is a Quadruple Shielding Consist of Dupont Medical UF-PVC, Braided Brass
Shield Jacket, Nylon Kevlar Jacket, and a 6000 Series AL Shell.
Its job is to ensure a complete shielding of the cable from all the external interferences, to achieve an absolute silent background and unmatched purity of the signal. We all know that interferences are a big no-no in the cable perspective.
Here’s a word from Cross Lambda: “Apollo G is one of the most successful IEM Upgrade cables in eliminating noises without compromise and we are pushing this concept to a further step by using denser material in braided structure to improve the performance while remaining flexible and comfortable to use.”
Apart from the impressive shielding technology, the Apollo GB also uses some great materials inside, such as 7N-HPPPOCC Palladium Plated Pure Copper, 7N-HPSPOCC Silver Plated Pure Copper and 7N-HPOCC Pure Copper. This kind of tribrid technology has a job to ensure the highest quality signal going into your headphones. No gold plating or pure silver this time, and there’s most certainly a reason for that.
This is what the manufacturer has to say about the choice of materials: “The conductor structure of Apollo GB Consist of 4 Forms of combination between Copper, Silver, and Palladium. With the precise ratio calculation of each material, structure and distance between each strand resulted in each frequency representation of Apollo GB precision.”
Just as I said previously, I actually got two Apollo GB’s – one for the Susvara, and one for IEMs, which I mainly use with my Fir Audio Kr5 and Xe6. I won’t separate this review into two different sound descriptions, as both cables give me the same results, so I’ll sum them up in one, in-depth description.
So, what should we expect from a $6000 cable? A very important note to begin with – don’t expect any magic. It won’t make your $1000 headphones the same level as the Susvara, it is definitely not that drastic.
The Apollo GB is definitely meant for high-end headphones and IEMs to begin with. To truly understand its potential and design, we have to have a system that will show us as many details as possible. Then, the Apollo GB will mark its presence immediately. To ensure understanding this product as best as I can, I mainly used my XIAudio K-DAC, Feliks Envy 300B amplifier, Hifiman Susvara, Fir Audio Xe6, and Kr5 together with many different sound sources and different DAPs.
The first aspect of the sound that comes to mind after trying the Apollo GB is definitely the black background. Here comes that quadruple shielding technology, and it works wonders. You’ve got a feeling that every single sound is incredibly isolated from the pitch-black background. This helps improve basically everything else about the sound of your headphones, as you don’t have anything “unwanted” in your signal anymore.
This is THE selling point of this cable, just an insane amount of isolation from the noise. I always wanted the best possible materials from my cables, wishing for a specific sound type of the materials like silver, gold, etc. However, after having the Apollo GB for a few months now, I came to the realization of how important proper shielding is. You may think “well, a bit of background noise, doesn’t bother me, especially when the music is playing”, and trust me, I’ve been there, done that. It’s not just that though, it is just separating your music from everything that doesn’t belong in your audio signal, something that gets to you when you hear it truly.
So, the Apollo GB sounds marvelously clean and airy because of that party trick. Just using great conductors and slapping a $6k price tag wouldn’t have been a really wise idea, but Cross Lambda luckily understood that from the beginning. They knew they have to offer something “State of The Art” level, and they delivered. Back to the sound – I gave the Apollo GB to a few of my audiophile friends to try with my Susvara, to see their reaction. Every single one of them was blown away by its sound, especially after seeing its rather underwhelming unboxing experience, and a just-okay build.
So, is the Apollo GB better than other cables that I compared it to, such as Forza Audioworks Noir HPC, Erua Tawa, Astral Acoustics Eclipse, etc? Yes, it definitely is. No other cable comes really close to it when it comes to sound. Is the difference so big that it’s worth paying $6000? That will hugely depend on your audio budget, but in most cases – not really. It would have been a very easy recommendation for me if it was priced around $2000, but $6000 Is just incredibly expensive.
But, if you have a lot of money and want the absolute best, the Apollo GB should get your attention to at least try it. I know that $6000 is spare change, and if you’re one of those people, I definitely recommend trying this cable and hearing the quality by yourself. If you’re not a millionaire, spending that $6000 on better IEMs, headphones, DAPs, amplifiers, or DACs will give you a better deal than spending that much on cable alone.
This could sound pretty harsh, but that is totally not my intention. I’ve tried and sold a lot more expensive audio cables (big boy stereo) in the past, and the $6000 price tag is not that shocking to me actually, but it is definitely new in the headphones market. Nonetheless, this is by far the best-sounding IEM/Headphone cable that I’ve tried in my life, and there’s no doubt about it. For this fact alone – the Apollo GB is worth recommending if you have loads of money.
Let’s dive a bit more into the sound. The timbre of the instruments is very, very natural and lifelike, as the Apollo GB doesn’t really try to alter the sound signature of the Headphones or IEMs you’ll be using it with. This is what a Summit-Fi cable should do to be honest, as there is plenty of choice of cables that do sound in a specific “way” on the market. Nonetheless, the Apollo GB is all about that black background, incredible detail retrieval and lifelike resolution.
The Apollo GB definitely has qualities of a high-end cable, there’s no doubt about it. Whether you like to listen to rock, jazz or classical music, its outstanding, natural tone paired with class technical capabilities will make every music genre sound as best as possible. You pay a lot of money for it, but you’re getting an outstanding sound quality as well.
The Cross Lambda Apollo GB is the most expensive cable in the headphone audio market. While its unboxing experience and build quality leave some things to be desired, its sound quality is definitely on the highest possible level right now.
Of course, I’m not going to recommend spending $6000 on a cable, unless you are a very wealthy person. But if you are, and you’re all about the best possible audio quality, the Apollo GB should definitely be on your list.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Hifiman Susvara, HE1000se, Fir Audio XE6, Fir Audio Kr5, Unique Melody MEST, Feliks Audio Envy, XiAudio K-DAC, iBasso DX170,
Big thanks to Cross Lambda for providing the Apollo GB for this review. I wasn’t paid or asked to say anything good or bad about this product, all of the above is just my personal, unbiased opinion.