Cross Lambda Direction Neo is an IEM cable made of pure copper. Its price starts at 4590THB, which is about $145.
There are two groups of people in the audio world. The first one says that cables don’t make a difference, and the second one is trying to convince the first group that they do.
In my opinion, analog cables surely make a difference, but it all depends on the earphones or headphones we’re using. Some are more sensible for the cables, some less.
Many of you know Bqeyz company and their two IEM pairs, Spring 1 and Spring 2. The first one is really sensible for all wire changes. It can become a bass beast from a very bright headphone while the newer model is not affected much.
The main vision of Cross Lambda for their cables is to keep the earphone’ original sound signature and improve their quality. It’s not about changing your IEM sound signature, but changing your favorite pair to an even better one.
Packaging and build quality
There’s not much to say about the packaging. The only two things that are arriving with the cable are the box and small pouch. I would really like to show you the box, but, sadly, I probably lost it when I was moving to a new apartment. Luckily, I still have the carrying pouch. It’s linen, with a logo at the front. It can easily fit the IEMs inside it, so sometimes I’m taking it with me, especially when I can’t take a hard case.
In terms of build quality, the Cross Lambda product is excellent. Connectors and splitter are made of metal, in very accurate size. They’re not too big nor too small. All of those components are painted in black on my cable. On the Cross Lambda site, you can choose the splitter color from three options, black, silver, and copper.
Cable by itself is soft and flexible, but if you’d like to give more attention to it, it might feel pretty stiff in the fingers. That’s caused by the weave, each strand is keeping still, but in my opinion, it’s a good thing.
After a pretty long time of testing, I think that I had used Direction Neo in every possible condition. I’m using it on the walk, during learning, chilling, exercising, once I even fell asleep with this cable on my neck. And it wasn’t uncomfortable in any of these situations. But be aware, there’s no zipper on the cable. Even if it doesn’t embarrass me, I know some people tend to use it every time. I will never get what’s on their mind when they zip it just under their chin or on their neck. Ugh, I hate that feeling.
2pin connectors are delicately longer than regular ones, so the earhook is not touching the ear since the beginning. In my case, it improved the fit of Moondrop SSP but made it a little worse with Craft Ears Four. Keep in mind that it’s every person and IEM personal thing, so don’t take my case too personally.
That might seem odd for you, but the main IEM I was testing the Direction Neo with was Moondrop SSP. It’s the $40 earphone, and you can read its review here. Why did I do it like that? Because SSP is more sensible for cable changes than Craft Ears Four, where differences are mainly cosmetic.
Beginning with the bass, it’s warmer and heavier at the first moment. The subbass is making a bigger impact in the music. It’s way more profounded and powerful. Maybe you remember when I said that I wasn’t a big subbass’ fan, but well, that’s the one I can listen to the whole time. The same thing is happening with the mid and kickbass, plus more texture, which I love. Bass guitar has a more springy style in every song, with everything becoming more pleasant. Even my neighbour who’s drilling in the walls for a week isn’t as irritating as with stock cable, no joke. This cable is just making the bass way more enjoyable.
The midrange didn’t change as much as the bass. It’s delicately better in terms of details which are better articulated, in a more technical way, without being sterile. Compared with Craft Ears stock cable, Direction Neo pushes vocals to the front, so they can take the lead in the whole presentation.
The situation is different with SSP stock cable because using it makes the mid a little darker than with Cross Lambda cable, where it’s more natural and clearer.
The treble gains a lot of sparkles with the Direction Neo. It’s delicately brighter than both compared cables but yet again provides more details with a more pleasant playstyle, more enjoyable. I think it’s not directly a difference in the tonality, but that’s how I perceive the changes caused by the soundstage, which’s described in the next paragraph. However, by that, I hear treble differently. And I like what I hear, isn’t it the most important?
The soundstage definitely went through the most significant change. It’s way more profound and universal. I can clearly say that Direction Neo is making the sound bigger, with more space and better-marked pinpoints. It applies to everything you can hear through your IEMs, music, movies, games, and so on. It’s hard to describe for me, because not only the soundstage size is changing, but also the overall depth of the sound with everything it contains.
To summarize, Cross Lambda Direction Neo provides its promise in a very convincing way. While it surely adds a little bit of excitement to the bottom and sparkliness to the top end, it mostly kept the original timbre of the sound. While it may not be as impressive as with the cables that tend to add something extra to the sound, it surely is an impressive way to improve the sound of your IEM of choice.
See, here’s the thing. This aftermarket cable is really inexpensive when we’ll take the build quality and overall presentation into consideration. The cable’s market is vast and diverse, so it is nice to see a company that has its promise and keeps it in such a manner. At the end of the day, it is called an “upgrade cable”, not “change the characteristics of your favorite IEMs completely cable”. That’s why this review is rather short, even for our standards. There’s not much into it, just a good option to push the boundaries of your in-ears a bit, without spending too much money, and that’s a good thing in our book. Let me just finish it off with one word, that describes the Direction Neo perfectly – Refinement.
Cross Lambda Direction Neo is definitely making a difference in the sound. And it’s changing it for good. The price set at ~$145 isn’t such excessive for an upgrade cable, especially if we consider its build quality and sound improvement that goes with that expense. If I were you (sadly I’m still myself), I definitely would give the Cross Lambda Direction Neo a try, because it’s worth its price.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- IEMs – Moondrop SSP, Bqeyz Spring 2, Craft Ears Four CIEM
- Sources– EarMen Eagle, SMSL SU-9 + SH-9, ddHiFi TC44B, xDuoo XD-05 Plus, EarMen TR-Amp