Copper, silver and gold
Cross Lambda is a Thai company that makes awesome upgrade cables. We’ve reviewed a few of them here, at Ear Fidelity. Each review was very positive, as these cables really made all of our IEMs shine.
The overall approach of Cross Lambda is to upgrade the sound, without altering the original sound signature too much. Having listened to a lot of IEM cables that really tried hard to alter the overall feeling of the IEM of use, it’s a really mature and unproblematic type of upgrade product.
I know there are people that don’t believe in upgrade cables in terms of the sound quality. I’m not going to try to convince you that you’re wrong. What I would suggest though is to give it a try, make your mind by actually trying it for yourself. Yes, it won’t show in measurements, but I actually believe that there is more to audio than just measurements. If you think differently, then it’s completely cool, we do respect everyone’s opinion.
So, the hero of today’s review is a cable called Stardust 5 by Cross Lambda. It is made of 7N-HPGPOCC Gold Plated Pure Copper + 7N-HPSPOCC Silver Plated Pure Copper in UF-PVC insulator. Four wires, no sleeving, great comfort. Let’s get into it.
Build Quality & Packaging
The Stardust 5 comes with a beautiful, small box with Cross Lambda logo on the top. Inside we’ll find the cable and the leather clip to keep the cable together. The overall feeling of the packaging is good and modest, keeping it simple and giving you just the essentials. No fancy wooden box or laser-engraved warranty card, but why would you want to pay extra for those.
Cross Lambda never disappoints when it comes to the build quality. While their cables are not the most luxurious looking nor spectacularly unique, it all comes down to longevity and a minimalistic yet elegant design. Take a look at that macro shot in the “Sound” paragraph of this review – doesn’t it look great? And trust me, it looks so much better in real life.
The splitter is rather traditional for a Cross Lambda cable – not the smallest, yet not chunky enough to give you any issues while using it. It is just right. The MMCX connectors and the 3.5mm jack are both made precisely, but they are nothing fancy though. For the asking price of the Stardust 5 I’ve got absolutely nothing to complain about, and here comes a standout feature about the build quality of this cable – the comfort.
The Stardust 5 is by far one of the most comfortable cables I’ve ever used. It is very soft to the touch, perfectly smooth and it never gets in the way.
The over-the-ear fragments are bent perfectly, resulting in a stress-free experience, even while wearing glasses or a winter hat. As mentioned before, the splitter’s size is just right, so you’ll never really feel it while using the Stardust 5. Overall, this is an exceptionally comfortable cable that will be a perfect choice for everyday use, no matter where you’ll go.
As I said before, this cable doesn’t aim for changing your earphones into something different. It improves everything and adds a nice sweetness with a little warmth. In some cases, it also improves the dynamics. So, let’s start with a more precise description of the sound.
Versus Fir Audio VxV stock cable
The bass is more dynamic. I have to say that first, as the VxV is a really calm IEM, which doesn’t get us too excited about the sound or anything. This time, the bass can fairly kick. It’s still not the type of Craft Ears Four or Aurum, but Cross Lambda Stardust 5 provides a lot more fun to the sound.
The subbass isn’t changed drastically, there’s a bit more texture and rumble, which matches my taste really well. Midbass is way different though, it’s warmer, but not more calming. It’s striking the beat, with an impressive texture. It sounds superb with “Love Again” by Dua Lipa. Furthermore, it’s not bloating the midrange, but gets to the front and sometimes starts to lead the show. Midbass also has nice air in it, which feels different from the stock cable. It’s breathing now. It doesn’t feel like a piece of live music, it’s something better.
The kickbass is also delicately pushed to the front. Thanks to the Stardust 5, it earns a lot of speed without losing the chilling timbre. It’s not hard as a rock, but also doesn’t get soft and fluffy. It’s perfectly balanced between these two.
The midrange in this case hasn’t changed that much. It’s of course sweetened, with a little bolder male voices, especially those a little higher, like Kendrick Lamar. Besides that, we get just a sweeter sound with more emotions. I love it with the song “You Need To Calm Down” by Taylor Swift, but that’s just me and my hunger for sweetness. If you like hoarseness in Dua Lipa’s or Billie Eilish’s voice, you won’t find it in a combo of Cross Lambda Stardust 5 and Fir VxV. It’s smooth as silk, and I don’t think that there’s any chance to change that with Fir VxV. It’s just how they are.
The treble on the other hand has gained a great number of details and sparks. It’s lovely, no matter what I’m listening to. Typical pop, like “Joke’s On You” by Charlotte Lawrence, “Pristine” by Snail Mail, or classical music. It’s always here, with a nice addition of shine. Also, the Cross Lambda Stardust 5 adds a lot of air and spaciousness there. I love that feeling, as it’s the thing that doesn’t make me so excited about the stock Fir VxV. So, for example, “The Four Seasons: Summer” by Antonio Vivaldi makes me absolutely crazy about the violins here.
The soundstage is another crazy good thing. It’s wide open. Cross Lambda Stardust 5 provides a lot more air in the sound, which I’d expect after this type of hybrid cable. The holography and imaging are great. In “La Senna Festegiante” by Vivaldi, it is going absolutely crazy with the vocal. It swirls all around, trying to drill in my head in a very pleasant way. It feels a little flat on the stock cable, so it doesn’t give me the wow effect as the Stardust has. All sound sources are more like pinpoints, but they’re fading away with a lovely style. It makes me feel like I’m in a true, big concert hall.
Versus Campfire Audio Holocene stock cable
With Holocene, the situation is absolutely different. It’s a sweeter sound, for sure, but also gets a little darker. It matches my taste, especially with the depth added.
The bass is way bolder. There’s not much subbass, as with the original cable, but it’s delicately more visible. It’s also minimally smoother. The midbass is also the one that changed the most. It’s boomier, lost a little speed. On the other hand, the timbre is way better. Cross Lambda Stardust S changed this midbass more into the Solaris 2020 one. With poor recorder songs, it can be a little too overwhelming. When the recording is great, like in mentioned before “Love Again” by Dua Lipa, it’s getting much to the front, but not as much as, leaving a lot of space for her beautiful voice. It’s making a great ambient feeling. It’s also a little smoother than with stock of CFA Holocene. The kickbass is pushed a little back, it does its job with beating the beat. It’s really gentle, with great speed and timbre. I’m a fan of this style. In every song it sounds delicately different, once it is harder with more visible punch, just to be smooth and delicate in the other. With stock one, it was similar. These differences are really great and lovely.
The midrange runs the whole show. It’s detailed yet smooth and warm. In “We’re Good” by Dua Lipa, her voice is nicely moving in all directions, with a great timbre and bolder voice. She sounds more confident with this setup, yet it is sweeter at the same time. Can’t say a bad word at this point. Male voices on the other hand are covered with a thin blanket, which is just in front of them. Everything else is playing just for us. Also, those voices are smoother and a little calmer. I mean, nothing wrong with this, as all depends on your taste. It’s just me, and I’d like them to be bolder, placed closer, and just more powerful. If you prefer calmer male vocals, there you go.
On the other hand, there’s the same situation as with Fir VxV stock cable. It’s all getting a little fancier with the air in the mids, it’s lovely. Instruments gained a lot of space between them, same as female vocals, which are separated in a way that still connects them to the music but let us focus on them. It’s easy to hear with the song “November” by the Polish band, Coals.
The treble is also way different from the stock cable. In fact, it is very similar to the one I heard with Fir VxV. It’s smoother, with fewer sparks, and shines in the sound. It’s more chilling and sweeter. It makes pop more attractive to me, but classical music lost the thing. I can’t say it’s boring or anything, I just do not enjoy this in the same way as I did with the stock cable.
Overall, it’s more calming, with the same amount of details which got rounded edges and delicateness. It sounds pretty good with the “Pristine” by Snail Mail, but it’s delicately muffled. That’s why I said before that this cable changes the Holocene into a little darker sounding IEM. It’s not yet Campfire Audio Vega 2020 level, more like Dorado 2020. It’s still great, just not for every type of music and every taste.
The soundstage gained a nice amount of space and air. Especially the air, which separates everything into specific sound sources, but in the end connects them together. It makes a lovely feeling in the whole show. The sound comes from everywhere, from any direction and distance. The depth is also lovely with the vocals, they’re changing their positions all the time. This doesn’t mean that they’re getting lost, they’re just making us more focused on the music. In a few words, we’re getting deeper into the listening. Also, Cross Lambda Stardust 5 makes the Holocene a nice piece of a gaming IEM. Of course, it’s not the type of soundstage that Mammoths with stock cable got. They’re more natural. Holocene with Stardust 5 got a lot of magic that sounds wonderful.
This review was fun to do. The Cross Lambda Stardust 5 is a lovely upgrade cable with a calming manner. It’s making the sound just so sweet and comfortable to listen to. The comfort is just spot-on, making for a great everyday cable to use, and never complain about its ergonomy. All of that is set at a fair price, which is about 600 US dollars (that depends on the Thai Baht exchange rate). If you want to add a little sweetness to your favorite IEMs and improve their comfort, this should definitely be on your radar.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Fir VxV, CFA Holocene, CFA Satsuma, CFA Honeydew
- Sources– Cayin RU6, xDuoo XD-05 Plus, Earmen Eagle