Cables, cables, cables. So many to choose from. This time it’s one of the cheapest serious options from Kotori Audio, which is a company from Singapore. They are also making three other cables, “Carbon” starting at $69,90, and the one closing their offer the Epsilon which costs $299,90. The hero of this review, is their second cheapest model, the Tungsten.
Packaging & Build Quality
The box is looking pretty great, it’s black with a silver logo on the top. It’s simple and elegant.
Inside you’ll find the cable, which is specific, even for its price. It reminds me of the cables that are often used by artists, with their CIEMs on the stage. Thin, and all-coated, so it is more durable. And well, at that part it’s really good, maybe besides the AEC 4,4mm jack. It’s just too big for such a small cable, but there’s also one wonderful thing at this point. It’s the fact that this connector isn’t glued, so even if the cable would break, you can easily unscrew the connector and sold it once again. The same thing applies to the 2pin connectors. And when talking about them, they’re decent. Nothing too fancy in terms of design, but they’re doing their job correctly. If you would ask me, how do they hold the IEMs, I would say they’re just ok. The IEM won’t drop by itself, but it’s not really close to the safest cable in the world.
The cable by itself isn’t the softest one I’ve ever used, it’s really stiff as the earphone one. Maybe it’s not like the LittleDot Gyfu cable, but it’s still problematic in daily use. The outer sleeve is pretty smooth, it doesn’t cause the microphonic effect with any IEMs used. Also, the splitter used is of very good quality, it’s discrete but makes an excellent feeling in hand.
Well, that’s the part when this cable is even more specific. As I said before, it’s pretty stiff and very thin. It wasn’t really enjoyable to wear it as usual, but when I’ve tried to wear it on my neck I realized it must’ve been build to be used that way. It’s doesn’t bother me like all other cables being worn like that, because its so tiny that I don’t really feel it.
That’s the first-ever cable that made me do that, so I’m not the biggest fan there. I’m sure that Robert would appreciate that much more since he’s using every cable that way.
It’s also hard to place it in the case, if you won’t use the velcro that’s attached, it’ll go its way. Even after like three days of hanging freely with IEMs attached, it is still not straight, so you have to get used to its shape.
Well, that’s one of the cheapest upgrade cables you can get (I’m not counting 10-25$ cables as upgrade ones), so I wasn’t expecting much. And not gonna lie, I didn’t get much. But let’s start from the beginning. On the Kotori website we can read that:
“Tungsten exerts power, reinforcing the low-range with deeper and more impactful bass. Its dark tonality thickens the mid-region and creates a cool, laid-back sound expression.”
Well, I wouldn’t use such words to describe that cable. I’ve tried it with many IEMs, from Moondrop SSP, through Craft Ears Four and Six, to Unique Melody MEST. In every case, there was a difference comparing to the stock cable, or the ddHiFi BC120B Sky and Cross Lambda Neo. It didn’t really match the SSP, and it’s not enough for Crafts, they deserve more.
We also don’t know what cable is made of, because Kotori doesn’t share such info with us.
Overall, the Kotori Tungsten is a specific cable, for specific users and IEMs. I don’t have any bright IEMs around 200-300$, but I think that’s the budget and style where it would fit perfectly. If you’re tired of your bright or shouting IEMs, prefer to wear the cable on your neck, and so on, you should give it a try.
The fact that it doesn’t match my preferences, and it’s not made for any IEMs I have shouldn’t bother you at all. I think that there isn’t any lovely cable below the hundred bucks, and the true upgrades start at 120-140$. But okay, let’s start the sound description.
At first, with Craft Ears Four:
The bass became slower, muddier. If you’ve ever heard the CE4 you know how fast and powerful they can be, but with Tungsten they lost that, and started to be a little calmer, smoother, but not deeper or reinforced. Especially if we would compare the Tungsten to Cross Lambda Neo, which really reinforces that part of the sound. Tungsten is pretty good with bands like GSPD, but it goes a little too dense.
The midrange is delicately pulled in the shadow, especially the lower one. It’s yet again smoothed, and rounded, maybe even dimmed. The higher mids are almost not touched, there’s only a slight addition of smoothness, but that’s all. Compared to the BC120B Sky that excellently pushed Billie’s vocal in NDA to the front, the Tungsten let it remain in the rest of the sound. The same thing applies to GSPD mentioned before, in “Никому не говори! (Don’t Tell Anybody!)” the vocal of Dead Blonde also can hide, but with this combo, it’s placed right in the middle of the sound.
The treble is one more time smoothed. It stays at its place, isn’t pushed away or dragged into the face of the listener. Unfortunately, the CE4 also lost there their ability to show the shape of instruments, which I love in them.
The soundstage is delicately better compared to the stock cable, but that’s a really slight difference. It’s wider and deeper, but the holography didn’t change at all. Compared to the more expensive upgrade cables, well, it just loses. It doesn’t reproduce such a big soundstage as the rest cables mentioned in this review. That might be caused because of the size of the cable, so the eight-strand version can be much better at this point.
With Craft Ears Six:
Six’s got a really nice cable at the start, which is Rhapsodio OCC MK2, so the Tungsten has a strong competitor in here, but in my opinion, its sound signature matches well with CE6, but it cuts their technical possibilities.
The bass went once again in a smoother playstyle, but it adds some juice to the sound. Lows are warmer, more musical, but they’re slower and denser. I like that with some calmer, more relaxing sessions, but whenever I’m looking for something faster, more you know, “audiophile”, then I’m just not satisfied.
The midrange is very safe in that combination. It’s not bringing anything special, it’s balancing between being smooth and textured, but yet again, we’re losing details compared to the stock Rhapsodio. Details, and shapes of course. Some voices are fantastic with this combo, like Kendrick Lamar. It’s way more enjoyable with the Tungsten. I wouldn’t say that it’s sweetened or anything like that, because that’s not the good way for his voice, but it’s thicker, and a little more powerful.
The treble is hmm… it’s hard to find a proper word for that. It’s for sure not a living campfire, it’s like the dying out one. You still can get burned, but you won’t burn at all. It’s not shining all the time, but it’s not darkened out yet. Again we’re losing details, but remember that the Tungsten is cheaper than the Rhapsodio, so we can focus more on its timbre, so that’s where it’s more sweetened than technical, so we’re pretty losing the Six’s target, but that’s you, who listen to them, right?
The soundstage acts exactly the same as with Craft Ears Four, but because Six’s have way better stock, I can say that Tungsten is even worse in every way.
Overall, Kotori Audio Tungsten is a decent option for some 200-300 bucks IEMs, but everything above would love to have something better than this. But that’s not the case of that cable, that’s the problem of all cheap upgrade cables. I think it would match great with Final Audio A4000, FiiO FH5 or Kinera Freya. If you find them too bright, and too fatiguing, listen to the Tungsten, it can change them into more pleasant earphones.
Kotori Audio Tungsten is a specific cable, for specific earphones. It’s a little dense, with a decent addition of smoothness at every part of the sound. If you’re looking for a cable for bright and harsh IEMs, give this cable a shot. It’s worth trying. On the other hand, if you don’t “believe” in cables, but the stock one isn’t comfortable for you, and you prefer to wear the cable on the neck, that’s another reason to give it a try.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Craft Ears Four Custom, Craft Ears Six, Spring 2, Unique Melody Mest (don’t do this)
- Sources– Cayin N3 Pro, ddHiFi TC44B, Cayin N6ii A01
I am a 22 years old audiophile, photographer, coffee lover and Star Wars fan. I love checking out new audio stuff and sharing my opinions with people not being overly bloviating. I believe that a review acts as a guide to just interest people, and then comes the most important part, which is actually testing the device by themselves.