6N OCC Silver
Nostalgia Audio is a fresh company, and its core is located in Hong Kong. Its products are being developed and designed in many places around the globe though, including Japan and Poland.
They immediately became rather popular, thanks to the successful launch of their first IEM – the Benbulbin. Currently, they’ve got five aftermarket IEM cables in their offer, including the hero of today’s review – the Olorin.
What’s the most important – you won’t get a feeling, that you’re dealing with a product from a fresh company though. Everything about it is mature, well-executed, and just screaming quality. Actually, their goal is to offer high quality audio gear for a fair price, since Nostalgia Audio has been founded by hifi enthusiasts, so they do have a more customer-like approach to the market. Spoiler alert : they reached the goal.
The Olorin by Nostalgia Audio comes packed well, and it includes great accessories. The box itself is stylish, clean, and protective. The outer box is silver-ish in color and it sports a delicate cable drawing on top. The inner box has a drawer that unveils the whole package. Apart from the cable, you’re getting a great, leather cable clip, a soft pouch, and two additional plugs (1 already installed).
It’s good to see some quality goodies included with a $500 cable. Nostalgia provides you with essentials, that’ll make your experience easier and more enjoyable. Both the cable “strap” and the pouch are a welcome addition, and there will be a lot of customers that will actually use those.
Wait, why are you getting three different plugs?
The Olorin uses one of the best (if not THE best) inventions when it comes to the IEM cables in the past few years – the switchable plug system. It all basically means that instead of having multiple cables dedicated to different sound sources, you only need one, and you’re able to switch plugs on the go. How does it work?
The jack plug is rather chunky, and it has a screwing mechanism, which allows you to unscrew the plug you’re currently using and change it to the other one. You’re getting 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm connectors, so you’re basically good to go with every portable device on the market. This is an absolute treat, as everyone is tired of needing a different cable every time they’re changing the DAP or AMP, as they often have different types of outputs. With Olorin, you’re able to use every single DAP on the market, and that is a perfect opportunity. Fantastic feature.
Build quality and comfort
Let’s proceed to the build quality and comfort. The Olorin is beautifully crafted and very ergonomic. Its coaxial, pure silver design makes it look absolutely gorgeous. The silver wires shimmer delicately, and it looks rich and sophisticated. The MMCX connectors are easy to grab and use, but not too big, which could lead to some problems with comfort. The interchangeable jack plug is big and chunky, but it hides that marvelous switching mechanism, so I don’t mind. It’s not big enough to make it problematic to use, but keep in mind that it packs some weight and is not stealthy. Nonetheless, its build quality is brilliant, and the carbon-fiber insert reminds me of high-end Furutech offerings.
When it comes to actually wearing the thing, it is tangle-free and very playable, so you won’t be having any problems with the comfort. It also isn’t stiff, which tends to kill the ergonomics of many cables.
If you thought – oh, it’s a silver cable, it will sound thin and shouty – think again, as the Olorin is actually the opposite.
It adds a subtle richness and body to the sound, without making it too extreme or dull. The bass gets a substantial boost in its presence, but it’s also better controlled and crispier. Don’t expect it to turn your IEMs into bass cannons, as the difference in size is rather subtle. It actually helps the bass to reach deeper and slam harder, which could be helpful with some bass-light options. The CFA Ara is an example of an IEM that benefited a lot from the Olorin, as originally it lacks that body in the low-end. On the other hand, it also boosted the treble a little bit, and as you know, the Ara could sound like a treble cannon, if they are not matched correctly.
The midrange is where the magic happens, as it adds that body and “wetness” to the sound, which makes it sound more natural and rich. It paired well with every IEM I’ve tested it with, as it’s not making the midrange overly warm or thick, which could lead to some problems with synergy. I really like my cables to do that, as it often helps the IEMs in becoming more natural sounding to my ears. Also, having quite an experience with “summit-fi” audio cables like Siltech Triple Crown lineup, I find that this is a feature that I find mostly in the high-end market, and for the Olorin to do this at $519 is very impressive.
The treble is actually a similar story to the bass – it also gets a slight boost in presence and richness. Don’t worry though, it’s not adding any sibilance or harshness because of its fantastic resolution. It generally adds a sense of cleanliness and refinement, and these two are the best aspects of a great cable. Don’t forget that it is silver at the end of the day, so you can obviously expect great insight into the treble, and that is exactly what happens with the Olorin. It does it in a “delicate” way though.
Generally speaking, the Olorin sounds very mature and refined, thanks to its 6N OCC Silver wire and Coaxial design. While it adds a presence to the whole sound, it doesn’t make it too extreme or forced sounding, as its strength lays in that great timbre and accuracy of the sound. I’d call the Olorin a “natural” sounding cable, that will definitely make a difference in the sound of your IEMs, but it’s going to be a welcome change for the better.
The Final A8000 comes with a quality cable to begin with, but I’m happy to report that the Olorin is in a completely different league, compared to the stock one.
You’re getting a more saturated, richer and more colorful sound, without any sacrifices to the resolution or crispiness. Quite the opposite actually, as the Olorin boosts the overall resolution of the sound a little bit, resulting in a cleaner and more natural sounding IEM.
The soundstage changes as well, as the Olorin improves the imaging by quite a margin actually. The separation between the layers is improved, and the amount of air is better. Thanks to that, the overall soundstage gains a sense of cleanliness and accuracy. It’s almost as switching to the higher sampling of the song, where everything becomes a bit more clean, accurate and separated.
Fir Audio M5
Fir Audio flagship, the M5 is a very contrasty and fun sounding IEM, so I was a little skeptical about it pairing with the Olorin. At the end of the day, I didn’t want more bass and presence to the vocals, as the M5 already has a lot of those. Luckily, the Olorin proves to be quite a chameleon when it comes to the IEMs it’s playing with. All I got was better dynamics, better resolution and imaging.
It helped improve the M5 even further, providing a better sense of resolution and a more “lifelike” timbre to the midrange, which always is a win in my book. The technical performance of the M5 is already top-tier, and when paired with the Olorin, it slightly improved, making it a true joy to listen to.
Campfire Audio Solaris 2020
Solaris 2020 is a similar story to the Fir M5. It’s already a rich and bold-sounding IEM, so I didn’t expect it to pair with the Olorin as well as it really does. The biggest win was in an improved resolution, which really helped the Solaris 2020 in sounding better than before. The bass became faster and it slams better, the midrange remained that beautiful, wet timbre, but now with added air and resolution. The treble became even shinier, but not in an unpleasant way. The Olorin once again proves that it’s a mature and technically brilliant sounding cable, that is easy to pair with, no matter what IEMs you’re using.
There’s also a huge difference when it comes to the build quality of both the Olorin and the stock CFA cable. The latter just feels cheap, tangly, and delicate, and it doesn’t look nearly as good as the Nostalgia Olorin.
First things first – the build quality. While both are built beautifully, I’d give a slight edge to the Olorin, mainly to its more comfortable design. The Future Jr. Is thicker, heavier and stiffer in comparison, while the Olorin is a joy to use in terms of comfort.
Secondly, the interchangeable plugs of the latter is a complete win, giving the customer much better flexibility when it comes to portable usage. With the Future Jr. you’re getting one of three plug options, and it’s a sealed deal basically.
When it comes to the sound, I’d describe both as natural sounding, but the Future Jr. is definitely more transparent sounding. It doesn’t affect the tone much, instead, it simply elevates the quality of the whole frequency response. The Olorin on the other hand is richer and more colorful sounding, altering the timbre of your IEMs more. When it comes to the resolution, I’d say it’s a close call, but I’d give a slight edge to the Olorin as well. I suppose it is manly due to the difference of the material, as silver just has a higher conductivity than copper, resulting in a cleaner signal.
You would definitely need to try them both before making your mind though. If you don’t want to alter the timbre of your IEMs in any way, the Future Jr. might be a better pick for you. If you’re okay with added mass and more colorful sound overall, the Olorin should be your pick.
Nostalgia Audio Olorin is a brilliant aftermarket cable. Not only it sounds refined, rich, and magical, the build quality and comfort are among the best in the business. Last but not least, the interchangeable plug system is a pure gem. Easy to use, convenient and it’ll save you quite a lot of money, as well as keeping you ready to rock in every scenario. Simply a great product.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Fir Audio M5 Custom, Final A8000, Campfire Audio Solaris 2020, Campfire Audio Dorado 2020, Campfire Audio Ara
- Sources– Cayin N3 Pro, iBasso DX220, SMSL SU-9 + SH-9, JDSLabs Atom DAC+ and AMP-