Atlas Cables Zeno review
Atlas Cables Zeno is the recently launched new range of high-performance replacement headphone cables. I managed to get a set sent to me ahead of seeing the full range at the Headroom Show the other week.
Atlas says that they Zeno cables have been designed to be light, compliant yet durable.
The Altas Cables Zeno combines the company’s cable technology with a new range of dedicated solder-free connectivity options called Metik. The promised result is that you get a replacement cable that can work across a broad range of headphones.
Atlas Cables Zeno design
The Zeno cable I received is a 3 metre lead designed to replace the skinny single-sided chord of the Oppo PM-3 headphones.
The cables are available in a wide range of formats – 2.5mm, 3.5mm, 6.3mm and 4-pin XLR mini for the headphone end and 3.5mm, 6.3mm and 4-pin XLR for the amplifier end, Metik plugs provide a direct, airtight metal to metal contact.
For brand-specific headphone connections, a wealth of options are available – Sennheiser, OPPO, Sure, AKG, Audeze, AudioQuest, HiFiMan, Ultrasone are all catered for and Atlas is able to source the correct connections for the majority of headphones available.
Hand-built in Scotland the Zeno’s use Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) copper conductors which are covered in FEP (Fluorinated ethylene propylene) low temperature deposition dielectric to protect the integrity of the OCC material.
All of that is wrapped inside a protective soft PVC inner liner and finished with a tangle-free fabric outer jacket. All of that should make the Zeno leads extremely durable.
Atlas’ Metik non-solder crimp plugs promises to provide signal consistency from socket to socket.
The Atlas Zeno does look to be a well-built cable.
Atlas Cables Zeno performance
Plugging the Zeno in to my PM-3s the promise of a lightweight cable seemed slightly skewed.
I realise that this fine Atlas Cables replacement is considerably more substantial than the thin ones Oppo bundles in with these portable cans but, as the cable plugs in on the left-side only, this creates an imbalanced headset.
This had a knock-on effect of my adjusting my posture to compensate when working at my computer. I am sure the added bulk of the cable would hardly be noticeable on the ones designed for, let’s say, the PM-1 where each can has its own input. Unfortunately, my neck noticed the difference with this one.
Atlas Cables Zeno sound quality
I am sure it will be a relief for Atlas Cables to hear that there is a definite improvement over the 3.5mm cable on my portable set-up.
I’ve not had any real complaints about the standard cable but I do find the sound fuller and more relaxed in my ears, and I am happy about this.
There also seems to be an improvement in response as I am able to turn the volume of my HA-2 amplifier down a few notches.
Plugging in to my little Musical Fidelity V-HPA in my main system (Pro-Ject 1Xpression TT, Oppo disc player, Arcam irDAC, MF M6si amp) backs up my portable findings that this a real improvement, uncovering more detail and a fuller sound when compared to the original lead.
Atlas Cables Zeno review conclusion
I cannot confess to hearing a night and day difference through my computer set-up but there are certainly noticeable improvements over the cable provided by Oppo through the HA-2 and V-HPA. To be honest, this always seems to be the way with cables in my experience.
I dare say that the better the gear you have the cable connecting, the more you’re going to notice.
If you are looking at improving the sound through your headphones or simply need to replace the cable to your PM-3s for whatever reason, then the Atlas Cables Zeno is really worth checking out if you have the budget.
Atlas Cables Zeno price and availability
Atlas Zeno 1:1 (standard termination – stereo cable 3.5mm)
Atlas Zeno 1:2 (standard termination)
For more information, visit the Atlas Cables website.