Review: Forza AudioWorks Claire HPC MKII Cable (spacious and full bodied)

Firstly I would like to thank Matthew from Forza for sending me this cable, he is a great guy to communicate with and is very knowledgeable about what cable is best for which headphones. I also strive to write honest reviews, I know some people say cables do not alter sound, but in my 3 years experience in reviewing, I find there are subtle changes to sound with different cables, along with aesthetic and durability gains.

This cable was burnt in for over 100hrs as advised by Forza, this review is my subjective opinion of this cable.

The cable I'm reviewing is 2m in length, with a 6.3mm viablue jack and mini xlr's for Audeze headphones, it comes with the new translucent black coloured jacket along with the standard clear (see pictures), the retail price for this configuration is €154, but of course they cater to all lengths and connections.

Gear Used:
Dell XPS 15 > Sybasonic D31A > Claire HPC MKII > Modified German Maestro GMP 8.35D (dual mini xlr modded)
iPod Classic 7G > JDS Labs O2 > Claire HPC MKII > Modified German Maestro GMP 8.35D (dual mini xlr modded)



Specs:
·         Highest purity, 8 strands of 26AWG cryo 7N UPOCC copper wire in Litz geometry and PE insulation
·         Mk2 design: Improved flexibility, anti-oxidation coating and what is the most important - superior SQ
·         56 individual strands in 7 groups and Litz geometry. 
·         EMI reducing 8x1 braid
·         finished with aluminum splitter covered in heat shrink with Forza AudioWorks logo
·         Built like a tank, 100% handmade in Poland with meticulous care and proudly covered by 2-year warranty.

Packaging and Build Quality:
Well the cable comes in a very nice Forza AudioWorks stamped card box, which is filled with wood shavings to protect the cable which is also protected in a Forza Audio Works stamped organic cotton bag. The wood and the pouch give very good protection and also look very good and the package is very appealing when first opened, also the pouch is a nice addition for transporting the cable in.
Also take note that all the packaging is eco-friendly, very good.


Build quality is fantastic, as you would expect from a handmade cable from a company like this, the braid is consistent and faultless, the jack has good strain relief with very tidy heatshrink, the y-split is also the same with the Forza AudioWorks logo on it. The mini XLR connectors are flawless like the rest, also with heatshrink strain relief with their logo and on the right side they have the letter A of the FAW logo in green to differentiate between left and right. Overall a very well built cable, especially since it has 8 cores, with a very premium finish, flawless.

Ergonomics:
Well this is more of a home cable in this configuration, but the shorter length with a 3.5mm jack would suit portable solutions very well, the cable is very supple and not too heavy, it puts no extra strain when wearing, it is also not too bulky so you won't find it a burden to carry round.
It also emits very little cable noise due to the soft and flexible nature of this cable, I guess the braid also helps keep friction noise to a minimum.


Sound:
I first asked Forza which cable would work best with the very neutral GMP 8.35D which I was modding to accept Audeze style cables. They suggested the Claire HPC MKII as it is known for adding more body and soundstage.

I will say that this cable really does what it says, the GMP 8.35D are very neutral as they are a studio monitor, they do have a slightly boring sound to be honest and with the velour pads I use they did come across a little shrill and bright with the stock cable. After changing out the stock cable for this Forza cable, I have noticed that the body to the sound is back offering very articulate and full lows, the mids are now very detailed and no longer sound slightly veiled, the highs still retain their detail and crispness but the harshness has gone.

I took the modded GMP 8.35D over to hifiheadphones and tested them side by side with a stock pair, and there was a big difference. Overall the pair with the Forza cable sounded as if a veil had been lifted from the sound, they sound crystal clear and more spacious. Stock they sound as if all the instruments are in the same place, with the Forza cable there is a wider more holographic soundstage.

This cable is definitely suited to more neutral and bright headphones due to the added body, it really excels when paired with the right headphones, a very natural and warm sound with an expansive soundstage.


Concluding, if you want a little more body and wider soundstage without sacrificing detail this is the cable for you, it adds a more natural and relaxed sound, I can see this cable pairing very well with grado headphones, it is flawlessly made for a reasonable price and adds a lot. Added sense of space, articulation, detail and warmth. For the GMP 8.35D a perfect match, they now rival headphones quite a bit above their price range, I really didn't think there would be this big an improvement, this cable has impressed me.

Sound Perfection Rating: 10/10 (excellent cable for a modest price, that pairs great with the right headphones)


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