This week I bought the Nordost Heimdall II cable for the Focal Utopia headphones, more for myself to be honest as an experiment but I thought I would just scribble down my thoughts for other Utopia owners who may find it useful.
Basically as many of you will know I love listening on headphones and have been enjoying the Stax SR-009′s for a few years now, like many though once the new Focal Utopia headphones were released I found myself using them more and more as my headphone of choice, but, and this is only a but because I was coming from SR-009′s, I just wished the Utopia’s were a little more open in their signature, I never expected to be able to achieve that sweet top end of the SR-009′s but then the Utopia’s bass weight and mid range really do take some beating so if I could just get a bit more from them then I could see myself going over to the Utopia’s full time.
In the past we have had great results swapping stock cables that come with headphones for the Nordost Heimdall II cable, but it does seem to work better on some headphones than others, for example in my opinion it transforms the Audeze LCD-3 into a much better headphone but didn’t really seem to make much difference on the Sennheiser HD800S’s, so I was hoping that adding the Heimdall II to the Utopia’s would give the same gains as you get with the LCD-3′s.
So last night I hooked up an Aurender into Chord’s DAVE which fed my favourite headphone amp, the Trilogy 933, then lined up a few of my favourite demo tracks and quite excitedly started listening to see how the Heimdall II effected the Utopia’s with everything crossed hoping for the result I wanted, I spent around 10 mins with the stock cable then swapped to the Heimdall II.
Starting with Massive Attacks Teardrop as usual as the opening minute really is an excellent demo piece, the fist thing I noticed was the better definition and attack on the bass notes, everything seemed to start and stop more precisely, this was a good start, then as the track grew you could definitely hear better seperation between all the notes, Teardrop is quite a busy song so this really was quite apparent and then when Elizabeth Frazer’s vocal comes in it really was crystal clear.
So this really was a good start so I went back to the stock cable and admittedly it still sounded great but I just didn’t feel quite so involved with the music then after 15 minutes I went back to the Heimdall II and to sound quite cliched it really did sound like a Veil had been lifted, for me the Heimdall II really does make the Utopia a far more enjoyable listen, it definitely give better clarity, separation and attack but the word that kept coming to mind to some it all up is that it just gives better definition, whereas the the stock cable is probably a little more forgiving and warmer in it’s presentation which I guess I could see some preferring.
So if you are a Utopia user and would like a more open sound with better definition then I would most definitely recommend trying the Heimdall II, I just couldn’t use them now with the stock cable knowing what an improvement it brings as for me using the Heimdall II really unleashes the performance of the Utopia and really shows what they are capable of, it is almost as if Focal went with the safe option with their stock cable.
For my final SR-009 v Utopia shootout I listened to Lorde’s Royals and yes the 009′s gave a wider soundstage with a beautiful airy and open top end but about 1 minute from the end there is a great driving bass segment and the Utopia’s with Heimdall had so much depth that the difference was quite shocking, so for me I still think there is a case for owning both the SR-009′s and Utopia’s if the budget could take it but for an all rounder then the Utopia with Heimdall II really is tough to beat.
Needless to say I will be buying another Heimdall II for demo for the shop as the one I currently have will be staying at home :-) so if you do fancy coming in to try it on the Utopia’s anytime please feel free.