How to Choose a Cable for your Wired Headphones

Read Time: Approx. 8 min.

Ditch your Wired Headphone's Stock Cable and Upgrade!

When was the last time you thought about upgrading your headphone cable? Chances are your headphone's stock cable is getting the job done but what if we told you that your headphone could perform even better with an upgrade?

When you're buying a new pair of headphones, upgrading the cable might not be at the forefront of your mind. Manufacturers include a stock cable with the purchase anyway so you've got everything you need to start jamming. But what you might not realize is that the quality of the cable's construction could be hurting your headphone's performance.

Truthfully, your headphones are only as good as your audio cable. Oftentimes, stock audio cables are an afterthought by manufacturers. They're made with subpar materials, metals with impurities, poor geometries, and an overabundance of layers to make them look and feel like a fire hose.

So does having a quality headphone cable really matter? Yes. Stock cables are, well stock cables, and having a high-quality cable makes a difference when you want the best possible performance from your headphones. If it didn't, there wouldn't be a market for audio cables and we wouldn't have crafted our Dragon Audio Cables experience. At Moon Audio, we never endorse products that we don't support, and that principle applies to our Dragon Audio Cables. Every great headphone deserves a high-quality cable — It's the connection to your music and our mission to bring you closer to your music.

There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to our Dragon Audio Cables. Every cable is handcrafted daily in our Cary, NC Headquarters and customized to fit your headphones and audio gear. Listening to music is a personal experience and we want your headphone cable to reflect your listening preferences — That's why we've created three Dragon Audio Cable lines each with unique sound signatures that sonically enhance the performance of your headphones. Upgrading your headphone cable is easy, so let's explore how to craft the perfect cable for your favorite pair of cans.

Factors to Consider in Selecting a Custom Headphone Cable

Choosing the right headphone cable for your gear isn't as cut and dry as picking soda from a vending machine. When purchasing a custom cable, there are several key factors that you must be aware of or you may purchase the wrong cable. Missing one step in the headphone cable selection process could be the missing link between you and great sound.

Headphone Types & Cable Connections

You must first identify what headphones you're looking to upgrade. No two headphones are alike so depending on the manufacturer, the cable that fits one headphone brand might not work for the other. For instance, Dan Clark Audio Headphones typically use a 4-pin mini locking connection while HiFiMan Headphones predominately use dual 2.5mm and 3.5mm connectors.

Some wireless headphones may have a single-entry headphone connection, granting you the option of a wired listening experience with a single-ended portable headphone cable. Most single-entry headphones use a single-ended connector. While cables with balanced headphone connections may use balanced or single-ended amplifier connectors, this is not true of single-ended connections. Combining a balanced amplifier connector with a single-ended headphone connection can short the circuit and damage the amplifier. There are also some wireless headphones on the market that use a USB Cable as its connection. USB is preferred for high-resolution audio transfer with wireless headphone options depending on Bluetooth codec compatibility.

And let's not forget about audiophile headphones without detachable cables. How do you upgrade a hardwired connection? Internet sleuths might tell you to attempt to remove the cable yourself, but as professionals, we could not disagree with that more. It may look easy on YouTube but unless you're a cable technician you can wind up causing irreversible damage to your headphones.

In scenarios where your headphones are hardwired and you'd like to upgrade your cable, we can (depending on the headphone, termination, etc.) do a hardwired modification so a Dragon Audio Cable can be re-hardwired to your headphones. This modification is unique to each headphone scenario, so please reach out to us with your inquiry as there is no guarantee that any adjustments can be made.

READ MORE: Balanced Adapters

Now for the cable connections — Identify your headphone's termination and what devices you will be using with your cans. If your daily driver is a Digital Audio Player (DAP), your headphone cable's connector must be compatible with the DAP's headphone output. It wouldn't do you any good to buy a headphone cable with a 2.5mm connector when your DAP requires a 3.5mm.

In the case where you have multiple devices you'd like to swap out, you can purchase a headphone adapter cable so you can enjoy your headphones with a DAP, Music Streamer, DAC, etc. If you want to connect your headphones to a Music Streamer we'd recommend a headphone cable with an amp-end connector, say a 4-pin XLR, and then purchasing a headphone adapter cable with a headphone-end connector. That way you can swap between the two audio devices, switching connectors and essentially get two cables in one! If this sounds like the cable solution for you, we recommend purchasing any of our adapter cables.

4-pin Mini Locking Connection

2.5mm Connection

3.5mm Connection

Cable Lengths

One of the many benefits of purchasing a headphone cable through Moon Audio is the vast selection of cable lengths to choose from. Our headphone cables can range anywhere from 5 ft. to 20 ft. in length and by request, we can build custom lengths to fit your setup. You'll want to make sure your headphone cable's length fits your listening scenarios.

If do most of your headphone listening on-the-go then a 10 ft. cable is going to be dangerously long and a hassle to carry around. If you're not careful you can wind up tugging on the cable and ripping it out from the headphone and audio device. On the contrary, if you spend your time listening at home while relaxing on your favorite recliner, you want your headphone cable to be long enough so you listen comfortably. You don't want the cable to be dangling in the air between your headphones and the source device — And you definitely don't want there to be any tension that can cause you to accidentally tug and shift your source device when you move ever so slightly.

Here at Moon Audio, we maximize the insulation and shielding on all of our cables, so longer cables won't have the usual issues of interference that are common with stock cables. Long cables can be more prone to interference so by shielding our cables we can avoid that problem all together.

The Dragon Audio Cable Experience

We make audio cables for virtually every audio setup imaginable — Headphones, IEMs, Digital Connections, Power, Speakers, USB Cables, etc. The list goes on. What makes our audio cables stand out from the rest is our Dragon Cable lines. For full-size headphone cables, we offer a Silver Dragon, Black Dragon, and Blue Dragon cable. Each Dragon Cable line is built with specific conductors and metal configurations that sonically enhance your headphones sound. Yep, you read that right. You can sonically enhance the sound of your headphones, similar to adding after-market modifications to a car. No snake oil here — It's science. Shielding can affect the amount of interference and noise an audio signal is subjected to, and oxygen-free conductors sound different from cables with oxygen-laded conductors. To put it frankly — Materials matter.

We offer two types of headphone cables for full-size wired over-ear headphones— Standard and Premium. Premium Dragon Audio Headphone Cables offer the same quality construction as the standard line, featuring UP-OCC 99.99998% pure conductors and matching cable designs with a few upgrades. Cardas Silver Solder is replaced with Mundorf MSolder SUPREME Silver-Gold mix at every connection point, and premium Furutech Rhodium connectors are included to enhance the look, feel and listening pleasure of all your hifi music sessions. When you are trying to squeeze out every last percentage point of performance, the Premium version makes sense.

Is the Premium the best of the best? Yes. These cables are meant for cream-of-the-crop high-end headphones where every detail makes a difference in bringing you closer to audio bliss.

What sound are you looking for?

Each of our Dragon Audio Cable lines has its own sonic characteristics that will alter the tonality of your headphones in one way or another. Our Silver Dragon provides clarity and top-end resolution. Our Black Dragon provides warmth and musicality. And our Blue Dragon provides a clear, neutral, uncolored sound. So ask yourself, what sound am I looking for? If you're a warm and musical listener you may gravitate toward the Black Dragon, and if you lean analytical then give the Silver or Blue Dragon a try. With a Dragon Audio Cable, you're giving your headphones a second life. You get to enjoy your headphone's sound from a completely different lens, maybe with more resolution or more booming bass.

Moon Audio Silver Dragon Logo

Silver Dragon

Clear | Detailed

  • 4 x 99.99998% UP-OCC Stranded Silver Conductors
  • Available in Standard & Premium
Moon Audio Black Dragon Logo

Black Dragon

Warm | Musical

  • 4 x 99.99998% UP-OCC Pure Copper Conductors with 7N Purity
  • Available in Standard & Premium

Blue Dragon

Neutral | Uncolored

  • 4 x 99.99998% UP-OCC Pure Copper Conductors with 7N Purity
  • Available in Standard & Premium

The Silver Dragon Headphone Cable

The Silver Dragon Headphone Cable line uses 99.99998% UP-OCC pure Silver to enhance the clarity and resolution and widen the soundstage of your headphones. How? By using Silver conductors that are almost 100% void of impurities and have virtually no crystal boundaries. The conductors have almost no distortion compared to ordinary Silver conductors.

The Silver Dragon is great for overly warm and dark-sounding headphones. We love to recommend the Silver Dragon headphone cable for analytical listeners who love to revel in the details. It's not going to be a good choice for thin-sounding headphones or forward-sounding headphones. It will tighten up and define the bass in headphones that have a bloated bottom end. We say this with all of our Dragon Audio Cables — Every ear hears differently and it ultimately comes down to your tastes. While we may recommend a certain cable for a headphone, it's just a suggestion and you have to be pleased with the sound you're getting.

The Black Dragon Headphone Cable

A personal favorite of mine, the Black Dragon Headphone Cable line uses 99.99998% UP-OCC pure Copper conductors to provide warmth, musicality, and depth to your headphones. How? Copper strands enhance the body, shape, and immediacy of your music for more of that "I'm there" feeling. As a bass head, the Black Dragon Headphone Cable provides just enough oompf to bass-light headphones, making those that would be otherwise too analytical for my tastes very enjoyable. We do not traditionally recommend the Black Dragon with bass-heavy headphones like the Sony MDR-Z1R Headphones, but it's all about personal preference. For myself, the more bass the better so I will opt for a Black Dragon cable pairing every time.

The Black Dragon will smooth out the top end without compromising detail. It's a great cable for vocals and a range of genres, especially Rock and Roll, Electronica, R&B, Pop, and other music with a big, bold presentation. The smooth, musical quality makes it a perfect fit for headphones that tend to sound a bit edgy or bright. And despite its warmth, the Black Dragon does not have a laid back, lush sound.

The Blue Dragon Headphone Cable

The Blue Dragon Headphone Cable line is the perfect happy middle — Clear, neutral, uncolored. If you're looking to add clarity to your headphones but don't want any coloration, this is the cable. With the neutrality of the Black Dragon and the clarity of the Silver Dragon, the copper-based Blue Dragon will "clean" the sound of your headphones without warming or brightening it. You can think of the Blue Dragon like a wipe for your eyeglass lenses: You're removing obstructions to the best view but not altering your prescription.

The Blue Dragon features 4 x 24AWG Teflon-insulated stranded conductors using pure single crystallized UP-OCC pure copper with 7N purity 99.99998%. It has the same geometry structure as the Silver Dragon only it uses UP-OCC pure Copper. It is also the best bang for the buck custom headphone cable on the market today. The Blue Dragon is a great choice when a more natural, organic sound is desired. If you are using a very warm tube amp and a forward headphone, the Blue Dragon is also a good choice to keep the sound signature the same. It is also the most flexible of the full-size headphone cables making it a good choice for headphones that use a single-entry connection point.

One Additional Option: The Bronze Dragon Headphone Cable

The Bronze Dragon is our fourth Dragon Audio Cable line predominately available in our Digital and IEM Cables. However, we do offer a Bronze Dragon Portable Headphone Cable which is a great option for Wireless Headphones like the Sennheiser Momentum 4 or Focal Bathys that have a single-entry connection. The Bronze Dragon features 8 x 99.99998% UP-OCC Stranded Copper conductors per cable. Created in the proportions, copper helps add warmth to expand and strengthen sound from bass guitars, cellos, and deep vocalists like Barry White. The Bronze Dragon helps create a warmer presentation with a bigger and fuller body, adding bottom-end strength and muscle. It's musical without becoming lush or bloated and features a very flexible cable that's perfect for on-the-go applications.

Reap the Sonic Benefits of a High-End Custom Headphone Cable

Even the very best wired headphones on the market benefit from an upgraded headphone cable. It’s like getting new tires put on your car. You can drive however many miles your stock tires last but once they start to bald it’s a pretty good indication that you’re due for an upgrade. You’re not going to buy a new car every time the tires wear down, you’re just going to get new tires. If your headphone’s stock cable is mediocre at best and it’s starting to go, don’t ditch the headphones, upgrade to a high-quality headphone cable. A custom headphone cable extends the life of your headphones, increases their performance sonically, and expands your listening scenarios. A stock cable is limiting — Its use is confined to the headphones they came with, the included adapters, if any at all, are few and far between, and the cable’s construction is generic and rushed.

By upgrading to a custom Dragon Audio Headphone Cable you’re in control of the entire process — You get to choose the length, connections, and Dragon sound signature so you can be 100% sure it will fit any and every listening scenario. Add warmth to analytical headphones or smooth the top end on forward-sounding headphones.

Closed-back headphones, open-back headphones, on-ear headphones, wired earbuds, earphones, and more will all reap the sonic benefits of a high-end custom headphone cable. Making the switch is easy and creating your custom cable is a fun, exciting process so let us help you make the best buy for your beloved audiophile headphones.

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