BTG-Audio’s Sunrise Custom IEM Cable | Austere Professional

A while ago, I bought a Sunrise CIEM cable from BTG-Audio. It sported no exotica, didn’t license anything from Ohno, and didn’t make any claims of enhancing the sound quality of a portable system, but yet it remains to this day one of the most impressive cables I own, especially when we consider that it’s essentially a cable made by one single person (well, with the help of a few machines). BTG-Audio is headed by one Brian Goto, a young fellow out of Northern California with an assiduous disposition and a forthcoming nature. He began the business providing re-cabling and modding services for headphone and IEM users; his willingness to perform what others are reluctant to do is what makes his brand stand out. BTG-Audio has also continued to innovate, by bringing out the only aftermarket FitEar cable (other than ALO Audio’s pricey SXC cable and FitEar’s own 00 cable) under $100, also with a sturdy overmold and two wire materials (copper and silver-plated copper), due this March. I’ve already put in a pre-order.

BTG-Audio does it right.
BTG-Audio does it right.

You can read about others’ opinions of the BTG-Audio Sunrise cable here, here, and here, but truth be told, when I first heard of BTG-Audio some months ago, I wasn’t super impressed. While the fact that the Sunrise was one of the few aftermarket CIEM cables to have overmolded connectors made me take notice, its overall aesthetic was a little underwhelming — I didn’t like the big heavy Neutrik plugs, nor did I like nylon sleeving. I also did not want transparent cables, as I was afraid the wires would oxidize into the murky green that everyone fears. Thus, I’d never seriously considered the Sunrise CIEM cable as an option.

It wasn’t until I began corresponding with Brian about his upcoming FitEar cables that I began to seriously look at the Sunrise cable as an option. The stock CIEM cable that came with my Heir Audio 4.A broke, and I was struggling to find a suitable replacement. At that time, I didn’t really like any of the DIY connectors for the two-pin CIEM configuration, and I didn’t feel that the overmolded options (Whiplash Audio TWAg V2, Toxic Cables Silver Poison) were really worth the massive price premium. I wanted a cable that I didn’t feel guilty about abusing day-to-day — a daily warrior that could brave the rigors of constant tugging and bending. I also wanted a sound that was as close to stock as possible, and the Sunrise cable was the only one to provide that with its copper cabling (from the same Japanese source as Mogami’s well-regarded cables).

When it came time to order, though, the cable was out of stock — what was normally an unfortunate circumstance turned out to be a godsend, however, since Brian was just about to send new cables to the factory for overmolding and could take on custom orders, such as putting in black cables with the clear overmold. Thus, I immediately put in an order for a black cable without sleeving. I was also able to order the cable unterminated without a 3.5mm plug, as I wanted to use a model that was only available in Asia at the time.

I was immediately impressed when I received the cable a couple of weeks later. The cable itself is a round-braid (Milloit), 26 AWG 30-strand OFC cable sleeved in matte black, cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) insulation. I found the cable to be thin, yet tough feeling, and very flexible. Compared to the linear low-density polyethylene (LLD-PE) cables that I’d handled before in the same gauge, the external diameter of the Sunrise conductor was quite a bit smaller, and the external texture felt less smooth. It was not unlike the Whiplash Audio TWAg V2, losing a tiny bit of flexibility (the TWag V2 is probably the most flexible cable I’ve thus far encountered) at a similar outer diameter. It’s also a bit more memory-prone. The braid is also similar in tightness to the TWAg V2 — slightly loose, but tight enough to keep everything together. Braid consistency is good and equals the consistency of the TWAg V2.

The Y-split was also solidly constructed with heavy duty heat shrink (trademarked with the BTG-Audio logo) and additional reinforcement underneath. The one caveat was the neck cinch, which was just a tad bit too tight to use smoothly, and didn’t have perfectly cut edges.

Up at the top, the overmolding and memory wire section were flawless. The clear overmold was beautiful, with the cable additionally secured with a brass retention clamp within the plastic mold. Since it’s the same style of overmold like that of the stock CIEM cable, it fits both recessed and flush pin sockets alike. I’ve never personally been a big fan of memory wire, but the memory wire worked as it should, and wasn’t overly long like it is on some of the stock CIEM cables that I’ve seen. Perhaps BTG will offer a version without memory wire in the future.

At the bottom, the 3.5mm plug I used is the REP-100 from Ranko Acoustics. It’s a relatively new plug that has only come to market in the past few months and is really only available from Asian cable builders, but it’s well-crafted and durable, and feels like the functional and aesthetic hybrid between the Oyaide P-3.5G and the Viablue T6s. BTG does not have this plug available (which is why I decided to get the Sunrise cable unterminated; normally this is not the case, but I believe BTG will accommodate most of all special requests and he has all manner of Oyaide and Viablue heads in stock at added cost for those who prefer to go the conventional route), but Brian was very helpful by cinching the cables together with Teflon tape and marking ground with tin, and stripping the left side leads. I actually didn’t have time to terminate the cable myself, and instead enlisted the help of a local cable builder to finish off the work. In a nice touch, the guy added a little flexible clear plastic cap that fit my black & clear theme very well.

My personal belief is that the BTG-Audio Sunrise cable is as aesthetically pleasing as any custom cable on the market at the moment, right up there with Whiplash Audio and the others, and when it comes to a cable that I use everyday, the Sunrise cable is my benchmark for quality in the budget setting. I run the risk of sounding like a fanboy, but seriously, this cable is less than $80! Nowhere else can you find this kind of quality for this type of money.

PROS

  • Most affordable aftermarket CIEM cable with overmolded connectors
  • Options for nylon-sleeved or un-sleeved, tough construction

CONS

  • XLPE insulation can retain some memory characteristics and is slightly stiffer than LLD-PE sleeving (used in products from Whiplash Audio, Double Helix Cables, Toxic Cables, etc.)

For more information on Brian’s BTG-Audio cables, visit his website at http://www.btg-audio.com, his WordPress blog, or his Facebook page.

Redux of my original mini-review, posted on head-fi.org, on 2012/10/16

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