Reviewing cables is among the most difficult job an audiophile can do. There are so many ways to quantify and categorize them. Or rather, is quantifying even the correct word when some of your enjoyment and distaste for a cable is based on intrinsic feeling? What better way to find some answers than to get an assortment of cables from the most well-known audiophile cable manufacturer in headphone audio. We here at Guru had our friends at Moon Audio send us over three IEM editions of their popular cables for review: Silver Dragon V2, Bronze Dragon, Black Dragon V2.
One of the first things that differentiate a stock cable from a third-party one is the build. The physical style, cable material, terminations on both ends, jack type, reliefs, outer sheath all play a huge role in the final product. For high-quality IEM cables, which is what we are focusing on today, the metric for a great cable differs from traditional home theater setups where thickness and brute are key. Here, there needs to be the right balance between the cable’s weight and flexibility because a thick rigid cable would not be ideal in these use cases; and all the electrical impedance/resistance qualities that go along with those.
The three cables are all 8x stranded featuring similar coil patterns and outer sheaths in terms of visual appearance. The Black Dragon V2 is the lightest and most flexible of the bunch with the Bronze Dragon being the most rigid and Silver Dragon V2 being the heaviest and in the middle for stiffness. The answer for these is apparent from looking at the spec sheet comparison table for these three IEM cables. I’ll include a short version here with their base price:
- Bronze Dragon ($200)
- “8 x 99.99998% UP-OCC Stranded Copper conductors with Kevlar reinforcement”
- Black Dragon V2 ($200)
- 8 x 15-18% ratio Silver Plated Pure Copper Conductors.
- Silver Dragon V2 ($350)
- 8 x 99.99998% UP-OCC Stranded Silver conductors with Kevlar reinforcement
The weight and rigidity is a factor of the composition of the internal stranding, plating, and other reinforcement measures Moon audio has added.
The main physical differentiator for me on the Moon Audio cables from stock is their build quality and added focus on durability. My base stock setup is an In Earz Audio Euphoria with a 2 pin connector on top. The stock cable is thin, light, tightly wound but with a total thickness of ~2mm and thin terminations on both ends. All the Dragon’s come with a hulking jack termination (3.5mm TRS for me) if you pay the $5 extra for the Oyaide Upgrade which I HIGHLY recommend. It hasn’t impacted any usability for me while offering a more confident package for when I pull/push the jack.
The primary cable on the Dragon’s is also double the thickness of my stock cable and despite that, don’t add much microphonics or get in the way. All models come with an over-ear plastic loop on the IEM side termination and help to alleviate the increased weight from the user. You can still feel that your cables are heavier for sure, but its carried as a static mounting point to your ears thanks to that loop. The added ‘authority’ the cable adds is a big booster in wearing IEMs out knowing it can handle the environment and look fantastic while doing so.
There are a variety of terminations you can get with the Dragons and they can be found below:
The three cables were tested with the InEarz Euphoria and InEarz Zen 2 as the primary C/IEMs used with their 2-pin terminations. Units used with them include the FiiO X7, FiiO M9, FiiO BTR3, Burson FUN paired with an AK4396 DAC. A Rhodium plated Furutech F63-S(R) quarter-inch jack provided by Moon Audio was used with desktop units.
Silver Dragon V2:
Starting off with the most expensive option, listening to the Silver Dragon V2 it was apparent that it was the most intense of the bunch. The Silver’s are fast and attack from all directions. It feels like you are being talked to at all directions with a closer feeling to the action. They are darker and add woodier sounding bass that extends and has more resonance to it. In “Hotel California” by the Eagles, the percussion extension is easily heard with a more thunderous bass and deeper extension. I’ve found Don Henley’s vocals have a hint reduced from its brightness but an increase in stability (smoother, with fewer frequency fluctuations and less harshness). The mids are more intimate with background elements getting closer to the listener during the song than with the stock cables. The detail in the guitars and cymbals are more profound on this cable with the edges feeling sharper and higher in frequency. I personally felt soundstage was reduced on this cable every so slightly in favor of a more dynamic and detailed performance.
The Silver Dragon V2 is for those that want to completely change up the game of their headphones. It’s for those that want an explosion of sonic content coming at them. I dare use the word fun to describe them but not in the typical fashion where extreme coloration and warmness corrupts. The Silver’s are rather fun from an analytical perspective; they are detailed and clever with a young side to them that seeks excitement and adventure. To me, the Silver’s are like fireworks. Strong, flashy, explosive, with a warm summer’s tint on your face and something truly different from your normal day.
Black Dragon V2:
Next, moving onto the last version 2 we have the Black Dragon. I found this cable to be less detailed and in your face than the Silver Dragon V2. It has an increased warmth in the mids giving a yellowish feeling tinge to instruments. This cable is the more balanced sounding one and is the closest to the stock cable. If the Silver Dragon V2 was a gushing sauna, then this would be a bath and the stock cable a shower. The upper vocal range is more relaxed from stock and has a decrease in general clarity and brightness which is great for those wanting a more recessed upper signature. High frequency is also a trade this cable deals in well and a head above what the original cable could do with extension and clarity, however, I felt that the micro detail in these highs wasn’t as apparent as with the Silver Dragon V2; the frequency response was there but independent details were harder to discern.
The Black Dragon V2 is the next step up from stock cables for people. It’s for those that already like the sonic performance of their original cable but want something ‘more’ but still similar. It’s not for those that want a completely changed landscape but rather the next level; like moving up to the next tier of roller coasters as a kid. It’s more detailed and stronger in the bass than stock cables and a still impressive high range section but without the premium cost of the Silvers.
The last cable in our lineup is also the newest one and the baby of the group. The Bronze Dragon here is a version 1 compared to the version 2s of the others. Getting into this cable, I found it to have the least presentation of the bunch. It’s not the kid vying for attention with a sling of “Me me me!” like the other two and is the quiet child of the family. It’s similar to the Silver Dragon V2 in that it really pulls the background elements close together albeit not as intimately as the former. For me, it’s a cable that relaxes the listener as its also the least active of the bunch. Mids and vocals are far mellower and laid back. The singers are flatter sounding from a frequency point of view and don’t have as many dynamic fluctuations. It doesn’t have as much forward presentation or detail as the other cables and is suitable for those that like electronic dance, trance, or even some types of jazz. The low end is subtly increased in quantity giving it more girth down low but doesn’t have the same extension as the other two.
The Bronze Dragon is a purpose-built cable while the other two are general drop on and use. You have to go into this cable with a need for it to fill something out there or be more relaxed over here. This cable didn’t pair well with my InEarz Euphoria as it already had everything it needed and was just in need of mass improvements that the other two cables provided. However pairing it with my InEarz Zen 2 which I found to be too anemic, sharp, bright, and bass light and the fit made much more sense. It was much easier to listen to the Zen 2 for long hours after pairing the two together. The Bronze Dragon is a helping hand and pulls those that just need that final oomph to get to where the listener wanted to be. At the same price as the Black Dragon V2, this one serves a different purpose. Get the Black Dragon V2 if you already like everything about your IEMs and want a push forward. Get the Bronze Dragon if you have a set of IEMs you like but feel its lacking in areas of bass, want a more relaxed midrange to cool it down, and are fine with a more mellow presentation.
There’s no doubt that the Moon Audio Dragon lineups do their job, and they do it well. They are not inexpensive and aren’t going to be the first option for the budget conscious audiophile but are designed for music lovers looking for the most in transparency and detail retrieval. The Dragons are great performing cables for audiophiles that want to take the guesswork out of cable buying. These cables are already tested and vetted by Moon Audio to have the sonic performance that they deemed superior and are integrated with specific combinations of materials and metals to do so. The website configurator further reduces any compatibility woes that audiophiles are often met with shopping many other cable manufacturers. Moon Audio is the easiest solution for cables and I highly recommend those that want to step up the game of their IEMs check out the Dragon lineup.