Today’s feature is an in-depth review of the PLUSSOUND Hybrid+ which is a new coaxial type aftermarket copper and silver hybrid IEM cable. It is priced at $1299.99.
Disclaimer: This is a sample sent to us in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links. We thank the team at PLUSSOUND for giving us this opportunity.
To read more about PLUSSOUND products that we have previously featured on Headfonics click here.
Note, that this article follows our latest scoring guidelines which you can read up on here.
The Hybrid+ is the second of two cables launched to celebrate PLUSSOUND’s 10th-anniversary launch in 2022 with the first being the Silver+. It is also the third of their new coaxial design range if you count the Copper+ which we reviewed earlier this year.
You could argue that this is the middle child of the range both in terms of pricing as well as combining the silver and copper elements from the other cables to produce what we hope to be the best aspects of both elements.
Our sample reviewed today is from the PLUSSOUND EXO range but you can also opt for a Hybrid+ configuration in the X series, the Apollonian Series, the Echo Series, the Poetic Series, and the Verse Series.
The Hybrid+ is the only one of the three cables to have more than one element. It draws from both the Silver+ and the Copper+ using both a high purity UP-OCC silver and UP-OCC Copper. However, this is not a blended alloy, rather it’s a 4-wire in a 2 x 2 configuration so the elements remain pure and unmixed at the thread level.
Because the wiring is lifted from the other two + cables the gauge remains the same at 24AWG which is higher than PLUSSOUND older 26AWG creations. The two silver wires will also have a bit more stranding thickness to keep the silver element more stable.
The larger gauge size should mean resistance levels are going to be a bit lower than a 26AWG equivalent. You should also get an improved high-frequency production with better skin depth for improved conduction for 26AWG equivalents.
That also means the overall diameter of the Hybrid+ is similarly a bit thicker or wider in diameter and should present similar handling properties to the other two + cables, (see more in the handling section further down).
The Hybrid+ uses the same coaxial geometry as the Copper+ and Silver+ with the only difference being the 4-wire build being split between the two contrasting metals.
That means that each wire has an inner conductor and an outer shield sharing a geometric axis. The core is a 24AWG UP-OCC in a single twist configuration with an outer layer of UP-OCC in 5-strand Litz configured bundles. For 2 of the wires that will be UP-OCC copper, and the other 2 will be UP-OCC silver.
In between there is a second clear type layer of PS insulation to isolate that core single silver twist from the 5 strands twisted bundle outer layer. You then have a main PS insulation jacket wrapped around that outer UP-OCC 5-strand twisted bundle.
Both the inner and outer silver wiring elements have their individual strands enameled to combat oxidization. The new unique PS shielding construction from the previous two cables is also retained, and as before it is made of silver.
This shielding has a dual purpose of protection from more potential EMI interference than cotton or braiding can offer as well as operating as a ground layer inside the Hybrid+.
It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. PLUSSOUND has combined the aesthetics to create a nice two-tone contrast of the Silver+ matte grey and the all-black from the Copper+.
The trimming on this particular Hybrid+ sample is more in line with what I hoped would be on the previous samples with a proper chrome or silver style trim to the jack barrel and the splitter.
You can, of course, elect this finish or any of the other finishings from the + range but for me, the two-tone jacket creates the perfect contrast to the supplied silver hot-stamped metallic heat shrink on both the connectors and jack barrels as well as the matching chin cinch.
The jacket itself is still that slightly stiffer external PVC-protected build and not quite as soft as the ‘non-+’ range of PLUSSOUND cables. That is further ‘plumped’ out a little by the thicker 24AWG gauge in all of the wiring.
However, like the Silver+, the Hybrid+ sample we received is a braided finish as opposed to the twisted type we had with the Copper+. You can select either style when purchasing the Hybrid+ cable but my preference is for the twisted design. It feels a little more flexible though the net result is a slightly thicker cable.
If you come quite close you might also notice the marginal diameter difference between the copper black wires and the grey silver wires due to the additional strand thickness in the UP-OCC silver build.
The Hybrid+ braiding technique is the exact same as the Silver+ sample we received a few months back. However, there does seem to be a few nuanced visual differences on closer inspection.
The primary difference is a slightly large gap between the Hybrid+ braiding loops compared to the Silver+. I am presuming physics is at play here due to the sizing difference or it could well be the contrast between grey and black that makes any gaps stand out a bit more.
Like the Silver+, The Hybrid+ is a slightly thicker cable compared to the Copper+’s slimline twisted finish but I prefer the braid because it feels a little more flexible in daily handling situations. One thing to note also is that the braid is very disciplined and will not come loose during use resulting in any nasty loops forming.
It does have a surprisingly low level of memory retention and it is slightly less springy compared to the Copper+ twisted design which is useful for tucking away in your shirt pocket.
The level of microphonics below the splitter on the hybrid+ is extremely low for this type of geometry and finishing. However, it is a shade higher than PLUSSOUND’s traditional translucent braided PS Insulation builds.
You should not really notice it that much on universal IEMs with a lower level of isolation but super passive isolating customs might amplify any wire noise.
PLUSSOUND nailed the Hybrid+ finishing this time around. The silver barrel finish is a better fit than rose gold on the matte grey of the Silver+ but since all of this is optional you can mix and match to your own personal preferences.
All barrels, hot-stamped metallic heat shrinks, and the chin cinch are constructed to the same top-class quality I come to expect from PLUSSOUND. Not once have I had a loose jack connection or barrel slip-off with those excellent screw lock designs for the connectors going back several years now.
The cinch mechanics are very good also though bear in mind that a slightly thicker cable will provide a little more resistance when moving it up and down. Still, it will not pinch the cable in an awkward manner holding its position quite well, and will not slide down involuntarily during use.
Also, there is no additional memory wire on the Hybrid+ either at the jack or connector exit. I know some like it for its molding and it can act as a further noise pacifier but I find it tends to add a bit of weight and pressure on the ear and given this cable is already quite thick I think memory wire is unnecessary.
This sample comes terminated with a 2-pin black coated aluminum screw-threaded barrel for the connectors and a 4.4mm Pentaconn for the jack.
However, you can opt for a very wide range of connections and plugs when building your cable online. Options include 3.5mm, 2.5mm, 6.35mm, USB-C, and RSA type to name but a few for the plugs, and MMCX, IPX, and RCX for the connectors.
If you are new to these coaxial types of designs you might find them a shade more ‘present’ and stiffer on the ear than the softer PVC jackets from other PLUSSOUND cable options.
However, I did find the slightly enhanced pliancy of the Hybrid+ braided technique to work better for molding the wire around my ear compared to the alternative twisted finish.
Despite its heavier gauge, the Hybrid+ is still a 4-wire construction and thus a little lighter than most 8-wire builds so weight should not be a huge concern. The slightly ‘wavier curve’ in the new PS Insulation does lift the cable off the ear slightly so you only feel it on the sides more than any pressure bearing down.
This is not a cable that will move around either staying surprisingly steady around the ear when in use. The lack of memory wire also lightens the load on the back of the ear when using the Hybrid+ with our tested monitors.
Packaging & Accessories
What was in the Copper+ and Silver+ box is exactly what you will get inside the Hybrid+. And I quite like how PLUSSOUND do their packaging so you will hear no complaints from me here.
You get a slow-profile gold-trimmed 2-piece black box with minimalist exterior styling as well as a protective transparent perspex lid on the inside to protect both the cable and its accessories during transportation.
Accessories include a decent-length black organizer strap that I do wish more companies would include because they are cheap to procure and provide a valuable function.
You also get that excellent drawstring black leather pouch and an additional silk cleaning cloth. The leather case is fairly spacious so you can stuff a few cables in there or a few monitors and the Hybrid+ cable at the same time. It discreet offering, not as durable as some of those puck-style cases you get from other companies but fits your pocket a lot better.
The Hybrid+ is exactly what you might think a good quality cable should sound like when it’s half copper and half silver though if I am being particular, there is a very slight bias to the copper.
What that means is the performance from most monitors will sound a lot bolder, punchier, and slightly clearer with a heady mix of that smoothness and bass expanse from the copper+ but alongside that power is clarity, improved definition, and a tighter delivery from the Silver+ side.
It’s the best of both worlds and one which I particularly enjoy with hybrids and large woofer BA monitors. It delivers a very vivid performance with excellent dynamic range.
In fact, the dynamic range is so convincing I initially perceived the Hybrid+ pairing as sounding much ‘bigger’ or more expansive than its Copper+ counterpart.
This is the type of cable you want if you want to liven up the dynamics of your monitor. All our test IEMs sounded robust, clear, and powerful with just enough warmth to give it a tone that’s more natural than overtly warm and smoother compared to the reference accuracy of the Silver+ coloration.
Tonally, switching from the Copper+ to the Hybrid+ is like moving from a tube amp to a smooth-sounding Class AB solid-state amplifier. The Hybrid+ is going to fatten up that fundamental, shorten the decay a little, and deliver with a sense of urgency or ‘drive’.
And yet, at the same time, the treble refinement is excellent. I had remarked in the Silver+ review how well it did with electrostatic and BA tweeter timbre and it feels almost the same treatment here with perhaps a little more warmth but not a huge amount.
It will be very hard to provoke any sharp overtones from the Hybrid+ combo with these types of drivers from the upper treble down through the mids and vocals. Monitors such as the Sultan and EXT had crystal clear electrostatic treble with a very pure quality free of additional harmonic dissonance.
Staging & Dynamics
You could be forgiven if you thought the AWG on the Hybrid+ was a grade higher compared to the Copper+ given how much more immediate the presentation was using our selected IEM pairings.
In most instances, the Hybrid+ sounded more open and complex in its staging and dynamics compared to the Copper+ with a lot more perceived bass depth.
I would argue the low-end extension on both cables feels the same. Neither are neutral. Rather, the Copper+’s softer lilt is not as distinct and as well-defined on the low-end and lacks the same level of definition and layering as the Hybrid+ when paired with dynamic drivers.
It’s clear that the silver influence is adding a layer of refinement to our tested monitor’s staging quality. In most instances, there is a shortening of the decay a little to further enhance the sense of space. You get less of the liquid relaxed delivery from the copper side and more elements of that Silver+ panache for clarity and control.
You hear that very quickly in the mids of our test monitors such as the VE EXT and the Noble Audio Sultan when A/B’ing with the Copper+. It reduces that lushness a little in favor of greater precision and a bit more space between instruments and vocals.
As a result, your ear is going to pick up a lot more of that mids forwardness and nuanced articulation of detail from the silver side compared to the relaxed Copper+ delivery.
However, the ace up the sleeve of the Hybrid+ wiring is the copper side which retains a slightly smoother and more natural lilt to go along with the brasher vocal imaging so it refrains from ever sounding harsh or shouty on mid-forward monitors such as the Empire Ears Odin.