Linum DualBaX Zebra Cable Review

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by shotgunshane, Oct 31, 2023.

  1. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Linum DualBaX Zebra Cable
    https://www.linum.dk/products/linum-dualbax/
    MSRP: $229

    Estron provided the DualBaX Zebra cable reviewed here. I normally don’t talk much about cables beyond always desiring thinner IEM cables that are soft, pliable and with little to no memory. Ever since I first handled a Linum cable nearly a decade ago, I have been a fan of their approach to cable design. Their design aesthetic matches my own- simple, minimalist and functional.

    estron_dualbax_web960x486nnn.jpg
    Photo from Linum product page


    First, a brief history on my previous experiences with Linum cables.

    -Linum BaX-

    Back in 2014 I first became acquainted with Linum cables, when I reviewed their OG BaX balanced cable for Cymbacavum. That particular model, along with the Music and Vocal models, are the thinnest they make. According to my old review, that model was 0.9mm in diameter and weighed around 2.7 grams (0.095 oz), although the newer generation may weigh slightly more. That’s a seriously thin cable. It had a pull strength of 60n/13lbs, so it was fairly durable considering its minuscule size. The OG BaX was joy to wear, as it was virtually invisible and completely disappeared with regards to feel over the ear, even when wearing glasses. The downsides were that model tangled really easily and was a bit of a bear to untangle. Also, due to the light weight, heavier IEMs couldn’t just be dangled over your ears, if you removed them to talk to someone. Perhaps another downside to such a thin cable, or perhaps a benefit depending on use-case, were the impedance specifications:
    Vocal: 3.9Ω (out of production)
    Music: 2.0Ω
    BaX: 1.5Ω
    The higher the impedance, the greater reaction to frequency response for IEMs designed with balanced armatures. I could see owners of the OG Campfire Andromeda being interested in the effects of the increased impedance.

    upload_2023-10-31_21-37-52.png
    OG BaX with my custom made Ultimate Ears In-Ear Reference Monitor in 2014


    -Linum SuperBax-

    Sometime in 2015 Linum reached out again about a new cable they were about to bring to market, the SuperBax, which I also reviewed for Cymbacavum. The SuperBax is essentially a doubled up version of the BaX; it’s a quad core twisted design. The SuperBax has a weight around 8 grams and a pull strength of 120n/26lbs. While being a doubled version of the BaX, it is still a pretty thin cable and has excellent usability (still soft, pliable and disappears in use). The twisted quad core meant improved, decreased impedance rated at 0.75Ω, and perhaps most importantly, it is virtually tangle free!

    The quote Linum still uses on the SuperBax product page is from that review: "The SUPER BaX is everything I wished the current BaX could have been and more. It is far superior to the original in every aspect and is a complete joy to use. Shotgunshane”

    Both the original BaX and SuperBax are still in production and are in their second generation.

    3cables.jpg
    Top: My greening Stock UERM Plastics One (P1tech) cable, Left: Linum SuperBaX, Right: Linum BaX


    Back to the future…

    -Linum DualBax Zebra-

    All Linum cables are designed and manufactured by Estron A/S, the Danish parent company, and all their parts and are manufactured in Vietnam with Estron’s equipment. Linum design esthetics are for strong, yet light weight cables with minimalist looks. In other words, thin (really thin), soft, functional and dependable. As of Halloween 2023, Linum is launching it’s latest new model, the DualBax in Zebra version, that I’m reviewing here on SBAF.

    Every Linum cable is based on es-Linum® with at least a minimum 6 conductors made of 7 individual strands. Higher end models, like the DualBaX, have many more. Each strand is silver plated copper in litz structure with enamel. Marketing materials state its strength comes from aramid fibers. I had to google this, as I wasn’t familiar with it. Apparently aramid fibers are similar to Kevlar, which is basically just a brand name. Aramid fibers offer one of the best strength to flexibility ratios when compared to other types of fibers. The DualBaX Zebra is dual braided pair with 224 strands. It’s pull strength is 180n/40lbs, so it’s much stronger than the previous models that I’ve experienced.

    The jacket, like all LInum models is made from TPA, which is 'skin-friendly and will not corrode'. Meaning the jacket itself will never turn green. It is also UV stabilized so it shouldn’t turn yellow from sun exposure either. In my experience, TPA remains soft and pliable over the long haul, whereas PVC starts out possibly softer but could harden over time depending on environmental factors. Speaking of jackets, currently the DualBaX is limited to the Zebra version reviewed here, but other Linum models may have options in all transparent or all black.

    Coiled Kato.jpeg
    I think the Zebra looks pretty darn good on Moondrop Kato

    The DualBax Zebra is available in 2Pin and T2 connector only. For a while 2Pin was phased out of the Linum catalog but has been brought back due to demand. MMCX, however, is not available. A small T2 to MMCX adapter is available for about $23 a set. The T2 connector is proprietary and supposedly much more robust over standard MMCX and 2Pin. Some examples of manufacturers now using the T2 connector are: 64Audio, Etymotic, Ultimate Ears and Westone and there are others.

    Terminations are available in 3.5mm single ended and 4.4 balanced. The 3.5mm plug is right angle, while the 4.4 balanced is straight. Weight is around 8 grams for single ended and 13 grams for balanced, as the plug is larger and heavier. It comes in the standard Linum length of 50”. Click here for a grid of complete options by model: https://www.linum.dk/shop/buy-now/

    Perhaps most importantly, impedance is rated at a respectably low 0.6Ω and this cable is most certainly tangle-free.

    Cable Comparison.jpeg
    A Visual Comparison
    Top: Truthear Nova stock cable (fabric covered), Middle: XINHS aftermarket cable (PVC jacket), Bottom: Linum DualBaX Zebra cable (TPA jacket)



    USAGE NOTES:


    In use, removing my IEMs with the DualBaX Zebra from storage is a breeze. It easily uncoils and will lay very flat against your body. It maintains little to no memory, meaning you don’t see kinks or curls.

    The braid below the Y-split is tight, as opposed to loose, so there are no loose strands to accidentally snag. With typical thicker cables, usually tighter braids lead to a stiffer feel versus a looser braid but that’s just not a concern here; the tighter braid keeps the overall diameter of the cable very thin, from housing pins to the terminating plug. I’m really liking the more boutique braided look of the DualBax versus the more traditionally pro twisted look of the SuperBaX and UltraBaX models.

    Speaking of the Y-split, it has a chin slider with the ability to lock into position to keep from sliding back down. This is a genius design that I really appreciate. I’m not positive but this feature looks to be limited to DualBaX, UltraBaX and SuperBaX. I like a functioning chin slider on my cables and its surprising how many cables are either supplied without a chin slider or one that doesn’t hold its positing very well, sliding back down to the Y-split. The Linum chin slider is the best functioning I’ve come across.

    upload_2023-10-31_21-30-25.png


    The twisted cable to going to the 2pin connectors is very thin and disappears in usage, even with glasses. I would love for all my cables to fit this comfortably with glasses. This is something that has become more important to me as I became a full time glasses wearer a few years ago. Even though the cable is vanishingly thin, you are still able to hang the IEMs off your ears to talk to someone. I had no problem hanging the Kato off my ears with the DualBaX.

    The DualBaX used in this review is from a trial production run, but I’ve received confirmation this next particular design element will be the same in all production units: the clear preformed ear hooks do not tuck into the over-molded pin connectors. There is a tiny gap and this allows them have a little bit of a swivel, which I feel might aid in the relaxed feel of the preformed shape. Some preformed ear hooks, on other brands’ cables, can be really aggressive; some so aggressive as to pull the IEM back out of your ears over time. The DualBaX is so lightweight though, I would imagine it still wouldn’t do this if it were tucked into the over-molded pin connector. The DuaBaX preformed ear hooks were comfortable and never bothered me. I’m told this tiny gap between the ear hooks and pin connector improved durability of the 2pin connector and was thoroughly tested. You can see the small gap in the photo with the coiled Kato above.

    The right angle plug works great for small portables like the Qudelix 5k, particularly with in pocket usage, but on desktop devices, a straight plug would much more welcomed. I used the Kato, DualBaX combo a lot with the Qudelix 5k and walked around the house frequently. I didn’t experience any annoying microphonics.

    5k DualBaX.jpeg
    Moondrop Kato, Linum DualBaX Zebra, Qudelix 5k


    The DualBaX is an evolutionary cable comprised of every improvement Linum has made over the years. It is simply a joy to use. It looks fantastic in its Zebra skin and I would love to have it on more of my IEMs. However, at $229, it is on the upper end pricing of cables. If you prefer thin cables, there really is nothing out there like Linum cables, and this might be their best one yet.


    Linum no longer sells direct. Warner Tech-Care is the currently the United States dealer and is also a world wide distributor. This landing page shows consumer pricing without having to create an account: https://linum.warnertechcare.com/
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2023
  2. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    I was considering getting one of these a long while ago because of how frustrated I was with how stiff the Campfire Super Litz cables got, but the lack of native MMCX support was off-putting. How robust is the adapter? Kinda worried the added mass could end up straining the IEM-side connectors more.

    Definitely premium pricing on these, but I guess that's normal in the IEM market-- everything is ridiculously priced on the higher end. Glad to hear they still drape well years down the line, but asking for fellow clumsy folk: how good is the shear resistance on the sheathing, and how well do they damp mechanical noise like shirt friction or bumps?
     
  3. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    @Lyander, I haven’t used or seen the MMCX adapters in person, so can’t say first hand how it fits. Knowing Linum’s design goals, I’d expect it to be durable. However, there could always be compatibility issues, as there are many different kinds of MMCX pins and connectors on the market. Linum has some info on MMCX compatibility and the use of “star washers”, which I assume come with the MMCX adapters. If the native MMCX pins don’t fit, the star washers should resolve any fit issues.
    https://www.linum.dk/support/starwasher/

    Otherwise I wouldn’t expect them to add much bulk, considering how small everything is with Linum. I have read on Discord of some IEM users, with other cable brands, using OE Audio 2Pin to MMCX adapters (and vice versa) with no bulk issues and no reported durability issues that I’ve seen. Not that this would have any direct correlation to Linum adapters but just mention it as a data point.

    I could discuss with Linum about testing these adapters in the future with a T2 cable, but at the moment I no longer have any MMCX IEMs in my collection. The exception being some flatheads/earbuds but they are typically used hanging straight down.

    I had no microphonics when walking around the house with the Kato on DualBaX. In fact, I tried tapping on the cable multiple times to create some mechanical noise. It took me tapping quite hard, much harder than any typical walking movement causes, to create any appreciable noise.
     
  4. oldschool

    oldschool Acquaintance

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    I don't know much about cables and haven't used that many over the years but I did buy a regular BaX some ~7 years ago to use on my EarSonics Velvet. The diffrence in sound compared to the stock cable was night and day, a huge improvement.
     
  5. goodvibes

    goodvibes Facebook Friend

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    Obviously a quality product. Some will say they don't hear sound differences beyond impedance (resistance) but I personally experience pronounced differences. If this was a good sonic interface, I'd have no problem with this price for that sort of top notch parts and build.
     

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