The Arctand RUBI headphone cable is a hybrid silver-plated copper (SPC) and OCC silver cable retailing for $380 (price varies with length).
Arctand is a boutique cable manufacturer that specializes in high-grade custom data and audio cables. Its founder, Darren Chan, has many years of experience in professional audio production which sparked his obsession with custom audio cables. This eventually led him to create his own cables that aim to “blur the line between the ‘professional’ and ‘audiophile”.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Build quality and durability
Enhanced resolution and imaging
Organic, natural tone
Cable is a bit stiff
Packaging & Accessories
The RUBI headphone cable arrived in a premium black faux leather carrying case with the Arctand logo stamped on the front corner. The case is large enough to comfortably fit the cable but is still small enough to store easily or carry in a small bag.
As its name would suggest, the RUBI is a striking ruby red colour (other colours are available on request). The wires are sheathed in a strong nylon sleeve that gives the cable a lustrous, semi-glossy aesthetic. Internally, RUBI consists of silver-plated Type-6 Litz OCC copper mixed with a solid-core OCC silver.
There are many connectors and terminations available. If you have any specific requirements or requests, you can contact Arctand to customize your own hardware. My RUBI came with a straight 4.4mm balanced termination with a carbon fibre pattern and polished aluminium trim.
The 3.5mm connectors are matching polished aluminium and there’s a red ring on the right-side connector for easy identification. I chose 3.5mm so I could use the RUBI with 2 of my favourite headphones, the Meze 99 Classics and Hifiman Sundara. Finally, the Y-split is lightweight aluminium with a subtle Arctand logo on one side.
In terms of handling, the RUBI is somewhat stiff which has both upsides and downsides. It might not be the most appealing to those who like softer cables, although Arctand told me that there will likely be a carbon fibre sleeve option in the future.
The upside is that stiffer cables are much less prone to tangling, a category the RUBI certainly fits in. I personally prefer stiffer or more robust cables for use with my desktop rigs, so the RUBI is ideal for that purpose.
The Arctand RUBI is a cable that finds a middle ground between technicality and musicality. While it adds a hint of warmth to the overall tone and improves bass extension, it also injects an element of refinement, most readily heard in the form of clearer details and enhanced resolution.
Stereo imaging is vivid while the position of vocals and instruments is easy to pinpoint. It doesn’t necessarily make the stage sound any bigger but it makes it more organized with blacker space between instruments, values implicit with improved resolution.
I find it particularly good at revealing texture on guitar strings. The guitar and flute in Solaris’ “Returnity (Return to Eternity)I-VI” sound so lifelike and realistic, almost as if you are in the room with them. The vocals near the beginning of the song float in space, occupying the centre image surrounded by a cacophony of sounds but without any blurring in between.
RUBI’s resolving capabilities again come to the fore in Loreena McKennitt’s “The Gates of Istanbul”. Each of the many instruments occupies its own space on the stage and there are clear layers of depth within that stage. The light bongos on the far left side can still be clearly heard even during the heavy vocal segments where Loreena’s voice is sonorous and vibrant.
Jakob’s “Everything All Of The Time” becomes much more than the simplistic track that it appears to be through lesser audio chains. The kick drum is punchy but controlled and the electric guitars come to life with each modulation and note change. Each subtle nuance throughout the song is clearly defined, even during the busy section starting at 2:37 where some setups struggle to maintain composure.
Meze 99 Classics
Warm, inviting and smooth, the 99 Classics are a headphone I could listen to from dawn till dusk. With the RUBI, the Classics render additional texture on bass notes and take on a hint of added midrange body. But the best part about this pairing is the increase in overall resolution. The 99 Classics maintain their warm character but it becomes infused with additional technical ability.
The soundstage is more organized with blacker air between instruments and greater imaging precision. It becomes wider too albeit without any brighter or noticeable lift in treble forwardness. This cable really highlights the 99 Classics’ ability to scale with the rest of the audio chain which is why it’s still such a great headphone today (not to mention its gorgeous design).
The Hifiman Sundara takes on a more organic character when paired with the RUBI. Bass notes are slightly fuller but still have that intense level of planar control. Midrange notes gain a hint of body too, a kind of warm halo but one that leaves Sundara’s fast transients intact.
Being a highly resolving headphone by nature, the additional effect of the RUBI makes for an exquisitely holographic experience. The soundstage becomes a little wider and the stereo imaging is sublime with every detail from left to right distinctly audible. The Sundara’s transparency is still there but it’s delivered with a little extra musicality and spirit.
For those who insist on getting the absolute best possible performance from their audio setup, custom cables inevitably become part of the process. The Arctand RUBI is a cable that allows me to attain a more optimal experience with some of my favourite headphones. Although the ergonomics could be improved, the audio quality is unquestionable.
This is a cable that blends warmth and confidence with intensified resolution and precise imaging. It might not provide the starkest or most vivid presentation that some people strive towards. But those looking for enhanced technicalities while maintaining an organic, natural musicality will find the RUBI the perfect candidate.
You can learn more about the RUBI series and Arctand’s other cables from the official website: https://arctand.com/