Needless to say, there are small and large portable audio brands coming out every now and then. Most of them are lead by one dedicated team – but what happens when if a brand is created by multiple renowned pre-existing brands? Well, that is the case of Nostalgia Audio – ‘the Avengers’ brand co-founded by multiple professional brands and personnel around the globe.
Having the spirit of the brand itself is based in Hong Kong, Nostalgia Audio products are actively designed and shepherded by brands from Japan, Poland, and so on. Nostalgia Audio first introduced their first IEM, Benbulbin, as well as two premium custom cables – Olorin and Gandalf. We shall feature more articles and reviews about Nostalgia Audio, so keep your eyes on this brand and stay tuned for future releases. For today, let us check out one of their premium cable, the Olorin.
Olorin comes in with a nice clean box. The outer silvery box is lightly engraved with cable drawings with a black Nostalgia Audio logo placed at the front. As sliding out the inner box reveals a black package that includes the nicely presented Olorin and its accessories. Other than the cable itself, Olorin comes with a soft pouch, a leather cable tie, a set of modular plugs (3.5mm TRS, 2.5mm TRRS, 4.4mm TRRS), and a warranty card. Apparent as it is, the lower plug is interchangeable which will be elaborated as we proceed with the review. The included brown pouch has a soft, fluffy texture that goes along well with its name (Nostalgia) – whether it was intended or not. The cable tie is quite good in terms of quality and does not feel flimsy or fragile.
Olorin is directed in Hong Kong and handcrafted in Japan. It uses a coaxial design, comprised of 6N OCC Pure Silver wires with Silver-Plated PCUHD 4N Copper shielding, and then finished with a PVC insulation. This leads Olorin to have a good thickness (thicc!) for a 2-braided cable. The thickness is nothing close to being chunky, of course. Nostalgia Audio also states that Olorin uses Audio Note 6% silver solders with rhodium-plated connectors.
The strain-relief finishes on both ends are applied accordingly and appropriately. The Y-split component and the IEM connectors are also made of metal that go along well with the overall looks. The wires are quite soft and pliable, not allowing much microphonics to occur while wearing them. I would have liked to see a chin slider to be installed but not a big deal. It is also understandable since it is difficult to make a functional chin slider as Olorin does not have braidings on the upper rest of the cable.
Superb Switching Plug
Speaking of connectors, Olorin is also applied with the latest trend going on in the cable market – interchangeable plugs. Nostalgia Audio includes three variations of connector choices as default (2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm) that allow immense usability. Olorin’s interchangeable Superb Plug uses a screw design that holds sturdy onto the plug. Perhaps this is the most promising looking in terms of durability. The plug has some weight and size but does not particularly affect the comfort while using it. Although Olorin supplies the three most common end terminations by default (what to ask more for a default accessory?), there are several more terminations that are actually compatible with Olorin – such as Type-C, balanced 3.5mm TRRS, or even XLR. The mentioned terminations and the rest have to be purchased from elsewhere, but anyhow, it is a big plus for Olorin to be using a connector that provides the largest plug variation as of now.
First off, Olorin is an all-rounder that does not shift drastically to power-up a particular element of the sound. The first improvement I could catch is that the sound feels tighter and faster in speed all while not killing the reverbs. This leads the bass strikes to feel more chewy and elastic in texture. Now, the bass. What comes up to your thoughts if thinking of a pure silver cable? If you have experienced a good amount of custom cables, perhaps one of the thoughts that came up to your mind would be the decline of bass quantity. Well, that is not the case in Olorin at all, however.
General Sound Characteristics
Olorin does not take lightly in bringing out the low-end details by any means, oozing out a deep, thick, and dark bass presence. Interestingly enough, Olorin actually performs better even compared to some pure copper cables. Low-ends tend to get heavier and thicker (darker) in color, which also maintains great cleanliness as the reverbs are not getting bloated. Although the quantity of the bass itself does not make a significant increase, the low-end presence is strengthened noticeably as the density and darkness of the lows are vividly highlighted. That is a good way of gaining bass power without “pumping up” the quantity. Despite all that, Olorin respects its pure-silver nature, keeping the bass controlled and well leveled in its flow.
Deeper into the sound
Based on my past experiences on coaxial cables, and pure-silver cables, such types of cables generally tend to strongly add richness to the sound where the sound could get overwhelmingly vivid. Olorin, however, takes things a lot calmly and organically. The tonal balance is on the natural side as well as the three bands keeping steady balance. Mids are full-bodied and only garnished with this coaxial richness that enriches the sound only to a gentle extent. Vocals are not only escalated in richness but also in fullness and the “pushing force” of the sound. Hence IEMs with dips in vocals tend to work beautifully well with Olorin.
While I have mentioned that lows gain both clarity and body size, I have also highlighted that Olorin is very balanced in its sound signature. Upper ends are just as strongly and positively affected as the low ends did, getting the treble presence stronger with a fuller body. Olorin does make the mids-highs get clearer but does not in a telling manner – which is pleasant in terms of maintaining the original settings of the sound stage. Trebles get a lot richer, splendid in terms of texture. They also feel to be backed up with stronger pressure that leads treble splashes and instruments to sound even livelier. Olorin does a wonderful job revealing the threadings from the treble’s texture that neither feels dry or soggy. Trebles show humidity that is just about neutral, hitting the sweet spot between smoothness and unreservedness.
Let us begin these matching impressions starting from a popular full-BA IEM – Campfire Audio Ara. The first difference I could detect happens from the lows. Lows gain a generous amount of meat and body that keeps its presentation neat and clean. The depth of the bass becomes noticeably deeper and better-established, providing more of a grand basis for Ara’s bass to be placed in. Alongside, the depth and color of the bass get deeper and thicker that adds weight to the drumming slam. It would be rather common for pure-silver wires to deliver a relatively whiter, brighter background, yet Olorin forms a blacker and calmer background. These effects, overall, lead Ara to bring out noticeably more heaviness and fullness that builds up from the bottom to the top. Also, it was reasonable to find out that the ultra-low presence has also been improved with a clearer extension. The headroom also increases both vertically and horizontally, but the added-up reinforcement on the lows makes the horizontal staging especially show bolder improvements.
Upper ends also experience pleasable differences. While the overall sound signature and tonality stays very similar to the original setting, the layering becomes finer and with extra luster on the texture. Ara’s dazzling sibilance area (or the upper mids) was the part that I was questioning how Olorin would sort out. Interestingly enough, Olorin barely affects the sibilance. It does not cause any extra sibilance or spike to the upper mids that could amplify fatigue. Instead, the crispy bites that Ara shows in mids and highs are now increased in density, leading this sibilance section to sound more soothing and pleasantly tickling the ears. This does not kill off the airiness or coolness of the upper ends but only makes the upper ends become more natural and balanced in their tones. For the Ara users – I would surely suggest trying out this combo as lows gain major revamp as described as well as the upper ends sounding even elastic and tastier.
So far I cannot come up with a better cable combo than Olorin for this pure-beryllium IEM, A8000. The earliest element that I appreciate from this pairing is that the staging size and separation show immense improvement. The instrumental as well as the layering becomes better orientated and analyzed. Olorin leads A8000 to pronounce each note in a clearer and bolder manner. Staging-wise, I would like to highlight that A8000’s stock cable sure manages to provide a generous amount of size and depth – but it is just that Olorin enables to take another step beyond that. A natural, gentle one.
Let me make a simple portrayal here. If describing the impression from the original pairing (the stock cable), it would be “a large imaging packed into a slightly smaller staging area”. Objectively, that is definitely not a small staging as A8000 sounds wide enough as it is. The point is that the pairing with the stock cable leaves a bit of a margin that A8000’s staging could be extended even further. Using Olorin would equip A8000 with a stage size that is equivalently large as its imaging size, allowing A8000 to brings out its “unused potential”, which brings a noticeable step up to its performance. The overall presentation and sound characteristics stay just as beautiful it used to be – but now added with a meatier, lush touch-up throughout the ranges. The treble splashes and bits of details are also more easy-going in terms of spacing, breathing in extra airiness on the upper ends. Definitely a pleasurable way of highlighting the analyticity to a single driver IEM’s inborn accuracy in imaging.
Let us start off the matching impressions with Astrotec Phoenix. First, the lows. Once paired with Olorin, Phoenix’s lows sound more oily-rich, making the bass feel more elastic and punchy without particularly boosting the bass amount. This is particularly pleasant as I could further immerse myself in feeling the dynamics brought by the large diaphragm from Phoenix. Thoroughly presenting the natural reverbs all while keeping the low-end atmosphere clean and agile.
As I mentioned previously from my Astrotec Phoenix review, the stock cable is not quite enough to bring out the full potentials of Phoenix. Putting aside that the stock cable only comes as a 3.5mm unbalanced termination, Phoenix paired with its stock cable draws a w-shaped sound signature but with a slightly lesser emphasis on the mids. Though once Olorin kicks into the pairing, mids gently elevate in presence and power to even out with the other bands. Hence the transition from the upper lows to the mids is more even and seamless than what it used to do. Alongside, Phoenix shows improvement in density, saturation, and depth while presenting the vocals.
Highs also show benefits. Your attention may be focused on lows and mids as you dig into the difference brought by Olorin – but benefits on the highs started to gradually pop out as I enjoy this matching. Olorin’s full-bodied nature aids trebles by adding thickness and meat to the EST tweeter’s “thin and fine” characteristics. This way, trebles feel to go along more cohesively with Phoenix’s thick and grand low-ends. The treble details are not killed off as it slightly gains in its body but instead showing improved fineness and agileness. Just as Olorin did with lows and mids, highs also mildly gain driving force and power to the sound, overall making Phoenix sound lively and energized.
The difference I first detect is that the center of gravity is set on the lower side for Olorin while it is higher or elevated on Kimera. Hence the thickness, largeness, and “oozing darkness” from the bass are noticeably, but not immensely, more plentiful on Olorin. The bass grooves are thicker but all while presented just as clean and neat as Kimera. But of course, Kimera’s depth, extension, and clarity of the low-ends do not come short at all as this is simply a matter of quantity. Kimera hits back Olorin with its strong point which is its tasteful timbre. The tone is very natural with a seamless enhancement that only makes the texture gain richness. Mids are sweeter and cooler with highs that gain a finer layering that gently leads them to sound a bit more EST driver-ish in texture. Both are great all-rounders that are equal in technicality, performance, and richness – it is only the matter of slightly stressing more on either the low-ends (Olorin) or the upper-ends (Kimera).
Compared to Rhapsodio Hybrid 2
Both are very similar in overall characteristics and sound signature. However, Olorin once again proves its thorough bass quality done with pure-silver by matching up (or even exceeding in some cases) this pure-copper cable in the bass. The sub-bass quantity and color density are a bit more abundant on Hybrid 2 yet the cleanliness and constant linearity are superior on Olorin. Hybrid 2 keeps the upper lows and the lower mids closely intact that makes the transition smooth and continuous. On the other hand, Olorin floats the mids slightly higher from the upper lows, creating an airy space that causes the vocals to sound more elevated and makes a clearer division between the two bands. Of course, this is a mild difference that still keeps the low-mid transition very natural and seamless. On Olorin, mids also carry breeziness that stays mildly apparent throughout the range. This effect also gently adds transparency to the upper ends. Both are great performers and well-leveled in balance, though overall Olorin takes a bit of a lead in this match.
Natural tone, double the richness, and a cleaner, airier atmosphere. While many think pure silver cables are good mostly in the upper-ends, a truly well-made pure silver cable would produce quality bass. Olorin gives me the confidence to say that this is one of the finest examples that prove pure silver cables are also capable of producing lush bass presence and extension. In fact, its bass response is impressive even without giving it the ‘pure silver handicap’. Not to forget mentioning that Olorin sounds highly natural as we consider coaxial cable often tend to sound exaggerated in some cases.
As I recall other pure silver cables with quality bass, Rhapsodio Silver Wizard and Han Sound Audio Agni II come up to mind. However, coaxially designed cables are just mysteriously yet distinctively different in nuance and characteristics. In that sense, Olorin is one unique cable that seamlessly adds vitality and richness to the music like no other. If you are looking for a full-bodied, splendid-sounding cable with interchangeable plugs, look no further.
Thanks to Nostalgia Audio for providing Olorin in exchange for an honest impression/feedback.
I am not affiliated with Nostalgia Audio and none of my words were modded or asked to be changed.