Toxic Cables Black Widow XL: Its Venomous Desire

Toxic Cables Black Widow XL: Its Venomous Desire

Back in 2019 December, right before the pandemic hit the world globally, I had a lucky chance to visit the TPAF show or the Taiwan Portable Audio Festival. There were many fresh-released audiophile items, yet one of my highest priorities within this show was Toxic Cables. Toxic Cables is one of those cable brands that I was obsessively interested in yet simply had no luck hearing about anywhere due to the limitations of global distributors.


Though for a fact, I knew these cables were something – as their cables were always considered top-notch in both sound and lush looks. Hence the biggest reason I visited the TPAF show, basically, was to finally have a chance to listen to Toxic Cables. Without more explanation, I was thoroughly impressed with the cables that were available for the show demo. Winding forward to 2024, today I finally got my first Toxic Cable, as well as their newest product, the Black Widow XL (BW XL in short). Without further ado, let’s dig into this cable and figure out what this custom cable has to offer to us. Black Widow XL is priced at £325 or around $415.


I always wonder… is that a real snake sitting on the cable?

Just a Brief History of Toxic Cables

As a long-term silent fanboy of Toxic Cables, I wouldn’t require any explanations to understand Toxic Cables, though for those who haven’t heard about them let me make a brief introduction. Toxic Cables is a UK company that has quite a long history of making custom cables for IEM and headphones since the early 2010s, led and crafted by Frank, the founder of Toxic Cables, and Matt, the senior engineer of Toxic Cables.


Since abundant positive feedback was heard from the customers, Toxic Cables quickly started to take up the pie of custom cable popularity. However, due to personal reasons, Frank retired from the scene and Frank became the new leader & owner of Toxic Cables, and by now Toxic Cables has grown even bigger in scale and reputation, continuing its past legacy.


Specs of Black Widow XL & The Toxic Family

Toxic offers a variety of cables that use different conductors and pricing. The highly renowned Phoenix Series, Gold Widow, and Medusa Series are the flagship line-ups. The residents of Toxic’s mid-range or budget-friendly line-up include Silver Widow, Eddie Series, and Black Widow Series. Due to the accessible pricing for quality custom cable, the Black Widow Series is most abundantly enjoyed by the audiophile community.


The Black Widow XL (BW XL in short) is the newest variant of the Black Widow series, in which Toxic has restructured the BW wires into thicker strands and additional shielding. Though of course, this makes the wire significantly thicker. To compensate for this, BW XL uses a soft outer sleeve and only uses 2 braids for the IEM cables, unlike the original 4-braided Black Widows.   


Despite the aggressively thick looks, handling Black Widow XL is not as difficult as it seemed. The wires are quite pliable and not heavy (at least to the average custom cable standards). The earguides are pre-shaped to make the wearing comfortable as well as to prevent the cables from springing out of the ears. 


Overall Listening Experience: How Does the BW XL Sound?

The first difference I feel is the cleanliness of the sound. The background gets calmer with a pitch-black tone, calming down the overall area, yet letting the sound itself shine with clarity. Another core sound improvement that Black Widow XL brings is the significantly refined texture layering. The grains are finer yet smoother. The texture also sounds more organized, making the original cable has a scattered texture presentation.


Black Widow XL also adds a creamy and slightly warmer timbre to the vocals. However, the upper vocals and trebles retain shine and crisp, forming an airy upper-headroom. The bass extension also gets gently improved and does a better job of bringing out the deep, dark rumbles and vibrations from the music. Black Widow XL doesn’t make the staging significantly larger yet still makes a noticeable improvement, mainly due to bass dropping lower and a more open-ended headroom.       


Next Page: BW XL vs. Competing Cables & IEMs