Prion4 Headphone Cable: DHC’s Masterpiece
Starting at $1,999.00 for your custom cable.
Over the past 8 years, the Complement project has evolved tremendously – the first prototypes encompassed the best
that we could build with the materials we could readily find. Now, it is an exact translation of our imagination and desire – a cost-no-object, uncompromising vision. Complement4 and Spore4 Silver received numerous accolades, and stand tall as some of the most effective headphone upgrades available, with specifications we have long considered to be “just right.” Prion was always an unspoken working title for our most unreasonable, complex, and sometimes unbuildable designs. Now, we have finally taken action to bring these designs to life.
Prion4 is a substantial upgrade over previous flagships, with universal acclaim.
Sajid Amit’s favorite Susvara cable:
“Looks like it was carved from the debris of a dying star on Asgard…”
Prion4 wows Headfonia reviewers!
“…it represents one of the biggest improvements I heard in any cable so far. It is definitely one of the best cables out there and it deserves its spot on our Best Accessories list.”
Audioholics review – paired with Hifiman Susvara!
One word comes to mind when listening with this cable – and that is effortless. With such a sonic improvement to the stock cable,
I am surprised that cables could make this much of a difference. Not only is transparency brought to the forefront, along with
outstanding micro-detailing, separation and accuracy but macro-dynamics are also strong with extensive top and bottom range
contributing to a highly engaging side that combines powerful precision with dynamism and emotional involvement. In addition,
the expansive nature of these cables works wonders for the already capable Susvaras. If that were not enough, recordings sound
alive with lack of grain, nuances and fast decay speeds. While the Prion 4 headphone cable is not cold or irritably bright, it does
benefit from a tube stage which adds even more staging width as well as some welcomed midrange bloom. Overall, these are
most transparent, refined and involving cables I have ever come across. For that reason, these should be considered as a reference
headphone cable for anyone without a budget in sight.
— Smit Patel
Positive Feedback’s Brutus Award Winner 2016!
“…Incredibly detailed. Atmospheric. Transparency in spades. No sense of grain
or of any constriction. And bloody quick…the Double Helix Cables are my current
reference standard for headphones, for sure.”
— Dr. David Robinson, Positive Feedback Online
DHC flagships featured in the world’s top headphone setup (WA234 + MSB Select DAC) @ Mono and Stereo –
New review of Prion4 and some custom DHC interconnects @ Chiphell (in Chinese, lots of photos too)
Many of the features adopted by other headphone cables originated at DHC.
First OCC silver headphone cable – Silver Complement, 2009.
First shielded, multi-layer dampened headphone cable with separate left/right cables – Complement, 2009.
First insulated OCC litz wire – Molecule SE, 2012.
First headphone cable with conductive polymer shielding insulation – Complement2, 2013
First headphone cable with conductive anti-static center core – Complement3, 2014
First headphone cable incorporating an insulated cotton-dielectric wire – Complement4, 2014
First headphone cable with hybrid multicore – conductive center + cotton outer cores – Molecule Extreme, 2014
First cable to incorporate all of the above – Prion4, 2016
Introducing – the Integrated Wire, generation 2.
An integrated wire offers a complete multilayer construction around each signal wire, machine-made for consistency and hand-finished into a cable built to your specifications. The goal is to create conditions around the silver strands that allow them to perform to their true potential. This series of machine-applied, precise layers is DHC’s original design.
Multicore type4/type6 layout.
The more complex nature of Prion’s colossal 18.8awg conductors requires a second level of six cores, made of pure cotton, to organize the bundles. This provides support and damping throughout the wire.
Prion4 is the ultimate for Raal Requisite SR1a ribbon headphones! The benefits of Prion4’s large gauge size are realized for these ribbon headphones, which have an impedance of just 0.2 ohm, and thus will not perform properly with thinner cables that add to this very low resistance. Prion4’s resistance is shockingly low, outside the range of our best multimeter.
Carbon-polymer outer shielding insulation.
This material, pioneered by DHC, allows us to thoroughly shield each Integrated Wire without the use of heavier metal shields, for a featherweight, purist flagship cable. It blocks a wide bandwidth of interference while being light & flexible.
Flexible Teflon secondary dielectric layer.
This minimal-absorption, high dielectric strength material allows us to maintain the integrity of the inner wire construct while optimizing the cable for the perfect balance of low inductance and capacitance. The use of Teflon ensures that Prion4 is greatly lighter & more flexible than previous DHC flagships.
Pure cotton primary dielectric layer.
A cable industry first. DHC offers the first-ever cable with a matrix of cotton braided around the silver strands inside a durable, insulated cable. The result is a cable with cotton as its true primary insulation – a material that does not add or subtract charge from the strands, damps vibration, and offers superior dielectric strength to practically everything – without the strands or constructs being vulnerable, as the cotton-encased central construct is protected in the outer layers.
18.8awg (~19awg) pure OCC silver.
The 14-bundle design of Complement4 expands to 30 bundles arranged into six subgroups; Prion contains more than double the amount of OCC silver as Complement4. The ultrapure single-crystal OCC silver bundles are arrayed into a cylindrical-tube layout inside each Complement4 Integrated Wire. Not just any OCC silver, we have combed the world for silver that sounds this way, casting many possible designs and materials aside. This metal is chosen for its unique combination of precision and forgiveness. We find it less harsh-sounding than any copper, even with troublesome recordings, due to its wide bandwidth for detail and realism.
Center conductive/damping core.
DHC helped introduce type 4 and type 6 layouts with our original Peptide V2 type 4 wires – an optimized configuration with a core of damping material at the center, avoiding the wire’s “dead spot” at its center. With Prion4, we take the damping core feature to a higher level with our conductive core – a DHC first. The core is made of a resistive material that absorbs any internal static buildup, while also allowing vibration damping on all sides of the silver strands – they are “sandwiched” between cotton and this core – the perfect internal environment.
Complement’s channel isolation.
Each channel’s pair of Integrated Wires is isolated into individual sleeves, and we typically do not twist these channel pairs together, providing separate cables for 3-pin XLR models and two separate cables ending in a 4-pin XLR or 1/4″ plug otherwise. For cables with y-splits, we wind the pairs carefully together into a star quad, preserving channel integrity.
Exclusive sleeves. A huge variety of DHC’s sleeves are available, with many base colors and metallic tracers, including some of our favorites: white/metallic silver, black/antique gold, and black/red. The new Prion Signature sleeve is available exclusively for Prion4, featuring dual-colored metallic tracers (copper and silver) on a dark gray sleeve. The signature sleeves have expanded to blue/silver, red/gold, and green/gold colorways. If you would like to nominate a new color combination, just ask.
Despite its extreme nature, the thickness of the Prion4’s four cables are only 13% greater than those of Complement4, as the larger silver construct inside is still only one part of the complete design. The cable is light & flexible for what it is, aided by its unusual design.
No gimmick upgrades.
Many cable companies are constantly adding different alloys and platings of low-conductivity precious metals like palladium, platinum, and gold in the stranding. This is a contrived cable development method intended to inflate prices by offering something “beyond” silver, but is akin to offering different varieties of sugar to put in your gas tank. Many trendy platinum-group metals are only 15% of the conductivity of copper, and are best saved for jewelry or connector plating – and most precious metal alloys are 1/5 to 1/10 the performance of the dominant metal (silver or copper). For this reason, you will not see any records of these alloys or platings used in audio until very recently – these options are promoted to cable builders by the wire factories, but do not have any known scientific, electrical, or professional applications.
We’re satisfied with Prion4’s design – as the best for nearly all customers -with the best conductive material and layout we’ve found after 8 years, one can expect it to stay at the top. We will continue to add new sleeves, decorative 3D printed cast-metal parts, and compatibility with new headphones.
Only the best plugs hand-chosen by us are available for Prion4, including Eidolic’s complete lineup of connectors. Due to its specifications, only certain terminations are available, so if they are not listed below, then they are not an option.
PEERLESS Eidolic 4-pin XLR.
If your amplifier has 4-pin XLR, this is the way to go. If you don’t have a 4-pin XLR amp, it’s your ticket to a significant upgrade – the Peerless XLR. Made with rhodium-plated pure silver pins, PTFE Teflon insulator, and an aluminum/titanium shell, it is simply the finest amp-end connector ever created.
Recommended pairings. This cable is offered for specific headphones – we recommend it highly for Susvara, Caldera, Abyss, Meze Elite, Utopia, LCD5, HD800, Final D8000, Stealth and Expanse, Raal, and other flagships.
For a more portable cable that also works with IEMs – with much of Prion4’s capability – check out Complement C.
Expand compatibility with Triple Threat adapters. We offer compatibility with other headphones (only the ones listed as valid headphone types in the Prion4 headphone type menu) by way of short adapters to convert the cable’s upper connectors to another headphone type. Pick Ultrashort triple threat adapters for the best possible performance and shortest length. Pick Prion adapters for adapters made with the same materials as the cable, which add length & flexibility, avoiding multiple connectors joined together at the earcup. While Ultrashort Triple Threat adapters are the most minimal possible connection, they may not be ergonomic enough for some customers, so we offer both options.
Y-Split options. As a purist cable, Prion4 did not originally offer y-splits. For 2022 we have used next-generation mold construction and high-volume investment casting to offer the most popular y-split we used to make one at a time with 3D printing. Offering even better resolution than ever before, the Prion4 “Labyrinth” splitter is a hand-drawn DHC original. Available in rhodium-plated bronze, 18kt gold-plated bronze, “antique” natural bronze, and “antique” natural copper. The plated finishes are bright and eye-catching, while the hand-sanded antique finishes are a perfect match for the latest ZMF headphone grilles. Optimization of the casting molds keeps weight down to a modest 18 grams. These exact same designs/materials were a $150 unit cost for us before, but we are able to add these beautiful creations at no additional cost for your Prion4.
The “classic” layout with separated pairs for left and right continues to be available, with a “Chimera clip” joiner in place of the y split to help manage the cables near the top.
Ready to travel. Includes a DHC white PVC case large enough for your Prion4 and maybe a DAP.
No questions asked warranty. Accidental damage is rare, but we’ll fix it for free for life, or re-terminate it at a low cost.
Prion4 cylinder badge
An optional enhancement – a 3D printed cast sterling silver or bronze cylinder with Prion4 marque plate.
The cylinder has the DHC logo on the flip side with tiny holes comprising the logo’s dots.
Standard is the DHC titanium CNC logo cylinder on Prion4.
We have made custom Prion4 with 3D printed precious metal y-splits for years – while we are very proud of our expanded-production “Labyrinth” splits, which use economies of scale to allow them as a standard feature, let us design a one-off just for you.
Closing gaps. With two flagship headphones, where one is preferred to another, Prion4 will push the under-performing headphone ahead of the higher-performing headphone (assuming both headphones were using the same cable before Prion4 was added).
Focus. It’s just like being Neo in the Matrix and the objects on the soundstage are the bullets. Time feels like it’s slowing; details that escaped you before come into focus. If our previous flagship was a microscope, Prion4 is Google for details – it relentlessly extracts all the content of the music file and exposes it clearly.
That first song feeling. The special quality of the first track in your listening session never goes away; the lack of fatigue and presentation of unfamiliar details helps maintain this sensation.
Treble refinement. Not every song with harsh treble is actually harsh – the treble simply needs to be managed properly without its nuances taken away, or else it becomes grating and unlistenable. Putting Prion4 through the brightest and most sibilant tracks, the upper frequencies are delicate, laid back, and presented with confidence.
The midrange has heart. Does your favorite cable & headphone bring tears to your eyes sometimes? Convincing emotion can’t be simulated with lesser equipment – it has to be felt. I’m reliving what I felt the first time I heard a song.
The right amount of bass. Plenty of punch and slam, with complete extension – but never bleeding into the other frequencies improperly. Intelligent bass.
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