Top positive review
Fantastic, fat cables with braided shielding, 2 conductors, and gold plated connectors
Reviewed in the United States on May 24, 2019
TL;DR: These cables are extremely nice quality and are free of interference and defects for a fairly low price.
I ordered these because the last few cables I bought from CableMatters were pretty good quality and arrived very quickly. These were also the right length and price for what I was looking for, except I was going to end up with *2* cables for the price I was expecting to pay for a single cable.
They came in a padded Amazon envelope and inside a single plastic bag within this envelope; the bag also had a large label on it saying it should contain 2 cables and warning the distributor that they are to stay packaged together in a pair. I guess they've had issues with separation, kind of made me laugh a tiny bit because this warning label is so prominent.
I disassembled the connector on the female end just enough to check the assembly and material quality, since I just assembled one of these recently and I knew it would be easy to take apart and put back together. I wanted to make sure I got what CableMatters claims to sell, and I'm happy to say it looks like it's all exactly what they said it is on their site.
Anyway, these cables are very thickly insulated with copper braid shielding. Supposedly there's foil in their under the copper braiding, but I couldn't see it in there and I don't want to damage anything digging for it. (Braided shielding is more effective, more expensive, and usually provides lower resistance path to ground than foil, but adding a layer of foil provides complete coverage against interference.)
Inside of the shielding, there are two conductors (separately insulated wires--hot and ground) that are very thin gauge. I'm not sure what gauge, but I'm guessing it's like 24 or 26 AWG.
The jacket of the cable (outermost layer) is soft, thick, and should be made of PVC but I don't know how to tell what the material actually is. Scratching it with my nail doesn't seem to hurt it. Text is printed at regular intervals on it in a very clear font; it contains their logo and reads, "Cable Matters (THEIR WEBSITE URL)HIGH QUALITY MICROPHONE CABLE" and does not otherwise describe the ratings or properties of the cable; I would have liked to know the ratings and maybe who manufactures the cable material (I don't think CM makes the wire in-house, I think they just modify and assemble it), but that's me.
You can disassemble these connectors by gently unscrewing the black plastic strain relief cones from the metal connector housings.
The connectors seem to be some Neutrik XLR gold-plated connectors, which have been repainted in semi-gloss black, do not have the stamped NEUTRIK labels on the strain relief or housing, and have a silkscreened small CableMatters logo opposite of the latching mechanism. I'm not sure which model line (eg XX, EMC) the connectors are, and I can't be completely sure if they are actually NEUTRIK or just look the same. The springy plastic ring around the strain relief can probably be swapped for Neutrik's XXR-n (swap n for numbers 0 through 9) color coding rings. These are currently $0.25 or so each if you order them from electrical supply companies, such as Mouser or Allied, but if you really want them from an Amazon vendor, I saw a listing selling them for $6 *each* with an additional ~$7 in shipping, or another listing that sells them for about $8 shipped. :)
The paint looks like the polyester powdercoating that I've seen on Hoffman industrial enclosures at work, except thinner, so I believe it's the same stuff. It's not a very tough paint, in my experience; it will probably scuff somewhat easily if you drag or hit it against metal, but I also think that since it's thin, it probably is at least not going to have poor adhesion or just flake off, and it shouldn't get damaged by fingernails, wood, or plastic.
The wires and shielding are soldered to the connector pins and tab; the solder is shiny, I was not able to pry off any connections with my fingernail (I'd rather know if they are cold-soldered sooner rather than in the middle of a gaming session), and the insulation of the wires and connector isolator material are not deformed or melted. These cables are probably assembled by hand and the workmanship is absolutely fantastic.
Using the direct monitor setting, even with my pre-amp's mic gain setting turned all the way to +60 dB, the sound through this cable is crystal-clear and no detectable hiss. I can clearly hear sparrows chirping and wind blowing through my open window with how high I have the gain set; when I swap to my old cobbled-together coax abomination cable, there is a lot of popping, there is a low hum, and everything going through my mic sounds horribly distorted. I wish I had a "real" XLR cable that I could compare it to.
NOTE: My pre-amp has noise filtering, so it's possible that some interference may still be getting picked up in this cable and the amp is managing to filter it all out enough that I can't detect it at full gain. The pre-amp definitely doesn't filter much noise from my other cable, though, so I think this cable from CM blocks interference extremely well.