Double the pleasure, double the fun…
PROS: improves soundstage expansion, brings mids forward with more clarity and resolution, excellent workmanship, very comfortable fit for 8-wire cable.
CONS: sound improvement varies depending on pair up.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
I’m well aware that some people don’t believe in cables and have very strong opinions about it. The intent of this review is not to change anybody’s mind with my preaching, but rather to share with you what I hear during the testing. Perhaps, I can’t fully explain why there is a change in sound, but I do hear it. What makes sense to me, a metal wire is a material with physical properties of resistivity, conductivity, purity, and unique geometry, all of which combined together act as a filter between your source and headphones. Variations of these physical properties can affect the conductivity of analog signal, resulting in a sound change, from a subtle to a more noticeable level. This sound change is not universal with every IEM because it will depend on the synergy between your source and your monitors.
Effect Audio, founded by Zou Suyang in 2009, doesn’t need introduction because they are literally everywhere. Not just attending every CanJam show around the world, but also at many other international shows where you can find their table with a variety of cables. They have a very laidback approach: bring your favorite pair of IEMs, try different cables, decide for yourself if you do or don’t hear the difference, instead of taking someone else word for it. I believe that’s how they earned their respect and reputation.
I have reviewed many of their cables in the past, and their original pure copper Ares II is still one of the most recommended wires because it’s quite affordable, and as many say – you can’t go wrong with a pure copper. But recently, in addition to their regular 4-conductor cables, EA expanded their Bespoke (custom design) portfolio with 8-conductor versions of their popular Ares II, Eros II, Thor II, Lionheart, and even Horus. In this review I will look at 8-wire version of Ares II.
With an exception of their flagship Horus, all the previous regular EA cables I reviewed arrived in a small sturdy cardboard white box with a company logo on the top and a foam cutout inside to keep the cable secure during the shipment. To show the premium nature of this Bespoke design, Ares II 8 wire arrived in a more luxurious large box with an exterior sleeve and a more premium unboxing experience. I know some people don’t care about unboxing of IEMs or DAPs, but manufacturers do put extra effort in the design of the packaging, so it’s only fair to acknowledge it. Of course, this is not going to top unboxing of Horus, but I still enjoyed it.
While only a cable was included, you have an option of ordering addition adapters, depending on the termination of your cable. For example, I usually get cables with 2.5mm BAL termination, and use it with DAPs either directly or with 3.5mm SE or 4.4mm BAL adapters. As part of optional accessories, you can order either short one piece adapters or pigtail adapters with a short matching cable.
The design of Ares II 8 wire will be based on their original Ares II 4 wire with 26 AWG litz wire conductors. Except, the Bespoke design doubles the amount of conductors, which also doubles the price to reflect additional material and labor. I have seen a few videos demonstrating the craftsmanship of manual braiding of each EA cable, and it’s a time consuming labor. It’s still the same multi-sized stranding litz wire with ultra high strand count, using ultra purity OCC (Ohno Continuous Cast) pure copper. And you should still expect their UltraFlexi insulation which keeps cable very pliable. It was impressive for 8-conductor cable with 26 AWG wires each to be as flexible as its 4-conductor version.
A lot of this has to do with a workmanship of the cable built where you can see a tighter square braiding of the main cable body and a tighter braiding of each L/R sides above the y-splitter. Closer to the 2pin metal housing connectors (with an etched EA logo and L/R marking), you will find a pre-shrink flexible earhook which feels very comfortable going over your ear. The Oyaide 2.5mm BAL headphone plug with a carbon fiber insert feels solid and comfortable to handle, and you also get a matching y-splitter with a similar shape and carbon fiber insert.
I have to say that despite having 8 conductors, the cable felt lightweight and pliable, enough for me to forget that it was 8 wire version, while the wearing comfort felt no different than 4 conductor Ares II. And the cable still looks beautiful with a copper tone of the wires shining through a transparent flexible sleeve of the cable.