Image of Perfection.
PROS: Uncolored and versatile cable, air, separation, stage dimension, imaging, comfort (for an 8-wire).
CONS: Big cable.
Today I would like to welcome back our guest reviewer, Erik, well known on Head-fi as Wyville, who is an avid cablephile, as he coined himself. After spending time with Effect Audio Eros II 8-wire Bespoke cable, he would like to share about his experience in the following review.
I would like to thank Eric Chong from Effect Audio for providing me with the Eros II 8-wire in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favorable review.
Bespoke Eros II 8-wire:
- Gauge: 26 AWG
- Geometry : Proprietary Multi-Size Stranded design within a single encapsulation
- Materials: UPOCC Litz Copper / Silver Hybrid
- Connector type: 2-pin/CIEM
- Termination type: 2.5mm TRRS (balanced)
Here I am once again reviewing an Effect Audio cable. The Singapore-based boutique cable company has been a staple of my reviewing career and there is actually a really good reason for that. Go through my reviews and you will see there is a sort of evolution there. Starting with Ares II, I have gradually been trying out different cables and it has been just the sort of journey we audiophiles love. Tinkering with the signatures to see what differences we can hear and gradually trying to achieve audiophile nirvana. Ever since I got the Empire Ears Phantom, this has been even more so because my Phantom have instantly become my cornerstone IEMs. The ones that fit my preferences close to perfectly. Close, but not perfectly. There is always room to tinker, and tinker I do, with cables!
I freely admit I am a cablephile and I love seeing what different cables do with the signature of my IEMs. Going from a standard stock cable on my Custom Art Ei.3 to Ares II (borrowed from a friend) was eye-opening, or should I say ‘ear-opening’ because of the differences I heard. And let’s not forget ‘ear-soothing’, as the comfort of it was quite a world apart from the ergonomic nightmare that was “memory wire”. I was so impressed I bought my own shortly after and by now I have three different Ares II cables, one 2.5mm balanced, one 3.5mm SE and one bespoke 8-wire. That last one is my go-to cable on the Phantom because of how beautifully it scales. I also love Lionheart from SE out, but that pairing seems a little fickle when it comes to source synergy. In comparison the Ares II 8-wire is the more ‘does everything right’ and ‘scales the Phantom to grandness’ option, so I settled quite comfortably there. However, I still saw some room to tinker, as I am an audiophile after all, and Eric from Effect Audio knew exactly what would tempt me to another review. The bespoke 8-wire version of Eros II, a cable I had reviewed previously in its stock 4-wire and which left with me a deep sense of loss when I had to return that one to its rightful owner. “Hello there long lost friend.”
The build quality is to the usual excellent standard I have come to expect from Effect Audio. The only minor niggle is that the caps on the 2-pin connectors are once again not entirely secure, but I understand Effect Audio are looking into this (and might have already resolved it by the time this review gets published). The main difference between this cable and my bespoke Ares II 8-wire is the new termination. Effect Audio recently introduced several new parts, although for bespoke 8-wire cables the old y-split is still used. I expect the new y-split is not big enough for 8-wire cables. In any case, my Eros II came with the new 2.5mm balance, PSquared termination and I was surprised by how nice it was. Very light, but also feels very sturdy. The 2.5mm termination still does not inspire the greatest confidence, but that is inherent to the width. I think Sony made the better choice there going with a nice chunky 4.4mm (Effect Audio has excellent options for this too, of course), but I use an A&K DAP and so 2.5mm it is.
Comfort is once again great and I noticed that the twist where the cable goes around the ears was a little tighter, slightly improving comfort for a wearer of glasses like myself when compared to my Ares II 8-wire. Perhaps a case of ‘practice makes perfect’ because Effect Audio’s bespoke cables have become so popular? I like to think so, although it could also simply be a coincidence.
The overall looks of the cable really warrant closer attention. I have always loved the braiding on Effect Audio’s 8-wire cables, but Eros II is especially nice because of how the copper and silver wires are braided. The result is in line with something else I have come to expect from Effect Audio, a lovely touch of bling to add some wow-factor to the cable. Even the most ardent cable skeptic might still be tempted just on these looks alone.
All listening was done with my AK70 from its balanced out. Most of the listening was done with the Empire Ears Phantom, but also some with the Rhapsodio Saturn and Custom Art Ei.3.
When I reviewed the standard Eros II (4-wire), I felt it was a wonderfully uncolored cable that did not make big improvements over the stock cable in one specific area, but lots of smaller improvements all over. Fortunately, the bespoke 8-wire maintains that wonderful characteristic, but scaled in a similar way that Ares II scales from 4 wires to 8. It is a neutral/uncolored sound that is very spacious and airy, more details come through and yet the sound has a certain effortlessness to it. That word “effortlessness” was the first word I wrote down and it seems to be typical of Eros II in both 4 and 8-wire. The most striking thing was that this effortlessness sometimes made me think my IEMs had fallen out of my ears, despite still hearing the music. It was like they disappeared.
The 8-wire Eros II certainly expands the stage over the 4-wire, but I felt it did not go significantly beyond the Ares II 8-wire. It is certainly very spacious (I already called the Ares II “grand”) and I feel the music opens up in front of you, more than around you, with excellent separation and layering. Combined with the more neutral sound it can tame overly warm IEMs like the Rhapsodio Saturn to receive a level of clarity that is really quite surprising. I loved that pairing, as it helped make the Saturn a little more versatile. Indeed, I still think (like in my 4-wire review) that Eros II will pair well with many IEMs.
While I tried different pairings, there was one to rule them all and that was with the Phantom. I always emphasize that with cables good synergy between all parts of the chain (DAP, cable, IEMs) is key and my current setup with the AK70, Eros II 8-wire and Phantom has a synergy that is truly something special. Not since I heard the Vision Ears VE5 with Lionheart have I been so utterly addicted to my music. The key aspect pulling me in time and again was the imaging. I have read Leonidas (now in its second version) can do this better. I have not heard Leonidas and I honestly can’t imagine how it would sound because this, at least to me, is already stellar. The space, the air, the level of detail and the way music transitions from left to right feels spot on. It even came to a point where I was listening to Carbon Based Lifeforms’ Exosphere with this pairing, and although usually it is a track I do not care for at all, this time I could not stop listening. It was like suddenly the track made sense. I am certain this was due to the imaging and the way the different and seemingly random sounds started to work together to create something that a friend of mine recently referred to as a “physical sense of space”. This pairing does that really well and is something I find with classical music too. The layering and positioning in choral music such as Bach’s Magnificat is outstanding. It draws me into the music by making it so captivating, so alluring, like a Siren luring me in and making me a cup of coffee with a slice of cake because I am listening from the comfort of my own sofa. No dangers of crashing here, just sheer joy.