The God of Two-face.
PROS: improves soundstage perception, Basso and Dynamic editions with a different sound sig, excellent workmanship, includes a bonus pigtail adaptor of your choice.
CONS: price, ergonomics of 8 conductors, sound improvement varies depending on pair up.
The product was loaned to me for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer website: Effect Audio. Available for sale on MusicTeck.
For the reference, my EA Horus review and EA Leo II review.
I’m aware that some people don’t believe in cables and have very strong opinions about it. I have no intent to argue with that, and instead would like to share what I hear during my cable testing. Perhaps, I can’t fully explain why there is a change in sound, but I do hear it and it’s not a placebo effect. What makes sense to me, a metal wire is a material with physical properties of resistivity, conductivity, purity, and unique geometry, all of which put 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. The sound change introduced by a cable is not universal with every monitor because it will depend on the synergy with and the design of the source and earphones/headphones.
Just like the Preamble, this Intro paragraph is carried over from my previous Effect Audio reviews to remind that EA was founded by Zou Su Yang (SY) in 2009 and had many successful releases spearheaded by SY and Eric Chong, EA Marketing manager. I believe a big part of their success is due to a very straight forward approach of being present at many CanJams and other international audio shows where they let people decide for themselves about the difference in sound with their own IEMs and portable sources.
I discovered Janus cable while attending CanJam NYC’18 early this year when I tested two versions of the unknown prototype Eric offered at the EA table. I was coming off Horus review and was using it exclusively with U18t, and Janus caught my attention because it added extra body to the sound without compromising too much the resolution and the layering. I was also made aware that cable will have a new Palladium plated wires, the first of a kind.
What I didn’t realize that while collecting the feedback from CanJam attendees (both NYC and SGP shows), the preference of which prototype people liked the best ended up being 50/50. As a result, EA came up with an idea to release 2 versions of the cable and to name it Janus after the God of Duality who is depicted as having two faces. EA Janus cable became a two-face with d (dynamic) and b (basso) characteristics. My review will be shorter than usual, with sound impressions of how these Janus versions compare to each other and how they stack up to Horus and the latest Leo II.
First taste of Janus at CanJam NYC’18 (Nic and I listening to Janus prototypes):
Unboxing and Accessories.
The Hall of Fame, as it’s classified on EA website, Janus gets the same premium packaging treatment as other premium Bespoke cables, arriving in a more luxurious box with an exterior sleeve and jewelry style velvet box underneath. There is no denial, it was a clever concept and a cool visual to print mirror image d and b on the boxes which corresponds to Dynamic and Basso versions.
Unlike Horus and Leo II, no custom case was included. Since Janus is a thicker cable, perhaps it needs a bigger case, and personally I think it would have been nice to see at least a pouch storage bag. But instead, Janus comes with a bonus pigtail adaptor which is more valuable than most of the cases. The advantage of pigtail adaptor is being able to extend the cable with matching wires while converting the default termination to a different one. Janus comes with a balanced 2.5mm PSquared Oyaide connector by default, and when ordering you have a choice of either 2.5mm to 4.4mm or 2.5mm to 3.5mm pigtail adaptors, each $300 value.
Of course, ultra short connectors work as well, but with a pigtail you don’t need to extend the original connector, instead you are extending the cable. The adaptor itself is relative short, about 4.5″, and has the same 8-wire braiding as the original cable. Plus, it features either the PSquared 3.5mm connector or the new P-EA connector based on the direct collaboration with Pentaconn. All the connectors have a custom etched EA logo, and both sides of the adaptor have a tight secure fit.
Before I get into the details of Janus design, there is one important thing to consider. When it comes to their premium cables, Effect Audio doesn’t just mix’n’match off the shelf parts. They experiment with different materials, different plating percentages, different wire geometry, different hybrid configurations and ratios, etc. They also work with connector manufacturers to customize the components to maximize the sound performance. At the end, you do get a truly customized cable.
Janus is the first cable in EA line up where they introduced Palladium wire plating. This cable has a total of 8 conductors, each with multi size stranding, and using a thicker 24 AWG gauge wires. These wires use UP-OCC (ultra-purity Ohno Continuous Cast) Palladium Plated Copper and a custom EA alloy mix. Of course, I don’t know the exact details of the alloy mix, but I do hear a difference between Dynamic and Basso versions of the cable and assume that this specific alloy mix varies between the cables to tame down the Palladium plating “effect” to a different degree.
As I already mentioned, the cable is terminated with their PSquared (Palladium and Platinum plating) 2.5mm plug that was designed in partnership with Oyaide Electric. PSquared is not just a fancy name. When I was reviewing Lionheart, I received two identical cables with Rhodium plated and PSquared connectors, and in a blind test was able to hear the difference.
8 conductors of the cable are split into 4 with a black jacket and 4 with a transparent, and have a nice hand braiding going into the EA-Custom Y-Split aluminum barrel. This Y-split has EA logo on one side and either d or b on the other side. Since I’m reviewing a loaner, I didn’t remove a protective film around Y-split (which you can see in the pictures). There is no chin-slider since we are talking about 8x 24AWG wires that form a thicker cable.
After the split of 8 braided wires, each side continues with 4 braided ones, going up to a 2pin chrome connector where you will also find a pre-shaped transparent heat-shrink earhook. Along the earhook section, to make the cable thinner and more pliable, the wires are inner-twisted. 2pin connectors have EA logo laser-etched on outside and L/R marking etched on the inside, to serve as a proper guidance when connecting IEMs so you don’t flip the cable.
Overall, due to 8 conductors and thicker wires, the cable is a little heavier than Horus and Leo II, and even a bit heavier than Ares II 8wire. But despite this difference in ergonomic of the design, it’s still relatively comfortable to wear, and has zero microphonic. As a matter of fact, I felt the cable was more secure over my ears when I was walking since its weight was pulling it down. But you do have to keep the thickness of the cable in mind when choosing wires, especially for IEMs when you are on the go.
Page 2: Sound analysis, Comparison, and Conclusion.