Ode to Joy.
PROS: Improves transparency, maintains very natural sounding mid-range, expands the stage, improves imaging, very ergonomic, premium leather round case.
CONS: An expensive upgrade that depends on synergy.
I would like to thank Eric Chong of Effect Audio for providing me with the Leonidas II cable in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favorable review.
- 26 AWG
- Golden ratio palladium plated silver & litz silver hybrid
- Septuplet core bundle litz
- Individually enamelled strands
- PSquared plug
- EA Ultra-Flex jacket
- Modular Y-split design
- Price: US$ 888.00
For anyone familiar with my reviews, it will come as no surprise that I like tinkering around with cables. It is a game of synergy that I like to play. I think Alex (Twister6) says it well in his preambles that cables act like a filter within a setup and that it depends on synergy between the source, the cable and the IEMs, whether or not it produces a subtle or more pronounced effect, and whether or not the end result is an improvement (taking into account personal preferences). This is also why I personally feel that it is important to settle on IEMs first, before looking at aftermarket cables. In my case I settled for the Empire Ears Phantom as my daily drivers and because I have been very content (not a word often used in this hobby) with them, it has been great fun to explore how I can fine-tune them to fit my preferences even better.
By now I have used five different cables by Effect Audio that have all been great pairings in their own right and that does sometimes give me the feeling that I am repeating myself too much. So I wanted to give this review a little Twist (oh, that pun is going to come back to haunt Alex a few times yet!) and try to give a sense of how the different cables synergize with the Phantom, why I like each of them, and why ultimately I think Leonidas II might hit a sweet spot for my preferences. For this I set myself the task of using one of Beethoven’s symphonies as an example and it is a particular favorite of mine: his 7th symphony. “Wait! What?! But, but, the title of the review??” I hear you say. Let me explain… I really loved the title and it fits my sentiments of Leonidas II perfectly, but I like the 7th better (ie. the 9th is too darn long). Plus, the 7th is more interesting to write about, as it is much more fun to describe a symphony that some of his critics speculated Beethoven probably wrote while he was drunk off his head. If he was, then it was probably at his best friend’s stag do because it has an irresistible rhythm to it that compels you to move. It is in my opinion as much an Ode to Joy as the 9th’s stunningly gorgeous choral movement. So there you have it, I think that is a perfectly solid excuse to chicken out of using the 9th.
Joking aside, the 7th was first performed in Vienna at a charity concert for soldiers wounded during the Battle of Hanau, where Beethoven indicated it was an expression of his patriotism. Which might explain why the second of the four movements, a much slower and darker movement, is often interpreted as a funeral march. The other movements though are incredibly exciting and Richard Wagner even described the symphony as the “Apotheosis of dance herself”. The particular rendition of the 7th that I used was performed by the world-class period orchestra of John Eliot Gardiner.
Leonidas II arrived at my doorstep together with a couple of very nice booklets showing Effect Audio’s line of cables and a pair of ‘Leonidas II’ stickers. The box itself is similar to those used for Lionheart and Effect Audio’s bespoke cables, except that it has a brown cover and opening it up reveals a gorgeous (and very practical) leather round case. Opening up the round case reveals one of the most beautiful cables I have seen so far and I have to hand it to the team at Effect Audio, they seem to have a knack for creating cables that look like expensive jewellery.
Build quality and fit.
The cable itself is the usual quality I have seen with other Effect Audio cables and while I commented on the covers of the 2-pin connectors coming loose in previous reviews, this time they have been rock solid. That is also something I have seen Effect Audio do very well in the past, they take careful note of customer feedback and I know they work hard to resolve any issues that might have inadvertently arisen.
The most notable feature is undoubtedly the leather y-split that I think adds a unique touch of flair to the cable and really underlines that it is a premium product. The termination in this case is the 2.5mm balanced PSquared plug, but it can be made in a wide range of different terminations and connectors as well.
The cable is very supple and a joy to use, especially after I have gotten used to the big 8 wire cables. I hardly notice it is there.
All listening was done with my AK70 and some with the FiiO K3 DAC/Amp, both from the 2.5mm balanced out.