In my opinion, cable doesn’t have a “sound” which you can describe by itself like IEMs in terms of lows, mids, treble. Cable is a medium that could shape up and fine-tune the sound signature or expand the soundstage perception, something you can describe relative to IEM under the test or relative to another cable you compare it to. What you hear is a synergy between 3 elements in the sound chain: the source, the cable, and IEMs. Thus, it’s easier to describe the sound when you replace one of these elements and note the change associated with it.
In this sound analysis I used 64 Audio U18t with Lotoo’s LPGT and A&K SP1000 SS, playing a selection of the test tracks, such as Agnes Obel “The curse”, Sandro Cavazza “So much better” (Avicii remix), C-Bool “Never go away”, Ed Sheeran “Shape of you”, Galantis “Hunter”, Iggy Azalea “Black widow”, Indila “Boite en argent”, Robin Schultz “Oh child”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”.
I will cover more in my Comparison section of the review, but in general, Leo II/8 is not too far off from the original Leo II. If you think about it, you are taking two identical cables with the same wires and braiding them together. What really changes is the impedance of the new cable, roughly cutting it in half because you are doubling the cross-section area of the cable. A lot of this sound analysis is based on my comparison of Leo II vs Leo II/8 during CanJam NYC.
The sound improvement will be more drastic going from cheap stock cables or cables from other materials, and you certainly will get a noticeable improvement with Leo II/8 in soundstage perception with a wider/deeper stage expansion. But going from 4wire to 8wire with the same conductors will result in a less drastic difference in sound.
In terms of sound tonality, while the original Leo II didn’t boost the low-end as much, here with Leo II/8 there was a little lift in mid bass, while still maintaining a focus and a control due to a faster attack and shorter decay which tightens the bass and makes it more articulate and punchier.
I also hear Leo II/8 to give the sound a fuller body in the lower mids while keeping the upper mids natural and still transparent without adding too much coloration. To my surprise, I hear a fuller body (especially noticeable when compared to a more revealing brighter Horus), but mids/vocals are still quite detailed. The upper mids here are slightly more transparent then in original Leo II, even improving the retrieval of details (relative to Leo II).
When it comes to treble, I hear Leo II/8 being able to maintain a nice sparkle and airiness, while still keeping it under control without any exaggerated sound artifacts of shrill or sibilance. Leo II/8 has a similar treble quality as the original Leo II.
Consistent with my cable testing philosophy, I used the same IEM (U18t) and only changed one variable at a time to note the sound difference I hear.
EA Leo II 8wire vs EA Leo II 4wire – It’s hard to analyze the sound by memory, thus I do appreciate me being able to do A/B comparison at CanJam NYC show where SY had his Leo II/8 cable with him. I went back’n’forth many times between 4wire and 8wire with U18t and LPGT and found a consistent improvement with more body in lower mids and stronger mid-bass punch while upper mids/treble sounds similar, just a little more revealing with an even better transparency in Leo II/8. Also, I feel the perception of the sound depth has improved, with soundstage now being more holographic which is another noticeable improvement.
EA Leo II 8wire vs EA Horus 4wire – the soundstage is nearly identical, though I feel like Leo now pushing the width expansion just a bit wider over Horus. The most noticeable difference here is in mids presentation, where Horus pushes mids of U18t more forward while Leo has it more balanced with lows and highs, even pulling it slightly back. In terms of tonality, Leo has a little more sub-bass rumble and a touch more mid-bass impact. It’s a subtle change, but still noticeable when you shift your listening focus to bass. Mids vary not only in presentation but also in tonality. Leo’s lower mids have a fuller body, giving vocals more natural warmth, more musical soulful tonality without affecting the resolution or retrieval of details. Horus mids are leaner and more analytical and micro-detailed, and a little colder in comparison. As a result, Horus vocals sound more transparent and analytical, while Leo II/8wire vocals have fuller body and more natural tonality. Both yield a crisp well defined treble, but in combination with brighter and more forward upper mids, Horus treble sounds crisper, while Leo II/8wire treble is a touch smoother, more controlled with just an edge of crispiness taken off in comparison to Horus. In pair up with U18t, each cable gives this IEM a very distinct characteristics depending on your sound preference. Again, going by memory since I can’t do a/b comparison, but 8wire Leo II give U18t here a little more transparency in comparison to the original 4wire Leo II, and yet still maintains its organic music quality, while Horus will give you more micro-detailed forward vocals.
EA Leo II 8wire vs PWA 1960 4wire (8 conductors) – soundstage in this comparison is close to being identical. 1960 is usually known for its wide soundstage expansion, but here it finally found a match. In terms of tonality, to my ears 1960 is somewhere between Leo II/8wire and Horus. Leo’s bass extends deeper with more rumble and a little more punch in mid-bass, while in pair up with U18t the 1960 cable yields bass which is a little more neutral in comparison. With lower mids, again Leo has more body, giving the vocals a more organic natural tonality, while 1960 is closer to neutral, not as lean as Horus, but more neutral in comparison to Leo II/8wire. Also, 1960 makes upper mids/vocals a little brighter and as a result pushes them a little more forward, while Leo keeps it more balanced with slightly pulled back presentation. 1960 doesn’t make upper mids as analytical and micro-detailed as Horus, but it also not as natural as Leo. Treble is very similar here, crisp and well defined. Overall, if you would like a more natural detailed balanced sound and a little more weight in the lower end, Leo II/8wire is a better choice. If you want more forward brighter mids, 1960 delivers that.