In my pair-up comparison I’m using a selection of flagship level IEMs with their corresponding stock cable vs EA Leo II/8. Also, using LPGT as a source, volume matched in every comparison.
64 Audio U18t
Stock SPC to Leo II/ 8 – the improvement in soundstage width expansion is quite noticeable here, just like it was with original Leo II. Bass is more layered, tighter, and faster due to a black background which gives the sound a perception of a faster transient. Mids are more revealing, with a better retrieval of details, and treble is also crisper and airier without being harsh or too sparkly. The improvement of resolution and transparency is quite obvious, and the soundstage is even more holographic in comparison to original Leo II.
64 Audio Trio
Stock SPC to Leo II/8 – as expected, the improvement in soundstage width expansion is noticeable here. Bass has an improved definition with a better layering, faster speed, and overall being tighter, cleaner, more precise, almost feeling like the low end performance here is closer to BA than DD. The improvement in mids is also noticeable, where with a stock cable lower mids were leaner and more recessed, while with Leo II/8 they are more balanced, have more body, sound more natural, yet still very resolving and with a nice transparency. Treble is as crisp and well defined but sounds like it has more control with a better focus.
Stock TWag v4 to Leo II/8 – the soundstage expansion here is very close, considering we are no longer dealing with cheap stock wires but a premium pure silver cable. But nevertheless, Leo II/8 still has an improvement with a touch more width. Overall, I’m noticing a blacker background which makes sound faster and tighter. With bass, the mid-bass impact is stronger, and I hear a little more rumble in sub-bass; these changes I didn’t notice with original Leo II. Mids are a little more forward and have a little better retrieval of details while still remaining quite natural. Treble sounds very similar. With these particular IEMs, not too many cables manage to improve the sound since Oriolus tuned Mells around its premium cable, but I do like the bass improvement with Leo II/8. Furthermore, the improvement in ergonomics can’t be missed, even with 8-wires Leo II/8 it’s more flexible and less microphonic than stock TWag cable. Also, 2pin connection was tighter with Leo II/8 cable versus TWag connector being a little looser.
Empire Ears Legend X
Stock EA Ares II to Leo II/8 – LX has a very wide soundstage to begin with, even with cheap cables. When comparing its Ares II stock cable to Leo II/8, the staging maybe a little wider, but only by a small margin. Similar to Leo II pair up, the bass here has more control, especially in decay speed which gives mids more room to breathe and brings up their quantity, improving the presentation of vocals, giving them more focus and better definition. Treble seems to be very close, don’t hear too much change. The signature is still leaning more toward L-shaped, but bass has more control and not as boomy, and with mids coming up with an improved presentation, the overall sound is more balanced.
Stock SPC to Leo II/8 – Wider soundstage perception as with many other pair ups is one very common change going to Leo II/8. And with a blacker background, the sound tightens up, especially noticeable in faster and more controlled bass. But unlike Leo II pair up where the bass of K10UA sounded leaner due to a shorter decay, here the mid-bass bass impact went up, giving it a tighter punch, and even a little more rumble in sub-bass. Mids have the same amount of body, but sound more natural, more accurate, still very detailed, and a little more forward. Treble is crisp, well controlled, and has a little more of airiness. With the original Leo II, as I had it in my notes, the sound shifted more toward mid-forward presentation, while with Leo II/8 the sound became more W-shaped.
Stock SPC to Leo II/8 – Soundstage is definitely wide with Leo II/8, and also there is more depth, giving it a more 3D staging. The bass in this pair up hasn’t transformed as much, similarly to the original Leo II, just a better control and more articulate definition, but nothing in terms of quantity change. Mids have the most noticeable transformation here with more body and more natural tonality, while still remaining very detailed and layered. But unlike the original Leo II, here with Octa version the mids are more natural and also a little bit brighter while by memory I recall Leo II being a little smoother. Similar to the original Leo II, the upper mids/lower treble peaks have more control, erasing some of the hints of sibilance, making sound more non-fatigue in comparison to the stock cable. Not a night’n’day change, but noticeable enough to keep RE2k in my ears for a longer listening period.
Premium cable reviews get a lot criticism, but when you ask people for the reason why, many bring up the price without taking into consideration the cost of exotic precious metals or the effect of diminishing returns. Going from 4wires to 8wires is like buying two separate 4wire cables. And some people still think if they invest into $1k-$2k cable, they can make any IEM, even a budget one, sound $1k-$2k better. Cable is not going to transform your IEM into earphones with a different sound sig. The cable can enhance and refine the sound, but if you are looking for a more drastic change – start by figuring out if you picked IEM with the right sound sig to begin with.
I still consider the original Leo II cable to be one of my favorites because it adds a doze of natural tonality to a lot of my flagship IEMs that have a brighter and leaner tuning. But if you want to push the envelope of Leo II performance further, to improve the impact of lows and to give mids a little more revealing transparency – Leo II/8 can take you there. Just please, have realistic expectations. The price has doubled because you are using two Leo II cables, but don’t expect the performance to double along with it. With Leo II/8 you are just perfecting what Leo II already brings to the table.