Cleopatra, the ruler of… Silver!
PROS: improves soundstage perception, brings more impact and deeper rumble to the bass, gives mids a more natural tonality without lowering resolution and detail retrieval, great look.
CONS: price, sound improvement varies depending on pair up.
The product was provided by Effect Audio for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
I’m aware that some people don’t believe in cables and have very strong opinions about it. It’s not my intention to start the argument here, and instead I would like to share what I hear during my testing. Perhaps, I can’t fully explain why there is a change in sound, but I do hear it and don’t believe it’s 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. Also, the sound change introduced by a specific cable is not universal because it will depend on the design and the synergy between the source and earphones/headphones.
To continue their celebration of 10-year anniversary since the company was founded by Zou Su Yang (SY) in 2009, Effect Audio decided to save their next big release for CanJam SGP. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record considering a few recently published Effect Audio reviews, but the company is still going strong with more releases spearheaded by SY and Eric Chong, EA Marketing manager. And they are not slowing down while attending most of the worldwide audio shows to demonstrate their cable line up where EA let people decide for themselves if they do or don’t hear a difference in sound using their own IEMs, their own portable sources, and playing their own favorite music.
This new release caught me by surprise since nobody mentioned anything last month at CanJam NYC, or maybe I was just too preoccupied testing Leo II vs Leo II Octa at the show and missed the announcement. Thus, it was unexpected when I got contacted and asked by Eric if I’m interested to review Cleopatra which going to be introduced at CanJam SGP. I agreed without even asking for details, and later learned this is a brand new Pure Silver cable release from Heritage series, joining Lionheart and Leonidas II cables. Being quite familiar with their Premium Series Thor II+ Pure Silver cable, my curiosity got triggered to find out how it compares.
Originally, I was planning to start off with a short first look write-up, but as I continued listening, comparing, and trying it with different IEMs, it grew into my usual full review I would like to share with you today.
Since Cleo review sample arrived in a small clear bag, I don’t have the pictures of the packaging, but I’m pretty sure it will be the same premium box with a velour cover as I have seen with Leo II and Bespoke cables. So, the unboxing experience should be similar. Case was not included, but I have been informed by EA that Cleo comes with their new Premium metallic case which has been handcrafted from selected aluminum material.
As usual, think carefully about which plug you have to select when ordering and if you need to get additional accessories of either short adaptor or pigtail adaptor. Since my cables have 2.5mm termination, I use a short premium EA 2.5mm to 4.4mm adaptor which has an exclusive P-EA (collaboration of Effect Audio with Pentaconn) plug. If you carry your DAP in the pocket or the bag, consider a pigtail adaptor which is more flexible and doesn’t stuck out as much. But either way, EA adaptors usually have a tight secure fit and customized with EA logos.
Considering it being a cable from Heritage series, EA decided to follow the same design geometry as Leo II, featuring 4 separate conductors, each with 26 AWG thickness wires and 7-core Pure Silver Litz processed using UP-OCC (ultra-purity Ohno Continuous Cast) technology. Furthermore, wire strands are individually enameled, and EA introduced a woven Kevlar to maintain the stability of its septuple core design. Also, similar to Leo II, it meets Golden Ratio Dispersion for their multi-sized strands. For those interested, you can look up the Golden Ratio in Wiki to see what it means.
My review unit arrived terminated with PSquared (Palladium and Platinum plating) 2.5mm plug, designed in partnership with Oyaide Electric. You have an option to select PSquared 2.5mm BAL or 3.5mm SE plug, or go with Pentaconn P-EA 4.4mm BAL termination. The conductors itself have EA UltraFlexi Jacket which gives you a clear and transparent view of the wires and keeps the cable supple and microphonics free. The main part of the cable has a looser hand braiding, giving the cable more flexibility, while the cable after the split is just twisted.
The custom EA Y-Spit is the same one as featured in Leo II/Octa, except it doesn’t have the leather cover. Instead, you will find a polished casted stainless steel. For those who think Y-Split is only for decoration, these were actually custom designed to help eliminate microphonics and any other mechanical noise. Chin slider here is a thin flat stainless steel piece, the same shape as in EA Horus, except that one was gold plated. Going to 2pin connector, you have a pre-shaped flexible earhook, and 2pin chrome connector housing with EA logo laser etched on outside and L/R marking on the inside.
Interestingly, the 8-wire Octa version of Cleo will also be available at the launch, so you don’t have to wait for the upgrade program later.