Strike a pose!
PROS: finetunes the sound depending on cable selection, very lightweight and flexible, all new hardware design, excellent workmanship, price.
CONS: 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 or headphones.
After their celebration of 10-year anniversary since finding of the company by Zou Su Yang (SY) in 2009, some probably expected Effect Audio to release a new flagship following the Cleopatra. Instead, SY and his team decided to “strike a pose” (for younger gen, look up Madonna “Vogue”) and introduced the all new budget-oriented cable series called Vogue which caught many by surprise. This new series includes Maestro ($99, pure Copper), Virtuoso ($149, Silver Plated Copper), and Grandioso ($199, hybrid mix of pure Copper and pure Silver).
I’m sure audiophiles will get a chance to try these cables soon at various CanJam and audio shows where EA usually let people decide for themselves if they do or don’t hear a difference in a sound while using their own IEMs, their own portable sources, and playing their own favorite music. But in a meantime, after testing and comparing these cables for the last few weeks, here is what I found.
All three cables arrived in identical compact boxes with a round cutout in the middle to keep cable secure from tossing around during shipping. It’s a small detail, but these boxes are actually useful when you flip the cover and put the main box inside, opening it up for storage and display of your IEMs.
Considering it’s a budget series, don’t expect any extra accessories, though you should think carefully about how you going to terminate the cable when ordering, and if you need to get either a short adaptor or a pigtail adaptor. With most of my DAPs having 4.4mm HO, I requested 4.4mm plug termination. But if you want more flexibility, 2.5mm with 3.5mm and 4.4mm adaptors should cover all the necessary headphone outputs.
In their new Vogue series, EA decided to introduce a new design geometry. Every cable feature 4 separate conductors, each with 26 AWG thickness wires, triple-size stranded design (a change from their multi-size design), and high purity material processed using UP-OCC (ultra-purity Ohno Continuous Cast) technology. Furthermore, EA also used woven Kevlar-infused multi-stranded Litz to increase the durability of the wires, the same way it was used in Cleopatra. Also, similar to Cleo and Leo II, Vogue wires meet Golden Ratio Dispersion for their triple-sized strands. For those interested, you can look up the Golden Ratio in Wiki to learn what it means.
I’m sure some might be scratching their heads, what the heck does all this mean? To me personally, it means these are not some cheap off-the shelf wires you can find in many other budget or stock cables. These are quality custom conductors, and it’s nice to see a company constantly testing, comparing, and customizing wires to improve their performance.
By request, the review units arrived terminated with 4.4mm BAL plug, and that was the first thing that got my attention. Vogue series features new custom designed plugs, connectors, and y-split, all sharing a common cylinder-shaped flat sides design to enhance the grip and the ergonomics of the cable. All the parts are lightweight and labeled with EA logo, adding to the unique look of the cable.
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 tight hand braiding, yet cable still feels flexible. After the split, where you also find a small plastic chin-slider, wires are twisted, going to a pre-shaped flexible earhook section and new matching labeled (L/R) connectors which are flat only on one side, still with an enhanced grip.
The ergonomics of a tighter braiding, 26awg wires, flexible jacket, and lighter and more compact plug, splitter, connectors – all this makes Vogue series great for IEMs on the go where you don’t even feel the cable since it’s quite lightweight and comfortable.