Here is how I hear various IEMs pair up with Athena cable.
64 Audio U18t – typically U18t has a more balanced signature with a slightly mid-forward presentation. Also, the bass usually doesn’t extend that deep. With Athena, I can hear noticeably more sub-bass rumble which adds more weight to the bass. Also, mids sound smoother, more organic, with more body in lower mids, not as reference anymore. The soundstage is as wide as with other premium cables, but tonality is noticeably lusher, and due to more sub-bass rumble the bass has more “analog” weight.
Oriolus Mellianus – the synergy of Mell and Athena pair up transforms a typically more neutral balanced sound sig of these iems into a more organic fuller body sound with a more powerful bass impact. The change in bass was the first thing I noticed, both in terms of lifted sub-bass rumble and stronger mid-bass punch, making it sound more analog, like a dynamic driver (similar to what I heard with U18t). Mids also sound richer in tonality, more musical, more organic.
HiFiMAN RE2000 – with Athena, the sound of RE2000 is more v-shaped due to a noticeable lift in bass, all the way down to a deep sub-bass rumble and more rounded slower mid-bass slam. Mids are neutral and to my surprise sound recessed relative to the bass and treble. In reality, it’s just a v-shaped perception due to a bass lift which makes RE2000 sound like a hybrid DD/multi-BA iem instead of being single dynamic driver IEM. Depending on cable and source pair up RE2k can sound harsh and even sibilant, but here it sounds like all the peaks were under control. I just didn’t expect sound to transform into v-shaped signature. Fans of deep analog bass and crisp non-fatigue treble will appreciate this transformation.
64 Audio Fourte Noir – in this pair up I hear Noir to sound very balanced and coherent with an impressive holographic soundstage expansion. Bass is deep and very powerful, not overwhelming, with a velvety smooth elevated rumble adding weight to a more elevated mid-bass punch. I do hear some low end lift with Athena, but it’s under control. Mids/vocals are smooth, natural, still resolving and very detailed at the same time. Treble is crisp, with extra sparkle, and good extension. This is a type of balanced sound sig where bass, mids, and treble are all sound emphasized. Very good pair up, especially if you want to enhance the impact of Noir bass.
Unless you are a cable aficionado who has been around premium cables, you probably will be a bit confused with me referring to Athena as “budget” cable or mentioning the price in Pros of this review. 4-wire SA Athena cable with ultra-high purity Palladium plated Silver and Pure Silver wires for $415 is relatively cheap considering precious metal nature of these wires and the price of other similar cables. And doubling the number of wires will also double the price ($799, 8-wire version I reviewed), the same way as it would when buying precious metal jewelry necklace.
You have to keep in mind that cable is not going to transform your IEM into monitors 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. But if you have been lusting after other premium exotic cables and want to fine tune your IEMs with a more natural smoother tonality without sacrificing resolution details, the new Satin Audio flagship Olympus series cable named after Athena Goddess could be your answer!