PROS: excellent workmanship, very supple and comfortable, balanced fine-tuning of the sound, new titanium cable hardware.
CONS: price, sound improvement varies depending on pair up.
The product was provided to me free of charge 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; 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 flow 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 under test.
2019 marks 10-year anniversary of Effect Audio since it was founded by Zou Su Yang (SY) in 2009. Often, when it comes to big anniversaries, people anticipate a flagship release. Instead, EA surprised us with a budget priced Vogue series. But it looks like they saved the best for last, right before the end of the year with a release of Code 51 flagship, going from their budget friendly to a much more premium cable. And unlike their previous mythological-named models, this cable received its unique name based on the alphabet with 5th letter being ‘E’ and 1st one being ‘A’ – Code EA.
While new releases could be unexpected, it’s not a surprise that EA continues to attend most of the CanJam and other audio shows, letting audiophiles decide for themselves if they do or don’t hear the difference using EA cables with their own IEMs and DAPs, playing their own favorite tracks. You can’t force someone to be a cable believer, you just have to let people hear it for themselves, to decide with their own ears. The same way how it’s not my intention to preach about the cables in this review. I just want to share what I’m hearing after the last few weeks of testing Code 51. So, let’s proceed.
Unboxing and Accessories.
EA always pays extra attention to flagship product packaging and presentation, as I have found it in the past with Horus and their other premium cables. Here, with Code 51, EA decided to do something a little different. I liked how they stored the cable inside the main packaging box, placing it in another smaller box where you can only see the new titanium y-split through the cutout window.
Once you remove it, you find owner’s manual envelope with a removable metal tag, etched with Code 51 and a number of cards with info about design, features, care & maintenance, warranty, and tech support. Further down, you have a premium round storage leather case with a stamped EA logo and small desiccant pillow dehumidifier packet.
While any additional accessory will be optional, for cables the choice is usually related to termination plug. If you decide to go with 3.5mm SE, you don’t have to worry about adapters, but with either 2.5mm or 4.4mm BAL, you have a choice of either short adapter or a pigtail adapter with a matching cable.
The cable I received for review had 2.5mm termination, so I use a short premium EA 2.5mm to 4.4mm adaptor which has an exclusive P-EA plug (collaboration of Effect Audio with Pentaconn). If you carry your DAP in the pocket or the bag, better to consider a pigtail adaptor which is more flexible and doesn’t stick out too far. EA adaptors are usually high quality, customized with EA logo, and have a tight secure fit.
The design of Code 51 features 4 separate conductors, each with 24AWG gauge thicker wires and a hybrid blend of 3 distinct premium materials: Gold Plated Silver, Silver Gold Alloy, and Palladium Plated Silver, processed using UP-OCC (ultra-purity Ohno Continuous Cast) technology. Furthermore, wire strands are individually enameled, and similar to Leo II and Cleo, Code 51 wires meet Golden Ratio Dispersion for their multi-sized and multi-bundle strands. For those interested, you can look up the Golden Ratio in Wiki to see what it means.
My review cable was terminated with PSquared (Palladium and Platinum plating) 2.5mm plug, designed in partnership with Oyaide Electric. You have the option to select PSquared 2.5mm BAL or 3.5mm SE plug, or to go with Pentaconn P-EA 4.4mm BAL termination, all featuring a new premium Titanium casing. 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 lower part of the cable has a looser hand braiding, giving the cable more flexibility, while the wires above the split are twisted.
The all new Titanium EA Y-Spit has a custom shape and a matching slice of titanium chin slider. According to EA, their Y-Split is not only for decorative cool looks, but actually custom designed to help eliminate microphonics and any other mechanical noise. Going up to 2pin connector, you have a pre-shaped flexible earhook (a clear heatshrink piece), and 2pin titanium connector housing with EA logo laser etched on outside and L/R marking on the inside.
One interesting thing to note, the plug, y-split, chin slider, and connectors all arrived with a protective plastic wrap to make sure there are no scratches when you receive the cable.