PROS: Improved transparency and resolution, high detail but smooth, increased soundstage, thin and ergonomic for 24 AWG, quality components, beautiful and practical quality leather case.
CONS: Non-Litz design (can oxidize), 2.5mm plug a little loose for Cowon DAP (might be just my Plenue 2 due to heavy use), price, pairings give different results.
I would like to thank Eric Chong of Eletech for providing me with the Plato cable in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favourable review.
- 24 AWG (non-Litz)
- Flawless Monocrystal Bespoke Silver
- Maximus efficiency strand geometry; Kevlar infused
- Cryogenically Treated
- Eletech Bespoke Solder
- Eletech Customised connectors and Y-split
- FlexiMax Insulation™ (patent pending)
- Price: US$999
Eletech (short for ‘Element Technology’) is the brand-new company of a familiar face to many of us within the head-fi community, Eric Chong. For around five years Eric worked as the marketing manager of Effect Audio, a role that made him a very popular figure within the community. Always there for a chat at shows like CanJam or on the head-fi forums and social media. So when Eric decided it was time to move on, many (myself included) were very curious to see where this move would lead him. It led him to co-found his own company together with materials specialist Wang Wenfu. Straight away the pair also set up partnerships with companies such as Pentaconn to design and create unique sets of bespoke parts. The aim of this new company? To produce the crème de la crème of aftermarket cables.
Eletech launched in late 2019 with four cables in three different series. At the entry level the ‘Virtues’ series offers the pure copper ‘Fortitude’ at $199 and the silver-plated copper ‘Prudence’ at $249. The ‘School of Athens’ series shoots on straight to the high end with the $999 pure silver ‘Plato’, and for those seeking the absolute Top of The Line, the ‘Parnassus’ series offers the exotic ‘Iliad’ at an eye-watering $1,799. It is one heck of an entry that is full of flair, and in that sense going for a Renaissance theme is very apt. Now it is just the wait for the Michelangelo inspired cable ‘David’ that needs to be censored in some countries because its plug is exposed.
The cable I will be reviewing here is ‘Plato’. Part of the high-end ‘School of Athens’, it is currently the only cable in this series, although I have no doubt more will be added in the future. The name of the series is derived from the famous Renaissance fresco by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (imagine I said that with an accent like something out of the Italian scene from the movie Inglorious Bastards) or simply Raphael, as he is best known. It happens to be one of my favourite paintings, with at the centre stage the two leading figures in Western philosophy: Plato standing on the left with his finger pointing skywards, indicating his particular abstract form of philosophy, while his student Aristotle stands on the right with his hand gesturing towards the earthly realm as an expression of his more empirical philosophy. Does this have anything to do with audio? Nope, but I am still going to do my best to include a few Plato puns here and there.
All that Renaissance-inspired flair would be lost if there was no unboxing experience to match. Happily, Eletech stepped up and designed something distinct from the norm. In a departure from using the ubiquitous satin black box, Eletech opted for a coloured printed box that opens up like a book. I am never much into unboxings because my poor impulse control means I always need to get to the goods as quickly as possible. The only purpose of an elaborate packaging thus seems to be to deter me from doing so. This box opens like a book, what more could I ask for!
Once open -completely ignoring the image of Plato on the front, the Doric columns on the side and the Platonic solids on the back… Got to hand it to Eletech for attention to detail- there is presented a nice metal plate and an even nicer leather case that holds the cable. The metal plate is really neat and it details, alongside the central icosahedron (the Platonic solid for water), the names of the series and the cable, with underneath the Eletech logo and name. I know it’s not functional, but I have to give it full marks for presentation. The leather case on the other hand is very much functional and looks great! It is a handcrafted leather case with a sort of denim-style to it, quite rugged with bold elements and I expect it will actually look even better once it develops some user marks. It is also easily big enough to hold the cable paired with IEMs and still leave room to spare for, say, an adapter. Then of course there is the cable itself.
Build quality and ergonomics.
Plato is a gorgeous looking cable. It is made of a Flawless Monocrystal Bespoke Silver, so a pure (very pure) silver cable for the rest of us, and its gauge is 24 AWG. Surprise #1; it does not look anywhere near as thick as I would expect a 24 AWG cable to be. I asked Eric about it and he explained that this has to do with the way the cable has been constructed. It depends on the thickness of the insulation, the geometry of the cable and whether it is Litz or non-Litz. Surprise #2; Plato is a non-Litz cable (the only non-Litz in Eletech’s line-up). This is highly unusual these days because non-Litz cables can oxidise and indeed, the beautiful pristine silver of Plato can develop a black sheen over time. The decision to do this rested entirely on the consequences of a Litz design for the sound and Eletech opted for sound over aesthetics. Eric sent me a picture of a test cable to illustrate how this sheen develops over time. It turns brown at first and then black after that, but doesn’t seem as offensive as the green oxidisation you get with copper.
(Image courtesy of Eletech)
It is still quite a bold move, as I expect not everyone will find this acceptable, but the end result is a cable that is about as thick as the more common 26 AWG cables. I do find Plato to be a little less supple than those cables, but not by much and I still think it is a very ergonomic cable. I hardly notice it is there.
The parts look unique and are of a very high quality. They are all made of an aluminium-alloy with engraved logos and this gives a solid feel to them. The details on the parts even seem functional. So. for instance the triangular shapes of the 2.5mm balanced plug helps to provide a secure grip while plugging and unplugging. I did however notice that the fit with the balanced out of my Cowon Plenue 2 was not very secure and could come loose quite easily. I am not sure if this is just bad luck with the tolerances or if my DAP is showing its age a bit after such intensive use, but it is what I found. All my other sources and the 2.5mm to 4.4mm adapter all gave a secure fit.
The y-split looks great with the shape of a Doric column in chrome, a subtle design choice that I think works very well. Most important in my opinion though are the 2-pin connectors. All too often have I seen plastic covers on those that would come loose after a while and here Eletech have worked with the same aluminium-alloy to design quality, screw-type covers for the connectors that feel a lot more solid. I don’t see these coming loose anytime soon and that is exactly what I would expect from a cable at this price point.