Xploration of micro details!
PROS: excellent workmanship, supple and comfortable, micro-detailed fine-tuning of the sound, improves transparency and resolution, new black CF hardware.
CONS: price, sound improvement varies depending on pair up, tight chin slider.
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; 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.
Last year (2019) Effect Audio 10-year anniversary marked a new milestone for EA with updates of their product line from a budget Vogue series to a new flagship Code 51, along with more 8-wire Octa versions and 8-wire Hybrid combinations of popular cables. The 8-wire trend turned out to be popular since many of these wires are not too thick and still comfortable to wear with IEMs on the go. Plus, doubling the wires scales down the impedance of the cable which affects the sound.
I tested and reviewed the original Horus cable back in November of 2017. Now, Horus is featured in Leonidas and Cleopatra hybrid combinations, as well as being transformed into Horus Jumbo and Horus X in addition to Horus Octa. Jumbo was a very limited edition version using thicker 22awg gauge wires, with a batch of only 10 pieces build, and Horus X (HX) offered something a little different than just doubling the conductor wires like in Octa.
When I attended recent CanJam NYC, EA didn’t mention about HX, focusing more on Code 51. Maybe they were saving it for SGP show which had to be delayed and rescheduled due to covid-19. In general, EA is a big proponent of letting people hear and compare cables at the show, to make up their own mind. But in lieu of the global pandemic, right now it is not feasible. Thus, I decided to focus my review on HX and to describe how it stacks up against other EA flagships. So, let’s proceed.
Unboxing and Accessories.
EA Horus X arrived in their typical giftbox packaging with an exterior sleeve where golden X “marks the spot” and a jewelry style velvet box underneath. Either if you do or don’t care about unboxing experience of IEMs or DAPs, manufacturers do put extra effort into the packaging, so it’s only fair to acknowledge it, especially when it is nice enough to keep on a display.
Since my review unit arrived before the product packaging was finalized, I didn’t receive a storage box but was told that Horus X comes with a handmade round patina leather case. I’m not sure if it will be similar to the one which comes with Leo II cable, but either way, their round leather cases are usually premium quality, roomy enough for a cable and a pair of IEMs, and great for storage or just a display.
When it comes to accessories, for cables it is often associated with termination plug. If you decide to go with 3.5mm SE, you don’t have to worry about adapters, but with 2.5mm you have a choice of either short adapter or a pigtail adapter with a matching cable. I’m sure you can request an adapter to go from 4.4mm to 2.5mm or 3.5mm, but due to bulky 4.4mm socket those make sense in pigtail design.
The only thing which has been missing in EA packaging is some kind of a leather strap organizer for a cable. I wish EA would consider it in the future. It’s a small accessory, but I find it to be quite useful, and a branded leather strap can complement nicely the look of a premium cable.
While Horus X, similar to the original Horus, uses Gold Plated Silver (GPS) conductors, the design is a little different. The original Horus uses 4 conductors with ultra high strand count where strands are multi-sized. Typically, Octa version will double these conductors to 8, and EA already has Horus Octa. But with Horus X, EA added another 4 conductors with multi-strands of Gold Plated Silver. HX uses GPS wires of 26awg gauge where 4 have multi-sized stranding and 4 are just multi-strands. I know, for some this doesn’t mean much since they will focus only on a wire material, but according to EA they were experimenting with different GPS wire combinations, and found this as a complementary alternative to Horus Octa. Plus, it is also cheaper than Octa.
The material of wires is still ultra purity OCC Gold Plated Silver (GPS) with EA’s own UltraFlexi insulation. For those not familiar with OCC, it’s a process developed and patented by Professor Ohno of the Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan, thus a name Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC), which is a special casting process that eliminated grain boundaries in copper and silver. As a result, it draws a single crystal structure with least possible oxides and other impurities. And on top of that, these silver wires are plated with gold.
Starting with a gold plated 4.4mm connector, HX features a black CF plug housing and a matching CF Y-split, each with a stamped EA logo. 2pin connector housing is black as well (w/white label of EA logo and L/R marking). The black theme has a nice contrast with gold-plated silver wires. The only thing different is a shiny chin-slider, which I found to have openings a bit too small for 4-conductor braided L/R cable sides. The main cable has a rounded 8-conductor braid, not too tight, making the cable more pliable, and then splitting into two 4-conductor braids above Y-split, and going to the flexible heat-shrink earhook portion where wires are twisted to make it more comfortable going over the ears.
Similar to Code 51, the plug, y-split, and connectors all arrived with a protective plastic wrap to make sure there are no scratches when you receive the cable. Also, the cable I received for review had 4.4mm termination, P-EA brand name official Pentaconn connector. If you request 3.5mm or 2.5mm, those use PSquare connectors.
Despite having 8-wires, the cable doesn’t feel heavy at all. And as I already mentioned, the braiding is not too tight, making cable more flexible. I used it on the go with various IEMs, and it felt comfortable, never weighing it down.