A Triple Shot of Espresso!
PROS: beautifully crafted cable with a custom design y-split and plug, improves 3D depth of sound imaging, gives the bass more speed and articulation, adds natural analog texture to the mids, enhances the retrieval of details.
CONS: price, thickness of wires makes it a bit stiffer, still waiting for a custom Eletech 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 a very strong opinion about it, and it’s not my intent to add more “snake” oil to the fire. 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 earphones. 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 under the test.
In one of my recent cable reviews, I mentioned that “… flagship kilobuck cables have their own audience who doesn’t need to be convinced about the price tag.” While it is true, the audiophiles who don’t mind cost-no-object audio gear are still consumers who have to decide which flagship cable to choose based on the pair up synergy with their higher end IEMs. And before anybody says how snobby this might sound, you have to realize that many cable companies do offer choices in different price ranges. Nobody is preaching that you absolutely must get kilobuck cable to turn your entry level IEM into a flagship monitor. Also, you have to be realistic and understand the meaning of diminishing returns, as well as to accept the fact there is a demand for cables in every price tier. And this demand is real because every time a new product is announced, quite often, within days, the first batch is gone, and people have to wait for the next one.
Also, the argument about blaming consumers for “as long as you are willing to pay, manufacturers going to raise the price” doesn’t always hold true. The number of multi kilobuck cable releases is up and the demand is not always driven by a high price but rather originality of the design and improvement in sound quality, even if it is only by 5-10%. You can no longer just raise a sticker price and assume that people are gullible enough to buy it blindly. The most expensive doesn’t mean the best. And the competition in the upper end of cables is not just driving the price, but also pushing manufacturers to be more creative, both from a design and an aesthetic perspective, to make their product stand out sonically and visually. And if that wasn’t enough, I’m also noticing more cable manufacturers getting their customers involved to collect the feedback before finalizing the product, both as part of CanJam shows and separate Head-fi tours.
To be honest, I was a bit surprised when Eric Chong, the driving force behind Element Technology (Eletech), revealed to me details of his new triple-copper cable since I expected the next flagship release to have more exotic wire materials. But it also made me realize that our expectations are skewed, and the essence of the audio gear flagship is not about adding more drivers or combining more exotic metals, but rather stepping back to focus on design details in order to come up with something different and more original. So, let’s take a closer look at Eletech latest Ode to Laura cable which I’m going to refer to as “L” in my review.
Eletech “Luxe” Companion Leather Case (Patina Moss Green) w/Aroma Jewel & SpinFit W1
I mentioned this before in a number of my reviews that I highly value the unboxing experience of audio products, especially when you see some companies putting as much effort into the design of the packaging as they do into the actual product inside.
When it comes to Eletech cables, I find the unboxing experience to be a 3-step process for me. It starts with a packaging box design which is intimately connected to the theme behind the product name. Unfortunately, my review sample arrived before the official packaging was finalized, thus I was only able to experience next steps of this unboxing journey. The 2nd step is usually a discovery of the leather companion case. With the exception of a few of their entry level Virtues Series models, the rest of Eletech cables always come with a custom leather case, individually crafted to complement the product. L arrived in a uniquely textured greyish leather case, round in shape, with a high-quality large metal zipper, and Eletech branded pull tab attached to a slider. For extra security, as well as a clever way of a possible attachment to your bag, etc., there is a narrow leather strap over the top with a flap that snaps with a fastener.
The final step of Eletech unboxing experience I look forward to is the cable itself, in particularly, the design of y-split and plug housing which is often customized to reflect the essence of the cable name, in this case – Ode to Laura. This new flagship cable from Eletech’s Parnassus Series was inspired by Renaissance era famous Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) and his Canzoniere collection of poems dedicated to Laura, the woman some considered to be a literary invention rather than a real person. It was Petrarch’s idealized love, perhaps, just like Eletech’s way of suggesting Ode to Laura being their idealized design. Of course, my interpretation of the name is just a speculation, but in case of Ode to Laura the envisioned design became a reality.
Unlike other premium cables with hybrid alloy blends of precious metals, L is a copper only cable, composed of a blend of three different premium OCC copper materials, each with different properties. The breakdown of the design is quite complicated, featuring a 9-core geometry which follows the golden ratio with every single core having its own quadruple stranding design that houses a triple-copper bundle. I know, this was a mouthful to say, but becomes clear when you look at their design diagram. The cores are infused and reinforced with Kevlar and surrounded by OFC shielding to reduce the interference and to lower the noise floor, the same shielding used in their Inferno headphone cable.
This new type of 9-core geometry is packed into 22awg thickness conductor which holds almost twice as much material as a typical 24awg config. So, while L cable only features 4-wire tightly braided design, it packs the amount of material which is typical for 8-wire design. The wires are cryogenically treated, and the cable uses Bespoke audiophile quality solder. And with a clear FlexiMax insulation you can easily see the surface of OFC shielding. The wire itself is relatively flexible, with zero microphonics, no memory effect, and doesn’t feel heavy. The 4-wire (22awg thickness each) braid is tight, making cable a bit stiff, but it is still very comfortable to wear with IEMs on the go.
The copper tone of the L wire finish is complemented with a beautiful design of y-split and plug. This is probably the highlight of every premium Eletech cable, a customized hardware which is connected to the theme of the cable name. The dual-layer 3D-like design of y-split connects with a theme of Renaissance style architecture, and it is an eye-candy. The outer ring of the y-spit is plated with copper and sandblasted to achieve a vintage aged effect. For the housing of the headphone plug, instead of using their traditional multi-facet triangular pattern insert, Eletech used a new 3D pattern with softer lines/shapes and a matching aged-copper sandblasted finish of the insert.
The other side of the cable has a slim black metal 2pin connector housing, matching the finish of y-split and plug, including Eletech emblem marking on outside and corresponding L/R marking on inside. Next to the connector, you will find a pre-shaped heatshrink earhooks. Also, worth mentioning that while y-split and plug are designed by Eletech, they are manufactured by Pentaconn, which is quite pricey. And last, but not least, I’m still hoping that one of these days Eletech will introduce a chin-slider with a cool matching design. But for now, no chin slider was included.