Epiphany Acoustics Atratus Review
I am going to start on a word about epiphany acoustics. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have not heard of them, as they are relatively new (atratus is only their second product up for sale). At the company they believe in high-end equipment at prices that are accessible to all and so far they are living up to it. Also I must comment on Oliver Freeborn the mind behind Epiphany Acoustics and any problems you have with any products he will reply in masses with not slap dash answers but multiple reasons/solutions to something that has happened. Not that I have had problems but I queries some thing that happened with my amplifier (when run low on charge). He is a pleasure to deal with and it makes the products all that much better! The first product they have that is available to purchase is the EPH-O2. A portable headphone amplifier that was designed by NwAvGuy who created the circuitry of the amplifier to prove that good performance can also be affordable. Epiphany acoustics then put together a casing for it and voila there you have the EHP-O2! I own this product and can confirm that it lives up to its claims. So moving on to their second product and the one I am about to review, the Atratus Audiophile Interconnect. Its target audience is clear and this is aimed at audiophiles to develop and improve their hi-fi set up be it their desktop headphone rig or your home speaker set-up.
A description of the atratus from epiphany acoustics website: “The design incorporates a dual shield construction – utilizing both a copper braid and foil – to protect the internal heavy gauge signal conductor from extraneous noise pick up and interference.” So it’s a pretty impressive and solid design, especially at the going rate of 40 pound plus postage per meter plus shipping. The cable is terminated with solid RCA plugs.
Looking on forums of all sorts cables are quite a subjective matter. There are some people who say that there is no point owning and earphone unless you are going to upgrade the cable contrasted by others who said that they hear hardly a noticeable difference. Interconnect are no different and people say that their high end expensive combination of premium DACs and amplifiers would be so much inferior without the silver braided cable. Cables being super expensive I have never found the need to try with some cables being more expensive than my earphones them self or when I was looking at purchasing a LOD for my amp to iPhone one LOD was selling for just under $1000 from quables. Being just 16 and not being made of money I settled for a cheap £7 fiio LOD. Spending more and more time on the forum, my opinions changed towards cables and I become more intrigued. When the opportunity to review this came up with claims that it would do wonders I had to jump on board!
Build quality is good as it is well built with a nice thick sturdy cable that is flexible enough. The RCA plugs are also well terminated are nice and chunky and fit snugly when plugged. The design looks professional and that it could stand a good beating and is simple but effective nice design with gold stripes.
So the first thing I done was took them to my fairly basic speaker set up to give it ago. I stuck it into my amp and connected it up to my CD player. The amp is quite a basic old school Technics model and the CD player is actually quite good being a Sony CDP-761e which is quite old but performs very well. The speakers are quite old as well, a pair of Tannoy Revolution R2s. I usually have been using some old check Nikka RCA cables that were probably roughly a pound and as the performance was acceptable I was not that phased and happy with them. Now these speakers are nothing special and I never expect anything to amazing out of the sound quality wise but after putting my Goldfrapp Black Cherry CD in and listening to a couple of song I noticed something had changed dramatically to the better! The bass response was in another league with great extension; an amazing quantity of it (mid-bass) and it was not boomy either. It had a great impact as well and was backed up by great details. Truly phenomenal mid-bass and something I have never really experienced with speaker, let alone these old boys. Now the mid-bass improvement was impressive but what was even better was the addition of something I have never really felt from these speakers and that is sub-bass. The speakers as far as I am aware of do not have anything really dedicated to sub-bass but with this cable them low rumbles in the music I really felt and it was a phenomenal experience. This led me to think are the speakers just responding better than normal today or has something changed (cable). I went and got a couple of pairs of my headphones I have been spending a lot of time with lately and know what to expect out of them in terms of bass. I first plugged my HD580s straight into the amp and gave them a spin on a few songs. WOW :O My 580s just grew in both quantity and quality of bass and I was left gobsmacked and then just to make sure I plugged my ASG-1s in to the same setup and well it continued to perform. Now this is an amp I have tried with headphones before and passed on to use with them as it struggles to keep in contention in all areas to my O2. All know other responses changed in any major ways (like the bass) the whole frequency range had by far better clarity and added detail. I am really quite shocked.
So to some up the difference between the cheap RCA and the Atratus I am blown away. I have an empty feeling as if something is missing when I switch back from the bass change as well as the lack of detail. The biggest change is the addition of sub-bass that goes from basically non existent to really good. The mid-bass also gets better but know where as nearly as significant. There is also an improved clarity and detail across the frequency spectrum.
Any how so impressed by the new found love of my speaker I went through album after album off my CD collection, from Goldfrapp to Soul to Soul, then to Coldplay and nickleback and kept going, in awe of the sound I was getting and as the hours went buy I just kept think was this interconnect contributing to so much difference and was I just kidding myself but the music was their and that was the proof I needed. My speaker said it. My headphones said it. My ears said it. This was a darn good piece of equipment.
Now I am by far from done yet (I really want to test it) and the next thing to do was take it round my friend’s house that has quite the speaker rig that is already equipped with an Ixos 105 which also has been modified with custom terminations. So lets look at how it stacked up!
So start with me and my friend listened to the set up in its current state for reference. The current set up made a very pleasing sound! We swapped in the Atratus and listened to the same artists (Goldfrapp, Nickleback, Snow Patrol) and then discussed our feeling. We came up with a list of positives as well as negatives but one thing was clear, the change was very significant. To start with the bass increased like last time in all departments and it was clear that the extension was also better. But unfortunately there was a slight decrease in detail as well a bleed into the mids. But I also have to state that sub-bass was phenomenal. The next thing I picked up on was a deeper texture that left a more full-bodied sound. This was too me a positive but my friend found it to be negative as it left quite a muddy sound in his opinion. I also felt a lack off speed from the speakers and they struggled slightly more with more layered passages. Other all it was a more warm fun sound compared to a colder more analytical sound. Either one could be preferable to different people.
Overall it done wonders to my set up and offered a different sound to my friends. It is definitely a top cable and has made me realise the impact a cable can have on your listening. This was an exciting and enjoyable piece to do. Thanks to Oliver at Epiphany Acoustics for allowing me to do this.
For the cheap price this is this is a perfect place to start trying new cables as it really show off the difference that they can make and if your already into some more advanced cables then give this a try as you may just be blown away.
Edited by Swimsonny - 4/13/12 at 1:57am