I first saw the Atratus interconnects in an announcement here on Head-Fi. I was quite interested as I was looking to upgrade some portions of my systems and I was looking some more budget friendly options. With this opportunity to review the Atratus in various combinations of my gear, I think I have found a winner.
I admit I was initially attracted to the looks and what appeared to be solid build quality. When I received my review sample, I was impressed by the build quality. The cable is much more flexible than the Wire World Eclipse 6 I have on hand (also 1.0m in length) and the connectors are quite robust. The plugs made a solid connection with all of the pieces of equipment I used during the review, and I had no complaints about the finish of the contacts. I will note here two small things: 1) Only one cable is marked with and "L" on one end and 2) there is not directional arrows. Both of these are minor items to me since it's easy enough to plug each channel separately and while some of my other cable note the direction, I've hooked them up backwards and didn't notice. Perhaps is the 'paranoid audiophile' lurking in me and the arrows just make me feel safe?
So how did they sound? Short answer - great with a slight treble tilt. For those looking for some details, read on! I wanted to test the Atratus against some of my existing cable library so I grabbed the Eclipse 6 noted above (terminated with Furutech FP-101) and a 2m Acoustic Research I had lying around (I think I bought it at Best Buy for <$20 years ago). I used two gear combinations:
- Logitech Squeezebox Touch -> Schiit Valhalla -> Audio Technica ATH-W3000ANV
- Logitech Squeezebox Touch -> AMB ß22/σ22 (built by me) -> Audio Technica ATH-W1000X
I started with combo one using the Eclipse 6 as it was the interconnect I was most often using. For each combination, I selected a few songs I was familiar with and got down to business. The first track was Diana Krall - 'S Wonderful (The Look of Love, 2001). I felt the Eclipse 6 presented a wide soundstage, was very detailed and had good instrument separation. When I popped in the Acoustic Research, I immediately noticed a veil to the piano - almost as if there was a piece of felt in the earcups of the W3000. I did not find the sound stage to be as wide, the vocals were definitely more up front. When I switched to the Atratus, the treble became more defined and sparkly. The edges of the vocals seemed to be more smooth than the other two interconnects and the soundstage was nearly as wide as the Wire World. The next track played was "In My Life" from the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Les Misérables (1987). This song really has some dynamics and soundstage to it. Each of the interconnects imaged the soundstage well, but I really think the Atratus had the best overall balance to the sound. The instruments were very detailed and again, there was a defined treble. The last track played in this particular combo was O.A.R. - King (King, 2011). The song is packed with layered sound. The Eclipse 6 had a warmth to vocals and the bass had nice presence and extension. Changing over to the Acoustic Research cables, it seemed they failed to keep up with dynamics. The sound was often muddy and felt compressed. With the Atratus in place, I once again heard life in the vocals and the bass was deeper, but the extreme edges of the upper and lower range seemed rolled off slightly. I did not notice any harshness to the sound. I did play one more song in this setup with only the Atratus in place: Tool - Lateralus (Lateralus, 2001). I was impressed by the interconnect's clear, crisp highs. I made a note during my listening of "eerie background vocals" that I hadn't quite noticed before.
At this point I swapped gear around to the second combination above. The first track here was Christina Perri - Jar of Hearts (Lovestrong, 2011). I think this track is a good way for anyone to test for sibilance in a system. Each of the interconnects presented it, but I do believe the recording was intended to be more on the "raw" side. That being said, the Atratus made Perri's voice seem breathy/thin and her emotion was palpable. The Eclipse 6 was far warmer in overall tone and had a slightly larger soundstage to it. Truthfully, I only made it about half way through the song with the Acoustic Research cable in place. It was warm, similar to the Eclipse 6, but didn't seem as loud and the sibilance was piercing. I moved on Billy Joel - Lullabye (River of Dreams, 1993). The Acoustic Research had a slightly warm sound, but Joel's piano didn't seem to have much life to it. I did detect more noise from this interconnect versus the Atratus and Eclipse 6. Swapping in the Eclipse 6 added in some details that were lacking in the Acoustic Research - the depth the thump from the piano's pedals and life to Joel's voice. The Atratus was no slouch here either. The vocals were clean, natural and more forward, and I could almost feel the puff of breath on the mic. Next up, I played Norah Jones - Come Away With Me (Come Away With Me, 2002). The Atratus had airy highs and no hint of sibilance whereas the Acoustic Research did. With the Atratus the sound of the brushes on the snare drum were distinct and Norah's voice was quite clear. When I swapped in the Acoustic Research the vocals seemed much thinner and compressed. The extension the Atratus had displayed was gone as well - sibilant. With the Eclipse 6 in place, I noticed a crispness to the cymbals and a lusher vocal range, but still sibilant.
I've since moved the Atratus to the system I use to drive my HE-6 and Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 speakers. I actually removed the Eclipse 6 from this chain and I don't see myself putting it back in. From my testing, I found the Atratus to have a slight lean to the treble, but in no way bright. There is just a sparkle to the upper mids and highs that I found to be lacking in the Eclipse 6. This is not to say I will not use the WireWorld cable. I have moved it to the vintage speaker rig (Marantz 2265B/HPM-100) and the warmth I hear in that interconnect complements that system quite well.
The Atratus is an excellent buy and I find it to perform WELL above its cost. I hope Oliver at Epiphany Acoustics will later provide longer versions and some other termination options. I will definitely be adding more to my library. I would recommend the Atratus to anyone that enjoys quality treble or needs to tame a bit of lushness or warmth in a system.
Thank you for staying with me here!