doctorjazz

There is no Dana, there is only ZOTL!
Reviewer for The Headphone List
Here’s my very late review



About a cable I was to asked to do



Things went wrong they sat around

But now I'll hip you to the sound...


(sung to "Runaround Sue" by Dion

here's the YouTube video for those too young to remember it)





This is a review I promised to write on these in exchange for receiving them in a contest here on Head Fi.


Disclaimer-Despite receiving these for free, delivered in a Mercedes Sport (to keep) and handed to me by Supermodels, I will endeaver to be totally objective in my impressions…


Disclaimer-Despite receiving these for free, delivered in a Mercedes Sport (to keep) and handed to me by Supermodels, I will endeavor to be totally objective in my impressions…

I generally don’t have a whole lot of use for “unboxing” parts of reviews. Sure, it makes a better impression to get the item in pretty packaging than in an old corrugated box, but, in the end, it’s what goes in my ears. But, I’ll just mention they came packed in a pretty box, with an insert that they wind around, nothing extravagant, but they make a nice first impression.

Some technical info, from the website…

Technical Specifications:

  • 26 AWG
  • UPOCC Litz Copper / Silver Hybrid
  • Proprietary Multi-Size Stranded design within single encapsulation
· This is a review I promised to write on these in exchange for receiving them in a contest here on Head Fi.

  • Flexible insulation (same as Leonidas)
  • New EA CF connectors and Y-Split
Link to the Effect Audio page: https://www.effectaudio.com/iem-premium-series/eros-ii.html

I won’t get into all the details of my tale of woe on these, but, as a summary. I first got the mmcx version for 2 particular headphones I was listening to at length (I have too many iems, generally Too Much Stuff). The cables came, I loved how they sounded, then BOTH headphones stopped working at the mmcx connector (I have since gotten replacement for 1; I won’t name names…). Then, I was planning to write the Eros II up for The Headphone List, but I didn’t call out “got it” like a good outfielder should, and someone else (Ryan) beat me to it. Aside from that, I have reviewed a set of cables before, and, let me tell you, it is a PIA. I generally do lots of connecting and disconnecting for any review-no gear has a “sound” on its own, it interacts with other components to bring you music as a team effort. For a source or headphone, you connect and disconnect on 1 side to change associated equipment for comparisons. For a cable, you connect/disconnect at both sides, the source and the iem side. Yuck. Then, to make it even more unappealing, impressions on how cables sound INEVITABLY bring out the “all cables sound the same” crowd (please, no brickbats from you folks). Now, everything seems to be in place, the stars are aligned, so here are my impressions.

EA is based in Singapore, and has been selling upgrade cables since 2009, and have cables at the site from $149 to $1050, along with headphones. The Eros II sells for $279.90 at the site.

Constructed from a copper-silver hybrid, the Eros II has a beautiful braided look shown off nicely by the clear plastic sheath. The connector and strain relief are a striking silver and black design, with the EA logo. It’s slightly thicker and heavier than some stock cords, but still very supple and light, making it very comfortable.
cable 3 IMG_0100.JPG

Of course, none of this is of much use if the cable doesn’t do anything for the sound. I used two different players and a few headphones to get a handle on the cable’s sound. Overall, I didn’t really find it to highlight any particular part of the audio frequency, just to open up and clarify the sound across the board.

I started out with the Pioneer xdr 300, which does single ended and balanced. I prefer using the music player Neutron to the stock player, and I’m told the player doesn’t do balanced with other music apps, so I used a balanced to single ended converting plug (also from EA) to keep things even. I love Big Star’s September Gurls (“Radio City” hi-rez 24/96 file), so I conneected those little mmcx plugs into my Westone W40. The difference with the stock cable was noticeable-stage width didn’t change much (maybe slightly wider), but depth and the darkness of the space between the instruments was more evident. Alex Chilton’s vocal had more body, more realism. Next up, Charles Mingus’ Better Git It In Your Soul (“Mingus Ah Um”, SACD rip). This jazz track just smokes-and, with the Eros II, the Jazz Workshop smokes even more. Open space, width, depth are more present, and the band just locks in to a more toe tapping groove. Details are also more noticeable-the high hat and other cymbal strokes Danny Richmond utilizes are more present without any stridency. One more with this configuration: Joni Mitchell’s Classic “Blue” (hi-rez 24/192 file), and cued up California. The W40 tends to be warm rather than detailed; the Eros II doesn’t mitigate the warmth, but opens up the stage and adds more detail. This great recording is well served-James Taylor’s guitar playing gives the guitar body, you hear the fingers pluck the strings, things are more clear, the clichéd “cleaning the glass”.

I won’t bore you with 20 more examples, but I wanted to try another player and set of headphones, so I pulled out the Pono and the Campfire Audio Orion. The Pono is a warmer, more “organic” player than the Pioneer; the Orion is somewhat drier, more detail oriented than the W40. Box of Rain from “American Beauty” by those Dead guys (24/96 hi-rez file) is a staple. Phil Lesh’s bass is rounder, his voice richer, there’s more width and depth, and there’s an overall decrease in a digital-sounding haze (and the stock Campfire cable is very nice). I also spent much time with the Ultimate Ears UE900, a headphone I didn’t particularly care for and sat in my draw for a really long time, but became glued to my ear canals using the Eros II. It went from boring to engaging, with greater depth, clarity, and swing.

So, I’d say this is definitely a worthwhile upgrade to iems you have and like. I don’t want to overstate things; upgrading your iems is probably something to do before going to cable upgrades. But, if you really like your iems and want to maximize their performance, the Effect Audio Eros II is certainly a worthwhile investment.

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Wyville

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Mid-range clarity with excellent vocals, a tight and articulate bass, uncoloured and might pair well with most IEMs, build quality, ergonomics
Cons: None
Effect Audio Eros II

Disclaimer
This Eros II is on loan from @ostewart of Sound Perfection Reviews (his Eros II review here), and will be returned afterwards. Although I have been in contact with Effect Audio about this review, I am not being compensated for it in any way.

Effect Audio Eros II
  • 26 AWG
  • UPOCC Litz Copper / Silver Hybrid
  • Proprietary Multi-Size Stranded design within single encapsulation
  • Flexible insulation (same as Leonidas)
  • Carbon Fibre connectors and mini Y-split
  • Connector type: 2-pin/CIEM
  • Termination type: 2.5mm TRRS (balanced)

Links:
http://www.effectaudio.com/
https://www.facebook.com/effectaudiosg/
http://www.soundperfectionreviews.com

Effect Audio
Before writing this review I spoke to Eric Chong, Effect Audio's Marketing Manager, for a bit more background information about the company, and this conversation brought up interesting points about cables in general.

Effect Audio is a specialist custom cable company based in Singapore, a place that is quickly becoming the audiophile's equivalent of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Effect Audio was founded by Suyang in 2009 and has since then grown to become one of the leading brands in aftermarket cables. It is because of companies like Effect Audio that the aftermarket cable industry has transformed itself. Gone are the days that any bit wire would do to make a good looking, but wholly inefficient cable, and neither is it just about the materials in a "copper vs silver" sense anymore. Effect Audio's R&D explores all aspects that have an influence on cable performance and ergonomics. This includes the purity of the materials used and how different materials are combined, but also the geometry of the cable and aspects such as shielding. The results of all this R&D can be clearly seen, felt and heard in even their entry level cables.

Effect Audio offers different series of cables starting with their Premium Series that includes the Eros II reviewed here. Another very popular cable in this series is the Ares II, which I reviewed previously (here), and Ares II illustrates well what Effect Audio are capable of. It is a copper cable that has great clarity and improves treble extension, not something usually seen in a copper cable. The Premium series thus offers high quality cables with both traditional characteristics, their "Plus" cables such as Ares II+, and atypical characteristics such as with the Ares II.

Above the Premium Series sits the Heritage Series, which contains cables with an eccentric design based on more experimental R&D. An important focus for these cables is on performance in what Eric called the "secondary elements" such as the dynamics, imaging and tonality. I listen to a lot of classical music and these sort of secondary elements are very important to help convey the emotion of a piece. Instruments should sound realistic, be positioned correctly and should harmonise in the right way. To put it in a different way, a conductor is not just a pretty (or not so pretty) face waving a wand like someone from a Harry Potter novel. No, try buying Beethoven's symphonies and you will be overwhelmed with options, each a different interpretation by a certain conductor. I have three different versions of Beethoven's No.3 'Eroica'. One is Simon Rattle's modern, whirlwind interpretation, next is Herbert von Karajan's 1970's interpretation that feels less exuberant, and third John Eliot Gardiner's interpretation performed with period instruments, which have an analogue quality to them. So much of the hard work to create those specific interpretations would be lost to the listener if the secondary elements were done poorly. So I can understand what the Heritage Series aims to add above the Premium Series, although the latter is by no means a poor performer in that regard.

With the recently released Horus, Effect Audio pushed even beyond the eccentricity of the Heritage Series and found itself in need of creating the "Hall of Fame" category. Horus is as much a technical statement as it is a product. I will leave it to far more capable reviewers to see whether or not Effect Audio have been successful in creating a cable worthy of its eye-watering price tag, but based on my own short audition I can say I was quite surprised by the richness and clarity that Horus added to the 64 Audio U6 I was using for the demo.

Background
When I bought my beloved Ei.3 I soon had a rather annoying problem. The experience of listening to them was ruined by the stock cable. The memory wire clearly loved ears because it kept happily chewing away at mine. While urgently looking for a replacement I was advised the Ares II, the Eros or the Eros II. Based purely on what I read on the Effect Audio website I expected to like Eros II best, but after having been very pleasantly surprised by the Ares II when @ostewart loaned me his, I bought that one instead. When @ostewart recently offered me a chance to try the Eros II, I couldn't let the opportunity pass to see if my initial expectations were right. So after a lengthy introduction, let's have a look at, and listen to the Eros II.

ErosII_2.JPG

Build quality
The Eros II is a copper/silver hybrid cable and has the typical Effect Audio build quality, which is excellent. I could not notice any differences compared to my Ares II and this means it has quality components, a very nice suppleness and the ergonomics are excellent. There is not much more I can say about it, Eros II oozes premium build quality and looks great.

Source
All listening was done with my AK70, from its balanced out. The AK70 is a neutral warm DAP that is more organic in how it presents the music, rather than analytical. The balanced out provides a warmer and more laid-back sound with an increased soundstage, especially in depth, a darker background and improved imaging. Listing was done with the 64 Audio U6 and Custom Art Ei.3 in about equal measure. Since both share a very similar signature I will mainly refer to the U6.

Ei3_ErosII(2).JPG

Presentation
I honestly did not know what to expect from the Eros II's hybrid design and it took a little time to adjust when I started listening using the U6 with the M15 APEX module. Coming from the warmth of Ares II, the Eros II affected the U6's signature much less. The U6 with M15 are quite balanced and balanced is what I got with Eros II, except that the quality jumped up by quite a bit.

The stage is extended in all directions and notes appear to be a bit smaller, allowing more details to come through and creating a wonderfully clear and airy stage. As I mentioned in my U6 review (here), with Eros II the U6 sound grown up, like they lost the youthful exuberance they had with Ares II to become more focused. It is a less coloured sound that is very well controlled and presents a precise image of the music with excellent positioning and layering. Tonality is very good and instruments sound realistic without any noticeable colour. My impression is that Eros II does not make changes to the signature of IEMs, but simply improves every element across it and creates a more dynamic and articulate sound. I will do my best to explain this, as it starts with the bass.

Bass
Eros II presents bass with an excellent level of control. I first listened to Eros II with classical music and initially it felt like a quite cool sound, but that was because the bass was not called for. When called for, the sub-bass is capable of going deep and especially with the U6 it was capable of producing the sort of rumble that is felt, rather than just heard. The mid-bass is so well controlled that at times it seems to be missing, but when it comes it can present itself with authority and quickly darken the signature. This is what I mean with the sort of dynamics that Eros II brings. It can turn the U6 from relatively cool to oppressively dark, and any degree of those in between, with great precision. When listening to Astronaut Ape I especially enjoyed one track that had a didgeridoo in it, a very low, guttural sounding instrument. Eros II managed to push the U6 deep enough that I could almost feel it in my stomach, and while the stock cable could, to some extent, do that too, Eros II had much better control in bringing the didgeridoo forward and it did not "bleed". It was a tightly controlled, very clear sounding instrument with amazing texture to it.

Mids
One of the most noticeable improvements Eros II makes is in midrange clarity and especially vocals benefit from this. Vocal clarity and presence is quite amazing with both the U6 and my own Ei.3 (slightly preferring my Ei.3 here). I absolutely adored listening to female vocals such as Caro Emerald, Madeleine Peyroux and London Grammar's Hannah Reid, who has a really unique voice that came through mesmerizingly well and almost brought me to tears. For classical music Eros II was impressive too, with choral music being presented with a lot more energy, while Purcell's masterful word setting came through with great precision.

Instruments sound amazing with Eros II. Listening to Caro Emerald's Acoustic Sessions, I am compelled to move. Not just tapping a foot, but swivelling my chair and nodding my head too. It is a whole body experience. The instruments sound alive with great texture and resolution, and everything just seems to sit perfectly within the image. Deep cello sounds in the back, forward guitars, details all around and central to everything that wonderfully clear voice. Eros II brings out that effortlessly natural sound of the U6 really well and it seems to work with every type of music I can throw at it. This is the versatility of the U6 and Eros II elevates that to a higher level.

Treble
Eros II gently lifts the treble. Where the U6 have perhaps a slightly attenuated treble, with Eros II it feels confidently linear. Cymbals have a lovely shimmer to them, but are also positioned better and no longer get pushed into the background. One of my favourite pieces of music to test treble is Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and Eros II manages to bring out the fairy-like sparkle really well without any hint of sharpness. All the bells, cymbals and such are clearly positioned and sound very realistic; they come up with the sort of energy that is typical of such instruments.

Eros II also adds air and detail to the treble that is noticeable with violins when those go up high. This is a point where violins can sound sharp and more like a noise than an instrument, but with Eros II the U6 manage to make violins sound like violins, even when those push high up. Similarly I noticed in Purcell's Dido & Aeneas "Dido's lament" that the soprano's voice, when reaching up, was a bit more airy, slightly smoothing that glass-shattering high note.

Eros_Ares.JPG

Eros II vs Ares II
When I first looked at these two cables I found it very hard to understand what the difference would be between them, especially as Ares II had the atypical brighter sound with more extended treble than a usual copper cable. Listening to them I find that Ares II, although atypical, is still a copper cable with more warmth and excitement to it and a smaller, more intimate stage. Eros II on the other hand is an uncoloured cable that has a harder hitting, but more tightly controlled and articulate bass, clearer mids with especially good vocal clarity and a more extended, slightly elevated treble. Eric was kind enough to send me a graph of a comparison between the two, but I did not really know how to read it, as it simply suggested "more" bass, mids and treble without any context. That context is now much clearer. However, the graph also suggested that detail retrieval between the two was equal. Personally, I feel Eros II resolves more detail, as I have come across instruments in classical pieces that I never heard before. Perhaps this might have to do with me using warm and smooth IEMs and a slightly more organic sounding DAP.

Eroica
In an effort to better understand what exactly Eros II did for the sound, I went back to one of my favourite pieces in classical music, Beethoven's No.3 'Eroica', and not just one, but all three versions I mentioned earlier: Rattle, Karajan and Gardiner. Something interesting happened here. I initially saw Rattle's interpretation as a modern, whirlwind version, and thought Karajan's was more serious, yet Karajan had by far the fastest first movement and Rattle was the slowest. By going through all three with both Ares II and Eros II I found out why the perceived speed differed.

Rattle's interpretation with Ares II feels fast for two reasons. First, the recording is up close allowing details of the individual instruments to come through clearly, and second, Ares II adds enough warmth to the modern instruments to make them sound more exciting. With Karajan's interpretation this is far less noticeable because the recording was done from further back and you do not get an intimate sense of detail of the individual instruments, it is more harmonious. The warmth of Ares II makes everything just a bit too smooth. Gardiner has a similarly close recording to Rattle, but uses period instruments that have a lot more body and weight to them than modern instruments and the added warmth of Ares II, instead of adding excitement, merely bogged the piece down.

Switching to Eros II the period instruments used by Gardiner sound less thick and heavy, and this greatly increases the sense of speed. The added resolution, better separation and bigger stage, provides air and detail for the period instruments to really shine and give an analogue feel to the piece. With Rattle's modern and more refined instruments Eros II adds more composure and less exuberance, providing a more realistic sense of the speed his interpretation uses. Because the recording of Karajan's interpretation was done at a greater distance, individual instruments are less clearly heard and the great advantage of Eros II is that it does not add warmth to an already smooth and refined sounding piece. This means that Karajan's piece might well sound most like it would during a live performance.

I think this little experiment underlines that Ares II is the more exciting cable, while Eros II is the less coloured and more refined one. To me this suggests that Eros II might well work with most IEMs out there. However, do not mistake the Eros II for boring, as it is anything but. In all three cases Eros II showed the dynamics and articulation I have referred to before and in this respect I think it easily beats Ares II.

ErosII.JPG

Conclusions
Eros II is a great and uncoloured cable that might work as an upgrade for many IEMs. It makes no significant changes to the original signature, but instead makes improvements across it, resulting in a more dynamic and articulate sound in keeping with the IEMs stock sound. The build quality is the usual excellent quality I have come to expect from Effect Audio and the same goes for the ergonomics.

I started my review by explaining that Eros II was my initial choice for my Ei.3, but that after hearing the Ares II, I bought that instead. Was that a good choice, or do I regret it now that I have had a chance to hear Eros II? To be honest, I do in fact regret it a little because I adore how my Ei.3 sound with Eros II and I will especially miss the lovely clear vocals. Still, Ares II is more affordable (US$149.90 vs US$279.90) and I enjoy the added warmth tremendously, so both have their strengths. Overall I think Eros II is a great cable that is well worth a demo if you are in the market for an upgrade.
Wyville
Wyville
@Metalomaniac With cables it can be difficult to predict how a change will affect the sound. I think Eros II might smooth the treble a little compared to Ares II, while also reducing some of the overall warmth of the signature. I am not sure however if the difference is big enough that it will help tame the treble of the Nemesis to suit your preferences. I would highly recommend a demo if you can or asking in the EE thread if anyone with the Nemesis has advice for a replacement cable.
Metalomaniac
Metalomaniac
Ok, thanks for the info. I already did, no one had recommendations. I ordered Eletech Fortitude, which Eric Chong from Eletech recommended for my needs.
Wyville
Wyville
@Metalomaniac I think you will be good then, Eric knows EE's IEMs well and should have a good idea of how that pairing works out.

ostewart

Reviewer at Sound Perfection Reviews
Pros: Increased layering and texture, does not alter the original SQ much.
Effect Audio Eros II

UPOCC Litz Copper / Silver Hybrid - 26awg
https://www.effectaudio.com/iem-premium-series/eros-ii.html

Used with my Audio Opus #2 DAP / Objective2 amp and my Inearz P350 custom monitors / 64 Audio U6 / Noble Sage

DSC_8939.jpg

Packaging, Build quality and Ergonomics:
The Eros II comes in an excellent little white box, with the company logo on the front. The cable is carefully wound around a foam insert. The box is very simple but elegant, I like it.

The cable is very well built, as is to be expected from most custom cable companies. The 2.5mm balanced jack is sturdy, but there is no strain relief on that end. The cable has a tight round 4 core braid, a slim y-split but again no strain relief. You get a section of molded cable that acts as memory wire, without the metal insert, which is excellent and the 2-pin connectors look great. All the connectors and the y-split have the Effect audio label on them which is a nice touch, and the cable feels well built, even with the lack of strain relief.

Ergonomics are truly excellent, I thought the cable was going to be slightly stiff by the looks of it, but once it is in your hands it really is very supple, with an almost rubbery texture. This means cable noise is minimal, and it is a very comfortable cable to use. The memory wire is excellent as it doesn’t use the convention stiff piece of wire. Overall no ergonomic issues, Effect cables are possibly the most comfortable cables I have used.

DSC_8944.jpg
DSC_8946.jpg

Sound:
The Eros II is a special cable, it is special in the way that is will pair wonderfully with pretty much any IEM out there and sound excellent. Interestingly Effect have decided to use the copper strands for the positive signal and the silver strands for the negative. This creates a cable that is extremly well textured and layered, one that has warmth and body down low, yet also crystal clear highs.

The Eros II is a beautifully balanced cable, that does not aim to change the sound of your IEM's in general, what is does is open up the sound and allow you to hear details more clearly.

It is smooth, refined and enjoyable, it widens the soundstage and creates a better sense of air and space between notes and instruments. It is crystal clear not smoothing over details, yet it is not harsh in its portrayal. When using the Eros II it gets out of the way and allows you to enjoy the IEM's you are using with better depth and layering.

If you are looking for warmer lows, or brighter highs from a cable, the Eros II is not it. But if you like the sound of your IEM's and want to improve the sound and bring it up another level in refinement, separation and layering the Eros II is superb.

cvbcbcmv

100+ Head-Fier
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