Effect Audio Ares II 8-wire

General Information

Bespoke Ares II 8-wire
  • Gauge: 26 AWG (8 wires)
  • Geometry: Proprietary Multi-Size Stranded design within a single encapsulation
  • Materials: UPOCC Litz Copper
  • Carbon Fibre termination and Y-split

Latest reviews


Reviewer at The Headphone List
Pros: Great headroom and staging properties
- Fantastic value-for-money (especially when upgrading from the 4-wire variant)
- Natural tonal balance
- Charming, vibrant vocals
- Strong build quality and packaging
- High versatility
Cons: Inherently less ergonomic compared to 4-wire cables
- Not the last word in technical performance or transparency
- Doesn't subscribe to the stereotypical, full, copper-esque sound
DISCLAIMER: Effect Audio provided me with the Bespoke Ares II in return for my honest opinion. I am not personally affiliated with the company in any way, nor do I receive any monetary rewards for a positive evaluation. I’d like to thank Effect Audio for their kindness and support. The review is as follows.

Effect Audio is a Singaporean cable manufacturer of very high repute. Their contributions to the industry have received incredible acclaim, as has their collaborations with in-ear manufacturers like Empire Ears, Vision Ears and Jomo Audio. Though their industry-standard, 4-wire cables have claimed much of the praise, Effect Audio are now pushing forth their Bespoke line consisting of 8-wire cables; double the wire count, double the performance… or so they hope. Our very own PinkyPowers recently reviewed the 8-wire Thor Silver II and touted it as one of his favourite cables of all-time, but today I’ll be taking a look at the Bespoke Ares II; a beastly evolution of Effect Audio’s award-winning staple.

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Effect Audio Bespoke Ares II (8-wire)
  • Wire composition: 26 AWG UPOCC Litz copper
  • Default configuration: 8-wire
  • Key feature(s) (if any): UltraFlexi insulation
  • Price: $300
  • Website: www.effectaudio.com
Build and Accessories

Effect Audio’s 8-wire Ares II arrives in a luxurious, matte-black monolith. It’s identical to the packaging that comes with the company’s Lionheart, except the paper sleeve has Bespoke printed on top instead of Lionheart. Similarly, sliding off the paper sleeve reveals a velvet door, with the cable nestled in a circular cut-out just underneath. The completionist in me would’ve loved to see a cable tie of sorts included inside, but the conductor’s tight braid keeps it uniform anyway.


When making the leap from 4 to 8 wires, there’s a clear compromise in ergonomics. The 8-wire Ares II certainly weighs more than any 4-wire cable, but – surprisingly – overall comfort is a toss-up. The cable’s density is doubled, which makes it impossible to tangle. Effect Audio’s braiding is impressively tight, but never stiff. In daily use, the only weight I ever feel lies above the ear; especially during and after inserting custom IEMs. But, once the monitors are locked in the canal, the additional heft is minimal; resulting in a listening experience that may require adaptation, but not constant attention.

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As always, fit and finish with Effect Audio is impeccable. The Litz copper wires emit an extravagant lustre; gleaming and glimmering at every turn. The braids prove more uniform than their 4-wire counterparts all throughout, aiding both aesthetics and ergonomics. Effect Audio’s signature metallic Y-split and 2-pin connectors are as sleek as ever. Though, I can’t say the same about their plain Jane 4.4mm plug. It’s a simple black barrel with a white Effect Audio logo printed on top, and it breaks continuity – to me – against the rest of the hardware. Thankfully, Effect Audio have since updated the hardware on their cables, including the option for a gorgeous, metal-and-carbon-fibre, 4.4mm Pentaconn plug.

Sound Impressions

The Bespoke preserves much of the original’s timbre: A lightly warm tone juxtaposed against an articulative lower-treble. The stage gains remarkable depth, but the most noteworthy change lies in its definition. The cable outputs a pitch-black background with ample headroom, resulting in effortless refinement; teeming with openness, dynamic contrast and air. While the stock Ares II tends to fabricate space through its leaner lower-midrange, the Bespoke is more welcoming of harmonic detail. Instruments compromise neither body nor tone, yet remain congestion-free because of the cable’s innate expanse. Every element is resolved from transient to decay, with minimal warmth intruding on clarity.


Improved bass extension pairs the Ares II’s warm, meaty punches with palpable physicality. The low-end is tastefully accentuated, focused between the mid- and sub-bass frequencies. As a result, there’s a hint of rumble with every punch; inviting rhythm, energy and motion to the overall presentation. Thankfully, the Bespoke allows enough headroom to avoid veil. Excellent treble extension applies a perimeter of air around each thump. So as the note arrives (and decays), the monitor is able to convey texture, tone and dynamic energy in a cleaner, more articulate and well-separated manner – all whilst maintaining titillating impact. Also, in tracks where bass drops are waiting to happen, the Bespoke’s authority allows the listener to more easily follow the crescendo; adding a dose of theatricality as the song approaches its climax.

Like the original Ares II, the Bespoke maintains a vibrant, emotive and musical upper-midrange. This vibrancy comes from a 6kHz peak, vulnerable to stridence with problematic pairings. However, the Bespoke alleviates this through heightened headroom. The rise is now more rounded, smooth and refined, but just as transparent, articulate and clear. The lower-mids – although largely neutral – gain excellent resolution, as harmonic detail is better rendered against the black background. Male vocalists with larger ranges (like Michael Bublé) reap most from this; amalgamating the Bespoke’s bodied bass, defined lower-midrange and melodious upper-mids to ensure musicality whether he’s crooning or belting. Finally, a stable stage fuels imaging and separation. Instruments maintain their size, energy and hue, but are placed within a more spacious environment; resulting in a more precise – yet tonally-correct – presentation.


The Bespoke’s top-end is just lightly risen, aside from its 6kHz peak. As a result, the Bespoke’s treble maintains a largely neutral tone. However, it also consistently boasts sufficient definition. Its composure translates neither to sluggishness nor veil, as a result of excellent headroom and admirable extension. Notes decay just quickly enough for proper contrast, outlined against a black background, and imaged precisely throughout the stage; resolving, clean and clear. It merely flirts with adding the biting crispness that most silver cables (or even the Eos, for example) are known for, but clarity never falls short. The Bespoke’s linear upper-treble invites a more natural timbre, but its light lift serves dividends in dynamic energy; compensating for its lack of frills with excellent stability, decent transparency and palpable realism.

Suggested Pairings

Because of the Bespoke’s strong technical foundation, it’s a versatile cable that’ll synergise with most monitors it’s paired with. It doesn’t carry any notable frequency aberration(s), even though it does have an overall tinge; lightly warm counterbalanced by the peppiness of the upper-midrange. Regardless, most of its major effects are technical in nature: Palpable increases in soundstage depth, background blackness, image stability, note resolution and spatial precision. So, if the qualities below are ones you’d love to see improved within your IEMs, the Bespoke Ares II will do you good:

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Heightened transparency, without brightness: While the simplest way to coax clarity is by boosting the upper-treble, the Bespoke Ares II skilfully creates a blacker, more stable background. It’s as if the image lowers in distortion; becoming more effortless and well-defined whilst maintaining tonal balance. This is ideal if you own warmer IEMs – like the Empire Ears Phantom or the Custom Art Harmony 8.2 – and seek to clean the image without altering its inherent timbre.

Increased bass physicality, without bloom, bleed or dominance: The Bespoke Ares II is ideal if you want to increase the bass’s sensation of impact, without necessarily boosting the mid-bass altogether. This is done through great extension. IEMs like the Warbler Audio Prelude, Lime Ears Model X and 64Audio A6t benefit most from this, as their tonally-correct low-ends become substantially more authoritative, guttural and musical, without becoming dirty.

Greater midrange texture, without congestion: If you have monitors like the Phantom, Harmony 8.2 or the Empire Ears Zeus and you find their lower-midrange biases may border on overt, the Bespoke Ares II makes an ideal pair. The conductor brings the region closer to neutral and – more crucially – adds authority and texture. So, you never get that cloy sensation of chestiness or fullness. Instead, you get great gravitas within a bellowing, deep lower-midrange.


Conversely, because of the Bespoke’s balance throughout the midrange, as well as its warmer tilt, here are aspects the won’t benefit from the conductor upgrade:

Fuller, meatier and more-bodied notes: Although the Ares II is a copper cable, it does not have the fullness and euphony that copper conductors generally do. Its light warmth is confined strictly to tone, whilst note density, body and richness remain largely unchanged. In fact, its neutral lower-midrange may invite a lighter, less-heavy-handed delivery. In-ears with wispier notes – like the Nocturnal Audio Avalon – won’t benefit (in meatiness, at least) with the Bespoke.

Cleaner, brighter vocals: The Bespoke places its vocals neutrally on the stage; a combination between increased stage depth and a linear upper-treble. Despite its bias towards the upper-mids, the Bespoke should not be your pick if you’re looking to give vocals a cleaner, crrisper tone. The midrange will tend towards melodious and sweet; vibrant and zing-y. With the 64Audio A6t as an example, this added depth gives too much of a contrast between the upper-mids and the 7kHz peak, which makes it less-than-ideal for peaky-er pairings or for low-level listening.

Select Comparisons

Effect Audio 4-wire Ares II ($149.90)

As previously mentioned, the default and Bespoke variants share many tonal similarities. However, in terms of stage expansion, background blackness, imaging precision and resolution, the original noticeably lags behind. Simply put, the Bespoke accomplishes all of its works with less effort. In its delivery, there’s a constant sense of refinement, authority and ease. As a result, the Bespoke comes equipped with greater control over its arsenal. Its 6kHz peak is smoother, its lower-midrange is better-textured and its low-end is physically more sound as well. Succinctly said, fans of the standard Ares II will find much to love in its Bespoke variant, if they won’t mind the extra weight and the heftier price tag.


Effect Audio 4-wire Thor Silver II ($399)

The Thor Silver II displays similar levels of refinement to the Bespoke Ares II, because of its silky, feathery treble. It’s lightly raised and articulate, yet skilfully smoothened. Nevertheless, the Thor cannot achieve the same effortlessness that the Bespoke does. The latter portrays a blacker background, superior separation and a noticeably larger stage. Bass is a much closer contest between the two. The Thor portrays excellent physicality and palpable impact. Its mid-bass is more thump-y, while the Bespoke spreads its energy between the mid- and sub-bass. I’d call extension a wash, but the Ares II’s blacker background gives its low-end greater resolution. The Thor has a lighter (less dense) midrange, while the Bespoke renders more organic texture. But, this gives the Thor Silver II a sense of speed that the Ares has less of.


PlusSound Exo Silver + Gold ($349.99)

More so than the Thor Silver II, PlusSound’s Exo Silver + Gold bears several resemblances to the Bespoke Ares II. Although the Exo’s accentuated upper-treble gives it a brighter tone, it presents a well-structured midrange, as well as excellent sub-bass extension. The mid-bass shows excellent control, even if it’s not necessarily as well-textured as the Bespoke’s. Additionally, it competes with the Ares II in soundstage width, though the Bespoke has the edge in depth. Background blackness and separation also go to Effect Audio, while the Silver + Gold’s larger images aim for utmost engagement. The PlusSound cable has a slightly tizzy-er lower-treble, though it only rears its head with select pairings. Ultimately, the Silver + Gold gets decently close to the Bespoke’s technical performance, but with a brighter twist.


Effect Audio’s Bespoke Ares II is an instant classic. Bringing their award-winning cable to new technical heights, the metal uptake serves dividends in headroom, soundstage expansion, imaging precision and resolution; presenting music with outstanding effortlessness and admirable transparency, yet steeped in a life-like, organic warmth. While compromises in ergonomics are all but guaranteed, Effect Audio’s stellar craftsmanship prevents the Bespoke from showing its heft. And as always with the Singaporean atelier, aesthetics are simply stunning. In summary, Effect Audio have scored themselves another winner in the Bespoke Ares II; a gateway into the vast, open expanse that eight-wire conductors have to offer.



Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Scales IEMs very well, versatility in pairing, tonality, value, braiding and ergonomics (for an 8-wire cable)
Cons: Ergonomics compared to 4-wire cables
Effect Audio Ares II 8-wire

I would like to thank Eric Chong from Effect Audio for providing me with the Ares II 8-wire in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favourable review.

Ares II 8-wire
  • Gauge: 26 AWG
  • Geometry : Proprietary Multi-Size Stranded design within a single encapsulation
  • Materials: UPOCC Litz Copper
  • Carbon Fibre termination and Y-split
  • Connector type: 2-pin/CIEM
  • Termination type: 2.5mm TRRS (balanced)
  • Price: US$300


By now I am no stranger to reviewing cables by Effect Audio. The Singapore-based trailblazer in aftermarket cable innovation consistently attracts my attention because their house sound fits my preferences and because Eric Chong, Effect Audio's Marketing Manager, has such infectious enthusiasm and passion for his work. In my experience Effect Audio really focuses on the community and often goes well beyond selling cables. They even open their doors and organise workshops for the local Singapore community, where people can learn how to build cables for themselves. Indeed, together with companies such as Vision Ears, Empire Ears and Jomo, Effect Audio has been pushing to improve customer experience well beyond the norm and getting it closer to the experience of attending a Canjam event. I quite like that and always enjoy hearing about new ideas and projects even though I will likely never be able to visit Singapore to attend myself.

During one of my conversations with Eric he asked if I was interested in doing another review ("Of course I am!") and if maybe it would be nice to try out one of their bespoke 8-wire cables ("Of course! Of course!"). Certainly, there was one cable in particular I was interested in, the Ares II 8-wire. It is one of those cables I have been curious about ever since I first heard Ares II in its standard 4-wire configuration. I still rate Ares II as one of the very best cables regardless of price, it is my go-to cable on my Custom Art Ei.3 and came stock on my gorgeous Empire Ears Phantom. (Finally! TOTL IEMs that come stock with a cable befitting them, instead of the cheap plastic ergonomic nightmare that we see so often.) I have however always been curious about the Effect (pardon the obvious pun) of doubling the wire count. Would that double the fun? Or would the difference be imperceptible? Well, since I know Ares II pretty darn well by now, I would say... No time like the present to find out!


Build quality and ergonomics
I will happily admit that I have long been drooling over pictures of Effect Audio's 8-wire cables and could not wait to get my hands on this one. Did it live up to my own personal hype? Oh yes, the Ares II 8-wire is simply a gorgeous cable with a wonderful braiding that is very even and makes the cable surprisingly supple. Sure it is a lot of copper wire to wear over your ears, but I did some of my listening for this review while preparing dinner and felt no discomfort while moving around the kitchen (my cooking is a very intense business, ie. the kitchen becomes a warzone). I won't wear it on the go, not in the least because it would attract way too much attention on the London Tube, but I certainly think it is possible for the less self-conscious audiophiles among us.

The build quality is what I am used to from Effect Audio, simply excellent and durable. Because I use these cables intensively and do a lot of cable rolling, there is however one weak spot I have uncovered with Effect Audio's cables in general and that is the cover of the 2-pin connectors. While the connectors themselves are rock solid, the glue used to keep the covers in place seems to vary in quality and (for instance) the right cover on the Ares II that came with my Phantom was completely loose. In this case there was a tiny bit of play after I had changed the cable from one set of IEMs to another several times, despite being careful every time I did. Perhaps something Effect Audio can look at while they are renewing the components on their cables. (I have seen the new y-split and termination, and those look very nice.)

Overall though it is a great cable and I am pleasantly surprised by the ergonomics, which are pretty darn good for such a thick and heavy cable, and the Ares II 8-wire is a joy to use.

All listening was done with my AK70 from balanced out using the Custom Art Ei.3, Rhapsodio Saturn and Empire Ears Phantom.


"Grand" That one term sums up my first impression of listening to the Ares II 8-wire and it has not changed since. "Grand" as in Grand Canyon, the Ares II 8-wire adds tons of space, air, and clarity. Okay, maybe there is a slight Freudian aspect to that analogy, considering I am quite the outdoors type of person who finds himself confined in London. But doubling up the wires does work like a decongestant, allowing air to flow freely and instruments to envelop themselves in it. The result is that it made even my normally quite intimate sounding Ei.3 sound almost like headphones, the Saturn gained quite a lot of mid-range clarity and a nice amount of sparkle in the treble, and the Phantom... Oh boy did it work well with those!

For my review of the Phantom I wrote a section about Beethoven's 5th symphony because it was such a good illustration of the qualities of those IEMs, and I will quote it here for convenience:

Let me take you on this revolutionary journey... The 5th consists of four movements. In the first movement Beethoven sets out his revolutionary ideals with bold statements expressed through the universally recognised four opening notes. Gardiner injects pace here, conducting at 108 bpm, and the Phantom present the notes resonant and impactful, just as you expect from a passionate statement: The bold sounding tympani, the dramatic brass instruments and sharp and precisely played notes. In the second movement Beethoven expresses his faith in our (human) ability to achieve those ideals. Everything slows down and starts to flow delicately, with instruments transitioning seamlessly from one to another and the Phantom clearly defining each instrument based on tone while maintaining the coherency and fluidity in the notes. In the third movement the revolutionary journey starts in earnest and brass instruments come up bold, uplifting and with intent. Occasionally the bass strings will give the impression of dispersion, only to fall back in line with equal intent. And then everything slows down again with delicate tones, beautifully presented against the pitch-black background of the Phantom. Only a few instruments come through, ever more silent until the drum roll starts and strings begin to increase the sense of anticipation until... La liberté! Freedom! In a burst of exuberance the tympani and brass instruments come back, accompanied by strings, woodwinds and goose bumps every time I listen to it with the Phantom. It is glorious, incredibly layered and flows like a key cinematic scene from an India Jones movie. Because of the accurate tonality, the coherency and outstanding layering, the sense of drama is the very best I have heard so far.

Changing from their stock 4-wire Ares II to the 8-wire only added to this presentation, scaling up the image to give a real sense of the venue where the performance was recorded. To my ears it was the first time that the acoustics sounded like a real concert hall. Most importantly, the 8-wire maintained the outstanding tonality of the Phantom and the way tones fluctuated in the piece, like ebbing and flowing from one instrument to another in the most fluid manner. The grand scale of the image and how the instruments fill it was exactly what I had been trying to find for classical symphonies and the 8-wire pushed my Phantom pretty much spot on where I wanted them to be.


With my Ei.3 I was really impressed by how alive and energetic the sound became with the 8-wire. I was especially impressed with one album and how it ended up sounding, which was the Rolling Stones' 'Blue and Lonesome'. For my preferences the Phantom sound a little too clean for that album, but when I paired my Ei.3 with the 8-wire it was amazing and extremely engaging, making me wish I also had the Rhapsodio Zombie around to pair with the 8-wire. The Ei.3 get quite a nice "smoke-filled blues bar"-type atmosphere that was further emphasised by the 8-wire, but the Zombie already excelled at that with the Ares II 4-wire. I certainly feel the 8-wire brings that something extra, something energetic and alive, making the music feel more real. Case in point was the Rhapsodio Saturn. Where I did not care much for the Saturn's pairing with the 4-wire, the 8-wire was just so large, deliciously lush and delightfully sparkly that I kept it paired just a little longer than necessary, which I think is a good indication of how the 8-wire brings that extra bit of engagement.

It feels to me like the 8-wire scales everything and the bass seems to do two contrasting things: The bass sounds more resonant and thicker, but at the same time the position is ever so slightly further back, giving more room for the mids. This might sound like a contradiction, but when I listen to Caro Emerald's Acoustic Sessions album, I am really impressed by the double bass when I listen with the Phantom. This was the case with the 4-wire, but with the 8-wire it sounds more resonant, almost like I am listening to a dynamic driver. On the forums I had some discussions about the bass of Phantom and that a dynamic driver might be able to get more texture out of it, but the 8-wire already seems to improve the Phantom in precisely this area. Unlike what I expected, it does not hurt the Phantom's character because the cable scales everything like this and the double bass actually feels positioned a little further back.

With the Saturn I had a great time pairing them with the 8-wire. These are dynamic drivers and have a bass-heavy signature that with the 8-wire resulted in an incredibly lush and surprisingly detailed bass. Not as hard hitting as with the stock cable, but still very much able to dig down deep into the sub-bass for a delicious rumble, something I really enjoyed when listening to Carbon Based Lifeforms and Astronaut Ape, my weapons of choice when I feel the need to give myself a brain massage. The 4-wire just made the Saturn fluffy, but the 8-wire added depth and weight to make it lush and incredibly enjoyable for anyone who likes their bass.

With the 8-wire mids become more emphasized and nowhere is this more clearly heard than while listening to intimate vocals with my Phantom. Intimately recorded vocals sound eerily realistic and I was astonished by it when I first heard Madeleine Peyroux whisper in my ear, and felt slightly uncomfortable when Bono did the same. The 8-wire pushed the vocal excellence of the Phantom to new heights and it was a real treat when I was listening to Dido & Aeneas, where at one point a drunken sailor starts to sing. It is completely different from the rest of the opera and usually sounded a little "off" to my ears, but now it sounds spot on and I can feel the emotions in the voice of the performer. It is really impressive.

The amount of air and clarity was also especially noticeable with the Saturn, which have a warm V-shape and as such have both laid-back and somewhat veiled mids with their stock cable. The 8-wire adds a significant amount of mid-range clarity and opens up the mids a lot more, making the Saturn more detailed and the bass less dominant within the overall presentation.

Most importantly, the tonality of mid-range instruments is very well maintained with the Phantom and the added air around those instruments works, as I indicated earlier, especially well for classical symphonies. For more intimate acoustic music such as jazz I tend to lean towards the 4-wire because instruments feel closer together and there is a little more coherency with the vocals, but at the same time I keep coming back to the grandness of the 8-wire and the realism in the vocals so that the choice between them usually becomes a matter of what mood I am in rather than anything else.

Of course there is a bit of a boost to the treble to create all that air, but it is very much in line with the 4-wire: sparkly but smooth. It is clean and when paired with the Saturn the 8-wire helped give them some welcome sparkle and detail. I did not notice much difference in terms of the position of cymbals with my Phantom, the 8-wire maintained the characteristic attenuated and very well extended treble, providing nicely sparkling cymbals that might for some people lack a little in excitement (although yours truly greatly appreciates this due to his slight treble sensitivity).

I think the main gains in the treble are in the areas of air, clarity and transparency, rather than adding a significant amount of treble presence or sparkle and that is just how I like it.

-Ares II 4-wire-
The big question is of course: How does the 8-wire Ares II compare to the standard 4-wire version? Since the Phantom use the 4-wire as a stock cable and I have used the same for my Ei.3, most of my review has already been a comparison between the two, so it does not make much sense repeating myself, but TL;DR... The 8-wire provides a much bigger stage with tons of air and a more prominent mid-range. The 4-wire is more intimate and gives a warmer overall feeling as a result. It feels like the 8-wire provides a sound more akin to headphones. Both share a very similar tonality.

Another really interesting question to ask is whether it makes more sense to double up on the wires and go for the 8-wire, or step up in the materials and go for a cable like Lionheart. The answer to that is always a matter of synergy. I adored Lionheart paired with the VE5, but not so much with my Phantom. This was because I felt Lionheart was a little too laid back in the treble compared to the Ares II 8-wire. However, Lionheart maintains a slightly more intimate stage while still adding clarity and air, and adds a quality to how the music flows that the 8-wire can't quite compete with that feels even more liquid. I would say that the Ares II 8-wire is a more energetic cable while Lionheart is more refined.

Of course it is also a question of ergonomics, as any 26 AWG 8-wire cable is going to be quite big and bulky, not matter how well the braiding is done, so Lionheart packs a lot of performance in a much smaller package.


The Ares II 8-wire is an impressive cable that, like its 4-wire sibling, I feel performs well above its price point. I was surprised by how big the sound was that the cable could produce with my IEMs, almost like headphones. Yet it maintains a lot of the wonderful characteristics of the standard 4-wire. Also surprising was the level of comfort for such a bulky cable, which proved to be incredibly supple and no problem at all to walk around with. An easy recommendation for anyone who likes the standard Ares II and is looking to push that performance to the next level without going too far up in price.



100+ Head-Fier
I just got the Eros II 8 wire for my U18t's. I was trying to decide between that and the Ares II. So far so good!
Both are beautifully made, I decided to go for the silver-copper blend.


Headphoneus Supremus
I just got the Eros II 8 wire for my U18t's. I was trying to decide between that and the Ares II. So far so good!
Both are beautifully made, I decided to go for the silver-copper blend.
Hope to hear the Eros II 8-wire soon, as I loved the 4-wire version and it seems 8-wire cables scale very well.