Effect Audio Ares II IEM cable

Rating:
5/5,
  1. Army-Firedawg
    Brilliant warmth & incredible musicality
    Written by Army-Firedawg
    Published Sep 21, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Beautiful looks, solid construction, amazing price/quality
    Cons - Some lose of micro detail
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    I was first introduced to Effect Audio when they partnered with the company Empire Ears to create their Arthur and corresponding Excalibur cable. I was unfortunately unable to hear this unit personally but as a huge fan of the Empire Ears brand I had to look into this Effect Audio company a little bit more and was very impressed by the quality and appearance of their products and grew to understand why Empire Ears would offer up their flagship Zeus to create what turned out to be an amazing product (again I haven’t personally heard this product and am only going off of reviews and impressions).

    Fast forward to May of 2017, I was browsing through the forums and seen that Effect Audio was having a giveaway of a few models of theirs. Well I thought it’d be silly to at not put my name in the hat. Then, when I was beyond surprised to find out I actually was lucky enough to be a winner of their Ares 2 cable I was beyond happy. So after a month with the Effect Audio Ares 2 I feel comfortable enough with it to present my impressions.


    A little about me

    I would like to say that first and foremost I am NOT an “audiophile” but rather an audio enthusiast. I listen to music to enjoy it. Do I prefer a lossless source? Yes, of course. But I can still be very happy streaming from Pandora or even YouTube's “My Mix” playlist. I also prefer equipment that sounds the best to me personally regardless of what frequency response it has or rather or not it's “sonically accurate” and I always have and shall continue to encourage others to do the same.

    I'm a 26 year old firefighter, for the City of Concord, North Carolina as well as the U.S. Army, North Carolina National Guard. The cliché of wanting to do this since I was born couldn't be more present with me. I've worked hard over the last several years to earn this position and now it's time for me to work even harder to keep it.

    My interests/hobbies are fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. Few things make me as an audio enthusiast/reviewer feel more accomplished than when someone tells me that I helped them find the type of sound they've always been looking for.

    Now, the sound signature I personally favor is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.

    My ideal signature is that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI & Zeus XIV, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.

    Equipment used at least some point during the review

    -C/IEM’S
    -Empire Ears Hermes VI
    -Also used the BTG Audio Starlight cable to compare
    -Sources
    -Luxury & Precision L3

    Disclaimer

    I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. I was lucky enough to be one of the selected winners of one of their giveaway’s they held here on Head-Fi. There was not any requirements to gain entry into this contest and my reviewing them was completely of my choice that I chose to do after the fact.

    The following is my take on the product being reviewed. It is to be taken “with a grain of salt” per say and as I always tell people, it is YOUR opinion that matters. So regardless of my take or view on said product, I highly recommend you listen to it yourself and gauge your own opinion.


    The Opening Experience

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    Why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience

    Please allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience with a product. Maybe it’s due to my southern roots in the hills of eastern Kentucky, but I’ve always been raised under the pretense of when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time you present yourself with confidence, class, character, pride, and competence. You greet the other person with a true warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. Anything less or short implies to other person that you either don’t care about them, are too full of yourself, too busy to be bothered by the likes of them, or worse, just generally disrespectful.

    As a consumer, I take this same belief to when I open a new product. Why? Because think about it this way. How else can a company introduce themselves to their customers? How do they present their products? Are they packaged with pride and presented in such a way that makes the listener eager to listen to them? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up and placed in an available space. How about the box itself? Is it bogged down with jargon that says look at this, look what I can do. I’m better than anything on the market and here’s why read this and check out that. Or, is the package clean, simplistic and classy? As if saying to the customer ‘Good day, pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Please give me a listen and allow me to show you what I can do and allow my actions to speak louder than my words.’

    This is why I feel so strongly about the initial presentation of a product, and I feel it’s truly a shame more people don’t. But with all that aside, let’s discuss how this products introduced itself shall we?


    My only experience with aftermarket upgrade cables is the BTG Audio Starlight cable that I purchased along with my Empire Ears Hermes VI, so they arrived together and I can only go off of the unboxing Empire Ears provided. The other is the Moon Audio Black Dragon cable they were kind enough to send me when I was reviewing the Sennheiser HD700, which was a rather, disappointing, unboxing experience. So when I received the package in the mail, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. However, Effect Audio has most certainly given me the best unboxing experience of an upgrade cable to date. True, there’s not a whole lot you can do to make a cable exciting to open, but Effect Audio, I believe, did the best available.

    So starting with the beautiful box supplied with the Ares 2 cable (I can only speak to this cable for I’ve no other experience with any of their products). The top of the box is very simplified with only the Effect Audio logo being present.The bottom has the full company name along with its logo and website information. Now, going back to the top of the box and as you’re looking at the box, as you turn in downward to where you’re looking at the sides the first panel has generic information as to what the product inside the box is which in this case is Effect Audio Premium Cable. Then moving clockwise the corresponding panels only say the words “Perfection”, “Design”, and “Sound” respectively. Yup, that it!

    ‘But Army, that doesn’t tell you anything? Why do you like unboxings like that?’

    Well completely made up voice in my head, I like boxes like these because they feel enough confidence in both their brand name and their product that they don’t need bog down their box with specs., and various other “look at me’s” that many companies do. When products are simplistic on the outside, to me, it’s then telling me ‘my actions speak louder than my words. Listen to me and allow me to show you what I can do than simply boast about it (and often not follow through)’.

    Finally, as you open the box you’re then greeted with the Effect Audio Ares 2 cable coiled around, and edged by, black Styrofoam. This is a very nice presentation of the aftermarket upgrade cable but I will say I wish they would have included a little information about the cable (which yes, is also found on the website) and also the warranty information (which this does not have any paper included HOWEVER, per Effect Audio, they DO warranty their cables for 1[one] year).


    Construction

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    This is an immediate thing I noticed when I picked up the Ares 2 out of their box. The quality and craftsmanship that went into making this cable goes above and beyond any other cable (albeit few) that I have personally reviewed. From the connectors (both phone and c/iem) to the Y-split can be customized (somewhat) from the website and each is built very sturdy.]

    Just from an appearance aspect I feel prideful wearing these out. Both myself and the team at Empire Ears put a lot of effort into designing my personal Hermes VI to look exactly like I imagined and when matched with the Ares 2 cable, the “premiumness” (I couldn’t think of a word so gimme a break will ya) just didn’t fully show, plus the copper cables color really matches my wooden back w/ red casing frame. My version is terminated in a 2.5mm balanced configuration with 2 separate cables going to each iem (4 in total). The Effect Audio company name and logo are printed on both the silver and carbon fiber appearing 2.5mm termination and the Y-splitter while the c/iem terminations have the Effect Audio logo facing the outside.

    The cable itself is wound up in a niece, standard, weave pattern that maintains its flexibility while allowing it to “stretch” some in case of shock load or it getting stuck on something. I can see the terminations and Y-splitter either cracking or having its face start to peel off after some years but that’s just to be expected with the type of material used. I haven’t experienced anything of the sorts personally but, from experience, I can see this happening in the years to come.


    Sound



    The sound of the Effect Audio Ares 2, to me, was immediately noticeable when switching up from the silver cable of my BTG Audio Starlight. At first, I honestly wasn’t impressed and even somewhat disappointed. The sound was notably slower, there was a couple, albeit small, details that I couldn’t hear anymore in certain songs, the bass has slightly longer decay, the treble was more tame and the mids were a fair bit more forward (which I personally love). But after a few hours of listening to them and allowing my ears to adjust I grew to REALLY enjoy the more musical experience vs detailed one of the Starlight cable.

    I really enjoy listening to acoustic music and when listening with the Ares 2 the strings sound more realistic and almost personal. Though going back to the note of loss of detail, on a few songs I can no longer hear the artists fingers scratch across the strings as they change notes. That is a little bit of a downside but the tradeoff, to me, is worth it.

    I mentioned earlier that the treble was tamed. To be more precise I believe the Ares 2 makes the roll off a little sooner than that of the silver Starlight cable, which is likely to be explain the loss of scratching of the guitar strings being lost. The mids however to take a notable forwardness and sound more lifelike and have more body than what the Starlight cable presents. To be a little more specific on that, male vocals (such as Trace Adkins) sound incredible through the Ares 2 cable. Then finally to continue on, the upper bass also presents a little more forward which makes drums (some not all) present a little more prominent as do lower toned string instruments.


    Conclusion


    My overall thoughts on the Effect Audio Ares 2 upgrade cable is that it really is a splendid cable in both appearance and sound. Though it may not have the detail retrieval of my other BTG Starlight cable, it presents the music with a nice touch of warmth which, as most of you who know me know, is something I personally love. A couple people here and there will notice that my ciems are custom but it wasn’t until I equipped them with the Ares 2 cable that people really started taking note that I wasn’t just listening to some regular earphone, and even asked about the cable. The Effect Audio Ares 2 cable is a great upgrade cable that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get a nice”er” sound from your beloved c/iems. I honestly couldn't recommend this cable enough for its price/quality ratio is very respectable.



    Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.
      ostewart likes this.
  2. Wyville
    Impressions of Effect Audio Ares II and Ei.3
    Written by Wyville
    Published Aug 3, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - atypical copper cable with excellent upper-mids/treble performance, clarity, treble extension, excellent ergonomics
    Cons - Might not pair well with brighter IEMs
    Effect Audio Ares II (2.5mm TRRS)

    I wanted to share some of my impressions of the Effect Audio Ares II, which was kindly sent to me by @ostewart to try out. Please note that while I try to write down my thoughts sensibly, I am still new to critical listening. I also did not have an adapter at hand to use this 2.5mm TRRS cable on the SE out of my AK70, so instead I would like to start off by explaining what I hoped to achieve with the balanced Ares II.

    It is not a secret that I deeply adore my Custom Art Ei.3 for its smooth and engaging signature, and I still stand firmly behind what I wrote in my review of them. As I mention there, the treble of the Ei.3 is very polite and I have recently found that in particular for classical music I am missing some clarity and would not mind a bit more sparkle in the treble. Some of that clarity might have been lost due to a reshell from custom to universal fit, or perhaps I am simply getting more used to an audiophile signature (brain burn-in). Whatever the case, I wanted to see if I could use a cable to fine-tune the signature a bit.

    Because I have not used the balanced out on my AK70 before, I could not say for certain what the switch would do to the signature. I have therefore relied on the various bits of information that were generously shared by fellow Head-fi'ers. Based on that I understood that the balanced out of the AK70 was a bit warmer and more laid-back with a larger soundstage and improved L/R positioning. The Ares II was described as an atypical copper cable with a brighter, more analytical signature and its main strength was its improved treble extension. From this I theorised that the Ares II and the balanced out of my AK70 might well compliment each other by retaining the smooth signature of the Ei.3, but improving clarity, soundstage and the quality of the treble. Of course they could also very well counteract each other and not do anything much at all. So I was very happy to be able to test it.

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    Build
    When I received the Ares II I was pleasantly surprised by its build quality. I had been using an Effect Audio cable already, but that was a preproduction sample of a more affordable cable and could not really compare. The Ares II is quite a thick cable, especially compared to the stock cable of my Ei.3, and yet feels very supple and rests behind my ears quite comfortably despite wearing glasses. The weight is noticeable, but does not bother me. Similarly, I was quite surprised by the splitter, which has been described as quite bulky. It might be nice for the splitter to be a bit smaller, but I did not feel bothered by it at all. The splitter, as well as the balanced plug and 2-pin connectors, feel like high quality parts and make the cable as a whole feel strong and durable. Plus, it is a very good-looking cable!

    Sound
    I learned about the usefulness of aftermarket cables after I switched from the stock cable of my Ei.3, which had a memory wire that appeared to be intent on chewing off my ears, to the preproduction 'Eline'. To my surprise the Eline not only delicately caressed my ears, it also gave my Ei.3 a bit of extra air to breathe and show what they were capable of. I also learned that the effect of a cable depends on the synergy between the source, cable and IEMs and boy is the synergy between my AK70's balanced out, the Ares II and my Ei.3 good!

    Again, I can't really distinguish between what improvements are specifically caused by the balanced out and those by the Ares II, so I will describe the combined result. I think some things will clearly be the result of one or the other, while in other cases it is more likely the combination and synergy between the two.

    Presentation
    After switching to the balanced Ares II I immediately noticed that the overall sound and presentation was more focused and precise. This might have been because of the nature of a balanced out in combination with the more analytical character of the Ares II. What struck me was that although everything was more focused and precise, it did not adversely affect the smoothness of the Ei.3. In fact, it was like it changed the sound from a woollen smoothness to a honey-like smoothness. Still thick and infinitely enjoyable, but more well-defined against a pitch-black background. This contrasted nicely with the soundstage, which came across to me as about the same size as with the Eline from the SE out, but with the Ares II from the balanced out the boundaries of the stage were less well defined, making it feel more natural.

    Bass
    Simply put, very impressive. The Ei.3 has a lovely bass that is a bit north of neutral and has this magical property of only ever showing itself when needed. With the Ares II that magic act becomes even more distinct and, above all, remains thoroughly enjoyable. The sub-bass goes a bit deeper and on occasion I felt like there was even a little hint of rumble. Moreover, there is more detail in the sub- and mid-bass, which feel more controlled. I mostly listen to classical music and in Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker the magic act of the bass comes through really well. The piece is generally very light with delicate sounds like fairies flying around your head, but at one point there is a sudden change as the clock strikes midnight. The piece become heavy and oppressively dark as a battle breaks out between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The Ares II presents this darkness with, to my inexperienced ears, an unusual amount of air and detail. It is still dark and heavy, but the darkness is deeper and more precise, bringing more emotion to the change in atmosphere and giving a stronger sense of relief when it lifts and the delicate tingling comes back.

    A clear step up in the quality, impact and control of the bass.

    Mids
    When he sent me the Ares II @ostewart had added a cable he had made himself, which was a balanced SPC cable. Naturally I wanted to see what that would do and immediately found it was a mismatch. As with most SPC cables it created a more V-shaped signature by pushing back the mids quite considerably and that ruined the Ei.3's characteristic sound. I mentioned this in my review: the mids are key to creating the coherent and engaging sound of the Ei.3. The Ares II does exactly what is needed and that is to keep those warm, inviting and luscious mids in place. It also creates more clarity and more air in the mids, which significantly improves how the Ei.3 deal with complicated, multi-layered music such as classical symphonies.

    I always find it difficult when I discuss instruments that can move from the mids into the treble like pianos and violins. The Ares II makes this even more challenging because I can sense an effect of the improved treble extension or perhaps a peak somewhere in the upper mids or treble (or both) that affects the mids. It is not just that the mids have a better separation and improved layering; it is that instruments present themselves differently. Both the piano and the violin sound natural for longer as they move from the mids towards the treble and, for instance, the keys on the piano sound more well-defined making fast sections sound even faster and more exciting. Even more noticeable is the bite that the Ares II gives guitars, especially electric ones, and brass instruments, and this affects their place in the layering by helping them stand out more.

    While I sense a bit of bite to, say, a trumpet, vocals retain the warmth and smoothness I like so much and are improved by the Ares II. Vocals have a bit more body and presence to them, and come across as more natural. Based on the vocal presence I would say that perhaps the Ares II brings the mids a bit more forward.

    Overall the mids remain thick, warm and coherent, but they sound more natural (in particular brass and woodwinds) and are more clearly defined.

    Treble
    I am very treble sensitive and I chose the Ei.3 because of their rolled-off, non-fatiguing treble, so naturally the Ares II's improved treble extension caused me some worries and I initially did not think the Ares II would suit me. Turns out I am an idiot and wrong and gosh if only I had known this earlier. The Ares II made me love sparkling treble!

    Yes finally, the Ares II gives the Ei.3 some much-needed sparkle and it is a lovely smooth sparkle I did not think would even be possible. I was surprised by how lovely cymbals sounded, how sparkly and delicate some of the instruments in the Nutcracker were, and how a soprano could reach for the high note and I was not trying to duck for cover. It all sounds lovely and retains that characteristic smoothness of the Ei.3 and there is nothing fatiguing about it at all. Gorgeous! There is now also detail in the treble I have not heard before and although I still do not find the treble region to be the most natural, it is a noticeable improvement.

    To my ears the treble is where the Ares II makes its most noticeable improvement to the Ei.3 and I am pleasantly surprised by that. Love the sparkle!

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    Conclusions
    What can I say? I know I need to send the Ares II back, but I don't want to. The synergy is excellent and I love the improvements the balanced Ares II makes. While the change in the bass was impressive, I am, much against my usual treblefobia, most impressed by the improvements in the clarity and upper-mids/treble region. The Ares II makes, to my ears, a significant improvement to a relatively weak aspect of the Ei.3's sound, while still retaining that characteristically smooth and thoroughly engaging signature. I think this makes the Ares II an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve clarity and treble quality while retaining a warmer and more intimate sound.

    Update: One month later, I have received my own Ares II. The synergy with the Ei.3 was too good for me and considering that HiFiHeadphones here in the UK had just become an Effect Audio dealer, I was keen to order my own.

    The cable is the same as reviewed, except I opted for the mini y-split, which makes a noticeable difference to the weight of the cable and is the main reason I wanted to add this brief update. It is a good improvement to the ergonomics for people who are on the go a lot and I can highly recommend it!

    AresII.JPG
      ryanjsoo, EagleWings and ranfan like this.
  3. ostewart
    Excellent cable for a modest price
    Written by ostewart
    Published Jun 27, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Comfort, Build, Sound
    Cons - Not the most natural sounding, limited soundstage.
    Effect Audio Ares II
    UPOCC Litz Copper 26awg, 2.5mm balanced

    https://www.effectaudio.com/upgrade-cables/iem-cables/iem-premium-series/ares-ii.html

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    Packaging, Build quality and Ergonomics:
    The Ares II comes in an excellent littler 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, it is possibly the most comfortable cable I have used.

    [​IMG]

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    Sound:

    The Effect Ares II is really an excellent cable, it slight goes against the norm of a warm and lush sound for copper. It actually has quite a neutral sound with excellent impact and dynamics, but with a bit of added upper mid/lower treble presence. This really adds some extra air and sparkle to the sound of your IEM’s.

    It almost sounds like a good silver plated cable, but without any lack of body, the lows are full and extend with ease, the mids are more natural and then the extra presence up top makes for a very fun listening experience.

    Details are more prominent, but the soundstage is a little limited. This cable has the excellent properties of a good copper cable with good body and impact, but then it also adds more sparkle. It might not be the most natural sounding cable, or the most refined, but it really does bring some welcome changes.

    Cables are all about synergy, and this cable would match a headphone that is neutral to slightly dark, as it adds some sparkle without taking away excellent bass response. For the asking price, this is possibly one of the best upgrade cables, if not the best.
      Vitor Valeri likes this.
  4. Vitor Valeri
    A short impression of the Effect Audio Ares II with JH5
    Written by Vitor Valeri
    Published Jan 26, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Comfort, sound, robustness and beauty
    Cons - None

     
     
     
    Physical aspects

    I found the cable very well built (I even made a video showing it better).

    The plastic used seemed good quality, is very soft and does not scratch the skin and does not bother the ear. They also took care of the positioning of the reinforced plastic in the part where the cable leaves the connector that fits in the handset thus providing a more anatomical fitting in the ear so as not to disturb during a walk for example.

    Although the connectors are made of metal, in this cable they have taken care of the size and type of metal so as not to weigh the whole assembly when the person is using it. They were especially careful with the Y cable splitter so as not to get heavy and "pull" the handset down injuring the user's ear.

    In the connector that fits in the phone we observe by the photo even though it has an extra layer of plastic placed close to the metal part to avoid that the cable breaks in that part that usually moves more when we walk with the phone or when we fit in the ear.

    The cable is super malleable, has no memory and I did not detect any microphones during my walks on the street. So if you want to go out even with wind, the cable will not produce sounds while you listen to the music.

     

     

     

     
     
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    Sound

    The bass has gained more impact, speed and definition.

    The middle ones became sweeter, melodious.

    The treble gained more stretch and definition.

    Of course the proportion of this is not gigantic like changing a earphone. But the combination of these details that modified the music playing on my handset gave the final set a very big touch of euphony and made the songs much more enjoyable to hear.

     
     
    Conclusion

    The cable is worth it. The final set of comfort, sound, robustness and beauty convince me that it was worth it.

      EagleWings and FraterOiram like this.
    1. FraterOiram
      Thanks for the detailed review! I look forward to ordering from Effect Audio in the near future. Quick question, what was the turn around time from initial contact to delivery? Thanks again!
      FraterOiram, Apr 10, 2017