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Bespoke Eros II 8-wire

Effect Audio Eros II 8-wire

Rating:
5/5,
  • Bespoke Eros II 8-wire
    • Gauge: 26 AWG (8 wires)
    • Geometry: Proprietary Multi-Size Stranded design within a single encapsulation
    • Materials: UPOCC Litz Copper / Silver Hybrid
    • Carbon Fibre termination and Y-split
    ErosII_8W.png

Recent Reviews

  1. Wyville
    Effect Audio Eros II 8-wire - Image of Perfection
    Written by Wyville
    Published Nov 28, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Uncoloured and versatile cable, air, separation, stage dimension, imaging, comfort (for an 8-wire)
    Cons - Big cable
    Effect Audio Eros II Bespoke 8-wire

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

    Bespoke Eros II 8-wire
    • Gauge: 26 AWG
    • Geometry : Proprietary Multi-Size Stranded design within a single encapsulation
    • Materials: UPOCC Litz Copper / Silver Hybrid
    • Connector type: 2-pin/CIEM
    • Termination type: 2.5mm TRRS (balanced)
    • Price: US$600

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

    Preamble
    Here I am once again reviewing an Effect Audio cable. The Singapore-based boutique cable company has been a staple of my reviewing career and there is actually a really good reason for that. Go through my reviews and you will see there is a sort of evolution there. Starting with Ares II, I have gradually been trying out different cables and it has been just the sort of journey we audiophiles love. Tinkering with the signatures to see what differences we can hear and gradually trying to achieve audiophile nirvana. Ever since I got the Empire Ears Phantom, this has been even more so because my Phantom have instantly become my cornerstone IEMs. The ones that fit my preferences close to perfectly. Close, but not perfectly. There is always room to tinker, and tinker I do, with cables!

    I freely admit I am a cablephile and I love seeing what different cables do with the signature of my IEMs. Going from a standard stock cable on my Custom Art Ei.3 to Ares II (borrowed from a friend) was eye-opening, or should I say 'ear-opening' because of the differences I heard. And let's not forget 'ear-soothing', as the comfort of it was quite a world apart from the ergonomic nightmare that was "memory wire". I was so impressed I bought my own shortly after and by now I have three different Ares II cables, one 2.5mm balanced, one 3.5mm SE and one bespoke 8-wire. That last one is my go-to cable on the Phantom because of how beautifully it scales. I also love Lionheart from SE out, but that pairing seems a little fickle when it comes to source synergy. In comparison the Ares II 8-wire is the more 'does everything right' and 'scales the Phantom to grandness' option, so I settled quite comfortably there. However, I still saw some room to tinker, as I am an audiophile after all, and Eric from Effect Audio knew exactly what would tempt me to another review. The bespoke 8-wire version of Eros II, a cable I had reviewed previously in its stock 4-wire and which left with me a deep sense of loss when I had to return that one to its rightful owner. "Hello there long lost friend."

    ErosII_8W.png

    Build quality
    The build quality is to the usual excellent standard I have come to expect from Effect Audio. The only minor niggle is that the caps on the 2-pin connectors are once again not entirely secure, but I understand Effect Audio are looking into this (and might have already resolved it by the time this review gets published). The main difference between this cable and my bespoke Ares II 8-wire is the new termination. Effect Audio recently introduced several new parts, although for bespoke 8-wire cables the old y-split is still used. I expect the new y-split is not big enough for 8-wire cables. In any case, my Eros II came with the new 2.5mm balance, PSquared termination and I was surprised by how nice it was. Very light, but also feels very sturdy. The 2.5mm termination still does not inspire the greatest confidence, but that is inherent to the width. I think Sony made the better choice there going with a nice chunky 4.4mm (Effect Audio has excellent options for this too, of course), but I use an A&K DAP and so 2.5mm it is.

    Termination.png

    Comfort is once again great and I noticed that the twist where the cable goes around the ears was a little tighter, slightly improving comfort for a wearer of glasses like myself when compared to my Ares II 8-wire. Perhaps a case of 'practice makes perfect' because Effect Audio's bespoke cables have become so popular? I like to think so, although it could also simply be a coincidence.

    The overall looks of the cable really warrant closer attention. I have always loved the braiding on Effect Audio's 8-wire cables, but Eros II is especially nice because of how the copper and silver wires are braided. The result is in line with something else I have come to expect from Effect Audio, a lovely touch of bling to add some wow-factor to the cable. Even the most ardent cable sceptic might still be tempted just on these looks alone.

    ErosII.png

    Source
    All listening was done with my AK70 from its balanced out. Most of the listening was done with the Empire Ears Phantom, but also some with the Rhapsodio Saturn and Custom Art Ei.3.

    Presentation
    When I reviewed the standard Eros II (4-wire), I felt it was a wonderfully uncoloured cable that did not make big improvements over the stock cable in one specific area, but lots of smaller improvements all over. Fortunately, the bespoke 8-wire maintains that wonderful characteristic, but scaled in a similar way that Ares II scales from 4 wires to 8. It is a neutral/uncoloured sound that is very spacious and airy, more details come through and yet the sound has a certain effortlessness to it. That word "effortlessness" was the first word I wrote down and it seems to be typical of Eros II in both 4 and 8-wire. The most striking thing was that this effortlessness sometimes made me think my IEMs had fallen out of my ears, despite still hearing the music. It was like they disappeared.

    The 8-wire Eros II certainly expands the stage over the 4-wire, but I felt it did not go significantly beyond the Ares II 8-wire. It is certainly very spacious (I already called the Ares II "grand") and I feel the music opens up in front of you, more than around you, with excellent separation and layering. Combined with the more neutral sound it can tame overly warm IEMs like the Rhapsodio Saturn to receive a level of clarity that is really quite surprising. I loved that pairing, as it helped make the Saturn a little more versatile. Indeed, I still think (like in my 4-wire review) that Eros II will pair well with many IEMs.

    While I tried different pairings, there was one to rule them all and that was with the Phantom. I always emphasise that with cables good synergy between all parts of the chain (DAP, cable, IEMs) is key and my current setup with the AK70, Eros II 8-wire and Phantom has a synergy that is truly something special. Not since I heard the Vision Ears VE5 with Lionheart have I been so utterly addicted to my music. The key aspect pulling me in time and again was the imaging. I have read Leonidas (now in its second version) can do this better. I have not heard Leonidas and I honestly can't imagine how it would sound because this, at least to me, is already stellar. The space, the air, the level of detail and the way music transitions from left to right feels spot on. It even came to a point where I was listening to Carbon Based Lifeforms' Exosphere with this pairing, and although usually it is a track I do not care for at all, this time I could not stop listening. It was like suddenly the track made sense. I am certain this was due to the imaging and the way the different and seemingly random sounds started to work together to create something that a friend of mine recently referred to as a "physical sense of space". This pairing does that really well and is something I find with classical music too. The layering and positioning in choral music such as Bach's Magnificat is outstanding. It draws me into the music by making it so captivating, so alluring, like a Siren luring me in and making me a cup of coffee with a slice of cake because I am listening from the comfort of my own sofa. No dangers of crashing here, just sheer joy.

    ErosII_Phantom.png

    Bass
    The bass on Eros II feels like it is tighter and more controlled. I said that in my 4-wire review and once again this is the impression I get with the 8-wire. Especially with the Phantom this is noticeable. From everything I have learned of the Phantom's tuning, I understand the bass is a key part in giving them that characteristic natural tonality. Eros II reduces some of the bass quantity compared to the stock Ares II, but maintains enough of it not to harm that aspect of the tuning. The notes are not quite as thick and instruments are not quite as full sounding, but never does it feel like the bass is lacking. Indeed when called for, the Phantom with Eros II are still very capable of a good rumble. Bass instruments also still maintain their natural resonance and I love listening to Bach's Cello Concertos as more details come through of the playing techniques.

    Equally, when listening to Caro Emerald's Acoustic Sessions album, especially a track like Back it Up, there is no sense of loss in the excitement of the track with that wonderful double bass accompanying the sweet, sweet voice of Caro. I have read some criticism of the Phantom, mostly that the Phantom are too thick and warm to be natural. I think that perhaps for those people Eros II might be a great way to achieve a natural tonality as they see it. Perhaps something to let them try out at a Canjam one day.

    Mids
    The mids are a real strength of Eros II, even for Effect Audio, who I feel are always very good at making cables that excel in the mid range. Like with the 4-wire, the 8-wire does something with vocals that I especially like. It does not push vocals forward very strongly, not like the Ares II 8-wire, but gives them a clarity and presence that is strong in and of itself. It is very natural and very alluring and works amazingly well for solo vocals such as London Grammar's Hannah Reid, as well as highly layered choral pieces such as Bach's Magnificat. Male and female vocals have pretty much equal strength, greatly benefitting the layering in such complex choral pieces.

    As indicated in the bass sections, Eros II maintains enough warmth for instruments to sound natural and this can be clearly heard with mid-range instruments such as woodwinds. I love those instruments and, after adjusting to the more neutral tone, have grown to love the balance that is achieved among mid-range instruments in classical symphonies such as my favourites; Beethoven's 3rd and 5th. The woodwinds are not quite as prominent, but have enough presence to rise above the rest when needed with a great sense of realism. Everything is well balanced, refined and (there is that word again) effortless. Mid-range clarity is improved and is something that can benefit more V-shaped IEMs, if that is what you would like. I felt it worked very well with the more V-shaped, overly warm Saturn.

    Treble
    As can be expected from an Effect Audio cable, the treble is very smooth and linear. No peaks here. There is some added sparkle that comes through, but I expect this has more to do with the reduced warmth from the bass rather than any specific lift in the treble. If there is a lift it is only slight and done linearly.

    A key area where I do feel a significant improvement is made is in the bite of strings and cymbals. With Ares II I was not entirely happy with violins, finding them a little too sweet and lacking the bite I would like to hear when listening to Paganini or Saint-Saëns. Indeed, I would sometimes switch to a silver cable to get that. With Eros II the bite is there and the added details that come through combines to give a real sense of the swiftness with which Paganini's Violin Concerto No.4 is being played and the eeriness in Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre. The more neutral tonality of Eros II emphasises instruments such as violins and this is also apparent in Beethoven's 3rd, resulting in a greater sense of speed with which the symphony is played. (Once again, something I also noticed with the 4-wire.)

    I think Eros II works very well to add that bit more bite and sparkle without introducing any peaks or harshness. With the Phantom this bite sits just in the right place that I actually love that about this pairing. It is however a word of warning for anyone who owns the Phantom and already has some sensitivity to their treble with the stock cable. Eros II might not resolve that and in that case Lionheart might be a more interesting option to explore.

    Comparisons

    ErosII_AresII.png

    -Ares II 8-wire-
    My love... The Ares II 8-wire really impressed me in its synergy with my Phantom, as well as my Ei.3 and Saturn. In fact, my Ei.3 with Ares II is my favourite pairing for playing video games. What I loved most of all though was listening to Beethoven with my Phantom and the Ares II. It is a bold and exciting pairing with thick notes, full instruments and quite forward and strong vocals that can at times sound eerily realistic, like the words are being whispered in your ears. Eros II is more neutral and refined by comparison. Notes are not as thick and vocals not as forward. Eros II also gives less a sense of the venue when listening to Beethoven, although in its own way the presentation is enticing because of the quality of the imaging. By comparison Eros II fairs much better with violin music, where Ares II is a little too sweet and does not achieve the level of articulation that Eros II achieves. What surprised me most was that although Eros II is more neutral, I found the pairing with my Phantom more versatile. That is something very unexpected, as my preference is usually towards a warmer thicker sound, but the technical advantages that Eros II brings seem to work with everything I can throw at it.

    ErosII_X6.png

    -PlusSound X6 Tri-Copper-
    Now here is an interesting one, especially with the Phantom. Where the Eros II seems to get out of the way and does not make significant changes to the sound, the X6 Tri-Copper injects a wonderful dose of fun into the mix. The stage of Eros II is larger and more airy, throwing out the music in front of you. The X6 contrasts this by being more intimate (relatively speaking) and surrounding the listener in sound with heaps of detail that Eros II simply cannot match. Eros II is linear in its sound and especially the treble is very smooth and refined. The X6 makes the bass of the Phantom come alive and adds lots of sparkle on top. Indeed, I think that relative to each other Eros II's strength is in the mids, where the X6's strengths are in the bass and treble. For example, the pairing with the Rhapsodio Saturn was better in the case of Eros II because the Saturn come stock with an SPC cable and I always felt the mids were rather far back. Eros II resolved this a bit better, although I can't but admit that for 'moar bass' the X6 is still my weapon of choice for the Saturn. I love both these cables for completely different reasons and (if possible) would highly recommend trying them out before deciding. I think synergy will be key to what works best with certain IEMs, but both I expect will pair well with many IEMs.

    Conclusions
    In a thread on Head-fi I explained my thoughts on the Eros II 8-wire as following: "Like seeing an old friend who has matured to become an even better friend." I could have said "like an old friend who has enjoyed life and added a little weight", but I think the former is more accurate. The 8-wire feels very similar to the 4-wire version of Eros II, although I sadly did not have that one around anymore to compare directly. This is based on simply writing down very similar notes and using the same words at times. Eros II 8-wire is an uncoloured cable that gets out of the way. It adds space, air and detail and is highly versatile in its pairing with a wide variety of IEMs. It is a little bulky, as all 26 AWG, 8-wire cables inherently are, but is surprisingly comfortable nonetheless. It is an expensive upgrade, but with the right IEMs such as the Empire Ears Phantom, the synergy is capable of resulting in something truly special. Highly worth a demo!

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