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Empire Ears - Discussion & Impressions (Formerly EarWerkz)

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  1. olddude
    I thought I might take some time to more clearly compare the Effect Audio Ares ll and Ares ll+ cables, as someone asked for a more direct comparison. Please keep in mind that this comparison is based on using the cables with an Astell&Ultima SP1000SS and a Zeus XR set to X. Also, the ll is a single-ended 3.5 and the ll+ is a balanced 2.5. I listen to 60’s and 70’s rock, for the most part, so factor that in as well.

    The Ares ll is very transparent. It’s possible to hear where all instruments/voices are in the soundstage at all times, and they never seem to be over or under each other as you listen. Everything is distinct. Even though the Ares ll is copper, it has quite a bit of detail, especially in the upper end, which is really well-presented by the Zeus. Everything is clear, with no sibilance or flaring. Mids and upper mids are very clear, especially with acoustic guitars. You can hear all of the strings being strummed, and also hear the squeaking of flesh across fret boards. The upper bass is strong and clean, and individual notes are easy to pick out. Lower bass is quite apparent when the source music has it, but is fairly absent when not there. Sub-bass can be heard when presented, but it’s not going to shake you out of your chair. You won’t hear the “thump” physically, the way some bass-centric IEMs present bass. The word I would use for the Ares ll is “neutral.” While not reference, it seems to present all frequencies with equal clarity. Sound stage is quite wide (I hear it at the “rear” of my ears), but it certainly doesn’t wrap all the way around me. I find the cable sound signature bright and lively, very analytical, crisp and clean. The cable itself is rather thin (when compared to the ll+) but quite beautiful. Ergonomically, it’s a joy. I walk with it with no problems.

    I bought the Ares ll+ hoping to gain a bit more lower end and timbre. Well, it does that in spades. There is now a bass floor present in the music pretty much all of the time. It doesn’t rumble like bass-centric IEMs do, but the bass is there! Always. It adds timbre across bass and mids (and to a degree, upper mids as well). When I first plugged it in, I had to turn down the volume of my Astell from 60 to 50, as it is perceptually louder. The sound stage is very slightly less wide. Upper end still comes across the way is does with the ll, but everything below it is fuller. Instead of being transparent, the music now is more solid. Everything being played can still be heard, but the sense of lightness and, to a degree, air is replaced with a thicker wave of music. I would describe it as darker and warmer in comparison with the ll. Some folks here use the terms “smooth” and “musical,” and that seems to be what is happening here. I could make the poor simile that the ll is like floating in air, and the ll+ is like floating in water. The cable is considerably thicker, a bit darker in color, and somewhat stiffer than the ll. However, when walking with it there were no problems with cable noise. It’s just a heavier, more robust cable.

    While I like the ll+, I found that it took away what, to me, was so special about the Zeus/Astell combo. I realize that to others it might be exactly what they are looking for. We all seem to have different ideas of the “right sound,” which is of course what makes this hobby so much fun, so aggravating and so expensive. I hope this mini-review helps others who are perhaps looking to buy one of these cables.
    Dellwolf, Kerouac, Wyville and 5 others like this.
  2. proedros
    i am gonna say it again (and i am a cables lover) the best thing about Zeus XR (besides sounding very good) is that it sounds very good even with a 150$ cable

    i am sure that a 1000$ cable would improve the sound , but not being a rich dude i am very pleased that Zeus sounds so good even with a cheap cable (150$ is cheap in these crazy times we live in)

    also every time i come here and read the EE thread i have a huge urge to put the Zeus into my ears
    Dellwolf, Kerouac, flinkenick and 2 others like this.
  3. subguy812
    Personally, I think you are wasting money, especially with Zeus. The Ares II is all you need. The Zeus is one of those IEMs that doesn't really benefit or need improvement. If you like the signature, and that being the key part, it is difficult to find better, period.
  4. singleended5863
    I have to agree with olddude for the presentation between Ares II (SE 3.5 mm) Ares II+ (balanced 2.5 mm) even though they are connected to CIEM Spartan IV and DP-X1, Fiio 5Xiii and AP200 (since I could not afford Zeus and SP1000). However, Ares II+ needs to be broken in little bit more time to time since I just got them 4 days ago. Ares II+ has very nice treble and midrange with airy soundstage (even bigger than Ares II to my ears) but there is very little low bass according to my mid-tier system. For now I like very much the SQ of Ares II in my system and will wait for the excitement of the Ares II+ in a couple weeks.
    Notes: AP200 has only SE 3.5mm output.
    I will get either the Bit Opus 2 or Opus 3 to add to my current portable systems.
    flinkenick likes this.
  5. subguy812
    Not being a jerk but how exactly do you " break in" a cable?
  6. ctsooner22
    Cable break in is just running a signal through it for X amount of time. Lot's of things can and will happen when this occurs, but I've learned not to talk about break in around the head-fi boards, lol. :).

    Deezel. Congrats and have a blast. Cant' wait to read your thoughts as I always do. Too bad you won't be in NYC in a few weeks also.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
    flinkenick and Deezel177 like this.
  7. Mython Contributor
    I'm not, but the concept of 'not spending extravagantly' is very unpopular, here on Head-Fi

    I come from a fullsize Hi-Fi background, where, personally, I found that spending a moderate amount of extra cash, over stock, on loudspeaker cables can sometimes bring worthwhile improvements, but anything more than that can often be more about scratching a subjectively-perceived psychological itch, by subtly altering sound in one direction or another, rather than about achieving objective improvements. Too often, 'different' is proclaimed to be technically superior, but one doesn't necessarily equate to the other! deep-thinking-smiley-emoticon.gif Consequently, I am not against upgrading cables, within moderation, but I am not impressed with horrendously expensive cables and the companies who tout them. That doesn't mean I am 'right' and fans of such cables are 'wrong'. Everyone has a different perspective.

    Diminishing returns is a seperate, but overlapping, issue, which I'm more mellow about.

    Jack and his team take great care to maximise the technical & subjective performance of EE CIEMs - I trust that they wouldn't intentionally undermine all their work (and their hard-won reputation) by supplying their CIEMs with cables so poor that they don't perform as intended.

    As ever, YMMV, but snake oil is around every corner, so caveat emptor! cheers beerchug EMOTICON.gif
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
    istfleur and muffin9988 like this.
  8. olddude
    I walk around slapping it against my thigh for a few days to make sure the electrons are all running in the same direction. If they still aren't, I slap them around some more. :)
  9. singleended5863
    That is fine. I respect your opinion but I still believe the changes in sound like audio lovers used to say “break-in cables and/or components.”
    I still refer and quote how the audio experts put their opinions into words to explain why they use those words:

    “Cables: Most all cable manufacturers agree that break-in is a result of changes in the conductor and/or dielectric. According to one manufacturer: "The insulation (or dielectric) will absorb energy from the conductor when a current is flowing (i.e. when music is playing). This energy-absorption causes the dielectric's molecules to re-arrange themselves from a random order into a uniform order. When the molecules have been rearranged, the dielectric will absorb less energy & consequently cause less distortion."

    And this link:

  10. Mimouille
    There is absolutely no reason for that. It would improve the margin of the cable maker but nothing else.
    istfleur, Twitley and ranfan like this.
  11. Mimouille

    I usually take all my cables there :


    A large hadron collider is the only equipment I have found which really arranges all my dielectric molecules in the proper order. Before I used this guys to do it for me but cost of shipping is crazy :

  12. olddude
    Someone here (no names) told me in a pm that a very expensive (around $1K) cable that everyone had been extolling really didn't pair well with his Zeus. I'm sure it was a lovely cable, but pairing can be really finicky and very dependent on music, source, and desired sound signature. Just because it costs a lot doesn't mean, automatically, that it will be better. I like cables as well, but some IEMs really don't need that sort of high-end upgrade.

    Everyone here is chasing the dragon of "the perfect sound," and, as we see in this thread, the Zeus was king of the hill in November but now there is seemingly a rush for newer better. I'll say the obvious- there is no perfect sound, and almost everyone here will never be satisfied with what they have. So, if you think a $1K cable will make you happy, go for it. Or, if you feel that the $150 cable that it came with is really good, stick with it.
    ranfan likes this.
  13. subguy812
    So the cable manufacturers themselves are the experts you are quoting, gotcha. I love the ergonomics of my $150 cable and the fact it is 2.5mm balanced. I am not saying cables don't make subtle differences, but that difference is no where as big as upgrading the IEM or headphone itself.
    Mython likes this.
  14. Gavin C4
    Please compare Zeus-XR against Phantom and come up with 1-2 things that the Zeus-XR does well over the Phantom and vice versa other than winning the war on driver count. Thanks.

    Although I can listen to the Phantom anytime when I walk past e earphone, I ask for the Legend X every single time. :imp:
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
    ranfan and Deezel177 like this.
  15. Lucif6r6th
    I'll be there too!! See you there :dt880smile:
    Deezel177 likes this.
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