Affordable cable reviews: #1, the Effect Audio Ares II
Regular readers of The Headphone List probably know by now that I am somewhat of a cable aficionado, and have tended to focus on some of the more ‘enthusiastically priced’ cables in the past. But not everybody has the opportunity to test expensive cables, or more importantly, the budget for that matter. Which is more than understandable as it remains a controversial subject, and the last place to focus on in the chain. I started experimenting with cables relatively early in my audiophile journey, but was also hesitant to pay more than two or maybe three hundred dollars for a cable. Most of the time I tried to find a good deal; either buying them second hand, or when they were offered at promotional prices.
But not all cables have to be expensive to get that extra bit of improvement. That being said, the entry-level tier is a tricky one. There are quite a number of cables being offered around the $100 mark, that don’t actually offer an audible difference in sound. Even when there is a slight difference, it might not be considered an improvement. These cables are best viewed as a replacement cable, rather than an upgrade cable. But when you move a little bit higher to the $150-$200 range, there are quite a few cables that offer nice variations in sound. Usually these are copper cables, as the price for a quality silver cable starts a little higher.
So in this mini review series, I will take a look at three copper cables that offer a nice improvement in different ways. And importantly, priced moderately around $150. The Effect Audio Ares II, PW Audio no 5, and newcomer Han Audio’s Zen. The first review will serve as a baseline; in the second I will build on that in a comparative style, with the third again referring back to the first two. In all three cases, listening impressions are based on the RWAK380cu with the Jomo Flamenco and Unique Melody Maestro V2. Without further ado: the Effect Audio Ares II.
Effect Audio Ares II
The Ares II has a very nice build, probably my favourite in design of the three cables. This is partially due to the rustic look of its coppery brown wires, which are not only beautiful in colour, but nice and shiny as well. The silver and black carbon fibre jack and splitter make a nice finish, as do the silver connectors. Overall, the cable gives a high quality feel, more than worthy of its price.
The cable doesn’t have memory wire, but is pre-bent with heatshrink – my personal favourite solution for cables. The wires stay in place, while you’re not bothered by the fixed metal. The only qualm with the cable is the weight of the splitter; it’s a nice looking ornament, but there’s a slight pull. It’s not overly bothersome, but you can feel it. This isn’t specific to the Ares II – every one of these three cables has such a heavy splitter. I’m not exactly a fan of the development, as I don’t completely understand the logic behind it. I guess people want the looks of a cable to reflect its price, and a solid splitter contributes to that. Fair enough.