A First Look: Effect Audio Code 51

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DISCLAIMER: Effect Audio provided the Code 51 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.

By 2020, Singapore’s Effect Audio have become a bonafide household name – A member of the upgrade cable industry’s elite renowned for their powerful sonics, top-flight ergonomics and unprecedented aesthetics. For many, they are the de facto benchmark when it comes to polish; one that only few in the world can ever match. However, another standard the company have gradually developed over the years is a tendency for opulence. Effect Audio’s best work come at quite the pretty penny, and that’s exactly the cable we are looking at today. Their new flagship Code 51 comes at an eye-watering $2388, and boasts some of the world’s best in stage expansion, imaging accuracy, bass performance and detail retrieval.

Effect Audio Code 51

  • Wire composition: 24 AWG UPOCC Gold-Plated Silver + Silver-Gold Alloy + Palladium-Plated Silver Hybrid
  • Default configuration: 4-wire
  • Key feature(s) (if any): Golden Ratio Multi-Sized Dispersion, Multi-Bundle Strand, UltraFlexi insulation
  • Price: $2388
  • Website: www.effectaudio.com

Ergonomics and Build

Since their conception, touch-and-feel has always been Effect Audio’s wheelhouse, and this hasn’t changed with their new flagship. The Code 51 sports the company’s signature suppleness, smoothness and flexibility, guaranteeing performance without ergonomic compromise. While its wires are a hair thicker than your more common 26 AWG conductors, neither their weight nor girth end up becoming noticeable in everyday use. Its statement-piece, titanium Y-split is just marginally heavier than Effect Audio’s standard fare too. So, apart from perhaps a bit of swinging while walking, it’s a breeze to use.

And, when it comes to build, Effect Audio’s craftsmanship shows once again. My sample was braided tautly and precisely across the board. Although only time will tell whether or not this uniformity will hold up with age, early days do suggest a very well-made cable worthy of its flagship status. The conductors themselves shine a shimmery silver-and-gold, exuding an air of luxury telling of the cable’s prestige. Similarly, the Code 51’s all-titanium hardware is beyond stunning. They give off this brushed, yet industrial look to them that brilliantly blends ruggedness and elegance. And, the aesthetic is uniform across the Y-split and both connectors too. So, kudos to Effect for continuing to raise their bar here; time and time again.

The only qualm I have with the build is, unfortunately, a rather avoidable error. The Code 51 was packaged such that the 2-wire twists before the Y-split were pulled back tightly within the box – this’ll be covered more clearly on the full review. As a result of the strain, there are now kinks on the wires where they were bent in the box. Now, it’s certainly possible to tease them straight again, or let gravity do the work and have the mass of the hanging cable naturally pull them straight. Still, it’s quite the oversight for a $2388-product, and I hope Effect never repeat this packaging set-up again in the future.

Early Sound Impressions

Immediately, what’s most striking about the Code 51 to me is its spatial transparency. You get the sense that there aren’t any bottlenecks in terms of expansion, stereo separation or imaging precision, leaving the dimensions and quality of the soundstage entirely up to the IEM it is paired with. With Vision Ears’ ELYSIUM, for example, it’ll generate a stable, sizeable and stunningly clean soundscape capable of superb dynamic range. It reinforces the in-ear’s ability to make instruments pop out of nowhere with loads of impact. The result is a presentation with both power and the real estate required for it.

And, this is further amplified by the Code 51’s outstanding bass response. It – for lack of a better word – emboldens low-end notes and infuses them with an incredible amount of texture, physicality and drive. While, again, that sense of space was what caught me initially as the first track settled in, it took no more than a single kick drum to convince me that bass extension was the cable’s true killer app. Following that, the focus across the mids and highs looks to be smooth, refined detail. It draws texture and nuance without any real effort or compromise in tone; remaining neutral with a tendency for clarity. The result is a dynamic-yet-silky sig that lets the in-ear flow to the music it’s playing; from 0 to 100 and back again.

Overall Thoughts… For Now

It’s early days with Effect Audio’s new flagship, but the Code 51 is already shaping up to be one of their most noteworthy efforts yet. An unfortunate snafu in their packaging aside, the cable showcases some of the company’s finest aesthetics, as well as their most impressively striking sonics to date. However, the humongous elephant in the room remains: That $2388 price tag. Will the Code 51 ever be considered a value buy? Absolutely not. But, as a luxury, unobtanium purchase, it does have its place. So, for more on that, sound and pair-ups, stay tuned for the full Code 51 review in the near-future.

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About Author

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

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