Effect Audio provided Cleo free of charge, for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.
Cleo sells for $699
Upon that fated day which will go down in legend, the mad Titan Eric Chong contacted me. He held in his breast a belief that I was Effect Audio’s unofficial Reviewer of the Silver Strands, a reputation I had certainly earned, given how many of their pure silver cables I’d covered. He entreated for Pinky to conquer the newest spawn of their forges, Cleopatra.
Like Thor before her, Cleo has no gold or copper mixed in. She is an all-silver cable. A rarity in Effect Audio’s line-up. The EA standard 26AWG is used, but what goes into those strands is the cutting edge of their evolution and development. Within this UP-OCC Silver Litz is a septuplet bundle of multi-size strands, dispersed using the Golden Ratio; a cool mathematic observation found all throughout nature, from the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower, the structure of the human face, or the way galaxies form. It’s also an integral component of music.
As you might guess, the song LATERALUS by Tool is the only way to unlock the full potential this cable. In fact, I recommend you use this track to burn-in Cleo for a good 55 hours, the 10th position in the Fibonacci Sequence. If you do it wrong, the cable may unravel and revert back to its base elements.
Effect Audio is among the very best in the industry, and makes truly fine cables. What makes a quality cable? Fit, finish, ergonomics, and sound. There is no point in a great sounding cable if it’s too uncomfortable to use. How can you focus on the sound when the cable constantly distracts you with stiff, springy, and awkward ergonomics? EA understand this, and has always placed priority on such considerations. And they’ve only gotten better with time.
Cleopatra is a grand example of their evolution. It is wonderfully supple and soft, and drapes with ease. You won’t find a more comfortable 26AWG four-strand. Nor are you likely to find one more beautiful. The pure silver Litz dazzles in its round braid, appearing ever so elegant and graceful. There is something awesome about fine strands of silver weaved together, and oh how EA has mastered this skill.
The Effect Audio Cleopatra possesses the traditional silver sound, compared to their Thor line. This is not smooth, laid-back, or warm silver. No, it’s sharp, energetic, and bright. Cleo exemplifies detail and clarity. Yet this is still Effect Audio we’re talking about, and as such, these bright characteristics are handled with care, refined unto maturity. Cleo’s silver does not sound cold, strident, or brittle, as a lesser cable might. Instead, it comes off utterly transparent.
This is the most revealing, clean-sounding cable I’ve yet heard. The soundstage is expansive, the separation incredible. If you worry about thin, anemic qualities, do not. Cleo issues bodied, dynamic notes, which flood forth in crystalline fashion. The bass strikes with visceral authority, exhibiting an abundance of power and aggression. The mids are weighty, with rounded, three-dimensionality, and a raw, utterly naked spirit. The treble rings out with ultimate purity, free and airy, unbound by any limiting factor.
Comparing this to the standard Thor II ($399, Review HERE), and you are greeted with a more energetic sound by Cleo. Thor is a laid-back, smooth criminal. Very clean and liquid. It’s a relaxing, warmer tone. Whereas Cleo really pushes those details to the front, thanks to its greater overall treble presence. It certainly comes off brighter than Thor, but also more punchy in the bass region. Cleo’s attack is altogether stronger. Thor is the cable to kick back with and let the music sooth you. Cleo makes you sit forward and LISTEN.
The 8-wire Thor II Bespoke ($850, Review HERE) has been my favorite cable since hearing it. And it’s still my favorite for the likes of Legend X. But that’s really just about my personal tastes. LX has enough attack and energy already, and I’m not looking for cables to accentuate those quality. Thor II Bespoke is everything the standard Thor II is, only with extra warmth, due to fuller bass notes, and greater soundstage. I really like those soothing qualities mixed with its impressive technical prowess. To Pinky, it’s the perfect pairing with Legend X.
Now, Thor II Plus ($569.90, Review HERE) is kind of an in between of the standard and Bespoke. It’s probably the warmest of the group, with the fullest low-end, but it’s closer to the standard in terms of soundstage and separation. It’s a weird cable, and I quite like it. You just don’t expect this level of warmth, liquidity, and smoothness from silver. It’s as far from Cleopatra as you are likely to get.
The original Leonidas ($799, Review HERE) is more like Cleo than Thor, in that it’s more about details and transparency than warmth and smoothness. However, Cleo is still the brighter, more energetic of the two. Cleo also has more punch, with fuller bass and greater attack. Leo is a bit thinner-sounding, and noticeably drier. I have not heard the updated Leo II, so I can’t speak to that.