If you are browsing this page you have encountered some good quality audio products and own a few IEMs at least. Most of us like to extract the best out of our headphones and earphones. To achieve this we look into a few options like ear tips, ear pads but one of the most intriguing one is the cable. All of us would like to have a more premium and better looking cable for our IEM since most of the top of line brands like Vision Ears, Campfire Audio and Shure do not do enough justice with the cables. These IEMs with $300+ price tag ship with cables which are reasonable at best and deserve an upgrade cable with better aesthetics.
When we think of aftermarket cables there are a few top of the line brands come to our imagination and Effect Audio is one of them. Hailing from Singapore, Effect Audio has a full array of cables under their belt starting at $100 to $3399. If you want a cable, Effect audio has one for you if you have the budget. All of these cables can be ordered with all of the popular terminations to fit 99% of the IEMs in the market.
If you own a few IEMs and all of them have same connector type then it’s well and good but what if both 2pin and MMCX goodness are in the inventory? Most of us end up buying multiple cables. Being a pioneer in cable market Effect audio has a solution for this. Con-X, with this one can easily swap terminations at the earphone end and instead of buying a totally new cable one can do away with one excellent cable for most of the IEMs with a small price of $50 for the modules.
For those who want to a bit conservative still safe with their cable purchases, Effect Audio has their Ares 2 and 2+ equipped with UPOCC litz upgrade cables. Ares II is priced at $149 while the II+ is priced at $229. I will compare both these cables with the Penon Orbit.
Get one for yourself from these links:
Ares II Technical Specifications:
- 26 AWG
- UPOCC Litz Copper
- Proprietary Multi-Size Stranded design within a single encapsulation
- Flexible Insulation (same as Leonidas)
- NEW EA CF connectors and Y-Split
Ares II+ Technical Specifications:
- 22 AWG
- UPOCC Litz Copper
- Proprietary Multi-Size Stranded design within single encapsulation
- Flexible insulation (same as Leonidas)
- New EA CF connectors and Y-Split
P.S. I would like to thank Nic from Effect Audio for these cables. I am not affiliated or paid for this review.
Accessories and Packaging:-
Both these cables ship with a well protected hard sided cardboard boxes. The cables is securely placed inside a foam cutout but guess what.. Except the cables there is no other useable accessory in the box. While Penon Audio ships their similarly priced cables with a handful of accessories. I would like to see a carry pouch of any type but if we take into account that most of the IEMs come with their own case and pouches, this is not a necessity.
Build quality and comfort:-
Effect audio have been making cables since 2009 and know a thing or two about cables for sure. In their words:
“Past experiences have taught us that even though sound quality is a critical factor in determining an upgrade cable’s worth, the tensile strength and flexibility matters too. The reworked insulation features high tensile strength and flexibility, while adding as little weight as possible.”
In my experience, both these cables strike a very good balance being supple and strong at the same time. Both of these could have been suppler but the slightly thicker layer of coating on the cables make these marginally stiff. While that doesn’t make much of an impact on memory, taking various shapes take slight bit of work, especially for the thinner Ares II. On the other hand both these cables can take fair bit of abuse without giving up much of their integrity. Ares II+ has a stronger and thicker profile with slightly less memory.
Both these cables use very good quality components. Let it be the y splitter, source connectors or the pins at the earpiece end. All of these are either metal or made with premium material. The splitter has carbon fiber on it. I love the way the wire don’t interact with the jack’s jacket leading to peace of mind. Cable guides on both the cables are comfortable and do not have any comfort issues.
Con-X can be regarded as the next revolution. If swappable connector jacks gives the versatility with various sources Con-X does the exactly opposite. Why buy two cables for two different types of earpiece sockets. If you have an IEM with 2pin and one with MMCX connectors, most of the time you need two cables. But with Con-X one can use their Effect Audio cables with a variety of IEMs without much problem. Use the wrench in the Con-X box to remove and install connectors. It simple and easy and
HOW DOES IT SOUNDS:-
It is well know that oxygen free copper cables are slightly tilted towards a more bass favoring sound with some warmth and that is what we get out of these cables here, delivering a more fun and less fatiguing sound. These cables make the lower end meaty, weightier and rumbles more realistic.
It has been one of the most popular cables in the market bringing calmer and less sharp notes with more capable lower compared to stock SPC cables. Ares II does not have the best sub-bass extension or rumble but has bigger thumpier mid bass body. This added body brings pleasing amount of extra weight but do not make things go over the head. Ares II also brings very good texture and layered feeling without slowing down the decay speed. The upper bass too gains a bit of energy but manages to stay clear of any agitation.
This copper cable do introduce a bit of V shape to the sound but unlike cheaper copper cables like the DUNU DUW-02 this is more balanced with better energy. I do feel the instruments are slightly less forward than the similarly priced Penon Orbit. This lacks slight bit of notes height and finishing energy. If the desired Output is a calmer mid range than the Ares II will do wonders. Ares II does favor the upper mid than the vocals. Vocals gain a bit more throaty feel and exhibit better nuance. Upper mid has a bit of extra energy and guitars and banjos sounds more transparent.
The treble region is where the Ares II sounds calm and very composed. It helps with slight reduction of sharpness which helps a lot if the IEM is a bit jittery or over energetic. It does lose a chunk of energy at the later part of upper treble region but this dip is further enough to give it any darkness. Yes, this does limit the extension. Layering and separation is slightly less defined compared to the SPC cables.
Stage size gained by this cable is much better than the DUNU DUW-02 and smoky Litz cables. It has bigger expansion is every direction but a bit more height and Z axis depth than X-axis width.
Campfire Audio Holocene ($649): (8.5/10)
What’s better than a BA based flat sound IEM to test a cable. The Ares II brings much better mid-bass body and weight to the notes while having slightly better sub-bass presence. This added body does slow the natural decay down. The mid range is a bit less forward and the vocals are equally affected by this dip in energy. It does retains the excellent decay and after note effect. Ares II does dial the instruments around the vocal region down creating a vessel shape. Upper mid instruments and lower treble region gain some energy making them lively. The gradual drop in energy from the mid treble does restrict the otherwise better balanced and slightly more extended Holocene.
Ares 2 brings much better sense of space to the otherwise intimate and clumsy sounding Holocene. Vocals starts to project out of the head and the X axis has much better depth to it.
Shanling ME700 Lite ($499): (9/10)
Slightly energetic nature of the ME700 lite makes it pair nicely with the calming Ares II. If you felt the ME700 lite has a bit more energy than you desire Ares II makes it more comfortable without taking out sparkle or crispiness. The lower end gains tiny bit of body and sub-bass rumble without adding anything else. But the mid range and treble region are calmer with a bit less attack and aggression. It brings a bit of poise to the otherwise aggressive and excited 700 lite. Notes do shed off a bit of depth but this does not hamper the experience.
Ares 2 brings much taller stage. There X-axis gain is not significant while the depth is unchanged.
DUNU EST112 ($485): (9.5/10)
Ares II is much improved cable than the similarly equipped DUW-02. Ares II brings much better balance and details to the already excellent EST112. Notes have better definition and resolution across the spectrum. The bass is slightly tighter with similar body and a bit more sub-bass rumble. Textures and details are improved. Mid range now is a bit more forward with better transparency and cleaner intricate details. The treble is slightly more defined with excellent sparkle and crispiness.
Ares II makes the EST112 sound a lot more open. It has expansion in every direction giving it a more immersive stage. Much better than the DUW-02.
In simpler words this is Ares II on steroids. It has thicker cores with a bigger and heavier profile. It simply is superior to the Ares II in every aspect. It has better details and slightly better sub-bass reach too and retain better treble transparency and extension. The mid range is not a V shaped like the non+ version. The treble region is much more extended while retaining better accuracy and details without giving up sparkle or transparency. It does restrict a bit of notes height making the treble region more tolerable.
The biggest improvement is with the stage. It has nearly 50% bigger stage than the Ares II exhibiting one of the biggest hollow graphic spaces under $300. If you want one of the best copper cables under $300, Ares 2+ has my stamp of approval.
DUNU EST112: (10.5/10)
Yes, I have given this pairing more than 100% approval. It clearly feels like the EST112 is performing in a different level with the Ares II+. It really goes on to show the potential of the IEM too. It essentially brings out the best from this IEM. It just simply amplifies the abilities of the EST112. It brings better sub-bass reach, cleaner notes better texture and more rounded bass. Mid range is even less suppressed with much cleaner separation between instruments. Vocals are a bit more organic with a more vibrant timber. It picks up a bit more transparency for background instruments. Treble region is a more improved too. Let it be extension, layering or separation the + variant does better. It does very well to bring out a bit more texture and resolution without making notes sharp or aggressive. Change in stage size is kind of an eye opener. The expansion is huge compared to the DUW-02. It has much more air while maintaining uniform density.
Unique Melody MEST 2: (9/10)
This is a pairing I was looking forward to. The MEST 2 too comes with a pure copper cable from another reputable brand. The pairing shows the limitations of the Ares II+ cable. It does bring out very good details and clarity while delivering overall fuller notes. The biggest improvement is with the lower end. It gains a bit of sub-bass rumble and a bit more mid bass volume without sacrificing decay speed or texture. Mid range takes a bit of energy and note depth away making it sound calmer and slightly less aggressive. Treble region is where the Ares II+ loses some upper treble resolution. Stage size is not affected much but the Ares II+ does have slightly better X-axis depth.
Yes, the stock cable of the MEST 2 is very good but the Ares II+ holds up nicely giving it a bit warmer and less aggressive feel.
If you need a proper upgrade cable for your IEM and if you keep changing your IEMs frequently these Effect Audio Ares II and II+ cables should be your top picks around $200 and $300 respectively.
Ares II is much more improved and mature sounding when compared to the DUNU DUW-02 and Campfire Audio Smokey LITZ cables. The II+ broadens the horizon, bringing better air, and bigger stage while delivering a more balanced mid range. No one can complain about the build quality either.
Lovely looking lovely sounding cables. Recommended.