Effect Audio 4-wire Ares II ($149.90)
As previously mentioned, the default and Bespoke variants share many tonal similarities. However, in terms of stage expansion, background blackness, imaging precision and resolution, the original noticeably lags behind. Simply put, the Bespoke accomplishes all of its works with less effort. In its delivery, there’s a constant sense of refinement, authority and ease. As a result, the Bespoke comes equipped with greater control over its arsenal. Its 6kHz peak is smoother, its lower-midrange is better-textured and its low-end is physically more sound as well. Succinctly said, fans of the standard Ares II will find much to love in its Bespoke variant, if they won’t mind the extra weight and the heftier price tag.
Effect Audio 4-wire Thor Silver II ($399)
The Thor Silver II displays similar levels of refinement to the Bespoke Ares II, because of its silky, feathery treble. It’s lightly raised and articulate, yet skilfully smoothened. Nevertheless, the Thor cannot achieve the same effortlessness that the Bespoke does. The latter portrays a blacker background, superior separation and a noticeably larger stage. Bass is a much closer contest between the two. The Thor portrays excellent physicality and palpable impact. Its mid-bass is more thump-y, while the Bespoke spreads its energy between the mid- and sub-bass. I’d call extension a wash, but the Ares II’s blacker background gives its low-end greater resolution. The Thor has a lighter (less dense) midrange, while the Bespoke renders more organic texture. But, this gives the Thor Silver II a sense of speed that the Ares has less of.
PlusSound Exo Silver + Gold ($349.99)
More so than the Thor Silver II, PlusSound’s Exo Silver + Gold bears several resemblances to the Bespoke Ares II. Although the Exo’s accentuated upper-treble gives it a brighter tone, it presents a well-structured midrange, as well as excellent sub-bass extension. The mid-bass shows excellent control, even if it’s not necessarily as well-textured as the Bespoke’s. Additionally, it competes with the Ares II in soundstage width, though the Bespoke has the edge in depth. Background blackness and separation also go to Effect Audio, while the Silver + Gold’s larger images aim for utmost engagement. The PlusSound cable has a slightly tizzy-er lower-treble, though it only rears its head with select pairings. Ultimately, the Silver + Gold gets decently close to the Bespoke’s technical performance, but with a brighter twist.
Effect Audio’s Bespoke Ares II is an instant classic. Bringing their award-winning cable to new technical heights, the metal uptake serves dividends in headroom, soundstage expansion, imaging precision and resolution; presenting music with outstanding effortlessness and admirable transparency, yet steeped in a life-like, organic warmth. While compromises in ergonomics are all but guaranteed, Effect Audio’s stellar craftsmanship prevents the Bespoke from showing its heft. And as always with the Singaporean atelier, aesthetics are simply stunning. In summary, Effect Audio have scored themselves another winner in the Bespoke Ares II; a gateway into the vast, open expanse that eight-wire conductors have to offer.