Effect Audio has established themselves as one of the leaders in audiophile cable industry and has been fairly busy these days. They are one of the most active cable brands and have been introducing some exciting products. They very recently introduced their Signature series cables. These entry level cables were appreciated by both reviewers and consumers and are super bang for bucks and catered to those looking to upgrade the stock cables that ship with the IEMs. Before that they introduced their Axiom series of IEMs. It was a fun and engaging IEM with modular design. But this time around, they have refreshed their upper mid range cable, Cleopatra from the heritage series. Replacing it is the Cleopatra II with better attributes in nearly every aspect. It uses similar cores but refines it for even better output. It comes in both 4 core and Octa core versions. While the Octa core is priced at $1599 the 4 core cable is priced at $999. Incidentally I have the more expensive Octa core with me so this kind of rubs shoulders with some flagship cables.
Cleo II barely has many competitors but PW audio and a few other brands do have competing cables but none of them are as popular as Effect. Sadly the next most expensive cable I have is the Effect Audio Evo 10 and I will do an in depth comparison of these two.
Get one for yourself from here:
Let’s find out what this cable is all about. Jump right in!!
UNBOXING AND ACCESSORIES:
I don’t know how Effect audio will explain this but this cable has more accessories than the Axiom. First thing that greets us is the newly designed Y splitter held by a piece of velvet covered holder, this is reasonable given that it is center piece of this cable and is one of the more attractive Y splitter used by Effect audio. The cable is placed under that, tied with a leather push button strap. There is some documentation with info on the cable and about the Cleo II. Underneath is the uniquely designed storage case which is decent in size but is slightly on the smaller side for an Octa core cable. This isn’t a hard case but will keep the IEM safe from harm for sure. Over the case are two things that make this cable compatible with nearly every IEM and source. Con-X and Term-X are Effect Audio’s take on modular design and the especially Con-X is something I wish every cable had. Cleo II ships with two IEM connectors though, MMCX and 2pin. There are Term-X connectors, 3.5mm, 4.4mm and 2.5mm.
Typical of Effect Audio, this cable has some of the best build quality on offer. This time around Effect is using a new angular design on both the jack and Y splitter, similar grey ascent but has a different design and a black element to it. All the connectors are made with high quality parts and the attention to details is superb. The cable slider too is designed to match the Y splitter. Cable guides look a bit thicker and bulky but to my surprise they are very good with fit, holding the IEM securely in its place. Cleo II has EA Ultra Flexi™ Insulation on them for lesser memory and better flexibility. On the sad side this cable doesn’t have any protection at the Y splitter or jack.
Cleo II uses premium UP-OCC silver litz cores in a dual geometric design with individually enameled strands. I do not have the 4 core version but the Octa isn’t stiff or bouncy, it barely has any microphonics or much memory issues so I guess the 4 core version should be even suppler and less memory prone.
When we say SQ of a cable most of us are confused. I know a lot of guys who still think these cables are just gimmicks and barely play any role but the reality is quite opposite. If the IEM is a car cable is like the engine oil, it might be of different purity levels but it will work better with a specific type of oil. Hence the winter viscosity numbers are important. This is a very similar situation. Not all cable will sound better with all IEMs, it needs to be of the specific type to pair well with the IEM and the Cleopatra II is an IEM made for slightly thicker sounding IEMs. If your $2000+ IEM sounds a loose and needs a bit of tightening this is the cable to get but guess what that’s not all about this cable.
It offers a lot more than that. Let’s go through its pairings in detail and let me try to make things as clear as I can. I am going to pair it with a few IEMs of various types and let’s see how this cable performs. I am not only going to compare it with the stock cable but I have the slightly cheaper Evo 10 cable with me. Let’s see how these two cables compare with each other too.
PAIRING WITH AXIOM: (8.5/10)
Hmm.. Axiom is what comes to my mind when I think of Effect Audio cable’s, strange right? No, not strange at all. Let me explain. This cable ships with a lot of packaging and extras but the similarly priced IEM doesn’t, that’s unfair. Okay, enough of the blabbering, let’s jump into the main point.
So.. This paring is meant for those looking to extract a more transparent and clarity from their high end IEMs. It has one of the highest vividity yet has no audible sibilance to worry about. It feels like you are there, they are playing for you, all you have to do is close your eyes. Axiom pairs exceptionally well with the Cleo II if you want to extract every bit of details out of the Axiom with one of the biggest stage under $3000. See.. I am in a mood of writing and you can see that I haven’t even started on the sound quality.. Let’s go!!
This pairing takes the sonics and layering of the Axiom to the limit. It just simply doesn’t feel any restrains or limits of any type. The stage is one of the biggest, bigger than flagships like Vision Ears Phoenix and Empire Ears Odin. Cleo II takes the Axiom to the godly level when it comes to stage. The air between instruments is so vivid that let it be the bases of the notes or the finishing, all the instruments sound super realistic and vivid. Unreal to be precise. With all these things in tow why do I feel the pairing isn’t exactly great? The biggest reason is the slight bit of aggression with some vocal notes in a few tracks. At times Cleo II brings a bit more energy than expected from Axiom, I was expecting a bit more calmness. Or else Cleo II loads Axiom with superb resolution and definition without affecting the base signature of Axiom. It brings more transparency to notes across the spectrum. Close your eyes and this is a seriously vivid paring.
Vs Evo 10:
This isn’t exactly a comparison, Evo 10 is an excellent cable but it’s a hybrid and is nearly half the price of this Cleo II Octa but still, Evo 10 is hell of an IEM cable for sure.
It has 40% smaller stage and is less Vivid with a calmer vocals. The biggest difference is with the treble. Where is Cleo II delivers a vastly developed stage, Evo 10 is a bit limited. Where Evo 10 matches the Cleo II is the upper mids till mid treble clarity. Its hybrid nature helps it there. The lower mid and the mid range are slightly less forward but Evo 10 isn’t a slouch. It doesn’t match the level of transparency though.
Keep no doubts, Evo 10 is a killer cable, but the Cleo II can take any IEM to another level.
This pairing offers a lot but guess what, a few might want a bit less aggression, I kind of feel Cleopatra II pushes the Axiom to its best possible transparency and it sounds excellent but it might not be for everyone.
PAIRING WITH UM MEST MK2: (9.5/10)
This is an excellent pairing. Cleo II compliments the Mest mk2 like they are made for each other. This paring has excellent details and clarity without being aggressive or hyper but the stage expansion, layering and separation is simply outstanding. Cleo II isn’t a joke for sure. Its ability of stage expansion and imaging of the notes from top to bottom is simply exceptional. The sonics and contrast of back and foreground acts is simply haunting. It can give Goosebumps. The clarity and details is simply superlative.
I don’t know how but this pairing has a bit more bass body with superbly layered notes. The definition and resolution is simply in the godly level. While the vocals are super accurate with a lot of texture. It doesn’t break the character of the IEM but adds mouth watering resolution and definition. Simply incomparable. If this were the OG Mest mk2 there mightn’t have been the other more expensive Mest variants.
This pairing is excellent for those who want a bit more musicality and serious improvements with stage expansion, sonics and transparency.
VS Evo 10:
Same situation when I compare with the Evo 10. This is a softer and more subtle sounding cable with similar sonics and details retrieval but Cleo II is simply on a different level of stage expansion and extracts more details too. This pairing isnt exactly bad at all, in fact if you want softer notes the Evo 10 is the one to get. The subs are deeper, lower end is tighter, vocals are a bit rounded and less sharp giving them a bit more natural feel. Treble is a bit less aggressive too.
PAIRING WITH DORADO 2020: (9/10)
Dorada 2020 is one of my favorite IEM around the $1000 price range. It has the engagement factor which is hard to find with IEMs like U12T. This is a pairing that could have gone wrong in many ways but the outcome is much more in line with my expectations. What I love is Cleo II is, it doesn’t try to suppress the natural bass punch of this IEM but definitely helps it get a bit deeper and gain more resolution and layers. The whole spectrum sounds more balanced. Highs too settle down a bit and the extension is simply excellent. Mid rage has some of the best resolution and clairty while the lower mid kind of feels a bit more vivid. I wasn’t expecting the Cleo II to take this simple Hybrid IEM to the levels of flagships like VE Phoenix but this take on the U18T without any issues.
The ability of extracting superlative resolution and definition is Cleo II’s primary skill.
VS Evo 10:
Again, the Evo 10 shows why it shouldn’t be taken lightly. It has nearly the similar level of resolution and definition with the treble region but Cleo II simply is on a different level altogether. The stage too is slightly smaller and sonics are a bit limited. Cleo II has the vividness, the top to bottom clarity and texture with note’s body that the Evo 10 is unable to extract. Both have excellent extension at both ends but Cleo 2 has a bit more rumble.
There were flagships, there always were flagships, but back in 2010 they were hovering around the $300 mark. Any thing above $500 was insane. Fast forward to 2022 and even $2000 IEMs are not flagships. Flagships are touching $4000 mark. Nothing is insane anymore. Most of us are unable to go past the $1500 mark but we all want those flagships. Cleo II is the one of the best way to reach them without breaking the bank. It makes your $1000-1500 IEM rub shoulders with top end IEMs.
Hmm, yes, yes, you don’t need to say this, I understand, I was one of you guys back in 2015. I know the price of this cable. The 4 core Cleopatra II is $999 while the octa I have is $1599 and these prices are super high and one will definitely think I will get a ~$1000 flagship instead but guess what, this type resolution, definition and clarity without getting a bit edgy or aggressive is not possible under $3000. And to make thing clear, Cleo II has resolution and definition across the height of the notes, from, top to bottom, you can feel the entire note’s texture vividly. I was surprised with the stage expansion too.
Is this a perfect cable? There is nothing like perfection in this world full of opinions. This is an excellent cable, more organic with bigger stage and transparency than the OG Cleo but this too isn’t the most organic or analogue sounding cable. This cable has the ability to make a capable Koli buck IEM exceptional but if you want a different flavor, you can explore other options.