I have been working with Effect Audio for a while and I don’t think any of our reader is unaware of this Singapore based brand. They have been making some of the best quality cables available in the market and have worked with a few US based brands like Empires Ears. I have reviewed a bunch of their cables and was seriously impressed with the Signature series of cables. I was super impressed with the Cadmus but I recommended the Eros S the most because this cable pairs exceptionally well with Monarch MK2 and few other high end IEMs. The trios of cable are some of the best cables for their prices, and the doubled down with 8w versions of their Ares S 8w and cadmus 8w cables. A couple of months ago when I was talking with their rep he told me they are making a flagship copper cable, I thought okay, let’s see this and what I received is a thick cable that looks intimidating at first but there is something calm about it too. The Code 23 has just two cores and they are thickest I have ever seen!! Unlike the signature series this cable ships with both Term-X and Con-X basic sets. Priced at $599 this definitely is one of the most expensive copper cable in the market but how does this compares against the Evo 10 and Ares S 8w? Let’s find out.
Get this excellent copper cable from here:
UNBOXING AND ACCESSORIES:
Code 23 gives a premium unboxing experience. Open the box and we are presented with the Y splitter placed upfront while the cable and the Con-X and Term-X basic sets are placed inside the travel case under the card board (I have reviewed a handful of Effect Audio products but nothing makes me forget that their flagship Hybrid IEM doesn’t ship with a carry case but this cable ships with a healthy set of accessories). This travel case has plenty of space and it can carry a DAP along with the Con and Term X modules and obviously the cable. A cable strap is fixed to the inner lining of the case to keep this thick cable in place but why not have it in hand so that it can be used anywhere?
Code 23 uses premium 16.5 AWG UP-OCC copper litz strands in 13 Multi-sized cores bundled into a proprietary multi-sized solid core. Make no mistakes, this dual core cable has thicker cores than any other cable available for purchase (or at least I have seen) and the brand thinks so too.
In their words:
“Probably the Thickest IEM Cable in the World
In the ideation stage for CODE 23, we knew we had to step out of our comfort zone and relook into the exact components that go into our cable’s engineering DNA. Pushing the boundaries of what we thought was previously not possible, we hammered down on one of the most critical factors of an audio cable – American Wire Gauge Size.”
There is a good reason behind this madness, this is a dual purpose cable, one can get it customized for headphones too. One might think this thick cable must have memory issues but that’s not the case. Code 23 is a well behaved cable which doesn’t have a mind of its own and holds the shape easily. Yes, it’s not supple or flexible but one doesn’t need to fight with it either. EA has uses their trademarked Ultraflexi insulation on it which provides excellent protection while being soft to the hand. There is a little bit of microphonics to worry about, nothing bothering though.
Code 23 has metal connectors everywhere, the Y splitter is a bit on the bigger side but its a thick cable too so.. The cable slider looks cool and slots into the Y splitter. One can easily change terminations thanks to Con-X and Term-X modules out of the box.
I did find the Ares 8w to be an excellent sounding copper cable which helps with taming sharp and aggressive sounding IEMs. Even though Code 23 is internally similar, it sounds different. It takes the copper attributes of a cable but doesn’t try to blunt the finishing of a instruments like cymbals, violins or trumpets. If there is a prominent peak in the track, Code 23 will let you feel it while filtering out the uncomfortable bit. Everything else is in line with what copper cables are supposed to bring to the table. I paired it with a couple of IEMs and I was impressed how the Gaea responded to it (Yes, Effect Audio wants to promote this combination but there is a good bit of reason behind this. These two pair exceptionally well). Code 23 delivers fuller and meatier notes across the spectrum. One can easily perceive the fullness of the notes at their origin points on floor. Notes gradually gain accuracy, precision as they rise and finish with superb definition, very good transparency while keeping uncomfortable sharpness away. Code 23 pairs exceptionally well with analytical IEMs providing excellent stability and a level headed presentation.
Bass: Code 23 brings in more body, weight with roundness and smoother impact, pairing superbly with a hard, flat and dry sounding IEMs. Sub-bass rumble gets better with a bit better extension. Decay speed is more pleasing now, letting the notes precipitate. Upper bass is well defined with nice details and clarity.
MID Range: I love the accuracy and precision of the mid range, both Gaea and Fibae 5 benefit from additional definition and texture. Vocal sibilance is nicely handled by giving them slightly fuller body and controlling the extra bit of height. Tonality and timber are on the analogue and organic side. Instruments retain excellent texture and details. There is plenty of air between instruments and no upper mid insatiability to worry about.
Treble: The best thing about the Code 23 is its ability to retain accurate and satisfying amount of treble energy. Extension is very good too. Yes, the upper treble extension isn’t the endless type but far more than most of us need. Layering and separation is top notch with excellent back and foreground separation. Those who do not want high transparency and sharp details will love what this cable has to offer.
STAGE AND IMAGING:
A natural thing should come to anyone’s mind is, if this cable has fuller notes across the spectrum, how is it keeping the floor clean? Code 23 not only delivers fuller notes, it has a huge stage to accommodate all the notes. It has a well rounded stage with superb X axis width, tallish height and a well developed Z axis depth. There is very good amount of air between instruments and if the IEM has good imaging and sonics this cable will enhance it with better and cleaner movement of instruments.
PAIRING WITH IEMS:
This is a pairing worthy of drooling. Gaea is an excellent IEM but it can sound a bit harsh with its treble and a bit less wholesome with its lower end. All of this changes with Code 23. This pairing brings is a bigger area of impact, better sub-bass rumble and meatier lower end notes. The mid range is practically untouched with presentation but gains pleasing amount of texture with a more organic and analogue timber. Treble is slightly less harsh with very good extension and details. The biggest improvement is the stage. It is nearly 40% bigger in every direction and thanks to this stage, Gaea sits among flagship IEMs like the VE8, VE Erlkonig and Noble Sultan.
This is an IEM I like a lot. It is one of those rare IEMs that I am unable to flaw. Nothing about this IEM is wrong. It has no harshness to curb, no lack of bass to enhance or bloat to control. So what does this $599 bring in? Better magnitude in every discipline. The lower end gains a bit more body, is rumblier now with a bigger area of impact. This lower end is closer to a bass head level but not wooly or uncontrolled.
Mid need no change but thanks to the bigger stage and added texture both instruments and vocals sound much cleaner and appealing. One might say the endless feeling of the treble is not there anymore but the extension still is much better with very good amount of energy till the end. Layering and separation are improved with more air between instruments.
Code 23 takes this $999 cable to the leagues of U12T, Tia Trio and VE Elysium.
Keep no doubts, Code 23 is a premium copper cable and unlike most copper cables Code 23 doesn’t try to de tune the IEM into submission. It doesn’t try to change the character of the IEM, it does tame the extra bit of sharpness while providing excellent texture definition but if the IEM has a peak it doesn’t flatten that, you will get a good feel of peak but the harshness is controlled (retaining most of the transparency). The highlight is the huge stage.
If you find your high end IEM to be dry, harsh, thin or small in stage, Code 23 has the solution for all of these. Choose wisely because if you want to tame the highs I will suggest the Ares S 8w.
Thank you for reading guys. Enjoy the music you have. Cheers!!