Effect Audio’s EVO 10 is a cable that contributes dynamism, energy and impact while maintaining an admirably-balanced frequency response. That’s because it doesn’t do this through typical means, which entails (often egregious) rises across the lows, upper-mids and highs. Rather, it mostly does so by darkening the spaces around notes, letting them pop more palpably to the ear. It’s akin to darkening shadows in an image to make highlights look more vivid. Now, it’s not fully free of colour either. I can hear a hair more oomph from the mid-bass and slight forwardness to the midrange. But, again, for the most part, its colourations are more dynamic or spatial, making the tonality it is able to keep all the more impressive.
Speaking of, the cable maintains a slightly warmer tone. This stems from a lightly-fuller low-end, as well as a surprisingly linear, relaxed high-end. That’s not to say it doesn’t extend or aerate, though. This treble does a fine job painting a clean, resolved backdrop for the instruments to leap through. The couple points I’d dock from it would be in effortlessness and organisation. The IEM’s stage won’t quite breathe as freely as it would on, say, Effect Audio’s Leonidas II. And, because of its more stimulated sound, some instruments may sound a touch punchier than others too, depending on the track and the pairing. So, you won’t hear the most even, spherical imaging in the world. But, again, for the sig it’s going for, the EVO 10’s technical achievements shouldn’t be undermined; clean, well-paced and capably-resolving in spite of its exuberance.
Down low, the EVO 10 adds a bit of girth and oomph to the mid-bass. Kick drums will come off a bit fuller and darker, but not notably so. The lows actually have a snappy pace to them, so they won’t linger long enough to muddy up the image. I also attribute it to a more neutral sub-bass, which lends the mid-bass a hair more space to use. When listening to Larnell Lewis’s Change Your Mind, for example, you’ll hear more thump out of the kick drum than presence out of the bass guitar, which, in that track, is lower and more guttural by comparison. I find the bass to have a nice, clear texture as well. It does not get too dark or smoky like most emphasised-mid-basses can. So, although it is a bass I wouldn’t necessarily pair with an already-warm IEM or one that needs sub-bass, it’s still a low-end that toes that line well with great personality to boot.
The midrange is probably my favourite quality about the EVO 10. It adds a push to them – a drive – that I find particularly effective with horn stabs and background vocals. This is showcased in both the horns section and the sax solo on Oytun Ersan’s Mysterious Maze. When either part comes in, there’s a forcefulness and energy that better sells the performances for me. It also teases size out of vocalists, giving them a bit more spread and glow, which is ideal for IEMs that inherently have tighter, more compact-sounding midranges. My favourite application of that is on the intro of Snarky Puppy’s Liqud Love. The two background vocalists lightly-panned left-and-right almost fill the space by themselves, boosting immersion into the track. The only negative, as I mentioned in the beginning, would be a tiny loss in image organisation in exchange for its exuberance. But, all in all, it’s a naturally-dynamic, glowing midrange that I personally think makes the EVO 10’s sig.
Up top, the EVO 10 remains impressively restrained. I hear a tiny bit more tizz at around 5kHz, which brightens attack on hi-hats and cymbals. But, that aside, the cable doesn’t really add much else, which I personally enjoy. I feel this top-end’s most notable achievement is actually in the higher-treble. It extends enough to create a dark, pitch-black background for instruments to pop in and out of. Again, it’s what drives the EVO 10’s punch. Now, it doesn’t necessarily aerate or breathe as openly or freely as, again, the Leonidas II or some of the 8-wire cables I’ve heard. You’ll hear a tiny bit of compression that’ll probably dull that impact after a long while. But, for what it is, I feel it’s an impressively balanced treble that avoids the pitfalls of most “fun-sounding” cables. It isn’t mind-blowing-ly technical, but it gets the job done, and fits in nicely too.
The EVO 10 is a cable that doesn’t necessarily strike neutral on the head. But, I really think the colourations it does bring to the table have great charm to them. Down here are three of what I consider to be the EVO 10’s most appealing traits:
A musical, immersive presentation rooted in vocals: Despite the vividness and contrast sat in its extremes, what makes this EVO 10’s signature to me is its smooth, enveloping and dynamic mids. Vocalists are up-close and personal without being congested, artificial-sounding or saturated. They’re all immersive, nuanced and glowingly-toned. It’s a quality that brings out the best in monitors like Empire Ears’ ODIN or Vision Ears’ ELYSIUM, and it genuinely is the EVO 10’s standout for me.
Broad, expressive instruments that make space: Complimenting its punchiness is a sense of speed to this EVO 10. And, that prevents instruments from lingering too long and mucking up the stage or overcrowding the ensemble. Though its space isn’t always 100%-spherical, there’s always a sense of order and tightness to this cable, which is why it also sports such a clean, crisp backdrop. So, if you want your complex material punchy and well-resolved, the EVO 10 will perform just fine.
A fun, impact-driven sound without an egregious V-shape: Lastly, this EVO 10 manages its vibrance and exuberance without resorting to too many tonal compromises. It’s minimal to my ears, and the resulting sig is admirably balanced for what it is. So, again, if you want instruments to have more pop and shine without becoming artificial, the EVO 10 is a good shout.
On the other hand, as is always the case with slightly-coloured gear, it won’t cater to those who desire the opposite of its sound. So, if the three aspects below are what you want to bring to your in-ear, the EVO 10 may not be the cable for you:
Complete, utter neutrality: Obviously, the EVO 10’s boosted signature won’t appeal to those looking for perfect linearity or uncolouredness. Effect’s Eros II, Janus D or Code 51 would be stronger fits for this. Despite what I feel are very desirable, universal traits this EVO 10 has, it ultimately won’t be ideal if you want pure, technical lifts without the tiniest tonal shift.
Tight, compact, clinical-leaning notes: Then, despite this EVO 10’s tidiness and speed, its notes tend to trend on the larger side as well. Its mid-bass and midrange have glow to them, and the latter’s more intimately-positioned as well. So, if you crave more distant-sounding instruments with a more perimeter-of-the-stage arrangement, Effect’s Janus D is more ideal.
A laidback, relaxed or far-field presentation: Lastly, again, this EVO 10’s stereo image is on the more intimate side. While it definitely has more than enough background blackness and organisation to manage capable layering and separation, it probably won’t be up to par to the demands of some of the community’s most ardent soundstage enthusiasts. So, for a bit more space, I’d probably recommend Effect’s Leonidas II instead, or one of the 8-wire cables like the Bespoke Ares II.