The Effect Audio Janus D is an excellent technical performer, yet – idiosyncratically – subtle in how it alters the monitor’s presentation. It maintains a smooth and lightly warm timbre, but what sets it apart is the linearity with which it does so. There are zero noticeable aberrations throughout its frequency response, so its general performance is defined by qualities like balance, extension and decay – all of which prove mighty impressive. The Janus D presents compactly-sized images spread throughout a stunningly defined stage. Excellent coherence allow all of these elements to co-exist without the need for extra brightness, and a sufficiently quick decay maintains a pitch-black background at all times.
Expectedly so, the Janus D’s most noteworthy traits are stage expansion, transparency and imaging precision. It presents a holographic, three-dimensional soundscape with layers that expand towards all three axes. Instruments toward the far-left and right display just as much resolution as the centre image, presenting a cohesive whole filled with a variety of tones and textures; equally audible, ripe for the picking. This is especially true with busier genres of music. Although instruments aren’t as sharply isolated as they could possibly be – due to the Janus’s linear upper-treble – this is to the benefit of tonal accuracy, and separation still impresses nonetheless. Finally, transients and decays constantly feel swift, but not sharply so. Hence, the Janus D showcases a healthy balance between liveliness and refinement in its delivery.
Bass performance is one of the Janus D’s strongest suits. It consistently boasts great solidity, wonderful resolution and effortless detail. The region is linear overall, so it’s neither noteworthily rumbly, or punchy, or melodious. Rather, its forte is the ability to maintain an authoritative presence no matter how busy the track gets. Excellent achievements in speed and control ensure the bass is consistently heard, while extension guarantees it’s always felt as well. Although that usually implies tight, insubstantial jabs, the Janus D’s low-end is surprisingly meaty and thick. Punches are harmonic, warm and textured, but never occupy too much space – nor linger too long – within the stage. It’s a bass that rock fans will love, as it resolves the bass guitar and kick drum without either being compromised – both punchy and luscious.
The Janus D’s vocal range is the least coloured of the three. Steady linearity runs through the lower- and-upper mids for a carefully balanced response. Favourably, it does little to alter the monitor’s inherent presentation. Rather, superb transparency further distances the image from the background, ensuring endless nuance and effortless detail without awkwardness in tone. To some, however, the Janus D may lack vibrancy in the upper-mids compared to other offerings. Horns and female vocals sound less peppy and bright here than – say – on the Thor Silver II, which may translate to a lack of engagement at first listen. However, closer scrutiny will reveal the cable’s technical strengths. Separation and imaging precision are extremely impressive, as is note structure and resolution. Never is there excessive warmth from the bass, nor a plasticky chill from the top. Simply put, it’s naturally rich, organically clear, and outstandingly life-like.
The Janus D’s top-end resumes its neutrality; neither organically warm, nor strikingly crisp. Rather, it maintains a clear, laid-back response, where its stand-out characteristics are linearity and transparency. Like the rest of its signature, its transparency is the tonal kind, where it imparts little colour to the in-ear’s inherent presentation. However, it does have a bias towards smoothening and refining transients, rather than sharpening them. This works extremely well with the 64 Audio A6t, where its 7kHz peak often borders between grainy and articulate depending on the pairing. But, it isn’t preferable with the Jomo Audio Deux, for example, which needs that bright contrast to pop against its fuller midrange. Regardless, the top-end extends admirably; bolstering its background blackness, transparency and depth. It’s a top-end that won’t necessarily excite like the Horus will, but its technical prowess (and versatility) is undeniable either way.
The Janus D has an overall clear, laid-back signature, with little deviance in terms of tonal bias. As a result, pairing becomes a question of dynamics, rather than timbre. Because although the Janus D excels in the technical realm, it’s relatively less coloured than the industry’s current crop of favourites. So, if you’re already content with how your in-ears present instruments as is – and you’re simply looking to boost performance – these are what the Janus D can do for you:
Superior imaging, separation and resolution – The Janus D’s forte is its ability to create an airy, spacious and grand sonic image without ever making its elements sound distant, nonchalant or unengaged. A strong sense of focus and resolution spans throughout the entire spectrum – instead of remaining limited to the centre image – and musicality is never lost over time. This is gold for IEMs that feel a bit closed in; like the Warbler Audio Prelude or the Custom Art FIBAE 2. You’ll experience music within a more epic, voluminous scale without losing any of its intimacy.
A well-supported, dense, yet transparent midrange – The Janus D maintains strict discipline in its upper-mids and lower-treble; showcasing strong linearity and vocal quality without any frills. A pitch-black background renders finer nuances and dynamic energy, whilst maintaining refinement and organicity. Images are harmonically rich, but remain compact enough to sound cleanly defined at all times. This complements similarly voiced in-ears like the Empire Ears Phantom or the 64 Audio’s A6t, and it will enrich wispier ones like the Custom Art FIBAE 3 or the Kumitate Labs Sirius.
Strong bass extension and resolution – Like the Bespoke Ares II I reviewed recently, the Janus D has an authoritative, guttural low-end. As a result, both add physicality to thumps and thwacks without necessarily increasing the mid-bass. However, the Janus D takes it to a whole other level by enriching the bass with a melodious tone and a warm, meaty texture – along with high resolution. If you have IEMs where bass is present, but a touch one-dimensional – like the Avara Custom AV2 – it’ll surely add a pleasing depth that’ll endow upright basses and electric guitars great personality.
However, the Janus D’s bias for smoothening transients rather than sharpening them makes it unsuitable for the stereotypical upgrade cable criteria: Moar detail! Moar clarity! The Janus D has a decidedly meaty timbre, despite its expertise in separation and precision. Nevertheless, these are qualities you shouldn’t expect from Effect Audio’s latest:
Increased treble sparkle and top-end clarity – Despite the cable’s shimmery-silver looks, one should expect very minimal dazzle from the Janus D’s top-end. It’s an articulate and especially refined treble – elegant in its delivery and silky to the ear – but it won’t sound particularly sharp ala Effect Audio’s Horus, for example. In-ears like the Jomo Audio Deux or the Empire Ears Athena-VIII ADEL that need a little bit of bite, will not pair best with the Janus D’s laid-back response.
Poppy, vibrant vocals – The Janus D balances between its lower- and upper-mids. Although it has a slight tilt towards the latter, it’s not going to add any noticeable zing or pep to your instruments; whether it be the honky-ness of a tenor sax, the sweetness of a female songstress or the ring of a snare drum. If your in-ears have calmer upper-mids out of the box – like the Custom Art FIBAE 2 – and you wish to bring out more vibrancy, the Janus D shouldn’t be your pick.
A cleaner, leaner presentation – This is most definitely the Janus Basso’s wheelhouse. The Janus D has a linear frequency response that won’t remove any chestiness or cloy-ness (around the 500Hz to 1kHz region), which makes it less than ideal if you seek more defined and streamlined images. The Janus B has a more v-shaped response with a neutral lower-midrange, so that’s the one to get if you’re after a punchier presentation and contrast between the low- and top-ends.