While there are some clear trends to be observed between cables of various conductor materials, it is difficult to apply labels on such a complex design such as this. In turn, we cannot make many judgements without listening. Further complicating matters is that all IEMs come with different cables, so it becomes difficult to generalise exactly what a cable does. In turn, I felt it was most appropriate to make universal comments relative to a standard OFC cable that has been the standard on IEMs for a long time and remains most prominent and familiar to the majority. More granular sound analysis will be relative to other cables I’ve heard/own. As my Aeneid unit is terminated in 2.5mm balanced, I will also use a 2.5mm OFC cable so source output discrepancy isn’t playing into this.
Seeing the GPS configuration, I was concerned the Aeneid may swing too warm, but this concern was instantly dispelled on first listen. Eric mentioned that this cable was designed for wide synergy with a focus on imaging and detail retrieval. I’d say he’s made my job here very easy, as this sums up the cable to a tee. The Aeneid sounds superbly clean, a specialist in revealing nuances throughout yet without a revealing character. The biggest consistent tonal shift I perceived was a slightly forward, empowered midrange and a refined, slightly smooth lower-treble. It nonetheless retains an effortlessly detailed image derived from excellent composure and organisation atop an immaculate background. Upon which, details appear to pop more and can more easily be discerned by the listener. I was impressed by the jump in separation through the bass especially, in addition to enhancements in soundstage width that contribute to a more immersive sound. As the changes are mostly technical in nature, the Aeneid pairs nicely with a wide range of IEMs from neutral to warm.
While treble is usually more directly associated with technical performance for many listeners, there’s a reason why so many people enjoy a tactile and snappy bass response; no other frequency range gets your toes-tapping. The Aeneid exemplifies this notion, characterised by a more assertive attack and more defined, controlled decay. I initially speculated that the Aeneid was delivering a reduced mid-bass as I was perceiving a cleaner tonality alongside less smear and woolliness here. However, after extended listening it would be more accurate to say this cable delivers a cleaner note presentation, as both of the aforementioned qualities contribute to a immediate jump in note definition. By correlation, so too is separation increased and the overall cleanliness of the presentation is improved without sacrificing any impact or slam. Impressively, the tonality remains uncoloured here, remaining faithful to the surrounding components in your audio chain.
Instead, the listener receives a substantial boost in note definition, control and overall PRAT. On BA earphones especially, I am hearing a slightly more robust sub-bass extension. There’s no greater emphasis, but a more dynamic, weighted note presentation. Dynamic driver earphones meanwhile benefit most from the added control and sharper note attack, meaning separation isn’t impaired by the introduction of additional sub-bass. I hugely enjoyed the timing on display, as rarely does a cable permit such an articulate, tactile low-end whilst retaining such solid punch and slam properties. Accordingly, though the Aeneid doesn’t provide a huge shift in tonality, the listener can immediately appreciate the more controlled and satisfying bass note presentation on display. I do think the weighted notes on something like the Socrates is no less satisfying, but the Aeneid’s textured and snappy performance quickly won me over and remains a personal favourite.
I found the cable to chiefly provide a slightly more robust note presentation stemming from a bump in the lower midrange. This forms an empowered presentation whilst minimising tonal colouration. With a slight lift in articulation up top, clarity is retained and vocals sound complete, bolstered with enhanced size and just a little extra gloss that brings fine details more to the fore. Though vocals appear more intimate, instruments have been equally empowered, sitting in balance. The downside to this is that layers become slightly less delineated as there is increased focus on room and less contrast to the foreground as a result. I do enjoy this in moderation as it aids the perception of space and layers on less extended IEMs, and I found the enhancement to be in good judgement here. This is especially pertinent for high-end IEM pairings (which makes most sense given the Aeneid’s asking price), most of which offer a higher contrast sound.
On the flipside, do note that separation is not the forte of the Aeneid’s midrange presentation due to the increase in note size. Consider this if contemplating certain pairings that may already err on the coherent and full-bodied side. Still, by putting the midrange on full display, textural nuances come more to the fore and the listener is able to study each element closer. As notes are enlarged, they don’t sound overly dense nor lacking delicacy. While it isn’t an especially revealing presentation, the Aeneid excels once again on the micro-scale, representing a bump to note definition and resolution. In turn, small midrange details are resolved more clearly even in the absence of increased brightness or contrast. It is important not to mistake coherence for smoothness, as the upper-midrange to treble transition sounds perfectly linear to me. This means extension remains strong as does positional accuracy and clarity. These qualities altogether, lead to a slightly forward midrange presentation that is more powerful yet no less revealing.
To my ears, the top-end presentation will be one of the most alluring aspects of this cable, possessing an intriguing and attractive set of qualities. I’m hearing a little more bite and articulation mostly in the lower-treble stemming from a generally sharper and more defined note attack. Set to a slightly more organic note body and tone, you get a simultaneous boost in both fine detail retrieval and separation, and note body and texture. It’s a very interesting combination that doesn’t initially seem possible, and it means that zero brittleness or grain are introduced despite the jump in resolving power. In fact, I would suggest this to be a slightly smoother voicing but paired with a sharp, fast transient response responsible for its heightened note definition. While crispness and brightness can create a similar effect, qualities like this explain why a simple treble-boost doesn’t equate proportionally to high detail retrieval.
An admission of bias is in order as such a refined and organic treble voicing is to my preference. In saying so, the Aeneid wouldn’t appeal to those wanting huge clarity and energy in the treble; it is a detail-dense sound but not an especially detail-forward one. I am hearing a subtle upper harmonic lift around the middle and potentially upper-treble region depending on what your paired IEM is capable of. This does give instruments a little more clarity and shimmer without thinning note body. However, it is not overt and, as the cable is generally on the smoother side, potential buyers also shouldn’t be concerned about glare or sibilance on the Aeneid either. It still imbues a lovely sparkle and airiness into the sound in addition to a respectable jump in headroom and layering. In summary, the Aeneid is defined by a top-level technical performance paired with a highly refined voicing.
An extended top-end and roomy midrange allows the cable to portray an especially wide stage and it does so without sacrificing depth too. While depth isn’t outstanding, the midrange isn’t overly forward nor intimate, able to produce convincing projection. Imaging is also a highlight. Where cheaper cables, especially 8-wire variants, I find to provide sharp imaging, the beauty of the Aeneid is its organisation across the lateral plane. On IEMs with capable imaging, you get a more multi-dimensional stage but pinpoint accuracy and many fine layers. Returning to my midrange breakdown, you don’t get a hyped defined background and foreground nor huge separation between layers, but many organised layers.
In this sense, the Aeneid pairing delivers a more granular ability to position and differentiate each element in the stage. Separation is greatly enhanced in the bass and to a good extent in the treble but slightly reduced in the midrange relative to most cables. While note definition is high here, the bolstered note body simply means there is less space between elements. That said, due to the pinpoint accurate localisation, I never felt the sound was congested, nor did I hear that wall-of-sound phenomenon on complex passages – think the drum and cymbal work in “Lateralus” by TOOL around the 4:30 mark. All was portrayed in its right place and each element had its own space.
Soft Ears Cerberus ($2099): The Cerberus is a decent but not ideal pairing. The bass was a good match as the Cerberus is a less aggressive DD, well-controlled but softer in terms of note definition. The Aeneid tightens up the mid-bass, imbuing a more assertive punch, sub-bass has slightly more weight, aiding dynamics without upsetting balance. The midrange is slightly more forward and slightly fuller on the Aeneid. The Cerberus is already a coherent sounding monitor here, so I found vocals could sound a little too full and separation wasn’t ideal in turn. The Cerberus also has a fairly smooth treble, prioritising air and delicacy over bite. The Aeneid helps a little but the voicing became too smooth for my liking. I did enjoy how the Aeneid brought out more headroom above which helps with staging on the Cerberus. Both width and depth were benefit, giving it a more immersive presentation. However, the Aeneid’s voicing wasn’t a good match to my ears for this IEM.
Soft Ears RS10 ($2099): The RS10 makes for a strong pairing, a little more mid-forward but also more full-bodied. The bass is uncannily well extended for a BA earphone, a quality reinforced by the keener note attack provided by the Aeneid. Mid-bass becomes more articulate and textured, bass is one tick faster and more dynamic if not more emphasized. The midrange is slightly wetter on the Aeneid, being drier on the stock cable. It is a hair more forward but vocals are larger with greater body, maintaining coherence. Resolution is a touch higher and small details come through clearer. Layers aren’t as delineated but the background is cleaner making small details easier to perceive. The stock cable has a brighter lower-treble especially. It is slightly crisper and more detail forward. The Aeneid is a little sharper in note attack, giving notes higher definition and fine details are more resolved, however, the voicing is smoother and more organic. The Aeneid gives the RS10 a bit more air and headroom. The stage is wider and more layered.
Lime Ears Pneuma (1800 EUR): The Pneuma is a very strong pairing despite coming with an accomplished PW Audio cable out of the box. The Pneuma has a focus on its bass qualities with a triple-hybrid setup here, and Aeneid really makes the Pneuma’s bass come alive. Sub-bass hits harder and mid-bass is tighter and cleaner. The presentation has more attack, being faster, more dynamic and articulate. The midrange is a great match, vocals are slightly larger and a touch more forward. They have more accurate body and the voicing is slightly more natural. Small details are brought more to the fore and layers are more defined. Treble is a touch more energetic on the stock cable, delivering a crisper lower-treble. The Aeneid sounds more complex and detail dense. Notes are more defined with sharper attack but it is a touch smoother in voicing. The Aeneid sounded quite a bit more detailed here and had greater sparkle. Soundstage width is slightly improved but depth is most notably, delivering a more immersive image.
MMR Balmung ($2699): A match made in heaven, the Aeneid tightens up the mid-bass, introduces a more linear midrange and gives treble a bit more sparkle too. I especially enjoy the bass performance here, the Balmung has loads of power, the Aeneid increases note definition and sharpens its attack, resulting in a punchier and more articulate and separated sound. The midrange is brought slightly forwards and the lower-midrange is slightly empowered which works well for the Balmung’s high-contrast, slightly laid-back sound. Vocals are rewarded with greater size and coherence in turn. Treble note definition is increased and fine details come through slightly clearer. There’s noticeably more air and sparkle at the top too. The soundstage is immediately wider but only slightly deeper. The presentation is highly layered and multi-dimensional, assuming an almost holographic quality.
Suggested Pair Ups
The Aeneid pairs best with higher contrast earphones but achieves fairly wide synergy altogether. Due to its combination of cleanliness, fullness and smoothness, synergy is found with both warm and cool, bass heavy and bass light earphones. This isn’t the best choice for earphones that already have a smoother treble, unless this is to your preference, but the uptick of note bite means this isn’t a primary concern necessarily. More so, I would be prudent with midrange synergy as earphones with reduced midrange separation may become too roomy with the Aeneid. To reiterative, it does synergise well with bassier IEMs due to its ability to increase low-end control and separation. It also suits a warmer midrange so long as the lower-midrange isn’t too present. I would only firmly avoid pairing it with an IEM touting a dense or full-bodied midrange.