Effect Audio Ares S ($179): The Azrael is a more vivid cable overall while the Ares S leans warmer and more U-shaped. The mid-bass is slightly more present on the Ares providing a fuller and slightly more textured sound while the Azrael has a deeper and more affirmative sub-bass slam. The midrange is more laid-back on the Ares which, combined with its fuller mid-bass, provides a warmer, more full-bodied voicing. Azrael by comparison is clearer and more defined with greater separation and vocal presence. The top-end is more defined on the Azrael. The Ares S has a bit more presence in the lower treble but the Azrael has greater sparkle and headroom. The soundstage is more open on the Azrael and the imaging is sharper. The Ares S has a bit more depth.
PWAudio No.5 ($229 SGD): TheNo.5 is a warmer and more laid-back cable that provides a more typical analogue sound. Azrael provides a thicker and more dynamic bass while the No.5 is more mid-bass biased with a slightly faster decay. The midrange on the No.5 has a fuller, warmer character with greater room. Meanwhile, the Azrael has superior separation and definition with a smoother top-end creating a clearer but similarly coherent image. The No.5 has a more laid-back top end altogether. It has a bit more lower treble crunch and a dark background but lacks the same nuance and fine detail of the Azrael. The Eletech cable has greater air and a more open soundstage with more multi-dimensional imaging.
Eletech Cassiel ($249): Given the relative similarities in price, some may be wondering which cable is for them. The Azrael provides a more L-shaped sound while the Cassiel is almost U-shaped with emphasis at either extremity. This makes the Cassiel a more engaging cable. It has a more dynamic, weight sub-bass while the Azrael has a bit more mid-bass warmth and fullness. The midrange is well-sized and natural on both. The Azrael appears to have a bit more texture to it. Its articulation is smoother and it has greater warmth and body. The Cassiel is cleaner tonally and has superior definition without swinging intense or cool. The top-end is more defined and technical on the Cassiel. The Azrael has a darker, cleaner background but misses the same sparkle and headroom of the Cassiel in return. In terms of soundstage, the Cassiel has sharper imaging and greater size, while the Azrael layers a little better with its superior background/foreground contrast.
Effect Audio Cadmus ($199): The Cassiel is a more vibrant cable while the Cadmus offers a leaner more separated sound. Both cables offer similar bass extension, but the Cassiel has a more weighted sub-bass delivering a stronger slam and rumble. The Cadmus is more linear and sounds slightly faster, being equally assertive but delivering less emboldened notes. The midrange showcases a similar trend, the Cassiel being smoother and fuller, the Cadmus leaner and more articulate. The Cadmus offers slightly better definition and layering while the Cassiel is more forgiving with a more natural timbre. Above, the Cadmus offers a sharper leading-edge delivering a crisper foreground, and it has a darker background. Cassiel offers an airier top-end with a bit more headroom and sparkle. It lacks the same lower-treble bite but has more shimmer and a more accurate sense of decay. The soundstage is more open on the Cassiel in turn. The Cadmus has slightly better layering aided by its darker background and separation is an excellent performer on both.
Eletech Prudence ($249): The Prudence by comparison to the Cassiel comes across as a more typical, light-footed silver cable. The Cassiel brings with it a good jump to sub-bass presence and overall assertiveness, immediately providing a thicker, meatier bass with enhanced dynamics. The Prudence has slightly better separation but mostly because it has less sub-bass presence. The midrange is more top-end biased on the Prudence too. While positioning is similar on both, the presentation is quite different. The Cassiel has greater body and a more neutral tone while the Prudence is more revealing but also thinner and cooler. The Cassiel is also denser and smoother. Altogether, it sounds more natural yet similarly resolving. The treble is a big step up in terms of overall resolving power and extension. The Prudence has a crisp lower treble and a good amount of air but the Cassiel steps up headroom and sparkle by a good amount. It is noticeably more open and resolving of fine detail yet no brighter, simply more technical. It provides a larger and more nuanced soundstage, a great upgrade.
PWAudio No.10 ($259 SGD): The No.5 provides a more vivid sound yet with greater warmth counterbalanced by greater contrast. It provides a similarly affirmative sub-bass slam but with a warmer, bigger mid-bass that gives it a punchier character. The Cassiel is a bit more defined and is tonally cleaner while the No.10 provides better texturing and more bass overall. The midrange is slightly more present on the Cassiel. Once again, the tone is cleaner and separation is enhanced. The No.10 meanwhile is warmer and more filled-in down low but also more articulate up top delivering good clarity and detail presence. The Cassiel is more technically inspiring while the No.10 strikes as more musical and forgiving. The No.10 has a bit more lower-treble bit giving percussion a more defined edge. The Cassiel is airier and more open above yielding superior sparkle and fine detail retrieval. The Cassial also has a larger, more separated stage. Though both offer sharp imaging, the No.10 is smaller but tighter, the Cassiel larger but less layered.
Eric has done a wonderful job at updating his cable lineup, providing hearty upgrades in all facets that justify the price increase. The excellent ergonomic experience hasn’t been hampered in the slightest by the 0.5 AWG increase in thickness and the new more compact terminations and y-splitter produce, if anything, a more elegant form factor. Similarly, the sound tuning moves in a new direction that is more reminiscent of the company’s high-end models, just scaled down to cost. I would suggest that the lower treble on both cables may be their main point of contention beyond what is to subjective taste. Both cables offer a smoother presentation here which means they appear to have less treble definition than many competitors on first listen.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as many IEMs artificially enhance this region but it is a niggle that may turn buyers against the cables upon first impression. Otherwise, both cables offer a balanced, natural sound that will pair well with the vast majority of IEMs, excluding only the minute outliers. The Azrael specialises in a silky black background and natural vocal presentation. Meanwhile, the Cassiel offers a cleaner, more extended sound with enhanced dynamics, sparkle and a more open soundstage. I am especially impressed by the Cassiel as it manages to do so without introducing much additional brightness or thinning out/cooling the midrange thereby maintaining excellent listenability. Though the price increase puts their models at a slight premium, the immediate increase in quality makes it feel justified. Eletech’s latest may not be their most premium models but offer superb ergonomics in two flavours of sound, both underpinned by strong technical performance.
The Azrael and Cassiel are available from Eletech (International) for $249 and 299 USD respectively at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with Eletech and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.