Eletech Iliad: Treats of Troy – An In-Ear Monitor Cable Review

Sound Impressions

The Eletech Iliad makes for a very interesting listen, because it’s one of few cables that affect uniformly on a macro scale, rather than making specific tweaks in the micro. It’s not a cable that just boosts the bass, or just adds highs. Rather, what it seems to do is apply its “filter” across the board, so to speak. And, what this Iliad’s filter does is add vibrance, holography and size. Across all the high-end in-ears I’ve paired it with, instruments simply seem to have this clearer, more outwardly voice to them, as well as a more tangible presence in the image. Toms and kicks have a hair more oomph, electric guitars roar a touch more, cymbals crash slightly wider, etc. And, again, this is all done with pretty minimal tonal shifts. All it is is a bigger sound, which does a ton for musicality, groove and feel without peaks or dips calling for attention along the way.

Spatially, the Iliad backs up the bigger, freer-sounding instruments with a clean, stable and well-resolved backdrop. While it won’t separate as clinically as some of the tighter, crisper-sounding flagship cables out there, it, impressively, still ranks among the best I’ve heard when it comes to sheer resolution, authority and control. Instruments, though larger, still own tons of headroom and depth. And, as vague as it may seem, sounds through the Iliad never feel stretched or pushed. The vibrance it does have feels utterly natural, and it’s what helps the cable and the in-ear maintain an effortlessly composed image. The Iliad also throws out a vast stage. Despite its zing, you can still feel lots of air around notes, which is where its holography comes from. So, even with the Iliad’s focus towards musicality and feel, it still kills technically without making a show of it – ideal whether it’s what your IEM needs, or if clear, compromise-free listenability is simply what you’re after.

Down low, the Iliad – again – adds minor, musical touches whilst keeping the relative tonality of the bass the same. You’ll hear a slightly wetter, slightly fluffier delivery to the mid-bass, but without change in volume, cleanliness or warmth. Low notes simply resonate throughout the stage a hair more, so instruments like the kick drum have a slightly more imposing presence. But, again, that bigness is to no compromise to resolution, whether it be the bass’s or the whole spectrum’s as a whole. The texture of the bass still comes through, utterly unencumbered by warmth or fuzz. It bleeds nothing towards its midrange too. And, it loses no energy as it extends toward the sub-bass, extending nicely for an even, linear presence throughout the bass. Not only does it mean it’ll pair well with most types of lows, it also gifts the Iliad a very natural bass timbre. Whether it be kicks or uprights, you’ll be guaranteed organic, analog, yet transparent lows with texture and tone.

To me, the midrange is where the Iliad’s strengths are at their bests. It’s where its bigness is most applicable. And, it’s also where most flagship in-ears nowadays tend to sit a bit shy in favour of a more neutral, uncoloured sound. Again, without congestion, intimacy or over-saturation, the Iliad lends this vibrant soulfulness – a playfulness – to everything its monitor puts out. The closest I can compare it to is patching in a tape emulator onto a master bus; a subtle, yet compelling, effect that gifts instruments punch and vividness, along with a clear, pristine tonality. What’s just as impressive is how little the Iliad trades off technically and spatially for that effect. Its image isn’t any more packed, instruments aren’t any fuller, and resolution and speed remain impeccable. Whether it be Jaime Woods’ solo spot on How Love’s Made or Tommy Igoe’s full Groove Conspiracy on Jazz Crimes, this is the Iliad’s forte: A pristine, soulful oomph that lends music this coveted, live feel.

The Iliad concludes its sound with clear, vivid and nicely-bodied highs. Cymbals and hi-hats have a sheen to them, as well as size. But, at the same time, its transient response also lies on the softer side. So, it, for the most part, won’t make your in-ears any more edgy or abrasive than they already are. Now, there is one exception to this, and it’s a slight uptick in tizz around 6kHz. If you own a monitor (like Vision Ears’ EVE 20) that’s already articulate there, it can cause certain recordings moments of glare. An example I’ve found includes Cody Fry, Cory Wong & Dynamo’s live version of Better. But, otherwise, it’s a smooth, even top-end that’ll just read clear with most material. That is especially true the higher you go. This cable’s upper-treble treads the line between elegance and edge gorgeously; again, refined in transient, but pristine at the same time. This result in an airy, silky and controlled treble with clarity, presence and size; free-flowing and precise, all at once.

Suggested Pairings

The Iliad is a cable that’s fairly unique in how it imparts its flavour onto the monitor, which makes its appeal pretty broad. But, the three traits below are what I believe to be its standouts, and why one may consider it over other flagship cables:

A vivid, yet effortless tonality: The Iliad’s defining trait is its enveloping musicality delivered with a smooth, refined touch. It adds bigness and soul, but with near-zero compromise to authority, definition and control. If you have a more clinical or analytical-sounding monitor that you’d like to loosen up without loss to technique, Eletech’s Iliad is certainly worth a look.

Top-class imaging and headroom: The Iliad impressively pulls off its musicality with stellar background blackness, imaging and resolution to boot. Instruments never become too loose or too big, and a sense of airiness is always maintained. This is particularly ideal if you want to maximise your in-ear’s spatial performance, whilst adding a dash of soul in the mix too.

A slightly more articulate upper-midrange and low-treble: Though the Iliad doesn’t add too distinct a colour to the monitors it’s paired up with, it can add a bit of bite to the high-mids and low-treble. It’s enough to call it a straight-up boost, but its presence will be noticed. If you happen to have an IEM that’s a tad dull or diffuse, the Iliad is a flagship you can consider.

The Iliad, though fairly transparent in timbre, isn’t entirely free of colour either. Between its emphasis on musicality over precision, its forwardly upper-mids and its slight treble tizz, it may not be the cable for some. Three examples are below:

Gooey warmth and a feathered top-end: The Iliad, tonally, leans ever-so-slightly towards vibrance. So, it’s unlikely to satisfy those looking for a squarely warm, organic and buttery-sounding cable to pair with their in-ears. Its highs can also be on the tizzy-er side with certain pairings or tracks. So, it won’t be for those looking to level down their in-ears’ trebles either.

A lower-midrange emphasis: The Iliad imparts its zing through vibrant upper-mids, so its low-mids won’t be as prominent. If you wanna add some body or gusto to an IEM that’s already a tad lean there, the Iliad won’t be the best option for you.

Superlative imaging precision: Due to the Iliad’s inherent exuberance, its imaging and separation (relative to other flagship cables) isn’t the tightest or the most clinical. Although it performs well spatially regardless, it’s definitely something worth keeping in mind if you hold raw precision at a very high regard, or if musicality doesn’t mean as much to you as analysis.

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ABOUT AUTHOR

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Deezel

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

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