What immediately strikes about the Ode to Laura is its liquid note presentation and smooth yet articulate nature. It has an L-shaped signature overall with a rich yet meticulously controlled bass presentation, large, lush vocals and a smooth, refined top-end. The cable strikes me as being impressively spacious and it has a good if not market-leading technical foundation which will challenge the notion that a darker treble is inherently less resolving than a brighter one. To me, vocals are the absolute highlight, presented with enhanced size, great definition and slightly higher contrast with counterbalancing warmth and top-end articulation. Rather than being dense, the midrange is well-extended but emboldened by the more robust low-end. This makes for one of the most enjoyable midrange experiences I’ve yet had from a pure cable swap. Lows similarly inspire, and the densely packed conductors provide a sense of power similar to that observed on the Socrates. The Laura provides an immediate boost to extension but does so in the cleanest manner I’ve yet seen with minimal introduction of muddiness or loss to separation. Bass upholds exemplary definition in the mid-bass and overall timbre showcases great authenticity.
Custom cables are a very subjective affair, and they can get a bit weird in terms of tonality. In turn, the greatest tonal change isn’t indicative of the best performance. The Laura showcases this premise, as though it doesn’t provide huge tonal changes, the bass performance is sensational. The most notable difference is bass extension, and this is especially evident on BA monitors that tend to lack more in this regard. The Laura pairing provides an immediately deeper reaching, more visceral sub-bass with enhanced slam whilst maintaining a tight, pacey character. Mid and upper-bass sounds nigh identical to most stock cables in terms of overall emphasis, so the tonality can be considered to showcase excellent transparency. The key differentiator once again is a nigh ideal sub-bass extension increase with associated improvements to dynamics, slam and texture giving notes greater power and depth.
Besides this, the Laura provides a similar sense of texture and power as was beloved on the Socrates. It does so without the more overt bass boost provided by that cable making for a considerably more nuanced approach. Separation is noticeably improved by virtue of greatly improved note definition. Attack is more concise, and decay is swift and clean. The Laura has excellent resolving power in the bass yielding top level texture, PRAT and overall enjoyment factor. Notes sound more immediate and lifelike due to the large increase in definition and separation, complex passages come across as far more organised. This cable is a testament to that fact that a fun bass isn’t necessarily a big bass.
Similar to the bass, the midrange showcases some tonal changes but not to a huge extent. However, there are some notable differences in the presentation due to changes in the surrounding frequencies. The Laura provides a clean bass/midrange transition and equal enhancement to the centre and upper midrange that means vocals are both one step more intimate but also one step larger. The boost is also even between male and female vocals providing a very consistent character. Meanwhile, treble is slightly attenuated providing a smoother articulation. This means the cable doesn’t come across as fatiguing or overly bright. In addition, resolution is once again performing at the highest level. The ether surrounding each note is far more palpable and small details are both easy to discern and clearly resolved in turn.
Vocals themselves benefit from a gorgeous increase in extension and clarity with the smooth articulation rounding off any sharpness or sibilance. They sound wholly resolved and coherent despite the increase in presence due to these qualities. Layering deserves special attention as Eric mentions background cleanliness was a priority of this design. And indeed, the advanced shielding design has yielded huge benefits in listening. The Laura provides a beautifully layered presentation that not only boasts many layers but also clearly distinguishes between each one. If you don’t mind midrange instruments taking a relative step back, this makes for a delightful listen highlighting and flattering vocals like no other with gorgeous texture and tone.
The top-end is an interesting affair and may belie the usual beliefs in high-end audio. Specifically, this is a highly detailed cable but not an especially open sounding one. The focus here lies in the immaculate cleanliness of its background alongside excellent contrast and definition in the foreground. Compared to most stock cables, I am hearing a slight shift towards percussion over subsequent shimmer leading to a more damped presentation with a quicker decay and more emphasis on its very well-defined leading edge instead. In turn, the detail presentation is more aggressive and instruments such as cymbals and strings enjoy a good jump in crispness and separation. Notes also aren’t overly thinned out retaining great texture and a pleasant sense of natural immediacy. Still, it should be noted that some listeners may prefer other cables such as Eletech’s own co-flagship Aeneid with regards to openness.
The Laura is not a closed-in cable but surely errs on the darker side. Air and shimmer are reduced though I would hesitate to say that overall treble clarity is lower due to the more focused lower-treble presentation. While sparkle isn’t boosted, it is present and no loss to extension is to be observed. However, don’t expect the most energetic treble overall albeit one that is well detailed all the same. With that said, the background is simply exquisite, showcasing top level cleanliness that provides a canvas upon which foreground elements shine. Splashiness and sibilance are both reduced and notes sound more resolved and grounded as a result. Despite its strong technical performance, the treble will remain the most polarising aspect of this cable. To me, that’s just fine as long as you have a good idea of the synergies you like.
No doubt another highlight of this cable, the soundstage presentation brings all of these element together into a highly cohesive whole. Whilst width is impressive and depth is notably improved, it’s the imaging that’s the really strikes me as impressive. The black, dark background gives it an awesome sense of space and distance projection. The sense of direction is extremely sharp and near holographic with the right pairing. Layering is one of the best parts of this cable, both offering many layers and great separation between them. All the while, it keeps the background in strong focus. These qualities make for a an especially multi-dimensional listen. Separation is also a strong performer due to the definition of each individual notes alongside the jet-black background that aids the perception of small details.
Soft Ears RS10 ($2099): The Laura provides an instant jump to bass extension and definition. Notes are more concise and dynamics are noticeably improved as a result. Vocals are larger but no more intimate, the midrange is more articulate altogether. Lower-treble is more defined and focussed whilst the mid-treble is attenuated resulting in a cleaner, blacker background. Upper-treble remains similar if not a touch darker yet equally extended. The soundstage is slightly wider and noticeably deeper, imaging is holographic and both layering and separation are improved.
Lime Ears Pneuma (1800 EUR): Sub bass becomes slightly larger and harder hitting, mid-bass remains similar to stock but assumes a tighter, pacier character. Overall, bass is tighter and faster with greater texture and dynamics. The midrange is characterised by larger, slightly more intimate and more articulate vocals. Layering is immediately improved and the background is blacker. I found the treble to be similar to the RS10, offering a more defined, cleaner foreground alongside a darker background with a reduction in air and shimmer. It sounds more damped and focused with greater contrast. The soundstage is larger and wider especially. Layering is much improved and separation is noticeably superior.
MMR Balmung ($2699): I love the effect the Laura has on the balmung’s low-end, extension is improved and overall tightness represents a big step up. There is better parity between sub and mid-bass alongside a good jump in separation. The midrange offers larger notes and a slight jump in articulation, however, separation is a touch reduced due to this. Layering is improved as above. Treble is interesting on the Balmung, it sounds a bit more vibrant and open than stock. The leading edge is sharper and more defined, treble has a bit more shimmer and sparkle overall with great micro detail. The soundstage is larger and layering is hugely improved. Separation is better overall but this is not so in the midrange.
Empire Ears Odin ($3339): The Odin comes with a highly accomplished PW Audio cable yet still benefits from the Laura pairing. The most immediate change is with regards to bass, that benefits from enhanced sub-bass presence and slam alongside a cleaner, faster mid-bass. Lows sound tighter, faster and more dynamic. Mids are slightly more organic and articulate on the Laura and a touch cleaner on the stock cable. Treble is noticeably more defined on the Laura, benefitting from a more defined leading edge in addition to slightly greater body with a slight reduction in shimmer. The background is cleaner and blacker, the foreground is more textured. The Laura provides instantly superior depth and layering.