DITA Audio OSLO (S$839)
The OSLO and Socrates don’t differ too much in overall colouration and tonality, though they do contrast starkly in terms of energy and delivery. This Socrates is a punchier, more enveloping-sounding cable with bigger notes and a beefier low-end. Up high, it also delivers harder transients – harder edges – which lends instruments like hi-hats stronger tactility and attack. The OSLO has a gentler touch with a more breezy, less in-your-face delivery. In the treble, this makes it capable of portraying subtler textures and dynamic shifts more accurately, while the Socrates’s specialty is sizzle and punch. On the other hand, I find the Socrates more dynamic, full-bodied and expressive in its midrange, as the OSLO’s laid-backed-ness does lose it some intimacy here. The trade-off there is that the OSLO has the larger stage with a cleaner, airier backdrop. And, finally, down low, the Socrates is the fuller, fatter-sounding of these two with stronger depth, physicality and oomph.
Effect Audio Leonidas II (US$888)
The Leonidas II and Socrates both exhibit great vocal clarity; highlighting projection in the higher-mids and giving them a strong, rounded presence in the mix. The same can be said somewhat of their low-trebles. Both lend an in-ear openness and articulation there, but the Socrates, again, does so with a lightly harder edge. The Leonidas II is a touch more refined there, though its upper-treble does bring a hair more brightness to an in-ear’s tonality. So, the Socrates to me would pair well with an in-ear lacking punch, definition and intimacy altogether, while this Leonidas would better fit a darker, richer-sounding monitor. Where they’re most different, however, would be the lower-mids. This Socrates lends greater warmth and weight here, while the Leonidas II comes off more neutral. And, down low, the former is fatter too, while the latter is tighter and cleaner. Spatially, the Socrates is a bit more intimate with, again, its meatier notes, but resolving all the same.
Han Sound Audio 8-wire Aegis (S$899)
Compared to Han Sound Audio’s warmer, mellower, 8-wire Aegis, the Eletech Socrates will come across tighter, snappier and more dynamic. It’s almost similar to comparing a linear-sounding monitor to a more v-shaped one. The 8-wire Aegis positions vocals more neutrally, and they’re delivered more measuredly too. Whereas, the Socrates lends them a slightly punchier presence, as well as sharper articulation. The Aegis also has a richer, more lush tonality to its lower-mids, while this Socrates is quicker and tighter there. Similarly, the former’s low-end is wetter and more congealed, while the latter’s emphasises punch and rumble. If you’re one to prefer spaciousness and expansion over punch, though, that Aegis has a clear edge. Its space is larger with wider stereo spread. This Socrates, though well-layered and well-separated on its own right, lies squarely on the more intimate, immersive side. Ultimately, both serve their own demographics to equal effect.
Eletech’s Socrates is as much a departure for the company, as it is a natural extension of their past releases. It’s arguably their first go at a lively, dynamic and contrast-y sound. And, yet, the refinement, balance and finesse they’ve managed to eek out of it at the same time is classic Eletech. Lows thump with authority and air. Vocals are as vibrant and open as they are magnified, focused and nuanced. And, highs are lent this tactile, yet refined tick that’d please any hi-hat purist on the globe. Of course, it isn’t without its trade-offs in the depth of its stage and the effortlessness of its timbre, but those after those traits are looking at the wrong cable to begin with. Plus, sound notwithstanding, the Socrates has one of the finest cases I’ve seen to date, and its hardware – even with missed opportunities here-and-there – is class in both look and feel. Taken together, the Socrates is a package deal for those after vividness and punch, without losing realism along the way.