Effect Audio Bespoke 8-wire Ares II ($300)
The Ares II trumps the Aegis in staging and imaging. Instruments are taller, more distantly spread and the air between them is blacker as well. Comparatively, the Aegis is more intimate, engaging and loud. It has a more dynamic low-end with greater clarity and impact. The Bespoke’s is warmer and more relaxed with less upper-bass content. In the midrange, the Ares II portrays stronger resolution. It maintains a brighter upper-midrange with more pep and zing, which is also true of its upper-treble. But, the Bespoke has great headroom to match, so cymbals sound crisp as they shimmer, yet never harsh. The Aegis doesn’t generate as much air, but remains smooth at all times despite its energy.
Effect Audio Thor Silver II ($399)
The Thor Silver II’s raised treble region gives it a brighter tone relative to the Aegis. However, it portrays a similar sense of balance and linearity throughout its signature. Stage dimensions are similar between the two, but the the Thor Silver II brings background instruments further forward. This is especially true of stringed instruments, where backing violins sound sweeter and more vibrant. Above all, they’re most similar down low with impactful emphasis along the mid-bass. Conversely, they’re most different up top. The Thor Silver II’s treble is further elevated, but silkier, smoother and more refined. The Aegis’ lower-treble is relatively more raw, punchy and dynamic, yet still far from strident all the same.
PlusSound Exo Silver + Gold ($349.99)
Both the Aegis and the Exo exhibit dynamic presentations by way of w-shaped responses. Staging-wise, the Silver + Gold portrays stronger width, but depth is similar. It also has a more guttural, sub-bass-oriented low-end. The Aegis bumps in the mid-bass, which gives it the edge in timbre. Its throbs are warmer and meatier in texture, while the Silver + Gold’s feel foundational. The Aegis has a lower-midrange bias, so instruments here sound richer, buttery-er and warmer – yet still vibrant as well. Conversely, the Silver + Gold rises at 2-5kHz, which gives it a brighter bite. This is also due to its accentuated upper-treble, while the Aegis articulates around 6kHz; where the Silver + Gold remains subdued.
The Han Sound Audio Aegis is dynamite done right. In a landscape filled with generic SPC conductors that rob in-ear monitors of harmonic resolution, vocal integrity and tonal accuracy under the guise of impact, it’s utterly refreshing to see a cable with the maturity and know-how to maintain both sides in equal measure. The Aegis utterly thrives on thumps and thwacks, but crucially, it sacrifices nothing in the process. In fact, with that energy comes a warmer, meatier mid-bass, richer, better resolved vocals and top-end headroom to spare. All that plus first-class hardware and build, and you have yourselves one heck of a package. The Aegis is filled to the brim with warm, raw energy, but treats it with the respect and finesse that your 499 Singaporean dollars deserve – TNT in a suit-and-tie; dynamism with class.