Effect Audio provided Leonidas free of charge for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.
Leonidas sells for $799.90
What depravity could lead someone to spend eight hundred dollars on a cable? That’s between you and your god. And your wallet. And very likely your spouse. Your dog may even decide to weigh-in on your behavior. But hey, no judgment here. Pinky is the safe harbor in the torrent of your madness. After all, I brave my own hurricanes.
If you’ll recall in my Thor II review, I kind of settled on Encore being the best pairing for that cable, and returned to the plusSound option for my tia Fourté. I told Eric of Effect Audio, I was still looking for the perfect cable for tia Fourté. That GPC X-Series by plusSound was the most transparent cable I’d heard, but I hoped for more body. Eric recommended Leonidas.
I must thank Eric Chong from the bottom of my heart. This is indeed Fourté’s cable.
Leonidas established EA’s Heritage Series, and bares all the hallmarks of an Effect Audio cable. His visage is as precious as the materials from which he’s wrought. It may not gleam with the chrome of Thor II’s pure silver, but Leonidas imposes a regal aesthetic. There’s a maturity and elegance which goes beyond mere glitz and glamour. Forged of a unique silver/gold alloy, scarce materials, and Mundorf Supreme Gold Solder, this cable is truly something special.
We are treated once again to the single most supple, soft cable in the industry. Just like with Thor, Leo is extremely comfortable. There’s no memory wire, just a low-profile bit of heatshrink to guide the earloops. I wish all cables were as ergonomically pleasing as these.
EA includes a round leather case. Fancy as f**k! It’s hardened on the inside to make it suitably protective. In fact, this has become my main carry case for Leonidas and tia Fourté. I do so love things wrought of hide!
Leonidas is clarity embodied. Yet unlike some pure silver cables, it is not dry or analytical. There is fullness, and a rich tonality. Its transparency is achieved not by quelling bass response, but rather by aiding treble extension. The low-end is actually quite robust. The balance feels even on both ends, everything shown equal love. As a consequence, Leonidas exhibits the most aggressive musicality of any cable I’ve heard.
The Effect Audio Leonidas makes you think there is literally music inside the wire. There’s a rumor EA engages in an ancient ritual whereby they sacrifice one talented musician in the forging of each Leonidas cable. The best results are found when the musician is a virgin… but those are hard to come by.
I believe it. When I listen to Leo, it’s like some intangible melodious wraith comes to visit. The EA house sound is fully active: Rich and smooth, liquid, with frightful clarity. I hear a measure of this in Ares II, more in Thor II, but it’s at its most powerful in Leonidas.
Left to Right: Ares II, Leonidas, Thor II
Top to Bottom: Ares II, Leonidas, Thor II
If you have an IEM of sufficient skill, Leo helps create a mindboggling reproduction of three-dimensional space. I mean, things get f**king weird. The first time I tried Leo, I felt overwhelmed by all the elements surrounding me. It wasn’t how I was used to listening to my music. Now it sounds natural. This is how music should always sound.
The soundstage is seriously spacious and will push your IEMs to their limits. Depth increases, and the separation of layers is at an all-time high. The sphere of audio becomes more real, due to superior resolution and transparency.
Comparing Leo to Thor Silver II ($400, Review HERE), you have less transparency with Thor, since the treble is tamed and warmed up. Leo’s high frequencies are smoother than most cables, but not hindered in any way. They sound freer and more airy. Thor’s bass has a little extra body, but Leo is no slough here. Leo’s vocals are clearer, and Thor’s are warmer and lusher. Thor’s soundstage is great, but Leo is better.
So how about that cable I was hoping for an upgrade to, the plusSound X-Series Gold-Plated Copper Litz ($350, Review HERE)? Well… the difference here is quite a bit more noticeable than between Thor and Leo. While the transparency is closer with plusSound, the EA house sound I mentioned earlier makes Leonidas stand far apart. Let me say up front, if you’re looking for a no frills, honest cable with super resolution and transparency and a perfectly natural sound, plusSound’s GPC is the best I’ve ever found. However, Leonidas is magic. Frills galore! And so much more. Leo is the fuller more musical cable. Its transparency has an otherworldly quality that is impossible to describe. Leo’s soundstage is also grander and more holographic. plusSound may be the more honest cable, but Leonidas lies to you like a master storyteller, transporting you to a splendid realm of fantastic wonders.
Which is a lot like how I described tia Fourté in my review. Leonidas is cut from the same cloth. They are kindred spirits. They spur each other further in their tendencies for insanity and perversion. If the balance of traits were any different, this may prove an unpleasant thing. But with Fourté and Leonidas, it’s too decadent to abstain. We get the height of ethereal, the pinnacle of fantasy. It is not a grounded experience. It is Alice through the looking glass.
To my mind, that is the soul of music. Music is not rooted reality, it is The Other, the intangible. That’s why I use the term “musicality” in a manner which may differ from other reviewers. Leonidas is just so goddamn musical you don’t know what else to say about it. That spirit EA imprisoned in Leo’s core adds something fundamentally musical to every IEM I’ve paired it with. Noble Audio Kaiser Encore, Empire Ears Zeus XR, each discovered new dimensions of awesome with Leonidas. Though none so much as when this cable meets a soulmate.
My tia Fourté has found its cable. And I have found new worlds to explore.
If you seek to push clarity, soundstage, and transparency to new heights, it’s a great choice. But if you are hoping to warm up or thicken Zeus, try something else.
How would you describe the pairing with EE Zeus XR ?
Demoed it, very neutral, balance and resolving but lacks a bit musicality to my ear.