Not just numbers: Effect Audio Fusion 1 and Code 23 

Code 23

When I first heard about EA’s new coaxial copper cable for both headphones and IEMs, I thought it was a curious design decision at best. Subsequent reports of an unyieldingly thick and inflexible cable seemed to validate my assumptions. But the more I saw of EA’s Code 23 and its apparently uncompromising delivery of pure copper cable goodness, the more I came around to the idea. There was method to EA’s ‘madness’ after all.

Code 23 isn’t EA’s first in the series, though the now-discontinued Code 51 flagship bears very little resemblance to its sibling. If anything, the gold-plated silver, silver gold alloy and palladium-plated silver Code 51 has more in common with Fusion 1 than Code 23. 

Copper, and only copper, is what the new Code flagbearer is all about. There’s no plating, no alloys, no anything but pure OCC copper. At its heart is a solid coaxial core of thick copper Litz, surrounded by 12 strands of multi-sized and shaped copper Litz strands woven into a single wire. Together, this 2-wire design is almost 10-times thicker, at 16.5 awg, than a typical 26 awg cable. 

According to EA, ‘a solid core cable is a superior electrical conductor that provides a higher-level of stable electrical characteristics while being vibration and corrosion resistant’. However EA arrived at the final formula, it seems they’ve achieved an incredibly high-performance cable with negligible resistance, which promises end-to-end signal extension and minimal interference and distortion, all the while retaining some of the inherent sonic character of copper.

The compromise? Size. Code 23 is a chonker. It’s not that it’s necessarily the thickest cable I’ve used – PW Audio’s shielded Orpheus and First Times Shielding cables are easily as thick if not thicker on the shielding side. But it’s definitely the stiffest. I can contort Code 23 into whichever shape I want, and without actively manipulating the cable, it will keep its shape. Don’t expect soft suppleness here; Code 23 is like having a single length of PVC-covered memory wire, which won’t appeal at all to anyone wanting maximum portability.

All that said, I actually find Code 23 very comfortable on ear. Once you pinch the smooth ear guides into shape (assuming they settle nicely behind your ears), the cable’s stiffness takes all of the weight off whichever IEMs you’re wearing. If, like me, you mostly listen stationery, being able to twist the cable and have it stay put can be a usability advantage. 

Like Fusion 1, Code 23’s hardware is similarly large and elongated to accommodate the thicker wire gauge. The Y-splitter and connector hardware are finished in gunmetal grey and black, and the cable itself is available in two colour variants: dystopian black or cyber green (the latter was a limited early-release edition). As I mentioned earlier, Code 23 is also available as a headphone cable, where its size and stiffness matters far less.

My sample came fitted with both ConX and TermX plugs, and although my experience of TermX was soured by a loose connection on a previous EA cable I reviewed some time ago, the connector on Code 23 seems to be made of sturdier stuff. The jury is out on whether ConX degrades sound quality, but EA openly admit that a direct connection on the source side does reduce resistance and improve quality. The only reason to choose a cable with TermX is for flexibility with various sources, so if you’re mainly using one connector type, it’s best to avoid TermX altogether.

Overall, the Code 23 proposition is simple: maximum copper performance, forget everything else. It’s not trying to do anything fancy with copper either; rather, it seeks to dial up the typical characteristics of traditional copper cables to the max. If you prefer the sound of silver, gold or alloy cables, or want a lighter touch with your music, Code 23 is out. If you don’t like thick cables, stiff cables, or heavy cables, Code 23 is out too. Code 23 is all about going big, and if that’s not for you, go home.      

Packaging and accessories

Aside from a different colour and cover art, Code 23 is packaged identically to Fusion 1. Same size box, same oversized foldable pouch – only this time including a TermX Basic case along with ConX Basic in the pouch. Which is to say a perfectly acceptable and very practical set of accessories, especially given Code 23’s lower price compared to Fusion 1. 

Continue to sound impressions…



Picture of Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent posts