Disclaimer: I would like to formally thank Henry Tik from Astral Acoustics for graciously providing the Headphone List with the Eclipse cable for review.
- Significant improvement in full-band clarity and microdetail retrieval
- Uncharacteristic yet tasteful “warmish” colouration that smoothens out coarser artefacts in the treble
- Considerable expansion in L-R stage width and perceived distance (imaging) between vocal cues
- Remarkable build quality and design language commensurate with flagship pricing
- Ultra-flexible, supple and robust cable sheathing ideal for outdoor usage
- Uncharacteristic “sonic” qualities may not be favourable to listeners who expect a “brighter” tonality
- A less-than-neutral colouration does not complement low-end-heavy IEMs
Cables. A subject that listeners love to hate, and hate to love. The mere mention of the word “Cables” in any specialty audiophile forum is bound to attract a chorus of detestations and attestations.
In layman’s terms, an audio signal has to traverse from source to transducer. As it makes the journey from one end to the next, there are a myriad of variables enhancing or detracting from the output signal (conductivity, capacitance, metallurgical purity etc.). Given that the cable is the medium in which a signal travels, I am a cable believer, albeit not a puritanical one.
That is the primary reason I chose to return to Astral Acoustics, a cable specialist no stranger to readers on the Headphone List. To save me the effort of rewriting a TLDR summary of the Astral Acoustics brand, here’s a snapshot of what I previously wrote in my review of their latest ‘Mars’ cable offering:
“Astral Acoustics, a Hong Kong brand founded by the personable and convivial Henry Tik in 2016, is one such brand specialising in the cable space. Astral Acoustics pay close attention to researching cable physics, insulation science and complex metallurgy to explore novel cable formulations. Every critical component has been deliberately curated to squeeze every bit of performance possible out of all imaginable pairings. From the traditional (silver litz etc.) to the experimental (palladium Ag eg.), the titular brand has an adventurous disposition to trying new things.“
As per Henry’s unrelenting quality control process, every cable that exits his workshop is impartially assessed to meet his exacting specifications before release, which oscillates between the qualitative and the subjective. Rigorous stress testing and subjective pairings with his personal listening equipment help to determine if each cable iteration is ready to go to market.
Today, we are paying close attention to one of their legacy offerings in their diverse catalogue of upgrade cables, the Eclipse. Fabricated from 4 strands of 24 AWG Type 4 Litz 5N Silver, the Eclipse is a flagship-level upgrade cable for the luxurious audiophile where nothing is unattainable (for money is no object).
Priced at 950 USD (50 USD extra for interchangeable plugs), the Eclipse’s extravagant price tag is bound to turn some heads. Accordingly, the Eclipse has some heavy expectations to satisfy, and we’re here to qualitatively determine if the Eclipse. The Eclipse can be purchased directly from Astral Acoustics official web-store.
Metallurgy blends the realm of art and hard science, which forms the basis of sound cable engineering. Signal quality is contingent on the crystalline purity of the conductor, in this case, the 24 AWG type 4 Litz 5N silver bundles comprising the core of each braid. Silver has the highest conductivity of all metals, which lends itself well to be used as a hyper-efficient conduit for unimpeded signal travel.
On the “artsy” end, each cable is furnished with high-quality visual flourishes. In the Eclipse, the deliberate integration of vertically brushed aluminium elements with powder-coated piano-black barrels in the Y-split and termination enhances the overall aesthetics of the entire package, akin to the habillage or intricate details on a hand-finished timepiece.
If you’ve read my previous review on Astral Acoustics’ latest cable, the Mars, all Astral Acoustics products come packaged in their default cardboard boxes in black, with their official logo and namesake embossed into the top lids in silver. Under the hood, the Eclipse will be neatly wrapped up in a felt protective pouch with an official warranty card.
At Eclipse’s asking price, I would’ve preferred a more premium packaging experience that differentiated itself from the rest of Astral Acoustics’ current line-up: a physical means to symbolise the associated prestige and performance that comes with it.
Onto the next page for the Build and Flexibility…