Review: Astral Acoustics Eclipse IEM Cable

Build and Flexibility

I love my cables extra thick with two Cs, but cable thickness generally shares a positive bivariate relationship with stiffness. Thankfully, the Eclipse dispels that myth, for it magically manages to mitigate the downsides of cable rigidity.

Firstly, the heft and girth of each intertwining braid make for a satisfying hand feel, its doubly thick sheathing instilling confidence in its ability to take a beating. It isn’t a hulking behemoth, but it certainly commands more attention than most IEM cables.

What’s wholly impressive about the Eclipse is how it manages to retain extreme suppleness and malleability in any situation it finds itself in, conforming to rather than limiting your listening habits. Thankfully, it doesn’t uncontrollably bend or kink in all directions, maintaining its structural integrity in outdoor usage whilst being supple enough to be stowed away without much resistance.

As alluded to in the previous section, the Eclipse is beautifully adorned in aluminium hardware, each component machine-finished to a high standard, from the Y-split to the termination. Premium parts like this are a welcomed gesture in a statement product like the Eclipse.

As a whole, the Eclipse is a halo product that excels in both build and flexibility without any perceivable pitfalls. A home run.

Sound Quality

Cables are like fine wines. They can complement or enhance the flavours of gastronomical creations in subtle or assertive ways. If a wine sommelier does a terrible job, counterintuitive pairings can contradict, mask, or harm the delicate taste of intricate dishes. The same rules are extrapolated to audio.

Keep in mind that cables are complementarynot revolutionary. No matter how hard you try, you cannot simply rewrite the fundamental base signature of any IEM or headphones.

We discuss how the sonic qualities of my reference IEMs are altered through these selective pairings.

ION-4X

Before Pairing: The Soranik ION-4X’s fundamental signature oscillates between neutral-light and sub-bass bombast. Micro-detail precision and dexterous PRAT bolster the ION-4X’s treble performance, with enough shimmer and edge for porous highs and assertive presence. There is a slight colouration in the overall midrange, with a marginal emphasis on the upper midrange.

The lateral width between the L-R channels is expansive and wide, trailing behind Kilobuck’s flagship performance. Because of the emphatic treble performance and rotund sub-bass flourish, perceived separation and technical distinguishability between instruments and vocal cues are excellent.

After Pairing: Right off the bat, the Eclipse manages to inject liveliness and clarity across the full frequency band. The sub-bass shelf on the ION-4X is presented in a less boxy manner, where note-strikes exhibit cleaner definition and timbrally-accurate tones. The confluence between the upper-mids and presence regions appears brighter whilst mitigating some of the “hissiness” that can emerge on dynamically compressed tracks.

The only aberration is the Eclipse’s ability to subvert our classical expectations of what a “pure-silver” cable should sound like. The Eclipse excels in presenting music in a saccharinely sweet manner by softening the edgier notes in the presence region, focusing on softened macro-dynamics and a richer lower-midrange. Even-harmonic tones take precedence. This isn’t a ruler-flat signature, but it certainly strikes a win-win compromise between toe-tapping musicality and technical virtuosity. This could be seen as a downside. Apples and oranges.

Lateral-width staging on the ION-4X is heightened immensely, with improved clarity and note-legibility. Vocal performance is especially strong, with female vocals sounding extra sweet with an analogue tilt. This is what we should expect from cables bearing the flagship moniker.

IMR Acoustics Dark Matter

Before Pairing: The IMR Acoustics Dark Matters are an enigmatic pair of earphones. Once touted as the flagship black sheep of their previous line-up (which is constantly evolving based on the brand’s amorphous ambitions), the IMR Dark Matters has a meaty-and-thick sound that enunciates bass aplomb and bombast, with gobs of sub-bass and an alluring mid-range: courtesy of the Sounion bone-conduction motors in its novel driver architecture. Highs, while retaining a noteworthy amount of micro-detailing, presence is naturally sidelined to focus on hyper-timbral richness and toe-tapping melodies.

The Dark Matter’s default sound signature can be deliberately attenuated based on the brand’s recommended filter pairings (lower and upper filters) to satisfy the listener’s preferences. Today, I’ve opted to use the black-lower and blue-upper for an aggressively V-shaped sound signature.

After Pairing: The Eclipse is unironically eclipsed by the IMR Acoustic’s pulsating bass performance and its accompanied warmth. In these unique circumstances, the Eclipse actually tightens the lower end and downplays the artificially albeit addictive timbral quirks. Sub-bass rumble adopts a more modest approach, with less floor-rattling bass bloom. A cleaner sound signature results in a commendable leap in overall quality and clarity. Make no mistake, this is still a thunderous IEM.

Now it’s hard to subjectively assess the Eclipse’s qualitative impact on how the Dark Matters’ bone-conduction drivers perform. To my ears, there is a perceived improvement in speed and tactility in the upper-mid to presence region, where PRAT is accelerated in terms of transients. Thus, there is a fundamental improvement in how vocal melodies or instruments reverberate or resonate in the perceived stage. An incisive and assertive upper-mid band are qualities audiophiles would associate with technically proficient flagship IEMs.

As per usual, lateral width and Z-axis height experience a leap in performance, with panning between channels displaying strong imaging and distinguishability between sonic cues.

While the Eclipse does enliven the Dark Matter’s “dark” signature by a healthy margin, audio enthusiasts who are hoping to finesse it into a closer-to-reference sound signature would be disappointed.

Conclusive Remarks

The Eclipse is a halo product symbolising the culmination of Astral Acoustics’ technical know-how and space-age design language. More importantly, the Eclipse is a daring re-interpretation of how “silver” should sound, challenging conventional stereotypes the element attracts. Excelling at the romantic and the technical, the Eclipse is a potent IEM cable spotlighting the best qualities most IEMs bring to the foray.

It’s now clear where their latest Mars cable draws their inspiration. The Eclipse is their crowning jewel. And it’s unlikely its little siblings will eclipse it for the long foreseeable future.

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Picture of Kevin Goh

Kevin Goh

Raised in Southeast Asia’s largest portable-audio market, Kevin’s interest in high-end audio has grown alongside it as the industry flourishes. His pursuit of “perfect sound” began in the heydays of Jaben in Singapore at the age of just 10 years old. Kevin believes that we live in a golden age of readily accessible, quality audio.

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