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Review: Astral Acoustics Mars IEM Cable

Disclaimer: I would like to formally thank Henry Tik from Astral Acoustics for graciously providing the Headphone List with the Mars cable for review.

Pros:

  • Improved finesse in midrange detailing, heightened imaging/separation
  • A warmer “treble” (could be perceived as a pro or con)
  • A “romantic” bass response with slower dynamics but improved micro-detailing
  • Sublime build-quality balancing tensile strength and malleability for daily-wear
  • Extra-thick sheathing promotes shielding against external elements
  • Satin-finished hardware (Y-split, termination) ooze quality

Cons:

  • Stiff memory hooks can lead to fatigue and soreness during prolonged listening sessions.
  • Rolled-off treble noticeably detrimental for treble-heads

Introduction

Cables. Love them or hate them, they are a permanent fixture in the audiophile space from Hi-fi to portable audio. Since the dawn of the audiophile sector, I found myself in the former camp. The premise is rather straightforward: the metallurgical characteristics of competing materials in cable compositions can alter the sound quality of transducers (speakers, IEMs, headphones) paired with it. Whether the pairing proves to improve or damage perceived performance is contingent on how effectively they synergise with one another. YMMV.

Astral Acoustics, a Hong-Kong based brand founded by the personable and convivial Henry Tik in 2016, is one such brand specialising in the cable space. Astral Acoustics pays 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 etc.), the titular brand has an adventurous disposition to trying new things.

Signal path merits aside, Henry has also explicitly stated that the “aesthetic” and “build” of each hand-braided cable form a significant aspect of his company’s philosophy. What started as a hands-on infatuation with fine craftsmanship in cable-making, Henry has cultivated a culture of uncompromising standards in Astral Acoustics’ R&D.

Today, we are reviewing a new release prototyped by Henry codenamed “Mars”. Fabricated from 20 AWG LCOFC Copper coaxial wire, Mars is a uniquely new interpretation of your standard copper cable. Tentatively priced at 650 USD (50 USD extra for interchangeable plugs), we examine the performance of Mars under a microscope.

Technology

As described earlier, the Mars is an unorthodox interpretation of a standard OCC copper cable. In my conversations with Henry, the co-axial litz structure of Mars offers a stiffer architecture that bypasses the untangling properties of multi-braid cables. Mars provides a convenient solution to a persistent problem, whilst maintaining the fundamental properties of LCOFC.

LCOFC constitutes a bundle of 100s of crystal boundaries per centimetres, which aids in conductivity and sonic performance. Paired with a fairly low AWG, you have a noticeably thicker cable that improves transmission across the signal chain.

Unboxing

The Mars comes shipped in Astral Acoustics default packaging. What you receive is a standard Astral Acoustics branded jewellery-style box, a warranty card, a jewellery-style protector cover, and the Mars cable conveniently stowed inside.

At this price point, I think a more refined and generous package with complementary accessories such as leather cable wraps or a hard-carry case would be the perfect cherry on top.

Onto the next page for the Build and Flexibility…

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ABOUT AUTHOR

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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