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Review: Astral Acoustics Pulse IEM Cable

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

Pros:

  • Luscious warmth in the lower midrange with excellent control
  • Analogue-esque changes to timbre with “slower” dynamics harkening back to a nostalgic era.
  • Cleaner background for distinguishing between instruments and vocal cues.
  • Cable sheathing is both hard-wearing and pliable enough for outdoor use.
  • Powder-coated hardware (Y-splits, termination eg.) boasts a premium fit-and-finish.

Cons:

  • Lazier dynamics can sabotage incisive transient performances (depending on the default sound signature of the IEM it is being paired with).
  • Softer dynamics can result in a “boxiness” or “pillows” in mid-bass slam and treble energy.

Introduction

Cables are the bane and boon of the audiophile community. A spirited discussion that spans decades of active back-and-forth between the “for” and “against” camps, cables pose a point of contention without resolution. Regardless of which aisle you stand on, it is impossible to deny the understated impact, positive or negative, that cables have left an indelible mark on our international community.

Today, we’re returning to a reputable cable atelier from Hong Kong that I’ve examined critically and impartially in previous months, Astral Acoustics. To avoid beating a dead horse, here’s a brief write-up distilling the company’s DNA:

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 eg.) to the experimental (palladium Ag eg.), the titular brand has an adventurous disposition to trying new things.

Today, we are reviewing a mid-fi cable designed to wet the taste buds of audiophiles, the Pulse. Strewn from high-quality LCOFC copper, the Pulse is the perfect gateway drug (or cable).

Priced at USD 550 (50 USD extra for interchangeable plugs), the Astral Acoustics Pulse is on par for the course with other cables in the marketplace. But what matters is how it performs sonically vis-a-vis its price tag. The Pulse can be purchased directly from their website.

Technology

I’m no metallurgist by trade, but I’ve done enough research (on the interwebs) to be able to understand that various elements have varying levels of conductivity. Other extraneous variables that influence how well a signal passes along a cable length include the diameter of the cores (AWG etc.) and the number of cores. The 23 AWG Type 6 Litz LCOFC copper used exclusively in the Pulse is dictated by the same rules. Copper has the second-highest conductivity of all metals, with innumerable free electrons.

In classic Astral Acoustics fashion, the cable atelier designs and machines all decorative components in-house, each Y-split and termination painstakingly crafted to match the company’s utilitarian aesthetic.

Unboxing

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…

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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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