I would like to thank Rhapsodio for providing the 2.98 in return for my honest opinion.
Rhapsodio’s renewed 2.98 is a silver-alloy cable, that lends its name from a 2% gold count mixed in with silver. Skeptics will argue that gold has lower conductive properties than silver, which theoretically decreases the quality. However, when it comes to audio the quality is not determined by how fast it can deliver a signal, but the quality of the signal itself; i.e. a slower signal can still be highly resolved. As a result, many manufacturers have been mixing in precious metals with silver to fine-tune the sound; either within the consistency of the alloy, or in the form of plating. While in some cases gold does slow or warm the sound, its effects on tone and performance are not straightforward, as it can only be viewed in relation to the rest of the cable’s geometry (such as the purity, amount, and size of individual strands). For instance, while the current and previous 2.98’s had a slightly warm tone, there are equally pure silver alloys with a similar degree of warmth, while other silver(-gold)s in turn might be relatively bright.
Its higher-than-average gold count is an interesting proposition to start with at least. In terms of build, the 2.98 has an average weight for an upgrade cable; it’s heavier than the classic Plastics One or Linux cables, but not in a hindersome way. Similarly, it’s sufficiently flexible, although it is a bit stubborn when you want it to lie in place or coil up. But again, not in a way that affects its ergonomics. The finish itself is nice, with the silver-plated jack matching the silver tones in the carbon fiber splitter and top-end connectors. The wires themselves are nice and shiny, and have a creamy tone mixed in to soften the silver color. So while it is surpassed by some cables in terms of pliability, the ergonomics and build live up to what can be expected of its price.
The original Rhapsodio 2.98 was a rather unique cable. Its unique feature was proving a bodied midrange, while having a dominant warmth in the tone, despite being a silver-alloy cable. Even so, it had a narrow stage, which wasn’t the most airy. It offered a relatively clear sound, but it wasn’t particularly sparkly. One might say, there was a bit of ‘muddiness’ throughout its presentation, that can likely be attributed to its gold count. Even so, it had the ability to provide a meaty signature, and create a more natural presentation for bright or lean iems. It was an acquired taste of sorts, but simply worked very well a variety of iems.
The new 2.98 (v2) again brings a distinct signature, albeit not as ‘unique’ as the original – for the better. For while there is again a warmth in the tone, it isn’t as prominent as the original. Instead, it stays closer to a more prototypical silver sound in terms of clarity. Even so, it isn’t the type of bright, clarity-oriented sound that tended to give the first generation silver cables a bad name (at least for iem cables). The 2.98 provides a clear sound, with an ever so lightly warm midrange, and a melodious ring in its upper midrange. It combines both warm and clear elements, with neither fully qualifying as main descriptor. For instance, Sammy himself finds the cable ‘warm’, but I’ll add that Sammy is a bit of a treblehead – it isn’t nearly as warm as a traditional copper, or the original 2.98.
The aspect that Sammy is probably referring to, is a slight decay of the mid-bass that works throughout the presentation. Cables like the Whiplash TWag V2 opened up the treble, but attenuated the bass, resulting in a bright signature that tend to drain the emotion from the music. The 2.98 in turn maintains a bodied mid-bass, which is lightly warm in tone. Its a soft mid-bass that leans towards organic, rather than a clear, impactful bass. As a result, the stage isn’t the most airy, despite the relatively open sound. Similarly, it doesn’t necessarily increase the overall stage dimensions in terms of width or depth. There’s a light touch of warmth throughout the presentation that blends the music together in a harmonious way, although accordingly, the separation isn’t as clinically clean as it could be.
Which isn’t really an issue, as the 2.98’s primary feat is its tone. There’s the slightest touch of warmth in its midrange to give a hint of naturalness, although it remains tonally close to neutral. This is in part due to the relaxed upper treble, which while slightly extended, is not elevated. As a result, the clarity of the sound doesn’t overtake the warmth. Rather, there is a hint of brightness in the lower treble which adds a touch of sparkle, without again creating an overly bright sound. Accordingly, the 2.98 equally won’t smoothen out existing treble peaks. The lift in the lower treble adds a bit of bite to treble notes, but mostly provides a melodious coloration to the upper mids.
As a result, the 2.98 has a bit of a ‘fun’ signature that works very well for both instruments as well as synthetic melodies. And due to the maintained mid-bass quantity, it maintains a similar note size with a slight thickness to the note. It isn’t overly transparent, but vocals sound smooth, bodied, and lightly warm. Simply a beautiful midrange in both tone and presentation, at least to my ears – what I would describe as a musical variation of neutral. A type of tone that is reminiscent of iems as Andromeda, the EarSonics EM10, or the 64 Audio A6t; a blend of both warm and bright at the same time.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any appropriate cables in its price range to compare, but the 2.98 will return in some upcoming reviews. To add some perspective, cables like Effect Audio’s Thor Silver II and Leonidas have a distinct type of tone. As the mid-bass isn’t dominant in the sound, they aren’t tonally warm. Their emphasis is on providing an uncolored version of neutral, with resolved notes and a smooth note release. More importantly, they provide a relatively clean stage with good separation as well as resolution. By comparison, their performance is a bit better in terms of airiness and separation, due to the 2.98’s mid-bass presentation. However, the 2.98 has both a warmer midrange, as well as more liveliness in its upper midrange. So the 2.98 sounds engaging for its tone, while Thor and Leonidas provide a higher sense of refinement.
The renewed 2.98 has an all-round, and for lack of a better word, ‘musical’ signature. It’s a clear sound with lively upper mids and a touch of sparkle, yet a lightly warm and natural midrange. At the same time, it isn’t an overly clean or technical sound, so it’s not overt in its detail retrieval. In terms of value, its price of $650 comes down to perspective. It’s certainly on the more expensive side for the entry-level cable enthusiast, even for those that are willing to pay a bit more. But on the other hand it’s relatively ‘affordable’ in light of the current cable market, where prices easily exceed $1K. I think for those willing to go the extra mile, the 2.98 will form an excellent finishing touch; it’s easy to like, and easy to pair.
I personally find the synergy best with slightly warm or neutral iems. I’ve been using it mostly with the Phantom, where it provides more clarity to its sound, while maintaining the beauty of its tone. But it offers a similar musicality to a more neutral iem like the Gemini, Legend-X or A18, where it adds a more melodious coloration to its upper mids, and a clear lower treble. It doesn’t smoothen the treble, but it won’t sound bright or analytical either. It falls within the scope of neutral/natural, leaning towards the fun side of things. For people that value tone, the 2.98 will form an excellent companion.
Rhapsodio 2.98 v2
Design: 4-braid silver-gold alloy cable, 2% gold, 98% silver