DISCLAIMER: Satin Audio provided me with the 4-wire Athena and 8-wire Athena in return for my honest opinion. I am not personally affiliated with the company in any way, nor do I receive any monetary rewards for a positive evaluation. I’d like to thank Satin Audio for their kindness and support. The review is as follows.
Satin Audio is a Vietnamese cable brand, who I last saw with my reviews of the Griffin and Chimera; two of the strongest entry-level cables I’d heard yet. Since then, the company’s dived into rarer, more exotic materials for their pricier entries, and they’ve upped the quality on their hardware too. Ryan shows that off wonderfully on his review of the flagship Zeus. And, today I’ll be covering its partner in the Olympus line – the palladium-lined Athena in both 4-wire and 8-wire formats – to truly see just how far they’ve progressed in build quality, hardware, accessories and, most of all, sonic performance.
Satin Audio Athena
Wire composition: 26 AWG SP-OCC Type 4 Litz palladium-plated silver & silver
Default configuration: 4-wire
Key feature(s) (if any): Kevlar damping core, proprietary Satin Audio hardware and insulation
Price: $415 (4-wire), $799 (8-wire)
Packaging and Accessories
Both their 4-wire and 8-wire Athena’s arrive in identical packaging, which, interestingly, adopts this hand-drawn, almost-tropical aesthetic. It’s not something I’d associate with Greek mythology, necessarily. But, at the end of the day, the print quality and materials used are all admirable, so I can’t genuinely complain. I particularly like how the specs sheet on the back has been framed and written-out. It’s an area lots of brands tend to neglect, so it’s good to see it shown some love here. And, I adore the corner cut-out with the gold Satin Audio logo peering through as well, as it adds excellent contrast.
Taking the outer sleeve off, you’ll get the full, black, cardboard box that your cables come in. And, lifting the lid off, you’ll find the Athena’s leather case and a box containing the included accessories, both embedded nicely in foam. Inside that accessories box, you’ll see three Satin Audio stickers, a warranty card with a year-long guarantee for all parts (aside from MMCX connectors), a leather cable tie with an engraved Satin Audio logo and a satin pouch, which also came with Satin’s Griffin and Chimera cables. I believe, along with that leather case, this is about as complete as a cable’s accessories pack should be. I’d love to see more brands follow this example, especially with the branded cable tie. So, kudos to Satin here.
The Athena’s included leather case is a puck-style one, which’s similar to the ones you’d find with Effect Audio’s cables or FiR Audio’s IEMs. It doesn’t quite have that feel or the torched edges of, say, the case that comes with Effect’s Leonidas II. But, this is an admirable effort from Satin Audio nonetheless and one that feels quality all around; from the slight rise on the lid, to the debossed Satin Audio logo, to the strong seal on the lid, to the uniform stitching all around the case as well.
Aesthetics, Ergonomics and Everyday Use
Both the 4-wire and 8-wire Athena’s feel like they were designed with comfort and usability prevalently in mind. You can see that in the conductors’ slightly thinner insulation and looser braid, and it shows in their hardware as well. There isn’t that cork-sized metal Y-split you’d find on an Effect Audio cable, nor is there the sizable pendant that Han Sound Audio’s cables tend to sport. Both the Y-splits and the 4.4mm plugs are short and slight, which, while not as visually-arresting as those other examples, make both Athena cables vanishingly light, especially with, again, its small, loosely-braided wires. And, lastly, both cables emit very little microphonics as well, so they earn near-full marks when it comes to practical use.
The thinner insulation helps the cables move and flow a bit freer too. I feel this helps get them out on the way, especially when you’re on the move. And, it helps prevent them from developing any long-term bends or winds too. They’re two of few cables in my arsenal that haven’t developed any micro-kinks at all. So, that should be a relief to those worried about long-term durability. They don’t have any pre-shaped heat shrink or memory wire either, which, again, boosts comfort to me. And, in terms of connector quality, they aren’t far off from the top-shelf stuff I’ve seen from Eidolic. Their pins firmly, yet easily slide in and out on the majority of IEMs I’ve tried them on, so this proprietary hardware is certainly up to snuff.
Aesthetically, the cables sport a slightly off-white hue. So, they aren’t the ultra-white silver conductors you’d find from an Effect Audio or PLUSSOUND. But, they glimmer brilliantly all the same, and the insulation beams that through effectively. My 4-wire Athena also sports Satin Audio’s new gunmetal hardware, which’ll come stock with every Athena from now on. I personally think it’s a big step-up from their original hardware, which you can see on my 8-wire Athena. Again, they are slighter and less imposing than those you’d find on their competitors. But, ultimately, it’s a great aid to comfort, and they look stylish and sleek all the same. They’re also subtly engraved with the Satin Audio logo in a darker shade, which I love.