Satin Audio Athena: The Bold and The Brazen – An In-Ear Monitor Cable Review

Select Comparisons

vs. 4-wire Athena

DITA Audio OSLO ($580)

Compared to the lighter, airier, more open OSLO, this Athena is a richer-sounding cable with a much smokier lower-end and a more lush midrange. Instruments like rhythm guitars, trombones and male voices will all seem thicker or heavier, and they’ll take up more space in the stage as well. At the same time, though, the Athena matches the OSLO’s low-treble articulation. So, taken together, the former will simply have a gutsier, more robust signature. Whereas, the OSLO takes a step back for a more laidback, spacious tonality. Technically, I have to give the OSLO great plaudits for its detail retrieval, separation and dynamic range. Its treble extends further, which lends the mids, especially, greater openness and power. But, again, if what you need is a richer, smokier, more robust sound, then the Athena would make the more ideal choice.

Effect Audio EVO 10 ($588)

Between the EVO 10 and the Athena, I’d say the main differences are in the low-end and imaging. First and foremost, the Athena has the fuller, heavier lows of the two, courtesy of a meatier sub- and – less so – mid-bass. Kick drums are richer, and they have more oomph to them as well. Whereas, they’d come off a bit tighter and quicker on the EVO 10; less warm by comparison. In imaging, you get instruments that are positioned more neutrally on the Athena, while the EVO 10’s are closer. As a result, the latter also has larger, more textured notes. And, this also lends it a more engaging intimacy, which can be what you’re looking for. Whereas, the Athena has more space and width to it, so it’s up to which you’ll prefer. One final difference would be the EVO 10’s slightly more articulate low-treble, but it’s a really minor one relative to the others.

vs. 8-wire Athena

Eletech Socrates ($699)

Eletech’s Socrates is somewhat like the halfway point between the Aegis and the Athena. Like the former, it shows larger, richer-sounding instruments, courtesy of its more forward, more vivid midrange. But, it also exhibits a level of dynamism and bite that is more like the latter. Compared to the Socrates, the Athena’s lower-mids come off a little truncated. When listening to Snarky Puppy’s Liquid Love, for example, the backing synths won’t come off as bold or as present. The Athena more so emphasises the higher-treble for air and sizzle, which the Socrates doesn’t do as much of. Its midrange is, again, comparatively a bit drier. That gives the Athena stronger separation, but at the cost of some of that tightness I described above. Spatially, you get more openness and headroom from the Athena, presumable because of the 8-wire design. But, ultimately, I think the contrasts in body, intimacy and timbre will decide which of the two is most ideal for your monitors.

Han Sound Audio 8-wire Aegis ($630)

Han Sound Audio’s 8-wire Aegis is a lusher, smoother, more relaxed-sounding cable. Comparatively, the 8-wire Athena’s more dynamic and v-shaped; fuller and thicker down low, then sharper in its low-treble. The Athena has a slightly drier, tighter timbre to its midrange too. Whereas, there’s a more organic wetness to the Aegis’s mids. Because its instruments have less attack and are less forward-sounding, it also has the wider-seeming stage. Whereas, the Athena’s tend to be a bit more in-your-face. When it comes to tidiness and clarity, the Athena’s quicker pace and sharper highs lend it a slight edge. Whereas, the Aegis’s MO is more so bringing instruments together for a cohesive, wall-of-sound-type presentation. And, finally, I hear more texture and detail from the Aegis’s lows and mids, while this Athena has the cleaner higher-end.

Verdict

The Satin Audio Athena – whether in 4-wire or 8-wire form – is a cable that eschews easy universality for a distinctly fun, meaty, yet quick tonal profile. Its muscly lows add guts, power and depth, which nicely contrast against its light, vivid and articulate midrange. That energy is met with a refined sizzle in the low-treble, as well as an airiness that’s especially vast, open and free on the 8-wire variant. It’s not the easiest cable to pair in-ears with, particularly those that are already slight or neutral in centre-midrange presence. But, as long as the pairing fits the bill, both Athena’s are capable of bringing lots of kick to in-ears, with spaciousness, stability and separation that only rises the more wires you add. It’s a joy to see Satin Audio continue to express themselves aesthetically and sonically, and I can’t wait to see what else’s in store in the future.

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Deezel

Deezel

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

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