Satin Audio Zeus Review – Complexity

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Sound –

Overview

Testing methodology: Subjective AB with Noble Audio Katana. This earphone has strong technical ability and employs a standard OFC plastic cable from factory, which serves as a sound benchmark for most listeners. It does not feature a flat impedance design so will be more subject to cable changes than some. I listened from my THX 789 + Khadas Tone board which measures very linearly, features a low output impedance and plenty of driving power. Select pairings will also be explored to assess synergy alongside comparisons to cables of varying conductor material. Being a cable, my comments do not refer to the same extent of change as that experienced between IEMs.

Tonality –

The Zeus presents a vivid and highly engaging sound. In turn, it brings to the fore the musical qualities of the paired earphone making for a highly exciting if not perfectly even-metred presentation. While I would hesitate to call this a warm or unbalanced cable, it certainly does bring a powerful, bolstered note body derived from a hearty increase in bass depth and authority, noticeable especially on BA earphones. Meanwhile, the high-end benefits from increased resolution paired with a more aggressive note attack, bringing minute details to the fore. The midrange is slightly more lucid and open but, within the context of its bass and treble presentation, this comes at the expense of density and, in some instances, absolute coherence. Nonetheless, the Zeus knits together a very tight and controlled presentation, stable and precise yet holographic in nature. This is especially apparent when paired with a high-end IEM as the price would suggest, is most appropriate.

Bass –

Perhaps a result of the larger gauge design, but the first thing I noticed when switching over to the Zeus was a jaw-dropping increase in bass depth and power. This is not to be interpreted as a large jump in quantity, however, as overall balance remains. Indeed, extension is the main aspect that is improved, and sizeably so, delivering a more physical, solid and focused sub-bass with greater definition and rumble. I do also hear a touch of emphasis in the sub-bass, reaffirmed by dynamic-driver pairings that were at less of an extension deficit to begin with. As the mid and upper-bass remain linear, the cable retains a clean tone while introducing a more powerful, fuller note structure.

Technically, benefits are also to be observed. This is a highly energetic low-end performance, yet one reined in by excellent control and definition. With increased extension, there is simply more information in the bass. Dynamics are also hugely improved and, in tandem with a linear mid-bass, definition and resolution are very high. Accordingly, separation is strong, enabling the listener to focus in on small details and quick transitions with greater ease. The Zeus has a sensationally toe-tapping low-end presentation, enthralling the listener not with huge presence but a highly dynamic image.

Mids –

Though bass first draws attention, it doesn’t detract from the midrange presentation. That said, this is a cable with a distinct voicing. In particular, there’s increased contrast between the bass/midrange transition alongside a slightly more articulate top-end. The result is a very clean, in some pairings maybe even slightly cooler tone, and reduced density. Conversely, we observe a considerable bump in clarity, definition and separation. As such, each layer becomes more defined with a more palpable separation forming a more discerning image. At the same time, vocal size is increased, not more forward so as to avoid fatigue and stridence but commanding greater stage presence, upholding overall balance well.

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The upper-midrange becomes a touch more forward but avoiding too much intimacy and intensity. I hear a more focus on vocal extension, delivering a markedly glossier presentation with a touch more rasp due to the cable’s more energetic treble that places a smidgen more emphasis on articulation. This is somewhat counteracted by the bolstered low-end that instigates a fuller fundamental permitting a natural vocal presentation, nonetheless. Though I would hesitate to call the Zeus U-shaped, vocals do generally command less attention as compared to the highly engaging bass and treble. However, never did I forget that I was listening to a high-end cable, delivering definition and note resolution with aplomb.

Highs –

Immediately, more energy and sparkle is to be heard. Highs are brought forward slightly, but not to a suffocating or fatiguing extent. The voicing too is well-considered so as to mitigate these qualities. Rather, it is the sharper note attack rather than emphasis providing a more aggressive detail presentation. In turn, the Zeus portrays slightly thinner instruments but also highlights micro-details with great lucidity. Acoustic tracks, in particular, are flattered, with superb detail retrieval and a more information-dense foreground and background all without erring into brightness. What’s similarly impressive is the clean transient response working alongside sharper note attack to deliver greatly enhanced separation. Complex tracks are much easier to deconstruct as a result, enabling a more effortless detail presentation. It is in this regard that the Zeus ossifies its flagship status, flattering the higher octaves with outstanding cleanliness and refinement.

Note decay especially comes across as quite natural to me with accurate shimmer, texture and air. Resultantly, the cable doesn’t strike as harsh, splashy or brittle, remaining well-controlled and refined. This is set to a slightly brighter but not glaring background. To clarify, extension is the name of the game, and all that you would expect from a top-end cable, comments that extend also to resolution. Alongside this quality, a sizeable increase in sparkle provides contrast to the, otherwise, well-metered if slightly tempered lower and middle-treble regions. It is this lift in the highest octaves that I find to deliver the impression of greater air, openness and energy and without overly skewing instrument timbre lower down nor introducing too much brightness in the middle-treble, thereby retaining a keen sense of organisation, contrast and layering. The Zeus is a beautiful complement to high-end IEMs, an impressive technical showcase with a masterful tonality.

Soundstage –

Though width was enhanced, I was surprised to hear that the notable change was additional depth, providing a very multi-dimensional image, especially with regards to vocal projection. As vocals are clear and enlarged, they are never lost in the mix, nor overly laid-back though still not a highlight understandably. Imaging is a standout quality of the Zeus, with copious sparkle and resolving power introducing a very holographic presentation with keen localisation. Directional cues are tack sharp while panning and positioning are flattered by a very clean transient response alongside great resolution. Layering is what most listeners are likely to notice first, being more defined and delineated, in addition to a sizeable increase in separation. As overall balance is upheld and dynamic range sizeably increased, the cable provides enhanced detail presentation enabling the listener to more easily discern and isolate small details. All of these factors culminate to produce an image that not only captivates the listener with its more engaging, dynamic and expressive presentation, but also enthrals with its complexity over longer listening.

Pairings –

Pair Ups

Custom Art Fibae 7 (1100 EUR): Even coming from the Null Audio stock cable, this was a good pairing, introducing a bit more fun into the Fibae 7’s neutral/natural presentation. Bass gains depth and is harder-hitting in the sub-bass, mid-bass is cleaner and slightly more defined, bass overall becomes a touch fuller yet more articulate. Mids become a bit richer in voicing too, but also gain a touch of extension which nicely balances out the presentation and prevents it from becoming too fuzzy. The treble is more detailed and extended with noticeably more sparkle at the very top providing a more open headroom and a more energetic presentation overall. The soundstage expands noticeably more in both width and depth, with an especially ethereal sense of width. Layers are very well defined, and separation is improved.

MMR Homunculus ($1699): A more polarising pairing in terms of tonality especially, the Zeus makes the Homunculus a bit more coherent with male vocals but perhaps too dull for some overall. Of note, it does come with a very good stock cable, the Eletech Prudence with SPC Litz construction providing an already vibrant sound. Bass is deeper reaching with a more defined and harder-hitting sub-bass. Driver control is improved though the stock cable is cleaner in the mid-bass, the Zeus being warmer. The stock midrange is more open while the Zeus is more coherent most notably in the lower-midrange which lacks the strain and thinness of the stock cable. Meanwhile, the upper-midrange remains open, natural and delicate with a touch more definition on top. Treble detail presentation is more aggressive on the stock cable and slightly smoother on the Zeus. However, the Zeus has more going on in the highest octaves, with greater sparkle and micro-detail retrieval. The soundstage is larger on the Zeus with sharper imaging. That said, separation is noticeably better on the cleaner Prudence which can make it the more appealing pairing despite being technically inferior and a lot cheaper, highlighting the importance of synergy.

Noble Audio Katana ($1800): To my ears, an almost perfect synergy, the Zeus introduces greater range and technical ability without overly skewing the Katana’s delicate tonality. Bass remains clean and highly defined, very tight and well-controlled with more linear extension into the sub-bass and hugely improved extension and dynamics. Mids lose a touch of density and male vocals, in particular, become wetter while female vocals are a touch more articulate and glossy but also slightly thinner in body. The top-end is more resolving with higher resolution and more sparkle creating a more open headroom. The soundstage has a lot more depth and similar width but most notably better organisation and higher separation, providing a more effortless detail presentation.

Empire Ears Phantom ($1800): Another high-end earphone that includes a quality cable from factory, the Effect Audio Ares II, which I find a very good match already. The Zeus provides a winning combo here as well, that said. Bass becomes deeper reaching with more sub-bass information while tipping the focus away from the mid-bass for a slightly cleaner presentation. The midrange, especially, benefits from greater openness and definition with greater bass/midrange contrast and extension in the upper-midrange. All the while, not at the expense of coherence, density or fullness, all of which the Phantom has in spades. The top-end is more detailed with a cleaner transient response and substantially improved separation. Background and micro-details are more apparent and there’s more sparkle at the very top. The soundstage becomes more open, depth especially being enhanced, delivering a more well-rounded presentation. Separation is largely improved throughout, forming excellent synergy overall.

Suggested Pair Ups

From my testing, I most preferred the Zeus with more balanced monitors where it introduced hints of fun while compounding on their technical ability. Similarly, on fuller monitors, the increased bass/midrange contrast serves to enhance separation and cleanliness very well. On the contrary, some pairings I found could overwhelm if already tuned for engagement. I especially like what the Zeus does with BA bass, introducing greater depth and dynamics. Conversely, hybrid and DD pairings if already powerfully voiced, could become a touch too full and lose separation. I found the midrange to suit a very wide range of earphones from the thinner Katana to the warmer Phantom, both were flattered and undoubtedly a step up technically. The same can be said for treble where we can observe a unanimous increase in sparkle and resolving power; with the exception of the Homunculus that came with a slightly more conductive silver cable (higher volume, same setting), that provided more balance stock. The Zeus therefore, best suits neutral and neutral/natural and warm BA monitors best to my ears. As always, this will also vary substantially by personal preference so please refer to the sound sections for more generalised comments.

Comparisons –

Comparison

Plussound EXO PPH ($999): Surely a main competitor, the two cables share the same gauge and also boast very high-quality constructions, they are truly treats to the eyes and ears. The Plussound cable sports a much softer jacket while the Zeus resists tangles better with a springier jacket. The fundamental difference lies in their conductor setup, the Zeus sporting a gold, silver, copper and palladium mix, the Plussound being more traditional with a palladium-plated copper and palladium-plated silver combination but in a more complex Type-6 Litz configuration as opposed to LItz Type-4 on the Zeus. Of course, this doesn’t tell the full story in terms of the listening experience. The PPH in general comes across as more W-shaped to me while the Zeus is a more engaging pseudo-U with a greater focus on the extremities.

Both offer a very dynamic low-end image. The Zeus has a slight edge in terms of sub-bass extension and definition, delivering a slightly more solid slam and rumble. Meanwhile, the PPH is a touch richer sounding down low, with a touch more mid-bass bias introducing a fuller voicing. The Zeus provides a cleaner presentation with better separation and more energy. It has keener note attack and a generally pacier presentation. Meanwhile, the PPH is more linear and natural in terms of note presentation while also carrying very respectable dynamics and organisation. Quite the opposite is to be observed in the midrange. The Zeus has a slightly fuller vocal rendition and is more even-metered throughout. The PPH introduces even more bass/midrange contrast with a slightly drier but also noticeably higher-definition voicing. As such, though the PPH has a warmer bass, its midrange remains transparent and clean.

The Zeus ends up being a bit more powerful and bolstered in its voicing while the PPH is higher in clarity and subjectively, just a bit more resolving too. The PPH is more energetic in the lower-treble, with a more aggressive instrument portrayal while the Zeus offers more foreground/background contrast with its more linear presentation and greater upper-treble sparkle. The Zeus has a slight edge in terms of detail presentation, despite being less forward, it has a slightly cleaner transient response with sharper note attack and higher note resolution. The PPH is more energetic and similarly, benefits sparkle and extension, though the more balanced Zeus is more delicately curated in its presentation of details, overshadowing less of the minutiae. In terms of staging, both are very holographic, the PPH more obviously so with its more energetic top-end. The PPH also provides more width while the Zeus has more depth. Imaging is very sharp on both and layering is excellent, defined and delineated. The PPH has a bit more separation between the three core-frequency bands while the Zeus is more discerning within the bass and treble due to its more even voicing.

Verdict –

Connectors

It must be acknowledged that it is difficult enough for many readers to justify spending this much money on an earphone let alone just a cable. Of course, the Zeus never stood for value, unlike Satin’s other offerings, representing instead a statement for the company. In return for a copious sum, you receive technical and tonal excellence, a flagship in every manifestation and a perfect complement to high-end monitors. It delivers huge resolving power and a very inviting presentation that strikes a strong balance between energy and coherence. In addition, the cable provides enough change to immediately reward the listener, but not so much that the tonality is overly skewed and the characteristics of the attached earphone are lost. As always, consider synergy with your particular gear, especially if already packaged with a curated custom cable,  and handle the softer connectors with the care that such an expensive product deserves. For those looking to elevate their musical experience, the Zeus is a fine accessory in every sense.

The Zeus is available from Satin Audio (International) for $1399 USD at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with Satin Audio and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.

Track List –

Bob Segar – Night Moves

brb. – relationshit

David Bowie – No Plan

Emotional Oranges – The Juice: Vol. II

INXS – Welcome to Wherever You Are

keshi – skeletons

Jackson Lundy – Calypso

Lorrie Morgan – A Picture of Me

Mac Demarco – 2

Missy Higgins – The Sound of White

NIKI – Chilly

Radiohead – Pablo Honey

Rich Brian – The Sailor

Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour

Seal – Seal

Sublime – Sublime

The Beach Boys – Surfer Girl

The Cranberries – No Need To Argue

The Game – Jesus Piece

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About Author

Avid writer, passionate photographer and sleep-deprived medical student, Ryan has an ongoing desire to bring quality products to the regular reader.

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