Effect Audio Cleopatra Review

The Effect Audio Cleopatra is a brand new Heritage Series IEM cable composed of 26AWG UP-OCC Pure Silver wire in a Litz build. It is priced at $699.

Disclaimer: The Effect Audio Cleopatra was sent to us in advance of retail release to allow us to complete this review. Many thanks to Effect Audio for giving us this opportunity.

To read more about Effect Audio products reviewed on Headfonics click here.

Tonality
8.9
Build Quality
9.1
Comfort & Handling
9.1
Matchability
9
Rate The Gear!1 Vote
9
9
Score

It is close to CanJam Singapore and most companies attending are being rather prolific in their product launch announcements. Not least Effect Audio who have had not 1 but 2 product launches in the last 3 months with the Leonidas 2 Octa flagship and now, the Cleopatra.

The Cleopatra will make its debut at CanJam March 30th and 31st at the Pan Pacific Hotel in the heart of Singapore. If you are lucky enough to be going, drop by and ask to demo it and let us know what you think of it also in the comment section below.

Positioning

The Cleopatra is priced at $699 and is the third cable entry in Effect Audio’s Heritage Series alongside the Lionheart and Leonidas II. The positioning is ahead of Lionheart and one step behind the Leonidas II, so call it the mid-ranker if you will and the price fully reflects that position.

For those who prefer 8-wire, this is also the first time EA has launched the 8-wire version of a new product line at the same time as the 4-wire. If you are interested in the Cleopatra Octa then you can order that version for $1499. (Our review is on the 4-wire version)

Heritage Series

For that are not aware, the Heritage Series is where Effect Audio engineer “on the edge’ so to speak. In short, they take a few risks, try something new and bring out a product that they think is genuinely unique as well as groundbreaking in the cable industry. Kind of their ‘blue sky’ thinking line-up.



For cables that are designed with tried and tested methodologies, they have the Premium series which starts at around $149 for the Ares II all the way up to $999 for their gold-plated OCC silver wire Mars.

Materials & Wire

At heart, the Cleopatra is a 26AWG silver wire cable. Traditionally, silver is seen as possibly the most conductive material to use in audio cables. However, the overriding whispers were that silver equals bright and copper equals warm. Both are not necessarily true.

With the Thor line-up of cables, Effect Audio did much to dispel the concept that silver cables had to be bright in order to sound revealing or detailed. In fact, the Thor II UP-OCC Silver cable remains one of my favorite 4-wire cables for detail, punchiness, and a clean but smooth top-end. There is not a hint of overt brightness about it.

However, what is unique about this version is the grade of UP-OCC Pure Silver being used is much higher and more complex than that used in the Premium Series Thor II. So much so,  Effect Audio has introduced woven Kevlar materials into their geometry build to keep this grade of silver stabilized and working optimally.

Geometry

What is also unique about the Cleopatra is for the first time EA has merged the Premium Series multi-strand geometry foundations with the Heritage Series Leonidas II Golden Ratio principle in terms of how the layering of the wire strands is accomplished and how they interact with each other. So, what does that mean?

Multi-Size Stranding

The Cleopatra is a Litz build with a 7-core geometry. There are numerous advantages to working with Litz materials. The first is the ability to build a multi-stranded cable which has better high-frequency properties due to what is known as the “skin effect” where electrons travel along the skin of the wire.

A Litz cable has a higher surface area than regular builds and for that reason should deliver a better high-frequency performance. It will also be more durable than other cables when flexed and we flex our IEM cables a lot!

Multi-sized allows Effect Audio to build a Litz cable with different sized wires, thinner ones for high frequencies and thicker ones for lower frequencies.

Individually Enameled

The Cleopatra is also the 3rd cable in the EA range to feature individually enameled strands of wire in a woven Litz technique much like the Leonidas II.

Much like the Leonidas II, the Cleopatra has the same level of complexity in its geometry with a 7-core bundled Litz type configuration. In theory, this will further decrease resistance and produce a much better high-frequency performance in combination with multi-stranding for the level of wire gauge used.

Golden Ratio

The final aspect of Cleopatra’s synergy of previous build techniques is the use of the golden ration for the layering of the wires within the Litz build.

The golden ratio is a mathematical formula used to create a unique layer of wiring strands that share no common resonant pattern. What this means is that a signal’s release timing is completely irregular on a wire per wire basis avoiding the potential for conflict with the other paired strands.



The less chance of different strands sharing common resonance signatures then the lower the level of resonance detected and the higher the purity of the signal will be in the wire.

Effect Audio Cleopatra

Build Quality

Aesthetics

Silver by material, silver by aesthetic. The Cleopatra strikes quite a different visual tone to the Leonidas II and improves on the original Lionheart/Thor II build at the same time. The look is all silver and chrome right down to the new and very low-profile silver-finished aluminum chin cinch.

The silvery look is significantly enhanced with the use of EA’s very supple translucent UltraFlex PVC materials jacket. What I particularly love about this new jacket is just how low-profile the memory wire coating is now compared to the Lionheart and Thor II equivalents. You can barely make it out in comparison which vastly improves the aesthetic without reducing any strain relief or stability around the ear.

The Cleopatra also uses the same highly polished casted stainless-steel Y-Split barrel as the Leonidas II and certainly, it is a big step up on the Thor II and Lionheart carbon fiber barrels. It is much lighter and more refined in its finish than the latter but missing that Patina-style leather finish of the more expensive former.

The Cleopatra thus has less of an organic feel to its visual tone than the Leonidas II but compared to the Lionheart and Thor II finish it looks more refined and much cleaner.

Handling

The slimline 26AWG 4-wire build means that the Cleopatra is a beauty for weight, on-ear pressure and handling. Given it uses the same gauge, Y-Split barrel, and UltraFlex PVC jacket as the Leonidas II you can expect almost the exact same handling properties. Ranged against the Lionheart and Thor II, the Cleopatra is the lighter of the three cables primarily down to the improved barrel builds on the Y-Split and jack.

You will find no annoying ‘bounce or flyaway’ effect with the Cleopatra handling. Nor will you find any microphonics or physical noise on the wire when you run your finger up it, particularly so below the Y-Split. If you can tangle this cable you are a more determined man than me because as far as I can see the Cleopatra is 100% tangle-free.

Effect Audio Cleopatra

Terminations

PSquared

As with all Heritage Series Cables, the Cleopatra comes terminated with a PSquared TRS or TRRS jack, in this case, a 2.5mm option. The PSquared 2.5mm termination was developed in cooperation with Japanese specialty cable manufacturers, Oyaide Electric. Co., Ltd.

The PSquared jack is considered an upgrade on their rhodium plated plugs because of their use of a more exotic blend of palladium and platinum materials. The contention is that this mix will sound better than the standard EA Rhodium plug.

In our initial testing in 2017 with and without the PSquared plug on two Lionheart cables we found PSquared to be the more dynamic sounding of the two finishes.

Options

All balanced PSquared plugs will have black rings and a carbon fiber/silver alloy finished barrel. The barrels are also a shade smaller and lighter than the Lionheart and Thor II barrels.

This particular Cleopatra is finished with a 2.5mm balanced fitting which is my preferred termination. During your ordering process, you can also opt for different terminations depending on your preferences. Effect Audio supply both 3.5mm (green rings) and P-EA 4.4mm options.

For the connectors, you can choose from 2-pin, MMCX, JH Audio, Fitear etc. The one below is fitted with a standard 2-pin socket that will fit with flush or recessed sockets popularly used on custom monitors.

Effect Audio Cleopatra

Comfort On-Ear

An excellent level of comfort on-ear using the Cleopatra. Since I previously stated that the Leonidas II was EA’s more comfortable 4-wire build to date that I have tested, this experience is easily on par given the similarity in build and weight between the two.

You will not feel that memory wire one bit. Sometimes thicker memory wire coatings have an additional level of pressure on the ear that can be felt. It is often at odds with how the rest of the cable feels in the hand. Not so with the Cleopatra which remains consistently smooth right around the ear.

People with glasses or those who do not enjoy the pressure from heavier 8-wire designs should find the Cleopatra a very comfortable cable to work with.

Accessories & Packaging

Unfortunately, our sample arrived in advance of the official retail launch of the Cleopatra and did not come with the retail packaging and accessories.

What we can tell you at this stage from our spec sheet and discussions is that the Cleopatra will come in a “Premium Metallic Selects” Case. This is an individually handcrafted aluminum square case with rounded cornering and a push-pull lid mechanism. It will also have a form of soft internal lining to dampen from knocks and drops.

The case looks fairly deep to hold both monitors and cable and from my brief glimpse is actually very impressive and matches the Cleopatra beautifully. I hope to provide more pics from the CanJam launch official and update the review a bit more after.

 

Click on Page 2 for Sound Impressions & Comparisons

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19 Responses

  1. Mateusz

    Hey guys!. I think (but its only speculations) that xelento + leonidas 2 is what you need. In same time vega + cleopatra is on this Level.

    Reply
  2. ketil

    Hi Marcus,
    Would you recommend the Leonidas II or the Cleopatra for the Phantoms? I have the Phantoms with stock cable, although im new to this, I feel some female vocals and highs are a bit too laid back.. Any advice on what cable would be the one? Or maybe this IEM just isnt the perfect one for me who knows.

    I was also considering the Janus D, but its so expensive so Im a bit hesitant about it if the other cables are good enough.

    Thank you!

    K.

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Tricky one as the Phantom female presence is tuned quite dipped in favor of the lower mids and male for me. I would go for Cleo on that to open up the mids a bit more and get some space around female vocals. I would also demo if you can first.

      Reply
      • ketil

        Thank you very much for your feedback, I cant demo before buying unfortunately, maybe just a cable swap wont be enough and I should start searching for a new IEM that suits me better. Would you say that the U18 is better for female vocals? I love the Phantoms bass though.. And 18 driver per side sounds like a lot can go wrong at some point..
        Appreciate your reply, I wont take up more of your time after this. I decided to ask you since I trust your opinion.
        I know in the end its my choice, but feedback from someone who “heard em all” is very valuable to me.

        Thanks again

        K.

      • Marcus

        I presume you are not in the US because I believe Musicteck might be able to sort out a demo unit depending on availability. I would shoot for the Trio over the U18 for female vocals personally. I find the 18 to have a very nice midrange for staging but the vocals are perhaps a bit thinner and I like rich forward vocals if possible. You will lose that Phantom bass though.

      • ketil

        Not in US unfortunately. What if I wanted both the bass or close to it, but also the vocals from the Trio? Not possible from any Iem as of now?

      • Marcus

        I found the qdc Anole V6 to give me both a nice warm punchy bass and better vocal presence. Might be worth a try as an alternative and slightly cheaper also.

  3. Gady

    Hello
    Are you think that Cleopatra real upgrade from Super Litz standard cable for Campfire Audio Solaris ?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Marcus

      The Superlitz is already a pretty good cable and similar in ways to the Cleo in terms of what it targets, that’s the low-end.

      The only difference for me on the 4-wire Cleo is a cleaner midrange, slightly more expansive sound and more treble presence but its not night and day.

      I suggest 8-wire Cleo or Thor makes a true upgrade.

      Reply
  4. Hans Josemans

    Thanks for your review. How the Cleopatra match with the 64Audio A12T? Is this a good step forward compare to the standard premium 64audio cable? Can you shortly describe your experience what this cable does compare to the standard delivered cable coming with the A12T? and particular with sound staging and Bass mid tremble level?
    Thanks in advance!
    Hans

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Blows the stock cable out of the water. Better separation, more dynamic range, more volume, and stronger bass response.

      Reply
  5. ddk

    of the 3 silver EA cables, which is a better pairing with the 64 audio Trio? i am currently alternating between the Thor II and Dita Truth with my Trio, would like to keep using 4 wire or less for portability without sacrificing SQ. thx

    Reply
  6. Steven Zore

    Hi Marcus; So how do you think the Xelentos would fair? I’m torn between the Eros II+ 8 wire, or the Cleopatra…

    Reply

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