Our final Signature Series review covers the new Effect Audio Ares S which is a second-generation UP-OCC Copper Litz aftermarket IEM cable. It is priced at $179.
Disclaimer: This sample was sent to us in exchange for our honest opinion in this review. Many thanks to Effect Audio for this opportunity.
To read more about Effect Audio gear previously reviewed on Headfonics click here.
Note, that this 2-page article follows our latest scoring guidelines which you can read here.
We are back today with the third and final installment of Effect Audio’s Signature Series cables. As we now come full circle with the Ares S, Cadmus, and Eros S, we will finally determine where the Ares S sits against its two counterparts.
For those of you who recall the Ares II cable from Effect Audio a few years back, the Ares S aims to refresh this cable and allows us to reimagine the way we think about a “classic” cable now reborn.
Materials, Wire & Geometry
The Ares S is an Ultra-Pure Copper Litz cable and houses 4 wires in a 24AWG setup. The Ares S is different from the Eros S which is an 8-wire 26 AWG cable but similar to the Cadmus which has the same 4 wire, 24 AWG configuration.
The wire gauging of the Ares S is on the thicker side however it is still supple due to Effect Audio’s Ultra Flexi Insulation. After adding on the PVC jacket, both the Ares S and Cadmus end up having the same thickness however the Eros S is slightly thicker and even more flexible than both the Ares S and Cadmus.
The Ares S features a proprietary dual geometric design. This means that the Ares S is comprised of Multi-Size Stranding and Septuplet Core Bundles.
The Ares S is fitted with a brushed copper appearance. The inner jacket behind the clear PVC coating has a strand-like texture which gives the Ares S an intricate finish to it.
In relation to the braiding, each wire is woven evenly with sufficient tension across the cable. There are no uneven or unwanted gaps throughout the cable. With its 24 AWG gauging, the Ares S feels like a robust cable that is surprisingly flexible and well-designed.
The Ares S is finished similarly to both the Cadmus and Eros S. It comes with a selenite grey termination, splitter, cable slider, and connectors. The termination or plug case is made of polished and brushed aluminum.
The plug itself is made of rhodium plated brass and comes in standard or Pentaconn 2.55mm, 3.5mm, or 4.4mm variations. The splitter and cable slider are made from brushed aluminum material which is like the plug case however the splitter itself also has a black carbon forged fiber plate on the back and front sides.
This is a peculiar shape in the sense that it is a barrel, topped with a square which then splits out into a hexagonal base. This means that it is quite large and could have been a few millimeters less in diameter.
The connectors or ConX shell is made of anodized aluminum whereas the actual ConX connector is finished with a gold-colored ring leading to the 2-pin interface giving it a distinct yet classy finish.
Effect Audio’s ConX technology allows you to change the connector itself for example from a 2-pin to MMCX. This is a very practical and welcome feature of the cable as it creates versatility and allows you to pair the cable with all the IEMs in your collection.
Comfort on the Ear
Despite its 24AWG gauge, the Ares S feels very ergonomic, and it sits comfortably on the ear during use. Regarding the ear hook, this part of the cable is finished with a thick and translucent PVC coating.
Whilst using it with and without glasses, the cable did not present any discomfort and was barely noticeable at times.
Like the other cables in the Signature Series, the splitter is large however because it’s lightweight, it allows the cable to drop with sufficient tension and does not create unwanted cable tugging and discomfort during use. Furthermore, there was no cable noise or microphonics during use.
Packaging & Accessories
The packaging and accessories of the Ares S have a sleek and premium finish. The packaging and accessories are similar across all the cables within the Signature Series except for the included booklet and box art which is based on the cable itself.
Just like the other cables in the Signature Series, the Ares S comes in a black, rectangular box that is coated with a thread-like texture.
On the front of the box, Ares who was a Greek God of War has his face presented in a shiny copper color reflecting the Copper material used in the cable.
The Cadmus, Ares S, and Eros S boxes have a similar concept where their box arts reflect their cable compositions which is Effect Audio’s way to illustrate the harmony between all three cables. Inside the box, there are 2 booklets: one describing the Signature Series as a whole and the other focusing on the Ares S itself.
At the bottom of the box, you will find a black carrying case and leather cable strap which is a very nice addition. The carrying case is known as a “chamber ready cloth pouch” which is made from thick polyester material. The pouch has an opening at the top where you attach the cable strap to the button.
This is a very intuitive design as it allows the cable strap to have two goals: to strap the cable itself or provide closure to the carrying case. Inserting and withdrawing the cable from the carrying case does take some time to get used to because the size of the opening is the same for all Signature Series.
However, it was easy to fit and store the Ares S. One other thing to note is that the carrying case will not have enough room to fit both the cable and IEMs.
The Ares S represents the basis of the Signature Series and aims to introduce listeners to a bold mid-bass and hefty mid-range sound. It is a teaser of what’s to come from Effect Audio’s new lineup.
If you want more rumble, slam, and a voluptuous midrange, the Ares S will be happy to take you there. Just like the other Signature Series reviews, we tested the Cadmus with the Empire Ears Legend EVO and Mangird Xenns Up IEMs and paired them up with the Cayin N8ii.
Coloration & Timbre
The Ares S colors the sound of an IEM by increasing the sub-bass and mid-bass to give it that big, bold presence whilst bringing more volume and clarity to the midrange.
The sub-bass rumbles whilst the mid-bass has large amounts of slam. The mid-bass is bold and prevalent. In relation to the lower midrange, the Ares S brings it to the front whilst giving it more volume and weight.
The Ares S can pick up the micro details from instruments and vocals. Male and female vocals sound very smooth and organic. Treble is neutral and has a sufficient level of extension and detail. The Ares S produces a warm timbre that is similar to the Cadmus and more distinct that the Eros S.
The soundstage on the Ares S is wide and has average depth or height. Although the soundstage is wide, it is not as expansive or tall as the Cadmus and Eros S. Hence, you are left with a more intimate feeling from its soundstage.
The layering and imaging are decent and there is a very coherent sound while vocals come off with a sufficient level of accuracy and space.
Mangird Xenns Up
The Xenns Up houses 1 dynamic driver, 4 balanced armatures, and 2 electrostatic drivers. By default, it has a bass boost, forward midrange, and neutral treble presentation.
The Xenns Up does not focus too much on the sub-bass but rather on the mid-bass. It comes off with a warm timbre, wide soundstage, and fantastic imaging capabilities.
Whilst paired to the Ares S, the most noticeable impacts are in relation to the sub-bass and mid-bass quantity and quality. The sub-bass digs deeper and the mid-bass presence is more noticeable. The mid-bass slams harder, sounding bolder but with a slower decay.
The Ares S maintains the same default warm timbre of the Xenns Up and brings the lower midrange forward. The transparency and volume of the midrange increase where female and high-pitched male vocals sound smooth and natural.
Mids have more weight and volume to them. Treble is neutral with average extension and level of detail. The soundstage is narrower compared to its stock set up which is presented in a coherent manner sound leading to a great level of layering and imaging.
Empire Ears Legend EVO
The Empire Ears Legend EVO is known for its deep bass response and incorporates a Weapon X and two W9+ subwoofer dynamic drivers to achieve this. Paired with its stock cable, the Legend EVO produces thunderous amounts of sub-bass rumble and reverberation. The mid-bass slams hard and it is well textured.
Despite all of this, there is little to no bass-bleed in the midrange which manages to stay transparent and highly detailed. The treble on the Legend EVO is where it reels things back and comes off as neutral with adequate levels of detail.
The Ares S dials back the sub-bass on the Legend EVO and instead focuses on the mid-bass. As a result, the sub-bass has less depth, and the mid-has more slam and is slow to decay. The mid-bass is bold where there are decent levels of texture and overall quality.
The Ares S maintains the highly resolving and transparent lower midrange on the Legend EVO and there is now a warmer timbre. The treble on the Legend EVO comes off as neutral and there is no significant change. The soundstage is narrower compared to the Legend EVO’s stock cable. Imaging and layering are still excellent.