Effect Audio Horus X is a new twist on their previous flagship Horus cable. This is a 26 AWG 8-Wire OCC Gold Plated Silver (GPS) cable with EA Ferrite Guard Technology priced at $2499.
Disclaimer: The Effect Audio Horus X 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.
Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2020 which you can read up on here.
Effect Audio Horus X
The Horus X is still a 'hi-fidelity' choice, a cable that loses nothing from the original Horus in terms of allowing that treble to shine through. However, it is also a slightly more natural and balanced sounding pairing. You also get some additional low-end warmth that really helps smooth out the tone and produce a more balanced staging performance.
There is that thing about buses and only coming in pairs. It seems rather an applicable saying for high-end IEM audio cables and Effect Audio in 2020. When I completed Code 51 in January 2020, I sort of dusted off the review goggles and called it a wrap thinking it would be the top-end for EA for this year at least.
But oh no, we are not done yet because here comes the Horus X at an eye-watering $2499. This is an exotic spin on their celebrated Horus cable from 2017 which looks remarkably ‘cheap’ at $1399 right now.
Sadly, I never got to review the Horus but thankfully, we have one here now so I can definitely tell you what has changed from the Horus to the Horus X.
The Horus X, (and the even more bombastic Horus Octa), are part of a double launch and a fattening up of Effect Audio’s Hall Of Fame range. This is pretty much the summit range of all of EA’s cables which starts from the Vogue series, through to their Premium and edgier Heritage series line-up.
Notable inclusions are their Janus D & B as well as the original Horus. The likes of Leonidas II and its Octa belong to the Heritage Series which EA has traditionally viewed as a bleeding-edge category for trying out new things. That means the Hall of Fame product line-up is here to stay (unless the earth runs out of raw materials).
In a nutshell, take everything inside the Horus that made it great and then double it and you have the Horus X. So, what was inside the Horus? Well, this just before the dawn of palladium infused hybrids hitting the market so, instead, we have a ‘simpler’ blend of UP-OCC Gold-plated 5N Silver.
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.
The likes of last year’s UP-OCC pure silver Cleopatra shows that Effect Audio’s ability to smooth out a silver wire performance has come on in leaps and bounds. The switch to a higher purity silver inside the Cleopatra made a qualitative difference compared to the Thor II’s silver so, I am presuming that is where we are heading with the Horus X’s quality of silver.
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 and similar to the Cleopatra just with a much higher multi-sized strand count. It does retain a similar woven Kevlar material in its geometry build to keep this grade of silver stabilized and working optimally.
Finally, the gold-plating does not have quite the ultra-damping effect on HF that palladium has which is even more resistive. I am expecting the Horus to push out a little more high-end frequency presence that I more accustomed to from traditional silver.
EA has opted to continue with the 26AWG gauge count for the Horus X only this time they have doubled it to an 8-wire which fills my heart with joy. 26AWG has long been a sweet spot for wire sizing among IEM cable makers. It allows them to ramp up the cable wire count without producing a design that is too stiff or heavy.
Personally, I am not that fussy about cable weight around my ear, especially if the build is very flexible and soft. I much prefer the better dynamic range performance of an 8-wire over 4 unless it is something like Code 51, which has a superior gauge size to nullify that, then it is a win-win.
As always with EA cables this is a beautifully finished creation. The 8-wire form factor always does a better job at showing the intricacies of a wire design than a 4-wire and the Horus X is no different in that regard.
The aesthetics are unique, however, and though you can see the black barrel finish in our sample you can opt for a rose-gold alloy splitter to brighten up the overall tone. That one I always feel plays to the Asian market which loves rose-gold. However, the Horus regular 4-wire splitter barrel sample we have here uses that rose-gold and it does compliment the similar tone of the wire very nicely.
And that is what you get with the Horus X, a shimmery light rose-gold hue as opposed to the slightly grey-yellow organic tone of the Leonidas II Octa. It stands out a bit more in terms of ‘shine’ and contrast markedly with their new glossy black carbon fiber barrels on the splitter and jack.
One thing to note, these new carbon fiber barrels feel a lot lighter than the older silver alloy versions from 2017 meaning the Horus X is just dandy for handling.
Because it is an 8-wire and not a 4 the Horus X shares a lot of commonality in general handling with the Leonidas II Octa than the Code 51 such as the non-existent level of microphonics. However, the wire inside has a slightly firmer quality than the Octa which means the braiding technique has slightly changed to accommodate it.
Comparing them side by side, the Octa braiding is tighter, with shorter loops whereas the Horus X is a shade looser on the loop and with a more angular braid direction. Whilst I prefer the tighter braid aesthetics-wise, the slightly looser finish of the Horus X does have a softer feel to it in the hand.
Honestly, there is very little qualitative difference in the handling between these two cables despite the slightly different braiding techniques.
The Horus X, like the Octa, is one heck of a pliant build-quality with EA UltraFlexi TM insulation PVC materials deadening the movement and removing any hint of stiffness in the build. This thing just drapes effortlessly around your ear or around your neck.
As with the majority of cables made by Effect Audio you do get a wide range of termination choices with the Horus X.
The Horus X comes terminated with a shiny all-black black carbon fiber PSquared and you can choose if you want it as a TRS or TRRS termination. This particular sample is a 2.5mm TRRS option. The PSquared 2.5mm TRRS termination, (like the other variants), 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 was back 2017 with and without the PSquared plug on two Lionheart cables we found PSquared to be the more dynamic sounding of the two finishes. I have no reason to think with the Horus X that the same dynamic quality would not continue if compared with a standard Rhodium plug.
Splitter & Cinch
This sample splitter barrel follows the shiny all-black carbon fiber finish of the jack so it compliments and color coordinates perfectly. All strain relief is housed internally so the entry and exit points of the barrels are very clean. The splitter exit points also have a decent distance between them so the 4-wire splits do not compete with each other coming out of the barrel. Keeps it clean.
This is also where you will find the EA Ferrite Guard technology which has been switched from the jack to the splitter. This will help reduce EMI, especially with wireless capable DAPs.
You can opt for a slimline rose-gold finish which really changes the aesthetic dramatically. However, I prefer black as it coordinates better with the jack barrels. I would like to see a rose-gold jack barrel option before I would pick the black or chrome finished barrels.
The new cinch I am not a fan of and I spoke to them about it. First of all, the plus points. This is the first cinch I have seen on their 8-wire creation which is a bonus. This is a discreet chrome alloy with impeccable finishing and it grips the wire in a way you need from a cinch.
However, on the con side, it is very small and quite a thin form factor with loopholes that just barely fit the wires inside. I had some difficult gripping and moving it up and down the curves of the wire. Something like the looser and bigger Code 51 cinch would be better suited.
For the connectors, you can choose from 2-pin, MMCX, JH Audio, Fitear, etc. This sample is fitted with a matching black-barrel finished standard 2-pin socket that will fit with flush or recessed sockets popularly used on custom monitors.
They are etched with L/R on the inside and white EA logos on the outside with no visible strain relief. The Horus X does come with some additional memory material going into the connectors that keep the cable entry into the connectors relatively tidy.
Comfort On The Ears
4-wire advocates will never likely switch to 8-wire due to the increased weight and girth of the Horus X around your ear. Having said that, I have always felt the 8-wire EA designs to be on the smaller side for fitting and comfort and the Horus X is no different in that regard.
The Horus X does have a memory wire finishing near the 2-pin black connectors at the top which does help to bring a measure of control when shaping around the ear as well as further deaden for microphonics beyond the splitter.
The memory hooks are not memory retentive, rather than bend and shape during use to fit better around your ear. You will not find too much additional strain around your ear but you will feel it a bit more than the 4-wire addition which did away with this type of memory wire finishing.
The new chin cinch to the front also helps keep the cables firmly in check to your personal preference. However, I have always found EA 8-wire builds to lack any annoying springiness and the additional weight does a good job in terms of damping down on any flyaway characteristics you get on lighter stiffer cables.
Accessories & Packaging
Unfortunately, our sample came without the final carry case so we had to work with EA to get some recent studio pics of the final accessory and packaging lineup. We did get the final box design, however, and it is a very simple gold X on a black box which is in keeping with EA box designs for a while now.
They did ditch the sliding outer cover design from a while back and now have gone with a simple flip lid display design. Our own sample is a shallow felt protector design but I presume the innards will be deeper for the carry case when they ship it to customers.
The new carry case is a return to the original Patina leather design of the Leonidas II which I just love. However, this time there are some upgrades. Instead of a lid type function of the Leonidas II case, it now has a switched wrap and buckle system.
The coloration is also a little deeper with more of a burning ember overtone than the organic brown and yellow of the Leonidas II case. This is a better compliment to the black carbon fiber barrels of the Horus X for me personally. It also should have plenty of space for the cable and 1-2 monitors with decent stiffened wall protection.
Outside of that, you get a warranty card and a silicone dehumidifier. Again, I do wish EA would include a cable organizer strap in matching patina just to finish off the accessory selection. At $2499, it would be a welcome addition.
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