The Effect Audio Vogue Series consists of 3 competitively priced monitor cables; the copper Maestro, the SPC Virtuoso and the hybrid copper and silver Grandioso. Pricing is from $99 to $199.
Disclaimer: The Effect Audio Vogue Series cables were 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.
In the first half of 2019 Effect Audio was teasing audience attendees at Singapore and SOCAL CanJam’s with 3 unnamed cables that most felt would be on the affordable level but EA was saying “nuttin”. Well, roll on August 2019, the official announcement was made converting the unknown trio into their new Vogue Series of IEM cables.
Each cable has its own name and unique set of properties with the copper Maestro kicking things off at a very reasonable $99, the SPC Virtuoso at $149 and the final cable, the hybrid silver and copper Grandioso, coming in at $199.
Now, this is an entirely new Series, distinct from the Premium, Heritage, and Hall of Fame categories. The core positioning is more for the cautious first-time upgrader from a poor stock wire and who want a good performance to value ratio from a cable. That is a step below the Premium series, despite the venerable 4-wire Ares II starting at $149.90.
The pricing reflects that pitch and after speaking with EA it is unlikely you will ever see additional cables higher than the Grandioso price point. As for potential lateral expansion that is unknown. New cables in the series could be added but it depends on raw material costs so do not expect a pure silver wire under $199 at this moment in time.
Also, the pricing point and positioning means the complexity of the build process has been simplified. That means more cable inventory and a fast turnaround for orders. Basically, an off the shelf turnaround time which should satisfy those who do not like to wait.
Materials & Wire
Not only does each Vogue cable have its own unique wiring choice of materials but all 3 have an entirely new geometry application to their build process that makes them distinct from the Premium line.
The Maestro is a 26AWG pure UP-OCC, (Ultra-Pure Ohno Continuous Cast) multi-stranded Litz 4-wire cable. This is going to be your classic first-time upgrade choice and will deliver what most perceive as a typically smooth and warm sound signature.
The Virtuoso pulls a little on the legacy of the original Thor Copper with its use of SPC. Again, this SPC wire is a 26AWG UP-OCC multi-stranded 4-wire Litz cable and should be a bit more transparent than the Maestro, a bit more play in the treble and an enhanced 3-dimensionality to the soundstage.
The Grandioso is described by Effect Audio as a hybrid of silver and copper, which is not to be confused with silver-plated copper, or SPC. Like the other 2 cables, the Grandioso is a 26AWG UP-OCC multi-stranded Litz wire, however, the 4 is split into two pure copper and 2 pure silver. Silver is a higher-priced material to acquire hence the slightly higher price compared to the much thinner silver plating on copper for the Virtuoso.
Since all 3 Vogue cables are also Litz builds, “going green” or oxidization should not be an issue in the long term either.
So, the big change in the geometry of the new Vogue cables is the move to what Effect Audio have called triple-size design for the wiring. When EA vary the wiring size they refer to this as multi-size stranding and quite a few of their cables have that but all in the other ranges such as the Premium range.
The Vogue Series is different in that the multi-stranding is now three sizes as opposed to the two sizes used in the other range geometry builds. The previous logic is to use a thin wire which is known to be better for high-frequency transmission (surface area) and a thicker wire for low-end frequency performance.
A triple size now adds an additional wiring diameter in-between those two to further enhance the harmonic balance and deliver something even more balanced and smoother sounding. Ideally, this wiring will cover the mids to low-highs region adding a bit more detail than typical 2-size wirings.
This surprised me because until now this has been a key selling feature of their palladium and higher-end cables such as the Leonidas II and the Cleopatra. It looks now that the Vogue wiring they are building will all feature golden ratio geometry builds, even at this entry-level point.
This basically concerns the layering of the wires within the Litz build for those that do not know what the Golden Ratio is all about.
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.
The first thing you notice about all 3 Vogue cables is that they are much lighter and smaller in dimension to the likes of the Ares II Premium Series cable despite all 4 having a 26AWG wire inside them. This is especially noticeable on the Maestro which has the same aesthetic as the Ares II with its copper wire tone behind EA UltraFlexi PVC jacket.
The Virtuoso is the most striking of the three visually with its silver wiring (SPC not pure silver) behind the same EA UltraFlexi PVC jacket. These look stunning locked into the Campfire Audio Atlas by the way which is also a similar silvery finish. The matching silvery chrome finish connectors on the Virtuosos are especially complementary, more so than the Grandioso.
The Grandioso stands out from the other two with its two-tone copper and silver interweave in the braiding technique. It is like a half and half of the other two cables although the silver weave this time is pure silver and not the SPC of the Virtuoso. You could be forgiven for thinking the Virtuoso is a pure silver cable just by going on the color alone.
All three Vogue cables have the same tight braiding technique applied to them with similar connectors, splitters and jacks so they tend to handle the same as each other also. The new barrels are so much smaller and lighter than the older solid carbon fiber weave variants on the Premium line. The chin cinch is also a lighter black plastic build and feel but articulates quite smoothly.
I am guessing the lighter cable build allows EA to pick these ‘tiny’ barrels, especially for the splitter which feels more like a small pendant than a bona fide chunk of metal.
My initial worry was that the level of microphonics might increase because of the lighter barrels being used on the splitter but does not seem to be the case with these new builds. All 3 cables have a very low level of microphonics and on par with the Ares II. Combine that with the lighter build and the overall handling has gone up a notch in my estimation.
The termination choices are much more limited in the Vogue Series compared to the Premium line upwards. There is no PSquared jack option or rhodium plating. Instead, you get a more straightforward gold-plated option in 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm for all three cables.
The new barrels designs, however, look ace and seem much lighter than the older ones. The contouring and branding are also more professional looking than previous jacks. What I especially noted was how the new connectors are like a miniaturized version of the jack barrels in terms of shape and design. Much more streamlined now in terms of looks.
The picture above is of the 2.5mm TRRS variants and you will notice that incline towards the head of the jacks. That allows you to get a proper grip on the barrel when inserting and taking out. It is a small but clever change and makes a big difference.
The Vogue connectors have changed also and as with the jacks the range is more limited with just 2-pin flat, regular, and MMCX. The barrels are more contoured for easier gripping and the branding is etched right into them to prevent them from fading over time.
They look a good step up on the older straight barrel connectors and seem better quality also. I do hope these new ones permeate throughout the entire line in due course as they seem more durable.
The memory wire on each Vogue cable is about 2 inches long but since the build dimension of each cable is quite tight the memory wire is fairly low-profile also. This is also the springy type of memory wire so whilst you cannot retain permanent shaping it is fairly flexible to bend around your ear without any awkwardness. Once you take the cables off your ear they spring back into shape.
All 3 are 26AWG super small builds and very light which means superb comfort levels and very little pressure on the ear. The memory wire does not disturb my newly acquire super-light titanium glasses frame at all, (thank you aging process) and if anything, they seem more comfortable than Ares II’s heavier build.
Accessories & Packaging
Packaging for the Vogue line is the exact same for all 3 cables except for the labels on the bottom stating the name and termination of the specific cable inside. Since these are ‘entry-level’ cables do not expect the red carpet to be rolled out for you but at the same time do expect a fairly compact professionally built carry box which is not so big that you can’t double it up as a carry case of some sorts. If you buy all three you can stick all three in the one box easily.
Insidew you get the cable and a small manual that explains the warranty, taking care of the cables, support details, and their technical specifications.
I would have loved to have seen a cheap little cable tie or organizer in there. I know EA has never been known to do cable organizers but it would be something nice since there is no pouch to keep them from getting snarled up with everything else in your bag.
Page 2 for Sound Impressions & Comparisons