The Satin Audio Zeus is a new flagship 24AWG gold-plated silver, palladium-plated silver, and silver-gold alloy hybrid IEM cable. It is priced at $1399.
Disclaimer: The Satin Audio Zeus sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Satin Audio for giving us this opportunity.
To read more about Satin Audio products we reviewed on Headfonics, click here.
Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2020 which you can read up on here.
Last year’s Athena from Satin Audio scared very highly indeed (I believe a 9.1 editorial score but currently sits at an 8.6 lifetime score based on readers’ votes).
The Athena is a high-end 8-wire 26AWG palladium-plated silver mixed with SP-OCC pure silver cable at almost half the price of other palladium-infused flagship variants. An antidote if you will to a very hot market for pricing over the last few years.
Now, Satin Audio are back with an even more ambitious project, the Zeus. This is another hybrid palladium-plated mix but this time with a thicker gauge and a triple blend of silver. At $1399, this is no longer a value-based pitch so cables like the high-end Tri-Silver from PLUSSOUND are firmly in their sights.
The Zeus is the second major release from Satin Audio’s new Olympus Series with the first being the Athena from last year. This seems to be the category for the high rollers with a higher price point than their very affordable Titan, Monster, and Standard range of IEM cables.
From what I can see and read the theme is quite specific on precious materials which at this point seems to be Palladium and a hybrid mix of silver. It is not impossible that they will introduce palladium-plated copper such as Effect Audio and PLUSSOUND have done recently. There does seem to be plenty of room to develop this Series in many directions.
Satin Audio has gone all out for a fairly exotic mix of gold-plated silver, palladium-plated silver, and silver-gold alloy. If this sounds familiar it is because this is the same hybrid mix of materials used Effect Audio’s Code 51.
Satin Audio has been quite transparent on the breakdown of the quality of the materials also. The SP-OCC silver is between a 6N, (99,99998%) and 7N, (99,999998%), purity level which is about as high as you can get. The final element, the silver-gold alloy is mixed at 99% silver and 1% gold.
Palladium is the least conductive of the 3 elements used here, more so than gold. Silver is generally viewed as the most conductive of the preferred elements in wiring, ahead of copper.
In fact, gold and palladium are not very conductive materials at all in their own right whereas Palladium is also hugely expensive to acquire and work with, even as a thinner plated substance.
However, with tiny amounts such as a plating methodology as used here, each one will have an attenuating effect on the frequency by varying the level of resistance in the individual strand groupings. This will allow Satin Audio to control what aspect of the frequency they want to ‘shine a light on’ in the final signature of the Zeus.
The Zeus sample here is a 4-wire with Satin Audio’s new Satin Special Structures II geometry. I have yet to see any 8-wire options on their webpage, but at the time of writing their online ordering is not available due to lockdown restrictions in Vietnam.
From my experience with Code 51, the bigger gauge can often negate the need to go 8-wire for improved dynamic range when compared to a 4-wire 26AWG cable. It also means that it stays relatively compact and light for handling compared to 8-wire 26AWG variants.
Satin Special Structures II
With the launch of the Zeus, Satin Audio has taken the opportunity to tweak their original Type 4 Litz build, (Special Structure I) with a new layering technique they have called, Geōmetria.
The geometry still follows a similar Type 4 Litz characteristic such as a Kevlar central fiber core surrounded by bundles of Type 2 Litz wire, however, the layering of those surrounding bundles is now much more complex than before with the use of multi-sized stranding. They are also insulated to prevent oxidization and that awful green hue from appearing.
The inner layer of the Zeus build is now comprised of silver-gold and palladium-plated silver side by side whereas the outer layer has the stranded bundles of SP OCC gold-plated silver.
The silver-gold and palladium-plated silver have the larger stranding dimension compared to the slightly smaller SP OCC gold-plated outer layer. Hence, the term Geōmetria Multi-sized Stranded – Satin Special Structures II.
Despite the 24AWG, the Zeus is a fairly light 4-wire cable. The distinctive braid pattern on all Satin Audio cables is also present here. That means a slightly longer throw than PLUSSOUND or Effect Audio. However, since it is 4-wire and not 8, it is not quite a loose, (or as thick), as the Athena so the braiding pattern is a little more attractive aesthetically.
Since the gold-plated silver is the outside layer of the core wire, the use of a translucent jacket means you get a nice golden shimmer or hue throughout the cable. Compared to something like Code 51, the Zeus has a similar gold hue only a shade stronger with fewer silver flecks.
The insulation jacket is the same SA insulation II from the Athena but it feels quite different from the Athena version. The finish is still a soft translucent material to let the color of the wire shine through. However, it does not feel as rubbery as the Athena version and closer to Effect Audio and PLUSSOUND firmer PVC jacket.
The use of a thicker wire on Zeus is offset quite nicely with the integration of smaller barrels than those found on their 8-wire variants. That keeps the Zeus comparatively lighter than the Tri-Silver or Code 51. Mind you, Code 51 uses a fairly and durable titanium splitter where much of the weight can be accounted for.
The slightly stiffer and tighter feel to the braiding work means it handles very differently to the Athena. The Zeus is more flexible for a start but, it can throw out the odd kink when initially rolled out. Those kinks below the splitter disappear fairly quickly, though the very long throw of the wire braiding after the splitter means it is much less pliant.
You will have up to 13 different connector options for the Zeus with the base 2-pin and MMCX/Fitear barrels free of charge. Our review sample is finished with 0.78mm 2-pin connectors and custom-designed with Satin Audio branding.
It is good to note that Satin Audio is now using Tellurium copper pins which seems to be the norm now for a lot of high-end cable manufactures. These pins are generally seen as being more conductive and stronger than traditional brass or bronze pins.
The connectors also come with small red and black rings at the base of the barrel to determine left and right easily. Strain relief is internal to the barrel with only the tiniest hint of rubber extending outwards. You will find no memory wire, hooks, or additional bulk either on the finishing which I much prefer for additional comfort.
The remaining connectors cover a wide base including Sony, Fitear, ATH, Etymotic. There is even a JH audio option with a bass module included for an additional $57.
Satin has opted to go with a more muted gunmetal carbon fiber printed barrels that match the gunmetal finish of their connectors on this sample. These are much smaller and lighter than the Athena 8-wire barrels and do much to reduce the weight of the Zeus in comparison.
The plastic chin cinch on the Athena is also replaced by a gunmetal finished aluminum version which feels more premium and durable. It slides pretty easily, does not seem to get stuck, and importantly holds its position when in use.
Interestingly, the gunmetal/carbon fiber jacks on the Zeus have had a bit of an upgrade in terms of the materials used with the introduction of palladium-plating.
However, the underlying materials are a Japanese-made copper & OFC on the new Zeus jacks. The concept here is all about the enhanced conductivity offered by the quality of OFC Copper, over 80% more than the normal brass jacks.
This particular review sample is terminated with a 2.5mm TRRS jack which works well with a wide range of converters and output jacks. However, you can terminate with a 3.5mm TRS and 4.4mm Pentaconn options depending on your preference.
The Zeus has a lovely balance between size and weight combined with the pliant jacket makes it very comfortable to wear. The lack of memory wire being used and internalizing the strain relief does help keep a lot of unwanted or uneven pressure of the ear. It also keeps the profile low enough to work quite well with glasses.
Microphonics below the splitter are non-existent, top-notch, and competitive with the likes of Code 51 or the Tri-Silver. However, above the splitter, the Zeus is slightly noisier. I think that’s due to the longer braid which creates a more tense feel to the wire. It is stiffer than the Code 51 and thus transmits a bit more perceptible noise when moved and tapped.
Packaging & Accessories
I have to say Satin Audio does some of the nicer packaging and accessory line-ups in the portable audio cable business. Granted, everyone is upping their game but it is still refreshing to see them avoid drab black boxes. This one has a similar high impact print much like the Athena design only with a Zeus bust on the front.
The unboxing has shades of qdc and iBasso with its slide-off sleeve and split black display box underneath. Inside you get pretty much everything you need. This includes a very stylish button-hole leather organizer strap which I think every aftermarket IEM company should include in their cable accessory line-up.
You are also provided with the same black sheepskin finished leather round carry case from the Athena that exudes a beautifully assuring leathery smell. Unlike the Athena, the smaller Zeus form factor means it is dead easy to fit inside the carry case with plenty of room to spare for monitors.
Satin Audio has also thrown in a smaller silk pouch which they include with the likes of the Medusa. This will provide a more svelte alternative should the leather case prove to be a bit on the large side for day to day use. It offers zero protection though so ‘user beware’ if you are stuffing acrylic monitors in there also.
Aside from that, you get some warranty and product information cards and stickers as well as a small silica container to prevent humidity damage.
Click on page 2 for performance impressions and comparisons