The original Leonidas II is the first cable I hook up to new gear, and it never fails me. I expected similar results with the eight-wired counterpart, and again have not been disappointed.
64 Audio – Tia Trió
The Trió is a nicely balanced monitor with decent organic warmth in it. For the last couple of weeks, it has been my daily driver and I’ve grown fond of it. With the Leonidas II Octa in the chain I get a better controlled bass with higher resolution and extension. Lows have better texture and layering and are bound with a tighter grip. There is excellent speed and dynamics in the bass.
Mids are more transparent and open. Vocals seem to have a touch more air in them, making them slightly more emotionally grabbing. Instruments stand out from a darker background, but are highlighted precisely to stand out clear.
The biggest changes have been made to technical parameters. The sound stage stretches wider and deeper and puts the scene more in front of you. Imaging has stepped up noticeably and the resolution is incredible. Layering and instrumental separation are superb.
Treble is a touch softer and more enjoyable. The tia treble can become a bit dry in the higher frequencies, but the Leonidas II helps well here.
64 Audio – A18
One of my favorite pairings of the A18 is the regular Leonidas II. It just transforms it to an even higher end IEM. The Octa Leonidas II does the same, but to a higher extent.
With the A18 as sparring partner, I get a bigger sound stage, better extension and improved imaging. What I love about the A18 is its extreme precision and accuracy, with the Leonidas II Octa in the chain it’s able to step up even further.
There is higher resolution with enhanced texture and layering. The sound stage goes a bit deeper and wider. The 64 Audio IEM extends deeper into sub-bass. Low ends are tighter and more dynamic.
The key signature of the A18 is still intact, and that’s a wonderful thing. The Leonidas II Octa simply took the 64 to a higher level in terms of technical performance. Treble again did get a touch softer and sweeter.
Empire Ears – Phantom
The Phantom is a monitor that I put highly for its accuracy. It’s one of the nicest monitors when it comes to listening to instrumental pieces, with its warm and soothing tonality. However, it does have a few draw-backs, especially in the upper midrange and treble section.
One of my biggest complaints about Phantom is the missing air. The Leonidas II Octa puts in more of that, especially around instruments to give them better separation. Some vocals however could still use a portion of air for my taste.
Imaging is one of the key-strengths of Phantom. It doesn’t throw a majestically large stage, but it organizes the musicians on the stage so very well, that it’s easy to pin point them in your head. This part gets even better with Leonidas II Octa, as the background is darker and gives the notes more contrast to stand out from.
Overall there is also higher resolution and nicer texture. Phantom creates a wider and deeper stage, but still isn’t overly large in that aspect.
JH Audio – Layla
Layla is my zone-out IEM with which I can kick back to and simply enjoy my favorite tunes. Though it comes with the JH Audio 4-pin sockets, I can still use my Leonidas II Octa with it, thanks to the E4UA adapters I got. These give me the benefit of being able to roll cables on my Layla and even bring the bass-dial the JH monitors are known for.
The stock cable of Layla is its biggest point of weakness in my opinion. Swapping it for a higher-grade copper cable does wonders already, but when replacing the silver-plated copper stock with the Leonidas II Octa you’re in for a real treat.
I noticed significant changes in imaging and resolution. Though Layla already is packed with heaps of resolution, the Leonidas II Octa puts in considerably more. You will gain a darker and deeper background, excellent layering and imaging bar none. This is the best I’ve heard my Layla sound thus far.
The sound stage again stretches further on all axis, while keeping things so well-organized JH’s flagship is known for. I just love that Layla’s signature doesn’t get moved around here, and it keeps its organic and full-bodied sound. Layla reaches higher and deeper into the spectrum and has enhanced values of air and speed. Bass is tighter but also of higher resolution with nicer texture. Mids are more transparent and smooth, while treble gets more room to play.
The last page concentrates on comparisons and conclusion.