Picture Sunday: 4.4mm Balanced by Effect Audio – Ares II

Disclaimer: Ares II IEM cable was sent to us by Effect Audio. It is terminated with a 4.4mm jack for me to try out the balanced output of Sony WM1A. To check out previous Picture Sunday posts just click HERE.


For some time, 2.5mm balanced has been a widely accepted standard for DAPs, especially Astell&Kern had been the pioneer. Sony on the other hand came up with a different balanced standard. Ares II IEM cable is supplied to us by Effect Audio to hear the difference.

4.4mm was introduced in 2014 and it is not a Sony proprietary jack. This is supported by Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA). WM1A and WM1Z are the first products that support both 3.5mm and 4.4mm outputs. This new standard already has it’s own place in the industry. So aftermarket cable makers just have adapted themselves to this.


Effect Audio cables are known for their good perfomance and quality, and my experience is no different with Ares II. The cable is very lightweight, not bulky or thick for portable usage, and the craftsmanship is top notch. 4.4mm balanced jack is very sturdy and sticks to Sony very well. I’m very satisfied with the cable’s performance and ergonomics, and 4.4mm jack gives a very durable feeling compared to 2.5mm jacks for sure.

Lieven reviewed some of Effect Audio’s cables already, and you can see he likes them very much: Click to read Mars&Leonidas, Eros II and Thor Silver II+.

As for the Walkman WM1A, the balanced output performs extremely well, putting this DAP among the very best right now. The power output is stronger than single-ended, and it can play Native DSD through balanced as well. When I post its review I will give the details and all the other stuff.

But if you own a WM1A or WM1Z, you should at least try out the balanced output immediately.

4.4/5 - (21 votes)

A keen audiophile and hobby photographer, Berkhan is after absolute perfection. Whether it is a full-frame camera or a custom in-ear, his standpoint persists. He tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level as audio. Sometimes photography wins, sometimes his love for music takes over and he puts that camera aside. Simplistic expressions of sound in his reviews are the way to go for him. He enjoys a fine single malt along with his favourite Jazz recordings.


  • What a great idea , a headphone which does nor fit 100% of the audio gear on the market. NOT!

    • Reply May 9, 2017


      Well, when 2.5mm was introduced it was the same. 4.4mm is better than 2.5 if you ask me, especially from durability standpoint.

  • Reply May 10, 2017

    Rob L

    I have used both outputs on my WM1A with my Campfire Lyra, and I have to say, the balanced is audibly better in every way. I have the AK240 for which I got the balanced cable, and compared to the SE cable, the sound lost impact. Even you gain a bit more separation, with a loss in bass impact IMO it isn’t a worthwhile trade. Sonys’ implementation of 4.4 standards is precisely the opposite. You get the usually expected sound stage improvements but with a more compelling presentation overall. If you have the Sony, and a favorite pair of IEM’s an item of expenditure on 4.4 balanced cables is entirely worth it.
    Thanks for writing this article to highlight this improvement in mobile audio.

    • Reply May 10, 2017


      Thank you very much for your words. I completely agree with your opinions.

  • Reply July 30, 2018


    Hi Berkhan,
    May I ask if this cable is compatible with the old Sony MDR EX1000/800-ST?

    Thank you.

    • Reply August 1, 2018


      Not sure, check EA website if they have Sony IEM connectors. I don’t know what type of connector Sony uses.

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