Review: Effect Audio Mars & Leonidas

Sound

The Mars cable produces crystal clear sound and it is very detailed from bass to highs. Mars does that with a light presentation in amount of body. It isn’t the most full bodied sound like you get with most copper cables and Mars’ sound signature focusses more on the higher mids and treble. Voices are extremely natural and sound a little more forward as mids and bass don’t have the biggest body. The layering from bass to highs is excellent with heaps of details while always sounding clean.

The Mars cable performs effortlessly but it for me isn’t the kind of cable I use with all of my monitors and for each type of music. The Mars sounds excellent with the Vision Ears 5 and the Unique Melody Maestro just to name two, but it isn’t the ideal cable for more full sounding monitors like the Cosmic Ears or the Inear StageDiver SD3 and SD4. The Maestro is an excellent monitor and it plays well with a whole range of cables from copper to silver to hybrid, but this is the monitor I like the Mars most with.

Leonidas 2

Mars is an excellent cable for listening to classical music and female vocals. If you can afford $999 for one meter of IEM-cable than you probably also own a TOTL portable player. That actually is needed as the Mars cable picks up everything. So yes, you’ll also need top quality files. If everything in your chain is of good quality, then the Mars will never disappoint. Just keep in mind its characteristics described above.




The Effect Audio Thor Copper is one of Effects most famous cables and it goes for $149. It’s a cable that is affordable for a lot more people and the cable has a very full/big bodied sound that makes bass and mids bigger and thicker. It’s a cable that is very easy to like and we reviewed it back in 2014 already. The reason I’m bringing this up is because the Leonidas cable is like a perfect mix between the Mars and the Thor Copper.

Mars 2

The Leonidas cable sounds very clear and clean but it doesn’t reach the same high level as the Mars does. In return – on top of keeping the same great layering and detail – it also has more body in the bass and mids. While the Mars is exceptionally good for voices the Leonidas is more of an all-rounder. I didn’t find one single monitor in my collection on that I didn’t like the Leonidas with. It simply has the perfect mix of detail, clarity and body and it is extremely easy to love. When I’m out I always have a balanced Linum cable with me in the monitor’s hard case but I have to admit that ever since the Leonidas arrived, the Linum cable – while being extremely good – became second choice.

When I told one of the European CIEM makers about this cable, they didn’t really believe me but when they got hold of the Leonidas they could only confirm what I had told them. In fact, the Leonidas also became the to-go-to cable for their own personal monitor. At the moment the Leonidas is making me enjoy the Warbler 1 (soon on HFN!) a whole lot, and I think it’ll be one of my favorite cables for a very long time (together with the Linum).  Another advantage is that the Leonidas is more forgiving then the Mars.

Conclusion

Both cables obviously aren’t cheap but they both sound really good. If you’re looking for a great sounding musical cable that does everything really well, then the Leonidas is the one for you. If you listen to classical, jazz of vocally strong music and you want the absolute best in detail and clarity, then the Mars is the one to get.

Build quality-wise these cables are as good as it gets: perfect connectors, great soldering, nice braids, etc. They’re flawless. Both cables obviously can’t touch the Linum cables for what comfort is concerned. Compared to the Thor Copper however – which can pull your monitors down – both of these cables are light and they don’t bother you at all when wearing them over your ears. Friction noise is as good as inexistent as well and as a result both cables are very comfortable. Each cable of course can be terminated with the connectors of your choice (my cables have a 2.5mm TRRS and the normal 2-Pin IEM connectors).

Mars and VE5

Effect Audio did a great job with these cables and if you’re in the market for a high end boutique cable I really suggest you give both of these a listen. Effect audio has several dealers worldwide and they work together with several IEM companies. They also seem to attend a lot of headphone shows so demoing these cables should be fairly easy.

Thumbs up for both of these cables!

IMG_20160216_111139 - Copy

Review: Effect Audio Mars & Leonidas
4.1 (82.86%) 21 vote[s]

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

15 Comments

  • Reply June 6, 2016

    Kristian Lindecrantz

    Wow a thousand dollar IEM cable… Insanity…

    • Reply June 6, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      Like with all things people can buy, there are extremes. And if you can afford it, why not buy it, right? There are far more expensive cables than these btw. I know people that buy 8000€ power cables… 😀

      • Reply June 6, 2016

        digitldlnkwnt

        i have seen people buy used, pre-soiled underwear on eBay. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

        • Reply June 6, 2016

          Headfonia_L.

          Hahahaha 🙂

          • Reply June 6, 2016

            digitldlnkwnt

            that said if i had such disposable income for the Leonidas i may consider it, as long as it doesn’t get you kicked in the chest, straight into a bottomless pit. Personally i don’t think i would ever need to change my Lyra’s Tinsel cable except for the 2.5 TRRS version on my way to me as we speak.

            • Reply June 6, 2016

              dalethorn

              It likely would make a difference, but not completely predictable what the difference would sound like. You really need to have it for a month or more, then how do you return it?

              • Reply June 6, 2016

                digitldlnkwnt

                Exactly. I am really happy with my setup the way it is so i would just keep that cash in my pocket. I think this where the law of deminishing returns starts to kick in for me.

  • Reply June 6, 2016

    Kenny Lim

    No review for the Ares II+?

    • Reply June 6, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      I haven’t received that request from Effect audio 🙂

  • Reply June 7, 2016

    Barun C

    Nice stuff Lieven. I was getting a bit disappointed when the Super Bax was announced last month at an approximate cost of 250 Euros, considering the other versions are considerably cheaper in price, but the Mars and Leonidas are just way out there. They are stretching beyond my CIEM budget.

    I get that different cables sound different if not better. The first time I found that out was when I heard the Denon Ah-D 950 headphones, which comes with 6N OFC cables by default, as they sounded somehow cleaner and puchier from pretty bad sources, where other headphones with similar efficiency in terms of driving capability sounded muddy and veiled. With proper sources though, the difference was not discernible. .

    BTW, I pulled the trigger on the Harmony 8.2 last night at the pre-order price.

    • Reply June 7, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      I am sending mu H8P back to Poland for the upgrade as well 🙂
      When is your ETA for the 8.2?

      • Reply June 7, 2016

        Barun C

        Yes, you told me a few days back, which lead me to do some research about them.

        So, I read about the extra cross-over and suggested modifications to the original 8/8 Pro in terms of SQ and was hooked. Then, I saw the pre-order price and I jumped on board, cause it seemed like a good discount price. I saved around $230.

        ETA, I don’t know yet. Will be shipping the impressions by tomorrow. Official release is July I guess. My first CIEM, so a bit worried about the fit. Any advice will be helpful.

        BTW are you going to review the Harmony 8.2?

        • Reply June 7, 2016

          Headfonia_L.

          I am indeed. My H8P is in silicone, I actually have no idea if the 8.2 is Acrylic or Silicone.

          Just make sure your ear impressions are deep enough in the canal and that there’s enough goo all over your ear on the outside. Before sending in the impressions, send CA a picture first to check if they are ok. Also use a bite block or one or two fingers when they’re taking the impressions, also swallow a few times

          • Reply June 7, 2016

            Barun C

            That’s great, will wait for your review. I got the silicon version too, they are available in both acrylic and silicon.

            Did the impressions yesterday, they seem to like the impressions, so I’ll ship them tomorrow. In terms of use, how do silicon CIEMs perform with regard to isolation and when it comes to handling care, when compared to acrylic CIEMs. Hope you can shade some light on this.

            • Reply June 7, 2016

              Headfonia_L.

              comfort wise they are a bit softer on the ears but they also are a little more sweaty. there is no difference in isolation or sound. the only difference will be in the long run as the glue used adheres less to the silicon. It’s noticeable already after under a year of use (in examples the canals get loose but it shouldn’t impact the sound).

              Personally I’d go for the Acrylic version but I want one silicone in my collection for reference

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