Review: Effect Audio Mars & Leonidas

Leonidas – Limited Black Edition

 

Linus recently got himself one of the limited edition black Leonidas cables. Below are his thoughts on it, including a short comparison to the original Leonidas. The review of the original Leonidas and Mars cable can be found here: https://headfonia.com/review-effect-audio-mars-leonidas/

Around last Christmas Effect Audio announced that they will have a very limited run of a special version of my favourite cable – Leonidas.

No major changes were applied to it, only the used connectors, Y-split and plug are now in very elegant black instead of metallic silver. Those are the only hardware changes they made. On top of having a limited edition of a world-class cable you however are granted access to Effect Audio’s VIP Black Club which lets you enjoy perks and black parts on your future purchases. You also gain access to insider group chats with EA’s management team. I also received a black Effect Audio T-shirt (now I know that I’m Asian size XL) and a new and bigger black leather case. The inner part of the case’s top tells me that my set of LBE Leonidas was the 20th built. Nice. The Black went for $899.

Personally, I didn’t give much about the VIP club or the direct chat with Effect’s management, mostly because I chat with Eric on a regular basis. What did peak my interest though was the fact that this limited-edition Leo also came with their proprietary PSquared plug and ferrite guard, which my early adopter Leonidas did not have. I’ve heard many good things about it and Eric also watered my mouth when he told me what it does. So I bought my second pair of Leonidas… call me crazy but this is a damn good cable, so good that the possibility of enhancing its strengths was justification enough for me to shell out some more money on a cable I practically already had. After a few weeks, my new toy had arrived. One thing was very noticeable upon first inspection. It is more flexible and a whole lot more silver in tone than my first Leonidas. Before it was very easy to spot the gold-plated silver wires of Leo, now you have to look closer. Build quality is like we’re used to from Effect Audio – perfect. I really like the black components

What really matters though is sound, and now we’re getting to the good stuff. To compare cables, I use my two pairs of Katanas. Katana is the one monitor in my inventory that shows chain changes the most obvious. I fired up my Hugo2 for its dual output and compared them side by side.

LBE Leonidas has a more cleaned up and open sound, with higher resolution and precision, tickling out even the finest of details. What remained from his non limited version is the buttery smoothness and superb staging and layering. The stage does stretch further into width and depth, not by a mile, but there are differences. Bass is tight and organic just like with regular Leonidas, but gives a bit more body to the deeper sub-bass regions. Black Leonidas is more dynamic in my opinion. Treble is sparkling and rich in tone, just how I prefer it. Thankfully limited Leo also matches incredibly well with virtually all my monitors, yet I have it mostly hooked up to the fantastic A18 or Katana.

All those sonic upgrades definitely made the purchase of a second Leonidas worth in my opinion. I can’t say how or if a regular Leonidas with PSquared plug and ferrite guard sounds different than my black edition. Of course I’d like to know, but at some point I have to stop buying more Leonidas… Effect Audio doesn’t offer them with this termination though. Bespoke maybe. No, I have to fight my inner devil this time.

Will Effect Audio do another limited edition Leonidas? I don’t know, but if they do, I suggest to jump on it! The superiority of their own PSquared plug and ferrite guard is amazing and makes an obvious difference in sound. I just wish all my cables would come with it.

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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