Today we check out the Satin Audio Medusa II and Athena cables. They are priced at 259$ and 799$ US.
Disclaimer: Satin Audio supplied the Medusa II and Athena completely free of charge for this review. Headfonia is not affiliated with Satin Audio in any way. Both cables remain Satin’s property and can be requested back at any time. Many thanks for the generosity and opportunity.
About Satin Audio:
Satin Audio is a cable manufacturer hailing in from Vientam. They offer a wide range of different aftermarket cables with which they made themselves a name for providing very good price to performance ratio.
My first hand experience with Satin Audio started with the Nair and Clariden by Gaudio, as they bundle their monitors with Satin’s Hyperion. Prior to that, I only heard about Satin Audio from others.
Satin Audio provides a broad portfolio of IEM aftermarket cables, ranging from 60$ all the way up to 1,399$ US. They also sell a few IEMs from AAW, Oriolus and 64 Audio. On top of that you can also get DIY parts directly from them.
In today’s review we’re looking at two very popular cables of theirs. The four-wired Medusa II and the eight-wire Athena.
About Medusa II & Athena:
There are a few things both cables have in common. From a first glance I can tell that both use 26 AWG sized wires in multi sized strands and Satin Audio’s proprietary insulation. The insulation is very clear and lets you peek at the naked wires. I assume it’s a PVC based insulation, which is prone to break and go stiff over time.
The Medusa II and Athena both use up to 7N pure materials as conductors and something they call Satin special structure in their geometry. Both cables use Type 4 Litz wires, which makes them a fair bit thinner than PlusSound’s Type 6 cables for example.
The Athena is a hybrid cable using pure silver and palladium-plated silver wires retailing for 415 USD in four-wire and 799 USD in eight-wire configuration. It has a current build time of two to three days. The Medusa II is a pure silver cable that sells for 259 USD respectively 509 USD. Its build time right now is 7-10 business days.
You can get the cables in many different configurations. Including 2-pin, MMCX, FitEar, JH 4-pin, ATH, IPX (UE, InEarz) or even Etymotic. Termination wise you can select between 3.5mm, 2.5mm balanced, 4.4mm balanced, Kobiconn, 3.5mm balanced and a few more. Some of these selections come at an extra charge though.
Satin Audio ships their cables in unique boxes. On both you can find different drawings that look very nice in my opinion. Of course tastes vary and you could potentially find them hideous. The good thing is, you can then just throw the box out.
The Medusa II comes in a very small box in which you will find the cable, a carrying pouch, a warranty card, stickers and a leather cable binder.
The Athena comes in a bigger box. Supplied with the cable you’ll find a similar accessory set. On top of the warranty card, stickers, cable binder and carrying pouch you also get a nice sheep leather box. Now, the stitches on top of the box might suggest its sewn together, the truth however is, that the top is glued on. Which would be fine, would the glue actually hold them together. My leather box ripped apart quite easily. That’s just poor quality control in my opinion and could have been avoided. Maybe it was just bad luck.
In general the presentation of the cables is very much spot on though.
Build Quality and Ergonomics:
Satin Audio’s cables show nice and consistent braiding on both cables. Of course the four-wire Medusa II is slimmer and lighter than the eight-wire Athena. I selected 4.4 mm plugs for them, and to my surprise they didn’t come with identical ones. The Athena uses a Pentaconn made plug, while the Medusa II looks like it’s using a customized Eidolic one.
The rest of the hardware, Y-split and 2-pins, both look like customized Eidolic to me. Especially the 2-pin barrels look a lot like the ones I have on my DHC cables, which uses Eidolic. Both the Athena and Medusa have black carbon accents in their hardware, which looks very nice.
When you look closely at the 4.4 mm plugs, you’ll see that they both come with crimped together strain reliefs. Which is excellent. It should be standard procedure, but shockingly it isn’t. Something I am not really a fan of, is the silicone chin slider of the Athena. The Medusa II has a small piece of metal that does the job nicely, but the Athena’s slider is cumbersome to move up and annoys me quite a bit. A better solution would have been preferred. Although the Athena sure is limited by its eight-wire design. So I give them that. Other manufacturers chose not to include a chin slider for that reason on their eight-wire cables.
Satin uses their own proprietary insulation called “SA insulation II”. While it’s nicely transparent and let’s you look at the wires, it isn’t as soft and flexible as other cables from Effect Audio or PlusSound. On the other hand, it also isn’t as stiff as the Torfa cables by HanSound. I assume the SA insulation II is PVC based, in which case the cables are prone to go stiff over time. It’s a normal process that usually is boosted by contact with oily skin.
In terms of ergonomics I strongly prefer the Medusa II over the Athena. Simply because the four-wire per ear Athena is a bit too thick and heavy for my taste. To be fair, I generally prefer thinner cables when I’m out and about. The Medusa II is lighter and disappears better when worn. All due to simple physics.
All on Sound on page two!