Welcome to my Cliffnotes, a series where I push out rapid fire opinions of some of the IEMs I’ve heard but can’t be bothered to fully review. Thus I won’t get too in-depth, nor will I be too formal and technical. Less analysis, more… from-the-heart if you will.
You’re probably thinking to yourself: oh no, Crinacle’s doing cable reviews! The world is ending!
Well fret not, Effect Audio is simply branching out into the IEM world. They have traditionally been a boutique cable company and has been around for as long as I can remember. Probably a decade or more I believe. Now they’ve established themselves as one of the most well-known boutique cable brands on the market, even partnering with brands like Empire Ears and Jomo Audio as the provider of their stock cables.
It’s no surprise that the Symphony and the King Arthur aren’t their first rodeo; the more seasoned of you may remember the Genesis, a highly limited collaboration between Effect Audio and Jomo Audio with only 15 units existing around the world. Or perhaps you may remember the Arthur, which was basically a Zeus with the internal wiring swapped out for Effect Audio’s.
The Symphony is an IEM that’s part of Effect Audio’s “Twin” lineup, alongside the Sonata, and manufactured by an undisclosed collaborator. On the other hand, the King Arthur is a continued collaboration with Empire Ears to create their own branded IEM flagship, but nothing in their marketing materials seem to indicate that Empire Ears were involved. An interesting detail that may indicate that Empire Ears are involved in a more OEM-type capacity rather than a true partnership.
So Effect Audio, seems that you’ve entered my turf. Let’s see how your IEMs fare.
Effect Audio Symphony
MSRP: 1200SGD (~$890)
Driver configuration: 3BA
God damn, given the amount of information there is about this IEM floating around on the internet, you would’ve believed that this doesn’t exist.
The Symphony is what happens when you take a Phantom, give it even more plodding warmth and then killed the treble some more. It’s a sad, almost soulless signature that is a caricature of the “warm, thick, euphoric, lush, musical” kind of sound that people love to gush over in novella-style reviews. Except this time, it leans so far into that direction that all I get is “muddy, veiled, cloying, saturated” and any other descriptor remotely close to those.
The Symphony has no detail. It has no definition. It barely has any soundstage. It sounds like I’m wading through a tar pit of lower-mids, and the sensation of claustrophobia overwhelms me every time a percussion attempts to cut its way through all the sustain and decay that this IEM stretches out into the heat death of the universe. Listening to this IEM is more work than enjoyment as I find myself straining to hear even the most surface-level detailing at times.
That’s not even mentioning the price. The price. This is daylight robbery for the kind of performance you get, but then I remembered that this is a boutique cable maker we’re talking about.
And even this is better than the flagship.
Effect Audio King Arthur
Product page: https://www.effectaudio.com/earphones/king-arthur.html
Driver configuration: 16BA
This thing has somehow managed to win awards. And to the “awards” I just have one thing to say.
Take all the criticism I’ve said about the Symphony. Just take a look at it all and apply it to the King Arthur. And now, allow me let me say one more thing on top of all that.
The King Arthur… is worse.
It almost fetishises the dark, lower-mid heavy signature that, again, ends up like a caricature of what it’s trying to do rather than anything resembling a “good sound”. Don’t get me wrong, there are great warm IEMs out there such as the Vision Ears VE8 or the Ultimate Ears UE18+ (2nd gen), but this is simply a piss-poor attempt that fails to counterbalance its highly-coloured tonality with at least a decent amount of resolving ability. Of which it lacks. Severely.
Effect Audio can shove in all the drivers in the world into the King Arthur but they cannot save it from its own horrendous tuning. I can see why Empire Ears didn’t want to put their name on this IEM because, as much as I don’t agree with their tuning direction, I know it wouldn’t survive past the prototyping phase of their product development process. It’s a garbled mess that no self-respecting company should ever think of releasing, much less charge $7,000 for.
Pst hey Effect Audio, maybe give me a call. I can do a better job than whoever’s in charge of your tuning.
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