I recently posted a cable review and I started it with a statement, that I would like to put here as well, as it makes a good intro to this review, so here it goes:
Reviewing cables is always fun and exciting…will I get attacked by people that don’t believe that a cable can make a difference? Will it be called snake oil? Will the world end up covered with fire and nuclear winter arise?
Jokes aside, I know that a lot of people will never even consider such expensive cable to buy, so if you’re one of them…just don’t read this review, you really don’t have to. You might want to however because there’s always new and exciting stuff in audio that can actually make a difference, and IEM/Headphones cables are definitely one of them.
I personally never doubted a minute about what a good cable can do to my setup. Right when I started my audio journey I just gave cables a try and I never looked back. The same thing goes with loudspeakers, tell me that speaker cables don’t make a difference, and I’m going to highly doubt your sense of hearing.
What’s most unsettling about the whole cables debate is how people get so emotional. Listen up, you don’t have to buy aftermarket cables, no one will ever make you do it, stop feeling the pressure. At the same time, some people really enjoy cables, we cable-roll, we’re just having fun…stop calling us names pretending to be a Messiah because you’re not and you’ll never be. “OOOOH, cables are such a snake oil!”, “cables don’t make a difference”, “you have to be blah blah to buy a $x00 cable”. You have a right to have your opinion, but you don’t have to ruin people’s fun because of it.
And no, I’m not defending cables manufacturers, I’m not saying that everybody in this hobby should go on and buy expensive cables for their IEMs or headphones. Definitely not. But a lot of people just like to do so, and since they’re spending their own money, they can decide what they are going to spend it on. I would love people to stop antagonizing cables because it’s just pointless. Snake oil you say? If you would really like to go that far, then start calling everything audio-related a snake oil. You can listen to music just fine with a $10 earbuds.
Okay, now that we got this out of the way, let’s get into today’s review. Astral Acoustics is completely new to me, I never tried any of their products, so when they reached out to me to try their new Eclipse, it was a no-brainer for me. I always love to try new and exciting cables for IEMs, as I use IEMs a lot, mainly in bed before going to sleep. These late-night listening sessions are sacred to me, as these are the moments that I’m most calm and focused, so comparing and evaluating different products are very easy. I’ve spent many hours listening to the Eclipse now, and I’ve got my opinion ready, so let’s get into it.
The unboxing experience of the Eclipse is basic and pretty good. The cable comes in a basic box, and inside you’ll find your cable and a soft carrying pouch. While this is nowhere close to something like Eletech, this is an IEM cable, so it’s pretty hard to expect anything else.
Overall, the entire experience is basic, but I’ve got nothing to complain about. It’s not spectacular, it’s nothing special, but it’s good enough. It is the cable that matters in the end.
Design, Build and Comfort
Let’s get into the Eclipse now. Astral Acoustics proudly states that this is a very comfortable cable, saying this on their website:
“Worrying about the stiffness of the cable?
Well, it’s soft, very very very soft.”
Well, Astral Acoustics wasn’t kidding. The Eclipse is a very, very, very soft cable that is extremely comfortable and just a pleasure in everyday usage. Some aftermarket cables sacrifice comfort with their design, materials used, shielding, sleeving, etc.
Astral Acoustics definitely wanted to craft a cable that is going to be highly comfortable and convenient to use, and they succeeded without a doubt. This is a very important aspect of an IEM cable, so I’m happy to report that the Eclipse is just perfect in the comfort department.
As far as the design goes, the Eclipse looks good. Once again, it doesn’t look like anything exceptional, to be honest, the branding and color combination on the metal hardware looks a bit random, but it definitely doesn’t look “wrong” or “bad”. It lacks the refinement that Effect Audio and Eletech offer in their high-end models, but at the same time, the Eclipse is significantly cheaper than their TOTL offerings. Take note that I’m nitpicking, and the overall look and design of the Eclipse are both really good.
As far as the build quality is regarded, this is built perfectly. The braiding feels secure and even, and the metal hardware is of great quality. This is a cable that is going to last you a very long time unless you’ll run over it with your office chair or your cat decides that it’s time for a snack. If nothing crazy happens though, you won’t really have to worry about the durability, even if you won’t be too gentle with it. This is what a $1k cable should be.
The Eclipse is made of a 24 AWG Type 4 Litz 5n Silver. While it kinda sounds like a list of specifications of a gaming PC, you don’t really have to care about it. While it’s good to know the difference between a copper and a silver cable, every cable is different at the end of the day, and its sound performance is what matters the most.
So, IEM cables are often called “upgrade cables”, and this is the perfect way to describe the Eclipse. You might have heard a description at some point in your life, that silver cables have that rather bright and crisp tonality to them, but this is more present in the lower-end of the silver cables spectrum
For me, good silver cables always had that refined warmth and lushness to them, and the Eclipse is no different this time. It just doesn’t force anything, nor does it try to push any frequency more than the other. It just sounds as a whole, refining every single IEM I tried it with. There are some cables that will give you a specific type of sound, and the Eclipse is not really that.
It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its perks though. The Eclipse is a full-bodied, crisp, and refined-sounding cable that pairs extremely well with high-end IEMs, that are able to show its qualities. Astral Acoustics points out that the low frequencies got a lot of their attention to provide an “exceptional low-end rumble experience”, and it really sounds this way. The Eclipse has a lot of authority over the bass department, giving you a superbly controlled and impactful sound. It does that without boosting the bass, instead, it focuses on the quality of what’s already great. I will elaborate more in the Fir XE6 pairing section.
The midrange got that hyper-realistic timbre to it, making the Eclipse exceptional with vocals. While it’s not as “magical” as the Erua Tawa, it sounds more energetic and fresh. I haven’t heard a single track with vocal that the Eclipse failed with, giving a very mature and polished sound that is just incredibly fun and pleasant to listen to. My classic vocal test, “A Thousand Shards of Heaven” by Lunatic Soul sent shivers down my spine, and I’m not kidding. The Eclipse has that ability to make vocals sound marvelously rich and natural while remaining airy and tonally correct. It also does great with metal tracks, where the vocal spectrum tends to be a bit on the hot side, as its high resolution and full-bodied characteristic make this kind of music more enjoyable.
The treble section is very impressive as well. Good silver cables have the ability to improve the resolution of the treble, while not getting harsh, and the Eclipse is a great example of that. It just makes everything more pronounced and shimmering, but it doesn’t make the treble any hotter. In fact, I find that the Eclipse actually reduces the harshness of certain pairings by a tiny bit, while also providing a better detail retrieval and resolution, which is hugely impressive. There are many cables that offer great technical performance, but for the price of the treble getting hotter and sharper. The Eclipse has a fantastic technical performance while remaining calm and smooth at the same time, and this is just bonkers. Some TOTL IEMs are on the very edge between being incredibly detailed and a bit too much, and the Eclipse helps them to remain on the “safer” side while being even more detailed and pronounced. A true upgrade cable, to say the least, that’s what it is.
Lastly, the soundstage is what you could have expected. While it won’t transform your IEMs into a staging beast, it offers a great, black background and marvelous separation that will make your experience a tiny bit better. The imaging and the actual size of the soundstage are both highly natural but never sound extreme or artificial. If you have an IEM that stages well, the Eclipse will make it even better, but it won’t transform it into a different type of experience.
Fir Audio XE6
Let’s start this section with the best IEM I’ve ever tried and owned. The Fir Audio XE6 is an incredibly capable IEM that has that godlike bass response. When paired with the Eclipse, the bass gets even more physical and crisp, and I didn’t know this is possible.
Actually, I think that this is just a perfect combo. You’re getting a truly TOTL technical performance with one of the most natural timbres possible in the IEM world. The Eclipse is a fantastic choice for the XE6, as this is already an incredibly physical, natural, and technical-sounding IEM that doesn’t need anything changed. Instead, the XE6 performs the best with a cable that sounds natural, physical, and technically impressive, and the Eclipse is just that. While the XE6 sounds more romantic and charming with the Tawa, it has more energy and packs more punch with the Eclipse.
Comparing the Eclipse to the stock cable shows just how good the Eclipse is. Every single aspect of the sound gets improved by quite a lot. Everything opens up, everything is more clear, and more natural and the technical performance is better as well. While the stock cable supplied with the XE6 is actually good for a stock cable, it just cannot match the XE6 at all.
Unique Melody MEST
The Unique Melody MEST is still a fantastic IEM after being on the market for a while now. When it comes to its technical performance, it’s beaten only by the best IEMs on the market, while also sounding highly engaging and just fun.
The Eclipse makes the MEST more full-bodied and impactful in the bass department. The vocals get slightly thicker and smoother, which is highly desired with this IEM in my opinion. The treble presentation of the MEST can be a bit too much for some, especially when paired with silicone eartips, and the Eclipse once again adds that lushness and refinement to counter that. While the TAWA is an even better pairing with the MEST, mainly because of its romantic and incredibly rich tone, the Eclipse is not a joke as well. Choosing between the two with the MEST will definitely come down to your preferences.
One thing I’d like to highlight – While this may seem rather absurd to buy a cable for nearly as much as the IEM costs, the MEST still punches above its price tag, especially when we’ll consider its technical performance. Because of that, it is absolutely worth it to invest in a great cable to pair it with. The MEST is one of the most grateful IEMs when it comes to cables.
Unique Melody MEXT
Let’s see how the Eclipse pairs with MEST’s younger brother, the MEXT. This is an IEM that focuses on its huge, hard-hitting bass the most. The Eclipse improves on this aspect even more, making the MEXT one of the most physical-sounding IEM on the market.
The overall timbre of the MEXT is on the warmer sound and the Eclipse doesn’t really change it, quite the opposite actually. It has that tonality that is somewhat similar to the MEXT, so instead of changing it, it further enhances the feeling of a warm and insanely thick-sounding IEM. If this is what you’re after, then this pairing might be superb for you, but if you feel like the MEXT is just too big and warm sounding, the Eclipse will not be the best option for you.
Because of that, I’d call this pairing rather specific and I’d definitely suggest trying it before pulling the trigger.
Both the Tawa and the Eclipse are TOTL IEM cables, so this comparison just has to be done.
They have a different type of sound that is not that easy to compare. While the Eclipse is slightly warm, energetic, and very full-bodied sounding, the Tawa is romantic, rich, and colorful, so they both have different strengths.
Choose the Tawa, if you want that unique, incredibly rich, and romantic sound that shines in the vocal area the most. The Eclipse on the other hand focuses more on the bass, which is physical and powerful. Both are spectacular, and choosing between them will come down to your preferences and the IEMs you’re going to pair them with.
If you’d like to sweeten your IEMs up a bit, add color to the sound and improve the vocal area, the Tawa is your guy. If you want to add body, physicality, and sparkles to your sound, the Eclipse might be a better option. At the end of the day, both cables are fantastic in their own way and I can easily recommend both.
When it comes to the build quality and comfort, they do trade blows. The Erua Tawa has more unique-looking metal hardware and it looks better, and more refined than the Eclipse. The latter on the other hand is more comfortable because of being incredibly smooth. The Tawa is significantly more expensive than the Eclipse, so keep that in mind as well.
The Astral Acoustics Eclipse was a surprise for me. This brand is totally new to me and my expectations weren’t extremely high, to be honest.
Luckily, the Eclipse has proven itself worthy of its asking price. This is an incredibly comfortable, well-built pure silver cable that sounds fresh, warm, full-bodied, and refined, with no weak points. While it won’t shock you in the beginning, and it’s not going to alter the sound of your IEMs all that much, it is with the time that you’re going to appreciate it more and more. Its sound performance is very mature and well put-together, and Astral Acoustics just proved that they are a force to be reckoned with in the future. Well done.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Fir Audio XE6, Unique Melody MEST, Unique Melody MEXT
- Sources– Cayin N3 Pro, Hifiman EF400, Yulong Aurora, EarMen Angel, EarMen Colibri
Big thanks to Astral Acoustics for providing the Eclipse for this review. I wasn’t paid or asked to say anything good or bad about this product, all of the above is just my personal, unbiased opinion. Astral Acoustics hasn’t seen this review before publishing it.
Astral Acoustics was kind enough to share a promo code: EF10 for 10% off! I don’t get any commission out of your purchase, but you’re getting 10% off, which is just fabulous. Enjoy!