Effect Audio Virtuoso Black is a special edition of the well-known Virtuoso. It is a limited time only product, and it comes at 149 USD.
Sound quality for the price
Virtuoso Black comes in a standard, black box. It’s pretty minimalistic and good looking, and we shouldn’t expect anything extraordinary in this price range.
Inside you’ll find the cable and some paperology including the warranty information, cleaning and handling instructions and the basic info about the cable itself. Again, for the price – do we need more? I don’t think so.
Effect Audio has been known for its great build quality, and it’s no different this time.
The Virtuoso Black is free from blemishes, it looks sturdy and reliable. The 3.5mm connector is a custom-made black aluminium one, with the Effect Audio logo printed on it. It has a small footprint and provides a great grip.
The splitter is also a custom-made aluminium shell with just a small logo on the top part. Its finish isn’t top tier as it shows some signs of the production’s method, but you really have to look closely to spot it. Nonetheless, it works just fine, providing a good slide across the whole length and it doesn’t tend to loosen up on its own.
The 2-pin connectors (I’m using the Virtuoso Black with my custom Lime Ears Aether R) are quite similar to the jack connector, but they are obviously quite smaller. Once again, absolutely nothing to dislike about it – it’s well made, comfortable to use and it just works fine. What’s worth mentioning, at least for me is that the pins sit very tight in the sockets, providing excellent security, and I’ve dropped my Aether R’s once because the stock cable wasn’t holding to the sockets very tightly.
The wire itself is well…black. It is not transparent as we’re used to in terms of the Effect Audio cables, but hence the name, it’s all black here. It looks good, and the braiding is very consistent.
Thanks to Effect Audio’s “UltraFlexi Jacket” the Virtuoso black is a very comfortable cable to use. It’s playable, lightweight, and most importantly – it’s not stiff.
The earhooks are very comfortably molded, and it goes around my ears with ease, providing a fatigue-free experience.
Basically, when I’m using the Virtuoso black I don’t really feel it…and that’s a good thing when it comes to the IEM cable.
Virtuoso Black is made of a 26 AWG, Selected UP-OCC Pure Material, which means that it’s a silver-plated copper (SPC) construction. Effect Audio also states Golden Ratio Dispersion, Triple-Size Stranded Design and Woven Kevlar-Infused Multi-Stranded Litz, though I ain’t gonna really explain those shortcuts. It just shows that these guys are serious about their products and they infused some nice technology into them, which is a great thing I believe.
Well, reviewing the sound of an IEM cable is….very, very subjective. It will always depend on the cable you’re comparing it to, and in terms of such a budget offering, we really shouldn’t expect it to provide spectacular changes to the sound of our in-ears.
The bass is slightly elevated, and it has a nice body to it. Compared to the stock Lime Ears Aether R cable it also has much better definition and clarity, providing better control for low frequencies.
The biggest difference is probably the dynamics, which are much better on the Virtuoso Black. The bass slams harder, tighter and more lively, while it also shows more information. Clear win.
The midrange is clean, crispy and airy compared to the stock cable. The microdynamics is much better, and the sense of airiness really blows the stock cable out of the water.
Vocals are better separated from the rest of the sounds, and they’re more textured.
Treble is crispy and airy, also the details are better on the Virtuoso Black. It is slightly elevated, but by no means sharp or overdone. High frequencies are sounding a bit forward and vivid, but at the same time, they are smooth and rich. In comparison, the stock cable sounds dull and shallow, with worse texture and overall laziness in the treble region.
The soundstage is also improved compared to the stock cable. It is wider, deeper and airier. Also, the imaging is better thanks to more definition and a slight boost in the upper-treble area. Overall, you get a much better sense of instruments positioned around your head.
Effect Audio Virtuoso Black is a brilliant aftermarket cable at an affordable price. It’s well made, comfortable and it outperforms the stock cable of Lime Ears Aether R by miles – without spending too much. It’s a great upgrade for a fraction of the price of the CIEMs themselves. Definitely recommended.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- IEMs – Lime Ears Aether R, Vision Ear Elysium, Vision Ears EVE20
- Sources– Cayin N3Pro, Cayin N6ii, JDSLabs Atom stack,
Founder of Ear Fidelity. I’ve been into audio for many years, working in production, distribution, retail, and marketing throughout my career. Now trying to revolutionize the art of reviewing audio gear, but one thing will never change: Music is the most important.