Erua Audio is a Taiwanese brand, a subbrand of Aure to be precise. Erua is backwards for Aure, smart, isn’t it?
It was founded in 2020, offering high-quality aftermarket cables for IEMs. The word Erua comes from a forest on the north island in New Zealand, that is known for its richness in natural resources and ecological environment.
“The wire of ERUA Audio is named after the tree varieties in the forest, representing its wires to interpret the nature, abundance and vitality of music.”
We’ve previously reviewed two of their models, the previously mentioned flagship, TAWA (review here), and their midrange model MIRO (review here). Since we absolutely love both, it was a pleasure to hear that the Vidar Alter is on its way for a review. Truth is when I saw this model I immediately messaged Erua owner to see if we can get one to try, as this is (in my subjective opinion), one of the best-looking cables I’ve ever seen in my life.
So, what is Vidar Alter? If it’s “alter”, then there has to be a standard Vidar, right?
Yes, there is. The standard Vidar is pretty similar in its construction to the Alter version, but the latter is said to have a more pronounced and powerful tuning than the standard edition. It surely does look like a more “dark, powerful” cable with its astonishing design. I don’t have the standard Vidar, so no comparison, I’m sorry. Okay, let’s hop right in.
The packaging hasn’t changed since the last products that we reviewed. Their cables still come in a rather nice and big box that has a “hidden” compartment to reveal what’s inside.
Speaking of what’s inside, there’s the Vidar Alter of course, a soft pouch, and a warranty card. That’s all, and honestly, I couldn’t imagine anything else than that, to be honest.
The carrying pouch is really nice quality and it’s big enough to store any IEMs with the Vidar Alter plugged in. It’s cool to see that. In a world where even some IEMs don’t come with a case, having some spare quality pouch is certainly nice to have (especially if you’re like me, and you’ve got…well, I don’t even know how many IEMs I have).
Design, Build and Comfort
I’ll put it as simple as I can – The Vidar Alter is a masterpiece when it comes to both build quality and design. I still can’t believe that this cable is $280. I’ve seen cables that are ten times the price of the Vidar Alter that we’re nowhere close to it.
First up, is the design. The color of the Vidar Alter is pretty unique, consisting of two gray wires and two green(ish). Colored cables are usually definitely a no-no for me, I don’t like my cables red, orange etc, but come on, you’ve probably seen hundreds of my photos, I’m into minimalism and black/white/gray color scheme.
This time it’s totally different though. The color scheme of the Vidar Alter is just astonishing, giving a very mature, yet interesting and kinda weird (in a good way) look. If Acid Trip was a cable, this would be it.
The wires themselves are paired with a blackened titanium alloy splitter, 4.4mm plug, and 2-pin connectors, and they are finished marvelously. It certainly looks like a very premium cable, and having its price in mind, it looks and feels nowhere like a $280 one. Fantastic job Erua.
The comfort of the Vidar Alter is spot-on. Even though it’s a rather thick cable, it feels soft, doesn’t tangle at all (literally) and it’s just great to use. It’s flexible, soft, and the splitter has that unique (and really cool-looking) design that makes it not getting in the way while using. The sleeve of the cable is made of a Customized medical-grade SoftFlex cover and it does a brilliant job. Actually, the Erua owner told me that it’ll get even softer with more time spent with the Vidar Alter – I actually can’t imagine it getting softer, but I’ll gladly find it out in the future.
Overall, the Vidar Alter, in terms of its physical appearance is nowhere close to any other $300 cable I’ve seen in my life. Its craftsmanship level, design, and ergonomics are all reminiscent of a high-end, $1000+ cable. So far, this is a ridiculously good value, but the sound quality is THE thing that matters the most, so let’s get into it.
Overall, reviewing IEM cables is not an easy task. They do deliver a different kind of performance depending on what you’ll pair them with. Luckily, the Vidar Alter has its own sound signature that is pretty intense, so it is a great offering if you’re looking for this kind of change in your rig’s sound.
To summarize the Vidar Alter in one word, it would be power. This is a thick, powerful and intense sounding cable, that is very smooth and tonally accurate at the same time. To combine these two characteristics in a single cable, especially at this price point is something wildly impressive for me.
You see, when we’re speaking $200-$500 cables, every single one I’ve tried did some things great, but they all lack something. Some are fantastic with detail and resolution, but they tend to shift the focus into the upper frequencies, which may cause problems with bright IEMs/systems. Of course, this kind of cable is a great choice for people that crave detail and speed, but it has to be a really careful decision.
I remember changing my daily “outside” system a couple of years back. I was using a Sony ZX300 with Polish CIEMs Lime Ears Aether R. Luckily, my friends at Audeos (Polish distributor of Effect Audio, Ego Audio, etc) were able to send me a few cables to choose from (Thanks again guys!). After trying different combinations for like a week I decided to get the Ego Audio Gin. It offered a godlike detail improvement and overall technical superiority at a really reasonable price (+/- $500).
I was very happy. I started to really appreciate the system I’ve been using, and I had a strong feeling that the money spent on the Ego Gin improved my system drastically when it comes to technical performance. Fast forward a few months, and I decided that I can’t stand it anymore.
Truth is, this cable was rather poorly chosen for my taste, but I knew it after using it for a longer while. The sound got so technical, and the upper-midrange boost the Gin implemented was just too much for me to enjoy the sound. This is a type of experience that a superbly technical but rather bright-sounding cable can give.
Okay, Pawel, cool story bro, but what’s your deal? It’s pretty simple actually. The Vidar Alter gives me a similar kind of vibe as the Ego, but it’s much, much safer. Why? It sounds powerful, but not artificially powerful. You get a feeling that it somewhat retrieves the dynamics and punch, rather than “creating” it again. It’s not forced, it just seems to allow the dynamics to flow untouched right into your IEMs.
Additionally, the most impressive thing about the Vidar Alter is its timbre. Most powerful and big sounding cables tend to sound aggressive and somewhat artificial. This is definitely not the case with the hero of today’s review. The Vidar Alter is incredibly fun to listen to, but at the same time, it’s mature, smooth, very pleasant, and just kind of intoxicating.
The bass is obviously the star of the show here, especially on the first try. This is a bold, textured, and very dynamic type of bass performance that pairs well with all IEMs. I actually use it the most with my custom Fir Xenon 6, which is definitely a very strong IEM when it comes to the bass. The Vidar Alter doesn’t bloat it even by a tiny bit, it just sounds like it removes the leash. The stock XE6 cable is very good, as stated in my review, but the Erua is a completely different story. It somehow tends to give an impression, that it unleashes the full potential of the XE6, rather than “making it better”. What’s very important though, is that it doesn’t overpower the bass whatsoever, making the XE6 into a different IEM. It just feels very natural, like the Vidar Alter was a stock cable for a very high-end IEM. For a cable to have such a strong signature and to feel unforced and very polished at the same time is just something you won’t experience too often.
The midrange is usually the Achilles’ feet of cables that tend to have a superb bass response. It often sounds subdued or lacking in definition, because the low frequencies are getting most of the attention. The Vidar Alter is different, to say the least. Actually, the first song I’ve tried with it right after taking it out of the box was a vocal-heavy A Thousand Shards Of Heaven by Lunatic Soul. This is my vocal reference, the song I’m using the most while reviewing. What I got was a marvelously warm, smooth vocal delivery that sounded just beautifully. As a reviewer, I always try not to take my personal taste into the equation, but the truth is…it’s impossible to do it in 100%. Some preferences will always be a part of rating the product. I’m writing this because I just can’t stand a vocal performance that sounds unnatural to me. The Vidar Alter however checks all the boxes when it comes to every type of vocal. It feels natural, lush, rich, and detailed. This cable is not the undisputed king of detail, but to say it’s not detailed would be hugely incorrect. It just delivers technicalities in a mature and sophisticated way, never giving you an impression that it forces anything in. After tasting a lot of cables in my life, I believe that this is the proper way a cable should perform.
The treble is extended, highly detailed, and smooth at the same time. It tends to slightly reduce the amount of sharpness in upper frequencies, while not sacrificing technical performance significantly. This is a great thing to have with many current flagships, as they tend to sound pretty extreme, hence a little bit hot in the lower treble. What’s important though, is that the Vidar Alter does not make the treble slow or dark sounding, it just polishes the edges to achieve a more lush and refined sound. Every IEM I’ve tried the Vidar Alter with offered a highly smooth and natural-sounding treble while having great detail retrieval and resolution. While this is not the cable to choose if you’re after the ultimate technical performance, I cannot say that this cable does not deliver technically. Its vibe is just to have fun and give you a powerful, thick yet smooth, and pleasing listening experience.
As for the soundstage capabilities, I don’t have a lot to say. The Vidal Alter offers a wide and deep soundstage with great imaging, but it won’t make poorly staging IEMs into beasts. This is a slight refinement, not a game-changer, but it was definitely to be expected. Paired with great staging IEMs like the Fir XE6 or the Unique Melody MEST, the Vidar Alter will give you a hyper-realistic, huge, and airy soundstage. What’s THE aspect to point out is that the Vidar Alter makes the instruments slightly bigger than many other cables, thanks to its bold bass response and soft, smooth tonality. Great for rock and jazz music.
Let’s compare the Vidar Alter to the Erua’s flagship, the Tawa, which won our “Best Cable of 2021” award. As you might expect, the Tawa has a better technical performance and it’s overall a better, more mature sounding cable with greater texture and that outstanding vocal delivery. The Alter Vidar on the other hand offers bigger bass with fantastic dynamics and is overall more forgiving and “fun” sounding.
I would suggest getting the Vidar Alter if you want a more relaxed treble performance and bigger bass, as well as fantastic value at a reasonable price. The Tawa is still my nr.1 recommendation for a TOTL cable that is just marvelously technical and natural-sounding though. Speaking of the build quality, I would actually rate the Vidar Alter slightly higher, mainly because it’s a little bit softer and more comfortable to use.
Fir Audio XE6 stock cable
The stock cable included with the Fir XE6 is one of the best stock cables I’ve ever seen. It’s built very well, it’s comfortable and it offers a great sound quality. However, it’s amazing how much better a $280 Vidar Alter is. It’s built better, looks better, and sounds better, and it all comes at less than 10% of the price of the XE6.
Speaking of the sound differences, the Vidar Alter offers better dynamics, more natural, and more technically impressive sound throughout the entire frequency range. The biggest differences are the bass which is much bolder and harder hitting, as well as the treble which is smoother and more nuanced while maintaining a better texture and better timbre of the instruments. Lastly, the Vidar Alter looks and feels much more premium than the stock cable, which is definitely what’s going to interest you if you spent $4000 on a pair of IEMs.
The Vidar Alter pairs so well with the XE6, that I definitely recommend trying this cable out if you own the newest Fir flagship. You’ll be looking at a significant upgrade in every term for a fraction of the price of the XE6.
The Vidar Alter is the biggest surprise I came across in IEM cables in years. Initially, after seeing the promo photos and having Erua’s flagship Tawa, I was expecting this cable to cost around 700 dollars, and how surprised I was when I realized it’s sub $300.
For $280, you’re getting flagship-level craftsmanship, great comfort, intoxicating design, and what’s most important, a sound that is smooth and very dynamic at the same time. Having its outstanding value in mind, I’ve got no choice but to highly recommend the Vidar Alter to everyone looking for an upgrade cable.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Fir XE6, Unique Melody MEST, Unique Melody MEXT,
- Sources– iPhone 13 Pro, EarMen Angel, EarMen Colibri, Hifiman EF400, Cayin N3 Pro, Yulong Aurora
Big thanks to Erua for providing the Vidar Alter 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. Erua hasn’t seen this review before publishing it.