There are countless numbers of brands that make cables. Only a small portion of the existing brands are well-known to the audiophile communities. Meanwhile, the majority rest of cable brands are enjoyed by more secluded groups of people who recognize their true goodness. It could also be the case that the brand is too new and is waiting on the big wave of hypes. Am I trying to say that all cables are good and worth the price? Likely not. However, the point is that there are countless amount of cables that deserves better recognition. One of those gems, dear audiophiles and cable geeks, is Ego Audio.
Although I have done a series of reviews for Ego Audio products, here is a brief introduction for those who are not familiar with this brand yet – Ego Audio is a separate brand powered by PW Audio that aims for a different path and keeping the price relatively more affordable. Interestingly enough, they are going after the names of drinks; Beer, Cocktail, Sake, Tequila, Whiskey, Gin, and Brandy. Those were named out according to their price tags, from low to high. Now we have the latest product called Champagne, sitting just together with Whiskey. That is enough introduction – let us now jump into the review!
Champagne and all other Ego Audio cables come in with the ordinary packaging all we are aware of, a small white box which includes a soft pouch along with the cable. The Ego Audio logo sits on top of the lid with the termination info labeled on the side of the lower box. The pouch is very soft and efficient for preventing the cable or the IEM from gaining dings. For a small tip, I also use these to wrap my IEMs before storing them in another case, so that they will not rattle around. Alongside, Ego Audio has just recently updated their box design. The form factor stays the same but now with dark grey color and engraved with fine check patterns on the surface, making the packaging a lot better than the original one. The inside also includes a circular foam that gives better presentation and protection.
Aesthetics / Details
Now, the cable itself. Champagne is a pure copper cable that is comprised of 23 AWG OCC copper wires installed with a Kevlar core in the center. The specs are the same as Ego Audio Whiskey but different in its materials. Champagne uses a different type of OCC copper, as well as using a different PVC insulation for its skin. While Whiskey has fully transparent insulation that reveals the ordinary copper color (yet with the shinier weaving structure than others), Champagne has a yellow matte finish for the insulation. By utilizing different copper conductors and insulation leads to a variety of changes, which we will be dealing with in the latter part of this review.
Using a matte color for IEM cables is not the easiest to make them feel or look premium. Why? Obviously because the cable would appear as someone yanked out one of the wires from an electric cord and made it into an earphone cable. Ego Audio Tequila also has a matte finish, though that one had a lapis blue color that is almost guaranteed to look majestic. PW Audio also did it but with black or grey that still managed to bring out the premium looks. But yellow, yellow is risky. Though unlike the concerns I had, the yellow from Champagne was not bad at all once I saw them in real life. It may not be a type that brings out the premium looks in a “weighty” manner but rather in a pretty way. All components other than the cable itself are made of metal that uses the same form factor as other Ego Audio cables. The cable is quite soft and smooth, barely producing any microphonics.
Champagne is a particularly well-balanced, neutral sounding cable. The overall sound gains power (or driving force) and enriches the tone in the purest way. This pure-copper richness also increases the vitality and elasticity of the texture. Upper ends gain a subtle shine all while keeping the temperature and brightness nearly unaltered. Clearer sound while keeping other elements almost the same – how could that not be the most ideal outcome for those who like the original sound from an IEM! Such a characteristic is one of my favorite likings to achieve from a cable. Hence the vocals also get cooler and airier as well as taking a small step forward.
Lows are affected in a similar manner. The quantity and brightness tend to stay the same but improved in clarity and purity, making a bolder bass presence. Instead, the ultra-low vibrations become more apparent and thicker in color, showing superior ability in spotting the hidden boomings from the music. This would be a very pleasable outcome for those who want the bass presence to be better-established without pumping up the quantity. Overall, the bass feels a bit more vast and wider. Highs are crisp and fast, showing great spatial expression without having the details fly all over the place, keeping the sound coherent and organized.
Sound impressions – Paired with Fearless Audio Lancelot
The overall sound is more coherent with vocals better focused on its phasing. The background is darker, cleaner, and darker in depth. The tone stays nearly identical as default while gaining moisture and neutrality. Vocals gain gentle liveliness and airiness that give a bigger presence from the music. Such changes happen in a careful manner that causes mids to sound clearer and closer without hurting the natural flow between lows and mids. Lows stay the same in quantity but with a darker color and deeper depth.
Lancelot’s stock cable was decent in quality and worked out nice with Lancelot, yet there existed a mild feeling where the clarity and darkness would feel to be rolling off right before fully reaching its low-end extension. Matching Lancelot with Champagne would show improvement in the bass’ vividness, bringing those ‘dark bass presence’ all the way down. This leads to a much better establishment for the music to show clearer grooves and beats. Vocals are tighter where the BA drivers feel to be better fused with coherency. It would be too simplistic to assume copper cables to sound less shiny because Champagne not only exceeds the stock SPC cable in tonality but also in moistness, openness, and clarity. The brightness stays very similar but the entire spectrum feels more dynamic as lower ends are darker while the upper ends get mildly airier.
I got to say, I very much enjoy this matching. The stock cable of OH7 was nice but it still left me with a notion that the sound could really use an extra lift to make the vocal unveil its full potential by using a better cable matching. Not to depreciate the cable’s quality or the matching with OH7, but Ikko’s default setting for this IEM is to have it sound analog, antique, and slower-paced. Its default sound also presents a clearer grain/dryness on the texture (without getting any harsh) that gives that film-camera vibe going on if the music was a picture. Hence if you enjoy OH7’s deep and grand sound but would like to make it sound more modern trendy, Champagne would be a fine and effective solution to go for.
Champagne makes OH7 shine without deteriorating OH7’s charming thickness and grand presentation. Mid-highs would gently open up and clear out with more fullness. They also gain that ‘pushing force’ to the sound which makes the sound feel more lively, nimble, and faster in pace. I found that it is somewhat easy to deteriorate OH7’s tone or density once you match a bright-sounding cable, yet Champagne gets the job done right and subtly. The density on the vocals would not deteriorate – it gets even tighter and fuller, actually. Champagne would make the vocals stand out better along with clearer distinguishment from lows or highs. The tone is purer, finer, airier, and livelier as if remastering an old movie film. The grains from the texture are mildly polished which makes the surface feel cleaner and silky. Lows are very well preserved just as the stock cable, maintaining thick color, deep depth, and plentiful quantity.
Compared to Beer, Champagne brings out a fuller body with a deeper and bolder bass presence. Champagne also achieves higher density throughout the sound, making the music feel more tender and elastic. Lows are just as tight as Beer but with stronger depth and thickness. Despite the fuller body, Champagne brings out the notes in an even cleaner and clearer manner. The general sound of Champagne is more forceful and “empowered”, hence the livelier expression. Highs are also relatively cleaner compared to Beer, delivering more crispiness and purity, but not by a drastic difference.
The outcome of this comparison was fairly predictable as both Champagne and Whiskey are made of superior copper conductors than Beer. Of course, that does not mean that Beer lacks any merits. Beer is extremely omnivorous when it comes to pairing with different sort of IEMs, showing consistent and stable outcomes for most cases. A pleasable outcome, of course. Beer also carries more gentleness that better preserves the default nature of the IEM which are then added with general upgrades throughout the sound.
Perhaps this would be the comparison that catches the most interest. As mentioned earlier, Champagne has the same specs as Whiskey but applied with a different type of OCC copper and PVC insulation. So let us talk about the sound. First off, it is important to pinpoint and pass that these two cables are basically equal in their performance. Deciding which one is better is solely dependant on what type of sound or characteristic you would like to bring out from your IEM. Let me now get specific – Champagne is a bit darker and calmer in its overall presentation. If you have already read my Whiskey review before or have tried the cable yourself, it would already be apparent that Whiskey brings out much richness.
It also adds natural finesse to the sound that makes the sound feel more premium and colorful. In Champagne, those “richness” and “finesse” are presented in a solemn manner. Whiskey does its sound in a more cheerful way, which is the most important and major difference between these two. This is what really matters to you when it comes to choosing either one of those. Whiskey has a white, stirring background that contains cheerful, rich notes. In contrast, Champagne has a blacker, heavier background, while containing the same cheerful, rich notes. The bass quantity and extension are basically the same between these two – though Champagne draws a bigger lighting contrast and a bit stronger heaviness, hence I would consider Champagne to be mildly superior when it comes to the bass. The treble layering, on the other hand, would be mildly better on Whiskey.
A thick 4 braided cable. Champagne? Yes. But an even thicker one? Hulk. Not the superhero though, I mean Hulk from Dunu! Dunu Hulk is one thick cable with a thickness of 22AWG and is made of pure copper. So how does Champagne match against Hulk? Let us start with the bass. Unlike its looks or naming, Hulk does not aggressively throw roaring bass. Instead, it forms a very hefty weight, seriousness, and darkness in the overall atmosphere – and this is especially more evident from the lows. Also, and unexpectedly, Hluk does not bump up the bass quantity as expected from its looks. It actually focuses more on pulling out the ultra lows more clearly and boldly, the end result being a deeper, stronger bass presence that does not overwhelm the overall atmosphere.
Now, meanwhile, Champagne takes a more balanced approach. The overall sound is less weighty. Here, I purposely avoided saying “light” because the sound from Champagne is nowhere near being light. It is just that Hulk presents a very heavy atmosphere and in which Champagne is also heavy but not as much as Hulk. With lesser weight, but with a mood that is nearly solemn as Hulk, Champagne carries better agileness and cleanliness. The lesser weight also means extra freshness and airiness to both low and upper ends. The treble sparkles and layerings are also clearer on Champagne. Overall, these two cables show a great match that ends up in a tie. If looking for the real solemn sounding that adds seriousness to your IEM, Hulk may match better. If you are looking for a bit more balanced with more sparkles going on, Champagne could match better for you.
Champagne is another unique cable from Ego Audio that does not simply end up as a dizygotic twin of Whiskey. This one is a highly balanced cable that shows stable and consistent outcomes for different IEMs. Finding a good match for Champagne is omnivorous enough to an extent where it could compare to a general stock cable that follows with an IEM – but incomparably superior in sound quality and performance, indeed.
It may not be surprising to see both Whiskey and Champagne to be having a similar sound signature. Yet at the same time, that same fact also impresses me as considering these two cables using different copper conductors and shieldings. These two feel very similar at the first glance but the differences get evident as you dig into them, which is why these twins are so appealing. It is unquestionable that both cables are fantastic performers for their prices, as well as Champagne being an especially ideal choice if you want both solemness and airy richness to be present from your IEM. Naturally fluorescent (Whiskey) or solemn richness (Champagne), that is the question!