Eletech Illiad Review: The Dignified
Regardless of how many times, it always excites me to come across a brand-new brand, especially if it’s a major one. Eletech is an innovative new cable manufacturer based in Singapore backed up with well-known masterminds in the audiophile industry. Eric is one of the co-founders of Eletech who previously worked extensively for Effect Audio. Eletech started off their journey only a few years ago along with their new IEM brand, Metal Magic Research (MMR), these talented professionals have already managed to secure a big presence within this competitive market.
Eletech offers a wide range of price options and each equipped with its own unique characteristics – Fortitude, Prudence, Socrates, Plato, and Illiad. Illiad is the flagship model that Eletech claims to be an incredibly soulful cable that targets apex performance. With that said, let us now find out if the Illiad lives up to our tricky expectations along with some comparisons with other flagship cables.
The Illiad packaging comes in with a clean-cut design with an ancient Greek theme that lives up to its naming concept. Unboxing the lid reveals a brushed, golden metal emblem carved with logos of Illiad and Eletech. Right on the lower side sits a premium leather case that encloses the cable itself. The case feels great and smooth in the hand that shouts all about quality. The Illiad logo is applied to the metal carving of the zipper tab as well as on the lid of the case. The inner portion of the case is finished with smooth materials that prevent both the IEM and the cable from gaining scratches.
If we are talking about a top-tier product, not only the sound should be stellar but also the appearance. The looks on Illiad are simply gorgeous. The complicated yet organized, fine braidings carry subtle glitters which are clearly displayed thanks to Eletech’s FlexiMax™ Insulation. Last but not least, the iconic connectors and splitters that are solely customized for Illiad. It is still hard to fully bring out its beauty through my lens, though I can say with confidence that the aesthetics simply ooze pure elegance.
For the wire components, Illiad uses the “triple stellar materials”, the latest trend going on in the cable industry. The meaty but not chunky 24AWG wires are comprised of Flawless Monocrystal Silver, Palladium Plated Silver, and Gold-Silver Alloys. The core of each wire is installed with Kevlar Resilient strands that ensure better durability and flexibility, thus Eletech’s unique Type-4 Litz Geometry that applies the end-touch to Eletech’s intended acoustic tuning. Not to forget mentioning that the Litz structure and individually enameled strands also prevent possible oxidation or browning effects to the wires.
General Sound Characteristics
Being aware that Illiad is a tribrid cable might make you assume it to be sounding rather vibrant. However, in fact, Illiad thoroughly respects the overall balance that enables the IEM to keep its original charms. Once securing the naturality, Illiad then makes a major touch-up to the IEM, resulting in boldly noticeable and pleasable improvements that are unique to Illiad. What I particularly appreciated from the get-go is its separation. As listening to tracks that I’ve been tuning into for a while, small bits and particles of details would gently bloom here and there. These fine details are cleanly and clearly positioned within the IEM’s imaging, perhaps resulting in one of the nicest separations I have experienced from an IEM cable.
Illiad’s smooth yet crisp upper ends feel as if Mellianus (a premium full-BA IEM from Oriolus) has been reborn as a cable. Highs deliver clean and smiling strikes that feel organic and natural, pronouncing the treble instruments just as they should be. Mids follow a similar path but with more meat and density involved. The tone is refreshing and very tasteful, though it does not get unnatural whatsoever. As said, Illiad highly respects the overall balance – but at the same time, the tone gets undeniably rich, which I would call the change as a “natural boost” of the tone. Mids also gain a mild boost in brightness and airiness, making the vocals sound more virtuous.
The staging nicely expands in both width and height but not overdoing. The background gets calmer and cleaner without particularly tipping towards bright nor dark in its background theme. Lows stay mostly consistent with what the IEM originally had (in terms of texture and quantity) but with better weightiness and density. Bass strikes drop down deeper and heavier that allows low-extension to be presented more vividly.
Deeper into the rabbit hole
While the separation got me impressed at the very beginning, the next charming element found from Illiad is its texture. It produces extraordinary elaborated and fine grains that are smooth as silk. It retains both the crispness and luster to the texture, hitting that sweet spot between the analyticity and musicality. I’m quite pleased to see the surface getting smooth as if it’s polished all while better exposing the texture grains. Although I once thought that achieving both the smoothness and graininess were contradictory, Illiad surely broke that bias I had.
Zooming out and commenting Illiad in a nutshell, the overall sound gets shinier but also deeper as well. The improvements are brought onto both ends, giving a complete upgrade throughout the range except that it does not deteriorate the IEM’s intended sound. Not to forget mentioning that the scaling of the sound expands which makes the sound feel more dynamic but done very gently. Illiad nails it when it comes to adding luxurious afterglow and delicate touch-ups without making them feel to be “colored” whatsoever.
Matching choices and expectations – 1/2
While cables have their own characteristics and nature, the end result all comes down to the synastry with the particular IEM. Certain IEMs or cables are very dependent while some are very omnivorous. In that sense, Illiad tips over to the side of being quite omnivorous. Normally I would have much to say about how a certain cable generally works out with certain driver combos – but not much for this time. Why? Because Illiad showed very stable and consistent results throughout various combos I have tested. That being said, let us cover what and what not to expect while making your matchings with Illiad.
Matching choices and expectations – 2/2
Let us cover briefly review Illiad’s overall vibe as a recap. Major improvements and charms are tilted towards richer/finer texture, higher resolution throughout the spectrum, clearer upper-ends, luxurious reverbs, and so on. It’d like to stress that Illiad does not make significant alteration quantity-wise. The nuance and the sound quality is what Illiad focuses on, hence intending to boost a certain sound range is not so desirable (such as more or less bass quantity, etc). Illiad sure does aid the upper-ends quite significantly – but not to the point of altering the IEM’s original tonal balance. Therefore, it is both safe and likable to assume that Illiad targets improving the “overall experience” and the sound quality itself, rather than focusing on a certain category or tuning the quantity.
Sound impressions – Paired with FAudio Project Y
If I have to come up with one more “Illiad-like” IEM other than Oriolus Mellianus, the first to come up to the mind would be FAudio Project Y (PY). This flagship tribrid IEM is known for having such a virtuous and clean sound signature – just as Illiad does. The first impression I’m getting with the PY-Illiad combo is that the depth, thickness of the colors, and headroom show significant improvements. PY’s inherent vastness and airiness are stepped up in clarity but now the IEM does a better job bringing out the low-end presence and seriousness. It is like ying-yang; the whiteness was abundant from the sound, now the black, dark force is backed up. This leads Project Y to show larger contrast in brightness and leads into a more engaging listening experience.
The improvements brought upon mids are quite impressive in many ways. Vocals get fuller in body but not in the sense of making them thicker but more like bringing a heavier weight to them. I found this pleasing as the feminine charms of the mids sound more “fit” in body while not getting sulky or dull. Since that, the vocals sound fuller – yet not necessarily thicker. I could tell that the PY’s clarity stepped up once again as the vocals’ tongue clicking now sound up-close and even more realistic.
Sound impressions – Paired with HYLA Nerva X
This time we match Illiad to HYLA’s LE flagship model, the Nerva X. This one is a 10BA IEM featuring pure silver housings, renowned for its beautifully grand staging and low-ends. What I like from this combo is that Illiad deepens the harmonics (or the end-taste) of NX’s reverbs without clouding up the atmosphere. Mids especially gain a greater effect in terms of this as well as making the vocals sound larger and livelier. As mentioned previously, Illiad smoothens out the surface while unveiling stronger details, giving Nerva X moisturized upper-ends and vitality. Treble notes are a bit more analytic and crispier but still within the boundary to call it smooth.
Continuing on with the impressions, Nerva X’s natural and silvery reverbs are now clearer and cleaner. It is a type of airiness that feels to be achieved by widening the reverb area itself, rather than boosting the brightness. Making the sound clear and airy without applying many touches to the original brightness – I personally take that as a remarkably charming point from Illiad. This characteristic was also desirable for Nerva X since you don’t want to lose any of its stately, grand lower body. This is a type of combo I would call that elegance met elegance. Both in looks and the sound.
Sound impressions – Paired with Dita Audio Dream XLS
Lastly, it is time for us to check out the results with Dita Audio’s flagship 1DD model, the Dream XLS. For the past years of cable-rolling, I’ve been collecting a common impression where single DD IEMs not working along so well with hybrid/tribrid cables. Either the tone or the headroom often felt off and single-material cables used to work better in many cases. As apparent as Illiad did great with its tonality and tonal balance, pairing with Dream XLS creates a sound that is more than enough to lure our ears.
First off, a major revamp happens throughout the spectrum in clarity and analyticity. Compared to the default XLS-Oslo cable, the quantity and nuance of the bass stay similar yet much higher in precision. The bass lines are also thicker in color, making the thumps sound clearer yet deeper. Mids are where I personally find 1DD IEMs to be picky when being applied with hybrid or tribrid cables, though Illiad gets things done beautifully here.
The natural imaging (where you could feel the natural flow going on within the “sound box” – or the chassis) is preserved while seamlessly making the vocals sound three-dimensionally. This is done just enough to make the layerings pop out better and which are nowhere near being overdone. Highs strike feel more elastic that it better brings out the dampiness. Needless to say at this point, the treble strands are picked out with higher fineness. I’d like to mention that the distancing between instruments is done more manifestly that breathes in airiness. As a 1DD enthusiast, I appreciate how Illiad brings out the potentials retained inside Dream XLS’s summit diaphragm.
Compared to Rhapsodio Silver Wizard MK2
For comparisons, let us bring out Rhapsodio Silver Wizard MK2. Being the successor of the original Silver Wizard, this thick pure-silver wire is another stunning cable that is worth matching against the Illiad. As apparent as it is from the aesthetics, Silver Wizard MK2 has a weightier, darker, and thicker sound signature than Illiad. The background gets significantly darker and blacker while the tone itself shines sparkly clear. Illiad achieves a similar effect in terms of “cleanliness of the background”, though except that Illiad doesn’t particularly make the background get darker. Illiad has a white, shiny sound that focuses on fatigue-free openness which differs from Silver Wizard MK2’s blackish nature.
The imaging is mildly fuller and thicker, as well as presenting the reverbs more vividly and with great depth. Silver Wizard MK2 pulls the overall weight slightly downwards that aids the IEM to have a more serious, grand nuance. While the soundstage and imaging scale relatively larger on Silver Wizard MK2, the difference is nothing major as Illiad already achieves top-notch imaging. I’d say it is a difference between Illiad, a type that focuses on maximizing the natural (or in-born) charms of the IEM, and the opposite – Silver Wizard MK2 that adds more of his own “thing” to the sound. For speed and analyzing bits of small details, the Illiad takes the lead. If adding seriousness and bolding up the deep, grand groove of the music, then perhaps Silver Wizard MK2 would be an appropriate choice.
Compared to Satin Audio Zeus
Compared to Illiad, Zeus puts a bit more highlight on the sub-bass. The low-end emphasis isn’t as strong as the Silver Wizard 2. It’s reasonable enough to say the overall sound signature of Zeus seems to be sitting in the middle of Illiad and Silver Wizard 2. Zeus shows mildly thicker, huskier, and groovier nuance than Illiad. Reading up to this point may assume you to think that Zeus holds a higher ground in this comparison but not so easily. While Zeus sure is an attractive choice for those desiring a neural-masculine sound, Illiad strikes a counterattack with superior upper range and its neutral-feminine sound. The creamy fine details and layerings brought by Illiad make it just as captivating as Zeus.
Another noticeable difference is the color scheme of their background. Zeus has a dark and pitch-black background while Illiad has a soft white background that gives more clearance, in contrast. I like how Zeus gives me an impression of a well-made sedan with a calm and smooth driveability. For a depiction of Illiad, it feels like a fine, sparkly silk curtain that gently sways through the open window breeze. Both definitely deserve the flagship title for their charms and they sit on the very same tier.
Despite my shorter experience with the rest of Electech products, it already came clear and loud that Illiad is meant to serve as an epitome of Eletech’s tuning philosophy among the entire line-up. Illiad is a product that shows how further in performance and closer in ideality these artisans could reach, making it a marvelous cable that well earns the flagship title. I would go far as saying that the Illiad is a must-try item for those who are into serious cable upgrades or willing to beef up your IEM extensively. As apparent as it was from the impressions, this one is going to be one of the best choices that allow you to feel what is to add aural elegance and mesmerizing finesse into an IEM.
Thanks to Eletech for providing Illiad in exchange for an honest impression/feedback.
I am not affiliated with Eletech and none of my words were modded or asked to be changed.
Value for the price9.6/10
- Aural luxury with incredible fineness
- Smooth and light despite its flagship performance
- Great consistency among different IEM matches
- Exquisite components and leather case
- Inevitable price barrier
- Not meant to strongly alter the original sound (but loyal to originality)