I would like to thank HaiEn from Ares Audio for providing me with the Ares Audio Kasai in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favorable review.
Ares Audio was founded in March 2018. Initially, Marcus and HaiEn were providing re-termination service and upgrade cable solution on Carousell (a selling platform in Singapore). I sent one of my cable to them for re-termination and from when I received my cable, I am sold to their service quality.
Ares Audio continues to improve their service and without any delay, they started their official online store. Ares Audio boutique cables and they give customers degree of freedom to choose the termination and connector. High price to performance ratio is always their motto to continue strike for the best. Every cable is fully handmade, and Ares Audio prides themselves with having excellent build quality at a great price.
Kasai is one of the models which is officially launched on Ares Audio official website. It is a 4 cores pure 7N Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) copper cable. The length of this cable is kind of standard - 1.25m.
I have unboxed several upgrade cables from different cable manufacturers such as Effect Audio and ALO Audio. Unboxing Ares Audio Kasai is a pleasant experience for me. The cable is stored in a pouch which is very useful - it saves space and I can easily store and sort the cable.
Unlike any common pouch, the pouch provided is made from Nylon to increase the reliability and Ares Audio logo is printed on the pouch. The presentation is simple yet fulfilling. In the pouch, I can find Kasai lying comfortably together with stickers and name card. I am a crazy sticker collector and I am so happy that there are stickers in the pouch!
Unlike Yuki, the overall "texture" of Kasai can be considered as supple. To store this cable, I just need to coil it up nicely and it will sit obediently by itself. This is totally different from a stiff Yuki (another model from Ares Audio). Due to the suppleness in this cable, it becomes my first choice when I am commuting - minimal microphonics are produced when I am walking or moving around. Great job over here!
Otherwise, the build quality is supreme. The lower part of the cable is covered by Nylon. I believe the nylon outer layer serves as a protection layer. This makes the cable more durable. When ordering the cable, you have the freedom to choose the connector and termination. I chosen 2-pin connector and 2.5mm balanced jack on my Kasai. The 2.5mm balanced jack is fantastic - it looks sturdy and rigid. A common issue for 2.5mm jack is rigidity due to the small diameter. The rigid jack actually boost my confidence on it!
At the connector side, the 2-pin connector is constructed using the same material as the jack. Without a doubt, rigidity checked! I tested with a few in-ear monitors (IEMs), the 2-pin connector fits perfectly for those with 0.78mm 2-pin port. 2-pin connectors are slightly protruded. This could be useful for those IEMs with recessed 2-pin port. There are heat-shrink ear guides to provide a good sit for the cable on your ear. I am glad that I do not see any memory wire in the ear guides - that is my phobia as an audiophile with spectacles on.
To complete the overall image of this cable, the choice of material to construct the Y-split will definitely be the same as the jack and connectors. No one is outlier in this cable. Everything work together nicely and harmonically. Well done. Near the Y-split, there is a black, round chin slider. This is something I need the most and I do not understand why a lot of the cable manufacturers neglected this important part. I am glad that Ares Audio remember its importance and included it in the cable. I love it!
Here is the most important part for this review. I paired this cable with a few IEMs and I will share my insights on each IEMs instead of separating this part into the conventional "Lows", "Mids" and "Highs". I always believe that cable should be reviewed more by pairing. Overall, this cable fulfilled its task as an upgrade cable - the performance is upgraded when the cable is upgraded. Requirement one checked!
What do I mean by upgrade here? I always treat cable as my final tuning in the setup. I will listen to the setup and mark out which part need to be "upgraded" and slowly roll through cables to fulfill the "upgrade" requirement.
Jomo Audio Haka is my favorite single balanced armature driver IEMs. I paired Kasai to Haka and I can immediately feel the difference - the overall presentation is fuller and thicker. Kasai is like a torch, giving Haka warmth which make the it sounds more emotional. This combination is close to Haka + Effect Audio Ares II combination which I like. There is a pro on Kasai combination over Ares II. The cable is more supple as compared to Effect Audio Ares II.
The lows are more punchy now. For those bassheads, Kasai could be a good choice to boost the lows performance in your IEMs. As mentioned earlier, the warmth add good emotions to the vocals. I could be bias here because I am a mids lover. I listen to a lot of pop songs such as Mandopop and Cantopop. So, this warmth injection hits the sweet spot in my heart and I love it.
First potential revealed - Warmth.
Let's continue the journey to reveal other potential of Kasai. I paired it with TFZ No.3. TFZ No.3 is a warm IEM with good sub-bass extension. Personally I always feel that the mids of TFZ No.3 need a little more emphasis - bigger body and slightly forward. Kasai did a good job here. When pairing it with TFZ No.3, the mids becomes juicier and meatier.
However, the shy highs in TFZ No.3 remains shy or even more shy. This could be a down point in this pairing but it is definitely not the deal breaker because improvements still presence in other region especially mids as mentioned in above paragraph. The protruded 2-pin port on TFZ No.3 actually made this pairing a little awkward but this problem lied on the IEMs instead of the cable.
Second potential unlock - juicy mids.
Finally, Kasai meets Simgot EK3, one of my reference IEMs. Similar to previous scenario, the sound signature is altered a little, the lows are boosted and overall presentation is warmer. However, I find some imperfections here - fidelity. The fidelity of Simgot EK3 is a secret weapon, like a katana for a ninja. Due to the injected warmth, I find the details are smoothen. The responds are slightly slower. This could be useful for me if I decided to let go my EK3 as reference IEMs but more for casual listening. As for referencing, this is not a suitable pairing.
Let's take a look at Kasai ability:
Kasai injects warmth to the sound signature.
Kasai gives you a punchier bass.
Kasai is suitable for brighter IEMs.
I will recommend Kasai to audiophiles who are looking a solution to solve sibilant and insufficient lows in their IEMs. The overall texture of this cable will be more suitable for a bright sounding IEMs. The overall sound signature of the cable can be categorized as warm. It is not the most neutral sounding cable but it has its ultimate that can help a specific group of audiophiles.
Kasai is retailing at SGD$170. For those who are interested, you can head down to Zeppelin & Co. for an audition session and make an order on Ares Audio official website. Marcus and HaiEn are super helpful and feel free to drop them a message if you faced any difficulties.
Currently Ares Audio is offering an eight cores version of Kasai. Do not miss the golden chance to grab a Kasai to complement your beloved IEMs, be it TOTL or entry level!