With the empowerment from PW Audio, Ego Audio embarks on the flagship journey by releasing Brandy and Gin to cater those audiophiles with deeper pocket and urge to have supreme audio quality.
Thank you, Chan, from Ego Audio for sending me the Brandy and Gin in-ear monitor (IEM) cables. It was provided to me in exchange for my honest review and opinion.
With the demand for IEM cables increase in the audiophile community, there are more cable manufacturers producing high-quality upgrade cable at affordable prices. As a cable believer, I have been looking into the cable market for long to explore "hidden gem". One of them is Ares Audio from Singapore. Today, there is another "hidden gem" that needs to be introduced - Ego Audio.
With the experience of working with Peter Wong, founder of PW Audio, Ego Audio has a good beginning by releasing five models - Beer, Cocktail, Sake, Tequila, and Whiskey. To further extend the influence to audiophiles with more appreciation towards high-end cables, Ego Audio released two flagship models - Brandy and Gin. We will take a look at these two cables in this article!
Jacket Material: Medical Level PVC
Conductor Material: Woven Braided Silver Gold with Fiber Core
Conductor Gauge: 23 AWG
Number of Conductors: 4
Jacket Material: Medical Level PVC
Conductor Material: Woven Braided OCC Silver with Fiber Core
Conductor Gauge: 23 AWG
Number of Conductors: 4
Similar to the first series of releases, Brandy and Gin arrived at my office in a small white box with the Ego Audio logo printed on it. It is relatively simple in terms of packaging but this serves a good purpose - easy to be remembered. I can recognize the box from far if it is displayed in a physical store.
Opening the box, Brandy and Gin are stored in a plastic zip-lock bag to prevent scratches during transportation. Underneath the cable, there is a black soft pouch for cable storage. This is a great accessory that a lot of manufacturers neglected. So far, only Ares Audio and Ego Audio put in soft pouches in their cable packaging.
Although conductor gauge rated at 23 AWG, both Brandy and Gin are free from cable stiffness which will eventually create microphonics when the cable moves. Cable stiffness is always a deal-breaker - I love ALO Audio Reference 8 but it does not go into my collection solely because of its stiffness. I am glad that Ego Audio puts this factor into consideration when designing Brandy and Gin.
Brandy and Gin come in 4 conductor - this is the only variant for now due to the thick conductor gauge. The conductors are braided sturdily without any feeling of falling apart. Quality of the braid will always reflect the quality of the cable - people judge from the first moment when they see the products.
For these two flagships, users can choose the termination on the bottom as well as the top. Most of my IEMs are in 2-pin so without a doubt 2-pin will be my choice and so far I do not own any digital audio players (DAPs) that utilize 4.4mm balanced so 2.5mm balanced will be my bottom termination choice.
The 2.5mm balanced jack is solid and rigid. I will call this a military-grade audio jack - huge, strong and reliable. There is a stress relief near the jack to absorb excessive stress when the cable is bent near the jack. This is the weakest part of the cable and the implementation of stress relief is indeed useful.
In between Y-Split and audio jack of the cable, there is a piece of metal that printed with the model name. I do not know the exact function of this besides displaying the model name. I think this is necessary because both Brandy and Gin look identical with the metal piece removed.
Similar to the balanced audio jack, the Y-Split can be defined as a military-grade Y-split. The design is stylish - looks like an inverted triangle with the Ego Audio logo printed. There is a chin slider implemented. Chin slider is extra useful for a user like me - who always moves around (walking and commuting) with IEMs on. It helps to reduce the cable movement as well as microphonics.
The 2-Pin connector is designed for a recessed 2-pin port. They fit perfectly into my InEar Prophile 8 and ItsFitLab Fusion which utilized recessed 2-pin port. The cable is bent and heat-shrink ear guides are installed when manufacturing. No metal-wire ear guides are used. This makes the wearing experience to be more favorable especially for spectacle-wearers like me.
To analyze the sonic quality of Brandy and Gin, four IEMs from different brands are chosen to pair and match with the cables:
Campfire Audio Andromeda
InEar Prophile 8
Empire Ears Phantom
I chose two IEMs with more analytical sound signature and another two with a warmer sound signature. This is to give a better comparison and matching advice. iBasso DX220 loaned to me from Zeppelin and Co. is used as the music source for analysis.
Listening to Brandy is like relaxing in a bathtub, with warm water around and flowing through your body.
Brandy is warm and smooth in terms of sound signature. It has more emotions when delivering musical notes to the users - more gentle in attack and slower in decay. This makes the overall presentation be smoothened. It is relaxing to listen to Brandy.
Spotlights are shined and all the attentions are given to the stage, the performers perform at their best to engage audiences - this is what Gin delivers.
Gin is designed to be different from Brandy. Targetting those who like a more analytical sound signature, Gin gives users the highest quality of fidelity, separation, and resolution. No doubt, Gin has a typical silver cable sound, but with a more well-controlled highs. I will further elaborate on this later.
InEar Prophile 8 + Brandy
When Prophile 8 is paired with Brandy, a soul is given to Prophile 8. InEar Prophile 8 is designed for monitoring - it has a dark and cold sound signature by itself. I found the presentation is dull especially when listening to pop songs. With Brandy paired to it, the tone is warmer and the presentation is more lively.
With both switches off, the vocals are thickened - with more emotions now. This is especially prominent when I am listening to mandopop or cantopop. The lows are more prominent, sub-bass body improved marginally as well as extension in the Y-axis of headroom. The highs are slightly smoothened with energetic profile reserved.
When the bass boost switches on, the sub-bass is even deeper. It punches on your eardrums and gives you the type of satisfaction that you never experience before with ProPhile 8. I would say it unleash the beast in it. With treble boost switches on, the headroom is slightly narrower in the horizontal direction due to the fuller body in the highs. The stage is pushed forward - more engaging.
InEar Prophile 8 + Gin
The analytical profile of Prophile 8 is further enhanced, with the dark sound signature changes to slightly brighter. There is more emphasis on the vocals and highs. This pairing is suitable for those who like typical Japanese tunings. The headroom is wider and separation is improved. The lows is shy in this pairing.
With the bass boost switches on, I find the lows is unnaturally boosted. The boosted bass is not coherent to the brighter analytical sound signature. This caused the vocals to be affected too - slight honky and chesty. Switching on the treble booster, the musical notes are now more engaging with a slightly enhanced body. The overall sound signature turns more energetic.
Campfire Audio Andromeda + Brandy
This is a highly recommended pairing - the weaknesses in Andromeda are addressed, making it almost perfect now!
To me, Andromeda's coherence across the frequency spectrum is amazing but there is something that can be improved - lows response and overall body thickness. Brandy, with a warmer sound signature, addressed these weaknesses perfectly. The lows is improved drastically with a fuller body and deeper extension.
The musical notes delivered are thickened - vocals are more emotional now. Similar to Prophile 8, Andromeda is touching slightly at the analytical side and Brandy can pull it towards the more emotional and musical side of sound signature. Although the tone is now more musical, the fidelity is not compromised.
Campfire Audio Andromeda + Gin
For those who love female vocals, this is a pairing you shall not miss!
With Gin paired to the Andromeda, the upper mids and highs are getting more emphasis. As a result, Andromeda is delivering sweeter and airier female vocals to the users than usual. The overall fidelity improved in this pairing - making the details sharper and more prominent in the presentation.
There are some trade-offs here - the lows are leaner now. It is tighter and faster. This could be an advantage for those who want a more critical listening session but it could be unsuitable for casual listening. Besides lows, the lower mids is affected too. This yields shy male vocals. This pairing is very specific to a group of audiophiles who like critical listening or monitoring.
Empire Ears Phantom + Brandy
This pairing is the improved pairing of Effect Audio Ares II, a buttery presentation with a huge amount of warmth for you this winter.
When Brandy is hooked to Phantom, the original texture of the Phantom is enhanced - with thickened notes and warmer presentation. This is indeed an ideal match for warmth lovers. The sub-bass is now even more prominent, extending the headroom in a vertical direction forming an egg shape headroom. The trebles are further smoothened - yielding a relax and smooth sound signature.
Empire Ears Phantom + Gin
Unlike Brandy Pairing, Gin gives Phantom users an alternative - more fidelity and resolution with a slight trade-off in warmth and bass. I opt for this without a doubt.
This pairing is moving towards a different direction as compared to the Brandy pairing. The warmth is balanced by the brighter sound signature of Gin. The fidelity improved and now the Phantom is closer to a balanced and neutral sound signature. There are more focus and emphasis on vocals now instead of lows. This pairing is suitable for those who want better resolution and a more balanced sound signature from their Phantom.
ItsFitLab Fusion + Brandy
Similar to Phantom + Brandy pairing, this pairing further smoothened the overall presentation, delivering a relax and warm sound signature.
The recent hype - ItsFitLab Fusion is chosen to be paired with Brandy and Gin too. The original smooth sound signature can be further enhanced by Brandy pairing. However, personally I feel the overall fidelity is compromised. The magnetostatic highs are under-performed with Brandy hooked on. I would suggest this for those users who want an even smoothened and warmer sound signature on Fusion.
The lows are having more focus on Brandy, extending in a vertical direction. The full body of bass bleeds a little towards the mids, making the two frequency to blend together and ultimately results in a smoothened presentation. This is always a no-no for me because I desire a more precise and accurate presentation.
ItsFitLab Fusion + Gin
Another "must-try" pairing found - Gin further enhances the performance of magnetostatic driver, yielding a well-extended highs and more engaging sound signature.
Gin pushes the presentation of Fusion slightly forward, causing the overall sound signature to be more lively and engaging. This is one of my favorite pairings with Gin so far. The highs is getting more emphasis. Well-extended highs improves staging, separation, and headroom.
The lows are more accurate now. With speedy attack and decay, the bleeding towards mids is minimized. This creates a dedicated space for our singers to perform on the stage and no one else is snatching the spotlights from them. This would be a good pairing if you like to improve the fidelity on the Fusion and having a more energetic and engaging sound signature.
The Brandy retails for USD$900 while Gin retails for USD$660. These are a few retailers over the world who selling Ego Audio Cable:
For those who are not residing in these two regions, you can directly contact Ego Audio on their Facebook page.
The release of Brandy and Gin indeed further extend Ego Audio's reach to those audiophiles who believe in IEM cables and persuing a better sonic quality. Personally, I would recommend Brandy to be paired with a leaner sounding IEMs like Andromeda while Gin to be paired with a smoother sounding IEMs. These two flagship duos cater to different needs from the community. No one is left out now, Ego Audio got your back!