The high-end cable was something of a late starter in the personal audio world, but companies like Singapore’s Effect Audio have made up for lost time. Code 51 is the company’s flagship design, using its tried and trusted braiding and materials used in its Leonidas II design, but raised to the ultimate degree.
One of the key discoveries in Leonidas II was the use of palladium-plated silver conductors. However, in the Code 51 Effect Audio went with a gold-plated silver/platinum-plated silver hybrid that is the result of a lot of painstaking listening tests. The 24AWG conductors (larger than Effect’s typical 26AWG conductors) are laid in a golden ratio, with different sized conductors placed in a consistent dispersion pattern. Code 51 also uses Effect Audio’s proprietary and (as the name suggests) flexible UltraFlexi insulation first seen in the original 2015 Leonidas.
Code 51 comes in a range of connection options, including two-pin, MMCX, FitEar, JH Audio four-pin or even qdc/UE two-pins at the earphone end and 2.5mm or 4.5mm balanced or 3.5mm single-ended stereo jack connection at the DAP/amp end. As you might expect from a top-end cable, Code 51 comes sumptuously packaged, and includes a small round fibre carry case alongside the presentation box.
In a very real way, the personal audio ‘space’ is ideal for high-end cables because they are so direct. Your eardrums are a few millimetres away from the transducers of a pair of headphones or in-ear monitors, and the cable connecting that device to the DAC or Digital Audio Player is millimetres from those transducers. If you look at a signal path from DAP to ear, it’s pretty much cable with a transducer (or ten) and a tiny air gap.
This has to be the most detailed cable I’ve placed this close to my ears! Any information coming from the DAP or DAC is passed to the transducers with blistering speed and incredible accuracy. Yet, for all this incredible detail, the overall, er, effect is not wearing; Code 51 manages to create an insightful and precise leading-edge detail without the fatigue factor that usually chips into the sound at this point. Tonally, the overall sound is smooth and refined, but if you think that means ‘soft’ in the bass or ‘rolled-off’ in the treble… guess again! This is a sound that challenges your expectations of bass extension from personal audio, but without any sense of flab or overhang. In other words, Code 51 manages the balance between bass depth and bass tautness extremely well.
It’s easy to discuss just how good Code 51 is because it’s better than the rivals I’ve tried. All of them, and not by a narrow margin. Granted, there is always that cable that pops through the letterbox tomorrow that could change everything, but to date, every other personal audio cable has foreshortened the soundstage, blurred some details, lost the transient edge or traded refinement for detail. Code 51 does that rare thing… it does all of the things you want from a cable and does them well.
I spent much of this review correcting the name of ‘Code 51’ because I kept writing ‘Area 51’ instead. Then it dawned on me that this was my unconscious at work; I want to call this cable ‘Area 51’ because deep down I think there is secret advanced alien technology at play in here. Given the materials, build and even cost, this should be a good cable… but not this good! In short… wow!
Price and Contact details
Price: $2,388 US
Manufacturer: Effect Audio
Tel: +65 8200 3584