Deep and bold yet controlled bass, Defined vocals, Pleasing treble body, Wide soundstage, Excellent build quality and design, Wide synergy
Slightly smoother treble note attack saps fine detail retrieval, Not the most layered presentation, Stiff wires out of the box
The Socrates showcases excellent refinement in its sound and design. It is not the most technical in Eletech’s line-up but finds wide synergy with its wide and dynamic presentation.
Eletech, short for Element Technology, is a new custom cable manufacturer from Singapore. The company carries itself much like industry veterans with a passionate team including Eric from Effect Audio and material specialist Wang, alongside the half-decade of experience and insight they bring. The Socrates is their latest creation, joining the Plato in the School of Athens series. It is positioned as a flagship copper cable sporting bespoke 7N OCC monocrystal copper conductors with a densely packed ultra high-strand design. Stringent QC ensures high purity on each unit while permitting a desirable sound profile. Special mention must also go to the design, its intricate finish and angulation creating an interplay of light and shadow as a homage to Socratic method.
The Eletech Socrates is available for $699 USD. You can read all about it on Eletech’s website and treat yourself to one here.
I would like to thank Eric from Eletech very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Socrates for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the cable free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
The Pitch –
Maximus Efficiency Strand Geometry
Reminiscent of several other boutique cable manufacturers, Eletech implements an in-house customized cable geometry that utilises strands of varying diameter. In line with the skin effect, the company has tailored the strand size to deliver their ideal sound. The cable is infused with Kevlar to reinforce its geometry and bolster the general wearing properties of the cable. Eletech service every component of the conducting chain by implementing bespoke solder on each termination.
Custom Connectors and Y-Split
Gone are the generic DIY cables of past years, custom cables are akin to modern art pieces and the Socrates exemplifies this with its tessellated design. The Y-spit especially employs 6 planes of angulation for a visually striking package and the terminations all employ a brushed finish. Chamfered edges have been implemented for user comfort, altogether promising excellent aesthetics and durability.
Eletech implements medical grade PVC insulation that offers a great balance between tensile strength and flexibility for an ergonomic experience. Special focus was given to their insulation design due to their adoption of high-strand internal wiring. One thing I have noticed about Eletech’s cables especially is that each model offers a distinctly different ergonomic experience due to the geometry of the wires inside despite sharing the same insulation.
I admire what a great job Eletech has done with their packaging and accessories as this isn’t necessarily something that buyers expect when they buy a custom cable. The packaging is clean and delightful to look at with sketched artwork and a magnetic latch to close. Inside is the cable within a gorgeous leather case with metal ID tag above, both heavily reinforcing the premium status of the product. The case receives special mention as, not only is it premium, it is a desirable accessory that I would love to be able to purchase on its own. The Socrates, in particular, comes with a genuine red-wine leather case, a stunning complement to its gold metal accents and hefty Eletech zipper. Its soft suede interior prevents scratches and there is ample room to house IEMs and a small DAP.
Eletech do hand fabricate each cable, however, in the pursuit of a coherent and fully-realised aesthetic you do sacrifice some of that custom portion. Nonetheless, there is a good selection of connectors and terminations accommodating of 3.5mm single-ended and 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced. The connector choice is also wide and, should Eletech not offer the standard of choice, the buyer is able to contact the companyf or a cu
Similar to my former experiences alongside MMR’s IEMs, Eletech’s flagship copper cable is a gift to the eye. Though the solid black jacket does not offer a view of the conductors, the two-tone copper/black colour scheme screams premium. Eletech’s connectors and y-split are easily among the best I’ve encountered, simply stunning metalwork free of chips or imperfections even when pixel-peeping macro photos. The Y-split on the Socrates takes the company’s signature angular design to the next level with its 6-axis tessellation pattern. The bold copper accents handsomely complement the brushed metal finish while chamfered edges deliver a softer feel on the skin for a more comfortable wearing experience. Small touches such as the coloured inlay within the laser cut Eletech logos are proof of Eletech’s pursuit of excellence and the quality of the product. This results in a handmade cable that feels not like a commercial product but a labour of love.
Structurally, the Socrates is a 4-wire cable with 24AWG wires are standard within the realm of high-end custom cables. In turn, it feels sturdy but not so heavy as to become cumbersome during portable use. The pre-moulded earguides aid this impression, carrying the weight of the cable comfortable and gracefully; I enjoy how they angle slightly inwards to prevent the cable from popping over the outer ear. Eletech’s FlexiMax insulation makes a return here too, however, the Socrates is noticeably stiffer than their former designs due to the geometry of the conductors if not an especially stiff cable in isolation. I’m told the cable will soften over time and this does seem to be the case after my 3 weeks of testing. The cable has some slight memory and carries a bit more microphonic noise than suppler cables. It’s nothing intrusive to the listening experience but this can make the cable difficult to coil for storage. Conversely, the thicker design, smooth jacket and stiffer complexion also mean that the Socrates essentially never tangles which makes it quite easy to live with regardless.
I am not personally a fan of categorising a cable’s sound based upon its conductors as there are so many other factors that can influence the sound. The Socrates is such a creation, bearing quite a lucid and high-definition sound that one might not expect from a copper cable. It immediately doesn’t provide the same level of vividness as some of the palladium models I’ve tested around this price but introduces strong depth and dynamism alongside good contrast in the lower-midrange that provides a very well-defined vocal range. The top-end provides good energy too with enhanced sparkle and air counterbalanced by a slightly smoother note attack creating an organic presentation. As a result, the Socrates offers versatile synergy and serves as a highly engaging take on the traditional copper sound.
The Socrates offers a more substantial bass than stock cables, both larger and deeper reaching. Sub-bass extends noticeably better delivering a more present and defined rumble alongside a more physical slam. This instigates a bolder note presentation, lows gaining more depth and range. The mid-bass also becomes punchier with a touch of emphasis. The cable doesn’t come across as overly warm to me given that the sub and mid-bass achieve relative parity in presence. However, the lows do come across as enlarged, thicker in structure with greater drive.
This is not at the expense of resolving power, however. As extension has been improved there is more information in the sub-bass unveiling greater texture. Driver control appears improved too, the cable offering quicker transients compared to stock,n especially with regards to note attack, permitting a pacey, well-separated mid-bass. The timbre is thicker and bolder than neutral but not tubby or bloated in the slightest as a result. The Socrates is a very dynamic and satisfying cable that brings the body and size of copper but mitigates excessive warmth, achieving synergy with a wider range of earphones.
Where one may expect a fuller, warmer midrange, the Socrates instead comes across to me as slightly more revealing. To clarify, this is not on behalf of any upper-midrange emphasis, rather, there appears enhanced contrast in the lower-midrange. As a result, vocal body is a touch reduced and instruments are slightly laid-back compared to vocals, yet this also prevents bass from encroaching upon the midrange. Accordingly, vocals are characterised by a neutral tone and especially high definition garnished with pleasing wetness and density in the upper-midrange that prevents things from becoming too intense. This forms a pleasant and euphonic balance to my ears and a nice counter to the more engaging bass.
Vocals are a touch enlarged, finding a good balance with the enlarged low-end. Similarly, they are very defined and textured but also occupy a similar stage position to stock on behalf of the slightly laid-back upper-midrange. In turn, vocals come across as naturally voiced, never dry or stretched thin. Articulation aids this impression, coming across as just a touch smoother whilst retaining ample openness and extension. Consequently, this won’t be a cable for those wanting a revealing upper-midrange nor a warm, richly voiced copper cable with an organic timbre. Rather, it is very clean and, for lack of better terminology, is naturally revealing and refined.
The top-end benefits from a slightly more vibrant expression though not an excessively sharp one that will appeal to general fans of copper. The lower-treble is crisp and organic, the initial note attack just a touch smoother than most. As there is an uptick of middle-treble quantity, treble instrumentation sits slightly forward, delivering copious detail presence without introducing too much sharpness or thinness. Instruments are presented with convincing body and a lightly warm tone. Note attack is slightly smoother as aforementioned, while decay is natural. The transient response is very clean, showcasing strong separation and detail retrieval despite lying on the smoother side in note articulation.
I hear an uptick of brightness in the middle-treble, so the background is not the cleanest and the overall presentation isn’t the most layered either. However, the Socrates showcases an excellent display of openness, air and headroom alongside strong extension into the upper-treble. There’s an enhanced sparkle at the very top that contributes heavily towards the Socrate’s vibrant and energetic expression. Accordingly, background details are brought a touch forward which makes minutiae easy to discern by the listener. As aforementioned, this can come at the cost of defined layers and foreground/background contrast, albeit the instrument timbre is well done, and the cable conveys a very strong technical performance at this price.
Width stuck out to me most when listening to the Socrates, extending further than the majority of cables I’ve listened to, a very good performance. Meanwhile, depth is a touch more intimate but not excessively so as vocals are enlarged, however, not overly forward. This forms a spacious ovoid presentation enhanced by the open, defined and airy presentation. Imaging is accurate too, there’s a strong, stable low-end and, with that uptick of lower-treble presence alongside a clean transient response, localisation is very sharp. Separation is also improved over stock, especially with regards to the midrange. However, the treble does not showcase the strongest separation due to its airier nature that means its background can, on occasion, compete with foreground elements. Altogether, the cable demonstrates good coherence and a very wide image that’s immersive and easy to enjoy.
Hyla CE5 ($940): A pleasing pairing. Bass becomes deeper and more powerful but not too warm or full so balance isn’t offset. The midrange derives strong definition, perhaps veering a touch thin for the already thinner CE5. The increase in density is still welcome here, instigating a slightly smoother and more refined midrange presentation. The treble is airier with clean-transients but you still get a little hotness from the piezo super tweeter. The soundstage is wide and impressively multi-dimensional on this pairing.
Custom Art Fibae 7 (1100 EUR): The Fibae 7 includes the Null Audio Arete OCC cable from factory. There’s a stronger sub-bass slam and a more voluminous mid-bass that I don’t fully agree with. However, it is nicely controlled, albeit a touch tubby. The midrange is much cleaner and more naturally voiced, tapering off the upper-midrange just a touch. Vocals are just slightly more laid-back as a result, but more coherent. The treble has a cleaner transient response, being more detailed and separated. There’s a bit more sparkle and resolution alongside a wider soundstage. Imaging is about as coherent as the stock cable but with sharper localisation.
Lime Ears Aether R (1200 EUR): A perfect pairing, the Socrates offers a more dynamic and coherent sound without sacrificing any of its body or fullness. Lows extend extremely well for a BA earphone. There’s outstanding solidity in the sub-bass and a harder-hitting yet more controlled mid-bass. The midrange becomes smoother, a touch more truncated but well-articulated and with a little more coherence. I hear a slightly more natural voicing here too. The treble becomes even cleaner with greater resolution and headroom. The soundstage is wider and more layered.
MMR Homunculus ($1699): The Homunculus includes Eletech’s Prudence from factory, a good match to its warmer sound. The Socrates is an excellent pairing here too. Lows are a bit more powerful but most noticeably are more controlled and defined throughout. Sub-bass is more robust and defined, mid-bass harder hitting and quicker decaying. The midrange is high definition and slightly cleaner in tone. However, it is also more laid-back and isn’t quite as open as the Prudence within the upper-midrange, to my ears, this is desirable as the Homunculus comes across to me as vocal-forward. The treble is cleaner with more focus in the foreground and a bit more sparkle too. The soundstage is wider and more layered.
Noble Audio Katana ($1800): A very pleasing pairing, lows extend much further and sub-bass is more robust with greater definition and slam. Mid-bass is more defined with bolder notes. The midrange becomes more defined but also gains density so it sounds more coherent and wholly resolved too. The treble is more refined with greater balance between foreground and background in addition to greater headroom and detail retrieval. The soundstage is appreciably wider and imaging sharper.
Suggested Pair Ups
The Socrates is one of the more versatile cables I’ve tested, especially its midrange. It does happen to also align with my personal preferences well so take this with a grain of salt. In general, the Socrates does well with most earphones, though if the earphone is already more substantial in the bass and warmer in tone, it can push it a bit too thick as seen on the Fibae 7. The midrange works with almost anything while the top-end also is quite inoffensive. The Socrates is easy to pair and enjoy, users can expect a more robust yet controlled bass, clean high definition midrange and a wider soundstage.
Eletech Fortitude ($199): Eletech’s entry-level copper cable offers a lot for the money, sporting thinner 26AWG wires and an extremely high strand count in a hybrid Type-4 Litz geometry. The Socrates still immediately provides more range and dynamism with its sound. It offers a deeper reaching low-end and a more powerful bass in general. The Fortitude is a bit faster in the mid-bass on the contrary. The midrange is drier on the Fortitude and a bit more laid-back, the Socrates being much more defined and cleaner in tone. Its vocals are larger, wetter and more powerful. The Socrates has a more organic treble, having more body and a sharper transient response. The Fortitude is thinner in body and less detailed but a little more forward. The Socrates has a much wider soundstage and more headroom. It has better localisation and sounds more stable in general.
Plussound EXO Tri-Copper ($549): For more fair comparison, here is a copper-centric cable also featuring gold and silver at around the same price. The Tri-Copper is a more traditional copper sound with a warmer tone. The low-end isn’t quite as deep reaching and is more mid-bass focussed, instigating a slightly fuller and warmer note. The Socrates is more dynamic, textured and defined on the contrary, a more energetic sound. The midrange follows suit. The Socrates is cleaner in tone and more defined. The Tri-copper is warmer and richer in its voicing, also a bit smoother. The Tri-Copper has a bit more lower-treble crunch and crispness while the Socrates is smoother in its articulation. The Socrates instead has a bit more air and headroom in addition to slightly more extension and sparkle. As such, the Tri-Copper comes across as cleaner with more contrast here. Both have similarly wide soundstages, the Tri-Copper a touch wider due to its darker and more laid-back middle-treble region. The Socrates has better separation and both image well, the tri-Copper being slightly more coherent and layered, the Socrates more separated and revealing.
Hansound Redcore (650 SGD): The Redcore offers a more rounded bass note with less sub-bass, rather, focus is on its punchy mid-bass. The Redcore is quicker decaying, enabling greater sepration in conjunction with its more laid-back sub-bass. Meanwhile, the Socrates is deeper reaching and bolder with more concise note attack and more defined notes making it more aggressive in its bass presentation. The midrange is fuller on the Redcore and warmer in tone. Both are slightly denser, wet and smooth in the upper-midrange so not too forward, though the Redcore demonstrates a slightly larger and more powerful vocal delivery. On the contrary, the Socrates is more defined and clearer with greater separation and openness. The lower-treble has a touch crunch and sharper attack on the Redcore creating a crisper presentation, the Socrates is a touch more laid-back here and smoother in its articulation. However, the Socrates showcases better cleanliness in the middle-treble. There’s a hair less fine detail in the foreground but an airer background with greater sparkle and greater resolution of background details. The Socrates has a noticeably wider soundstage, the Redcore offering more defined layers. The Socrates also has sharper imaging to me, aided by its greater separation on behalf of its more neutral note size.
Eletech Plato ($999): Eletech’s first school of Athens cable features bespoke monocrystal silver conductors. The Socrates offers a touch more extension and a noticeably harder hitting sub-bass especially, but its note attack is more aggressive in general. Lows are presented as a touch fuller and bolder while the Plato showcases a slightly cleaner bass, having a touch more control and definition in the mid-bass. The midrange is cleaner yet and clearer on the Plato, boasting greater upper-midrange extension. The Socrates is denser and a touch more laid-back, it offers similar definition but the Plato comes across as more revealing simply by nature of its upper-midrange presentation. Articulation is a bit smoother on the Socrates and more open on the Plato. Within the treble, both provide a similar level of quantity, the Plato a hair more. The lower-treble has a bit more crispness and a sharper note attack on the Plato. It has slightly better detail retrieval here where the Socrates is smoother and a touch cleaner sounding. Both have a similar amount of air, the Plato offers more sparkle and resolution. Actually, both appear to offer similar soundstage expansion, similar width a touch more depth on the Socrates due to its less forward midrange. The Plato offers better layering and separation with its more neutral note size and cleaner tone though the Socrates keeps pace well with its sharp localisation that matches the Plato.
Over the last weeks I’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Eletech’s entire line-up and it’s clear that, though new, the company is ready to compete with the best. The Socrates is a wonderful addition to that catalogue and a great option around this price range. It showcases excellent refinement in both its sound and design. Perhaps it is not the most technical in Eletech’s line-up, both the Iliad and Plato offering greater extension and sparkle up top. It is also the least ergonomic, the rest being very supple, the Socrates a little stiffer and less pliable. Still, this sound resonates well with me for its bold yet highly-defined note presentation that finds very wide synergy. The gorgeous 6-axis tessellation design is surely not cheap to produce but the finished product is very rewarding. The Socrates is a highly-competitive cable for those that value gorgeous aesthetics, rock-solid build quality and a deep, dynamic bass set to a high-definition midrange.
The Socrates is available from Eletech (International) for $699 USD at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with Eletech and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.