Review by: Paolo Tellano
Source/choice of tips/cables:
Price: P16,999 (approximately $320)
Ibasso DX120 (Sound Mode: Reference and Digital Filter: Sharp roll off)
IEM: Soranik SS-1
FLACs. DSDs, DSFs, and MP3s.
Introduction on the maker/page description
“Bespoke HiFi Audio
Handmade Desktop & Portable Amplifiers, Cables, and Interconnects”
Just like his “Merkur” cable, Jayvi Vilar reached out to me and asked if I can do a review on the rest of his cable lineup. Now the aesthetics of Vikabel Akustik’s lineup might look redundant, but that’s certainly not true about their sound signatures.
Jayvi didn’t pay me or anything like that, so there isn’t any bias in reviewing these cables. When he made me review his first cable, he asked me to be honest so that he can know where he can improve on.
Unlike the Merkur and the Neptun, the Mars comes in a much premium-looking package. It has the standard Vikabel leather strap. However, what really caught my attention is that leather pouch. I guess the DIYer purposely did that to indicate that it’s the more premium cable? I don’t know.
Ergonomics/material (almost same with the Neptun)
Now, I’m not really much of a hardware guy. The maker told me that the Mars is a four wire hybrid copper cable (i.e. copper and Litz). In terms of ergonomics, it isn’t as prone to being flimsy as the Merkur. I’m guessing this is because it is thicker. So the cable doesn’t flail around. This is true whether you use the cable over the ear on just wearing it straight down.
Build/aesthetics (same with the Neptun)
Something that Vikabel Akustik does well, the build and aesthetics are on point. Although the latter is subjective, you’ll be hard press to find someone who would call these ugly-looking. It has sleek black sleeves and a sturdy build overall. One of my favorite things about the lineup is how the strain relief is implemented. So these cables might be pricey, but they can take a beating.
Sound (Tested with the Soranik SS-1)
There’s only a tinge of extra extension with the Mars. It’s pretty negligible though and would require you to listen more carefully to notice. The mid bass is a bit more textured than the stock cables.
It is more detailed than the stock cable but not compared to the Neptun, which I find to have superior mids enhancement in comparison. However, it is thicker and more bodied than the Neptun. Not to say that it gets to a point where it’s lush, there’s just enough added weight.
Female vocals are given much love in this cable. Emphasis is clearly seen in this frequency. There’s also beautiful rendering of snares as well. There’s no harshness but the detail is vivid in comparison to the stock and the Neptun.
There is extra brilliance, extension, and simmer with the Mars. People will love these cables if they are missing a bit more treble extension in their gear.
The Imaging isn’t as good as the Neptun’s, but it’s much better than the stock cables of the SS-1. The resolution is just bumped up by a tiny bit. While the soundstage is considerably wider than that of the stock cable and a bit wider than the Neptun’s
This is the best I’ve tried from the DIYer. It almost led to me to purchase one myself. There isn’t really too much going on in the bass department but the upper mids and treble sound brilliant on these. I love neutral sound but my second bet would be a bright sound signature. If you have $300 and you’re looking for a cable that enhances your upper mids and treble, these are good choice. As always, the cables from this DIYer looks beautiful. That’s not a surprise anymore. So, a bit of extra aesthetics won’t hurt.