Saturday, August 28, 2010

Audio Technica CK70Pro - The Little Brother

Audio Techinca announced the new single balanced armature based CK70Pro in Japan, featuring the same 'acoustic horn' nozzle as its bigger but dual driver brother, the CK90Pro. Interesting enough, it also has the top-firing BA that first appears in Ultimate Ears' 5 (or currently, the UE600). As always, the MSRP is a little over at about US$220, but the actual street price can be expected at much lower price point.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

[REVIEW] Sunrise - A Brand New Day

First, I will like to thanks Sunrise for the samples. Many of you might not hear the brand before, but Sunrise has been a fairly well known OEM in the China headphone business. After Yuin’s success on the higher end earbuds market in 2005, Sunrise followed with its own SR-I and SR-II models later on. Though they never went as big as Yuin, the brand did get praised for having good price / performance ratio. After the initial success with their own brand, the company seems to take on a different direction and went full time on OEM business for the last few years.  That’s till just a year ago when they decided that it is time to come back to the market with not just headphone, but a new website and an array of products (which hopefully we shall see more of them in time).  One thing they do intend to clarify with the re-launch of the company is their origin: They are actually a Vietnamese company though they have their factory in China.  Regardless, it is the 4 earphone models in this review that we are going to focus on for now.

Sunrise's website: (new, not available yet) | (old, outdated)


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Products for UE, or Are They?

Sometime a company will do the strangest of marketing decision. Even since UE was bought over by Logitech, the brand has received a lot more criticism from the user across various forums. Now the new direction of company seems to be 'price cut and rename'. The new model UE600, which looks suspiciously like the old 5 released 2 years ago, is priced at $100 and almost $70 cheaper than the now discontinued SF5 (if it is indeed the same IEM, I wonder how would those original SF5 buyer will feel like when they learn that UE could have sold the same IEM to them at $70 cheaper?). UE700, which was released just last year, has also became much cheaper, from the original $230 to the currently $150. While I have not objection about company lowering the price of their products, the approach UE (or should I say Logitech) has chosen is just bad for marketing. As a consumer, it makes me wonder if it is just the bad economy that forces UE to cut their price in order to attract more customers, or perhaps it is the flood of newer, better and cheaper IEM that makes UE to reevaluate their high markup policy? The only thing I can be sure of, is that it isn't going to look good for UE as an audiophile brand. It certainly makes me feel like the value of the brand has been diluted to follow what the mother company is good at: mass production and marketing. Where is the audiophile / sound quality association anymore?

Check out the new (confusingly named and priced) UE600, UE500, UE350, and UE200. I am sure most of us will find it nice for UE to have down-to-earth pricing, but I am a little worry about the brand's identity for now.

Friday, August 20, 2010

HifiMan RE262: Prototype

While the RE252 is a great sounding IEM, it was criticized for it unusual design and less-than-optimum comfort for a small number of user. So Head-Direct / HifiMan went back to the drawing board for a more conventional design this time for their next flagship, the RE262. It is also said to have similar sound signature to RE252 but improved upon. Though it is yet to be ready for the market, here is an early picture of what it might look like (both earpieces in picture are right side):

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

[REVIEW] Hippo Gumstick

First, I’ll like to thanks Uncle Wilson @ for the sample. To make it clear, Gumstick is OEM’ed by HiSound, the maker of Rocoo-A and quite a name for hot topic these days in the forum. Come with a class A biased amp inside, the main difference between the two models is that Gumstick seems to be more ‘tuned down’ (in a good way). For starter, the firmware operation seems to be simpler with lesser selection of EQ to play with. Also, the hissing problem associated with the Rocoo-A has mostly been fixed. We will go into more detail about both issues later on


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

[REVIEW] Creative Aurvana In-Ear2

Once upon a time when you mentioned ‘premium audio’ in the computer world, the name ‘Creative’ is what you would be referring to. Nowadays the name seems to get somewhat replaced by Apple.  To be fair, I do believe Creative still has the ‘tech’ in hardware to be an important character in the computer-related audio business (especially since computer audio is slowly eating away the share of transitional audio hardware, i.e. CD player). But on the software side (more referring to brain power, research and development, marketing, software design), Creative has been quite lacking compared its biggest DAP rival Apple. It proves that you don’t need to have the best hardware around to be successful; just some good and fresh ideas are enough to get your business flying straight to the moon. However, once in a while Creative does surprise us with some really good products. This time, it is the Aurvana In-Ear2.

The Aurvana brand is Creative’s attempt to penetrate the audiophile headphone market. The first product under the Aurvana brand is the original In-Ear, which has been largely overshadowed by other big brands. The new In-Ear2 is not intended to replace the original In-Ear, but more of a better model that is offered alongside. The original MSRP of In-Ear2 is actually around US$110, which is much less attractive for a single balanced armature based IEM. But as the model being released internationally, the price has been dropped globally to US$100 (and even slightly lower if you pick one up in Singapore, Creative’s homeland). The decision to keeping the In-Ear2 within the $100 price range is smart but still seems a tough sell when other single balanced armature IEM such as the Sherwood SE-777, Fischer Audio SBA-01, and SoundMAGIC PL-50 are all well below $100. So, does In-Ear2 deliver?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Know the History

Click on the picture below to visit NAMM's website for a 2007 video interview of Marty Garcia, founder and CEO of Future Sonics inc. and the inventor of custom IEM as he talk about the early history of IEM.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

[REVIEW] NuForce uDAC - Big in Small

NuForce started its business more into speaker than into headphone, but their involvement in the head-fi community perhaps help shaped a different path for the company. Regardless, they always struck me as a company aims for design simplicity and high price/performance ratio, and maybe this is how uDAC could be described.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

[REVIEW] Etymotic ER4P / ER4S - The Living Legends

To say Etymotic ER4 series is a classic is in itself an understatement. I mean, do any person knows of another IEM model that can be sold for 19 years with minimum change yet still be considered by many to be the golden standard of accuracy? Or perhaps we want to revisit the fact that it is the first ever universal IEM that is made for music with a rated accuracy score based on an industrial first scientific sound quality measurement developed and published by Etymotic? ER4 is without a doubt a living legend and will continue to impress many newcomers in the IEM world. More importantly, the series hasn’t lost its relevancy in the fast growing IEM world. There might be other IEM that can do certain things better, but ER4 is still one of the most revealing, detailed while neutral sounding IEM you can ever listen to. In this review, we will be focus on ER4P and the resistor-adapter-transformed ER4S.

Disclaimer: All trademarks and logos in the website belong to their respective owners. Beside getting free review samples, I don't work for or get paid by anyone to write anything on this website, or anywhere else in that matter. Also, free review samples are never sold for any financial gain. I do buy gears and review them, but for simplicity you (the reader) should always assume what I review is free sample in nature (and thus comes with all the bias). The website does have Google Ads and Amazon Associates enabled (which I have no direct control over their content) - though I don't write review for a living, nor does the ads generates enough money to cover my breakfast (in fact, not even one breakfast per week). Listening to music and playing with audio gears are purely hobby for me. In short, I am just an audiophiles who happens to have his own blog. Not a journalist who happens to be an audiophile. Oh, and excuse my writing as I am not a native English speaker and can't afford a proofreader. Also, just because I don't write in a negative tone doesn't mean I don't write down the negative aspect of a gear. Please read them carefully. Last but not least, please note that this site uses cookies to track visitors' number and page view.

Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

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