Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

2010 has turned out to be quite a busy year for me. Though I have missed a few IEM I really want to review, I think it is still a very fruitful and enjoyable year, to say the least. One thing I think it is pretty obvious this year is the booming expansion of the IEM market, and even earbuds seem to making a comeback as well! This trend will probably continue to the whole 2011, marking a new height in the world of portable music, if I may say so.

With X'mas less than 15 minutes away, I'll like to take the chance to thank the retailers, distributors and manufacturers who are kind enough to send me samples for review, and of course you, the reader, on supporting this blog. To you all, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

[REVIEW] ECCI PR401

Again, I’ll like to thank delonicdevil for sending me the samples. ECCI has been quite a budget oriented brand on all their previous IEM, having bang-for-the-bucks factor almost as good as its competitors in the sub US$50 category (PR100, PR200 and PR300 have been reviewed here). However, the new PR401 is aimed at a higher ground, pushing for a US$75 price tag and a place in the most crowded part of the IEM market.

PR4-1.jpg

Monday, December 20, 2010

[REVIEW] Ortofon e-Q5 – Less is More

I want to thanks Dimitri @ Musica Acoustics Japan (MAJ) for providing the review sample. MAJ is one of the biggest Japanese earphone exporter. If you are interested in getting an e-Q5 from MAJ (which ship internationally), you can email them for detail. If you are a Head-fier, you might even get yourself a discount (depends on whether they still have the promotion running or not, though it won’t hurt asking).

Just a little over a year ago, I reviewed the e-Q7, one of the first IEM to use the innovative moving armature transducer and certainly one of the top-tier universal IEM in the market. For those who are not familiar with moving armature, this Japanese invented transducer is a sort of hybrid, with diaphragm like moving coil transducer and motor like balanced armature (BA). It is this combination of design that gives the moving armature a unique sound –the speed and accuracy of a BA plus the dynamic and impact of a moving coil under one single driver. Yet this single driver is well enough to compete with some of the best universal multi drivers IEM in the market. With the success of e-Q7, Ortofon follows up with the recent release of e-Q5 – Built on the same moving armature technology, it is said that Ortofon is managed to make a less expensive IEM, yet retains the level of sound quality. Is it too good to be true?

eQ5-01.jpg

Friday, December 17, 2010

Custom in Universal: j-phonic K2

Companies like Sensaphonics love to keep it low key when it comes to product launch, which is probably why not much info about their already-in-market-for months, brand new, company's first universal dual balanced armature IEM. It is the brainchild (*see update below) of Sensaphonics Japanese devision, named the j-phonic K2. Though it is an universal IEM, it has quite tons of customizable features. First, you get to choose whether you want a stage monitor or music listening tuning (sound signature wise), then there are 8 colors on housing to choose from, follows by 3 different length in cable, 2 different style of 3.5mm plugs (straight or L-shaped), 2 different style of Comply eartips (3 sized T or TX series, total 6 pairs) and 2 different size of hard case with 3 different color options in rubber lining - a total of 1152 different combinations, WOW! That really blows my mind off since this is just an universal IEM. This is a model specially designed for the Japanese's ear shape which is different from the Western developed products that the company originally sells, but I don't see why it won't fit the rest of the world as well. MSRP in Japan is almost $500 with shipping included - a bit on  the expensive side but I think it is still worth it, consider how much effort Sensaphonics Japan has put into the j-phonic K2.

[UPDATE]  Got words from Sensaphonics Japan. They want to point out that Sensaphonics Japan itself is not responsible for the manufacturing of j-phonic, but only the marketing. Rather, this IEM is a combined work of several top Japanese designers and experts in the various fields. They are in process of setting up a English site and bringing this IEM to the international market, but price has not been fixed yet as they are still seeking way to lower the impact on recently heighten JPY to USD exchange rate.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

[REVIEW] Brainwavz M3

First, I’ll like to thank MP4Nation.net for the sample. In just a little over half-a-year, MP4Nation has introduced two real bang of the buck IEM, the M1 and M2, from China to the rest of the world. The M3 is going to mark yet another IEM in this series, and will be the best sounding so far. If you have read my previous M1 and M2 review, you will know that Brainwavz is OEM’ed by ViSang, a fairly well established earphone brand in China. The M3, which is originally known as the ViSang R04 “Collector Edition” was a reintroduction of an old model (same housing but golden color) by upgrading the SQ to being the company’s flagship.

M3-1.jpg
This is just a demo set so not all the accessories are included in the picture

MEElec New Balance

In merely a little more than a year, MEElectronics has transformed from the maker of the more humble, budget oriented M6 / M9 series to the more upscale CC51 (+ the new Clarity series) and their first balanced armature IEM, the new A151. Like the CC51, this new IEM looks very much like a keeper. I sure hope it will be just as good sounding, if not better.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rumor: Be '4'? [UPDATE]

Westone CEO posted a picture for his tweeter, but it turns out the most interesting bit is the IEM next to his new iPad. Does it read like a '4' on that orange logo? Could it be a Westone 4 sample? Will this be Westone first 4 drivers universal? If so, will this beat x-JAYS to the market and take the title of 'first quad drivers universal'? Ah, all the questions with no answers...

[UPDATE] Days after the picture leak, Westone finally announced the Westone 4 officially. As the name suggested, it will have 4 BA drivers each side in 3 ways crossover and a new type of cable. MSRP is around $450 and it will debut in CES2011 and hit the market early next year. So the race between JAYS and Westone for the first quad drivers univeral IEM to reach the market is officially on as well. Ah, all the excitement!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

[REVIEW] ECCI PR100, PR200 and PR300 - Pop and Rock in Trio

First, I’ll like to thank delonicdevil (which is also a seller on eBay) for sending me the samples. ECCI is the brand from the same company that brought us the Storm portable amp and Cyclone IEM a while back. As the business grew, the company decided to up its game with a new name and a new series of products at the end of last year. The original PR series, which were quite popular in Head-fi, was then slowly replaced by a new series of IEM in order to move the production from pure OEM’ed by another company to more of an in-house operation (or so I heard). The results are the PR100, PR200 and PR300 (the latest PR401 has hit the market as well). The name ‘PR’ is short for Pop and Rock – it is what the IEM are intended for: budget oriented products aimed for the mainstream listener.

PR-01.jpg

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Force: NE-700

Nuforce is releasing a new series of IEM called the NE-700 (X for regular version, M for iPhone supported Mic version). Like the previously reviewed HifiMan RE262, this IEM will have a titanium diaphragm which I personally like (they tend to be quicker and more detail). NuForce is known for its bang for the bucks products, so this will be something to look forward to. You can expect it to reach market by end of December with MSRP of US$65 (NE-700X) and US$79 (NE-700M).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

[REVIEW] HifiMan HM602 and HM801

First of all, I want to thank Head-Direct for providing the review samples. Just about a year and a half ago, the HifiMan HM801 was announced. It is considered by many as the first audiophile targeting digital audio player (DAP) and it is made by a relatively small audiophile orientated company. It was intended to bring the humble MP3 player (or as I prefer to call it: DAP) to the next level of sound quality 2 decades after its invention. Right about half a year ago, HM602 was announced. With a smaller form factor, the goal was to scarify a little bit of SQ (compared to HM801) in order to achieve better portability and a lower, more consumer friendly price. It also features an unconventional non-oversampling (NOS) DAC section based on a competition winning design from Japan. As of recently, HM601 has been announced as a simplified version of HM602, which comes without the USB DAC function, uses a different opamp and only with 2GB of memory (with microSD slot) in order to bring it even closer to the consumer market (but the general consensus seems to suggest that HM601 and HM602 sound very close despite using a different opamp). Still, I think two things that should be mentioned before the review:

1) HifiMan isn’t really a bang-for-the-buck brand of DAP, and shouldn’t be considered in that way. It is targeting at a higher end market of portable user where price is much less important than performance. It is for those who demand the best of portable sound at almost any cost (as for whether they are indeed the best sounding portable players or not is a discussion for later on).

2) HifiMan isn’t meant to be sleek or trendy. If you want something that does video, touch screen, games, slim, light, very easy to use or seamlessly compatible to most music downloading service – then sorry, this is not that player. You should try Sony, Cowon, Apple, Sandisk or even Creative instead. HifiMan is a brand that orientated around sound quality, and it will require a bit of knowhow and effort from the user to get the best out of the player.

If you don’t consider yourself to fit into both descriptions, then perhaps HifiMan isn’t the right DAP for you, as attractive as many rave reviews you might have read. It is not because these reviews are not correct or the reviewers are some kind of elitist or obscure audiophiles. It is because where you might be looking for a DAP in general usage, they (and perhaps me in this case) are looking for an best, uncompromised sounding portable source that will better fulfill into their quest of sound quality.

HM-01.jpg

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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