Tuesday, December 27, 2011

[REVIEW] HifiMan RE272 – the Purist

First, I like to thank HifiMan for the sample. I have had the RE272 for a while now but writing this review doesn’t become easier with time. There is something incredible about RE272’s sound but at the same time, there is also something hard to describe that is holding me back from an unreserved recommendation. This is more apparent if we were to compare RE272 to its elder brother, the very smooth and musical RE262. RE262 makes music comes to life like magic, but RE272 is much more technical and raw. It is perhaps that rawness that I have reservation for – No, I am not saying RE272 is inferior when compared to RE262. In fact, I think RE272 is better technically. However it comes with the cost of musicality, especial when driven from most common sources (i.e. iPod and such, even with portable amp). To really squeeze out a 100% from RE272, I truly believe you will need the right synergy to smooth out the rawness of RE272’s presentation and makes it really sounds effortless. That is, at least from my point of view, RE272 should be driven with a balanced amp. We will discuss this further in the Sound Quality section. For now, let’s focus back on the review.

RE272-01.jpg

RE272-02.jpg

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Time sure flies!!! This year has turned out to be almost as busy as last year. Though for the last month or so I have been busy with all the family stuff and really haven't had the time to finish up any review, I am getting up to speed. You can expect more reviews getting posted in a much faster pace and I am certainly hoping to clear up the current stack by January 2012. In short, there are a lot more to come so stay tuned! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

[IMPRESSION] FiiO RC-UE1 - Replacement Cable for Ultimate Ear

This is just a short impression for the new FiiO RC-UE1 cable, which is the replacement cable for TF10, SF5 Pro, SF5 RB and SF3 (plus the similar M-Audio models OEM'ed by UE). The price tag is around US$30, last I checked via googgling.

RCUE1-01.jpg
Packaging is pretty simple, quite similar to that of FiiO's LOD packaging.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Recomendation


A while ago I promised Tyll @ InnerFidelity.com (some of you might have known him as the founder of HeadRoom and a fellow Head-fier) to write a holidays in-ear buyer guide for his website, and it is up now. The difference between the buyer guide and my own 'The List' is that the buyer guide is focusing more on just recommending good in-ear that have fantastic value to the average consumer, as opposed to the more audiophile oriented 'The List'. That goal really is to compile a guide that not only makes a good purchase for you as an audiophile, but also an excellent holidays gift list for your loved one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New UE, same old stuff?

Logitech just announced a new flagship in their UE lineup in China called the Triple.fi 15vm. No, you are not seeing double in the picture above - it does indeed look identical to TF10. Beside knowing it has triple BA driver and mic for iPhone / iPod, Logitech certainly isn't telling much else. Is it really a new model or perhaps Logitech is just renaming its TF10vi? I guess we will have to wait and see. MSRP is just below US$315 (which is about the same as TF10 in China).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Altec Lansing Custom

...or is it really just ACS custom with the AL's branding? AL has a long history on rebranding other companies' products so it shouldn't be that surprising to see them offering three custom IEM 'by ACS'. The three models, A1, A2, and A3 will feature one, two and three balanced armature drivers and cost $500, $800, and $1000 respectively. Like ACS' own models, these AL models will also be soft-molded with medical grade silicone.

Friday, October 28, 2011

VSONIC GR01

As reported a while ago, the new VSONIC flagship, the dual balanced armature GR01 (was GR00) is going to be released before the end of the year - now we have a date and a price: It will hit the China market on late November on a MSRP of US$210.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

[REVIEW] Fischer Audio - License Renewed

First, I want to thank Fischer Audio for the samples. This will mark the third review collection I have rewritten on Fischer Audio’s IEM. Including in this review are Mighty Bug, FA-977 Jazz, Ceramique, Paradigm v.3, Consonance, Tandem and SBA-03. Ever since FA’s first introduction to the international market, they are steadily being recognized as one of the true bargain brands in the headphone world. Some of their headphones have been compared with others that cost twice and more of their price. While the overall build and sound quality are improving over each generation, one thing that remains true to FA is the rather large quantity of different models being released each year. Personally, I think it is time for FA to scale down a little bit and try to focus on just a few. By limiting the number of production models, more resource can be utilized to further refine each model Instead of offering too many similarly price models which could dilute the brand’s value.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hot Oct. in Japan

After announcing the release of the single balanced armature BA100 two months ago, now TDK is following up with a dual balanced armature IEM nicknamed BA200. It will also have the flat cable from BA100 and priced around US$240.

Audio-Technica just announced a truck load of expensive headphones to celebrate its 50th anniversary (or maybe more correctly - asking buyers to help funding its 50th anniversary :) ). Among them includes some new Solid Bass (CKS) series IEM, and 4 really interesting models - (1) ATH-CKW1000ANV (top left in picture), priced around $600 with wood + titanium housing, a specially developed 14mm dynamic transducer  and limited to only 2500 pairs worldwide. (2) ATH-CKM1000 (top right), priced around US$520 with aluminum + titanium housing and another specially developed 14mm dynamic transducer. (3) ATH-CK100PRO (bottom left), priced around US$650 with titanium housing, 3-ways triple balanced armature transducer, horn-nozzle design and removable cable. (4) ATH-CK90PRO MK2 (bottom right), priced at US$260 with horn-nozzle design, presumably the follow up model of the original CK90PRO.

Price quote are all referenced to Japanese market, expect to add a hundred or two when they went oversea :p

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

VSONIC - More to Come

VSONIC just released the latest of their line-up - but not a flagship, not just yet. The new models is called GR06 and it is priced around $50. There are however more models to come, including (1) GR99 and the next flagship dual balanced armature GR01 (was GR00) that are supposed to come before the end of the year, (2) the dual balanced armature + one dynamic GR08 and 6 balanced armature GR09 for next year, plus (3) the portable headphone ST11, two earbuds OX01 and OX02 with at least 3 more models that have yet to be confirmed. 

Yeah, it will be a busy year for VSONIC.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Phiaton PS20 BT

I reviewed the Phiaton PS20 a while ago and now they are releasing a bluetooth v3 version of the same model called the PS20 BT for cellphone user. It looks rather classy and will cost you US$125 a pair.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

[REVIEW] Blue Ever Blue 328R “The Black”, 866B “The Red” and 868B “The Silver”

First, I’ll like to thank Blue Ever Blue (BeB) for the samples. BeB is a company specializes in making earphones under the HDSS (High Definition Sound Standard) licensing. What is HDSS exactly? Well, it is based on a patented technology called the ETL (Embedded Transmission Line). The description on ETL is rather confusing on BeB website, so I dig up the actual patent and read it form the source. In simple term, ETL is basically a special way to dampen the unwanted sound wave inside the speaker enclosure. By dampening these unwanted sound waves, the speaker will be able to move more freely, thus lowering distortion and getting better or more linear performance across the whole frequency response range. ETL is originally invented by Jan P. Plummer of TBI Audio Systems to be used in the company’s loudspeaker design. Now it has found its way not only to BeB’s earphones, but also to loudspeakers made by Sharp and Marantz. This is of course a good sign to indicate some effectiveness in the ETL technology or else these companies won’t be paying for the HDSS licensing. The real question is - with enclosure so small on an earphone, does ETL works just as well as their loudspeaker cousin? It is really hard to say in definitive on whether ETL has a very significant effect on sound quality of BeB’s earphones or not. But there is a simpler question we can ask – do they sound good or not?







Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ghost of the Past

When JH3A first announced, I really thought it was one of those brilliant idea that the IEM industry needs to push forward the technology. But today the sad news is, it will not be JH Audio to do it. The idea of active crossover came to Jerry Harvey a few years ago when he was still the owner of UE. Naturally he went ahead and patented the idea under UE's name - with that patent granted to UE early this year and a possible lawsuit if JH Audio decided to continue the JH3A, Jerry had to back off and redesigned the whole JH3A into something without the active crossover (thus the big reason why JH3A's release has been delayed for such a long time). In any case, I am not happy to see JH3A becomes something that is no longer a JH3A. But there isn't much anyone can do at this moment. 

R.I.P, JH3A, for what you were meant to be and a dream short live.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Old Dog, New Trick.

ACS has released their redesigned T15 and turns it from a semi-custom (that's meant to be used with custom eartips) to an universal with custom eartips option. The GBP$150 price tag is a bit expensive for a pair of single BA these day, but it is still cheaper than the ACS' own single BA custom, the T3.

[Impression] FiiO E10

Again, just want to thank FiiO for the E10 sample. Note, this is a pre-release E10 sample that has the same hardware as the final version, but the packaging might be slightly different.

FiiO sure is fast this year with one release after another. This time it is the E10, an USB DAC with a headphone amp. Here are a few things that need to be clarify before we go into the actual impression:

First, E10, like E9, is not designed to be portable as there is no battery inside. At most, it is transportable. For those who own a NuForce uDAC before, E10 belongs to the same class of product. You should think of it as a high quality external soundcard dedicated to drive headphone (though it can be connected to powered speaker as well via its line-out socket).

Second, E10 is a pure USB DAC that has a headphone amp section. It has no line-in so you can’t connect it to your DAP. USB is all it takes so you should use it with PC, well, perhaps some other devices that has an USB host function as well. If you have no idea what is a USB host function, don’t worry – just understand E10 is supposed to be used with PC and you will be fine.





Thursday, October 6, 2011

[Impression] LEAR FSM-01

First, I’ll like to thanks FS-Digital.net for the sample. FS-Digital is a headphone store in Hong Kong. For those of who are not being here not enough to remember the brand LEAR – it was a joined venture for a few international parties (FS-Digital as one of the partner of course) and their first product is an IEM called Le01 (which I reviewed over 2.5 years ago), followed up with the improved Le01+, than the brand went silence for quite a while. Now that the brand has consolidated under FS-Digital, the first product of LEAR’s relaunch is a small amp called FSM-01, and it comes with some really interesting features. The MSRP is around US130, though the eBay listing from a China seller (which is the only one that carries it) seems to be around $150 or so. Not really sure if FS-Digital accepts international order at this point, but I'll ask them and update the post if I have any news. [update] They do take international order, detail is in the link to LEAR website above.





Wednesday, October 5, 2011

DUNU custom

The story and rumor about DUNU's custom IEM R&D has been floating among DUNU fans for quite a few months now, but todays we finally see the company posting some real pictures of a 4 drivers model over at Facebook. No further detail at this moment.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

EM4

The French IEM company EarSonics has introduced a new custom flagship called the EM4. It is a 4 balanced armatures IEM with one treble, one mid and two bass unit and it will cost you just under US$1200.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Paradigm Shift

The Canadian speaker company Paradigm is venturing out a new sub-brand called the Paradigm Shift for their more casual line of products. Including in their first line of the new brand are three 8mm dynamic transducer based IEM, the E1, E2m, and E3m ('m' means it comes with mic).  The real interesting bit is they will all be manufactured in Paradigm's Canada factory, which is rather rare (*for made-in-North American) these day. The expected price should be below / around $100 (not confirmed). Picture above shows the E3m.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

[REVIEW] Brainwavz B2 - Phoenix’s Rebirth

First, I’ll like to thank MP4 Nation for the sample.

Before we go into the review of B2, let’s take a look at the story of B2 itself. Well, for those of you who have done your reading, you would have known there is another ‘B2’ before this B2. It is the very well received DBA-02 from Fischer Audio (reviewed here). MP4 Nation is able to contact the same company that OEM the DBA-02 for Fischer Audio and begin a production of its own (note, this is not considered cloning since the OEM company is holding the design right of the IEM and free to sell it to anyone). While the IEM itself might be largely the same, MP4 Nation has given it a facelift and much easier accessibility for those who want to buy one, which is the one hinder that keeps DBA-02 from getting really popular and a full 5/5 recommendation from me. With the B2 however, everything is a step closer to perfection.





Brainwavz M4

MP4 Nation is showing off their next IEM, the Brainwavz M4, over at Facebook. Said to be an upgrade over M2, it should hit market before X'mas, possibly under $100. No other detail yet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Comply Ts - Spherical Shaped Goodness

First, I’ll like to thank Comply for giving me another chance to evaluate their latest offering , the Ts series.

I have reviewed the Comply S series a little over a year ago (see the review here) and compared it to the T and Tx series. At the time I have came to the conclusion that my personal preference is still the original T series in general while on some occasion, I do find the Tx series to work well to add warm to analytical IEM while S series provides easier fit. The reason for my preference for the T series is simply - it is the least intrusive when it comes to sonic effect. Like any eartips, foam tips also affect the IEM sound as the foam itself tends to absorb more treble and add warm to the overall sound, which can be a negative trait if the IEM is already warm sounding. But even with the T series, it is still impossible to avoid some level of treble absorption. The Ts series, while not really aims to 'fix' that issue, has actually turned out to be the least intrusive of all the Comply foam I have used (and I have used almost every models of them).


Ts400 (left, all middle sized) next to T200 (right, S, M, L each a pair)

Friday, September 16, 2011

[REVIEW] DUNU Trident and Hephaes

First, I’ll like to thank DUNU for the sample. DUNU, also known as TopSound, is one of best headphone OEM currently in China. They have been around for a while now but mostly outside of the public’s view as an OEM. However, they have recently decided to refocus on their own DUNU brand of headphones with the launch of a new series of earphones. The first two of the series, balanced armature based Ares (DN-11) and Crius (DN-13,) were reviewed a few months ago and I am impressed by their outstanding build quality. Now it is time to follow up with two more DUNU, the dynamic transducer based Trident (DN-12) and Hephaes (DN-16).





Thursday, September 15, 2011

make • believe

Sony just announced 11 new models of IEM under the new XBA series, and they are all balanced armature based. This will mark Sony first entry to the BA based IEM market -  a little late to the games, but comes with full force! The whole series spans from one to quad drivers IEM (XBA-1 to XBA-4) and their mic supported variation, plus one bluetooth model, one noise canceling model and one ear clip / sport model. Check them all out on Sony website here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

[REVIEW] Sub$100 Dual Driver – SonoCore Cindy + BrookStone Clear Dual Drive

First, I'll like to thanks SonoCore for the review sample of COA-805 Cindy.

Dual driver based IEM is pretty rare on the sub-$100 price point. For balanced armature, we have the Apple dual driver IEM, for dynamic transducer, we have the SonoCore COA-803 which I had reviewed before. In this review, we are going to looking into another two dynamic based dual drivers - the latest offering from SonoCore, the $75 COA-805 ‘Cindy’ and the $60 Brookstone ‘Clear dual drive earbuds’ (BsCDD)





Monday, September 5, 2011

Excellent Sound

Here is another IEM brand most of you probably never heard of, Excellent Sound (EXS) from South Korea. I won't blame you - as I have very little knowledge about this company as well. Here is an interesting dual driver EXS just launched over a month ago, the X20, featuring dual balanced armature drivers from Knowles with impedance of 54ohm and sensitivity of 101dB/mW @ 1kHz. The MSRP is just a little over US$180 and it is pretty much exclusive to S.Korea at the moment. Now you know everything I know about EXS X20.

[UPDATE] EXS is currently looking for oversea dealer. Anyone who is interested can drop me an email.

Oh, check out the picture after the break.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sennheiser New In-Ear

Sennheiser has just announced two new additions to their IE series - the IE60 and IE80. Judging from the press material, the biggest change seems to be isolation, which is known to be lacking in the old IE series. The new IE60 and IE80 will provide up to -26dB of isolation (a little above average in my book), but both models will keep the overall design of  IE6 and IE8. The improved isolation is a welcome change but it also indicates that the new models might change from being opened design to a closed design, which means there is potential for soundstage reduction (from IE6 / IE8). I guess we just have to wait and see. No actual price yet, but don't expect it to be cheaper than IE6 / IE8.

[UPDATE] It seems there is a silence update on Sennheiser website and now the isolation is down to -20dB. So the new IE60 and IE80 are probably as open as the old design.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

SuperCharged

This new Atomic Floyd IEM called the SuperDarts almost escapes my attention not just because it is only released in Japan at the moment, but also absents in the company's own website. What makes it interesting, besides having the usual bold red color and steel housing found on most Atomic Floyd,  is that it is a rare balanced armature + dynamic transducers two driver hybrid. It is supposed to be the upgraded version of the company's current MiniDarts series and it is not cheap at just a little over US$415.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Life on Record

TDK has released a new flagship called the TH-ECBA100BBK (or a more reasonable nickname, BA100). It is single balanced armature based but a little expensive at around US$150. Yes, it look a bit like a certain IEM from Monster Cable. As with most TDK IEM, it probably won't be easy to find outside of Japan.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

[REVEIW] FiiO E6

Here is the new chapter for the story about FiiO's tiny amps' line-up: E6 has been in development for over a year now and ready to be launched months ago. But due to the respect for Westone, which has decided to bundle the new E6 with some of their IEM, the launch is delayed till now . I can't begin to tell you how impressed I am when I first received it. Will it beats E11? No. But will it out-do E5 several times over? Hell yes. For those who think E5 is nothing but toy, this is where FiiO is trying to prove to you how serious a tiny amp that cost much less than a decent meal can go.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

[REVIEW] AiAiAi TMA-1 – Dark Side of the Moon

First, I’ll like to thank AiAiAi for the sample and the local AiAiAi dealer David @ Event One for the arrangement. Back before the release of TMA-1 just over a year ago, the Danish based AiAiAi was generally recognized as yet-another-life-style-headphone-brand. We have seen companies that offer nothing but bold, mostly aesthetic design which serves to conceal the lack of sound quality before, and the general consensus for any self-respected audiophile is to avoid anything that looks too flashy: Yes, pick the headphone with the old, ugly design. After all, what else would an ugly headphone have to offer beside sound quality? But with the TMA-1, AiAiAi set out with a different approach to combine good design and sound quality into one product that doesn’t offend both the eyes and the ears - a headphone with style and sound that both DJ and audiophile can approve of.





Thursday, August 11, 2011

[REVIEW] Spider realvoice

First, I’ll like to thank Spider Cable for the sample. Spider Cable is a relatively small company in the mighty competitive cable market, but they don’t intend to stop at just the cable market. As their first IEM, realvoice is special in the way that it is intentionally tuned to maximize vocal performance, or should I say, to capture the emotion in the singer’s voice. Costing only about US$90, this unique IEM has became one of my favorite in the sub-$100 category.





Tuesday, August 9, 2011

FiiO E6 - Tiny Amp Marvel

Confession: I have had this little amp for a few weeks now and I am very much impressed, but I was under agreement not to reveal it until now. Here is the FiiO E6, the successor of the much popular E5, and it will be officially launched at 25th of August. Westone will also bundle this little amp with some of their IEM in the near future as well. Last but not least, I will review it in time. For now, please visit this thread @ Head-fi.org for more pictures and discussion.

[REVIEW] Sub-$30 IEM fight: ECCI PG100 vs. Ultimate Ears 100 / 200

First, I'll like to thank lendmeurears.com for the PG100 sample.

Here I have three sub-$30 IEM waiting for review: ECCI PG100 and Ultimate Ears UE100 are both in the $20 mark while UE200 is a bit more expensive at $30. Given so many people out there will never want to spend over 1/5 (or even 1/10) of the price they paid for their DAP, I thought it will be fun to give them a combined review and perhaps a quick comparison with some of the other more popular sub-$30 IEM in my hand, namely the MEElectronics M9, SoundMAGIC PL30, and the very much underrated VSONIC R02 Pro II.







Friday, August 5, 2011

Twins: Brookstone Clear Dual Drive

Radius has had a great success with their dual dynamic IEM for a while now, but it might seem their good day could be over soon. Brookstone, an U.S. novelty chain store, now offers a dual dynamic IEM called the 'Clear Dual Drive Earbuds' that is almost an identical copy of the DDM2, very likely from the same factory (OEM?) that manufactures for Radius. Costing only $60, which is about 1/5 of DDM2's MSRP, the Brookstone dual driver seems like a steal. What is the catch? Well, Brookstone only operates in the U.S.. Hmmm...

*Thanks to Jant71 for the picture. See the Head-fi.org discussion here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

PFE232: September

After months of delay, the new dual balanced armature based Phonak Audeo PFE232 is finally ready to be launched at September. Price tag is set rather high at £399 (US$650). Check out some of the features / package content after the break..

[REVIEW] Xears Resonance / TD III PRO / PB120 / XR120PRO II

First, I'll like to thank Xears for the samples. From the old brand of Playaz to the current Xears, the same German company which is the first to bring the concept of bang-for-the-buck IEM to Europe a few years ago now commands a group of loyal fans and happy customers of its own. Here I will review 4 of their more popular models: The Resonance Black Edition (MSRP US$50), Turbo Devices TD III PRO Blackwood (MSRP US$115), Powerball PB120 Black Edition (MSRP US$34) and Revolution Series XR120PRO II (MSRP US$57).



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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