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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays


It is that time of the year again. It would seen every year has became shorter than the previous one and I am getting busier and busier living the real life outside of the Internet. While my last new year resolution was to scale down (which I think I have done quite well, if not a bit too well), I think my 2014's new year resolution is just to have enough time to keep the hobby up and have the time to really enjoy some great music. We have seen some amazing audio gear in 2013 and I suspect we will see even more in 2014. Life is good for an audiophiles these days, and hopefully we will have as much fun as we can in the upcoming year. Cheer.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Fest

Just when I was enjoying my oversea vacation a week ago, Maxell quietly released a new hybrid flagship to the Japanese market. It is the MXH-DBA900, featuring the same one dynamic + one BA configuration as their previous DBA700 but come with over-double the price tag (~US$205). The DBA700, which is priced under US$100, is well worth the price but not particularly a giant killer in any way. With Maxell confidently prices the new DBA-900 much higher than DBA-700, hopefully we can see it finally competing with the big boys head-on.

CHX series

On other hand, Audio-Technica is doing its thing by releasing way too many new models again. This time they have two new series (*worth noting, there are actually more models being released), the CHX series (2 models: CHX5 and CHX7) which is really more earbuds than IEM and the IM series which composed of dual dynamic (IM50, IM70) to multi-BA configuration (one BA for IM01, two for IM02, three for IM03, four for IM04). Price go from as cheap as US$60 (IM50) to as much as $600 (IM04). The good news is that isn't any dreadful MMCX connector insight even though AT goes for removable cable on all models.

One question remains: would the new IM04 spells the end of the CK100 Pro as flagship? Though I do have to say the new IM04 does look too dull for the price tag.

Friday, October 25, 2013

[Impression] Lear C2 custom IEM cable

Early in the year, I reviewed the Lear LCM-5. Though it is excellent sounding, the stock cable does look a little dull. At the time, Lear already announced they will release an upgrade cable for those who want to complete the whole package of sound and look. It has been released a few months ago and it is called the C2. Oh, it is actually quite affordable too.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

[Impression] FireStone Audio Fireye Mini+

I have reviewed the Fireye Mini from FireStone Audio a while ago and now an updated version has come out. The Mini+ keeps to the ultra-portable size while adding in a few more very useful features and mending some of its predecessor’s shortcomings.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

[Impression] NuForce MMP

It seems there is a sudden surge of volume-control-less, fixed boost type of ultra-portable amps being released to the market in the recent months, likely targeting the smartphone users market which has seen enormous growth globally in the last few years. NuForce is following the trend and comes out with a small amp called the Mobile Music Pump, or MMP for short.

Friday, October 11, 2013

[Preview] FiiO E18 Kunlun – Surprise, Surprise.

The E18 Kunlun is the latest portable amp/DAC for our favoritest budget amp company FiiO. Different from the E17, the new E18 is built for pretty much exclusive for Android devices. Well, it does work as a USB DAC on PC or as a standalone amp, but being an Android DAC is what it really is all about.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

[REVIEW] Nocs NS600 Crush

Dual dynamic has become quite a common place these days, and the Nocs NS600 Crash is one of them. I have to admit that I am a big fan of titanium diaphragm when it comes to small dynamic transducer. Almost every IEM or small portable speaker that I own which has a titanium diaphragm coated driver tends to pull ahead of the competition. Though only the treble driver has the coating, does the NS600 Crash have an outstanding performance as well? Well, let’s find out.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


After leaving Heir Audio, Dr. John Moulton, the man who commonly known as 'Wizard' among custom IEM user, now has a company of his own. The new company is called Noble Audio, with custom IEM available for order and universal models to come in a later time.

Monday, October 7, 2013

[Impression] Spider Surround Pro Amp

Last time when we take a look at Spider, they were mainly a cable and IEM company. Now however, their product range covers everything from full sized headphone and small portable amps, including the Surround Pro that will be reviewed here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Jude @ Head-fi is previewing some of the new stuff that are going to be released in upcoming CanJam 2013. Among them, the new JH Audio Siren Series Roxanne - a 12 driver per side, 2 ways crossover IEM with a new JHA proprietary 4 pins earpiece connector and variable bass switch. It will be priced around US$1600. Once again, Jerry is at the forefront of IEM innovation. Bravo.

Check out the Jude full length youtube video after the break.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Triple Goodness

It certainly takes them some time but Fischer Audio finally released the successor of DBA-02, and it is a triple driver. The new TBA-04 goes the same way as Sony XBA series by using a full range driver couples with two drivers that 'extend and smooth overall frequency response'. Anyway, the MSRP is $300.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

[Impression] Stoner Acoustics UD110 - Tiny DAC, Evolved.

When the UD100 was first introduced by Stoner Acoustics a year ago, it was almost an instant hit and even started a trend of affordable ultra-miniature USB DAC with great sound quality among other manufacturers. The new UD110 is pretty much Stoner Acoustics’ answer to the competition by addressing some of the shortcoming on the UD100 as well as adding a set of new features that still fit onto a tiny PCB and sold for the same price @ US$49 + $3 shipping.

The new UD110, next to the UD100 in TF reader housing.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Something New, Something Old.

While the UM Pro series looks much like a remade of the old UM series, the just announced W series looks a lot like the remade of the Westone series as well, with a touch of the ADV design concept no less. Again, they are similarly priced and has the same driver configurations as the existing Westone series - so no surprise there. Hmmm...

Brainwavz has released 3 new IEM: Delta, S1 and the unconventional looking dual dynamic drivers based R3 (pictured above). Priced around US$23, US$60 and US$120.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

[Impression] Panda Audio amp-S

The headphone amp market in China, like its headphone market, is full of competition. Besides the bigger brands that have already made a name for themselves in the international market, there are still quite a few small companies and workshops that are highly regarded in the local market, yet remain relatively unknown to the outside world due to language barrier. Panda Audio is one such company – found in 2006 as more or less a DIY workshop, the company has earned respect among the Chinese audiophiles for producing some of the best sounding portable headphone amps around. Here we take a look at their latest flagship – the amp-S.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Another Custom Flagship Universalized

We talked about EarSonic releasing a new IEM in September and here it is - the S-EM6, which is basically the universal version of the company's custom 6 drivers flagship EM6. MSRP is €945 (or about US$1260) - but what doesn't quite make sense is that it is €5 more expensive than its custom counterpart. Usually it is the other way around...

Monday, September 16, 2013

[Impression] Elekit TU-HP01 - Portable Tube Hybrid

Elekit, or EK Japan, is a Japanese company that specializes in making educational electronic DIY kit and DIY tube power amplifier. I have a recent chance to hear their latest ‘22’ hybrid tube power amp driving a pair of CEntrance’s MasterClass 2504 desktop speakers quite beautifully on the Mook’s Headphone Festival in Singapore. The TU-HP01 under review, which also appears on the show, is the company first portable tube hybrid headphone amplifier.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Make Belive, Again.

Credit must be given to Sony headphone team for continuing to explore the new horizon - the three new additions to the XBA line-up will feature hybrid configuration. The XBA-H1 will be a dual drivers hybrid with one 9mm dynamic and one full range balanced armature. XBA-H2 will have a simialr dual drivers but comes with larger, 13.5mm dynamic. XBA-H3 (pictured above) will be a triple driver hybrid with one 16mm dynamic, one full range as well as one treble BA. Given Sony's past configuration on the XBA series as well as the full range BA used in these new models, it is very likely Sony is going to employ mechanical cross-over again (= no passive cross over circuit). H1 has an estimated price around US$150, H2 is around US$250 while H3 will be around US$350. That will puts H1 right above the current XBA-10, H2 right between XBA-20 and XBA-30, while H3 right alongside the flagship XBA-40.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

[REVIEW] Signature Acoustics Elements C-12

Signature Acoustics is a brand created by the India based audio retailer Pristine Note. Their first offering is the Elements C-12 - an IEM that took them 18 months of research and development, completed with a full wooden housing and aims to deliver the best bang for the bucks with an estimated price of US$50~60 with international release.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

[Impression] Tube Amp TA-1 - Tube Sound Without Tube

I reviewed the BL-2 from Tube Amp a while ago. It is a portable tube amp that is on the cleaner side of the presentation, which is quite different from the warmish, mellow sound that you would have expected from tube gear. Nevertheless, it is still an excellent sounding amp on its own. Now the company has released another portable amp to the market, the TA-1. What is unique about the TA-1 is that it is a full discrete amp - meaning instead of using fully integrated opamp, the circuit is composed mainly of individual transistors, resistors and caps. Priced around US$210 in China, TA-1 can be found between US$230~$250 outside of China.

Monday, August 26, 2013

[REVIEW] Heir Audio 3.Ai and 4.Ai

Heir Audio has its root in Canada, but with its production line in China. The company started its life more or less right after one of its founding audiologist showing off his own custom IEM with beautifully finished wooden face plate in (and starts a trend of wooden face plate worldwide). The company quickly gains fame not just on CIEM, but also on their universal custom models that have the same kind of wooden face plate. The 3.Ai and 4.Ai reviewed here are the universal adaptation of the company custom models, the 3.A and 4.A.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Like a Pro... or what?

Westone is introducing a new series called the UM Pro with three new models, UM Pro 10, 20 and 30. So far they look very much like the old UM series with similar driver configuration, same price tag, shinier packaging and an user replaceable cable with the very *dreadful* MMCX connector (same as the one on Shure). Just by the connector itself, Westone seems to be taking a step backward...oh well, not sure what is so "pro" about them.


EarSonic is going to release SOMETHING on 14th Sept. By the look of cryptic picture on their homepage, I'll guess it is an universal custom with at least 3 drivers, and could very well be as many as 5 drivers.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

[Impression] iFi Audio iTube – Magic Infused

iTube is the latest addition to iFi Audio ‘Micro’ line of audio gears. On one hand, it inhere the same minimalistic concept as the other Micro gears; on the other hand, it is a departure from the previous all-solid-state design. If anything, it is the first in Micro gears that will appeal more toward speaker user rather than headphone user. So what exactly does an iTube do? In essence, it is a tube buffer / pre-amp, with some extra features threw in.

Friday, August 9, 2013


The pre-order for FiiO E12DIY limited edition has started. Read detail here. If you are really interested, you need to put US$19* deposit as E12DIY is basically not a commercial product (*no-money-to-be-made) for FiiO and it will only go into production if a minimum of 500 units are pre-ordered (and stop at 2000 units max).

[update] They change from US$20 to US$19.


With the variant of the S4 / S3 keep turning up from time to time, it would seem Klipsch might not be that interested in introducing actually /new/ model. Well, they might have just done it again - the "new" X11i is listed in spec to have the same driver as the old X10, a model released back in 2007 and have already been re-released as X10i in 2010. Where is the innovation?

Well, at least the X7 and X4 are new - let prays that is no reincarnation in the future. Move on, please.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


LEAR is releasing its own universal custom called the LUF-4. Judging by the name, could it be a 4 drivers setup? No other detail yet except it is aimed toward mid-fi user.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Mook Head-Fest

Went to the Mook Headphone Festival @ Singapore last weekend. Here are quite a few photos and impression you can check out


Friday, August 2, 2013

[Impression] ShonYun 301 Pro and SH-306A

With possibly the single largest (and still emerging) market of headphone users, the overwhelming amount of headphone amp makers in China often make amp shopping a chaotic event for potential buyer. But from time to time some of these manufacturers do stand out from the crowd and ShonYun is one of them. It won’t win a beauty contest but at least it will sing to impress in the talent segment.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

[REVIEW] SonoCore Mia and Chrome

This is the third times we have seen SonoCore here at In Ear Matters. With each generation, they have gotten better and batter but truth being told, there are always some issues remain. This time we take a look at their latest dual dynamic model ‘Chrome’ as well as their budget single driver ‘Mia’.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

[Impression] ASUS Xonar Essence STU - Yet Another Swiss Knife of an DAC/amp

ASUS ventures into the sound card business in 2008 and released their first audiophiles targeted Xonar Essence series in mid-2009. The STU is the latest addition to the line-up. According to ASUS’s press release, the STU is intent to be an USB version of the PCI-e based ST/STX models, with extra features no less. Price wise, the US$399 price tag places it right in the middle of the Essence family, doubling from ST/STX, but half of the flagship One MUSES edition. But the real question, how does it stand on itself?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

[Impression] FireStone Audio Custom Cute and Fubar HD

Recently I have looked into two of FireStone portable amps, but the company’s core business is really in their compact desktop rig. Here we have two more FireStone products waiting for assessment: The Custom Cute is a USB DAC that supports up to 24bit / 192kbps in resolution, priced around US$299. The Fubar HD is an all-in-one DAC + headphone amp that also supports up to 24/192 with S/PDIF input or 24/96 with USB, priced around $400 but can be found for half as much if you look around.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Another Budget Tri-brid

DUNU is about ready to release its own dual BA + single dynamic hybrid IEM, called DN-1000. It will be around US$250, which is right in the same price bucket as T-PEOS H-200. Hopefully around the same level of SQ as well.

[REVIEW] T-PEOS D-202, H-100 and H-200 - Stuff of Dream

Originally named ‘SWP Shinwoo Electronics’, T-PEOS begins as an OEM company supplying audio parts to major cellphone brands almost 30 years ago. I guess it is not hard to see why the company have decided to put their experience as audio parts supplier into good use and venture into the earphone market mid last year. Their first model, the single BA + dynamic dual drivers hybrid H-100 series, takes the world by storm as the first IEM that is co-developed and certified by Golden Ears (*a well-known S.Korea headphone review site). Then they follow with the D-200 series, aiming for ‘low price, high value’. Lastly, it is the latest H-200, a dual BA + single dynamic triple drivers hybrid that, again, brings quite a bit of attention to this new comer in the IEM world.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

[Impression] BBK Vivo X1 – the HiFi Smartphone?

BBK Electronics might not be a household name in the West, but they do share some blood line with another more well know brand, OPPO. Late last year, the company released a rather interesting Android smartphone called the X1, and debuted as the first true audiophile level smartphone in the market (it has since been superseded by BBK Vivo X1S and Xplay). The MSRP is around US$400.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Out of the Shell

Cardas is known for its high quality cables and connectors. Now the company releases its first IEM, the single dynamic 'Ear Speakers' EM5813, at a premium price of US$425.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Westone has been showing off their new prototype dynamic IEM for a while now, but the new Adventure (ADV) series first model, the Alpha, has just officially hit the market. However, the price tag of US$199 means Westone needs to prove that Alpha has to be very significantly better than the competition (i.e Shure SE215, HifiMan RE400, etc) to have a room in the market.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Twitter Spam

A twitter account, @iemRSS, has been tweeting for for a while now and recently begins to send out spam messages. I want to make sure everyone know that @iemRSS has no tie to this blog or me whatsoever. Whatever is happening at @iemRSS is out of my control and responsibility. I'll advice those who are following that Twitter account immediately 'un-follow' before more spam are sent your way. Also take note that currently does not operate on any social network.

[Thank to Frank for informing me]

Friday, May 24, 2013

[REVIEW] Effect Audio Apollo and Rhea upgrade cable for IEM

Effect Studio is a Singapore based company that specializes on hand made IEM cable replacement for all the major brand of universal and custom IEM. You can buy the cable itself (on either their website or on eBay) and ask them to customize the earpiece plug to fit Westone, Shure, JH Audio, Sennheiser IE8 or UE and there is also a selection of different 3.5mm stereo plug to choose from (some might cost extra). Here we have the US$99 Apollo cable with Shure termination and Yarbo plug and the US$180 Rhea cable with UE termination and Oyaide plug. Both are around 1.15m +/-5cm. You can ask for custom length for extra cost as well.



Another DX50

 ...but not from iBasso. This DX50 is from Astrotec, and it will have a dual BA + single dynamic triple drivers configuration, flat cable and single button mic. No further detail yet except that it will be released this month. I do wish it can look better though.

[UPDATE] Apparently the press release over at isn't accurate. The DX50 is just a lower end model. The actual triple driver model is still in development.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Double Talent

Haven't seen MEElec releasing anything major for quite a while now, but this one looks interesting. It is a dual dynamic drivers called the M-Duo, priced at US$80.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Only Five

A new lower end model is great at putting food at the table, but is JAYS even going to release something worthy of being called flagship?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

[REVIEW] DUNU Detonator (DN-22M) and Landmine (DN-23) – Gears of War

Here are a few things I have taken note on DUNU over the years. First, they have some of the most consistent high build quality IEM of any company, big brand name or not. Second, they have been listening to feedback and improving the sound quality over each generation of products. The Detonator and Landmine are their latest offerings, but are their enough to bring some shock and awe?

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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