Pros: lots of accessories, solid build
Points of Reference
home: modded Hifiman HE-6, custom Beyer COP w/T50rp drivers
portable: VSonic GR07, Nuforce NE-770, modded Sennheiser Amperior, modded Pioneer HDJ-2000
The Landmine comes with a generous array of accessories. Included are the usual adapters for 6.5mm and airline use, a shirt clip, *two* carrying cases (one hard, one soft), and a whopping ten pairs of tips to fit a wide assortment of ears. All the tips share the same silicon texture, and come in varying sizes and stiffnesses, and one set of double flanges. I was hoping there would be a foam one in there, but alas no.
There's also a card to write down when you send it in for repairs/warranty. Um, ok, I guess a little foresight never hurt.
Build Quality and Cabling
These are very solid feeling iems, with a nice metallic form factor and a bit of heft. I do find them a bit heavy though. The splitter and chin slider are a nifty assembly that actually took me a while to realize that it actually came apart. The jack itself is at 45° and seems reasonably well built with a slim form factor.
The cable isn't anything out of the ordinary. Just the right thickness to it, good flexibility, low memory (though still little kinks). The strain relief on the jack is good, allowing a mild degree of flex. I wish the strain relief on the earpieces were a little softer to distribute the stresses over a wider area.
Microphonics are rather low, which was surprising as I didn't notice anything particularly special about the cable. I think perhaps the tip I chose actually made a difference here. In any event, with music playing the cable noise was pretty much a non-issue for me. Wearing the cable over the ear only made a slight difference.
There's a cable wrap built in to the cable which is a nice touch. I kinda wish it were detachable though, so I can pilfer it and use it with other iems or headphones.
With the wide assortment of tips, I did manage to find one pair that fit me reasonably well (the small stiffer one with orange centre). This is a rarity for me, as I have a notoriously difficult time getting iems to fit me properly. As such, these actually provide an above average isolation for me. On the flip side, the stiffer materal does make them feel a bit “tight” and took me a bit more time to get used to. Even then I don't like to have them in for more than an hour.
The weight also factors in to a bit of discomfort as they do literally feel heavy, and they can eventually dislodge when walking unless you wear the cable over your ear. Even then, I have smallish ears to the cable wasn't quite flexing enough to form comfortably around my ear. It wasn't bad mind you.
I actually didn't even know the price of these when I picked them up for review. Upon first listen, my initial thoughts were “well, sounds like a $60-80 iem”. So then I looked them up and the MSRP is $80. Guess I was spot on there.
First of all, the Landmine are very sensitive. You do not want to run these off any sort of amp with high gain. Anything with a noise floor is also pretty much out of the question. It also sucks if your amp is susceptible to interference, because that gets very very loud (as a random aside, my cell phone interference sounds like an Atari game... assuming you kids even know what an Atari is). While the higher sensitivity means louder sounds and typically better battery life for your portable device, I
If I had to sum up my sonic impressions here: decent performance, “consumer” oriented sound.
Bass resolution is average. It reaches quite deep and has some decent body to it, but lacks a strong punch. Turning it up just makes it muddy. Electronica comes through quite well here. I got the sense that it was more of a bass shelf rather than midbass hump. Either that or the hump is exceedingly wide across the entire range (so a bit like the typical Senn HD600/650 shape). If I had to hazard a guess, it feels like the entire bass shelf is about +6dB up.
Moving into the mids, the transition is quite smooth and gently slopes down. Since there's no sudden drop, there isn't that typical midrange recession that some may be familiar with, but the sound will seem a little less defined in the vocal range due to the stronger bass and midbass presence. There isn't much else that particularly stands out about the mids here.
As we move into the upper mids, there's a brief drop before it start slowly climbing to the first low treble peak. This would be my main gripe with the sound. Clarity isn't the greatest for vocals or strings. The tones are there, but lack definition. At the same time though, they also have a really heavy weight to them due to that broad treble peak. On headphones with narrower peaks this may manifest as ringing or a sharpness that can be grating. In this case though, it's not so much a sharpness as it is like a slow pressure build. It's fatiguing, but in a different way. In a way it actually lends quite well to percussion and cymbals as they hit hard and fast.
So my feel for the overall sound is that it is a literal V-shape. Gentle slope down from an elevated bass, then a gentle slope up in the low treble. After that it's the typical treble wobble, and here all bets are off because the shape of your ear canal takes over. I only noticed one other peak after the first one, so overall control and resonances seems good.
Overall soundstage is decent but nothing to write home about. For me, I find most of my sense of staging comes primarily from the upper mids, so obviously with the dip then treble peak things won't sound quite right. There was also a very slight channel imbalance in mine (with the right side riding ever so slightly higher around the 1-2kHz range), so that was affecting my sense of stage as well. I'm sure most people wouldn't even notice that, but I'm playing through specific test tones and sweeps for the sake of this review.
Now all this makes it sound like I'm ragging on the sound, and in a way I sort of am, but I'm not done. All the above was listening at home, running through an iBasso D10.
Playing through a Nuforce HDP, things were different. The gain was too high so I had almost no useable range on the pot, but the sound was much groovier. The higher output impedance made the Landmine even more bass sloped and drummed down the treble... but you know what? That's ok. Now we're at a thumpy groovy sound and it's just fun to listen to.
On the go I played through just my Sansa Fuze. It wasn't too different from the D10, but while outside the V shape is actually more suitable. The midrange is what your ear is naturally acclimated to, and you lose the top and bottom when there's external noises coming in. So the boost from the Landmine actually helps give a more even sound when out and about, with a welcome bass presence and a treble that no longer felt heavy. Overall, I enjoyed these far more when used outside than indoors.
- generous selection of tips and accesories
- good build quality
- good fit and isolation
- low microphonics
- heavier than average
- V-shaped sound: gentle slopes on both sides
- deep but only moderately punchy bass
- very broad treble peak gives a non-resonant but heavy pressure feeling
- better for on the go rather than home listening