Pros: ergonomics of the design, warm clear sound with a noticeable bass tilt, premium 4-conductor cable, accessories.
Cons: might be too much bass for some, though playing with eartips gets low end under control.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion. The review was originally posted on my blog, and now I would like to share it with all my readers on Head-fi.
Manufacturer website: Oriveti.
* click on images to expand.
It’s always a risk for an audio company to start with a flagship and than follow it up with an entry level model. This scenario could easily turn anticlimactic, unless a company knows what they are doing without cutting too many corners. In my opinion, Oriveti pulled that off without a problem. Right from the start Oriveti got everyone’s attention with Primacy release, a brand-new 3way hybrid from an unknown company. Then, while introducing an updated version under NEW Primacy name, they launched an entry level single dynamic model, cleverly named Basic.
While you can say that Oriveti went back to “basics” by taking out dual Balanced Armature drivers and cutting down on some of the accessories, they also kept a lot of the premium elements of the design, including all metal housing, removable premium cable, compact shell, and more. You would expect to see a lot less considering 1/3 of Primacy price, but to my surprise that wasn’t the case. Obviously, they couldn’t keep the same sound signature, so let’s take a closer look at how BASIC turned out.
It’s a common sense for any company to distinguish their entry level products from flagship models, and often you can clearly see that during unboxing of either one. Here, I felt like I was dealing with another premium Oriveti model. You are still greeted with a gift box quality sturdy cardboard enclosure with a bold glossy 3D image of Basic which pops out from the cover. In this image, you can see a different shape of the shell, more round in comparison to Primacy, and can also notice the hint of a removable cable as illustrated in the picture.
The back of the box had a detailed Specification and Content of the box, listing all the included accessories. While glancing at the spec, I noticed right away they switched to 10mm dynamic driver, up from the New Primacy 8mm DD, which suggested that Basic could have an enhanced bass. Above the specs, Oriveti still features a CAD drawing of the IEM guts. This design diagram provides details of the metal shell material, placement of dynamic driver, and confirmation of detachable cable.
With a top cover off the box, you still have an identical to Primacy presentation with a jewelry box setting of small metal Basic shells inside of a heart shaped cutout and the cable snaking around it. Just like with their flagship, when you lift the top foam insert, you will realize that it’s designed like a spool for cable storage. Underneath this foam insert, you will find a detailed Quick Guide page, and below it a storage case with all the accessories. True, you no longer have every eartip and other accessories on a display in their individual cutouts, but I still found the overall unboxing experience to be rewarding and premium in nature.
Despite “basic” status, you still get plenty of accessories, including double set of every eartip pair. Here you will find two sets of S/M/L silicone eartips and two sets of double flange eartips. It’s a plus to have spares if you end up losing one piece. You also get a set of rubbery earhooks to enhance wire-up fit. Either if you use it or not, some people might appreciate it.
While Primacy accessories collection was enhanced with an aluminum puck-shaped case, it looked great but wasn’t as practical on the go. Basic includes a large round clam-shell zippered case which is bigger and higher quality than your typical cheap eBay round cases. It's easier to carry this case in your bag or in your pocket, and it has plenty of extra room for eartips, extra cable, and maybe a small DAP like PAW Pico or Sansa Clip+. Also, included was a carabiner clip to attach to the case.
Though you are dealing with less accessories in comparison to Primacy, these are still all essential quality pieces.
I always treat removable cable as another accessory. Here we have a premium Silver Plated Copper (SPC) cable, soft, pliable, and with a very good build quality. Yes, it still has a rather generic looking braided design with a tight black shielding, but if you look closer – this is the same 4 conductor cable used with original Primacy. You will find two separate twisted conductors attached to rubbery housing of each standard MMCX connector, going down to shrink wrapped y-splitter and continuing as 4 separate inner-twisted conductors to a straight slim metal shell connector with TRS gold plated termination and a short strain relief. There was also a clear plastic rubbery chin-slider, oval shaped to provide a better friction when sliding along twisted wires.
Multi-conductor cables, especially when the wires are kept separately down to a headphone connector, are just asking for a balanced 2.5mm termination instead of a typical 3.5mm, but the beauty of the replaceable cable is that you can always switch it later. Also, just like in the original Primacy cable, mmcx connectors are labeled with R on the right side and triple-dots for a blind id on the left side. Furthermore, cable is soft enough for a comfortable fit over your ears, the preferred way to wear Basic, there is hardly any microphonics, and it’s very easy to manage for storage and when you take it out – there is no memory effect.
The shell construction is all metal, CNC machined using aluminum with anodized black finish. Everything from a build quality and a seamless joint of halves, to a slick ergonomic shape is an example of a fine craftsmanship. The design is smaller than Primacy because Basic only uses a single dynamic driver and no BAs. This all metal aluminum shell design is very comfortable, almost like a shape of M&M with a rubber boot around mmcx connector. Nozzle is a bit on a shorter side, thus some might need to choose eartips with a longer core/stem. But with over-ear wire fit, it felt very secure even when I used smaller eartips.
Upon a closer look, you will find dynamic driver port on the inner side of the shell, while outer shell has “Oriveti” on the right earpiece and “O” logo symbol on the left earpiece. The rubber boot part of the shell has L/R marking to distinguish the sides, though they are a bit hard to see. You can try wearing shells with a wire down, but it left the driver vent/port more open, and thus reduced the impact of the bass. But either way, there was no driver flex. In terms of the comfort, they are light and nearly disappear in your ears. There is no sound leakage, and with a right selection of eartips – sound isolation is good. And as I mentioned before, with a stock cable I didn’t sense any microphonics.
After 100hrs of burn in to make sure the dynamic driver reached its full potential, here is how I hear the Basic iem.
Basic has a unique sound characteristics where controlling earcanal seal using different size eartips will noticeably alter the sound. While I use Large silicone eartips with majority of other IEMs, here it yielded a tremendous bass slam, making sound very L-shaped with a warm detailed tonality. Switching to a Medium size eartips changed the sound significantly by lowering the bass impact and raising the upper mids presence, making sound more V-shaped, still with elevated bass, more neutral lower mids and elevated upper mids. After that, I decided not to go back to the extreme bass slam, but it's very important to know that you can adjust the sound signature and the tonality just with a simple switch of eartips.
Also, switching from wire up (over the ear) to wire down helped to relax the seal more which resulted in sub-bass being more rolled off and reduction in treble, making sound signature more neutral. For my testing, I preferred a more relaxed seal with included Medium silicone eartips while wearing BASIC wire up.
In more details, I hear a nicely textured deep sub-bass extension with a decent rumble which is moderately elevated in quantity, but not exaggerated. Mid-bass has a nice punch, medium speed attack and decay, very typical of dynamic driver, but under control and with a minimum spillage into lower mids. Lower mids are neutral, adding a nice body to the sound without muddying it up, and upper mids have a nice upfront presence with a good level of clarity and details. They sound smooth and natural, not very revealing or layered, but still very clear. Treble is not too extended, but it's not rolled off either, has a nice clarity and definition. Again, keep in mind, with Large eartips and a tighter seal, the sound was L-shaped with a dominating low end slam; switching to Medium eartips (or for others, just stepping down in one size) yielded sound results mentioned above.
Soundstage is wide, above average, and has a nice elliptical shape spreading around and in front of you. For a single dynamic driver, the separation and layering is not bad at all, nothing is congested and can be easily distinguished. With a selection of smaller eartips to relax the seal and with mids going up in quantity (not just a perception, but becoming louder with bass out of the way), it helped a lot to prevent the congestion, which I hear more when using Larger eartips.
Imaging and positioning is also not bad. Not the most accurate where you can pin point every detail, but it's convincing and sounds natural.
Comparison was done using Basic w/Medium eartips (bass is not as intense), and volume matching every pair by ear.
Basic vs VSC3S - both have a very similar soundstage in terms of width/depth. VSC3S sub-bass rumble is more intense and elevated in comparison to Basic where sub-bass sounds leaner and cleaner. Both have a punchy, fast mid-bass, but VSC3S decay is longer which spills into lower mids, making them fuller and adding a little bit of muddiness. Basic lower mids are more neutral and cleaner. Basic upper mids have more presence and more clarity while VSC3S are a little duller and warmer in comparison. Both have a very similar treble extension and sparkle.
Basic vs IM50 - both have a very similar soundstage expansion in width/depth. Also, both sub-bass is under control, adding a nice extension with a textured rumble. IM50 mid-bass is stronger with more impact, but still under control. Lower mids in Basic are more neutral and cleaner, while IM50 lower mids are elevated which adds more body and warmth to the sound and at the same time takes some clarity away. Upper mids in Basic are more upfront, while IM50 pushed back just a little bit, but the biggest difference here is clarity and tonality where Basic has more revealing detailed sound while IM50 tonality is a little darker and more laid back. Also, even so both have a similar extension, I hear Basic having a little more sparkle.
Basic vs Pnew (NEW Primacy) - of course, not a fair comparison, but I felt like Basic was Pnew's sidekick. Pnew soundstage is wider, bass is more controlled and not as elevated with Large eartips, lower mids are more neutral, and upper mids have more details and higher resolution. Also more sparkle in the upper mids. Obviously, Pnew cost 3x as much and it's a more refined and premium tuned IEM. But, if you are on sub $100 budget, Basic is one great IEM to consider. Also, keep in mind 8mm DD (Pnew) vs 10mm DD (Basic).
BASIC next to NEW Primacy.
With 16 ohm impedance and 108dB sensitivity, Basic is very easy to drive. Below is how I hear it pairs up with various sources.
LPG - warm, smooth, detailed, expanded sound with a great low end impact. Vocals are clear and detailed, bass is deep and hits with authority, treble has a nice definition. Overall nice smooth v-shaped signature.
PM2 - warm, smooth, clear sound. Bass is more analog, typical dynamic performance. Vocals and upper mids are not as upfront, making overall sound more L-shaped, but still clear.
i5 - warm, smooth, detailed, expanded sound with fast low-end punch. Vocals are clear and detailed, bass is tighter and more controlled, treble has a nice sparkle. More balanced sound sig.
Opus#1 - warm, smooth, clear sound. Bass is deep, smooth, not as fast. Vocals are clear and smooth, very organic. Treble has a nice definition. Signature is somewhere between L-shaped and V-shaped, probably reversed J-shaped.
X7 w/AM2 - darker, smooth, clear sound. Bass is analog, smooth, slower. Mids/Vocals are smooth but not as detailed and pushed a little back. Treble is smooth and a little rolled off. Soundstage is surprisingly wide. Signature is more reversed J-shaped.
Opus#2 - warm, smooth, detailed, resolving sound. Bass goes deep, nicely textured, mid-bass has a fast punch, well controlled. Mids/Vocals are clear, detailed, smooth, organic. Treble has a nice sparkle. Sound is more v-shaped.
Note 4 - warm, smooth, clear sound. Not as resolving, a little congested, but not muddy. Bass has a typical analog dynamic driver performance with a nice impact but not so much speed. Mids/vocals are clear, smooth, organic. Treble has good definition, but I still consider sound to be leaning more toward L-shaped signature.
I know that many people will enjoy and appreciate the look and the build quality of Basic, but I want to mention it again - don't jump into the conclusion about its sound until you try different eartips, where relaxing the seal made a big difference to my ears. I was very impressed by how much the sound quality improved once I switched from large to medium size tips. Also, don't let its price (under $100) fool you because this is not some cheap budget IEMs. We are talking about a high quality aluminum shell with a premium detachable cable and a nice selection of accessories. Perhaps this is not TOTL flagship iem, but if you want something durable and lightweight with a comfortable fit and flexibility of replaceable cable, Basic with its fun sound signature is a perfect candidate for this task, either if you are at the gym, or somewhere outdoors, or just relaxing at home! And now after the release of NEW Primacy and Basic, I think we are ready to see the next flagship from Oriveti ;)