Pros: Clean wideband response, Low distortion, high sensitivity, Great soundstage, Lightweight and comfortable, Filter flexibility, Very good isolation
Cons: Controls Placement, Selection of tips, Fixed Cable Guide Curve
This in-ear monitors were a wonderful surprise and so I thought I would report on my first impressions after several weeks. I was looking for a more comfortable in-ear monitors that were better than my Triple-Fi 10's which were aging albeit gracefully. I came across the deep deals for Cyber Monday and took a flyer based upon the positive reviews and pros that match my requirements. These are startling good at presenting a musical performance with lifelike realism even when driven straight out of an iPhone 5s. I have several live performance recordings that I use for evaluation including Eva Cassidy: Live at Blues Alley, Stephane Wremple: Orgins and Atrium Musicae de Madrid: Tarentule-Tarentule. Each provided "I am there" subtle detail and dynamic speed that only got better when switching to my various separate USB/DAC Amps. I initially started out with the Gray filters which were pre-installed, but was finding I needed additional low bass such as was provided by my Practical Devices USB DAC Amp. Letting them burn in did not improve them in this area, so I tried switching to the Black filters. For my admittedly older ears that did the trick. The lower string bass and bass drum kicks came through without any bloat. The mids were a bit less pronounced as on Eva's vocals but that could also be attributed to the low end restoration. Bells, cymbals, steel guitar strings remained clear and strain free.
I do have a couple of nits. I always wear my in-ears using the over-the-ear cable position. Therefore I was pleased to see the cable ear hooks and use them. Unfortunately their curve is fixed and does not follow my ear curve as well as it could. While the mic placement is fine for phone calls, I really would have preferred the controls to be lower down on the main cable. Finally, while you get 3 silicone tips you only get on medium Comply one which is too small for me. None of these get in the way of my enjoyment of their sound, lightness and fit. It is too bad Phonak is leaving the consumer in-ear headphone business. These are real sleepers especially if you like the speed of electrostatics and the dynamics of a coil.