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Signature Acoustics Elements Series C-12

Posted

Pros: Zero fatigue, nice mids and bass, looks nice, handmade

Cons: Veiled sound, slight bass bloat

The C-12s are the first IEM from Indian company, Signature Acoustics. The C-12s use a hand-made wooden housing and a great looking wooden Y-split and slider. At around $60 (AUD) they are a budget IEM which is impressive given their hand-made and all wood design, but the sound is just a little way off from being something to get excited about.

 

Overall, the sound is smooth, laid-back and very easy to listen to, but perhaps just a bit too warm and lacking in the air and extension needed to bring out the best of a wide range of genres. The bass and mids are good with an enjoyable balance and mostly lifelike timbre - they just need a little more air.

 

If you'd like to read more I've written a more extensive review here: http://passionforsound.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/signature-acoustics-c-12-iems/

Posted

Pros: Wooden earpieces, good quality case, smooth and fun sound

Cons: Sightly veil

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 R&D, 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.

 

SA-C12-01.jpg

 

Spec

Driver: 8 mm (CCAW) Dynamic

Impedance: 18 Ohms @ 1Khz

Frequency: 17 Hz to 20 Khz         

Sensitivity: 102 dB

Cable length: 1.2m (split length 28 cms)

Channel Imbalance: Less than 2.5% dB @ 1 Khz

 

SA-C12-02.jpg

 

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality

The C-12 comes on a fairly innocent looking black paper box - nothing too fancy or eye catching at first look. Inside, you will find the IEM, 4 pairs of eartips (S, 2xM, L), a shirt clip, two set of filters, either leather or brass case, depends of what package you are paying. The leather case, which looks and smells like real leather (and probably is), will come standard with C-12. The brass case package will cost a few dollars more. Practicality wise, the leather case is probably the better choice. But the brass case does look very impressive in person and probably great as a jewelry case. Considered that the IEM itself has a fairly inexpensive price tag, both cases are rather outstanding addition that elevates the whole package. The extra filters are also another great addon. One set is the same as those installed on the nozzle, while the other is a denser variance (with higher acoustic impedance) to tune for a slightly different sound.

 

Build quality is above average. The whole wooden housing doesn’t look quite as good a finish as Crossroads’ Woody or ThinkSound’s models and probably be better with a darker lacquer, but it is still solid. The cable looks and feels quite durable with a similar twisted wires finishing like the early Branwavz M2, but with some minor memory effect. All and all, it isn’t the best I have seen in the price range but far from the worst either.

 

SA-C12-03.jpg

 

Sound Quality

The IEM has been given 50 hours of burn-in before the review.

 

C-12 sounds warm and smooth, with emphasis on lush and richness. Bass reaches down deep, but rolls off in lower sub-bass so it doesn’t quite have the deep rumbling sensation. It is however quite abundance in quantity from mid to upper bass, not particularly boomy though definitely presents at most time, and can almost be classified as bass dominance. Lower mid is lush and rich, which are the signature sound of wood housing. However, the upper mid to treble are a bit too polite, lacking sweetness, crispiness and sparkle to highlight the micro-detail and air, and in turn makes vocal, especially female, sounds smooth, if not a bit dull. It is however still slightly ahead of that of Brainwavz M2 or M3 in drawing out detail. With a few dB of treble boost however, C-12 can really shines. Despite restricted air, soundstage is still very good, and better on width than depth. It is probably benefited from the wood housing which from my own experience, always delivers a more specious, nicely resonated sound than metal. All and all, the C-12 compares well to the similarly priced (and also bass heavy) beyerdynamic XP1 as well as early Brainwavz models, which is not too shabby for any company’s first IEM. The lushness of the C-12 will most appeal to those who are looking for easy going and fatigue-free sound, especially if you don’t mind a bit of bass in the mix.

 

SA-C12-04.jpg

 

Verdict

Despite being in India, a country that is not known for having audiophile’s headphone company, Signature Acoustics is passing with flying colors with their firstborn, the Element C-12. While it isn’t the be-all-end-all by any long shot, it is a statement to show that the company does know what it is doing and able to produce an IEM that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the competition – and that’s something they can be proud of.

 

A thank to Signature Acoustics for the sample.

Posted

Pros: Lightweight wooden housing; unique cases; fun bass heavy signature

Cons: Slight veil

Signature Acoustics C-12 - From India!

 

 

   

 

A few months back I was contacted by a representative of Signature Acoustics asking if I’d like to audition their Elements Series C-12.  They’ve already been selling them in their home based country of India and are preparing for a worldwide release.  I thought, Why not? Sounds like fun!

 

The C-12 is going to retail somewhere around the $45 to $60 range and the manufacturer describes the offering as follows:

 

  • Wooden enclosure / housing for a natural warm sound and strong build quality
  • 10 strands of wide Cu wire, to ensure impactful bass. Twisted to reduce microphonic noise.
  • 8mm Dynamic driver for Speed and Detailing
  • Treble tuning with provided 180 and 250 micron filters
  • Hi-Quality Metal carry Case carved out of Solid Brass blocks - polished to give an antique feel

 

Additional specification found in the box literature:

 

  • Impedance: 18 ohm @ 1hz
  • Frequency: 17 to 20 khz
  • Sensitivity: 102 db
  • Total Length: 1.2 mts (split length 28 cms)

 

Accessories include 4 pair of tips (2 medium pair), a shirt clip, replaceable filters (HiFiMan style), a heavy duty brass, twist off case and a neat little, round leather zipper case.  Definitely some nice cases for a budget IEM. The C-12 by default comes with the hand stitched genuine leather case with suede leather inside.  The metal brass case will be a part of a limited edition or an optional accessory. 

 

 

 

 

 

The overall sonic signature is a bass first presentation, that has very impactful mid bass and a solid sub bass rumble.  The sub bass can at times be just a bit overshadowed by the mid bass impact. Bass starts to roll off after 60hz and is audible down to 30hz. There is a good bit of decay, lending to an even greater perceived bass quantity.

 

The lower midrange is forward and warm, and reminiscent of the Brainwaves M2, and continues to stay slightly forward through the upper midrange before it starts to taper down. There is a slight veiling effect from the strong bass presence but at the same time provides the thick and rich tonality. Treble is softer and behind the bass and midrange but is still clear and distinguishable, thanks to an inoffensive 6k peak, and gently rolls off in the upper treble.

 

So many of the budget bass first signatures are often muddy or cloudy sounding, so I was pleased to hear some treble sparkle and decent vocal clarity. But make no mistake, these have copious amounts of bass, that should please most bass-heads.  All in all it is a pleasing and very fun earphone and would be great for workouts or outdoor activities.

 

 

 

 

Comparisons

 

Soundmagic E10 ($35)

 

The E10, which is commonly thought of a somewhat bass heavy presentation, is much tamer in direct comparison.  Having less bass and brighter treble gives the E10 a clearer overall signature, more easily revealing lower level detail. The E10 also has considerably more treble sparkle.  The C-12, though, presents the midrange much closer, for more intimate, warmer and throatier vocals, giving the E10 more of a V shaped feeling in direct comparison.  This lends the E10 to having a wider, more spacious soundstage but the closer midrange of the C-12 gives it the feeling of taller, more intimate staging.  Both have good depth.

 

The cable of the C-12 seems to be of higher quality, and while more flexible, does have some annoying memory characteristics similar to the much more plasticky cable of the E10.  Both are easy to fit and wear up or down (up preferred on both), the E10 having metal housings with minimal strain relief and the C-12 having more traditional, beefier strain relief and light weight wooden housings. I’ve owned the E10 for a long, long time and used in sweaty, active situations and it has never failed me.  The C-12 seems as if it would be as durable as the E10 in these same situations.

 

NuForce NE-650m ($45)

 

The 650 is another bass first signature that also sounds just a little tamer in comparison to the C-12.  It’s bass is more sub bass focussed but doesn’t have the texture, impact, nor rumble of the C-12, unless a song is recorded with a lot of sub bass and that’s when the signature of the 650 is at its best.  The 650 also sounds V shaped in comparison to the C-12 but does not posses the clarity or detail retrieval of the C-12.  All of the high end of the 650 is upper midrange focused and treble rolls off very quickly for no treble sparkle, so the C-12 does sound brighter in comparison.  Soundstaging of the C-12 is overall bigger than the 650, which sounds a little flat in comparison.

 

The 650m comes with a flat cable, which I find less friendly in general (just not a fan of flat cables) but does have an iPhone mic that doubles as a pause/play button.  Again the C-12 cables seems to of much higher quality and better flexibility.  The 650 housings are plastic, so while lightweight, do look cheaper than the wood of the C-12.

Signature Acoustics Elements Series C-12
Description:

From India -Wooden enclosure / housing for a natural warm sound and strong build quality -10 strands of wide Cu wire, to ensure impactful bass. Twisted to reduce microphonic noise. -8mm Dynamic driver for Speed and Detailing -Treble tuning with provided 180 and 250 micron filters -Hi-Quality Metal carry Case carved out of Solid Brass blocks - polished to give an antique feel

Details:
DetailValue
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
C-12
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