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Spiral Ear SE 5-Way Reference

Posted

Pros: Good fit after sending it back twice, good sound isolation once fit sorted, good customer service

Cons: Build quality, cable contact lousy, dark sounding, uneven balance between left and right, lacks sparkle

I have had this for about two years and ordered them after exchanging a few emails with Grzegorz, who seems very knowledgable and replies very quickly. After sending off the impressions the monitors arrived about two months later. On arrival they are well presented in a waterproof case with some instructions. Unfortunately the fit was awful and very painful on the right where it felt like the tip of the IEM was hitting my eardrum with a very muffled sound to boot. Of note also was the fact that right from the start the right channel would drop out occasionally. I sent the IEMs back for shortening and they came back a few weeks later with a decent fit. Unfortunately now the right channel completely dropped out and no swapping the cable could remedy that. Sent the things back again and got them back only for the left channel to drop out and the fit still not all that. Back again and they repaired the left monitor and shortened the IEMs a little bit more to finally have a good fit. Since then they have been mostly ok but the cable contacts with the IEMs are still an issue with either channel dropping out occasionally requiring removal of the cable and reinserting. I have no problems with replacing cables as they are the weak point of most IEMs but when the actual socket is the issue it becomes more difficult.

As for the sound compared to my Shure SE535 or TripleFi 10 they are less grainy, they have superior sound isolation but they do lack sparkle especially compared to the TripleFi. I have run them out of my iPhone, the Fiio E7 and my Lakepeople G109 headphone amp with similar results. They also still have issues with the sound balance between left and right with the left still sounding more transparent than the right. After having spent about USD1500 on the monitors and about USD 250 for shipping them back and forth to Poland for repairs and them being away for about two months I am still less than happy with them. I only ever use them on planes or on the tube where their excellent sound isolation really helps but for sheer enjoyment I prefer my Triplefis or my Denon AHD7100 or Sennheiser HD800.

Posted

Pros: Extreme extension both ways; supreme detail; perfect bass quality

Cons: Highly dependent on proper amplifier/source; darkish sound; long time from order to arrival; large

SE-5 is a true marvel of engineering, one of a few headphones/IEMs I can say brought a new level of detail and presentation to music and is truly high-fidelity, that is directly comparable to live performance given a high quality recording.

 

Important caveat: many amplifiers and sources (even many dedicated headphone amps) cannot drive SE-5 correctly - very low output impedance is required.

As a workaround, an impedance adapter can be used to reduce the impact of this on sound.

 

When improperly driven, they sound dull and dark due to exaggerated cut around 5-8kHz, unevenness above and lowpass. They're relatively dark in the highest registers anyway, which is the reason for 0.5 mark off the sound; but they're no darker than most dynamic driver IEMs.

 

(No, you don't really need a Benchmark DAC1 for them - FiiO E7 will do.)

 

Also, I had to wait about 4 months for them to be made, then had to get a refit, taking another month.

Of course the price is very high even for custom IEM standards, however you do get unparralelled quality for it, especially in lower registers.

Spiral Ear SE 5-Way Reference
Description:

Flagship product. 5-way design in medical grade silicone, incorporating five, entirely independent, Hi-Fidelity Balanced Armature transducers dedicated for ultra crystal clear highs, rich, lush and organic mids as well as even more powerful and deep, yet extremely controlled low end. Super extended resolution, frequency response, instrument separation and multi-dimensional soundstage will make you realize all the subtleties you have missed and never heard before in your well known recordings. And we mean all recordings…The bass can reach down to unimaginable levels with punch and “meatiness” controlled to the highest standards of highest levels thinkable. You can hear and feel the earthquake-like bass when it’s there in the recording. You can feel it in your body as the lowest notes can reach bone-conducting levels. The mids are extended to the point we have never heard before and their quality, clarity and liquidity should leave you breathless. The icing on the cake is provided by a super tweeter, capable of reproducing the very highest notes your source, amplification and your brain/ears allow you to. It’s there in the sparkle! All these factors contribute to 5-way Reference being extra musical and analytical at the same time! 5-way Reference incorporate: the main woofer, a delayed “ignition” woofer, the low-mids transducer, the high-mids transducer and a super tweeter. Drivers for high, middle and low tones are connected through a custom, unique and first ever in the world, passive 5-way crossover system design. The world's first penta-bore acoustic configuration in silicone! The sound you have never heard before! The sound which can become your addiction. It has become ours. 5-way Reference redefine the meaning of audio reproduction! Price: 999 €

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