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Impressions of the Cyclone pr2 versus the fx500, ie8, m5 and pl50

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
Tagline:
This is a strong contender for the Best-Bass-IEM. Read on if you’re into Drum ’n’ Bass and Electronica. Skip if you need real good isolation or like Folk/Jazz with warm vocals.

I came across the Storm Cyclone pr2 when hunting on ebay for new toys (I know, I know…). The Chinese manufacturer has some reputation for headphone amps and I also liked the looks of these, but found next to nothing about them here or anywhere else. So I decided that someone had to be he guinea pig and took the plunge.









Manufacturer specs on package:
Driver 11mm (dynamic)
Impedance 24Ω
Sensitivity 104dB
Frequency 20–20000Hz
Distortion <= 1%
Channel Balance <= 1db
Rated input power 10mW
Maximum input power 40mW
Cord length 1.3m O.F.C.(10%)

Price paid:
$74 with free shipping

In the Box:
The pr2 comes in a small plain paper box with three sizes of silicon tips, one mid-to-large sized silicon double flange tip and one mid-sized pair of foamies. It’s worth mentioning that the largest tip is slightly larger than with some other IEMs which is good news for wide ear canals like mine. There’s also a shirt clip included, but no pouch or case.

Design and build quality:
The housing is completely made of bi-colored (silver-grey) aluminium with a metal venting mesh on the backside and feels very sturdy. The straight plug is aluminium, too. The cable is slightly stiff, somewhere between the pl30’s and the x10’s. Strain relieves are relatively small, but IMO sufficient for this type of cable. Tangling is no big problem. Microphonics is average when worn straight down (w/o shirt clip) and nearly none existent when worn over the ears. Overall I have nothing to complain about design and build quality.

Edit: Issues with build quality reported from at least one head-fi member!

Isolation:
Being vented/open IEMs these are roughly on par with the fx500. Sufficient for traffic noise and bus commuting, but lacking for subway rides.

Sound quality:
I spent a considerable amount of time listening to the Cyclone pr2 and comparing them to my other bass oriented IEMs like the fx500, ie8 and Atrios m5. I also included the pl50 because its bass is no slouch for an armature phone and the other phones are all more expensive than the pr2. All music was played unequalized straight out of my Sansa Fuze. Here are some of the songs I picked and the listening notes I made:

Stacey Kent - Ice Hotel (Female Vocal Jazz):
pr2:
Prominent bass, controlled but too strong for this delicate song. Neutral mids, not recessed but slightly coldish. Highs are ok but have a slight hint of sibilance. Good soundstage.
fx500:
Too prominent bass for my liking, soft and a little boomy. Mids are more recessed compared to the pr2, but warmer. Highs are more extended, but also more sibilant. Wide soundstage. Overall more silky and musical than the pr2.
ie8:
Very prominent and soft upper bass. Mids are slightly more forward and warmer than with the pr2. Highs extension is on par but ie8 has better detail and more sibilance. Very wide soundstage.
m5:
Bass is not boomy and only slightly too strong. Neutral mids, perhaps slightly warmish. Highs clearly rolled off with no sibilance at all. Too narrow soundstage even for this intimate song.
pl50:
Good bass and mids balance. Intimate warm mids. Nice highs with a slight hint of sibilance. Intimate soundstage.

Vladimir Ashkenazy - Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2, last movement (Classical Orchestra)
pr2:
Very neutral presentation, maybe a bit too bassy. Fast and accurate rendering of piano. Airy with good soundstage. Highs also good, but not as refined as the best IEMs. Very good and controlled in handling dynamics.
fx500:
Musical and smooth with prominent and soft bass. Piano rendering is more romantic than with the pr2. Highs are excellent and detailed, but can get a bit shrill in loud passages. Airy with ample soundstage.
ie8:
Warmer than the pr2 with notably more upper bass. Overall more refined and natural, but piano sounds a bit sugarcoated. Excellent soundstage. Handles dynamics well, but pr2 feels even more controlled.
m5:
Prominent bass with good control. Neutral mids. Highs rolled off and unrefined, I do not like this highs at all with classical. Good and controlled handling of dynamics, but too much in-the-head for orchestra.
pl50:
Nicely balanced presentation, except some hard "metallic" highs with high piano notes and brass. Too small soundstage for orchestra.

Markus Schulz - Mainstage / I am (Trance, kudos to shigzeo!)
pr2:
Nice and controlled low bass rumble on „Mainstage“, but less massive than the m5. Very impressive balance on „I am“ with controlled pounding bass that does not affect the neutral mids and highs. Bass is out of this world when it comes in like a hammer at 4:20. Spacey feeling, excellent 3D imaging.
fx500:
Slightly stronger but less controlled low bass rumble than with the pr2. Very good highs for trance. Vocals are slightly recessed, which makes the pounding bass a bit too much in comparison. Nice airy and spacey 3D feel.
ie8:
Low bass rumble is there, but spoiled by too much upper bass. Obtrusive soft upper bass pounding on „I am“ that I don’t like at all. Female vocals are very relaxed. Spacey with excellent 3D feel.
m5:
Most impressive and controlled low bass rumble of all phones. Agreeable mids. Female voice is not affected by pounding bass. Rolled off highs. Missing spacey and 3D feel.
pl50:
A tiny bit of low bass rumble, but armature phones in general don’t fare well with „Mainstage“. Controlled pounding bass on „I am“. Very forward and nice vocals. Less soundstage and spacey 3D feeling than the pr2.

Indigo Girls - Digging for Your Dream (Folk / Rock)
pr2:
Bass a bit too strong for an acoustic song. Very neutral mids, not recessed, but I'd prefer a warmer touch with this genre. Highs are slightly grainy. Not the best phone for acoustic Folk / Rock.
fx500:
Bass is a bit too strong compared to the mids. Mids and highs are very natural sounding with slightly recessed voices but still acceptable. Overall a good phone for this genre, especially rendering acoustic instruments, but I would have preferred more forward vocals.
ie8:
Again, bass is a bit too strong compared to the mids. Mids and highs are very natural, voices feel relaxed, gorgious and „just right“. Rendering of acoustic instruments is a tad less impressive than with the fx500, but IMO still an excellent phone for this genre.
m5:
Bass is a bit too strong compared to mids. Neutral but also somewhat liveless mids, aggravated by recessed highs. Voices are somehow lacking timbre. Not the best phone for this genre.
pl50:
Very balanced presentation. Voices are great, acoustic guitars nicely rendered. A very mids-centered song, the pl50 do an excellent job.

TV on the Radio - Golden Age / Family Tree (Indie, Electro, Post Punk)
pr2:
Dry and exact bass with great authority (almost feels „amped“). Mids are neutral with good presence in vocals and not affected by strong bass. Sufficient highs, but slightly missing detail (cymbals are more realistic on fx500 and ie8). Ample soundstage, overall a very good phone for the song.
fx500:
Strong bass, softer and a tad less exact than the pr2’s, but still very good. Laid back vocals. Good presence in highs (great cymbals!). Wide soundstage, also a very good phone for this song.
ie8:
Even softer bass but still with good control. Relaxed, non fatiguing vocals. Cymbals less present than with the fx500. Last not least the „famous ie8 soundstage“ makes it a very good phone for this song.
m5:
Relaxed and non fatiguing. Bass is controlled and „just right“. Highs are rolled off, but overall still a good phone for this rhythm centered song.
pl50:
Mid centric presentation with good punchy bass and sufficient highs (cymbals on par with pr2). Small soundstage. Not bad, but not up to the best phones with this song.

Pendulum - Propane Nightmares (Drum ’n’ Bass)
pr2:
This is the kind of song these phones feel at home with. Bass is awesome, dry and hard hitting. Good presence in vocals that remain almost magically unaffected and relaxed. A bit grainy highs, but who cares with this kind of song.
fx500:
IMO the fx500 are clearly inferior to the pr2 with this song. Very strong but boomy bass. Vocals sound annoyingly recessed, highs are too sharp, overall the fx500 have a badly equalized feel with this song.
ie8:
Better than the fx500. Bass is more controlled than on the fx500 but IMO still second to pr2. Mids would be quite good but are partly invaded by upper bass. Only highs are more fluid and better than the pr2’s.
m5:
Fantastic low bass but other than that very restrained. Mids and highs appear recessed with subpar soundstage. Despite great sub bass these sound not really good with this song.
pl50:
The $50 underdogs handle this song surprisingly well with ample and controlled bass. Mids and highs are also quite good, soundstage could be better, but overall I prefer them over the fx500 and m5 with this song.



Final thoughts / conclusion:
The Cyclone pr2 is a worthwhile addition to my ever growing collection of IEMs. I like the design, it’s unobtrusive and comfortable and the build quality is as good as it gets in this price range. I would have preferred better isolation, but given this is a vented/open phone providing airy sound and excellent soundstage I accept the fact that one can't have everything.

I don’t consider myself a basshead but I like quality bass if the music calls for it. In this case all listening was done unequalized for comparability reasons, but normally I tend to listen to my IE8 with the EQ at -8dB / 90Hz to compensate for its upper bass hump. With the Cyclone pr2 I’d like to EQ down the bass by -3 to -5dB at 50Hz for some songs, but with others I find it “just right” unequalized. While the IE8’s bass peaks at 90Hz the Cyclone pr2’s peaks much lower and thus never affects the midrange. All things considered, IMO the Cyclone pr2 is a strong contender for the Best-Bass-IEM. It delivers awesome dry and controlled bass with genres like Drum ’n’ Bass and Electronica. While others like the m5 deliver more quantity, the bass on this phone can convey such authority and control that the word „amped“ comes to mind, even though I’m playing it straight out of my Sansa Fuze.

On the other hand the pr2 is not a universally appealing phone. If you’re not into equalizing, the bass can be too strong for some kind of music. The midrange is very neutral for a dynamic driver based IEM and can even appear somewhat coldish with vocal centred music like Folk and Jazz. Highs have good extension but are slightly grainy compared to more expensive phones like the fx500 and ie8. All in all, considering the price tag, the pr2 is really good bang for buck, provided it fits your preferred musical styles. But for a more universal budget IEM I’d rather pick the pl50 instead.
post #2 of 45
Nice review.

Something you might find interesting about the model name: 'PR' stands for 'Pop and Rock', which is what this IEM is tuned for.
post #3 of 45
Nicely detailed review. Not having heard any of those IEMs, I still get a very good sense of what they sound like.
post #4 of 45
Nice review. Seems an alternate choice to budget IEM
post #5 of 45
These sound like a nice alternative to the Monster Turbine for half the price.
post #6 of 45
Sounds like the PR2 is very similar to the Mingo WM2, at least early on in the burn in process.
post #7 of 45
Nice review. I like your format
post #8 of 45
Thread Starter 
Short update after 4 month of use: the Cyclone PR2 have proven to be keepers for me. Contrary to some other IEMs like e.g. the Atrios, where my initial "Wow!" (bass) had died down to "underwhelmed!" (highs, soundstage) within weeks, the Cyclones keep getting better with time.

Their somewhat grainy highs have smoothed out with use. The midrange sounds noticably warmer and more pleasing with the AMP3 and Cowon i9 than with the Fuze I used for my initial review. SQ out of the AMP3 is very good when paired with a Shure attenuator (contrary to BA phones there's no negative impact with the PR2) - in fact these are my preferred IEMs for the AMP3 at the moment.

No problems with build quality whatsoever.

All things considered I would still recommend the Cyclone PR2 as a very good budget IEM with the best bass I've heard from a dynamic driver to date.

BTW I'd be very interested in a review of the PR2 vs. PR1 Pro, in case anyone has both.
post #9 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post
Short update after 4 month of use: the Cyclone PR2 have proven to be keepers for me. Contrary to some other IEMs like e.g. the Atrios, where my initial "Wow!" (bass) had died down to "underwhelmed!" (highs, soundstage) within weeks, the Cyclones keep getting better with time.

Their somewhat grainy highs have smoothed out with use. The midrange sounds noticably warmer and more pleasing with the AMP3 and Cowon i9 than with the Fuze I used for my initial review. SQ out of the AMP3 is very good when paired with a Shure attenuator (contrary to BA phones there's no negative impact with the PR2) - in fact these are my preferred IEMs for the AMP3 at the moment.
Replace Cyclones with Mingos, and that is how I feel. I am thinking of picking up a pair just to hear how close they are to the WM2. I don't have the S9, but they still are good with my sound card, although they do push a lot of bass. But the AMP3, wow, the sound damn good, and my Pro2 doesn't need an attenuator unless I am listening to quiet music. I actually think the attenuator might help the sound!

Quote:
No problems with build quality whatsoever.
Here is the biggest issue with the WM2, the rubber strain relief's have come off at the jack and ear piece. They go back in, but the glue I used didn't stay (didn't want to use too much).

Quote:
All things considered I would still recommend the Cyclone PR2 as a very good budget IEM with the best bass I've heard from a dynamic driver to date.

BTW I'd be very interested in a review of the PR2 vs. PR1 Pro, in case anyone has both.
Woody469 has both the PR2 and WM2 coming, hopefully we can get a comparison of those 2. I am also interested in the PR1 and the PR1 Pro.
post #10 of 45
James444, excellent review. Complete and concise. I am at a loss to add to it. One thing I did notice was, right out of the box it reminded me of an REO or a PK1 which doesn't really have enough bass for my liking. So, I decided to do an agressive burn-in round the clock for over three days at mid to hi volume using the P-51 amplifier on low gain connected to an iMod. After it was finished cooking, if you will, I was listening to a completely different phone. Plenty of well controlled bass was now present and accounted for. It's spatial resolution increased as well, adding a nice feel for the venue in which the music was recorded.

Initially I also listened to the PR2 straight out of the headphone jack of a Fuze and enjoyed it very much (after burning it in). I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that adding an amp greatly improved this iem's sonic character. It's specs did not imply this to be true as the PR2's rated impedance is a miniscule 24 Ohm.

I am not good at comparing one IEM to another but if I were forced to say something about the PR2 vs the WM2 the only thing that comes to mind is that, while both are very good, the PR2 seems to be a more aggressive sounding IEM whereas with the Mingo WM2 in a word is more "euphoric".
post #11 of 45
Does any1 know where to get these babies from ???

Cant seem to find any1 that sells them
post #12 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattyhew View Post
Does any1 know where to get these babies from ???

Cant seem to find any1 that sells them
I can't find any on eBay, but I did find this:

Cyclone PR2 [PR2] - US$75.80 : Gyratech International Online Store

I'm considering getting these, or maybe the Hippo Boom. The Booms are almost half the price of the PR2s, but the PR2s have a bigger driver and the review indicates that they have slightly better mids/highs than the Booms. I'm still undecided.
post #13 of 45
For the price, the PR2 is a killer iem. Well actually they are a killer iem period, regardless of price. Highly recommended!
post #14 of 45
hmmm, these sound interesting. If I am unhappy with a recent purchase I may go for these, I actually like the open design as they may be a better fit for office use where I need to be aware of people trying to talk to me. I have had another Head-fi'er recommend the Cyclone PR1 Pros so a comparison between the two would be great.

Currently my favorite bass IEM is the AT CKS70, if these have better treble and a similar midrange, bass, and sound stage I would be very interested in them, doubly so due to thier open back design. They also look to be very small in ear (ie. they would be pretty flat inside the ear), is my perception correct?
post #15 of 45
Thread Starter 
^ They are very flat and comfy for laying on the side. BTW I've the PR1 Pros on order and will post a comparison when they arrive.
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