Now here is quite an interesting product in hand.
The Pro 900 in ears by Feels, a Korean company. This is quite a brand new IEM and not much information is available on them in the web, so I have no idea how they look like, or how they sound, only that they’re a single balanced armature IEM.
Cannot comment on the packaging for I did not receive them in one; just a sample parcel with bubble wraps containing the complete accessories that would be found in a full retail box. These come with 3 pairs of different sized generic black silicone tips, which I find very underwhelming. But the earpiece themselves are quite stunning; polished black steel with silver/chrome accents. Quite weighty to the feel, and very robust as well! They’ve got this protruding cone at the end of the earpieces which has it looking like a jet plane engine ala Monster Turbines. The cables from the earpieces are generic connected to a Y splitter. The cable from Y splitter to the 3.5mm jack is slightly flat, but not too wide compared to the Beats Tour or Jays A-Jays. The strain relieves are nothing special but they do their job well. What really sets these apart; aside from the solid build are the nozzles. They’re able to rotate in all directions to a certain angle, like those found on the new Phillips SHE 9000 models and the Vsonic GR04/GR07. The tip of the nozzle that rotates is also coloured blue for left and red for right which I find a great convenience to have. The implementation of this movable nozzle is not revolutionary, in fact it’s quite simple, a spherical shaped end of the main earpiece is cupped by a coloured plastic tip that will hold/fit any generic silicone sleeve. I do however question if this rather simple method will have any effects on sound quality, especially the accurate transfer/direction of sound from the transducers into our ears, and isolation. The extra ‘hinge’ on this might also be an issue for durability that only time can tell, but so far.. VERY GOOD!
Looks & Build quality: Retail packaging could do with more accessories/tips, stock tips did not work for me. Interesting cable configuration, slightly tangle prone. Great finish on the earpiece. Solid feel. Straight 3.5mm plug. Looks slightly steampunk/goth with a little metal spike pointing out from my ears. Feels pro too!!
As mentioned the package comes with only S/M/L tips that are acceptable but do not agree with my ear canals. Luckily I've got tons of other tips. I found the clear Thinksound tips fit snugly on them and in my ears (more so than the Thinksounds using the same clear tips). I’ve been using these for over a week now doing almost everything with them from commuting, walking around, running, gym and just lounging around. I initially feared that they will be rather heavy, and that the loosely rotating nozzles will cause the heavier main housing to flop around my ears but I’m so wrong on both cases. The earphones, once worn, absolutely disappear!! I’ve tried running with them and even sleeping with them sideways with an ear pushed against the pillow and I felt no discomfort. The slightly pointy end of the earpiece can be annoying when putting these IEM on but other than that, the comfort here is top notch.
Isolation: Not-so brilliant. About equal to that of the Thinksound TS02. Not as good as the Hippo Shroom, A151 or even ADDIEM.
Now sound is what an IEM is really about, not how the look or feel. Being a single BA, I’m really curious to how they would sound. These, with the retail price of about 50-60USD will rival the Soundmagic PL50, the ADDIEM and the MEElectronic A151 in the market. Listening to them, first impressions that come to mind are words like full, robust and crisp.
The first thing that I noticed was the sound signature, which is quite smooth like the A151 but slightly fuller sounding. Their bass is certainly a touch stronger, but not as strong or impactful as the Thinksound TS02. Overall, the bass is quite robust yet having a snappy characteristic about them. Compared to the TS02 which allows its lower notes to linger on longer and sometimes sound ‘flabby’ the Pro 900’s bass has quicker decay, they show up in force, but are puled back and does not linger as long.
The fullness of the pro900 is apparent throughout the spectrum and the mids are no exception. The mids have a sweet and full sound to them and the controlled bass seldom overpowers the middle frequencies. The mids make vocals and guitar strums sound amazing but the coherency between the mids, treble and bass are not top notch, and so will not sound as lifelike compared to what top IEMs can do. The pro900s are however nowhere close to the price of the top tiers.
Treble gives an impression of crispness and sharpness with slightly thicker accents. They don’t sound lean and somewhat dry like the RE0 or Hippo Shroom yet there is sharpness about. Just like how a BA is expected to, the treble, though thick is still very quick and nimble.
The overall clarity/transparency is only above average. I feel this can be quite an advantage when looking at the target market of the Pro900, not at the discerning audiophiles but at the consumers who appreciate good music without being forced to analyze too thoroughly. The transparency allows me to listen to what I should be, and masks the things that I shouldn’t be paying much attention to.
Overall, the presentation is very intimate, like a generic ‘small room’ feeling one normally associates with IEM presentation of this level. The vocals are very forward and pronounced which adds to the intimacy of things. Instrumentation is decently separated and positioned, but all very cramped
Sound: Vocal oriented/forward, with crispness around the edges of the notes throughout the spectrum. Robust bass, especially for a single BA IEM, but not a basshead IEM.
The pro900, even if rated at 32ohms are very very sensitive IEMs, as expected of a BA. Running them using older and cheaper sources like my Bluetooth receiver or 2nd generation iPod shuffle, the pro900 hisses like hell, to a point where the SQ is compromised entirely. The hiss is reduced greatly when run directly through newer and higher quality sources like iPhone 4, Musiland 02 DAC, 4th gen ipod nano and so on. Even so, the background of pro900 is not completely black.
Conclusion: Very unique and enjoyable IEM from Feels, the Pro 900 are a steal for the price. Because of their all rounded in SQ, comfort and build quality, even if priced 20-30 dollars higher, they will still be a good sub 100 IEM to buy. IEMs of around the 60 dollar mark, beware!! A very strong contender is in the game!!! Not everyday one encounters a solid sounding Balanced Armature earphone in a sturdy metal housing with extremely comfortable flexible nozzle at such a low price.
Edited by wilzc - 8/16/11 at 8:44pm