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Review: Audeo PFE 232

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

 

 

Specifications

Specification of Phonak Audéo PFE in-ear earphones

Driver

Dual balanced armature

Frequency response

5 Hz–17 kHz

Sensitivity

 

·         Gray filter

109 dBSPL/mW, 1 kHz

·         Black filter

107 dBSPL/mW, 1 kHz

·         Green filter

104 dBSPL/mW, 1 kHz

Nominal impedance

47 ohm

Weight

16 g, 0.5oz

Plug

3.5 mm 3/4 pole jack

Cable length

120 cm, 3.9 ft

 

Initial Impression:

 

  The first thing I notice before I audition them, I can feel that it’s a quality product which is well build with weight saving in mind, there is nearly nothing unnecessary with the PFE 232, decent cable with a great touch to it, decent stress relief, a small 3.5mm L-Plug that will get into any phone with a case on. The PFE 232 comes with the microphone cable installed, but also comes with the standard 3 pole cable without a microphone, so either cable could be your back up. In the box, you get 3 sizes of silicon and Comply tips, and nothing was installed on the earpiece themselves except for the grey acoustic filter. Also comes with a set of 3 different acoustic filters, 1 grey (2 in total), 1 black and 1 green. The rest of accessories are the filter replacement tool and the sound tube cleaning tool, and of course, a soft carrying case with two slots which you can put spare tips or filters in, the case also have a belt loop that you can mount on your waist.

 

  As far as I concern, the PFE 232 doesn’t isolate as well as other similarly designed IEM like the Westones or the Shures. But the Isolation is better than the Sennheiser IE80.

 

  After switching through the 3 different filters, grey emphasize the mid-range, black amplifying the bass and highs, and the green giving “perfect bass”, I found the grey filter giving the most optimum sound I want in my IEM and is the more balanced out of the three, which is a great thing about the PFE 232, you can alter the sound signature by switching the filters.

 

Review:

 

  The fit with the PFE 232 is indeed perfect, feels like Westone 4 with single flange, microphonics are really low, because they are over-ear only design, but due to their slightly harder cable, there is still a tiny bit.

       

  After switching through the filters, I find that grey filter is the most enjoyable, giving me a very smooth mid-range along with the sparkly treble, the bass is just the right amount of impact when needed with the grey filter, which makes it overall more balanced when compared with the black and green, in this review it will be using grey filter for all of the time. The Comply will give a better impact but in the same time lose that sparkly treble that’s why I stick with the silicon.

       

  When compared to other dual driver IEM I auditioned before, unlike the CK10 and DBA-02 type of dual BA, it’s more towards giving you the best detail it can handle without sounding analytical or losing bass impact.
       

  The bass of the PFE is well detailed and gives a nice solid impact, but not on par in terms of quantity compared to UM3X or IE80. The PFE 232’s speed is rather quick, and the decay doesn’t seem realistic enough when compared to most dynamic based IEM. The extension is deep, but it doesn’t really give the sense of fullness than dynamic based IEM can reproduce.

 

  The mid-range is very well positioned; the clarity and detail is superb, in the same time it doesn’t sound dry or lifeless. The PFE 232 managed to be detailed and controlled without any edgy sound, it sounds kind of like a thick analytical IEM, all the details are there, but it doesn’t always want to smash you in the face with it like other analytical IEM, but you will be able to hear everything.

 

  Just like the mid-range, the treble clarity and detail is very smooth, with the grey filter it’s sparkly, and the treble doesn’t have the analytical edgy sound here as well, but also manage to give the right amount of detail.

 

  The soundstage is well above average, a wide presentation but not on par with IE80 or SM3, gives a decent height but lacking depth to it, vocal sounds centered, the PFE 232 doesn’t sound all that airy, when compared to the IE80, it certainly loses right the way, but if you compare it with other BA based universal, this will beat most of its competitor.

 

 

Final thoughts:

 

        The PFE 232 to my ears is geared towards everyday music listener, everything is just so refined that people who look for analytical sound would simply go away, it doesn’t carry any sense of edginess. It has a tad of thickness into it, so you can listen to it for hours without any hearing fatigue. The PFE 232 is the best sounding dual driver IEM I have ever auditioned, coming from TF10, UM3X, Westone 2/4, SM3, Shure 425, GR07, IE80, and the lot. The price tag of $599 might seem very much for a universal, but it will be justified when you combine the filter replacement they have, so if you are bored of the sound you can simply change the filter to alter the sound signature. If you have the money and not looking for custom IEM, go for the PFE 232, the 232 will also have a much higher resell value compared to custom, and now it comes with a free pair of PFE 022, which could be a nice Christmas present to hand out.


Edited by throzen0303 - 12/23/11 at 5:07am
post #2 of 22
Thread Starter 

bump

post #3 of 22

Nice review! Would be nice if you could compare the differences when you change the filters, is the change very noticeable? I'm especially interested in the Black filters.

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

the change is noticeable but I won't bother changing the filters because for most people at least, grey will give the best out these can pump out, the black filter sounded a bit muffled compared to the grey to me

post #5 of 22

Good review :)

post #6 of 22

Can you give some comparison with the previous PFE?

post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kejd View Post

Can you give some comparison with the previous PFE?



OK, here goes nothing...  The old PFE's strength over the the new PFE...  Mids, mainly the clarity and energy.  The old PFEs basically had something similar to Ety mids, but they could become a little harsh at times.  These 232s really tone down the mids, which reduce clarity a bit, but the detailing and timbre remain intact.  The mid-range has enough energy for the majority of people and as a whole is much more balanced (but still slightly below the neutral line).  Now for improvements.  Treble extension is highly improved, and they are no longer any harsh or fatiguing.  Detailing and separation have also been improved.  The low end has been engolfed in a much larger body while still being able to dig deep and give wonderful texture.  The emphasis on the bass is still slightly leaning towards mid-bass, but it's still enough balance.

post #8 of 22

"The price tag of $599 might seem very much for a universal, but it will be justified when you combine the filter replacement they have, so if you are bored of the sound you can simply change the filter to alter the sound signature."

 

I really don't think so. The Sleek SA7 will have the same thing at $399. The reasons I've been reading to justify the price on the 232 have been very flimsy.

 

 

post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kejd View Post

Can you give some comparison with the previous PFE?



tinyman392 gave some comparison already, I never had a chance on auditioning other PFEs

post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyman392 View Post



OK, here goes nothing...  The old PFE's strength over the the new PFE...  Mids, mainly the clarity and energy.  The old PFEs basically had something similar to Ety mids, but they could become a little harsh at times.  These 232s really tone down the mids, which reduce clarity a bit, but the detailing and timbre remain intact.  The mid-range has enough energy for the majority of people and as a whole is much more balanced (but still slightly below the neutral line).  Now for improvements.  Treble extension is highly improved, and they are no longer any harsh or fatiguing.  Detailing and separation have also been improved.  The low end has been engolfed in a much larger body while still being able to dig deep and give wonderful texture.  The emphasis on the bass is still slightly leaning towards mid-bass, but it's still enough balance.

 

Thanks! By the way, have you seen any reported issue with its quality? I have had some bad experience with the old PFE. The unit cracking and balance problemes.. It was crazy mad.gif I hope they fixed it on 232.
 

 

post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jant71 View Post

"The price tag of $599 might seem very much for a universal, but it will be justified when you combine the filter replacement they have, so if you are bored of the sound you can simply change the filter to alter the sound signature."

 

I really don't think so. The Sleek SA7 will have the same thing at $399. The reasons I've been reading to justify the price on the 232 have been very flimsy.

 

 



OK, granted it's a little expensive, but here's a quick rundown of why it is worth it.  You need to see the PFE 232 as an entire package.  You aren't just paying for audio quality anymore, you pay for more:

  • Audio quality...  OK, you still pay for it, and if it wasn't for the mids, probably would become the closest to perfection you'll see any universal.  However, I'll go further to say that you buy a phone that will work with any genre and sound preference (playing with filters will change sound preference).  There is not one genre these things weren't able to play well.
  • Design...  Worst thing you pay for, but it's still there and they still look lovely,
  • Build...  Another big one.  These things are on par (in my opinion) with Etymotic Build quality.  The plastic, although it is plastic, is tough and strong and will resist crushing for sure.  The angled headphone jack is just as strong (if not stronger) than the housings.  As for the cables, although they are thin, they are kevlar enforced to ensure they will last.  The removable cable is also a big plus as well.
  • Comfort...  These are the most comfortable IEMs I've ever worn.  Take note of that.  Many IEMs have been plagued with fit issues as well (even now I just read someone giving fit as a reason why people don't enjoy the Westone 4s - creates sound and comfort issues).  These are basically guaranteed to fit you, and provide a good accompanying seal; from the most tiny ears to the biggest ones.  No one is left out.

The Audeos fill all four categories one can look at when accessing any headphone, and they do it with more than enough quality in mind.  The PFE 232s look past audio and into everything else.  Remember, when you buy an IEM, you don't just buy audio, you buy its build and comfort as well (and design, but many Head-Fiers don't look too much at that).

 

Now why aren't they worth it?  They cost an arm and a leg...  Wait, thats the K3003.  Still, 600 bones is a lot to put down for a pair of IEMs.  This is the only reason why they wouldn't be worth it.  The price, although may seem a little much in terms of audio, is worth it if you look at the entire package.  You literally get the works when you buy these; similar to going luxury on a car, the car itself won't be worth it, but the amenities will be.

post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kejd View Post

 

Thanks! By the way, have you seen any reported issue with its quality? I have had some bad experience with the old PFE. The unit cracking and balance problemes.. It was crazy mad.gif I hope they fixed it on 232.
 

 



I head that the old PFE models had cable and connection problems.  Those have since been fixed (on the older models).  This could account for the crackling and balance problems.  The 232s have no such thing :)

post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kejd View Post


Thanks! By the way, have you seen any reported issue with its quality? I have had some bad experience with the old PFE. The unit cracking and balance problemes.. It was crazy mad.gif I hope they fixed it on 232.

Those problems were fixed on the old PFE back in 2009.
post #14 of 22

600 $ on an universal ?

 

wow guys , you sure have a lot of money to spent.

post #15 of 22

Sounds good! Thanks

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