Redgiant A03 Review
Redgiant are a brand new company and have started with a line of earphones (IEMs). The range consists of two bottoms IEMs that are the same price (A00 and A04) and then a pair above them (A02), which share the same design as their flagship IEM and the one in review, the A03. They are all dynamic driver earphones other than the A03 which is a dual dynamic earphone consisting of both a 14.3mm and 8mm driver in each ear. Although the range of dual dynamic IEMs out there now is growing rapidly these are still very unique IEMs.
So why is this? Well for a start they look nothing like any universal IEM I have ever seen, more on the verge of a custom IEM with the huge housing. They also have a fairly unique color scheme for an IEM, a bit Santa like, red and white. They also have a new take on over the ear cable guides, which I saw as a very attractive part of them.
So I thought that I would give them a go and see what they are all about.
Have been doing most listening of these with my Cowon J3 and FLAC and MP3 but also my iPhone 4 so that I really got to know these earphones. As for tips I went for what must be the medium, red bass boost tips as their thinner design allowed me to get a seal.
Their design as for mentioned is very unique. Housings are matte white with a shiny metallic red inside, black cable with an odd shaped y-split and red cable cinch. They also have 3-button mic, which may have appeal to some more than others and also be seen as a problem.
So starting from the jack. It is right angled and terminated with a gold plated plug. The jack housing is actually really thin but with an extremely hard plastic, there is also nice flexible strain relief. The cable is averagely thick at the bottom and the same thickness as the VSonic GR06 that is slightly behind the Phonak PFE in terms of thickness. It is not quite as flexible as that of the VSonic but still not stiff. The y-split is the same hard plastic as what you get in the jack, which is good. Like most earphones do the cables get thinner at the top half and has the same feel as the bottom half. What it does do differently however instead of having memory cable at the cable so that they go nicely over you ear, these are slightly different these have a coating over the top which is a much thicker, softer cable that loops over. They also have a cable cinch addition that is a great touch.
The housings are strain relief free and the cable enters straight into it. The housings themselves are huge and plastic and also very hard. The only problems that I could foresee are the housing cracking which I highly doubt. The sound tube/nozzle is unlike others and is almost in the middle of the housing and is extremely short.
The box that these come in like most of Redgiant stuff is huge and I instantly thought that can only mean loads of accessories. I was quite wrong. Out of the whole of the box, a quarter is dedicated to the earphones and tips the rest is for the case.
Tip wise you do actually get quite a few and they are of good quality and all have different purposes. They are actually quite inventive and new. The normal ones and which come already on the earphones are silicone single flange and come in sizes, small, medium, large and extra large. These are the ultra comfort tips. The other tips are called ultra seal and are meant to increase the low frequencies; they come in the same sizes. They also come with two sets of yellow hoops which fit inside the tips to make them create a better seal with the tip you use them with. So in total you get 8 pairs of tips and two varieties of them as well as the yellow loops.
You also get a case. It is like a velvet material and is rather large. Size wise it is like a standard wallet in size but with a lot more depth to it. When in your pocket it is visible. Too what extent it will protect the earphones I am not sure, as it is this velvet material, which is very soft and not hard at all, I can squash it easily. It will not be doing that much protecting.
The tips are winners for sure and I loved the selection etc, as well as how new and cool the design of them was. As for the case I would like to see it a lot more protective.
Getting a good seal took me a while although the plethora of stock tips did allow me to find one. I started with the all black tips which I think are the (according to the box) are the ultra seal, bass boosting tips and after going through the sizes I was not getting a seal or any bass at all. It was really quite frustrating. I then moved onto the tips with the red inside which seemed to be slightly skinnier. The small seemed just a bit too small and then voila, the medium tips went in nicely and the bass thumped me, finally.
Looking at pictures of the ergonomic design may leaving you think that they will be really comfy because of this. Well maybe if you ears are quite literally the size of planets. I found a great fit with the Aurisonics ASG-1 and the UE Triple Fi 10, both earphones know for being bad fitting earphones and causing problems, and thought because of this I would have no problem with the Redgiants. They push the edges of the inside of you ear outwards and this is really painful after not long. I listened to them for 1 hour and after that the fatigue turned into agony and I had to remove them. I rested my ears for 30 minutes and began to re insert, my ears were still to saw from the first listening and I ended up having to call it a day with them. I can get a comfortable seal with them but it does not make up to the pain that the sheer size of these earphones inflict. I am really disappointed considering the size of these surely could have been a tad smaller considering the size of my Able Planet SI1050a’s which is a lot smaller and extremely comfortable yet still houses a 15mm and 8mm driver. Juts a little bit smaller and they could really be on to something. I most also comment that I have tried listening to these with all the 3 styles they recommend, normal (over the ears), sport (over the ear and down your back) and cable down (which they call inverted).
Now the huge size of these and the fact they cover your entire ear unfortunately does not help with isolation. These like the Sennheiser IE8 have a shallow fit meaning that they do not do a very good job of blocking out ambient noise. They are slightly better than the IE8 and that is probably because of they cover all you ear but I can still hear people talking to me at a moderate level.
Microphonics (Cable Noise)
Fortunately for Redgiant it is not all doom and gloom and actually they now pull back from now on in this review. The microphonics due to the cable and over the ear design is nearly non-existent. However you do gain a bit of annoyance when wearing them cable down so I do recommend that you wear them over the ear.
By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so dint make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.
Soundstage and instrument separation
The soundstage of these are one of their strong points in my eyes and it resembles a lot of qualities of the Sennheiser IE8 soundstage which of course is quite known for being the first earphone with a soundstage getting closed to full-sized headphones. Obviously that was back in 2009 and now we have seen the arrival of many other earphones with awesome soundstages such as the Aurisonics ASG-1, Sony MDR-EX1000 and now these. The reason behind the awesome-ness of the Redgiants soundstage is the width it has. The Redgiants are extremely wide and miles out of your head. However the reason I likened them to the Sennheiser and not the Aurisonics or the Sony’s is that these are very distant and away from you and you feel like you are eon looking from a fair way. The one part that is different from the IE8s however is the depth of the two earphones and this is, subsequently, the main negative of the Redgiants soundstage. They are extremely shallow and have pretty much no depth at all which is a real shame really as it leaves these lacking a three dimensional sound.
Instrument separation is actually surprisingly good and these are very fast, I may be wrong but it maybe to do with the second driver as I normally find dynamic drivers to be very slow, with the exception mainly of the Sony’s. With these I do never have moments were I feel two instruments may be coming from the same spot.
The bass on these is actually fairly nice if your not looking for an earphone with big bass. I actually find that the moderation between what you ear and what you feel is quite nice. You actually feel quite a bit of sub-bass, which is down to quite nice extension. The sub-bass is far from being a head pounding experience but it is their which is more than I can say for a lot of balanced armature driven earphones.
The mid-bass is perhaps bass light in quantity, not quite in terms of the Etymotic HF5 or Fischer Audio DBA-02 but especially for a dynamic driver. It is strangely quite like a balanced armature (BA) in terms of quality in which it is punch at fast but does lack body and texture.
I cannot make my mind up on whether they are slightly forward or not because they seem to actually change from son to song. They never get to a point of recession but they do seem to be rather forward at times. They are very, very thin and not in a sense that they are extremely revealing but just lacking texture. They do have some unique and strange properties. If you’re aware of what others and I have said about the Aurisonics ASG-1 then you will no they are described as shouty. This is down to a short decay. Well these are almost an exact, not quite, opposite with their longer decay were lyrics and the like are held a bit longer that perhaps sound natural.
The highs are actually very pleasant, never harsh or sibilant which is my main problem with highs. They are quite soft and laid back but do also sparkle. They are always heard and you never feel lacking them. They are in good balance with the bass in actual fact. The details are nice like the rest of the earphones.
As you can see this is all quite positive sound wise and even though I understand hat I am heading I cannot put a finger on the overall signature. Unique is what they are and also very unnatural so do not buy expecting some sort of Etymotic level of accuracy. Everything is great still and these are some super fast for a dynamic and also the best sounding dual dynamics I have heard to date (out of three, the Able Planet SI1050a and the Sonocore). The big let down in my eyes is the size and this in my experiences has lead to an uncomfortable fit. I recommend them for their price to sound ration but you have to cross your fingers that you get a good fit!