Using my Android Samsung Galaxy Note II (un-rooted) and the standard camera App, here are some quick, unedited photos of my new HA 4.Ai's:
First, I received my order of Heir Audio 4.Ai+ in-ear monitors on the 01/02/13.
There was a little drama on the day as I received text and emails from the courier service UPS whilst I was work. These messages said that UPS had attempted to deliver my Heir Audio parcel to my home, but failed. There was a large HM Revenue & Customs tax charge of £77.79 ($120.63), and my family did not have the finances to pay the charge there and then.
I rang my family at home to ask what had happened, but I became a little angry that the delivery man was quite rude to my family.
Nevertheless, I phoned up UPS to ask about the next deliver date, which was on Monday. That was not good enough, so I asked what time they were open too, and they replied 19:00 GMT, and hour after I finished work. I booked an appointment to see the UPS Customer Services office in my town to both pay the customs charge and pick up my parcel held there, of which I did both.
Obviously I was not happy with how this had occurred, or the high customs charge (something I did know about but the cost was unexpected). Even so, I was happy that I had the parcel in my hands and did not have to wait any longer.
Since then, I have been enjoying my Heir Audio 4.Ai’s very much. I did not have my beloved JDS Labs c421 (AD8620 op-amp) amplifier with me for some weeks as that was out for service (audio jack malfunctions), so I used my Galaxy Note II and an Android App called Neutron to playback my FLAC files. I must say, the app Neutron sounds great, but I did not like the pairing of the HA 4.Ai’s directly to my un-rooted Note II.
Worse, most of my music is electronic, ambient, rock (many types) and trip-hop. The 3.Ai’s would have been a better choice for such music as those IEM’s have a more pronounced bass, yet I prefer detail imaging, and my way of choosing sound.
What that means is that I prefer to tune my audio equipment, so a more neutral headphone is better for me. I can then use either software or hardware to tune my headphones sonic signature, knowing that the headphones/earphones I buy will be able to handle the changes of audio frequency without much trouble.
The TF10 Pro's obviously do not fit into this ideal, but are still great IEM's that I got for a song (>£100 from Amazon.co.uk back in Dec 2011!), but the HA 4.Ai's, coupled with those very cool dual woofers, would theoretically work with my amplifiers that use bass boost (all my JDS Lab amplifiers, though I have stopped using the cMoy amps for a long while).
This is also the reason why I chose not to buy the Ultimate Ears UE900, which was a close purchase; back in December 2012 I could have bought the UE900's at a very low price of about £280, but the Heir Audio Christmas discount and the beauty of their products proved to be far more alluring, though quite costly. The UE900 would have had too much bass power, which I love, but would contradict my current and future amp purchases which utilise bass boost settings (JDS Labs c421, C5, and CEntrance HiFi-M8).
The cable, the Heir Audio Magnus 1 which is an upgrade over the standard supplied cable, is simply gorgeous and by far the best cable I have owned to date. The braiding is exquisite, the weight is low, the memory wire and sheathing is just about right, the well built jack is fantastic. Of special mention is the Y-cable split; the smallest, thinnest split I have ever seen! Why does no other company do this? o_O
Yet I am not totally convinced by the cable slider, a simple small transparent plastic tube, but it works fine and is a non-issue (just me being picky).
I received my serviced and fixed c421 AD8620 op-amp headphone amplifier yesterday, and using the bass boost on my favourite genres above, the HA 4.Ai’s were transformed into a truly delectable powerhouse of bass, superior detail, imaging and holistic space.
On some records that I own, the bass boost was not necessary, and showed wonderfully how neutral sounding pieces of audio equipment can give you a true sense of audio realism and reproduction, allowing you to simply absorb and drift into a musical filled world of utter bliss.
My set-up right now is my PC using foobar2000 in WASAPI Event Mode to my Asus Xonar D2X PCI-E soundcard to a 3.5mm male to male Belkin Blue 1m interconnect to my c421.
For speakers and my AKG K 701 headphones, I use my 1st Gen NuForce Icon (23W PSU) connected to my JohnBlue JB3 speakers via RJ45/banana cables. Far from ideal, but the K 701’s will be receiving a far better amplifier in the form of the CEntrance HiFi-M8.
My 6th Gen 160GB iPod Classic (2007) is not in use as I try to recompile my new 3TB HDD on my computer and start from scratch my long abandoned iTunes library. That will take time, but once done, with my FiiO L9 LOD (which will be replaced by a much better cable from CEntrance), I will use this set-up instead for portable use and sometimes desktop (the above is still very good, for now).
(Actually, I lie. I still use my iPod Classic with some Apple Lossless files, but I have not updated it in over 6 years. Once I sort out my music collection on my new 3Tb HDD and a new iTunes library, I will then update my iPod. This will be important for the CEntrance HiFi-M8 too).
In the future, a JDS Labs C5 will be used (will relegate the c421to bedside use only), and soon after a CEntrance HiFi-M8 will take over everything including desktop and portable set-ups, though the C5 will be useful for when it is impractical to use the large HiFi-M8.
I also hope to get a mad re-cable form my HA 4.Ai’s which will sport two Furutech 3-pin XLR’s male connections for balanced audio playback (with the HiFi-M8). :O
Based on my JDS Labs c421 (AD8620) amp and the Heir Audio 4.Ai’s, the sound of the HA 4.Ai’s was quite different to my Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 Pro’s, especially the bass and treble, but that is because the TF10’s are accentuated in both areas. The TF10's, however, are not super bass heavy, but have more weight than the HA 4.Ai's, but without the detailed texture.
Which birings me to the followign sentence: the detail and texture of the HA 4.Ai’s are magnificent on all areas of the frequency range. The imaging is spectacular, and the 3D space is gobsmacking. This is easily the best IEM I have ever owned, and comes very close to my AKG K 701’s (when in use with my 1st Gen NuForce Icon).
Massive Attack’s Mezzanine and Heligoland, Nine Inch Nails The Fragile and The Downward Spiral, Bonobo’s Black Sands, Muse’s Black Holes & Revelations and The 2nd Law (24/96), Metallica’s Metallica (Black Album, 24/96), Nirvana’s Nevermind (24/96), HECQ’s 0000 and Night Falls, Pan Sonic’s Gravitoni, Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92, Autechre’s Move Of Ten and Exai (both 24/44.1), Daft Punk’s Alive 2007, Portishead’s Dummy and Portishead, and many, many others, shined brilliantly with my HA 4.Ai’s and c421 (AD8620) with bass boost on.
I have not even gone into the rest of my collection yet (from Led Zeppelin to UNKLE to The Doors to HEALTH, amongst many others), and I salivate at the opportunity to listen to them and more over the next few weeks.
I don’t own much classical music save from soundtracks (games and films), and less jazz or piano music. Of what I do own, they do sound fantastic with the c421 (AD8620) and HA 4.Ai's.
For some classical music that is well mastered, such as Thomas Schipper’s Samuel Barber Adagio for Strings with the New York Philharmonic (Columbia Records #MHK 62837), the bass boost was rendered unnecessary and the full beauty of the HA 4.Ai’s and c421 AD8620 was sublime. The air of the venue was far clearer to me with this PC set-up than any other audio equipment I have used yet, and beats the UE TF10’s hand down, and my AKG K 701’s (the NuForce Icon is not that great for the K 701’s, as it is quite underpowered).
Others, such as Shimomura Yōko’s Drammatica: The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura (Square Enix distributed by Sony Music Distribution, #SQEX-10112) required the bass boost from the c421 as the album was not as well as recorded (as the above record), yet still quite beautiful. This is one of my favourite classical albums to which the HA 4.Ai’s and the c421 put me close to tears, and completely shattered my love of the UE TF10’s which I previously enjoyed.
Jazz from Miles Davies’ A Kind of Blue, or piano music from Art Lande’s While She Sleeps or Ludovico Einaudi Nightbook and In a Time Lapse is rendered in startlingly realism and depth that I feel that the artists have been transported to my world and are playing for me. The actual movements of the artists, the inflections, body and timbre of the instruments and strings, the venues; I cannot even describe the pleasure I hear as words do injustice.
And this is just with the c421 (AD8620) bass boost off and my HA 4.Ai’s. I cannot even fathom what my new amps (C5, HiFi-M8) will do to such recordings.
The JDS Labs c421 (AD8620) and the Heir Audio 4.Ai’s is a real synergistic pairing.
I believe that an AD8620 JDS Labs C5 (or even the standard OPA2227 version) will go further than this setup. That gives me goose bumps.
And let’s not forget the CEntrance HiFi-M8!
Anyway, this is just a short preamble to how I feel my Heir Audio 4.Ai’s sound along with my JDS Labs c421 (AD8620) with my PC set-up. A proper review is out in the future, pending LIFE.
Hope you enjoy this off-the-top-of-my-head writing style.
Thank you Dr. John aka The Wizard, Dr. David, Sunny and Nancy; the Heir Audio 4.Ai's that you have created and helped me purchase are astounding and truly beautiful. :-D
Thank you Nancy and Sunny for the help you gave to me and answeing all my questions over emails, as as deciphering my ecentric English writing style! ;-)
Finaly, thank you to all reviewers and users of the Heir Audio 4.Ai's and products from the company. Your posts, blogs and opinions helped me in my final decision making.
You also made me poorer. :-P
(P.S. Apologise to any spelling, grammar or formatting issues).
(P.P.S. Made some minor spelling/grammar corrections, and added new sentences about the Magnus 1 cable, my iPod Classic use, and thank you messages).
Edited by TheOneInYellow - 2/18/13 at 1:38am