Phonon's company heads Alex Pratt and Isao Kumano have been in contact with me and thank me for getting the headphones out there. I was informed that they are a very small start up operation and are working with limited resources so currently they only have 100 pairs of Phonon SMB-02s left in stock in Japan. Their goal is to get more dealerships over here in United States and have more highly-acclaimed reviews from not only customers but also high-end publications as well. Their original purpose was to provide to professional studio environment a finer alternative than what is mass-marketed out there. But, with limited resources coming up with a completely new design would eat into the operation really quickly with high risk potential even with a stellar product. So, with the promisingly positive reception of the first release, the Phonon SMB-01s - truly based on the ATH-m30 Audio Technicas, they decided to put further efforts and refinement into the sequel, SMB-02s. I never got the chance to try the SMB-01s, but I have the SMB-02s and these are the only pair of headphones that I have listened to in the past 3 weeks since getting them.
I wish Phonon the best am I am a believer in their technology and science behind the music. It might seem psuedo-science to skeptics, to some of us in the audio world, like myself, we are always looking for the very sound that brings back those very smiles and memories experiences we share with our loved ones and personal feats/tribulations.The coziness of SMB-02s envelope me into a different world, away from my troubles, and allow me to reminisce and embrace the goodness of life admist the cogs that are constantly turning inside my head. There is a whole other level of appreciaton for such a product, these were the result of very passionate guys within the industry who wanted to bring a new flavor to the table and express to the world their perception of what hi-end sound ought to sound like based on decades of experience throughout the many facets of professional and hi-end audio.
I know it sounds like I work for Phonon, but I don't. I am just so happy with the sound of the headphones that I cannot wait to try out their other products.
I have spent time with my Phonons at work, at home, gardening outside (trying to be very careful) and they are just so damn comfortable and unpretentious, never yearning to ask for your appraisal of their treble, mids, or lows, that you are able to completely enjoy the music the way it was meant to be enjoyed, pacing, timbre, transitions from verses to chorus, dynamics, all so subtle yet so cohesive.
I am now at the 200 hour mark with my Phonons and am ready to purchase the 2nd pair from Stereo Exchange. Or maybe even directly from Alex Prat himself as he is the international representative of Phonon. He is based in New York per our brief interaction through email.
During late night hours, the most remarkable aspect I find of these headphones are its ability to provide full spectrum low volume playback. From top to bottom, nothing is missing. So, fluid and clear, yet so much energy and drive without being 'pretentious', which is a good thing. No grainy, sibilance here at all. complete lack of grain and sibilance. female vocals make you want to know your singer on a deeper level. oo these are soo soo very close to audio nirvana for me.