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REVIEW: The Frogbeats C4...an explosively good custom in ear monitor....SERIOUSLY!  

post #1 of 255
Thread Starter 

 

FROGBEATS C4 CUSTOM IN EAR MONITOR

 

 

 

A perfect water drop

 

 

 

Every audiophile strives for perfection. Whether or not it is obtainable in such a finicky hobby by such obsessive people is a question that could lead to endless pondering. In the crazy world of audiophilia I have always felt to belong to the outside group that doesn't subscribe to being so obsessive, so prone to snake oil, too dismissive of objectivity or subjectivity. I tend to walk a middle line. I like to think I am practical.

 

 

My work and indeed my core belief in audio leads me down the middle line of trusting my ears and gut instinct but also collaborating what I sense to what the objective sciences tell me. I believe in perfection in the world of audiophilia even if this perfection is solely personal.

I have found the perfect open headphones. I have found the perfect closed headphone. However, the perfect IEM eluded me. I have been guided to sit at many a demonstration table only to walk away wishing for a little more refinement here and a little more refinement there and perhaps a little less frequency here and more there. I thought I had found one that came close...but I was hesitant in ordering it. It lacked one of the few things I crave in a system...soundstage and realism. Then...one night... I got offered to demo a pair of new custom iem's for the purposes of feedback and possible review.

 

 

Feedback and possible review....at that point in time, I thought I would never do another feedback or review so I warned this person that I wouldn't hold back any punches and would provide an honest review from the start. Surprisingly...he agreed. That person, David Annez of Frogbeats, told me he needed an honest opinion and review…a very refreshing point of view seeing is that he was the actual owner of the company. I agreed and proceeded to go through the steps of getting a custom in ear monitor done.

After getting my impressions done by the best person in the world and waiting two months...my custom IEM's arrived. This is what I held in my hands after waiting for so long...

 

The physical packaging is exactly what most of us hobbyists have to come to expect from a high end custom universal in ear monitor (CIEM). The CIEM came in an otter box with a warranty card and a cable.  As many of you might know, I don't really care about the looks of an amp or headphones. That said...these things are beautifully crafted and look quite snazzy! What about the sound? In one word: WIN. In two: EPIC WIN! Let's break it down as to why this CIEM is pure and utter WIN..why it is EPIC WIN...

 

THE SOUND

 

The Low-Low's:

The low-lows are anything below 20Hz to me. I ALWAYS play tones to figure out how low the headphone or IEM can do in the feel-able spectrum of audio. Usually, if a headphone can let me feel 18Hz, I come away impressed. The Frogbeats C4 played 18Hz as if it was no big deal. It did the same with 16...and the same with 15...and the same with 14..all the way down to 10 where it started fading away! How many of you currently have a headphone or IEM that can let you feel 10Hz?!

 

The Bass:

Wow...if the Frogbeats C4 can play 10Hz, I immediately became worried that perhaps the bass range had been exaggerated in order to play so low. I started to cringe just thinking about it. What a relief it was to play one of my demo discs. I took out " Holst, Handel, Bach Sousa & More” conducted by Frederick Fennell & The Cleveland Symphonic Winds. I played track 3, The March from the First Suite In E-flat, Op.28, No.1. The timpani are recorded so well that the deep bass is accurately conveyed to a point that only real life can beat it.

After playing it on the C4...I'm not that sure that real life can beat it. The bass was very accurate without coloring any of the other instruments. I say this being completely honest...the C4 DOES NOT handle this track with the finesse and refinement of a high end speaker system...no...it handles it with the finesse and refinement of the Cleveland Symphonic Winds playing directly in front of you. Well done Frogbeats....well done.

 

The Mids:

This has always been the most critical part of any headphone or IEM for me. I always use vocals for this test. I had heard countless headphones fail in the midrange despite having good bass in the past. They might do well with some vocals but not all of them. Being able to convey the lush smoothness of Nat King Cole is easy for some headphones but being able to do that AND convey the raspyness of Louis Armstrong or mid-high range of Billie Holiday WITHOUT making her screechy is hard. Tori Amos is another one that hard to reproduce. There are many a great headphone and IEM that can do these artists justice. HOWEVER, when what you are listening to can point out an edit...a CLEAN EDIT...while listening to these hard tracks...that's just amazing. I can't think of a better way to speak out about the resolution and detail of the midrange than to point out a fine edit. Seriously...WOW.

 

The Highs:

Pointing out the highs in most IEM's is utterly pointless, especially when it comes to information past 11kHz as lot of people have a hard time hearing these upper registers. Most of the information you get from the highs is shimmer and ambiance. If you can hear shimmer and ambiance - get the C4.

 

The Vitruvian Man...a symbol of perfection

 

 

DIFFERENCES

 

 

 

Usually I go into details about certain albums and why I use them for test low bass, bass, mids, highs, resolution, etc. I don't feel the need to do that in this review.

 

The reason is that I feel that once you get a C4, you yourself will discover the wonderful qualities, inaccuracies, and who knows what in your already existing music library. You'll be able to hear Dave Grohl harmonize with Kurt Cobain in" In Bloom" from Nevermind. You will be able to hear synthesizers mixed in with the accordion in "Graceland" from Paul Simon's Graceland. If you listen closely, you will also be able to hear George Harrison go from clean to crunchy guitar on "Come Together" when he clicks his effects pedal on Abbey Road. You can hear the click.  You will also be able to hear people talking in the middle of the recording "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" as sung by Ray Charles.

 

 

Audiophile Worthy Albums....

 

 

 

 

As I said before, there are many headphones that can do justice to the low-lows, the bass, the mids, the highs and the tiny details. There even fewer that can more than two of these well...but to get all of these right, along with perfect three dimensional soundstage and accurate tone, clarity and speed...well...that's rare indeed....but that's the C4 for you. Explosively good.

 

You might argue that I did this review using a pricey Lavry DAC...maybe I used my custom amps...perhaps I played back these tracks from a master tape being played back on an Ampex ATR100 directly to the A/D converter via my Sontec parametric EQ. You can guess any number of scenarios and you'd probably be wrong. My playback chain for the review was a Clip+ (playing FLAC via Rockbox) -> C4. Simplicity at its best and sound that any mortal man would consider divine. It's definitely something  that's attainable to the vast majority of head-fi members and certainly less money that other treble peaked monstrosities.

 

I started writing about perfection. Perfection, in the broad sense of the word, is a state of completeness and flawlessness. I subscribe to the Aristotelian concept of perfection. This simply means that for something to be perfect, it needs to be complete...that is, there should be nothing to add or subtract. The Frogbeats C4 is perfect to me…I would want nothing to be added or subtracted. This is a CIEM for those who want their CIEM to be nothing but the sound. That is the C4. It is sonically nothing and that is quite the perfect thing to be in my honest opinion. The Frogbeats C4 gets my highest recommendation for being the best IEM I have ever heard at any price point.

 

 

I won't even bother with a "star" rating...just get your wallet and go to Frogbeats and get a C4.

 

If you do get a C4 you must be prepared for the one negative aspect of the C4....you won't be able to share it! tongue_smile.gif


Edited by LFF - 9/28/12 at 1:45pm
post #2 of 255

Seems, too perfect, I think you just found your light....

post #3 of 255

What kind of sound signature does the C4 have? From your review, it is clear that technically this is an amazing IEM.

I like a mid-centric, slightly warm, sweet and musical sound. I prefer intimacy over a spacious presentation.

Some of my favourite IEMs: RE262, Ortofon EQ-5 and for more laid-back listening I have DDM. I am looking for a more portable solution than an amped RE262 or a hissing EQ-5 on my Clip+.

post #4 of 255

Their group order discounts are tantalizing...

post #5 of 255
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by firev1 View Post

Seems, too perfect, I think you just found your light....

 

That's exactly what I thought but it actually is THAT good. For those that don't know me...I have quite a bit of experience in this hobby. Ask around.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by s0lar View Post

What kind of sound signature does the C4 have? From your review, it is clear that technically this is an amazing IEM.

I like a mid-centric, slightly warm, sweet and musical sound. I prefer intimacy over a spacious presentation.

Some of my favourite IEMs: RE262, Ortofon EQ-5 and for more laid-back listening I have DDM. I am looking for a more portable solution than an amped RE262 or a hissing EQ-5 on my Clip+.

 

It has a neutral sound signature.

 

This CIEM sounds like nothing. It's as mid-centric, slightly warm, sweet and musical and intimate as your source allows it to be.

 

The C4 does NOT hiss on the Clip+.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theThirty3rd View Post

Their group order discounts are tantalizing...

 

That's a great way to get the C4 at a good price. Email David at Frogbeats and see if you can get a group buy going.

post #6 of 255

What about the C5?  If the C4 is this good, what can be expected of a higher tier model?

post #7 of 255
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassadian View Post

What about the C5?  If the C4 is this good, what can be expected of a higher tier model?


From what I know the C5 is like the C4 but with more bass emphasis.

 

Keep in mind, I have NOT heard the C5.

post #8 of 255

Good review, LFF. You seriously have me curious about this IEM. 

 

David is a class act as well -- wishing him all the best in Frogbeats. 

 

(BTW, how many people immediately put on Come Together to listen for the pedal click?) biggrin.gif

post #9 of 255
Very interesting. I look forward to hearing more.
post #10 of 255

Wow, pretty high accolades! These seem very interesting, I wonder why people haven't talked much about them? The shells look stunning as well, I know most go with transparent bodies for customs, but the design (love the little frog) and quality from the pictures look tastefully done. Do you have any opinions in terms of how they sound compared to other CIEMs?

post #11 of 255
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinQY View Post

Wow, pretty high accolades! These seem very interesting, I wonder why people haven't talked much about them? The shells look stunning as well, I know most go with transparent bodies for customs, but the design (love the little frog) and quality from the pictures look tastefully done. Do you have any opinions in terms of how they sound compared to other CIEMs?

I'm guessing people haven't talked about them because I got the first one. They are that new.

 

The shells are very pretty and the pics don't do them justice. I have heard a few CIEM's and own a UE10 Pro. The C4 sounds like a UERM but with better detail, better transparency and MUCH better soundstage. The C4 images like crazy.

post #12 of 255

I've been asking this to every CIEM company pretty much, but does Frogbeats do a re-shell service like UM and Fisher?

post #13 of 255
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by planx View Post

I've been asking this to every CIEM company pretty much, but does Frogbeats do a re-shell service like UM and Fisher?


I do not think re-shells are in their current offerings.

 

Might be a possibility in the future...who knows. You would need to talk to David at Frogbeats.

post #14 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by LFF View Post


I do not think re-shells are in their current offerings.

 

Might be a possibility in the future...who knows. You would need to talk to David at Frogbeats.

 

Seeing how their site doesn't offer it, it's pretty much nonexistent as we speak, unless they decide to offer it like you said in the future. 

post #15 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by LFF View Post

I'm guessing people haven't talked about them because I got the first one. They are that new.

 

The shells are very pretty and the pics don't do them justice. I have heard a few CIEM's and own a UE10 Pro. The C4 sounds like a UERM but with better detail, better transparency and MUCH better soundstage. The C4 images like crazy.

eek.gif Why must you do this to my wallet? And just when I was set on getting either the Miracles or the UERMs. 

 

Sub-freaking-scribed

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