I've spent around four hours listening with the SD3. iPod classic > Wadia 171i transport > Burson Conductor > SD3
First (very brief) impressions:
- Build quality: rock solid. These are not going to break easily! I really like the understated glossy black shells. Very nice braided and flexible cable, no microphonic noise. Plug adaptor also seems very well made.
- Comfort & fit: I've never had a custom, but of all the in-ears I've experienced (my previous was a Sennheiser IE8), the fit is truly incredible. Even reading the reviews beforehand I was still surprised by how large it looked when I opened the box, but the shells are contoured so that they should fill as much space in the concha part of the ear as possible. It makes it easy to get a good seal every time. External noise is pretty much eliminated. After a few moments adjusting the ear guides on the cables, it's quite unobtrusive. Obviously this will be different for different ears, but for me it's hard to imagine an IEM that fits like a custom more than the SD3, other than real customs.
- Sound: Wow................ that bass!! Tremendous extension and detail in the low frequencies. Anyone with a taste for thunderous, powerful bass is likely to be happy with the SD3. But the great thing is that this doesn't overpower the rest of the sound, at least to my ears. Yes, the bass is strong, but the quality is such that it only dominates where it's supposed to. There is no over-exaggerated rumble and no muddying of the mids and highs, though its presence can always be felt in the background. I played several complex and fast tracks and transient response seems effortless. There is no doubting that these IEMs are extremely technically proficient across the entire frequency range.
Initial conclusions: Boy am I delighted I got these before they sold out and increased in price! Because in my mind they are seriously worth every penny I spent. The SD3s will definitely not be to everyone's tastes. Those who favour flat frequency response will need to look elsewhere. But if you are willing to let go and submit yourself to the sound that the SD3 provides, then you're in for a treat.
I'll need to take a bit more time to completely familiarise myself with the tone to make sure this isn't just new-toy-syndrome, but the soundstage and level of immersion is easily, easily comparable to my full-size high-end headphones.
I will probably take some pics later but to be honest, I just want to listen to these a little more first..