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Vision Ears and Rhines Custom Monitors (formerly Compact Monitors)

post #1 of 538
Thread Starter 

Dear All,

 

I decided it was worth having a dedicated thread for these (apparently) wonderful custom monitor brands. There are a few impressions here and there on HF but no dedicated thread for all there models.

 

Compact Monitors was a very reputed German audio brand who has been operating for years (first impressions on Headfi are from 2009 but the company was apparently 12 years old). The company was recently divided between the two owners Felix Reinsch, who started Rhines Custom Monitors) and Marcel Schoenen (who launched Vision Ears).

 

The build quality is reputedly very high and comparable to Fitear.

 

So far, it seems both companies have more or less the same custom line they inherited from Compact Monitors namely:

 

  1. Stage 1.2 (619€)
    • Technology: Dual-driver two-way-system
    • Sensitivity: 112 dB SPL bei 1 mW
    • Frequency: 28 Hz - 16 kHz
    • Impedance: 36 Ohm ( at 1 kHz )
    • Upgradable
  2. Stage 2 (769€)
  • Technology: dual-driver (one for the low/mid frequencies and one for the high frequencies) two-way-system
  • Sensitivity: 122dB SPL at 1 mW
  • Frequency: 20 Hz - 17 kHz
  • Impedance: 28 Ohm ( at 1 kHz )
  • Upgradable
  1. Stage 3 (999€)
  • Three drivers in a two-way-system
  • Sensitivity: 118dB SPL at 1 mW
  • Frequency: 20 Hz - 18 kHz
  • Impedance: 18 Ohm ( at 1 kHz )
  • Upgradable
  1. Stage 4:
    • Four driver three-way-system
    • Sensitivity: 120dB SPL at 1mW
    • Frequency: 10 Hz - 19 kHz
    • Impedance: 20 Ohm

 

 

As there are some resellers with demos in Germany, Singapore, Hong-Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Finland, etc. I hope to add some impressions from the people who own them or tried the demos.

 

Here are the links:

 

The former company: http://www.compact-monitors.de/index2.html

 

Vision Ears: http://www.vision-ears.de/english/

 

Rhines Custom: http://www.rhines-customs.de/rhines_e/

 

And here is some eye candy. As you can see the art work is gorgeous:

 

EDIT: The artwork below is from the Vision Ear Gallery:

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND HERE IS SOME ARTWORK FROM THE RHINES CUSTOMS GALLERY:

 

 

 

EDIT:

 

Here is an exchange that I had with Marcel Schoenen, founder of Vision Ears, which gives more background on both companies:

 

ME: How do you differentiate from Rhine Ears. Do you both offer the same quality and products?How do you differentiate from Rhine Ears. Do you both offer the same quality and products?

 

Marcel Schoenen:

 

Hi Michael,

 

this is indeed a tricky question. The split is very new (beginning of this year) and at the moment there are not much differences in terms of our products. Both brands will come up with new models at sometime and also the optional features and the whole presentation of the brand will divide us more and more in the future. For example: we just launched 17 different types of wood that can be chosen for faceplates. This huge and beautiful variety is very unique and gives our brand the high class attitude we´re about to define. Our target market are musicians and audiophiles. At the moment we´re mainly doing customs for musicians, but when we started business with Caesar Palace (Hong Kong) three years ago, the audiophile market became more and more important for us. We want to continue this direction and we´re are planning a very innovative and new program that will mainly be interesting for audiophiles. I cannot tell too much, but let me tell you that this new program is something no other brand is offering in such a way. We will come up with this in the beginning of next year. 

 

I know that there are some rumors that say we splitted because we we´re not same opinion with the production or the development of the company, but this is not true. Especially Caesar Palace is telling such things to justify their decision. But thats absolutely not true. Right after the split we were in discussions with Louis from Caesar Palace because he wanted to continue business with us, but they were not willing to accept our decision not giving them the exclusive rights for the whole Asian market. The reasons for the split are personal and I don´t want to be indiscrete and talk bad about my former partner. To make it short, we had a lot of trouble for the last two years and I didn´t see any changes after this two years, so I made the decision to split. I continued business with our former employee and now we´re building up this new brand VISION EARS. You asked for differences. I think this one: we´re mainly the old team of compact monitors. Rhines is more or less a "one-man-show". I don´t know if you heard from other people who ordered from compact monitors, that they had to wait approx. 4-5 month to get their ordered In-Ears. This was a huge problem for the reputation of compact monitors and one of the many things we want to do better with VISION EARS. Our production lead time is 2-3 weeks. We have the capacity to grant this.

 

To be honest I cannot tell you how the quality at Rhines is, but our philosophy is to provide our customers with perfect quality in terms of sound and fitting just as we did with compact monitors. The In-Ears we offer are exactly the same as with compact monitors and I assume that also Rhines didn´t do any changes.

 

Hope this helps you. 

 

All the best 

 

Marcel

 

And here are the quotes from Vision Ears on the Stage 3 and Stage 4:

 

Marcel Schoenen:

 

You asked for the sound signature of Stage 3 vs Stage 4. Our Stage 3 is very natural in sound.  Very balanced without being boring at all. It has a wide frequency respond and is very detailed. If you compare it to Stage 4 you will notice that the 4 is giving you a good punch in the very low frequencies. To notice this difference, it is useful to listen to music that gives you these very low bass frequencies, such as electronical music or Dubstep stuff. It´s absolutely amazing how powerful it sounds without covering the upper frequencies and it gives you even more details then the Stage 3. The Stage 4 sounds a little bit more "open" due to the wider frequency response. And it has also more upper high frequencies. To sum it up: The Stage 4 is very balanced, but pushes the very low and the very high frequencies. We found many audiophile people who love this model.

 

 

Here is the same exchange I had with Felix Reinsch:

 

 

Hi Michael,

 

Thanks for your fairness and interest.

I am a little short with my time at the moment  so I will try to say what's important in a few sentences:

 

All in all i can say that i am pretty amazed about what marcel schoenen tells about the situation so far and i do not understand why he does.

 

 

These are the facts:

 

- Rhines is not a "one-man-show". i am pretty sure the team here is as big (or bigger) as/than the vision-ears-team

 

- Everyone here at rhines-customs  is a performing-musician, skilled acoustician and long-time-in-ear-user

 

- Compact-monitors was founded in 2006 and built up on my technical know-how and the experience of my background as a musician and audiophile since the early 90's

 

- I founded my first in-ear-company in 1998, which was years before anyone else in germany ever did multi-driver-custom-in-ears and also years before the first two-way-universal appeared (um2/shure e5)

 

- At vision-ears there are two people from the old compact-monitors-team. Marcel schoenen and one ex-employee.

   but  "not to be indiscrete or talk bad about my old partner"  is also something that i would prefer...

 

- Our lead-times are usually also not more than 2-3 weeks and we also have the capacity to grant this….

 

- We also offer about 20 different beautiful wooden faceplate-designs and many more options like photorealistic multi-colour designs, laser-engravements, carbon-fibre and so on

 

- After the split we more or less immediately came up with one new model and there are more to come in the near future

 

- I also can not tell anything about the quality at vision-ears. I can only say that here at rhines we continue the standards of compact-monitors and this i can absolutely promise because it all was built up on the way i handcrafted it many years before when i started the whole thing in the late 90's

 

We are located in the former compact-monitors-headquarter and from here we will carry the whole thing to the next level which will be based on both tradition and innovation.

 

 

About Stage3 vs. Stage4:

 

I absolutely agree to the description of Marcel about the difference between Stage 3 and Stage 4. That's what we told the people about the products at compact-monitors and why should we say something different about these now?

 

I myself love the Stage 3 more than the stage 4 but I am more into jazz, classics, zappa and things like that. Always when iIm listening to music like Massive Attack, Slipknot or others like that with a big bottom end and glittering highs I absolutely prefer the Stage 4.

 

I hope that helps to make a decision if necessary….

 

All the best to you and everyone out there who reads these lines,

let's stay in contact for everything to come...

 

Felix

 

Various Impressions:

 

Ultrazino 1

Ultrazino 2

Ultrazino 3

Tranhieu 1

Tranhieu 2

lieberstanley 1

lieberstanley 2

 

VISION EARS DEMO TOUR:

 

As you may well know, Vision Ears has agreed to lend me Stage 2 / 3 / 4 demos for a very reasonable deposit and I organized a tour with the following participants:

 

Me :)

spkrs1

Rudi

H20Fidelity

Lee730

Average_Joe

DigitalFreak

Tupac0306

Rollk2

 

First impressions from Mimouille:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/682142/vision-ears-and-rhines-custom-monitors-formerly-compact-monitors/75#post_9847444


Edited by Mimouille - 12/27/13 at 2:42am
post #2 of 538

Subscribed

 

I have had the opportunity of auditioning the Stage 2, 3 and 4 and must admit the Stage 4 are wonderful sounding..........and will be my next pair of customs......

 

The Stage 4 are so refined sounding with good extension and beautiful lush mids.........extremely correct sounding to my ears and very reminiscent of the new breed of high end German audio. The only criticism would be on the demo pair was more headstage than soundstage but I was told the the actual customs were much better in this respect.

 

Highly recommended!!! 


Edited by spkrs01 - 9/18/13 at 7:38am
post #3 of 538

They look good~ so basically two companies making the same models of CIEMs?

post #4 of 538
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tupac0306 View Post

They look good~ so basically two companies making the same models of CIEMs?
Apparently...but from now onward, all innovations will be different.
post #5 of 538

Wow they look awesome, any reviews of these monitors?

post #6 of 538

Finally a Compact Monitors thread , :dt880smile: can't really find in-depth reviews , emailed VE , but they told me to buy it directly from my country's distributor :mad: (Marked up prices, although everything including impressions to refitting is included) these are really nice , especially the Stage 4 which was slightly compared with the JH16 , a 4 driver vs a 8 driver customs , how do they create wonders such a small amount of drivers , thinking of it , it's just amazing . Am going down to try the demos in the next few week :cool: 


Edited by hilosxdd - 9/18/13 at 12:55pm
post #7 of 538

Sweet! :).

post #8 of 538
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hilosxdd View Post

Finally a Compact Monitors thread , dt880smile.png  can't really find in-depth reviews , emailed VE , but they told me to buy it directly from my country's distributor mad.gif  (Marked up prices, although everything including impressions to refitting is included) these are really nice , especially the Stage 4 which was slightly compared with the JH16 , a 4 driver vs a 8 driver customs , how do they create wonders such a small amount of drivers , thinking of it , it's just amazing . Am going down to try the demos in the next few week cool.gif  
I am considering giving the Stage 4 a go...I will send my friend spkrs01 to test them again first smily_headphones1.gif I am sure there are reviews on the German forum so if our German friends could chime in...
post #9 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mimouille View Post
 

      

These look like intercourse. Deliciously passionate ophthalmological intercourse. As the germans say, danke, und steigen sie den rasen....

 

They really do look fabulous.

post #10 of 538
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinQY View Post

These look like intercourse. Deliciously passionate ophthalmological intercourse. As the germans say, danke, und steigen sie den rasen....

They really do look fabulous.
Yes...and the looks might be the selling point for one as shallow as me...entschuldigung meine Brieftasche
post #11 of 538

From what I can tell, Compact Monitors was the single go-to custom in-ears manufacturer in Germany for years. Many big musicians are customers.

But even with a huge CIEM boom in the past years, Rhines Customs is still preferred by many users on the hifi-forum over all that other brands have to offer. The Stage CIEMs are definitely known to be extremely polished and the staff has very high standards! Build quality must be amazing.

 

Personally, I demoed all of UE's lineup and the Stage 3 and 4 on an event earlier this year. I was immediately hooked by the Stage 3, which is so far the best performer I have yet experienced. The Stage 4 was too v-shaped, IMO, and even though experts say the S3 is warm, I did not perceive it as such. It simply sounded precise to my ears.

In comparison, all of UE (except the Reference Monitor) sounded like very colored fun phones, portraying a disco setting with neon lights in my imagination.

As for S3 vs UERM, I felt like the S3 has noticeably more subbass and could portray intimacy better, giving soundstage more depth whereas the UERM is wider.

 

The reason I did not purchase the Stage 3 immediately was because I was in-between two jobs at that time and some universals caught my attention shortly after.

 

Rhines Customs will exhibit on a huge European headphone event this weekend and I will be present on both days. I am not sure which other custom manufacturers will be there, but I know InEar (from the acclaimed StageDiver series) will present their customs as well.

I can add some further impressions and pictures after the weekend.

post #12 of 538

The Stage 3 sounds perfectly fine for me , probably the Stage 4 will be a tad too bassy for me . Do Rhines Customs and Vision Ears monitors sound the same ? :o I'm thinking of buying from Rhines Customs since VE doesn't want to sell to me :veryevil:

post #13 of 538
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultrazino View Post
 

From what I can tell, Compact Monitors was the single go-to custom in-ears manufacturer in Germany for years. Many big musicians are customers.

But even with a huge CIEM boom in the past years, Rhines Customs is still preferred by many users on the hifi-forum over all that other brands have to offer. The Stage CIEMs are definitely known to be extremely polished and the staff has very high standards! Build quality must be amazing.

 

Personally, I demoed all of UE's lineup and the Stage 3 and 4 on an event earlier this year. I was immediately hooked by the Stage 3, which is so far the best performer I have yet experienced. The Stage 4 was too v-shaped, IMO, and even though experts say the S3 is warm, I did not perceive it as such. It simply sounded precise to my ears.

In comparison, all of UE (except the Reference Monitor) sounded like very colored fun phones, portraying a disco setting with neon lights in my imagination.

As for S3 vs UERM, I felt like the S3 has noticeably more subbass and could portray intimacy better, giving soundstage more depth whereas the UERM is wider.

 

The reason I did not purchase the Stage 3 immediately was because I was in-between two jobs at that time and some universals caught my attention shortly after.

 

Rhines Customs will exhibit on a huge European headphone event this weekend and I will be present on both days. I am not sure which other custom manufacturers will be there, but I know InEar (from the acclaimed StageDiver series) will present their customs as well.

I can add some further impressions and pictures after the weekend.

That sounds great. Would love it if you could give us more impressions on them, especially vs. the top CIEMs of Inear,  LivePro 4 I think.

 

I edited the first post to say that the illustrations all come from VISION EARS.

post #14 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by hilosxdd View Post
 

Do Rhines Customs and Vision Ears monitors sound the same ? :o I'm thinking of buying from Rhines Customs since VE doesn't want to sell to me :veryevil:

 

Compact Monitors was owned and built up by two guys (I believe over 15 years ago). However, as I understand it, they have different aims. One (Rhines Customs) wants to conquer the hifi market whereas the other (Vision Ears) wants to rely on musicians only. That's why they broke up this year.

 

The Stage series of Compact Monitors is exactly the same as with Rhines Customs and Vision Ears. I was told both will gladly handle any support issues from past purchases.

I am not sure if either company is working on new products, but as of right now, they are still the same with the exception that Rhines Customs started targeting the international market and hifi enthusiasts.

post #15 of 538

I got to listen to some Vision Ears' demos in the Mook festival last time. Will post impression later when I'm done with work.

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