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Reviews by: Loquah

Noble Kaiser 10 - In-Ear Perfection

Posted

Pros: Detailed sound, smooth sound, great bass, excellent bass and treble extension, build quality, design options

Cons: None (so long as you can find the dough)

Overview   In the world of personal audio, the ultimate sound experience generally comes from custom molded in-ear monitors (CIEMs). In recent times, top of the line (TOTL) CIEMs have gone from 3-6 balanced armatures per side to 10 and even 12 BAs per side. The Kaiser 10 is an example of a 10 driver CIEM and has 10 individual drivers in each ear-piece – a pretty awesome piece of spatial design, but also a challenge of epic proportions when it comes to ensuring that all of those drivers are delivering their frequencies in time with and in support of the other drivers in each ear piece.   One of the largest challenges of any multi-driver setup (including speakers) is to have...
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Sennheiser Urbanite XL - Sexy, Rugged and Punchy

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Pros: Enjoyable sound, excellent imaging, good sized soundstage for a closed headphone, brilliant looking, feels high quality

Cons: A bit bulky, sound can be a bit artificial, mid-bass boost can sound a bit loose, cable seems cheap

Overview   The Urbanite XL is a new addition to the Sennheiser range and was offered to me for review by Head-Fi user, White Lotus, as part of an Australian review tour made possible by Sennheiser so thank you to ‘Lotus’ and Sennheiser for making this possible.   I’m not sure what the plans are for the Urbanite (on ear) and Urbanite XL (over ear) models – they may be intended to replace the existing Momentum range or they may be intended to offer an alternate style of headphone and therefore be a completely separate line so I’ll review them without any direct comparison to the Momentum range.   Throughout this review I’ve been lazy and just typed “Urbanite” each time,...
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Thinksound On1 - Portable Woody Perfection

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Pros: Beautiful wood finish, warm detailed sound, excellent soundstage size

Cons: On ear headphones are never comfortable for longer sessions, some of the plastic finishes don't look great

Thinksound is a company that’s focussed on sustainable and environmentally conscious headphones. In fact, they even offer a recycling program for headphones with a bonus if you recycle their headphones, but I doubt you’ll be doing that any time soon with the On1s – you’ll be hanging on to these puppies with everything you’ve got!   Overview   Thinksound’s On1 headphone is a foldable, portable, closed, on-ear design that retails for roughly $350 (AUD).   Frequency response:  5 – 22,000 Hz Impedance:  50 ohms Drivers:  40mm dynamic Cables:  4.5 feet (2 equal length cable options with / without phone mic and remote)   At $350, the On1s...
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Fiio X1 - The budget standard for high resolution audio

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Pros: Performance at its price, nice UI, line-out option, compact size, light weight

Cons: Slightly flat (not dynamic) sound

Thank you to FiiO and @Brooko for arranging the tour of the FiiO X1 (and E11 amp). This review is based on my brief use of the tour units and comparison with a few other "alternatives" that I personally own.   I'm going to keep the review fairly brief because there are already lots of reviews out there so I'm guessing you don't need to read the basic features again. Also, I've been unwell this week so my thought processes are a little foggier than usual so the simpler I keep things the better for everyone I think.   Overview   After releasing the X3 and X5 portable players (DAPs), FiiO turned its hand to creating an entry point offering that still played the major...
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Brainwavz R3 - a beautifully neutral sounding budget IEM

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Pros: Great sound quality, smooth and natural sound with plenty of detail, but no fatigue

Cons: Fit can be problematic and cable is a bit funky

I recently had the pleasure to review the Brainwavz S5 IEM and the team at Brainwavz were obviously OK with my objective thoughts (I really liked the S5, but wasn't shy about its short-comings) and offered to send me their R3 model for my next experience. Thanks to Audrey and the Brainwavz team for providing this review unit at no charge.   Overview The R3 is a dual driver IEM, but not a dual balanced armature as you might expect. No, the R3 is a dual dynamic driver IEM using two opposed dynamic drivers firing into a single sound chamber / nozzle. It's an unusual design, but one I had heard good things about so I was keen to check it out for myself.   The R3 model retails...
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A Really Solid Budget Earphone

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Pros: Great bass, very comfortable, well made

Cons: Treble has some holes, flat cable behaves strangely

Overview   The Brainwavz S5 is a new IEM priced at around $100 and is getting a lot of exposure thanks to a concerted effort from Brainwavz to push out review units to reviewers just like me. Thank you to Audrey and the Brainwavz team for arranging this pair of S5s for me to review at no charge. I'm really glad that they've decided to make this push too because Brainwavz have never been on my radar, but the S5 is a surprising package that has me seriously interested in their future offerings.   Specifications   Driver:  1 x 10mm dynamic Impedance:  16 ohms Frequency range:  18 - 24,000 Hz Sensitivity:  110 dB at 1 mW   Design &...
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Sneaky fun sounding IEM

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Pros: Smooth, easy to listen to, outstanding mid-range

Cons: Rolled-off treble may not be for some

Before I get started, I’d like to thank the team at Audiofly and Billy from Noisy Motel for making this tour possible. I know that the AF140s have received some criticism so far which is always a risk during a tour, but I tend to agree with @djvkool's rating of the AF140s and honestly believe that the criticism from others is misplaced and a result of personal tastes (which we are all completely entitled to) as opposed to a product design flaw. I believe the AF140s hits its brief as perfectly – it’s just that the brief in question isn’t for everyone and that’s fine. Read on to see if it might be for you…   Overview   The AF140s are one of the four new IEMs in Audiofly’s...
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A beautifully balanced hybrid

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Pros: Balanced sound without sacrificing bass, beautiful looks, detailed and revealing, great accessories, awesome cord!

Cons: Unusual fit took a little while to get used to

At $399 (AUD) the A83 is at the upper end of the mid-priced IEM range as there tends to be a leap up to the near-$1000 range once you crest the $500 mark. For this price I was expecting big things and I am convinced that they justify their price tag.   Specifications   Drivers:  1 x 10mm dynamic + 2 x balanced armatures (BAs) Frequency range:  9 – 31,000 Hz Impedance:  11 ohms Sensitivity:  104dB Cable:  Detachable 1.3m silver-plated copper cable with MMCX connectors (same connector as Shure, Audiofly and a few other manufacturers) Max input power:  30mW   Design & Comfort   The A83s initially caught my attention for 2...
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Slightly flawed, but getting close...

Posted

Pros: Nice look and feel, free inclusion of cable with phone controls

Cons: Slightly imbalanced sound, treble emphasis and slightly recessed lower mids prevents these IEMs from excelling

I am reviewing the H-300s as part of the Australian tour and for that I must say a sincere thanks to @H20Fidelity for coordinating the tour and of course T-PEOS for supplying the tour unit.   Reading previous reviews, the H-300s have received mixed reports so I was looking forward to trying these with equal parts curiosity / doubt and excitement. Every mid-level hybrid IEM I've tried so far has missed the mark by a fraction so I'm still looking for the one that gets it right. Comments from others on the tour had me concerned that the H-300s might have a little too much treble energy, but others still said it wasn't as hot as other offerings on the market so what's my...
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A world-class foundation for bespoke, tailored sound

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Pros: Great sound, swappable op amps and buffers, beautiful design, slim form factor, exclusivity

Cons: Can't fit DIP-8 op amps without slight modification

Fiio seem intent on joining the players in the higher end of the headphone audio market, but they're doing it without charging high-end prices. The Fiio E12DIY represents a project where Fiio decided to share a limited number of customisable, high quality amplifiers with the enthusiasts among us and did it, it seems, to demonstrate their capabilities and passion because according to various reports (and some logical number-crunching) they won't have made money from this activity.   I for one am thankful that Fiio chose to share!   What is the DIY?   The E12DIY is built on the foundation of the regular E12, but Fiio engineers have removed the crossfeed and bass boost...
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