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In-Ear item created by meringo, Oct 19, 2015
Pros - Excellent tight and deep bass response, good detail
Cons - A little bass heavy for my tastes, could use a slight mid-range boost
About the product
Purchased on: 12-1-16
Price paid: $380.00
Normal Retail Price: $499.00
Pros: Excellent tight and deep bass response, outstanding detail
Cons: A little bass heavy for my tastes, could use a slight mid-range boost
To get started, let me tell you a little about myself.
I’m a gigging musician (lead guitar/backup vocals), an audio forensic analyst, a novice sound engineer, and an avid music lover with a wide taste in music. Being an audio forensic analyst is a plus I find when reviewing audio products simple because I know what bad audio sounds like and usually know how to correct it. My experience allows me to be familiar with the limitations of my own ears and the equipment I’m using.
For the consumers, my perspective for all my IEM reviews will be based on these things. I won’t sugar coat things or make things sound better than they are. I’m just like you and I want good value for the money I pay for any product.
To the manufacturers, I’ll always give you an option to respond to any concerns such as quality that I have during my review. I’ll contact you directly and will do so before my review is published. I want to provide an honest and tangible review for your prospective customers without being unfair to you as a manufacturer.
I’ll always be fair and my review will be based on my perspective and my experience.
Now on to the important stuff.
About the product/expectations
I purchased these IEM’s for my personal use and although discounted, I paid retail.
My review is actually of an Aurisonics branded Harmony IEM. I’ve been told that they are nearly identical to the FXA7 with only a few minor modifications in the design of the Fender branded FXA7, but nothing that has changed the sound signature. I’ll consider both the Aurisonic and the Fender branded product to be identical product unless someone, can show me otherwise.
The Aurisonics Harmony/Fender FXA7 is the flagship of Fender’s new line of IEM’s. Although Fender is new to the IEM market, Aurisonics is not. Most readers at Head-Fi.org are familiar with their lineup but to those that aren’t, Aurisonics has been around for a while. They’ve developed their customer base by catering to the bass head, IMHO. Their signature sound has detailed mid’s, just slightly rolled off highs and deep sub bass with prominent lows and low mids. Overall, most Aurisonics/Fender offerings should have a balanced sound that is a very good match up for listening to most music. The EQ balance of their offerings should allow for long period use with very little ear fatigue.
The Harmony/FXA7 is according to the manufacturer a 3D printed shell. The sturdiness of the design appears to be on par with top end products that I’ve owned or used in the past. The shells look well made and the connections are all gold plated. It’s what I would expect in this price range. The cable that was included is a twisted/braided type with an L 3.5mm connector. It has stress relief in the key points including the Y of the cable and has a slider to cinch up the cable to the back of your head/neck like I would expect from a mid to high end cable.
Although I’ve heard stories of the MMCX connectors coming loose or audio cut outs because of the loose connection, I experience nothing of the sort. The connections are very tight in my opinion and some of the tightest MMCX connections I’ve ever seen. It looks like Aurisonics listened to their customers and fixed the issues. I would expect the Fender branded IEM’s to be very similar to my late model Harmony’s.
The Harmony/FXA7 is according to the manufacturer a 3D printed shell which should fit most people well. Aurisonics claims to have measured thousands of people’s ears and come up with a fit that will seat comfortably on over 90% of all people. I can say that for my ears I found them to fit well. They were easy to seat in my ear and I had no problems with getting a good seal with any of the provided ear tips. They were a bit larger in width than most IEM’s I’ve used and they stuck out slightly on my ear. It wasn’t a flush fit, but they didn’t feel bulky. Overall the fit was a near perfect fit for my ears and I believe to get anything better I would have to venture into custom IEM’s.
I first used the provided sure seal tips. I found the large and the tapered tips to give me the best seal. I like the design of the tapered tips and I think for most people this would be the go to tip that was provided. It should accommodate people with small ear canals all the way up to people with large canals. What I didn’t care for though is the material the tips were made from. The material wasn’t soft silicon nor was it hard plastic. It did conform to my ear well, but it felt sticky to touch. This may be by design and actually be beneficial to some people as the tips did tend to hold the IEM’s in place well.
Personally I like Comply foam tips or the Shure Olive tips for most things, but recently I’ve began to use the Spinfit tips and I’m really enjoying them. I find the Spinfit medium tips give me a seal comparable to Comply foam tips without me having to worry about replacing them very often. The other plus is that I don’t have to worry about compressing them before inserting them into my ears. Overall these are very good in terms of quality and build. Good job from Aurisonics and Fender.
I found that for me both the provided sure seal tips and the Spinfit tips provided very similar results. However I like the feel of the Spinfit tips better and my review of the sound is based off of using these tips.
I compared sound using two well known IEM’s and an industry standard over the ear cans. The IEM’s that I use are the Shure SE215, Westone UM Pro10 while the over the ear cans are the AKG K701 with a custom cable. These are used for comparison purposes so that people can understand what I’m talking about when I describe the sound. For me I prefer a neutral EQ from my monitors when mixing and adjusting my sound, but when playing guitar in my band I like a little more tight bass response. My go to choices, give me just that.
Overall I found the soundstage of the Harmony/FXA7 to be very good. It provided what I believe to be an accurate spread without being to airy. The overall sound was very pleasing for all the music I listen to. It gave me a since of being in the studio which is a good thing.
I found that compared to the AKG K701’s the Harmony/FXA7 was far from a flat response the K701’s are known for. The Harmony/FXA7’s provided much more on the low end and the highs were rolled off just slightly. The mids were on par with K701’s for details and overall the Harmony/FXA7’s provided a lot of details that I didn’t expect. To put it simply, they were very good in this area. I wouldn’t use them for my only mixing monitor due to the emphasis in the low end, but the details they provided would give a good starting point.
I like the SE215’s for their V-shaped sound. For most of my guitar playing I like a bit of thump in the low end and I need my high’s to sing, both without compromising the mids. I find that for the price point of the SE215’s they do exactly what I’m looking for. The Harmony/FXA7’s do an even better job for what I’m looking for but they are far from V-shaped in sound. I would describe them as an L shape with the low end being higher than the treble side. The Harmony/FXA7 would likely become my go to set when gigging because of the increased details
that were available and they provide a great deal of instrument separation. Outstanding job from Aurisonics/Fender on this point.
My Westone UM Pro 10’s are my normal listening IEM’s because they give somewhat of a neutral sound in my opinion while being extremely comfortable. I usually forget that I’m even wearing them. So on this point, for normal listening, I didn’t care for the Harmony/FXA7 as much. As I stated earlier they felt good in my ears, but they are heavier than I would like for normal everyday usage. Compared to the sound of the Westone’s the Harmony/FXA7 was on par as far as ear fatigue goes. Although they weren’t neutral, I found that I got little to no ear fatigue from them. The Harmony/FXA7 provided more bass, slightly rolled off highs compared to the Westone’s.
Based on my findings, I found the Harmony/FXA7 do be a very good choice for most music and would recommend them for anyone looking for more details in their sound. They excelled at providing details. If you’re looking for a IEM with emphasis in the low end, these would be an excellent choice, the bass is deep and tight with natural decay. The mids are spot on where I think they should be with great detail in the vocal/guitar range. The highs are slightly rolled off, but still provide shimmer and sparkle where it belongs. I didn’t find the highs to be at all shrill or unpleasant. Outstanding job from Aurisonics/Fender on the sound quality.
The sound isolation of the Harmony/FXA7 is very good with the provided sure seal tips, but of course when used with a Comply foam tip or the Spinfit tip, isolation is slightly better. I feel like the build larger earpiece sitting in the ear provided an increase in isolation probably due to having more surface area to block sound. Very good isolation.
I hesitate when trying to gauge value in any product unless there are issues with build quality or the product is just an outstanding value. Based on what I paid for these IEM’s at $380, I think they are a very good value. But when looking at the retail price point of $499, I’m a little hesitant to give them good marks, but nonetheless, I believe the Aursonic/Fender Harmony/FXA7 is a good value. When compared to a Shure SE535 which is also a triple driver design I think they are probably a step up. This isn’t to say that the Shure’s aren’t a good IEM, but I think the Harmony/FXA7 is a step closer to being in the range of a custom IEM.
Based on my experience, I highly recommend these IEM’s for anyone looking for a step up in details and instrument separation. The soundstage is very good with a good spread. The highs are slightly rolled off, but detailed and provide shimmer and sparkle where it needs to be. The mid’s are very good with exceptional clarity in the vocal/guitar range. The lows, well… This is where these IEM’s really step up the game. The lows are deep an tight with a natural decay.
In baseball terms, I wouldn’t say these are a grand slam, or even a homerun, but they are definitely a stand up triple.
Very good job from Aurisonics/Fender with the Harmony/FXA7.
Pros - Great bass punch and extension, smooth midrange and classic Aurisonics vocal tuning, good clear treble, thick meaty sound and fantastic soundstage
Cons - Bass isn't adjustable and could be too much for non-bassheads, slight harshness sometimes present in the transition between mids and high frequencies
Aurisonics Harmony – initial impressions
As a fan of the Aurisonics house sound, I have spent the last year or so trying to work my way through the models in their range that I haven’t yet listened to – I have previously owned the ASG 2.5, Rockets, Forte, Eva and ASG 1Plus (which were my first foray into proper mid-tier IEMs), but the Harmony and Kicker from the Bravo range have up to now managed to elude me. Another very kind Head-Fi’er (@TheUKMrT) took pity on my plight and offered to send me his pair of Harmony (now known as the FXA7 in the new Fender series) for a couple of weeks so I could listen and write up my thoughts, for which I am extremely grateful. As stated in one of my previous reviews, I find their IEMS generally sit quite well with my musical preferences due to their tuning for their main target audience (stage musicians).
About me: newly minted audiophile and aspiring reviewer, late 30s, long time music fan and a reasonably inept drummer. Listen to at least 2 hours of music a day on my commute to work – prefer IEMs for out and about, and a large pair of headphones when I have the house to myself and a glass in my hand. Recently started converting my library to FLAC and 320kbps MP3, and do most of my other listening through Spotify or Tidal HiFi. I am a fan of rock, acoustic (apart from folk) and sarcasm. Oh yeah, and a small amount of electronica. Not a basshead, but I do love a sound with some body to it. Please take all views expressed below with a pinch of salt – all my reviews are a work in progress based on my own perceptions and personal preferences, and your own ears may tell you a different story.
Driver: Custom 9.25mm precision rare-earth dynamic + dual HDBA tweeter
Frequency response: 8Hz - 24kHz
Impedance: 18 ohm +/- 10% @ 1kHz
Sensitivity: 123dB @ 1mW
Passive noise attenuation: NRR 22db
Construction: Digital Hybrid Technology (DHT)™ shell fits 95% of ears like a custom (Hybrid custom/universal fit derived from thousands of ears scanned).
Cable: Detachable MMCXi™ silver-plated low oxygen copper cable
As this was a “loaner” pair, I wasn’t sent the full package, but the Harmony shares the same packaging load-out as the rest of the Bravo series. The box is a simple oval shape and made from hard plastic, showing the usual product branding and specs and topped off by a transparent top section where the IEM shells are displayed as if they were in a store presentation case. The box itself contains a clamshell case (nice and small, so works very well as a “pocketable” case, a standard CIEM style 2-pin cable, a wax cleaning tool and four sets of the ubiquitous Aurisonics in-house SureSeal tips. As a “top of the line” model at the time, the packaging is quite lean on extras, but well done nonetheless.
Build quality and ergonomics
the Harmony is built using a 3D printing process Aurisonics call “Digital Hybrid Technology” to ensure a semi-custom fit. The 3D printed shell shape is based on scans of the outer-ear geometry of thousands of people, which Aurisonics claim will provide an almost perfect fit for 95% of the population. In reality, the shells are reasonably large but do fit very comfortably into my ears without any discomfort, “locking” into place in the bowl of the ear with little effort. For users of the previous ASG series, you will notice that the stem of the earphones has been made slightly longer and thinner, moving down one size when using Comply foam tips from T500s to T400s, which will be good news for those with smaller ear canals. Noise reduction is quoted as being around 22db, which is definitely in the CIEM bracket. In real terms, this won’t allow you to take a nap next to a working jackhammer, but it will do pretty well for the usual plane, train and automobile commuting type of wear. The shells themselves have a nice feeling of solidity and weight to them without being uncomfortably heavy, feeling like they are made to be used, rather than pampered.
The overall size of the shells is probably in line with a low-profile CIEM, so it will be obvious that you are wearing them as they protrude slightly from the bowl of the ear. This also precludes sleeping with them in, as while they are certainly comfortable to nod off with, rolling over on your pillow will probably result in some form of trip to the A&E to undo tip-related brain surgery. The included cable is a standard (and thin) Westone-style braided MMCX cable – Aurisonics have made a small adjustment to the MMCX connection itself (which they call MMCXi) , and the actual MMCX jack is now square, which apparently helps musicians (their target audience) detach the cables more easily in a sweaty live environment. In practice, it is still as fiddly as usual when you are trying to put the IEMs in one handed due to the free rotating nature of the MMCX connector and the included memory wire ear guides, but once fitted, is a comfortably and secure cable solution.
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact (with Neutron Player)
Shanling M5 DAP
Sansa Clip+ (Rockboxed)
Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (straight from the output jack)
Cayin C5 (amp only)
Test tracks (mainly 320kbps MP3 or FLAC/Tidal HiFi):
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – S.O.B. / Wasting Time
Blackberry Smoke – The Whipporwill (album)
Slash – Shadow Life / Bad Rain (my reference tracks for bass impact and attack, guitar “crunch”)
Slash & Beth Hart – Mother Maria (vocal tone)
Sister Hazel – Hello, It’s Me (bass tone)
Chris Stapleton – Whiskey And You
Elvis – various
Leon Bridges – Coming Home (album)
Foy Vance – The Wild Swan
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (album)
The Chemical Brothers - Go
Rodrigo y Gabriela – various
Mavis Staples – Livin’ On A High Note
Twin Atlantic – The Great Divide
General impressions on the sound signature
The Harmony is a hybrid design, with a ported 9.25mm dynamic driver covering the bass and mid-range, and a zero-crossover dual balanced armature array providing the treble. The overall tuning is somewhat W shaped, with an impressively punchy lower end, smooth and textured mids and a nice element of heat and sparkle in the upper frequencies. Like the other models in the Bravo range, the dynamic driver portion of the hybrid has been reduced from the 14.2mm and 15mm beasts of the ASG series to a positively anorexic 9.25mm. Despite the weight loss, the bass has lost none of its punch, providing more than enough bass slam and quantity to keep most bassheads tapping their toes, without ever encroaching into the rest of the frequency range. The mids are slightly less prominent but certainly not recessed, showcasing the trademark Aurisonics capability in the vocal ranges and a nice weight to the sound. The treble is a bit of a departure from previous ASG and Bravo series models, with a pronounced high end which can occasionally veer into harshness with some poorly recorded tracks. Despite that, this is probably the most “balanced” Aurisonics IEM I have heard after the ASG-1 Plus, but not balanced in the traditional sense of everything nicely in proportion and stable, more in the sense of a juggler trying to keep three flaming chainsaws aloft, with each one moving up, down and around at will while still remaining in sync with the other two. In terms of tonality, due to the sheer volume of the bass presence and thickness of the note presentation, I would say these are on the warmer side, but not cloyingly so.
Unlike the previous ASG series, the treble on the Bravo line is somewhat more “present” in most of the higher end models, with varying degrees of emphasis. With the Harmony, the treble is mostly in the smooth and musical bracket, but still heavier in quantity than the airier ASG 2.5 or the more jagged Forte. The dual balanced armature array used in the Harmony pumps out some seriously good detail and resolution in the higher registers, adding some nice background harmonics to the midrange guitar instruments that helps to “round off” the overall sound nicely. Cymbals have a real if not over-splashy sound, sitting nicely at the top of the drum beats on most tracks and providing a good counterpoint to the more bombastic bass and snare drum impacts, decaying with a natural half-life rather than disappearing in a puff of drummer’s chalk or hanging around like an unwanted guest at a New Year’s Eve house party. Compared to the Forte, the treble is a more extended and smoother affair, but still has a slight tendency to sibilance and harshness in the overlap between the midrange and the treble. Feeding “Starlight” by Slash and Myles Kennedy through the Harmony, the weight of the treble makes the singer’s voice sound spectacular, with the soaring chorus really taking on a fleshed-out substance that makes it feel less helium filled than some of my other gear like the Fidue A83. In the high-high vocal registers, the treble smoothness is obvious – rolling down an octave or so to something like Chris Stapleton (my other tester for screechiness/sibilance), however, and the hot spot in the frequency response kicks in – the roughness of the vocal recording on “Whiskey and You” in the main sounds great, but can sound a little harsh as Stapleton really pushes his throat on the chorus. These IEMs will handle most types of music quite easily, providing tone and clarity along with great extension, which isn’t always something the Aurisonics brand has been associated with. As mentioned in my Forte review, I listen predominantly to rock music, and the tuning of the Harmony works particularly well with that genre, adding substance and definition to the guitar licks while still keeping plenty of body to the sound. If the Forte was tuned more to resemble a gig in a local dive bar, think of the older brother in the lineup as the same band five years and two hit albums later, rocking out the same raucous music in packed arenas instead of a pub stage. In terms of fatigue, the thickness and clarity of the note presentation should avoid any major ear fatigue, unless you listen solely to music in the transition zone between mid and highs.
As with every Aurisonics IEM I have heard, the mids in the Harmony are where the real magic happens (ignore the bass, the midrange is definitely the defining aspect of their house sound for me). From a purely analytical view, you could almost call the Harmony a V or U shaped IEM, as the mids do sit behind both extremes of the frequency range in weight and quantity to my ears. In reality, the midrange never feels recessed, and still comes across with plenty of authority in the overall soundscape. Vocals sound particularly good (as always), with both male and female vocals being portrayed equally well by the drivers without either having dominance over the other in terms of substance or quantity. The three T’s (tonality, timbre and texture) are all well represented here, with a feel to the sound that melds detail and tone together to create something that conveys both emotion and detail at the same time. Like the treble, the midrange also carries a nice weight (sometimes referred to as lushness), with guitar riffs sounding thick and crunchy and synths and piano sounding full and euphoric. Guitar based tracks benefit from the solidity of both the bass and treble areas, the edges of the guitar sound being reinforced by the harmonics dripping down from the treble and the body of the notes being bolstered by the ultra-solid mid and sub bass foundation it sits on. Playing “Shadow Life” by Slash, the main guitar riff rolls through the song at pace, the thick slabs of sound rolling in one after each other without ever blending together. In terms of technical prowess, the tuning of these ‘phones will never be described as anything other than musical, but the detail contained in the tracks is still worthy of a multi-driver IEM in the $500 price bracket, with plenty of audible micro-detail floating in between the slabs of music that the triple hybrid throws around the soundscape like a farmer baling hay.
Playing “One Horse Town” by Blackberry Smoke, the tuning of the midrange really shines through, the track starting with some beautifully rendered low-key accordion and layering up nicely with airy sounding acoustic guitars and Charlie Starr’s booze-soaked vocals to become a rolling country rock anthem by the mid-point, without losing focus on any of the three principal sounds as it goes. Acoustic instruments do benefit from the Aurisonics midrange, with the massive soundstaging capability of the IEMs and the textured sound giving them a very true to life feel. In counterpoint, the vocals have enough gravel and emotion to be engaging, without too much “grain” to make them irritating. Switching to “Mother Maria” by Slash, the breathing patterns of Beth Hart and the echoes in her microphone can be heard in between vocal lines, with the dual acoustic and electric guitars that wind round her into both playing separately, the acoustic sounding full and open and the electric licks sitting on the opposite side of the stage, balancing everything out nicely.
Vocal harmonies are also represented well by the triple-driver setup, with the blended choral style sounds of “The Ones That I Love” by Twin Atlantic and “Don’t Cry” by Mavis Staples coming together to create a great wall of sound of overlapping individual voices. Other IEMs I have heard can pull the voices far enough apart to be distinct without losing the overall cohesion, but the thickness of the Harmony sound manages to give each voice its own character while overlapping the sounds, leaving a nice melting pot of sound for the listener to enjoy. Listening to Mavis Staples was actually one of my highlights when working through this review, with the syrupy richness of her voice being done true justice by the tuning on display to allow me to drift through the whole album without actually making any notes, which is always a good sign.
Like the rest of the Bravo range apart from the Eva, the Harmony uses a 9.25mm dynamic driver to provide the low frequencies, with a port in the outer shell which feeds air into the driver enclosure to aid bass response. Taking a few tricks from the 1980s Japanese miniaturisation drive, the technical gurus in Nashville have managed to produce something which kicks out the same level of bass thwack as their previous 14.2mm effort yet takes up about 2/3 of the space. While not reaching the eardrum-bursting levels of sound pressure that the previous flagship the ASG-2.5 was capable of, the Harmony is certainly no shrinking violet when it comes to bringing the boom. If the 2.5 was the gorilla-like bouncer who used to work the door on your favourite shady nightspot, all beef and brawn, the Harmony is his little ninja-like door colleague, standing in the background until needed and then jumping into action and laying the smack down in true Dwayne Johnson style when called upon.
Trying out some of my standards, “Come On Free” by Richie Kotzen gets the mid-bass rumbling along nicely, a big fat sound underpinning the jangling guitar and his high-pitched vocals, giving the song a nice heft. Drums on this track also kick nicely, with the bass drum impacts giving the faintest hint of real physical impact to your inner ear. Switching to “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, the liquid bassline has plenty of volume and texture, with excellent definition despite the thickness and extension right down into sub-bass territory, giving the bass riff the full range of expression some IEMs can miss. Despite being thick and meaty, the bass never feels overdone or bloated. To be clear, it isn’t as quick and detailed as the sort of bass an all-BA driver setup in the same price bracket can produce, but there is sufficient control and musicality for that small loss of dynamism to be more than compensated for by the visceral bang that goes off in your ear every time a drum gets hit or a bassline drops. This is bass you can feel as well as hear, with a real sense of solidity and presence that acts as an anchor to keep the music feeling raw and physical rather than floaty and ethereal.
“S.O.B.” by Nathaniel Rateliff is a great example of that solidity in action. The foot stomp drum beat that keeps the song rolling between choruses starts out with a shudder and rumble, with a vivid image in my mid of the floor of the studio actually moving up and down in time to the footfalls. All this impact is achieved with the customary Aurisonics compartmentalisation, so despite the plentiful levels of noise, everything stays within the lines in terms of bass bleed and overlap, the mids still ringing out clearly and distinctly in spite of whatever the dynamic driver throws at it from the lower end of the scale. Firing up my classic test track for texture and bass bite, “Bad Rain” by Slash produced the sort of growling roar that wouldn’t be out of place in a WWE promo video, the rasping bass pushing into the forefront of the song with a great chunky texture and sense of menace that only a few IEMs I have heard so far have bettered. Chucking a little more sub-frequencies into the mix, “Heaven” by Emeli Sande was no problem for the drivers, the thick wall of sub-bass and electronic breakbeat style drums filling the soundscape and leaving my ears humming nicely while Sande’s vocals floated around in the higher registers.
Overall, this is a very capable and impactful bass tuning – it won’t introduce hitherto unheard of levels of low frequency into tracks that don’t have any, but if there is any bass in the original recording, the Harmony is the sort of IEM that will take it home, feed it up on hearty food like a caring grandmother and send it back out in to the world a little fatter and prouder than when it came in. Anyone who likes a flatter or more neutral sound may find this a little overbearing, but for me, if you are looking for a great textured dynamic driver style bass sound, this is bass done right.
The soundstaging of the Harmony is one of its true strong points, with the very over-used phrase “holographic” springing to mind when I think about the comparative width and depth on offer. The stage is large and deep, with plenty of positional cues for albums like Leon Bridges’ debut that “flatter” IEMs can miss. Separation is also excellent considering the thickness of the note presentation, with the triple driver hybrid doing its best to underline the borders of each piece of instrumentation being played in the soundscape, guitars rolling in from right and far left and the drums occupying the central space just behind your ears, with the singer normally feeling like they are coming down from stage level just in front of you. Playing some Metallica or Temperance Movement, the duelling guitar setups in most of their tracks play particularly well, emphasising the 3-dimensional nature of the sound.
I found that my preferred tips for use with the Harmony were some large-bore Spinfit (I never got on with the Sureseal tips on my previous Aurisonics models). The design of the Spinfit helped accentuate bass and treble extension for me at the expense of a little “slam” and impact down low. For those wanting maximum physicality, Comply T400 or TS400 add some extra bass weight at the cost of a little treble extension and airiness.
These are slightly more power hungry than the Forte, needing a little more juice to really hit my top comfortable listening volume. They can be powered adequately from a mobile phone or low powered source, but adding a bit of extra output juice to the source via external amping or a more powerful DAP/ signal chain does bring out the full capability and dynamics of the drivers for me. My ideal setup was a volume level of around 60 steps on the High Gain setting of my Shanling M5, for instance – High Gain wasn’t strictly necessary, but did seem to bring a marginal improvement in the usual areas that was audible (to me, at least – it could have just been a side effe3ct of not volume matching correctly).
Aurisonics ASG-2.5 – these were my “at home” listening pair until a day or two before I received the Harmony to review, so this comparison is done from memory rather than as a direct A/B, hence being a little briefer and more subjective than the other comparisons. In terms of bass, the 2.5s on a ¼ opening of the bass port have a similar bass quantity and overall presentation, with the 9.25mm driver tuning holding its own pretty well against the big guns of the 14.2mm 2.5 series. As with the comparison between the Forte and the 2.5s, mids are more forward on the 2.5 than the Harmony, bringing the singer slightly closer and giving an impression of a “bigger” voice for most tracks. Highs are similar on both models, with the dual-BA of the Harmony actually giving a sharper and “hotter” overall impression than the clear and airy but slightly smoother treble of the 2.5s. Build quality and ergonomics on both models is identical, with the only major difference being the ability to tune the bass via the adjustable dial on the 2.5 compared to the fixed setting of the Harmony. Overall, as the flagship models in their respective series, the pair are pretty evenly matched, with the Harmony providing a more traditionally V-shaped sound in direct comparison. For me, the extra mid-range emphasis and added bass ability of the 2.5 push them above the Harmony in my overall all-time rankings, but the Harmony are certainly close.
Fidue A83 – these are my current “go to” home listening set, and are also a triple-driver hybrid setup which retails around $300+ at the moment, compared to the original $499 price tag that came with the Harmony. In terms of the bass, the Harmony provides a slightly fuller and warmer overall bass sound, with a more even balance between mid and sub-bass than the slightly more tilted A83, but a fair bit more presence as a result, so definitely comes across as a more “basshead” tuning than the Fidue. The midrange on the A83 sounds slightly more textured than the Harmony, accenting the rasp in male singer’s voices more than the smoother and more forward sound of the Harmony. This can seem a little raw on occasion, but does help with conveying the emotion in a track slightly better than the Harmony, and actual detail levels are similar on both. Treble is slightly sharper on the A83, with a more pronounced upper end with a sharper and fresher feel compared to the more laid back but similarly extended treble of the Harmony. Soundstage is won by the Harmony, with separation and detail feeling roughly similar. In terms of ergonomics, this is just shaded by the Harmony due to the more ergonomic inner face of the shell, but in other aspects the design is very similar in terms of comfort. Isolation is won by the Harmony due to superior fit, but the A83’s “fixed” MMCX connectors and quality of included accessories and audiophile grade cable score an easy win over the less practical and impressive Aurisonics load-out. In terms of amping and power requirements, the A83 is easier to drive. Overall, both of these IEMs tick different boxes for me, but the honours are pretty even between them, with the A83 pulling clear if you prefer a lighter and crisper “audiophile V” style tuning, and the Harmony providing a warmer and bassier soundscape with a bigger stage and a smoother but less emotive tuning.
Vibro Labs Aria – this is my latest IEM addition, and arrived shortly before my time with the Harmony was over. The Aria is an all-BA setup in an unusual two woofer/two tweeter configuration and no dedicated mid-range driver, and retails in a similar price bracket ($599 at time of writing) to the price of the Harmony ($499) when it was first released. In terms of bass, the Aria has excellent sub-bass extension and presence, with an unusual U shaped tuning that throws great emphasis on the lower end of the audio spectrum. Being an all-BA setup, it loses out somewhat in terms of viscerality and impact to the bass prowess of the Harmony, but feels slightly faster and more detailed in comparison to the slightly slower and thicker bass produced by the Aurisonics model. For electronica, the larger sub-bass emphasis of the Aria actually works a little better than the more even bass quantity produced by the Harmony across the board, with the Harmony feeling slightly less crisp and detailed as a result. Mids are further back (in the “U”) on the Aria, but have a nice texture and weight nevertheless. They feel a little more detailed than the smoother sound of the Harmony, which produces a more forward and warmer tone overall in this frequency range compared to the more defined and crispy sound of the Aria. Treble is notably more pronounced on the Aria without being overbearing or prone to cause listening fatigue. Technically, the Aria sounds very accomplished, and the retrieval of audible “micro-detail” feels a notch up on the smooth and musical sound of the Harmony. Soundstage is won by the Harmony (not many IEMs can beat Aurisonics in this facet), but the difference isn’t massive. Separation is edged by the Aria, with the higher detail levels helping to keep the sounds distinct and defined. Build and ergonomics is a draw, with both using 3D printed shells and an ergonomic fit to provide excellent isolation and a great “semi-custom” style fit. Aesthetically, the Aria provide a more classic pseudo-CIEM look with the wooden faceplates, compared to the more industrial plastic shells of the Harmony. This is a difficult call to separate the two – overall, the Aria is a more technically proficient and detailed IEM with a unique tuning, so just edges ahead of the Harmony for me (which was a big surprise) unless I am in the mood for something with serious bass impact and presence.
Having been a huge fan of the Aurisonics range since my initial experience with the ASG-1Plus some time ago, I was very much looking forward to spending some time with the Harmony. In a lot of ways, it lived up to my expectations, but in others it fell just a little short. It has the classic Aurisonics bass capability, and the smooth as butter vocal tuning that can make even a member of No Direction sound like Pavarotti dipped in honey, but for me it has edged more towards a more mature “mainstream” tuning that a lot of brands cater for compared to the more in your face style of the ASG 2.5, which is a shame. To be clear, this is still an excellent IEM, and one that sits quite justifiably in its upper middle-class price bracket, producing a musical and enjoyable listen with some unique features. There are a few shortcomings (like the slightly sharpness in the mid/treble transition that I hear on some tracks), but overall, this is a high quality IEM which just suffers in comparison for me against the previous flagship. In my head, comparing the TOTL “Bravo series” sound against the TOTL “ASG series” tunings is a little like revisiting an old college romance – the spark is still there, but the craziness that went hand in hand with the surroundings of the time has been replaced by a bit more of a sensible and grown up approach. That is perfect for building a mature and long-lasting relationship, but occasionally you can’t help but pine for some of the spontaneity and carefree lunacy of youth that you remember so well. I have rated these a 4 as, while very good, there are a few areas that could be improved in comparison to the competition in this price bracket, and it just doesn’t quite have enough to pull level with the ASG 2.5 (which I only gave a 4.5 as it has its own flaws) in my own internal scoring chart. I don’t think many would be disappointed with this IEM as a long-term keeper, and I am looking forward to hearing whether the latest tuning revisions bring the FXA series back towards the original Aurisonics tunings, or advance further down the road to a more mature and less crazy sound. I know which one I’m hoping for.
Pros - Excellent soundstage, imaging and detail
Cons - Not the most versatile sound signature
Disclaimer: this pair of Aurisonics Harmony has been sent to me by Aurisonics for the purpose of a review. I will be sending it back to them once the proper comparisons are made.
A little background on my experience with Aurisonics. I wasn't such a big fan of the earlier models from Aurisonics. In general, I found them to have an overpowering bass, and an overly recessed midrange. That all changed when I heard the ASG1-Plus though.The 1-Plus was a complete deviation from the typical aurisonics sound. It was not a deep V shape, but rather, somewhat mid centric with a seductive, soupy midrange. I was thoroughly impressed.
I was, thus, thrilled to hear that Aurisonics was releasing a new series that actually bested their previous range at a lower price range. Now I didn't quite believe that it might be possible, but Dale has, on many accounts, insisted that the new series edges out the old one. Being such a huge fan of the 1-Plus, I owed it to myself to have a listen to the harmony, which Andy had generously provided for this review.
The Aurisonics Harmony is the pinnacle, the flagship of the newly launched Bravo series. Harmony is also tuned to be the most balanced of the series with a dual BA, one DD configuration.
At the point of writing, the Harmony has been with me for two months. As such, impressions on the Harmony has been quite well formed and is my final take on these kick ass IEMs.
The Harmony has a similar build quality as with the ASG line, the only difference being the paint job. The shells however, are reduced in size, benefitting from the small DD in the IEM. I found it as an advantage as the IEMs fit in my ears better than the ASG1-Plus. The fit however, was pretty finicky. It took me some time to actually find a right tip so that I could fit the Harmony in my canals snugly.
The Harmony has removable cables, with MMCX connectors. As such, third party upgrade cables can be used with it. Along with the Harmony, Aurisonics’ Sureseal tips are also included. Aurisonics has stated that their MMCX connector is slightly modified and improved as compared to the stock MMCX connectors. How so, I cannot tell.
For this review, do note that I have chosen use a Toxic Silver Poison cable, Spinfit tips and Sureseal tips. The Toxic Silver Poison cable brings the mids forward, giving the overall sound a more intimate feel. The Spinfit tips provided the best seal and ensure optimum insertion depth of the IEM to aid in the fitment and isolation. Or so I thought.
The Sureseals were a surprise. Why? I will elaborate later in the review.
With the spinfit tips attached, the harmony has a somewhat V-shaped presentation. It has a powerful, deep bass, a somewhat leaned out and recessed midrange, as well as a sparkly, slightly accentuated treble.
The resolution across the board is very good. Coming from the ASG 1-Plus, is in the same price rang, I found the Harmony to have a noticeably improved ability to resolve fine textures and spatial cues. The harmony had an overall improved level of transparency over the 1-Plus, and made the 1-Plus feel slightly veiled in comparison.
The highs of the harmony are very well tuned. They are very sparkly, very energetic, well extended, and most importantly, never too harsh. I am personally a fan of more sparkly upper registers, and am somewhat more tolerant to sibilance and harshness. The Harmony, while fulfilling my needs of that bright, energetic upper register, never crosses over into the harsh region, and as such, is probably going to appeal to many people. On certain tracks though, the harmony's treble can get a tad shrill.
The midrange has a certain sense of leanness to it. It is slightly recessed and distant as well. If you're hoping for that lush, soupy midrange of the 1-Plus, you're sorely out of luck. However, the midrange is by no means thin. It accurately portrays the textural nuances in the voice of the singer. The slightly lean nature also creates an illusion of an increased transparency in the midrange. Overall though, it is pretty accurate tonally, just not what you would go for if you were looking for something lush and seductive.
Ahh the bass. The bass is where the Harmony really steps up its game. Now don't get me wrong. The Harmony is an excellent performer across the board. It is extremely competent in all aspects. The bass, however, is something else. It's got that natural, powerful, yet controlled bass that you rarely hear even in the best multi BA earphones. It reaches down really deep, its got lots of impact, and a very natural decay. The sub bass rumble is powerful, present, yet very well controlled. It is able to resolve detail in the bass region like few other earphones in the price range, or at any price, can at all.
The change in the soundstage from the 1-Plus to the harmony is a little bit of a mixed bag as well. The 1-Plus had better depth, while the Harmony has a better width. In my opinion, soundstaging has always been a forte of the Aurisonics lineup. While I never liked most of the old ASG lineup, I cannot deny the immersiveness and the extensiveness of the soundstage that they are often able to create. The harmony, I find, is no exception. In fact, it is one of the widest sounding IEMs at any price that I've managed to hear thus far.
Having spoken about the different aspects of the sound, then, how does the Harmony actually sound when you put all of it together? The wide, immersive soundstage, coupled with the V-shaped tuning and the deep, powerful bass, really helps create a spacious, open, powerful and authoritative sound with a huge sense of scale. It doesn't bring the singer in front of you like the 1-Plus does. Instead, it transports you to the concert hall, and immerses you deeply in a powerful, truly lifelike performance.
This brings me to my next point. The Harmony really excels with acoustic music and large orchestras. It brings to life every single strum of the guitar, gives power to every single drum beat. It accurately recreates the space and the air in the concert hall. It portrays the scale of Berlin Philharmonic, or the London Symphonic. It is not a jack of all trades. It doesn't do everything, but what it does, it does excellently.
Now as I had previously mentioned, Those were my experiences on the spinfit tips. I never actually liked the sureseal tips from aurisonics, but I decided to give them a go anyway. I didn't expect much, so what came next really really surprised me.
The sound was changed rather drastically, and in a very good way. The midrange was brought forward, given more presence and authority. The very wide stage took a very slight hit (It's still pretty darn wide though), but a dimension of depth was added to the sound. Isolation was top notch as well.
Don't get me wrong, it's a very different beast from the 1-Plus, you're still not going to get that lush, enthralling midrange that you did from the 1-Plus, the mids are still lean, but the Harmony became much less polarising with the sureseal tips, much more versatile. the more forward midrange and the improved depth perception also created an even more immersive experience.
The Harmony is, without a doubt, one of the best hybrid earphones that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. They definitely are a pair of very technically proficient IEMs, extracting even minute details effortlessly. The tuning is masterful, and very impressive indeed.
Now, at this point where I'm posting this review, I understand that the Bravo line has been replaced with the new Fender line, which, according to Jude, seems to be a slighly retuned version of the bravo line. Now, I haven't heard the new Fender line, but if the Harmony is any indication, the new flagship of the Fender line (which incidentally, should be a retuned harmony), should be a real winner, and I will readily recommend anyone in the market for a pair of reasonably priced, quality IEMs to seriously consider the new Fenders.
Pros - Great high and low extension, natural sounding mids, bass impact, soundstage and imaging
Cons - Minor driver flex (improved with use/tips), finicky fit, tip/insertion dependant
The Aurisonics Harmony is the top of the line earphone of the Aurisonics Bravo line, with models focused on bringing great sound at great value. The Harmony features 2 BAs and a single dynamic configuration, and is said to be their most balanced model.
This item is bought by myself with no relation to Aurisonics. I paid AUD$800 and they retail for MSRP USD$499.
Packaging and Accessories
The Bravo line comes in a hard shell acrylic case that has a nifty little presentation window to show off the IEMs themselves. It proves to be a little finicky when it comes to opening the package but it's nothing major. Inside you'll find a semi-hard carrying case with a cable winder inside, 4 pairs of their sureseal tips, a nozzle cleaner and also a warranty card. A bit scant, but it works.
The tips themselves I find are pretty decent. The medium fits me with some tightness and the small ones are perfect for me. Now, an interesting note about the sureseal tips is that they seem to warp their shape according to my ears. I don't know if it's an intended feature, or if it's my more-than-normal body heat causing it to change in ways that aren't intended. What it means though is that as it warps to the shape of my canals I find them to fit even better, but I also do worry about their durability. I also find tip selection to be pretty important for this IEM. The general advice is to tip-roll for every IEM you have until you find the right one, but if you don't have a tip that allows you to insert it in reasonably deep, you'll get dramatic spikes in the upper-midrange and treble region which are very sibilant and not at all pleasant.
In the end, I used spinfits (make sure to make it wrap over the base of the nozzle or it'll be too loose) as they are still my preferred tips comfort-wise and also seem to lessen the driver flex I am getting.
The case itself is pretty nifty. It has a pocket on the top to hold the cleaner (I also use it to carry a short charging cable). Aurisonics I find tend to give out cases that seems too small for what you need and this one just barely fits if you put one ear piece into the cable winder pot and another on the side. I do appreciate the compactness, though it wouldn't hurt to have more room.
Now, onto the IEMs themselves.
The IEMs themselves have a two-tone colour, with the bottom being black and the top being a metallic gold colour. I'm not actually sure if the top bit is metal though, but either way it looks well-built. Their shape is meant to fit like a custom IEM and I find that they do fit me pretty well. Connectors are MMCXi.
I find that my unit has some driver flex which wasn't present in the demo unit, so I'm not sure if it's a thing that occurs for every unit. I find they do improve over time and are nearly gone with the spinfits. My guess is that any tips that creates a strong initial seal will cause driver flex. Either way, I'm not too bothered by it now.
The cable is a standard 2 braided type found on CIEM, and I really appreciate its thinness and lack of memory. I had trouble with the ear guides on the Aurisonics ASG 2.5 not playing well with my glasses but I find the ear guides on the Harmony much more well-behaved.
These might be the most isolating dynamic driver hybrid universal I've experienced. Not as isolating as BAs but it's good enough for more lengthy daily commute on very loud buses. Definitely isolates enough that you better use your eyes on the road.
Now onto the most important part, the sound! Tested through music and frequency tests, but I do not have the equipment to scientifically measure the frequency range.
TL;DR version: Great extension on to lows and highs, slight peak at the lower treble before gently sloping down, big thumping sub bass but linear midbass that doesn't intrude onto the mids, generally linear throughout other than the subbass. Accurate staging and imaging.
Listened primarily through the Oppo HA-2. Better bass articulation, wider staging and dynamics compared to my smartphone, but nothing major. I appreciate the improvements, but I can be perfectly happy with the sound just through my smartphone.
A few samples of test tracks used and rationale behind them, just to give you an idea what I look for when it comes to sound.
Mew - Am I wry? No
Ability to articulate and separate the frenetic drum sections, how it handles cymbals
Uyama Hiroto - Carbon Rose
Articulation of instruments, accurate imaging/staging
Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains - The Big Eyeball in the sky
Bass quality/texture, ability to separate the instruments
Aurisonics is known for creating amazing bass in the IEM world, with the release of the ASG2.5 being known for it's monstrous bass. The harmony doesn't have the adjustable bass dial, and it doesn't quite reach the levels of the 2.5, but I think that most people would find them to be bass tilted. However, to me they seem to be mostly focused on the sub-bass region, and the mid-bass is actually fairly linear with no hump that intrudes into the mids. So what you get is a thumping sub-bass that gives a very satisfying rumble when called upon, and a very articulate and well-behaved mid-bass that plays well with the beautiful midrange. Impact, as you'd expect from a dynamic, is great, with good sub rumble and attack on the drums. Might still be a bit much for bass-shy folks though.
Not quite as lush as the ASG 2.5, but what you get is a more articulate sound that that is still fairly smooth with great detail. Usually you'd find the male vocals to take a backseat in more mid recessed IEMs, but I find that they take equal standing with the female vocals. Instruments sound true to life, with appropriate decay and speed, not sounding too thin nor lush. Female vocals I find have always been a strength for Aurisonics, and this is no different, with a wonderfully smooth presentation with nary a hint of grain.
I find the treble to be generally pretty smooth. On tone sweeps I detect a gently rising peak in the lower treble region before slowly going back down, but nothing egregious nor actually unpleasant to listen to. I must repeat though that improper depth insertion will cause peaks in the upper midrange and treble that are unpleasant.
Unlike the ASG2.5 the treble is much more present, in a way that can make the IEM sound U shaped especially with the emphasized sub-bass, but to me it is fairly inline with the midrange and mid-bass. The extension is wonderful, with no unnatural peaks that can make it sound harsh or metallic, and the highs are given air without sibilance (though YMMV on this front). For example, cymbals seem to decay naturally and never intrude onto the song. Overall I'd say that it would satisfy most other than the most ardent treble-heads.
Discounting the inherent disadvantage of IEMs when it comes to this aspect, I find the Harmony to have a fairly out-of-the-head presentation with imaging that doesn't just stick to the left-right channels, seeing that it is able to image in front of you too. It doesn't seem to project as widely as my Olasonic Ocharaku Flat-4, but I don't find a lot of IEMs that do.
Trinity Audio Hyperion - My favourite IEM at the price range of around USD$50. How would it stack up to an IEM over 10x the price? I still enjoy the sound of the hyperions, with its fun mild V-shaped sound, but in comparison the flaws are pretty apparent. The treble and upper-midrange peaks bring the cymbals to the forefront, and they are a lot harder and unnatural in comparison to the Harmony, and vocals, especially female vocals, have a slight grain to it. The mid-bass intrudes more into the midrange, and is a touch less detailed. Also doesn't project out as much. It still has really good articulation of the midrange, but it just doesn't compete.
Olasonic Flat-4 - A model from Ocharaku's Flat-4 range done for Olasonic, it is known to be incredibly detailed with wide staging. Which is still true in comparison to the Harmony, but the disadvantages outweighs the advantages. While it is more detailed, it is done in a way that is makes the sound incredibly thin, with decay that is too fast to sound natural to my ears. Vocals can sound a little strident, and it's treble is quite weirdly uneven, with a very well-known dip in the 6kHz region. Though surprisingly, even with its weird treble presentation it is very resistant to sibilance, and the overall sound is bright but still enjoyable. The bass actually competes very well in extension compared to the Harmony and is a touch more detailed and articulate due to the lack of bloom from the sub-bass, as well as the faster decay, but it has significantly less impact and the faster decay I feel just doesn't sound as natural to me. Still a very enjoyable phone.
Aurisonics ASG2.5 - Now, if you want an endgame bass monster, these are what you want over the harmony. However, compared to the harmony the treble is pulled back (still with good extension and detail, just slightly veiled by the lush bass and midrange), and the midrange might be considered too lush due to the slight bleed from the bass. The bass can be tuned to have significantly more impact and quantity than the Harmony, but the more well-controlled mid-bass give the harmony an edge in articulation. The 2.5 still have great quality bass however, and for a basshead phone they are still the best I've heard.
I find the Harmony to be a great IEM that is very competitive at its price range. Get it if you want a generally reference sound with a touch of fun with the elevated sub-bass.
Pros - Punchy Bass that digs deep, non-fatiguing, excellent fit, made in USA
Cons - No hardshell case or iOS/Android cable included
Before beginning, I would like to thank the folks at InEarGear.com for an awesome purchasing experience.
This is my first full review, so here's a very brief introduction of the man behind the Barbara Bush photo. I grew up in a small college town that had a plentiful amount of talented musicians coming from the school’s music program. Since the actual town was so tiny, a lot of high school musicians end up playing with college age/level musicians, myself included. When it was time for me to go to school myself, I wound up in NYC studying film and television. I had a knack for audio and had the opportunity to learn from some industry greats. Upon graduation, I got a job at a post production facility for TV manipulating audio there constantly. Outside of the office, I was a freelance boom op for the film world. To sum it up, I’ve been an avid musician my whole life, have studied audio in college, and worked with audio professionally for a few years before making a career switch into the tech sector. Now, the review!
Packaging and Included Accessories:
I usually skip over this stuff reading reviews but have decided that it’s necessary to include. Companies in all industries spend a fortune designing and implementing their packaging, so it SHOULD be highlighted. The Aurisonics packaging is exactly what it should be, simple, and able to show the entire product. They aced it if you ask me:
Sureseal Tips – S, M, L and an elongated medium
Deluxe carrying case
Cleaning Tool (MISSING)
The Bravo series is certainly accessory light, and extra light for me since it was missing the cleaning tool. The tips have a very donut-like shape and have a sticky feel to them. I thought I would hate this, but it really does help keep them in your ears. The case is made out of a sturdy foam and includes a built-in cable winder.
I anticipated a bass head IEM, but that's not exactly what we have here. Although there is an emphasis on bass impact, everything else has a strong presence and remains incredibly clear. I attribute this to Aurisonics zero crossover design. All the drivers utilize their entire spectrum, rather than certain ranges like most multi-driver IEMs. Sony successfully did this with their hybrid XBA series, and it seems as if others are following suit. I'm glad to report that the Harmony perform incredibly well with this type of implementation. As a result, Aurisonics was able to create a fairly neutral sound, with bass that can dig deep and remain fairly quick. Comparing them to my IE80s, they have much less of a mid-bass hump, and can extend much deeper. I recently purchased and returned the RHA T20, which I found to be quite muddy. None of that with the Harmony. On a final note, the bass didn't bleed into the mids at all.
The highlight here. Incredibly clear, and do a good job of not sounding too "in your head." I used to love the Shure models, but I sincerely feel these beat them. I've never once made that claim, until now. Female vocals are especially magical, besting borrowed Shure SE535s. The mids also greatly improve guitar oriented rock. I feel that the guitar can often times seem lost in the mix, with bass-centric headphones...not here. You get awesome bass, and in your face guitars.
Treble heads will be disappointed, but they will sound great to just about everyone else. I have not verified, but it seems to me like these were tuned to the new Harmon curve - sounding incredibly similar to my NAD HP50. I like that signature, so… awesome. I have yet to encounter any sibilance, even with the most prone genres like metal.
Jaw dropping. I don't know how they did it, but these have the best soundstage I've ever heard in an IEM. I thought my IE80s were great, but these best even them. I'm also a proud owner of the full-size AKG 701, and can't wait to do some A/B testing (I know.) Although unlikely to best the AKG, it's nice to see an IEM finally come close.
Isolation: Much better than any other hybrid or dynamic I've tried, but not as good as closed BA IEMs. I was able to forget about background noise while riding the subway, and could barely hear a thing indoors. easily an 8/10.
The cable is incredibly well done. Microphonics are non-existent, and the length is perfect for when my phone/player is in my front pocket (I’m 5’11.) I'm also quite impressed with the shell shape. I was incredibly skeptical of the "near custom" claim, but I'd say that pretty accurate. I had some issues with the included tips, but admittedly I usually do with most IEMs. My ears must have a weird shape.
Overall I am incredibly impressed. I imagine that the sound will brighten up a bit with burn in, only adding to the experience. Thanks Aurisonics for such a great product. I've been eyeing customs for the past year or so but no longer feel I need to make the jump. These fit very well, sound fantastic, and were clearly made to last forever.
for those of you looking for 3rd party tips, I recommend SpinFit. They fit perfectly, both on the IEM and in my ear.