iFi Audio iEMatch Headphone Travel Accessory

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  1. MikePortnoy
    "IFI Audio iEMatch Review"
    Pros - Eliminates hiss, no significant change in sound
    Cons - Switches could be stronger
    The IFI is a co-brand of AMR Audio that is known by its famous audio gears such as DP-777. They produce many different audio components: digital audio converters, amplifications, speakers, cables, and active noise cancelation units. The IFI provides four main product lines: Nano, Micro, Retro and Pro. In the Nano Line, there are smaller units compared to the Micro Line. In the Pro Line, they offer Pro iCAN tube amplifier and there are stereo components in the Retro Line. IPurifier2, Gemini and Mercury cables that are included to this review can be seen in the accessories and power sections in the IFI website. 
    The IFI provides a large product range most of which are multi-functional with multiple outputs and inputs. It is highly possible to find beneficial and cheap solutions to close the gaps of the portable systems. As we all know, a system is no stronger than its weakest part. 

    IFI IEMatch:
    IEMatch is one of the IFI’s newest units. According to the company, it removes hiss and provides a more dynamic presentation. 
    It offers a balanced plug that allows using it on sources that have balanced outputs. In addition, there is a switch on the plug for a range of output style from single ended to balanced. 
    On the male part of IEMatch, there is a 3.5 input and a sensitivity switch. When IEMatch is plugged to the source, earphones may need more driving power due tothe extra resistance created by IEMatch. On the ultra mode that is suitable for very high sensitive earphones, some smartphones may not reach enough loudness and driving power due to too increased ohm value. On the other hand, that wouldn't be problem for sources that are already very powerful such as desktop amps. 

    The plug and the male part of IEMatch have an aluminum body, but the switches might be a little stronger. According to the website, IFI utilizes silver-copper conductors for a better sound transmission. 
    In the package, there are a soft carrying case, an airplane adapter, and earplugs. In this regard, IFI offers rich accessories for those who frequently travel via airplane. 

    I tested IFI IEMatch on Chord Hugo, Lotoo Paw Gold, and IPhone 6. The tests maintain similar results; IEMatch relatively eliminates hiss arising out of the source with a slight change in the sound. 
    Some results from different custom monitors:
    Please note that the differences are not significant.

    Westone ES60: The space around instruments becomes cleaner by a small margin. 
    HUM Pristine: The midrange becomes a little laid-back. 
    Noble Audio Katana: The mid-bass now has more control. 
    AAW W500 AHMorph: The high frequency becomes smoother and sub-bass is slightly tighter. The space around instruments becomes cleaner. 
    Final Words:
    IFI IEMatch is a nice travel accessory that can be purchased for $49. It is easy to use and can be considered as a daily unit. Although it increases the resistance by a significant value, it eliminates hiss considerably. Please check the IFI website for more information about IEMatch.    
    EagleWings likes this.
  2. Hisoundfi
    "Eliminate background hiss, EMI and source mismatches with the iEMatch from iFi"
    Pros - Eliminates the need to own several impedance adapters, Runs inline with sources and earphones, Incredibly smart design, Easy to use
    Cons - No adapter for 2.5 mm balanced TRRS
    As the rabbit hole of summit-fi in-ear monitors gets deeper and deeper, I find myself encountering the same issues over and over. Most of the high end multiple armature driver in-ear monitors in today’s market are incredibly sensitive. What happens as a result is many of these earphones have a background hiss or will pick up digital noise. It can get really annoying, especially when trying to use an earphone of this type (or any other sensitive earphone for that matter) with our favorite portable sources like DAPs, and portable DAC/Amplifiers. If we are going to shell out large amounts of cash on a high end earphone, we don’t want to be burdened by background noise, right?​
    One of the ways to address this is with impedance adapters. Different adapters are currently sold in various impedances. Although it does help (and basically does what I’m about to cover in this review) there are drawbacks to this. First and foremost, when dealing with different impedances, the sound of our favorite in-ear monitors can change with the impedance adapter used. Second, different impedance adapters can not only impact the sound differently, it ends up being a specialized case for many of our earphone and source matchups. This means that people with several sources and earphones need to own and use several different impedance adapters. ​

    I personally lean towards simplicity in my audio chain. I see some of the rigs on Head-Fi and shake my head at some of the portable set-ups I see. In my opinion, if you need a wheelbarrow or backpack for your portable rig I don’t consider it portable.The less stuff you have to stuff in my pocket the better. That includes impedance adapters. The folks at iFi have recognized the issue and brought to market a device that makes a lot of sense. Introducing the iEMatch from iFi. ​

    The package contains a velvet carrying case that is big enough to hold your iEMatch, the included airline jack and earplugs, and possibly a pair or two of in-ear monitors (not included). ​
    The iEMatch is not some revolutionary technological advancement, but I find it to be a great companion for earphone enthusiasts like myself. It’s an inline chain that eliminates the need to use various impedance adapters. ​
    Have a sensitive pair of earphones that picks up background noise from whatever source you want to use them with? Its as easy as plugging the device into your source’s jack and using it as a bridge from the source to your earphone, then using the switches to dial in the type of source you’re using, and resistance needed to use your earphone without signal noise. ​
    iEMatch has two switches. The first one is to adjust from High sensitivity to Ultra sensitivity (pretty self explanatory). I’m happy to say that the iEMatch was able to address issues with EVERY pair of in-ear monitor and portable source I used. With the iEMatch, picking out a source and earphone has become a much easier task. I can grab what I want to use for the day and go. As long as I have the iEMatch, the issues of background hiss and EMI are eliminated. Just for the record, the ieMatch also works with most desktop rigs as well. Most importantly, the iEMatch didn't significantly alter the sound like some impracticly applied impedance adapters do. With the flip of a switch I can dial it in and find the right setting to eliminate signal noise without significantly altering the sound of my sensitive earphones. ​
    The other switch is to switch the jack (that plugs into the source) from 3.5mm balanced TRRS to standard 3.5 mm TRS. That’s right, you can use your earphone with a 3.5 mm balanced source. While I find this to be a nice touch, I wish iFi would have figured out a way to also use the device with a 2.5 mm balanced jack as well. As it stands, a majority of sources in today’s market uses 2.5 mm balanced TRRS as opposed to the 3.5 mm TRRS application. ​
    The iEMatch can be purchased on Amazon market for $49 USD. While it does come in at a higher price than a few impedance adapters, this is a convenient product that will be a must have for those of us who have several in-ear monitors. I have already mentioned this device in several reviews. It addresses one of the main gripes people have for sensitive earphones. Many TOTL earphone manufacturers are already including them with the sale of their low impedance earphones. Here is a link for more information and purchase:​
    Thanks for reading and happy listening!​
    Fiio X7, AM3 Amplifier Module, iFi iEMatch, Noble K10E Encore Universal

    Baycode, SpiderNhan and peter123 like this.