Let me preface this review by first letting you understand where I come from as I think that will give you some valuable perspective of my thoughts and opinions about this little gem. This also probably won't be a conventional review in that I describe in detail about the sound signature but I will make clear and efficient comparisons to well known IEMs.
So I am a music producer and audio engineer, I look for a balanced sound with my earphones and headphones as I do commercial work with them. I do not own a large stable of IEMs nor do I have plentiful experience with many IEMs out there.
I am familiar with the HD 600, UE RR, SE215, ATH-M50x, MDR-7506 and DT770 Pro.
Out of the above mentioned it is the Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered that I am comparing the Carbo Tenore to. Yes, I am comparing these little IEMs to a $1000 custom IEM. They sound alike to me and I have no reason to have any bias as I spent the aforementioned $1000 on the UE RR. If anything I should bashing on the Carbo Tenores just like many other people before, complaining about how they are the flavor of the month or just "hype" as a measly under $50 earphone cannot possibly come close to a $1000 custom IEM. I attribute my objective opinions to the fact that I am a science guy, I'm all about the facts and proof, I am open to be proven wrong. Sure the UE RR is the better IEM of the two but is it $900 better? No. In fact the Carbo Tenore is better in certain aspects like the soundstage, it's just wider. And any advantages the UE RR has on the Carbo Tenore are marginal.
Needless to say I have been mixing and mastering on these guys and I have been very impressed, they work so well for me. Relatively comfortable and light, the only thing that lets it down is the build quality. Cable is thin and feels weak, so are the stress reliefs at both ends.
In my opinion these are truly underrated, I think they are expertly tuned and am bewildered by how a small sized dynamic driver can produce such detail and clarity yet deliver so much on the low end as well. If you crave for a balanced sound, I urge you to give these a shot they as are truly a powerhouse of an IEM.
Pros - Balance; clarity; head-stage; lightweight; fit
Cons - Cable microphonics; that lightweight cable feels short-lived...
Saw some glowing reviews for these, and thought that for under $40 on Amazon it's well-worth finding out what the fuss was about - in short: well worth it!
Set-up: LG G4 > USB Audio Player Pro (FLAC; ALAC) > Audioquest Dragonfly Black 1.5
They arrived from Amazon in a plastic box, but come with a neat cloth carrying pouch which is super handy - I use it for carrying around 6.3mm adaptor / Dragonfly Black / OTG cable etc. It comes fitted with a 'medium' size pair of silicon tips, as well as a smaller + larger pair of alternate tips.
The 'medium' tips gave a great seal out of the box, and I haven't had to change them once. Isolation is fairly good, not excellent (as to be expected), and serves me just fine on public transport. The cable itself is super-fine, and feels somewhat flimsy - doesn't really inspire confidence that it's going to be a long-term proposition. The join to the main housing is a convenient 45-degree angle, but not terribly secure. It's prone to tangling(!), and the biggest 'Con' at this stage is that it's fairly microphonic - it picks up any bump, rustle, or exaggerated movement. I was able to mostly eliminate it by wrapping them around the back and over the front of my ears, which seems to keep them fairly secure and under control. Problem (mostly) solved.
This is my first foray into IEMs (beyond the ones that come with your smartphone...), and the first listen out of the box was a surprise, which in a word, I could only describe as "clarity". Great detail at all frequencies, without the muddiness/boominess that generally comes part-and-parcel with consumer-tuned earphones.
Bass: After a bit of break-in (whether it's the drivers or my ears, I don't know) I'm happy to say there's good detail and level of bass, which is controlled and fun. At first I felt I made a mistake not ordering the Carbo Basso (the more bass-heavy twin to the Tenore), but there's definitely slam there and I wouldn't want any more level.
Mids: I felt the mids felt slightly recessed/laid back at first (and was EQ-ing up +1-2db at first), but have become accustomed to the amount now and am listening without any EQ. Male vocals are detailed and present, but 'laid-back' would be the best way to describe them.
Treble: is super detailed and clear, lots of shine - the star here.
Soundstage: I've heard from other reviewers that these have great soundstage - something I don't totally agree with. I think it's better described as 'head-stage' - it's fairly intimate, with a good sense of left/right, but not 3D or concert-hall-like by any stretch.
Overall: can't really fault for the price (or for many times the price, for that matter), and I'm happily running them as daily drivers on my commute. I wouldn't hesitate to purchase them again...which I'm feeling I may have to given how lightweight the build feels.
Looking forward to comparing them to the Monk Plus which have just dropped on Massdrop!
I'm not a high-end hifi guy, but I own a few pairs of headphones and earbuds so I'm capable of telling my experience. The Carbo Tenore has a generally dark sound signature, but that doesn't mean anything sounds recessed. They have decent bass as BAs, the high is not sibilant, the mid is good. The soundstage is not large. For around 35 bucks, you can't go wrong with these if the sound signature fits your taste.