Reviews by jwilliamhurst


Headphoneus Supremus
Bass on Fire
Pros: Huge Bass Repsonse with Air
Sweet Upper mids reminscent of EE Odin
Two Stock Cables
Transient swings are nice
Acoustic Guitar plucks, strums are tactile
Electric guitars growl with crunch and vibrancy
Treble is non sibilant and extends forever
Drums sound live
Cons: Mids are a teeny bit recessed
Not the widest soundstage
Bass Reverbs are a bit overdone due to the BCD

Shout out to Audio 46 for picking me to review this exciting new iem. I was not paid and I did not get to keep the iem in review nor was I told what to write.

Edit: Revised Review 12/17/23 after purchasing my own unit and being able to test for longer with other sources.

Kinera Loki unboxing is nice and what I would expect at this level. Although I prefer a minimalist unboxing personally. I do like that this comes with a really nice carrying case to carry a Dap plus iems or just multiple iems, etc.

Build is very well done. I have found zero QC issues and a beautifully made iem.
Fit is on the larger side and did cause me a bit pain during long listening sessions, so watch out for this if you have smaller or even medium sized ears. This has changed with better tips and fit placement.

Comes with two Cables. An Effect Audio Ares 2 4-wire copper cable as well as a Kinera branded cloth sheathed 2 wire cable that has become my prefernce to use with Loki.


The Kinera Loki has a very exciting and intense signature. It is a Quadbrid monitor with bone conduction primarily affecting the bass regions however I can hear it across the entire FR.
From the moment I hit play, I was immersed with massive rumbling bass, reverberations all around my head and a fairly neutral mid range with well extended treble that never became sibilant. I noticed throughout my time with Loki that it plays well with just about any genre. During my initial listening sessions, it reminded me of Empire Ears Odin. When I compared the graphs, they are very similar but sound much different when A/B-ing. Loki is most similarly tuned to Elysian Annihilator 23.



Bass is pretty even sub to mid….does get a bit boomy on heavy mid bass tracks and will bleed into the lower mids on occasion
It is an extremely satisfying bass presence. It is felt. More rumble than slam although it slams hard when called upon.
Sub bass doesnt reach as far down as Odin but still very deep reaching sub bass. Still has a tactile tangible bass thanks to the BCD driver.
Bass takes precedence with great details, texture and reverb
Bass has tons of texture, full weighted, airy, wet, Layered and Articulate. A hifi colored sound.



Mids are more transparent than weighted. Not thin but not heavy. Timbre and tonallity are very accurate while still keeping the signature musical. Details are present but not overwhelming, hearing macro and micro elements to be very dynamic. Vocals have texture and resolution in a nice open mid range space that layers exceptionally well.
Somewhat recessed lower mids, female vocals have better extension, male are good, can be muffled in some tracks with mid bass bleed/bloat….drums are tactile. Width is average, good height and depth.
Atmosphere is intoxicating with guitar strums, plucks being a highlight. Electric guitar, rock music all sound crunchy and live.
Drums sound full and authentic while piano tone is skewed upwards but still extends nicely with a natural decay.


Treble has good texture and weight, wet even. Upper air is extended and sparkles.
Upper Treble is nicely extended with cymbals resolving well. Air is present in the low end as well as the upper treble. Separation is great. Edm/electronic/rnb all excel with this set. Treble is non sibilant. Overall a very non abrasive treble response that feels open with details and seemingly extends forever. This treble rivals some of the best a la Annihilator..


Transients are well directed with a tight grip. Has a nice amount of reverb/echo from the BCD, although at times can be a bit distracting. Rhodes piano echoes for example..tactile and intoxicating but can be overwhleming as they decay slowly.
Soundstage width is average while having better height and depth. Micro Dynamics are vivid and the Macro Swings are lively. The Dynamic contrast is impressive. Kinera has chosen the BCD driver to concentrate on the bass response and this is definitely heard and even felt.
Layering is top notch as well as imaging and is flagship levels.

Thank you to @Audio46 for this opportunity. Thank you to all who have read this. :v:

Review chain: Luxury and Precision LP6 Ti -> Aroma A100Tb & Cayin N30Le & Venture Electronics Megatron + Runabout Amp.


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Nice review! Which one is better in terms of technicalities and resolution Mest 3 or Loki? :)
@KamilElos Thank you, I just recently bought a Loki and I am having a better experience with it, and I will edit my review in the coming weeks. However, I would say Loki has the better tech and resolution over Mest 3. :)
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Headphoneus Supremus
SoundRhyme Sailing
Pros: Bold Sound Signature while retaining a Smooth Character
Great Note Weight
Wide SoundStage
Easy to listen to for hours
Marco Dynamics
Cons: Lacks Depth of Stage
Average treble response
Lacks micro dynamics
Lacks transient swings
SoundRhyme SR8 & SR5


SoundRhyme is an iem company that was new to me as of just a few months ago and since hearing about them, has skyrocketed the midfi hype chain to new heights with its SR5 and SR8 offerings.

The SR5 being the lower budget hybrid iem, coming in at $149 and the SR8 seeming as the flagship all BA set coming in at $749

I do not know much about the company and not much info is offered up by Penon, Penon graciously sent me these iems at a discount for this review. Thank you Penon and SoundRhyme for the opportunity.


This review is mainly for the SR8 but I will throw in SR5 comparisons.

The overall sound of SR8 is balanced and engaging. As has been said amongst enthusiasts across head-fi, this set is beguiling of its cost. This segment of the hobby is where my curiosity is peaked. Thanks to the uber expensive totl and flagship iems coming out these days, the hobby is now experiencing the trickle down from great tuning and new tech. I for one will be keeping a keen eye on the sub 1k segment of our beloved hobby as it is currently very RIPE!

The SR8 overall signature can be described as Grandios. It is big, bold and up front. While being relaxed, smooth and ideal for long listening sessions.

The bass switches are the real deal and does indeed change the sound to a preference that is preferred by the user.

The bass is very well done for all BA. Extending well and having great authority. I never found the bass to bleed or bloat into the mids.

The Mids are more nuetral and quite resolving with a good note weight. Not the last word in naturalness but nothing to really complain about here at this price.

The Treble is smooth and fairly weighted like the mids. Not the most resolving treble but nonetheless very easy to listen to.

The soundstage is very wide reaching well outside of my head. The height is average while my biggest caveat with SR8 was the lack of depth. Depth of stage keeps me engaged in my music library and often when depth is lacking I will not listen very often. While SR8 is a WOW the moment I put them in my ears, it wasnt long until I noticed the lacking transients and micro dynamics. Macro Dynamics swing BIG with SR8 and I would say my most favorite part of this tuning.

In comparison to SR5, I found SR5 to be a very disjointed sound. I can tell it is a apart of the Sound Rhyme family by its tuning, however it’s coherency is the biggest turnoff for me. The bass driver sounds completely independent of the rest and this was very distracting. SR5 is a dark sounding set and not something I can recommend even at its price point being about 5x less the price of SR8. I also do not listen to bass heavy music and so my impressions here will vary wildly compared to others. I know many others absolutely love this set and I think that is great! These are just my thoughts and not set in stone.

Thank you for reading.
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Would a Cayin RU7 deliver enough power?
I’m sure it will sound really great with RU7. You wouldn’t know what you were missing until you try it on another source that has more power but imo SR8 doesn’t need superior power to shine. YMMV
While SR8 is a WOW the moment I put them in my ears, it wasnt long until I noticed the lacking transients and micro dynamics.

Totally echoing my thoughts. The initial 15-20 minutes on SR8 is wow then you start noticing that there are few things missing on it. And when you compare with some kilobuck iems it’s quite evident. Nevertheless, it’s a great iem. Very very enjoyable.


Headphoneus Supremus
Plussound Allegro: A Balancing Act
Pros: Impactful and Punchy bass
Wide and Tall, Cathedral like stage
Engaging and Layered Mid Range
Sparkling Treble
Macro Dynamic Swings
Transparency on another level
Cons: Upper treble harmonics smear
Lacking some depth of stage
Female vocals are not grounded
HUGE shell, hard to fit
Estat treble
Plussound is a premier cable company based out of Los Angeles California. They are well known in the head-fi community for making some of the best custom cables. While Plussound is not new to the iem world, the Allegro marks their entry into the TOTL flagship level of iem’s. Needless to say, many of us enthusiasts' interest was piqued at the announcement of this landmark occasion. And in head-fi fashion, I jumped at the chance to demo the Allegro in exchange for a review. Thank you to @PLUSSOUND and @Sebastien Chiu for the opportunity.


Ergonomics, build, isolation:

The Allegro is HUGE. It is a beautiful machined housing that is quite lighter in weight than the image and size may suggest. There are several drivers inside and one can assume that it would be a difficult task in making the size any smaller. For being on the larger size, the Build is impeccable and looks the part of a Flagship level item.

The Allegro consists of two dynamic drivers, six balanced armatures and a total of four estats.

Allegro is fairly light(for its size) but at the same time a bit heavy once in the ear. It took some time to find the right tips due to the weight and the awkward shape of Allegro. This was the most challenging and frustrating aspect for me. My tip of choice finally landed on the Azla Xelastec as their sticky properties provided support to the large size of Allegro to keep them in my ears with the best seal.

Isolation is good once I get the correct fit. There is quite a large vent near the top of the faceplate and I felt zero pressure build-up.



Allegro sounds very mature and balanced across the FR. It impressed me right away, reminding me of the infamous Sony IER-Z1R in its height of the stage, dynamic punchy bass hits, and sparkly ethereal treble. However, Allegro has a more forward mid-range keeping it out of the V shape territory. I enjoyed my time with Allegro and it has stood out as a contender for one of the best-sounding monitors to have been released recently. I have a few quibbles that I will address further in the review and a few wow moments as well. Let’s find out more.



Allegro has two Dynamic Drivers for its low end. The Sub bass has a decent amount of Rumble. It is not the deepest-sounding sub-bass but is incredibly balanced with the mid-bass. Allegro has great impact, punch and slam, with a perfect decay that does not bleed into the mid-range. Not the last word on layered bass but incredibly satisfying for a more musical presentation over surgical. The bass does its Job of supporting the rest of the FR but not overpowering it with an incredible texture and timbre. In my opinion, this was addicting and had me picking up the Allegro more than I thought I would due to the fit and weight issues.


Moving into the mid-range, I hear them as revealing, transparent and forward. Male vocals have a nice weight and a slight heft while still being transparent and clear. I hear the male vocals as more forward than the female and a bit more solid. Female vocals are airy and dry, with less weight, feeling as if they were flying in the air and hard to place on the stage without a sense of gravity. This may appeal to others but for me, was somewhat distracting. Overall, vocals are neutral with a natural tilt, creating a very engaging mid-range with great height and an addicting reverb effect.

The lower midrange shows off guitars, especially acoustic sound beautifully natural. The timbre is so transparent that you can hear the reverberations of each plucked or strummed string deep down into the wood. I hear tones not only from the strings themselves but the woodiness of the guitar body. This transparency is my favourite aspect of this set. It's captivating with the euphonic stage it presents. This a balanced mid-range but not by any means reference. This is a coloured sound and I enjoy it a lot.

Going into the upper midrange, it is not super energetic but also not laid back. It's not bright but there is some tonal zing at times with piano harmonics especially as well as giving female vocals more air and rasp over the gravitas. Some female vocals come off as less resolving and sibilant although a rare occurrence.



The treble is the area that may cause some division in terms of preference. I prefer balanced armature treble, as I feel like its weight, texture and resolve are the hallmarks of a great treble response that is natural and tonally accurate. Estats at first wow me with their ethereal wispy sparkles that have a dream-like atmosphere to them. However, the weight, texture and resolve are lacking for me and are my biggest quibble with Allegro.

Lower treble sounds delightful. Bells, harps, and chimes sparkle and images around the head. As long as these stay in their lane and aren’t overused in a track. I noticed in my extended listening that cymbals and any instrument with upper treble overtones/harmonics became smeared and unresolved, especially in tracks with busy upper treble sections, such as metal with many cymbal crashes in succession or big band and orchestral crescendos. This was almost intolerable and unfortunately killed some music for me. I am not sure if a combo of BA and Estat would alleviate this or if the tuning of Allegro along with the 4 estats are exaggerating this tonal fatality. This may not be a deal breaker for some but for me it was. Other than this quibble the treble is unoffensive and has good extension and imaging.


The staging on Allegro is quite captivating. It is vivid with a reverb, Cathedral-like stage harkening to the GOAT Z1R. Space, Layers and height are in a good size image with more height and breadth than depth, with depth being on the average side. It is a very Euphonic staging that I wouldn’t call completely natural sounding with good separation and layers, especially in the mid-range. Wider stage but I don’t feel many rows back, I feel on the stage with the performers with the sound all around me. It is a highly transparent and dynamic sound with good imaging. The imaging is not pinpointed but nothing to complain about.

Coherency is what I have come to expect from a tribrid monitor. Meaning I can hear what each driver is doing and sending out. It all gels together fairly well, at times can be fatiguing over longer listening sessions especially in energetic music when overtones become smeared with upper treble sizzle. Separation in the mid-range is the flagship level. I would say that macro dynamic swings are given the upper hand with this tuning over micro. Not to say that it’s not technically adept as it is very technical but more on the musical side rather than analytical.

In conclusion:


Allegro is a musical, balanced and engaging set that deserves its perch as TOTL and flagship. If you are craving an exciting sound with powerful bass, beautifully resolving mids, sparkly treble and a cathedral-like stage this is your set. It is expensive! However, it comes with an expensive custom cable from one of the best makers in the biz.

Allegro is an extremely exciting product from an extremely wonderful brand. The Allegro shows what Plussound is capable of in this market and I look forward to what comes next. Thank you to Plussound again and @Sebastien Chiu for the opportunity.

Review done using-Stock copper+ cable as well as hybrid+ and Silver+(this being my favourite and most resolving) with Azla Xelastec tips, Ibasso 300MAX in high gain, and P6pro amped with Aroma A100TB + PS100pro as well as Roon via MacBook into Hifiman EF400.


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Firmly echoing your thoughts on the great timbre, bass, and mids, but unfortunately also on fit and EST treble. My main problem (as always?) was that the treble shift from BA to EST seems to fail. I take it I'm just way more sensitive in that area than most, but for me the timbre in higher notes completely changes when the frequency goes up. I find that unforgivable for especially solo violin as it's like the artist is changing instruments. If they have the guts to go back to BA to avoid timbre and crossover problems they may also be able to come up with IEMs that fit most people great instead of only some. What they have delivered with their very first IEM is awesome, I think, as in the things they're good at they simply excel. If they can leave that intact in a follow-up model while improving on the rest then I'd be all ears.

Can't believe I'm seeing this now.  Really enjoyed the review!!

Thank you for leaving one behind. I was really curious about your opinion in regards to this iem 😊


Headphoneus Supremus
Engaging Bravissimo
Pros: Engaging SS
3D Imaging
Wide Soundstage
Deep Defined Bass
Textured Mid Range
Ethereal Treble
Natural Timbre
Drum and Cymbal strikes
Cons: Stage height, Average Depth
Detail Retrieval
Dry Treble
Soft Vocals
Mid range pushed back
Piano harmonics blunted


This is my first time hearing a Vision Ears monitor along with the Phonix. I am sure most of us in the hobby are familiar with V.E. as a brand as they have released some of the most loved monitors in the hobby, I feel no introduction is needed.

During my listening to the EXT I was immediately engaged. The way the timbre and definition of the bass literally hit me in the head with such bravado was intense in the best possible way. The range of the bass from the lowest sub bass into the mid bass is tuned impeccably, never bleeding into the mid’s. The musicality of the EXT is quite impressive for having such bombastic bass. The 9.2mm DD churning out the sub bass and mid bass. A 6mm DD is taking care of the mid range and 4 est’s (Electrostatic Tweeter) the upper regions of the FR with a 3-way crossover. I know the EXT stands for Extended, which is supposedly an extension of the Elysium preceding it. I have not heard the Elysium so I cannot speak to this. Although, I have read about it in length and from my reading it does seem the EXT stands on its own with its own terms. Let’s find out more.

Graph: courtesy of Crinnacle.


The EXT is the culmination of what a monitor can produce timbre wise. The fullness of instruments such as drums, cello, violin, guitar, etc, as well as vocals are all beautifully rendered with life like qualities. The scale of the bass from sub to mid’s and back again is quite intoxicating with almost all genres but especially with electronic, modern R&B and pop. I wouldn’t go as far to say that EXT is an all rounder because the boosted bass and ethereal est’s are a bit more boosted meaning the mid’s get a bit pushed back especially noticeable with female vocals. This is not to say vocals are bad. The mid range is still quite impressive with vocals sounding natural and real just a bit further back. Not as emotional as some DD driven mid’s I have heard but nonetheless implemented well with these drivers. I think V.E. has done a wonderful job with this tuning. EXT can sound holographic with a good sense of imaging, soundstage is wider than deep or tall. I would call EXT a U shape nearing a V. Really a very fun monitor to listen to. I wanted to keep listening to it and would often keep me up late at night. The fit can be tricky due to the bump near the nozzle that is housing those 4 est’s. However with some tip rolling I found a comfortable fit. The EXT inserts more like a custom than a Universal and I really enjoyed the fit, as they never budged or wiggled out. I can tell how much thought and care went into the way these were designed. Bravo V.E. I also want to note that with some more power the EXT really scales in all of its qualities.



The Bass is the main event. As I have mentioned the definition and scale is balanced so well with great texture and separation from the lowest of the low sub bass to the mid bass never smearing into the mid range. I am not a bass head by any means but this bass is so big and articulate that it just draws me in especially with certain genres like electronic and modern R&B. The sub bass can be a bit dizzying in tracks were there is already a lot of sub bass mixed into the track like the classic James Blake track Limit to Your Love. The only area I struggled with the bass is with some rock music. The sub bass domineered and the natural bass lines being somewhat smoothed over with the rumble and the punch taking precedence. The decay of the sub bass to mid bass strikes a good balance, neither being too fast or slow. Just right to keep the FR in check and not muddied or overly warm. Mid bass has a good amount of punch and Sub bass is drawn out just enough. It can keep up with the fastest tracks and mellow out even with Jazz trio. Other than Empire Ears Odin, this is some of the best bass I have heard in a transducer.



The mid range for me is not the showcase with the EXT. While it is tuned well with the kind of bass presence this monitor possesses. The mid’s are pushed back, sometimes making vocals and guitars sound far off, although natural I had to concentrate at times to hear the guitar lines in certain tracks and vocals in others. It was a mixed bag and really depended on how the track was mixed. The timbre is spot on. Organic and natural. However, I would not call it emotional. This is all very subjective of course. With that being said, Vocals do have a good center image with a good amount of texture. Even though EXT extends great imaging with a sense of holography it does lack some clarity and at time especially with female vocals some grain existed especially when pushed into the upper mid range. This could be do to the lower treble being linear to the upper midrange. Other than that, I hear female vocals to be smooth and dry however not as dynamic as Male vocals. With Male vocals sounding a bit more close. I heard a good amount of air around both creating that sense of reverb of a natural live setting. The overall note weight is my preferred balance of not to dark but not being thin or wimpy, a natural elegance. One of my favorite aspects of this tuning is Drums. The hits of the stick against the skins is so real and I could literally hear the skin vibrating with each strike. A really wonderful tuning for drums in general.



I enjoy the treble of Est’s although I cannot say I prefer them over Ba’s for treble. The est’s are implemented right at the nozzle and gives the treble an ethereal and shimmering effect. To me this really gives a sense of realness to cymbal hits, the strike to the decay is so eloquent and natural and sounds completely life like. Now because the lower treble is almost perfectly in line with the mid range some instruments can come off a bit dull such as the piano losing some of its harmonics. I would not call the treble airy but more dry and crisp. The ethereal, smooth presence here creates a good sense of space and keeps things coherent with the mid range. Transients here are natural but lacking some bite. Personally I would prefer a bit more air and sparkle. Although this may not work with the warmer tuning as a whole.



EXT is very engaging with a great sense of space considering the warmth and bass presence. Transients come across natural and full giving a good grip on the dynamic whole. Dynamics are really good and never boring or flat sounding. This is more of an experience with imaging being more 3D than linear. Center imaging is accurate portraying vocals out in front of the head and instruments in their respective places on the stage. The stage being more wide and just a bit out of the head with depth being more average and height a bit lacking. Detail retrieval is average given the single DD in the mid’s and warmer tuning overall. EXT in my opinion is more about timbre, engagement and musicality over shoving details down your ear. The details are enough to keep me engaged.


Final Thoughts:

This is a tough review to write because I never felt I wanted to analyze the sound coming from EXT. I just wanted to enjoy what I was listening to at any given time. I definitely had to force myself to sit and take notes. This speaks volumes to what this monitor’s tuning and tech is all about. Again, I know this is subjective and detail retrieval is what gets some engaged, or a mixture of detail and musicality. Although this debate will go on forever, it is all subjective. EXT resides for me squarely in the fun engaging musical camp, not relying on details and precision. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with EXT and I know this monitor will bring so much enjoyment to those that connect with it. Again, Bravo V.E.

Thank you to and V.E. for this opportunity and experience.

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Epic & excellent. I really enjoyed reading that-- it was (like a great IEM) a nice mix of emotional and technical. Thanks for sharing!
Great review. I'm only one day in with the EXT and I'm finding myself nodding at many of your observations. I don't necessarily find the vocals pushed back, but they are less emotive or 'romantic' than I expected them to be. I also find detail retrieval to be excellent, especially in the treble, but also across the board, though maybe not quite at Traillii or Fourte level (but what is, right?). Look forward to sharing my full impressions soon, and thanks so much for yours!
I would agree with @gLer The details are great but the vocals are definitely soft.


Headphoneus Supremus
Moondrop Aria (2021) Harmonious Coherency
Pros: Stage width
Deep Sub Bass rumble
Coherent SS
Acoustic Instrument presentation
Male Vocals
Fit and Isolation
Cons: Treble Dip
Lacking Mid Bass clarity
Smooth Female vocals
Lacking depth of stage
Smoothed over micro dynamics
Moondrop Aria


*The Aria was supplied to me for Review by Audiotiers via Apos Audio and Moondrop. I was not paid nor given any incentive for my review*

Tech, Build, Design:

Aria shell is Injection molded and has a CNC processed brass cavity. A single 10 mm liquid crystalline polymer diaphragm dynamic driver.

This is a wonderful mid-tier iem that is designed with class and style. The design and build is top notch and has a good weight to the iem’s. They are superbly comfortable and non fatiguing. Coming in at under $100, the build and design far outweighs some of its competitors and exceeds many above the price point. The cable is a 3.5mm, 2-pin 0.78 silver plated copper, nylon braided sheathing and also looks quite nice. There are some micro-phonics, so if this is a bother, I would change out the cable, although I had no issues here.

Graph: *courtesy of crinacle*



Moondrop is a brand that has been on the scene for sometime and most of us are quite familiar with. For those of you that are not, they are a Chinese company making some really great products usually based around the Harman tuning or some variation thereof. The Aria being no different. My very first iem ever was there very own Blessing 2, and it seems the Aria takes some of its signature from it, while not being a Hybrid driver set up.

The Aria at first listen is extremely pleasant and smooth. If this would’ve been my entry into the iem world, I would have been extremely happy. This is a very competent single DD iem. Where coherency is the name of the game. Let's dive a bit deeper.



As I stated the Aria has a variation on a Harman tuning, slight V shape signature that comes off pleasing with a good pinna gain. However given this gain, the Aria comes off warm and smooth without much harshness due to its impressive Sub-Bass shelf that coats the FR with a warmth that is very balanced.



This is my favorite part of this monitor, The sub bass reaches fairly deep and rumbles well. The mid bass is a little on the shy side but is punchy when needed. This is not a reference bass but very fun and quite addicting. There is a lack of definition and texture in the bass frequency as a whole but that is me nitpicking. Overall the bass is enjoyable and has a nice and natural decay however lacking in some detail.



Timbre is excellent. Male vocals and strings resonate beautifully with some texture and some good spacing and air between them. Resolution is average and the mid’s can often blend into the treble a bit making imaging a bit difficult to locate the players on the stage. With some concentration it pulls through but just barely. Center image is lacking with a very left to right sound and busy tracks can come off a bit intense with the upper midrange making me wince multiple times. Intimate and acoustic music works best with the Aria, where it really shows it strength in spades. Acoustic instruments and strings are rendered with eloquence coming off full and natural. This is probably my favorite aspect of this monitor, however electric guitars lack heft and swagger. Transients come off laid back which reminds me an awful lot of Oriolus Isabellae. There is a reverb effect due to a slower decay coming from the sub bass in the midrange that is very lovely, making the stage sound more live than studio. Female vocals come off sweet and smooth. I wish there was a bit more gain to give the female vocal back some of its gravitas.



Treble is a dry presentation across the board. I hear a bit of air but it is rolled off and at times comes off a bit blunted or muted, i.e. cymbal strikes do not resonate through, instead are cut off. This presents a brittleness, same with tambourine. However this does give the treble a more natural smooth feel at the sacrifice of severe treble dip. For many, this will not be a problem and for this tier the tuning is honestly quite admirable. Especially with a single driver doing all the work.



Layering is tough for this single DD to keep up with busy tracks but is still very competent. Macro Dynamics are above average but micro dynamics are smoothed over. Dynamics as awhole are average which at this tier is wonderful as some kilobuck and up monitors come off super flat. Separation is decent but can come off blended at times. Soundstage width is above average, where depth is lacking but not enough to distract me from enjoying the music. Imaging is not super accurate but I can place the stage if I concentrate. Aria resolves fairly well but suffers the most in the treble. Overall, a wonderful monitor for just enjoying the music without overthinking or analyzing. I could see this being a great monitor for working or taking a walk as it seals and isolates quite well.


Thank you to Audiotiers, Apos Audio and Moondrop for the chance to review these game changers. These are gonna shake up the competition.

*Reviewed on Cayin n6ii R01 module using Uapp bitperfect and Desktop: Roon to Denafrips Pontus 2 with Topping A90…..Reviewed in complete Stock form, with stock cable and stock Large tips*

Music Used:

Ryan Adams and The Cardinals- Beautiful Sorta

GreenTea Peng- Dingaling

Eagles- Hotel California

Dave Holland- Hands

Lady Blackbird- Fix it

Gregory Porter- Brown Grass

Oh’Sleeper- We Are the Archers

The Cure- A Forest

James Blake- A limit to Your Love
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The graph does show air in the upper treble but I do not hear any air or sparkle. Thanks for the tip friend. :)
Is your 3.5 star rating an absolute one (compared to what you're heard) or relative to its price? I expect the former but please confirm.

I rated it as I heard it. There is no option for value rating on head-fi, that would be a separate rating from the 3.5 stars I gave it for its tuning, tech, build, etc..


Headphoneus Supremus
Lime Ears Pneuma: Excellence in Musicality
Pros: Holographic Imaging
Transparent with Great Separation
Wide Soundstage
Natural Lush Mid's
Deep Sub Bass Rumble and Growl (Quantity)
Detailed Punchy Mid Bass (Quality)
Female and Male Vocals Excel
Non Fatiguing Listen
Pw Audio Stock Cable
Cons: Lacks a bit of Extension in the Treble
Fit can be fussy, Big Shells
Slight BA Timbre at times


*This Review Kit was provided by via Apos Audio and Lime Ears for my honest and genuine review. I was not paid or given any incentive.*

Limes Ears, a Polish company is a brand known to take its time. They are not one to jump on hype trains, instead they rather skillfully and masterfully take their time and give us tuneful and engaging transducers. Pneuma being their first ever hybrid. Even if it arrived on the scene later than most hybrids, this is by and far one the best I have heard.

Graph: *courtesy of Tech Power Up*


The search for the perfect iem is one that eludes many of us in the hobby. As we are always searching for a tweak here or a tweak there. I myself am guilty of the catch and release culture that this hobby can elicit if curiosity gets the best of me, which let’s be honest, is unhinged. So I feel like I am always searching, then comes along Lime Ears Pneuma with its bass boost switch and I have to say, this one took me by complete surprise. If I were to ever say there could be one monitor that would cover all my bases, it would be this one. That is a huge merit not to be taken lightly. The musicality of this monitor is fluid and flowing. It has been compared to vintage tube sound and I have to agree. It is a truly beautiful rendition of reference with a musical forward presentation. The engagement factor is huge but does not overshadow detail, resolution or technicalities. The thought and care that went into the tuning, the tech and the build is nothing short of deserving a standing ovation.



Sub bass is a shining star here, especially once the switch has been engaged which attenuates the lower shelf 4-5db and only in the lowest regions (100hz). It is quite remarkable how this boost doesn’t bleed into the mid’s. The reason for this is due to the 7mm titanium driver solely handling the sub bass regions, while the rest of the lower frequencies are handled by two BA’s. However what it does do, is infect the spaces in the FR with a soft rumble, making this comparable to the Sub bass rumbles of EE LX without the bloat. This is highly impressive. There is no expense of detail or resolution. With the switch in the downward or off position, Pneuma comes across very “audiophile." Lime Ears state the switch is the ‘Fletcher/Munson Law-(damn)’ as we get older it becomes more difficult to hear the lower frequencies and at the flip of the switch makes them more audible. This is true, but also for modern music the switch engaged really makes for a more “fun” engagement factor. I feel this will be split down the middle for who prefers what. I have used the switch in both positions and really enjoy having the option while also being easy to use while wearing.

The bass as a whole is very balanced with the Mid bass decaying fairly quick as too not inflict an abundance of warmth but just enough to take off any trace of coldness. The weight of the sub-bass is very well done. It is not so linear where the detail layering of the sub-bass is heard but is more felt. The Ti 7mm DD although smaller than most DD is exceptionally well controlled thanks to the technology implemented here. The 2-BA's handling the Mid bass do so with a quicker decay letting detail and clarity of the mid bass to come through, giving some linearity to the whole of the bass frequency. I really adore what Lime Ears has done here by separating the low end in this manner, as I get my craving of quantity and quality. I do not think anyone listening to this set will have much to complain about unless absolute linearity is what you crave.



The mid’s are very natural and provide a great center image for vocalist to stand on. Male and Female voices alike sound convincing and full without weakness. I would say the vocals are a tad pushed back but not too much so. The macro detail is very vivid as well as the micro detail layered in between (Anna savage licking her lips). Guitars have a meatiness and swagger to them. Cello and violins have an aching tonality that comes across very emotional, especially with the Bass switch engaged. Pneuma is very resolute with a great coherency. It may not match the best of the best here, instead preferring musicality over pure technicality. The timbral nuance in this tuning is quite the achievement as this monitor is ALIVE with PRaT.

The lower midrange dip helps give body to instruments and a heft to male vocals all while providing a balanced note weight which slowly rises to give gain and power to female vocals. This slow and steady rise in my opinion is an optimal tuning choice for what Lime Ears wanted to achieve with this monitor. The slow rise avoids harshness and peakiness that could otherwise be wincing. The vocalists are not completely locked in to the stage but still enough grip for a sense of stage without overthinking or analyzing. The stage here is above average and the imaging is spot on. Not the best but it does not need to be with this presentation. There is an ethereal transparency in the mid’s that is quite addicting. There is a good sense of separation between the instruments and vocals. The vocals while being back a bit are the focus, however nothing gets lost. Pneuma has fast transient response. Drums sound authentic and powerful; full and forceful. The Dynamic range reminds me of the 64 Audio’s U12T. Everything works together with ease, loud segments not overpowering more quiet elements of the FR. This is due in part to a great depth and height in the stage. There is plenty of room while not over doing it with pin point technicality that can often take me out of the music.



The treble is so smooth, tube and vintage sounding. A perfect combination. Just enough sparkle and air to keep me engaged but not overly so that I am distracted by it. My nitpick is that I do recognize that good ole BA timbre giving off a bit of elastic sound at time, although very rare. This is my only gripe within this frequency range, other than that it’s a safe and pleasant one, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on who you are talking to. I think this is a monitor I can listen to for 8 hours with zero fatigue and be completely immersed and happy. I do not sense any special sauce in the treble other than its a great contender for the most cohesive all rounder I have heard other than the Traillii. Big talk there. Traillii taking the cake for air and extension but the vintage tonality in the lower treble I also hear with Traillii. The upper treble does not match the ethereal quickness of a estat but I think the choice for a BA was smart for the tuning. As the main focus is the midrange. If the lower treble had more energy, the midrange tonality would come off less full and life-like. The lower treble is extremely well done, giving vocalists that naturalness and authority. Acoustic guitars and horns and piano have a life like quality to them, the tonality is spot on never aggressive or intense, but just right.

Cymbal strikes sound natural and not splashy. A little subdued but nonetheless authentic sounding. Through all my sibilance tests, I never experienced any sibilance, not even close. Treble is a fairly dry presentation, which could be a deal breaker for some. However it is snappy and very organic. Lime Ears set out to create a tube like experience in an iem. In my humble opinion they have done that. I grew up with 2-channel systems and have one myself and this is a great impression of that sound.



Lime Ears uses their own “VariBore” Technique, giving each section of the frequency band its own bore opening a specific diameter to elicit a coherent and fluid sound flow to the listeners inner ear. They have also engineered what they have called “BAM” or “Backfire Acoustically-damped Membrane.” This technique greatly improves the bass control by using the energy from the back of the monitors guts while damping the membrane with open cell memory foam on the DD to decrease acoustic resonances. You will not see a vent on the Pneuma, which aides in its sublime sub bass tactility, with zero pressure build-up. So we have one 7mm titanium diaphragm dynamic driver for the sub bass, 2-BA for the mid bass, 1-BA for the mid’s and 1-BA for the highs incorporating a 4-way passive crossover.

The time and effort of the tech incorporated into this transducer has really paid off. The bass has depth, natural decay and punchy impact. But never crowding out the rest. Pneuma has above average stage width, wonderful depth and height with great imaging that envelopes you with a holographic stage. There is a bit of a mid suck out creating a bit more body, a fairly gentle pinna region, with a sharper drop in the presence region creating some of that holographic feeling of a wide open stage without sacrificing piano harmonics. The rise to the lower treble is balanced and a good sense of musicality. Upper treble has a fair amount of energy and a tinge of air and sparkle. In my opinion more like a naturally distorted guitar tube amp. There isn’t a ton of air but very natural and full. I was quite surprised at first listen how much I enjoyed the Pneuma as with most new monitors it takes me some time to understand what I am hearing, not with Pneuma, I knew I would need to have this is my stable almost immediately. There is definitely a delicate balancing act at play here and Lime Ears have pulled off something quite engaging without sacrificing transparency, detail, resolution or coherency.

Pneuma resolves extremely well and I honestly hear very little lack of coherency, almost never. Separation is above average and while not matching 64 Audio’s U12T on this level, Pneuma’s layering is never left wanting. I am extremely pleased with the Dynamics of this monitor. For me, Dynamics play a huge part in my engagement factor, and Pneuma is up there with the best of them. I would summarize Pneuma's tuning as "just right" it is a extremely balanced one that is extremely pleasing on all fronts.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Pneuma, so much so that I went seeking my own set and I will have one arriving to me in a matter of days.


Thank you to, Apos Audio and Lime Ears for this tour review kit and giving me the opportunity to hear this masterful monitor.

*Reviewed in Complete Stock form, with stock PW Audio No.10 4-Wire 2-pin 3.5mm cable with stock spinfits in medium size, using Uapp bitperfect on Cayin n6ii w/ R01 module and Roon to Destktop Denafrips Pontus 2 with Topping A90 amp.*

Music Used for Review:

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals-Beautiful Sorta
Renaud Garcia-Fons- Bekaa
Greentea Peng- Dingaling
Dave Holland- Hands
Eagles- Hotel California (Live)
Johnny Cash- Hurt
Brandee Younger- Reclamation
Joni Mitchell- Help Me
Lady Blackbird- It’ll Never Happen Again
Bill Evans Trio- Gloria’s Step (take2)
Bruce Springsteen- New York City Serenade
James Blake- Limit To Tour Love
Damien Rice- I Dont Want to Change You
Mahler- Symphony No. 9 Adagio
Anna B Savage- Corncrakes
Bob Dylan- Man in The Long Black Coat
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Awesome review!
Great review of a brand I have never once heard of.

Now I want to have a listen myself!
I have a feeling that they will rebrand to ”Lime”

“Lime Ears” sounds like a bacterial infection.


Headphoneus Supremus
An Aural Delight of Refined Pleasure in Supreme Nuetrality
Pros: Beautifully neutral signature
Realistic timbre
Natural treble with a tinge of sparkle.
Zero Sibiliance
Open Midrange
Excellent depth
Potent, and linear bass
Balanced note weight
Cons: Intimate stage
Upper treble & Sub bass roll off
Fairly dry treble
Flat/neutral tuning (not a con for me)
Driver flex
Slightly heavy
Shell material susceptible to dings/dents and tarnish



I am still fairly new to single Dynamic Driver monitors or DD for short. I stumbled into this world by way of the Oriolus Traillii. Having had that iem and hearing about Oriolus releasing their very own single DD in the form of Isabellae. This was my first foray into the single DD, and I fell emphatically and deeply in love with the sound.
In my time of Audio related listening, I have not heard anything else that sounds like a single DD iem. It’s at once addicting and confusing all at the same time. I say confusing because it’s hard to fathom that one driver can make such emotional and beautiful music. I understand each one to be very different due to driver type and the tech involved in each. However at the core is a single DD. You can read about my love for Isabellae in my head fi review. After having the Isabella for a few months, I was offered the chance to demo a Rhapsodio Eden and a Soft Ears Turii. I was so excited to demo these against my beloved Isabellae. Going into that shoot out, I thought for sure I would favor the Turii over the others, but what ended up happening was quite surprising. The ears never lie! I ended up loving the Eden most! The upsetting part for me is that these monitors have been heavily USED, many dents and dings on the sterling silver shells, the nozzle mesh guards are shredding and the two pin socket connectors are stretched so far open that I have to sit completely still while listening or the two pin cable will just fall out of the monitors. I don’t mind the dings, etc, because the sound is so intoxicating that I melt into the music. However, I do have to drop a point off the Eden due to ZERO help from Rhapsodio on helping me get these some much needed upkeep that I wanted and asked to pay for. I was ignored. A shame, because this is a great set, YMMV...



A single DD by nature, is limited due to bass and treble roll off. The three I have heard so far are fairly balanced yet all very different in each respective tuning. I am aware that single Dynamic Drivers are also susceptible to grain as I mentioned in my Isa review. However, with Turii and Eden I did not get a lot of grain, if any at all. Turii had some very slight grain during very busy sections of a track, the Eden has no grain that I can hear. The Eden is extremely balanced and fairly neutral depending on tip selection. The only elevation I can hear is in the midrange with vocals being a touch forward in the mix. It seems to be a very intentional and natural lift. The Eden re-plays my library beautifully. I listen to a wide variety of styles but as of late, I am very much a jazz, vocal and classical listener with some metal, electronic and r&b/soul thrown in. Eden shines with natural instrumentation but also portrays synthetic sounds with ease. A wonderful monitor that I feel has been severely overlooked. This monitor, although released over three years ago holds its own to what is available today and recently being released. It is not easy to find a single Dynamic Driver to sound natural as well as having great technicalities OR to sound neutral with a note weight that is balanced with resounding resolution. These do have driver flex so if you are sensitive or do not like this, please take note.



Eden is not a Detail Queen, but instead oozes out its technical expertise through Resolution and Coherency. Eden separates well, the natural reverb facilitates the separation of elements within a given track. However given the smaller stage left to right, it can be harder to define where all the sounds are coming from in busy tracks or large orchestral music, although it never sounds muddy or congested. There is a good amount of depth and vocals come to live in the that center image out in front of the head. Eden moves air in a slower manner and thus its Dynamics are affected by this. It’s not a fast monitor but one that wants to take its time and create that reverb and space around notes for instruments to show off their natural tonality. The Eden displays its transparency by decaying with more ease and expelling micro elements across the mid range with eloquence and grandeur.


Eden has such a beautifully tuned bass presentation and is one of my favorite aspects of this monitor. There is roll off at the lowest octaves of the sub bass and this works to the advantage of what the Eden is wanting to display, which is a mid bass presence that evokes realism. It is the most linear I have heard, displaying clarity and just enough weight to carry the rest of the frequency response into the mid’s and treble, giving room to demonstrate their prowess. The bass never gets in the way nor does it bloom. Decay is natural, neither fast or slow but just right. The overall bass timbre is linear but to my ears it displays a correct tonality as well. The bass when it hits hard enough within certain tracks, creates an uncanny reverb that oscillates all around the head like smoke, while the mid’s blow through with clarity. Its quite a stirring effect and in grandiose moments of classical and chamber music this reverb effect creates the illusion as if I am hearing it LIVE. Play Ryuichi Sakamoto’s album ‘1996’ The Last Emperor.



I hear the lower mid’s of Eden to be completely linear. This is the area responsible for note weight and Rhapsodio hit a home-run here. It is tuned to perfection, giving a balanced note weight with instruments sounding full, natural and life-like. For having such a neutral bass, the note weight presents itself as on the thicker side. I wouldn’t say its warm or beefy sounding at all, but it is definitely not thin, sterile or cold. This is my preference and sounds excellent with natural instrumentation. The journey to the upper mid’s also feels linear with a slight lift allowing sonic clarity from the upper mid’s to soar without harshness or sharpness. Eden is never shouty, dull nor lifeless. Vocals are front and center, male and female both coming across with authority and realism. Out of all my monitors, Eden is the most neutral and gives me my music completely uncolored but not lacking soul or feeling.


The treble is natural and smooth and sometimes extends out enough to hear some sparkle with the right track. I incorrectly stated before that the treble extends what seems like forever and it can provide this with the right track but more often than not, it comes across detailed, clean and natural with a slight roll off, inducing the more analog aspect of the treble instead of zinging or sparkling. The treble is effortless and does not come forward in the FR. The linearity of this monitor is the name of the game. Although this is a single DD that lacks extension on both ends, it is never boring or lifeless but incredibly addicting and engaging. The tuning of the treble lends itself to the balanced nature of this monitor. The treble like the mid and bass regions has a balanced weight to the notes, giving the sound an almost liquid like effect. I often get the mental image of paint being poured out over a canvas, it’s not like water due to the thicker note but more like paint or oil.



I have had the Eden now for several months and I have listened to them quite often. I find the natural tonality along with its resolution and separation to compete with the best of the best. Heck, I even put it as a comparison to the Traillii. A tall order for a single DD to accomplish. While not as defining or transparent as Traillii, what Eden lacks it makes up for in pure coherency and realism. The Eden will not give you any “special sauce” or “magic” it will replay your library as intended without adding any flavor. I have Thummim for when I want flavor and I have Mason Fs for when I want neutral with some “magic, special sauce” I use Eden to cleanse my palette between iem’s but often Eden gets stuck in my ears for many days at a time. Eden is Supremely Neutral and this is what makes her the most pleasurable and refined of all aural delights.

Tracks Used
Miles Davis-Fall
Idris Muhammad-Loran’s Dance, Sudan, Pipe Stem
George Benson-So What
Freddie Hubbard-Red Clay
Bruce Springsteen-New York City Serenade
Bob Dylan-Tangled up in Blue
Van Morrison-Slim Slow Slider
Lou Reed-Walk on the Wild Side
Nirvana-About a Girl (unplugged)
Alice in Chains-Brother (unplugged)
Tool-The Pot
Bill Evans-Glorias Step (take 2)
Blue Traveler-Funky Bitch
Ryuichi Sakamoto-1996
Lady Blackbird-Five feet Tall
David Crosby-Traction in the Rain
The Heshoo Beshoo Group-LazyBones
Illenium-Blame Myself
FKA Twigs-Thousand Eyes
Massive Attack-Angel

Sources-Cayin N6ii R01 and Denafrips Pontus 2 to Iris ddc to Schiit Lyr 3 tube hybrid amp.

Eden reviewed with Spinfit-cp145-Medium with Effect Audio Ares II cable.
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Fantastic review, and damn you have great taste in music! I think the Eden is my favorite single DD.


Headphoneus Supremus
Bird of Infinite Wisdom-Multiple Genre Satisfaction
Pros: Huge soundstage in all directions
Clear and concise tuning
Technicalities and layering
Transcendent Vocals both Male and Female
Natural and emotional DNA
Exceptional BA Bass
Treble Sparkle and Air
Dynamics, Timbre and Tonality
Cons: BA Bass
Lower treble scoop
Universal fit only
Packaging (not a con for me)
Oriolus Traillii (JP) - Hybrid (8BA/4EST)



To me, it’s remarkable how a fairly new iem can already have a legendary status without having the adjective “legend” in its name!? The price alone polarized an entire section of the audiophile world. Then once purchased, the packaging caused another tizzy-ing whirlwind of assault on our visual minds, not to mention the audio threads with the incessant distaste for the package as a whole. Forget about the aural delights, consumers have to justify there purchase and for some reason, cost and opulent packaging somehow go hand in hand to the psyche. Or maybe it’s just that those that can afford such an iem have become spoiled and do not consider the world of waste around us? Are we too lost in the music? Whatever it may be, I am not sure, but I do think the talk of price and packaging has only highlighted a truly wonderful tuning and product. All of that aside, The Traillii is nothing short of a great audio product, if not one of the best of all time. A subjective argument but again I think we should give credit where credit is due. Oriolus took the iem world by storm. A literal storm. I like how this shook things up and started a lot of great threads, conversations, and over all enthusiasm for this hobby. Whether it was; praise, hate or ambivalence. This polarizing iem has indeed pushed other brands to buckle down and we are now seeing some remarkable tech and creativity coming from competitors. These are all positives from a seemingly controversial product. I welcome this competition and controversy. I also welcome the conversation and debates. For me, this keeps me enthused and passionate within this hobby.


Now where do I start? I have been so full of anxiety knowing its time to review the Traillii. The best way for me is to tell you the story of how it all began....

I have to admit, that I knew about Traillii and the Empire Ears Odin at around the same time frame. I was fairly new to the hobby, coming from many years in the cassette and turntable 2-channel world. My first iem was the Blessing 2, quickly upgrading to the Thieaudio Monarch and then to a Sony Z1R, to a Mest, to a Anole VX. I evolved quickly buying blindly, as that was the only option at the time. I was scaling to understand my preferences. I am still learning, to be honest! After some time with the Z1R, Mest, Monarch and VX, I decided I wanted something at the summit to further understand my preference as well as wanting to hear “the best.” Now I understand “the best” does not exist. I remember scouring over reviews of Odin, Noble Sultan and Traillii. I honestly just skipped the Traillii altogether due to it not having a DD, as this is what bored me so much with VX (or so I thought). So I put my focus on the Odin and sold most of my stable to fund the Almighty God and at that time, the most expensive audio purchase I had ever made. I loved the Odin as soon as I put them in my ears. Full of energy and details, it wasn’t boring and delivered the most potent bass I have ever heard. To this day, I still miss the Odin bass. The more I listened and started to understand my preferences, the Odin’s upper mid energy was fatiguing my listening sessions and was becoming increasingly frustrating. So, I decided to look further into head-fi and came across a few threads discussing the Traillii and those threads are what really convinced me that I needed to hear it. So I decided to sell my almighty Odin to help fund the Traillii. I did also acquire the Mest MkII during my transition from Odin to Traillii and I really connected with the Mest II. Ultimately I sold it, as Odin by far outclassed it with the exception of soundstage width.

During this time of buying and selling to try out new sound signatures, I started to see where my preferences where at. If you are familiar with the iem’s I listed above you will understand my preference more. I am split down the middle. I love detail and treble that has air and sparkle but I also love analogue texture, natural mid’s and a large soundstage with potent bass(more quality than quantity). Traillii hits this mark with extreme precision.


I vividly remember the day Traillii came in the mail. I was as giddy as a little boy going down the toy aisle or getting my first bicycle. The anticipation was dizzying. What I remember most is the feeling I got when I first put them in my ears. Which is quite funny now looking back, at that time I owned an older DAP that has an almost religious following called the CALYX M DAP. It’s a class A amp driving this little DAP and it sounds extremely textured, full and weighted. No streaming capabilities, so the first album I pulled from its built in hard drive was The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and I distinctly remember feeling like I had a hi-fidelity Blessing 2 in my ears (super coherent hybrid). My heart sunk! “How did I just spend so much money on this?” I asked myself and “how did I let go of my most favorite iem for this?”I kept listening and decided to change the song, trying Miles Davis Kind of Blue and yes the technicalities and layering were great but nothing better than the Odin...I was breaking out in nervous sweats...when my brain(burn) finally started noticing the huge soundstage...LIGHTBULB MOMENT! “AHA” I SHOUTED! My brain was so used to Odins aural assault that the Traillii seemed ultra tame even “normal”. The next track I selected solidified my decision and all of my anxiety lifted away. I played Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and I wept. I could hear this woman’s plea to her man. I could not only hear her emotion but I could feel it. It overwhelmed me to tears, quite literally. I then understood the power of The Traillii, the venerable BIRD!

It’s that time...for an analogy. Come sit around now, I have a tale to tell.
Traillii reminds me of my grandpa. A very quiet and humble man with a notorious and hateful past that he overcame to become an almost mythical character to me. When he did speak, it was with Authority, Wisdom and Love. He could be polarizing but he had true grit and wisdom that rang true in the way he carried himself and the beliefs he held firm. Traillii to me, is full of wisdom in the way its tuner is wise and the way he tuned the bird to soar and radiate with emotion not lacking in clarity, detail and dynamics. A firm, unabashed and deliberate tuning that rings out with some of the best technicalities and biggest sound stage in the hobby. TRUE GRIT! And the best way to be polarized.


The Traillii has also been widely criticized for its “plain” faceplate. I am one of the few that is actually fond of the design, as I enjoy more minimal design elements. However, it is built extremely well with a medical grade resin from Germany. I have no complaints with the quality. I also love the stock cable, which is a very expensive PW Audio cable specifically made for the Bird. I am not sure how much it differs from the 1960’s 4-wire, but it practically looks identical. Another criticism across the board has been about the stock cable and its micro-phonics. I do not get much of that personally as I am very much a stationary listener. However, if you are on the move, you may have a similar complaint. Tip selection can also be somewhat frustrating. I am using the large stock tips which give the best balance to Traillii sound signature. However at first these do create some suction effect, but after several hours of use, this stopped. I am chalking this up to the silicone needing to warm and loosen up a bit. These are of course minor nitpicks and to me, tip rolling is a huge part of the fun with getting a new iem. YMMV as always...The fit is extremely comfortable and does not require a deep insertion. They are light and compact for the tech inside these shells. I can listen for many hours without pressure or fatigue.



The overall sound signature of the Traillii to me is very W shaped. A slight emphasis in all frequencies that come together in a harmonious, balanced and highly detailed manner. In general what stands out first and foremost is the surreal soundstage. I can feel the music all around me, outside of my head. This is highly unusual with iem’s as this is a psychological effect due to the way they are made, being stuffed into our ears. In my review of Isabellae, I wrote that it made music palpable like I could reach out and touch it. Traillii is like this but to the ultimate degree. Each and every instrument/vocal/sound has a sense of space, air and natural reverb in the decay to easily pin point where each player is at on the stage. It is so natural to Traillii that one does not have to close the eyes to imagine it, because once the bird starts to sing her song, the visual unfolds naturally. Layers of detail and air create an organic soundscape that revels in its ability to dig micro and macro detail while sounding natural and warm. Traillii is so refined and easy on the ears that I am often left wondering where is that special magical element to make me jump out of my seat or a single moment of “WOW!” Traillii does not need a special magic trick or a single moment of “WOW!”. The Traillii tuning as a whole is the WOW! Traillii Is The Magic!



Sub-Bass anyone.......

For only using 2BA for the Bass tuning, Traillii sure does have a lot impact and natural sub-bass decay for being BA. Along with a healthy dose of Mid Bass thump, this iem is extraordinarily balanced in the bass frequency. While no BA will ever be able to reproduce the rumble and impact of a DD, these BA’s hold their own. The Bass while boosted, presents itself in a linear fashion, never overtaking the mid range nor decaying so rapidly to create a thin body across the frequency range. What I love most about this bass is that it was tuned correctly. What I mean is that it has nuance and layers. The lack of visceral attack allows for space around the note, letting you see into it, so to speak. Bass is not and should not be one note(Thieaudio Monarch), if the decay is accurate, one can hear the scaling of notes within the sub to mid bass. This creates a sound so natural that you will “feel it”! But, in a different way than we associate “feeling bass” with. This is not a feeling of guttural vibration but a feeling of pure titillation within your soul of how nuanced and natural it sounds. It becomes more than a head rattling experience and more of a euphoric and transcendent one. Listening to the upright bass is one of the most compelling and exuberant experiences with Traillii. I can hear every note scale up and down on the fret board with clear harmonics and a slight reverb that is as intoxicating as it is sobering. Traillii bass is veracious.


Nevertheless Traillii is no one trick pony. It not only does natural bass exceptionally well, but it manages to take on synthetic bass without a chip on its shoulder. The faster decay of a BA definetly holds up to this style of music with its dynamics and quick transients. It won’t plow you over with fortissimo but it will give you loads of quality thump, timbre and nuance. The bass works in conjunction with the rest of the tuning for multiple genre satisfaction. In EDM I feel the bass works because of the Sub bass boost, but also because the mid bass decays quicker supporting the Sub bass giving it room to bloom and decay naturally while not bleeding into the mid’s. For reference, this is the opposite of how the Isabellae was tuned. The mid bass of Traillii gradually dips around 100hz-200hz into a linear mid frequency that creates a great space for every kick drum hit to strike through with clear and concise ease. This gradual dip is what gives detail to the macro and micro elements of the bass. Giving it a wonderful image and precisely placing these sounds on the stage as intended. I will say the right tips are needed for a tight seal, otherwise the bass will come off anemic sounding. Tip roll and find what is correct for you. As stated above, the large stock tips are my personal favorite and what I used for this review.



The mid frequency may very well be the trickiest part of the FR to speak to for me.
It is as if they just exist. Organically and emphatically resound within the sound signature. The emphasis here is super subtle and has been placed in the lower mid’s to give the instruments a full and weighted sound. Locking them in place on the stage. This is not a negative thing due to how natural the sounds decay with texture and reverb, the rise to the upper mid’s strays from the almost neutral lower mid’s to create some heft in both male and female vocals. The Upper mid are detailed without harshness or fatigue but they do roll off around 3k and rise again at 4k. I feel this is what is giving the male vocals their heft without derailing the female vocals. This tuning like all of the Oriolus I have heard is a very direct decision from the tuner to make vocal’s stand out while simultaneously harmonizing with the rest of the frequency response. This gives the vocals a bit of a distanced effect, they are not recessed by any means but the scoop out of the lower treble from 4k-7k spreads out the signature creating a cavernous vocal effect that is as captivating as it is head scratching. The downside of this is some upper harmonics are blunted, most noticeably with piano. But what I feel this also doing, is setting up the treble to shine with sparkle and air.


Besides vocals, the 4BA running the show of this frequency replay with soul. I do not hear any typical BA timbre, toy or plastic like texture to the bite of instruments. Everything sounds full and engaging much like on my 2-channel turntable and tube pre amp. Dynamics with tom toms and snares are fast, authentic and felt. Never blunted. Drums sound full and real. Guitars have crunch and authority. There is a smoothness to the mid’s that do smooth over some of the micro detail. The midrange here is not as wide open as on the Isabellae. The mid range of Traillii is more dynamic and layered, concentrating on macro detail rather than micro. Giving a sense of grandeur to the whole picture rather than purely focusing the tuning on the mid’s. This is a smart decision on Oriolus, as this lends Traillii to be more of an all rounder for all types of genres. As previously mentioned, the Traillii replays music much like at a live show. The music washes over you and one feels immersed in the sounds. In the audience you would be hard pressed to hear the players moving or taking breaths between words, etc while the music is going. Listening to Traillii’s mid range makes me feel like I am at the venue sitting front row without distraction, consuming every moment of bliss.


The Upper mid peaks and valleys at 3k and more specifically at 4k that creates a scoop below neutral linearity through 7k which then sharply rises up to 8k. This is what we now know as the lower treble scoop. This does cause a few minor issues in harmonic/sub-harmonic overtones, especially to the piano. But what it also creates and does with control and definition, is the sharp rise that creates a zing for the treble to ride on up to 8k, letting the treble soar with air and sparkle before coming down to more grounded idealizations. The balance is uncanny, and one of the best I have heard. The 4 EST drivers sound ethereal and somewhat wet in comparisons to BA tweeters. I for one really enjoy the Trailli treble the most out the entire FR. EST drivers in iem’s have not received the best reception from the audiophile world. They take power to sound their best. Traillii is the exception here. Traillii sounds good on any and every source, although the better the source the more the Traillii scales. Too much juice though and those EST drivers can be piercing.


The tonality of the treble is another great tuning decision as it’s so clear, natural and extended, without any harshness or sibilance. Bells, harp and cymbal crashes ring through with clarity, sizzle and tintinnabulation. A medium to quick decay helps keep things clean and transparent, along with the macro-detailed mid range and correct yet forthright bass really emphasize a massive soundstage and center image. The treble literally sounds as if it’s dancing in adoration to the rest of the FR. This is the mental image I get because the Treble never comes off as congested or abrasive. It is radiating with twinkle and a controlled restraint that only makes me want more. I love the air the entire response imparts around instruments and vocals, separating them from one another while harmoniously coming together in a beautiful forte. The treble gently rolls off at 10k for more of a vintage tone, hence the “natural” and “organic” vocabulary. This vintage tone is subtle because another small peak happens at 12k that imparts the cleanliness of this “hi-fi” sound. I find the Traillii to toe the line between hi-fi, audiophile and analogue sound.


Select Comparisons

Empire Ears Legend X

The LX is much more warm across the FR. The huge bass shelf promotes this. I’ve been switching between the PW Audio1960’s 4-wire and the Eletech Iliad. The Iliad tightens up the bass and makes LX sound closer to Traillii but still far far away. LX is a bit of a chameleon and can almost transform into entirely different sound signatures with a simple cable swap or source change and even a tip roll. At its core LX is an L shape iem. Bass boosted with great technical detail retrieval. The bass is intoxicating, full and weighted. I feel the Sub and mid bass are meshed together utterly well. For this massive bass I’m surprised the rest of the FR is not destroyed in its wake.(sometimes it is) The mid’s can come off recessed, especially some female vocals, sometimes sounding far off and uninspired. Due to the weight of the bass, male vocals come off chesty and husky, just the way I like. The bass to me definitely creates this tube like essence that draws me into each track I play. The LX is a fun monitor but it also takes itself seriously. Meaning, it has technical chops and slightly airy treble but mostly smooth. The mid frequency instruments are focused and up front, having bite, texture and plenty of attack. The only element in the mid’s to come off soft/blunted is female vocals. Soundstage width with 60’s 4-wire is almost wider than stock with depth and height the same. The biggest caveat is the vocals and upper treble air and sparkle. Traillii reigns supreme here. This is not to say that LX is bad here, just not as extended. I find the LX to balance out with TOTL cables, however no cable has been able to notch up the dynamics of the LX, where I feel the LX lacks the most! It is a fairly two dimensional monitor.
Traillii is the better overall monitor, better technicalities, layering, treble and mids. It cannot compete with LX bass. LX is comparable in the soundstage, however imaging is much more natural and nuanced with the Traillii.

edit: LX and Traillii are very different presentations entirely. LX is most definitely a bass driven iem, but with the correct source and cable it scales to a more balanced sound with a larger soundstage. The LX in its stock form would not be near the level of Traillii in my humble opinion. But with the right cable it does in fact scale. No Traillii by a long shot.


Rhapsodio Eden

I know this sounds crazy to compare a single DD iem to a 12 driver (8BA / 4EST) hybrid iem. To my surprise the Eden most definitely holds its own compared to Traillii. The Eden is a neutral monitor with beautifully detailed and clear mids, a linear, nuanced and potent bass with a slightly airy treble. Eden is a much more intimate affair, lacking the enormous soundstage of Traillii. Traillii also excels in dynamics moving air faster than Eden. The Eden decaying with more ease and expelling micro elements across the mid range with eloquence and grandeur. This is where the Traillii smoothes over things, with a tilt toward macro detail in mid’s. Traillii treble is also more smooth and vintage sounding. Where, as the Eden treble is detailed, sparkling, allowing sonic clarity from the upper mid’s to soar without harshness or sharpness. Technically the two monitors are very similar and both have a natural warmth to them while not coming across warm or cold. They are both very balanced and tuned to enjoy the music rather than study it. The Eden is tonally accurate across the FR. This is my go to monitor for neutral uncolored sound that also sounds emotional and musical. Not an easy task, but I feel both the Eden and the Traillii pull this off and while not on the same level, they share a refinement that most only wish to achieve.

No graph of Eden available on the web…



The Traillii, the legend, the myth, the bird, the list will go on. This elusive and polarizing monitor may go down in history but whichever way the story of Traillii goes, I will be happy to have been a part. I have enjoyed every moment. The Traillii not only gave me musical bliss but also propelled me into wanting to learn more about this hobby. Being fairly new to this hobby, I often come across the term “end-game.” I think many thought Traillii as this and for some I am sure it has been that. After all “end game” is a relative term. If anything, owning Traillii has made me want to seek out more iem’s to understand more about frequency range, sound signatures, tunings, etc. I love listening to music for the sheer pleasure of it but I am also one that loves learning about how things work and what makes me like this or that. I enjoy the tech, engineering and philosophy that goes into this hobby as a whole. Traillii has only solidified my desires and made me crave more. I do not think I would be reviewing and as deep into this hobby if not for Odin and Traillii. The Traillii is still the single best iem I have ever heard. Is it “end game” for me? That is a resounding “No” as I will never have an “end game.” My brain is much too curious and insatiable. I also believe that with the new technology rapidly among us, the iem’s of the future will only get better.


Sources Used for Review:
Cayin N6ii w R01 Module using UApp bit perfect
Roon upsampled to Dsd256 to Denafrips Pontus II with a Iris DDC to a Schiit Lyr 3 hybrid tube amp with Vintage Tung Sol Black Plates Tube.

Traillii reviewed in complete stock form.

Music used:

Ola Kvernberg-Arpy/Devil Worm/Get Down
Mongo Santamaría-Miedo
Damien Rice-I don’t want to change you
Gabriel Marvin-Say Somethin’/Feels
Lady Blackbird-Fix it
Ray Lamontagne-Gossip in the grain
Arooj Aftab-Saans Lo/Suroor
Maridalen-S/T album in full
Dave Holland-Hands
Terry Callier-Cotton Eyed joe
Ada Lea-Damn
Chick Corea Akoustic Band-Japanese Waltz
Sufjan Stevens/Angelo De Augustine-Reach Out
Sven Wunder-Snowdrops
Pete La Roca-Turkish Women at the Bath
Billie Eilish-Happier than ever
Nala Sinephro-Space 2
Big Head Todd & the Monsters-Boom Boom
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@JauR what do you imply? Feel free to shoot me a pm if you want to further discuss your opinions also. I’m very open minded:)
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Yes, that is a review that resonates 100% with my experience, using the bird for 3 years now over and over again.


Headphoneus Supremus
Her Majesty of Subtlety
Pros: Tonality
Vocal Brilliance
Slower Mid Bass Decay
4.4 stock cable
Intimate stage
Cons: Technicalites and Layering
Upper treble grain
Sometimes strident with stock cable
Intimate stage (not a con for me)
Fit and seal
Oriolus Isabellae-Single DD


Thanks to for the graph


I posted a Three-Way Impression of the Oriolus iem’s that I own; Traillii, Crassi and Isa. I am now making my way through each one for its own thorough review. I started with Crassi because I have spent quality time with that monitor recently and feel like I really know it inside and out. Since I have released that review to the ether, all of my free time has been with Isabellae. I have remarked that the tuning of Oriolus definitely has a DNA. With each of the three, you can hear the familial resemblance albeit different. I mentioned in my Crassi review how the ‘Isa’ is making the rounds on the forum with a great fondness and how in my opinion is well deserved. The value of this monitor is truly exceptional.


I am happy to report that Isabellae does come stock with a supple and competent balanced 4.4 cable. This was so nice to see and I only hope more brands release this as standard termination or at least start to give us the option to select what we prefer. While I was happy with the cable, the first few weeks of listening with Isa I did start to notice some stridency during busy sections of music, creating a bit of grain. I also noticed this in the upper treble with some vocals and high hats. However, this was only noticeable during my desktop listening sessions. I am pretty sure this is due to my desktop system being more transparent. On my portable set up with Cayin N6ii R01, this stridency with stock cable did not correlate as palpable as with my desktop. I really had to listen with intent and it was subtle to say the least. However a small upgrade to the cable, like the $50 Cema Electro Acousti silver/copper hybrid cable alleviated this for me. No need to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on a third party cable...Unless you want to.

The build of Isabellae is exceptional and fit is extremely comfortable for me although isolation and fit has been a mixed bag for others. Isa has short and wide nozzles. Which for some makes it very difficult to seal, even with my elephant ears I still struggle getting a perfect seal. The shell of the Isa is small with smooth contours for comfort. Isabellae is such a diminutive beauty. She demands the gaze of the eyes before the lure of the ears.


This “eight years in the making” tuning was worth the wait in my very humble and subjective opinion. The best way for me to describe how Isabellae makes me feel is to use an analogy. As humans, we are deeply sentimental. I keep certain material things that have zero importance or value to anyone else because to me it has mythical or magical powers. I can hold, look, smell said thing and be taken right to the place it renders in my soul. It transcends! For me, this is the lure of the Isabellae. She is like that new song, that feels like it was written just for you, she is like that coin you kept that your grandpa gave to you before he passed away, she is like the blanket your mom made for you as a toddler, that book that changed your life, etc, etc. Isabellae can be an emotional experience waiting for you to lose yourself in the music. Okay, okay, I’ll stop fluffing up the review. Onto the sound signature.

With the Isa, once you hear her for yourself, one becomes enamored. It becomes increasingly difficult to speak of her without using words such as emotional and natural, which are not the easiest adjectives to define in correlation to the objectiveness of a graph. However my ears, my brain and my heart all align in unity when Isa sings her intoxicating song is a welcome affair. The mid’s steal the show, especially in vocals and acoustic instrumentation where this life-like texture and sublime coherency resonate with equal shimmer. This characteristic sends goosebumps down my body in succession to the beautiful timbre and seductive tones reverberating from inside my head. This same feeling washes over me when I meditate. The feeling of being alive and present enabling freedom from the entanglement of thought. These monitors enable freedom from technicality embracing the intimate.

The tonality of Isa is hard for me to describe, it’s not a V shape nor is it Neutral. There is a slight emphasis in the treble as well as the mid bass. So maybe a warm, slight U shape. What I can emphatically state is the Mid bass reigns supreme with Isa. There is a great weight to the bass that creates a beautiful playing field for the rest of the frequency response. For the music I listen to most, this emphasis is welcomed. However, the right tips are needed for the correct bass frequency to be represented. I have found the large stock wide bore tips work perfectly. Most tips I tried, lost the bass completely. YMMV. Where I have found the Bass to excel is in music where the bass is real and natural. Upright bass, double bass, cello, all play to the strength of Isa. The mid bass as I mentioned has a slower decay than other monitors I have encountered. This works as an advantage for tracks that allow space within the arrangement. Such albums as Terry Callier and The New Folk Sound and Arooj Aftab’s Vulture prince really show off what the Isabellae is capable of as a whole.

The bass specifically has room to have a longer life and it works in conjunction with this style of music. Wrapped up in a warm blanket but never bloating or bleeding out the other tones. The mid bass is not uncontrolled or loose. It is well defined and textured, albeit with some softness to bass drum kicks/tom toms. Sub bass is less prominent and has a quick decay, which is needed to balance out the mid bass and keeps it from becoming sloppy, muddy or bloomy. The bass is not here to be the star of the show. But it is indeed here to support the rest of the FR, a perfect stage for the treble and mid’s to dance upon.

Isa has a slight upper mid boost starting to rise from 1k to 2.5k that highlights female vocals with power, authority and texture.
The lower mids are almost neutral with enough scoop to sound full and clear allowing harmonic undertones to push through a linear black background. Stringed instruments are as glorious as female vocals although the upper mids are more accentuated so the male vocals aren’t as textured and growling as I would want. But nonetheless are quite remarkable yet slightly subdued.

Although this is a warmer monitor, it is not dark and has a healthy dose of clarity. Its midrange is tuned to be the centerpiece. It is wide open and allows not only for vocals too transcend but also for subtle nuance to cut through the mix. For instance, I can hear Terry Callier moving in his seat and the creaking of wood through the body of his guitar. His lips opening to let out a beautiful full bodied note on Cotton Eyed Joe, or his fingers moving upon the fret board. Acoustic instrumentation, especially guitar has such great note weight with Isa and while Isabellae may not irk out every single detail in the mid range, any spaces are filled with textured mid bass note body. This allows for any nuance of detail in the midrange to be clearly displayed. I mentioned in my Crassi review that instrument timbre is some of the best I’ve heard and this proves accurate for Isa as well. Seems to me, something Oriolus is keen on.

Coming from a month long excursion with Crassi, Isa absolutely makes me want to turn my back on Crassi from a purely emotional standpoint. I am infatuated all over again. Listening to Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack’s, I (Who Have Nothing) tells me immediately that Isa was made for this. I have listened to this album on many monitors and it has never sounded better than it does now. It is intimate and I feel as if these two are singing directly to me in the room I am writing this review. Isa makes this music palpable. Like I can reach out and touch it. The natural texture of the Isa plays well to Male vocals, although they can come off a bit less husky, less weighted than I would normally prefer. Female vocals take off and while a little on the sweet side, the sparkle and bite from the upper mid’s cuts through the sweetness and leaves a dry but full and weighted vocal. Vocals are the reward with Isa. I have found myself endlessly scrolling for vocal tracks to test with Isabellae. If vocals are in the track, Isa will highlight them front and center while the bass and treble fall in line. The midrange is the boss.

The only misstep with this wide open midrange is the sense of some grain, especially in busy or bombastic parts of a track. This is most noticeable to me with Damien Rice’s I Don’t Want to Change You. Near the end of the song, the full band plays in crescendo and Isa cannot resolve these layers fast enough and it turns to grain. Even with an upgrade cable, the grain remains although alleviated some. This is important to note if you listen to music such as Metal, EDM, Hip Hop, Etc.

The treble quality of Isa is smooth and slightly rolled off. Just enough to keep the monitor sounding warm yet clear with detail. Do not get it twisted, the Isa is not a technical monster by any means but it is clear, concise and has enough air to create some nice natural reverb around instruments.

The Isa is not a neutral iem but more of a U shape, with subtle boost in the mid bass with a peak at 8k in the treble. Similar to the Crassi, of course with different driver and tuning. The tuning is to promote the midrange frequency. Which is engaging and very wide with a rich warmth across the frequency that induces a sense of analogue feel to the sound. If you have ever listened to a great turntable with a tube amp, or a guitar tube amp then you will understand the euphonic tones coming from Isa. When I first heard Isa I described it this way to a friend. And that friend ended up with one. Hah!

I have not encountered any sibilance or fatigue even with that 8k peak. It is one of the most natural and smooth trebles I have listened to. Due to the open landscape of the midrange, the treble doesn’t need extra air or extension to shine. The midrange lucidity allows for the treble to ring through with the utmost clarity. And while clarity does not mean technicalities, you would never miss the detail here due to the lighter touch of the tuning as a whole. Unless one was seeking pure detail than I would say, steer clear of Isa. She doesn’t want to hurl every detail at you all at once. She would rather encapsulate you with a subtle grandeur.

Instruments such as the upright harp and piano have great note body that decays with a natural reverb. One that can catch you off guard, however without stealing the show and letting the midrange take precedence. Piano timbre is some of the best I have heard. The notes sound authentic and whole, even as they fade away. Listening to Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert feels like I am sitting next to him on the piano bench. If I close my eyes, I can actually visualize Keith striking each key hunched over in full abandon to his craft. The transparency of this treble allows for the micro dynamics to shine in more intimate tracks. Especially bells, chimes, vibraphones, etc, ring through with sparkle and life-like timbre. Breathtaking to say the very least.

This is actually the most difficult part of the frequency response to speak too due to the inoffensive and smooth nature of the treble. There is some stridency in the upper treble area, especially with female vocals rising to up that area in the frequency response. Although, an upgrade cable did remedy some of this but not all because this is partly due to the tuning.


Isabellae is a subtle monitor. She will not impress you with fast transient dynamics or with a whirlwind of technical detail. Isa is definitely a transducer for the heart. What this means to me, is that I am moved when I listen to music. I am engaged with my emotions. This is my preferred listing method albeit not possible when reviewing. I will be the first one to say that I do indeed love a wide-open soundstage, separating each element with ease, hearing every nuance. It is definitely something to experience and although Isa cannot compete with that; vocals, strings and acoustic instruments are what she excels at. The Isa’s most rewarding characteristic is her correct tonality and coherence across the FR. I often find myself getting sucked into entire albums, most recently Black Acid Soul by Lady Blackbird. This is not to say that Isa has problems with dynamics, she is just playing a different hand.

Isa does separate well and although intimate, nothing feels congested. While the decay across the spectrum is on the laid back side, the midrange is full and displays vocals upfront, dancing upon the steady floor of mid bass. Every drum and cymbal strike ring through with clarity. Vocals soar with vigor and vivid texture without sibilance or harshness, especially the ladies and higher register male vocals. The bass is articulated, blooming and decaying naturally. A very pointed tuning. Layering/separation is on the slower side which falls in line with Isa’s overall laid back vibe. However Isa gives you subtle detail; the creaking of Lady Blackbird in her chair, moving the page of her music, her breathing. To me this creates a soundstage that is alluring, romantic and one that I want to stay wrapped up in for as long as I can.

If you have paid attention, I have used the word subtle many times as well as clarity. The Isa does not shy from its intimacy, she embraces it completely and wholly hence the romantic terminology. YES, I do believe a transducer has the ability to romanticize and even romance is not perfect. Onward to the comparisons...




As soon as I put these in my ears after the Isa, I immediately notice a difference in response. Turii comes off open, clean, resolving and detailed with an almost flat and linear bass. Lifting ever so slightly to support the mids and treble. This is a polarizing feeling coming from the laid back Isa with its Mid bass boost and ultra smooth treble. The treble with Turii is also smooth but much more crisp, dry and extended allowing more detail to be heard, but this treble can be fatiguing at higher volumes. The Turii has better control across the spectrum. The mid range does have that ‘je ne sais quoi’ as it does with the Isa however the Turii still has a grain to the trailing edge of the midrange. While the Turii is very similar to Isa, it is a layered monitor with a wider soundstage, making it a great partner with Classical. And where Isa resolved better with Female vocals, Turii shines with Male vocals (the audiophile’s dilemma and the never ending trade off). I have found them to be a great compliment to one another, Isa being warm and intimate with sublime emotion and Turii leaning lean with a colder note and less weight across the spectrum due to its linear and flat neutral bass. The caveat here is not that Turri is much more detail oriented with better layering and dynamics. The true caveat is that Turii does not have the emotional pull that Isa has. The Turii does not keep me searching for tracks to listen to, the Turii makes me want to put the Isa back into my ears. With the exception of Classical music, Turii dominates over Isa in this regard. Turii extends much better giving classical music the gravitas it needs to elevate and articulate each instrument in the pit.


graph courtesy of crin

The Eden is very much a mix of Isa’s musicality and open midrange sensibilities with Turii’s elicit, crisp and extended treble. The Eden would be my top pick for a single DD. It can play just about any genre with strength. The Eden I have on loan did not come with a stock cable so I am using the Ares II from Effect Audio. This is the definition of a neutral monitor. This monitor has had a lot of play time and the bass has seasoned so well. Many of the reviews I have read about this iem from years back all tell of the linear and ultra flat bass but I am not hearing this. The bass is neutral as to say it supports the midrange with a natural decay, just enough to allow the midrange to soar open in width and depth. The bass is natural and very intoxicating with its mid bass thump. Much like the Isa in this manner but the Eden being more resolving, potent and layered in the bass. Male Vocals have a heft and huskiness that is spot on tonally. Not so heavy that they are anchored to the stage but just heavy enough to impart texture and a chestiness while being just smooth enough to image the vocalist in the center. Soundstage is less width than Turri but deeper than Isa or Turii. Stage width is on par with the Isa with the Ares II. Upgrading the cable does spread the stage width wise. Female vocals are much like the Turii, sweet and a bit diffused, although natural and full, the bite in the upper registers is rolled off. Acoustic instruments here are just as appealing as on the Isa. Textured and nuanced with a nail on the head timbre! The Eden is the most balanced of the three. And now I will have to devote an entire review just to the Eden.

edit: no graph of Eden available on the web

I swapped each iem cable with an upgrade cable to hear any subtleties in sound. I used the Eletech Iliad with each transducer after writing my findings with the stock cables. I know this is a controversial topic, but I am a believer that a cable, like an equalizer is a tool to tease the most out of your monitors. Below are my impressions with each iem paired with the Iliad.

Isabellae with Iliad, offered some considerable benefits to the sound signature. First of all, the upper treble grain was removed as the layers with the Iliad where more filled in with detail than texture. The Iliad removed the texture and smoothed out the entire FR. I did miss some of the texture in male vocals but overall the Iliad tightened up the bass teasing out more sub bass while keeping the same level of mid bass. The stage opened up in all directions. However, even the Iliad could not correct the stridency during busy sections of music.

Turii with Iliad was not a good match at all. The treble became too intense and fatigued me within minutes. Turii seems to pair best with stock Isa cable. My Turii did not come with stock cable. I used the Isa stock and the Legend X stock Ares II. Iliad did spread out the stage in all directions but the note weight was much too cold and thin.

Eden with Iliad is sublime. This is synergy. The bass tightens while the stage widens and deepens. Iliad creates a deep black background that allows details to jump seemingly out of nowhere and separation becomes more articulate, layering to an impressive degree. Iliad resolves this monitor in the most natural and emotional way without rolling off technicalities and detail. Iliad will not be leaving this monitor. They are made for one another.

Closing Thoughts:
Isabellae was my first foray into a single DD transducer, the Turii and Eden following soon after. The coherence and timbre of these monitors is something so special and not to be taken for granted. The midrange is where the emotional aspect of sound lies. It is the midrange after-all, where we hear the voices of others. The voice of your parent, loved one or even your enemy can and often does elicit an emotional response, so it only makes sense that these monitors would trigger that same response within me. I am a true believer of the single DD. I am now on the quest to find the most resolving, coherent with correct tonality DD I can get my hands on.

Isabellae is the Queen of subtlety. She really took my by surprise when I first heard her. I couldn’t understand why I loved the sound so much at first. After all, I did own the Traillii. What I discovered is that the main music I listen to, really synergies with Isabellae and this is where preference really comes into play. As other reviews of Isa have stated. Preference is key. This is not an all rounder.

Tracks Used:
Terry Callier and The New Folk Sound
Aroj Aftab- Vulture Prince
Damien Rice-I don’t want to change you
Joshua Redman-Moe Honk
Joni Mitchell-All I Want
James Taylor-Fire and Rain
Lady Blackbird-Black Acid Soul
Gregory Porter-Brown Grass
Art Blakey-Free For All
Mahler-Symphony no.9
Mongo Santamaria-Miedo
Richie Havens-Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen/My Sweet Lord
GoldFrapp-Lovely Head
Esmerine-Lost River Blues Pt.1
Arne Domnerus-Jazz at the Pawnshop
Keith Jarrett-Köln Concert
Gaspar Claus-Tancade
Peter Gregson-Patina
FKA Twigs-Cellophane
Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway-(I) who have nothing

Edit: pictures taken with final e tips as I was testing them out on Isa when I took the pictures:wink: I used the large stock tips for the review*
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Great review!
Nice review!
Thanks for the great review!
Believe it or not I only just got one of these and I'm rather impressed. Firstly I think they need a bit of tip rolling to get the right seal and then it becomes a monster. My own recommendation would be to try the Spiral dots. I'm getting nice sumptuous, layered and detail bass and I agree the IEM produces wonderful mids and vocals.
I am a big single DD fan. My all time favourite so far is the IE900. If I was ever to lose my pair I would have to get another one. I will be very happy to alternate between these two IEMs.
I'm impressed the Isabellae seem the absolute perfect fit for my ears. It's like they used my ears to mold the IEM .


Headphoneus Supremus
The Jester-Royal but Outcast
Pros: Impressive DD-has control and depth with texture and layers. Cymbal life is nuanced. W shape Signature with fast and natural transients. Engaging technicalities with a great stage width. Some of the best BA tone and timbre of any hybrid I have ever heard. Fantastic set for Orchestra and Symphonic music and Atmospheric Jazz.
Cons: Signature on the drier side, lacking a bit of coherency in very busy sections of music. Not easy on poorly recorded music. On the brighter side of nuetral. Upper Mid energy.

By now I would assume that every head-fi user is aware of Oriolus and the venerable Traillii. A lot of controversy around this iem and its price. However Oriolus has another iem that has been making the threads called Isabellae. Which is about a tenth of the cost of a Traillii! The Isabellae transducers have been getting quite a bit of praise lately due to the value of cost to sound performance. I own the Isabellae and I concur that this is well deserved. Over the last few years another Oriolus made the rounds before either of these, called The Reborn. It seems this Oriolus is the older sibling of the Crassirostris. Of which I will be reviewing today. The Reborn and the Crassirostris both possess the same driver configuration but different tunings. I have not heard The Reborn, so I will not be able to comment on the differences. All that I do know is that the “Crassi” is the newest version of this driver set up. The Crassi to me is a Royal for its tuning and bass texture but an Outcast due to the realitvely little discussion and lack of reviews for it. I am hoping this will change as its a great monitor for price. Not perfect by any stretch but still holds its own, even in comparison to the Traillii.

I am not going to get into the build and all of the nitty gritty of the specifications, as that info is readily available on the good ole world wide web. It is very well built and comes with a great stock cable. However I will say, the stock cable is unbalanced and that this review is done using a PW Audio No.10, 8 wire balanced 4.4 cable. Please note, the Crassi does take a bit more power to sound its best and I use medium gain out of my Cayin N6ii. I only get a teeny bit of driver flex in my right side as I use the large stock tips and my right ear is a bit smaller than my left, so the extra squeeze does flex the DD a bit.

I bought the Crassi blind as I already owned the Traillii and I was craving a different signature from the “Old Man”. My preference in this hobby really is split right down the middle. I normally will go for an organic/analog timbre over sheer technicalities. Although too warm (Jomo Tango) and I am bored and vice versa, too technical without the emotional engagement equals bored (Anole VX). The Crassi fits right in the middle and keeps me engaged and excited with whatever I am listening to. My heart and my brain have to unite and Oriolus tunings have won me over.

SOUND: Tone and Timbre. These two words are the sum of the Crassi’s parts. How does this monitor have such technical detail with multi faceted layers within the FR and still have the perfect tone, body and decay of a piano strike? The perfect timbre of a bow against the string of a cello? This effortlessness is uncanny yet refined to the ultimate specification of a real fine tuned instrument. This is a tuning of not just a transducer but of an instrument not unlike the cello which insists on the proper tuning, care and the proper user. These monitors have been fine tuned for music that comes from a natural instrument. These are not monitors for the synthetic.

BASS: The Tonality of Crassi is a W shape with a slight emphasis in the sub bass extension. The mid bass is not forgotten and has a good dose of Oomph. However when a track calls for that deep sub bass rumble, the Crassi does not disappoint, as a matter of fact, the bass is one of the most layered and textured I have heard, when listening to ‘Why so Serious?’ from the Batman dark knight soundtrack, it’s as if a curtain was pulled back and I could literally see through the sub bass rumble. The nuance was the most dramatic I have encountered and made me shake my head in disbelief. The bass never overtakes or bloats. The bass is controlled and only comes out to play if the track calls upon it. Some of the best bass timbre I have heard and Yes I used to own the Empire Ears Odin! However, this is definitely not a bass head iem. Focus is on musicality with texture and definition while maintaining a linear extension. The perfect track to emulate this is Tord Gustavsen Quintet-Suite.

In Jazz tracks the upright bass sounds divine. Every thump, pluck is retrieved with tonal accuracy. See Arrow Aftab - Mohabbat and Last Night. The bass never blooms into the mid’s and nothing gets grainy or loses detail. The bass has a good amount of air around it, with a quick decay. Letting the mid’s and treble still have their moment.

Slightly recessed with stock cable, however with a cable upgrade like Pw Audio No.10 the mid’s become front and center while keeping the soundstage width. The mid’s are natural and smooth. Female vocals soar with an effervescence. A little texture or huskiness is lacking with Male vocals, but artists like Jackson Brown sound angelic. Acoustic strings like Cello, Guitar and 12 string Guitar sound very natural and smoothly textured. There is definitely some upper mid energy, however with a balanced cable of good quality def reduced this for me. With stock cable the upper mid spike was fairly rare. Instrument timbre is some of the best I have heard, engaging and natural. The decay of the note is accurate and the body resonates with clarity and natural timbre. The lower mid’s can come across a bit dry. I have only heard this with a deeper male vocal. The harp really resonates with Crassi, the natural reverb around this instrument really swirls around the head in an intoxicating effect. The reverb and air is admirable for this price range. All in all if you enjoy a midrange that is detailed with a forward and deliberate delivery, this is a monitor to try. However, most EDM has a bit too much upper mid presence for this genre to excel with Crassi. It was just too harsh most of the time with EDM. However, slower tempo EDM along with well produced Modern R&B will play to Crassi strengths.

There is a nice amount of air in the treble regions. Cymbal life is impressive. The air around instruments in the treble is just enough to have good extension and separation, taking some of the DNA from the Traillii treble. The treble is never too bright or fatiguing. It extends with clarity and sparkle. This is definitely my favorite aspect of these transducers. String instruments like Violins and the Harp have bite and texture as well as timbre that is real and life like. Nothing sounds replayed or imagined. The transient resolution is fast and dynamic. Layering is top notch here in the upper registers and nothing is really lacking that I can hear except a slight lacking in coherency when certain tracks have very busy or congested elements. The treble here definitely lures me in with its air and sparkle. I find myself constantly looking for tracks to stretch this to its limit. I have yet to find any track to push The Crassi beyond the point of no return. I did mention in a previous impression post that Crassi had BA timbre with piano tracks. On further inspection I have found the piano to sound real and authentic without any toy or plastic tone.

Technical Response:
Crassi has an extremely high level of detail retrieval, however I would say the focus here is on the tuning. Even though the separation and dynamics are excellent, the tuning shines through with its pure emotion or as Alex from Twister 6 put it “more soulful”. Not to say this is a warm, lush sounding monitor. It is not that at all. I would call this monitor a neutral monitor with slight accentuation to the treble, mid’s and bass. Just enough to create an engagement beyond technical ability.
Separation is on par with a totl in my humble opinion. The slight emphasis on treble creates a nice out of the head soundstage and allows percussion to float around the head effortlessly creating a nice depth to the stage or center image if you rather. The Crassi is deep and portrays a wonderful center image with vocalists! At least this is how my brain portrays the signature of this iem.
Soundstage in my opinion is very subjective to the listener and the brain they possess. But I guess this falls prey to about every listenable aspect of the FR. Although reviews are quite subjective, I do find them beneficial to the hobby. I hope that I can add to the pleasure of the hobby.

Stock Tips in Large w/ PW Audio No. 10, 8-Wire, 4.4mm, 2pin cable.

Source(s) Used- Cayin N6ii w/ R01 (bit perfect stream) and Pontus 2 with Lyr 3 (upsampled dsd256 stream)

Music Used:
Dave Holland, Pepe Habichuela-Hands [Fandango de Huelva]
Tord Gustavsen Quintet-Suite
Brandee Younger-Love and Struggle
Arooj Aftab-Last night
Milt Jackson-Caravan
John McLaughlin/Santana-Let Us Go into the House of the Lord
Terry Callier-Cotton Eye Joe
Mahler-Symphony No.9
Alice In Chains-Brother(unplugged)
Big Boi-Kill Jill
Dinah Washington-Cry Me a River
Patricia Kopatchinskaja-Violin concerto in D major Op. 35
Joni Mitchell-Help me
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Excellent review. You have written the words that were at the tip of my tongue, both in Crassi's strengths and ever so slight weaknesses. I am the proud owner of a massive library of badly recorded music, Gen X punk that I am. I'm going to hit up some of the tracks you've highlighted to help put Crassi's tech on display.
Hi, I saw you compare this to the Odin and the Monarch in the Oriolus thread. Could you speak to how the Crassi measures up to those 2?
Would you take these or the NA Tesseract for instrumental, classical, and jazz?