Reviews by moedawg140

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
iFi Audio NEO Stream Review
Pros: Multiple connectivity options
Cons: Challenging to set up fully
A Jack of most trades

Introduction


iFi Audio is a company that specializes in various types of audio gear, such as: home audio, portable audio, power, cables, and accessories. The company has created a device that is a Jack of all trades, and is very good for those who want a highly capable music streamer. This music streamer is called the NEO Stream.

Versatile connections​

Inputs
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi reception (2.4GHz and 5GHz) with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac support
  • Gigabit Ethernet (LAN) – 1x RJ45; 1x M12; 1x Optical LAN (see below for more information)
  • 2x USB-A (USB2.0 and SuperSpeed USB3.0 supported)
  • 1x USB-C system update port (OTA – Over The Air – updates also available)

Outputs
  • Analogue – 1x stereo RCA; 1x 4.4mm balanced
  • Ultra-res digital (PCM 768kHz, DSD512) – 1x HDMI-I2S; 1x USB-A (USB3.0)
  • Hi-res S/PDIF digital (PCM 192kHz) – 1x optical; 1x coaxial; 1x AES/EBU

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NEO setup…​

The NEO was not the easiest to set up, but that could have been because I didn’t read the manual in its entirety to play everything that I wanted to. The main issue at first was that I had no way to choose USB output, as the options on the interface was “Analog”, “Digital”, and nothing else. The quick start pamphlet specifically showed USB output as an option, but after trying various ways to get USB output to show, it never showed. The only way for me to utilize USB output, was to go through the iFi Audio application (thanks to Wayne at The Source AV in Torrance for suggesting that option), and going through that process after a micro SD card was inserted with an adapter into the USB-C port.

Here's an excerpt from hypethesonics.com (minihype - it's been published for a few months):

The iFi NEO Stream measured with a Df-histogram median of -46.2 decibels. (Less is better, with -∞ being a perfect score.)

NEOStream measuement hypethesonics.jpg


What We Think

The iFi NEO Stream is an interesting and comprehensive box of streaming tricks, but might not be for everyone. The NEO Stream uses either wired or wireless ethernet, is Roon-ready, capable of streaming from DNLA, Spotify, Tidal (with MQA decoding), Qobuz, and also supports local playback from an attached USB drive. However, it has some issues to be aware of. The manual is pretty spartan and makes no mention at all of the (absolutely essential) smartphone app. The NEO Stream can take a very long time to process the files on an attached USB drive and it's not possible to browse by folders before this scan is completed. Analog sound quality is only average, and its output impedance via the rear 4.4 mm pentacon socket is an unbelievably-high 70 Ohms, so we'd conclude this device is best used for either digital output (to a separate DAC) or for causal streaming to room speakers, not for direct/critical listening via headphones.

Is it Worth the Hype?

For the right user, it might be.

Overall Thoughts

Once the connections were secure, the streamer worked as intended. Even though it might not be the most perfect application for my needs, I can see how it is a very versatile and powerful music streamer.

Price: $1,299 USD
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moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
1MORE EVO Review
Pros: Exemplary sound when you dial in your favorite personal EQ
Cons: ANC is less to be desired when out and about with wind noise
1MORE EVO Review


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Thank you to Mr. Black and Mr. Noyd for the EVO in exchange for the review.

This review is also on hypethesonics.com under their Headphone Repository (1MORE EVO - MiniHype).

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The Nitty Gritty

The 1MORE EVO might be just another set of true-wireless bluetooth earbuds, were it not for one rather interesting feature, which could one day be a game changer. The EVO has 'SoundID', powered by Sonarworks. Through a series of A/B preference tests, the 1MORE Music app steers the frequency response toward the user's personal preference target. The idea is fantastic, and it does work - but only to a degree. The raw/uncorrected frequency response of the EVO is quite poor, with a single narrow-band peak around 8 kHz and no bass to speak of. So almost any EQ is going to sound better than the default setting, and this can create some initial wow factor. However, the subjective test only applies a small number of coarse-grained corrections based on rather short passages of a very limited-selection of music, none of which covers the full spectrum. The resulting EQ appears to use only a small number of fixed frequency bands and mainly affects only the low and mid frequencies; it seems no combination of selections was able to correct the deficiencies in the treble, and our resulting preference curve (e.g., HS001, made with the 'Kireyev and the Void' test track) was still not entirely where we'd like it to be. This is potentially game-changing technology, but version 2 ought to have a better DSP (the EVO has a poor impulse response, with massive excursions and very little damping), a wider variety of test tracks containing a full span of audible frequencies, a finer-grained selection process, autoEQ to a proper parametric EQ, and an underlying raw frequency response that doesn't contain any strong resonance peaks. One final thought on the design - the EVO buds protrude far enough from your ears to generate significant wind noise, even with the ANC active.

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Other Thoughts

Based on my listening, the EVO without the preferred EQ sounds like a middle-of-the-road, balanced sound, not too enveloping and expansive. But using the preferred EV sounds as good as I want to hear it, which is very good! Slightly crisper highs, smoother mids, and a bit more oomph in the mid/subbass department, especially when paired with ANC in a quiet room. Out and about, the bass won't shine, even with ANC enabled.

My wife uses her EVO often, and enjoys listening via her personally preferred EQ.


Is it Worth the Hype?

Yes, if only to take that brief glimpse into the future.

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Questyle CMA Fifteen Review
Pros: Overall, highly competent sound, various connectivity options.
Cons: Non-optical inputs don't sound as resolved as optical.
Questyle CMA Fifteen Review


Thanks in advance to Jim Noyd and Cameron Black for loaning the Questyle CMA Fifteen for review. The main "MiniHype" review is also posted on hypethesonics.com.


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The Questyle CMA Fifteen (hearby referred as CMA Fifteen) is an incredibly versatile desktop DAC/Amp that looks nice and utilitarian, with a clean black finish, appropriate for a family room or even a main bedroom.

The CMA Fifteen offers multiple connectivity options (such as optical, USB and Bluetooth), a ‘bias’ selection and a choice of gain suitable for both in-ear monitors and the most-demanding over-ear headphones. However, it offers no frills and no unnecessary clutter when it comes to audio adjustments (it lacks any built-in EQ or bass/mid/treble adjustment and there is no choice of anti-aliasing filter).

The sound of the CMA Fifteen reminds us of the Gold DAC/amp stack, but at a much more reasonable price point (the Gold DAC/amp stack retailed for upwards of ten thousand US dollars). The CMA Fifteen definitely has characteristic Questyle acoustics, rather similar to that of the portable QPM DAP, which is clearly seen in its measurements.

Most of our tests were performed via the optical input, driven by devices such as the QP2R or Astell & Kern SP2000. We found the sound of the CMA Fifteen via optical output to be good, but we were less impressed with the Bluetooth connection when coupled with an iPhone XS. In fairness, we should note that other (e.g., Android) devices are capable of supporting better codecs than current iPhones, however the sound of the Bluetooth-sourced connection compared to the optical connection was night and day, and we would expect most people would use the CMA Fifteen via a wired (USB) or TOSLINK connection. (All of our measurements used the latter.) The versatility of this device is certainly appreciated, but we feel that if you are going to purchase and use a desktop DAC/amp such as the CMA Fifteen, you will certainly want to experience it with an optical connection for the best possible acoustics.

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The CMA Fifteen has both (AC mains) hum and hiss that are very audible with sensitive IEMs if used in high-gain mode. It also has an appreciable noise-floor modulation (hiss increases with gain). It’s therefore critical to adjust the gain – this must be done by setting both of the underside switches simultaneously to low, or high, respectively. In low gain mode, most IEM users shouldn’t be bothered with hiss or hum, but the power the amp provides is rather high and IEM users may find they’re limited to a fairly small range of the volume potentiometer to avoid reaching excessively-loud levels. On the plus side, it has plenty of power when driving full-sized headphones or acting as an external (pre) amplifier. (The CMA Fifteen also has the ability to operate as an isolated amplifier without using its DAC.) In low gain setting (both gain switches set to low), we found the CMA Fifteen to give 4 Vrms into 32 Ohm. The standard gain mode (both switches high) gave 6 Vrms into 32 Ohm. Be careful what you wish for – this is more power than many headphone users will ever need!

We noted some minor channel imbalance when adjusting gain via the volume potentiometer at low SPLs, suggesting this device is perhaps best not used with sensitive in-ear monitors (where moving the volume pot just a few degrees will blow out your eardrums, even on low gain).

Our measurements of the CMA Fifteen show a fairly average performance – good enough that most end users shouldn’t need to be particularly worried, but certainly not as good as we would have expected from a flagship ESS DAC. Firstly, we can see that the gain settings have no impact on audio quality:

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The same is true for its balanced output. There is no significant audio quality difference with the balanced output, in either gain mode:

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This effect, or lack thereof, with respect to gain is perhaps to be expected. Some audio enthusiasts continue to believe that balanced outputs bring improved audio quality, but we have never seen that in measurements. The CMA Fifteen confirms what we’ve seen in pretty much every other device – that balanced output to a short-cable-connected headphone buys very little of any significance, beyond (perhaps, in some devices) extra output power. Channel separation can improve with a balanced output, but is almost never an issue to begin with in single-ended outputs from modern DAPs. Balanced outputs mainly just increase output impedance, and the CMA Fifteen shows the typical pattern of Z-out doubling on its balanced output. Curiously, we also heard no difference as a result of toggling the CMA Fifteen’s bias switch. As with our earlier QPM measurements, we see no difference at all in measurements with low vs high bias. Our research indicates that such near-identical measurements mean no human would tell these signals apart, so it would seem the bias switch (at least on the unit we tested) has no purpose beyond placebo:

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The ES9038PRO DAC is a top-of-the-line component from what appears to be (as of 2022) the manufacturer of the world’s most accurate DAC chips. We expected somewhat better accuracy than this, given our past experience with ESS DACs. (The above measurements can be compared with those from our DAP database.) There may be something going on with Questyle’s current mode amplification or implementation that causes some (possibly intentional?) shaping of the sound. If so, we’d generally object to such tweaks, because any such preferences are inevitably subjective, can’t be widely applicable to all types of recordings of all music genres and all hearing preferences. Unfortunately, it seems that very few manufacturers optimize their devices for accuracy. We should note that our main error metric here – the df (histogram) median is a relatively new metric and still the subject of ongoing research. However, it is typically revealing of problems reproducing more complex waveforms, such as actual music tracks.

One benefit of the CMA Fifteen (and indeed of all Questyle devices) is the impressively-low output impedance. The importance of this shouldn’t be underestimated – this can sometimes be a more important metric than the df-median error, as high output impedance has the ability to significantly alter the basic frequency response of certain headphones.

Final Thoughts

The CMA Fifteen is a fantastically versatile Swiss-army knife of a DAC/Amp, capable of driving pretty much anything, from pretty much any source, however it won’t be worth the hype for everybody. Its reproduction accuracy doesn’t exceed that of other (cheaper) devices on our database, but it does have a lot more versatility in terms of usage, with a lot more power output power than most portable devices.
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szore
szore
Just curious, did you actually listen to it with music, or is it all measurements?
moedawg140
moedawg140
Didn’t even take it out of the package! /s
gordonli
gordonli
excellent review and science! hope for your continued df testing in the next years (am using the Hiby FC3 for my IEMs & loving it, thanks to you)

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Questyle M12 (Mobile DAC/Amp) Review
Pros: An utterly resolving, generates low heat
Cons: no on-board buttons/controls
Questyle M12 (Mobile DAC/Amp) Review


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The box with USB-C to Lightning cable
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Instructions, and such...
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This is a DAC/Amp that I believe is worthy of its $139 price tag. How come?

You’ve got not only the extremely resolving mobile DAC/amp that gives you an utterly coherent sound, but you don’t have to worry about the use of on-amp buttons or dials, as the smartphone/device/laptop in use is what is used to provide the volume and other settings.


The USB-C to Lightning cable that I used to connect the M12 to my iPhone XS
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Such a slim profile of the Questyle M12
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The headphone jack is almost as wide as the M12 itself!
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Various technologies including the infamous Current Mode Amplification (check out my QP1R review for a detailed explanation)
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The very low-profile design of the mobile DAC/Amp that is the M12
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A very slim USB-C port
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Compared to the BlueGet, this DAC/Amp offers a more coherent sound. You’ve got the Bluetooth (and slightly muddier sound) as well of the BlueGet, as opposed to the cord-connected nature of the M12 (albeit very slim)! You’ve got several ways to connect to the M12, and the use of the USB-C to Lightning cable provided an instantaneous connection without any issue!


Was I working out? I guess the world will never know.
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Connected to the Drop DT 177X Go
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If you’re in the mood for an upgraded sound in a minuscule package that doesn’t generate much heat (very worth the 5.0 rating in my opinion), then the M12 is definitely the right fit for you!

For more information, purchasing, and specs, you can go here.

Feel free to contact me on Head-Fi.org (moedawg140), and I can help you out with regards to any questions or inquiries you might have! Take care.
Uebelkraehe
Uebelkraehe
I have both the M12 and the PAW S1 and they are imo practically opposite ends of the spectrum, with the M12 being wide and analytical while the PAW S1 is intimate and warm. I personally prefer the PAW S1 as the M12 for my taste is almost bright and brittle, but it'll imo mostly be a matter of taste which one is perceived as being 'better'.
Pirastro
Pirastro
Great review. I recently purchased the M12 and have been very happy with the synergy between it and my Grado Hemps. Definitely a HUGE upgrade over onboard sound coming from either my MacBook or iPhone.
ngoshawk
ngoshawk
Excellent review as usual, and nice to see you here, Mo! 😎

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
1MORE ComfoBuds Z Review
Pros: Very comfortable, sleep-inducing
Cons: no on-stalk buttons/controls
1MORE ComfoBuds Z Review


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This is a true comfort bud, as it is best to help assist with your sleep.

There are no real on-earbud buttons to mess with, you control the earbuds with the 1MORE app and your smartphone/device.

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You can choose the various “Soothing Sounds” in the 1MORE app: Breeze, Drizzle, Medium Fire, Spring Water, Summer Rain, and Thunderstorm. My favorite is probably “Breeze”, since it most resembles pink noise to me.


The sound is a bit more subdued than the more powerful ComfoBuds Pro, but I would say these fit a bit more comfortably than the Pro (even though the Pro is pretty comfortable as well.



The case is very minimalistic, and can fit into just about any pocket your heart desires.

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The ComfoBuds Z is perfect if you want an easy-to use, very comfortable earbud without all of the fuss of buttons to have to remember, and a serious inducer of a restful sleep. Worth the 4.5 star score, in my opinion (because of the non-buttons on the earbuds).

For more information about pricing, and specs, go here.


Feel free to contact me on Head-Fi.org (moedawg140), and I can help you out with regards to any questions or inquiries you might have! Take care.
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moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
1MORE ComfoBuds Pro Review
Pros: Great ANC, 22 EQ Presets, 5 Sound settings
Cons: The Earbuds might be a bit longer than desired.
1MORE ComfoBuds Pro Review



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A melding of a smooth and balanced sound, with a very good use of ANC as an option. This earphone is great if you want to drown out the sounds of your kids and possibly loved one, but make sure that you are looking around for them so they won’t completely complain to you!

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The case is very nice, as it offers an easy way to remove the earbuds (push at the lighted tip and pull up the earbud end).

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The 5! Listening modes are what set this earbud pair apart from most wireless earbuds, in my opinion. The modes are:

Off, Strong (ANC), Mild (ANC), Pass-through, and WNR (Wind Noise Reduction). I usually just stick with the Strong if I’m alone, and Pass-through if I’m with my family.

This blue wireless earbud pair is gorgeous, as it has a beautiful design with good, all-around sound with a clean ANC - makes the ComfoBuds Pro worth the 5.0 stars and a good buy, in my opinion.

For more info about pricing, and specs, go here.

Feel free to contact me on Head-Fi.org (moedawg140), and I can help you out with regards to any questions or inquiries you might have! Take care.
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Lokiiami
Lokiiami
Thanks and how's the mic call quality?

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
A great bespoke sound for a great price!
Pros: Customizable sound through the Tronsmart App, comfortable to wear.
Cons: Would love an available color, like gold, to stand out amongst the crowd of white Q-Tip earbuds!
Thanks to Tronsmart for providing the Apollo Air for free in exchange of my thoughts.

My main brief review is in my @moedawg140 Instagram account, here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CQK5YwqhTrm/

Basically, for the price, custom sound, uniquely useful modes, great sound, coupled with a price that won't break the bank at a price that's a fraction of most other mainstream brands, the Tronsmart Apollo Air is a very good choice to make!

Some photos for your viewing pleasure:

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Take care, and enjoy your Apollo Air!
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moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
A great-sounding AirPods Pro alternative
Pros: Great sound, great ANC capabilities, great price compared to the Apple AirPods Pro's price.
Cons: Possibly some add-on hooks would be nice for better fitment.
Tronsmart Apollo Bold Review


Thanks in advance to Tronsmart for providing the Apollo Bold free of charge for the review.

This is a very good Bluetooth in-ear headphone with good noise isolation. You’ve got an earphone with a comfortable fit, a smooth, balanced sound with a nice bass lift to it, and what I enjoy probably the most out of it, the ANC. There’s a marked difference with or without ANC enabled, and having ANC enabled allows me to enjoy whatever I’m listening to without having to crank up the volume to really hear what the person is trying to say (usually works best for podcasts for me). The AirPods Pro is $249 and features 35dB hybrid active noise cancelling. However...the Tronsmart Apollo Bold retails for $99.99 and features not only active noise cancelling, but 6 mics for 360 degree noise cancelling! Also, the Bold sounds a bit better to me than the AirPods Pro. Sounds like more features and a better sound in my opinion, for a lesser price? Sounds great to me!

All in all, for the price, the Apollo Bold is a great choice.

You can get the Apollo Bold through Amazon for $99.99 (There may be a coupon in there as well, if you search...)

P.S. Feel free to DM me at my Instagram (moedawg140) if you’ve got any questions or inquiries.

Also posted on my Instagram, here:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CFTtSfLBUHd/
Peddler
Peddler
The Bold's are really starting to grow on me. When I first tried them I found the bass to be overpowering but after time they definitely seem to have calmed down somewhat. They're still too bassy for 'proper' listening but these work great when I'm driving my noisy truck. Whilst the active noise cancelling isn't as good as Sony's, it's good enough to help reduce engine and wind noise. I'm starting to think that they share a similar sound characteristic to the old Koss Porta Pro's.
alaiswang
alaiswang
Thank you very much for sharing your wonderful review!

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
A viable AirPods alternative
Pros: Good sound, low price, great service
Cons: Would love other color choices (even though black is a good choice!)
Tronsmart Onyx Ace Review

Thanks in advance to Tronsmart for providing the Onyx Ace and case free of charge for review.

Do you like the "thin pipe" design of Apple's AirPods Pro but not the exorbitant $250 price tag? We all know that there are a bunch of less-expensive alternatives. The Tronsmart Onyx Ace is another one, and these are at a great price.

I wore these for a few hours the other day while listening to my favorite podcast. How’s the sound quality? Very good, given the price. As long as you are able to obtain a good inner-ear seal (a requirement for most all earbuds like these), you'll be able to enjoy smooth and bass-forward audio with very good noise isolation.

After owning AirPods myself for about a month and then trying out the Ace, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Ace sounds similar to the AirPods Pro, and that’s a good thing, especially since price is almost too good to be true.

Other features are that the charging case uses USB-C and yields a total of 24 hours of play time. This is yet another example of a really awesome AirPods alternative at a fraction of the cost.

Price: $29.39 currently through the geekbuying.com site.

P.S. Feel free to DM me at my Instagram (moedawg140) if you’ve got any questions or inquiries.

This is also posted on my Instagram, here:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFTsk2EB18V/

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Pros: Portable summit-level sound quality, classic design
Cons: No network/internet capability
Questyle Audio QP2R Review

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*photo courtesy of Moon Audio





Hi everyone,

It is such a blessing to be here on Head-Fi to briefly share my thoughts on the QP2R, especially when comparing it to the QP1R, and sharing my opinion(s) if I believe the QP2R is worth it over the QP1R.

Disclaimer: I received the QP2R for free for exchange of my thoughts about the product.

The QP2R utilizes one Micro SD card slot so the player can accommodate the Balanced connection. Purchasing as large of storage capacity card as possible shouldn't be too big of a sacrifice of the second Micro SD card slot the QP1R utilizes. Also, the internal memory of the QP2R is 64GB as opposed to the QP1R's 32GB.

The QP2R charges via USB-C, which means very fast charging (charges in at least half the time it would take to fully charge the QP1R via Micro USB).

Adding and deleting tracks to the QP2R are the same as the QP1R (just like a USB thumb/hard/SSD drive).

Navigation is a bit easier with the QP2R, and I personally keep my player on High Bias and High Gain for best results. I usually don't listen to very sensitive IEMs with the QP2R such as the Andromeda (even though it sounds heavenly when it's Balanced) - however, most headphones are powered with plenty of aplomb, especially Balanced. More about power and power comparison(s) later.

Make sure to take care of the Questyle players, keeping them in the 1st party or 3rd party cases, and try your best to never drop them.

The build of the QP2R is similar to the QP1R, with an extra Balanced port, one less Micro SD port, and a USB-C port replacing the QP1R's Micro USB port. The wheel and buttons of the QP2R are very similar to the wheel and buttons of the QP1R. The Gorilla Glass of both the QP1R and QP2R are quite the looker.

I'm currently using a QP2R Dignis black leather case that came from Final Audio - make sure to inquire with either Dignis and/or Final Audio to obtain that particular case.

With regard to UI Navigation, the QP1R shows:

Now Playing
Favorites
Play by Category > Songs, Album, Artist, Genre, Playlists
Browse Files
Play Settings
System Setting

The QP2R shows:
Playing
Category > Track, Artist, Album, Genre, DSD
Playlists > Favorites
Browse Files > Internal memory, TF card
Settings

QP2R navigation: Going into "Genre" will take you to a song/track list, just like the QP1R.

The sound of the QP2R is very good, better than most DAPs, aside from the QP1R - in SE mode.

I paired the QP2R with a couple of the latest headphones in my stable: the Massdrop X HIFIMAN HE-35X and the Massdrop x Beyerdynamic DT 177X GO.

Here's my brief thoughts of the Massdrop X HIFIMAN HE-35X:

Massdrop is rolling out a new pricing structure. Paraphrasing from Mr. Fernandez: "We are doing this to reward members that support products early by giving them a price break before a product goes into store.

For the HE-35X the product is available at a special launch price until April 18 or until the first 750 are sold.

We want folks to know about this new pricing plan which will apply to future Massdrop Made headphones."

Here is the link that talks a bit more about the pricing:
https://www.massdrop.com/talk/22088/new-massdrop-made-launch-pricing

With regards to my thoughts about the HE-35X, it is everything you would want, and then some.
Compared to the original HE350, the HE-35X has more palpable bass, at around +5db to my ears. The upper bass and subbass is a bit more visceral than the HE350 with modifications such as the paper towel mod and Brainwavz Angled Pads (BAP). Smoother rumbling than the mods, with comforting touches to your head as the tracks play on.

The HE-35X has a toned down midrange compared to the HE-350, and is buttery smooth.

In the HE350 review, I stated "treble may sound bright to very bright"; the HE-35X has treble that is smoothed and as a result, a joy to listen.

Soundstage isn't as expansive as the HE350, but having a bit more lower register, with a smoother midrange and treble is a good compromise to embody, in my opinion.

With regards to headphone comfort, the HE-35X feels as good on the head as the HE350 with modifications.

The total presentation is that of an upgrade of the original HE350, the result of the reviews and owners' feedback.

The HE-35X is a audiophile value if you choose to purchase the headphone.

One of my current favorite pairings is the Questyle Audio QP2R with the MASSDROP X BEYERDYNAMIC DT 177X GO (I'll call it the DT 177X GO from now on). You are able to listen to the headphone Balanced, but I didn't try it out yet - hopefully I can borrow a mini 4-pin XLR Balanced cable to try it out with the QP2R in the near future. My thoughts are about SE, not Balanced (to think the audio may sound more amazing Balanced!) The sound of the DT 177X GO is what I would like to call musically neutral. The entire spectrum is very clear and holographic. Not a lower midrange and bass/subbass presentation such as the TH-X00 series, but a champion when it comes to immense clarity and neutrality. The comfort of the headphone is very comfortable as well - the velour pads are soft to the touch and feel like an ear massage acoustically and physically. This is a headphone that can easily be used for mastering, or listened to while relaxing with your favorite beverage of choice.

My sister's husband Christian (XAVR), who is a singer/songwriter, and uses mastering headphones offers these thoughts:

"Sounds very good. Has a flat sound, and gets really loud. I really like the shell - it seems like it makes the audio sound better. I like the velour pads more because they attribute to a warmer sound."

This collaboration headphone marks a point where a neutral-based headphone can sound amazing to the ears and feel great as well. For those that have tried it to really enjoy the collaborative headphone is awesome, in my opinion.

Here's my thoughts about the DT 177X GO:

The bass is not overbearing in the least, and is nice and controlled. No huge spikes or dips in the subbass and midbass areas to my ears, but just enough for you to be adequately satisfied.

The midrange is clean, almost sterile, yet musical in its own right.

The treble is methodic, and not sibilant. The upper midrange into the treble may be the star(s) of the show, where you may not be searching for a thumping subwoofer feeling, but yearning for a sweet, clinical mid to upper register. The DT 177X GO delivers this and a whole lot more, in my opinion.

The soundstage and detail are very good, especially emitting through a closed back headphone.

The DT 177X GO is an excellent buy if you are searching for a true content headphone.

Where the QP2R really shines is Balanced. You've got more power, overall clarity, separation, and detail when it comes to Balanced of the QP2R compared to the SE of the QP1R and QP2R. If you are seeking overall sound quality, go for the QP2R Balanced, but if you want a bit better sound quality SE, go for the QP1R.

Which brings me to the main question: Is the QP2R worth it over the QP1R? I would unequivocally say yes. Main reasons:

The QP2R overall sounds better than the QP1R. The QP1R is currently going for $749 while the QP2R is currently $999. The around $150 price difference is worth it for the increase of overall power, better UI navigation and better sound quality in comparison to the QP1R. You can purchase both from T.H.E. Source AV, or Moon Audio.

QP2R specifications:
Audio Formats Supported:
WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, APE(Normal/High/Fast)
Sample Rate:
PCM 32kHz - 384kHz (16/24/32Bit)
DSD Native: DSD64 (1Bit 2.8MHz)
DSD128(1Bit 5.6MHz), DSD256(1Bit 11.2MHz)
DAC:
AKM AK4490 DAC chip
Outputs:
Headphone out (3.5mm)
Optical out (3.5mm)
Balanced out (2.5mm)
Output Level:
Unbalanced 1.6 Vrms
Balanced 3.2 Vrms
Output Power:
Unbalanced: RL= 32Ω, Pout = 38mW; RL = 300Ω, Pout = 9mW
Balanced: RL = 32Ω, Pout = 70mW; RL = 300Ω, Pout = 38mW
Frequency Response:
+-0.1dB(20Hz - 20kHz)
S/N 100dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 102dB @ 1kHz, Balanced
THD+N 0.0006% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Balanced
Output Impedance:
0.1Ω
Charging & Data Transfer:
Type-C, 5V 2A (PC & MAC)
PC OS Requirements:
WindowsXP / Windos 7&8(32/64bit)
Mac OSX 10.7 or later
Memory:
Internal: 64GB;
External: Micro SD card (Max. 200GB) x1
Battery:
3,100mAh 3.7V Li-Polymer battery, 10 hours of battery life
Display:
IPS 2.4inch (Sharp LCM)
Operating System:
Linux
Body Material:
CNC machining aluminum, available in Gold/Space Gray
Dimension:
65[W] x 134[H] x 14.5[D] (mm)
Nishy
Nishy
Very good review. Having used the QP2R for two years (alongside my other fav Sony WM-1A) for jazz (and some classical), I think you are spot on. However, I do really dislike the relatively fiddly scroll wheel which is, to me, a disadvantage. I have maybe 650 jazz albums on a 400GB SD and while the player handles files with ease, scrolling around is tedious to say the least. The Sony is much superior here with a less than swish OS which does more too. But the sound quality is very satisfying - on both players, with different prints. I don love the QP2R with my great $30 Xiaomi inears just as much as the Sony with great JHA13R2 Balanced inears from Moon (a tad more:)) Oh and the scrollwheel has a thin glass covering that shattered today on a drop, alas, and is difficult to use without the bundled rubber sleeve that often drops off easily (not stuck)..so don't lose it! A better interface is needed for the next version IMO.
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moedawg140
moedawg140
Thanks for the message, it is much appreciated! My apologies, I'm not on Head-Fi very often these days, but it's nice to hear you are still liking the QP2R. The newest version of the Questyle wasn't really that awesome to me, in my opinion, but the QP2R is still chuggin away!

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Pros: Smooth, balanced sound with a bit of bass, great for working out, color options.
Cons: Price? There's a reason that combats this in the review.
Bliiq Hummingbird Wireless Earphone Review

A bit of a background about me. I am Maurice Washington, otherwise known as moedawg140 on Head-Fi and Instagram. I have spent countless hours and several years in the audio field, not only attending the perennial audio events around the world, but listening to many products and reviewing them in the process. Last year, I had an aneurysm and brain tumor removed in Germany, and I am currently in recovery. My listening is not perfect (no one’s is), but I hear well enough to pass multiple hearing tests. I was approached by bliiq to write a review. My thinking these days are I will not write a review for a product that I do not deem is worthy. I would much rather focus my time on my family, and sharing inspiration through my day job as a physical education teacher and daily Instagram posts. Once I received the package and listened to the Hummingbird, I nodded and said to myself “This is the real deal!” Feel free to read my thoughts below on why I feel the Hummingbird is a great earphone!


Before I get to my top reason why this is a great earphone, let me highlight a few positives about it.

1. The construction is competitive. Above average looks with the black plastic and very good tactile touch materials are used to make using the buttons as simple as possible. Various eartips sizes and a USB cable is included. A quick start guide, warranty and safety information is included in the box. Adding in a leatherette case with a bliiq sticker rounds out the tasteful package.

2. The sound signature of the product is satisfying to my ears. The bliiq emits a natural, balanced signature, with slightly elevated bass depending on the size of tips used. You should experience more perceived bass if using foam eartips. The midrange and treble is more laid back, and not strident, but with slight air to it. The spatial capabilities (soundstage width and depth) are decent, but not what I would say audiophile-esque. For a Bluetooth product, the bliiq sounds pretty darn good to me. I wouldn’t call the bliiq a necessarily bassy product, but it certainly can be if you do what you can to make it that way (tips/EQ settings, et cetera).

3. The battery life is exemplary. Usually real-world results are not in-sync with manufacturer’s postings, but this is pretty true to life in my experience. I had the music playing for around 10 hours (at about 1/2-3/4 volume) with battery power to spare. I’m sure the music would have gone even longer if I listened at an even lower volume.

4. Ambient Mode! This is one of the only Bluetooth products that I’ve seen with ambient mode! The awesome Sensaphonics 3D AARO earphones offer ambient mode as well, but are quite expensive. For a price much lower, you press the middle button twice quickly in succession to experience being able to use the earphone’s microphone to speak to who you’d like without having to remove your earphones. How cool is that?!

5. Working out is a joy. I have run and also used a push scooter around different cities with the Hummingbird in my ears, and even though the earphone had sweat on them, the earphone kept on trucking with no issues at all!

6. I could have said this reason first, and there would probably be zero reasons to read the rest of the review. Since you have read up to this point, I would like to say, thank you! Here you go, my #1 reason for purchasing this product: LIFETIME WARRANTY! Here’s the thing: how many audio products come with a lifetime warranty? I’ll wait......still waiting........ Exactly. To know that if something goes wrong, you can get a replacement, is worth the price of admission - and then some, in my opinion.

Any negatives? Price? Okay, you can obtain great sounding products for a lot less money than what you’ll find on Amazon, however, how many of these products come with a lifetime warranty?

I would say purchase the product because I said so. If you don’t like it, give it to a friend or loved one as a gift who will cherish you as a result.

Live your life to the fullest, and stay blessed!

***I'm not able to upload my video through Head-Fi (without uploading to YouTube first), so here is the link to my video:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bpf9ox5hc39/?taken-by=moedawg140 ***

Item Weight 1.15 pounds
Package Dimensions 7.1 x 5.7 x 4 inches
Wireless communication technologies Bluetooth
Special features Wireless
Audio Jack Micro USB
Color Black, White or Red

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Pros: Smooth and immensely bassy sound, with sheer ambient versatility.
Cons: I wish that a next-version AARO system will provide a full ambient button that turns off the volume from the mixer/connected device.
Review: Sensaphonics 3D-U AARO System - 3D-2

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Before I start the review, I would like to thank Sensaphonics for the complementary system.


Introduction

It has been a full circle up to this point with regards to Sensaphonics in more ways than one. Not only with regards to the Sensaphonics Custom Sleeves for the Shure SE846 which was my very first review on Head-Fi, but with regards to the fact that there is a product out on the market from Sensaphonics that is an evolution of audiophiles and music lovers’ favorite pastime: listening to music through exciting and enriching gear!

Even though Sensaphonics is one of the first in-ear companies in the market, Sensaphonics has been able to create products that sound really good to my ears like the 2MAX and 3MAX CIEMs, but also create a relevant product from literally the ground up, that has been patented and not duplicated in the same way by any other manufacturer on the planet. The product is called the 3D-U AARO (Active Ambient Record Out) System - 3D-2. The 3D-1 version features one balanced armature driver, and the 3D-2 features two balanced armature drivers. In order to keep the name shorter as I write about the system, I will call it the 3D-U2, to denote the 3D-U system as well as the 3D-2 being the two driver version. The single driver version that will be compared later will be called the 3D-U1.

I will condense the review so it isn’t super duper drawn out since there is good and thorough documentation about using the system in the accompanied manual, but I will point out what each area of the system will do and my preferred setup or tips that I can share, especially to those that want to use the system mainly for listening to great sounding music and/or effectively listening to outside noise without having to remove your earphones.

Ready? Let’s go!


Audio equipment used in the review

Earphone

Sensaphonics 3D-U AARO System 3D-2: Starting at $1,500

For reference:

3D-U AARO (universal-fit)

Single driver $1,500

Dual driver $1,800


3D AARO (custom-fit)

Single driver $2,000

Dual driver $2,500


Earphones mentioned and compared

Sensaphonics 3D-U AARO System 3D-1: Starting at $1,500

Shure SE846: ~$1,000

Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered: $999


Sources

iPhone 6: (Space Gray, 128GB): $849.99 or $399.99 with a 2-Year Contract

Microsoft Surface Book: Starting at $1,499

Questyle Audio QP1R Golden: $899 USD


Software Applications Used

Spotify Premium – Extreme Setting

TIDAL HiFi – Lossless


An avid wrestler, coach, teacher, father and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.

In October of 2017, I had an aneurysm and a rare brain tumor that were found in a Bulgarian hospital, and both the aneurysm and brain tumor were removed in Germany. I am grateful and blessed to be alive and happy to have the honor to listen to audio gear and enjoy the music.

As a result, I was not able to hear for a few days, but my hearing has gotten a lot better since the craniotomy and ventriculostomy surgeries. These days, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing. Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, et cetera).

My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right. I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul. I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.

Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measure app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test. Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by. Why? They use them to tune their equipment, and the measurements are from their own specific parameters. I agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s overall statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):

“…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.

In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”

I also had the chance to talk with Dan Wiggins from perodic audio at various audio events and has been very enlightening to talk audio with him. Here are Mr. Wiggins’ thoughts on measurements (verbatim):

“Hi all,

Wanted to toss my $0.02 into the mix...

For those that know who I am, then you know I have a bit of a reputation in the industry (good). For those that don't, I can guarantee you've heard my work if you've ever listened to live or recorded music. From recording microphones to studio monitors to PA systems to consumer systems, I've designed audio systems and transducers for pretty much all the big players - and done so many, many times (not to mention lots of headphones and IEMs along the way).

In my experience, measurement correlation between systems is hard to first establish and even more difficult to maintain. Datasets within a measurement system/location/team can be fairly consistent over time as long as the equipment is rigorously maintained, processes are slavishly followed, and the team cares greatly about consistency. Otherwise - all bets are off.

In production of audio systems, we use "golden samples" - we use a very small number of selected reference units that are deemed as "ideal". A day's production usually starts with the online production test systems measuring the golden sample, then tolerances are set accordingly to that measurement. All production must pass within the tolerance window, and the few (typically one or two a week) that essentially have no deviation from the golden sample are culled out and reserved as future, replacement "golden samples" (the tolerance can be discussed later, but suffice to say it is probably an order of magnitude larger than most HeadFi'ers would expect).

In other words, we use physical representations to calibrate against, rather than abstract numbers and concepts. It all comes down to how measurements can change from not just system to system or operator to operator but day to day. Temperature and humidity can affect measurements in significant manners. Environmental noise can - and definitely will! - corrupt measurements. Different mountings of DUTs (Device Under Test) by operators will affect measurements.

In essence, after installing literally hundreds (perhaps over a thousand) acoustic test systems, at dozens of factories in dozens of countries, I can confidently say that expecting consistency between two or more systems is a fool's errand. Won't happen.

Measurements are a great way to confirm you are getting what you expect, and to document where you are. And they are relevant within the same local world (equipment, team, environment). They can be used to guide design of product by a team, a team that is familiar and experienced with what measurement X really means in terms of what they are designing.

So with that, measurement correlation between different teams is never really expected, nor should it be. In fact, I start to get nervous if things line up too well! Great consistency tells me either the wrong settings are being used (we're not looking at a fine enough level of detail - we're oversmoothing/over-interpolating), or some fudging is going on to make things look closer than they really are.

All that said - don't expect measurements from one person to closely track that of another. Look at how products vary inside each measurement set, and assume the variances are at least relative - that is much more instructive. If one system is hot or cold in the treble, it will be consistently hot or cold, and you'll see that as you compare larger datasets between different systems. That is what we should pay attention to, rather than a few cherry-picked comparisons.”

Measurements are possibly valid to obtain a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all. Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat. Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel. I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.

A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."


Inside the box

Let’s start off with the box itself. It is hard plastic Pelican brand with an air pressure release valve, and is the best option to keep your system in place and safely secure. I would advise always keeping your system in the box, as there are a lot of internal components inside the 3D AARO System bodypack. You’ll see:

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User Guide
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1 Ambient earphone cable, 52-inch, dual ⅛ in TRRS connectors

1 3D-AARO jumper cable, black 12-inch ⅛ in TRS stereo connectors

1 Pelican storage case

1 Cleaning tool

1 Shirt clip

3D-U eartips: mushroom style in S, M, L

Comply Tsx-100 eartips in S, M, L

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Build and aesthetics

This is a quality-built product that is meant primarily for musicians, so you know the durability is top-notch...it has to be. You can’t (or at least shouldn’t) have a product that malfunctions during a musician’s set. The 3D-U2 is a dream come true for a musician, knowing that the product is one-of-a-kind, dependable, and optimal in most every way.
3D-U AARO System 3D-1 and 3D-U AARO System 3D-2
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The housing offers a 3D printed custom-like mold, in a universal shell. Each 3D-printed shell contains a condenser microphone that is embedded inside, forming a “binaural pickup system”. The blue colored mic port denotes the left side monitor, and the red colored mic port denotes the right side monitor. Each mic port contains grey filters which protects the microphones from dirt and debris.

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The nozzles are narrow, and are similar to Shure and Etymotic’s, meaning every compatible narrow eartip will fit the 3D-U2 as well. Inside of each housing is an embedded full-range binaural microphone! More about this later.

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The cable is an Industry-first quadraxial (4-lead) cable that carries both the monitor mix and ambient audio to and from the 3D bodypack mixer, providing a cable that can be replaced if something should happen to it whilst performing or listening to music on-the-go. The cable is attached to a bodypack mixer/amp, which has quite a few capabilities that will be talked about in detail, coming up.

You can tell the product as a whole is no-fuss, no-muss, meaning this is a product that is meant to last, from the external bodypack metal switches to the accurate embedded microphones, which should last you for many years to come.


Fit and comfort

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Since Sensaphonics is the company that creates the most comfortable silicone custom full shell sleeves in the world in my experience, I will say that the fit is about as perfect as it can be when using their custom sleeves. Using their universal tips leads to a thoroughly isolating, comfortable fit, and there are many third-party tips such as SpinFits that can help you dial in a very good seal and fit as well. The medium olive tips that come packaged with the 3D-2 fit me the best. The memory wire is soft and supple and gives just a bit of fit stability, if needed.

You may want to use a longer body pack jumper cable if you have the stock cable connected to a DAP or smartphone, as there were times where I wanted a slightly longer bodypack jumper cable for better connected device maneuverability.

The bodypack is lightweight and slips/clips on easily to your shorts or pants with no hindrance in movement. You can rock out or run without any issue.

What can this system do and how to operate it?

This is a system which allows you to listen to the outside environment while listening to your music, and allows you to record as if your ears are listening, since the microphones are on the earphones. Here’s a rundown on the system and what each port, switch and knob operates:

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Looking straight up/at the top, you’ll see two switches. The first one is a small power switch. You will not be able to operate the 3D-U2 if the power of the system is off. There will be a very low audible sound if the system is off, but is not a usable signal, in my opinion.

To your right of the on/off switch are the LED indicator lights. With a fresh battery, the indicator light is green. With continued use, the yellow light will show as well. With even more continued use (after approximately 6 hours), the light will only show as yellow. Once the light only shows yellow, it’s advised to replace the battery. There is also a Peak single red LED that emits when signal level nears the 3D system peak clipping output. If it lights repeatedly, then it’s either the monitor input/source or the ambient level is too loud. Turn down the volume of your monitor mix/device until the peak light goes out. If the light is still showing, open the 3D bodypack and turn the ambience level (red knob) until the Peak LED stops flashing. However, on loud stages, it’s common for the LED to be lit when in Full Ambient mode. “Loud” is labeled as Monitor and Ambient, which are yellow LEDs that indicate signal presence from these inputs. Depending upon sound levels, the yellow LED will flicker yellow and become brighter with louder sound levels.

To your right of the LED indicator lights is the mode “Perform/Full Ambient” switch. “Perform” mode is when you are either performing or listening to your music with the level of ambient setting of the “Ambient Background” knob (8-position rotary red control knob inside the bodypack mixer. The maximum ambience level is unity gain (position 7 [~2:30/14:30 on a clock]. The control knob reduces ambience in 4 dB steps, down to -24 dB (position 1 [7:00/19:00]). Position 0 turns the ambience completely off, just like a conventional in-ear connected to a mixer/device. Usually the ambient background should be set to a reduced level so you can listen to your mix or device music as easily as possible. I personally keep the position at 0, so I can focus only on the music that I listen to, and use the “Full Ambient” mode switch when I want to hear the outside world in all its entirety. “Full Ambient” mode is mainly used between songs or when off-stage. The embedded microphones pick up the ambient sound, and is presented at unity gain (full natural volume). The 3D system “dynamically” lowers the monitor/device sound level to 85 dB SPL, which allows normal conversation on-stage. However, I personally feel that I need to turn off my music to use the “Full Ambient” mode effectively.

One mode I wish the system provided was a full ambient button that turned off the volume from the mixer/connected device. There were instances when I wanted to hear the outside world, but not have to go to my iPhone/QP1R to pause the music to listen to the outside world easily.

To the left of the bodypack is a 3.5mm “Microphone Output” jack that provides access to the ambient sound “heard” by the system’s binaural earphone microphones, with full 3D directionality. The output is sent to a digital recorder, which makes it possible to capture the 3D sound and experience. This is said to be best for live concert recording, but I haven’t specifically tried it in a live concert. Recording my voice and surroundings was clear and crisp.

To the lower port of the left of the bodypack is a 3.5mm “Monitor Input” jack. This is where you’ll connect your bodypack jumper cable to your sound source such as your smartphone/DAP.

Below the “Monitor Input” jack is the strain relief, where you can loop the bodypack jumper cable through prior to plugging in the cable to your sound source, if you’d like.

Your 3D-2 will plug into the “3D earphone dual output jack”, which is located on the right side of the bodypack.

Use the latch above the Sensaphonics logo to open the battery compartment of the bodypack. Insert a new 9V battery. The battery can only fit one way: negative terminal up and positive terminal down, both are also shown directly above and below the battery as well.

Inside the bodypack are the internal switches. Here are the switches and explanations.

To the far left is the “Bass Boost Switch”, which adds +10dB of bass to the overall frequency response. This is good for those in dance clubs or for those, like myself, that love bass!

To the right of the “Bass Boost Swich” is the “Earphone Switch”. Select “Sing.” if you are using the single driver 3D-1, and “Dual” if you are using the dual driver 3D-2.

To the right of the “Earphone Switch” is the “Limiter Switch”. Sensaphonics recommends that the “Limit” switch should be the selected position to minimize the effect on musical transients and dynamics (possible high volume spikes) while the bodypack is still providing sufficient protection.

To the right of the “Limiter Switch” is the “Ambient Background” knob, It was described in the “Perform/Full Ambient” switch section. As mentioned, I keep it at position 0 so I can have the ambient completely off when listening to my music, and the “Full Ambient” switch enables me to hear the background at unity gain (full, natural sound).

Batteries, a solution of sorts

Since you’ll get approximately 6-8 hours of use with a 9V battery, I would advise going with a rechargeable 9V battery. I am using the EBL High Volume 9V Rechargeable Battery, 600mAh.

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I purchased 2 batteries with a 2 battery port charger from eBay. The size of the battery is slightly larger than a regular 9V battery, and it is a tight fit inside of the bodypack battery receptacle. Use care when taking out the battery from the receptacle when you need to recharge, but all-in-all is a great way to save a lot of money, and always have a spare to extend listening since you’ll use the second battery while the first battery is charging!

Eyeglass and sunglass wearers

The memory wire cable is thin enough to not give eyeglass wearers too much trouble, but if you inherently have issues with most any size gauge of memory wire, then you may experience some discomfort. I don’t have any issues with the memory wire and my Oakley sunglasses, even when paired with my LED bicycle helmet!

Working out

I rode around in my Swagtron Swagger scooter with the 3D-U2 on a hot day and it stayed in my ears without any issue. Going custom would make it even better, especially when performing or going out for long-distance runs.


Disclaimer and hearing factors

The Sensaphonics 3D-U AARO System - 3D-2 sound impressions are mainly for anyone seeking a point of reference regarding how they more or less pair with the iPhone 6, QP1R and Surface Book. Other sources may vary slightly or greatly, as the 3D-2 sounds different enough with these three sources to warrant mentioning. The 3D-2 will have a warmer, less resolute and pronounced effect in the overall frequency spectrum when pairing with the iPhone 6. The 3D-2 will have a detailed with more treble and bass perception with extended detail when paired with the QP1R. For reference, the 3D-2 is very easy to drive, as a smartphone such as the iPhone does not take full volume for the 3D-2 to emit levels that can damage hearing quickly. Only 9 out of 16 volume is when the 3D-2 starts to sound very loud to my ears.

We all hear differently, and our experiences about how our interpretation of what we hear vary greatly. Some factors that come to mind (and not limited), are:

Your inner ear and skull’s overall composition: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart...kull-affect-how-you-hear-music-654940/?no-ist.

Hearing loss as we age, also known as presbycusis: https://www.ohio.edu/news/months/nov1998/111.html,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbycusis.

Heredity, noise trauma, dietary habits, smoking, hypertension, atherosclerosis, are other factors that affect people’s overall hearing ability.


Analyze this and that

The test tracks that I use in my reviews are located in these albums (album alphabetical order)

1989 (Deluxe Edition) by Taylor Swift (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

21 by Adele (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

Bad (2001 Special Edition) by Michael Jackson (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

Bangerz by Miley Cyrus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)

Beyoncé by Beyoncé (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

Heart Blanche by Ceelo Green (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)

Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)

Make Yourself by Incubus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)

No. 5 Collaborations Project (EP) by Ed Sheeran (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)

One by One by Foo Fighters (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)

Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)

Schubert – Berliner Philharmoniker by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)

Shades of Marmalade by Jackson Breit (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

Thriller by Michael Jackson (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)

X (Wembley Edition) by Ed Sheeran (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

Several standalone tracks (track alphabetical order)

Dock of the Bay by The Persuations – A Cappella Dreams (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)

M.O.R. by Blur – Blur 21, Blur (2012 Remaster – Special Edition) (MP3 320kbps 44.1kHz/16bit)

Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor D. 810, Death and the Maiden: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto by Oslo String Quartet – The Schubert Connection (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)

Serenade (Spanish Dance), Op. 54, No. 2 by Jano Starker and David Popper – Wilson Audio Ultimate Reference (APE 44.1kHz/16bit)

The Peppery Man by Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)

These Bones by The Fairfield Four – I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)

If I am listening to a product that is not able to be listened with the highest resolution tracks that I have mentioned, I will listen to the TIDAL versions (FLAC).


Sound impressions

The sound of the 3D-2 is one of my favorite dual-driver in-ears that I’ve listened to. The sound as a whole is quite balanced, with a slight emphasis in the midrange and lower midrange. Once you flip the bass switch, you get a balanced sound, with a satisfying boost in the bass range. Does this turn the 3D-2 into a basshead earphone? Not quite. Since the switches are all analog, the transition to the bass boost sounds so natural, and so...right. I keep the bass switch on all of the time, because the bass is enthralling, but not overbearing to the point of being disruptive to my enjoyment of the entire sound. The midrange is the star of the show, and is creamy smooth, yet authoritative at the same time. The treble is not sibilant, and is non-fatiguing in the least. Some may say that with the bass boost the treble may be rolled off, but the treble shouldn’t hurt your ears, and give you just enough to relax and listen to for many listening hours at a time. Spatial capabilities such as an immense soundstage aren’t the ultimate strong suit, but the sheer depth, texture, and enjoyment of the entire sound as a whole is more than apparent to my ears. Once you figure out an optimal fit, you should be able to enjoy the totality of the sound in either the bass boost switched on or off.


Earphone comparisons

The selected comparisons to the 3D-U2, below, are with earphones that are around the price range of the 3D-U2. If you’d like a comparison of an earphone that is not mentioned in the review or is not located in my profile, feel free to message me and send me anything you’d like that can then be added to the review. Without further ado…


Sensaphonics 3D-U AARO System 3D-1
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I was able to demo the 3D-1 the same time as the 3D-2, and I listened them back to back at NAMM and also at home. I don’t want to sugar coat my feelings regarding the two. I feel the 3D-2 destroys the 3D-1 with regards to overall sound signature comparison. The 3D-2 sounds more dynamic, resolute, detailed, visceral, and competent, compared to the 3D-1. I enjoy the 3D-2 compared to the 3D-1 so much, that regardless of price, I would advise those that care about sound quality to forgo the 3D-1 and purchase the 3D-2. You should only purchase the 3D-1 if you want to be introduced to the 3D-U AARO technology, and may be sharing the 3D-1 for purposes such as house of worship, where multiple people may be using the 3D-1. For everyone else (including those that are looking into purchasing the 3D-1), should definitely and unequivocally go for the 3D-2. Usually I don’t speak in such absolute terms, but I feel strongly that whatever price discrepancy is highly worth it to get the 3D-2 over the 3D-1.


Shure SE846
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Fit of the 3D-2 is easier to fit than the SE846, but both qualify for the SCS, which will put both at a virtual tie if the SCS was used with both the 3D-2 and SE846. I was able to obtain a good fit with the stock olive tips and 3D-2, and was able to obtain an acceptable fit with tips such as the Westone silicone and SpinFit tips. I use the SCS with the SE846 for a custom-like fit.


The SE846 is more detailed and broader with regards to sound signature, with bass that is some of the best in the industry. However, the 3D-2 has the analog bass boost switch, which its bass sounds darn good for a dual driver, and there is arguably just as much warmth of bass compared to the SE846. The midrange of the 3D-2 is warmer and more linear in sound than that of the SE846, and sheer treble extension and sheen doesn’t favor either. You’d need to keep the bass switch off for the 3D-2, and use the white filters or opt for DIY Knowles Dampers in Brown with the SE846 for as high of treble presence as possible. The 3D-2 is more linear in sound in areas including imaging and soundstage, compared to the broader range of the SE846.

Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered
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The UEPRR’s fit is custom, which is very comfortable. The SCS offers additional comfort due to the soft silicone, but can induce ear canal warmth due to the soft silicone.


The UEPRR and non-bass boost 3D-2 aren’t very different in sound. There is more bass presence, less midrange presence, and similar treble presence of the UEPRR compared to the 3D-2. The non-bass boost 3D-2 is a bit more forward and vibrant sounding than the UEPRR, and the 3D-2 with the bass boost has a bit more bass presence than the UEPRR. Soundstage and imaging favors the UEPRR, while smoothness and depth of sound favors the 3D-2.

Cultivate a fresh sound™

What does this mean? Too often we focus on only the music we are accustomed to. I am usually this way as well. Here’s an opportunity to listen to something you either may not normally listen to, or haven’t heard of. As I publish reviews in the future, I will have new and older tracks from various genres that I’ve listened to in this section, and will be largely based on what songs really moved me in particular to the reviewed product I’ve listened to on it. Even though the tracks will be linked to YouTube videos or audio-only versions, the tracks will either be listened solely from the iPhone 6 and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless, or from my Microsoft Surface Book and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless. Instead of describing each track in immense detail, you can simply listen for yourself and bask in the beautiful music you may have just found for the first time right now! What’s also great is that you can come back here just to listen to the tracks mentioned! If you have any personal issues with any tracks posted, please PM me and I'll replace it with another track. It's all about positivity in our musical journey. With those kind words of encouragement, here we go…

Man of the Woods by Justin Timberlake


Bringing The House Down by CLOVES


Azukita by Steve Aoki, Daddy Yankee, Play-N-Skillz, Elvis Crespo


Time In A Bottle by Lykke Li



Is the Sensaphonics 3D-U AARO System - 3D-2 right for you?

The 3D-2 is perfect for those that want to listen to the outside noise (ambient sound) and not have to take off your IEM to do so, and if you want to use the earphone microphones to record full 3D sound. The 3D-2 sounds really good as well when using it to listen to music from your favorite device/DAP. It’s definitely a different and fun take on audiophile sound, with serious quality that you can see and feel, first-hand.


Final thoughts

Compared to other dual drivers in the market, the 3D-2 sounds so smooth and rich. Full ambient makes it so you can listen to the outside when people may not even think you are listening to them!

The 3D-1 was great for a taste of the 3D AARO system. The 3D-2 is the best-tasting version of the two, making the number two, in this case, number one. Check out the 3D-2, and the custom version for one of the best fit and overall sound you can get from a custom dual driver in-ear!


Specifications

  • Sensaphonics 3D-U AARO System - 3D-2

  • 2 Proprietary, full-range BA drivers

  • Crossover-free

  • 6dB more headroom, zero crossover distortion

  • All-analog signal path = zero-latency device

  • Best in stage monitoring for live performance

  • Mics withstand up to 140 dB without distortion

  • 9V power supply = IEMs do not share power with source device

  • Cable: 52-inch, dual ⅛ in TRRS connectors

  • Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz

  • Maximum SPL, 500 Hz
    • Single-driver earpiece: 124 dB-SPL

    • Dual-driver earpiece: 130 dB-SPL
  • Ambient Microphone input overload, 500 Hz 140 dB-SPL

  • Full Ambient Mode insertion gain: 0 dB

  • Monitor input sensitivity (for 124 dB-SPL, 500 Hz)
    • 3D-AARO Mixer, unbalanced drive (pin 2 hot): 0 dBV
  • Monitor input impedance
    • 3D-AARO Mixer: 20 kOhm
  • Ambient Mode equivalent input noise: 27 dBA-SPL

  • Monitor Mode equivalent input noise
    • Single-driver earpiece (A-weighted): -104dBV

    • Dual-driver earpiece (A-weighted): -101dBV
  • Output noise
    • Single-driver earpiece: 20 dBA-SPL

    • Dual-driver earpiece: 23 dBA-SPL
  • Limiter
    • Type: Slow, average responding, frequency selective, linked left-right; dual independent for monitor and ambient signals

    • Limiter threshold (both operating modes): 105 dBA-SPL output levels

    • Limiter threshold (monitor signal, Full Ambient mode): 85 dBA-SPL output levels

Included

  • Ambient earphone cable, 52-inch, dual ⅛ in TRRS connectors

  • 3D-AARO jumper cable, black 12-inch ⅛ in TRS stereo connectors

  • 3D-U eartips: mushroom style in S, M, L

  • Comply Tsx-100 eartips in S, M, L

  • Pelican storage case

  • Cleaning tool

  • Shirt clip
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schulein
schulein
Has any one tried making binaural recordings with this product? I have and posted some on Youtube:
and
Robert B. Schulein

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Pros: Smooth and punchy sound in the lower registers, fit options by way of "Ear Secure" sleeves
Cons: Treble is shelved, not the most resolute in sound signature compared to its Triple Driver versions
Review: 1MORE Dual Driver LTNG ANC In-Ear Headphones


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Before I start the review, I would like to give thanks to 1MORE for providing the complementary earphone.


The review thread is also here, for easier and more effective discussion: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/review-1more-dual-driver-ltng-anc-in-ear-headphones.859512/


1MORE is a company that is committed to excellence, with available products that allow more of the public to be introduced to gear that punches above their price points, and sounding very good in the process. One of these newly introduced products is the Dual Driver LTNG (Lightning) ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) In-Ear Headphones that first debuted at this year's San Francisco Head-Fi meet, held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Burlingame, California. Let's find out a bit more about the Dual Driver LTNG!

An avid wrestler, coach, teacher, father and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.

Ringing in my ears? Oh, tinnitus? I get that about 2 times a year, for about 10 seconds each time. Other than that, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing. Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, etcetera).

My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right. I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul. I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.

Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measure app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test. Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by. Why? They use them to tune their equipment, and the measurements are from their own specific parameters. I agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s overall statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):

“…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.

In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”



I also had the chance to talk with Dan Wiggins from perodic audio at various audio events and has been very enlightening to talk audio with him. Here are Mr. Wiggins’ thoughts on measurements (verbatim):

“Hi all,

Wanted to toss my $0.02 into the mix...

For those that know who I am, then you know I have a bit of a reputation in the industry (good). For those that don't, I can guarantee you've heard my work if you've ever listened to live or recorded music. From recording microphones to studio monitors to PA systems to consumer systems, I've designed audio systems and transducers for pretty much all the big players - and done so many, many times (not to mention lots of headphones and IEMs along the way).

In my experience, measurement correlation between systems is hard to first establish and even more difficult to maintain. Datasets within a measurement system/location/team can be fairly consistent over time as long as the equipment is rigorously maintained, processes are slavishly followed, and the team cares greatly about consistency. Otherwise - all bets are off.

In production of audio systems, we use "golden samples" - we use a very small number of selected reference units that are deemed as "ideal". A day's production usually starts with the online production test systems measuring the golden sample, then tolerances are set accordingly to that measurement. All production must pass within the tolerance window, and the few (typically one or two a week) that essentially have no deviation from the golden sample are culled out and reserved as future, replacement "golden samples" (the tolerance can be discussed later, but suffice to say it is probably an order of magnitude larger than most HeadFi'ers would expect).

In other words, we use physical representations to calibrate against, rather than abstract numbers and concepts. It all comes down to how measurements can change from not just system to system or operator to operator but day to day. Temperature and humidity can affect measurements in significant manners. Environmental noise can - and definitely will! - corrupt measurements. Different mountings of DUTs (Device Under Test) by operators will affect measurements.

In essence, after installing literally hundreds (perhaps over a thousand) acoustic test systems, at dozens of factories in dozens of countries, I can confidently say that expecting consistency between two or more systems is a fool's errand. Won't happen.

Measurements are a great way to confirm you are getting what you expect, and to document where you are. And they are relevant within the same local world (equipment, team, environment). They can be used to guide design of product by a team, a team that is familiar and experienced with what measurement X really means in terms of what they are designing.

So with that, measurement correlation between different teams is never really expected, nor should it be. In fact, I start to get nervous if things line up too well! Great consistency tells me either the wrong settings are being used (we're not looking at a fine enough level of detail - we're oversmoothing/over-interpolating), or some fudging is going on to make things look closer than they really are.

All that said - don't expect measurements from one person to closely track that of another. Look at how products vary inside each measurement set, and assume the variances are at least relative - that is much more instructive. If one system is hot or cold in the treble, it will be consistently hot or cold, and you'll see that as you compare larger datasets between different systems. That is what we should pay attention to, rather than a few cherry-picked comparisons.”


Measurements are possibly valid to obtain a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all. Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat. Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel. I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.

A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."

Inside of the impeccable packaging, you'll receive:

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Four different sizes of silicone tips (XS, S, M, L)

Four different sizes of “Ear Secure” sleeves (XS, S, M, L). These act a lot like add-on earhooks, which focus on anchoring the concha, but instead, the Secure Tips focus on anchoring the cavum, as the tips are like a soft and comfortable extension of the Dual Driver LTNG circular housing. What is great about these sleeves is that they may also fit other earphones as well such as more traditional earbud housings. I currently use the Ear Secure sleeves with the stock silicone eartips.

Magnetic flip-top stitched leather case. This is one of the nicer slim leather cases that I own. Rugged, yet civilized at the same time.

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The build of the earphone is all business, as the 45-degree shape with the curved, ribbed, bell-shaped housing helps gives the earphone an understatedly classy look. There is even a backing for what I would presume the microphones to work its ANC magic. The housings are marked on the inside with a 3D etching of the cursive “L” and “R”, to denote left and right earphones. The kevlar core cable is rubberized before the y-connect, which is the world’s first 5-in-1 controller, and is weaved cloth with brown accents until the Lightning connector.

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The 5-in-1 controller houses not only the volume, track, call, play/pause functions, but it also houses an internal DAC, and the ANC switch. When using the phone’s internal DAC, there can be background noise, possible signal interference, but the most important in my opinion is that the performance is limited by the phone itself, as opposed to the DAC inside of the Dual Driver LTNG’s control box, which means there is claimed zero background noise, signal loss, or signal interference. I personally haven't experienced background noise, or interference of any sort when using the Dual Driver LTNG.

I experienced just about the same iPhone 6 battery drain from the Dual Driver LTNG as I was using a traditional 3.5mm plug earphone. In order to use the Dual Driver LTNG without running out of battery, I use the Belkin 2-port Lightning Splitter, with great success. I plug in the earphone on one side, and the charging cable on the other side.

The volume seems to be limited, as full volume is plenty loud for just about anyone, but is not supremely loud to where it will immediately damage your hearing. 14 out of 16 volume is when the Dual Driver LTNG starts to hear very loud to my ears.

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The ANC functionality of the Dual Driver LTNG is one of the best that I’ve used or own compared to other ANC earphones. It is claimed to have 50-2000 Hz ANC (more than other brands), and a 20 dB reduction in noise cancellation. I would say the ANC does a good job with drowning out midrange noise (like talking) and background noise as well.

You can get better ANC the better your seal is. I would say the Dual Driver LTNG is comparable to using full, deep ear canal customs with no ANC - meaning, you can get a good seal, but don’t necessarily need a deep ear canal type of seal, to obtain better noise cancellation, because that’s being taken care of with ANC control box. Remember, the better the seal, the better the ANC.

I leave the ANC on the entire time, so I can have the quietest background that I could have, and especially since I do not detect any degradation of sound by using it, compared to not having ANC activated.

The sound of the Dual Driver LTNG is quite warm, with smoothness and just a bit of body in the midbass. The treble isn’t very extended, but is such that you can listen to the earphone all day and not get fatigued. The midrange is creamy smooth, most notably in the lower midrange, as this area, coupled with the bass, are where the earphone shines. The bass is full, pinpoint in overall amount of bass notes, but there is depth where the bass notes do hit. The midbass is enthralling, especially when you are using ANC to get away from the outside world or want a boost when working out. The Dual Driver LTNG is best sounding with online videos and especially movies. Action movies sound very good, because it seems like the earphone is tuned specially with a movie EQ setting built-in! You know how it is when you are in a movie, and the ambiance is around, above and below you. Well, the Dual Driver LTNG feels that way! With certain types of music the earphone may not be the best fit because of the midbass emphasis, but put on some harder-hitting music or movies, and you’ve got an iPhone compatible earphone that should satisfy your sweet-tooth, no scratch that, bass-ear.

Compared to the original Dual Driver, the Dual Driver LTNG is smoother in the midrange and bass areas, and has less of a balanced sound. The Dual Driver has more extended highs – is still bassy, but is more of an overall dynamic sound, when directly compared to the LTNG version. The sound of the LTNG is more forward, with more emphasis in the midbass compared to the lower bass and treble of the Dual Driver, which forms that V-shape of the Dual Driver.

The Triple Driver LTNG has a brighter and more V-shaped sound than that of the Dual Driver LTNG. It is also a lot more sensitive than the Dual Driver LTNG, meaning it doesn’t take many volume clicks for the Triple Driver LTNG to be very loud in comparison. The Triple Driver is more detailed and resolute than the Dual Driver LTNG, however, the Dual Driver is such a fantastic performer in not only isolation and cancellation of noise, but in the lower midrange plus midbass areas. Overall bass of the Dual Driver LTNG is lusher, but the overall bass and treble is more pronounced with the Triple Driver LTNG. Soundstage and dynamics favor the Triple Driver LTNG - richness and lower-range texture favors the Dual Driver LTNG.

The Triple Driver’s sound signature is less bright and less forward than that of the Triple Driver LTNG, which leads to a more nuanced earphone comparatively. The Triple Driver’s sound signature is more like the Dual Driver LTNG than the Triple Driver LTNG’s sound signature is to the Dual Driver LTNG. The Dual Driver LTNG has the midbass emphasis. The Triple Driver has the boost in upper midrange and treble. The Triple Driver LTNG takes the sound signature a bit further with more forwardness, and a brighter, liquid sound.

If you are looking for an active noise cancelling in-ear headphone that is good for tuning out the outside and inside world, working out, and stellar for bassier songs and movies, then the 1MORE Dual Driver LTNG In-Ear Headphones are worth checking out!

Be one...with 1MORE.


Specifications

1MORE Dual Driver ANC Lightning In-Ear
Headphones type: In-Ear
Color: Gray
Connection length: 1.25 m
Driver configuration: 1 aalanced armature, 1 triple layer dynamic driver
Wire control function: 5-in-1 Controller
Wire: Enamelled copper wire
Plug type: Lightning (Mfi)
Frequency response range: 20-20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Rated power: 5 mW
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moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Pros: The sound! Oh, blissful, angelic sound! Did I mention the sound?
Cons: Fit may not be the best for some listeners. However, there are options by way of tip rolling and custom-tip options as well.
Review: Campfire Audio Andromeda and Snugs Only


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Before I start the review, I would like to give thanks to Mr. Ball and Mr. Jobin, for providing the complementary Andromeda and Snugs Only, respectively.


Introduction

Wow - it has been quite the whirlwind from the point that I’m writing this, from the first time I was introduced to the company. I didn’t know too much about ALO and Campfire Audio since a couple of years ago when I listened to their products at T.H.E. Show, Newport Beach, so I inquired with Mr. Ball to learn a little bit more about their philosophy regarding their company and products.

What is your audio background?

None :) !!! I am ex USDA Plant Pathologist and my degree is biology based. But have been doing professional audio manufacturing for over a decade now. I am very good with my hands and thinking or looking at problems from different or unusual angles.

What gave you the inspiration to create ALO and Campfire Audio?

ALO started when I began making cables in my basement a long time ago. I really wanted to make cables that looked as good as they sounded. I them moved on to active electronics. However my dream from the beginning was to make the whole headphone and or IEM. I was modding a lot of headphones for customers back then and while it was fun and good the amount you can improve a headphone is only so much. In addition modding a headphone is really an act of deconstruction and then rebuilding. The amount you can take this must always start from the stock headphone so you can only improve it so much. What I really wanted to do was to make the whole headphone or IEM from scratch in my own vision. The problem with this is it is incredibly costly and the companies that are willing to work with you are very few. Who would make custom parts for you when you’re only ordering a few 1000? Most parts makers will want more like MQO of 10,000 pieces to start. So my dream of Campfire Audio had to wait, and wait until I saved up enough cabbage to buy tooling and stuff

What is your goal for your customers with regards to their experience with your IEMs?

More than anything I want Campfire Audio to be unique, look unique and sound unique/different and true to our own thing. This is a tall order since most all IEM companies all use the same BAs and most of the configurations are the same using the same techniques. We use all machined aluminum, or ceramic, use different parts when we can, make our own custom parts when we can. I don't know and don’t care what other people are doing with their builds, we are making our own thing. I spend most of my time in the lab doing experiments with these BA drivers, often very odd implementation. My affinity for looking at problems and possibilities from totally different angles than most people I think gives me an edge over other audio engineers. I think creativity is a powerful tool that can produce things that are special and or unique. I am very good with my hands and tend to try many things that most people I think probably would discount. These things I think very much helped in making our IEMs "different". By the same process I also make a lot of failures and waste in experimentation, but in trying I find that among all the duds and dead ends there can be a real gem. In addition I never stop learning my craft as well as building upon the things I learn in experimentation. So in the end I don't want people to have to listen to boring IEMs and neither do I.

What was the reason(s) to you use your proprietary design when creating the Andromeda?

Just trying to achieve the above (last answer) :wink:

What are your goals for the future with regards to Campfire Audio?

We have very big dreams for Campfire Audio and have a lot on the docket. We only hope and pray that our customer will resonate with what we are trying to do and support us. Every dime I made goes back into Campfire Audio. I have spent all of my ALO savings as well as my personal savings to get Campfire “lit” and off the ground. So with the support of customers we can together take it to the next level.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Just adding on to the last question, we have a lot of grand ideas and concepts that are on paper that I think would be next level I just need to keep chugging away in order to fund future projects and developments that we are very excited about. The costs to do some of the things we want to do are probably out of reach but it’s nice to dream big. I might add that Campfire / ALO is only 5 people so we are limited in what we can bite off. I do have a lot of outside help but still we are only scratching the surface of what could be.

An extra one...where are your IEMs made/created?

Beautiful Portland Oregon!! Aluminum shells are machined also in Oregon, anodized in Oregon and we hand assemble and test everything here in Portland. I do have some parts custom made in Taiwan for me but we designed and engineered everything – with the exception of the BAs of course. I have a very talented mechanical engineer who is one of my good friends that works for me. He is a wizard at engineering, 3D modeling and industrial design.


Earphone
Campfire Audio Andromeda: $1,099

Earphones mentioned and compared
Campfire Audio Vega: $1,299
Jerry Harvey Audio Layla: Starting at $2,725
Shure SE846: ~$1,000
Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered: Starting at $999

Audio equipment used in the review

Sources
iPhone 6 (Space Gray, 128GB): $849.99 or $399.99 with a 2-Year Contract
Microsoft Surface Book: Starting at $1,499
Questyle Audio QP1R Golden: $899 USD
Questyle Audio QP2R Golden: $1,299 USD

Cables
Campfire Audio Litz Cable 3.5mm: stock with Andromeda or $149
Campfire Audio Litz Cable 2.5mm Balanced: $149

Eartips
Penon Audio Grey-Red Eartips: $3.99
SpinFit Eartips: varies depending on pair amount

Custom eartips
Snugs Only: ~$259

Software Applications Used
Spotify Premium – Extreme Setting
TIDAL HiFi – Lossless

An avid wrestler, coach, teacher, father and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.

Ringing in my ears? Oh, tinnitus? I get that about 2 times a year, for about 10 seconds each time. Other than that, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing. Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, etcetera).

My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right. I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul. I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.

Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measure app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test. Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by. Why? They use them to tune their equipment, and the measurements are from their own specific parameters. I agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s overall statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):

“…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.

In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”


I also had the chance to talk with Dan Wiggins from perodic audio at various audio events and has been very enlightening to talk audio with him. Here are Mr. Wiggins’ thoughts on measurements (verbatim):

“Hi all,

Wanted to toss my $0.02 into the mix...

For those that know who I am, then you know I have a bit of a reputation in the industry (good). For those that don't, I can guarantee you've heard my work if you've ever listened to live or recorded music. From recording microphones to studio monitors to PA systems to consumer systems, I've designed audio systems and transducers for pretty much all the big players - and done so many, many times (not to mention lots of headphones and IEMs along the way).

In my experience, measurement correlation between systems is hard to first establish and even more difficult to maintain. Datasets within a measurement system/location/team can be fairly consistent over time as long as the equipment is rigorously maintained, processes are slavishly followed, and the team cares greatly about consistency. Otherwise - all bets are off.

In production of audio systems, we use "golden samples" - we use a very small number of selected reference units that are deemed as "ideal". A day's production usually starts with the online production test systems measuring the golden sample, then tolerances are set accordingly to that measurement. All production must pass within the tolerance window, and the few (typically one or two a week) that essentially have no deviation from the golden sample are culled out and reserved as future, replacement "golden samples" (the tolerance can be discussed later, but suffice to say it is probably an order of magnitude larger than most HeadFi'ers would expect).

In other words, we use physical representations to calibrate against, rather than abstract numbers and concepts. It all comes down to how measurements can change from not just system to system or operator to operator but day to day. Temperature and humidity can affect measurements in significant manners. Environmental noise can - and definitely will! - corrupt measurements. Different mountings of DUTs (Device Under Test) by operators will affect measurements.

In essence, after installing literally hundreds (perhaps over a thousand) acoustic test systems, at dozens of factories in dozens of countries, I can confidently say that expecting consistency between two or more systems is a fool's errand. Won't happen.

Measurements are a great way to confirm you are getting what you expect, and to document where you are. And they are relevant within the same local world (equipment, team, environment). They can be used to guide design of product by a team, a team that is familiar and experienced with what measurement X really means in terms of what they are designing.

So with that, measurement correlation between different teams is never really expected, nor should it be. In fact, I start to get nervous if things line up too well! Great consistency tells me either the wrong settings are being used (we're not looking at a fine enough level of detail - we're oversmoothing/over-interpolating), or some fudging is going on to make things look closer than they really are.

All that said - don't expect measurements from one person to closely track that of another. Look at how products vary inside each measurement set, and assume the variances are at least relative - that is much more instructive. If one system is hot or cold in the treble, it will be consistently hot or cold, and you'll see that as you compare larger datasets between different systems. That is what we should pay attention to, rather than a few cherry-picked comparisons.”

Measurements are possibly valid to obtain a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all. Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat. Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel. I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.

A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."

Listening to the Andromeda for the first time

I helped to exhibit at an AXPONA in Chicago, and I was able to listen to the Andromeda for the first time. It was such an invigorating experience, as listening to the Andromeda was such euphoria, especially when compared to other IEMs I have listened to around that time frame (including other CA IEMs as well).

Campfire Audio's banner at AXPONA
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Downtown Chicago - near Headquarters Beercade...
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...here's one of my favorite games at Headquarters Beercade
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Passed the old-school Street Fighter game with Ryu
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Initial impressions

When I first received the Andromeda, I immediately posted my thoughts on the main Andromeda thread: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/cam...dromeda-and-nova.805107/page-51#post-12572191 -- Needless to say, I was one happy music lover.


Color choosing process

If you purchase directly from Campfire Audio, you are going to get emerald green colored shells, but if you purchase from a distributor from certain areas of the world, you can get yourself different colored shells such as white, and even gold or silver chrome if you are able to find them. The green is a color that I am happy Campfire Audio went with. More about that a little later.


Packaging and accessories

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Instruction manual

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Patented design

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When you take a look at the initial packaging, you’ll see a minimalistic design, which aids in producing a smaller carbon footprint as a result. I love the idea behind it, actually. You’ll receive a small box, slightly larger than the dark leather case that is inside of it. Open up the initial cardboard case, and you’ll see “Nicely Done.” along the upper flap. Nice touch! Inside of the case, you’ll see:
  • Campfire Audio Andromeda
  • Campfire Audio Litz Cable 3.5mm
  • Silicone Tips (S, M, L)
  • Foam Tips (S, M, L)
  • Foam Tips with wax guard (S, M, L)
  • Campfire Audio lapel pin
  • Cleaning tool
  • User Guide
I really like the lapel pin, especially - something as small and different from the norm of what is included with IEMs shows that Campfire wants to be unique, and that is emphatically welcomed.


Build and aesthetics

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Paired with the QP1R

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With the UEPRR

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Different angles

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Beautiful Y-connect

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SpinFit eartips compared to the stock eartips (the Penon Audio eartips are slightly longer than the SpinFit eartips
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From left, moving clockwise: Legend Omega, UEPRR, SE846, Andromeda

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Serious UEPRR shine

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SE846 and SCS with Andromeda

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Legend Omega with Andromeda - three different focal points

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Silicone eartips with acrylic housing

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The first thing that you see with the housing is how unique it is and how much effort was put into making them. The Andromeda is locally produced in small batches, the aluminum housing is said to improve the sonic performance of the earphone by “reducing vibrations that introduce distortion.” The Andromeda takes hours to build its shell, and is quality in your hand and a sight to behold. The green is an anodized finish. Before the finish, the aluminum shells are blasted with a Zirconium material to create a smooth finish. The blast also prepares the surface of the shells to hold the color from the anodization. As a result, the green color will stay a looker for the duration of the earphone's life. The housing is so iconic that the design has been copied -- the manufacturer(s) that have done so won’t be noted as an upstanding company, in my opinion. Campfire Audio put the work in to create a housing shape, and to have another “company” copy the design and sell it as their own is simply not cool, no matter if the “company” simply wants to make a buck off of Campfire Audio’s success. I stand behind these words.

The Andromeda’s MMCX connectors utilize custom Beryllium Copper, which eradicates the traditional shortcomings of most MMCX connections. Since the connectors extend the life of the earphone, upgrading the cable will be worry-free because the mating pins of the earphone won't wear out. You can also spin the earphone all of the way around without signal cutout, as well.

The cable that Andromeda uses is my current favorite stock cable that I have used or own. It is Campfire Audio/ALO’s own Litz cable, made out of Silver Plated Copper. Soft, supple, and with the right amount of shine, with zero oxidation, as I have had this cable for over a year now. The 2.5mm Balanced cable is just as awesome, aiding in even more of a blissful sound signature paired with the Questyle Audio QP2R. The memory wire is thin, but sturdy, and helps position the earphone housing in my ear better. The Y-connect is nice and minimalist, as the silver Y-connect is right below a very thin clear plastic slider, helping to create a tighter fit, if needed. The cable itself is braided in such a way if the cable is twisted, the cable does not lose its braid or shape. The L-shaped plug is clear, giving you a “clear” look inside of the termination. The “CA” on top of the L-shaped plug, coupled with the slimness of the horizontal area of the plug, leads to touches that are much appreciated. There are no microphonics that I can detect, and the tight braiding leads to a more uniform look. This is one of the best looking and performing cables that I own.

The leather case is very nice and reminds me of a bespoke piece of clothing, as it's part of a dress suit, or a nicely dressed DAP that's outfitted with a leather case, as well. Supple on the outside, very soft on with inside with its lining, and is a joy to use as my Andromeda case.


Weight

Andromeda, with Ramen and other yummy food and soft drinks
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There is more weight of these earphones compared to acrylic or some titanium earphones, but the weight shouldn’t be an issue, especially when using a cable that uses robust memory wires so fitting the Andromeda in your ears will be easier. With that said...


Fit and comfort, with Snugs Only and universal eartips

My fit with silicone eartips
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This is the one elephant in the room, in my opinion. For some people, fit will not be a concern at all. The uniquely shaped housing leads to possible issues with the fit, as there are rather sharp angles to the housing. This has been addressed in newer versions of the Andromeda, where an extra angle was crafted, so earphone fit could be a bit better. The overall fit of the Andromeda was one area that I have been working on for over a year. Most earphones; if fit isn’t that great, I’ll move on to another earphone. However, the sound of the Andromeda is so amazing to my ears, I wanted the best fit that I could possibly muster. This has not been limited to only trying out different universal eartips. No -- I have enlisted the help of Snugs. I first talked to Mr. Jobin about the company, and wound up a very happy person, knowing that they really care about the customer. I got 3D scanned with their 3D scanner, and my “virtual impressions” were sent immediately to the Snugs lab’s server. I was the first in the world to give my Andromeda to Snugs so they could create a template for creating custom Andromeda Snugs Tips.

My first foray into the custom Andromeda eartips began with Snug’s “Only” custom eartips. The design is very nice, with green and orange/red custom eartips colors, both with lots of glitter, because, you know, I like bling! The ear canals were curved, but somehow seemed a bit too shallow, since it was only the ear canal portion of the eartips that were created. The tips slipped on without much issue, but I was always worried that I would lose a custom eartip. One side fit my ear okay - and the other side didn’t fit as good - I had to work both tips for a while to find the right position for the best fit. The main issue was that there wasn’t a concha area of silicone created, so that meant I only had the actual ear canal to try to obtain a fit - much more difficult than simply having a “concha guide” to obtain as perfect a fit as possible. Not only that, the sound was unfortunately not similar to the Andromeda with universal silicone eartips.

CanJam London was where I first met the Snugs team, and was 3D scanned

Passing Big Ben on the way to...
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...Park Plaza Westminster Bridge - site of CanJam London
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The first version of Snugs Only for the Andromeda
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Part 2 of the custom eartip adventure started at this year’s CanJam London - I wanted to talk to Mr. Jobin about the Andromeda Snugs Only in person, even though we have conversed back and forth during the year via email. Mr. Jobin pulls out a small container, showing his new Andromeda custom eartip design! I could see that this design is shorter in overall length than my original Snugs Only, but is wider in width to fill out the ear canal more sufficiently with its custom-created silicone. Many thanks to Mr. Jobin for creating the second version for me. When I received it, I noticed the addition of a very thin eartip guide, to help me remove the eartips if I needed. I never need to use the eartip guides.

The second version of Snugs Only for the Andromeda
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The design is slightly thicker than the original Snugs Only, and the blue denoting the left side with red denoting the right side made it not only easier to denote each eartip side, but made denoting the earphones easier as a result. Both colors and design as a whole looks very quality-made.

When fitting the second version Snugs Only into my ears, I made sure the dots were facing up, and using the dots as a guide and rotating the custom eartips slightly helped me obtain a better overall fit than the first Snugs Only.

The sound did change compared to my favorite universal eartips. I would say the original Snugs Only warmed the sound a bit, with a bit less treble and overall stage presence, and the 2nd version Snugs Only warmed the sound a bit more, with about the same stage presence as the original, mostly due to the increased seal and isolation that I experienced. Concerning compared perceived frequency response differences, the change in sound of the Andromeda’s universal silicone eartips compared to the 1st and 2nd version Snugs Only is more drastic than the sound difference between the SE846’s universal silicone eartips compared to the SCS.

It was mentioned to me that creating a concha area would make the tips too bulbous, and I understand that. I almost want there to be full shell Andromeda pair of custom sleeve, regardless of there being a chance of the sleeves being a bit bulbous. If you are getting custom tips, why not just go the full route of making it as custom as possible? The custom sleeves are the route to true fit, seal and isolation of sound in my experience.

The Snugs Only custom eartips are worth a try if you do not have any universal eartips that work out for you, and you adore the sound of your Andromeda. I personally like the sound of my universal silicone eartips more than the Snugs, but that can be due to reasons such as the source that I am using, and also my sound preferences. I am used to the sound of the Andromeda with universal eartips, and most anything else may not the best sound for my ears - but that doesn't mean the Snugs Only wouldn't be absolutely awesome for you. I did wind up finding universal eartips that gave me a good fit with an excellent seal with isolation.

The eartips that I use that I have found to fit me the best, are the Penon Audio Gray/Red eartips. Usually I use medium eartips with my other earphones, but specifically for the Andromeda, I found out that the Large size of the Penon eartips work out the best for me.


Easy C/IEM side detection

You can tell each side of the earphone a few ways:

There will be a “L” and “R” on the inside housings themselves to denote left and right earphone.

The stock Litz cable will have a blue dot at the connector to denote the left side, and a red dot at the connector to denote the right side.

My favorite way to detect each side -- this works for most earphones - not all, but most: look at the earphone facing you. If the connector is pointing/facing the left, then the earphone is the left side. If the connector is pointing/facing the right, then the earphone is the right side.


Disclaimer and hearing factors

The Andromeda’s sound impressions are mainly for anyone wanting a point of reference regarding how they more or less pair with the iPhone 6, QP1R, QP2R and Surface Book. Other sources may vary slightly or greatly as the Andromeda sounds different enough with these three sources to warrant mentioning. The Andromeda will have a warmer and pronounced effect in the overall bass region when pairing with the iPhone 6. The Andromeda will have a supremely detailed with slight treble and bass with extended detail when paired with the QP1R. The Andromeda will further the detail with increased soundstage and abyss-like background when it is paired with the QP2R, especially utilizing the Balanced Litz cable and connection. The Andromeda will have a more balanced and natural sounding approach to its presentation when paired with the Surface Book. For reference, the Andromeda is a very sensitive and is very easy to drive, as a smartphone such as the iPhone does not take full volume for the Andromeda to emit levels that can damage hearing quickly. 9 out of 16 volume is when the Andromeda starts to sound very loud to my ears.

We all hear differently, and our experiences with regards to how our interpretation of what we hear vary greatly. Some factors that come to mind (and not limited), are:

Your inner ear and skull’s overall composition: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart...kull-affect-how-you-hear-music-654940/?no-ist.

Hearing loss as we age, also known as presbycusis: https://www.ohio.edu/news/months/nov1998/111.html,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbycusis.

Heredity, noise trauma, dietary habits, smoking, hypertension, atherosclerosis, are other factors that affect people’s overall hearing ability.


Analyze this and that

The test tracks that I use in my reviews are located in these albums (album alphabetical order)

1989 (Deluxe Edition) by Taylor Swift (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
21 by Adele (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bad (2001 Special Edition) by Michael Jackson (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bangerz by Miley Cyrus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Beyoncé by Beyoncé (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Heart Blanche by Ceelo Green (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
Make Yourself by Incubus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
No. 5 Collaborations Project (EP) by Ed Sheeran (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
One by One by Foo Fighters (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Schubert Berliner Philharmoniker by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Thriller by Michael Jackson (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
X (Wembley Edition) by Ed Sheeran (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

Several standalone tracks (track alphabetical order)

Dock of the Bay by The Persuations A Cappella Dreams (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
M.O.R. by Blur – Blur 21, Blur (2012 Remaster – Special Edition) (MP3 320kbps 44.1kHz/16bit)
Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor D. 810, Death and the Maiden: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto by Oslo String Quartet – The Schubert Connection (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
Serenade (Spanish Dance), Op. 54, No. 2 by Jano Starker and David Popper – Wilson Audio Ultimate Reference (APE 44.1kHz/16bit)
The Peppery Man by Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
These Bones by The Fairfield Four – I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)

If I am listening to a product that is not able to be listened with the highest resolution tracks that I have mentioned, I will listen to the TIDAL versions (FLAC).


Are Your Earphones Correctly Inserted?

The frequency response across the full audio spectrum should be smooth, and the bass response should be fully present - that is, if you have a "full, tight seal". If you have any doubts regarding hearing both earphones equally (assuming you don't have a hearing tested significant FR imbalance), you can self-administer the "Audio Seal" test - it's to help determine if your earphones (Universals/CIEMs) are correctly inserted. The webpage comes with downloadable and streamable audio files in .mp3 or .wav format. The test is great to find out if you have a correct insertion and proper fit, and can reveal other issues other than an incomplete and/or poor seal. From the webpage: "The test consists of two brief audio tracks. Both include two sine waves, one at 50 Hz and the other at 500 Hz, played at the same volume. On one track, the two tones are played together. On the other track, the tones alternate in 2-second intervals."

Here's the link from Sensaphonics: www.sensaphonics.com/test


Sound impressions

The Andromeda is simply one of my favorite sounding in-ear monitors, regardless of internal or external technologies implemented. The Andromeda is supremely resolute, immensely detailed, and just an ongoing joy to listen to music - paired with my favorite sources. I would like to call the Andromeda “Holographically vibrant”. This earphone, when using silicone tips, will have an emphasis in the upper midrange, with a bit of bass presence.

The 3D soundstage is so blissful, that you can almost smell the concert you are listening to, making it as close to 4D as possible. Width, and the quality of that width is astounding.

Bass is plentiful but is never in basshead territory. The midrange is vibrant, especially in the upper areas. Full of air and has a sound of aural angels, of sorts, the Andromeda emits from its green housing of angelicness. The treble is full of vigor, always ready to pounce with love, at a moment’s notice.

Imaging, sublime. Detail, it's got loads of that. The swag factor of knowing you have an amazing sounding earphone with knock-out looks as well? Priceless.

Here's my friend @Netforce (Alan’s) thoughts on the Andromeda: “Nice clean clear sound, with slight warmth, good soundstage, better than most IEMs. The Andromeda sounds natural - very tight, impactful bass, extended mids, nice full treble -nice and extended. I didn't hear any specific peaks personally.”

I have taken the Andromeda to meets and events all around the world this past year, and everyone has adored the earphone except for two. That may not seem like very good numbers, but check this out: most headphones and earphones that people listen to, I will be happy if 50% of them like the ones they listen to. For only two to not love the earphone is amazing - that equates to more than a 98% rate of people really liking the sound of the Andromeda. From audiophiles to stock phone earphone-touting listeners, they all seem to reach a similar consensus: the Andromeda sounds darn good - with lots of people saying “wow” once they listen to the earphone.


Earphone Comparisons

The selected comparisons to the Andromeda, below, are with earphones that are and are not around the price range of the Andromeda. If you’d like a comparison of an earphone that is not mentioned in the review or is not located in my profile, feel free to message me and send me anything you’d like that can then be added to the review. Without further ado…

Campfire Audio Vega

The Vega - at this year's inaugural LA Audio Show
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The Vega - at home for extensive listening
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I was able to listen my Head-Fier friend's Vega for over a month at the comfort of my home, and was able to hear the goodness of the Vega and also compare it to the Andromeda.

The Vega has a better fit to my ears than the Andromeda, because of the slimmer profile that has a small circular shape to its housing. I can see where some people may need to use a different pair of eartips than the Andromeda, since both housings are vastly different in size and shape. I used the medium stock silicone eartips with the Vega, and I do not have any fit issues.

The main differences in sound signature are that the bass of the Vega is more emphasized compared to the Andromeda, and the upper midrange and treble of the Andromeda is more emphasized than that of the Vega. The Andromeda is a more vibrant-sounding earphone than the Vega, as the treble extends further to my ears. The Vega has a more dynamic and bassy signature, especially in the sub and mid-level bass areas. Midbass quality is similar between the two earphones, but the quantity is observed more with the Vega. The midrange of the Vega is smoother and warmer than that of the Andromeda, but the Andromeda's midrange is more breathy and transparent. The treble is where the Andromeda shines, as it is more extended, crisp, and articulate, than that of the Vega. The bass area is where the Vegas shines, as it is more full, rich, and punchy than that of the Andromeda. Space, and the interpretation of that space, favors the Andromeda, as it has one of the most enthralling, all-encompassing soundstages that I've listened to in a portable product. This includes in-ears and headphones.

The Andromeda would be my favored of the two, mainly because the sound of the Andromeda has not be duplicated in an earphone, and there is not an in-ear that I've listened to that sounds very near the sound of the Andromeda. The Vega has a sound that is very good and emits a sound that a lot of people will enjoy, and the Andromeda has a sound signature that is truly unique, yet captivating at the same time.

Jerry Harvey Audio Layla
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The Layla will have a universal fit that may be too big for listeners to handle, because of all of the internal components the Layla is comprised of. Fit may be more difficult compared to the Andromeda as a result. However, the Layla feels very good if you go for the custom version, since it's a just about perfect representation of your individual ear anatomy.

The bass of the Andromeda is similar to around 2 o’clock of the Layla’s bass knob with regards to quantity. The Andromeda’s bass has more quickness, with less decay than the Layla’s. The Layla’s midrange is more natural in sound, but the Andromeda’s is more vibrant, with urgency and zest. The Andromeda’s treble extends further to my ears, but the Layla’s is more reference in sound. Soundstage favors both of these fine earphones, as both extends as far, or farther, than some to most traditional headphones in the market. Detail is more pinpoint with the Andromeda, but more natural and reference with the Layla.

Both are truly world-class in-ears.

Shure SE846
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The fit of the SE846 can rival that of the Andromeda, as both may need different types of tips to check out before finding one set that feels the best to your ears. However, the SE846 can be fitted with Sensaphonics Custom Sleeves (SCS), that turns the SE846 into a silicone custom in-ear. In my experience, the SCS is very comfortable, and is great for working out as well. The Andromeda with the Penon Audio eartips offers a good seal, with very good isolation.

The bass of the SE846 is tough to be reckoned with for a 4 BA driver earphone, as it has as much quality with a bit of quantity as any earphone in the market. Smooth, controlled and just the right about of visceralness. The Andromeda’s bass isn’t as ambidextrous, but it is quite vivacious and consistent, which should be enough for lovers of bass. The midrange is more warm and viscous than the Andromeda, and the Andromeda’s midrange is a bit more vibrant, especially in the upper midrange, compared to the SE846’s. Higher registers favor the Andromeda, which extends further than the SE846’s treble, and can also help in perceiving more of a dynamic sound from the Andromeda as well. Detail favors the Andromeda. Smoothness and ported-nature of the lower midrange and bass favors the SE846.

Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered
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The custom version of the UEPRR is very good. You can use traditional impressions, or go with UE’s 3D scans, to help create as perfect as a fit, as possible. The custom fit of the UEPRR will more than likely feel better in the ear than the universal shells of the Andromeda, especially with the abrupt angles of its housing, as well.

The UEPRR has more of a balanced sound than the Andromeda. Meaning, all areas of the UEPRR don’t stand out compared to the Andromeda - as I feel the upper midrange of the Andromeda stands out, with more pep, than the UEPRR. Bass is a bit less pronounced than the Andromeda, and quality favors both, with the Andromeda having a bit more perkiness. Midrange is more reference and balanced in nature than the Andromeda, but is not nearly as vibrant as the Andromeda’s midrange, especially in the upper midrange. The treble of the Andromeda extends further to my ears compared to the UEPRR, and has more sparkle, sheen, and shine. The Andromeda, as a result, may seem a bit bright listening back-to-back with a more laid-back, reference sound, such as that of the UEPRR.


Cultivate a fresh sound™

What does this mean? Too often we focus on only the music we are accustomed to. I am usually this way as well. Here’s an opportunity to listen to something you either may not normally listen to, or haven’t heard of. As I publish reviews in the future, I will have new and older tracks from various genres that I’ve listened to in this section, and will be largely based on what songs really moved me in particular to the reviewed product I’ve listened to on it. Even though the tracks will be linked to YouTube videos or audio-only versions, the tracks will either be listened solely from the iPhone 6 and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless, or from my Microsoft Surface Book and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless. Instead of describing each track in immense detail, you can simply listen for yourself and bask in the beautiful music you may have just found for the first time right now! What’s also great is that you can come back here just to listen to the tracks mentioned! If you have any personal issues with any tracks posted, please PM me and I'll replace it with another track. It's all about positivity in our musical journey. With those kind words of encouragement, here we go…

Evolution of K-Pop by sleightlymusical


Mama ft. William Singe by Jonas Blue


Cry To Me (Official Music Video) by Skip Marley


If I'm Lucky (Official Lyric Video) by Jason Derulo



Is the Andromeda right for you?

I would say so. At least give the Andromeda a listen. Out of all of the people who listened to mine -- to have only two not enjoy the sound is absolutely remarkable - that’s over a 98% success rate, in my experience. What’s great is that if the Andromeda doesn’t sound the best to your ears, you can also check out Campfire Audio's other IEMs that sound amazing, like the Dorado and Vega - those may be better to your liking.


Summary

The design of the Andromeda has been copied, however, the sound of the Andromeda may never be copied, which is a testament to how special and thoroughly invigorating the sound of the Andromeda is to me, as well as others who have listened to the vibrant bliss that is of the green borealis.

Worth the price of admission for true, aural glory.


Specifications
  • Five Balanced Armature Drivers
  • Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber™ (TAEC)
  • Machined aluminum enclosure made in Oregon
  • Anodized finish with Zirconium blast surface treatment
  • Premium Litz Wire cable; Silver-plated-Copper conductors
  • Designed and hand built in Portland, Oregon USA.
  • Typically ships in about 7 business days

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Pros: Fantastic build, beautiful balanced sound signature
Cons: Not the lightest earphone with stock cable, may only be restricted to one way of fitting the earphone to your ears
Review: Massdrop x MEE Audio Pinnacle PX IEMs

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Before I start the review, I would like to thank Massdrop for the complementary earphone.

The main review is also located here:
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/review-massdrop-x-mee-audio-pinnacle-px-iems.857691/


Introduction

Massdrop has released several headphone and IEM MEE Audio products over the course of time. I purchased two of Massdrop’s Bluebox MEE Audio IEMs, which gives you a chance to get different MEE Audio IEMs, some worth more than others. I wound up getting the MEE Audio M9 Classic and RX18P - two bargain-priced IEMs that were satisfactory in build and sound. Now, Massdrop has collaborated with MEE Audio to create a value-priced Pinnacle P1 called the Massdrop x MEE Audio Pinnacle PX IEMs (hereby called the PX). I’ve had a chance to listen to both the P1 and PX, and will have my thoughts on both a little later. Let’s learn more about the PX!


Audio equipment used in the review

Earphone
Massdrop x MEE Audio Pinnacle PX IEMs: $113.99

Earphones mentioned and compared
1MORE Triple Driver: $99.99
Atomic Floyd Hi-Def Drum: $199.00
MEE Audio Pinnacle P1: $199.99
Meze Audio 12 Classics: $79.00

Sources
iPhone 6: (Space Gray, 128GB): $849.99 or $399.99 with a 2-Year Contract
Microsoft Surface Book: Starting at $1,499
Questyle Audio QP1R Golden: $899 USD

Software Applications Used
Spotify Premium – Extreme Setting
TIDAL HiFi – Lossless

An avid wrestler, coach, teacher, father and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.

Ringing in my ears? Oh, tinnitus? I get that about 2 times a year, for about 10 seconds each time. Other than that, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing. Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, etcetera).

My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right. I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul. I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.

Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measure app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test. Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by. Why? They use them to tune their equipment, and the measurements are from their own specific parameters. I agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s overall statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):

“…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.

In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”

I also had the chance to talk with Dan Wiggins from perodic audio at various audio events and has been very enlightening to talk audio with him. Here are Mr. Wiggins’ thoughts on measurements (verbatim):


“Hi all,

Wanted to toss my $0.02 into the mix...

For those that know who I am, then you know I have a bit of a reputation in the industry (good). For those that don't, I can guarantee you've heard my work if you've ever listened to live or recorded music. From recording microphones to studio monitors to PA systems to consumer systems, I've designed audio systems and transducers for pretty much all the big players - and done so many, many times (not to mention lots of headphones and IEMs along the way).

In my experience, measurement correlation between systems is hard to first establish and even more difficult to maintain. Datasets within a measurement system/location/team can be fairly consistent over time as long as the equipment is rigorously maintained, processes are slavishly followed, and the team cares greatly about consistency. Otherwise - all bets are off.

In production of audio systems, we use "golden samples" - we use a very small number of selected reference units that are deemed as "ideal". A day's production usually starts with the online production test systems measuring the golden sample, then tolerances are set accordingly to that measurement. All production must pass within the tolerance window, and the few (typically one or two a week) that essentially have no deviation from the golden sample are culled out and reserved as future, replacement "golden samples" (the tolerance can be discussed later, but suffice to say it is probably an order of magnitude larger than most HeadFi'ers would expect).

In other words, we use physical representations to calibrate against, rather than abstract numbers and concepts. It all comes down to how measurements can change from not just system to system or operator to operator but day to day. Temperature and humidity can affect measurements in significant manners. Environmental noise can - and definitely will! - corrupt measurements. Different mountings of DUTs (Device Under Test) by operators will affect measurements.

In essence, after installing literally hundreds (perhaps over a thousand) acoustic test systems, at dozens of factories in dozens of countries, I can confidently say that expecting consistency between two or more systems is a fool's errand. Won't happen.

Measurements are a great way to confirm you are getting what you expect, and to document where you are. And they are relevant within the same local world (equipment, team, environment). They can be used to guide design of product by a team, a team that is familiar and experienced with what measurement X really means in terms of what they are designing.

So with that, measurement correlation between different teams is never really expected, nor should it be. In fact, I start to get nervous if things line up too well! Great consistency tells me either the wrong settings are being used (we're not looking at a fine enough level of detail - we're oversmoothing/over-interpolating), or some fudging is going on to make things look closer than they really are.

All that said - don't expect measurements from one person to closely track that of another. Look at how products vary inside each measurement set, and assume the variances are at least relative - that is much more instructive. If one system is hot or cold in the treble, it will be consistently hot or cold, and you'll see that as you compare larger datasets between different systems. That is what we should pay attention to, rather than a few cherry-picked comparisons.”

Measurements are possibly valid to obtain a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all. Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat. Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel. I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.

A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."

Inside the box

Open the box, and you’ll see:

1 Massdrop x MEE Audio Pinnacle PX IEMs
1 Detachable headset cable with inline microphone and remote
6 pairs of silicone ear tips in different sizes
3 pairs of Comply T-200 memory foam ear tips in different sizes
1 Carrying case
1 Shirt clip



Build and aesthetics

Beautifully created case
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Many varieties of universal eartips and uber thick stock cable
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Microphone
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Remote
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Y-split
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Shirt clip
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Sturdy L-shaped plug
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MMCX connection
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One of the most interesting aspects of the PX is the build. What do I mean? Well, for starters there aren’t a lot of earphones out on the market that have similar internals (in this case it’s a 10 mm dynamic moving coil with copper-clad aluminum voice coil) but have variations of the outside of their housings. With the P1, it has a Zinc material housing. In the PX’s case, it also has a Zinc material housing, but additionally has a Physical Vapor Deposition (otherwise known as PVD) coating over the Zinc, as well. PVD coatings can be harder and also more corrosion resistant than other types of coating applied by the electroplating process. PVD coatings have high temperature and good impact strength with abrasion resistance and durability that doesn’t usually necessitate a protective topcoat. More information with regards to PVD can be found on sites like PVDcoatings and Wikipedia. The PVD coating feels soft, yet hard to the touch against the Zinc housing.

The weight without the cable is 13 g, but with it, the weight is 29 g - not the lightest in-ear, but you really feel the quality due to the fantastic build and weight. For a universal, it has one of the best build qualities that I’ve experienced. The housing has a solid weight to it, and the stock cable is one of the beefiest and thickest cable that I’ve seen or own! The four-braid cable is sturdy, and even the two-braid on one side is about as thick as a lot of earphones’ overall cable thickness! The cable doesn’t utilize memory wires, and uses a remote with an omnidirectional microphone.

The PX uses an MMCX connection and offer a solid click when attaching with the stock cables’ connectors.

The stock cable uses an L-shaped plug, which helps thwart against accidental cable pulls from device ports. The remote/mic cable has strain relief at the end of the plug, and the cable utilizes no strain relief.

Overall the PX is quality, with subtle and beefy construction, inside and out.


Fit and comfort

What’s great about the PX is the construction is such as you can choose around the ear or hanging down to wear it. I’m used to wearing most earphones where the housing connectors are pointing a certain direction around the ears, but these, I can wear both ways with good comfort. I’ve had friends try out the PX, and one who owns a lot of earphones said he really enjoyed how the PX felt in his ears. The PVD coating really attributes to the cool feeling against the ears, with just a slight bit of softness as well. I didn’t notice an abnormal amount of microphonics with the stock cable, but is constructed nicely - and as a result feels nice against the ears and sides of the face.


Isolation

This ties into fit, for me, because if the fit of an earphone is good, then isolation should be good as well. In this case, isolation is good, mostly when you find the right angle of the housing, when wearing the cable over the ears. When the cables are hanging down, the fit and angle is easier to obtain, based on my experience. For those that have read my reviews in the past, you know that I usually only use silicone eartips. Using the supplied silicone tips are enough for me to obtain a satisfying, isolated feel. If you use foam tips, expect there to be even more isolation from the outside world, if that’s what you are attempting to obtain.


Eyeglass and sunglass wearers

Since the PX’s stock cable doesn’t utilize memory wire, eyeglasses and sunglasses shouldn’t be hindered very much when wearing the stock cable around your ears. You can choose to wear the PX hanging-straight-down, and this won’t affect eyeglass or sunglasses at all.


Working out

I would personally use another pair of earphones to work out with, because the earphones don’t stay in my ears absolutely perfectly when there is a lot of physical movement. If you want to try to workout with these earphones, the hanging-straight-down position would probably be best for the best angle with regards to fit.


Disclaimer and hearing factors

The Massdrop x MEE Audio Pinnacle PX IEMs sound impressions are mainly for anyone wanting a point of reference regarding how they more or less pair with the iPhone 6, QP1R and Surface Book. Other sources may vary slightly or greatly, as the PX sounds different enough with these three sources to warrant mentioning. The PX will have a warmer, less resolute and pronounced effect in the overall frequency spectrum when pairing with the iPhone 6. The PX will have a detailed with more treble and bass perception with extended detail when paired with the QP1R. The PX will have a balanced, yet leaner approach to its presentation when paired with the Surface Book. For reference, the PX is not difficult, but not the easiest to drive, as a smartphone such as the iPhone does not take full volume for the PX to emit levels that can damage hearing quickly. 13-14 out of 16 volume is when the PX starts to sound very loud to my ears.

We all hear differently, and our experiences about how our interpretation of what we hear vary greatly. Some factors that come to mind (and not limited), are:

Your inner ear and skull’s overall composition: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart...kull-affect-how-you-hear-music-654940/?no-ist.

Hearing loss as we age, also known as presbycusis: https://www.ohio.edu/news/months/nov1998/111.html,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbycusis.

Heredity, noise trauma, dietary habits, smoking, hypertension, atherosclerosis, are other factors that affect people’s overall hearing ability.


Analyze this and that

The test tracks that I use in my reviews are located in these albums (album alphabetical order)

1989 (Deluxe Edition) by Taylor Swift (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
21 by Adele (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bad (2001 Special Edition) by Michael Jackson (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bangerz by Miley Cyrus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Beyoncé by Beyoncé (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Heart Blanche by Ceelo Green (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
Make Yourself by Incubus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
No. 5 Collaborations Project (EP) by Ed Sheeran (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
One by One by Foo Fighters (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Schubert Berliner Philharmoniker by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
Shades of Marmalade by Jackson Breit (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Thriller by Michael Jackson (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
X (Wembley Edition) by Ed Sheeran (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

Several standalone tracks (track alphabetical order)

Dock of the Bay by The Persuations A Cappella Dreams (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
M.O.R. by Blur – Blur 21, Blur (2012 Remaster – Special Edition) (MP3 320kbps 44.1kHz/16bit)
Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor D. 810, Death and the Maiden: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto by Oslo String Quartet – The Schubert Connection (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
Serenade (Spanish Dance), Op. 54, No. 2 by Jano Starker and David Popper – Wilson Audio Ultimate Reference (APE 44.1kHz/16bit)
The Peppery Man by Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
These Bones by The Fairfield Four – I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)

If I am listening to a product that is not able to be listened with the highest resolution tracks that I have mentioned, I will listen to the TIDAL versions (FLAC).


Sound impressions

The PX has a signature that is like the P1s that I’ve listened to, based on memory; which is a very good balanced sound that is competent and doesn’t have very many faults. There is a crispness to the audio that you hear. You hear and feel the bass, but it isn’t overwhelming. The midrange is accentuated just slightly, but that attributes to the crisper balanced sound. Treble, depending on the type of music you listen to, can be quite prevalent, but as a whole, it’s just a little bit below sibilant. Spatial capabilities are in the range of above average to excellent. Pair with a competent DAP or DAC/Amp, and you’ll feel the music flowing all around your head, with amazing aplomb. The frequency representation extends pretty far to my ears, but is great if I want a winsome representation of the music that I’m listening to. Just think of an in-ear that has a vivacious sound, slightly leaning towards the lower upper midrange, yet manages to sound blissfully balanced at the same time. For those that are looking for a basshead earphone, look elsewhere, but those that want a fantastic-sounding balanced earphone with a bit of brighter soul, this earphone will take care of your wants and needs, in spades!


Earphone comparisons

The selected comparisons to the PX, below, are with earphones that are around the price range of the PX. If you’d like a comparison of an earphone that is not mentioned in the review or is not located in my profile, feel free to message me and send me anything you’d like that can then be added to the review. Without further ado…

1MORE Triple Driver
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Variability with regards to fit will favor the PX, as the Triple Driver can only be worn hanging-straight-down, however some may feel the Triple Driver has a slightly snugger fit. The Triple Driver has more pronounced mid and subbass, and the PX has a more smoothed-out texture in comparison. The midrange is smoother with the PX, but the Triple Driver jumps out at you with more forwardness. Treble is more pinpoint in sound with the Triple Driver, and is smoother and extended just a bit farther with the PX. Spatial qualities favor both, and aren’t too different to pick a clear victor. However, the Triple Driver is slightly clearer in sound, but the PX is more broad with the frequency range it’s able to convey, most notably its treble.

Atomic Floyd Hi-Def Drum
Atomic Floyd HiDefDrum.jpg

Where the Hi-Def Drum shines in isolation compared to the PX, the overall fit options favor the PX compared to the Hi-Def Drum. Bass is more prevalent with the PX and the bass isn’t very prevalent with the Hi-Def Drum. Midrange is also more forward and smoother with the PX. The Hi-Def Drum’s midrange is slightly laid back, as other frequencies take more prevalence like the treble. Speaking of the treble, both the PX and Hi-Def Drum exhibit extended treble, but the PX has the slightest bit higher highs. S’ have a bit more bite to the PX, even though the Hi-Def Drum is not a slouch in this area, as the Hi-Def Drum is known for its noticeable treble presence.

Meze Audio 12 Classics
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The 12 Classics are very light compared to the PX and offers the most comfortable fit of the compared earphones, in my opinion. Bass and especially subbass is going to heavily favor the 12 Classics. Boomier, with more weight, the 12 Classics as a whole has a warmer sound as a result compared to the PX. Midrange is richer and holds more heft than the PX. Treble heavily favors the PX, as high-hats, female vocals are accentuated and are perceived greater in quantity than the 12 Classics. You’re going to get the 12 Classics if you want a warm and smooth sound signature with a good amount of mid and subbass, and you’re going to get the PX if you want a more balanced and reference sound in comparison.


Cultivate a fresh sound™

What does this mean? Too often we focus on only the music we are accustomed to. I am usually this way as well. Here’s an opportunity to listen to something you either may not normally listen to, or haven’t heard of. As I publish reviews in the future, I will have new and older tracks from various genres that I’ve listened to in this section, and will be largely based on what songs really moved me in particular to the reviewed product I’ve listened to on it. Even though the tracks will be linked to YouTube videos or audio-only versions, the tracks will either be listened solely from the iPhone 6 and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless, or from my Microsoft Surface Book and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless. Instead of describing each track in immense detail, you can simply listen for yourself and bask in the beautiful music you may have just found for the first time right now! What’s also great is that you can come back here just to listen to the tracks mentioned! If you have any personal issues with any tracks posted, please PM me and I'll replace it with another track. It's all about positivity in our musical journey. With those kind words of encouragement, here we go…

Silence by Marshmello ft. Khalid


Evil In The Night by Adam Lambert


If You're Hearing This (Lyric Video) by Hook N Sling x Parson James x Betty Who


New Rules by Dua Lipa



Is the Massdrop x MEE Audio Pinnacle PX IEMs worth it?

If you wanted the P1 at a great price, the PX is a very smart choice, clear and simple. You’ve got the PVD coating which should be more resilient than the standard Zinc housing of the P1. You’ve got in all intents and purposes, quite nearly the same sound from both the P1 and PX. And again, you’ve got the lower price for the PX in relation to the P1. Everything to like and enjoy, with a heavier wallet when purchasing the PX compared to the P1.


Final thoughts

The PX sounds lovely and should be a part of your collection whether starting out on your audiophile journey, or for a low-price mid-level end-game in-ear.

Get yours when you can, and enjoy in delight!


Specifications
  • Massdrop x MEE Audio
  • Ear coupling: Intraaural
  • Housing: Zinc alloy with dark blue PVD finish
  • Driver: 10 mm dynamic moving coil with copper-clad aluminum voice coil
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz–20 kHz
  • Impedance: 50 ohms at 1 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 96 dB +/- 3 dB (1 mW at 1 kHz)
  • Microphone directivity: Omnidirectional
  • Microphone frequency response: 100 Hz–5 kHz
  • Microphone sensitivity: -40 dB +/- 3 dB
  • Cable: 51 in (130 cm), detachable
  • Cable connectors: MMCX
  • Cable plug: 3.5 mm, right angle
  • Wear styles: Over the ear or down from the ear
  • Weight without cable: 0.4 oz (13 g)
  • Weight with cable: 1 oz (29 g)
Included
  • Detachable headset cable with inline microphone and remote
  • Shirt clip
  • 6 pairs of silicone ear tips in different sizes
  • 3 pairs of Comply T-200 memory foam ear tips in different sizes
  • Carrying case
  • 2-year warranty
Shipping

All orders will be shipped by Massdrop.

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moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Pros: Feel and Fit is fantastic, solid cable connection, smooth and bassy sound. Great budget in-ear choice.
Cons: Treble is somewhat shelved compared to some IEMs in the price range.
Review: Massdrop x NuForce EDC In-Ear Monitors

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Before I start the review, I would like to thank Massdrop for the complementary earphone.

The review thread is located here: https://www.head-fi.org/f/threads/review-massdrop-x-nuforce-edc-in-ear-monitors.854273/.


Introduction

Massdrop is back at it again - this time with a budget-friendly IEM. Their premise is that this specific NuForce is designed to be carried every day with you, as Massdrop has added the “EDC” or otherwise known as “Every Day Carry”. I’ll take a closer look at this IEM to find out if I feel that the NuForce should not only have the EDC name attached to it, but, should you carry it everyday with you to listen to your tunes as you walk, wait, or want to mute the world around you? Read more to find out!


Audio equipment used in the review

Earphone
Massdrop x NuForce EDC In-Ear Monitors: $59.99

Earphones mentioned and compared
1MORE EO323 Dual Driver: $69.99
FiiO F5: $79.99
Meze Headphones 11 Neo Gun Metal: $59.00
Sennheiser CX 686G Sport: $69.95
SHOZY Zero: $50
SoundMAGIC E80 In-Ear Headphone: £64.99 (~$84.00)

Sources
iPhone 6: (Space Gray, 128GB): $849.99 or $399.99 with a 2-Year Contract
Microsoft Surface Book: Starting at $1,499
Questyle Audio QP1R Golden: $899 USD

Software Applications Used
Spotify Premium – Extreme Setting
TIDAL HiFi – Lossless

An avid wrestler, coach, teacher, father and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.

Ringing in my ears? Oh, tinnitus? I get that about 2 times a year, for about 10 seconds each time. Other than that, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing. Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, etcetera).

My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right. I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul. I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.

Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measurer app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test. Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by. Why? They use them to tune their equipment, and it’s from their own specific parameters. I agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s overall statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):

“…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.

In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”


I also had the chance to talk with Dan Wiggins from perodic audio at various audio events and has been very enlightening to talk audio with him. Here are Mr. Wiggins’ thoughts on measurements (verbatim):

“Hi all,

Wanted to toss my $0.02 into the mix...

For those that know who I am, then you know I have a bit of a reputation in the industry (good). For those that don't, I can guarantee you've heard my work if you've ever listened to live or recorded music. From recording microphones to studio monitors to PA systems to consumer systems, I've designed audio systems and transducers for pretty much all the big players - and done so many, many times (not to mention lots of headphones and IEMs along the way).

In my experience, measurement correlation between systems is hard to first establish and even more difficult to maintain. Datasets within a measurement system/location/team can be fairly consistent over time as long as the equipment is rigorously maintained, processes are slavishly followed, and the team cares greatly about consistency. Otherwise - all bets are off.

In production of audio systems, we use "golden samples" - we use a very small number of selected reference units that are deemed as "ideal". A day's production usually starts with the online production test systems measuring the golden sample, then tolerances are set accordingly to that measurement. All production must pass within the tolerance window, and the few (typically one or two a week) that essentially have no deviation from the golden sample are culled out and reserved as future, replacement "golden samples" (the tolerance can be discussed later, but suffice to say it is probably an order of magnitude larger than most HeadFi'ers would expect).

In other words, we use physical representations to calibrate against, rather than abstract numbers and concepts. It all comes down to how measurements can change from not just system to system or operator to operator but day to day. Temperature and humidity can affect measurements in significant manners. Environmental noise can - and definitely will! - corrupt measurements. Different mountings of DUTs (Device Under Test) by operators will affect measurements.

In essence, after installing literally hundreds (perhaps over a thousand) acoustic test systems, at dozens of factories in dozens of countries, I can confidently say that expecting consistency between two or more systems is a fool's errand. Won't happen.

Measurements are a great way to confirm you are getting what you expect, and to document where you are. And they are relevant within the same local world (equipment, team, environment). They can be used to guide design of product by a team, a team that is familiar and experienced with what measurement X really means in terms of what they are designing.

So with that, measurement correlation between different teams is never really expected, nor should it be. In fact, I start to get nervous if things line up too well! Great consistency tells me either the wrong settings are being used (we're not looking at a fine enough level of detail - we're oversmoothing/over-interpolating), or some fudging is going on to make things look closer than they really are.

All that said - don't expect measurements from one person to closely track that of another. Look at how products vary inside each measurement set, and assume the variances are at least relative - that is much more instructive. If one system is hot or cold in the treble, it will be consistently hot or cold, and you'll see that as you compare larger datasets between different systems. That is what we should pay attention to, rather than a few cherry-picked comparisons.”

Measurements are valid to possibly get a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all. Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat. Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel. I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.

A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."

Inside the box

Open the box, and you’ll see:

1 Massdrop x NuForce EDC In-Ear Monitor
2 Cables (one braided, one with remote/mic)
3 Sets of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
2 Sets of foam ear tips (M, L)
1 Zippered carrying case


Also, the final version of the Massdrop x NuForce EDC (otherwise known as “EDC” in this review) housing will be slightly lighter blue in color than the ones that I have, which is more of a dark midnight blue hue to the housing.

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Build and aesthetics

Solid cables and connectors
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Internally, the EDC utilizes a 6 millimeter dynamic per side, that are claimed to be closely matched on each side.

The housing is a glossy plastic on the outside, and the side that touches your ears is a soft, smoother matte plastic that fits the contours of the ear very well. Weight is very minimal at 15 grams with the braided cable and 16 grams with the remote/mic cable.

The connectors use a proprietary 2-pin connector that can only be inserted one way, which helps not only make bending the 2-pin cable that much more difficult, but allows for no twisting of the cable at the connector, which aides when moving around.

One supplied cable is a basic-looking cable, with remote and mic attached to it for taking calls. The other supplied cable is a braided cable that I would like to call “the audiophile cable”. Why do I say that? Well, for one thing, this braided cable doesn’t use a remote or mic, and based on who you speak to or what you read the use of a remote or mic may adversely affect the end sound that is heard, compared to a cable that doesn’t use a remote or mic. What’s good is that both cables are available and you can choose the one that’s best for your wants and needs.

The EDC’s use the thinnest non-wire memory wire for both of the cables that I’ve ever seen or felt. The cable’s memory wire overmolding is so thin that you have to actively search for the molding, especially on the braided cable. Absolutely amazing!

Both cables use L-shaped jacks, which help thwart against accidental cable pulls from device ports. The remote/mic cable has strain relief at the end of the jack, and the braided “audiophile cable” utilizes no strain relief.

Overall the earphone as a whole is designed well, is lightweight and is stuble to look at.


Fit and comfort

Glory to goodness, this is where the EDC truly shines, in my opinion. Fit is one of the easiest to obtain, as the housing is the right size for most ears, and using different supplied tips should be enough to fit without issue. Add in the very comfortable memory wire overmolding, and you have a recipe for a true, hassle-free fit and feel.


Isolation

This ties into fit, for me, because if the fit of an earphone is good, then isolation should be good as well. In this case, isolation doesn’t disappoint. For those that have read my reviews in the past, you know that I usually only use silicone eartips. Using the supplied silicone tips are enough for me to obtain a satisfying, isolated feel. If you use foam tips, expect there to be even more isolation from the outside world, if that’s what you are attempting to obtain.


Eyeglass and sunglass wearers


Even though the EDC is not a hang-straight-down earphone, the utter thinness of the EDC’s memory wire overmolding shouldn’t hinder eyeglass and sunglass wearers very much, if at all.


Working out

I wanted to see how working out with the EDC would turn out, so I ran from the beach to my Jazzercise class (about a mile distance) with the QP1R in tow, and the EDC passed with flying colors. I didn’t have the housing move, and the increase of the bass really helped drown out the outside world, and gave me motivation to run that much faster on the way to Jazzercise. It kind of helped that there was a lady directly to the left of me running on a snazzy woodchip path - I had to at least keep up with her!


To EDC or to not EDC?

EDC. This is very important. Why is this so important to me? We can only take and carry around so many things with us day-to-day, and you only take the most important items with you. With regards to bringing earphones with you day to day, sound quality is important, but in my opinion, not the most important thing when it comes to being out and about. If that was the case, we would be lugging around huge speakers attached to a generator! Okay...that isn’t very practical to say the least. We could also bring really expensive earphones that sound great attached to an amplifier. Sometimes that’s not very practical as well, not only for the footprint the attached amplifier has, but because these components can get lost, or unfortunately, stolen. Enter the Massdrop x NuForce EDC. Is the EDC the most resolving signature out there? No but for the price-point, the signature is not too shabby! However, the EDC sounds good enough to keep with you each day, and it won’t break the bank if something were to happen to the EDC. What I usually use day to day are not the most expensive in-ears - I’ll use something that sounds good, but more importantly feels good. I won’t use something out and about if it doesn’t feel good. I usually use super comfortable customs; some may not even sound that great, but they feel really good, so those are what I use when out and about. Same case with the EDC, here. It feels very nice to the ears, and are easy to slip on and off when needing to insert them on and off when out and about. The EDC is very good enough to become an EDC, in my opinion.


Disclaimer and hearing factors

The Massdrop x NuForce EDC sound impressions are mainly for anyone wanting a point of reference regarding how they more or less pair with the iPhone 6, QP1R and Surface Book. Other sources may vary slightly or greatly, as the EDC sounds different enough with these three sources to warrant mentioning. The EDC will have a warmer, less resolute and pronounced effect in the overall frequency spectrum when pairing with the iPhone 6. The EDC will have a detailed with slight treble and bass with extended detail when paired with the QP1R. The EDC will have a balanced, yet very slightly lean sounding approach to its presentation when paired with the Surface Book. For reference, the EDC is easy to drive, as a smartphone such as the iPhone does not take full volume for the EDC to emit levels that can damage hearing quickly. 10-11 out of 16 volume is when the EDC starts to sound very loud to my ears.

We all hear differently, and our experiences about how our interpretation of what we hear vary greatly. Some factors that come to mind (and not limited), are:

Your inner ear and skull’s overall composition: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart...kull-affect-how-you-hear-music-654940/?no-ist.

Hearing loss as we age, also known as presbycusis: https://www.ohio.edu/news/months/nov1998/111.html,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbycusis.

Heredity, noise trauma, dietary habits, smoking, hypertension, atherosclerosis, are other factors that affect people’s overall hearing ability.


Analyze this and that

The test tracks that I use in my reviews are located in these albums (album alphabetical order)

1989 (Deluxe Edition) by Taylor Swift (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
21 by Adele (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bad (2001 Special Edition) by Michael Jackson (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bangerz by Miley Cyrus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Beyoncé by Beyoncé (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Heart Blanche by Ceelo Green (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
Make Yourself by Incubus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
No. 5 Collaborations Project (EP) by Ed Sheeran (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
One by One by Foo Fighters (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Schubert Berliner Philharmoniker by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
Shades of Marmalade by Jackson Breit (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Thriller by Michael Jackson (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
X (Wembley Edition) by Ed Sheeran (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

Several standalone tracks (track alphabetical order)

Dock of the Bay by The Persuations A Cappella Dreams (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
M.O.R. by Blur – Blur 21, Blur (2012 Remaster – Special Edition) (MP3 320kbps 44.1kHz/16bit)
Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor D. 810, Death and the Maiden: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto by Oslo String Quartet – The Schubert Connection (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
Serenade (Spanish Dance), Op. 54, No. 2 by Jano Starker and David Popper – Wilson Audio Ultimate Reference (APE 44.1kHz/16bit)
The Peppery Man by Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
These Bones by The Fairfield Four – I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)

If I am listening to a product that is not able to be listened with the highest resolution tracks that I have mentioned, I will listen to the TIDAL versions (FLAC).


Sound impressions

The EDC is an earphone that has a rather warm, adequate sound signature. The sound is not very expansive, but has adequate depth. The treble is rolled off the top, and shouldn't be fatiguing to you in the least. The midrange is present, warm and adequately smooth, but is more apparent in the lower midrange as having any type of prominence, compared to the treble. The midbass is where you will more than likely hear most of the EDC’s signature, with a bit of sub and overall bass as well. With a good seal, and while you are out and about the EDC can sound satisfactorily good. When out and about, you may want the bass levels to be slightly elevated to help further drown out surrounding outside frequencies. I know that when I went for my run, it was great still being able to decipher the EDC’s bass rather well as my feet hit the pavement and outside noise surrounded me. Overall spatial capabilities aren't the EDC’s specialities, as imaging and soundstage aren't the most pinpoint or wide in perceived listening. What I do like though is the EDC's smoothness, and depth of sound in the lower midrange to subbass areas. The fantastic fit and comfort of the EDC for me makes obtaining a consistent, smooth sound very easy.


Earphone comparisons

The selected comparisons to the EDC, below, are with earphones that are around the price range of the EDC. If you’d like a comparison of an earphone that is not mentioned in the review or is not located in my profile, feel free to message me and send me anything you’d like that can then be added to the review. Without further ado…

1MORE EO323 Dual Driver
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The EDC has a slightly more V-shaped presentation than the Dual Driver. The Dual Driver has more sub and midbass than the EDC, reaches lower and has more decay to each bass note as well. The midrange isn't too far apart, but the EDC gets the nod for the more detailed midrange, and the Dual driver gets the nod for the smoother, warmer midrange. The treble doesn't favor either very much, but the EDC will have slightly more sheen up top. Spatial capabilities are both quite constrained compared to others on this list like the E80 that's coming up in the comparisons section.

FiiO F5
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The F5 has a more overall balanced signature than the EDC, but is still leaning towards a bass sloped signature. Both the F5 and EDC have a non-fatiguing treble, but the F5 emits just a bit higher/more to my ears comparatively. The midrange of the F5 is more of a reference sound compared to the warmer (but not necessarily smoother) midrange of the EDC. The bass of the F5 is more pinpoint than the EDC and the F5 is just as hard hitting, if not more than the lowest areas the EDC can go. Not only the sound is what will determine either (or both purchases), but packaged goodies as well. The EDC comes with a case, remote/mic cable, braided cable and the F5 comes with a hard case, remote/mic cable, and a 2.5mm Balanced Cable. Both IEMs are detachable, but the EDC uses the more venerable proprietary type of connectors which lead to the cables staying in place better, and the EDC is better fitting to my ears than the F5. I can wear the EDC for hours without pain, whereas the F5 can start to aggravate certain areas of my ear after listening for some time (at least).

Meze Headphones 11 Neo Gun Metal
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There is more overall warmer and deeper sounding emphasis with the EDC, especially in the subbass areas compared to the Neo Gun Metal. The Neo Gun Metal’s midrange is slightly more recessed than the EDC, and the treble has a bit more sheen than the EDC’s. Spatial capabilities favor the Neo Gun Metal, as the increase in perceived treble and slightly looser overall fit assists in more perceived airiness and clarity. Both IEMs are comfortable, but the curved housing of the EDC favors the ears more comfortably than the curves of the Neo Gun Metal, which is also a very comfortable in-ear to wear as well. The Gun Metal cable is microphonic if I touch the cable while the IEM is in my ears, as opposed to the EDC, which doesn’t exhibit anywhere near the same amount microphonics.

Sennheiser CX 686G Sport
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The CX 686G Sport has a more forward overall signature, with emphasis in the subbass and lower midrange, compared to the EDC. Bass is slightly tighter and more deliberate, compared to the EDC’s. The midrange of the CX 686G Sport is more forward, with a similar laid-back treble presentation as the EDC. Soundstage and imaging slightly favors the CX 686G Sport, and depth, warmth and smoothness favors the EDC. Both IEMs are very comfortable - the CX 686G Sport utilizes an adjustable ear hook that can be positioned higher if need be; the lowest position fits the best for me.

SHOZY Zero
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The sound of the Zero is colder and has less oomph and emphasis in each area of the frequency spectrum except treble, compared to the EDC. Overall clarity of the Zero is less if you are factoring in smoothness, which the Zero’s signature can sound harsh in direct comparison to the EDC. The EDC is smoother, warmer and has better decay capabilities in the midrange and bass areas compared to the Zero. The Zero sounds more open and brighter - but at a tradeoff of less lower region panache, compared to the EDC. The Zero is comfortable, as the wooden housing is small enough to rest against the cavum of the ear. The wooden housing is soft as well - so even though it won’t be as ultimately comfortable as the soft plastic of the EDC, the Zero is still very comfortable, in my opinion.

SoundMAGIC E80 In-Ear Headphone
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The E80 has overall more clarity, but doesn’t have the deep, smooth warmth of the EDC. The sound of the E80 is tighter and is more of a reference sound compared to the EDC. Treble of the E80 is plentiful but isn’t sibilant, midrange - primarily the upper midrange is more forward compared to the rest of its presentation and that of the EDC as well. Bass is taut, fast, but does not decay to the effect of the EDC. Imaging, detail and soundstage favor the E80 compared to the EDC. The E80 is reference and pinpoint detail compared to the smoothness warmth and sustained decay of the EDC. The E80 is another comfortable in-ear, as the small dynamic driver leads to a small cylindrical housing and rubberized end cable that rests well against the ear. Fit will still ultimately favor the EDC, mostly in workout situations when you are moving around and possibly sweating.


Cultivate a fresh sound™

What does this mean? Too often we focus on only the music we are accustomed to. I am usually this way as well. Here’s an opportunity to listen to something you either may not normally listen to, or haven’t heard of. As I publish reviews in the future, I will have new and older tracks from various genres that I’ve listened to in this section, and will be largely based on what songs really moved me in particular to the reviewed product I’ve listened to on it. Even though the tracks will be linked to YouTube videos or audio-only versions, the tracks will either be listened solely from the iPhone 6 and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless, or from my Microsoft Surface Book and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless. Instead of describing each track in immense detail, you can simply listen for yourself and bask in the beautiful music you may have just found for the first time right now! What’s also great is that you can come back here just to listen to the tracks mentioned! If you have any personal issues with any tracks posted, please PM me and I'll replace it with another track. It's all about positivity in our musical journey. With those kind words of encouragement, here we go…

Your Song by Rita Ora


That’s What I Like by Bruno Mars


The Future by San Holo (ft. James Vincent McMorrow)


I'm Still Standing (SING Movie Soundtrack) by Taron Egerton



Is the Massdrop x NuForce EMU worth it?

I would say so, yes. For a budget price, you get better than average sound with an overall excellent fit because of the curved, soft-to-the-touch inside housing and one of, if not the best implementations of memory wire that I’ve experienced.


Final thoughts

In the beginning of the review, you wanted to find out if I think you should carry it everyday with you, especially because of the EDC moniker? Sure, why not? The EDC is discrete, it’s got more than one type of cable based on your specific needs, sounds great - especially for working out, and...it feels uber comfortable for a universal in-ear!

Pocket yours, and stay smooth!


Specifications

Massdrop x NuForce
  • Driver unit: Single 6mm dynamic
  • Driver matching: +/- 2 dB
  • Housing material: Lexan Polycarbonate
  • Color: Smoky transparent blue/gray, matte black
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Maximum input power: 2 mW
  • Microphone sensitivity: -42 dB +/- 5 dB
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz–40 kHz
  • Sensitivity (at 1 kHz): 90.5 dB +/- 3 dB
  • Cable length: 54.3 in (138 mm)
  • Connector: 2-pin
  • Plug: ⅛ in (3.5 mm) TRS (braided cable) or TRRS (remote/mic cable)
  • Remote/mic cable compatibility: Apple and most Android devices
  • Remote/mic cable functionality: Play/pause; start/end call; next/previous song; start Siri, Google Assistant, or Cortana (functionality varies between Android devices)
  • Weight, IEMs with braided cable: 0.5 oz (15 g)
  • Weight, IEMs with remote/mic cable: 0.6 oz (16 g)
Included
  • 2 Cables (one braided, one with remote/mic)
  • 3 Sets of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
  • 2 Sets of foam ear tips (M, L)
  • 1 Zippered carrying case
Shipping

All orders will be shipped by Massdrop.

Estimated ship date is Oct 12, 2017.

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moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Pros: Plethora of choices to choose the right pair of earpads for you.
Cons: It's tough to stop at just one pair!
Review: Dekoni Audio Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00 Premium Earpadz Lineup with Comparisons


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Before I start the review, many thanks to Mr. Takaichi of Massdrop and Mr. Kocen of Dekoni Audio for arranging and sending the complementary earpads to me.

The main thread of the review is created as well so it is easier to read and respond: https://www.head-fi.org/f/threads/r...emium-earpadz-lineup-with-comparisons.853611/

Introduction

It was an overcast, yet warm day at the LA Audio Show a couple of weeks ago, and it was great walking around during the day to try out new headphones and earphones. I ran into my good friend, @XERO1, and he mentioned about how much he really enjoyed the Dekoni Audio Earpadz back at CanJam SoCal earlier this year. I took notice because usually what @XERO1 likes I wind up liking, or found out that we liked a lot of the same product(s) as well. Even though I didn't get to try out the earpads at CanJam SoCal, when they were brought up again by @XERO1 at the LA Audio Show, I took notice, again. Not much that I could do about trying out the earpads, except when I ran into Massdrop's Mr. Takaichi of Massdrop. We talked for a while, and it was great to know that all was good with Massdrop. He got me in contact with Mr. Kocen after we parted ways. Mr. Kocen sent me the TH-X00 earpads lineup, and frankly, I am absolutely floored by not only the supreme quality of the earpads, but how much of a wide range each pair of pads can sound so different compared to each other! If you'd like to read more about my thoughts of the earpad lineup, read on!


Off to a good start

When I let Mr. Kocen know how much I enjoyed his earpads, he responded that it made him feel good to have validation - "...that what we are doing is the right thing to do and gives me motivation to move forward and keep on my quest to create the best balanced, most comfortable, and highest quality ear pads in the world."


Mr. Kocen wanted to make quality earpads. Mr. Kocen goes onto say: "By hearing and, more importantly, listening to our users we can better understand what people are looking for and what they want. It has been very important from the beginning for me to hear what people think so we can adapt."

I'd say that you are doing well, and wish you the best Mr. Kocen -- these pads are really premium, and it's great the pads are compatible with such a multitude of headphones, also!


System used to compare

I listened to the Dekoni Audio Earpadz lineup with the Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00 Ebony (stock configuration), Sennheiser 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter, and the Questyle Audio QP1R DAP.


Thanks for checking this out!

An avid wrestler, coach, teacher, father and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.

Ringing in my ears? Oh, tinnitus? I get that about 2 times a year, for about 10 seconds each time. Other than that, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing. Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, etcetera).

My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right. I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul. I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.

Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measurer app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test. Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by. Why? They use them to tune their equipment, and it’s from their own specific parameters. I agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s overall statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):

“…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.

In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”


Measurements are valid to possibly get a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all. Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat. Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel. I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.

A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."


Attenuation Rings

Each Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00 stock earpads use an insert, or "attenuation" ring, and to make sure that the Dekoni Earpadz work to its utmost potential, please make sure to purchase and use the Dekoni Earpadz attenuation rings for the replacement earpads -- not just for any perceptible acoustic differences the rings may make, but the rings will protect the earpads from possible tearing as well. I found that the attenuation rings create a more vibrant, energetic sound presentation, and it’s great that you can use them if you like the sound they create, or forgo them if you really don’t like the increased energy the attenuation rings exude.

The Attenuation Rings are easy to install, as shown here:

Take out plastic mounting ring, then insert attenuation ring, like shown
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Keep inserting the attenuation ring carefully as to not rip the earpad material
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Make sure earpad and attenuation ring holes line up
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Re-insert plastic mounting ring and replace earpad onto earcup - repeat for second earpad
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Without flash: Velour V2, Premium, Sheepskin, Fenestrated Sheepskin
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With flash:Velour V2, Premium, Sheepskin, Fenestrated Sheepskin
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Without Flash: Hybrid
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Impressions and comparisons

Premium Earpadz
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The Premium pads emit boomier overall bass and slightly extended treble compared to the stock pads. Comfort is beautifully soft and very good against the head. The Premium pads use YM80 memory foam, and are just so slightly softer than stock pads. This one would be a direct slight upgrade from the stock pleather pads as overall comfort is slightly heightened compared to the stock pleather pads.

The overall sound of the Premium pads would be the closest in regards to sound and feel to the stock pads than the other available pads that I compared, in my opinion.


Velour V2 Earpadz
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The Velour V2 emits a smoother sound, but all frequencies sound deeper, and the sub and midbass lingers just a bit longer because of that extra bit of depth. Not as bright up top as the Premium or stock pleather pads, but emits just a real, rich sound.

Comfort is simply amazing. Pretty cool because I've had other velour pads for other headphones and those were uncomfortable enough to where I felt like I had to change those itchy Velour pads to softer pleather pads. These velour pads, however, feel smooth-to-the-touch, feel buttery on my noggin, and are one of my favorite feeling pads, even though these are velour. The Velour V2 is also much cooler-feeling than other velour pads that feel much warmer on the head, as well!

Love the sound of these pads! - and I feel they are the epitome of the Ebony sound if you are looking for a satisfyingly smooth, warm and deep-sounding signature.


Elite: Sheepskin Earpadz
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Immediately I could tell that there was more deliberate bass, and not as boomy as the Premium earpads. I feel this is mostly due to the slightly tacky effect of the sheepskin as it touches your skin - creating the most isolation out of all of the pads that I listened to. Tacky, kind of like how when you receive a new ping pong paddle with new rubber on the blade, the immense "tackiness" of the rubber means it can grab the ball for a bit longer to help induce extra spin to the ball. The tackiness of the Sheepskin allows the pads to stay in place on your head better, and with the most isolation as well, leading to that increase in sub and midbass along and around your face.

The treble is extended to my ears as well. The sound as a whole is slightly more focused than the Premium and Velour. Spatial capabilities are very good as soundstage and imaging is impeccable compared to the Premium and Velour earpads. The sound reminds me a lot like the Purpleheart headphone - a glorious, hard-hitting V-shaped sound. If you want the most overall perceived bass, these are your answer.

Comfort is very good but is more "business-like" as the leather is supple, but not as buttery smooth in texture and overall feel as the Velour V2. The Sheepskin, sound-wise, are my favorite earpads of the lineup, and are the apogee of effortlessly tight, extended bass, a shiny, yet invigorating treble, with a forward, yet clear sounding midrange as well.


Elite: Fenestrated Sheepskin Earpadz
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This earpad is the best of all worlds. Nothing is too boomy, nothing is too smooth. This would be the Goldilocks - just right. Lovely bass, extension from lower frequencies to the highest frequencies, and overall depth is superb as well. The sound is focused, with just a hint of smoothness. The Fenestrated Sheepskin sounds like a tamed down Sheepskin, or a jazzed up Velour V2. It is quite literally near the center of sound signature for me compared to all of the Dekoni pads - albeit leaning towards the Sheepskin's sound than the Velour V2's, in my opinion. No issues with any possible smudging or strong smell - as I do smell the process of the Fenstrated Sheepskin, but I can’t smell mine unless I get close to it and smell it like a piece of fruit.

Comfort - simply amazing. Love these earpad's comfort so much. It does also help that when I saw the earpads and put them on my noggin that I am always reminded of the MSRP $4,000 Focal Utopia, as that headphone uses Fenestrated Lambskin as their stock pads. If you want the fancy, highest upscale look, with a feel and just-right sound to match, look no further than the Fenestrated Sheepskin earpads!


Elite: Hybrid Earpadz
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I've never seen an earpad created like this! You've got every single pad material of the Dekoni Audio Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00 series that is cut and stitched to create the Hybrid Earpadz.

The Hybrid Earpadz consists of:

· Sheepskin material on the outside wall
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· Velour V2 material on the side that touches your face
· Fenestrated Sheepskin material on the inside wall
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· Premium material on the backside that touches the rings and earcups
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Dekoni also made it so the highest third of the Velour V2 material of the earpad slopes down abruptly, then continues in a downward sloping fashion (more so than the other earpads) as shown here
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Comfort-wise, the Hybrid is very similar to the Velour V2 (very comfortable) since the only earpad material of the Hybrid that touches your head is the Velour V2.

The Hybrid is more vibrant sounding than the Velour V2 - there is more energy in the sound as a whole, especially in the lower and upper registers comparatively. Midrange is just slightly more forward with the Hybrid than the Velour V2.

The Hybrid is not as pinpoint in sound and energetic as the Sheepskin - the Sheepskin is still the Bass quantity king. The Hybrid smooths out a lot of the sound of the Sheepskin but not as much as the Velour V2 does. The Sheepskin is more vibrant in the midrange and treble areas as well in comparison.

The Hybrid reaches lower registers and holds them longer than the Fenestrated Sheepskin. The Hybrid has a smoother midrange as opposed to the more energetic midrange of the Fenestrated Sheepskin. The Hybrid is not as crisp up top as the treble is just slightly de-emphasized than the Fenestrated Sheepskin to my ears.

The Premium is more balanced in sound compared to the Hybrid, but doesn't have the depth of sound, particularly in the midbass and subbass areas. The Hybrid's midrange is slightly more forward-sounding than the midrange of the Premium. The Premium smooths out the treble slightly compared to the Hybrid Earpadz.


Are these earpads worth the price of admission?

Simply put: of course, and then some!


Summary

In the end (or beginning for that matter), these earpads are simply sound signature changing beasts! For the fraction of a headphone's price, you can purchase all of the pads and experience a different sound signature based on your mood that day, or time of day! I can not advise to purchase only one pair of earpads -- even though each earpad pair can be purchased based on what you'd like to experience in sound and comfort, but all of them are seriously amazing enough to collect them all, just to experience many different sound signatures and comfort levels with a simple twist of each earpad!

The Dekoni Audio Earpadz are very highly recommended. Coddle yourself with the goodness of the Earpadz, and love the way you listen!


Ordering info

You can purchase the Dekoni Audio Earpadz from Massdrop.com.

The drop page is here: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/dekoni-premium-earpads-for-fostex-th-x00 (search "Dekoni" in the Massdrop site to find it in case the link doesn't take you straight there)

Here is the note about ordering info (base price is $31.99):

Note: This drop is for one pair of ear pads. The Massdrop-exclusive TH-X00 ear pads come in premium memory foam (base price), Elite Velour (base price), elite sheepskin (+ $13), fenestrated sheepskin (+ $38), or Elite Hybrid (+ $20); the T50-RP ear pads come in premium memory foam (base price), Elite Velour (base price), and elite sheepskin (+ $13); and the TH-900 ear pads come in elite sheepskin (+ $13) or fenestrated sheepskin (+ $38). At checkout, you’ll have the option to add the attenuation ring for the TH-X00 ear pads (+ $8). Just slip it into your pad right behind the attachment ring and make sure the holes align properly.

Compatibility

TH-X00 ear pads: Fit Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00; Fostex TH-500RP, TH-610, and TH-900; Denon DX000 series; and EMU Teak

T50-RP ear pads: Fit T50-RP MKII and MKIII, as well as T20-RP and T40-RP

TH-900 ear pads: Fit Fostex TH-600, TH-610, TH-900, TH-900 MKII, TH-X00, and more
volly
volly
Great review dude, really appreciate the effort you put in here! Heck of a pad-rolling marathon but it's worth it for this hobby! Got the Elite hybrids on my D2000's and they were the best upgrade I could make to these cans, previously rocking the Jmoney angled pads, did not care for the sound one bit! Glad to see a company like Dekoni throwing their hat in to the ring and offering us headphone guys some serious accessories.
stellarelephant
stellarelephant
Hi moedawg. Thanks for this detailed review. After finding out about the new Dekoni Blue version of the T50RP, I assumed that the hybrid pads must be the bees' knees, since it is the pad they are using. Your impressions seem to confirm that they are an excellent match.
DJ The Rocket
DJ The Rocket
Great review! Just what I was looking for. Dekoni makes the best pads IMO and you helped me decide between regular and fenestrated sheepskin.

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Pros: Beautiful reference sound, great customer service, 3D scan leads to a better custom fit
Cons: Shells only available in clear, relatively proprietary connectors
Review: Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered
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Before I start the review, I would like to thank Ultimate Ears for the complimentary IEM.
 
 
 
You've heard about Ultimate Ears - they are a custom in-ear and lifestyle company that caters to musicians and audiophiles alike.  If you haven't heard about them, it's all good, you'll learn a bit about them today.  
 
This review will be a bit different from my others, as this will be more of an experience with pictures review than an uber detailed impressions with comparisons review.
 
Pictures speak at least a thousand words, so we are going to focus on that today...let's go!
 
 
First is a trip to the Ultimate Ears headquarters in Irvine, CA.  I had experience with the headquarters as I went on a tour before CanJam SoCal a couple of years ago.  I wanted a reference sounding IEM, and I knew Ultimate Ears has a reputation for creating highly regarded reference-sounding in-ears.  
 
When I found out Ultimate Ears was updating their UERM, I wanted to give their updated UERM (UEPRR) a listen.  When I did, I was happy with the sound of the UEPRR compared to the UERM, as I thought the UERM was a little too flat sounding for my tastes.  The UEPRR was more visceral in all areas in particularly the midrange and bass frequencies.  Lovely - let's take a look at the 3D scans.
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3D scan of my ears - a painless way to obtain ear impressions!
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The 3D scanner
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Beautiful packaging
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Personalized case
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Open up!
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UEPRR, buffer jack, brush and pick, 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter
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Gold mirrored faceplates
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Let the light reflect - with the Questyle Audio QP1R
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Great fit
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On the flight to AXPONA
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With the UE 18 Pro
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Gold on gold on gold on gold
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With some faux flowers
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Lovely reflection
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Earwerkz Omega, UEPRR, Shure SE846, Campfire Audio Andromeda
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Reflections
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The UEPRR is a satisfying custom in-ear that is not only reference sounding in nature, but is delicate with content brilliance. Bass plentiful but not overdone, midrange silky and warm, and treble that is non-fatiguing and brisk.  Customer service is amazing as I received my UEPRR in a few days, and the headquarters are very nice to check out as well.  I recommend not only the UEPRR but any of the lineup to try out via multiple sound-signature kiosk, and choose the one that's best for your ears.
 
 
For ordering info:
 
Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered: Starting at $999
  • Like
Reactions: twister6
twice tzuyu
twice tzuyu
Thanks for the great review and nice pictures. I would like to know how did you get the gold mirror faceplates as I couldn't find them on the UE website. By the way, they look amazing on you.
moedawg140
moedawg140
@twice tzuyu - Thanks for the comments.  You can request whatever you'd like to UE, however they may or may not have what you would like available. 
kochiyadragons
kochiyadragons
It is amazing review, actually.
Thanks for sharing pics and your experience at Irvine office.
I have been there last week too! They are so nice people =)

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Pros: Rugged and rubberized, utility light, acceptable sound at medium volume levels
Cons: Loudest volume levels sounds muddy and less detailed than other volume levels
Review: Archeer A226 Portable Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker
 
 
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Before I start the review, I would like to thank Archeer for the complementary speaker.
 
 
Introduction
 
Archeer was a company that I didn't have much knowledge with before I was asked originally to review a bicycle speaker, and while it probably sounds pretty good I didn’t feel a need for it since I don’t personally bicycle ride anymore.  I saw that Archeer offered a Bluetooth speaker on Amazon, so instead of going with the bicycle speaker, they were able to send me an outdoor Bluetooth speaker - which would be getting much use as the time with it went by.  I liked what I saw when I opened up the package.  If you’d like to read about how it sounds to my ears, check out what I wrote below!

 
Audio equipment used in the review
 
Speaker
Archeer A226 Portable Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker: as of the review, $28.99
 
Sources
iPhone 6 (Space Gray, 128GB):  $849.99 or $399.99 with a 2-Year Contract
Microsoft Surface Book: Starting at $1,499
Questyle Audio QP1R Golden: $899 USD
 
Software Applications Used
Spotify Premium – Extreme Setting
TIDAL HiFi – Lossless
 
[size=1em]Thanks for the interest!  I have been a music aficionado since first listening to greats such as Anita Baker and Michael Jackson in their glory years.[/size]
 
An avid wrestler, coach, teacher and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.
 
Ringing in my ears?  Oh, tinnitus?  I get that about 2 times a year, for about 10 seconds each time.  Other than that, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing.  Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, etcetera).
 
My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right.  I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul.  I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.
 
Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measurer app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test.  Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by.  Why?  They use them to tune their equipment, and it’s from their own specific parameters.  I completely agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):
 
“…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.
 
In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”
 
Measurements are valid to possibly get a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all.  Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat.  Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel.  I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.
 
A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."
 
More about Archeer
 
I wanted to learn a little more about Archeer, so I was directed to the “About Me” section of the Archeer website.  I’ll save you a click/search, so here’s what it says:
 
“ARCHEER - Cheer Your Joyful Life as A Winning Archer

Aiming initially at delivering the real virtue & entertainment of high class 3C (computer, communication and consumer electronics) products to all electronic enthusiast, ARCHEER - as a whole new brand - decide to unveil and breathe new life into the diversified consumer electronics.

As exquisite quality of products and lifestyle equals, the ARCHEER team always pursues and implements its explicit goal, that is developing, manufacturing and vending innovative, attractive and novel electronic gadgets & peripherals for every customer in the world to enrich and ease their leisure lifestyle with comfort, consideration, entertaining and convenience.

The inspiration of the brand name “ARCHEER” is derived from Archer & Cheer. In other words, we hope people who found of "Made by ARCHEER" would feel the most joy & satisfaction just as a winning archer who shares the cheerfulness along with his supreme archery skills.”
 
 
Here is a video of my experience with the A226:
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Inside the box
 
  1. Archeer A226 Waterproof Speaker
  2. 3.5mm Audio Cable
  3. Micro USB Charging Cable
  4. Carabiner
  5. User Manual
 
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Build and aesthetics
 
The A226 is plastic and is rubberized throughout.  It seems like it can take a good bump or drop and still perform well.  The speaker is very lightweight, and won’t weigh you down if you put it in a backpack or bag if you are out and about.
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Included flashlight - blueish 6,000 - 8,000K tint
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Sound impressions
 
The A226 emits a warm and slightly grainy sound.  Volume is plentiful, but can not be turned up all of the way because then the sound of the speaker quickly turns muddy and incoherent.  As long as the volume isn't turned all of the way up, you'll get a sound that may not be the most detailed or the most clear sonically, but you'll get an acceptable sound for quick excursions or as a backup to your main audiophile speakers.  For the price, the sound is acceptable at up to around ⅔ of the overall speaker's volume capabilities.

 
Cultivate a fresh sound
 
What does this mean?  Too often we focus on only the music we are accustomed to.  I am usually this way as well.  Here’s an opportunity to listen to something you either may not normally listen to, or haven’t heard of.  As I publish reviews in the future, I will have new and older tracks from various genres that I’ve listened to in this section, and will be largely based on what songs really moved me in particular to the reviewed product I’ve listened to on it.  Even though the tracks will be linked to YouTube videos or audio-only versions, the tracks will either be listened solely from the iPhone 6 and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless, or from my Microsoft Surface Book and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless.  Instead of describing each track in immense detail, you can simply listen for yourself and bask in the beautiful music you may have just found for the first time right now!  What’s also great is that you can come back here just to listen to the tracks mentioned!  If you have any personal issues with any tracks posted, please PM me and I'll replace it with another track.  It's all about positivity in our musical journey.  With those kind words of encouragement, here we go…
 
Heathens (from Suicide Squad: The Album) by twenty one pilots
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A Song For You by Leon Russell
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Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow by Funkadelic
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Since You (Editor’s note, not with the ‘ve) Been Gone by Rainbow
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Is the A226 worth it?
 
For the price that the A226 is going for on Amazon, I'd say more than likely.  As long as you aren't expecting uber audiophile quality sound and unicorns flying on rainbows, you should be just fine with the A226 as a throw-in-the-bag speaker for some fun when out and about.

 
Final thoughts
 
I like this speaker not solely because of the sound it outputs, but largely the fact that the build lends it being able to be roughed up a little and not have to worry about messing it up or possibly losing it, since a replacement compared to most Bluetooth speakers available in the market is very light on the pocketbook!
 
 
Specifications
 
2x5Watts (total 10W) dual acousic drivers
Bluetooth

AUX in
Microphone
IP64 water resistant rated

Flashlight
2200mAh high capacity Li-on battery

12 hours playback time
 
Archeer also offers a 40 days money back and 18 months “hassle-free” warranty.

moedawg140

Grand Master Moe "G"….Don't crossface me, bro!
Ping Pong Champ: SF Meet (2016,2017), CanJams (London 2016, RMAF 2016, NYC 2017, SoCal 2017, RMAF 2017)
Pros: Smooth and pleasant sound, lightweight, comfortable, Purpleheart wood is lovely
Cons: Non-detachable cabling, however, you can mod on your own if you'd like
Review: Massdrop x E-MU Purpleheart Headphone


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Before I start the review, I would like to thank Massdrop for the complimentary headphone.


Introduction

“Whoa” -- I knew it would look like the headphone that I listened to at RMAF this year! This is what happened when I opened up the Massdrop x E-MU Purpleheart package, as I didn’t see any pictures of the headphone before it arrived at my doorstep. Let’s back up a few months. RMAF is an audio expo in Denver, Colorado that I attended, where they also featured CanJam in various rooms and a huge tent (which was used because the hotel was in the process of remodeling). The headphone that I’m referring to that I listened to at RMAF is the E-MU Walnut, which is a lower-cost headphone to the highly acclaimed E-MU Teak headphone.

Chan was very nice to converse with at RMAF, and it was great to see his vast assortment of different wooden earcups as well as his headphones such as the E-MU Walnut and E-MU Teak headphone displayed for audition. Here is Chan's earcup spread at the RMAF table:


Eye-candy
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Speaking of the E-MU Teak, which was featured as a “dropped” headphone on Massdrop, isn’t the only headphone that has had similar success from the Foster/Fostex series on the rapidly growing enthusiast website. The Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 Mahogany (which I modified with SMC, DHC Nucleotide V3, and replaced the Mahogany earcups with gorgeous E-MU Ebony Earcups), Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 Ebony and Purpleheart headphones are all headphones offered by Massdrop that I thoroughly enjoy with most any source or DAC/amp. Now the tradition has continued - this time, in a lighter headphone weight but leaving with a heavier wallet than most others on the market: the Massdrop x E-MU Purpleheart Headphone.

Will this be a headphone that I think you should purchase? Read on to find out!


Audio equipment used in the review

Headphone
Massdrop x E-MU Purpleheart Headphone: $74.99 shipped in the U.S.

Headphones mentioned and compared
Archeer AH07 Impact Wireless Bluetooth Headphone: $50.99
Cleer DU High-Definition Dual Driver Headphone: $129.99
E-MU Purpleheart Lightweight Headphone: $110
Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00: $399.99

Sources
iPhone 6: (Space Gray, 128GB): $849.99 or $399.99 with a 2-Year Contract
Microsoft Surface Book: Starting at $1,499
Questyle Audio QP1R Golden: $899 USD

DAC/Amps
iFi Audio micro iCAN SE: $299
iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label: $549.99

Software Applications Used
Spotify Premium – Extreme Setting
TIDAL HiFi – Lossless

Thanks for the interest! I have been a music aficionado since first listening to greats such as Anita Baker and Michael Jackson in their glory years.

An avid wrestler, coach, teacher and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.

Ringing in my ears? Oh, tinnitus? I get that about 2 times a year, for about 10 seconds each time. Other than that, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing. Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, etcetera).

My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right. I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul. I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.

Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measurer app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test. Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by. Why? They use them to tune their equipment, and it’s from their own specific parameters. I completely agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):

“…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.

In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”

Measurements are valid to possibly get a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all. Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat. Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel. I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.

A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."

Here's a video of the Massdrop x E-MU Purpleheart, as I open and discuss, sight unseen!
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Inside the box

Once you open up the box you'll receive:
  1. Massdrop x E-MU Purpleheart Headphone

E-MU Purpleheart information from Massdrop

Here is some great info from Massdrop’s @CEE TEE:

“Hello Everyone!

Very excited to be able to announce the Massdrop x E-MU Purpleheart.

Some Background…

Day One working at Massdrop, they knew I was coming. Throughout the day, I ended up gathering a row of headphone offerings on my desk wall. “Team Favorites” to try.

The E-MU Walnut “Wood Series” was one of them. Comfy, light, an easy sound signature (warm but detailed), beautiful wooden cups, portable, closed (but not super-isolating), plus drivable from my phone.

I immediately started wondering what we might try to change if we could do a collaboration project.

Maybe the wood type, the printing, colorway, cables, don’t need to change the sound much...

With this new version and Custom Product, in collaboration with E-MU Systems, we offer a portable companion to the E-MU Teak/Fostex TH-X00 Purpleheart/Fostex TH-900 headphones for seasoned audiophiles and an accessible headphone to new people entering the world of wood headphones, biocellulose drivers, and really good sound. We wanted a headphone that was ready to use on the go and with portable devices, out in public or for home/office use. Not too flashy.

I’ll try to answer some potential questions here and will check in to answer others that you may have…

Wood Type: I learned a lot about making wood headphones with Chan Ming-Tat. From wood grain to finish to manufacturability, E-MU has been a great partner and shared their experience of working with different woods. We tried some different finishes and wood types before choosing the purpleheart. The source for these wooden cups is E-MU systems while the rest of the headphone is sourced and made by Foster (the same manufacturer of the E-MU Teak and Fostex TH-X00 headphones). The purpleheart cups have a natural color (there is no color added). I find these purpleheart cups to have a darker color than the Fostex TH-X00 Purplehearts that I have seen in the office. Lighting in some of the studio shots shows a good deal of color and grain detail in the cups while the variety of shots in different settings on the drop page should help with a sense of how these will look in different conditions.


Drivers: The new E-MU Purplehearts do have 40mm biocellulose drivers while the E-MU Teak and Fostex TH-X00/TH-900 use 50mm biocellulose drivers.

Finish: The purpleheart cups are a matte finish to match the luster of the rest of the headphone. We’ve designed these to be more understated than their bigger relatives so you can truly wear them out and about.

Plastic Cups: The chrome plating on the previous E-MU Walnut cups has been removed to showcase the wood and have a more stealthy look.

Headband: The printing on the outside of the headband has been removed compared to the Walnut and placed inside the headband so it is not visible when wearing.

Quantity: We’ve confirmed ahead of the drop that we have a <definite> maximum quantity of 3,000 units that we can sell during this drop.

Price/Shipping: The price is $74.99 including shipping within the U.S. An additional $10 to ship internationally, including Canada.

These have the same pads as the E-MU Walnut and are considered over-ear.


I just measured the openings in the pads on the E-MU Purpleheart and the TH-X00...


Massdrop x E-MU Purpleheart

Width: 1-1/2 inches or ~4 centimeters (at the widest portion of the opening)

Length: 2 inches or 5 centimeters


Fostex TH-X00

Width: 1-3/8 inches or 3.5 centimeters

Length: 2-1/4 inches or ~5.3 centimeters"



Here is some great info from Massdrop’s @WillBright, answering a poster’s question with regards to why the E-MU Purpleheart doesn’t offer detachable cables:

"Believe me friend, we bring it up in every conversation, we aggressively push for it on all our Custom headphones, but manufacturers don't want to do it because of this:

Changing a product to have removable cables means structural changes, and almost always requires creating new tooling. Tooling is the metal mold used when injection molding plastic or metal. Creating tooling is very hard because it requires dozens of man hours on design, dozens of man hours machining, and hundreds of man hours "finishing" the tooling. Here's a decent video about how tooling is made:

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For some additional clarification, while this video doesn't show it, most tooling is finished by hand. Individuals have to polish the tooling with progressively finer friction agents to achieve a smooth finish on the injection molded part. If any mistakes are made in the finishing process, they have to toss the tooling and start again.

All this work is expensive (tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the size and complexity of the tooling), so manufacturers don't want to make that kind of investment unless they can use the tooling to produce the maximum number of units it is capable of producing (hundreds of thousands to millions of units depending on the tooling).

Eventually we'll get to the point where we're in a position to sell hundreds of thousands of units in a drop, at which point we'll be able to dictate most anything we want as far as tooling goes, but until then there are some changes we won't be able to make.

Additionally, some manufacturers make a strategic decision to only offer removable cables on higher priced products. Personally I think this is pretty silly, but I don't make the rules.

Thanks for your interest in this drop, as well as our other Custom Products, hopefully this helps shed some light on the cable situation!


Build and aesthetics


Driver view
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Egg-shaped earpad
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Underside earpad
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Earpad side view
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With earpad removed
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The E-MU Purpleheart has a mostly plastic build, except for the inside of the headband and top-area of the headband (approximately five inches long) that is outfitted with pleather. The earpads are made out of pleather, are egg-shaped in design, and the circumaural (over ear) allows good depth of most ears.

You can replace the earpads much easier than other headphones because the E-MU Purpleheart doesn’t utilize proprietary earpad rings. Rather, each earpad inserts into the earcup’s earpad lip, meaning taking off and installing the earpads are instantly easier than having to install earpads with earpad rings.

How to remove and insert earpad
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Inside of the headband and on top of the earpads are very small L and a R that may be very difficult to read to distinguish which side of the headphone is which.

ProTip: Right above the very small “R” is a much larger “C E do-not-trash icon”:
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Remember that the insignia is on the right side so you can distinguish very easily between right and left. You can also tell which side is which by looking at the earcup, and going with the direction the lower part of the earcup is facing. If the lower part of the earcup is facing lower left, then that is the left side of the headphone, and vice-versa.

The E-MU Purpleheart doesn’t feature detachable cabling, but you can always get them recabled or modded into detachable cabling by a person that I have a great experience with: @PETEREK, and you can contact his etsy.

The black cable has a good rubberized feel, doesn’t tangle very easily, and has a straight angled audio jack with strain relief as well. I also like how the cable isn’t 10 or 13 feet long, it’s a nice and manageable 4 feet, perfect for on-the-go use. The audio jack is thin enough to fit in my iPhone 6 with my case on without any issue.

The E-MU Purpleheart earcup can downturn and upturn approximately 135 degrees and can twist 45 degrees left to right on each side, for a total of 90 degrees twistable ability.

The lightweight headphone fits in any bag easily, and is a joy to take around. Make sure to keep the E-MU Purpleheart in a case so the beautiful Purpleheart wood doesn’t get scratched.


Fit and comfort

The E-MU Purpleheart is very comfortable, as the only part of the headphone that touches the head other than the earpads is the top part of the headband. The 219 grams of the E-MU Purpleheart pretty much automatically leads to increased comfort, with very little neck strain as well. The pleather earpads are comfortable and I can wear without issue. A disclaimer is I am used to wearing hot and sweaty head gear for wrestling, so my idea of earpad warmth and comfort/discomfort may be different than yours. Head gear or not though, the earpads feel pretty good to my ears. Headphone adjustability is generous, and can adjust for smaller or larger sized heads. Clamp strength is decent and shouldn’t move around easily. The egg-shaped earpads fit my ears well and are about the smallest in the over-ear category - definitely adding to the slimness and portability of the headphone as a whole. There weren’t anyone that had issues with the fit of the E-MU Purpleheart when they auditioned it.


Isolation

Even though the E-MU Purpleheart offers satisfying clamp strength, there is not a lot of isolation going on, especially when outfitted with the stock earpads. The headphone acts more like a semi-open design than an all-out closed back design, in my opinion. You will be able to hear what’s going on around you, and as a result, the E-MU Purpleheart wouldn’t be an optimal choice for loud places or flying on a plane if you are looking for a headphone that offers noise isolation from the outside world. With that said, you can minimize the outside noise you hear by simply turning up the music, or go with another headphone or in-ears until you get to a place where outside noise is as minimal as possible for you to not be distracted from the music.


Eyeglass and sunglass wearers

The headband of the E-MU Purpleheart shouldn’t touch your eyeglasses or sunglasses, and if you are able to wear either on the top of the earpads, you shouldn’t have much issue with wearing either eyeglasses or sunglasses with the E-MU Purpleheart.


Disclaimer and hearing factors

The E-MU Purpleheart sound impressions are mainly for anyone wanting a point of reference regarding how they more or less pair with the iPhone 6, QP1R and Surface Book. Other sources may vary slightly or greatly as the E-MU Purpleheart sounds different enough with these three sources to warrant mentioning. The E-MU Purpleheart will have a warmer and pronounced effect in the overall bass region when pairing with the iPhone 6. The E-MU Purpleheart will have a detailed with slight treble and bass with extended detail when paired with the QP1R. The E-MU Purpleheart will have a balanced, yet slightly lean sounding approach to its presentation when paired with the Surface Book. For reference, the E-MU Purpleheart is easy to drive, as a smartphone such as the iPhone doesn't take full volume for the E-MU Purpleheart to emit levels that can damage hearing pretty quickly. 12-13 out of 16 volume is when it starts to sound very loud to my ears.

We all hear differently, and our experiences with regards to how our interpretation of what we hear vary greatly. Some factors that come to mind (and not limited), are:

Your inner ear and skull’s overall composition: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart...kull-affect-how-you-hear-music-654940/?no-ist.

Hearing loss as we age, also known as presbycusis: https://www.ohio.edu/news/months/nov1998/111.html,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbycusis.

Heredity, noise trauma, dietary habits, smoking, hypertension, atherosclerosis, are other factors that affect people’s overall hearing ability.


Analyze this and that

The test tracks that I use in my reviews are located in these albums (album alphabetical order)

1989 (Deluxe Edition) by Taylor Swift (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
21 by Adele (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bad (2001 Special Edition) by Michael Jackson (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bangerz by Miley Cyrus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Beyoncé by Beyoncé (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Heart Blanche by Ceelo Green (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
Make Yourself by Incubus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
No. 5 Collaborations Project (EP) by Ed Sheeran (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
One by One by Foo Fighters (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Schubert Berliner Philharmoniker by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
Shades of Marmalade by Jackson Breit (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Thriller by Michael Jackson (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
X (Wembley Edition) by Ed Sheeran (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

Several standalone tracks (track alphabetical order)

Dock of the Bay by The Persuations A Cappella Dreams (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
M.O.R. by Blur – Blur 21, Blur (2012 Remaster – Special Edition) (MP3 320kbps 44.1kHz/16bit)
Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor D. 810, Death and the Maiden: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto by Oslo String Quartet – The Schubert Connection (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
Serenade (Spanish Dance), Op. 54, No. 2 by Jano Starker and David Popper – Wilson Audio Ultimate Reference (APE 44.1kHz/16bit)
The Peppery Man by Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
These Bones by The Fairfield Four – I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)

If I am listening to a product that is not able to be listened with the highest resolution tracks that I have mentioned, I will listen to the TIDAL versions (FLAC).[/color]


Sound impressions

The E-MU Purpleheart sounds warm and soothing, doesn’t emphasize bass too much and the treble is gentle, lending it to a balanced with warmth-sounding signature. The construction of the headphone, from the 40mm biocellulose diaphragms, to the real Purpleheart wood enclosures brings out the yummy acoustic subtleties of the E-MU Purpleheart. The sound signature is so easy-going, but can be cranked up with an amp for extra oomph if so desired. The sound is not just easy-going, but also engaging, especially for its price point. Detail is good but not as detailed as the much higher priced TH-X00 Mahogany or E-MU Teak.

The spatial capabilities lend it to be more of an intimate presentation than a speaker-mimicked presentation. Vocals are smooth and silky. The midbass emits a weighty response, and there is good subbass presence as well. Add some EQ or bass boost and feel the power of the E-MU Purpleheart! Overall, this is a lower midrange to midbass emphasized headphone and presents those areas in a more apparent manner than either the TH-X00 M or E-MU Teak. The treble does not reach the outer reaches of the height of the frequency spectrum, but this ultimately creates a less-fatigued listening session, and is just enough to enjoy, especially for lengthy listening sessions. This is a headphone you’ll want to spend time with, and has been great for me while writing my assignments for my occupation, has even assisted in making writing this review a breeze. Basically, the E-MU Purpleheart is a more warmer version with just a touch less clarity and overall spaciousness as the TH-X00 M or E-MU Teak. Simply lovely.

The E-MU Purpleheart is a headphone that is just an easy headphone to listen to for hours, as the lightweight nature and non-fatiguing treble make time...fly.

iFi Audio micro iCAN SE
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The micro iCAN SE is an amp that produces a defined and resolute sound signature, especially when coupled with the QP1R. Warmth is abundant, and the micro/macro detail of the E-MU Purpleheart truly shines. The "3D HolographicSound" setting helps add in a little more spaciousness, rich and transparent sound field perception. iFi Audio explains: "3D HolographicSound recreates a holographic sound field like listening to a pair of speakers."

Here's the 3D HolographicSound settings:
- = Direct
●●● = 3D for flat sounding recordings.
● = 3D for recordings with excessive stereo effect.

I only need to turn the volume dial a little (to around 9 o'clock) to obtain a comfortable listening level. The micro iCAN SE also features a Bass Boost switch, called "XBass". iFi Audio explains: "XBass was uniquely-designed to extend the bass response to suit different headphones."

Here's the XBass settings:
- = Direct
●●● = For bass shy headphones.
● = For average bass headphones.

XBass is my favorite setting on the amp because I can immediately hear and feel a change in the bass response (increased volume of bass, texture and decay).

At the one dot setting, I personally feel the E-MU Purpleheart sounds the best to my ears with this setting, when I’m in more of a mellow mood. More bass is apparent, but is bassy enough to my ears, as the one dot setting is best for average bass headphones. The E-MU Purpleheart is in my opinion an adequately punchy headphone, and would benefit the best with using the one dot setting. With that said...

Using the three dot setting adds more volume of overall bass and on most tracks has bass that can be heard, felt (not supremely immensely, but definitely sufficiently), and there is more perception of prolonged reverberation and decay. The three dot setting turns the E-MU Purpleheart into a basshead headphone even without software EQ applied, compared to a basshead headphone without the bass switch of the micro iCAN SE. The result of the three dot setting is creamy-smooth, yet totally reverberating-feeling bass that melds naturally into the more detailed midrange and mellow higher frequencies, that is perceived as much warmer as a result of the three dot bass switch.

iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label
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The Black Label is literally the vanilla iDSD on technical growth hormones! A true step up, especially when it comes to the XBass and 3D HolographicSound settings. The Black Label is what you wanted the vanilla iDSD to be, which can be described in one word: more. More of everything, may it be perceived volume in certain situations, or understated good-looks. I used my SLA decibel measuring application (you can check out my full method of decibel measuring in the (Q15) Decibel Measurements, Disclaimer and Headphone Comparisons section of my QP1R review, here).

I found the vanilla iDSD to have roughly the same power/sound decibel output compared to the Black Label, however, when comparing both DAC/amps with the XBass and 3D HolograhicSound settings enabled, the Black Label emitted around half a decibel more power/sound decibel output compared to the vanilla iDSD. To my ears, the vanilla iDSD’s XBass and 3D HolographicSound settings are compared to the one dot setting of the iCAN SE amp’s setting, and the Black Label’s XBass and 3D HolographicSound settings are compared to the three (max) dot setting of the iCAN SE amp. The iCAN SE has three different strength settings in all, from “none”, to “medium” to “high” strength with regards to the XBass and 3D HolographicSound settings: and the vanilla iDSD and Black Label both have two different strength settings in all, from “none”, to “high” strength, as the “high” is in direct comparison with the iCAN SE’s three dot setting of the performance-tuned options.

I personally always wanted a little more oomph with the vanilla iDSD, and the Black Label gave me just the right about oomph I’ve been looking for! The Black Label is one of my favorite sounding with versatility DAC/amps regardless of price.


Headphone comparisons

If you’d like a comparison of a headphone that is not mentioned in the review or my profile, feel free to message me and send me anything you’d like that can then be added to the review. Without further ado…

Archeer AH07 Impact Wireless Bluetooth Headphone
IMG_5841.jpg

Both headphones are very comfortable, but the AH07 has the edge over the E-MU Purpleheart with regards to ultimate comfort between the two because the AH07 uses a plusher headband. However, the E-MU Purpleheart has a clear edge over natural good-looks, due to the implementation of the real Purpleheart wood. The AH07 will have a more balanced sound and treble will be slightly more farther reaching than the E-MU Purpleheart. The bass of the E-MU Purpleheart reaches deeper, is more plentiful and reverberates more than the AH07. Midrange is a little more smoother than the AH07, but the AH07’s midrange may sound more reference in nature. Spatial capabilities don’t favor either too much, but the E-MU Purpleheart is a little more intimate with meatier subleties than the AH07.

Cleer DU High-Definition Dual Driver Headphone
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The E-MU Purpleheart has the DU beat on comfort, and the DU does very well in regards to build, since aluminum is used in most aspects of the entire headphone. I’m partial to the Purpleheart wood, so even though I like the look of the Purpleheart more than the aluminum housing, those that are looking for a more subtle, understated design may be served well by going with the DU. The DU is a headphone that has a more extended treble response than the E-MU Purpleheart, but the bass is where the E-MU Purpleheart shines in regards to emitting more heft and more quantity of bass notes. Both have good quality bass, but the DU’s bass is more focused, while the E-MU Purpleheart’s bass is more diffuse. The midrange of the E-MU Purpleheart is warmer with slightly more lushness than the DU. Perceived soundstage will favor the DU compared to the E-MU Purpleheart, as the overally sound of the DU is more detailed and overall more balanced in use.


Non-audiophile Impressions


Daniel checking out the Massdrop x E-MU Purpleheart with the QP1R
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Eddie checking out the Massdrop x E-MU Purpleheart with the QP1R
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Lovely while eating soba and drinking Calpico
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Every person that listened to the E-MU Purpleheart wound up really liking the sound saying they “really like the sound” or “I love how this sounds!” I also heard “This sounds much better and clearer than my Beats!” They also thought the headphone costed more than the going rate is for the headphone. I won’t say exactly how much, but it was by factors the amounts the non-audiophiles were coming up with. The E-MU Purpleheart punches above its weight, indeed!


Should you modify?

It’s really up to you. By now you should know that having this headphone as part of your collection (or only headphone) that it is a bassy, warm and smooth experience. With that said, you may want to dial in modifications to help bring out the bass as well as taming down the treble in the process. What can you do?

EQ – use your source’s EQ settings to dial in a preferable frequency response to your ears.

Bass Boost or equivalent – use your source’s Bass Boost or equivalent button or switch, as you can with a button press or flip of a switch have immediate results with increased bass with the expense of probably lower perceived treble.

Earpad change – changing the earpads may change the frequency response to one that sounds better to your ears and may better to your ears as well.

Recable into detachable cables – if you’d like, @PETEREK is a great resource and can guide you along the way from start to finish.

I personally won’t be modifying as I am thoroughly enjoying the pleasant sound signature the E-MU Purpleheart produces.


Cultivate a fresh sound

What does this mean? Too often we focus on only the music we are accustomed to. I am usually this way as well. Here’s an opportunity to listen to something you either may not normally listen to, or haven’t heard of. As I publish reviews in the future, I will have new and older tracks from various genres that I’ve listened to in this section, and will be largely based on what songs really moved me in particular to the reviewed product I’ve listened to on it. Even though the tracks will be linked to YouTube videos or audio-only versions, the tracks will either be listened solely from the iPhone 6 and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless, or from my Microsoft Surface Book and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless. Instead of describing each track in immense detail, you can simply listen for yourself and bask in the beautiful music you may have just found for the first time right now! What’s also great is that you can come back here just to listen to the tracks mentioned! If you have any personal issues with any tracks posted, please PM me and I'll replace it with another track. It's all about positivity in our musical journey. With those kind words of encouragement, here we go…

679 & No Diggity by Jackson Breit
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Better Than Me by Blood Orange
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Roller Coaster by Bon Jovi
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Breathing Underwater by Emeli Sandé
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Is the E-MU Purpleheart worth it?

In my opinion, yes! Just for the quality, fantastic-looking Purpleheart wood, it’s a very good deal. Chan’s earcups by themselves are very nice looking, and are also more than entirety of the E-MU Purpleheart. The E-MU Walnut, which is very good on its own is over $100, but does have very nice chrome accents along the earcups, and sounds more similar to the E-MU Purpleheart than disimilar. The E-MU Purpleheart offered on Massdrop is currently the lowest price E-MU in the universe. With that said, onto the next section...


Final thoughts

I wanted to seriously write only two words for this review:

Buy it.

There’s a few reasons why I wanted to only write those words. First is because I believe the headphone is very good sounding on its own. Second is because I’d like everyone to have the chance to buy it without too much analyzing. Third is because I can actually guarantee that someone in your family (or friend) will love it as a gift if you do not end up loving the E-MU Purpleheart. Endgame headphone? For those that are just starting out, why not? You’ve got a bit of the TH-X00 Purpleheart’s flavor in a smaller, more compact package, for a fraction of the Purpleheart’s price! For those more versed in the auditory enthusiast arena, the headphone may be one of the more understatedly exciting that you’ll own.

Live. Love. Purpleheart.


Specifications

Massdrop x E-MU Systems
Design: Circumaural, closed back
Materials: Solid purpleheart wood, protein leather
Driver: 40 mm neodymium magnet, biocellulose diaphragm
Frequency range: 10 Hz–30 kHz
Impedance: 32 ohm
Sensitivity: 103 dB
Maximum input power: 1,300 mW
Connector: 3.5 mm gold-plated stereo mini plug
Cable: 4 ft (1.2 m) oxygen-free copper
Weight: 7.7 oz (219 g)

Included

1-year manufacturer’s warranty

Shipping

All orders will be shipped by Massdrop.
Benaudio
Benaudio
Late to the party, but have you been able to compare it to the Creative Aurvana Live?
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