Pros: Single dynamic driver tuning, good rock tuning, FANTASTIC box, solid build
Cons: Low selection of eartips, basic cable
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Chord and Major 8'13 Review: Rock’n Roll Baby![/color]
Chord & Major is a relatively new Taiwanese company specializing in building premium earphones. However, they design their lineup differently from other companies. Instead of making several tiers of earphones according to driver quality and tuning them in whatever way they want, Chord & Major takes a driver and tunes it to perform well in a specific music super-genre. Today, I have the pleasure of reviewing the C&M 8'13, the earphone designed for rock music.
You can find the official page for the 08'13 here. The Rock Tonal Earphones have an MSRP of $200.
You may notice many shared writing elements between this and my Chord & Major 01'16. This is due to the fact that the Tonal Earphones are very similar to each-other in many ways, differing mostly in their tuning. Disclaimer: This review is based upon a sample unit provided to me by a manufacturer or distributor in exchange for my honest opinion and un-edited words. I do not profit in any way from the writing of the review. I would like to thank Chord & Major for sending me this review unit. Preference and Bias: Before reading a review, it is worth mentioning that there is no way for a reviewer to objectively pass judgment on the enjoy-ability of a product: such a thing is inherently subjective. Therefore, I find it necessary for you to read and understand what I take a natural liking to and how that might affect my rating of a product.
My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, bass. The mids should be slightly less pronounced than the treble, but still ahead of the bass. I prefer a more bright upper range. Source: The 8'13 was powered like so:
PC optical out-> HifiMe SPDIF 9018 DAC 3.5mm out-> earphones
AP100 3.5mm out or AP60 3.5mm out -> earphones
HIFIMAN Megamini 3.5mm out -> earphones
All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Sound Signature[/color]
Strong bass response with a nice roundness to it, and plenty of meat. A heavy mid bass and a synergistic sub-bass give the 8'13 a satisfying thud and rumble. The mid is recessed, but not lacking in clarity. Treble is ahead of the mids, and is about on par with the bass in terms of emphasis. A boost to the 12–15Khz range emblazons the high-hats and other acoustic treble-bound elements within rock songs.
I’ve adjusted my test songs to ones that are either part of an rock genre or make heavy use of rock elements within the song. Wouldn’t make much sense to use a genre these aren’t tuned for. Treble: Songs used: Hallelujah, Midnight City, Hero
Treble is boosted well, giving rock songs a good level of emphasis on acoustic guitars and high-hats. Other background effects and sounds come through well, and are generally pretty sharp and distinct. Micro-detail is surprisingly good given the nature of the driver that’s being employed within the 8'13: a single dynamic driver. Mids: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway
The mid range of a song is always the part I love dissecting the most. There’s simply so much going on. The sound engineers at C&M seem to share this sentiment with me, as they made sure to keep the mids intact when reducing its emphasis in the mix. Flagpole Sitta’s guitars sound bodied. The electric guitars sound electric, and have an aggressive timbre to them.
Jacked Up’s pianos had a hard edge to them, a good sign for the health of the mids’ attack and decay rates. The guitars sounded really good as well. Instrumental separation in the mids is on point.
The vocals of the 8'13 are managed quite well, and are spiked up to the treble’s level of emphasis allowing them to easily take command of the song. I’d say the 8'13 is more partial towards male vocals, but still presents female vocals well. Bass: Songs used: Boulevard of Broken Dreams, 99 Problems (Hugo Cover),Burn It Down
The sonorous and bass-laden intro to Boulevard of Broken Dreams had a realistic level of rumble and impact, really hitting you with the bass. It’s not quite as slammy as, say, the Rose 3D-7, but does offer quite a good level of control and shaping, something I am surprised of given the quantity of bass the 8'13 presents.
While not quite part of the main-stream rock genre, I feel that 99 Problems does share enough instrumental elements with rock that it’s use is justified. I’m sure you would agree with me once you hear just how well the song is presented on the 8'13 with impact, rumble, and shaping. Clarity: Songs used: Throne, Map of The Problimatique, I’m Not Alright
The 8'13 is quite clear and does not distort, even at very high (but still listenable) volumes. Even during very busy songs the 8'13 performed well. I did not notice too many lost details, with there being some exceptions in the mids during the chorus of Throne and I’m Not Alright. In fact, I did notice there to be a trend in most songs I listened to where little details in the mids were slightly smudged, most likely due to the traditional V-shaped tuning the 8'13 posseses. Sound Stage
The soundstage of the 8'13 is well sized for rock music. The stage is fairly wide, with decent depth. Genre Specific Notes
Here’s my opinion on which genres the 8'13 excels at playing:
I’m sure there are more sub-genres that I haven’t thought of or haven’t heard yet, so don’t take this list as gospel.
The Tonal Earphone series from Chord & Major is far and away the best package set of earphones I’ve come across to date. The package as a whole is compact, stylish, and protective. The inside of the box is divided up efficiently, and the cable of the IEM is coiled up such that it won’t get kinked or bent before the customer gets it. Each Tonal Earphone comes in a box made from a different material. The 8'13 comes in the wooden-black flavor. It feels very premium and is indicative of the high price tag.
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Build[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Construction Quality[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]The build of the 8'13 is fair. The stress relief on both the 3.5mm cable and driver housings could be beefed up a little bit.[/color]
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[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]I’ve been spoiled by the cable on the 01'16, but I think that the 8’13’s cable could definitely use an upgrade given it’s non-detachable. That isn’t to say that this cable is [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]terrible [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]or [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]horrid, [/color][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]but sprucing it up a bit definitely couldn’t hurt.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]The driver housings are built from metal. It’s covered in a slight glossy layer giving the housings a minor visual depth. It’s an interesting effect. The back of the driver housing is built from a colored metal, and has a little wing sticking out the back that the cable is threaded through. As for whether or not this is a structural or purely cosmetic feature, I do not know.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Comfort[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]The 8'13 is quite comfortable for me. The tips that come pre-installed on the 8'13 fit me well and seal out the sound of my keyboard reasonably well. Listeners with smaller ears may experience some discomfort due to the sudden cutaway from the nozzle to the body.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Accessories[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]None of the Tonal Earphones from C&M come with a large number of accessories, but those that they do come with are high-quality. Inside the package you will find:[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)] [/color]
1 soft carrying pouch
1 cable winder
1 cleaning brush
2 extra sets of eartips
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]I really like the carrying pouch. It’s made from a felt material and closes using a push-button. While it’s no Pelican case, it will certainly keep the dirt, dust, and other sultry substances of day-to-day life out and off of your shiny new earphones.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]However, I would like to see Chord & Major include a wider variety of eartips. When you compare the offerings of the $130 RHA MA750i to that of this $200 IEM, the disparity becomes quite apparent. At the very least, try and throw us some genuine Comply.[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Summary[/color]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]This is the second time I’ve been impressed with how well Chord & Major can manipulate a single dynamic driver. Their masterful tuning has brought us an IEM that excels in rock genres but doesn’t sacrifice overall listenablility, making this IEM an great choice for someone who listens to mostly rock, but also has some other genres in their library. While the cable could use some work and there could have been a wider selection of eartips, I think the 8'13 is a solid buy for the price.[/color]
I first encountered Chord & Major at the e-earphone show in late 2015 in Tokyo, Japan.
They invited me to their table to try out their earphones and I had a quick listen, I suspect they were fresh out of the box which isn`t wise for a show - I could be wrong. But I see it happening at many of the Japan shows, staff congratulating me for being the first to try out a product, sometimes even wrapping off the plastic or protective slip of the screen cover.
Whether you believe in burn in, or loosing up or whatever it does seem to round earphones and gear out a bit more after a few hours of music have settled all the parts.
So my first encounter was ok, but not brilliant. I wasn`t so sure about the metal flanges either.
I recently had a listen of the Chord & Majors I received from the Japan based contact (I guess I must have handed them one of my Gifu washi hand made meishi/business cards) straight out of the box. The sound was similar.
I then decided to leave them playing music for 24 hours to see If there was any changes to the sound.
More on the result of that experiment later.
Chord & Major also have a giveaway of some of their earphones, end date of entry is February 24th.
Open up the box and the IEMs are encased nicely in a die cut piece of cardboard, on the back of which is hidden a cord winder designed for the user to wrap their earphones cable around safely. Lift that out and the box is segmented into three compartments. One for additional tips encased in plastic wrap and a small cleaning brush, a small cloth (velvet?) carry pouch with Chord & Major embossed on it and also a guitar on the back. The main space is reserved for the IEMs which are safely and gently held with a bed of foam, the underneath is reserved for a user manual.
Also a warranty card.
On to the main event, the earphones themselves.
I will double up here as the build is virtually identical, with a variation in the outer casings.
The plug is small and lightweight and has additional support for the cable to prevent early stress tearing. Also the splitter has extra support. There is also a small rubber chin slider.
The Rock version is made of metal and is solid as a rock. I did not really understand the thinking behind the metal drooping tail at the cable end of the earphones but I now see that is useful for placement and helps to navigate a decent seal. Also a close look shows that there is a tiny rubber ring which anchors the cable with slight resistance to prevent stress and breakage in those moments of forgetfulness.
The bore is wide and open with a metal mesh covering it.
The Ballad version is the same as above with a few differences. the cable strengthener by the plug is wooden and the outer casing of the earphones is also wooden.
The Rock version is slightly heavier than the Ballad version when held in my hands.
This time I had a listen straight out of the box and tried to compare with my memory of first impressions at the e-earphone show in Tokyo. It was very similar and led me think that perhaps the ones I tried there were also fresh out of the box.
I then set them up and left both sets of earphones to loosen up over a period of 24 hours plus to see If the result would be more palatable. These are the results.
Source used for testing:
Centrance Hifi-Skyn with ipod touch 6G and Flacplayer app.
Definitely has enough bass to please even the most jaded bass lover, seems to be tight enough where is counts, slightly rounded and smoothed and extends down into the sub bass.
The over extended highs and sharpness which i first encountered has disappeared after leaving them to play for a bit, this is also noticeable in the rolloff shown in the specs graph.
They have a height and depth, but not as much width in terms of sound stage.
Separation between instruments is more than adequate. It is not a fast earphone, but well paced.
Vocal are clean and clear and a pleasure to listen to., I really enjoy female vocals with the Rock version.
Strings and guitar comes across accurately.
I find myself liking them the longer they are in my ears.
As expected the Ballad version is a more laid back sound signature with an emphasis on the mids.
Although less dynamic than the Rock version it doesn`t lose out by that simple comparison.
It performs just as well, just quieter and less forward. All the key points that I enjoyed with the Rock version are also present here, a good sound stage, decent separation between the various instruments.
The vocals are more forward on the ballad version, whereas on the Rock version there is a more balanced sense of vocals and music. The height and depth is less than on the Rock, although width seems wider.
There is a spaciousness to them, almost an airy sense without getting too whimsical.
The Ballad version is fairly smooth and non offensive to the ears.
If I would sum up the Ballad in one word it would be tame, there are no particular sacrifices.
I recommend giving the Ballad and Rock versions time to open up to get the best experience. Either through general everyday use or leave them over night playing some music of your choice.
I found the fit to be suitable and isolating enough. I did not notice any leakage as such.
I prefer a larger tip, the Ballad version came with a smaller tip and did notice a bit of rubbing against my outer ear, it could do with a more tapered nozzle as its a bit squared off at the end.
The Chord & Major can be worn hanging down or over the ear, although i suspect the design is meant more for hanging down. I mainly ended up wearing them over the ears as that is my usual custom. Over the ears also minimized the rubbing I experienced when they were hanging down.
Rock version 8`13
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
Normal Impedance: 16Ω
Input connectivity: 3.5mm (gold plated)
Cable Length: 1.2m
Ballad version 6`13
Frequency Response: 20-20,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 96dB at 1KHz 1mW
Normal Impedance: 30Ω
Input connectivity: 3.5mm stereo plug
Cable Length: 1.2m
The global prices of the Chord & Major earphones are from 199 USD ~ 239 USD.
Jazz Major7’13 $199 USD
Rock Major8’13 $199 USD
Classical Major9’13 $219 USD
Ballad Major6’13 $239 USD
World Major5’14 $239 USD
The prices are at the low end of mid range and these IEMs seem to fit within that price point well.
They aren`t sub $100 nor are they $500 plus in terms of sound.
Build: I can`t fault the build as it does appear to be rather robust, although albeit I have only had them for a short time.
Sound: The sound fits perfectly within their pricepoint and I have no real complaints.
Fit: They seem to fit reasonably well, much better than when I first tried them at the e-earphone show when I was in a hurry. The metal tab helps with positioning for a comfortable fit. They seem to feel quite weightless when settled in properly. Results could vary depending on tips used and size of ones ear holes.
Value: With the excellent packaging, solid build and proper price point I would say that they are good value. Of course the $200-$250 USD price point is saturated with many choices of good in ears to compete against also.
A big thank you to Chord & Major for sending these two earphones for review.