[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]Initial Impressions:
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.
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:
- Alternative Rock
- Classic Rock
- Post-Modern Rock
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]Packaging / Unboxing[/color]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]
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8)]
[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)]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]