iFi Audio iEMatch Headphone Travel Accessory

  1. glassmonkey
    Hiss-busting miracle worker in a magnesium suit
    Written by glassmonkey
    Published Jul 11, 2018
    Pros - I can listen to sensitive IEMs on the Questyle QP2R now without being swallowed by hiss, nice diamond dust feel and look to the casing, simple to use, lightweight, takes pressure off of 2.5mm jack
    Cons - 2.5mm jack isn’t flush with barrel, original iEMatch less expensive
    List Price: $69

    Product Website: https://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/accessory-iematch2-5

    I’ve been wanting to get an iEMatch ever since the first one was released. I was surprised that iFi didn’t send me one to review, given how much we’ve worked together. I’ve got a few hiss monster DAPs in house, including my favourite DAP, the QP2R. Beyond the QP2R, the HiFiMAN SuperMini and the HiFiMAN MegaMini are hiss cannons. When iFi sent me the press release for the 2.5mm version of iEMatch, I had to get it. So, when I saw them at Sound & Vision 2018 in Bristol, I bought one on the spot.

    This review was originally published on audioprimate.blog.


    Usability: Form & Function

    The box that the iEMatch2.5 comes in is iFi’s standard small item box. They use the same box for their Purifier series, and I have to imagine they use it for their Defender and other USB paraphernalia. Inside the box are the iEMatch2.5 with a formed slot cut out of the foam, a pair of earplugs, the cloth bag, and a tasty tasty silica packet. Mmmm anhydrous! Underneath the earplugs, there is a smiley face thank you. Also in the box are a conveniently sized and folded instruction manual and a warranty card. The box has all kinds of fancy pictures on the outside, which is standard for iFi. They are good with the graphic stuff.


    The iEMatch itself is tiny. I was able to easily fit it in side the Noble Encore Pelican hard case with a bulky aftermarket cable. It’s really a life-saver with the Noble Encore.

    The iEMatch2.5 has a lower output impedance than the version built into the iDSD Nano Black Label (under 1Ω versus 4Ω) but the same as the original iEMatch. In practice, what this means is that I don’t notice any colouration of the sound signature on the Noble Encore with the iEMatch2.5, but I do with the iDSD Nano Black Label. I get to listen with the best DAP I have in house, which is excellent. With the Noble Encore, I only have ever needed to use the High sensitivity setting, but if you are an Andromeda fan, I’d wager the Ultra sensitivity setting would have you covered.


    One thing that I noted was that with the Questyle QP2R, the Ultra setting on the iEMatch was a bad idea, as the volume had to be turned up too high and it caused a little clipping. So you may not be able to use the iEMatch2.5 with every IEM source combination. If it sounds wrong and you have to jack the volume knob up to insane levels, stop. Use your sense.

    On the iEMatch2.5, the 2.5mm jack plug has a collar. It has been my observation that 2.5mm plugs are very brittle, which is one of the reasons that I'm all gung-ho for 4.4mm balanced jack plugs to take over the DAP world (my 4.4 make sure all y'all kids don't grow, to homophone a great one). The best way to strengthen a 2.5mm jack plug is increase the contact area around the plug. Using a collar decreases this area and makes the plug vulnerable. Similarly, the end your aftermarket cable plugs into is not flush with the magnesium body of the iEMatch2.5 so also has a point of vulnerability that could have been mitigated. That said, moving your aftermarket cable plug away from the 2.5mm jack on the DAP reduces the amount of pressure, thus reducing the likelihood of a busted jack plug on your [expensive] aftermarket cable. This issue is why I docked the build quality 0.5 points.

    I only have one other gripe, and that is the price differential between the standard iEMatch, and the iEMatch2.5. The regular iEMatch can be had for around $50. I think this is actually a more appropriate price, which is why I had to dock the value 0.5 points.

    This was awfully close to being my first ever perfect 5 review. If I'd beta tested this, it would have got the 5 star rating, because I would have addressed the only issues. My cons would then read: none.

    Price $69
    Sensitivity adjustment Ultra (24dB), High (-12dB)
    Input impedance 16Ω
    Output impedance
    < 2.5Ω (High-Sensitivity)

    < 1.0Ω (Ultra-Sensitivity)

    Weight 12.2g
    Total length 116mm
    Waranty 12 months
    Accessories Fabric travel pouch, 1 pair soft-foam contoured ear plugs (-37dB)

    I acknowledge that I bought the iEMatch my own darn self. No acknowledgment necessary. I got a show discount.

    The iFi iEMatch is a hissbusting miracle worker in a diamond-dusted magnesium suit. It’s worth every penny. Buy it!


    Rating Disclaimer: ratings are subjective. Audio quality and value do not mean the same thing across all prices. A headphone with a 5 rating on audio at $5 does not have equivalent sound quality as a 5 rating at $500. Likewise, value at $5 is not the same as value at $5000 dollars.

  2. Dobrescu George
    iFi iEMatch 2.5 - Balanced Matching
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Jun 22, 2018
    Pros - Price, Build Quality, Easy-to-use, colorless, does its job well
    Cons - Very specific tool for a very specific job, performance varies with the setup, IEM and DAP, hard to say it will do the same favor for two setups if one of the components change.
    iFi iEMatch 2.5 - Balanced Matching

    iFi iEMatch 2.5 is the version of iEMatch made for 2.5mm balanced connectors. Those iEMatch units have been known to help those with hissy sources get a better sound without needing to upgrade the whole source, and iEMatch is usually pretty affordable as well. We'll place this one through its paces and see what the buzz is all about.



    iFi is a very well-known company in Audio and especially in the Audiophile Hobby, since they are some of the most exemplary when it comes to their service, support as well as involvement with the community. iFi products are a dream to own, and we have a few already, from their iFi iDSD Black Label Micro, to the Nano, and soon to come is the iFi xDSD, another awesome product. We're not affiliated with iFi, but we like their work so far, pretty good and most important, usually really well priced compared to the competition.

    It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with iFi, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by iFi or anyone else. I'd like to thank iFi for providing the sample for the review. The sample was provided along with iFi's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects my personal experience with iFi iEMatch 2.5. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in iFi iEMatch 2.5 find their next music companion.

    About me



    First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:





    For most of their products, iFi used pretty fancy packages, but now the package is rather small. Of course iFi iEMatch 2.5 doesn't have a lot it comes with since it is an inexpensive adapter that helps with hissy and noisy sources, so we aren't bothered by the lack of a larger package.

    In fact, we're pretty happy that iFi included all that was necessary in the package, and a little extra.

    With iEMatch 2.5 you get the unit, two foam plugs, and a little carrying pouch.

    It is unclear why the foam plugs are included, but they are a welcome addition anyways, especially for that time you go to a concert and happen to need something to protect your hearing from the loud music.

    All things considered, we are rather happy with the package, it feels fitting for the product.

    What to look in when purchasing a high-end Audiophile Accessory


    Technical Specifications

    Input Impedance: 16 Ohm
    Output Impedance: &lt; 2.5 Ohms (High-Sensitivity) &lt; 1.0 Ohms (Ultra-Sensitivity)
    Weight : 12.2g
    Total Length : 116mm
    Warranty period: 12 months

    Build Quality/Aesthetics

    iFi iEMatch 2.5mm is basically a little cable adapter which is used to control the output impedance and noise of your source. It works by filtering the signal of your source and lowering the noise floor, along with the volume of it. It usually results in a lower output volume as well.




    The Aesthetics make it look like a sturdy adapter of sorts, it doesn't give off much about its purpose by the looks alone, being neither a cool-looking device nor something that will change the overall look of your setup too much. At most, it looks like a USB DAC like those used in Type-C based smartphones, so most people can either think it is part of the natural listening setup, or a jack adapter.

    This is actually good, because its purpose is quite complicated, and while it can surely make a good discussion subject with someone who is really into audio, it can be slightly complicated to understand for a more casual listener / user.

    The Build Quality is excellent, the plug and cable are both sturdy and feel trustworthy, the button for setting the iEMatch to High or Ultra feels good and overall, the device is built very well.

    iEMatch has two modes, one being high and one being ultra, depending on how much it affects the impedance, the Ultra setting being the one that has more effect than the High one.

    Sound Quality

    We don't have any other device to run the typical comparison and running the pairing tabs isn't very worthwhile when iEMatch does the same thing for almost all sources. The basic rule of thumb is that if you feel your source is noisy, then iEMatch is sent from Heaven.


    Most 2.5mm Balanced outputs have a little bit of added power compared to their Single Ended counter parts. This means that for most people the Balanced output can sound a bit more dynamic, a little brighter, and sometimes even hissier, as for some DAPs the balanced output has a higher output impedance, resulting in a few impedance differences, leading to hiss with very sensitive IEMs.

    Many users claim a difference in the sonic performance of their equipment when running it on Balanced, differences usually being a more controlled sound, quicker sound, better overall ADSR/PRaT (Textures), more Dynamics and a more enjoyable overall experience. We never reviewed Balanced vs Single Ended because a bias-free test is impossible, since we can't hot swap between two devices, and since Balanced Cables are usually made with a more strict quality control, along with a different overall cable composition. This means that for the most part the Balanced version of a IEM or Headphone might sound better, but a lot of variables change along the way, being hard to tell what exactly makes them sound better.

    With the recent increase in Balanced devices appeared some which have a little too much power, an output impedance that is a little too high, or those which are a little hissy / noisy by default.

    This is where iEMatch comes in handy, its role is to silence the noise from the source. What it does, it basically adds impedance to the source, which although doesn't sound like it would do a lot, it actually silences the sound, makes everything quieter, including the noise.




    Now, there are a few aspects to this that we should discuss.

    This lowers the hiss from sources, leading to a hiss-free experience, that works with IEMs which are very sensitive to hiss, like those IEMs with only a few OHMs of impedance for themselves.

    iEMatch also states that it can increase the dynamics of a combo, and there might be some truth to this, especially for IEMs (In-Ear Monitors), where those would need really low amounts of power. This means that the amplifier used in the pairing might be operating at a really low voltage / power, which can result in certain designs in a loss of dynamics. By adding impedance, and increasing the volume, there is a chance of also increasing the dynamics of sound, since some designs operate better at high loads. This is very design dependent though, and hard to predict unless experimented with.

    The other thing iEMatch can do is lower the noise floor by filtering noise. Some users reported that they hear a black background and more focus on certain background instruments which would otherwise be drowned by the background noise.

    In all fairness, we tested iEMatch 2.5 extensively, but we are usually not very prone to notice noise nor hissing, but we did notice a darker overall background with iEMatch 2.5, along with a better overall sound, although it required us to increase the volume considerably more than if not using it, the results being sometimes the amplifier working at higher loads than it would normally do.

    All in all, it is as it should be, colorless, it is supposed to be transparent and not change the signature much, and it does what it states it should do, lower the hiss and adding resistance to the IEM, so the improvements will be variable, from IEM to IEM. We're looking at something that is not supposed to have a Sound Signature, just to improve and silence noise, and this is something it does.

    In our experiments, the dynamics were not necessarily consistently better for all setups, some setups did indeed benefit from adding iEMatch 2.5, while others did not, with the results themselves being rather small. In the end we can't guarantee the results on dynamics.

    The background is blacker, there is a silence going on in the background, especially if the source was noisy, and even if it was only slightly noisy.

    We would like to remind you that this device is colorless, it doesn't really change the signature itself, only a few aspects of the sonic performance of a device. Its biggest role is to change the output impedance to a lower one after all.

    Portable Usage

    The portable performance is good. Being rather small and flexible, it doesn't really add to the bulk of a listening setup, and it doesn't really change it either. On this note, we usually talk about listening volume and noise isolation, so we feel it is fair to run iEMatch 2.5 through those two as well.

    On listening volume, adding iEMatch means that you will require more volume.


    Although most 2.5mm Balanced source have no problem in driving hard-to-drive loads, if yours was already reaching the maximum volume when driving something, then adding iEMatch is not a great idea, as it will make everything quieter. This means that you might be unable to drive your IEMs / Headphones properly loudness-wise, but then again, this should be extremely rare, and for most IEMs or headphones that would be like this, you're probably not going to need iEMatch since its design is mostly intended for those which are very sensitive and would pick up hiss and background noise.

    On the noise isolation, it is fair to state that iEMatch does nothing to it, but the fact that you have a blacker background means that you might require less isolation on an overall level, because background notes are easier to distinguish. This effect might also lead to lower overall listening volumes, even while on-the-go and while in public, since you'd be hearing more in the background, with less volume, so this can be a good part of using iEMatch 2.5, although we feel that this will depend a lot on the user.

    All in all, the shape, size and build quality make iEMatch very portable and a good addition to your portable listening setup. It can sit nicely with any DAP, from Hiby R6 to Opus #1s, FiiO X5-3, FiiO X7mkii, FiiO Q5, and so on. There's literally no real bulk added to most audiophile setups, so on portability, it is really good.

    Value and Conclusion

    First, we have the price, which is around 60 - 70 USD. This isn't exactly low, considering what it is, but it isn't exactly high either. iEMatch 2.5 is also going to be usable with any DAP you upgrade to, and with all your IEMs, as long as they are based on 2.5mm connectors, so unless you plan on switching to 4.4mm balanced connectors, or unless you plan on going to unbalanced, you're going to have usage for it for a long time, so the money can be considered a good investition. Since most DAPs that have a balanced connection start from 300 USD and go up, and since most multi-BA IEMs that are quite sensitive are also quite pricey, iEMatch is not a very expensive addition to your listening setup, and in most cases can be considered affordable, relative to the rest of the listening setup.


    When it comes to its build quality, it is extremely well made, its simplicity playing a role on this, and we didn't have any issues with it. In fact, this is important because it will stay in a stack with a device, and it should be pretty solid. It doesn't have much weight, and it doesn't pull on the jack of the device it is connected to, and it doesn't have any part that can break.

    Its main rol, the lower the output impedance of a device, is achieved fairly well, and it doesn't colour the sound. It will redeem a device if its Balanced output is a bit hissy or a bit noisy, and it can redeem a device even if its balanced output is very hissy or very noisy. The main issue here is that there are few devices that have balanced outputs, and even fewer that are really noisy, but as more and more devices come to the market, some will aim to drive very hard-to-drive headphones from that balanced output, and this will sometime mean that a sacrifice has to be made, and that device might not be ideal for driving in-ears. Here, iEMatch 2.5 will be a great addition to your listening setup and help you enjoy the sources and the IEMs you already own more.

    In conclusion, iEMatch 2.5mm is a great addition to your listening setup if you use IEMs a lot, especially multi-BA IEMs and IEMs that are very sensitive (have a very low impedance, or very high efficiency), as those will take advantage the most from the works of iEMatch 2.5mm. With a good build quality, and a nice design, iEMatch 2.5 is going to be a great aid if you want less hiss and less background noise, and it comes at a price that's not very high either, so you can safely add it to your listening setup.

    I hope my review is helpful to you!

    Stay safe and remember to always have fun while listening to music!

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      rafaelo likes this.
    1. Snowball0906
      Does it turns the sound from unbalanced to balanced since its 3.5mm unbalance to 2.5mm balanced?
      Snowball0906, Aug 30, 2018
      Dobrescu George likes this.
    2. Dobrescu George
      @Snowball0906 Wait a second, it is more like 2.5mm Balanced to 2.5mm Balanced, just mother and father jacks (?)
      Dobrescu George, Aug 31, 2018
  3. narco dacunzolo
    REVIEW: iFi IEMatch/ Ear Buddy
    Written by narco dacunzolo
    Published Jun 8, 2018
    Pros - makes a great job with hiss ussues and impedance dismatches
    Cons - none

    After the review of their IEMatch 2.5, i am quite happy to test both Ifi EARBUDDY and the standard IEMATCH.

    My review of IEMatch 2.5: https://simplyaudiophile.wordpress.com/2018/04/26/review-ifi-iematch-2-5-hiss-no-problem/

    So, what does these small dongles can do?
    In the first part of this review I will show what iFi claims about their products, in the second part you can find my personal experience with many sensitive IEMs and different players/amp.
    The iEMatch® solves the bane of headphone listening by removing hiss and improving dynamics. As most IEMs and headphones are too loud at even half the volume level, listening enjoyment is always curtailed. No more with the iEMatch® in the signal path.
    Use the iEMatch® when the headphones/in-ear monitor (IEM) is either too loud and/or there is excessive hiss from the music source. From Smartphones to airplane in-flight entertainment systems, powerful headphone amplifiers, the iEMatch® improves musical enjoyment by:

    1. Background noise – significantly reduced
    2. Dynamic range – more open, transparent
    3. Volume control – increased usable range

    Technical example:
    If a source has (say) 114dB dynamic range and the Headphone is 30dB too loud, once the volume has been turned down 30dB the dynamic range is reduced to 84dB, or below CD quality, from what is an excellent result for a high-solution source.

    With Headphones, especially those that significantly reduce background noise (IEM, noise-reducing etc) excessive levels of electronic background noise quickly become annoying, so noise should always be kept as low as possible.
    It literally defeats the object of building a system around an expensive high-resolution headphone amplifier when the volume must be backed off so much that the resulting background noise is so high, quality is reduced to below CD or MP3 audio quality.
    By using iEMatch® one can reclaim 12 or 24dB lost dynamic range; as needed to get the most enjoyment from the source; from modern high-resolution recordings down to MP3, the difference is there to be heard.

    This unit was sent me as a sample , I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thanks iFi team for sending me these units giving me the opportunity to test these simple and effective dongles.
    The Earbuddy and IEmatch aims to do the same thing, but the IEMatch not only shows a more premium build quality, but will give you the opportunity to choose between Ultra (-24dB) & High-Gain (-12dB) sensitivity adjustment.

    OFFICIAL SITE : https://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/accessory-iematch2-5/

    FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/iFiAudio/

    ifiuzzo 4.jpg

    PACKAGING: more or less both earbuddy and IEMatch has the same packaging and same accessories, so will refer to only the IEMatch one.
    The IEMatch comes in a simple, but quite elegant box. With the dongle you will find a velvet pouch and memory-foam contoured ear plugs (-37dB)(that you can use when travelling or in noisy environments).

    Build quality is very good, obviously is not one of the most elegant products, but for this price range makes its job. iFi used a Al-Mg alloy casing for the body and a 6N silver/copper matrix wiring for the cable; with a Gold plated 2.5mm Balanced Connection. Like the standard IEMatch, you can switch between high and ultra sensitivity( I always used only high sensitivity with all my custom and universal IEMs, but ultra mode can be quite helpful with sensitive monster like Campfire Andromeda).
    Switching between high and ultra mode depends by your iems and sources too, cause ultra mode will oblige to push the volume up and this thing can cause clipping issues.
    <img src="https://simplyaudiophile.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/ifiuzzo-3.jpg" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-1482" height="640" alt="ifiuzzo 3" width="960">


    I have tested the iEMatch with my custom INEARZ EUPHORIA both in standard and ADEL configuration, Aroma Audio Yao,Twins, HEIR AUDIO 10.0, Stereo Pravda SB7, Inear SD5, Fiio ex1, Dunu C-Falcon, . For the sources, I have plugged the iEMatch into Opus1s, Astell and kern kann, fiio m7, aune x1 Desktop DAC/AMP.

    Stereo Pravda SB7+ Ifi IEMatch/EARbuddy + Aune x1s: this pairing shows how a 2500usd IEM can improve its performance with this small dongle. Aune X1 is a Desktop DAC/AMP with high output impedance, using the IEMatch improves not only some hiss issues, but recover the full dynamic range and the impedance dismatch between the high impedance output of the Aune(10 ohm) and the high sensitivity of this IEM.

    INEARZ EUPHORIA custom+ Ifi IEMatch/EARbuddy+ Opus 1s: EUPHORIA doesn’t suffer too much of hiss problems, but I found Opus 1s in high gain can produce some hiss issues. Thanks to the IEMatch I can listen to high volume without loosing the full dynamic range.

    ifiuzzo 2.jpg

    Fiio F5 + IEMatch + astellkern KANN: kann doesn’t have too much noise in high gain, but the F5 has good amount of hiss. I found F5, IEMatch and akKANN one of the best pairing for this iem giving me the chance to experience great dynamic and never fatiguing experience.

    Dunu C-Falcon + Ifi IEMatch/EARbuddy: C-Falcon is a great IEM for its price range, but like Fiio F5 can suffer of hiss problems. With these dongles, you can easaly raise the volume without increase hisses.

    CONCLUSION: as for the IEMatch 2.5 there is no cons( maybe a bit the price), it just works great and keeps promises, so If you have any hiss problems with your high sensitive custom or premium IEMs, just give a try to this dongle and will surely not regret.
  4. Grimbles
    I didn't think I had a use for it... but I do!
    Written by Grimbles
    Published Apr 16, 2018
    Pros - Small, cheap, helpful little gadget
    Cons - Nothing of note
    Quick Read Conclusion

    The iFi Audio iEMatch (the "iEMatch") is a handy little device which helps to eliminate hiss and hum for sensitive earphones (and is particularly focussed on IEMs, hence the name). It does the job well, at a reasonable price, and has the added benefit (in 3.5mm form) of being suitable for both SE and balanced cabling. If you are plagued by hiss and buzz from your sensitive IEMs, or want to use IEMs with kit which is normally a bit too noisy (like a valve amp) an iEMatch may well be worth a look at, especially given its reasonable price point.

    Introductions and General Bumf

    Test Kit: I have tested the iEMatch with Shure SE215, SE425, Ultimate Ears UE900s and Campfire Audio Polaris IEMS. I didn't bother using it with my proper cans (KEF M500 and Sennheiser HD600) as I've never heard hiss or buzz on them. In terms of source components, I have plugged the iEMatch into a Samsung Galaxy Note 8, S8, Schiit Vali 2, Pioneer XDP-30r, an iFi Audio Nano iDSD Black Label a random aeroplane and a low quality dell computer monitor speaker.

    in pio 2.5.jpg in pio 425.jpg in pio polaris.jpg in pio ue900.jpg in s8 nice.jpg in s82.jpg

    The switches on the 3.5mm unit let you choose between balanced and se modes, and high and ultra sensitivity. The 2.5mm unit is fixed in balanced mode so only has 1 switch.

    Me as a listener: I am not a pro by any stretch of the imagination. I have always enjoyed my music, and my tastes are pretty broad. I go to live music ranging from rock and pop concerts to orchestra and opera. I would not describe myself as having a trained ear, but I am attentive and my ears are in pretty good nick for a 34 year old.


    For the avoidance of doubt, this review is my honest personal opinion, I am not affiliated with iFi Audio, and have received no inducement from iFi Audio (or anyone else) to write this review. I was sent the iEMatch (both 3.5mm and 2.5mm versions) by iFi in exchange for my honest review. Once I am done with them, I will be sending them back to iFi. I would like to thank Karina and the team for giving me the opportunity to review some more of their products.

    What and Why?

    You know that feeling when you have an awesome pair of £2,500 IEMs but their ultra-sensitivity creates annoying buzz and hums? Me neither! But this is a truly first world problem which iFi are trying to solve with their iEMatch.

    You will have seen from my kit list above that I don't own any IEMs which fit into the ultra-sensitive bracket, but I still found quite a few uses for what turned out to be a handy little piece of kit!


    Unboxing of the iEMatch is a lovely experience with a quality feel. The boxes for the 2.5mm and 3.5mm versions are (almost) identical, with the exteriors noting the differences between the two. The only specific difference is that the 2.5mm unit does not contain the airplane adaptor. Not sure if this is just because these are testers but will update once I have heard from iFi. In the box, you get the iEMatch, warranty card and paperwork, (in the 3.5mm box) an aeroplane adaptor, a pair of earplugs (see below) and a crushed velvet type bag to hold it all in.

    UB1.jpg UB2.jpg ub3.jpg ub4.jpg ub5.jpg ub6.jpg UB7.jpg

    A noisy amp? Problem solved.

    I have a Schiit Vali 2 in my home rig, a lovely amp, which I use predominantly to drive my HD600s. Every now and then, it I useful to be able to listen to IEMs on this set up, but I rarely do, because (even on the low gain setting) there is a very audible buzz at low music volumes. The iEMatch completely resolves almost all buzz, even on high gain, including on my CA Polaris (which is, to my ear, the most sensitive of my IEMs and certainly reproduces the Vali 2 buzz the loudest). You can still (just about) hear the buzz at high gain with the volume cranked up, but this would be so loud it would probably explode the IEMs!

    in vali.jpg

    Only got a line out/overly powerful output? Problem solved.

    I also have a monitor speaker at work which has a pretty loud electrical buzz on it (so bad that it makes the headphone port on that speaker completely unusable to anybody who cares about what they are hearing) and also has such a bad volume control that it either pumps out dangerously high volume or nothing at all! The iEMatch both cuts the electrical noise out below my hearing level, and enables the volume to be turned up, making the speaker jack usable.

    Just for laughs, I also plugged the iEMatch into the line out from my Nano BL, and the result was a listenable volume.

    in nano LO.jpg

    Want to use good IEMs on an aeroplane? Problem solved.

    On a recent flight, I plugged the iEMatch into the aeroplane's inflight entertainment system (which is often a big mistake due to high volumes and electrical noise). The iEMatch performed admirably, eliminating the unpleasant noise and emitting sensible volumes direct into my UE900s.

    Got a child who cranks up the volume? Problem solved.

    My 3 year old cannot watch anything on the iPad without the volume at max. No matter how many times she is told to turn it down, you look back a moment later and she has cranked it up! I worry about her ears… but the iEMatch deals with this quite well – insert it between the iPad and her headphones, and the volume is much more limited meaning max volume is no longer too loud!


    Need good, comfortable earplugs? Problem solved.

    I just want to mention how good the earplugs which the iEMatch ships with are. Their ergonomic shape, and firm foam mean that I have worn them for hours with absolutely zero ear fatigue. In an open plan office environment, I have also found their bright colour helpful, as people can see I not just being rude! These are the best set of foam earplugs I have ever used, and I will be buying more.

    EP1.jpg EP2.jpg

    And the sound?

    This is a tough bit. Honestly, I can say I have found the sound transparent. That is, other than reducing volume and hiss, I don’t find that the iEMatch materially alters against the source. I even tried plugging into the Nano BL's normal headphone output and 1-2ing against the Nano BL's built in iEMatch, with no discernible difference to my ears.

    When I first reviewed the Nano BL, I said "If I'm being very picky, I would say that the IE Match port sounds ever so slightly veiled compared to direct, particularly in the mids with guitars. But it's slight, barely noticeable, and wouldn’t stop me from using it for IEMs."

    I stand by this in respect of the standalone iEMatch. If I am being ultra-picky, there is a very slight veil but I can only notice it on a track I really know very well, and am used to listening to good recordings of, on good sources. Otherwise I simply can't hear a material difference, other than a lowering of volume.


    I found the iEMatch to be a really useful gadget, especially in 3.5mm form (switchability from SE to balanced mode means I would recommend buying one of these and a 3.5mm->2.5mm adaptor rather than both the 3.5mm and 2.5mm versions, and also the 3.5mm version comes with an airplane adaptor where the 2.5mm version does not). If you need to eliminate hiss or buzz (whether or not using ultra-sensitive IEMs) from an audio source, or you want to reduce the volume from an overpowered output, the iEMatch is a wonderful little contraption.
      linux4ever and jaekyll like this.
  5. Kervsky
    Magical Pixie Nugget
    Written by Kervsky
    Published Apr 15, 2018
    Pros - It reduces hiss/noise, it reduces output impedance, restores lost dynamics
    Cons - Volume loss could be less, can lead to a long chain of adapters

    iFi Audio is a company that doesn't need a lot in terms of introduction as they are well known for their various amp solutions and multitude of accessories that aim to help different levels of audiophiles to hear audio nirvana. This relatively new product, the iFi IEMatch was released sometime last year and comes in two flavors. What I have here is the 2.5mm version, which I bought for the purpose of using with my DAP, this has some differences with the 3.5mm version and I'll discuss it along the review. On the box, it promises lower noise and increased dynamics and is considered a headphone audio optimiser (yes, it's spelled that way, see below) but does it?


    The package is one small cardboard box sealed in vacuum plastic.


    With lots of information on the back about what it does and what's it's made of.

    Ultra (-24dB) & High-Gain (-12dB) sensitivity adjustment
    6N silver/copper matrix wiring with FINAL6063-T5 aluminium-magnesium alloy shell
    Gold-plated printed circuit board with audiophile components (eg MELF resistors)
    Gold-plated 2.5mm male/female connectors
    Input Impedance: 16 Ohm
    Output Impedance: < 2.5 Ohms (High-Sensitivity)
    < 1.0 Ohms (Ultra-Sensitivity)
    Weight: 12.2g
    Total Length : 116mm


    Inside is an information leaflet, a black velvety pouch, ear plugs in a cutesy case and the iEMatch itself.


    Under the ear plugs you can see a nice little "Thank you!" sticker, that is if you actually took it out or have x-ray vision.


    The pouch when un-rolled is big enough to hold your iem, cable and the iEMatch in one go. It's not the most luxurious of pouches but it has a nice soft feel to it.

    Now if you notice, the 2.5mm male plug has that black oblong covered space which one could mistake for an aesthetic touch. It is actually a vestige of the 3.5mm version, it is where the switch for single and balanced output was placed. So aside from that and the actual plug types used, everything else is the same as the 3.5mm version including the aircraft aluminum body and all the high end pretty cables it comes with.


    The whole reason for this add-on to exist of course is it's ability to lower his and output impedance and thereby return the lost dynamics from noise and high impedance devices. In this case scenario, the iEMatch does work, and there are may citations of hiss reduction from devices like the Questyle QP2r and CEntrance Hifi-M8 around the net so I won't bother with that part. What I will focus on is it's ability to reduce output impedance.

    There are 2 modes for this:
    High: reduces Output Impedaance to less than 2.5Ω (-12db in volume)
    Ultra: reduces OI to less than 1Ω (-24db in volume)

    As most of you probably know, the Hiby R6 has an output impedance of 10Ω and that causes some frequency responses to shift around, most notably on low impedance Balanced Armature driven IEMs. This I have experience on my Campfire Andromeda (12Ω thereabouts) wherein there was a shift forward in the frequency response with less bass, a bit more forward mids and highs had near sibilance.


    Using the iEMatch on the Hiby R6 with the Andromeda on High settings was enough to restore the sound to what I was familiar with, though some may argue it's not enough (citing the x8 OI 'rule' like the ten commandments - ex. high (2.4Ω) x 8 = 19.2Ω is what impedance the head gear 'should' be at for that setting) and that Ultra should be used (ultra (0.9Ω) x 8 = 7.2Ω which is below the impedance of the Andromeda.)

    In either switch, the Andro did exhibit more dynamic range than it did without the iEMatch on the R6 and has effectively restored it's original frequency response slash sound signature, which is proof (for me) of the claims it promises.


    So why would someone want the iEMatch (both versions) for themselves? If you have ear gear that hiss/gain noise with your source or you have sources with high output impedance (like certain DAPs and Amps) then this is something you would appreciate having for your listening pleasure.

    The iEMatch 2.5mm version was bought at 3,060 pesos (or around $60 US) and is more expensive than it's 3.5mm counterpart by a few hundred pesos at the local Egghead Audio store.

    Pros: It reduces hiss/noise, it reduces output impedance, restores lost dynamics

    Cons: Volume loss could be less, can lead to a long chain of adapters

    Nitpick: Volume loss could be less, but I realize that's just part of how it works. Did we really need the ear plugs?
      slankoe, snellemin and tarhana like this.
  6. NaiveSound
    Ifi iematch
    Written by NaiveSound
    Published Aug 7, 2017
    Pros - None
    Cons - Sound quality takes a hit
    Just a garbage product all over., hinders audio quality, it removes hiss from sources when played with sensitive iems/hp. But at a great cost to audio quality, this isn't a solution, it's trash. There are other attenuators but this one at least looks ok. In hifi... Any performance improvement is great, this does thr opposite, I returned it the first day
    1. csglinux
      I agree with your review. Well, maybe there's one pro - it can reduce/eliminate hiss. But it does so at the expense of changing the FR. I agree the sound quality takes a hit.
      csglinux, Mar 22, 2018
      NaiveSound likes this.
  7. ExpatinJapan
    An ifi iEMatch made in Heaven
    Written by ExpatinJapan
    Published Aug 3, 2017
    Pros - Decreases hiss, increases dynamics, solves impedance issues.
    Cons - An additional dongle.
    Ifi IEMatch Review And Impressions - Expatinjapan

    ifi iEMatch review

    ifi iEMatch review

    ifi iEMatch! What does it do? No one seems to know.
    Its like some magical unicorn that lurks about on Groundhog day spreading glitter upon the Earth.
    so lets find out.

    The ifi website explains it quite thoroughly though:

    `The iEMatch® solves the bane of headphone listening by removing hiss and improving dynamics. As most IEMs and headphones are too loud at even half the volume level, listening enjoyment is always curtailed. No more with the iEMatch® in the signal path.
    Use the iEMatch® when the headphones/in-ear monitor (IEM) is either too loud and/or there is excessive hiss from the music source. From Smartphones to airplane in-flight entertainment systems, powerful headphone amplifiers, the iEMatch® improves musical enjoyment by:
    1. Background noise – significantly reduced
    2. Dynamic range – more open, transparent
    3. Volume control – increased usable range
    The solution? Add the iEMatch® in-between the headphone and the amplifier. Set to high or ultra-sensitivity, sit back and enjoy the music.`


    At times due to the over use of ifi website quotes this `review` may read more like a promotion piece.
    My apologies, the source material explained much more concisely and clearly the intended use and aim of the iEMatch device.



    Ultra (-24dB)& High-Gain(-12dB) sensitivity adjustment
    TRRS-Balanced® for Single-Ended and Balanced operation
    6N silver/copper matrix wiring with FINAL 6063-T5 aluminium-magnesium alloy shell
    Gold-plated printed circuit board with audiophile components (eg MELF resistors)
    Gold-plated 3.5mm male/female connectors
    Input Impedance: > 16 Ohm
    Output Impedance: < 2.5 Ohms (High-Sensitivity) < 1 Ohms (Ultra-Sensitivity)
    Compatible Headphone impedance: 16 Ohm to 600 Ohm rated impedance
    12.5 Ohm minimum impedance
    Weight: 12.2g
    Total Length : 116mm
    Whats in the box?






    Quote: `The iEMatch® is packed using premium components from 6063-TS aluminium –magnesium alloy through to the signal transfer cable which is a 6N silver copper matrix.`


    Quote: `Included in the iEMatch® packaging are; a velvet pouch, gold-plated airplane adapter and memory-foam contoured ear plugs (-37dB) for peace and quiet when traveling.`


    Balanced or Single-Ended for 3.5mm

    Explanation via the ifi website:
    `AMR/iFi would like to use the iEMatch® to introduce its proposed new industry standard for single-ended or balanced operation. The 3.5 TRRS-Balanced headphone jack.
    There is only ONE option that makes sense, in a commonsensical context. The 3.5mm TRRS Jack is widely adopted in Smartphones and connectors, both plugs and sockets are easily available. Having 4 connections (like the 4-pin XLR), it is ideal for balanced headphones.
    Headphones may be fitted with TRRS Jack and a switch to alternate between unbalanced mode (even with microphone) for direct connection to a Smartphone and to balanced mode for use with suitably-equipped DAP/DAC/Headphone Amplifiers.
    The ‘TRRS-Balanced®’ system by iFi provides a way to select the TRRS plug to offer either a balanced connection or a single-ended one.
    The iEMatch® uses 3.5mm TRRS connections on both ends and is fully-balanced, so it takes full advantage of the balanced wiring in suitably-equipped headphones.
    If the attached headphone is single-ended without microphone, iEMatch® is automatically converted to unbalanced operation. For any unbalanced source with a microphone connection or any unbalanced headphone with a microphone, simply switch the TRRS-Balanced® selector to ‘SE’ and convert iEMatch® to unbalanced operation.`


    Sensitivity can be set to High sensitivity (2.5 Ohms) or Ultra sensitivity (1Ohms) output impedance.
    High or Ultra Sensitivity
    Explanation via the ifi website:
    `When listening to music, ‘better dynamics’ is preferable. Or more precisely, a wider ‘Dynamic Range*’ to allow the full openness of a recording; from the upper treble of a cymbal to the deepest bass rumble of a kettle drum to shine through.
    *Defined as the difference between the maximum usable sound level and background noise level. Usually, a higher ‘dynamic range is better’ as there is more music to enjoy and less noise to annoy.
    Having very sensitive (very loud) headphones means both the self-noise of the source AND the sound level is boosted. This is far from desirable. And to add insult to injury, the sound volume must be reduced to get comfortable listening levels. What is left is more noise and less dynamic range!
    Technical example:
    If a source has (say) 114dB dynamic range and the Headphone is 30dB too loud, once the volume has been turned down 30dB the dynamic range is reduced to 84dB, or below CD quality, from what is an excellent result for a high-solution source.
    With Headphones, especially those that significantly reduce background noise (IEM, noise-reducing etc) excessive levels of electronic background noise quickly become annoying, so noise should always be kept as low as possible.
    It literally defeats the object of building a system around an expensive high-resolution headphone amplifier when the volume must be backed off so much that the resulting background noise is so high, quality is reduced to below CD or MP3 audio quality.


    By using iEMatch® one can reclaim 12 or 24dB lost dynamic range; as needed to get the most enjoyment from the source; from modern high-resolution recordings down to MP3, the difference is there to be heard.`


    Does it work?
    It most certainly does. I tried it with a number of earphones that I have that are more sensitive than others.
    Although I am not a hiss master like my friend Nathan of Ohm Image, I can still pick up on it.
    The Andromeda some find have a bit of hiss at times which often seems largely source dependent.
    I decided as my main experiment I was going to use the CEntrance Hifi-M8 which was originally designed as an all rounder but packed the power for even full sized headphones (CEntrance later released the Mini-M8 which was more designed to cater to IEM users).


    The CEntrance Hifi-M8 later added an option to have the gain lowered to meet the needs of IEM users. I was able to do this with my ipod touch and Flacplayer app which has a gain option, although at the time I had mainly headphones and DD earphones.


    I demoed several earphones and choose the CEntrance Hifi-M8 as it can be tricky with some IEMs that are of the balanced armature type.
    Most Daps these days have a lower floor noise. I did do some brief testing with the iBasso DX200, Opus#3, Hifiman MegaMini and Opus#2. And although the iEMatch performed successfully as expected, it wasnt as needed on these particular daps as much as some other devices would.
    I tested with a range of earphones: Campfire Audio Andromeda, Nova, Jupiter, Dorado, advanced AcousticWerkes W300U, Jomo 6R and Jomo PLB, iBasso IT03.
    I used a variety of cables, stock and after market of the single ended 3.5mm kind.
    As already noted the iEMatch performed as promised, reducing hiss, improved the possible overall dynamics in some cases and gave more space on the volume pot.


    The ifi iEMatch retails at around US$49. Which is a nice price I think for this device.
    definitely affordable.
    It certainly comes in handy when using devices that have a higher output impedance which rips the intended sonic signature of multi driver BA IEMs to bits, and often causes an accompanying hiss.
    Also it does what it states:
    `The iEMatch® solves the bane of headphone listening by removing hiss and improving dynamics`
    Its an elegant solution to a common problem, and at an affordable price.


    The iEMatch although seemingly a simple device simply solves many possible issues that a listener made face in an easy and (once again) simple matter, although the device itself is not mere simple piece of design and manufacturing.
    This `review` quotes a lot from ifi website and at times reads like a unpaid promotion of the device. This is merely that it was the easiest way to communicate to you the reader what this device is, what is does and how it works.
    And does it work as intended? yes, a simple and elegant solution for many problems that plagues the usual audiophile, especially the ones who have portable rigs and sensitive in ears.


    Thank you to ifi for sending Head pie the ifi iEMatch for review
  8. MikePortnoy
    IFI Audio iEMatch Review
    Written by MikePortnoy
    Published Dec 26, 2016
    Pros - Eliminates hiss, no significant change in sound
    Cons - Switches could be stronger
    The IFI is a co-brand of AMR Audio that is known by its famous audio gears such as DP-777. They produce many different audio components: digital audio converters, amplifications, speakers, cables, and active noise cancelation units. The IFI provides four main product lines: Nano, Micro, Retro and Pro. In the Nano Line, there are smaller units compared to the Micro Line. In the Pro Line, they offer Pro iCAN tube amplifier and there are stereo components in the Retro Line. IPurifier2, Gemini and Mercury cables that are included to this review can be seen in the accessories and power sections in the IFI website. 
    The IFI provides a large product range most of which are multi-functional with multiple outputs and inputs. It is highly possible to find beneficial and cheap solutions to close the gaps of the portable systems. As we all know, a system is no stronger than its weakest part. 
    IFI IEMatch:
    IEMatch is one of the IFI’s newest units. According to the company, it removes hiss and provides a more dynamic presentation. 
    It offers a balanced plug that allows using it on sources that have balanced outputs. In addition, there is a switch on the plug for a range of output style from single ended to balanced. 
    On the male part of IEMatch, there is a 3.5 input and a sensitivity switch. When IEMatch is plugged to the source, earphones may need more driving power due tothe extra resistance created by IEMatch. On the ultra mode that is suitable for very high sensitive earphones, some smartphones may not reach enough loudness and driving power due to too increased ohm value. On the other hand, that wouldn't be problem for sources that are already very powerful such as desktop amps. 
    The plug and the male part of IEMatch have an aluminum body, but the switches might be a little stronger. According to the website, IFI utilizes silver-copper conductors for a better sound transmission. 
    In the package, there are a soft carrying case, an airplane adapter, and earplugs. In this regard, IFI offers rich accessories for those who frequently travel via airplane. 
    I tested IFI IEMatch on Chord Hugo, Lotoo Paw Gold, and IPhone 6. The tests maintain similar results; IEMatch relatively eliminates hiss arising out of the source with a slight change in the sound. 
    Some results from different custom monitors:
    Please note that the differences are not significant.
    Westone ES60: The space around instruments becomes cleaner by a small margin. 
    HUM Pristine: The midrange becomes a little laid-back. 
    Noble Audio Katana: The mid-bass now has more control. 
    AAW W500 AHMorph: The high frequency becomes smoother and sub-bass is slightly tighter. The space around instruments becomes cleaner. 
    Final Words:
    IFI IEMatch is a nice travel accessory that can be purchased for $49. It is easy to use and can be considered as a daily unit. Although it increases the resistance by a significant value, it eliminates hiss considerably. Please check the IFI website for more information about IEMatch.    
      jaekyll and EagleWings like this.
  9. Hisoundfi
    Eliminate background hiss, EMI and source mismatches with the iEMatch from iFi
    Written by Hisoundfi
    Published Dec 6, 2016
    Pros - Eliminates the need to own several impedance adapters, Runs inline with sources and earphones, Incredibly smart design, Easy to use
    Cons - No adapter for 2.5 mm balanced TRRS
    As the rabbit hole of summit-fi in-ear monitors gets deeper and deeper, I find myself encountering the same issues over and over. Most of the high end multiple armature driver in-ear monitors in today’s market are incredibly sensitive. What happens as a result is many of these earphones have a background hiss or will pick up digital noise. It can get really annoying, especially when trying to use an earphone of this type (or any other sensitive earphone for that matter) with our favorite portable sources like DAPs, and portable DAC/Amplifiers. If we are going to shell out large amounts of cash on a high end earphone, we don’t want to be burdened by background noise, right?​
    One of the ways to address this is with impedance adapters. Different adapters are currently sold in various impedances. Although it does help (and basically does what I’m about to cover in this review) there are drawbacks to this. First and foremost, when dealing with different impedances, the sound of our favorite in-ear monitors can change with the impedance adapter used. Second, different impedance adapters can not only impact the sound differently, it ends up being a specialized case for many of our earphone and source matchups. This means that people with several sources and earphones need to own and use several different impedance adapters. ​

    I personally lean towards simplicity in my audio chain. I see some of the rigs on Head-Fi and shake my head at some of the portable set-ups I see. In my opinion, if you need a wheelbarrow or backpack for your portable rig I don’t consider it portable.The less stuff you have to stuff in my pocket the better. That includes impedance adapters. The folks at iFi have recognized the issue and brought to market a device that makes a lot of sense. Introducing the iEMatch from iFi. ​

    The package contains a velvet carrying case that is big enough to hold your iEMatch, the included airline jack and earplugs, and possibly a pair or two of in-ear monitors (not included). ​
    The iEMatch is not some revolutionary technological advancement, but I find it to be a great companion for earphone enthusiasts like myself. It’s an inline chain that eliminates the need to use various impedance adapters. ​
    Have a sensitive pair of earphones that picks up background noise from whatever source you want to use them with? Its as easy as plugging the device into your source’s jack and using it as a bridge from the source to your earphone, then using the switches to dial in the type of source you’re using, and resistance needed to use your earphone without signal noise. ​
    iEMatch has two switches. The first one is to adjust from High sensitivity to Ultra sensitivity (pretty self explanatory). I’m happy to say that the iEMatch was able to address issues with EVERY pair of in-ear monitor and portable source I used. With the iEMatch, picking out a source and earphone has become a much easier task. I can grab what I want to use for the day and go. As long as I have the iEMatch, the issues of background hiss and EMI are eliminated. Just for the record, the ieMatch also works with most desktop rigs as well. Most importantly, the iEMatch didn't significantly alter the sound like some impracticly applied impedance adapters do. With the flip of a switch I can dial it in and find the right setting to eliminate signal noise without significantly altering the sound of my sensitive earphones. ​
    The other switch is to switch the jack (that plugs into the source) from 3.5mm balanced TRRS to standard 3.5 mm TRS. That’s right, you can use your earphone with a 3.5 mm balanced source. While I find this to be a nice touch, I wish iFi would have figured out a way to also use the device with a 2.5 mm balanced jack as well. As it stands, a majority of sources in today’s market uses 2.5 mm balanced TRRS as opposed to the 3.5 mm TRRS application. ​
    The iEMatch can be purchased on Amazon market for $49 USD. While it does come in at a higher price than a few impedance adapters, this is a convenient product that will be a must have for those of us who have several in-ear monitors. I have already mentioned this device in several reviews. It addresses one of the main gripes people have for sensitive earphones. Many TOTL earphone manufacturers are already including them with the sale of their low impedance earphones. Here is a link for more information and purchase:​
    Thanks for reading and happy listening!​
    Fiio X7, AM3 Amplifier Module, iFi iEMatch, Noble K10E Encore Universal

      Baycode, SpiderNhan and peter123 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Hisoundfi
      Hey Baybars, the V10 recognizes the ieMatch as a "normal" impedance device. Even with high impedance earphones linked in the audio chain the V10 recognizes the ieMatch as low normal aka low impedance.
      Hisoundfi, Dec 14, 2016
    3. avitron142
      I noticed you made a distinction between this and "regular" impedance adapters. Is there a different technology used, to show that it doesn't alter BA drivers like impedance adapters do, or is it just your ear?
      avitron142, Dec 19, 2016
    4. Hisoundfi
      It changes the impedance, so there is minor differences in sound with multi-armature earphones, just like an impedance adapter. The difference is that it isn't as significant because there are options to change the impedance with the switch on the ieMatch. You can dial it in easier than owning and swapping out a different adapter
      Hisoundfi, Dec 19, 2016