Pros: • Inoffensive Tuning
• Good Bass Performance for Earbuds
• Wide Soundstage
• Quick Transients
Cons: • Bulky 3.5mm Plug
• Instrument Separation
At a Glance:
Sound Signature: Warmish-U Signature
Category: C (20-100 USD), MSRP: 34 USD, (Demo Unit)
The Sovannah are the latest earbuds out of Kobe Audio. They are the step up from the original Spectrum v1 with an updated 2 stand twisted cable, a larger, more robust 3.5mm Carbon Fiber Rhodium-Plated Plug and a new Aluminum Alloy splitter. They feature the same plain black MX500 shells common in ear buds, and sport Kobe Audio’s house tuning, an inoffensive and well-balanced warm-U signature.
Modder’s Official Specs:
32 Ohms Signature Drivers
Rhodium Plated Plug
Aluminum Alloy Splitter
Silver-plated Copper Litz Cable
These earbuds (Sovannah, Spectrum v1 and 64 ohms “proto”) were loaned to me for the purposes of testing and review. After the review period is over, I will have to return them. I receive no benefits for making this review, and I make it only as a passion project, as well as for the good of the #lokal community here in the Philippines. Kobe Audio has NO input in this review, it is not sponsored and I have received no compensation, money or otherwise to write this review. All thoughts and opinions henceforth presented are my own and given freely.
The Sovannah come packaged in a black cylindrical hard case with the Kobe Audio logo stickered on the lid. The lid screws open to reveal the earbuds themselves with a leather cable winder keeping them neat. The package also includes 3 pairs of foams, which seem to be decently thick and durable, as well as a sticker with the Kobe Audio logo on it.
Build and Ergonomics:
The Sovannahs come with a 2 stand, 4 core twisted cable which is quite soft and easy to move around, particularly for how thick it is. However, it is somewhat prone to following the shape you bend it to, which can make for some situations where it looks hilariously kinked, though it is quite easy to return to it’s original shape by running your fingers through it. The 3.5mm termination plug is rather large, and if the cable weren’t as thick as it was, a little bit bulky. However, it does feel extremely solid and reassuring, being made entirely of metal. The splitter used is also metal but being aluminum it is quite light and inoffensive.
These fit like… Basically every other MX500 shelled earbud, of which there are many. As for my personal experience with MX500 shells, I find them to be initially inoffensive, and I am able to get a good seal without much effort. However, I do find that after some time listening, my ears do develop spots of pain at the Tragus, Anti-Tragus and Concha areas, and prolonged listening does lead to these spots aching and being sore for a while, which is why I generally stray away from standard 15.4mm earbuds.
Sound Review Conditions:
Stock Cable (fixed)
Stock “Bare” and Included Foams
Topping L30, KGUSS GH-3 Desktop, LG V50 HiFi Phone/DAP. JCALLY JM20, VE OHD Dongles
Deezer HiFi, Foobar 2000, Signalyst HQ Player, UAPP for LG V50
These earbuds have a forward, punchy bass region, characterized primarily with a focus on the midbass region and a roll-off in the subbass region. The midbass region, being the most prominent is quite easily heard. It avoids the typical pitfall associated with midbass prominence by taking on speedier and snappier tonal qualities, with a rather quick transient slap and attack, and a middle of the road, bordering on quick decay. The subbass is quite faint to my ears, with a general recession on deep synths or rumble and an occasional lack body and depth to the decay characteristics of some instruments, drums in particular. However, despite the lack of subbass, I did not find this earbud to be too lacking in terms of texture and definition, as I found it was still generally able to dig deep and reach the lower depths of the bass region when called for by the track. Overall, I found the bass to be quite good both tonally, or quantity wise, and technically. These are quite fun sounding without bleeding too much and/or altering the tonal characteristics of the midrange significantly.
The Sovannah’s midrange can be described as a neutralish-warm area of the frequency response. Despite some prominence in the bass region, this earbud does not have any bass bleeding into the midrange, which thankfully spares the midrange from becoming blunted. The lower midrange is appropriately warm and thick, though still with a somewhat neutral character to it. Male vocals in isolation can sound on the edge of thin, but I generally did not find this to be a common issue, only on more nasal singers. I found female vocals surprisingly to do better, with a generally neutral characteristic to them, and they were smooth and unfatiguing without being laid back or blunted which I find can happen on bassier sets without much driver control. Strings also did rather well, with plucks in particular reproduced with a transient bite that was rather well reproduced. Overall, the midrange is done quite well, with only a small quibble in that perhaps the lower midrange needed extra depth and thickness. Otherwise, it’s quite inoffensive in all respects.
The Sovannah’s treble without a doubt takes a backset to the rest of the frequency response, though it isn’t quite at the level of being recessed. The overall treble tuning of this earbud leans towards a smooth and generally inoffensive tuning with little to agitate a listener. The lower treble has decent snap and “bite” to it, without getting into the range of shouty. The mid treble is decently prominent giving extra detail and bite to the rest of the lower frequencies without being harsh or sibilant. Treble extension is decent, and these have decent air and a good sense of “false” detail, with a good amount air. Overall, there isn’t that much to talk about the treble, it’s out of the way and inoffensive but it doesn’t leave this earbud feeling dark or overly laid back, nor does it lean towards the area of offensive and fatiguing. It’s very much decent and appropriate in conjunction with the rest of the tuning, though trebleheads may want to look elsewhere.
This earbud possesses a somewhat mixed bag in terms of technical performance, though generally good. The bag ranges from good, to about par for the course or average. Firstly, soundstage width is characteristically rather wide, and even seemingly wider than it’s little brother the Spectrum v1. It has good horizontal expansion towards the left and right, though it does scoop somewhat for front and back staging making the overall soundstage be somewhat oblong in stage. Within that stage, is a decent amount of depth, though nothing that particularly stands out. Imaging is also quite decent with instrument panning and positioning done well when staged out to the side, though again somewhat scooped at the front and back. Timbrical performance is good and fairly faithful. Transient performance is good, with bass transients being quite snappy and both midrange and treble transients handled to have good “bite” without being offensive. The only true flaw here is perhaps that I would have liked more instrument separation in particularly busy tracks as multiple instruments in one direction could cause blobbing or melding of them, particularly when combined with slower decaying ones. I feel like this may just be a cap on the resolving ability of these drivers though, as the tonality and technicalities don’t seem to do anything that would hinder resolution. That being said, for the asking price of these earbuds, this level of technical performance is very much acceptable and I would be quite ok with these.
Overall, these earbuds stay true to their heritage. They are rather good looking, with a unique, good-looking build that feels as durable as it is attractive. They carry on the Spectrum’s legacy with the same smooth, fatigue free tuning that is smoothbut not smoothed over. Their good looks, inoffensive tuning and reasonable price make these a decent foray into the world of earbuds, a rabbit hole which needs to be explored by more people. Overall, for the package these offer, they are very much decent and earn my recommendation for anyone who thinks their tastes align with Kobe Audio’s house sound, and I personally enjoyed them quite a bit. I will miss them once I return these units but I have already resolved to have a custom pair made with the same tuning, though a cable of my own.