Pros: Impressive DD-has control and depth with texture and layers. Cymbal life is nuanced. W shape Signature with fast and natural transients. Engaging technicalities with a great stage width. Some of the best BA tone and timbre of any hybrid I have ever heard. Fantastic set for Orchestra and Symphonic music and Atmospheric Jazz.
Cons: Signature on the drier side, lacking a bit of coherency in very busy sections of music. Not easy on poorly recorded music. On the brighter side of nuetral. Upper Mid energy.
By now I would assume that every head-fi user is aware of Oriolus and the venerable Traillii. A lot of controversy around this iem and its price. However Oriolus has another iem that has been making the threads called Isabellae. Which is about a tenth of the cost of a Traillii! The Isabellae transducers have been getting quite a bit of praise lately due to the value of cost to sound performance. I own the Isabellae and I concur that this is well deserved. Over the last few years another Oriolus made the rounds before either of these, called The Reborn. It seems this Oriolus is the older sibling of the Crassirostris. Of which I will be reviewing today. The Reborn and the Crassirostris both possess the same driver configuration but different tunings. I have not heard The Reborn, so I will not be able to comment on the differences. All that I do know is that the “Crassi” is the newest version of this driver set up. The Crassi to me is a Royal for its tuning and bass texture but an Outcast due to the realitvely little discussion and lack of reviews for it. I am hoping this will change as its a great monitor for price. Not perfect by any stretch but still holds its own, even in comparison to the Traillii.
I am not going to get into the build and all of the nitty gritty of the specifications, as that info is readily available on the good ole world wide web. It is very well built and comes with a great stock cable. However I will say, the stock cable is unbalanced and that this review is done using a PW Audio No.10, 8 wire balanced 4.4 cable. Please note, the Crassi does take a bit more power to sound its best and I use medium gain out of my Cayin N6ii. I only get a teeny bit of driver flex in my right side as I use the large stock tips and my right ear is a bit smaller than my left, so the extra squeeze does flex the DD a bit.
I bought the Crassi blind as I already owned the Traillii and I was craving a different signature from the “Old Man”. My preference in this hobby really is split right down the middle. I normally will go for an organic/analog timbre over sheer technicalities. Although too warm (Jomo Tango) and I am bored and vice versa, too technical without the emotional engagement equals bored (Anole VX). The Crassi fits right in the middle and keeps me engaged and excited with whatever I am listening to. My heart and my brain have to unite and Oriolus tunings have won me over.
SOUND: Tone and Timbre. These two words are the sum of the Crassi’s parts. How does this monitor have such technical detail with multi faceted layers within the FR and still have the perfect tone, body and decay of a piano strike? The perfect timbre of a bow against the string of a cello? This effortlessness is uncanny yet refined to the ultimate specification of a real fine tuned instrument. This is a tuning of not just a transducer but of an instrument not unlike the cello which insists on the proper tuning, care and the proper user. These monitors have been fine tuned for music that comes from a natural instrument. These are not monitors for the synthetic.
BASS: The Tonality of Crassi is a W shape with a slight emphasis in the sub bass extension. The mid bass is not forgotten and has a good dose of Oomph. However when a track calls for that deep sub bass rumble, the Crassi does not disappoint, as a matter of fact, the bass is one of the most layered and textured I have heard, when listening to ‘Why so Serious?’ from the Batman dark knight soundtrack, it’s as if a curtain was pulled back and I could literally see through the sub bass rumble. The nuance was the most dramatic I have encountered and made me shake my head in disbelief. The bass never overtakes or bloats. The bass is controlled and only comes out to play if the track calls upon it. Some of the best bass timbre I have heard and Yes I used to own the Empire Ears Odin! However, this is definitely not a bass head iem. Focus is on musicality with texture and definition while maintaining a linear extension. The perfect track to emulate this is Tord Gustavsen Quintet-Suite.
In Jazz tracks the upright bass sounds divine. Every thump, pluck is retrieved with tonal accuracy. See Arrow Aftab - Mohabbat and Last Night. The bass never blooms into the mid’s and nothing gets grainy or loses detail. The bass has a good amount of air around it, with a quick decay. Letting the mid’s and treble still have their moment.
Slightly recessed with stock cable, however with a cable upgrade like Pw Audio No.10 the mid’s become front and center while keeping the soundstage width. The mid’s are natural and smooth. Female vocals soar with an effervescence. A little texture or huskiness is lacking with Male vocals, but artists like Jackson Brown sound angelic. Acoustic strings like Cello, Guitar and 12 string Guitar sound very natural and smoothly textured. There is definitely some upper mid energy, however with a balanced cable of good quality def reduced this for me. With stock cable the upper mid spike was fairly rare. Instrument timbre is some of the best I have heard, engaging and natural. The decay of the note is accurate and the body resonates with clarity and natural timbre. The lower mid’s can come across a bit dry. I have only heard this with a deeper male vocal. The harp really resonates with Crassi, the natural reverb around this instrument really swirls around the head in an intoxicating effect. The reverb and air is admirable for this price range. All in all if you enjoy a midrange that is detailed with a forward and deliberate delivery, this is a monitor to try. However, most EDM has a bit too much upper mid presence for this genre to excel with Crassi. It was just too harsh most of the time with EDM. However, slower tempo EDM along with well produced Modern R&B will play to Crassi strengths.
There is a nice amount of air in the treble regions. Cymbal life is impressive. The air around instruments in the treble is just enough to have good extension and separation, taking some of the DNA from the Traillii treble. The treble is never too bright or fatiguing. It extends with clarity and sparkle. This is definitely my favorite aspect of these transducers. String instruments like Violins and the Harp have bite and texture as well as timbre that is real and life like. Nothing sounds replayed or imagined. The transient resolution is fast and dynamic. Layering is top notch here in the upper registers and nothing is really lacking that I can hear except a slight lacking in coherency when certain tracks have very busy or congested elements. The treble here definitely lures me in with its air and sparkle. I find myself constantly looking for tracks to stretch this to its limit. I have yet to find any track to push The Crassi beyond the point of no return. I did mention in a previous impression post that Crassi had BA timbre with piano tracks. On further inspection I have found the piano to sound real and authentic without any toy or plastic tone.
Crassi has an extremely high level of detail retrieval, however I would say the focus here is on the tuning. Even though the separation and dynamics are excellent, the tuning shines through with its pure emotion or as Alex from Twister 6 put it “more soulful”. Not to say this is a warm, lush sounding monitor. It is not that at all. I would call this monitor a neutral monitor with slight accentuation to the treble, mid’s and bass. Just enough to create an engagement beyond technical ability.
Separation is on par with a totl in my humble opinion. The slight emphasis on treble creates a nice out of the head soundstage and allows percussion to float around the head effortlessly creating a nice depth to the stage or center image if you rather. The Crassi is deep and portrays a wonderful center image with vocalists! At least this is how my brain portrays the signature of this iem.
Soundstage in my opinion is very subjective to the listener and the brain they possess. But I guess this falls prey to about every listenable aspect of the FR. Although reviews are quite subjective, I do find them beneficial to the hobby. I hope that I can add to the pleasure of the hobby.
Stock Tips in Large w/ PW Audio No. 10, 8-Wire, 4.4mm, 2pin cable.
Source(s) Used- Cayin N6ii w/ R01 (bit perfect stream) and Pontus 2 with Lyr 3 (upsampled dsd256 stream)
Music Used: Dave Holland, Pepe Habichuela-Hands [Fandango de Huelva]
Tord Gustavsen Quintet-Suite
Brandee Younger-Love and Struggle
Arooj Aftab-Last night
John McLaughlin/Santana-Let Us Go into the House of the Lord
Terry Callier-Cotton Eye Joe
Alice In Chains-Brother(unplugged)
Big Boi-Kill Jill
Dinah Washington-Cry Me a River
Patricia Kopatchinskaja-Violin concerto in D major Op. 35
Joni Mitchell-Help me