much like their cartridges, I find ortofon to 'have a sound'. I enjoy it for the most part, but ultimately would rather listen to a less invasive, more natural sound that doesn't color my record collection. But for those who are not so particular in that way and who find balanced armatures too lean sounding, these could be a great solution as they are indeed balanced and musical and worth a try. These should be under $100 in my world. The fit is also problematic for me.
Driver - (Moving) Balanced Armature
Impedance - 40 ohms
Frequency Response - 10 Hz to 20 kHz
Sensitivity - 118dB at 1 kHz
Cable - 4N OFC
Max Rated Imput Power - 5mW
Build Quality & Fit,
I have to say these have the best build quality I've had in an IEM. The housing is beautifully crafted out of aluminium with a very nice silver finish. You would have to really work hard the brake or damage them though I can see them getting scratched but not very easily. The cable coming out of the housing has no strain relief but I don't see that being a problem at all and they have a red ring to indicate right and black for left which makes them easy to tell apart. Down to the splitter its bulky and well made but theres no slide for helping to secure the fit but its not a problem imo. The rest of the cable is very thick and seem like it will hold up very well over time and the plug has a nice strain relief with the slandered gold plated jack. Like I said before the build quality on these are just top notch.
As for the fit they are also great. I could see people with really small ears having a problem maybe but for most they are a perfect size. They slide in easy and are very comfortable and even though they're made of metal they aren't heavy feeling at all but aluminium is one of the lighter metals. They seal nicely and have average isolation probably around the 22dB to 26dB range, they don't post that spec anywhere at least I couldn't find it. They do have some microphonics but much less than the e-Q7 and its not to bad, I'd say a bit better than average if that makes sense. So I feel they're very comfortable with an easy fit for most people.
Bass - These have a unique kind of bass for a BA and it because it not a regular armature in that its called a moving armature which is like a cross between a BA and dynamic driver and you can hear it in the bass. Its punchy with good depth like a fast dynamic driver would have and I really like the detail and feel of the bass a lot. Along with the speed and texture I've never heard bass like this from a single BA or even a multi driver BA, it really is quite dynamic with a very fun signature.
Mids - As many that have heard both the e-Q5 and e-Q7 this is where the e-Q5 starts to differentiate its self from the e-Q7. They're not as forward and are more in line with the rest of the frequencies yet still play a very large part of the over all sound signature. Smooth, vibrant with plenty of detail and the add airiness which we'll get to later really makes the mids sound lush and fluid though different sources give them a slightly different sound. I like the mids of the e-Q5 much more than my old e-Q7 because of the balanced and added air but if you are someone that just loves vocals then the e-Q7 might be a better choice.
Highs - Another improvement over the e-Q7 is in the e-Q5's treble. The extend higher with a more crisp and sparkly signature that adds to the over all detail being better than the e-Q7 imo. Now depending on your player they're are some moments that can get a little harsh but thoughs are few and far between but a warm amp like say the E6 would take care of that but it really doesn't happen enough at to warrant that imo. Again the added air really makes a big difference in the sound of the highs so Ortofon really fixed everything that I thought could be better on the e-Q7.
Soundstage - This is where these bad boys really shine (but everything else is still just as good). The soundstage is one of the most spacious sounding that I've heard not just from a single BA but from any universal IEM. Width is great with a lot of out of the head moments along with excellent depth and nice bit of height which I'm getting better at noticing. Like I said the added airiness really makes these sound wonderful and at least to me the sound larger than the TF10 which is known for having a large soundstage.
As for the imaging its very good as you'd think from a top-tier IEM with placement that makes me feel like I'm actually in the club or at a concert. Separation is also very good and you can definitely hear where everything in a track is coming from.
Conclusion - These have quickly become my favorite IEM that I've heard (knocking of my beloved R-50's) and as a result I've sold of most of my others. At they're current price of $200 these are easily one of the best values you can get. Forget what you might think of a single BA because this sounds much better than any that I've heard. So if your looking for a very spacious, detailed, balanced sound with dynamic driver style bass (like I said though a fast analytical dynamic driver sound) I don't think you can do much better than the e-Q5.