Cons - Drivers a bit heavy and slips down your ears (impossible to wear over ear)
Prior to purchasing these, my primary concern is to have a proper alternative for my ESW9 which have better isolation to be used for listening to my ballad tunes on the road. While I don't have any issues with louder tracks, with more subtle ones, my ESW9 aren't up to the task, and so my search began. Actually, I'm not really keen on the idea of using an IEM since they irritate my ears quite easily, but given the situation that finding a perfect sound as my ESW9 is quite difficult, I had no other options. I've research enough and eventually stumbled on these e-Q7s. With all the glaring reviews I've read on this forum and on other sites, I decided to get them, which proved to be the best decision I've made so far. All fireworks lit up!
Upon opening the small box, you will be greeted by another box, one that mostly used on jewelries. It's a fine luxurious box. Opening them (in a luxurious fashion) reveals the IEMs themselves, pleasantly placed in a small recessed enclosure. Along with it are the accessories which includes 2 pairs of silicone tips (M, L), a pair of foam tips, 3 pairs of dirt filters, 2 enclosure rings and a toothpick, and a rather snazzy zipper pouch. It's large enough for both a medium-sized player and the IEMs. I use them to store my Cowon J3 along with the e-Q7.
Ergonomics, Build, Wearing Experience
The casing (which referred by the manual as the 'acoustic chamber) is made of aluminum, milled to perfection by a master machinist, or so it says on the manual, but regardless, looks good and very well built. The strain relief holding the cables are made of flexible rubberized plastic. The cables connected to the drivers are your typical rubber wrapped wire. The manual says the wire is covered by pure silver plated OFC, I'm not familiar with those kind of stuff though 'audiophiles' seem to regard them as good quality wires. At the Y ends, downward however, the cable is sheathed with fabric. I've read from some reviews that it seem to generate a lot of cable noises or the so called 'microphonics' though I haven't experienced them so far, but maybe I just tend to clip the Y end to my shirt just below my collar bone as the drivers are a somewhat heavy and slips downward, and even though the manual states that it can be worn over the ears they didn't include ear guides to secure the wires in place. It's quite a nuisance to wear the e-Q7 that way since I always wear glasses, so I just pin the Y splitter on my chest.
Since I have a rather imperfect ear shape, having a perfect seal is a bit difficult on this e-Q7. It took some time before I settled with the perfect fit (with the large tips) but unless your ears are like mine, getting a good fit with the e-Q7 should be no biggie. I also tried the added foam tips, and while they isolate more than the silicone ones, the treble doesn't seem to respond well. Because of the drivers' weight (as stated earlier) they tend to slip down your ear, even while walking, not ideal if you intend to use them as your work out partner. Isolation is just fine, not total black out, but very tolerable. It's just the ideal isolation for me since I always commute and being isolated too much can be dangerous.
The sound is rather new to me, at that It's my first time wearing an IEM coming from majorly on-ear headphones. Mostly, I'm more inclined to a sonic character with warm and easy sound with some euphonic weight to it, thus, the sound on these e-Q7s seem to stray away from my preferences. Not that I don't like it, I actually fell in love with it! Like the ESW9, it shares the same euphonic sound of its midrange, yet have more sparkle to it, giving more clarity and detail on the tracks I listen to. Despite this, I would not consider the e-Q7 a warm IEM (or cold, or dry) at all. They're rather a balanced type with richer, musical sound while still retaining its speed and detail.
I've given my e-Q7 a total of 3 weeks (3-5 hours a day) run time before the writing of this review and never noticed any sound improvement at all on my unit. Others' experience may be different though. Mileage may vary from ear to ear as they say. Since this IEM was bought primarily as my on-the-go alternative to my ESW9 with better isolation, most of the comparisons stated below are between those 2 phones to see if the e-Q7 will fit to the task.
*Bass - This is where the ESW9 tops the e-Q7, quantity-wise. There isn't enough body on the e-Q7's bass, particularly the mid-bass regions. Needless to say, bass freaks need not apply. However, what the e-Q7 lacks in quantity makes it up on quality. It can produce low-end bass from which my ESW9 struggles with. It is well textured and excels in its timbre that sounds natural and pleasing. Despite the
deficiency in the bass, I don't feel like tweaking it with an EQ like I always do with the rest of my gear, it's just perfect with all my Japanese ballad songs.
*Midrange - This is one's hard to justify. Perhaps it will drain down to personal preference in my opinion. The e-Q7's midrange is highly detailed, with superb transient speed. It's all there, nothing's missing, yet, it is not thin sounding. It's lush, euphonic and very dynamic. It's slightly forward in that regard. The ESW9 is not far behind, only different in approach. It is a bit laidback in presentation yet not lacking, same as the e-Q7. Although it can be sometimes a bit distant sounding and can be unnatural in some music tracks.
*Treble - This is where the e-Q7 obliterates the ESW9 completely. The treble on e-Q7 gives that sparkle that I miss on my ESW9, particularly in the low treble region (high midrange) where instruments (particularly cymbals and hi-hats) and vocals can sometimes lack in presence. It's also much airier, more cohesive, and more detailed. It adds to a more cohesive soundstage.
*Soundstage - Pretty good as well. For a tiny sound equipment it can really provide a wide enough amount of space. Add the superb instrument separation and you have a grand soundscape to enjoy. Something you usually hear in full-sized headphones, though not the 3D soundscape you hear in open back, full-sized designs.
Well, this came as a big surprise. What I expected to be a proper alternative came out to be an upgrade. A huge one at that. But then again, considering how the e-Q7 was tuned It's rather improper to compare a monitoring in-ear to a casual headphone in the same aspect of simply enjoying music, and the ESW9 is designed that way. So no matter how badly beaten, my ESW9 is here to stay. Forever, like a great work of art!
As far as Ortofon is concerned, they really made a huge entry in the market. It just proves that more drivers doesn't necessarily mean better sound quality, and you can only expect the technology to improve in time. That is something to look forward to in the coming years for me.
Pros - Beautiful airy presentation with great timbre
Cons - Microphonic cables. Available only in Japan (excl grey market)
This review will have a lot of references to the e-Q5 which will be explained later.
As with the e-Q5, the e-Q7 is also an easy-to-drive low impedance single balanced armature designed by Ortofon. In fact it's the same balanced armature as the e-Q5. The main difference between the e-Q5 and the e-Q7 is the pure silver plated cables as opposed to e-Q5's OFC cables.
Again, like the e-Q5, the presentation and the packaging of the e-Q7 is impressive. It comes in a box, and a carry case in addition to the extra flanges, filters and tip cleaner.
A close up of the case :-
The big difference in the cables aren't only with it's construction but also the way it's cloth-material wrapped. The cables are as such somewhat less tangle-free but somewhat introduce microphonic vibrations.
The cables also come down perpendicular making it easy to wrap around the ear if desired with less stress on the joints. Strangely though, the isolation on the e-Q7 seems to be tad less than the e-Q5 and possibly the extended length appears to be add weight to the ends pulling the earphone down a tad. I've not tried different flanges to see if it improves isolation.
Since the balanced armature is the same as the e-Q5, a lot of my impressions are in comparison to the e-Q5 - to see the difference in SQ between the OFC cables vs pure silver plated cables.
Acoustic instruments sound more refined, controlled, & clearer than the e-Q5. Somewhat with more finesse, detailed & less mid-forward. There is still the mid hump, but its a tad pulled back in comparison to the e-Q5. The mids also sound a little more detailed, and overall, I'd say the eQ-7 is a tad more balanced & a little more neutral than the e-Q5.
The trebles seem a little bit more airy, detailed & can be somewhat revealing to tiny details in recording, more so than the e-Q5.
The soundstage is also slightly larger than the e-Q5 but depth-wise is the same. It maintains the airy tube-like presentation of the e-Q5. The e-Q7 also adds a little more depth to the dimension. I'd also rate the a better timbre than the e-Q5.
As with the e-Q5, these earphones deliver a lot for it's online street price of Y21,400 (USD$270). Whether the e-Q7 is worth the extra USD$95 over the e-Q5, that's a more difficult question. Purely in terms of SQ, it's harder to justify. However the e-Q7 does provide a nice box for storage and carrying case for transporting around; in addition to the SQ improvement over the e-Q5.
Pros - effortless, very musical, like the song is floating in your ears
Cons - too much classy box, it could have been just simple
Build Quality: (you be the judge)
thick cloth covered cables.
hard plastic for the jack and y-splitter.
thin rubber cable from splitter to phone.
machined aluminum housing. classy and expensive looking black box with very nice to touch foam covers inside.
black leather case for the eartips and iem filters.
some japanese instruction manual.
This iem is popular by having the TUBEY characteristic,
with excellent definition in vocals.
I have decided to take some word from the AUDIO TERM GLOSSARY, under SOUND SCIENCE SECTION, to describe the sound of the ortofon eq7.
MY DESCRIPTION OF THE SOUND:
The Ortofon EQ7 is a very special iem with a hard to explain sound characteristic.
It is a highly detailed iem, very energetic-dynamic in nature with fast transient and special articulation in voice yet theres a lightness and density in music, youll be submerged by the liquidness and wetness and airiness to its music presentation.
The definition in voice is just...one of a kind.
It deserves a special mention in its sonic character.
In all of my iems, this is the best when it comes to artist's voice.
In a song, KAILANGAN KO'Y IKAW by REGINE VELASQUEZ, Regine's voice is oozing with honey-like-sweetness in her voice.
there is a special quality to it.
its like...the voice has the right ingredient to sound real.
My vortex, an iem with a lush mids, this ortos can define the voice with excellent texture and definition while comparing both, the vortex would sounded like muffled and veiled.
the ue700's presentation maybe true also, but it lacks the right thickness and melodies as the ortos.
the panny's vocal is just right.
Like i said, theres lightness and density to this iem.
its light. its airy.
i cannot say that this is rich sounding iem...NO.
its not hearty like the AS CHARMS earbud or the balanced YUIN pk1.
its like a light bread.
with the right softness.
too much youll get the bread burned.
too hard, it will be too toughed.
there's elasticity to it.
like the YUIN PK2's characteristic.
it can change instantly in just a flick from fast to slow paced music.
if its slow music, it will induced you to sleep.
if its fast music, it will give you a lot of energy to make you tap your hands.
it moves you.
it has an impressive speed.
nothing like it.
its where all my iems struggle hard (from my ue700 to klipsch s4)
its where it failed some of my gears...i got muddy sound.
and a lot of it.
the midrange is very wet, liquid and very tube like.
to all the readers...try listening to ESPERANZA SPALDING's PONTA DE AREIA.
the first 20sec of that music is a good example of how to clearly define the MIDS of this ortos.
on how liquid and wet it is...
very similar to be tube-like sound.
try it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9sN3ySkkz0
well about the bass.
ill try GO GIRL by PITBULL.
its fast. energy is comparable to the dynamic iems.
its not overly emphasized here.
not ie8 like.
moving now to I KNOW YOU WANT ME, the bass is satisfying enough with the right density and speed, with enough deepness.
its giving only enough dynamic bass, but not as like the big bass of myvortex.
not too much.
not too little.
another important reminder...this iem is hissy.
it hisses to most of my songs when nothing is playing yet at the very first second...its sssssssss...like that.
then...its gone when the music plays.
it is very effortless to give you the best to your music.
it never gets tired of giving you the dynamism.
the highs are very smooth.
i have to disagree with many reviews...that this sounded warm.
NOPE. not to me.
its bright with a touch of tube, liquidness and wetness.
the highs are smooth as my mx980 earbud.
its similar, but amount may differ.
at first i find this to be sibilant.
i dont know...it is in contrast in most reviews ive read about this iem.
get the right fit, and youll loose that sibilance. (maybe at first try only, before mental burn in)
its not ear piercing at all, but smooth and close to heavenly feeling of mymx980.
if panny is excellent in timbre and guitras, ortos is excellent with slow and fast paced music, very good in wind and strings (classical music).
and i would also like to add that...every note in pianos here is excellent.
if there is something i would like to add to the ortos, the build should be more better than the case...or the box...actually, it doesnt help in the sound at all.
maybe they could do a jack that can be reversed back to straight and angled just like the one with the mx980.
the housing is already good looking...so nothing more to mention there.
and...i like the sound.
its new to me.
its sibilance free unlike the panasonic hje900.
i wont say that this is better than the panasonic.
the panasonic shines in his own way.
if theres something id like the ortos to be..
id like it to add more a little pinch of salt and a dash of pepper.
where id like the sound more rich.
like i said above, there's an elasticity to the music.
i want it more to be more decayed.
to stay a bit longer.
because of its sonic character, some tracks seem to be delicately done.
but some were like its being chased...
this is a quality iem.
and everyone might agree to me.
the technology is just one of a kind.
there are few who do this kind - moving armatures.
there maybe few iems out there, like the BA (dual) ue700, or the famous triple fi 10 (triple driver) but it cant match some characteristics of a moving BA (ortos).
same as to dynamics.
going back to dynamics, not all performed BA-like.
so either you get a simple dynamic/ or a dual dynamic/ or a single/dual/triple/quad BA drivers...
why not try a hybrid? something that would give you TWO WORLDS in ONE. its not something like the same BA or DYNAMIC that you purchase EVERYDAY.
it would be new to your ears.
and that's the promise it could give you.
IS THIS THE BEST UNIVERSAL IEM?
nothing such exist.
it would only be excellent to you if you value the iem and learn to love its weakness.
this iem is recommended to those who value detailes and vocals.
recommended for those who own a set of a BA driver (no matter what the numbers are) and a dynamic (no matter if its single or dual).
if you have a BA.
it wouldnt hurt to have another one - MOVING BA.
you'll not only add one more to your collections but..
you'll also get to try another different kind of FLAVOR.
to end this...
is it really worth it.
i believe its a YES.
the experience it could give you is one of a kind, its refreshing - being a moving BA.
Cons - Microfonic and little high in price but still worth
I loved the way it represents the vocal voice from classic to rock and cool treble and tight bass, since it's my first IEM, I simply love it over all and looking to buy more other IEM's to compare it with others in future, but till now it's simply awesome for my ears
Great sound - much better than my previous owned Sennheiser IE6. In fact when I listened the Ortofon I had to immediately compare with my Grado RS1i, connected to the Lehmann audio USB (amplifier and DAC). Before comparing it seemed that the quality of sound (connected to an iPod) was competitive with an high end system.
Only minus is that is difficult to adjust them to the ear. For me they are a bit too big.
Pros - High sensitivity, build and sound quality, balance
Cons - Microfonics, not cheap
Just bought the Ortofon e-Q7 in-ear phones after quite a bit of research on the net. Have used Sennheiser 565 Ovation for many years, which are open full size headphones, but now I wanted closed ones and no nagging on top of the head ... I usually listen to music via my high end stereo set, but I now need ear phones for meditations and on the road use.
Just out of the box I am quite disapointed with the bass level. After an hour with loud rock music they deliver a tight and transparent bass.
If you are looking for in-ears with a heavy, pronounced bass - these are not for you. If you on the other hand are looking for a balanced sound with a good overall transparency, voice rendition, tight bass, top mid- and high frequencies - this could be the one for you. Bass is robust, but not dominant. Acustic music and voices are rendered VERY naturally. Rock music is presented with attack and balance and true to the recording (not overemphasizing bass).
Compared to a high end stereo set no headphone will have the same audiophile qualities. Given the price difference - no wonder. Compared to a good full size headphone an in-ear monitor/phone is playing more inside your head than the over-the-ear models since the speaker is placed outside the ear and not inside the ear canal.
e-Q7 is very sensitive (117dB/mW) which is an advantage with good players, but with mediocre players as mobile phones that are not music-phones there may be some hiss from the amp of the device.
The cable is easy and sturdy in use but unfortunately produces microphonics (physical touch transports as sound into the monitor). This is probably the biggest (and only?) downside of the e-Q7, but is only a problem if used while in activity like walking, running etc.
The e-Q7 is the best IEM I've heard to date; so far, it hasn't even been close. They are clear, detailed, and accurate, while retaining a "fun" sound. They have no hiss, and pack plenty of punch whenever it is called for. The e-Q7's coloration quite possibly gives it the best balance between warmth and accuracy out of any headphone or IEM I have ever heard.
I suppose my title's caption, 'a touch of class' foretell my conclusion of the e-Q7. It is without a doubt, one of the most impressive earphones on the market. I don't really care what's under the bonnet here, but I'm sure it was a labour of love. One thing's for sure, it doesn't sound 100% like your traditional balanced armature and it certainly isn't as powerful as a dynamic driver.
Since headfi isn't as much into construction quality or ergonomics as it is in sound, here's the grit:
The e-Q7 has the following wonderful things going for it: solid bass, smooth mids, and organically decaying highs. But, it isn't accented. It simply is. Right, 'simply is' is a cliche addon for truant thinkers, but I think that at times, it applies. Let's put it this way: bass rushes out with the wind. There isn't an abundance of fibrous detail as in the Victor FX500 or Radius HP-TWF11R, but there is sound pressure, especially after 80Hz. For your sticklers, I can attest to 30Hz vibrations with only a minimal perceived loss in output - the e-Q7 goes very low and sustains itself well.
Thanks in part to the fact that its bass isn't heavy handed, its mids are broad and pleasing. Vocals, chimes, electronic percussions - sweetness in all obsequiousness. You can fasten this earphone to rock, to vocal, to jazz, and especially to electronic and even to fast trance. By token of its lilt-less voice, it does everything.
But, like all do-it-all earphones, it doesn't have one sweet spot where it ruins all other earphones. It's not a string fiend like the Radius, nor a chime fiend in the same breath as the Final Audio 1601SS. Instead, it decays, it attacks, and it vibrates in all the right places at the right times and sounds right well.
There are no faults in the e-Q7. There are no real 'gotta have it' strengths either, but that isn't a bad thing. Rather, ortofon's debut earphone is a gotta have it product because it doesn't put its foot down, doesn't downplay or up-play anything. It's worth the money if you are in the market for a great earphone, but maybe not realistic if you are happy with what you've got.
Again, for full review and pictures, go to my review of the ortofon e-Q7.