Penon 10th Anniversary

alexandros a

1000+ Head-Fier
An Impressionist's Daydream
Pros: - The absolute perfect all rounder
- Higly Addictive musicality
- Definition of Balance
- Vocals to die for....
- Best EST implementation encountered thus far....
- Tremendous well controled bass
- Wide Hollographic head stage
- superb stereo image
- price to performance ratio
- Fabulous face-plates
- CS819 Penon Cable
- Leather Case
Cons: - why on earth had to spend that much last year just to find out that this is the ONE & ONLY ?????
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INTRODUCTION / A FEW WORDS


You guys must have guessed till now that I only find the spare time to write anything down (due to heavy work schedule that is ...) when it matters to me a lot.
well this time I was litteraly speachless ,i was awed right from the first audition up to the point where I gave up on the burn in procedure of the monitors cause really could not see how this set could gain any advantadge from that procedure during time....
it was simply one of those times that I could not make the descision to take those monitors out of my ears …......
i simply reached that state of NIRVANA.And believe me if I could grade them with a 6 star grade I would . No question about that.........If you re seaking for the answer to that just keep reading.....
But keep in mind that there are already 5 reviews here before this one that praises the 10th even more than this one here.....
so that couldnt be a coincidence could it ?
I want to make clear at this point that the 10th was purchased a month ago from Penon's original site and in any case you ll be interested here's a link for your convinience :
10th Anniversary

SPECIFICATIONS

Driver: 2 Electrostatic+ 2 balanced armature + 2 Dynamic driver

4-way crossover, 3 tube channel

Impedance: 9ohm±10%

Sensitivity: 110dB

Frequency response: 15Hz-70kHz

Connector: 2Pin 0.78mm

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PACKAGE - ACCESSORIES - FIT

Package
is pretty awesome here (and that has become a tradition many years now for all PENON monitors BUT there is also a nice addittion of a leather case here which makes me at least a very happy person...
3D printed shell, medical grade resin material is what Penon uses here for these monitors and in terms of comfort is really a unique experience.....that's what my ears keep telling me at least.......
Faceplates of the shells are trully adorable in deep blue and red mixture with the PENON / AUDIO lego on them (one on the left and the other on the right faceplate)
as for accessories goes, yοu get three sets of silicone tips in 3 sizes, , a cleaning brush for the monitor's nozzle and a stylish cloth clipper
The 10th comes with CS819 famous Penon cable and 2-pin connection plug, ending in a termination of your choise balanced 4.4/2.5 or single ended.
Fit wise, in my case at least fits like a glove to my extra large ear cavities and having tried several tips (symbio,azla sedna,sony hybrids,Final Audio E tips e.t.c.) in order to find the ABSOLUTE BEST ISOLATION quickly ended up using some azla sednafit transparent ones cause those provided the comfort i was searching for as well as amazing fit and superb isolation .At this point i would strongly suggest everybody to use wide bore tips in order to take advantadge of the 10th's tremendous stage and stereo image abilities in full bloom...........
Nevertheless ......the included silicone tips are pretty amazing as well ,maintaning the warm tonallity and the original sound character of this jewel.

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As it is pictured above there are two open vents upon the shells establishing that the air moves effortlessly between the drivers contributing thus way to a dynamic & fatique free sound performance.

SOUND PROFILE / STAGE / IMAGE ABILITIES

Gear used for the purpose of this review : iBASSO DX 160 & DX170 / Shanling M3X / HIBY R5 GEN II
Now to the point.....
The 10TH are to my ears a W sound signature set of monitors with a clear emphasis on the lows / highs and midrange as well..
What stroked me the most (straight out of the box) was the superb balance across the FR due to that one the10th is the
ONE & ONLY monitor that forced me revisit & re-evaluate the WHOLE ****ING LIBRARY...
One by one.... 3000 plus tracks.......cause each one of them gets to occupy more space, providing a different more open head stage during listening..
7 years on this hobby never this occurred before
Owning twice it's price monitors that is.....
Being 100 percent honest here... Never before..
Trying to find the answer why that's happening i suspect partially due to 10th's unique abilities to stay coherent and stable even at the highest volumes..... And without the slightest hint of congestion at all !!!!!!!!
At this price range its not easy at all to find another monitor with such a tremendous sound stage , with such a tremendous stereo image and layering abilities.Resolution across the FR is top notch and can easily blow your mind
There is a unique 3 dimentional sense of surrounding cyclotic sound up to the point you wont realise where the sound is coming from.......
Imaging is superb too there,you can easily pin point each and every instrument of the stage and its exact potition there.
Detail retrieval pretty fine despite of the fact that 10th's main target is to loose your self inside the music forgetting anything else around you.. Musicality is the name of the game with this one ....Nevertheless all the details are still there , but not in your face leaving room for airyness and vocals to shine.
Another unique thing about this set is that once you turn up the volume there is no way back but only keep increasing the volume all the way up to the end .........The sound remains coherent even at the loudest volume .Constinstency even under extreme high pitched volume is the main characteristic of this earphone. It is the absolute definition of a superbly balanced sound exceeding anyone's expectations....
Have to mention at this point that this set is so very easy to drive with pretty much anything as a source but despite that fact it also scales pretty amazing with better sources(daps-amps.) The better the source.. the better the whole experience gets...for example paired with Hiby R5 Gen II (A class amp mode) ends in an even more dynamic presentation of sound with faster attacks and even more natural decays ....so do not be afraid to turn up the volume......it just gets better and better....a complete sonic experience .

10th Anniversary edition IEM Official graph

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Besides the obvious bass elevation (guessing somewhere between 5 to 8 dbs at the lowest sub bass region) there is also a dip around 6 to 8 Khz to help the vocals come front smoothly with lushness/spaciouness and to provide any harsh or metallic/artificial feeling on the lower trebles
Other than that from 20Hz to 500Hz according to this FR graph there's a very smooth transition from mid bass region to the lower midrange which is the true case here and always according to my hearing ability there's no bass bleed to the lower mids/midrange which comes front crystal clear and lush as well.......

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BASS

1 million dollar question follows
: how can any bass response be so precise,tight,agile,vigorous and vast,enormous at the same time ? I wonder my self how can this be even possible..believe it or not this is the case here with this set of monitors. Never oveshadowing,never overwhelming the midrange but leaving the air to flow flawlessly those two small 6mm “chrystaline plated biofilm” DDs are responsible for all those aformentioned things above.......showcasing brilliant texture and attacks it's s impactfull as an earthquake,and precise as a spirit level.................
Never bleeds into the mids area ,never oveshadowing the rest of the spectrum and capable of producing goose bumps in any track upon it is called for...Transients are fast,decays are too perfect to be true and the bass timbre has a unique analogue feeling in terms of representation of the recordings........from 20 to 250 Hz everything is vibrant, alive and kicking. Sub bass frequencies in particular are more than noticeable making a big time difference there providing the appropriate rumble and vibration when and each time are called for duty.....

A perfect example of that tremendous and well controlled bass / sub bass would be the following track :

Demen - Ambur

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This one could easily be a lost 4AD records jewel but it isnt...............The lower/lowest frequencies here do create the whole ambience and all the info between 250 and 20 Hz are responsible for the magic atmosphere along with the cymbal crushes at the higher registries and the addition of angelic female vocals.....And the 10th gets to be just perfect for this one as those DDs pushes effortlesly the air between the instruments leaving room at the same time for the female vocals to shine
speaking of 4ADs older treasure songs.......... this might be just perfect for the 10ths :

Dead Can Dance - Dawn of the iconoclast

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it is beyond description this reproduction using the 10ths .....There s an most admirable absolute balance regading the majority of the physical instruments here ( Bass Trombone, Tuba ,military snare,Timbani,trompet,violas and violins all together work as an entity flawing in perfect harmony along with Gerrad's most precious vocals producing this way a most unique rare moment in time and place. A trully unique experience

MIDRANGE


It would be highly unfair to judge and grade this set from its tremendous bass abilities so guess what......mids have nothing to fear from that bass ,nothing at all,because mids are the main star of the show here showcasing the tuning craftmanship of Penon's most exquisite House Sound ,natural and lush,vibrant and spacious ,not to front ,not to back,somewhere in the middle of the stage ,not being shouty ,not being particularly laidback, but finding the correct spot and place in the scene . The timbre of both male and female vocals feels extremely natural and real to life. Silky smooth buttery spaciousness would be the most precise definition of the vocals and in all cases they are represented with passion and intimacy providing a unique feeling of engangementwith the appropriate note weight and presence for both male and female vocalists .But the absolute victory for this set is the amount of air rendered and the illusion that provides to the listener that every tiny element and cue from the recording floats inside/outside your head in perfect place and harmony

Listening to Divine Comedy's "A lady of a certain age" is such a treat on these babys..... all the strings of the orchestra sound so natural there without the slightest hing of artificiallity or harshness,the timbre of Hanon's voice is so humanly warm and correct and blends tremendously well with the rest of the instruments

Divine Comedy - A lady of a certain age

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As for vocal lovers i strongly suggest to listen to the next one :

Autumn's Grey Solace - Absent the body

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This is the romantic aspect of the 10th's representing in the best possible aspect their majestic midrange which is lush .spacious ,dream like.....the female singer in this song extends here angelic voice up to the highest possible and the result using this set listening is beyond anyone's imagination. the wideness of the scene here is remarkable the electric quitars and bass quitars portaying such an intensity and cohesiveness with remarkable reverb and decay rarely to be found in any reproduction its so damned electrifying the whole experience with the 10ths ,and all the magic happens in that addictive midrange where all instruments works together as a unity bringing us a whole different universe of sound.

HIGHS / BRILLIANCE

Easily the most natural and airy ESTs I have personally heard in any monitor in my small experience and always till now .imagine this one like a projection of your hearing ability …...a repair of your hearing loss towards the higher registries , avoiding in every genre artificial or metallic sounding.......
cymbals,hi-hats,violins,strings everything here sounds natural and sweet
Absolutelly zero sibilance or hotness.
so smooth,so velvet, Unbelievable amount of microdetails to sounds and instrument lines due to this successfull implementation. A Knowles BA and Sonion ESTs along with the masterclass tuning brought by the masters at Penon

two particular tracks showcasing those ESTs strengh ,coherence and admirable microdetail retrieval follows right after :

36 - Minerva

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"minerva" coming from 36 is a modern ambient masterpiece mostly worked on higher registries and manages to create such a strong sense of atmosphere using Ableton Live that can really travel you away from this planet...............in this case the way 10th easily handles both lower and higher frequencies so effortlesly and smoothly that results in a unique mesmerising experience.............the stage using this set of monitors takes off our small solar system to discover the rest of our galaxy........everything feels like floating away and beyond our dimentions into ethereal realm...............


Glass Moon - Leland Whitty

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Leland , produced an absolutely beautiful solo record last year and in this particular track every physical instrument like double bass is a real treat with the 10ths....The sound gets immediatelly addictive just right from the begging of the song takes you in, absorbs your mind.. right from the very first seconds.......,double bass,flutes,drums,Rhodes etc.... showcasing an utterly natural timbre,true to the original recording, i suppose you ll be 100% surprised of how close to real life this track sounds in terms of correct and natural sound reproduction .but particularly when it comes to strings it just feels like you re in the concert hall or the studio recording session,your choise..........

DIRECT COMPARISONS

VS DUNU EST112


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EST112 from DUNU is a tribrid monitor with a 13.5 mm DD Driver with Dual-Sided Beryllium Coating ,one Custom Knowles BA tweeter and 2 Sonion EST supertweeters
I loved those straight out of the box ,for their vast wide soundstage,their polished sound,their clarity,their unbelievable detail retrieval.BUT as far as bass goes (strangely enough having a large 13.5 woofer) is way too polite if you compare it directly with a monitor like the 10th.The impact is missing, the sub bass kick lacks of energy, something that PENON AUDIO is a really a specialist at.Though EST112΄s treble is really something else (propably the most airy treble i personally had ever heard utill the 10th arrived) it lacks some energy ,weight,or body i would say.On the contrary this is not the case with the 10ths where the body and sparkle goes hand by hand with the sub bass providing authority and definition to every single note.....
As far as resolution goes i believe the 10th has slightly the upper hand overt the EST112 in big orchestras and symphonic tracks. apart from that EST112 is really a pain in the ass as far as fit goes (using azla sedna tips was the only way for these really heavy monitors to stay tight on my ears) while the 10th obtains superb fit and comfort way beyond competition.................


vs ISN EST50

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EST 50s was to me love Love at first audition if it wasn't for the 10th to invade in my life it would still be my all time favorite monitor. ISN AUDIO is a true master as far BASS goes and in this case their flagship EST50s is the perfect proof of what happens when a group of proffesional engineers who happens to love bass frequencies a little more than the rest of the spectrum........... are doing their best effort to bring such a miracle as the EST50s.Here the midrange is taken care by a SONION BA driver which make the mids so ,so ,so, beautifull and sweet ,p to the point where you simply forget how marvelous the bass sounds ,and the upper treble uses 2 Sonion ESTs micro tweeters so this results in a perfect natural representation of the higher regions.but here comes the 10ths tremendous ABSOLUTE BALANCE with a bass full of authority that does not overshadows the midrange under any circurmstances which unfortunatelly is not the case with EST50s but thats reallity am afraid so .....you win something/you lose something else.....i do love those two almost the same ,just a hint more the 10ths i being the more natural and spacious sounding one.Both are amazing earphones at their price and both worth every single dollar.


vs UM MEXT

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MEXT
is a warm and bass friendly monitor with a HUGE FUN SIGNATURE closer to ISN EST50 than PENON 10th
MEXT is indeed a perfect all rounder, ideal for bass lovers obtaining a huge soundstage,top tier resolution ,fantastic mids and fascinating treble response.
nevertheless i have to admit that I was quite surprised during this comparison cause instantly upon first listen the 10ths felted immediately more spacious and wide open sounding with a tremendous sense of a head stage i personally never had to the luck to hear before.........
In terms of airy/spaciousness feeling though this is quite subjective I would say those two are completely on par with the 10ths being just a touch more advance in terms of clarity and stage
in terms of timbre / note weight bot are natural and realistic with remarkable note weight while the MEXT is clearly the warmer one with a much warmer/darker more of an obscure tonality all that in the cost of total clarity something that the 10th has clearly the upper hand
Due to this reason the MEXT has a noticeable depth in the scene which helps a lot to create a superb 3D hollographic soundstage.
...... in the other hand the 10ths being more airy, provides a more open feeling to the listener (in the midrange) leaving room for the vocals to breathe and make room for clarity to prevail across the entire FR there....
The MEXT is more of an organic/analoque sounding monitor thus more thick / dark sounding while the 10ths is by far more wide in terms of stage and airy one

vs Oriolus Szalayi

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The Szalayi is a most capable tribrid monitor relatively new in the market ,obtaining a 14mm Planar Diaphragm Driver along with a High-Performance Balanced Armature Driver & a 10mm Dynamic Driver.
The Szalayi says : " Do you really want to mess around with the ABSOLUTE GOD OF BASS ?? " :beyersmile::beyersmile::beyersmile:
The 10th answers : " well......maybe i would so....."
at this point take under consideration that the SZAs (Szalayi that is) are adressed mainly to BassHead territory because its really a dramatic , tremendous , vast Bass experience more like the EST50s from ISN AUDIO
.............and its a tough competition out there as well.............i like both the 10ths & SZAs in them in terms of bass reproduction both are my cup of tea actually BUT stage wise i have to give the open feeling and air to the 10ths while the depth of the scene to SZAs which really obtain a remarkable depth due to their tuning actually and their driver implementation. Both sound natural with excellent timbre in about everything but in terms of tonallity i would go with the 10th its simply more close to what i find as correct and true.

FINAL WORDS / CLOSURE

From my side at least i cannot reccomend enough PENON 10th. I really believe this time PENON audio engineers really surpassed themselves making this fabulous set of monitors.BUT they should be remarkably proud of it as this set is supposed to bethe landmark for PENON's 10th anniversary in audio manufacturing business
It is an absolute TOTL, regardless of their price there....able to faithfully reproduce any kind of recording or music genre effortlessly ,and the main point is that the 10th has nothing to envy from much higher priced monitors coming from well established companies , or monitors using more sophisticated implementations.
All this for barely 499 bucks.....
Engagement is the name of the game here, and those 10ths definitely deliver that. it's one of the most engaging and addictive as well monitors I have ever listened to. If musicality and absolute balance goes hand by hand in your prefferences then you re getting one hell of a deal here ..................................
Thanks for reading this much.............

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Last edited:
Redcarmoose
Redcarmoose
@alexandros a
Congratulations............on finding the 10th Anniversary. Also I’m happy to read it’s your favorite, as the 10th is my favorite Penon too. Being able to playback any genre with any device is the tour de force of personal audio. Ohh......and by the way, they sound luscious doing it too. They really are end-game, which is ridiculous for $499.00.
lucanato
lucanato
CT007 you are right, I always thought that all these review were in some way biased. For example, me, trusting in all these reviews have bought isn h50 and I found it horrible and in two days I need to sell them. I reviewed them here and gave them 4 stars cause they have some strengths but maybe I'd give them 3 stars.

I gave them 4 cause I respect a lot other PENON products cause I have vortex, serial and have had fan2 that are truly gems! And also love PENON assistance and speed in response and give solutions for your needs!

So PENON is a 5 star company and until now I love all their iems,but I have to say that when I tried to give 2 stars to isn S2 cable on their site they censured this score... and yes this is not fair!!!!

I find the 10th anniversary so ugly, esthetically speaking, but if they will make a good discount maybe in the future I will try them.
marcos antônio
marcos antônio
CL007 I agree with you .It's very strange and well observed, it seems that everything they launch are excellent products with no negatives, I'm not saying that it isn't because I own the Globe and I really like them but I would never give it 5 stars but 4 but it's close to my taste but Fan2 it was a total disappointment, lifeless iem, there is no treble in it because I don't even like iem with intense trebles because I'm sensitive to that region but in it I had to raise the upper mids and treble anyway to hear metal it didn't please me, the mids are well filled out and there is no lack of weight in this region however it doesn't have much impact and the guitars sound a little dull, I bought it allowing myself to be influenced by critics and I was disappointed, it's not all that they say and it's not even a matter of taste but of logic, no You can tell how sincere the criticisms are.
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NymPHONOmaniac

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: -well balanced and dynamic warm W shape tonality
-open holographic soundstage
-round, punchy, rumbly and well layered bass
-beautifull and full bodied male and female vocal
-lush mids timbre, not thin
-smooth yet snappy treble
-crisp percussions extraction and layering (tx to ESTs)
-technicaly competent but not technical sounding (nor clinical)
-lively and fun macro dynamic
-no upper mids shoutyness or sibilance (low pinna gain)
-easy to drive
-very generous accessories
Cons: -bass presence definition and texture isn't the best
-not the cleanest or most resolved IEM in its price range
-not for piano lover nor excelling with classical music
-treble isn't the most airy, edgy or sparkly
-IEM size is quite big as well as nozzle size
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TONALITY: 8.8/10
TECHNICALITIES: 8.8/10
TIMBRE: 8.5/10
SOUNDSTAGE-IMAGIN: 8.5/10
CONSTRUCTION: 8.5/10
ACCESSORIES: 10/10
SOUND VALUE: 8.5/10

INTRO


Penon doesn't need introduction, they are among oldest audio distributor of chinese audio products. But they make IEMs and Cables for about 5 years too. They begin with their sister company ISN then go by their own Penon brand.
It's rare i'm such a fan boi of IEMs maker, but from ISN H40 to Penon Serial and Fan2, then Globe and ISN Neo5...I love them all, and this could be explain for their great caring about bass and mids, and lower than 10db upper mids gain that avoid shoutyness or sibilance like alot of chifi IEMs do (i look at you harman!).
But this doesn't mean I love all their IEMs, for ex, i'm not biggest fan of Fan1 or Vortex. Though i can't say they are bad too.
Today i'm very excited to finaly review one of their latest offering: the Penon 10th anniversary.
Priced 500$, the 10thAnn is a tribrid IEM using 2x 6mm crystalline plated biofilm dynamic driver for low frequency, 2 balanced armature (sonion for mids and knowles for highs) and 2 sonion EST for ultra highs.

Lately i'm extremely obsess about testing as much tribrid with EST I can, and this one was on the top of my ''must try'' list.

Let see if my high expectation will be fullfill or let down in this review.

CONSTRUCTION&ACCESSORIES

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The 10th are chunky big boy, all made of thick medical grade resin plastic. The construction feel bot sturdy and smooth, as if it was molded in one piece. But small ears might find these too big, since the nozzle too is very wide and thick, even for my ears canal wich has been widen with over abuse of more than 300 IEMs travel. So, this is to be noted, but with the right ear fit it's comfortable and I can enjoy those for hours without discomfort or ear canal pressure.
The back plate is glossy and eye appealing, but it will depend your aesthetic taste, I do find the logo a bit off.
The 2pin connector isn't recessed, but offer thight connection.
Their a side venting hole that can leak minimal noise, and isolation is average since we can't have deep fit with those.

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As always, packaging presentation is minimalist but what's inside small eco-friendly box is maximalist. We are spoil with alot of great quality accessories, begining with the ''8 shares, single share is 19 cores OCC & silver-plated Mixed Braided IEM cable'' that you can choose 3.5mm single ended or 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced plug.
We have a unique round carrying case made of leather that feel premium, as well as a leather case for ear tips that can be use for cable storage too. It include 3 pairs of 3 eartips models, all wide bore, for a total of 9 silicone eartips.
It most be noted note of them have ultra wide bore that is same size of 10th nozzle, this would have been needed since it's the most comfortable and good ''sounding'' one i find. Its those short wide bore black ear tips that are very common, there a pic for those who want to try them.

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As seen, the 3 nozzle hole aren't blocked or compressed, so this permit proper spatial openess and dynamic rendering, it improve layering of the bass as well.

All in all, i'm extremely impress by the accessories, and the construction while quite big in housing and nozzle size is of great quality too.




SOUND IMPRESSIONS

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The Penon 10th aren't your typical tribrid with EST and it certainly have Penon house sound soul in it, which is about putting fowards bass, mids and treble without going over the top about it, keeping a smooth open balance. It's not as warm than the Globe nor as crisp neutral as the Fan2, it's a fun signature with plenty of bass weight and slam, lush mids and a uniquely snappy and thick treble. Yes you read me right. EST goes thick with the 10th and it's what differenciate from all other IEMs have try using similar drivers configuration. ut the magic here it's that it doesn't sound mushy or sticky-thick as a whole too, and it's not as dark and understated EST treble as Kinera Urd.

We can summarize the 10th tonality as warm W shape since nothing sound too recessed, yet we have lower mids warmth going on and no harsh spike in macro balance. It's cohesive as a whole, in an holographic multi layered way, very rich in dense and wide sound layers that add tactile 3D presence without feeling forced because of softed edge of upper mids presence. This is a very versatile sounding IEM that can appeal as much treble or pinna gain sensitive than basshead and timbre-tone lover.

An hint to know if an IEM is versatile is when it does both male and female vocal well, it mean their enough fundamental in lower mids to deliver full bodied presence of most instrument. Unlike Harman target that is too cold and shouty and ironically niche in music genre, the Penon 10th permit long listening pleasure that is both fun, dynamic, immersive and well balanced in it's special colored way that doesn't kill any frequencies range.

What the 10th don't deliver: perfectly separated bass without warmth, analytical level details and resolution, clean instrument separation, end game imaging.

What it deliver: round mid bass punch that is well layered with rumbly sub bass, full and natural mid range with good note weight, male-female bodied, natural and non shouty vocal, intricating treble snap and brilliance, very wide and tall soundstage, articulate chunky bass line, good layering in Y axis etc.

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About the bass, it most be noted that it take about 10h to wake up, and this is coming from a ''burn-in'' sceptikal. With the well implemented 2 dynamic driver, we are in this rare low end territory were bass quality meet quantity, so we have both the round impactfull punch, a vibrant and deep rumble as well as good layering of both physical bodied presence of bass line and kick drum.

The kick drum presence is't very boosted in texture or definition edge, yet the rendering is both tactile and dynamic, it's just slightly warmed and colored.
The bass line are very well extracted which make them easy to follow even in fast busy track, it add extra note weight and the rumble isn't thin yet the sustain doesn't make the rendering muddy, it's a very special bass response we have here that benefit lower harmonic tone of instrument like cello which sound marvelously lush and bodied, natural and dense in presence, which have warmed timbral balance making it vibrant with color and never dry or noisy in timbre.
This dual DD use permit a very flexible bass performance too, with electronic, R&B or Soul it tend to have beefy slam that need good thump weight and proper layering, this can go easily muddy with one DD but here the warm layering solve this ''double dynamic energy'' issue and it's highly addictive. This explain I don,t consider this bassy presentation as guilty pleasure too, even the warmth doesn't veil anything and slip naturally in lower mid range for male vocal or low pitch instruments benefit.

Some might prefer more edgy, lean and textured bass rendering, but it would mean lower mids will be thin and the punch will feel sloppy, which isn't the case here at all.
So yes, very versatile bass performance, double bass is well controlled with a fast and wide sustain-release, the attack lead isn't the most abrasive so delimitation of each note might be less accurate, but it's not messy nor boomy.
Then for electric bass often find in rock, it's similar, the articulation is fast and well layered, easy to follow but a hitn softed in texture bite, but it have this realist vibrant density that is much more pleasant than just following thin presence of the instrument. This isn't warm bass to the point of going plain dark, it's just dominate by lower tone fundamental instead of highs harmonics spike.



The mid range is pure lushness pleasure and an excellent mix of lower and upper mids that benefit both male and female vocal as well as wide range of instrument that don't need sharpest resolution to be fully enjoyed.
I'll begin with the instrument I feel isn't favor by 10th, and it's one of my fav instrument: acoustic piano. It's not bad but tend to be leaner and less dynamic than double bass, saxophone or vocals. It's mellow in attack and have a foggy sustain-release, it's hard to perceive attack lead then the decay it release. For ex, Gogopenguin trio is focus on drum and bass with the 10th, the piano isn't put fowards enough, unless higher pitch note which will be more energic and well sharpened. Even Vanessa Wagner solo playing feel distant and overly softed in dynamic amplitude, so, nope: if you listen to alot of piano, the 10th isn't the right IEM for this very task.

Then woodwinds instrument sound lusciou, wide and lush in presence, natural in tone and timbre.
Male vocal might be the best part of mid range, they are fowards, full bodied and very well layered, it's well texture in timbre and can go grunty when needed, the presence isn't compress, timbre isn't to bright, it have the inner natural breathyness to it.

Female vocal are wonderfull too, and since i listen way more to female singer I can underline they are even more fowards than male vocal, yet not shouty or too loud in upper mids, it's taking full advantage of fabulous sonion BA, which are my fav for mid frequencies in term on natural and dense timbre. This is smooth as butter, lush and breathy, rich in tone harmony and wide in presence. It will stick above all rest of instrument with great focus too, unlike the piano.

When female vocal are good, the violin tend to be well balanced in presence and tone too, which is exactly the case here, the attack is a bit softed so their no displeasant texture spike or screamy attack, it's velvety and mellow, it's not the cleanest in term of proper natural decay though, if I can nitpick something but it's not thin too, since nothing sound thin with the 10th.



And now for the treble, I think it's where some listener might be a bit left on their hunger, especially if treble head. Even if we have one knowles BA and 2 EST to cover treble section, the rendering is near dark but never dull and not lacking in percussions extraction, which seem to be the focus task for ESTs drivers. Yet, from 4khz to 8khz it's rather polished in dynamic, their no highs spike to boost crispness alot, it's delicate and mellow but full sounding too.
What the ESTs add is sens of air, snap and light brilliance, but it's not that easy to perceive it because overall holographic macro resolution isn't the cleanest nor the sharpest in instrument spacing.

So, it's certainly not an analytical or very crisp and sparkly, we are in lukewarms highs territory here, where their polished texture noise, a hint of extra air and upper highs clean extraction and a fast snap with tamed decay.

I've listen to 8 IEMs using EST, and all of them apart Kinera Urd offer similar magic which is about extra upper highs clean layering that deliver crisp percussions in a super speedy and tight attack, the loudness will differ, when their 4 EST it tend to deliver more micro details too. Here the Penon 10th is on par with Mangird Xenn Up which have more upper treble energy than the Kinera Urd.

But it's delicate, and apart with GSaudio SE12, its never an in your face upper treble apart if your super sensitive to 10-20khz treble section (or suffer from hyperacusis).
So in term of drum, the snare is more soft than metallic percussions which always pop up cleanly in tracks, and it's such a pleasure to ahve 3 freq band well articulate and separated like this with such a dynamic and lush musicality.

Then if i go with ultra high instrument like the Harp that can pass 20khz, the recorded resonance info are a bit tamed to the favor of extra fundamental frequencies, which can add bass resonance to string stroke, and it mix with a fast and sharp metallic tone which permit easy tracking of each not but the whole harmony isn't 100% perfect.
This make me conclude the 10th aren't suggested for classical music, since i've complaint about piano rendering too, it's really a master of pop, rock, soul, r&b, electronic....a very wide range of music that even include jazz, folk, indie, but will sound a bit to hazy for symphony. For cello or violin solo, it will be pure pleasure, here it's about this warm holographic rendering that is hit or miss for classical record.


The soundstage is very wide and tall but not very deep due to an overall euphonic clarity, in the sens: the silence isn't clean enough between instrument to permit listner to travel deep in center stage. Your part of music with the 10th. And it's extramly immersive in that regard, to the point of melting with other instruments.

This mean it's no master of precise imaging too, and that even if it's far from being bad. The sound layering is excellent in fact and multi layered in a vast but condensed way. Think about a big patchwork of sound layers sticken togheter in a stereo rendering. Then, there this extra highs separation from EST that is more accurate and easy to pull apart.



SIDE NOTES

At 9ohm of impedance and 110db of sensitivity, the 10th are very easy to drive and don't benefit of big amping, especially if the output impedance is high.
But the use of EST make them source capricious too, since these drivers benefit of at least 100mW amping push, which is more than a phone but quite easy to get with dongle or DAP.
Then, the eartips is very important and I would say stock one are good enough but add bass warmth that affect sub-mid bass and mids separation. This is surely due to the fact the hole isn't as wide as the nozzle which have 3 holes that need to ''breath''.
Using short wide bore eartips with as big hole permit to open soundstage even more and improve layering of bass and mid range.



COMPARISONS

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VS PENON SERIAL (3DDs-300$)

The Serial are more U shape, less warm and thick, more open sound and clearer, cleaner, more detailed too, so a notch brigther especially in lower treble.
The bass is quite different here, Serial is more textured but leaner in mid bass, yet kick drum presence is better resolve but not as physical and round in impact, sub bass line are less warm too, less resonance and dense but even better controled and leaner in deep extension which benefit double bass. 10th pack more punch, and lower mids benefit in density and lushness, their extra slam roundness and weight that Serial lack dynamic wise making it more fun and less maturely tuned, Serial bass is overall cleaner, thinner and leaner. We can say Serial have more quality than quantity here.
Then the mids are better resolved, more open and deep, less warmed and thicken in lower mid range which have pros and cons since male vocal are thinner, more recessed, yet again more boosted in presence texture but it doesn't make them better or more musical, in that regard 10th offer more bodied and fowards vocal.
Serial mids have wider more detailed and well define instrument presence, again thinner way, it better resolve but not as lively in macro layering in the sens note weight are lighter and mids are less lively. Attack is better controled, not as warmed in sustain-release which add micro euphonic density to 10th, while not as holographic in layering, Serial permit greater precision in positioning since it's less colored, timbre favorize texture realism and details, while 10th favor tone and lushness.
Then the treble, strangely, doesn't extract more micro details and sound info with the 10th, but it's more snappy and fast in percussions rendering, more tactile and less lean in extension. We have a hint more air and brilliance too but not as long natural decay (from the recording). Serial is more about lower and mid treble that have lot of sound info fro texture, presence and definition edge.

Spatiality is wider with the Serial, but not as 3D, tall and deep even if yes, we can dig deeper in term of sound info of center stage, it's just don't feel as out of your head and multi-dimension.

But the superior macro resolution permit greater precision for positioning with the Serial, even if sound layered are less sticken togheter with 10th, it's not as clear in separation, as well in fast busy track the sub bass line will be better articulated and less muddy with Serial.

All in all, those 2 complement well each other, the 10th is more energic and weighty in dynamic, more punchy and chunky in bass but not as well controlled and separareted. Serial is clearly more U shape as well as surprisingly more technical sounding, cleaner, better resolved. 10th offer fuller tone in all range while Serial offer more resolved presence of instrument of in all range.

VS KINERA URD (2DD-1BA-2EST-650$)

Well, hum, these 2 are so different in dynamic rendering it's a psychoacoustic shock....the Urd is way leaner, darker and more U shape but without any proper punch, less so than the above Serial and more smoothed im macro dynamic than the 10th.
I make me wonder the benefit of both dual DD and ESTs here.
The bass is more mellow and thin, sub bass feel more distant and distached, their less warmth that glue it to lower mids too, it's lighter in note weight and presence isn't very textured too. 10th seem basshead compared to those, both sub and kick is more bodied and dynamic.
Mids are more recessed, lean, light in note weight and dark in definition delimitation, they are even more softed in upper mids energy and both male and female vocal have extra breathyness blur to them. The lead of attack is more damped too, so it doesn't open up in loudness amplitude and stay more lean and dynamic less.
The treble is cleaner and leaner too, I struggle to hear benefit of est with the Urd since percussions mix up in same loudness level with other instrument, it's less open, brilliant and airy, less vivid but longer in natural decay.
The soundstage is less wide and tall with the Urd but a bit deeper due to cleaner center stage which is less warmed by lower mids boost.
The imaging is quite one dimension and flat, so it's inferior to 10th that have more space between sound layers in y axis.

All in all, the Urd feel very lean and L shape with mellower bass punch and a less lively macro dynamic, underlining again the W shape heft of 10th which is way more fun and musical to my ears, and offer superior technical performance in a more colored way.


VS LETSHUOER EJ07M (1DD+2BA+4EST-650$)

What hit first is how taller and bigger is the spatiality as well as more holographic and tactile in instrument rendering. As well, it feel more colored and lusher tha EJ07.
So, we can say 10th is more dynamic and warmer W shape signature.
The bass is chunkier, warmer and more punchy, there more mid bass boost than EJ07 and more lower mids too so male vocal sound fuller as well as more fowards, less lean and dry in rendering, but sub bass extension isn't as clean and deep.
Timbre wise, i do prefer more colored and thicken rendering of Penon, it's lusher and it tend to deliver wider creamier vocal presence than more centered and compressed mids of EJ07, but overall resolution is notably darker and less transparent, it can't be use for monitoring unlike EJ07.
Then the treble isn't as extended and full in sound info, its thicker, more colored and less lean, it doesn't pick up whole percussions layers as the EJ07 and feel less clean.
Soundstage is notably wider taller but less deep and more densify in sound layers euphony, making macro perception less readable.
This mean your perhaps more in middle of music, but that positionning is notably inferior to EJ07, it's less define in separation, we have more bass blur stickening instrument separation, and the layering is more opaque, which explain we can't travel very deep in spatiality in term of critical positioning.

All in all, the Penon is more fun and musical to listen and get lost in, but technical perfomance is notably superior, more refined and controlled with the EJ07M. Very different sound flavor....and purpose here.



CONCLUSION

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The Penon 10th Anniversary really take me by surprise in term of musical flavor, due to tribrid drivers implementation I was expecting something more technical and crisp yet what I get is a warm W shape with incredibly open and holographic spatiality, powerfull bass with impressive mid and sub bass layering, lush male and female vocal and fast snappy but understated treble.

It's not as warm as Penon Globe, but does share some similarities, in the sens timbre density and euphonic naturalness is there, big bass is there but even better and the treble of 10th is more open, snappy and brilliant.

Mix the Globe with Serial and Fan2, and your not far from what you get with the 10th.

Which is logical, since it's a celebration of all Penon IEMs flavor put in one shell.

One thing certain, at 500$, the 10th is very competitive tribrid with a beautifuly balanced tonality that is not lacking in dynamic fun and offer an engaging 3D sound experience.

Highly Recommended!


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PS: I want to thanks Penon for sending me this review sample after I manifest my interest to try them. As always, these are my honest and independant minded subjective audio impressions and their we no pressure or incentive from Penon to write a positive review.

You can order the Penon 10th Anniversary for 500$ here:
https://penonaudio.com/penon-audio-10th-anniversary-iem.html
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Last edited:
innovated
innovated
"the nozzle too is very wide and thick, even for my ears canal wich has been widen with over abuse of more than 300 IEMs..."

👆🏼 Funniest thing I've read all week!

Redcarmoose

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: To celebrate the store's 10th Anniversary Penon made a party for your ears
Big, immersive and fun sound
They sound like they look, festive
2x Sonion EST for ultra-high frequency
1x Knowles BA for high frequency
1x Sonion BA for middle frequency
2x 6mm crystalline plated biofilm dynamic driver for low frequency
Only 4 grams a piece in weight
Penon 10th Anniversary Commemorative Edition included genuine leather carrying case set
Cons: Do you really think an Anniversary Celebration would have any negatives?
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Penon 10th Anniversary Commemorative Edition


First of the Penon 10th Anniversary Special Edition is commemorative. It is simply the IEM that Penon chose to celebrate the store’s 10 years in business. I think that explains the colors of swirly blue sparkles and deep candy red edges? I mean to me the 10th looks nothing like I have ever seen before. And to the contrary, there is nothing about its looks that are understated……nope, this one (here) is a party that Penon will not let us soon forget. Though I forgot to explain, the 10th just doesn’t celebrate the store’s last ten years, it is a shinning example to showcase future ideas being just as important, and possibly more important, than the past. You see Penon pulled a fast one on us…….they made an IEM that sounds almost nothing like anything they have ever made! And while the tune is a well manicured V response……it still escapes me to where I have heard anything like it? There is nothing like it.

There is nothing like it!


I talk about the originality because this idea of sound design is truly a glimpse into the future, especially when you realize that this is now what $499.00 gets you. But more than just the value the 10th represents to the IEM market, there is also a statement. The statement is explaining how Penon improved, that they made a better IEM than their past TOTL Flagship “Volt”……yet priced it at an insane $499.00 instead of the Volt’s $799.00. Let me explain……the Volt is and was one of my favorite IEMs of all time, mostly because it plays everything I hand to it. The Volt is quite simply one of the most well-rounded IEMs I’ve encountered. Yet the 10th Anniversary is also just as well rounded…….except the 10th has better contrasts which in itself makes it more vibrant and vivid. The 10th Anniversary went forward with a bigger, faster and deeper bass ability. The 10th’s treble is brighter becoming as such bigger and involving, but also textured and dense? To think we have two less Sonion EST drivers (playing) in the treble department, than the Volt’s 4 Sonion ESTs? I don’t know how this is even possible, except for new models of Sonion EST drivers? And finally you would think (because life teaches us) that in order to have more someplace that we have to give-up something else? Well……laughing, that is not the case. Yes, the Penon 10th Anniversary has a less involved midrange than the Volt…I mean everything in the world does. But nothing, and I mean nothing is raining on our parade here?

The commemorative/festive Special Edition wouldn’t let you down, I mean how or why would Penon make all these 10 years worth of IEMs with a signature midrange and fail to included it with the Anniversary Edition? What they did is offer a balance, a balance and a new sound to to introduce the next 10 years!

Sound:
Bass/tone technicalities:

We all know that sound signatures (even if great) still only gets us so far if technicalities are in question. And I’m somehow starting off the sound section with technicalities, because that is the single thing that separates the 10th from its price point brothers and sisters………the 10th is simply better…..that’s all. Lets start off with what fireworks the bass drivers do.

10th Anniversary: 2x 6mm crystalline plated biofilm dynamic driver for low frequency

Fan 2: 2 x 6mm dynamic driver for low frequency

The thing is after the Fan 2 had a relatively neutral bass, seeing these drivers once more in action was a reason for attention. You see both have 2X 6mm bass drivers, yet the two responses could not be more different. I would even go so far as to call the 10th bass as opposite to the Fan 2. The 10th bass is a whole different animal. The thing was the Fan 2 took a little finessing to get the bass right, for me anyway. I needed to align the Fan 2 with a warmer DAP and a cable that introduced warmth thus enlightening the sound signature. Where the 10th differs is I can use any cable, any DAP or any ear-tip and reach a level of bass satisfaction. Of course at times there is a slight increase in bass and other times a slight loss, except all these changes are minimal and afford freedom of choice. Basically what I’m trying to say is the bass is never too much or too little, but obviously will be notices of rounder or slightly more physical bass, but never in my cases is it ever too much of deficient? Truly I don’t know how this was done? The reason I bring this up is it is a big deal, and accounts for multiple listeners reporting in on an IEM being this or that. This one concept is of major importance on a public forum, at least trying to understand a particular IEM’s sound profile, it is. But it's most important to you, because it means whatever source/cable you use the 10th with your fine.

Due to the two 6mm in each IEM we are now experiencing a faster take-off and stops. This is why 2 DDs are more effective than one larger on. But more than that, typically they make cleaner bass that holds more detail……and we have that, except this particular style of bass is both big, full and deep, yet speedy. Yep, 2 X bass drivers do both quantity and quality. Smaller faster diaphragms, but two so double the surface area…….simple math, only you will hear it! But more than that, there is a charmingly pure separation into the stage where this bass is focused and detailed holding both texture and oomph.

Treble tone/technicalities:

With half the Sonion ESTs in action (than many IEMs have) you would be forgiven for guessing there may be a loss of something, once again the compromise theme talked about. And again, I don’t have any answers to why nothing is lost? All I’m doing is listening and reporting in as to what I hear. You see we are conditioned to believe that the better the IEM is the more transparent the it is. The more transparent it is the more clear you hear the personality of the DAP. Not enough treble and maybe you hear the playback as dull, or a spicy DAP............then you may encounter too much treble. And while these concepts may be true for the majority of audiophile IEMs…..thats not what is going on here.

This single feature is one of our strong points.

What this means in practical use is if I lend my 10th Anniversary out to a friend, even if he has totally different sounding equipment than I, he will still hear a large extent of the 10th’s character……meaning it will not be that different. Now let that sink-in for a moment. It basically means that no matter how he is powering the 10th, he will arrive at musicality…..in other words synergy. Yep. Let that sink-in. How this is done I’m not sure, but even with-in the Penon/ISN line there are going to be found a wide range of how product responds to signal. The Volt gets 10/10 in this arena, and the 10th also gets 10/10 in this arena. The treble timbre is approached in a true to life demeanor, this means that very little if any metallic tone or steeliness is found. Once again this often is a feature found in a response to different styles of amplification tone. The subtle ways a metallic tone will rear its head is often dependent of source........being brighter tones out of the source can exacerbate the issue, to seemingly bring the new (unwanted) tones to life. And just as powerful, darker warmer amplification, and digital to analogue converters, can subdue such artifacts into a form of non-noticeability. IEMs also have this feature to where they can go over-the-top with being too spicy and/or reveal this timbre issue, or be subservient to whatever the (off) brand BA character passed-up by the main IEM builders here. Some designers try and tune a driver (darker) into sonic positioning regardless of its true demeanor. What I’m trying to say is often builders will get a deal on off-bands and still find a way to utilize the tone regardless of the timbre issue. Though most of the time you will know what they are doing in driver placement as the darker tone is realized, in an attempt to bypass this phenomena. Here Penon have chosen the very best products. So it’s the same as a meal, want a commemorative meal, one that will remembered and stamped into the memory of those that partook of it……then use the best ingredients, and get truthful and provocative results.

2x Sonion EST for ultra-high frequency
1x Knowles BA for high frequency
1x Sonion BA for middle frequency

As we know when cooking there is more to it than just good ingredients. Yet give those ingredients to a master chief and watch how he makes them work. It’s no riddle why I like Sonion BA noise makers, they perform the most realistic tone and timbre in the business. But here there is something more, as while the 10th is not the most detailed, there is a vibrant tonal character which leaves the listener sedated? Still I have to ask myself what else I could possibly ask for? While dramatic and real sounding, the treble never challenges my hearing offering-up stridence or sibilance to be heard. It’s this fine-line of walking just the right path, that is so very hard to put into words? But just like making my more forward and trebly DAP sound inviting and real, the 10th somehow works its magic to also include totally listenable sound from a darker treble source. Meaning both styles of playback sound correct, yet still relay a separate small clue as to their character. It’s more that there is staging changes and instrument size changes which take place from changing DAPs, but never a drive into the bad side of town? Because normally for a treble to be exciting it needs to stay right at that critical line, and not trespass into the heat zone, only here the masterful tuners at Penon have other ideas in store. Believe me, I’m just as surprised (to write this) as you are to read this, and I forgive you for being a sceptic. Simply another trait that Penon has used to reach a level of success that others can only dream of arriving at.

The Penon midrange tone/technicalities:
A lot of fuss has already occurred since the 10th came out. Arriving in May of 2023, I was not the very first at hearing it, but instead had other IEMs to focus my attention on. While just short of 60 days late arriving at the Anniversary party here, I still kept-up to what others disclosed as to the mid-range. Once more people are going to be surprised as finding a first in this style of tune from Penon. And staying with our theme of giving and getting, some few have commented as to the quality of mid-range. I mean most all of Head-fi centers around the fact that a subtle V diminishes the midrange to gain access to the treble and bass…..right. It’s almost like the story about the birds and the bees your parents told you about when you were little. Facts of life right? Wrong again. This is not a story about the birds and bees…..in-fact we can basically do what ever we want if we truly know what we’re doing here. And that’s the key, this is not Penon’s first rodeo, and they surly are not going to leave anything out of their precious 10th Anniversary Model. Nothing is left out, you see.........you can truly have it all, if you play your cards right.

If I question the midrange the first thing I question is vocals. How do they sound? Also concerning midrange, there may be an effect of soundstage from midrange. Not always, but all of us that have done this for any length of time will tell you normally soundstage and midrange ability go hand in hand. But also I need to include midrange is actually the most personal and often the place where folks will have issues. There is a feature of midrange that emphasizes the character more than you think. I say this because often I’m simply enamored by a bass quality, be it the texture or amount of bass, same as treble where many times I’m simply amused as to the character of treble, yet when there is a specific change to how they want to do the midrange, I’m full-on noticing it and not on-board. Now such experimentation can actually be a couple of ways, one the Harman curve has dialed in a pedestrian no-thrills style of tune, one that puts me to sleep even in the middle of the day. That or there will be an annoying boost right an the wrong FR which goes to add clarity but at the expense of making the IEM a time-bomb, you don't know when it will go off into the heat zone, or just marginally arriving at the heat zone, when you least expect it to. Then there is the simply off midrange…….yep! This style of midrange takes artistic leeway to give you the wrong bump into the midrange signature, but the manufactures are hopping you still like it. Why……because they don’t know or understand the ability to tune correctly. Well there is absolutely none of those shenanigans going on here.

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The looks:
I will level with you, I wasn’t sure about how the 10th looked when I first saw it. I actually know people that won’t buy something just on how it looks. These are very personal items here, items that actually go inside your body to produce sound, so it’s no wonder that folks are so critical as to looks. But more than that there needs to be a relationship formed in how the IEM represents itself. First off how many IEMs have you seen that you write-off instantly due to how different or wild they look? You just know that upon ownership you can’t look at it day in and day out. Maybe as a group we are spoiled? It is just there is an ocean of IEMs for sale at this moment in time, so we can be choosy. But I knew that the 10th didn’t look exactly like it did in the photos, I simply knew. It’s still a little bright in real life, yet the 10th has to have a look to it, I mean what are they going to do, make an Anniversary IEM and make it black? No, this IEM should show its colors and have a festive vibe to it. How many things in life have an acclimation period to ownership, one that once you’re past the initial shock, it’s all good? The other really important concept has to do with modern marketing, now maybe you don’t want to be a personal billboard (out-and-about) for Penon, still if you are on board with the look and think it’s fun, then all is well. At least you can tell it apart from the rest of the IEMs in your collection.

The thing is the 10th has other plans for you………yep, there is a program that you are jumping on-board whether you like it or not. The 10th is showing you what you like, not the other way around. Yep, it’s like that. This maybe happens due to you just liking the sound? I don’t know, my favorite color for IEMs is black? But the 10th grows on you, then it grows some more, then finally you’re in love with this color and wish all IEMs held this quirky charm. I mean in normal room light it’s actually very subdued? Lol

The Anniversary Accessories Box and Storage Box:
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Just when you think you have seen it all, Penon once more out-does themselves. And this introduction I know for sure was not planned-out. You see after the very first 10ths were mailed out, and the product was posted for sale, this wild 2 piece case duo emerged. Somehow at the last minute Penon acquired this case set-up. Now if you’ve had any experience with Chinese made IEMs and their cases included, this case set-up is confusing to say the least. Why? Because all the Chinese cases are fake and an attempt to look like leather, but rarely are in fact. So out-of-the blue to have these two cases as an included feature, different from the stock original pair is way cool. And the two cases include extras too, the felt liner for the bottom of the circular one, the magnetic latch on the small rectangular one. All and all simply another addition to show Penon aren’t messing around here. The fasteners on the big round case are surprisingly well made being they are mounted inside with little gold rivets and seem like that could actually resist the rigors of daily use? Even the inside of the lid is finished with the same glossy leather as the top, going and matching the felt insert. The side buttons can be flipped-over to the side as a way to still keep your IEMs protected at home yet with the case functioning still not latched. The smaller accessory case has a soft unfinished interior and it almost seems too nice to use for the brush, ear-tips and shirt-clip?

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Here is the CS819 cable with the older black 2Pin connectors. Since then red and blue 2Pin connectors have been added.

The cable:
Such items as the included CS819 cable have been in use for a few years, being included with the Penon Serial, the Vortex and now the 10th. Such a cable could be looked at as simply a necessity and something Penon just includes so you can use the thing. When in reality it’s a $49.00 cable that has been carefully chosen so if you don’t believe in cables affecting sound, or don’t want to increase your expenditure on the IEM, you’re still guaranteed success. Sonically the CS819 is ever-so-slightly warm, yet still lets the bulk of the signature from your DAP through. In testing I found the CS819 to be relatively transparent while never altering any one point of interest in the signature. Meaning the basic demeanor of your equipment can be left alone, while the ergonomics are fantastic. Remember Penon is first a cable company, they made cables before ever starting on IEMs, so they both understand cables and wouldn’t let the sound signature of their Anniversary IEM be compromised in any fashion.

The build/ear-tips:
The 10th Anniversary is on the big side. Yet a bigger size also has its benefits, while being relatively low-weight at only 4 grams, the size to me is perfect. The shape is also just right. These are in-between medium and big, but they also have a way of blocking outside noise just by their fit. They are at the moment in my ear without a cable just checking the noise occlusion. I have a fan on in the room and can still hear it with no music playing, but the sound is reduced by about 80%. The nozzle length is singularly almost the most important feature. Nozzle length goes and shows two very important aspects of fit. One it is responsible most of the time as far as how far away the IEM is from your ear. The second related feature is if correct you have a wide range of tip choices. These are absolutely perfect in nozzle length. What this does is allow me to use my favorite ear-tips, which are shown in the photographs here and workout with the IEM tested about 80-90% of the time. So I’m using wide-bore but also short length (donuts) for maximum stage and a carefully tuned bass. There is also a wonderful bevel on the end of the nozzle which holds the tips on in the perfect place. None of that having to check positioning each time I put them in my ear. This nozzles actually seem to show a slightly new dimension in design for Penon. Often metal nozzle construction works better, but truly this is an example by example style of fitment, where here it’s really good, just right. Due to positioning and fit/weight there is no strange (weight) forces on the ear-tips which can affect this stye of tip. Here we are given a single vent which makes the bass and other frequencies breath, as well as guaranteeing no internal ear pressure build-up. Such a design uses a single 3D printed medical grade resin build along with a single resin faceplate. The 2Pin connections are perfectly flat/flush at the side, allowing ease of use when rolling cables. As talked about earlier there are 2 6mm drivers which are easily seen, combined with 2 BAs, a Sonion for the mids, and a Knowles BA for the highs. An added Sonion EST X2 set-up has been arraigned for the ultra-highs.

2x Sonion EST for ultra-high frequency
1x Knowles BA for high frequency
1x Sonion BA for middle frequency
2x 6mm crystalline plated biofilm dynamic driver for low frequency

Due to being only 4 grams each but medium-large in size, I personally get optimum fit and placement.

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Packaging:
Not only do the 10th Anniversary come with the leather cases, they also come with plenty of stuff to go inside those cases. Nine different high quality silicone ear-tips, an IEM brush, a cable tie, a round felt liner, a shirt clip and of course the IEMs themselves and CS819 cable. The cable has gone through a few changes over the years which would bore you to hear about, but this latest version has red and blue 2Pin plastic connectors. Due to the red and blue painted rings on the cable 2Pin holders the extra colored plastic is a little redundant, yet nice none the less.

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Cable rolls:
This is by far one of my most favorite parts of the review. Why? Because I’m not really sure what the outcome will be. I choose the test subjects for a number of reasons, one being instinctual. Yep, never forget to guess as there may be sonic joy to be discovered. Also from reading the forums and seeing the pictures, I got a good idea as to peoples favorite match-ups. Still a few of these cables will be a first to find out what the outcome will be. Also remember cable rolls are incredibly personal as there are quite a few variables in action.

1) Your DAP.............is it warm or dark or bright, or midrangy?

2) What ear-tips are you using and how does it affect sound.

3) Your personal hearing and ear-anatomy.


4) Your sonic preferences. Much of this is not understood, except people like various levels of bass, different levels of treble….different ideas of correct.

Though we do know that commonalities are discovered and (the same cable) can be used across wide groups of people, each with different musical tastes and sonic preferences. These musical affirmations can in-fact be quite common where often many will agree about the sonic results, many times with-out being in communication with one another, spread-out across the world. This discovering later just goes to one more step to offer proof that these cable changes are real. Though not everyone hears them, and many people have different levels of hearing, with no one being any better than the other, or being totally right or wrong in their ideas. As such this style of cable rolling can often align a monitor into better clarity, or subdue and unwanted personality trait which comes about from a particular DAP and IEM use. The best out come can be found to hold a cornucopia of positive results, which means really that we don’t necessarily have to land on a single cable, that many can work out. Typically more well rounded IEMs afford this phenomenon.

Penon Vocal Cable: $69.00
ISN G4 Cable: $99.50
Penon OSG Cable: $299.00
Penon Bass Cable: $79.00
Penon Leo Plus Cable: $249.00
Penon Space Cable: $99.90

Penon Obsidian Cable: $149.00

Let’s start off with many folks extra additive cable, the new Penon Vocal Cable. Also before I get started I want to state again that the included cable is perfectly fine, in fact the first half of this entire review was written while using the include CS819 cable. Reason being is that Penon could have included any cable, but they had an idea as to how they wanted the 10 Anniversary to sound. You can purchase the 10th Anniversary and get 100% of the enjoyment out of it, as it sounds great with the included cable. You never have to change cables. But what we are up to here is sound design, making maybe an IEM just 5% or 8% better, maybe the sound simply fits our ear anatomy better. Remember due to everyone being different, we could be simply altering the DAP and 10th Anniversary IEM to arrive (at times) possibly to the original intended CS819 sound. Other times there are profound changes taking place that are understood and expected in sound character from the cable which is found to occur to be parallel with many different IEMs. Each IEM showcasing its very own rendition of a signal mixed with the personality of the cable.

All testing done with the Sony WM1Z, 10th Anniversary, and wide-bore silicone ear-tips.

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First the Penon Vocal Cable:
This particular cable is like a mascot. Yep, a show of zest that has somehow got ahold of Penon. It’s representative of Penon’s message, that good audio and fun audio doesn’t have to cost and arm and a leg, that a good cable is priced still for the masses. Now it does represent Penon, but I’m not so sure about the look representing Penon Audio? I’m more centering in on the value and the imagination brought forth in 2023. So what do we have? We are on offer a wider stage than the CS819, an almost smoother/brighter yet bigger example of how sound can be. As guessed Vocals are more forward and the bass is sequestered into its own zone. But the value here is something more (more to me anyway) there is a fine spreading-out of imaging that is the bee’s knees. Where once the bass is slightly curtailed.......thus what comes about is this stage, think of it as added stage through both balance and ability. What ever is the reason for this I like it, I like it a lot. While there is no denying that there is also a slight thinness present as a shift from stock, but that’s what “audiophiles” are into right? But nothing is out of the ordinary as far as acceptability. All is good, and better than good. I can recommend this as the singular aftermarket cable due to it being incredibly balanced with the 10th Anniversary. Meaning if you just wanted one cable and you wanted to ever so slightly reduce the dynamics (tighten bass and treble) and yet broaden the stage, this would be your ticket.

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The ISN G4 Cable:
Penon makes the ISN brand, it represents further ideas of creativity for Penon. And…..well I have a disclosure to make. Since I got the 10th Anniversary 7 days ago, I have been using the CS819 and the ISN G4 50/50. Why? It’s kind a like my go to cable. You know how it is, we are all creatures of habit. We start to favor one thing and keep going. Also the G4 looks great with the 10th Anniversary IEM, at least I think so. The Graphene added to the cable means that it will bring this Graphene character to whatever you hook it up to. Basically it adds soundstage except that stage is a little warmer than straight silver as an add, and it’s kind a note weighty. Yep, less energy than silver and a more thicker outcome, if you can believe it or not?

A little more dramatic than the Vocal……….imaging is slightly bigger and holds an ever so slight tinge of added authority. To sum it all up, this is the note weight I mentioned earlier. But now in my testing, I must admit that the differences were far less noticeable than with other IEMs. Remember at the start of the review I talked about well-roundedness, well this often is a result. Where there are sonic changes is noticeable between cables, it just that everything has been smoothed out by the 10th Anniversary, and we are (it seems) never in any danger of getting into trouble. What I mean by trouble is too hot in areas. I talk like a kid in a candy store saying I’ll have this one and this one. And that’s just how it is, if you want a thicker slightly bigger sound get the ISN G4 over the Penon Vocal. To my ears the boost in midrange (width and tone) and added warmth which goes along with it is the perfect match for the 10th Anniversary.

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The Penon OSG Cable:
The OSG is one of my prized cables. In so many ways it’s a fixer of sorts. Like if you had a water leak you would call the plumber, well here the Penon OSG has smoothing abilities. But more than that it adds a blackness of background and has Graphene also which adds Graphene flavor. Once again a little like the last cable in that the OSG thickness up the sound and has a warmer yet thicker midrange, in comparison to straight silver additives. The OSG can add density and clarity to treble too, and even trim-up the bass…..setting it farther back and putting fancy clothes on it. Yep, the OSG is a polisher and offers a slight character all it’s own, that’s why I love it so. You see this blackness of background has a way of adding clarity, where any lost harmonics are cleaned-up and aligned.

Oh Gawwwd!
What is this? Really what style of sorcery is this? This, this is the very best I have heard so far today. Truly I had no idea this would happen, I just got done writing that the 10th Anniversary was slightly unmovable? Boy was I wrong? This isn’t even a question of taste or anything like that? I’m going to leave my past ill directed paragraph in place as a reminder that you can never truly guess what’s going to happen with cables.

So let me explain what I hear:
Stage yep, biggest ever so far. Except there is now space between sonic elements. And the timbre, for once here today it’s better. I have said that before with other try-outs of the OSG, that it was aligning timbre……..if such a thing is true……I don’t know? But there is an open blackness where elements are coming to life. It’s tighter, it’s clearer and deeper, but not in the way copper is thought of deeper, it’s in a 3D alternative universe deeper, a side reality kind of different. Simply the harmonics are more true to how you would want them to be, more real……I guess? This was the singular biggest surprise of the week. Right here. And….I will not go on, but the mids are incredible with the OSG! I have made my point! I’m pretty sure this is the cable that will stay with the 10th Anniversary always and always.

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The Penon Bass Cable:
I will admit I did try this for a bit earlier in the week….curiosity got the best of me. Coming out at almost the exact same time, both are dressed as twins. And in so many ways they really are made for one another. The difficult thing that I could not foresee was the previous OSG cable mayhem. I mean that’s a tough act to follow. But once again we are brought size, I mean this is what the folks who are using this combo must be perceiving? That and there is this wonderful coherence to everything. This is more like a Polaroid color photograph verses the Kodachrome 64 color of the OSG. Imagine a tidy smooth world where everything's color is in place. Like looking at a Polaroid snapshot, everything is correctly toned and nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing too bright, nothing too dark. This would be a sound designers goal to hand to his boss, perfect balance. Drums kind a float yet still have authority and texture. Nothing is strange, and things are as intended, yet with a perfect bounce. The bass is there, more than the Vocal Cable, but it is in its place, where due to this place the midrange seems way bigger? Everything is somehow very very connected? Balance, yet not all the contrasts of the OSG. There is a different kind of vividness here, more linear in approach? A total keeper, and now I know why this cable gets recommended as it is a big, big gain over the CS819. A style of spread-out luxury that never ends. Great! Maybe more exactly like the 10th Anniversary sounds all the time, its natural pureness, I know that sounds like a strange to say (natural pureness) about a cable named “Bass”..........but that is how I hear it?

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Penon Leo Plus Cable:
The added authority is there, but not the technicolor of the OSG, more airy and pushed up into the highs. Effortless that comes from seeing something way up high drifting in the wind……where is it going? Oh a balloon OK. Where am I going with this, I must be crazy? Except do you actually know you’re crazy if you are? The floating quality could be coming from the music I’m listening to, except I hear this song all the time and it’s never so airy and down right smooth. Really this would be a sound most anyone could get into. The shock is big splashy additives out into the stage making a new stage that you were not informed existed before. Treble it slightly brighter which goes with this airiness. And bass has more definition than the Bass cable and of course the Penon Vocal cable. Probably this would get second place so far? And maybe number one depending on what the listener was after? Not quite as black of background as the OSG, but still utilizing that special feature which adds separation and drama.

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Penon Space Cable:
This should be fun. The Space is a doubling-up of the OS133 cable making the firehose bigger in diameter thus more water through. It’s giant and serves the purposes of those brave enough to manhandle it around. Though you will note how it is separated into two parts thus getting an ounce of maneuverability over the Penon Bass cable. Personally there are a number of IEMs that sound like no other with this cable. While the cable almost leaves the sonics alone, the size of imaging is enlarged. I’m from California where everything is bigger, wait that’s Montana, no wait, that is where the sky is big, everything is truly bigger in Texas. So just imagine for a moment that our signature is almost the same, only with bigger size you get separation of elements.

Really the Space cable is way better than guessed. What’s the deal today, no failures like normal? Maybe it was the selection of cables I used? I mean I’m not going to looking for trouble, it ruins the vibe, but if your curious about a cable match-up shoot me a PM and I would be happy to test it out for you if I have it. This once again shows the 10th Anniversary being its total self, 100%. And that is everything to cheer about. Yep, this is top tier playback, bigger than maybe everything as there are no suppressors in action. Just larger than life, and smooth to hilt. And just like I predicted........size of separation that you can look around, it’s so big. I could easily see Penon including the Space as the cable for the 10th Anniversary. Actually it’s better than the Bass and Vocal cables, just due to the clarity at hand. And there is no augmentation to the Bass........you get the feeling the Space is letting it all through!

Now here’s the thing. What started as a mundane cable test process was soon taken to the next level by the Penon OSG cable. Such new sonic attributes were showing that nothing needed to be corrected, only some of the character enhanced, it was a little darker yet surprisingly dramatic? Drama from intensity of vibrancy and blackness of background. Now the Space is probably just as good of cable, some may even like it better than the OSG. Why? More natural that’s why. But more than that, the 10th Anniversary Commemorative Edition has a pureness to it that if a cable comes along and just adds space between the imaging, which in turn opens the size-up, then in many ways that’s all we need as an improvement over stock. You see the 10th is so well balanced that we are never looking for correction, but simply enjoying a slightly different playback. Really the performance of the Space has a way of getting under your skin, and may just be the very best cable additive to our 10th IEM?

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The Penon Obsidian Cable:
The perfect (wind-down) cable to end these cable explorations. Now remember, I truly believe in the found well-roundedness of the 10th Anniversary, which means it goes with pretty much every cable…..well at least every cable I tested today. The Obsidian is another cable used often to put our fires, or to align a response more to one’s wishes. The Obsidian with the Noble Audio K-10 Encore was one of the single best cables I ever used with the Encore. Why? It warmed-up the response by adding the girth of gold and smoothed the treble shelf, while still offering it’s own style of stage and subsequent technicalities. Here with the 10th it is drawing down the spacial expansion from the previous Space cable……bringing the intensity down a notch. Smoother more relaxed. The Space has a hint of silver so very crucial to the Space’s exquisite imaging. Where the Obsidian is using gold and copper only (zero silver) and parlaying a more compact and dense response. While I wouldn’t call this sleepy, it’s more going that direction, which double confirms my winner in the Space Cable union today!

Cable tests conclusions:
First off I thought (assumed) the 10th Anniversary was going to be easy going in our cable tests, never showing a hot temper, nor dull personality. And cable tests did go that way, yet there were still surprises, such surprises tell a story. The truth of the story is that the 10th Anniversary is open for improvement, yet easygoing enough to go with many cables. Do not take that easygoing as lifeless or without character, as it’s more about having both correct/balance and true/natural timbre as a response due to driver combinations. Hence we don’t need cables for correction, only adding soundstage at times, or character with other cables combined with soundstage. You see cable-rolls are an avenue to understanding an IEMs personality further, a way to poke-it and at times wake the IEM up, or simmer it down. And while I can’t totally judge which cable you will like best with the 10th, I can tell you that the Vocal Cable and Bass Cable altered the purity to a point, while the result were fun, yet not the bast. So you have a choice of maximum self realization of the character inside of the Space response, or the distilled slight vividness and blackened soundstage of the Penon OSG Cable. Number three goes to the Penon Leo Plus offering a big imaging and slightly more airy communication with the 10th Anniversary than the OSG Cable. And finally the ISN G4, the old standby, kind of like the consistent loyal partner which goes with a large amount of IEMs and delivers the goods. Only here today was a surprise in that it was the most used cable besides the CS819, yet was outclassed by the Penon Space, the OSG and the Leo Plus. What does all this mean? Simply that it’s one persons idea as to playback, for better or worse, except in reality the win-win was so much more perceived than any loses, due to the 10th’s character.

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IEM side-by-side comparisons:
This is where we challenge personal memory, and often a new reality is discovered. Here to try and equalize everything I’m using the Sony WM1Z, the Penon OSG Cable and the same ear-tips (except the IER-Z1R) on my favorite IEMs. Left to right top row the Penon Volt, Nobel Audio K-10 Encore and the ISN EST50. Bottom row left to right is the Penon Globe, the 10th and the Sony IER-Z1R.

Penon Volt, 4 Electrostatic, 2BA and 1DD-$799.00
Nobel Audio Kaiser 10 Encore, 10BA-$1850.00
ISN EST50, 2 Electrostatic, 2BA and 1DD-$449.00
Penon Globe, 2BA and 1DD-329.00
Penon 10th Anniversary, 2BA, 2 Electrostatic and 2DD-$499.00
Sony IER-Z1R, 1BA and 2DD-$1698.00


The Penon Volt v the 10th Anniversary:

Starting out many may be on the fence (already having the Volt) and wondering just how different it is from the 10th Anniversary and if it is a valid purchase offering any differences? With the weight of the Volt being 6 grams and the 10th 4 grams there is little difference there. And while the Volt is a smidge wider, the 10th is taller. The nozzle-ends of the 10th are a hair larger in circumference. Part of this may be that you can see the actual sound tubes inside the 10th, where the slightly smaller Volt nozzle uses the resin for the very end of one of sound tubes, and filters making-up the other two. Also the nozzle ends of the 10th have a slightly larger tip holder, being thicker. The OSG Cable really dials in the Volt adding an unexpected additive to the bass, making it really good. While in so many ways the Volt is the opposite of the 10th, especially with how it does strings. Yep, midrange strings are more illustrated and worked-out with the Volt. I can even go ahead and call the strings more real. Volt vocals are also bigger and hold that aspect of real-life that the 10th can’t quite get too. The 10th bass is a little more forward and at the same time sculpted. 10th’s vocals are less detailed but the upper midrange/lower treble takes and adds clarity where that was always one lacking area of the Volt. The 10th is cleaner and while offering a more stripped down midrange approach, it has way more contrast in the end.

The Nobel Audio K-10 Encore v the 10th Anniversary:
The K-10 Encore goes ahead and also improves in the bass department with the Penon OSG cable. Blacker background and wider clarity on offer. Still the very different aspect would be the treble shelf of which Encore almost goes into the no-go-zone……..just right at the edge. Yet inside of that experience we are gifted with a giant soundstage, a bigger upper midrange event, than the 10th ever hoped to achieve. Still after spending a week with the 10th as my main focus, the Encore comes off steely and of a metallic tinge, not that that was something new to me, it’s just the better timbral accuracy of the Penon 10th shows once again a warmer more inviting style of brightness. In all truth the Encore does better with OCC cables, or a cable like the Penon OBSIDIAN or ISN GC4, yet we can still judge both the IEMs together here.

The ISN EST50 v the 10th Anniversary:
The Penon OSG cable happens to be one of my most favorite cables with the EST50, if not the single all time favorite? And this is a rewarding comparison being just like the Volt, the EST50 shares some DNA with the 10th Anniversary. Where in many ways the 10th is a more complete tune with less marginal drawbacks (technically speaking) than the Volt……….still the moment you hear the Volts midrange you stop for a second, you stop to smell the roses. To bass heads the EST50s low end may do the same, to stop them dead in their tracks. As the EST50’s bass is just that much more, more in size yet slightly slower, but more forward. Now here is the confusing part, the OSG does a number to the ISN EST50 vocals making them more vivid, and really I can’t find any fault like I was planning to. Still as far as midrange and treble the 10th comes off more brisk. A shade more vibrant and harmonically complex than the EST50, where I really think this was the goal for Penon designers, to find a wider form of entertainment in the midrange and treble from the EST50, and they succeeded. IMO

The Penon Globe v the 10th Anniversary:
For many the Globe just won’t go away. Meaning at the price and age of it you would think it would have been passed by or bettered by todays ideas of IEM playback. And I know this is getting old, but the OSG is again the best cable to hear with the Globe playback. IMO, I mean if cables make a change and breath new life into an IEM, why not use them. Here is almost perfect balance and vividness in playback, but not quite as large as what the 10th has going on. Less parts inside the little Globe. But less parts also means there is a chance of less congestion, a cleaner truer to life and calmer idea of playback. Obviously the bass doesn’t go as visceral and as showy as what we have daily with the 10th. The Globe is way smaller than the 10th, and while not quite as up-front with midrange and treble-textures and authority. Still the over-all stance is still commendable, as the Globe is simply doing what it does……..and I love it!

The IER-Z1R v the 10th Anniversary:
I had to change ear-tips to get fitment, yet all else is the same. Bigger bass than the 10th, more forward, wide and and tall, also slightly better details inside that. Yet when you start to compare price, well……..IER vocals are better in that they are more delineated and find themselves surrounded by more real instrumentation, but not as much as you would think by the price difference. Three drivers in the Sony compared to the six in the 10th, and this singular more focused playback of less drivers, shows a style of clarity and realness that’s difficult to fight with. Still once you take that away there are actually many traits the two hold in common, as the 10th is the closest Penon has ever come to replay of the Sony house sound.

Music Tests:
The introduction of music ideas delineating the 10th’s response could have been placed anywhere in this review, yet having them be near the end works well. Well because while much of my listening was done with the included CS819 cable, I have (after considerable thought) decided to use the Space cable to finish this review. Why? After spending $499.00 for an IEM, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine audiophiles spending the extra $99.90 to get the Space cable. Regardless of all the jokes about the Space’s size, it works rather well after you get used to the Space being one of the bigger cables you have experienced. Also take note that due to the 10th Anniversary’s even-steven demeanor, I could have used any source, any cable (tested) and any genre of music. It’s just that (as you know) some music was simply better than other music. Such styles of music are not better for the 10th Anniversary, and often not better for all IEMs in my collection. But in-fact I will be centering on songs I know and love, and have used to judge countless IEMs. Why? The music is simply recorded well and offers a clearer more realistic ideas of where an IEM is going. You see I have (to the best of my ability) remembered how these specific tones have been replayed in the past, and while music memory falls into the truly unscrupulous territory, it is what it is.

Disclaimer:
Before I get started, I just want to make clear that the set-up I am using is sounding fairly the same with either the Sony WM1A or the Sony WM1Z. Now this is almost a contradiction to understanding transparency. Meaning if an IEM is good it reveals the character of the source. And while that may be true in some circumstances, that is not what is taking place here. As a test I confirmed this back to back using the 10th Anniversary and the Space Cable with both the WM1A and WM1Z. I used the very first music selection we are going to go into today. The only thing that was changed were the DAPs as I have the album on both. At times with other IEMs there is either the WM1A which is better or WM1Z which is the star. The Sony WM1A is showing a more mid-centric playback almost the opposite of the renowned warmer and V shaped Sony WM1Z playback. Now typically the overall effect is the bass being faster on the 1A and there being a thicker more substantial bass character to the 1Z. 1A mids are more forward and the 1Z treble is actually brighter and offers a wider dispersion of that exaggerated treble into a stage.

The differences:
Yet while differences are noted and follow along with understood character, the 10th goes ahead and minimizes the two DAP characters, into a style of wonderful listenability, showcasing the very best personality of both players while still minimizing the differences found. Somehow it shows the 10th Anniversary as being able to quantify whole albums into musical listenability no matter what the source. I touched on this at the beginning of the review, but now it’s even more apparent as a concept. I have experienced this before with other IEMs on occasion, but never to this extent. I am positive your results from different sources will parallel my findings.

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DCD
Anastasis
Kiko
44.1 kHz - 24 bit

Right-off at 00:00 we are met with a composite of cymbals and drums. The there is a beginning cymbal accent right at the 17 second mark, such stylized sonic forms are most likely a sampler. The drum is deep and provocative here holding all the authority needed to make the start dramatic and involving. At 00:18 the true bass arrives…..how dark and brooding can you be? Brendan Perry uses world instruments like a Turkish Saz Baglama Cogur and a Greek Pegasus Trichordo Bouzouki as well as the good old fashioned Les Paul at times. Though I’m pretty sure the Turkish Saz Baglama Cogur and a Greek Pegasus Trichordo Bouzouki are older in design than the Les Paul? Being the predecessor of the guitar means we are gifted with half understanding these notes as well as an exotic newness that never gets old, or worn out. This album Anastasis is 11 years old, but you wouldn’t know it as it sounds fresh like it was recorded yesterday. Typically the Greek Pegasus Trichordo Bouzouki has only six strings, but the one he used live (to play this song) had 8 strings……….whatever you get the message? At 00:38 this stringed instrument hits, and how successful of an introduction to this song. These guitar notes are also processed into both reverb and what sounds almost like a guitar synthesizer. Probably just a regular old synth but mixed in really well? Whatever it is and however it’s done it’s magical and highly effective being simple yet beautiful. And the 10th grabs hold of the song generating the full-vibe for us to intertwine with, 100%.

Don’t know if you were clued-in at the start, but this is my favorite Penon/ISN IEM ever. After 13 prior Penon/ISN reviews it seems like Penon went ahead and added onto what they learned? While having an internet storefront and physical storefront for the last 10 years Penon actually have been inventing stuff even longer. And while the number 10 remains as a symbol at the end of a cycle, I can’t help but think this is also a statement about the future? Kiko is one of my most favorite songs ever and what better way to enjoy it with than my favorite Penon IEM?

To get back to business here and to try explain the unexplainable, there is little if any off-timbre found with the strange guitar. At 1:01 there is an additional synthesizer added, which may partially explain the sound-effects at 00:38? At 01:13 Lisa Gerrard makes her entrance, and what an entrance it is! Her individual voice is one of the main fascinations here. In this set-up the vocals are complete and in the perfect place in the mix. Any negativity reported (about the 10th) is just not true. There is no way Penon would skimp on vocals on their 10th Anniversary Commerative Edition, no way. In-fact the very reason this IEM gets such love from me is that it is simply the whole enchilada, yep it does it all. The heavy authority of the bass in this song, the slightly faint yet seductive yangqin (a Chinese hammered dulcimer) by Lisa Gerrard. Of course there is a chance that other IEMs do vocals a little better, and of course the Penon Volt has a bigger midrange, except love is blind, blind to any drawback there could possibly be. You know why? We are gifted with a bigger stage than I remember the Volt having, we are totally awarded with more treble, and we are encountering a better defined and sculptured bass. The Penon 10th Anniversary does memorable technicalities and offers a straight forward even, complete and correct FR.

With all these features, Kiko is played-back as good as I ever heard it……on any IEM!

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Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL
Batman v Supman OST
New Rules

96 kHz - 24 bit
This is another slightly older recording, but a special one. Yep, one of Head-fi’s own was in-charge of all the audio, everything the music and the talking. But that’s not why I like it, I like it because its technically superior to most OSTs. Little selfish things like the bass has an added distant character that makes this OST one of a kind. The music isn’t too shabby either. New Rules actually has my favorite bass drop of all time. Yep, one single drop. And being my ADHD, OCD, etc…..etc….IEM disorder, I have studied this drop many many times. So much so that I’m pretty sure I know what is sounds like, at least I’m confident about it. We will get into other aspects of this song, except we may as well start at the top? At exactly 01:38 the mother of all things bass takes place. It’s a drop that is somehow performed in a performance soundstage, at least that’s what I’m thinking? Now I’ve heard it all kinds of ways……and I accessed this bass drop the minute I opened the 10th’s package. The CS819 cable does this really really well too, and maybe slightly more detailed but smaller than the Space cable does it. Anyhow…..the twin 6mm DDs nail it, while not totally the fastest or cleanest I’ve ever heard it performed, this judgment call on the 10th being the best Penon has to do with everything, everything the whole package that you get. But in simple terms (the bass drop) gets a 89 out of a perfect 100.

The start of this song shows also shows dramatic percussion. Rewinding to 00:18 the kettle drums hit and I don’t have words to how big they are? All this talk of bigness in soundstage and bass authority may get old, to a normal person, not inflicted with IEM-itus. But to a Head-fi member, to a headphone audiophile, it’s the bread and butter of why we are here, looking for excitement, any way we can get it. I mean I keep rewinding the song and I keep hearing the kettle drums played back over and over, yet each time they sound giant and bigger than I even remember them from 3 seconds ago. It’s this non-stop drama that is the novelty here, and the reason we look for IEMs for entertainment in the very first place. Right before 02:22 and all hell breaks loose there is a sub-frequency galloping, as such it is found and while not the most clear, still present the goods here. Again I’m concentrating on the whole picture here, because there are IEMs that do other specific things well, but it is rare that you find the whole package in place. At 3:15 all heck breaks loose, yep all those lead-up for dramatic purposes, all that work-up, all to this.

Surrounding a throbbing synth metronome we are at the climax, and I was planning to go over the mids and trebles, at least that was the plan, but no, the low-end got the attention. That’s what multiple song reviews are for........completeness. That song was over-the-top really. Don’t listen to it, maybe watch the movie instead. :)

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Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL
Batman v Supman OST
Black and Blue
96 kHz - 24 bit

Black and Blue
Here we are provided with less fireworks. Oh wait…00:43 more reverberated kettle drums………there is no hope for me. Yet to expound on this subject once again, we are shown super fast bass transients due to 2X 6mm woofers doing both the low-down frequency right, but also getting in and getting out just as fast due to the faster moving 2X drivers having 2X the surface area, just like having one 12mm driver only faster to start and stop. The diaphragm is smaller thus being more taunt and offering less out-of-phase movement from driver flex. Thus 2X 6mm are technically superior, if they are implemented right.

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Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL
Batman v Supman OST
Black and Blue
96 kHz - 24 bit

This Is My World
The intro a simple somber piano with a background of sampler. Yet at 00:28 the strings start, kind of a reassuring event bringing back and introducing the full-on orchestral theme. This song is very much a balance of noise and confusion.......then relief. After all the strings we meet up once again with quietness as with-in such there is a question of what sounds come next. You see at times it isn’t the music, but the lack of music that creates drama. At 02:04 we are greeted by the chorus once more. Such a choir compounds in efforts to single out a lone voice, a soprano, still backed by her friends, we can hear the faint room reverb. All is well here and we finally found some peace. Then at 4:24 pianos notes are provided. And while not in anyway forward, they are adequate, and serve their purpose. Once more they reintroduce the theme and violins create the center. It’s times like this when the un-explainable happens with the 10th, there is this union of everything.....a oneness? The fact that this particular section holds many elements…the faint piano still, at 4:45 I hear my favorite bass drop one more time…...returning, with more of a double emphasis. Also at 4:45 we hear the strings again………..and it is not any one thing……….if it was I could explain it to you. Because there is nothing really of stand-out noticeability here at this point. Yet there is a completeness and a feeling…..of what I don’t know, but I feel the music? At 5:10 the piano takes the theme and introduces it afresh. Now the strings become etherial and have a faint luster of positivity….and the song ends.

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Snoop Dogg
Bush
California Roll (Ft. Steve Wonder)

44.1 kHz - 16 bit
The antique drum machine sounds showcase a simple into which obviously gets real at the bass drop at 00:07. The bass is full and authentic showcasing an analogue feel and groove. Just a side note, this album is the ultimate standard held by many referring to modern bass recordings. Such a walk in the park bass wise is what the 10th Anniversary is about. I know of no other IEM in this price point which displays bass so well. It's detailed……fast yet authoritative and clean. But most of all its correct, meaning it simply natural and the way the music was intended to sound, none of these 1/2 way attempts. Sooo many vocal overdubs to finally meet-up with the Fender Rhodes. And…..just so you know, due to this idea of making an IEM a Hybrid, we are gifted with every style of frequency holding it’s own in separation into the stage. The 2X 6mm, the middle Sonion BA, the Knowles treble BA and finally the Sonion ultra-tweeters. Look there is no doubt the bass is big, it’s maybe bigger than it should be, but that is what is on offer……..bass. Yet at the 01:59 the Fender Rhodes continues its playfulness, found way outside in the mix. A harmonica makes its way in, yet like the Rhodes, the message is a sprinkling of sorts falling into the groove provided by the bass. Yet when you are totally on this bass vacation you start to realize Snoop Dogg is in-charge of everything somehow? Wait, I take the back. The bass and Snoop are as one.

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Snoop Dogg
Bush
This City

44.1 kHz - 16 bit
Oh Gawwd. This is why I choose this particular album. Yep it’s all out, a bass happening! This is what bass is, as this is so clear, so truly perfect that it’s like hearing bass for the very first time. This is that ultimate bass standard everyone was talking about…..here right now! And I can feel it, I mean I can actually feel the bass, and not just hear it. If there is only one extra reason to buy these, it’s to listen to how this single song works out. An experience in just how I imagine the producer Pharrell Williams wanted you to enjoy the music.

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KMFDM
AMNESIA DUB
IN DUB

44.1 kHz - 24 bit
Rounding this test session off with a favorite. A little talked about, but almost daily listened to song. The stage is what gets you. The way they decided to go ahead and mix this puppy. Yet after hearing Bush, this albums bass is almost normal. Here KMFDM went ahead and introduced a DUB album, which came out in 2020, yet has a timeless appeal. I’m no expert on DUB music, yet this sticks out in my collection as original. I listen to this song everywhere, so maybe it’s not that great, but you know what happens when you listen to almost anything over and over again, you like it, or like it for a while then get sick of it. But it has been a few years and I’m still on-board here, loving every minute of it. It may be the tone of American singer Lucia Cifarelli, bouncing off the rhythm section? It could be (the) just enough sound effects? Of course it’s the bass, as DUB music always has a foundation in bass notes. Yet the difficult thing here is to make it work, to find a balance, even though there are forces against finding that perfect balance. Now I’m going to boil this down to the most simple explanation for you. Her voice, the sexiness and stance her voice has, the fact that with the 10th, it’s truly all I want from her playback. And the effects, those canned horn samples, way out to the edges. At 00:47 the chorus comes in and it’s perfect. I can hear her breath and feel the airiness of the sonic message, it’s her in full-color, despite the tonal fight with the bass, with the 10th it is so separated and real. Truly I can’t imagine this song any different and being this good. Did I pick a song for the 10th that would showcase it attributes, no……………..I simply found a song that I like. At 01:55 there are these sound effects are undefinable, yet they are so correct in that they are these crisp ideas of things echoing and traveling across the stage…..never repeating to be exactly like before. At 03:37 Lucia Cifarelli returns somehow ever more clearly and smoother heard than ever before, her vocals are more than perfect.

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Conclusion:
This DUB replay and straight-up Rock and Metal are in the 10th’s zone as far as ability, yet let's not sell it short so fast, because to my ears the 10th plays everything! Of course bass slam and treble authority make the most with-in most modern styles of music, the music even asks for this replay. Electronic genres like EDM, or the band Yello are again super effective in having a network of bass and treble which is both correctly replayed and vibrant yet never hot or too bright. For whatever reason the bass even in Yello is textured and dramatic, being that it was always there, but not always heard with such clean texture and vibrancy. Even Extreme Metal with its heavy trebly guitars and grating vocals are a joy to behold. I used the word joy! The 10th makes all Metal listenable, the heavy blast beats and 100 MPH cymbal strikes all somehow work-out. Most of my infatuation probably results in the bass transients, as truly that is one stand out feature here……..where I’m not looking for the ability but it just shows up…..fast bass, and detailed renditions of bass lines in music you know. And while the Volt showed me how the 10th’s mids take a slight backseat as far as midrange technicalities, a phenomenal midrange is still provided in frequency range and becomes the center of attention at times. It's a Penon! Nowhere is this more important than hearing vocals (in all genres) which are both upfront and the center of attention if called for in the song.

So it’s no secret I think this is the best IEM I have heard from Penon/ISN. I haven’t heard the 10BA 4EST Impact, or the 6BA Turbo, the single BA Sphere, or the Legend, but I have heard all other 13 ear-phones. While the Volt has way better midrange, the 10th Anniversary sounds more elaborate and evolved everywhere else. It’s the 10th’s contrasts that pull on my heart strings, more contrast in the upper treble to bass department than the Volt. Penon has taken everything they have learned and added it here, this is a statement product just as much about the 10 years since they opened their store, but a statement about the future of Penon Audio. It’s maybe where they are going the next 10 years from now? Off to the future…………..

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Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch
Blade Runner 2049 OST
Mesa

44.1 kHz - 16 bit
Now I wanted to conclude this review by proving a point. Let’s say that you wanted a little more midrange luster, because truthfully the 10th Anniversary is a subtle V response and the Sony WM1Z is also a subtle V. So breaking out the ISN G4 cable and taking the union over to the more mid-centric Sony WM1A may be a solution when at times you want a little more forward midrange in playback. This is exactly just how well rounded the 10th Anniversary is. We are greeted with open and bright piano and the classic Blade Runner theme. Majestic, wide-open and flawless. At 01:48 a bass drum drops then an accompanying low-end synth (you know the Blade Runner kind). We are left complete, not wanting a thing, fully immersed in the tone of playback.

This review was totally easy to write, it wrote itself due to the inspiration at hand. And if you think reading this review that the 10th Anniversary has your name on it, it probably does!


$499.00
https://penonaudio.com/penon-audio-10th-anniversary-iem.html

Currently Penon/ISN manufactures and sells.

ISN Audio Cable Products:
AG8 Cable
C16 Cable
C2 Cable
C4 Cable
CU4 Cable
G4 Cable
GC4 Cable
GD4 Cable
GS4 Cable
H16 Cable
H2 Cable
H8 Cable
H8Plus Cable
8 Core Cable
S16 Cable
S2 Cable
S4 Cable
S8 Cable
SC4 Cable
Solar Cable
Type C Audio Adapter

ISN Audio IEM Products/Earbud products
D02 IEM
D10 IEM
EST50 IEM
H30 IEM
H40 IEM
H50 IEM
Neo 5 IEM
Rambo Earbuds
Rambo II Earbuds

Penon Audio Cable Products
Bass Cable
CS819 Cable
Fiery Cable
Flow Cable
GD848 Cable
HiFi Balanced Adapter
Penon Impact Cable
Leo Cable
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Mix Cable
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Penon Audio IEM Products
Penon IEM
Impact IEM
Legend IEM
Globe IEM
Serial IEM
Sphere IEM
Volt IEM
Vortex IEM
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Penon Tail Dongle
63 individual personal audio products

Disclaimer:

I want to thank Penon Audio for the love and for the 10th Anniversary Commemorative Edition IEM review sample.

Disclaimer:
These are one persons ideas and concepts, your results may vary.

Declaimer:
A full seven days of burn-in and listening was achieved to guarantee sound maturity.

Equipment Used:
Sony WM1Z Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm and 3.5mm
Sony WM1A Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm and 3.5mm
Sony TA-ZH1ES DAC/AMP Firmware 1.03
Electra Glide Audio Reference Glide-Reference Standard "Fatboy" Power Cord
Sony Walkman Cradle BCR-NWH10
AudioQuest Carbon USB
PENON AUDIO TAIL Dongle DAC/Amplifier 4.4mm and 3.5mm
Last edited:
Redcarmoose
Redcarmoose
F
fragme76
Fantastic detailed review. I was happy that you covered a comparison with the Z1r. I really was interested for feedback on that. Thankyou!
Redcarmoose
Redcarmoose
fragme76


Thank-you!

Yes, I mean the IER-ZIR is outstanding. Yet it is big and doesn't fit like the 10th. And the fit, comfort and price keep it from people. Yet while bigger bass, wider bass, a more detailed treble (more realistic sounding) make the IER-Z1R legendary, the 10th still has some features which are very similar.

Bosk

1000+ Head-Fier
Penon's 10th Anniversary - an affair to remember!
Pros: Magnificently well-balanced all rounders, great at almost everything.
Cons: Very little complain about at this pricepoint.
Every once in awhile a product comes along that’s annoyingly good at everything.

Without wishing to seem overtly negative, today’s portable audio market has become such an ocean of “good-but-not-great” offerings that analysing the flaws in each can be an effective means of deciding your next purchase – simply choose the IEM who’s shortcomings bother you the least at your chosen price, and away you go!

Now if you’re beginning to pick up a vibe that perhaps the IEM I’m reviewing today – Penon’s latest 10th Anniversary tribrid – may in fact be perfect, rest assured they aren’t. Nothing made by human hands ever is, and at the risk of veering down the poetic side of the street I’ll muse that true beauty lies in life’s imperfections, not in a fruitless quest for faultlessness.

So Penon’s 10th Anniversary IEMs aren’t perfect, but they’re annoyingly good. What does that mean, and why should you care?



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Earlier this year I was charmed by Penon’s Impact IEM, with its’ luxurious midrange and effortless resolution. Yet lacking a dynamic driver, the Impacts’ bass texture & slam occasionally left me wanting.

So when Penon announced a new product to commemorate their 10th anniversary, a hybrid IEM containing not one but two DDs my interest was peaked. After reaching out to them they agreed to provide a set of 10th Anniversary earphones at a discount on the understanding I’d pen a review.



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Let’s get the formalities out the way. The eponymously named 10th Anniversary IEMs (just “10th” from now on) retail for USD $499 and contain 2x 6mm DDs for the lows, 1x Sonion BA for mids, 1x Knowles BA covering highs and 2x Sonion ESTs for the ultra-highs. Made of blue medical resin with a small vent on top, there’s a total of 3 internal tubes and a 4 way crossover.

With regards to form factor, the 10th are on the larger side – slightly above average for a tribrid with a fairly low driver count, perhaps mostly due to those two DDs. I do find them shapely enough to use for hours without discomfort, but they do not disappear in quite the same way ISN’s slightly smaller EST50s do for instance. They’re comfortable, just not what I’d call petit.



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Packaging​

The 10th arrived in a smallish box with a leather carry case, leather accessories case, three sets of eartips, shirt clip & IEM cleaning tool. Penon have bundled their CS819 cable with the 10th (terminated in your choice of 4.4mm, 3.5mm or 2.5mm plug) which usually sell separately for USD $49. This is a lightweight 8 wire OCC copper & SPC cable, a versatile choice I wouldn’t necessarily feel compelled to upgrade – but regardless stay tuned for cable comparisons later on!



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Please note as I was one of the earlier customers to purchase the 10th, they arrived with a leather case that will not be shipped with subsequent orders – instead, those who purchase the 10th will receive both the two cases pictured above which I think you’ll agree are a substantial improvement.



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Sound Impressions​

Having tested the 10th primarily with a Cayin N8ii DAP (in solid state mode with P+ enabled) using local files stored on an 1TB i400 Micron micro-SD card with my preferred Spinfit W1 tips, the 10th possess either a W-shaped or mildly V-shaped sound signature depending on how you interpret those terms. Their midrange is far too rich & present to be considered V-shaped, so as a low volume listener I’d best describe them as W-shaped.

Indeed the 10th’s standout characteristic may be how superbly balanced they are across all frequencies, reminiscent of Sennheiser’s IE600. The difference here is multiple drivers delivering improved technicalities, which was always the shortcoming of the IE600’s single dynamic driver.

Utilising both DDs for a "low-frequency superposition effect", the 10th deliver a satisfying bass experience as you might expect, tastefully north of neutral with a slight bias towards midbass, but stopping short of veering into L-shaped territory. Despite each driver being just 6mm, the net effect is they’ll satisfy all but die-hard bassheads, who’d be better served by ISN’s EST50s which I’ll compare the 10th with later.



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Like most Penon IEMs, the 10th’s smooth midrange is where a lot of the magic happens. Clearly Penon have chosen to make midrange richness a brand-defining trait, so despite their slight W or V-shaped lean the 10th maintain a satisfying sense of vocal fullness without that feeling of being positioned too far back from the performers.

Treble is delivered with the sort of effortless resolution one expects from EST drivers and did not leave me needing to hunt for detail, particularly compared with IEMs in the 10th’s price range. Tiny details were rendered with sufficient delicacy without a hint of sibilance, so it’s unlikely you’ll be bothered by the 10th’s high frequencies if you happen to be treble sensitive – at least at the lower volumes I listen at. (typically 17/100 on the N8ii in High-Gain)

Technical performance is very good, above what I’d expect at this price particularly with 2 DDs present. The 10th’s stage is satisfyingly wide and surprisingly deep, though the N8ii helps in that regard. Imaging is above average without being exceptional, and dynamics similarly capable. Resolution is well above that of entry-level IEMs, and never leaves me feeling important nuances are being obscured. However those micro details are not quite as effortlessly delivered as I’ve heard from TOTL IEMs costing thousands of dollars, particularly those without DDs.

Nitpicking minor quibbles, although the 10th present a very coherent window on the music, that coherency is a hair less clean due to the presence of 2 DDs. Perhaps removing one would alleviate this minor sense of diffuseness, though doing so would undoubtedly cause other tuning issues.

The addition of more BAs & ESTs would provide that sense of effortless refinement to the midrange & treble one associates with TOTL IEMs, but for their price & driver count the 10th come surprisingly close.

Finally, though I’d argue they walk a tightrope between politeness & aggressiveness almost perfectly, you might feel they err on the side of politeness.



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IEM Comparisons​

ISN EST50 – 1xDD, 2xBA, 2xEST (USD $449)

The EST50s share many similarities with the 10th but do not overlap enough that purchasing one makes the presence of the other redundant. Nor is it easy to quantify one as “better” across the board, a more accurate descriptor would be “different”.

The ISNs are slightly smaller, lighter, and to my ears more shapely than the 10th. I find them more comfortable, but the difference in comfort wouldn’t sway my decision if forced to choose between them.

EST50s are a bombastic V-shaped hybrid with a fun, bouncy sound that is biased towards sub rather than midbass. Bass is massively above neutral, and they demonstrate considerable treble sparkle. Their coherency is slightly above that of the 10th, with marginally better dynamics, and a LOT of bass impact & slam. They’re exciting without being glarey, but do come across as more aggressive.

The 10th pull ahead by sounding significantly more refined, smooth & mature, which can leave the EST50s feeling somewhat raw, one-note or even hollow by direct comparison. The EST50s also have a flatter, slightly narrow stage and will occasionally feel like they’re pushing detail in your face in a way the 10th won’t. If you listen largely to EDM the EST50s may suit you better, but the 10th are superior all-rounders covering all genres.



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Moondrop Blessing 3 – 2xDD, 4xBA (USD $319)

The B3’s are small for their driver count, slightly thinner than the EST50s, and their clear resin shells give the impression of being very well built.

They’re very fast and responsive considering the 2 DDs present, with a wider stage than the 10th and a more effortless perception of resolution.

Unfortunately that’s where the B3 good news ends, because they’re Harman Target tuned. I have nothing good to say about Harman-tuned IEMs which to my ears sound unnatural, absolutely not resembling the tonality & timbre of real instruments.

This explains why the B3’s demonstrate a frustrating sense of diffuseness, with an unacceptably hollow, anaemic thinness that clearly sacrifices frequencies necessary for accurate musical reproduction for the sake of boosting technical performance and prioritising a clinical presentation above all else.

By contrast the 10th deliver similar levels of technical ability without sounding like all life has been sucked out of the music, and are my choice over the B3’s in a heartbeat.



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Kiwi Ears Quartet – 2xDD, 2xBA (USD $109)

The Quartets are budget hybrids, surprisingly large for their driver count, that never give the impression of being just $109 at first glance. They even contain a pair of tuning switches, and I found turning both to the OFF position yielded pleasing results.

Unfortunately it’s only upon listening to them do you realise spending more money might’ve been a good idea.

The Quartets are unashamedly V-shaped, reminiscent of the EST50s but with a midrange that is clearly lacking warmth & richness. That comparison suffers even further when compared to the 10th’s smooth presentation of vocals.

Biased more heavily towards the upper midrange than the 10th, the Quartets do have a decently wide stage without the EST50’s aggressiveness, but make instruments & voices feel much small than on the 10th, with appreciably lower resolution, and a flatter, less dynamic sound that struggles to leave me feeling engaged with the music. In short they fail to match the 10th in any department.



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Cable Comparisons​

Should you upgrade the 10th’s stock cable & what sort of benefit will you find by doing so?

The short answer is yes, the 10th are revealing enough that cable improvements will be readily discernible if your source is up to snuff, but the stock cable is adequate enough you shouldn’t feel pressured to do so.



Penon CS819 – 10th Anniversary Stock Cable (USD $49)

This 8 wire OCC copper & SPC cable is exceedingly well balanced, and has been well chosen as the stock cable.

It features a fairly deep stage, a slight bias towards upper rather than lower midrange, and is extremely light for an 8 wire cable – enough so it’s easy to forget you’re wearing it.



ISN S8 (USD $32.50)

8 wires of OCC SPC with a budget price tag, this is the EST50’s stock cable. Being so light the S8 doesn’t feel like an 8 wire cable, but does bring the V-shaped emphasis we’ve always associated with silver cables.

It delivers a cleaner presentation & blacker background than the 10th’s stock cable, with the absence of CS819’s pure copper resulting in less lower midrange emphasis. I do however prefer the greater musicality & groove of the CS819 for the 10th.



NiceHCK BlackSoul (USD $50)

A 2 wire ‘5 element alloy’ cable with distinctive looks, the BlackSoul is one of the most comfortable cables I’ve tried.

BlackSoul has an interesting way of smoothing out the treble without losing perception of detail, widening the stage in the process, though it does leave it feeling decidedly flat.

Not the best match for the 10th unless you happen find its’ treble a tad peaky.



Penon Vocal (USD $69)

This 4 wire silver-plated OCC copper & gold foil cable is one to wear if you like attracting attention. Despite looking like it was purchased in a Chinese gift shop, the Vocal is a surprisingly high quality cable that’s quickly becoming one of my favourites.

Vocal delivers -as you may have guessed- a very noticeable improvement to vocal articulation with a more forward midrange, which helps balance out the 10th’s slight V-shaped lean. Vocal also delivers improved dynamics and a blacker background, and is one of the most satisfying cable pair-ups with the 10th.



Penon Obsidian (USD $149)

This 4 wire OCC copper & gold plated copper cable is surprisingly heavy, and is one I’ve struggled to appreciate.

The Obsidian is fantastic for pushing vocals forward, improving the 10th’s midrange richness even further. What I don’t like is it projects a very narrow stage, which can almost lead to a feeling of claustrophobia.

If female vocals make up a large slice of your library the Obsidian might allow you to feel alluringly close to the singers you love, but it can struggle with other genres.



Penon Leo Plus (USD $249)

This 8 wire gold-silver-palladium alloy wire is much lighter than the Ares S 8 wire & Martini, doesn’t boost dynamics quite as much, but is better ergonomically.

Leo Plus improves the 10th’s bass quite a bit, more in the midbass rather than sub region, and also expands the soundstage width.

Imaging is improved, perhaps due to treble being emphasised quite strongly. However I notice a slight midrange cloudiness, as if tonality is sacrificed for technical performance.



Effect Audio Ares S 8 wire (USD $279)

This 8 wire OCC copper cable is a beast in every sense. Heavy, with thick earhooks, you’ll struggle to forget you’re wearing it. The Ares S 8 delivers a similarly muscular sound with a very pronounced lower-end emphasis one would expect from this much copper.

The lower midrange & midbass are boosted quite a bit, as are dynamics which is normally the case with 8 wire cables. Imaging is also improved and the stage feels slightly larger. A good choice if you crave a meatier sound for rock music.



Liquid Links Martini (USD $349)

8 wires of gold plated copper & palladium plated silver gorgeousness, I’d love to say the Martini sounds as good as it looks. Unfortunately it’s been a difficult cable to pair successfully, and that remains the case with the 10th.

Martini improves dynamics but unlike the Ares S 8 accentuates upper rather than lower midrange. It widens the stage slightly more than Ares S 8, but doesn’t feel quite as tall.

Martini’s tonality doesn’t sound quite right with the 10th and it can be slightly fatiguing, despite the sound being quite well balanced. Perhaps there’s too much upper midrange?



Liquid Links Venom (USD $1089)

Pairing the 10th with this 2 wire ‘quinary alloy’ cable worth more than double their purchase price doesn’t make much rational sense, but that’s exactly what I love about this hobby. My friend Lycos loaned me this Venom for an upcoming cable shootout so of course I couldn’t resist seeing how much the 10th benefits from it.

Venom improves the 10th’s technical performance more than any other cable tested. Venom has a somewhat v-shaped character, and sub bass in particular feels stronger.

Dynamics are boosted on par with the 8 wire cables, and stage expands similarly, but there’s enhanced resolution with a very black background no other cable could match, and it makes the 10th’s upper treble call attention to itself in a way I haven’t heard before.

No doubt you’d find better value spending more on your IEMs than such an expensive cable upgrade, but pairing Venom with the 10th brought them shockingly close to the performance of a TOTL IEM.



Penon10thAnniversary-1-1024x528.webp

Conclusion​

This has been a difficult review to write, with so little to complain about!

Penon’s 10th Anniversary earphones do just about everything well & perform splendidly with every genre of music I’ve tried. They really only suffer in comparison with IEMs with vastly higher pricetags, and even then are such great all-rounders I can imagine many of us preferring them to TOTL IEMs with more specialist appeal.

I distrust reviews that are glowingly positive and the 10th Anniversaries aren’t perfect. They could be a touch smaller, I’d love if they had more treble sparkle (without upgrading cables) and although they’ve never sounded slow, using 2 DDs means they’ll never have the blistering speed of BA or BA/EST only IEMs. Everything in life is a tradeoff.

Having said all that, I’ll say this – the 10th Anniversary are easily the safest blind buy I’ve come across since the IE600s last year. Which I suppose isn’t very long… but in this hobby even six months can feel a lifetime.

Does that make the 10th Anniversary the love of my life? Ask me when we’re back from our honeymoon!
Last edited:
donkashyap
donkashyap
Among the martini and Ares S 8 wire which you think would pair well with mest mk2 ? ( also considering dita oslo )
szore
szore
Good job!
claud W
claud W
Thanks for the Liquid Links + 10 th reviews. Venom it is.

ToneDeafMonk

Previously known as TheDeafMonk
PENON 10th Anniversay IEM - THE AUDIO VAMPIRE
Pros: What I Liked:
- Included Accessories are top notch , case , cable, tips, cleaning brush all with minimal packaging well done PENON
- 0.78 2 Pin termination for easy cable swapping embedded directly into the resin shell
- Sibilant free highs great for treble sensitive people with lots of extension for details and air.
- Musical balanced W shape sound signature
- PENON Unmistakable House Signature VOCALS
- Fantastic bottom end that goes low and hits hard while blending into the mix with minimum bass bleed into vocals (Cable Dependant) for a more fun IEM vs a neutral tuned
- Vocals in both Male & Female are silky smooth in a organic and lush musical way ( Copied and pasted from every PENON Review LOL )
- Micro and Macro details are a real standout on the 10th
- Hits 80% of the bass quality and quantity of the FiR Audio Xe6 $4000 Kilo buck IEM ( HUGE POINT HERE! ) That’s amazing the Xe6 Is a Amazing Set and thanks to a Amazing Friend who load me their fun toys to listen to and enjoy.
- One of the Best Implementations of SONION EST drivers I have ever heard.
Cons: My wish list:
- Micro Nuances could be better- not a huge knock as I use that comparison to a 64 Audio U12t another standout top in its class IEM
- Stage Depth is good but just average
- Female vocals on a Pure Copper Cable a tad, a smidgen too thick needs a Mixed cable- LIKE THE ONE INCLUDED! Even then I found the 10th to have a ever so slight bass bleed into Vocals on certain bass heavy tracks.
"PENON HOUSE VOCALS IN A THE MOST COHESIVE BALANCED IEM PENON HAS MADE TO DATE, A W SHAPE SOUND SIGNATURE THAT SUCKS YOU INTO THE MUSIC"

Now let's get into it: The Techy Stuff
2+2+2 CONFIG
Double Dynamic Driver Consisting of:
2x 6mm Crystalline plated Biological Diaphragm for the lower frequencies comes out 1 dedicated sound tube
1x SONION Balanced Armature for the mid frequencies
1x KNOWLES Balanced Armature for the highs BA's Share the second sound tube.
2x SONION EST Drivers for Ultra Highs - Shares third sound tube.
Shell is a Fully Transparent Electric Blue shell with the top made by hand that seems to be similar to each other but unique to each IEM! - Funny the colors are TDM Ying/Yang colors I don’t think so!
The 10th uses 3 sound tubes to carry the sound to the full resin nozzle
A 4 Way crossover divides the frequencies to each respected driver.
Sensitivity is rated as 110 db for each watt of power used.
Impedance is 9 Ohms
Cable can be chosen as either 3.5mm SE, or 2.5mm or 4.4 Pentagon Balanced Options and is a 8 core Silver Plated & OFCC mixed braded cable. PENON CABLE CS819 (Copper , Silver Plated 8 Cores 19 Shares p/core)
https://penonaudio.com/penon-cs819.html


More information can be found here and non-affiliated link: https://penonaudio.com/penon-audio-10th-anniversary-iem.html

Purchased from Penon Directly w 10th Anniversary Promotion Free Gift Mine was a ($219 NF Audio NF2U). Bonus Blue case and 10th Anniversary case shipped separately because I was a early adopter.

Subjective Part of my Audio Review -

What I Liked:
  • Included Accessories are top notch , case , cable, tips, cleaning brush all with minimal packaging well done PENON
  • 0.78 2 Pin termination for easy cable swapping embedded directly into the resin shell
  • Sibilant free highs great for treble sensitive people with lots of extension for details and air.
  • Musical balanced W shape sound signature
  • PENON Unmistakeable House Signature VOCALS
  • Fantastic bottom end that goes low and hits hard while blending into the mix with minimum bass bleed into vocals (Cable Dependant) for a more fun IEM vs a neutral tuned
  • Vocals in both Male & Female are silky smooth in a organic and lush musical way ( Copied and pasted from every PENON Review LOL )
  • Micro and Macro details are a real standout on the 10th
  • Hits 80% of the bass quality and quantity of the FiR Audio Xe6 $4000 Kilo buck IEM ( HUGE POINT HERE! ) That’s amazing the Xe6 Is a Amazing Set and thanks to a Amazing Friend who load me their fun toys to listen to and enjoy.
  • One of the Best Implementations of SONION EST drivers I have ever heard.

What I Though Needed Improvement: (Subjective)

  • Micro Nuances could be better- not a huge knock as I use that comparison to a 64 Audio U12t another standout top in its class IEM
  • Stage Depth is good but just average
  • Female vocals on a Pure Copper Cable a tad, a smidge to thick needs a Mixed cable- LIKE THE ONE INCLUDED! Even then I found the 10th to have a ever so slight bass bleed into Vocals on certain bass heavy tracks.

I share my impressions as I hear them with my ears.
As all our ears are different shapes & size so what I hear as bright or bass heavy -you might hear as dull and Vise-Versa; just something to be mindful of.


What makes my ears happy as a sound signature is a slightly more aggressive L shape. I love my Bass Sub and Mid Bass slam, love it all actually; and in balanced quantity. With the Bass, I prefer a faster decay the faster the better so as to not bleed into the mids., I am treble sensitive and prefer a slightly darker warmer replay with good treble extension.

I prefer the fast speedy bass of the Beryllium Coated Driver of my Xenns Mangird UP with a Beryllium Coated Driver. Of course, there are exceptions in the market - as I also find the bass of the Bio Diaphragm used in the Yanyin Canon special - has some special sauce like an 8" subwoofer that feels like a 12" Has the slam and some serious sub-bass! And the super cool Copper Alloy Shell IKKO Obsidian OH10 does some magic to the bass.

My music Library is widely varied from; Metallica, Great White, Cowboy Junkies, Pink Floyd, Adelle, Melisa Ethridge, Fleetwood Mac, Five for Fighting, Manskin, Poncho Sanchez, Jimmy Smith, Chopin, The Crystal Method just to name a few. When not listening to my test tracks the majority is Jazz or Alternative Rock especially Female Rock. Lorde, Halsey, Alanis Morrisette, Evanescence. All depends on my mood.

Sources: E1DA SG3, Shanling UP5, Geshelli JNOG J2 with AKM4493 chip. Truthear SHIO (Dual Cirrus Logic 43198 DAC Chips)
DAP/TRANSPORT: From Lenovo Laptop with Tidal, Hiby R6iii ( ES9038Q2M ), Samsung S22 Ultra with DSD Files.
Amps: LoxjiP20 & XDUOO MT-604 tube hybrid amps and Topping A90D Amp 4.4 Pentagon Balanced Out - Unless stated
Tips Used for the 10th were the JVC FX10 SPIRAL DOTS Tips I found for Best Result and subjective: Short Wide Bore are recommended to maximize stage my preference at the expense of perceived bass enhancement with narrow bore tips.
Best Cable pairing with my stock was the HAKUGEI JOYFULL VOICE , GOLD/SPC/COPPER Mix.


My Format has changed with community feedback. So now I will list the music tracks I used & why with my musical impressions of the playback using that track. I hope this will give you some context for my library and give you some contexts to compare using the same tracks.

Before I begin with some sound impressions, I would like to share a bit of my journey to the 10th.
When I saw the announcement of PENON's 10th Anniversary IEM I have a epiphany moment. A light bulb went off and I knew what I had to do to afford this IEM.
Taking a step back in time when I originally purchased a set of EJ07M Kinda Lave Edition I was excited, I heard wonderful things about its presentation and knew the EJ's had a bit of a cult following. My disappointment started when I found out the actual tuning was not as advertised. LETSHOUER was wonderful to deal with but I also spent a additional $160 on sending the units back and getting a retune with a resin shell for a better fit as well. I picked or tried to choose a Blue Resin shell from the selection but ultimately didn't come out the way I was thinking it would. ( 10th Electric Blue Color was my target ). Now for the sound even adding a 3db sub boost still didn’t get me to my happy place.
The overall tuning of the EJ07M are worthy of the praise it’s a wonderful IEM! Head Stage , Instrument placement , EST Implementation all excellent.


Why am I telling you this it’s a PENON 10th review! Because on my journey as you get to listen to more IEM and have a greater sense of your personal tastes and what you pick up on a daily bases. The EJ's for me as excellent and standout IEM in their own right got shelved and I stopped listening to them. Why because they pushed the technical details beyond my personal comfort zone, and instead of just listening to the music I found I was listening to the IEM.
Full circle, I have a set of unused $700+ IEM. So now here is where I interject my epiphany moment. I decided to let my set go to a new home and sell them to afford the 10th.
The color by the grace of good Karma for the 10th was exactly what I was shooting for, The use of my favorite SONION BA for Mids was also in the mix and since I just reviewed and fell in love with the FAN2 and now the 10th's Dual 6mm DD, I knew this IEM was meant for me. The faceplate happens to also be my logo colors - coincidence I THINK NOT!


BEST DECISION EVER!

SOME STANDOUT TRACK IMPRESSIONS:
Let's Begin:


#1 "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" by REM
  • Layering of Instruments + vocals showcase the implementation of those SONION EST Drivers, the added some super fun twinkle's and sparkle's on the top end to give this track a really special presentation that was thoroughly enjoyable.

#2 "Scared" by The Tragically Hip

  • On this track I heard a ringing like those clapping toy monkey's in a very subtle way, and it added to the most excellent guitar replay. Combine that with Gord Dowies voice and I heard things for the first time in a track that I have played many times over and that I know so well. It was a special moment!

#3 "Don’t Care Anymore" by Phil Colins

  • STEREO BASS, and Great Vocals made this track stand out. Multilayered bass and the 10th did it so well. One Bass hit is super snappy and the next goes low with excellent release and decay. Without washing out Phils vocals was truly a marvelous replay.
  • NO MONOTONE BASS HERE FOLKS!

#4 "Enter Sandman" by Metallica
Not the largest stage I have heard but what was standout was the 10th's ability to have Macro and Micro Dynamics ( The ability to add excitement and detail to a song presentation, through mixing or mastering a tack or live replay recording where the quiet passages and the loud ones are done in a way to emphasize the difference of volume to add effect between passages or overall song)
The 10th does this in spades and then some. With iFi's XSPACE its surreal!


#5 "Lux AEterna " by Metallica
The dual 6mm Dynamic Drivers in full effect here with their mind numbing speed JUST WOW!


#6 "All My Friends Are Here" by Joe Satriani
The Mixing of this multi layered track gives you a good sense of a IEM's ability to present stage depth and Micro Dynamics again.
The replay was excellent great layering of instruments, guitar sounded bang on. Well done PENON


#7 "Shape Of My Heart" by Sting
I had a good laugh on this one, I had to listen to it 5 times before I got my thoughts down on paper because it was so enjoyable to listen to I kept zoning out and was just listening to the music. Finally under duress to keep my focus that I came to the conclusion this a most excellent IEM for getting lost in the music. END OF REVIEW.
Oh and yes Stings voice was done in a justifying supercilious manner!


#8 "The Antidote Is In The Poison" GoGo Penguin
  • This is a Modern Jazz at its best. Powerful, Dynamic track full of emotion and snappy bass. Fantastic track to listen to how well Micro Dynamics are conveyed and get a good sense of the IEM's ability to convey that to the listener. So how did the 10th do? Well its on this list of standout tracks a most excellent replay of instruments makes jazz on the 10th a standout. Perfect Bass! Where I found the Serial to be too much bass and the Fan2 A bit lean in the lower bass the 10th was bang on perfect.

#9 "Unfinished Sympathy" by Massive Attack

  • Sweet drops , goes low , vocals perfect.

#10 "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits

  • Of the charts micro and macro dynamics again. The W shape sound signature does a wonderful job. Not up to 64 Audio levels but very, very good.

#11 "Give" by Nils Lofgren

  • The guitar and vocals what a combo of OMG replay and such wicked fun.

#12 "Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove (LIVE)" by Dead Can Dance


The stage is massive clearly impresses with the 10th's ability to convey a real sense of the live recording and the size of the venue, quite excellent.

#13 "Nie Pokonasz Milosci (Remastered)" by Hania Rani
The microphones on the inside of the piano and on the keys is clearly present and the effects are outstanding. Probably the most musical replay I have ever heard this track being played. So beautiful.


#14 "Jetlag Corporation (Remastered)" by Aes Dana
In this track I heard the most perfect implementation of balance between low bass and EST Driver perfection. There is perfect cohesiveness showcased between all the drivers with lost of bass and twinkleies so, so smoothly.


#15 "Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto Mvt#1" by Tina Guo
  • A real standout track for multi-layers instrument separation.

#16 "Chemical Mentalist" by The Crystal Method

  • EDM SLAM No sibilance or harshness present just massive amounts of fun that makes you turn it up loud.

#17 “POWER” by Ellie Goulding

  • Lots of bass here without washing out vocals a real test and has very nice bass hits to boot.

#18 “Cover me in Sunshine” by Pink

  • On a OFCC cable vocals gets a tad washed out so when switching to a mixed cable or SPC it was standout.

#19 “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette

  • I love edgy female vocals and PENON's latest came through with most excellent female vocals with just the right amount of edge!

#20 “ Way Down Deep “ by Jennifer Warnes

  • I have used this track for countless years as a test track to demo speakers and the 10th didn’t disappoint and came through with flying colors.

#21 “ Wake Up “ Oliver Mtukudzi
(Oliver Mtukudzi is an African Musician and prolific guitarist and Vocalist. He sings with a mix of South African styles sometimes in English sometimes mixed like in this track and includes the traditional drumming styles of the Korekore. TUKU MUSIC at its finest – Listening for vocals, bass lines, and clarity – and because it is just fun! Right at the beginning you have some very cool snaps and instrumental) I loved the playback on this track amazing vocals and instruments in a fun lively manor.


OK that was jus some tracks that blew my mind.
NO COUNTRY MUSIC WAS OR WILL EVER BY PLAYED BY ME EVER. I heard from another forum member that he thought the 10th was not so good for the Gene of Country or Reggae Music. So I can neither confirm nor deny this. But Hollie Cook slammed?


OVERALL SOUND IMPRESSIONS:
Firstly let me state that the PENON 10TH is a collage of the best traits from all of their IEM's I have heard.
When a IEM makes you totally forget your listening to anything other than music that’s a very powerful thing, and extremely rare at any price in this hobby!


My favorite set for chillaxing is the XENNS MANGIRD UP, Here with its use of SONION BA and EST Drivers makes me love this combo. That bieng said sometimes one of my things on my wish list for this set was a bit more of the special sauce and happy to report the 10th delivers with a perfect mix of more EST sparkle and highs that sometimes I find lacking in the UP's. Also probably what makes that set such a chill set technical yet fun. The 10th just takes it to the next level for a lot less $$$

Lets talk about those dual 6mm Drivers. So I had a taste of them in the FAN2 and fell in love with the naturalness and speedy slam they output.
So in the 10th take that to the next level add a bunch more low frequency extension but keep the speed and slam possible? Yup mission accomplished!
On first listen there was some bass bleed into the mids buy after about 100 hours of burn in things really mellowed out bass dropped lower and 95% of the bass bleed was gone not perfect but great.


The 10th defiantly has the PENON House Signature Sound with its Lush natural sounding tonally correct mids. The use of the Knowles BA for the highs was the better choice of driver over its SONION brother as I find the way the Knowles BA reproduces highs a sharper more correct way of doing it. I find IEM's that have the SONION BA for highs a bit too dull. I was actually worried about that in the original specs as it was listed as SONION BA for the highs and had my concerns if the energy could keep up with the dual 6's. The specs have since been corrected and all is right with the world again.

As a comparison: I found the Globes too dark for my tastes, The serial not speedy enough in the Bass, The ISN H50 vocals too recessed.
The EJ07M too distracting, The XENNS UP almost perfect and the 10th PERFECT Mix of all of these rolled into my wish list.


Highs are also a real killer on this tuning of this set, not only do they have great energy, but just enough energy in all the right places to add details, correct instrument tonality quite perfect actually. Now the kicker no sibilance or harshness even for treble sensitive people like me that dip at 7-8k really helps this out and since the pina gain is at 4k and drops at 5k I find the tuning a masterful piece of git!

I have to mention the most excellent implementation of those SONION EST - These kind of drivers done correctly are just supposed to enhance the High frequencies.
With the dual EST not 4 thankfully as was the case for my GS Audio SE12 ( Overdone EST ) I observed through my 2 ears that the EST tuning used on the 10th were done in a excellent application and adds to the overall tuning to enhance the fantastic BA highs and not compete with them. BRAVO PENON.


WRAP IT UP MONK TIME:
The decision to sell my EJ's was the best decision ever as I get to own this extraordinary set. With all the things I loved about my favorite sets I own and have heard rolled into one but without any of the things I wished those sets had more of.


With the same kind of faster slam and weight of the XENNS UP for Lower bass and the speedy power of the FAN2 bass the 10th hit a excellent balance.
Add to this the incredible clean vocals of the Ej's but done in the PENON House signature way hard not to love the way all my favorite singers sounded.
From Male vocals from Sting& Shaggy, Lou Reed, Phil Colins, Billy Joel, Lars, Manskin and John Legend to all my favorite female singers - Lorde, Miley Cyrus, Halsey, Pink, Sia, Allanis Morrisette, Ella Fitzgerald and Melisa Ethridge; they all sounded correct and natural.


Lastly I will talk about stage, I have gushed on about this anniversary IEM enough to sound like a paid infomercial! ( I paid full price for this set )
Stage is not the most 3D and not the most engaging I have heard. That was one of the problems with the EJ's too much all over the place. The 10th keeps you in focus with whatever is playing front and center not to distract you from the great vocals or musical piece your listening to, but enough to make the dynamics stand out and keep you on point. I personally find this kind of tuning my favorite and makes for a very fun playback.


The PENON 10th has taken all of your favorite sets including ISN H50 and PENON Sets rolled them into one IEM and did it in a way to make you NEED IT in your stable. If you thought you would pass this one up, you were wrong.

The PENON 10th Anniversary IEM is a AUDIO VAMPIRE - keeps sucking you in for more and gets you lost in the music while simultaneously pumping you full of endorphins. How's that for a endorsement and comes honestly from my ears and my heart!

Thank you for taking the time to read my review.
My Video review is here: TO BE DONE LATER


My QuBuz Playlist:
Listen to the playlist Test Tracks by tonedeafmonk.audioreviews@gmail.com on Qobuz
https://open.qobuz.com/playlist/14733715


My SQUIG:
https://tonedeafmonk.squig.link/


My YouTube Chan:
https://www.youtube.com/@tonedeafmonk


My Discord:
https://discord.gg/hhyg5PKK5X

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emdeevee
emdeevee
Great write up on these most excellent iems! I agree with your enthusiastic response at 50 hours in!
RumbleWeed
RumbleWeed
FANTASTIC review and i totally agree with you that Kniwles Teble is better than Sonion treble and when Penon recently updated the specs to say 10th AE was not using Sonion but instead Knowlels for Highs i was over the moon because mine 10th are still on there way!
Once again, Fantastic review a joy to read👍
ToneDeafMonk
ToneDeafMonk
100+ Hours and I am not surprised how much the 10th has mellowed out. I love it on first listen when you get a big grin on your face and know your money was well spent! Now after some time just appreciate them even more. Female vocals are smoother now and bass goes a tad lower with the same amount of bass bleed gone.

Dsnuts

Headphoneus Supremus
Penon 10th Anniversary. I am not talking about how long they been in the business.
Pros: Tribrid, vented all resin build
A conglomeration of 10 years of excellence in IEM design
2x 6mm crystal plated bio dynamic deliver outstanding bass
1 Sonion BA for rich Penon house mids
1 Knowles treble BA for treble presence
2 Sonion ESTs for upper treble sparkle, air and extension
Wide Penon house V tuning with outstanding dynamics
Utilizes 4 crossovers and 3 sound bores for superb sound separation.
Technical, clean, imaging tour de force.
Punchy enhanced bass with deep reaching rumble
Treble clarity, articulation good solid presence and air.
Non-fatiguing, with good passive isolation.
CS819 cable for versatility.
3 sets of decent silicones.
Cons: Will take another 10 years for their 20th anniversary IEM to come about.
Penon 10th anniversary
DSC01103.JPG

Penon’s 10th anniversary is the actual name of their new Tribrid IEM and is actually how long they have been in the industry. Penon’s naming schemes are always on point. Why not call it the 10th anniversary, release an IEM that represents who they are and what they do so well.

I have been fortunate to hear and evaluate the end results of all their IEM offerings from their humble beginnings as a cable maker first and then their head long history of some of the best IEMs in the market with lasting power. If you don't know who Penon is by now and their goods being sold on their website based out of Hong Kong. Well for me it all started with these
10385817_thumb.jpg

Called the Penon Sphere. This all-resin single BA IEM was the first time I heard what was to become the Penon house sound.
Then more and more models came about the Orbs, Globes, Volts, Fan,Vortex,Legends,Fan2, and their current flagship the Impacts.
DSC01098.JPG

With the release of the new 10th anniversary IEM, Penon decided to release a tribrid which uses two sets of 6mm crystal plated bio dynamics, both utilized for the bass frequencies, Sonion BA for mids and Knowles BA for trebles, 2 Sonion ESTs, both for upper trebles. The design is a familiar all resin design with a bass vent out back. The medium sized shell is ergonomic for universal designs and it is impressive how they fit all the drivers inside the shell. The 10th uses a 4 way crossover design with 3 sound tubes. The Penon IEM this particular design comes the closest to is Penons former flagship tribrid the Penon Volts.
DSC01106.JPG

Penon does a few different types of tunings but always with a house sound, a sound design direction that is best described as musical in foundation aka Penon house sound, and always using premium drivers. You will never see Penon throw out a big upper mid gain, a tuning with a sucked out mid range, overly bassy, overly trebly, a strictly neutral tuning or use treble spikes to compensate for a lackluster mids performance. It does not matter if the tuning is more mid focused, a W shaped tuning, balanced V or a combination thereof. Once you hear a Penon made IEM you will understand what their house sound is all about and why they constantly win over enthusiasts with their sound direction.

Calling an IEM based on their 10th anniversary in the industry means they had to design this one with a clear goal in mind and here we have a conglomeration of what makes a Penon IEM so popular among their patrons. The new 10th of all the tuning choices Penon could have done. They decided to go with their version of a V shaped tuning. The only other clear V shaped tuning Penon has made in the past was their original Fan single dynamic IEM. Believe it or not, I believe this tuning choice was due to folks chatting about wanting a bit more bass impact and rumble from the Volt design. Regardless it is a bit of a departure from their most recent IEMs, the Fan2s more neutralish balanced mid focussed tuning.
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With that I would like to personally congratulate Penon audio, the company and the man behind the business, their cables, their IEMs and their stand-up business practice that garnered much fanfare among enthusiasts around the world. Going strong in 2023 and beyond. Mr. Chi Kong Hui. You have been a star in the industry, and I hope your future endeavors become fruitful for you and all you do. Good luck to you my friend and don’t forget the small people that helped you along the way. You can look up the 10th anniversary IEM on Penons web site here.

The 10th I will call it from this point has been burned in for a period of a week's time. They are now ready for full evaluation using my sources the Fiio K9 pro ESS,K9, Ibasso DX300Max, Fiio M15,M15S, Shanling M6 pro, IFI gryphon, IFI signature, Fiio BTR7
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What you get/ build
The 10th anniversary comes in Penons all familiar smaller rectangular box, inside the box is their standard blue zip up case. A good standard included cable in the Penon CS819 in any termination you choose when ordering and 3 sets of silicones. The accessories package here is fairly standard of Penon and the matching do it all CS819 will give you a very good understanding of how the 10th anniversary is tuned.
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As of writing Penon has decided to go all out with a new packaging for the 10th anniversary IEM which includes several new cases that form the number 10 for their packaging these items will be included when ordering the Penon 10th anniversary.
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Of course aftermarket cable pairings will get you one better which I will go over on this read.
The familiar all resin design Penon uses for their IEMs are once again used this time using 3 sound bores a 4 crossover design that brings yet another fluid sounding Penon IEM to the masses. The positives of the Resin build is that they will stand the test of time, as long as you don’t drop them from a 2 story balcony onto some concrete. It will shatter like your beer glass you took too much liberties with if dropped in the same manor. The benefit of the resin form universal is that it will block out a good amount of ambient noise for you listening pleasure. The 10th is no different. Has very good passive isolation from what I am guessing at 26 dbs. In other words these all resin form IEMs are excellent for your daily walks or working around the office or home.

Sound
Of all the tuning choices Penon could have implemented for this tribrid, they went with the tried and true V shaped tuning. Penons version of the V tuning is a bit different than what you're used to. They always include some of the best mids IEMs can produce in your ears so that is actually a part of the Penon manifesto as far as their house tunings goes and that is also included with the 10th. I don't know if they got the clue for a more fun take on their sound from reading the Penon thread here. But I remember a few members wanting some punchier bass and since the last IEM Penon made was the FAN2 which is more of a mid focused balanced neutralish signature. Penon went with a more engaging fun tuning this time and boy did they do a good job at it.
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Trebles
Are represented by a smaller Knowles treble BA plus the two sets of Sonion EST drivers for the ultra highs. EST infused IEMs just bring a bit of an extra finish to treble notes that is clearly discernible when utilized in a correct manner. Extra finish in the form of added sparkle, air and fine micro nuances that are sometimes blunted or just not present without using the EST driver. Penon actually brought some extra emphasis for the lower trebles to counter the bass end of the 10th. Tuning is always a balancing act and here if you have too much on one end of the sound over the other, that skews the tonal balance to swing either dark, warmth neutral, cold or bright sounding. The 10th treble tuning seems deliberate to bring the treble end to counter the punchy bass end and that is what we have on the 10th. The 10th actually has more treble emphasis than most Penon tuned IEMs actually and that was a bit of a surprise but not enough to cause a skew in its tonality or are the trebles tuned to cause any fatigue. Penon always uses a dip in the sensitive 6-7khz region and we also get that on the 10th. This intentional dip smooths out vocal edginess and a smoother tonal character for trebles. While some micro detailing will be less emphasized the plus there is vocals and strings will not sound so edgy in the process.
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Its extension for trebles using 2ESTs are heard and cohesion between lower to mid trebles with the Knowles BA handling the bulk of the trebles is fluid in execution. Penon has plenty of practice utilizing the Sonion ESTs so you better believe they will bring their A game on an IEM called the 10th. With plenty of sparkly extended trebles on hand its treble tuning is emphasized but non fatiguing at the same time. Penon has higher end IEMs that have better more balanced treble with better extension but for what they wanted to achieve in the new V shaped tuning on the 10th. I say the treble will surprise the Penon patron as it does have a bit more emphasis than you're used to.
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Penon being edgy is what that is.

Mids the soul of the sound comes from a single mid range Sonion BA. It is no secret Penon loves their Sonion BAs. You can say the basis for their house sound comes from the tonal character of the Sonion BA. Sound descriptors like rich, full bodied, fluid are all associated with the Sonion BA. It's also not a secret that some of the highest end IEMs use Sonion BAs including Penons own flagship IEMs the Impacts. Focusing a single sound bore channel to your years dedicated for the full force of this premium single BA for its mids, you're getting a good taste of the Penon sound and that richer tonal character is clearly evident in the 10th. Here is the main difference between its older brother the Volts and the 10th. Volts uses two BAs for its mids which gives some added extra body and dimensional character. The 10th while not as fleshed out like the Volts mids presentation does more than an ample job in reproducing the mids characteristics for the Penon sound. It's got a broad mids presentation that you can hear which leads to excellent sound separation and a broad imaging in space. This ends up being highly addictive if not out right euphoric to listen to.
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10th is not an extreme V shaped tuning but sounds more like a mild v in how its sound emanates, meaning you will get your full mids going on. It might not be as forward sounding as something like the Fan2, or even the Volts but its forwardness is roughly neutral in execution meaning it doesn’t sound forward or does it sound recessed. But then you get that impeccable imaging of the 10s broad mids character and you get one immersive sound experience. The BA chosen by Penon being a Sonion BA is more than up to the task of representing your music in full bloom. Its mids character is in true Penon fashion, has good note and body to its sound. While the dimensional character is not exactly at the higher tier level from Penons own IEMs. The mids are represented well which also includes some excellent presentation for vocals.

Female vocals especially sound phenomenal on the 10th. Male vocals come through with clarity and authority. With a nice broad mids presentation of the 10th, its dynamic range is clearly heard and has one of the better timbre aspects when it comes to instruments and for vocals. Outstanding imaging is always associated with a Penon product, and this broad imaging is something to behold on the 10ths sound presentation. Its cohesion between the 3 types of drivers is very fluid in execution as there is no one part that stands out above the others for its sound. Penon hears the wants of its patrons and so they brought out the bass.
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Bass end of the 10th is reproduced by utilizing two micro 6mm crystal plated bio dynamics. These drivers were first used on Penons own Fan2 Iems which also uses two 6mm dynamics for its bass. However the bass end for the Fan2 while ample in support is not exactly what the 10th here does. Penon boosted the bass end to show off what these smaller dynamics can do in unison. With surprising presence, impact and sub bass rumble both the 6mm drives are used together to mimic a much larger bass dynamic. When space inside a medium resin shell is at a premium. Why not utilize some very capable smaller dynamics. No secret the dynamic driver for IEMs reproduce a more realistic bass note and here the 10th has some nicely done notable elevation for its bass end at about 6 dbs for its mid bass and a health increase to roughly 8 for its sub bass. What that nice increase of bass gets you is a full punch.

Surprising what a 6mm micro dynamic can do for bass and it has a twin brother that will back him up. Feels more like the work of a 12mm dynamic, better yet it is basically two well placed smaller subs doing the full work of a larger sub. Any way you cut it, the bass end has got some top sirloin beef to its tone and presence. Bio dynamics have a reputation of providing an organic bass overtone with some deep textured rumble. We get that with the 10th as it is boosted towards its neathers. While the mid bass is not as brawny as its sub bass it still has a feisty bass impact that delivers the goods when called upon. Another aspect of using some smaller sized powerhouse dynamics is that they are much less prone to ear pressure/ driver flex. None perceived on my end.
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From what I understand about adding a crystal film or coating on top of a bio dynamic is that this mitigates the waning of the bio dynamic. Apparently, bio dynamics have a tendency to lose their bounce and effectiveness of the bass note over time. Hence the need for the “crystalline plating” which means the 10th and the Fan 2 both have an upgraded bio dynamic. Don’t know about you but upgrading anything is good in the industry if you know what I mean. Bass is tight and speedy here and has a clean punchy to textured rumbly quality to it. Since both these dynamics are taxed with the purpose of being a woofer only for the bass with the bass end getting its own sound tubing to the ear. The 10th mids are clean vs the bass presentation which is a bit short of being fully basshead/ definitely elevated. This is about an audiophile bass as it gets as it's not going to win the shake your eyeball contest nor does it have the impact of the brawniest bass notes. But it does do bass genres justice. And isn't that what a v shaped tuning should be about? The 10th can be described as a tasteful V shaped, a musical V shaped. The look from your smile as your listening to them. Bass is very capable, has a good solid realistic tone and digs deep. If you thought the bass of the prior Penon IEMs needed just a bit more so in quantity. That is what your getting from the 10th
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In the end
The 10th delivers on so many fronts. It’s got some of Penons best dynamic sound tuning. This one leans a bit more on the fun factor of why we listen to IEMs in the first place. Being entertained is never a bad thing for our hobby hence Penons version of the V tuning. Its technicalities are outstanding for its wider than average sound presentation. Its detail level is what you would expect coming from a Penon made product and this is the set you want to be using when out and about. Being immersed in your music wherever you may be is the advantage of the IEM and with the 10th it is all about the sound immersion. If you have never tried a Penon made IEM I can’t think of a better example than the 10th. It is a conglomeration of so many of their IEMs in one with the fun tuning angle that becomes the 10th anniversary. This is how you make a tonally and technically correct tribrid. Penon alway has a clear direction in how they tune and make IEMs. This is a class leading tribrid for its price point and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks for taking the time to read.

Bonus and this was the section 10th owners have been asking. What is a good cable match up they ask. You shall receive. If you feel cables don’t do squat than you shouldn’t be reading this section but if you're the type that want that bit of extra, you can squeeze out of your 10th via cables this is for you.
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1st up is the ISN G4.
No secret I have been using the G4 on the 10th the most. Its a $100 cable you can buy here. The G4 cable uses a higher end OCC copper for its base but has a silverplating with some graphene infusion. These cables while not as resolving as Penons own OSG cable, have their own set of advantages when connected to the 10th. These cables enhance the imaging aspect for the 10th. Enhances a natural stage expansion, adds a greater noteweight which results in better dynamics from the 10th. Excellent match up with the 10th in every way. The G4 is basically an upgraded cable that came with the 10th the Penon CS819 in what it does. Highly recommended if you want to enhance and highlight the 10ths dynamic aspects its technical aspects like imaging and definition. The G4 maximizes the sound from the 10th.

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2nd is another $100 cable in the Penon Space. You can look up here.
The Penon Space is a silver plated OFC cable but one with a lot of shares per core of its make up. What that gets you is greater height, depth and stage for the 10th. Its fairly neutral in sound enhancing and while it does not necessarily enhance the 10ths imaging like the G4. It more than makes up for it with the fuller, more spacious sound for the 10th. These cables are yet another great matchup as it gives the 10th a slightly warmer smoother tilt making them sound even more closer to something like the old Penon Globe and aspects of the Volts full bodied mids presentation. If you want the 10th with a greater body of sound in general. It is the space cables that will help you achieve that to a greater extent than the G4 mentioned above..This is yet another excellent pairing. The overall tonal character is slightly smoother with some added natural warmth. Very good on the 10th.
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3rd is the Penon Obsidian. @$149 can be found here.
The Penon Obsidian is one of Penons best copper based cables, 4 cores of OCC with a few cores that have an 18K gold plating. Even though this is the cable that came with the Penon Impacts these are pretty much the same cables that Penon sells at retail but in all black. The Obsidian is all about the dynamism of the 10th. This cable brings out the absolute best of the bass and the mids. The 10th is a clean sounding IEM due to the ample treble emphasis and hence a bit of gold plating adds a slight darkening effect to tonal character on the 10th. This in turn makes the 10th sound richer, more bodied and while the stage element is bested by the Space and better with the ISN G4. The other cables don’t make the 10th sound richer and meatier like the Obsidian. The trebles even get a bit of a rounding effect. If you want the absolute best bass a full bodied rich tonal character for your 10th the Obsidian is a compelling addition on the 10th. Yet another great match up. This time bringing a superb dynamic enhancing effect on the 10th. You love your bass and musicality. Can’t go wrong with the Obsidian cable.
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lucanato
lucanato
Nice review, I would like to know how the new plastic nozzle influenced the sound over the fan2 one ( better image? Excluding the est addition) .( To modify: Knowles on mid highs).
RumbleWeed
RumbleWeed
Great review as always Dnuts and thank you for your help i ordered the 10th AE and cannit wait for it to arrive.
superkalou
superkalou
Great product ! Nice Review ! Thanks 👍
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