Penon Impact


Headphoneus Supremus
Impact the new flagship from Penon audio ( preview/ early impression)
Pros: Stunning all clear resin design with a classy pearl white plate.
Customized white sleeved Obsidian cable with modularity
10 Sonion BAs + 4Sonion EST
4 bores in the nozzle means highly dimensional spacious sound
Highly refined tuning and design by Penon Audio
Well balanced with a forward musical sound signature
Shell is medium in size vs large. Comfortable fit
Scales nicely to better cables and sources
very good passive isolation
Impactful bass
Impactful mids
Impactful treble
Impactful stage
Cons: Pricey but cheaper than comparable products in the market.
Modularity for the cable is ok but not the best integration.
Penon Impact.

The Impact is all clear glass like resin design with a pearl white face plate. The cable is a modified version of the Obsidian which works exceedingly well with BA based IEMs. Not to mention specifically designed for the Impact in all white sleaving Looks fantastic in person. I did a full review just about the standard Obsidian cables you can read here. Classy pearl white and all clear in appearance the design of the Impacts is by far Penon's best looking IEM subjectively to match its supreme sound quality.

I got them recently and connected them to my K9 pro and started to listen to them. I was like a kid waking up early on Christmas morning. Lol.

First thing that hit me was its ability to mimic a live stage. You can hear the ambience of the venue perhaps better than anything I have heard. The Legend comes close but these things!

Vocals! Vocals! Andrea Bocelli I use his vocals for testing out male vocals, I mean how can you not. His live recording of Perfidia. When he starts to sing. Instant shiver!

This track I have heard so many times but the way the Impact captures the ambience the air of the venue here is mind blowing. It sounds like I am sitting there in the audience listening to him sing.

Vocals on the Impacts is special. Penon has always produced IEMs with a rich mids presentation but the way the Impacts portray vocals is uncanny. Its imaging and precision is on another level as it should. I was told the customized white Obsidian cable was designed for vocals in mind. To add a touch of richness for its tonal qualities probably using a bit extra for the gold plating on the cable. If your a vocal lover for music you have to take the Penon Impact into consideration.

Dimensional like you wouldn't believe. Impacts have a big holographic stage that represents what you are hearing. Using so many premium drivers in a compact housing with 4 bores will get you dimensional in the truest sense. Well mastered Jazz sound sublime with the Impact.

What separates these vs your standard IEM presentation is the layers and layers of sound you're hearing. And then Imagine Penon mids cranked up to 11. These things are playing with TOTL level sonics. These have to be some of the best mids presentation for IEMs I have ever heard. More than just musically rich and with details coming at you at all angles.

Tonal character, extremely natural, rich meaty with surprising timbre for what is basically an all Sonion BA based set. No surprise I prefer the tonality and timbre of the Sonion BAs and you get a whole heaping loving of Sonion BAs. You can even say the Impact is a Sonion BA lovers poster child. No Knowles to be found on these.

Details. Its trebles are handled by 2 Sonion BAs and 4 Sonion ESTs for the ultra highs. Crystalline details, smooth clean silky sparkly and very dimensional. Treble fans will love how details for treble plays in the air out of nowhere. Well extended and you can hear the integration of the EST air injection with superb highlights for trebles. Trebles are airy and has very good presence. There is no single plane of sound on these at all. These are how you can tell there are limitations on your treble presence on lesser IEMs. Details and transients for trebles are a given but has an addictive shimmer and sparkle and you know Penon tuned treble means no added fatigue. Excellent well optimized treble.

Trebles are tuned to not fatigue for Penon tuned IEMs and the Impacts does the same. While some may want just a bit more treble presence I find it balanced extremely well for its given musical presentation. The surprising aspect for the Impacts is that with different cable pairing you can enhance the treble aspects of its tuning to a degree but what is there is a nicely detailed, well extended treble design that will be very versatile for all types of music with no glaring flaws in any of it.

Bass. These are called Impacts for a reason that is because this is exactly what these do for bass. These will be impactful not just for its presentation but for its bass. Punchy and defined just like the rest of the signature. What is interesting here is I don't know if these are Sonion Acupass BAs but there is no venting for the bass unless it is using some sort of venting from the nozzle. There is no vent bass hole anywhere I can see.

I also noticed the bass end digging a bit more so than your traditional well implemented BA bass. Has surprising texture. Agile, tonally accurate and of course BA speed, bass tracks actually have some authority. I would say it has at least 8dbs of mid bass to sub bass which is actually how much bass I feel is necessary for a versatile bass amount for IEMs in general. I think Penon took to heart how they tuned the bass end for BA based IEMs and tried a new trick. A BA set with authority? How can that be? It is an improvement from the Legend bass presence.

It's got better attack and seems to have a slower more realistic decay of bass notes for its sub bass.. A touch punchier than the Legend bass end. From how I understand it. Two of the bass BAs does upper to mid bass, two of them handle the rumble. Bass notes don't have the texture of a dynamic but these have to have some of the best texture for sub bass I have heard for BA bass. I noticed bass ability for the Impact is dynamic in how it performs. Meaning it adapts exceedingly well for bass types and emphasis depending on the track. Hip hop sounds like hip hop including some deep hitting rumble.

Natural bass notes sound unsurprisingly fantastic on these but is not weak in the sub bass emphasis. I couldnt ask for much better BA bass representation on the Impact.
Ultimately this all BA + EST design gives a fluid cohesive all Sonion sound that represents some of the brands best hardware in the Impact.

Dont have to worry about speed for these things either. Metal tracks sound amazing on these.

Passive Isolation.
Fantastic. These are an ode to the Penon Orbs clean clear design. The all clear Resin is like melted poured glass with no vent holes I can see. You want to talk about perfect for out and about immersion.. Also a nice ice breaker for sound geeks. Check out all the drivers homey!
You can show your friends all the BA/ speakers in the shell and look at that artwork for that immediate jealous look. Lol.

The impacts has the type of sound that leaves a lasting impression. Its forward holographic sound signature is absolutely superb for all types of music. If your an eclectic music listener like I am the Impacts have easily become my number one. Its versatile balanced tuning and stunning holographic sound is all encompassing. Penon has clearly taken their time to design these to be a TOTL level IEM. ( I will be adding to this preview and it will officially become more of a review but I felt I needed to post at least a preview of the Impacts for now) Much more impressions and observations to come.

Please join the Penon impressions thread for more discussion about the impacts and other Penon goods here.

Some comparisons

Impact vs Volt
As dimensional as the Volt sounds the Impact is much greater with that aspect. Their stages are fairly similar, but the biggest difference is how the Impact background has a blacker background. It has a higher end sound separation and an imaging at a different level, the Volt is not able to do. However, this being said that richness for vocals and their tonal characters are definitely from the same family. I feel the Volts and the Impact have similar tonal qualities, stage and sound balancing but just about everything else is a clear upgrade for the Impacts. The other aspect the Impact is a clear upgrade is its treble tuning. Volts needed a touch more lower trebles and you get that with the Impact as it dedicates a dual Sonion for lower to mid trebles. It is well known that EST drivers work best for upper trebles so that is what the Impact uses the EST drivers for.

Impacts treble articulation is some of the best I have ever heard. Then you add another level of dimensional and imaging/technical aspects to its overall sound and you get a clear upgrade on the Volts. Volts to this day I feel are supreme bang for buck for Tribrids and a true Penon classic. Penon has used their extensive use of the Sonion BAs to maximize its sound quality that now is fully realized in the Impact. Volts is what you look into if you are a fan of the Orbs and the Globes.

You figure it would be the bass end that will clearly win over the Impact but not exactly. The Bass end of the Volt by nature will not be as tight or a speedy as BA bass. Volt bass end has a slightly slower decay, slower bass in general vs the Impacts speedy tight faster bass. The Impacts bass end adapts to different types of bass on a different level vs the Volts. Benefit of a good integrated dynamic driver for bass is it gives a realistic woofer like bass end but if you are an eclectic music listener like I am there are advantages of BA bass that dynamics are not quite good at. When I listen to the bass end of the Impact it does not sound like BA bass for something like Hip hop as it has excellent presence and a rumble you would never figure BA Bass can do. I am comparing it directly vs the Volt bass. The Impact bass end can adapt to every type of bass note possible and do it extremely well. Something speedy that is in rock or metal, full on punchy to a slower deeper rumbly type. Impact does these elements for bass on a different level cameleon like for bass. Volt bass is overall a good dynamic bass but lacks a bit in authority, speed and needs to be the next level for texture and extension for its sub notes. I think If an eventual Volt 2 ever comes out it will be the bass end that needs a bump in quality and ability overall.

Impact vs the Legends
Now this one was where I thought. No way would the Impact be worth double that of the Legends. Believe it or not the Legend actually has the widest stage for all Penon IEMs even over the Impact. It is the Legend that comes more closer to technical ability of the impact by nature it is an All BA set with some premium Sonion drivers in it as well. Now that I am looking back at the Legend release. You want to talk about value folks. That would be the Legend. Legend has a w shaped tuning that has some astounding ability and versatility and even more so than the Volt the Legend is an absolute bargain in this comparison. Reasoning for its slightly wider stage presentation has to do with its lesser lower mids region and the added pure silver Flow cable that enhances stage.

I actually tried the Flow cable on the Impacts, and it does bring more stage and treble emphasis vs the stock cable. Impacts sounds a touch leaner and less richer in tonality due to the pure silver of the Flow cable so the Impacts were clearly designed with the white Obsidian cable to enhance the tonal character. The Obsidian is mostly a pure copper type cable so it does not enhance stage elemets of a sound like a pure silver cable does. I do encourage some cable trial and error as one thing I did learn from trying out the Flow cable was that the Impacts do change in character with other cables.

The Impact has an overall higher end more refined tuning that brings more body to the sound in general vs the Legends. The mids are the most dimensional sounding out of all the Penon IEMs including the Legends. Impacts mids are a touch more forward in the mix vs the Legends and has more body/ fullness/ greater note weight. Bass sounds more focused and more defined with the Impacts vs the Legends bass. It has a bit more in the way of quantity for its bass notes. Has greater punch and sounds more extended with a slower decay in the sub notes. It could be using the same drivers as the Legends for its bass but the Impacts being a closed design, the Legend is vented out back. This design change seems to be the difference in bass being a touch more prominent and focused on the Impact sound vs the Legends.

Its treble has a leg up on its articulation and detail aspects. I have to say the Legends are no push over for its treble definition, but the Impacts has an advantage of greater precision overall. Impact is the top of all the Penon IEMs when it comes to imaging and dimensional sound even over the Legends. But the Legend comes remarkably close to these aspects for being half the cost of the Impact. Comparing both side by side if I didn't have the Impact next to it to compare, I think most folks would be WOWed by the Legends sound presentation.

Legends is like a premium version of the Fan 2 in many ways if you guys can't afford the Impact and want a clear upgraded premium version of the Fan2 sound profile. That is what the Legend is. The Impact has more refinements, but you would be hard pressed to find them if you didn't have them side by side. They are that good. Overall, what separates the Impact vs the Legends is its overall balancing, greater note weight for its bass to mids and a bit extra for their treble, a higher end precision, imaging and articulation with EST sparkle. Value clearly goes to the Legends, but the Impact is what happens when you bring your absolute best effort using premium Sonion drivers and a tuning that is easily one of the most versatile with a very nice high end technical ability. The Legend actually comes remarkably close in many aspects of the Impacts, but it is the extra attention to the Impact tuning that clearly makes it Penon's new Flagship.
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Great review man. Impact looks interesting.
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Impactful review! Nice!
Awesome review, very thorough and detailed, enjoyed all your reviews as always. Thank you!
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New Head-Fier
Impact - the name speaks for itself
Pros: excellent bass performance, strong details and stage, clean sound
Cons: not very cheap
This is my first review on Headfi. English is not my mother tongue and I don't usually need to speak English, so I got help from google translator. The reviewers above me have already included many facts and excellent photos. So I don't have to repeat this.
Many thanks to Penon Audio, who provided us with the Impact for a round trip in Germany.
If you don't have time, jump straight to the conclusion.

General (about me and my musical preferences)
I heard the Penon Impact via DAP (A&K SP2000T) and the desktop setup (Violectric DAC V850 + KHV V280). The feed takes place via A&K App or foobar2000. He played balanced and unbalanced convincingly at both sources.
On the V850 I chose the "Best" sampling rate for resampling and on the DAP I usually chose OP Amp or 50% Hybrid as the amp settings. The SP200T has an additional tube section, which can be added to the OP amp in 5 different stages. My favorite filter on the A&K is the Hybrid Filter. It has a slightly W-shaped signature.


As with almost all Penon headphones, the packaging is minimalistic and does not use any (foam) material that is harmful to our planet. A chic hard case will be missed by some. I keep my IE with small mesh bags in an IE (collective) box. I don't really miss that. The clear housing gives a glimpse into the inner workings of the handset. The color of the faceplates matches the cable very well. All in all, I like the noble, unobtrusive understatement very much. The included eartips have a set of spiral dots in addition to tips I don't know.
Since the cable is not filigree, I exchanged it for a Tripowin Petrichor. The housing is not necessarily small, but it is still compact in view of the built-in 10BA and 4 EST drivers. The straight sound exit tubes suit my ear anatomy. I miss the defined seat for the tips a little, which was still available on my Serial and Fan2. I had to experiment a bit with different eartips to find the best seal. My favorites were Dunu Spring Tips, Softears Liquid Silicone and the gray green Penon Tips. The differences in sound are subtle.

How does the impact sound?
In the BASS, the name says it all. The bass is sometimes reminiscent of a dynamic driver in its power, but has the structure and precision known from BA drivers. A superbly musical yet precise combination as the bass remains fast and clean despite its physicality. He doesn't bleed in the mids. For me it has enough rumble in the sub-bass that it doesn't drown out the mid and high frequencies.
The MIDDLES are simply fantastic, always staying clear with good separation and at the same time musical. Not a trace of annoying guitar riffs that sound thin. On the contrary, electric guitars sound rousing. You can almost follow how the musician plays the individual strings of his instrument. Voices are clear and clean. Fortunately, they are not too far in front of the instruments.
In the HEIGHTS, the Impact stays true to its line. There is no showmanship here either. They are airy and detailed with beautiful details. Despite this, Penon has managed not to make them sound sharp or overemphasized. This means that there is no fatigue during long listening sessions.
The STAGE has a large spatial extent in both directions. Due to the excellent separation, the instruments can be localized very well in the room. Which also benefits the details mentioned.

A few personal notes on the EARTIPS used:
Softears liquid silicon enhances the bass, adds some root and takes a bit of energy out of the highs, which can be beneficial for some recordings, although I'm almost a bit addicted to the Impact's lofty highs. The Softears are a bit more reserved in the highs than the Dunu Springs Tips, which expand the impact nicely upwards and in the presence. But depending on the music, it can also become too much. From the Penon range, the gray-green (stronger base tone, less treble) and gray-orange tips (mids back) are my favourites.

Do you know that feeling when you don't want to stop at night and you're still thinking about a song? That's what happened to me with the Impact. You can really crank up the Impact when your favorite songs are playing. Even at high levels, it doesn't get on your nerves with excessive showmanship. Penon has stayed true to its house sound. But it is also suitable as a "quiet listener" due to its balanced tuning.
So the Impact for me is an excellent IE with absolute all-rounder qualities. I have only experienced this in this quality once before, with the Thieaudio V16 Divinity. However, since I did not have this at hand to compare, I refrain from comparisons.
The drivers are fast, which makes the Impact play very dynamically. The tuning is stirring for rock and metal listeners. He also cuts a very good figure in other genres. The BA Bass is powerful, musical and clean. Still, the Impact isn't IE for bassheads. The mids also remain absolutely suitable for a long time without swallowing up details. Due to the typical Penon sink around 6kHz, there are no sibilants. The highs are detailed and present, but remain musically round. His exciting calmness makes him an excellent IE for me. He dispenses with showmanship over the entire frequency range. That's why I think it takes a "listening time" until it fully ignites.
If you can live with the spartan packaging, which I think is contemporary, you get an excellently tuned listener that manages a successful balancing act between analysis and musicality.
Great read. The Impact is a fantastic set. I really love the dynamics and the fast bass decay but still impactful. The mids are beautiful. Definitely typical of Penon house sound. I also agree the Impact has great synergy with prog/rock/metal genres.

Stu Paddasso

500+ Head-Fier
Penon Impact
Pros: Large Sound Stage, Cohesive Sound
Cons: Looks
I'm not a professional reviewer just an audiophile. Received Impact on tour for 1 week. Using Shanling M8 & M7 plus Lotoo Paw 6000 for review. Tip rolling is a must as it has a significant effect on Impact, I settled on epro-horn tips.

Excellent Treble has lots of air and sparkle with no harshness or fatigue.

Mids are the strong suit of Impact. They're full-bodied clear and well separated.

This is a very good BA bass. Fast well defined and has some bass impact. What it does not have is a solid sub-bass rumble. The bass is good for most music but falls short for Bass-heads. Great for rock blues jazz but lacking for Edm.

Sound Stage
This is one of the best sound stages I have heard. Instruments & vocals are well separated and properly positioned.

Penon went for an understated elegant look but missed and it came out bland. Change up cables to improve looks.

Penon Impact is a great all-rounder and handles most music very well, non-fatiguing you can listen all day long. Really enjoyed my week with Impact hate to see it go.


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1000+ Head-Fier
Penon Impact: A familiar stranger on hallowed ground.
Pros: + Sound reminiscent of Oriolus Traillii
+ Value for money vs TOTL IEM rivals
Cons: - Minimalist packaging & Stock cable tuning

Penon Impact Head-Fi Review
By Nick Smith, 10th March 2023


Recently I was watching an old Star Trek: The Next Generation episode entitled The Measure of a Man, which led me to ponder the subjective nature of our hobby.

In the episode, Captain Picard struggles to verbalise why disassembling an android crewmate would be -forgive the pun- inhumanly cruel as he wrestles with the notion of precisely what makes us human. Often things we feel in our bones can be strangely difficult to articulate.

Which brings me to what on the surface feels like a simple question yet is anything but: “what makes a great pair of earphones great?”.

Ask any ten Head-Fi’ers and you may receive ten slightly different answers.

Yet if the question changes to “what is the greatest set of earphones?” over the past three years Head-Fi’s most common answer has been the Oriolus Traillii. Equally famous for their smooth, rich sound and USD $6000 pricetag, Traillii achieved an almost universal appreciation rarely seen in the hobby.

Having demoed Traillii last year (thanks to @Damz87) and beeen suitably impressed, my ears immediately pricked up when in January Penon Audio released a much more affordable IEM called the Impact, who’s frequency response graph matched Traillii’s almost identically. I reached out to Penon to signal my interest, asking if they’d consider providing a discount if I wrote a review of the Impacts – and they agreed.

What you’re about to read are my resulting findings.



Penon Impacts are a set of 4 EST + 10 BA hybrid IEMs retailing for USD $2500, available in both universal & custom shells.

Each Impact comes paired with a white 2pin Obsidian cable, utilizing OCC & gold-plated OCC cores and featuring a modular plug with 4.4mm, 2.5mm & 3.5mm terminations.

Included in the small cardboard box the Impacts arrive in is a leather carry case, leather accessories case, shirt clip, IEM cleaning tool, and 4 sets of eartips – one of which are JVC Spiral Dots.

As a Head-Fier who routinely buys & sells equipment and rarely keeps anything longer than six months, unnecessarily large & heavy boxes (and their lavish ‘unboxing experiences’) have gradually become the norm for IEMs at higher price points.

So it is with decidedly mixed feelings I greet Penon’s minimalist approach to the Impacts’ packaging. On the one hand if I decide to move them on they’ll cost far less to ship internationally or by courier than they would in a cumbersome wooden or metal box.

However one expects a certain level of quality when larger numbers are involved, and this appears to be the same box & leather case accompanying Penon’s $299 Serial IEM. Furthermore the stock Obsidian cable sells separately for $150, in contrast to more expensive cables often bundled with IEMs from established high-end brands. The Impacts are Penon’s first entry into this much higher price bracket and I see this as an area they can stand to improve in future.



The Impacts are housed in clear resin with internal components plainly visible. Ear fit is a very personal thing, but I’ve found them to be one of the most comfortable IEMs of this size, which is slightly larger than Traillii but considerably smaller than IEMs like Jewel, Multiverse Mentor & Elysian X.

Impacts’ shells are extremely smooth and feel great against the skin. The 2pin sockets are not recessed but sit flush, the stock Obsidian cable is weighty by 4 wire cable standards at 41 grams, does not have moulded earhooks, and its’ PVC insulation is slightly rubbery but nothing out of the ordinary.

As you can see from the photos the Impacts’ have minimalist white faceplates with a subdued sparkle only visible up close, with the word Penon on the left shell & Penon on the right. Design is always subjective but they’re quite a shift from the brightly coloured, attention-grabbing faceplates we’re often greeted with.



If you’ve heard Traillii, Impacts are cut from the same cloth but are not identical. They feature a very rich & prominent midrange which is the focus of their presentation, somewhat elevated bass (subjectively more than Traillii by some accounts, but I did not have Traillii on hand to verify this), and detailed but tastefully subdued treble.

From a technical perspective, Impacts are quite dynamic, possess a wide soundstage (reputedly slightly narrower than Traillii’s) with terrific imaging & separation and are superbly resolving.

They do a great deal right, but it’s often easier to characterise IEMs by what they do wrong. In Impact’s case very little stands out as manifestly inadequate, depending on your preference the sole exception may be the absence of a Dynamic Driver.

Impact’s BA bass is superb by BA standards – being quite textured, fast and present in enough quantity to make EDM extremely satisfying, but the slower decay & slam of a DD isn’t something BA’s can hope to replicate. I would nominate Impact’s BA bass of the best attempts so far but some Head-Fiers insist on DD bass and will accept no substitute.

To better convay Impact’s sound I compared them with a number of IEMs from similar price brackets.



Last Saturday I attended a Melbourne Head-Fi meet with @Damz87 , @lycos and @jaydoc1, using the opportunity to compare the Impacts with other IEMs present. All comparisons were made on my Cayin N8ii in Tube Mode with P+ enabled, and the Impacts were paired with an Effect Audio Ares S cable due to an issue with the stock cable. Spinfit W1 eartips were used on all IEMs tested.


MSE’s shells are huge. Slightly bigger than Mentor’s with unusually-shaped nozzles I didn’t find terribly comfortable. I could live with them but would need to keep listening sessions under a few hours.

Requiring almost double the power of Impact to reach similar volume, MSE’s blue ‘upgrade’ cable was also noticeably heavier than any stock cable of IEMs present, including Mentor.

MSE’s have quickly become famous for their insanely elevated DD-powered sub bass, yet somehow accomplish it without adversely affecting the rest of the frequency spectrum. As such there is simply no comparison between MSE & Impact where bass quality & quantity is concerned, though MSE’s will be too much of a good thing for some.

In other departments MSE’s have a narrower stage than Impact, poorer imaging, and do not feel as resolving in the treble region in particular. Though remarkably well-balanced for such a bass-dominant IEMs, they lacked refinement & body in the upper registers by comparison.


Jewel’s shells are slightly larger than Impacts’ -likely due to the DD within- but I didn’t find them uncomfortable. They were also marginally harder to drive requiring a bit more power.

Jewel shared sonic similarities with the U12Ts, with a much flatter sound than Impact and correspondingly poorer dynamics. However their midrange is fantastic, and though soundstages were similarly sized between both IEMs Jewel’s felt flatter & more two dimensional.

Interestingly, Jewel’s DD did not call a huge amount of attention to itself, so they didn’t jump out as having much more satisfying bass as I would’ve expected. Admittedly my time with Jewel was short having never been a massive fan of them, and our time at the meet limited.


The only IEM yet to impress me more than Mentor was the Elysian Annihilator – which does not include Traillii. So naturally Impact came off second best in this comparison.

Mentor’s shells are significantly larger and stick out much more than Impacts’, and come right up against the boundary of what I’d feel comfortable living with. However their bone conduction driver generates an ability to image & separate instruments and voices in a way I’ve never heard from any other IEM.

Mentor also offered superior resolution to Impact (as good or better than I’ve heard from any IEM except perhaps Noble’s Ragnar) and slightly more textured BA bass, again the best of any IEM to cross my path though some claim Subtonic’s STORM is better still.

Mentor also possessed remarkable note weight thanks to its’ incredible lower midrange, though vocals may have actually been richer on the Impact which despite being overshadowed held up as well in comparison to Mentor as all but a handful of IEMs.



Though remarkably comfortable with their tiny shells, the IE900s are so small I have difficulty maintaining a seal as they’ll occasionally fall out. This can be alleviated with a different choice of eartips, but then those must be selected for fit rather than sound.

What was immediately evident in this comparison was how much difficulty a single dynamic driver has keeping up with a modern hybrid, and yet to my ears sounded no more coherent which was once the great advantage of single driver IEMs.

Compared with the Impacts the IE900s had a similarly wide soundstage and terrifically textured DD bass, but it was all downhill from there. Overall note weight was lower and this was particularly evident in the treble, resolution was lower, imaging was poorer, and even the bass felt less impactful though the DD slam was certainly there.

64 AUDIO U12T (USD $2000)

The U12T feature a drier, flatter presentation with more upper midrange emphasis. I found them to have a slightly wider but shallower stage than the Impacts, marginally higher resolution but much poorer dynamics.

Though U12T have fantastic bass for an all-BA IEM, the Impacts have higher bass quantity and more impressive bass texture which felt closer to that of a dynamic driver. Vocals on the Impacts also felt more forward and rich, and overall the U12Ts were a lot flatter & less energetic by comparison. The U12T shells were appreciably smaller but their shape did not match the curves of my ears as snugly as the Impacts.



Gaea was another IEM I had limited time with, having not been impressed with them previously. Their shells are slightly bigger than Impacts’ but were not uncomfortable in my ears.

Despite their similarly wide stage to Impact’s, Gaea fared worse in most other areas with a strong upper midrange emphasis many find polarising, much poorer note weight, and lower resolution across the board.

Gaea’s DD bass was pleasant but did not stand out as better than adequate and though Gaea are fantastic to look at with a surprisingly light & pliable stock cable, they were clearly outclassed by Impact.



I also used Saturday’s Melbourne Head-Fi meet to test Impact with a number of cables. Each one was compared with my Ares S 4 wire cable, since the Impact stock cable had issues at the time.

PENON OBSIDIAN (USD $150 - Impact stock cable)

Regrettably my experience with the Penon Obsidian stock cable was not positive. Arriving with a modular plug system, after only several plug swaps it quickly developed a fault in one channel which would then cut out intermittently when the cable was handled.

To Penon’s credit they immediately shipped out via DHL a replacement cable (with a fixed 4.4mm plug at my request) that has since worked perfectly, and were generous enough to include a pair of Totem Adapters free of charge which I’ll discuss later. I’d encourage prospective Impact owners to avoid the modular plug system.

Sonically the stock cable has been a mixed bag. It’s very midrange focused, as is sometimes the case with gold-plated cables, imbuing vocals with a further sense of richness and presence that’s admittedly quite alluring and seductive.

The issue lies with the Impacts already possessing a midrange focus which many listeners may feel does not require further enhancement. Furthermore the stock cable does little to expand the soundstage which leave it feeling… I hesitate to say cramped but certainly narrower than one may find in IEMs of similar price. If much of your listening is vocal-centric music the stock cable may be an excellent choice, if not you may be left feeling it does not maximise Impacts’ soundstage, imaging & dynamics quite enough. It is “only” a $150 cable after all, and the following comparisons convinced me the Impacts scale so impressively that a more extravagant choice is warranted if your budget allows.



Ares S had a greater upper midrange emphasis than the stock cable and created a more dynamic and energetic presentation.

Though the soundstage wasn’t necessarily wider it did feel more open & less sharply delineated between left / middle / right than the Obsidian, and as a consequence not as congested. Ares S has become my preferred Impact pairing between those two cables.


I didn’t have a great deal of time with this particular cable but noticed it was appreciably brighter than the Ares S, with even more upper midrange emphasis that I didn’t expect from a copper cable. Ergonomically it was also very comfortable.


In many ways this cable was the star of the shootout, altering the sound more dramatically than any other tested. Having said that the Yanoto did not synergise quite as well with Impact, but demonstrated how superbly it would pair with brighter IEMs in particular.

Yanoto was the second stiffest cable behind Code 23, but definitely the heaviest. It was difficult not to be aware of the weight, though I’d happily attempt to live with it for the incredible sound it delivered.

This cable created an enormously wide holographic soundstage with unbelievably precise imaging, on par or better in this regard than Chiron though I didn’t compare them side by side. It also created the illusion of being seated further back from the performers on stage.

Yanoto’s real magic lied with the unbelievably smooth liquidity it imparted on the presentation, creating a luxurious feeling of refinement no other cable could match.


Definitely one of the most interesting cables to hit the market recently, utilizing mammoth 16.5 AWG solid core copper, Code 23 was as heavy as one might expect but the real issue was stiffness – in the earhooks particularly.

This rendered the cable one I would not consider purchasing for comfort reasons alone, a pity because Code 23 delivers a massive holographic soundstage and a very rich, forward midrange.

Indeed soundstage expansion was right up there with cables costing thousands of dollars, though Code 23 felt a notch behind them in resolution. Still a superb option if you can live with the ergonomics but I suggest trying before buying.


Visually distinctive and with better ergonomics than Code 23, being much less stiff and also lighter, some have complained Venom’s insulation can feel ‘sticky’ like TPU cases or Azla Xelastec eartips but I did not notice this in my short time with it.

Venom’s soundstage was slightly smaller than Code 23’s yet still very wide and noticeably deep. Vocals stood out as being enjoyably meaty and the cable seemed to synergise quite well with the Impacts.

Compared with Ares S, Venom delivered a smoother presentation yet despite that delivered superior resolution, with punchier midbass & greater midrange detail. Venom was my second favourite Impact pairing after Chiron.


Chiron deserves special praise for its’ ergonomics, being remarkably flexible and surprisingly light for such a high-end 8 wire cable, although I did find its’ earhooks a tad stiff. Coupled with its’ performance, if price were no object I would choose it on that basis alone.

Chiron’s stage was as wide as any cable tested, resolution as high or higher than any tested, and the tight & punchy bass it delivered was spectacular. It paired brilliantly with Impact, no surprise as I find it difficult to imagine it complementing any IEM poorly.


This DIY cable was built from the same Cardas Clear bulk wire PWAudio reputedly use in their 1950s cables, and according to those who’ve heard both sounds almost identical.

I found the Cardas Clear cable very close in performance to Venom, with slightly less ergonomic weight & stiffness. Both cables possessed a similarly-large soundstage, however the Cardas Clear drew extra attention to the midrange (and particularly lower midrange) and in doing so delivered extremely smooth, seductive vocals.



Penon sent me a 4.4mm Totem Adapter with the replacement Obsidian cable and though I didn’t find its’ sonic changes quite as dramatic as swapping entire cables, I was surprised by the improvements it made paired with Ares S and Cayin N8ii.

The adapter added a small amount of extra height & width to the soundstage, dynamics improved, the presentation felt a bit more energetic with extra detail throughout the midrange and treble, though perhaps adding a touch of dryness. These changes were very minor individually, but in totality made quite a difference especially given the adapter’s modest cost.



Keen to discover how the Impacts scaled with better sources, I tested them with those on hand.


Though musically enjoyable through the Apple dongle, much of the Impacts’ potential remained unfulfilled as expected.

Dynamics were poor, the soundstage was compressed and imaging felt very blurry, resolution was noticeably lower that the other sources and bass was decidedly one-note with a lack of texture. The jumbled nature of the sound made picking out individual instruments difficult & fatiguing.


The Go Bar was a massive improvement with a much richer midrange, hugely improved resolution, a wider and deeper soundstage, better dynamics and a greater sense of ease in which the music seemed to flow better.

The Go Bar’s biggest weakness was fairly audible background noise/hiss, more so than the other three sources in this comparison.


The SR25 synergised particularly well with the Impacts, better than the N8ii in some respects.

Sub bass impacted more deeply than the Go Bar, with better overall note weight and a greater lower midrange emphasis that made vocals in particular much more lifelike. Treble detail was not quite as emphasised however, but the presentation felt more organic since the Go Bar can lean towards feeling somewhat digital.

CAYIN N8II (USD $3500)

The N8ii was a big step up from the SR25 in all technical areas. Notes felt more solid & well-defined without losing detail, the background between instruments was blacker, soundstage was wider (though perhaps slightly flatter) and imaging improved.

Hearing the echoing decay of notes was easier, and the entire presentation felt more refined & effortless despite resolution increasing. Bass texture was also improved.

Swapping to the far more expensive N8ii from the SR25 yielded a much more refined sound, but did not increase my musical enjoyment as much as expected, cementing the belief that source, IEM & cable synergy remains paramount.



The Impacts have reasonably short but wide nozzles containing no less than 4 bores. I didn’t have issues with eartips coming loose in my ears thanks to their nozzle width, and although different eartips altered the sound the Impacts did not feel as eartip-sensitive as many other IEMs.


My current reference and default tips of choice. Their ability to improve sub bass impact versus any other eartip I’ve tried has been a revelation. On the Impacts they also added a tiny bit of treble sparkle.


These were almost as comfortable as W1s and added a little more midbass but less sub bass as expected. Dynamics seemed to decrease marginally and the soundstage was slightly more intimate.


The seal was quite good with these but I did not find them comfortable. For some reason they sounded a tad hollow with a lack of midbass presence.


Possibly the second best seal behind the W1s, they sounded slightly airier with a nice overall sonic balance but less bass presence.


Perhaps the most comfortable eartips or at least on par with W1s, they sealed surprisingly better than I find them doing with many other IEMs perhaps due to the Impacts’ comparatively wide nozzles. Bass presence was down compared with Sedna Shorts, placing more emphasis on higher frequencies.


These were not quite as uncomfortable as I’ve experienced them being with other IEMs but still sealed poorly, sounding very airy and somewhat incoherent.



I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Impacts.

Traillii’s popularity strongly suggested a viable market for a cheaper alternative, and some of us are surprised it has taken this long for one to emerge. The other day a friend joked that perhaps Penon can expect to receive a letter from Oriolus’ lawyers, to which I responded by asking if it’s possible to patent an earphone’s tuning? That seems unlikely, and this is hardly the first time a winning formula has been borrowed.

The question is do the Impacts have what it takes to emerge from underneath Traillii’s very long shadow? I’m not sure how such a thing should be measured – in unit sales, volume of community commentary, or simply the enjoyment they bring each owner? This is a fabulous IEM in its’ own right, but it will be difficult to escape Traillii comparisons.

Putting that aside, the Impacts represent Penon’s first foray into truly high-end price & performance territory. All of us in Melbourne who heard the Impacts on Saturday agreed not only do they truly belong in the company of other summit-fi IEMs, but are quite possibly the most affordable way to join the conversation. This is of course contingent on the Impacts’ sound signature being to one’s particular liking, and the lack of a dynamic driver being something you’re willing to live with. Traillii’s popularity suggests no shortage of us will answer yes to both.

So to return to my original question: “what makes a great pair of earphones great?”

I can’t speak it, but the Impacts whispered it to me.
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DJ Core
DJ Core
One of the most detailed Reviews that also mentions Cables, Ear tips and DAP used. This is the Way to review gear. Well done, Sir. Many have a lot to learn from this super detailed review including seasoned reviewers.

I always ask a reviewer, what Tips, Cable, DAP etc. did you use? because these things are very important when it comes to the sound you hear out of the IEM.

I've also personally realized; my hearing is much better in the morning after a good night's sleep vs later in the day when my brain and body are semi tired.

Excellent review.
Excellent 👍 nuf said? Thanks for this review of synergies.
Great review. I am now deciding between the Traillii (second hand) and the Penon (new) for about the same price. Any views? Thanks.
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100+ Head-Fier
PENON IMPACT Impressions
Pros: - Natural
- Effortless
- Spacious
- Nothing is overdone
- Very good technicalities
Cons: - Price
Tested with Fiio K7 (favorite) and Zen Dac V2
Tri Clarion Eartips

The Impact just doesn’t do anything wrong, I don’t know what to complain about.

For my taste, the amount of bass is just right for an all-rounder.
I tend to be a basshead myself, but I still get my money’s worth here. (If I would have bought it :p)
But it shouldn’t be less for me.
In addition, the bass is nicely structured and very fast, metal really appeals, but so does every other genre that I have tested so far.
The Cadenza12 had a similar bass but I wanted more to balance out the sharper treble…but with the Impact that’s not necessary. Nothing stands out excessively - the sound appears natural and balanced.

The mids are absolutely amazing, rich and natural.
Female voices literally jump out at you, but never to the point that it seems unnatural.
I don’t find it to be as pronounced in male voices.
Instruments simply sound natural and absolutely enjoyable.
Impact does not try to impress with artificially overdone treble.
The treble just sounds effortless and absolutely fatigue-free, yet still very detailed and airy.

Airy is a good keyword as there is so much space between the sound layers that it is a pleasure to follow the individual instruments.
The sound layering and positioning are top notch, it’s really fun and gives the impact a bit of an analytical touch, although in my opinion it’s absolutely not an analytical Earphone but a very musical one with analytical skills.

The stage is large and at least on the same level as other TOTL IEMs I have heard so far.

Everything sounds very clear and effortless, nothing is annoying.

Tonally for me it’s an A+ and nothing less than that in terms of technical skills.

I am impressed!

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