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Penon Sphere

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. Dsnuts
    Penon Sphere
    Written by Dsnuts
    Published Nov 21, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Solid construction 2pin smaller resin shell, Punchy dynamic bass. Slightly mid forward, clean detailed treble. Smooth, rich, refined sound. 26dbs of isolation. Comfortable and light, 2 pouches and a very nice wood canister.
    Cons - Stock cable. A bit plain looking.( Could be a good thing actually) No foams included.
    Penon Sphere
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    This one was a surprise to me and in the most interesting way. I have had a few single BA earphones in the past and the way things goes now a days. The more the better right? You don't want a single hamburger patty. Why have one when you can have 3 with cheese.


    As conventions goes there is an ever increasing movement in audio land that more gets you more, somehow better sound. I mean if you had a choice to lets say get a 6BA iem and or a single BA iem. Both tuned well enough. Which one would you go for? Better yet how about an interesting hybrid with the added element of a dynamic for bass. All 3 phones costing the same. And you know nothing about the phones, which one you gonna go for?


    Be honest. Your not gonna look at the single BA earphone right? See that is too bad cus what if I told you that single BA earphone is the best sounding out of the 3..


    How good can a single BA earphone sound? How can something that uses a single measly BA sound complete? There has to be a sacrifice somewhere in the sound. Well whatever your thoughts are about what can be achieved using a single full ranged Balanced Armature driver you can throw out the door here.


    I recalled the first time I threw them in my ears. I was simply dumbfounded. Couldn’t find the right words to explain it. They sounded soo right. Soo complete. I kept on taking them out of my ears and kept looking at them. WHAT!? How can this be!?


    Before I get into the review I would like to thank Penon for the review sample of the Spheres. These were provided for the purpose of review and can be purchased on their site here. I have no affiliation to Penon audio. I was reached out to due to having a funny name on the nets. I also have no affiliation to Dietz nuts. That is a meat company. These are my views about the Penon Spheres.
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    Penon Spheres comes in an attractive package that is unique to Penon as they include what looks like a wood carved canister for early purchasers by the way so I have no idea now many will get the wood canister. Inside the canister are the earphones and cables. The rest of the box contents had 2 different types of pouches and one of them a smaller square button up type that includes 2 sets of silicone tips. Love the wood canister by the way. It is something you don’t get with earphones. The package is compact, to the point and classy at the same time. On first inspection the Spheres themselves is a smaller semi custom resin design that is not too unfamiliar to earphone enthusiasts. The size of the phones itself is actually one of the smaller shells for this design.


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    Being physically smaller means these will fit most ears comfortably. They sit over the ear with minimal amount of external noise, microphonics or otherwise. Add to the fact since the earphone design is a solid piece of resin. You get at least 26dbs of passive isolation. Which I can confirm after doing my isolation tests. My test isn’t too scientific, a bit dangerous though. I drive with my iems in the ears. I have a good understanding of how good a phone can isolate if it blocks out external noise of the car and traffic. Spheres are excellent noise blockers. One of the best I have actually. I know, I know. That isn’t safe. Hey I have a long commute to work what can I say and my car audio don’t cut it.


    The build is sturdy,solid and light so it is very comfortable to use. These make for perfect out and about phones due to the great isolation and build.I am gonna be honest here and say that I am not a fan of the cables that came with the Spheres and the tips are just ok. The included set of tips one set in particular is very similar to the Mardarin Symbio type tips so those are very nice. The included cable is very average in form and function. I was told by the designer of the Spheres the cables while it does show the sound design of the phones, agreed with my take that better cables make them sound even better than they already do. As a disclaimer I did do the bulk of my listening of the spheres using the stock cable.The cables and tips fall into the category of “good enough.”


    Specification

    • Driver: Balanced Armature

    • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20000Hz

    • Impedance:6Ω@1kHz

    • Sensitivity:118dB/1mW

    • Passive noise reduction: 26dB

    • Earphone interface: 2Pin 0.78mm

    • Plug:3.5mm

    • Cable Length: 1.2M
    Package

    • SPHERE IEM

    • 6 pairs of silicone eartips

    • Wooden case (ONLY available for the 1st batch )


    Evaluation of the Penon Speres was done using a variety of sources: Ibasso DX160, Shanling M5s, Cayin N5ii,Shanling M3s, Sony ZX300a and my IFI black label.
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    Onto the important aspect of the Spheres. The sound. I have to admit I was guilty of having a limited perception of single BA sound.I know most single BAs I have heard usually have good mids but lacks for the outer extremities when it comes to sound. Spheres on open listen came at me with a bold, airy fluid sound, that was smooth, rich, dynamic, and had an impact in the bass area that was honestly surprising. This sound can’t come from a single BA phone? I mean I haven’t heard a dual or 3 BA earphones that does what these spheres do. This much gusto to the sound and not just your average sound either. It has refinements in just about every region of the sound.


    Forget about what you thought a good single BA implantation might sound like, instead let's focus on what matters. We don’t spend our hard earned cash in audio to get something that isn’t a complete sound right?. This is in fact what you get. I think it was the completeness of what I was hearing that caught me off guard. I own 6BA 12 and even a 14BA earphone sets.. How can such a mature detailed engaging sound come from just one of em.


    The sonics emanate from a single bore in the nozzle of the Spheres with a BA filter in the middle of the nozzle. The sound projection these throw out in the ear has a large spacious well balanced and most importantly a full bodied sound. A sound balancing that is effortless in its portrayal of vocal harmonies and instruments a like due to the slight mid forward yet balanced signature of the Spheres. Add a sprinkle of excellent punchy dynamism from the bass and clean articulate treble in the mix and you get a sound that is not usually associated with single BA iems. I never knew sound could be this complete from a single BA. Sphere have changed my perception of what can be achieved with a single BA driver.
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    Spheres sound absolutely musical while having a good fundamental balanced Fr that sounds superb to listen to. Enthusiasts that enjoy themselves, vocal performances be it male or females will fall in love with the sound of the Speres. It has to be one of the better iems for vocal music I have heard on anything. The tuning is masterful and has an excellent mix of musical, technical, clarity and dynamism added with a sprinkle of air and you get the spheres.



    Speres have a low impedance so they are easy to drive out of just about everything. Unlike most sensitive iems these are quite forgiving of bad recordings. Possibly due to the smooth musical nature of the sound but makes for a very enjoyable sound that you can listen to for hours on end with no fatigue.
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    Treble detail is also done exceptionally well for a single BA. Spheres incorporate a slight lift of the lower treble frequencies to inject a bit of detail with treble that easily extends in the brilliance part of the upper treble which injects some air to the sonics. Treble comes clean and well defined notes in the region. Extension is actually good for treble but sounds just a shy thin in the heart of the treble region otherwise you will hear your detail where it should be. It is quite the accomplishment actually. Considering multi BA earphones incorporating anywhere from 1-4BAs just dedicated for the highs sometimes don’t get this part right.



    The stage and projection of the sound on the Spheres add to the musical element. A larger spacious environment to work with within the head. The sound stage while medium large in scope dont have any form of confinement or incoherent issues multi BA and hybrids are guilty of. The height and depth of sound is another aspect that is very surprising on the Spheres. This aspect is best enhanced with aftermarket cables.


    Music has excellent well defined depth with a very even tonality which gives the Spheres a fluid yet airy type of sound. Layers of your music sounds more open than closed and for that the sphere excel in engagement factor.


    This completeness of sound would have had me guessing if there was a dynamic driver in the shell and a high end one at that. For Penon to pull this sound from a single BA I found myself having a whole new respect for what Penon has achieved for the Sphere.
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    In the world of huge driver counts on fancy looking earphones with the cost to match. Penon is doing something that truly exemplifies what can be achieved with a single driver and some finesse with tuning. While listening to the Penon Spheres critically for flaws and weaknesses. Sure these aren’t gonna have the same textured rumble of the well tuned dynamic or shoot for the stars in the treble but you know what? They more than make up for it with above average isolation comfort and best of all an excellent mature sound quality. If your gonna make one earphone in 2 years. I suppose it has to be good.


    Extra: So this section I would like to reveal to owners and potential buyers of the Spheres. In an exchange of back no forth with the Penon rep. I was told the cable while of a good quality is not exactly the best for maximizing the sonics of the Spheres.


    If your of the belief that cables does absolutely nothing for your sound and are just used to connect to the drivers to get the sound then this portion is not for you. However if your the type of enthusiasts that throws on one of your own cables out of the box and throws the stock cable in the case to never see the light of day. This portion is for you.
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    Neutrality and detail: Silver, SPC Silver plating, silver coating cables will inject a bit of extra treble shimmer and inject a cleaner definition to the sonics of the spheres. Will lean out the forwardness a touch in the process but gives a natural expansion of sonics with greater clarity cleaner notes, blacker space with better imaging. Neo cable shown here from Penon.
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    Musicality and depth: Copper cables, OCC, UPOCC, Single crystal copper. My favorite pairing with the spheres. Excellent choice for guys that want their mids full and juicy while not sacrificing any of the detail. Copper imo is the way to go with the Spheres. Fiery cable shown here which injects not only better definition but more punchier take on the bass end. If more musicality is your jam. Copper cables for the win.