Penon Volt EST

General Information

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Penon VOLT Flagship 4 Electrostatic+ 2BA + Dynamic Driver Hybrid 2Pin 0.78mm HiFi Audiophile In-ear Monitor

Specification


Driver: Sonion 4 electrostatic + Sonion 2 Balanced Armature + 10mm dynamic driver
Impedance: 12ohm@1khz
Sensitivity: 114db@1khz@1mw
Frequency response 15-80Khz
Connector:2pin 0.78mm
Plug:2.5mm balanced

Cable: single crystal copper silver-plated (comes with 2.5mm balanced female to 3.5mm audio male adapter / 2.5mm balanced female to 4.4mm balanced male adapter)

Length: 1.2m

Package
Penon volt
Memory Foam eartips SML X1
Silicone eartips SML X 2
Cleaning brush
Earphone bag
Clip

Latest reviews

Penon Volt
Pros: A semi custom all resin hand crafted 7 driver tribrid IEM from Penon Audio. Comes with a customized 8 core silver plated crystal copper cable with 2 pigtail adapters which you can use with a large variety of source. Higher end balanced tuning with a rich full bodied immersive tone. Excellent 10mm bass end brought over from Penon Orbs. 2 Sonion BAs for that smooth full range mids, 4 Sonion EST driver firing in all directions for the treble. Very good wide, large dimensional stage in presentation. Usable zip up case and tips. Does very well in passive isolation means these are ideal for your daily walks. Value for the type of sound and package you're getting. Expands and enhances accordingly to upgraded cables and amplification.
Cons: Low impedance and higher sensitivity means you have to watch what you connect the Volts to for best sound dynamics. Some players out of single ended will actually sound better vs balanced due to the sensitivity. Lacks a bit in lower treble emphasis.
Penon VOLT EST
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Penon is on a roll, hot on the heels of their flagship cables Totems, come their new flagship earphones appropriately called the VOLT.

Penon makes more cables than they do earphones so just know when they pay attention to a new earphone build, it has to be what they perceive is to be the best of the best in material and tuning. I have been lucky to review all of their previous monitors the Spheres, the excellent Orbs and now we have the VOLT. The Spheres being a single BA earphone will give a good indication of how Penon likes to tune an earphone. The Orbs entered the hybrid craze adding a 10mm dynamic to that BA and it has garnered a good following of enthusiasts for their musical full bodied sound. The VOLT jumps straight for the top of the line with 7 drivers per ear incorporating a 10mm dynamic, 2 Sonion BAs for mids and 4 Sonion EST drivers for the highs.
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Penon house sound can be described as musical, full bodied, spacious,dimensional and with great balance. Their sound always incorporates one part good technical foundation and the other part the emotion for music that pours out of any of their earphones. This is in full form for the Volts.
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Before getting into the Volt sound I would like to give a hearty shout out to Mr. Chi Kong Hui of Penon fame, he has single handedly been the reason for my audio delinquency for the past year. I have learned a lot from you my friend. Many blessings to you always. You can read about and purchase the Penon Volt here. The Volts have been provided for the purpose of review. These are my thoughts regarding the latest earphones from Penon.
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Build quality of the Penon Volt is flagship worthy, you're getting a semi custom all resin poured hand built and tuned from audio experts at Penon. Within it’s blue glass-like texture and shine you can clearly see the drivers and crossovers stacked inside the housing, a work of art in many ways. Even though the ear pieces incorporate 7 drivers, the housing is actually not huge or even large, I would say it is somewhere between a medium size to a large in physical size.
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Nothing is more frustrating than getting a new earphone to find out they don’t fit your ears well so stuffing the 7 drivers inside the cramped housing is a feat that I am sure took a lot of know how and experience. The fit is great for my medium sized ears and I have compared the size of the Penon Orbs to the Volt with the Volt being just a bit more larger in thickness and size. I would say if you don’t have any issues fitting the Orbs to your ears you're not going to have much issue with the fitment of the Volts.
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The new 8 core cable that was specifically made for the Volt is a silver coated crystal copper cable in Litz structure, looks identical in material to Penons own OS849 cable. It's not exactly the same cable however. In comparison the OS849 is a thicker and more substantial cable but the tighter weave of the blue 8 cored cable for the Volt not only looks the part but you can tell the cable was very much a custom one off just for the Volts.
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The cable is tight in looks and feel with zero ear guides. Love that Penon does not add ear guides which end up being way more comfortable to use for longer periods vs a stiff ear guide on a lot of other cables that are included with most earphones. The cable admits minimal cord noise and comes to you in a 2.5mm balanced termination.
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Penon included a set of 2 adapters to use as an extension to the stock cable, one in 2.5mm female to 3.5m single ended, and 2.5mm female to 4.4mm balanced. This allows you to use this particular cable with any source be it balanced or single ended. Penon is not the first to use pigtail adapters as far as I know it has been Ibasso that took the initial plunge for cable adaptation using pigtail adapters but I do believe Penon here are the first to include 2 adapters instead of just one. So big kudos for well implemented and well designed cables to go along with your Volts.
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The included medium large zip up blue rectangular case is very familiar with all of Penon cables and their earphones so no change there. They also included 3 types of tips to use. One set is a foam tip that is unique to the Volts the other 2 sets are your standard silicone tips.
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If you never owned a custom made cable by Penon you will certainly get one with the Volts. With this being said like all included cables, while I like the cables that were included with the Volts, aftermarket cables, amplification and tips will enhance the sonic ability of the Volts accordingly.

Sound analysis was done using a variety of my players and amps. Fiio M15, Shanling M6pro, M5s, M3s. Ibasso DX160, Cayin N5ii, Sony ZX300, IFI Black Label and Ibasso PB3 amps.
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Some earphones need no burn in and some do. I burn in everything before I review them and will note any changes for the review. The Penon Volt requires burn in. Which affects its tone, detail and especially the 4 EST drivers. I noticed that when I first heard the Volt I was very surprised that the treble while sounding smooth lacked some presence. After a week's burn in the tone shifts from warm to neutral in tonality and treble has much better presence and ability overall. Bass of all things is the one constant, so burn in is highly recommended. Just use your music and play music through the earphones for a week at normal listening volumes and that should do it.
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Penons house tuning is all about balance. The one constant is the balance of the 3 zones. Each sonic zone of the Volt has excellent ability and quality and the Volt ups the quality aspect for the Volts. Space is another aspect of their earphones. A full bodied spacious presentation ends up sounding very dimensional which allows for a high level of engagement factor. The tuning reminds me of their previous earphones both the Spheres and the Orbs combined but at a higher level, as you can guess each part of the sound got a nice uptick in performance.
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In starting out of the gate the very first thing I noticed about the sound of the Volt is that unmistakable smooth warmth and richness in tone. Musicality can be described as just how engaging a sound can be and the Volts turn this factor up a few notches from their previous offerings. The Volts remind me of the tuning a bit more from Penons own Spheres more so than the Orbs. The even tonal balancing is in full force here and you can clearly tell they took a fine tooth comb in balancing out the sound for the Volt.
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Vocals be it male or female just jumps in quality and range. Full of body and emotion the tonal quality of the excellent Sonion BAs being used for the mid bands just surrounds your hearing in a full dimensional manor. Staging is another aspect of the Volts I appreciate, I have yet to hear a Penon made earphone that didn’t have proper staging and spacing for your music, the volts again ups the ante here. Their widest full range stage to date, surround mode is full on when hearing the volts. To be honest I have yet to hear anything considered flagship worthy with a confined stage, that would be a cardinal sin that could not be forgiven. A proper stage means you're getting music notes firing off in all directions with a wider deep and tall stage, you're getting all that and more here.
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Impedance matching will be crucial to how good the Volts will perform for you. The volts comes to you in 12 Ohms meaning they are very sensitive and very easy to drive the negative there is that if your source you're using has fairly high impedance out, the treble and bass will take a hit in performance. If you feel your sound from the volt is not ideal to how I am describing them, try it with a different source and in single ended. Usually balanced sources have higher or double the impedance out vs single ended hence taking a bit of a hit in sound performance. Ideally you want your sources to have less than 1 Ohm out which should do the trick. I noticed the single ended out of my Shanling M6 pro actually sounds better than balanced out and again it is due to that sensitivity. I would try both in single ended and balanced to see how you like the sound and go from there.
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So the Volts have a very musical foundation for its sonics but don’t mistake musical with being less technical in ability. Volts have ideal imaging with that larger stage and you're going to be able to clearly hear the layers of your tracks, that engagement factor is cranked up a few notches for vocal performances as a result. Absolutely ideal for vocals as good as their Orbs were, here you're not just hearing the vocalist, you're feeling their emotion when listening with the volts, that richness in tone is absolutely on full force. It is simple folks, either your earphones sound dry and sterile or it can be the opposite in sounding too dark or warm. Richness in tone is done with higher end drivers and how they are tuned, the Volts clearly has that natural rich tonal quality in full effect. More on this aspect of the sound later.
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The Volts utilizing 4 Sonion EST drivers for the treble end took me a while to truly understand and appreciate the well tuned EST set up that is on the Volts. Mostly due to needing burn in for the treble drivers to fully work as they should, EST drivers sound different than the more forward sounding BA driver. EST drivers are better utilized for the high treble and Penon was able to pull the best out of these EST drivers. Treble is presented with a crisp defined detail that seems to have its own space in the mix at times, treble materializes out of the headstage in well mixed tracks and with clear distinction.

Extension is not an issue with the EST drivers, nore does it lack sparkle and sizzle. EST treble comes to you with a variable aspect that will depend on the tracks or recordings, some tracks with forward crashes in the mix will sound as the engineer intended frontal and aggressive in emphasis. Very gentle background ride symbols will sound just like how it is supposed to in the background layers of the track with the exact light emphasis from the drummer.
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I noticed treble mostly has an even emphasis from lower to upper treble and where the EST is beneficial is their smooth treble quality. Treble has substance and a range showing very good quality with no peaky grainy mess for the sake of treble presence. Overall tone I would say the treble is on the smooth side yet the quality again here is very good. Treble transients are superb with every effect added to treble notes, you're getting a high quality treble ability in the 4ESTs.
The 4 drivers are working together for that ranginess here. Playing Leslie Odom Jrs Autumn Leaves the ride symbol notes has its own space in the tune with a reverb effect that lingers in the room that actually engulfs the entire recording where the track was recorded. Lesser drivers will not pick up that roomy sensation to the extent of these drivers. Needless to say sounds absolutely superb in the treble reproduction here sounding very pristine with a rich timbre that lesser drivers just don't have. This is just one example of the rangy treble ability and quality of the Volts EST treble.
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The treble end of the Volts shows a superior transient response but does show a touch of splashiness but nothing that is an outright problem. I would rather have a bit of splash than dullness is my take on that. Overall I have become a fan of EST treble and their abilities in the region and I can clearly tell Penon got the best of these drivers. If you feel the treble end comes to you a bit dull sounding that could be due to your source more than the actual treble on the Volts, check how much impedance out you have on your player. Try it in single ended instead of balanced, again impedance mismatch will affect treble emphasis as well as the bass end.
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I have become a fan of the BAs being used here for the Volts consisting of 2 high precision Sonion BAs for the very important mid bands. I noticed Sonion BAs have a different presentation vs Knowles BAs, smoother richer in tone and it does matter how the BAs are tuned but that encompassing ability certainly will come through better with 2 drivers vs using one. A single BA set up works well enough and the Orbs and their Spheres show just how good a single full range BA can be but 2 as they say, are better than one. Mids have that rich tone and full body of note, and who doesn't like a full body? Sound separation and imaging is done better utilizing 2 BAs, sound is seamless for the mid bands and in tuning the mids to have that fullness you're not just gonna hear your instruments and vocals you will be surrounded by it. The 2 BAs cover the mid bands with no abandon and you're gonna recognize just how drenched in detail and nuance of the mid bands you're getting here, add to that element a spacious quality to the sonics and and you got the makings for a romantic sound.

Romantic might be one step above musical but that is the best way I can describe it. Lower mids have that rich tone with fullness so male vocals stand out with a deep masculine ranginess, female vocals stand out due to that spacial airy quality that lets you hear and feel the performer's emotions. The mids band has a very slight touch of warmth perhaps due to the slight fowardness of the mid bands but ends up sounding very natural. Tonality is spot on for the mids and I find bolder sounding instruments to shine, Cello, bass guitars, horns and the Piano. Stringed instruments has good articulation and come across accurately but lack just a touch of bite due to a somewhat reserved upper mid range. Overall the mid bands sounds fairly even and unlike a lot of monitors with too much upper mids the volts are more even keeled in the mid bands with a forwardness that a lot of earphones lack.
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Bass end will be familiar to the folks that own the Orbs, the bass as well as the mids of the Orbs are the two aspects that you can’t argue with their production. Using the same high quality bass dynamic driver, why change something that isn’t broken right? The bass has great ability here and the driver used is a perfect match for the Volts, since the treble is much more alive in the volts vs the Orbs the bass region sounds more balanced overall. Subbass has very good ability and shows a great textured rumble dependent upon your tracks, deep reaching with good quality here means no roll off with no lack of presence. Bass driver shows a nimble tightness and accuracy that sounds every bit as the recording intended almost monitor-like in ability.

Bass is not overly emphasized but seems to be just right in impact and ability. I was happy to learn that Penon was going to use the same driver from the Orbs as I will clearly put it out there that I am a big fan of the driver being used. This dynamic driver is not as speedy as BA bass but it is much more real than BA bass which is the trade off and I will take real sounding vs speed every time. The driver isn’t slow by any means but I have had other dynamics which best this driver in that department, for what it is bass has very good quality much like the rest of the sound signature and you're bound to be satisfied with the ability of the bass.
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Some final thoughts regarding the Volts. Penon has done it yet once again, the Volts are clearly the end results of years of know how and work to produce. I call a well made, well designed earphone works of art and that is what you're getting with the Volts. They are so pleasant to look at and more importantly to listen to. You can clearly tell the passion involved in the Volt project everything from the accessories, cables, tips, case, the color choice, the drivers chosen, to the sound quality is most definitely the best of the best here and that is what a flagship earphone should be. You're not getting some half baked product with some things being good and some things not so good, you're gonna get all of it and Penon is on a roll.
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Their products are all about value and I know putting a value statement on a $799 earphone might be a stretch but please compare what you're getting in the Volts to other extravagant offerings and you will understand what value should be. With current flagship prices soaring to new heights what your getting is more than a good deal. When you're ready to leave the standard mid fi offerings into what flagship offerings should be about, you have to give the Volts some serious consideration. As always thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts and happy listening.
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Xinlisupreme
Xinlisupreme
Great review!!! Thank you.
I'm waiting for Volt, hoping will pair well with my M6 pro.
@Dsnuts do you consider M6 pro a good choice for Volt or it need a better DAP?
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Dsnuts
Dsnuts
Sounds great with the Volts but more so the single out vs balanced. In balanced it ends up messing with the treble end a bit and I didn't find that out till I plugged into the single ended which had better dynamics and more treble presence. Otherwise I love my Shanling M6 pro. Excellent sounding player.
Xinlisupreme
Xinlisupreme
Why not, volt will save M6 Pro Battery playing in SE😍
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