Penon Voltage

Dsnuts

Headphoneus Supremus
Penon Voltage
Pros: Follow up to their flagship Tribrid Volts
Solid all resin design with proper venting for bass
4 sound channels/ sound bores for excellent sound separation.
Excellent cohesion for tribrid designs
Minimum of 26dbs of passive isolation for outdoor use
Excellent matching gold plated copper Obsidian cable, modular
Adjustable 2 switch design that adds bass/
lower mids or upper mids and trebles or both.
Very nicely done sound signatures:
Neutralish to a mild V shaped signature.
Bio dynamic bass x2 = outstanding definition, texture and deep rumble
Optimal bass foundation and an option for a bit more if you like
Well balanced treble presentations and an option for a bit more if you like
Penons renowned mids presentation, holographic and expansive
Lower mids option for greater note weight and presence
Sound that represents over a decade of IEM designs
One of the best-looking IEMs on the planet in stunning ruby red
Cons: Penon can't seem to make them fast enough. Currently in high demand.
Penon Voltage
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If you ask Penon fans which of the classic Penons catalog of IEMs represents their house sound. That would be the former flagship IEM, the Penon Volts. I did a review for that IEM here circa 10/2020. It was using a 10mm dynamic for bass, 2X Sonion BAs for mids, 4XSonion ESTs for highs. In hindsight I do believe this was the IEM that brought Penon into the limelight on the threads of headfi. Truth is Penon has always brought their best efforts when it comes to designing IEMs and even though the Volt has been out since 10/2020. We have had numerous new IEMs from Penon since including a new flagship in their Impacts.

It was only a matter of time before Penon started their cogs rolling on how to design a proper follow up to the Volts. This was going to be an important release as there are just too many enthusiasts and fans of the Volt that demand a proper follow up and I think Penon knew it. I have heard rumblings of a successor to the Volts since last year and today I am happy to report that tribrid follow up is now a reality.

The new Penon Voltage is the definitive follow up to the IEM that started a series of excellent higher end IEMs from Penon that sees a clear upgrade on their tribrid formula. The new all ruby red/ red marble colorway is an indicator of the caliente nature of its design. These not only look the part, stunning looking I might add but they certainly live up to the namesake as well. The new Voltage is utilizing upgraded drivers in sheer count and as well as its sound tuning to bring a new tribrid follow up to the Volts. Yes my friend it's finally here.
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The Voltage is using 2x 8mm dynamics,2x Sonion BAs for mids and 2X Sonion BAs for highs 4X ESTs for ultra highs. Without even hearing the Voltage, this is a more proper count of drivers needed for a higher end tribrid. One of the only issues I had with the old Volt was that it lacked a bit of lower treble emphasis and could have had a bit more treble emphasis in general as the ESTs was handling all of the trebles. This works but it is well known ESTs are not proper for lower treble support. Hence you see BAs or other drivers handling that portion on most tribrid IEMs and the addition of 2x 8mm dynamics vs the single 10mm dynamic in the Volts.

Penon has been using a lot of the 2 dynamic arrays lately and for a good reason. Having two dynamics gives a bit more physicality, authority, reach agility and speed vs the single dynamic which I will get into in the sound section of this reader but for now. Just know Penon has utilized every single driver in the Voltage for full sonics.
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But then they took it one step further. Included some very nicely done switches. Before you say switches are a gimmick. Not when it is done correctly it isn’t. Not only are the switches effective to give several sound designs in one but to my ears all the sound tunings involved with the addition of the switches to the base mode tuning are all done splendidly. Let's break it down.

With no switches on. The base tuning reminds me a bit of the Penon Impacts in tuning. Not exactly at that level of mids refinement but the signature is there. Full bodied, rich, fantastically detailed and layered extremely well all presented in a larger body of sound for IEMs. It's a more neutral leaning signature including a mild less colored 6dbs bass and mild treble emphasis that brings the mids more spotlight with a very nicely done balanced signature. This mode is all about acoustic music and clean vocal performances. You want natural timbre and an honest take on your music. This is the mode I would go with. This mode alone would have had neutral heads loving praising its signature but no my friends we get much more.
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Turn up the 1 or bass switch and now we are tilting the bass end but this switch does more than just add 3dbs of more bass and it was done by design that it raises the lower mid portion of the tuning by a few dbs as well. This does a few things. While this little switch is more of a mild boost it brings a touch of a warmer tuning with a thicker note weight to music for the all important lower mids and bass. It is this mode that adds some traditional Penon coloration to the Voltages sound. This brings that warmth that Penon fans have grown to love in their tunings. Penon Fan2 anyone? This is the mode that brings body to male vocals, strings and impact to bass notes with greater texture and extension. Musicality is associated with the region which is also synonymous with Penon tunings. A Penon IEM is not a Penon IEM without this and this is where the folks that are familiar with the Penon Volts will appreciate.

Turn up 2 for trebles and this switch affects the upper mids and treble end of the tuning. Penon tunings are more traditionally has been about the mids. But I have seen a shift in their tunings and for the better. Upper mids get a mild db of extra boost but done very tastefully. The upper mids by the way are now at what I consider the goldilocks of upper mids emphasis at around 8dbs without the switch at around 6ish. With the addition of the upper mid boost it also gets a treble boost which brings better presence in the tuning for folks that want that. Without this switch the treble emphasis is mild and does remind me of the treble tuning on the old Volts but one with better presence for the lower trebles. With the switch on we get better extension, more sparkle and shimmer all handled by the EST drivers that were taxed with this important duty. This is one of those IEMs that you can’t really understand just by looking at a graph. While the trebles look decidedly rolled off. It really isn’t. Especially now that it has that necessary lower to mid treble emphasis that is crucial for IEM balance.
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Trebles especially with the added switch is just simply excellent. Once again done in good taste. There is nothing in the trebles that will offend or step out of bounds and the tuning switch brings a variable treble option that is just as important as the 1 bass and lower mid switch. 2 treble switch on and 1 bass switch off brings a more traditional neutralish tuning that folks will love for the best imaging and precision for the Voltage. This is the mode to go with for classical and orchestral scores where precision and imaging is clearly needed for a proper larger body of imaging for your music. Where strings and its proper decay and timbre is important, this is the mode I would go with.
Both switch up. Now we get some fireworks. Folks that own the 10th anniversary can relate to this mode. This brings a mild but once again tastefully done v shaped tuning. I know there is somewhat of a stigma attached to V shaped tunings but this sounds soo right. So good. It is this mode you want your rock, metal, EDM, pop RnB, Hip hop. Modern music. This is the mode that folks that loved the 10th anniversary for its tuning will appreciate. I find this tuning to be so tasty, infusing that musicality we love from Penon tunings that jives exceptionally well with most of my music collection. If you're one of those folks that just leaves a switch alone in the best available spot. That would be this mode. In this mode is where I feel the Voltage's use of extra drivers and more importantly them EST implementation comes into play. It is in this mode you can get your groove on with some exceptional textured bass, rich well imaged mids and sparkly extended treble. The mids don’t just disappear here. This was the mode that I felt the Volts follow up would be. It is in this mode that you folks will understand why Penon has used two bass dynamics and two Sonion BAs to handle lower treble notes. Just my opinion but I think Penon could have made an IEM with just this tuning and called it a day. But the other modes don’t play 2nd fiddle to the two switch tuning here. Not at all.
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There is something to be said about an IEM that will adapt to your hearing state. The Voltage can be the type of IEM to scrutinize your music with, and could even be used as a monitor since its basic balanced, more neutral state is less colored and more honest about your music. Certainly can be used as a vocal monitor for Penons excellent take on its mids performance.

It could have used one more level of bass boost for basshead fanatics and one more level of treble for treble heads (I would explore other cable options if that's what you're after) but for what it is. The Voltage in all of its forms came out tastefully exceptional in every way possible. So none of the switch settings will fully satisfy a bass fanatic or a treble fanatic but Penon tunings have never been just about the bass end or the trebles in the first place. What is consistent in all of the tunings is their extremely well done mids profile.
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Fitment/ size.
The size of the Voltage I would consider in the conservatively larger bracket for IEMs. I certainly have even larger sized IEMs that actually use less amount of drivers so this design is agreeable in that they are comfortable for my medium/ larger ears. Ergonomically sound vs some that are just uncomfortable. Considering it is using some smaller sized BAs 4 ESTs and 2 dynamics, a total of 10 big boy drivers stuffed handsomely inside the shells, the engineering that is involved takes some serious know-how. The all resin shell also gives above average passive isolation for your excursions outdoors. I would give it roughly 26- 28dbs from my subjective hearing which is outstanding, good passive isolation means they are excellent to take out in your outdoor excursions.

The cable that is included is a well reviewed Penon Obsidian black modular cable which is composed of 18k gold plated OCC hybrid cable in 4 cores. A slightly customized version of this cable was used for their flagship IEM, the Penon Impacts. This cable by default highlights the mid bands with a honest take on trebles adding a bass emphasis with greater note weight and a richer tonal character on all of the sonics- Traditional of Penon sound. I will say in my opinion this cable is an excellent match up with the Voltage to highlight just how dynamic and rich the sound is. It's a better match up with the Voltage vs the Impacts imo. While it’s an excellent matching modular cable, it's not the most technical of cables that can be used on the Voltage. Hence If you plan on getting the Voltage, cables will enhance or highlight parts or all of its sound design to your liking more so. Included cable is just fine, more than fine reason why the Voltage sounds so full bodied as somewhat to do with this cable so it was deliberately chosen to accent and support the sound of the Voltage. However cable rolling will tune the Voltage to your liking.
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Technicals.
So let's get this out of the way. The sonics of the Voltage is a higher tier of sound. Utilizing 4 sound channels/ tubes into the nozzle of the Voltage means you get 4 distinct zones of sound that are all jiving to make up with Voltage sound performance. The OG Volt had 3 zones/ sound bores in comparison. These separated zones of sound gives clear distinction of each part of the sound signature. Sound imaging with better perceived texture and instrument separation is the result. Something that represents an actual higher tier of sound from what the Voltage presents will be at a supreme premium and we are talking megabuck IEMs that promise the heavens decent on your ears. As it stands. Penons ability to not only bring the goods when it comes to technicalities but it is always infused with solid musicality. Its stage is just as wide and deep as the OG Volts. But it is the Voltage's excellent variability that is the upgrade on the one Volt sound signature. Where the upgrade in tuning is in both its trebles and its bass definition. Has a more proper lower treble emphasis vs the Volts giving a complete sense of treble performance. I would say the mids sound a bit broader over the Volts mids which stands out just a touch more forward in comparison otherwise the upgrade is for real on the Voltage, tuning switches and all. Bass ends rumble and low bass extension has been improved from the OG Volts here as well. Its sound imaging, layering, definition and timbre here are all playing at a higher level of sound regardless of which switch you try though the treble switch does lend to a better sense of micro detail perception, even without the sound is not lacking here in the least bit. If you're sensitive to trebles and love your warmth. You get that here as well with the 1 bass option and 2 treble switch down. More detailed take on the Voltage 1 bass down 2 treble switch up. Anyway you do it. All of it is tasty.
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Trebles are overall well balanced with a moderate emphasis and extension. No treble glare and where ESTs are involved brings the sparkle and shimmer we associate with EST infusions. I have grown to be a fan of the EST timbre and while some say it does not sound natural. To me it gives the necessary distinction of the upper treble notes where other drivers are weak at. This is where the strength of the EST implementations comes into play and where micro detailing is vital for Jazz, classical and really any music genre where precision is necessary. EST timbre is superior to a lot of try hard BAs and most dynamic setups. The Voltage EST implementation on the treble aspects of its tuning is better utilized vs the Volts as it handles the upper treble notes with distinction and cohesion.

Mids has always been a strong suit of the Penon made IEM and you will never read about Penon bringing a recessed midrange on any of their IEMs. It is a vital part of their tuning make up and here the Voltage has several tuning angles to provide some of the best mids in the industry. Utilizing 2 Sonion BAs with very likable and well establish timbre characteristics. The think I love about Sonion BAs is they are less likely to emit the BA timbre you read about from other hybrids and IEMs. Not only are timbre aspects spot on but you get that richer tonal character of a well implemented Sonion BA. Two drivers are better than one in the region as this gives better sense of the dimensional proportions of your recording. Both instrument and vocals alike are always a strong suit from a Penon made IEM and the Voltage is yet another fine example of just how masterful they can tune the mids. The Voltage goes from neutral to full bodied with a hint of warmth and the mids will never be an afterthought but always featured for Penon.
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Bass

The soul of the music you listen to. If the rhythm section dont move you. You must be listening to the wrong type of music. Bass design traditionally has been handled by a capable dynamic that brings the beats. Utilizing 2 x 8mm bio/composite dynamics with a newer type of hanging suspension design. These bring a physical nature to the bass impact that seem to have a bit of an extra. Some folks worry about coherency and bass speed due to the physical nature of how a BA produces sound vs a dynamic diaphragm. By nature the bass diaphragm needs air to move for that physical bass. So the bass end will be slightly slower than that of a BA based bass. Unless you listen to just speed metal all day long. This is really not an issue. Even when listening to speed metal I don’t perceive the Voltage bass to be slow or sluggish in the least bit. Since the mids are presented in a natural manner the bass here jives extremely well with what the other bands of sounds are doing for the Voltage regardless of going from dynamic to BA with EST sound. Cohesion is definitely a strong suite of a well designed tribrid in the Voltage.

Even without the extra bass 1 switch on. You are going to be surprised just how impactful and capable the standard mode for bass is on the Voltage. For a lot of folks this will be the preferred amount of bass as there is really nothing lacking in the ability or definition for the bass end to come full bored. I would never describe the bass end as being bass light or bass neutral simply due to the bass quality being so very good on the Voltage. Let me put it this way. You don’t name your IEM something like the Voltage and not bring it in the bass department.

Bass is natural, clean, tight and has very good definition. I never thought the Volts bass end was ever an issue, infact I loved the bold but impactful bass end of the Volts but I have seen some folks feel sub bass could have been better. Voltages advantage of using 2 dynamics is that it's got a complete ability for the bass end. Sub bass rumble is not an issue, digs a bit deeper with a proper transient response meaning its decay is sustained realistically for a woofer design. Much like the mids and the trebles that specialize in their portions of sound the bass dynamics handle the bass end with no struggle or weakness that I can detect. Its tonal character is spot on. Its textured sub bass, very realistic. Bass end here is very satisfactory and in the 1 switch bass mode, bass is not a supporting role but one that is actually featured. Bass keeps up with the rest of the signature easily and since all the drivers her was deliberately selected for ultimate cohesion. There is no part of the sound that stands out on their own. Bass end included.
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Overall
With a name that exudes energy, the sound of the Voltage easily encompasses the namesake. Voltage is the end result of years of designs from folks that are master craftsmen at their work. Their ergonomic fit will work well with most folks and a solid all resin build means excellent passive isolation for when we need to be into our music on the go. The sound tuning is more than versatile, unless you're an extreme bass head or like all your sound to be brighter than the sun. There will be an option of the Voltage sound tuning that you will most definitely like. Voltage uses a high level of technical ability to its advantage in bringing forth a very even handed dynamic sound, not the other way around where technicalities are the only redeeming feature. Voltage brings a higher end tribrid to the masses with variable tuning switches that turns them into a different IEM every time you feel the need, when you add together all the aspects of what it can do and sound like, Its quality construction, stunning looks, highly refined design in both looks and sound. You get a new classic from Penon.
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I know a lot of folks will want a comparison to the OG Volts so here it is. This comparison is a Penon flagship shootout all using their stock cables in balanced.
Vs. Volts
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Penon Volt for $799 represents the first tribrid for Penon and the IEM that brings what their house sound is all about. Folks that owned the Sphere, Orbs, Globes will find the top of that particular sound in the Volt. The Volt is all about the mids performance and the bass and trebles playing a crucial supportive role in the tuning. Musical and dynamic sounding the Volts is what put Penon on the map. It is hard to argue where these IEMs lies in the hierarchy of Penon sound with their large and in charge sound performance even by today's standards. As mentioned before the voltage uses two Sonion BAs for its trebles and uses the EST drivers just for the upper trebles. This makes a difference in how much more complete the Voltage sounds for trebles, especially noticed with the treble switch in the up position. Where the Voltage sound signature becomes a bit similar to the old Volts is when you have that switch down. In this mode the trebles are smoother yet is not devoid of the reason why these are using 6 total drivers for trebles. Smoother trebles but still sound remarkably balanced. Where the Volt still has a bit of the upper hand from the Voltage I would say is its mids which is slightly more forward with decidedly richer tonal character. The Voltage sounds just a touch broader in the way it sounds, the OG Volt sounds just a bit deeper and with greater density of note. Otherwise they are trading punches for performance between each other. Where the Voltage is an upgrade in sound performance has to do with the way it can morph into a more bass infused sound, Is a bit more technical in that it does have better sound separation, imaging and detail elements vs the Volts. Voltage bass end is also an upgrade on the Volts single 10mm bass. It has better speed, sounds a bit tighter and has better definition and texture vs the Volts bass.
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Vs the Legends.
The Legends has the widest stage out of all of Penon made IEMs if you're a stage head these are a set to look into if you prefer your sound to be wider than most IEMs. The all BA IEM. The Legend uses 13BAs per housing with a 4way crossover design. These were the first Penon IEM to use tuning switches. Its tuning angle is more of a w shaped signature with enhancements in the 3 regions of sound that represents the Legend. It's a highly technical yet exemplifies how Penon can tune for higher end sonics utilizing so many drivers. This 13 BA set is definitely one of my all-time favorite all BA sets in existence and compared to others that charge a lot for similar specs the Legends clearly stand on their own for sound. This is where these share some technical aspects to the new Voltage. Its imaging and sound separation are both exemplary and here is where you're not missing out on the EST drivers of the Voltage. Unless you did a head-to-head comparison the trebles is fully fleshed out and is just right on the Legends. It uses 4 Sonion BAs for bass vs the Voltage two dynamics and I find their mids performance to trage blows for detail and imaging the clear distinction as you could have guessed has to do with the Volage Bass end which has a decided leg up on the Legends bass which is not exactly a weak spot for the Legends. BA bass as good as it has gotten over the years still does not have the same physical nature as a moving dynamic. Woofer bass will win every time here. This being said the cohesion level of the Legends being an all BA design is ideal for a broad sound. The Voltage for cohesion is superb for being a tribrid but if you actually listen for timbre aspects in the 3 regions of sound, You can tell they are using 3 different types of drivers.
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Impacts.
The Impacts are the newest flagship. 4EST with 10BAs. In many ways the upgraded Legends are what the Impacts are. That silky fluid EST implementation for upper trebles is the difference. The Impacts represent some of the best mids in the industry. It has some amazingly articulate full bodied, holographic mids performance and is the star of what the Impacts are about. The BA bass implementation gets a bit more punchy vs the Legends but it simply does not have the same type of physical bass the Voltage has. Voltage stage is a touch wider vs the impacts but if you take a premium for mids performance the Impacts cost as much as they do for a nicely done higher end mids, sparkly extended treble end, punchy BA based bass with an accurate timbre, with that classic Penon richer tonal character. The Voltage sounds more dynamic in performance and has the better bass quality out of the two and does lose out to the impacts in its mids presentation. Doesn’t sound as dimensional as the impacts as the impacts has better texture and body to its mids presentation. Voltage sounds a touch more dryer in comparison and is not as rich sounding but sounds equally airy for its mids presentation.

Voltage trebles has more presence especially with the 2 treble switch on which the dual treble BAs are more engaged. Impacts has a bit more upper trebles where the 4 Sonion ESTs are more engaged in the trebles. Sounds a touch cleaner tonal character vs impacts overall full bodied tonal character. As I posted above in the review about the Obsidian cable as both these IEMs use a variant of this cable. I feel it is the Voltage that benefits even more so using this cable vs the Impacts. It certainly synergizes better. The white Obsidian cable on the Impacts focuses a bit too much on its mids and bass character and not enough in the trebles, hence many were searching for a cable that can enhance the treble aspects while maintaining its mids performance. Since the Voltage has more bass and trebles it definitely jives better with the Voltage. This is a case however where if you never owned or heard the Impacts full bodied dimensional mids presentation. There is not much lacking for the mids performance on the Voltage, in fact it is quite excellent and has all the hallmarks of a Penon designed mids performance. However, there is a reason why the impacts have the superior mids presentation and that is because the Impacts uses 4 Sonion BAs just for the mid bands while the Voltage uses 2. The focus of the Impacts much like the Volt before it was its mids. The Voltage gives you the ability to enhance the treble and enhance the bass the Impacts cannot do. However, if you want the mids to be at the forefront of the tuning, lowering both switches does just this. I would say it is more balanced at this point and this in turn is the Voltage version of a more mid focused sound. The fact that the Voltage will be sold for much less vs the Impacts with the ability to engage its dual 8mm dynamics and 2BA+ 4EST for greater effect on top of an outstanding mids presentation makes the Voltage one of the best values for what they will be sold at.
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Wildcatsare1
Wildcatsare1
Okay, time to start moving some gear, you have ne intrigued. There needs to be some resistance to stratospheric pricing trend in personal audio.

My life was in healthcare and DoD, so I don’t know what the cost of goods, R&D, and break even is for the IEM/Headphone space; so I can’t make an absolute statement. Though the Volt looks like a positive trend!
A
audionooby
Great review - reading it makes me excited about a product like this. But I am not sure how to compare it to anything else that I may have as a frame of reference. I feel like the descriptions of sound are hard to separate for any IEM that is rated well. Any idea how this sounds compared to let’s say a Thieaudio Hype 4 or Hisenior Mega5EST or a single driver IEM like the IE600 or any other of the more “popular” IEMs?
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Dsnuts
Dsnuts

emdeevee

Headphoneus Supremus
Get Shocked by the Voltage!
Pros: -Penon sound gone TOTL
-Natural, balanced U/W shape tuning
-Analytical and musical
-Excellent performance through FR
-Thumpy, precise bass that can be boosted but never gets muddy
-Highly extended treble with incredible detail
-Clean clear resolution, timbre and cohesion
-Incredible deal for what you get
Cons: -None
Penon Voltage is a new 10-driver tribrid “flagship”; I put this in quotes because there is the real flagship, Penon Impact, a 14 driver hybrid BA/EST iem that retails at $2499. The difference here being that Voltage is a tribrid, trading out a lot of BAs for a couple of DDs, and the retail price being a provocative $1199. Why provocative at half the price of Impact? I think most Penon fans are used to excellent low-priced offerings and are reasonably nervous to spend a kilobuck or more, whereas most big spenders in the hobby often avoid Penon. I think Penon made a careful choice in pricing here. I’ll venture to say that they could have priced these at $1999 and that would still be a competitive price, but I believe Penon chose to not do so and actually underpriced the Voltage to bring in more of their big fans (which they maybe didn’t with the Impact or Legend, pricing them outside the fans’ comfort zone). In a vacuum, if Penon had priced Voltage at $1999, I would not have been surprised (nor jumped as fast), but regardless, they still would have exceeded that price level. I’ve heard nothing so far sub $2k that rivals the Voltage. I have spent an extended time with my other favorite in this price range, the $2k Oriolus Monachaa which I happily own. But if I’m going for a full and complete sound – meaning excellent sub and mid bass, clear weighty mids that give way to extended upper mids and treble so that the overall effect is an open and airy soundstage that has no glaring issues in any particular part of the FR, I’m going to say Voltage delivers this in a more complete way than Monachaa, which can sometimes feel lacking in the midbass and bright in the treble. Voltage, to my ears, has no apparent flaws nor does a particular part of the FR have a “star”; bass, mids, treble are expertly harnessed yielding a truly engaging, balanced and full sound that, while focused to some degree on the mids, never lets any part of the FR down. As Penons go, it’s moderately power hungry, but still easily driven by any DAP or decent dongle.
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I purchased the Voltage directly through Penon with their standard, early bird discount to their VIP email list (it’s easy to sign up at Penonaudio.com), so I get nothing in exchange for this review, though I want to thank Penon for the generous discount they do provide to their fans. Starting with the basics, the packaging is no-frills Penon, meaning a selection of eartips (but no Liqueur tips!?), stock cable and carrying case are included. The Voltage itself is an attention-getter with its bold, red color and gold accents, constructed with integrity as are all Penons in my experience. Voltage is on the medium-larger side, protruding a little from the lower part of the ear, but is otherwise very light and comfortable. In fact, for 10 drivers including 2x DDs, it’s frankly pretty small and light. I have worn it for hours, sometimes too many without break, because I couldn’t put them down and they just disappear in your ears and become part of you. For reference, I think it’s not a great idea to listen to any iems for hours on end without a break – save those canals!!! But regardless, fit and comfort are not an issue for me and if you’ve been comfortable in any other Penons, these will be great. There are 2 switches that affect the tuning, though not radically changing its overall balance, with bass switch first and treble switch second. I’ll discuss that in a bit, but they could be left in the stock position out of the box (eg, both switches down) without a care in the world and just forget them. But I prefer to play with these things to see if there’s a sweet spot that works specifically for me (TLDR: there was, bass switch up, treble switch down, for me, YMMV). I already described the included Obsidian cable which is very good and capable of giving a great performance from Voltage. However, as I always do, I cable rolled and found that Voltage could be influenced greatly with cables as well as tips. Shame Penon didn’t include the black and orange Liqueur tips – they are actually perfect for Voltage and make some micro changes that will appeal to different ears! I don’t understand why they don’t include them here.
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Ultimately, after a lengthy burn-in exceeding 100 hours, I began critical listening and by about 200 hours had settled on using the Effect Audio Code 24c cable and the Coreir brass tips. I listened mainly though my L&P P6Pro connected to my ibasso PB5 tube amp with the insanely good Penon Totem interconnect (which was a cheap upgrade for a lot of wow!). I found the combination of the Code 24c and Coreir tips to bring deeper staging, deeper bass, extended treble, and a nice, warm U-shape (or W) tuning with elevated subbass, forward mids and vocals, and highly extended treble with details, details, details. The combo of the P6Pro and PB5 is sublime and something to behold, so Voltage was properly driven! And those details rise out even more if you scale up your power for Voltage; if there’s stuff in your music you’ve missed before, this set can reveal those things. Breaths, guitar plucks, coughs, lost words, backwards messages, all come out when listening with Voltage. I have tried (and own) many Penons, but none have come close to what I’m hearing with Voltage! Deep bass sounds tight and incisive, and sufficiently booming like a subwoofer, while the highest cymbal crashes pierce through clearly and with authority. This combines beautifully with the Penon mids which are clear and transparent giving them room to shine. Again, the hallmark being one of the most balanced sets where no aspect takes a backseat – Voltage brings everything I really want in an iem.
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I think this is due to the “Penon tuning” being perfectly executed here. What does that mean? To me, it means you get something very natural and balanced, cohesive that doesn’t necessarily sound like a bunch of different drivers being combined. Your brain tells you that it’s happening, because you feel the DD bass with impact and precision, and hear it lavished by the BAs, and then transition to ESTs, whose implementation here may be the best I’ve heard and certainly the best I’ve heard from Penon (admittedly not having heard the Impact, yet). The overall result is a tuning that is not exactly unusual, but rather mature without gimmick or tricks. This makes Voltage not only a banger from a bass perspective, but also a detail monster from the treble perspective. I really think treble heads would like this a lot. Bass heads, too, but it’s not exactly basshead, though it flirts in high bass mode. With its 2 switches you can veer it toward either of those tunings and the results are very satisfying. With the bass switch (#1) up, I hear something akin to a FatFreq MSE, but with tighter, less boomy bass, more air and better upper mids and treble. With the treble switch (#2) up, I hear something more like Anni 23 with better, but lesser bass, even though it’s hard to believe those words (and take them with a grain of salt, I haven’t listened to Anni in a while, and I did really like it a lot); both switches up does remind me of Anni 23. With both switches down (the “stock” tuning), the presentation is entirely balanced and again, doesn’t lack for anything.
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As a Penon fanboy, why didn’t I try the Impact? Well, it was TOTL expensive for one thing, and I personally require DD drivers in my IEMs at this point in my listening life for the air they move and the way they render bass. Impact had 14 drivers but no DD, so I passed, though am still interested in demoing them to understand what they do well which I expect is actually a lot considering what they were trying to compete with. If Impact had been a tribrid with DDs, I probably would have bought it. And the point is, Voltage does have that DD driver setup I love, in fact, in a pair of DDs that have some special treatment from Penon that they explain on their website, excerpt here:

“The two independent 8mm Dynamic Drivers use fiver composite biofilms plus flexible hanging edge diaphragms. The characteristics of the high damping of biofilms ensure that the Dynamic Drivers will not produce additional resonance due to split vibration at medium and high frequencies, and at the same time bring smooth and natural timbre features.”

I’m not going to pretend that I know what that means, but the last words ring quite true: smooth and natural timbre features. Timbre is outstanding, again with this driver cohesion, no instruments sound thin or off, everything sounds like you would expect it to (and hope it to). The DD drivers in Voltage, especially when cranked up by the bass switch, are beautifully executed with powerful, precise, deep clear subbass extending to the low mids without mud or bleed, really a triumph of sorts as Penon has really stepped up its bass performance with recent releases like Quattro, showing their dexterity with DD drivers. Again, this is not basshead level stuff, but it’s not meant to be. Voltage wants to be an all-arounder that you can tweak to either the bass or treble. And it succeeds brilliantly in that way, though I expect most folks will test out the differences and arrive on a favorite config and leave it that way, with many just leaving it in the very fine stock setting. In any event, DD bass done very well here, zero issues or complaints, only happiness. What’s particularly nice is the quality of the bass, its transition from mid to sub bass and how upper mids blend, it has all really come together here in an unusually natural and balanced sound.
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The tuning of the 10 drivers here achieves a stunning level of timbre and cohesion, the best I’ve heard from Penon to date, and among the very best I’ve heard from any tribrid. The tuning here is the sort where I think most people would say “yeah, that’s how it should sound”! The technicalities here are also incredibly well-done making Voltage a very detailed, highly resolute iem that truly extends from the deep subbass to the highest trebles with perfect handoff from DD to BA to EST, all in perfect harmony with each other so that it’s not clear what’s creating what, but that a symphony of well-matched drivers have been tuned to perfection. While not the most remarkable staging I’ve ever heard, it competes at TOTL level with wide and tall imaging that gives a sense of being in the studio with the musicians rather than being in a venue if that makes any sense. Separation of instruments is at the zenith with everything identifiable in detail with terrific resolution across the board. Despite all the detail, listening never gets fatiguing, it’s in fact an energizing listen without any fatigue or pain points.
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When discussing the brand Penon, a lot of folks mention the “Penon mids”. Penon tuning in my experience thus far has indeed favored the mids. On each Penon iem I try, the mids are generally the star of the show, except in the case of Quattro, where I think bass and overall DD timbre steals the show. Quattro is a uniquity in the Penon line in many ways. But Voltage does want to present super mids – and it succeeds in spades – the mids are as perfect as I’ve heard them. It’s just that I can’t call them the star of the show here because everything is the star of the show. Want banging DD bass, check. Want clear, thick weighted mids, check. Want unscreechy upper mids, check. Want highly extended treble without sibilance, check. There’s no star of the show, the star is the Voltage itself which is the new, best Penon iem I have heard!!!
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wolfstar76
wolfstar76
Congrats on the front page!
holsen
holsen
Great reveiw! I felt the the genuine enthusiasm from the first sentence - Just awesome!
A
audionooby
That cable looks amazing but it’s also very expensive (500 bucks). How much of a difference does it make to your ears? Are there any cheaper cable upgrades you would recommend for this IEM? I have to say the aesthetics of that pairing is stunning though …

Danx3k

500+ Head-Fier
Penon's Finest
Pros: Wonderful natural tuning
Maintains the Penon house sound, yet sounds open, clean and detailed
Really impressive stage depth and height
Really good layering and imaging
The option to adjust the tuning with the switches
Beautiful shells that feel solid and well built
Comfortably competes with other IEMs in its price range
Really nice stock cable
Cons: Can be intense in the 5khz region due to a present peak.
Sounds a bit muddy in 1-1 and 1-0 which in turn has a negative impact on the technicalities
Whilst it's well accessorized they're the same accessories that come with Penon's cheaper offerings, they could've included something more premium
Accessories also feel a bit cheap, the zip got stuck on the supplied case
Perhaps $1,000 would've been the sweet spot to price the Voltage at
I received the Penon Voltage to demo courtesy of @ian91. All views are my own and there's no incentive to give anything other than an honest impression.

Disclaimer

This hobby is very much subjective and our listening impressions will no doubt widely differ due to a number of factors including; ear anatomy, hearing ability, age-related hearing loss, fit, seal, how deep you can insert the tips and so forth.

Therefore, everything I say hereon is my subjective opinion based on my experiences, yours may differ to mine.

A Bit About Me

So, I've previously owned a few Penon IEMs, namely; 10th Anniversary, Turbo and more recently the Quattro.

I purchased the 10th anniversary over a year ago and whilst I did like it, I never really got on with it, and found it lacking in treble extension with a bit too much bloat and thickness in the lower mids and mid-bass.

I then purchased the Turbo and wasn't a huge fan either and sold it only a few weeks later. I mostly took a gamble on the Quattro as it intrigued me being a 4 DD configuration, but to be honest I was disappointed and found it to be a bit of a muddy mess due to the overwhelming bloat in the mid-bass and lower mids, which just bled and smothered the rest of the frequency range.

Since then I have bought and sold a lot of IEMs (as you can see in my signature). I've come to learn what my preferences are and what I tend to favour and look for. I like a good sub-bass extension, not too much mid-bass, clean mids from 200Hz, a not too aggressive upper mid/pina gain and well extended treble up top.

As such, I stopped really looking at Penon IEMs if I'm honest, as Penon typically go for a lush organic midrange, which they're so well known for, however one of the compromises of this type of tuning is usually a thicker lower mid presentation, which I don't like.

Penon then announced the Voltage, and I heard some positive impressions from a few people I actively chatted with, and the general consensus was the Voltage is a really impressive IEM.

I also saw the measurements of the IEM in 0-1 switch configuration and thought this could potentially be a really nice IEM for me and my preferences. However at the RRP Penon placed on the Voltage, it needed to be pretty impressive to justify the price.

Presentation

The Voltage is a 10 Driver Hybrid and the spiritual successor to the Volt. It comes in a typical Penon package, with the yellow sleeve. Nothing too fancy, but it's small and compact. It doesn't quite scream premium like some other IEMs in this price range, but it's not a big deal, it's what's inside that counts, right?!

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The Voltage comes with a plethora of accessories that's typically expected from Penon; three sets of tips each in small medium and large, a blue storage case, as well as the little mettle key that looks like a sim card remover for adjusting the switches.

I don’t have an issue with the accessories package, but I would expect better for the price of the IEM, as it's the same accessories that came with the three previous Penon IEMs I’d owned.

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The IEMs themselves look great. I love the transparent red with the gold detail. On photo's I wasn't too sure, but in person they look fantastic. They also feel nice and solid, which I really like and is an improvement over the cheaper and lighter feel of the 10th Anniversary and Turbo shells.

The only nitpick I have is I’m not a huge fan of the font used for brand and model on either shell. However, the colour of the font matches the gold detail so it doesn’t detract from the overall aesthetics of the IEM.

The cable is really nice, it's black with some gold fleck and has a nice feel and weight to it. It's also modular however it is in fact not screw lock as I first thought. So unfortunately it is still friction secured only. Hopefully it won’t weaken over time and disconnect, which is an issue I’ve had in the past with these type of modular plugs.

My Set Up

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I didn't use the included stock tips, not just because it's a loaner unit, but I'm not a huge fan of the stock tips. Whilst they're perfectly adequate, my go-to tips these days are the Whizzer ET100(ab)'s. They're kind of a plunger shape and fit my ears really well, whilst also providing a nice open sound and a good seal.

I'm not a cable believer so I didn’t see any reason to cable roll and therefore stuck with the one it came with. I also used my iBasso DX180 DAP for the majority of my listening and the comparisons.

Even before I first listened, I suspected my preferred tuning would be 0-1, as from the measurements, activating the first switch creates that lower mid bloat I dislike. I tried the various combinations anyway and I was right in my initial thoughts. I really didn't like the first switch on, I felt it made the lower mids a little muddy and raised the mid-bass too much.

I felt this negatively affected the openness and soundstage. I also felt that it kind of overwhelmed the upper treble and perceived detail. As such, all my listening impressions were from using the 0-1 switch configuration.

First Impressions and technicalities

From the first listen, I was impressed. It has a nice spacious sound without any muddiness or bloat, yet still sounds organic and detailed. One of the first things that struck me was how tall the stage was. I actually don't think I've heard an IEM before with a stage as tall as the Voltage. It’s not the best but perhaps above average. However it has a nice spherical presentation that envelopes you, with really good depth and laying.

Bass

I've heard a few people say the bass is a bit on the light side in the 0-1 configuration. If I was nitpicking I would say I'd like a touch more subbass, but the amount it has works really well with the rest of the tuning for me - giving it a really nice natural tonality without the bass being unnaturally emphasised.

It still has a touch more mid-bass than I've been used to of late, but it's really nice and I have no complaints, as it doesn't interfere with the mids and just adds to that organic cohesive tuning. The bass has nice texture, it doesn't sound too slow or too fast. I'm not a bass aficionado, so I won't go into great detail, but like DD's typically have, it has good texture and decay, I have nothing to complain about.

Mids

The lower mids have a lovely organic tonality to them, yet they don't muddy the rest of the mids, so there's a lovely sense of space and separation - yet there's no sign of any dryness which can often be the case when you keep the lower mids flat from 200Hz and also cause male vocals to sound a bit unnatural. Overall there's a real nice weight and heft to the sound. Really well done.

I wouldn’t say the upper mids are relaxed, which tends to be my preference. Instead the vocals have nice energy and are brought quite forward and close in the mix. The Voltage does a great job at not taking it too far and making it shouty, which I'm quite sensitive to - especially on typical Harman tuned IEMs. The mids overall are excellent and Penon have done a seriously good job making it clean and well separated yet still having that lush organic tonality they're so well known for.

Treble

The lower treble to me is a bit intense around the 5kHz region, it's one of the only gripes I have with the Voltage. I acknowledge and respect that this is personal and some people will be less sensitive than me to this region. Not all tracks I tried have a lot going on there, so it's not always an issue, however on certain tracks, I did find it a bit intense.

The rest of the treble region is really nice, with no sibilance for me. The upper treble has the right amount of energy giving that shimmer and detail, whilst also staying faithful to the natural tonality of the rest of the tuning, therefore not sounding overemphasized or artificial.

When I first tried the IEM in the 1-1 configuration, I initially thought it lacked extension. Whilst you could still hear the trail end of the cymbal hits etc, I found it was pushed back in the mix. However, going to 0-1, the upper treble came further forward in the mix, at least that's how I perceive it, as I felt the bloat in the low end in 1-1 configuration kind of overwhelmed it making it less audible. Overall I’d say the Voltage has really nice detail and technicalities.

Summary

The a voltage is wonderfully tuned, it has a nice heft to the note weight, organic mids and a very cohesive tuning, with very good technicalities and detail, that rivals other IEMs at this price point, with the depth of stage, the stage height and the layering capabilities being particularly stand out). It also succeeds in doing this without sounding bloated and thick or on the flip side too thin. The hype is justified, my only gripe is the 5kHz peak which can sound a little intense at times.

Comparisons

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I thought I'd do some compressions with three of my IEMs; the Mega5EST, Dunu Mirai and the venerable 64Audio U12T. I appreciate these aren't really "fair" comparisons as the Mega5EST is half the price, and the U12T is almost double the price. However, I thought it would be interesting to use them as a measuring stick to see how the Voltage compares and if it not only justifies its price, but how it also competes with a similarly priced IEM in the Mirai and how it stacks up against the 64 U12T.

Hisenior Mega5EST

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Whilst the Mega5EST is half the price of the Voltage, the tuning philosophies are not a million miles apart, they're also both tribrids, albeit the Mega5EST only uses a single DD, two BA’s and 2EST’s.

The first thing I notice is the stage is flatter on the Mega5EST with less depth and considerably less height. The width is decent though and comparable with the Voltage.

The Mega5EST is also smoother across the entire frequency spectrum with more subbass extension. The Mega5EST takes more of a step back, with vocals not quite as forward and nothing offensive popping out to me, which gives it quite a relaxed listen - with some fairly decent detail thanks to the EST’s and the well extended treble.

Switching back to the Voltage, and it just sounds like a step up on the Mega5EST, the imaging and layering are improved and it sounds more detailed to me with better dynamics. It’s also ever so slightly less energetic in the upper treble region than the Mega5EST.

If I was looking to upgrade from Mega5EST and wanted an IEM that still had natural timbre but with a step up in technicalities, I’d highly recommend the Voltage and for me, justifies the price increase.

Dunu Mirai

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Whilst the tunings are quite different, the Mirai is the closest IEM I have to the Voltage in terms of its RRP. Whilst the Mirai is now being sold at a discounted price, if you take into account headphones.com’s delivery charge and then the import duty that you’d inevitably have to pay, the final price would end up being pretty similar.

The Mirai to me has a slight warmish-neutral tuning with a noticeable upper treble peak. The Mirai also succeeds in not having too much midbass but avoids coming across as thin and lean. Like the Mega5EST, the vocals on the Mirai are also quite pushed back, giving a nice sense of space.

To me, everything sounds bigger on the Voltage, and I’d also give it the edge on stage size and depth. I think they’re both fairly comparable when it comes to imaging and layering. Detail is more easily perceived on the Voltage, however it is still there on the Mirai.

Like the Mega5EST the Mirai to me is inoffensive across the spectrum and there's no harsh peaks - although some may find the 15-16kHz peak to be harsh and to be too much, but it's not an issue for me.

The Mriai was my favourite IEM for a long while, and still remains up there to this day. I can listen to it for hours and it If I was looking for a more smooth presentation for relaxed listening whilst having the peak in the upper treble providing that bit of zing and shimmer giving more perceived detail, then I’d still highly recommend it.

I wouldn’t like to declare an overall winner here however if I was forced to choose only one, I’d go with the Voltage. I also suspect more people would prefer the Voltage, and that's fully understandable. You also get the versatility of the switches. I would happily have both IEMs in my collection

64Audio U12T

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The U12T is my most recent purchase and also most expensive to date. I know that comparing the Voltage to the U12T isn't exactly fair and I'm not expecting it to beat the U12T and nor should it really, being considerably more expensive. However I still thought it would be interesting to do the comparison as a barometer, to see how close the Voltage can get.

Switching straight from the Voltage to the U12T, it's immediately noticeable that they're quite different and far apart. The U12T is admittedly a step above in terms of technicalities, there's no other way to put it. It has a larger stage, better imaging and dynamics. Its detail retrieval and sheer resolution are also better. Like the Mriai, it also has a dip at 3khz, enabling the vocals to take a slight step back.

It's not all one sided though, the U12T sounds noticeably less natural and organic than the Voltage, with a more coloured tuning that is quite U shaped.

Overall I think the U12T is the better IEM and if it was a choice of one or the other, I’d take the U12T every time. However, that's not a knock on the Voltage, the U12T is considerably more expensive, and whilst the U12T has superior technicalities, the Voltage is no slouch in this department at all, and pushing to improve this will ultimately take away from its organic and natural tuning. Furthermore, technicalities aren't everything and I’m sure many people would prefer the Voltage, due to its musicality and naturalness that it offers.

Conclusion

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Penon has really surprised me with the Voltage. It's the best Penon I've heard to date, easily. It’s a wonderful IEM and I’ve enjoyed every minute listening to it. My only real gripe is the 5kHz peak which I find a bit intense on some tracks, however it's not a deal breaker and doesn’t make the Voltage unlistenable.

So, the big questions are; would I buy it and does it justify its price?

To answer the first question is easy - yes, absolutely. I think it's a wonderful IEM and the Voltage would compliment my collection well, by bringing a more organic and natural sounding option, whilst still having really good technicalities and other qualities I look for in an IEM.

The second question is a little more difficult to answer. Diminishing returns are real and once you get past the $400-$500 mark, for me the improvements are small and incremental. I don't think anyone can really say a $1,200 IEM is three times as good as a $400 one. Especially in the current market with how good mid-fi IEMs have now become.

Therefore, you have to consider whether the improvements you get are worth the price hike for you, and also what you're willing to spend. For me, I think it does (justify its price), and comfortably hangs with other kilobuck IEMs I've tried and owned. In fact I like it so much, I'll probably look to purchase my own Voltage to add to my collection in the near future.
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Leonarfd
Leonarfd
Nice review, Voltage is a great set 👌

hitchhiker

New Head-Fier
Penon Voltage - Quick Impressions
Pros: Decently specced
Tuning switch options
Reasonably priced for a flagship
Cons: Treble extension could be a bit more along with speed
Switches could have been avoided, keeping either 00 or 11 as the default options
Thanks to AG and Penon for the review tour of the Penon Voltage iems.
As always the opinions expressed here are mine only with no influence of any kind requested or endorsed.

OVERVIEW
The Voltage is the flagship of Penon with 4EST+4BA+2DD Hybrid with 2 Tuning Switches. They are available in both Universal as well as CIEM form.
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The review unit as expected, is the Universal. It came with the well received Penon Liquer tips (both black and orange) in a nice blue carry case.

The iems are resin shelled with 2 tiny switches on either earpieces that adjust the bass and treble side of the sound respective.
The faceplate have Gold speckling on red backing plate with the name of the company and the iem on either shells.

The cable is a nicely braided 4 core OCC with a gold plated OCC as well as per the Penon website.
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The nozzles are a bit on the thicker side, so people with small ear canals need to try to understand unit comfort.

DRIVEABILITY
In spite of the number of drivers, the iems are fairly easy to drive, running comfortably at a 40 mark on the Lotoo S1.

SOUND IMPRESSIONS
The iems with the switches at 00 on both iems, sound very balanced and neutral, with a good imaging, zero bleed and good representation across the spectrum. For vocal lovers, this is a very nice option.
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The vocals are front and centre and with a lot of nuances. With Horikawa - Bubbles, the bass is very nice quality, and the balls, marbles etc are very accurately placed and the speed is excellent all round.
Stage is fairly wide, about the size of a large hall.

With the bass switch enagaged, the mid bass and sub bass get a slight boost in terms of presence. However, the bass boost is really realized with both switches at a 11.
The iems get a sudden boost in terms of liveliness, both from the bass perspective (more than just the 10 config), while treble has more sparkle to complement the nearly V shaped graph.
Mids are still clear of the bass intrusion, with no bleed. The vocals do take a slight backseat.

The 01 config of the iem switches however dont make the iems into a treblehead pair. They are still on the safer side of tuning. I would prefer a little more sparkle in the treble in the 01 config atleast.
Just a nitpick.
In summary
00 - Mostly neutral with forward vocals, details and imaging
10 - Slightly more bass than neutral
11 - More bass and treble with a V shaped sound (most lively)
01 - Little more treble weight

CONCLUSIONS
The Penon Voltage is a well made flagship pair, with tuning options, without true flagship prices.

SamTan

Head-Fier
The familiar and lovely Penon house sound!
Pros: Melodious and musical sound
Rolled off treble
Very well suited for long laidback listening sessions
Cons: Rolled off treble maybe be a con for some
Soundstage is not the widest or deepest
Imaging could be better at this price
8-Jul-24

Penon Voltage – brief sound impressions, by Sameer Tangri



Introduction: I received the Penon Voltage as a part of its India tour conducted by Audio Geeks and Sandeep Agrawal. The Voltage is Penon’s flagship IEM with a hybrid 4EST+4BA+2DD configuration. Its details are- 4 x Sonion Electrostatic for ultra- high frequency; 2 x Sonion Balanced Armature for high frequency; 2 x Sonion Balanced Armature for middle frequency; and 2 x 8mm dynamic driver for the low frequency.

The stock cable has 4 Shares OCC with 18K Gold-plated OCC Mixed.

A little about me: I prefer a balanced to warm sound for enjoying my music. I own sets like the 64 Audio Trio, Final A8000, and Thieaudio Monarch MKII. I dislike any one frequency overpowering or dominating all others, be it bass, mids, or the treble. Occasionally, I do also listen to reference/analytical sets with a flat sound signature. I very rarely prefer all-BA setups, no matter how high-end they are. Technicalities and capabilities aside, I always look for an IEM/HP that grabs my attention the moment it starts playing (trust me, IEMs/HPs that really connect with me always make me listen the moment they start playing). An IEM/HP should sound clear, fun, musical, melodious, draw me into the song, and most importantly make me feel the emotions! If a Rs. 1,500/- (USD 18) IEM does this, I buy it too (e.g., the 7HZ Salnotes Zero v1).


Design, build quality, fit, and comfort: I found the Voltage to be a middleweight and medium-sized (I call sets like the Thieaudio Monarch MKII heavy and big/chunky). Once put into the ear, I did not find its weight to cause any discomfort at all. Its nozzles are definitely on the thicker side and medium in length, not too long, not too short. In other words, the Voltage’s nozzles are in good/correct proportion to its size.

The transparent red colored IEM shells with gold sprinkled/patterned faceplates look good. We get the ‘Penon’ brand name printed on the left earpiece and ‘Voltage’ printed on the right one.

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I have no complaints with the stock cable which settles nicely around the ear. It is a little plasticky stiff to feel though. This is more of an observation and not a complaint. I did not find it to have any microphonics. It’s comfortable.

Voltage’s Tuning Switches: It’s simple. There are 2 switches, one each for enhancing the low and high frequencies. So, 00 is standard mode, 10 is low enhanced, 01 is high enhanced, and finally 12 is low and high enhanced. I tested with 00

Test Playlist:

Chain-1: HiBy R8 --> Penon Voltage stock cable (4.4 mm) --> Penon Voltage (00 tuning) --> Penon Liqueur Black ear tips.

Brief impressions on the sound quality: Before getting into the details, a few words come to my mind which describe the overall theme of the Voltage’s sound. These are- mature, refined, confident, balanced, mid-focused, easy to listen/fatigue free, and engaging. Now to get into the details.

Mids and Bass: I started by listening to the first song in my test playlist which is ‘Tu jaane na (unplugged)’ by Kailash Kher. The first thing that grabbed my attention was how the Voltage placed the male vocals in this song forward and all the instruments were pushed noticeably behind to the background. This literally ‘made’ me focus on the vocals and song wording so much so that I actually was listening to each word (not merely hearing). I played this song to its end and was left impressed at how well the Voltage presented the male vocals in this song with minor modulations being heard so clearly!

Next track was the live recorded track ‘Man Mast Hua’ by the Sounds of Isha. I’ve heard this playlist and its songs countless times now and hence immediately understand what an IEM is doing to the sound. In this song too both the female vocals were placed noticeably forward and presented melodiously. The accompanying bass and treble sounds were supporting the vocals very nicely. Once again, the Voltage made me ‘listen’ to the words and ponder on their meaning.

Coming to the track ‘Pepas’ by Farruko- this is one fast, energetic, and racy party track. It has heavy bass presence in the beginning till the 00:57 or so mark and then suddenly, a sharp treble-intensive instrument kicks in. I know from experience that this transition can be very sharp and piercing on some sets. But the Voltage (with its stock cable) handled this transition with ease and caused absolutely no discomfort. In fact, the sound continued to remain melodious and musical.

For testing the sub and mid-bass, I use the track ‘Don’t Bother None’ by Mai Yamane. Here I think that the Voltage presented the sub-bass and mid-bass well. If I had to say which is the Voltage’s focus though, I’d give the edge to the mid-bass. I’ve heard more rumble and grunt while listening to this song on some other sets. Here again, the moment the vocals started, I stopped typing and just listened. All the words were coming across beautifully with the guitars and other instruments supporting them beautifully. My testing stopped for some time, I just sat, listened, and enjoyed this song, yet once again!

Treble: The song ‘Into the New World by Girls’ Generation is energetic and spicy by nature. This is my go-to track for testing sibilance and the Voltage handled this with ease. No sibilance whatsoever. The details are there, and they’re rounded off for fatigue-free listening.

Another song, ‘Luka Chuppi’ from Rang De Basanti can sound very piercing on some IEMs. The male and female vocals in this beautiful emotional song get high-pitched in some passages and can come across as peaky and sibilant. But it was the same result as earlier on the Voltage - everything was well presented and very comfortable to listen to. Madam Lata Mangeshkar’s and Master A. R. Rahman’s voice come along in good harmony. The vocals and accompanying tabla were the focus while the guitar, harmonium, etc. all played in the background in harmony.

A note here: A little more about the treble- I am quite treble sensitive and heard the two songs above back-to-back. This made me think that the treble MAY get a bit much for some listeners if treble-intensive songs are listened to continuously. Maybe the EST drivers are at play here. So, then I played around a little with the EQ settings (MSEB) on my HiBy R8 and found the Voltage responding well to it. Of course the additional options of changing ear-tips and/or cables are there, should you want to tailor the sound some more.

Other aspects: Busy and messy tracks like ‘Popular Monster’ by Falling In Reverse are handled well. Here too, the vocals are placed forward and clearly heard in what I think is an extremely busy song that can trip up many IEMs. But the Voltage handled it confidently.

I think the Voltage has an average soundstage, nothing too wide or too congested. Correspondingly, the imaging and positioning are also done fairly well. Instruments positions can be pointed out in the Led Zepplin track ‘When the Levee Breaks’. I must add though that some other IEMs have presented this song in a more spaced-out manner with a much larger soundstage which then also naturally showed improved and better instrument placement. If there’s one aspect the Voltage is weak on for me, it’s this one.



Chain-2: HiBy R8 --> EarAudio Premium Silver cable (4.4 mm) --> Penon Voltage (00 tuning) --> Penon Liqueur Black ear tips.

With this cable, the overall sound immediately tightened up across all frequencies, and became airier, faster, better separated and clearer, cleaner, and crispier as compared to the stock cable. I also do think that the vocals, which were noticeably forward with the Voltage’s stock cable, got pushed back and the instruments brought forward. The end-result is that all three frequencies are sitting in one line and the sound is totally balanced.

I cannot say one cable is better than the other. Both offer their own flavor and style of sound delivery, and it would come down to individual preferences. I prefer the stock cable so far as I am always inclined towards slightly forward vocals.



Chain-3:
HiBy R8 --> Penon Pyramid cable (4.4 mm) --> Penon Voltage (00 tuning) --> Penon Liqueur Black ear tips.

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This is the best combination for me. It performs much better than both, the Voltage’s stock cable as well as EarAudio Premium Silver cable.

With this Pyramid cable, the Voltage moves the closest towards delivering Penon’s house sound which is lush and musical with a rounded off treble. Technicalities are sacrificed a bit as the sound shifts towards a more analog-ish delivery. It is the kind of sound that captured my attention and I listened to it literally the whole day when I was working from home. No listening fatigue whatsoever. I think it’s especially suited for more laidback, easy listening, and chill music. E.g., tracks like Sunrise by Coldplay (which sounds beautifully haunting on this chain btw), Judaai from Badlapur, Walls by Kings of Leon, Seen a Ghost – Acoustic by Old Sea Brigade, and so on. I put on my paylist with such songs and was lost in the music the entire day while it rained lazily outside. The cool breeze, visuals of the rain as it lazily falls to the ground, and my easy listening playlist on this chain was really perfect, to be honest!


Conclusion: The Penon Voltage is a great set that offers a mature and cohesive sound. It is a fundamentally capable IEM that has its basics right and hence, pairing it with after-market cables and ear-tips will only make it shine further.

Priced at $1,199, is it worth your hard-earned money or not is a subjective question that I cannot comment on. What I can say though is that this is a set that must be on your list of IEMs to try in this price bracket.

LazyGrace

New Head-Fier
The wholesome pair
Pros: x Balanced sound signature
x Impeccable tuning
x No sibilance or harshness
x Tuning switches that make a difference
x Beautiful shells
x Fantastic stock cable
x Well accessorized
Cons: x sometimes a bit too laidback
x tonality can come across as a bit boring
x less detailed than I would have liked
x cable should really come with an earhook as standard
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Review of Penon Voltage
I've had the pleasure to try the Penon Voltage IEMs as part of the Audio Geek European/UK IEM-tour. The Voltage is a 10 driver IEM with 4 EST drivers, 4 BA and 2 dynamic drivers, it retails at 1199 USD. It features 2 tuning switches which can alter the sound.
The design
I love the color scheme of the shell, it's a gorgeous ruby red with black and yellowish accents and is made of medical grade resin. The shells feel high quality. The nozzles are on the larger side but aren't overly long. The cable is also well design with carbon fibre and gold accents. It's the Obsidian cable which if it was bought separately costs 149 USD, it's a 4 Shares OCC & 18K Gold-plated OCC.
Fit and comfort
They fit very well in my ears. The shells are not overly large. There's no real pressure point that hurts after a while. I can use them for extensive listening sessions without discomfort. The cable however, would benefit from ear hooks because I have to tighten the chin slider quite hard in order for the cable not to fall off from my ear easily, I think it's mostly due to the fact that I wear glasses and the cable is quite thick. If this is an issue for you, I'm sure that if you ask you can order the IEMs with a cable with earhooks.
Sound impressions
I'm beginning to understand the house sound of Penon after having owned a few. They like to present the sound with a lush and warmish neutral tonality and the Voltage is no exception. But sometimes it can come across as a bit too laidback and maybe even analytical. This can both be a con and a pro.
I could describe it this way; the Penons are like the loyal, trusty, down-to-earth girlfriend you had which you loved. You always knew where you had her and she didn't really surprise you that much because of that, you started to feel a bit bored and you started looking for a more fiery and spicy experience. You left your old gal and started dating this fiery red head that soon turned out too be too needy, she shouted at you for no reason and after a while you started longing for your old trusty loyal down-to-earth ex who actually was right for you all along and you should never have left her.
Luckily, the Voltage will always be there, because it's an IEM and not an ex girlfriend so it's easy to just go back and once you do, you will immediately understand why you shouldn't have left it.
It has the details but not overly so, it feels very balanced with the switch at 0,0. I prefer some more bass so I keep the switches at 1.0. But even at the switch at 1.0 it feels that nothing is lacking in the overall balanced between lows, mids and highs. I think that's the real sign of a TOTL-iem done right. If feels like there are no bad peaks and valleys in the frequency response which can distract from the overall listening pleasure.
There is no sibiliance to be heard, nor is the treble very extended, but it's far from pulled back too much either, if there were more treble extension the balance wouldn't be as good, so the whole frequency response would need to become brighter, and that would not be favourable. Midrange is good, both male and female vocals sound natural.
Somebody said that they feel like the Penon Fan 2 on stereoids and I must concur. I was never a fan of the fan 2 (pun intended) but I am certainly liking the Voltage quite a bit more.
Summary
I give it 4 stars out of 5 because as a complete package with a good assortment of ear tips, the very nice Obisidian cable with interchangeable connectors and the gorgeous looking IEM it's a great buy for those that like well balanced, well tuned iem with a tonality on the analytical side. Don't expect a detail monster or an airy IEM however. The tuning is a non-fatiguing safe tuning that won't wow you but it will be the IEM you probably come back to most often.
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