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Universal Fit item created by Spidercable, May 14, 2011
Pros - Great voice reproduction, works well with IPhone, good soundstage overall. Good comfort and fit. Cable does not tangle. Easy to just pick up and use.
Cons - Not analytical (this is also a plus), highs slightly recessed.
First off the disclaimer, the Realvoice IEM’S were given to me a month or two back for reviewing. I would like to thank Spider Cable for the review sample and my apologies for taking so long in writing this review.
Since I have had these I have used them about 75% of the time when I am using earphones, which probably averages about two hours per day. So I have put quite a few hours into them and they are as burned in as one would expect. I own quite a few earphones as well as many full size headphones. I have used this on both my 3[sup]rd[/sup] generation IPhone and on my cowon J3. This reviewer’s ears are on the midlife side of age, so take general observations with a grain of salt. Hearing, especially at the high end of the spectrum, does degrade over time.
What I like:
Sound signature: Fun sound with bass that is non-intrusive but still gives a kick, excellent mids, and smooth highs, sound is non-fatiguing. Mids are warm and clear, voice presentation is especially good. Tremble is there but not overly sparkly, perhaps a bit recessed; this is not an earphone for those who like overly sparkly trembles. The non-fatiguing signature does not over emphasize detail in the music, these really are a fun earphone and not analytical. On the J3, when bass boost is used, the bass sound becomes really punchy and quite good without being muddy. They respond very well to EQ on the J3, really shining across the spectrum. Still, without EQ, the earphones really shine with vocal presentation, a point also made by other reviewers. However, I should stress that the sound signature without EQ is equal or slightly better than the best in the same price range, including the RE0 as well as many earphones going up to the $175 price range.
Fit and comfort:
So why have I used these so much in the last couple of months when there are obviously more expensive and better sounding earphones in my collection? The Realvoice earphones fit well, are comfortable, and are relatively easy to just dig out of your bag and use. The lines do not tangle as easily as many of my earphones. The earphones do not go over ear so it’s a basic insert into your ear and you are set to roll. The fit is almost always the correct fit, I use double flange tips, and they do a great job with both the sound and the seal. These fit and are more comfortable than many of the earphones I own that are twice as expensive.
The Realvoice earphones are built well with solid medal earpieces that look to withstand being thrown loosely into a bag on a regular basis, as mine have been. The packaging has been described before, see for example: http://www.inearmatters.net/2011/08/review-spider-realvoice.html , so I will not go into that description.
Spider Cable requested, when giving out samples of the Realvoice IEM’S, that the reviewer have an iPhone and one of several earphones within the $50-$100, including a pair of Head-Direct RE-0, to compare them to. I found these earphones to work really well with the iPhone. I’m actually not a big fan of the sound of the iPhone, the sound just didn’t compare to the sound of my Zune or the J3. These earphones actually made the iPhone sound better than with some of the other sub-hundred earphones I’ve used with it. The volume/mute control on the earphone line is quite handy as well. If you use an iPhone to listen to your music, than I would recommend this earphone. The sound reproduction is good, and the controls are useful. That said, the music still sounds much better on the J3 playing through these earphones.
As for the comparison with the Head Direct RE0, I would rate them very close in sound signature. After a week of going back and forth with the two, I finally just left the RE0 at home. It was easier to use the Realvoice earphones, they fit better, did not tangle as much, and the soundstage was as good or better to my ears.
The Realvoice IEM’S are recommended at their current price, they do a great job within the cost/performance ratio. They are built very well, are very comfortable and easy to just pick up and use with a great sound that is mid-centric with a slight bass boost. They are easy to EQ for those music players that have that capability; they work well with the iPhone, and sell at a very reasonable price for the IEM one gets.
What else do I own or have owned:
Ultimate Ears Super.fi 4, Shure 530, Westone 3, HiFiMAN RE262, Shure SE535, Westone 4, Phonak Audeo PFE-112, Shure SE215, Phiaton PS 200, EarSonics SM3, Victor/JVC HA-FX700, Brainwavz M3, Fischer Audio DBA-02, Monster Golds, Monster Copper, Monster Miles Davis - 176.46, MEElectronics A151-BK , Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10, and the ATH-CK10.
For the purpose of this review, I also borrowed my daughter’s pair of Head-Direct RE-0, this year’s model.
Pros - Build quality. Sleek. Vocal.
Cons - Might not be best for non-vocal music.
First, I’ll like to thank Spider Cable for the sample. Spider Cable is a relatively small company in the mighty competitive cable market, but they don’t intend to stop at just the cable market. As their first IEM, realvoice is special in the way that it is intentionally tuned to maximize vocal performance, or should I say, to capture the emotion in the singer’s voice. Costing only about US$90, this unique IEM has became one of my favorite in the sub-$100 category.
Unfortunately the sampling CD isn't included due to international copyright issue.
Driver: Dynamic Driver 12.5mm
Impedance: 18 ohms
Frequency Response: 5Hz~20000Hz
Cord Length: 120cm
Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality
The IEM comes in a well printed paper box. Nothing very fancy and just a little thin for my taste, but overall up to the task. For accessories, there is a shirt clip, four pairs of single flange eartips (XS, S, M, L), one pair of small’ish bi-flanges eartips, a zipped hard case and a backpack clip to use with the hard case. Overall, the accessories are very well made. For those who have the older package, you might only have three pair of single flange eartips in the package (mainly the XS, S, and L). You can email Spider for extra free pair of middle side eartips. While the eartips are decent, I rather prefer using alternative single flange with a wider nozzle opening (i.e. MEElec single flange) to improve the detail and openness over the stock narrow eartips. Build quality is quite decent, especially on the metal earpieces. It is heavier and larger than other IEM with side mounted transducer in my collection, but it is surprisingly comfortable and doesn’t feel awkward in use, just don’t run with it. What is less impressive however is the slightly thin cable from the Y-splitter up to the earpiece. It could use a slightly thicker cable and perhaps better strain relief as well. The iPhone / iPod compatible mic+remote has an uncommon design though I find no problem with it. Microphonics is below average. Isolation is quite good. Not the best around but more than enough to handle anything but the noisiest environment.
The IEM has been given at least 50 hours of burn-in before the review. Not major sonic change was detected.
The sound signature of the realvoice is very warm, sweet, relaxing yet not laid back and with a smooth upper end. Bass hits hard and has a full body. It can get slightly boomy at time which results in texture lost, but overall it remains in relatively good control and doesn’t become muddy. Mid is the strength of the overall presentation, pairing well with the bass but not overly done. It is warm to almost lush, sweet, intimate, well textured but not excessively up-front. It feels like the singer is right there with you, but not singing into your face or become overly vocal dominance that drowns out the small detail. Treble has sparkle, but small in amount and takes a step back in the overall presentation. It rolls off just a bit too early at 15kHz, but the lower end of the treble is able to maintain just enough micro detail not to feel overly smooth or totally lacking. However, the lack of upper extension translates to the damping of transparency and air. Because of that, soundstage is a little below average, which is not something uncommon for a very vocal centric sound.
The side-mounted IEM gathering - Spider realvoice, Radius DDM and Sony MDR-EX700.
Coloration is really the key with realvoice. While there are other IEM in the same price range that are technically better (i.e. Sunrise Xcape-IE, a few of the HifiMan), or even a few that also do vocal quite well (Sherwood SE-777, MEElectronics A151), the realvoice is really able to standout on its own by offering a distinct vocal that is relaxing, warm-and-fuzzy to a point of almost euphonic. It is the kind of IEM that wants you to listen to the music instead of listen to the IEM – and realvoice is doing a good job at that.
While it might not be one-size-fits-all regarding genre versatility, Spider has made the right decision to make the realvoice shines at what it is good at. Combining good build quality, comfort on the fit and one of the best vocal performances under $100, the realvoice is certainly quite a bargain and an easy recommendation for vocal lovers. With news of a no-mic version going to be released in the near future at an even lower price, I have a feeling that we might have a Sonic Diamond in the making.
Pros - Absolutely smooth sound, rich wonderful bass, great vocal presentation
Cons - Tangly, feeble-looking cables, lousy control talk module, rolled off highs
The folks over at Spider Cable were kind enough to send me their first foray into the headphone arena, the Real Voice IEM. I got it as a review unit and paid $20 taxes at customs when I picked it up for review.
Now, Spider Cable is not a well-known company as of the moment. But I can easily see that changing with the Spider Real Voice. A company's first product in a field often will determine whether they will make it or not, and after trying out the Real Voice for the past couple of weeks, I can safely say that, if more people got to hear this gem of an IEM from a total newcomer to the field, this just might catch on.
A Cheap Cardboard Box... I received the Real Voice in a black cardboard box. It is was very light and did not have much heft to it. Opening it, there really wasn't anything inside except for another black cardboard box with a light magnetic flap that opens to reveal the components.
Inside you will find the IEM itself, a nice small hardcase, a bunch of Small, Medium and Large tips, a silicon bi-flange, a shirt clip, and wonder of wonders, a carbiner!
The Carbiner by the way works great at clipping onto the hardcase and attaching to your belt hooks or whatever other handy clippable article you have on hand. It's very convenient for keeping the Real Voice handy. I like that I can fit an iPod Nano 6G into the case along with the Real Voice, it truly makes for a portable audio solution in a case that you can take with you anywhere.
... contains a veritable audio treasury! I love that carbiner! All in all, the packaging is pretty mediocre, it obviously took some cues from the way Monster packages their IEMs like the Beats Tours and the Turbine series, but clearly not much money was spent on this. That works for me, I'm not paying for the packaging, I want the earphones! The packed in accessories are excellent, a carbiner and a nice case are more than enough. Tip selection is standard with the only thing above the norm being the inclusion of the bi-flanges. As of this writing, Spider Cable has now offered a new "medium large" tip for those who couldn't get a good fit with the medium and large tips, and will send the intermediary tip free of charge to those who have the Real Voice.
Fit and Build
IEMs are all about portability, and when you think portable a few qualities are important. First of all is durability: many people use IEMs for their day-to-day business around town, including commutes, work outs, jogging, basically taking their IEMs with them everywhere as is the in-thing in the iPod generation. Is your new audio gateway going to pass the test of ruggedness?
Mini Plug... it works with iPhones!
The Real Voice, sadly, is not at all confidence-inspiring in this aspect. The cables are the typical rubber kind, but are thin and wiry, with no strain reliefs at the IEM housing. There is a standard rubber strain relief at the plug, but other than that the cables look thin and unprotected and prone to breaking. Worse, the thin cables have a bad memory effect and are very prone to tangling, which is one of my pet peeves.
The cable quality is even worse than the Monster Turbines (the original, vanilla version) which I honestly hated, and which broke on me twice already at the plug and at right channel. Easily remedied by a recable for those who are technically inclined, but not everyone is. For the average consumer, I would have to caution against these cables and be sure to treat them with care. My friend for instance broke her Turbines within 7 months of use the first round, and her replacement broke in another three. These look even more vulnerable.
At the Y-Intersect you can solve for X... That said, the finish looks reasonably nice, it's basically plastic with a chrome silver finish. The Spider logo and texts are in a fine white print. At the intersection of the Y-Split you will find a nice chrome chin slider as well. All in all, the Real Voice is pretty nice to look at, but it clearly feels like plastic, which could be good or bad. The quality of the finish is similar to the plastic coated with paint that you find on the plastic parts of old Japanese die-cast models with plastic fittings. From experience, I know that the paint fades under the plastic finish and the result isn't very nice, but this won't be for years, maybe more if you take care of the set.
Large IEMs, but the cables are thin and seem prone to breakage As for fit, I was pleasantly surprised. The Real Voice is the largest universal IEM I have ever seen, bar none. And I've been around the block. They are even larger than the Triple.Fi 10s, which were very unwieldy, and because of this I had a lot of reservations when I took these out of the box. However, upon trying them with the stock medium tips, I am happy to say that they fit almost perfectly! They don't fall out, they keep their seal even through strenuous activity like jogging, even without using the shirt clip. This is a godsend! Often I had to deal with issues with a lot of other IEMs. The Turbines for instance always kept falling out of my ear no matter what tip I used, and could never keep their seal whether I used deep insertion or now.
The Real Voice, though is very comfortable with deep insertion -- the medium tips are pretty small and slide all the way into my ear canal. This gives them a great seal, and the seal doesn't go away no matter how much I bob or shake my head. Isolation is pretty good, not total isolation but I have yet to hear an IEM that really accomplished this. With music on you will not hear anything except the loudest and deepest noises (like plain engines). These block out even my car's engine and road noise (car is pretty new though and not too noisy). But please don't tell anyone I was driving with these on.
I attribute the good fit to the light weight of these IEMs. They are big, but since they are all plastic, they weigh next to nothing. The Turbines, though smaller, are much heavier and just tend to fall out of my ear. In case you can't get a fit with teh stock tips (which would be sad) you can swap in any tip that is of the "large nozzle size" -- like all of Monster's tips, or the Comply T400 series. The newer Shure tips (and Olives) will not fit or the tips from the UM3X.
The worst control talk module ever I also have one more major concern, which is the control talk module. The module comes out on the right side and has the standard talk, volume up and volume down buttons. On an iPhone pressing Talk will take calls and let you use it as a mouthpiece, but when no calls are playing will pause the track with a single press, move forward with two and back with three.
The problem is the buttons are hard to press. They are very shallow, close to each other, and don't distinguish well. Many times I pressed the talk button when I was trying to hit the volume buttons, and double pressing put me into the next track. The volume buttons also aren't at the edges, you need a bit in the middle where the plus and minus engravings are found, and these easily put you into the talk button's territory. Since the talk button is not a separate metal piece and part of one long plastic slab, it often gets hit with the splash damage. All in all, a very inferior module to what is used on Monster Beats cables, and many other control talk modules I've seen. Not a dealbreaker for sure, and it's nice to have the functionality there, but I wish it had been executed better.
Now, to the real meat of this review. The all important sound! There is no doubt that you will be using these to listen to music, so a hint: this should be the part of the review you should be paying attention to!
Triple Threat. Monster Turbines, Real Voice and Metro.Fi 220 The Real Voice is supposed to ship with a country music CD from the artists Nik and Sam, but unfortunately due to copyright reasons I was not given a copy, as I live outside the US. Spider Cable was supposed to have us test the Real Voice using the tracks on this CD, and I am thinking they are very vocal-oriented tracks that showcase the Real Voice's strengths. But more on that later. End thing, Spider Cable asked to review these with some vocal tracks and to compare them with a few other IEM rivals.
As a result, I decided to test the Real Voice on my own favorite vocal tracks. These include songs from Dave Matthew's Band, always my go-to recordings for their great vocals, the complicated drum work that reveals strengths in the treble area, jazzy and soulful sound and all-around great quality in the recording. For some female pizazz I opted to use Ive Mendes with her sexy deep voice and latin sound. To round out my usual listening genres and tastes I added some Hed Kandi music from Wez Clarke and Maxine Hardcastle to get a feel for the bass beats and club sound, and finally a round of acoustic guitar from Andy McKee.
No gear was harmed in the making of this review The setup I used was an iPod Nano 6G direct playing 320kbps MP3s, and an iPod Nano 2G with a Mundorf LOD going into a C&C X02 Tube Amp. As worthy rivals, I put them up directly against my favorite $50 IEM, the Ultimate Ears Metro.Fi 220, and bass stalwart Monster Turbines. I should note that the MF220, while no longer in production, used to retail for a little under $100 which is about the same as Real Voice, and the Turbines, while usually available for $50 today from the Monster Outlet Store refurbished, originally retailed for $179.
Basic Sound Signature
I really love the Real Voice! It is basically a mids-oriented IEM, and this is likely why it is called the Real Voice. Vocals are really, really good on these; the best I have ever heard on a dynamic driver IEM. They float out above the rest of the sound, and have a very dreamy, laidback feel to them. But make no mistake, the mids are not recessed; as I said they are quite a mids-focused IEM. There is a clear mids emphasis, but it doesn't sound like the typical reversed "V" sound you get on an elevated-mids frequency curve. I attribute this to the strong bass emphasis. These may be mid-focused, but the bass is no slouch by any means. The last set I reviews, the Miu Audio MR2, was a heavy-bass set not unlike the Hippo Boom, which by its name was a supreme mid-bass monster. The Real Voice does not approach taht kind of territory. There is good midbass but the midbass is not too strong that it overshadows the mids, instead it simply is there to provide enough warmth and body to the sound.
However, the sub bass on these is something else. They reach down deep and give a good adequate rumbly kick to the sound. It is far superior to the Hippo VB in this respect, by far. The bass is very comparable to the Monster Turbines with a good seal. However, I would say the Turbines have a bit more midbass whereas the Real Voice is slightly softer in this area, but superior in the sub bass that gives that deep rumble.
Another great thing about these is that they have absolutely no grain. These are the smoothest IEMs I have heard in the $100 range. Period. There is no trace of harshness whatsoever, no matter which recording I tried. The DBA-02 and the B2, for instance, tend to sound very shrill and piercing on Dave Matthew's Band recordings (Carter Beauford loves his high hats and cymbals) and these two IEMs are all but unlistenable to me on DMB tracks. The Real Voice though mercifully softens the edge on these tracks and makes listening a great pleasure. I should also note that the smooth, wispy sound of the Real Voice extends all around, making the treble sound ethereal and the bass enveloping, the mids and vocals caressing. These are a very smooth IEM and a joy to listen to.
On the other hand, we come to what will be the main weakness of these IEMs for many people -- the treble. The treble is "okay" but in audiophilia "okay" is never good enough. The trebles are quite rolled off and there is no air in the upper registers. It's all smooth and euphonic but there is no extension. Those of you who like sizzling, crispy cymbals, you are not going to get them here.
In terms of detail, for a $90 dynamic IEM they are pretty good, but they do not approach the detail retrieval of the GR07 or the better double/triple/quadruple armature offerings. The sound all in all has a veneer of milky creamy silk all over it and this may seem to smoothen out the detail a bit. Take that as you will, but I would like to emphasize that these are not veiled or muddy by any stretch (like, say, the Vmoda Vibe or the Fisher Eternas). They are just smooth. They are not detail kings, but that's not what these are going for as far as I can tell.
You can see the ports here, which let air in and give the diaphragm the air to do their thing In a nutshell, they are a smooth, euphonic IEM that really brings vocals to life but not at the expense of thin, harsh sound. They have ample warmth and bass and a slightly rolled-off treble.
One last note about the sound: the soundstage on these is surprisingly good. They do not have air on the upper end but soundstaging is quite wide, quite similar to the IE8 actually with a convincing surround ear field. I can attribute this perhaps to the vented driver design, which in addition is most likely responsible for the excellent bass reproduction.
I find myself greatly enjoying the soundstage of these IEMs, which is far superior to that of the Turbines, which are very closed in and congested, and the MF220 which was too narrow.
One weakness though is that the Real Voice has a tendency to "smear' sounds together. The soundstage is suitably wide but instrument separation is not very good, even amped. The MF220, although not as impressive, has better separation. With the Real Voice, although there was some good depth to the sound field, the sounds sometimes tend to "line up" together rather than be their own separate, distinct entities. The rich sound I suppose makes it difficult for the sounds to really be well-separated.
Some Quick Tracks by Track Comparisons
Dave Mattew's Band - Satellite (Under the Table and Dreaming) - the busy nature of this track, with violins, sax, drums, vocals and various percussion instruments makes these really ideal to test separation.
Real Voice - puts the sounds around you and it's a great concert effect. Dave Matthew's vocals come out along with his backing vocals really well. Sounds do sound close to each other but are not particularly bad in the smearing.
MF220 - the busy nature of the this track works well with the MF220's separation, but the sound stage was very flat in comparison to the Real Voice. The V-Shape sound of the MF220 really put Dave's voice in the background where it gets lost amidst all the instruments.
Turbines - Much harder, crisp sound compared to the Real Voice. This track doesn't play particularly well to the Turbine's strengths, which is its bass.
Ive Mendes - Voce - this is a latin groove with a good bass beat, bongos, light drums, guitar and luscious vocals from Ive.
Real Voice - Ive's voice is fantastic, as are the bongos which really shine on the Real Voice. The low female bongo has a rich timber, although the male pop is not as pronounced as I would. However on the Real Voice the bongos and vocals take centerstage, well supported by the bass. The guitar is just accompaniment in the background.
MF220 - sounds really great, and I remember I loved the MF220 because of Ive Mendes. However the Real Voice is better at presenting the vocals and the bongos. On the MF220 the drums (especially the cymbals) come out better and more center-stage, and the bass hits me with more intensity. Guitars of this track come out best among the three, but are still a bit understated compared to the voice, but outshine the bongos when they are there.
Turbines - Ive's voice comes out well and the bass beats are very well-defined. Bongos however don't sound as convincing especially the female bongo. All in all not a good track for the Turbines at all.
Maxine Hardcastle - Bringing me Back (Hed Kandi Beach House 2009) - this is a sensual female vocal club track a strong electronic house beat and crisp synth drums, bongos and keyboard work.
Real Voice - really good. The wispy vocals have an ethereal quality on these, and the sub bass hits hard and deep. The Real Voice proves to be great not just at acoustic-sounding titles but also on electronic ones. The drums don't sound very good on these and surprisingly the bongos are relegated to the background unlike with the Ive Mendes track. But the vocals are really good and float out even in this busy, bass-driven track.
MF220 - the heavy bass sound is suitably grooving on the MF220. The vocals on these are wispy but come out really well on the MF220. The crisp sound of the MF220 lends a great quality to the drum work on this one.
Turbines - similar to the MF220's performance, but just better in every way. This is the kind of music the Turbines shines on and it shows. Bongos are put to the background but the synth keyboard and bass beats are incredible. Vocals are "there" and give the necessary sensual quality but seem like an instrument amongst the synths, which works well with this genre, but I somehow end up missing the vocal presentation of the Real Voice even though the Turbines does a lot of other things better. Also, while there is more mid bass boom, the Real Voice's overall bass was still better.
Andy McKee - Gates of Gnomeria (Gates of Gnomeria) - a melancholy, adventurous guitar solo with a haunting melody evoking a foggy river through a dense forest before seeing sunlight at the midpoint with a more joyous and lively sound of knocking on the guitar's wooden body.
Real Voice - the rich sound gives body and weight to the guitars, and there's a lot of weight in the low bass. These give the Gates a sad, almost tearful and dreary sound, very heavy on the emotions.
MF220 - The livelier and more complex passages near the middle and end of the track come out well on the MF220. However the mids just aren't as good on the MF220 as they are on the Real Voice. The guitar work is muted and not impressive at all in comparison. The guitar feels very distant and forlorn.
Turbines - The dark, foreboding sound quality of the initial movement isn't there the way it came out on the Real Voice. The Turbines are too bright with respect to how it presents the earlier passage! Not to say the Turbines are bright... they are still bassy, but the treble is pretty bright which gives a whole different shade and tone to this track.
Overall, I think I preferred the Real Voice to the competition in all of these tracks. It's really just that good. Although a bit rolled-off in the treble, it handily beat the others where it counted, especially in the mids where the vocals and solo guitar work really shine. Using some other tracks in some other genres I am thinking the Turbines may have taken these, but then I am not sure. The Real Voice is clearly a cut above both the Turbines and the Metro.Fi's. I was almost suprised that the Real Voice outperformed the Turbines in the Hed Kandi tracks, but then I think about the awesome bass of the Real Voice and I realize that this shouldn't have come as a surprise; the Real Voice has all the strengths of the Turbines when it comes to bass but in addition has incredible mids to go with them. The Real Voice would only lose if you prefer crisper or hotter highs, which the Real Voice lacks.
In fact, I would say the Real Voice is clearly a cut above the Turbines in the same way the Turbine Pro models are. And actually, I would say the Real Voice compares really closely to the Turbine Coppers. Although did not pit the two together in this review, the Real Voice is very close to the Golds and Coppers. Closer to the Coppers actually, as the Golds have a bit more mid-bass. But the mids of these are comparable, and actually I think better than the Golds, and a bit different from the Coppers. Coppers still seem to hold an edge in detail retrieval but otherwise the Real Voice's vocal presentation is superior. All of that, and with a better fit to boot! At least to my ears.
I wish I could compare them to the Miles Davis, which I have yet to hear. But they compare favorably even to the Coppers, which are more than three times their price. I also prefer them to the JVC FX500 and FX700, which are great but ultimately the treble is not to my tastes as these tend to get too crisp and sometimes harsh. The Real Voice has absolutely no harshness no matter what I do with them or what I feed them. I also prefer them to the IE8, which while an awesome and venerable IEM, is getting a little long in the tooth, and these have all the same comfort and similar soundstage (that I missed going to the Turbine models).
I would like to end this review saying that this is one of the finest dynamic driver IEMs I have ever heard, at any price. That they go for $90 is mind-boggling. These are really, really good. They will suit those that want a bassy, laidback signature with great emphasis on mids and a very smooth, sound.
They are most comparable to the Turbine Golds or Coppers, at far below the price. If you can live with the cheap-looking construction and especially the thin, tangly cables, these are a real winner and I have to take my hat off to Spider Cable for managing such a feat on their very first attempt.
A final thank you to Spider Cable for giving me the opportunity to review this awesome piece of kit. These are, indeed, for real and I wish Spider Cable all the luck in their foray into the headphone world.
Pros - All around performance and quality
Cons - size
There is a lot here to prejudice me against them but with only 6 hrs breakin, I already just plain enjoy them. To me, this is as much bass as I could use without mucking things up so they're fun without being overbearing at the bottom. The mids are extremely natural sounding and less IEM in nature. I wouldn't call the transition to the highs ruler flat as you may suspect from something described as natural since the lower treble/very upper mids is a bit back but far from missing and it gives these a very relaxed and real character without lacking presence or detail compared to others in the price range. It's subtle and the top bumps back up to where it belongs before tapering off gradually. A cymbal may not always sound quite metal enough but by the same token, a brush on a skin wont sound too metalic or etched either. Picking nits is easy on any IEM and here we're talking about something at a moderate price where some of these nits can be looked on as attributes as much as liabilities depending on perspective. They're forgiving of source and player without making you sacrifice music for it. They're less gritty, hashy or bumpy in response than other dynamics I've heard in this range.
Their size and fit isn't my thing as I like small nor is the somewhat bass heavy sig but they fit well, are comfy and the bass isn't over baring or messing with the mids. The controls work well as does the mic. I thought I'd move these on to another Headfi-er but I'm keeping them, for a while anyway, maybe longer. No, they're not replacing my $400 unit but they are dropping a couple others out of the mix. To me this is a fun phone with really nice mids that can be listened to all day without fatigue. It's informative without being analytical, no, not like a top tier but you won't really miss it.
The case is nice as is the build and tips. No real negatives here. In fact, there's another thing I so genuinely appreciate with IEMs. They sound best to me with the tips that came fitted to them. The whole tip aquiring and comparing scenario that we've all gone through gets tiring. Of course I tried and the hybrids take a bit to much presence and wider opening tips take away their eveness. These are well concieved and voiced as is. I can see why Spider is proud of them. Like everything, not for everybody and not what I would probably choose for my only IEM if I could only have one but then again, I'm not sure that could be anything under $100. In the under $100 range, I've own(ed) TD100s, Maximo, M1s, ADDIEMs, M6s, PL50s, Fischers and I prefer these already. Yes, some of these may do something or other better but I just enjoy the Realvoice more.
This doesn't seem to be just another sourced product with a label. There's been some obvious good choices on parts and voicing going on. I suspect they're still going to improve but I can already tell they're just a nice comfy product that's has enough bass for the general market ( a bit extra) and good information without shining a spotlight on poor sources or kit. They should be a commercial success.
Pros - Airy soundstage, deep smooth bass, very enjoyable highs
Cons - overall size is very large, volume knob only works on ipods and certain apps
Spider seems to have created a monster, I really enjoyed this set a lot. Its a large set, could very well be one of the largest IEMs I have ever used outside of the gargantuan OMX980. Thankfully, the spider doesn't sound anything like it. If I had to compare it to another set I would choose the IE7, as the realvoice stage is nice and wide and moderately tall, but boasts very nice stage depth and a moderate amount of dynamics in that regard. What does that mean? Well, separation is very nice and there is a fair amount of layering in front of you. As a soundstage buff and nut bar, I find this set one of the few IEMs I would actually use. For the price, the stage is very good. One thing I noticed right away was the lack of sibilant highs. The realvoice's highs are excellent in my opinion, one of the first IEMS in a long time that I could honestly say "dang, nice highs going on here" As they are not at all sibilant or harsh, but have a good amount of response. The neat thing about them is that very harsh tracks are extremely enjoyable, tracks like Fire Ft. Ms Dynamite from the Magnetic Man Soundtrack even some Robin Thick tracks, which are notorious for being extremely sibilant. With the realvoice, this is the first time I can even understand what Ms Dynamite is even saying ! This is something not even my new Sennheiser HD 598 can do. There is a noticeable amount of harshness even in the HD598 compared to the realvoice, this is just fantastic
The mids ( and highs ) are on the dry side, not at all warm or lush, but very clear. Definitely more clear than some of my other favorite iems from Fischer Audio. To my ears the set is very forward. The Bass is excellent as well, definitely one of the best bass experiences in an IEM I have had in a long time. Its a quality bass as well, its not boomy or harsh, its on the boarder of forgiving and very deep. There is quite a lot of bass and I did have to tone down the EQ on the low end to make sure it didnt overpower the Mids and highs.
Lets talk about the mic, Its not bad at all. It only works on certain computer apps and only ipods. I found the mic to transmit very nice quality audio, but I am not at all fond of the volume knob. If any of you know me, you'll know I really hate these things. Its annoying and an eye soar, but it works very well and is pretty light, you cant feel any extra weight on the right side due to the volume knob being placed so close to your ear, this is a good thing i suppose.
Comfort is surprisingly good, despite this set being massive. Its just huge, sadly Im a short guy and prefer my earbuds very small a'la BeB The Reds which are just tiny in comparison to the realvoice. Overall I think the set is excellent and a set I would definitely use. Nothing is distorted, the set has very good clarity and is well priced for such an experience. Im very happy with it and they will definitely get a lot of use. I expect great things from Spider, they seem to have a good sense of balance in their product. Great job to whoever designed the inside, whatever they did, it produced an excellent all around sound that is on the dry side, but still very fun to listen to.
Pros - good mid range, light, decent entry-level phone
Cons - unfocused bass, unforgiving of poor recordings
I was one of the ten people chosen to review these iems. You can read my full review here. These are really great phones for vocal music. They're not so great for hip-hop or anything that needs a deep, tight, punchy bass.
They're light and easy to wear. I don't love the design, preferring over-the ear phones in the main, but that's a minor quibble.
If you're interested in this sound signature, this would be a good phone to try out. I'm not sure what the MSRP will be, but if they're priced like the RE0s (<$100), it's a good investment.
Pros - light weight, good accessories lovely packaging, warm mids
I would like to thank Spider Cable for choosing me and generously sending out a review sample of their premiere product .
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driver size: 12.5 mm diameter driver
nozzle size: 5.5 mm
impedance: 18 ohm (not listed so I pulled out my multimeter) weird impedance number might be in house produce driver(sorry typo on 48 ohm corrected)
the housing seem to be made of aluminium coated with plastic(best guess due to weight and feel but might be pure plastic)
ipod volume controls and mic
there is a rear bass vent (potential for modder, perhaps to tune the bass)
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The packaging it came in was very nice.
Everything was easy to remove (unlike Sennheiser which takes several minutes to remove varies cardboard inserts; almost felt like I was assembling IKEA funiture)
Was well package in a beautiful box with a magnetic flap.
Included in the box is:
1x hard case
1x carabiner (this was a surprise)
1x shirt clip
1x set of tips(s/m/l) medium install and one set of bi-flange
1x CD with reference music by Nik and Sam(A lovely country album)
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[b]Fit and Comfort:[/b]
These are not deep insert in ear like the etymotics which some people find very uncomfortable until they adjust
Even after adjusting I do notice that whenever I move my mouth (your ear canal contracts when your mouth is open) they cause slight discomfort. Like the re0 they are shallow fit (although I insert them really deep).
The tips included with the realvoice are very comfortable and very soft.
The body is very light weight despite their size.
I had no problems jogging with these.
In terms of comfort these are light years ahead of either the re0 or etytmotics.
[i][i]Initial impression[/i][/i]: very nice but I'll need some more burn in and use time is needed before any conclusions can be made
definitely not as treble focus as the re0 and hf5, fuller lower bass
[i][i]update after 1/2 day burn in and use:[/i][/i]
These are a completely different beast than either than the etymotic or the re0, but they roar just as ferociously.
The bass was slightly bloated during first use, but settled down during the burn in process which led to the soundstage expanding quite a bit.The etymotic hf2 and re0 are still ahead in decay, positioning and treble detail, but the realvoice has a much larger soundstage and is way ahead in bass amount and bass texture. The realvoice does improve slightly with amping.
The nature of these are warm and slightly laid back with a large soundstage when compared to the re0. They still have good clarity but just not as clean as the re0. Both the hf2 and the re0 are similar in nature up highly detailed and cold quite different from the real voice. The realvoice presented a more natural reproduction. I found myself enjoying these a lot!
When I heard the name of these were the "real voice" I had to try some Norah Jones:
[b]Norah Jones: Feels like Home:[/b]
This album quickly became additive. The warm smooth nature of the real voice compliments the smooth vocals so well. When compared to the Re0 or the Etymotics hf2, the realvoice conveyed a more realistic reproduction. For Norah Jones fans this is heaven. The experience can be compared to eating velvety smooth chocolate cake. The re0 and hf2 just seem dead cold and a bit grainy next to the realvoice. I found myself listening to this album over and over.
Vocals are absolutely beautiful with the realvoice.
The realvoice is just miles ahead in this aspect compared to the re0. The re0's vocal performance was slightly better than the hf2.
Quick change of pace as I struggled to put myself away from a vocalist listening marathon.
[b]A State of Trance(511):[/b]
The soundstage is wonderful.The re0 and hf2 are both killer iem in this genres, but I was hearing thing with more depth with the real voice. Voices layered on top one another creating a illusion that was...... just fantastic. It create a much better picture, but failed to dominate over the re0 and hf2 as the speed and details output.
I would say the hf2 wins in this genre, but the realvoice does create an different experience especially with trance vocals.
[b]Herreweghe [/b][b]Kopatchinskaja Beethoven- Concertos pour violons Romances:[/b]
Once again, a battle of wide image vs accurate image. The position with the re0 and hf2 yet again is more accurate and the realvoice much wider.But in this case I would prefer the neutral sound of the re0 and hf2. The realvoice added some slight coloration to the sound when compared to the re0 The realvoice does well in this category especially with a treble boost, but the re0 and hf2 are just better as image positioning, and neutrality is important in this genre.
[b]Katy Perry Teenage Dream Album:[/b]
Another album where the realvoice shines. The extra bass of the realvoice gives the song so much more texture compared to the re0 or hf2. The song was just much more fun with the realvoice. I found myself tapping my toes to catchy notes with the realvoice.
the clear winner for this album is the realvoice.. Pop music is always better with good bass. The re0 just wasn't as fun with this alum as the spider realvoice.
[b]Nirvana Nevermind Album:[/b]
The re0 and hf2 extended treble really shines here.This album is about speed and treble and bothe the hf2 and re0 have that in excess. The realvoice just seems slow with this album even with a boost to the treble via equalizer the realvoice weakness is obvious.
HF2 would be on top here. As grado lover known a good amount of treble is essential to rock music and the realvoice's treble is weak when put next to either the etymotic or re0
Quick conclusion(not final I want to spend at least a week with these before a final conclusion)Clearly the sound signatures are different. The Spider Realvoice is a more natural warmer iem while the re0 is a neutral flat iem. Most newcomers equate neutral, but no it isn't. While both are very enjoyable iem, the Realvoice would be a much better recommendation for your average consumer who would like to just sit back and relax to vocals or some pop music. Especially when you consider the number of complaints of people adjusting to thinner sound of re0. The details of the re0 are really impress, but you must also take into account of the bass texture that are lost without heavily amping re0. There are some trade off like wider soundstage vs better positioning of the re0, but overall I believe the real voice would be a nice companion to the re0 and a better suited iem for mainstream music.
[b]Realvoice vs Re0
Excellent for Vocals
Details(good but not as good as the re0)
Image positioning(mose fuzzy than the re0)
slightly dark treble(Most iem are dark compared to high treble iem)
I also want to add that the comfort of the tips with the laid back natural of these creates a very relaxing pair of earphone for just laying back and enjoying music.I would highly recommend for vocal lovers.
Also way better for movie viewing than the re0.
Will update with more use(please pardon the grammatical errors this is a work in progress and I do rush through this with my sparetime)!