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  1. Soham Sengupta
    Review: Symphonium Audio Mirage (Budget Beast)
    Written by Soham Sengupta
    Published Jun 10, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - solid build quality, value for money, great bass for a single ba driver, superb fit
    Cons - intimate soundstage, rolled off treble
    READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE

    Introduction

    If you haven’t heard of Symphonium Audio, you can be forgiven. Symphonium Audio is relatively new to the audiophile market. The company was conceptualized in early 2015, when their founding members were unhappy with the current offerings and state of the personal audio market.

    That was because many earphones on the market were made to be low-cost, easy to replace and were not designed to last long. Earphones that did sound good came with an even higher price point that made it inaccessible to most consumers.

    Thus in 2017, they set out to create an earphone capable of providing great sound quality at an affordable price. So, after many months of R&D, they created two IEMs, Aurora and Mirage. These IEMs have 2 BA (Balanced armature) and 1 BA drivers respectively. I have bought both Aurora and Mirage IEMs for review.

    In this review, I will be focusing only on the Symphonium Audio Mirage.

    I’ve had the Mirage for about 3 weeks now and have listened to them for a total time of at least 60 hours and have burned them continuously for 50 hours. I’ve used them mostly daily during this time period to listen to all genres of songs (rock, EDM, pop, movie soundtracks, Western classics, etc.).

    Don’t want to read the full review? Here’s your TL;DR :

    The Symphonium Audio Mirage is an excellent pair of IEMs for its price and I would recommend it to anyone who is on a budget and likes an overall laid-back presentation of their tracks.

    But wait! Before you dive into the review, I have a quick disclaimer for you: I have received the Mirage IEMs from Symphonium Audio directly for reviewing purposes. I have paid for the IEMs (although I did get a discount) but this doesn’t mean that I have been incentivised or pressurized by Symphonium Audio to write this review for them. All the words used in this review are my own and this review is written in the most unbiased way that I could have done.

    Now, on to the unboxing of this IEMs.

    Unboxing the Symphonium Audio Mirage

    Priced at $169, these IEMs have just above the budget category of IEMs but the packaging of these IEMs far surpasses even more expensive IEMs than themselves. The Mirage comes in a large book-like case which flips out from the side, exposing 2 cases inside it (which is a first at its price range).

    [​IMG]

    The box of the Symphonium Audio Mirage​
    One of the cases is cylindrical hard-shell case and the other one is a rectangular hard-shell case. Upon opening the cylindrical case, we will be greeted by the IEMs themselves with the wire attached to it and wrapped around the cable is a leather cable manager which is a nice touch, although the manager is a bit small to be honest.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Reveal of cases after opening the box​
    The other case contains a satin pouch inside which resides 3 pairs of silicon tips, 2 pairs of ComplyTM T-500 Isolation foam eartips and a cleaning tool for the IEMs. Also, something which I generally don’t talk about in a review, the rectangular case is really good with its compartment covered with velvet so that your IEMs stay scratch-proof and well protected.

    So, to summarize, when you receive the Symphonium Audio Mirage you’ll get:

    • The IEMs themselves.
    • 5 pairs of ear tips (3 pairs of large-bore silicon tips and 2 pairs of ComplyTM T-500 Isolation foam tips)
    • 1 0.78mm single-ended cable
    • 2 Hard carrying case
    • Satin pouch
    • Cleaning tool
    [​IMG]

    All the accessories that comes with the Mirage​
    So as far as accessories goes, I doubt that you would need to buy anything extra for the Mirage as these IEMs comes with a ton of them.

    Design and Build Quality

    The overall build quality of these IEMs is great if not excellent. The shell of the IEM is made of acrylic with only one sound port. There is a damper just outside the front of the nozzle so be careful when you are cleaning the nozzle of the IEMs as you might damage it. The IEMs are very light and feels nice in the ears. But there is something which I want to shed light onto here. There is a visible rough line where the two parts of the shells are joined. Although this does not affect the overall functionality of the IEMs, it takes away from the overall look from the IEMs. But other than these small quibbles, these IEMs scores very well in my books as far as build quality is concerned.

    [​IMG]

    The Symphonium Audio Mirage themselves​
    Now coming to the cable, Symphonium Audio has used a 4-core 2-pin connector OFC cable. This cable looks and feels good in the hand and generally doesn’t get tangled in itself. Plus, the ear guides on this cable is perfect. It is neither too stiff, nor too flexible. So, it does a great job in keeping the cable behind your ears (as it is an over-the-ear worn pair of IEMs).

    [​IMG]

    The cable used in the Symphonium Audio Mirage​
    So, overall the cable is perfectly fine and for the price, the overall build quality of both the IEMs and the cables is really good.

    Ergonomics and Fit

    Now this a place where your mileage may vary a lot. The Mirage like most other IEMs at this price uses an over-the-ear fit. My ear canals are small so I used the small tips included in the box. Now, the fit of the Mirage on my ears is simply phenomenal. They have a really deep insertion in my ear canal. The cable also really helps with the overall fit of the IEMs. I have the tendency to listen to my IEMs when I go to sleep and with normal cables, whenever I lie down, the cable often moves out of my ear and dangles beside it. But with the implementation of the ear guides with the cable, the cable stays behind my ears no matter what.

    The fit and isolation on these IEMs is simply phenomenal in these IEMs.

    As far as ergonomics go, since they insert quite a bit deep inside the ear canal, it might feel a bit uncomfortable for a minute, but after that it feels really comfortable and light on the ears. I have worn them continuously for 4 hours without feeling the need to remove them from my ears. Sometimes I have literally forgotten that they were in my ears. So, ergonomics is also great in these IEMs and there is honestly nothing to complain about in here.

    [​IMG]

    The fit of the IEMs in my ear is simply astounding​
    Noise Isolation

    Now coming to noise isolation, since the fit and insertion was extremely good on these IEMs (at least for me), basically most of the ambient noise was cut out by at least 20dB. Only the horns of the vehicles and the rumbling of my bus was slightly audible (I usually test noise isolation inside public transportation as it gives a very nice idea of what to expect). So, although it won’t be able to cancel out high frequency and/or loud noises like the metro or an airplane completely, even at low volumes, you can completely block out all kinds of noises. To be honest, these IEM’s isolation far surpasses any other IEMs that I have tried. But enough about this, let’s start with the main factor which is the make-or-break property of any audio gear, i.e., its sound.

    Sound Quality

    Now, on to the most subjective part of the review: sound quality. Also, I won’t be posting any graphs in this review (or any review for that matter), as I don’t believe in graphs as much as I believe in my ears!

    This time, I’ll be listening to the earbuds via 3 sources:

    1. PC -> Fiio Q1 (Mark-1) -> Mirage
    2. Asus Zenfone 5Z -> Fiio Q1 (Mk.1) -> Mirage
    3. Hiby R3 -> Mirage
    I will also list the soundtracks that I’ve used for each section of my sound test. (Note: All my tracks are either 44 kHz / 24-bits – 192 kHz / 24-bit FLAC or DSD64/DSD128).

    Bass

    These IEMs sport only a single full-frequency range BA (balanced armature) driver but if you don’t listen to these IEMs, you will not believe what you will hear. Its bass has a surprising amount of impact, depth and texture for a single BA pair of IEMs while retaining its fast pace and energy. I was especially impressed upon testing its sub bass. The sub bass has a nice amount of texture, body and rumble. It is not overly pronounced and it still keeps quite a bit of detail in it.

    The bass in these IEMs is really strong for a single BA pair of IEMs and it can easily satisfy everybody’s need for bass.

    The separation between the lows and the mids is really good even though its bass is strong for single BA IEMs. They are really nicely separated from each other. The mid-bass of these IEMs is the best part for these IEMs (especially at the region around 100Hz). It has a nice body and has quite an amount of impact in the track ‘Indica Badu’ by Logic. Bass guitars have a nice texture and sound a bit thick on these IEMs.

    So overall, for a pair of IEMs targeted for mainstream consumers and audiophiles on a budget at this price, I would say that the bass response is simply phenomenal for a single BA pair of IEMs.

    Tracks used:
    • Axel Thesleff – “Reincarnation”
    • Martin Garrix – “Animals”
    • Martin Garrix, Tiesto – “The Only Way is Up”
    • Alessia Cara – “Here”
    • Diplo – “Revolution”
    • Zara Larsson – So Good (album)
    • Jordan Comolli – “Alone”
    • Marshmello – “Alone”
    • Axel Thesleff – “Done”
    • J Balvin, Willy William – “Mi Gente”
    • Logic – Indica Badu (ft. Wiz Khalifa)
    [​IMG]
    Mids

    The mids here are forward in nature. The vocals are more forward than the other frequencies and is quite a bit intimate. Vocals sound thick, lush and a bit narrow. Male vocals feel really warm and thick in them and female vocals sound energetic and a bit laid back without sounding overly tinny. There is a lot of detail in these IEMs for its price (although don’t expect too much micro details from them). There isn’t a hint of sibilance even in the most sibilant which is a great thing as well and the separation between the vocals and the other instruments is also very good considering it only has a single BA in them.

    These IEMs produces the vocals in a relaxed and laid-back manner which I quite like in these IEMs.

    Drums also sound really detailed and clear in these IEMs. In tracks like “Back in Black” or “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC, the drums sounded nicely layered, full bodied and also had a good amount of impact. Also, the separation between them and the vocals were also quite good without any mixture of the different frequencies even in not so well-recorded tracks like “Paradise City” by Guns n’ Roses. In the song “The Reason” by Hoobastank, Doug Robb’s voice (the lead singer of Hoobastank) sounded intimate and the drums had a nice impact, detail and energy to them.

    So, for its price, Mirage is really ticking a lot of boxes and I have to say, the mids here are quite good in here. It is lush, thick but it still manages to retain its energy and provides us with a forward presentation which might impress a lot of people looking for a similar sound signature.

    Tracks used:
    • Adele – 25 (album)
    • Charlie Puth – Nine Track Mind (album)
    • Ed Sheeran – X / Divide (album)
    • Amber Rubarth – Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
    • AC/DC – Razor’s Edge
    • John Newman – “Love Me Again”
    • Elvis Presley – “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”
    • Sigrid – “Everybody Knows”
    • Hoobastank – The Reason
    Treble

    Now onto treble. I have to say this but the treble is not the strongest suit in its armour. Let’s start with those cymbals and hi-hats. They sound a bit thick, slightly splashy and I felt that it usually tends to roll off at this frequency. But its rendition of guitar is better. Its sounds thick, lush and still maintains its energy. It doesn’t exude with detail and clarity, but for its price, it does an adequate job of retrieving some of the detail in the tracks.

    Now coming to pianos, their rendition kind of similar to that of the guitar. I felt that the notes in the piano was lush, thick and, to be honest, somewhat lacking in terms of detail. In the track “Petricor” by Ludovico Einaudi, the piano was not handled really well and I found that it lost a some of detail at the busy parts of the track. Now, bells sound controlled and energetic in the Mirage, although it did have a hint of boominess in them.

    So overall, although it is not the best thing about the Mirage, but considering its price, I would say that it does a good job as far as treble is concerned.

    Tracks used:
    • Led Zeppelin – IV (album)
    • Ed Sheeran – X / Divide (album)
    • Linkin Park – Meteora
    • Amber Rubarth – Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
    • Pink Floyd – Dark of The Moon (album)
    • John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Paco De Lucía – Friday Night In San Francisco (album)
    • Ludovico Einaudi – Islands: Essential Einaudi (album)
    • Axel Thesleff – “Reincarnation”
    • George Gershwin – “Rhapsody in Blue”
    Soundstage, Positioning and Separation

    (a) Soundstage and Positioning


    Now, there are 2 ways to accurately measure a IEMs’ soundstage and positioning. First, is to use well-recorded binaural tracks (see track list below for more info). The second method (which I personally prefer more) is gaming. I have used two games specifically for this purpose. One is the well-known CS:GO and the other is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (the latter is a much more immersive experience).

    Now, soundstage. The Mirage has a very intimate soundstage. The soundstage in the Mirage is really small and narrow here and it feels as if the vocalists are singing just beside you. An intimate soundstage gives you a punchier and “in your face” presentation to the overall soundtrack that you are listening. Personally, I like a wide soundstage so the soundstage provided by the Mirage is, to be honest, not my cup of tea. But people who like an intimate presentation of their music will really enjoy the Mirage.

    Now coming to its positioning, I felt that it is quite accurate in here. To test it out, I fired up CS:GO and I could easily pinpoint the source of the gunshot. Furthermore, in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, I could feel the voices whispering in my ears. Even in orchestral soundtracks like in Symphony No.5 by Beethoven, the overall layering and positioning of the instruments is also quite good. So overall, I am pretty impressed with the positioning that the Mirage provides, even with respect to its price.

    (b) Separation

    The separation of the instruments is, to be honest, good if not great on these IEMs. Again, coming back to orchestral music, the separation between the different instruments in, say “Symphony No. 5 in C minor” by Beethoven, is really striking for a single BA IEM. You can distinguish most of the instruments that are being played in the track. Also, the layering of the different instrument in different spaces is also something that I have noticed it doing remarkably well. So overall, I was really impressed with the separation of instruments it provides for its price.

    Tracks used:

    • Amber Rubarth – Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
    • Yosi Horikawa – Vapor (album)
    • Led Zeppelin – IV (album)
    • John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Paco De Lucía – Friday Night In San Francisco (album)
    • Beethoven – Symphony No.5 (album)
    Drivability

    You should be able to easily drive them out of a smartphone but to really get the full out of this beast, you should definitely get a nice set of DAP or DAC/Amp. They have an impedance rating of 75Ω and a sensitivity of 110 dB +/- 3dB so you shouldn’t face any difficulty while driving them out of your smartphones even though I wouldn’t recommend doing so as a DAC/Amp can really open up these puppies.

    Technical Specifications
    • Brand: Symphonium Audio
    • Model: Mirage
    • Type: In-Ear Monitors
    • Driver: Single Full-range Balanced Armature Driver (Tuned Sonion Driver)
    • Impedance: 75 Ω
    • Headphone sensitivity: 110 dB +/- 3dB (1 kHz/1 Vrms)
    • Frequency range: 20–18000Hz
    • Plug: 3.5 mm/2.5mm
    • Interface: 2-pin (0.78mm)
    • Cable: 1m 4 core OFC Cable
    Conclusion

    In conclusion, for the price of $169, you are getting a solid pair of IEMs which looks, feels and sounds really good for its price to say the least. It comes with quite a few accessories to get you started and its superb fit in the ears is a cherry on top. Yes, it does have some issues like its intimate soundstage (which might appeal to some people) or its slightly rolled-off treble, but it more than makes up for it with its excellent bass response and truly awesome fit. So overall, I liked the Mirage and I would likely recommend this to people who likes a lush, relaxed and intimate presentation to their soundtracks.
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