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Vibro Labs Aria quad armature in-ear monitor

  1. MissChristie
    Vibro Labs Aria: Technically complement but with a divisive signature.
    Written by MissChristie
    Published Feb 8, 2017
    Pros - Looks nice, good stock cable, highs (if that's your bag)
    Cons - Anemic bass response, uncomfortably large nozzles, price too high along with sound too niche for heavy recommendation.
    Vibro Labs Aria: Technically complement but with a divisive signature.
    I was allowed to spend 1 week listening to the Aria in exchange for this review.
    The Vibro Labs Aria is a quad BA driver IEM and comes in both universal and custom forms. It is currently listed at $499 direct from Vibro Labs. This review is focused on the universal model that I had a chance to spend some time with as part of a tour.
    Background: I’ve been part of the headphone hobbyist community for 3 years now. I’ve amassed a sizeable collection of headphones, notable among them being my LCD-2 (2016 rev), HD6XX, Vmoda M-80, JVC HA-SZ2000 and Oppo PM-3 among others. In terms of IEMs, I own a Sony XBA-H1 and have owned a HiFiMan RE-600. I tend to have a preference for dark signatures, and am very fond of good price/performance ratios (My ongoing love affair with KZ IEMs only serves to reinforce this point).
    Presentation/build quality: The Aria I sampled came with a wooden like exterior face, and featured a clear-ish plastic like enclosure around the sides and forming the nozzle. The wood looks nice in pictures, and my home does have really cruddy lighting, but the wooden looking part didn’t seem as vibrant and with as much contrast with the wood grain as I was anticipating. The housings themselves seem sturdy enough, and like they will hold up well so long as one takes a modicum of care when handling them.
    They feature a detachable 2 pin cable, and the one provided with the tour model was extremely nice. It featured a plasticized, braided exterior with a 90 degree connector and handled like a linen rope. The wire forms stiff but still rather flexible ear hooks.
    Comfort wise the housing didn’t feel heavy at all thanks to the ear hooks, but the bore of the nozzle felt way too wide for my ears when inserted, even with the smallest cushions I had avaliable (comply foam tips size small). This led to some frustration as I couldn’t listen to the Aria for more than an hour at a time before I had to give it a rest due to discomfort. The housing seemed shaped well for my ears, and the shape as well as the tips did a decent job helping isolate me from outside sounds.
    Sound Impressions: Listening was done with a variety of sources and amplification. I used either premium Spotify or FLAC files direct from my phone (Moto X 2nd Gen) or from Spotify or Foobar2000 from my computer. When listening to files on my computer, I used a Schiit Modi 2 DAC and switched between a Magni 2 solid state amp, and a Little Dot I+ Hybrid tube amplifier.
    Bass: This point was an overall letdown for me. Listening to “Silent Shout” by The Knife didn’t start promising. A short while into the track, a deep, heart beat like percussion steps into the mix, and I was a little stunned. It didn’t feel like it was washing over me like with previous headphones I heard this song with. To put it succinctly, it sounded like someone knocking on a dense door. There was way too much punch and it left me feeling unsatisfied. This would become a trend throughout my experience.
    Listening to Irish folk music, percussion instruments such as a bodhran delivered a tight beat, but lost their vibrance. Trance tracks featured some good sub-bass out of the Aria, but with so little midbass that the beats sounded hollow. Hearing the drop on Coldplay’s “Paradise” sounded like a clicking mechanical monster rather than a heady buzz. In all, I felt the subbass was adequate in a vacuum, but the mid-bass sounded sucked out, and this combined with the sub-bass and extended highs made most beats, whether acoustic or electronic, sound absolutely empty Switching from solid state to tube amplification helped marginally, but not really enough for me to feel that the bass was all that good.
    Mids:  The middle frequencies sounded very neutral to cold. There was some good, natural detail in this region, but this seemed to come at the cost of any pleasing warmth. Dave Gllmour’s voice on Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here “(2011 remaster) sounded rather strained, but in a way that suggested more realism that sounding merely off. Female vocals featured in such bands as Maidens IV sound really good, with a nice hint of sweetness, but still rather dry as opposed to lush.
    Details (separate from detail, an aspect of the Aria I explore in the Highs section) in this range seemed rather well done, with things such as breaths and fret slides being audible, but not distractingly so. Listening to “The Promise/Blinded by Light” off the album “A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy” had me doing a double take as I heard one of the artists taking a very deep breath right before transitioning to the Blinded by Light part of the medley. All in all, I found the mids to be a mixed bag. It didn’t have the hedonistic pleasure of drinking in warm mids, but it did illustrate that the intoxication of thickness does cloud one’s senses to things they wouldn’t be able to hear without a considerably more sober sound signature. The mids got considerably warmer through tubes, but I mostly felt it brought it to a base level, and didn’t sound like the headphones I enjoy running through tubes.
    Highs: Oh boy. The highs aren’t not there, which I think we can all agree is a good thing. But I think the universal agreement on this aspect ends there. I listed my repertoire and I mentioned my preference for dark sound sigs. I like my treble rolled off. Not too steep, but still, I feel a steady decline is best. Well, let me tell you that that is not the case with the Aria.
    Treble detail is very present, with crunchiness added to guitars, grain added to violins and percussion that feels like Bruce Lee decided to one-inch-punch through your eardrum. Oddly enough, there seems to be a dip in the treble at some point in the mid-upper area, as cymbals sound a bit splashy, but otherwise fine and grainy instruments such as violins never got to the point where I cringed in pain, but I was preparing to cower as I heard them build up to higher pitched crescendos. I wouldn’t even say the Aria’s have sparkle, because to me, sparkle implies a rather delicate emphasis, and the highs here are too heavy handed.
    In all, I would wager this is the make or break aspect, and totally based on your subjective view. The Arias are bright, and though a good thing for trebleheads, it was decidedly less good in my book.
    Soundstage/Imaging/Transients: Soundstage on the Aria was pretty good. On the wide side, but rather close, I felt like this was an area where a check+ is earned. Imaging was pretty decent, with about 4 main points per side where the instruments seemed to come from. Listening to “Bubbles” by Yosi Horikawa was marvelous as always and Peter Frampton’s “Frampton Comes Alive” album sounded particularly immersive. Speed was also very good, as the drivers sounded nice and fast, striking with good attack and nimble decay. Though that is to be expected from BA configurations.

    Value: This is a tough one. 500 bones is a lot to ask, even still in today’s world of $5000+ flagships. Honestly, the Aria gets a lot of the technical aspects right, but dat sound sig do’.I would only really recommend this as a niche product, as its anemic nature may be both its Achilles heel as well as its greatest draw. If this were $100, I’d give it a hearty recommendation as the Aria’s frequency emphasis would be livable for all the things it does right sound-wise on top of a unique looking housing and replaceable cables. But if you’re going to spend half a grand on the Aria, you better have done your research and know full well what you’re getting into.
    In conclusion: The Aria is capable on a technical level, but in my opinion, the tuning is a major deal breaker. Very much on the bright side with a rather sucked-out midbass and combined with the $500 price point, I can only recommend this if you are a treble-head who absolutely values detail and tight rhythm above all. In total, it is too niche for my tastes, and with my subjective preferences factored in, I can only rate it 3 stars out of 5. It does many things well, but the anemic sound signature and sterile nature are just too much for me to see past.
    I would like to thank Luke Pighetti of Vibro Labs for the opportunity to review their product and expand my pool of experience.
      Furiousipaduser and k4rstar like this.
  2. jjacq
    Vibro Labs Aria: A Great Work in Progress.
    Written by jjacq
    Published Aug 22, 2016
    Pros - Generous in accessories, beautifully designed, good for bass-centric genres.
    Cons - A bit too expensive for what you get, could use a bit more refining in locking into a particular sound signature.
    I have received the ARIA as a part of the Vibro Labs ARIA Universal tour on Head-Fi that took part on August 2016. I have spent a week with the IEMs while maintaining ownership with the Shure SE846 and the Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors(UERM), using my own sources as reference.

    Testing chain: PC/RWAK240(optical out/line out) > RSA Intruder/Mojo > IEMs. The music used are from various genres on Foobar2000 and streaming from Spotify Premium.

    _DSC45022Custom.jpg _DSC4529Custom.jpg _DSC4532Custom.jpg

    The Aria is Vibro Labs' premier IEM and flagship. Buyers can choose between various wood grains and can be had in universal or custom version with 3D printed shells. It is a quad armature design with an impedance of 15 ohms at 110db spl/mW and all handmade in Maine, USA.

    Build and Accessories
    This loaner consisted of a very good Pelican 1010 case with a cleaning tool and a ton of comply IEM tips. Unfortunately, the stem of the Aria is a bit too big for me so putting it in with the smallest comply was a bit uncomfortable but I am able to get a good seal to go on with the review. As for design, the wooden faceplates look excellent in person and definitely one of the most unique styles in IEMs I’ve seen so far. The finish is very clean and smooth as well. On the other side with the vibro logo, there are some rough edges that you can see reflected on the inside but this may be because of the 3D printing that was done with it. Overall, I think accessories-wise, they are pretty generous.
    The SE846 has an excellent build except for the stock cable going to crap after several months of use. The connectors are not exactly the best though some may prefer this over the typical 2-pin that the two IEMs have. It has a vast array of accessories like tips and filters, while supplying a cleaning cloth and pelican-style hardcase. Different countries may have packaging though, but most of the time I find that my accessories not really being used much. In terms of design, the drivers are neatly packaged through the see-through shell but there are known complaints about the drivers rusting or the plastic being foggy on the stem of the IEM. I’ve owned my 846s for almost 10 months now and I’ve been happy with them though I’ve never really compared the sound to other earphones.
    I will skip the build entirely because it has been reshelled by InEarz before I received it. Source-wise I didn’t hear any hissing with the RSA Intruder or Mojo.


    Sound Quality

    Source wise, I didn’t find any issues with matching and no hiss from any of my sources either. Bass on the Aria is a bit veiled, but no midrange bleed which is always a good thing. Bass extension is very clean while having adequate detail, balance on bass side is very good, I prefer this over the 846. In terms of midrange, there is a downward slope which can make a lot of instruments sound a little bit pushed back. EQ would perhaps fix this but as of using stock, it’s not good for midrange-centric genres. The treble has a slight hotness associated with it that’s almost sibilant but this can probably be associated with the midrange issue. Turning it down to actual listening volumes, treble is conclusively warm with sibilance. Using the Mojo, the issue is alleviated a slight bit but the issue can still be heard if you try to notice it. The only issue would I would find is that the slight sibilance is also amplified with this combo though not at unlistenable levels.
    Recommended genres: Bass-centric genres, Hip Hop.

    The 846 is extremely sensitive and it can hiss with a lot of different sources. Also, impedance matching is important because most sources affect how it sounds. Bass is well textured in which it has layers and detail with clean extension all throughout. There is no muddiness with it and soundstage is at a decent width. There is a slight discontinuity with the transition of the midrange and treble region which can make it a bit all over the place. The treble also has a slight peak which reminds me of the SE215’s in a less severe way but it can be something that can be overlooked. I say this in which it’s easy to blame the recording rather than it being an SE846 problem but switching songs, I can definitely hear the 846 doing this. I would also say that the 846 is similar to the LCD-X sound signature but both having different textures in bass. Treble and midrange are nothing to write home about but the IEM can be very forgiving. It’s an IEM you would use as a musical pair, doing well with v-shaped oriented genres without being extremely v-shaped. Overall, I think it is picky with sources but it is very fun and engaging.

    Recommended genres: Top 40, Pop, EDM, Hip Hop.

    The UERM has bass that’s reminiscent of the HD800 stock. It’s not overpowering yet there is enough of it to accommodate a believable performance in an acoustic setting. As for genres such as EDM, it’s a bit too bass-light. To visualize this, think of listening to EDM for an audience of 1. In terms of midrange and imaging, this is where the UERM truly shines. The UERM has enough air as an IEM and it is detail-oriented in which it’s like the HD800 in IEM form, without the extremely harsh treble issues with stock. I think the UERM can be a bit treble forward though I wouldn’t say that it’s as bright as an HD800 stock with let’s say, a schiit amplifier. My biggest criticism of the UERM is that it can sound thin at times (due to the forward treble), which leads it to be lacking in body that the 846 can give. To add to that, it can be revealing with bad recordings. One can also say it can be shouty at times which is one of my big criticisms for it. Going with this IEM though, you get very good detail retrieval that is ideal for midrange-centric genres.

    Recommended genres: Acoustic, Classical, Jazz, Vocal-oriented genres.

    Closing thoughts & addendum:

    Personal preferences vary from person to person along with the genres that they listen to, so reviewers must try to be objective and detach themselves from these biases to give an unprejudiced review. This can be compensated by assessing a piece of gear with its characteristics while reproducing the same testing procedures for each sample. Some will prefer the ARIA, the SE846, or the UERM with fairly sound reasons. As the ARIA is the subject of this review, I think there is much potential to be had if the midrange was tuned more correctly as it was advertised when it was announced. I would say the Aria is ambitious, as it claims to be an all-around contender at a bargain price (“ARIA is a true flagship at entry level prices.”; verbatim from the website). While there is really no IEM that can do it all, I would disagree on the Aria being the heir to that be-all-end-all throne for now. At its price point, I feel like the asking price is a bit too high with other available options in the market like the ones from Noble, ’64 Audio, or even the Chinese IEM counterparts that are very hard to beat for the money. Nonetheless, I think the Aria has potential to be improved as giving proper tonality and sound signature balance would allow it to be more compatible with other genres to be rightfully lauded as a be-all-end-all IEM.
    1. DoctorZoidberg
      Good review. I heard the universal at AXPONA and pretty much agree 100%
      DoctorZoidberg, Aug 22, 2016
    2. onyxwulf
      Nice review.
      onyxwulf, Aug 22, 2016
    3. Luke Pighetti
      Hey @jjacq, thanks for taking the time to post your honest review. Keep an eye out for an announcement later this week. Cheers.
      Luke Pighetti, Aug 23, 2016
  3. ustinj
    Vibro Labs's Aria has high potential ... but not as expected
    Written by ustinj
    Published Jun 2, 2016
    Pros - Fun sound signature, Bass and treble extension, Faceplate quality
    Cons - Scooped/recessed mids, value, misleading launch
    Vibro Labs: Aria (custom & universal)
    This review is probably going be a little bit different from usual, as I have been given the amazing opportunity to hear and use both the custom and universal version of the Vibro Labs Aria. The review will be honest and holistic -- I'll factor in the sound of the Aria, as well as everything else about it (build, design, whatnot). 
    - Vibro Labs
    - ARIA
            - Packaging
            - Sound
            - Design, Fit & Finish
                    - Custom
                    - Universal
    - Conclusions & Value
    Vibro Labs
    Vibro Labs is a relatively young company, presenting us with the Aria as their debut product. I found the Aria through a post on Reddit. Luke, the man behind Vibro, has been a pleasure to deal with. Realistically, service has been rather positive. Luke will almost always reply to your emails within a day, and is easy to talk to while answering all the questions you might have.
    In summary, Vibro Labs has been fantastic in terms of trying their best to satisfy their customers. I've had a long trip with the Arias resolving my issues, and each individual concern was taken care of by Luke. He has been fantastic in solving my multiple fit issues, eventually leading to a full-on reshell that Luke generously did at no extra charge. If service and communication are factors in your decision to do business with Vibro Labs, you don't have anything to be concerned about. 

    The Product: ARIA
    For reference, the site description and frequency response of the Aria's sound is as follows:

    The aspects that drove me to pursue the Aria as my first CIEM* were its advertised appearance, sound description, and value. The idea of owning a flagship was exciting, new, and so tempting. At last, I could escape my mid-fi purgatory and enter true hi-fi! I decided to jump the gun and purchase the Aria at its initial launch. The price paid was $599 -- the most I've ever spent on an audio product. This was my first premium experience. 

    Aria: Packaging
    The Aria arrived three months after payment, due to some delays I had getting proper impressions done. They came in their transparent pelican case, which was wrapped inside a bubble-wrapped envelope. To be quite honest, the packaging could have been a bit better for the premium experience that I was expecting. It would be nice if they at least came in a Vibro labeled cardboard box (or at least a sleeve), for those who want to ensure the pristine condition of the shiny, clear pelican case. This didn't bother me so much as it did my friend, who also happened to grab an Aria. 
    The Pelican case is filled with a laser-cut foam cutout, with a slot for the cleaning tool, cable, and Arias themselves. I assume the cutout is mainly for display, as the foam seems to be a bit of a hassle to put the Arias back into. The cleaning tool fits perfectly, the Arias fit fine, but the slot for the cable is very tight and takes a while to stuff it all in there. Apart from that, the Pelican case is very nice and rugged. I have since then purchased another Pelican case, as they are super awesome. 

    Aria: Sound
    From the site description, I had a very specific sound in mind for the Aria. I was expecting a deep, detailed bass; full and lush mids; topped off with relaxed yet detailed highs. The frequency response further cemented this expectation -- a gradually sloping sound, smooth and mostly void of peaks.
    At first, I had various issues with the fitment of the Arias (custom). Luke was by my side in helping me resolve the issues, and diligently took care of every detail. Kudos to Vibro Labs for the service, again. I won't go into detail about how the initial, unfitted sound was; but only focus on the final product that I have heard.
    I found that the sound of the universal Aria and the custom Aria were very similar ... but: 
    The bass, in my opinion, is one of the primary highlights of the Aria. I would like to say that the low frequencies are just slightly above neutral -- it is by no means a basshead IEM, but it will definitely satisfy the desires of most listeners. The bass is incredibly full and comes with fantastic impact. Just as described, it extends incredibly deep and just feels like it goes on forever. To my ears, it seems to be flat throughout the bass -- the subbass is only a tad bit less pronounced than the midbass, unlike most other IEMs I've heard. 
    Unlike the dynamic drivers I've heard, the Aria pulls off the low end with great speed and detail at the cost of heavy impact. Don't take that the wrong way -- it's still full and hits with a lot of body, but just not at the eardrum vibrating levels you'd feel with a bass-heavy dynamic driver.
    Oh, how amazing the Aria would be if it were not for its biggest shortcoming: the midrange. The Aria seems to be a downward slope for the most parts except for some sort of elusive issue with the mids. Even without any other IEMs for comparison, I couldn't help but feel that many male vocals, as well as some deep female vocals, were a little bit off. Switching between tracks brought me to the conclusion that the Aria had a quick and dramatic dip in the lower midrange. In other words, vocals had an obvious sense of hollowness and thinness. However, in some tracks I've listened to, the Aria simply can't be beat regardless of its quirky midrange. If you are a fan of electronic or EDM, you will find the Aria to be acceptable -- many modern tracks feature female vocals, and the Aria's tilted upper midrange should work just fine with those (paired with good bass and highs).
    The custom ARIA's mids were a little less recessed than the universal.
    Back to the good part. The Aria has very well-done highs. They're very well extended on both the low and high end. An attribute that I noticed is that the treble is very rarely fatiguing. I've read that some other reviewers felt some "hotness" on the treble and upper mids. The only times that I could detect sibilance was when I was turning the volume up to make up for the pushed back mids -- other than that, it strikes a nice balance between being politely sharp and overly sizzly. As a result, the sound is wonderfully airy and spacious.
    It naturally follows that the Aria's ability to reproduce details is superb at its asking price. Being my first venture into balanced armatures, the Aria really puts into perspective what kind of sound I had been missing out on. If you've always been listening to dynamic drivers, the Aria will definitely be a treat for your ears. In sum, the Aria's highs are well-extended while never being sibilant or fatiguing. It oozes microdetail and is the other highlight of the Aria's sound. 
    Overall Sound Signature
    I have very mixed feelings about the Aria's sound. Though it wasn't the relaxed-highs-liquidy-sound I was expecting, it did show me that I didn't want those laid back highs, and could do without spewing gobs of thick bass. Bass is tastefully executed at an amount that just sounds so right to my ears. Details are well done as it has completely changed my tonal preference. However, the hollow vocal timbre is very noticeable and makes the singer sound recessed, breaking any sense of coherency. If anything, the Aria is a natural-neutral sounding tone apart from the drastically scooped-out mids. Bass is only slightly elevated and highs are never too artificial or tinny. The lower-mid dip sort of detracts from the overall cohesiveness of the sound.

    Aria: Design, Fit & Finish (there's gonna be a lot of pics!)


    I initially had the Aria in custom form. As you can see, the faceplates that Luke selected for my customs are absolutely GORGEOUS. The grain is beautiful in its multifaceted colors, and I could actually spend quite a bit of time just marveling at the left monitor. The right one was pretty cool too, but something about the left just drew me in. Note that pictures don't tell the entire story -- though they are beautiful, the Arias actually aren't that glossy in person. The custom Aria's faceplate quality is exceptional, in my opinion. I couldn't imagine that it gets any better than these woods. 


    However, one downside to the fit and finish is the 3D printed shells. Though 3D printing shells probably can make the process a lot simpler in terms of fitment and such, there seems to be some artifacts of the 3D printing process. Taking a look at the picture below, you can see that there is an unpleasant mucus-looking texture on the inside of the custom Arias. However, it seems as if this texture varies from unit to unit, as other Arias I've looked at pictures of have different amounts (some even being mostly clear). I was not particularly a huge fan of the shell appearance, though the faceplates were really enticing. 






    Here's another photo of that gorgeous, beautiful, amazing faceplate.






    Luke has been a very big help with resolving some minor fit issues I had with the custom Aria. In the end, I have spent approximately $750+ trying to get the fit perfect, but there was always something small that bothered me. Luke was willing to resolve all issues by converting the Aria to a universal fit -- essentially, this would also resolve the appearance issues that I had with the custom. The universal shells are a lot cleaner looking and have very few markings.
    FIXED: Aesthetics
    The shells look a lot better now. They're mostly clear and I can actually see the internals! The faceplates, though it wasn't an issue in the first place, are STILL FREAKIN' GORGEOUS. Luke has done an outstanding job on the shell finish for the universals. 
    FIXED: Fit and Comfort
    Being universal, the fit is a lot easier on my sensitive ears and I don't really have any gripes about it. The shells are actually smaller than the custom version, but protrude the same amount. The tips that Luke included were a little bit too large for my canals, so I stretched on some standard Comply T-500s on there, which are a lot more comfortable. I don't detect any significant difference in sound. The nozzles are really big, actually bigger than the custom canals. You'll have to do some stretching to get the T-500s on there, I believe Luke is now using the Comply 600s (bigger). They might irritate you if you have small canals.
    Here are some more pictures of the universal IEMs. 
    ARIA: Conclusion & Value
    To be honest, I'm still conflicted with this part. The Arias are just shy of being a wonderful sounding earphone, as well as being well-built and designed. The mids are a real killjoy though. I would have no problem recommending them to anyone who wants a do-it-all IEM ... if only the dip in the mids were fixed. Spending more and more time with them just makes the dip more apparent to my ears, pulling vocalists further back into the abyss. It's kind of heartbreaking to see such a near-perfect creation being taken down by one single aspect the sound. Luckily there is hope, as I have heard that Luke is working diligently on figuring out the source of the scoop. If Luke is able to pull it off (which he always does), we may find ourselves with a fantastic value IEM that is hard to beat at the $500-$600 asking point. 
    I did note that I got hands on a couple of other IEMs in the past month -- this has changed my entire frame of reference on the Aria and called for a rewrite of the review. These IEMs would be the ATH-IM02, Alclair RSM, TFZ Series 5, and Unique Melody Miracle. If anyone wants comparisons, shoot me a message and I can do a quick writeup.
    But in terms of context, I am hesitant to recommend the Aria at it's current $699/$599 asking price. The universal Aria is a different story, as the design, fit, and finish are superb... but the dip in the mids seem somewhat unrefined and incoherent (it's a very sudden scoop out, unlike other v-shaped headphones), while there could be better technical performers in the same price range. Though the Aria is lacking in its mid refinement, the bass and treble is very well done. The Aria still manages to prove itself as an enjoyable, fun IEM -- but could be so much better without the mids issue.
    Service: 5/5 (great satisfaction)
    Sound: 3.5/5 (good lows, decent highs, poor mids)
    Build Quality: 4.5/5 (cable is seriously tight)
    Fit & Finish: 4.0/5 (universals are beautiful, custom has minor quirks)
    Value: 3.0/5 (sound is a huge factor, especially for $600+)
    Overall: 3.7/5 (conditional recommendation)

    UPDATE: I just wanted to address readers who may think argue the sound signature is 'meant' to be v-shaped, and that it is unfair for me to lower the score because of my sound preferences. This is an honest review and no bias factors have brought the score down. The main issue that lowered the sound score was the scooped-out nature of the mids. 
    1. My primary issue is that the description / sale that pushed me to buy Aria was a little bit misleading. The original, intended sound was not supposed to have laid-back mids (the current description set out by Vibro). Regardless of how you look at it, the Aria has been advertised multiple times as having 'forward, and clear mids'. The point of review is to factor in the differences between the advertised product, and the received product. I also contacted Vibro Labs prior to purchasing to ask if it was v-shaped due to having 2 woofers and 2 tweeters, they responded saying it was not v-shaped but flat/balanced.
    2. I do not feel as if my sound preferences were the reason I nitpicked the mids of the sound signature. If mids were just laid-back and the Aria was a v-shaped signature, I wouldn't have given the Aria 3.5/5 in sound. I don't mind a v-shaped signature -- 3 of my headphones that I've spent the longest time with in my life have been v-shaped signatures. But the mids are scooped-out. The dip is sudden and short, in a small region of the mids -- it just isn't very coherent.
    3. The Aria is very good at low and high end extension. If you can work with  recessed lower vocals, the Aria is a very good IEM. It is just not an accurate representation of what was described (forward, clear mids / balanced signature / flawless SLA shells). 
    1. View previous replies...
    2. ustinj
      @Crypticmx I would not say the Aria has an exceedingly large soundstage, though it does seem slightly larger vertically than horizontally. However, the imaging is pretty good in terms of placement; though the sounds don't seem very far/spaced away.
      ustinj, Jul 10, 2016
    3. ustinj
      @Crypticmx Oh yeah, but in terms of sound, I think the Aria does everything better than the Pinnacle P1 other than mids. 
      ustinj, Jul 10, 2016
    4. Dr4Bob
      Thanks for a detailed and most thoughtful review.
      Dr4Bob, Jul 28, 2016
  4. Delance26
    Easy to love sound in a stylish package
    Written by Delance26
    Published Apr 22, 2017
    Pros - versatile sound signature, excellent build, good isolation
    Cons - Expensive, short cable, only can use comply tips
    About the reviewer:
    I am a 24-year-old science teacher, which means I am poor and like to find headphones that offer an excellent value.  When I first started my “audiophile” (I tend to not like that term, rather all things audio lover) hobby I generally was akin to a more laid back, warm signature.  I do still love that signature in a pair of headphones but have recently developed a taste for treble in the past year or so. 
    I listen to just about every genre of music, especially singer-songwriter, and music scores.  I do, however, listen to many contemporary pop artists and some rock music.  I always make sure to listen to a wide variety when reviewing headphones but bear in mind everyone has their own unique tastes!
    When looking at headphones there are a few things I value over others.  Those things being: are they well-built, are they comfortable enough that I can wear them for long periods, and can I appreciate the sound they provide (which is extremely subjective).   
    I had the great pleasure of being able to listen to the Aria in exchange for an honest review of the product.  I would like to thank Luke for giving me this opportunity and patience as I took a long time to complete this review!
    Before the Aria I had no experience with Vibro products.  This means I went into my listening of the Aria with a pretty open mind.  Before I listened to the Aria I read the product description online which reads “Aria is known for its legendary extension, both up top and down low.  Its sound signature is relaxed and vee-shaped…”  Upon reading this I was curious to see how well it matched this description.  I was also worried as generally headphones that have a great extension on both ends suffer from thin, lifeless mids.
    Build Quality/Design:
    The build quality of the Aria is top-notch.  It is built with a SLA shell which holds the drivers of the IEM.  On the back of the shell, there is a beautiful plate of Circassian Walnut which brings the aesthetics of the IEM to a whole new level.  It definitely gives the feel of a premium product.
    The cable is also nice.  It has a 2-pin connector which is easily replaced by custom cabling if you like to do so.  The stock cable on the aria is very nice, however.  It is thin, yet durable, which is what you are looking for in a set of mobile headphones, especially IEM’s.  I did find it a little on the short side, which is a common issue I have with mobile devices as I am taller.  Luckily, as I previously mentioned, the 2-pin connector is easy to replace with many options to choose from.
    One thing about this IEM is that it is large.  This is in part due to the twin driver in each shell.  I have fairly normal sized ears and it was a snug fit.  If it were much bigger it would have made listening to the Aria a less pleasurable experience.  Luckily for me, it fit very well in which it easily stayed in place and I rarely needed to adjust the fit as once they were placed in my ears it would take some vicious headbanging to dislodge them!
    The isolation of the Aria was very good.  This was largely due to the fact that I was using Isolation comply's with them.  It was also aided by the snug fit.  Put these things together and your music is rarely interrupted.
    Notes: source material was through the m9XX, LG V10, and the Fiio X1i using a variety of lossless and non-lossless music files.  All of them were able to power the Aria well.  For specific questions on each of the above source components please comment or PM me! Helps keep the review more on point!
    Now to the juicy bits of the review, the sound.  The sound of the Aria was actually very close to the description I cited at the beginning of the review.  It has excellent sub-bass extension giving a healthy rumble while listening to some lower toned tracks.  This trait made it excellent with musical score music which is one of my favorites.
    Still true to the description is boasted great extension in the upper regions.  It was not the best I have heard, but still very good.  While I had the Aria in my possession I also had the three newest RHA products for review.  All the RHA products had a better extension, but some consider this extreme extension to be too much.  I think the Aria was done well as it gives an extension for increased detail, but does not go over the top like the CL1 from RHA. (see below for a bigger comparison).
    The mids of the Aria was my biggest concern as, generally speaking, when you extend on both ends it tends to take away from the mids.  This was not what I discovered, however.  What I ended up finding was full bodied mids, which I was very surprised to hear.  Vocals were clear and had an edge of crispness due to the extra upper extension.
    My only qualm with the sound of the Aria was that the mid bass seems a little thick and seemed a little loose on some tracks.  They also had the tendency to bleed into the mids which could cause the vocals to be less clear and a little distant.  I will say that this was usually not a factor, especially if better quality music files were used.
    Vibro Labs Aria (499 USD) vs. CL1 Ceramic (450 USD):
    I am going to be blunt straight away, the Aria is a completely different IEM than the CL1.  It has a thick midrange and robust bass.  It has a slight treble sparkle present, but not harsh at all.  In contrast, the CL1 has a thin midrange and excitable treble that can be painful to some. 
    In the end, it largely comes down to preference, but if I had to choose, I would get the Aria.  It is easy to love with its familiar tuning and stunning aesthetics.  It also has a more user-friendly cable option and is much easier to drive.  While it is not as detailed as the CL1, some may consider this a positive.
    You may have guessed by now that I am a fan of the Aria.  It is a wonderful, easy to love IEM.  It pairs well with all of my source gear and is easily driven.  An added bonus to all of these things is it looks very good while sounding great.  The same cannot be said for many headphones.
    There are only two negatives that I discovered.  The first being the large size of the IEM itself.  While it fit my ears fine, it was a tight fit and those with smaller ears may have difficulty with it.  The second, being it can only take comply tips.  These tips are great, but some prefer not to have the hassle of them.
    My final thoughts? This IEM is wonderful.  If you are in the price range of the Aria it should be one you strongly consider.  Especially if you enjoy a laid back sound that does not sacrifice much detail.
    1. ngoshawk
      Good review. I loved the tour unit so much, I purchased my own! The Aria is my go-to IEM. Nice job.
      ngoshawk, Apr 22, 2017
  5. bhazard
    An Excellent 4BA with Actual Bass
    Written by bhazard
    Published Dec 21, 2016
    Pros - Bass, Imaging, Resolution
    Cons - Mids, Fit, Value
    Vibro Labs is a small company in Maine founded by Luke Pighetti. They specialize in “daily driver heirlooms”, and I was lucky enough to be picked for their ARIA tour. I am an owner of their IEM measurement device the “Veritas”, which I use to take measurements of all the IEMs I now purchase/receive.
    This review will be a bit short as I only had the Aria for little more than a week, but I can give solid impressions of what I heard. To put things in perspective, it is easily one of the best IEMs I’ve heard to date ($500 and under), and one of the best measuring ones as well. There were a few hiccups though, which I will explain below.
    Apologies for no pictures, as they were lost in a phone transfer.
    ·         Circassian Walnut
    ·         Smoke SLA shells
    ·         20Hz – 20kHz
    ·         15Ω impedance
    ·         110 dB/mw sensitivity
    ·         Aria earphone
    ·         2-pin detachable cable
    ·         Standard case
    ·         Comply Comfort & Isolate tips
    ·         2-year warranty
    Let’s start with one of the strongest aspects of the Aria… the beautiful housing it comes in. When Luke claims the Vibro IEMs as “Heirlooms”, the quality of the design and materials back up that statement. The Walnut finish compares more to a finish that you would see on a high-end speaker than what you would normally find on an IEM. The build is solid, but the housing itself is quite large… which leads to one of the problems I had with the Aria.
    The large size of the housing plus the Comply Tips (of any size) were simply too big for my ears. The housing would awkwardly sit on my ear, while the comply tips would never truly seal, robbing the Aria of its subbass. You could tell the Aria was tuned for the comply tips, as switching over to silicone tips like the JVC Spiral Dots caused the upper treble to hit with some harshness. Even though this was the most comfortable setup, I had to switch to the smallest Comply Isolate tips and really had to squeeze them in for the best results, despite being much less comfortable. Isolation was not a problem once a seal was made.
    A nice 2 pin cable was included, and balanced options are available. I tried using a Fiio 2-Pin Balanced cable I have, but it didn’t fit the unit well. I’m not sure if it was from a beaten-up review unit, or if the cable itself just wasn’t truly made to handle it (I assume the latter)
    Testing Gear (in order of quality)
    LH Labs Pulse X Infinity 2.0
    LH Labs Geek Out V2+ Infinity
    ZTE Axon 7 (USB Audio Player Pro)
    Asrock Fatality amped onboard DAC/amp
    Music used for testing
    Meshuggah, Metallica, Alter Bridge, Iron Maiden, Buckethead, Korn, Testament, Alice in Chains, Danny Brown, Deadmau5, many more
    Amplifier Needed?
    No (but use a good one anyway)
    Sound Signature
    U shaped with strong subbass (for a pure BA setup), slightly recessed mids around vocals, excellent treble extension
    This measurement was taken with Vibro’s own Veritas, showing one of the better graphs I’ve measured
    This mostly lines up with what Vibro measures it at, so I know my Veritas is working. Great job guys!
    I wasn’t expecting much bass from a quad BA setup, but the Aria surprised me. There was more than enough bass present without having me yearn for an added dynamic driver. Bass levels, speed, and clarity were nice and tight. All of this gets ripped away if you do not get a proper seal however, which happened to me far too often from basic movement.
    Although it didn’t really show in the FR graph, some recession can be heard in the mids. The vocals and guitar mixes seem to take a step back to the rest of the sound, sounding a bit distant. Sure, you can increase the volume, but it doesn’t truly bring everything out evenly. The mids still have exceptional clarity, but they are a weak point in the sound.
    The Aria has excellent treble extension and clarity. With the Comply tips, it rolls off before becoming harsh, but with silicone tips it can get to be a bit too much. It can get a bit hot at times, but it wasn’t the norm at regular listening volume. Everything is naturally presented, and the strength of the unit lies within its slightly boosted treble (and bass)
    Soundstage, Imaging, Resolution
    Soundstage is well above average with some nice width. Imaging and resolution are also well above average, with a slight knock against the slight sibilance that would appear every so often. It isn’t a holographic listen, but it is something you would expect and find that most IEMs under $400 lack.
    I can’t really compare the Aria to anything else in my collection, as its price level and performance is much higher than what I normally use.
    I loved listening to the Aria, but overall it wasn’t for me (mostly from the fit and mids). Now, if I went with the custom Aria, a lot of my problems would be solved, but I myself cannot stomach getting into that price range.
    I’m more of a value oriented, bang for the buck, budget oriented Head-fi’er, and the Aria doesn’t really fit into that segment. It does offer a sound worthy of its $500 price tag, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking how it could shake up some competition if it were to be offered at say $350 or so.
    Vibro offers excellent customer support, and their warranty/replacement policies are more than acceptable. Add to that their upgrade program and you get a lot of extras for your money than you would initially think.
    I’d like to thank Luke and Vibro Labs for the review opportunity with the Aria. They will be on my radar in the future for sure!
      Luke Pighetti likes this.
  6. jinxy245
    Aria Sings
    Written by jinxy245
    Published Nov 2, 2016
    Pros - Healthy bass not overdone, easy to drive, good detail, solid build, beautiful, addictive overall tonality.
    Cons - Highs are not suited for lesser quality recordings, not for the treble sensitive, mids may be too lush for some.
           Let me start by sincerely thanking Luke for organizing this tour. I have (gratefully) been selected to participate in this Headphone Tour, during which I am able to listen to the Aria for one week, at which time I am to mail the earphones to the next participant on the tour (done). The only requirement is to post the review which you see here. Having the opportunity to sample TOTL equipment (or a step below in this case) in the comfort of my own home is an absolute joy for which I am truly grateful. The depths of that gratitude will not however influence me to alter my honest opinion about the Aria, which I guess is unnecessary, because (spoiler alert) it is in fact quite positive.
           There is one thing I feel I need to address after reading some questioning (grumbling?) about the value of the Aria concerning the driver count to price ratio. I feel this is a rather unfair stick to measure with, although I understand the logic. “It has more, so it MUST be better!” It seems to me that when assigning value to headphones, it has less to do with the driver count than it does the overall implementation. Why else would there be such a large disparity throughout the headphone world? Like the Aria, the Shure 846 is equipped with quad BA drivers and the MSRP is $999, the Campfire Jupiter (also quad) is priced at $899, the new CTM VS-4 (quad) is $599, the Earsonics velvet is a triple driver retailing at $699, and how many drivers are actually in the Noble Audio Savant (MSRP $599)? The question should not be “how many drivers” but “how does it sound”? Since Vibro Labs has dropped the price to $499, I’d consider Aria to have a particularly good bang for the buck (All prices quoted are MSRP in USD).
    Build Quality, Accessories, isolation and Comfort
           Build quality I found to be quite good, with solid, high quality plastic and beautiful (IMHO) dark colored wood. No seams were visible, and no bubbles found in the plastic. I had no worries about the cable connection. There were no audio drop outs, and the memory wire worked well enough (never an issue for me). I never attempted to remove the cable, but a quick wiggle confirmed a secure connection. The cable itself did seem fairly generic yet appeared comparable in quality to the one included with my 64 Audio U6 (MSRP $899 USD, although I bought the Adel version on sale) and performed without issue. I’m not sure what accessories come with a retail purchase, but the tour setup had the Earphones in a zippered semi-rigid case, a pelican style case, a plethora of genuine Comply tips (both comfort & isolation style) and a generous supply of alcohol wipes for the remainder of the tour. The only odd omission was an earwax cleaning tool (unless it was lost in transit).
    Although this is a light pair of earphones, they are on the larger side. If compared with my Shure 535 (3 BA drivers and they feel like they disappear in my ears) the Aria felt ginormous, although they don’t look that much bigger in photos. In fact, Aria stuck out of my ear a bit further than my U6 (6 BA drivers). This is because the nozzle too is quite large, with 2 bores through which sound is delivered. The bore size is again reminiscent of my quad bore U6. Tip selection becomes even more paramount to getting a good seal since you can’t overcome any deficiencies with deeper insertion. I wouldn’t say they were uncomfortable when worn, but I was always physically aware that Aria was there. To spite the size of the nozzle and the shallow fit, the isolation was among the best IEMs I’ve tried.
    Listening Impressions Intro
           Before I offer my listening impressions, I’ll start with a little about myself. I’m pushing 50 and have less than perfect hearing (50 is pushing back). I’ve been a music lover for as long as I can remember, and I learned to listen a little more critically during the few years I sold audio equipment (and the more I listen, the more I learn). My fascination/infatuation with headphones began about 4 years ago, and has only gotten stronger. The majority of my listening was done listening to FLAC, WAV & various MP3s with my Shanling M3, Fiio x3 (1st gen.) or through my HP all in one PC and Audioquest Dragonfly1.2. My tastes are fairly eclectic, but my listening centered on classic rock, folk, jazz, classical and various genres of EDM. I didn’t bother with burning in the headphones even though Luke did have the tour earphones sent in for re-conditioning before I received them. Corresponding with Luke he noted that the drivers were not affected and additional burn in was not necessary, nor did I hear any difference throughout my evaluation.
    Sensitivity & Tip Rolling
           Aria was very easy to drive, needing just a tad more volume than the IEMs I have on hand. I was able to reach unsafe listening with any device I tried. When briefly testing with my Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Nook tablet, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of sound. While no real competition for higher quality gear, the Samsung/Aria combo was overall a satisfying listen for non-critical listening on the go. I didn’t do much in the way of tip rolling. I did experiment with the double flange tips that came with my 64 Audio, which worked well. I found them to tighten the bass a hair, with an equal peak in the treble, which I didn’t think Aria needed, so I did the majority of my listening with the isolation style Comply tips.
           My initial impressions were not what I was expecting. I’ve read so much about the extension in the bass and treble, I was anticipating a more “v” shaped sound signature, which I guess is technically true, because the mids are not as prominent. I would not call them recessed, though. I’ll go ahead and break the sound into the usual categories.
           I find the sub bass solid, with just the right amount of emphasis for my tastes. A quick tonal sweep (thank you, YouTube) showed fairly strong presence at 30 HZ, and I heard the tone as low as 24 HZ. Anything in my collection with notes that low (basically Dance, I don’t have any Organ Concertos) sounded awesome, with deep rich bass that never sounded bloated or distorted (unless recorded that way). The mid bass sounds less bumped up to my ear, definitely enhanced but not intruding in the mids at all. During songs like “Different Shades of Blue” (Joe Bonamassa) or “Another One Bites the Dust” (Queen…one of my favorite mid-bass tests), the bass line always sounded full, rich & detailed, but never overbearing unlike some bass enhanced headphones. All of my Rock and Dance music had a solid, vibrant foundation that I particularly enjoyed.
           The mids sound lush, with a good amount of detail. These are definitely not ‘Mid-Head’ earphones, but I found the relaxed smooth presentation addictive with almost everything I listened to. The possible exception is a couple of binaural recordings I usually use for reviews (I just love the recording). Aria had the vocals on “Bring it on Home” by C.C. Coletti sounding a bit too distant; however I found the mellow mids to benefit many other recordings with vocals placed more prominently in the mix (Adel comes to mind). Keyboards & guitars were well served, even if there was a touch less intimacy than I prefer.
           The highs were definitely endowed with extra presence, bringing a little more life to many recordings. “Meatball Love Tone” is a wonderfully odd tune by a band called Vinyette, and the cymbal work throughout the song was well served by the treble lift. On the flip side, the treble could be a little much in certain ‘hot’ low res (192 mbps) recordings such as Ritchie Kotzen’s cover of “I Want You Back”. Aria rendered the high hats and such here with a little too much of an aural sheen that borders on the unnatural, but I’d guess that also to be a reflection of the lesser quality file.
           Soundstage was wide and tall, but not overly deep. Complex passages were handled well with very good instrument separation. I was pleasantly surprised listening to classical and big band and less surprised with denser rock & dance music. I did in fact find Aria to pair particularly well with classic rock. While not the widest soundstage I’ve heard, I felt Aria was above average in this regard and a pleasure to listen to. One soundstage anomaly I thought worth mentioning was listening to Green Day’s “Basket Case”. The harmonies sounded as if they were coming from about six feet above and to the left of Billy Joe’s head. This is the only time I was drawn out of the music, and I didn’t hear anything else out of place throughout my listening. (I repeated it during couple of tries and damn, I thought it was weird at the time!)
           I know many readers are itching for comparisons with other earphones, so I’ll do my best to give some observations. I’ll start by saying these are general impressions only, I did all volume balancing by ear, and this is obviously in no way scientific. I have too much respect for the reviewers, here on Head-Fi & elsewhere who use calibrated meters and software to make any claims of accuracy. As much as I try to balance by ear, even a small difference in volume would change my (or anyone else’s) opinion as to which is better, so without proper testing equipment, that would be impossible. Whatever opinions I am about to offer are just that, opinions. If that sounds like it might be of interest to you, please read on!
    Westone UM 20
           I have 3 IEMs that might be appropriate for comparison: Westone UM 20, Shure SE 535, and 64 Audio U6. The Westone is a dual BA driver IEM that retails for $299.  Build quality is on par overall, with the UM 20 being smaller & more comfortable, and isolation being comparable. (Although it’s subjective, I found Aria to be the prettier of the two.)The Westone has a similar amount of sub-bass as Aria, but it is overshadowed by a more zealous (but not overbearing) mid-bass, which is more relaxed on Vibro Labs’ offering. The mids on the Westone are slightly more forward, with Aria taking a step back, and the highs are more rolled off with the Westone, Aria having the more vivid presentation. The UM 20 has the most intimate soundstage of the bunch, feeling noticeably narrower than & not as tall as Aria, with similar depth. Although there is a tonal difference, Westone does nothing wrong, per se and does a lot well. Only you can decide if Aria is worth the extra $200. My preferences lean toward Aria.
     Audio U6 (Adel B1 Module)
           On the other end of the spectrum, is the 64 Audio U6. Again I feel build quality to be similar, with Aria getting the aesthetic nod (I just love the way Aria looks). As earlier described, comfort in this comparison is a dead heat. U6 may sit a little more flush to my ear, but I find it no more comfortable. Aria has better isolation, likely because of the Adel technology in the U6. Sub bass has the edge going to Aria, and mid bass is a touch more plentiful as well, 64 Audio being just a little more linear. The U6 have the mids more forward and detailed, Aria sounding more relaxed. Moving on up to the highs, Aria again shines the brightest, not with more detail, but more forward in the mix, 64 Audio sounding less vibrant without sounding rolled off. Aria may have a slight height advantage, but U6 is both wider and deeper. I agonized over my 64 Audio purchase, but I still find it to be the sound signature I return to again & again.
    Shure SE 535
           I saved the Shure for last, because at $499 retail, this seems to be the closest value. Build is once again on par, Aria being the reigning beauty queen. Comfort is no contest, the Shure all but disappearing into my ear. The Shure also edges out the Aria in isolation, but barely. Sub & mid bass are much livelier from Aria, with the 535’s lower region being what textbook neutrality is in my mind. Shure is known for midrange, so it’s no surprise that they are more prominent than Aria, though that wasn’t always a positive. There are recordings that have the Shure sounding a bit too ‘in your face’, and in those instances Aria’s midrange warmth was the more welcome of the two. The highs are more stepped up with Aria, the Shure taking a backseat, although I didn’t notice any less detail here either. The Width and height go to Aria, and the depth being too close to call. With 2 very different sound signatures, it really comes down to a matter of preference, and for my money, I’d be happier with Aria.
           There you have it. I think Luke has designed a fine IEM that remains competitive in this constantly growing market. With Aria, you have a beautifully built earphone with soaring highs, lush mids supported by a solid bass foundation, accented by a fairly wide and tall soundstage. While certainly not everyone’s sonic cup of tea, I more than enjoyed my time with Aria. If you get a chance to hear them, I think you would understand why.
    1. Luke Pighetti
      Anthony, I feel ARIA is very well represented by your review. Thank you!
      Luke Pighetti, Nov 2, 2016
  7. Army-Firedawg
    One of the smoothest and non fatiguing iems I've ever listened to
    Written by Army-Firedawg
    Published Sep 1, 2016
    Pros - Smoother than the softest of silk, incredibly tight and controlled.
    Cons - Sound is definitely not for everyone, frame and horn are larger than I feel necessary, causing some people to be unable to even listen to them.
        I must first and foremost give a large and heartfelt thank you to Vibro Labs for including me in their tour. I’ve heard a great deal of good things about this iem and was even recommended it by a subscriber of mine, so when I seen an opportunity to listen to one myself I just couldn’t pass it up. So again I give thanks for without this tour, who knows if I would’ve ever been able to listen to such a smooth iem.
        Alright, so pleasantries aside how about we delve into what experience I got out of the Virbo Labs Aria shall we?
     I'm a 25 year old firefighter currently for the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard. I was formerly a civilian firefighter in Kentucky with the Millard Fire Department before I enlisted and moved to my current location in Charlotte, North Carolina. My current goal is to begin my career again in the civilian fire service, and yes, I am the cliché of wanting to do that since as far as I can remember.
        My interests/hobbies are power lifting, fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. On that note over the years I've really came to an understanding of what it is I like and look for in audio products.
        What I look for is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.
        My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have great extension and detail reveal but I don't like artificial treble in order to achieve that. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics & Stax SR009.
     I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. They were kind enough to send me a product for an arranged amount of time in exchange for my honest opinion. I am making no monetary compensation for this review.

    The Opening Experience
    20160901_234656.jpg     20160901_234639.jpg     20160901_233719.jpg
        The initial handshake of a company. More often than not a product sent in tours are arranged and presented as if they just got it themselves. Mine was delivered in a gaggled up wad of tangle inside its really sturdy case, a plethora of accessory tips to be used for the duration of the tour and also a bulk size of alcohol wipes. Now, I know full well that the iems wouldn’t be presented this way as it was sent out so placing the Aria’s in their cut out foam slots and then folding the cable and inserting it into theirs, I was then presented with a very high class and clean presentation. Then on another note, I’ve been a part of a decent amount of tours now and this is one of only two companies I can think of that provided an ample amount of tips for those with different size ears AND if someone else would want to listen to them as well and then cleaning supplies to boot as to keep everything sanitary. The only other company to do this, was Empire Ears when they allowed me their entire product line to take to Carolina CanFest 5.
        So using my head and putting things back where they were supposed to be, Vibro Labs didn’t just give a firm handshake, they gave a caring and considerate one as well.


        20160901_233623.jpg 20160901_234218.jpg
        The build quality of the Aria’s are that of pretty much every iem. And I’m not sure of the exact material in the mixture but it feels like a mixture of plastic and silicone, which you can’t really use much else or else the iem becomes uncomfortably heavy inside the ear. Now beyond the frame material Vibro Labs uses a removable cable design which, at least for me personally, is a necessity. I’ve seen a many of people go livid because they lost their $500+ headphones, iems, etc… be rendered completely useless because of a short or break in the cable, and with the product of this price tag there’s no excuse to not have them; also allows for individuals to purchase aftermarket cables if they were to so choose.
        The faceplate of the Aria’s is stunning, regardless of which of the 3 (if I remember correctly) options you decide to go with. The frame itself I find to be unnecessarily large with respect to the driver count and placement. When looking at the translucent color you can see the 4 drivers are close to the horn with quite a bit of free space left. I believe size could’ve been reduced because even in my ears (as the picture shows) they stick out a good bit. In addition, the horn is rather large. This is very unfortunate because even with the smallest provided size tip Christina (who has a rather small ear) was unable to get the Aria’s in her ear in which case completely removed her from the potential customer aspect. Yes, Vibro Labs offers custom fit options and that is a very viable route to go, but not everyone wants to go that route, nor should they be forced to just to get the sound they want.
        I more or less discussed the comfort in the previous section but other than the size of the iems being on the larger side, they’re honestly pretty comfortable and easy to wear. In fact I was listening to these while both writing this review and finishing up the final touches on another products review as well as used them during my video edits. I’ve easily gone 4+ hours at a time with the Aria’s in with absolutely no discomfort. The isolation ability, at least when paired with Comply memory foam tips, is top notch. There was a good few times my name was called and I only found this out by a very angry fiancee barging in my office yelling what she was trying to ask me.
        Then to just reiterate what was discussed in the construction section, the horn is rather large. This caused them to push a fair ways out of my ear (which didn’t affect the comfort) but made them unwearable to Christina who has smaller ears.

        Ah and here we are, the true reason people are likely reading this review. And rightfully so, an auditory pieces main responsibility is to produce sound and to what degree does it produce it to the listener. Now, regarding the Vibro Labs Aria the quick synopsis to the rest of the review is smoooooottttthhhhhhh.
        The Vibro Labs Aria presents a beautifully smooth and non fatiguing sound that admittedly does take a bit to get used to. I say this because the sound signature at first start is a bit weak, as in almost everything sounds slightly recessed so an increase in volume is recommended. The tour forum kept mentioning about issues in the lower mid range and how they didn’t sound right but when reading the product description from the website
    “ARIA's dynamic and engaging sound signature provides deep bass extension while maintaining clear, detailed and extended highs. It is warm but with sub-bass that is rarely achieved with pure balanced armature designs. We take tuning very seriously. ARIA was designed to not only sound good, but to create an emotional experience.
    ARIA presents its performance with a smooth bass region and sloping mid-range, extending far into the highs without harshness or sibilance. Low harmonic distortion presents clarity throughout the entire range.”
    And then @Luke Pighetti response to what he was aiming for when asked by @EagleWings (and this is DIRECTLY COPIED FROM HIS REVIEW)
    If I were going to pidgeon-hole it, I would say somewhere between balanced and U-shaped. To delve in deeper, the goal of Aria is to present top extension with controlled and smooth subbass, preserving microdetails and allowing articulate subbass landscapes to form. This type of tune is certainly versatile, but I think it does best with electronic music which has a very complex bassline that is usually lost in the fray of inarticulate low end that you see in a lot of hybrids and Knowles CI based earphones. I find that Aria opens up a whole new world of appreciation for complex subbass while still retaining complex microdetails.
    And I know that makes it sound like some crazy vee-shaped signature, but the really crazy thing about Aria is that it is relaxing, non-fatiguing, and it's still very versatile. Hard to explain, really. I think you'll enjoy it. It's a unique signature.”
    I found the Aria’s to correspond exactly with what was explained up front. And no, the sound I will say is definitely not going to be for everyone. It’s certainly unique but a wonderfully unique sound it is.
        The soundstage is very clean and impressive with great detail retrieval and instrument seperation. I know of many a headphones in this price point that doesn’t have as good separation and imaging as the Aria’s do and that’s saying a good bit. But let me describe the individual aspects of the Aria a little bit to hopefully better explain the sound signature.
        The highs on the Aria have wonderful extension and smoothly roll off JUST before it becomes piercing. They also recreate a great amount of detail especially if the instrument in already in the treble range (like when a drumstick brushes the symbols, you can hear the grittiness of that through these).
        And oh my good gosh the energy transfer. I use the performer Lindsey Stirling in my reviews quite often because I truly love her music. Just about every single piece is full of life, energy, is upbeat, happy and full of emotion. And when a in ear monitor can convey that back to my being I have found a truly well tuned creation. Another great example of treble extension is the wonderful pianist Maxence Cyrin and my favorite of hers “Where’s My Mind”.
        The soul of the audio piece. Anyone who ever reads any of my reviews or talks to me knows how I love a warm mid forward sound. Why? Because that’s where the artist's emotion lies. It’s their literal voice pleading with me the listener to feel their emotions.
        With the Aria’s I must say that the mids didn’t give me that warm feeling of connecting with the musician that I strive for. Luke wasn’t kidding when he said the mids are scooped out for their certainly quite recessed but NOWHERE to the degree of a v shape sound curve. The slope is very slow and smooth in transition. This, at least to me, reduces the annoying fatigue I get with “V” shape headphones, iems, etc… the shape valley just tires me out.
        A note that really off put me that he said is that they still possess an overall balanced sound. My thought is how in the world can they be balanced with the described type of sound? Well, I still don’t know but he was telling the truth. Once you’re in the valley of the mids, they sound wonderful and even. A song that really shows what I’m talking about is “Hurt” by Johnny Cash. You can clearly make out the rasp in his breath, the reverb of the guitar and so on.
        If treble is the eyes (didn’t mention that in this review), mids are the mouth and soul, then the bass is most certainly the heartbeat. The bass keeps the rhythm of the music and puts a whole bodied sound into it as well, so long as the bass isn’t overpowering. So how about the Aria? How does the bass hit on these? Hmmm, I’m trying to think of a good analogy of them but it’s neglecting me but the bass, though doesn’t hit hard, hits super fast and has minimal decay and bleed. Super bassy music isn’t too enjoyable with these but my goodness does EDM and techno music sound awesome. My favorite example, and admittedly I rarely listen to this genre of music unless I’m doing cardio, is “Sandstorm” by Darude. This song usually has a nice bass hit in terms of thump but most headphones will bleed some with the constant barrage of bass hits of varying frequencies and amplitude. However, Vibro Labs excellently controlled Aria’s have no problems whatsoever.
        At first glance I didn’t think I would like the Aria’s as much as I did. Though their signature isn’t one I personally go for, they’re an off puttingly amazingly (I think I can use those words together?) smooth iem that I’ve enjoyed for hours on end. But if you’re wanting a very tight, balanced and again I stress smooth in ear monitor with great isolation then you’ll find comfortable solace within the Aria’s embrace. However, if you’re someone like myself you enjoys a warm mid forward presentation that’s full of emotion and life then these likely are the one’s you’ll fall for.

    Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.


      flinkenick and EagleWings like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Army-Firedawg
      Thank you very much, I appreciate that my friend.
      Army-Firedawg, Sep 2, 2016
    3. Luke Pighetti
      Thanks for the review, @Army-Firedawg! :)
      Only comment is a bit nit-picky: Some have said the mids are 'scooped out' and I don't agree. They are relaxed, and as you said, very detailed! It is a unique sound signature, one I love to listen to at the end of a long day.
      Luke Pighetti, Sep 6, 2016
    4. Army-Firedawg
      @Luke Pighetti I couldn't agree with you more. Actually your comment of listening to them at the end of a long day is SPOT ON what these excel at. Not once have, nor dare I say will, give a harsh tone. I will say the mids are pulled back some but soooo darned smooth. My friend I really hope to hear your new Maya, for I can only imagine how these beauties will sound. 
      Army-Firedawg, Sep 19, 2016
  8. EagleWings
    An Excellent All Rounder
    Written by EagleWings
    Published Aug 16, 2016
    Pros - Speed, Dynamics, Treble, Extensions
    Cons - Lower Mids, Technical Capabilities could have been slightly better
    Vibro Labs announced a review tour for their IEM, Aria in the US and I did not want to miss the chance. The first time I heard the name Vibro was when someone mentioned their IEM measuring equipment Vibro Veritas, which is an affordable equipment that anyone (with some learning definitely) can use to measure their IEM's characteristics such as Frequency Response etc. (I am sure it can measure many more aspects but my knowledge on the subject is limited). And then when I googled for Vibro, what showed up in the video results, piqued my interest even more. Vibro had posted a video on youtube on how to build your own BA IEM. I was pretty impressed with the company's educative attitude. Then when I heard that they had launched an IEM, I was very curious as to how it sounded and definitely wanted to give it a listen. So when the opportunity presented itself, I did not take a second to think.
    The terms of the agreement was that each participant of the tour would have a chance to audition the Aria universal IEM for 7 days. In return the participant will have to write an honest review after the audition on Head-Fi. Hence here is me fulfilling my terms, by offering my honest review. If you'd like to learn more about the review tour, please check out this thread.

    The universal version of Aria I received for review, had a Burl wooden faceplate and 3-D printed shell in smoke color. It was well built and I couldn’t find any flaw with the finish. I liked that the nozzle on the universal had a flange in the end so that tips wouldn’t slip off. The tour package came with Comply tips. I prefer Silicone tips over Foam. JVC Spiral Dots fit like a glove and offered good seal and comfort. The contours of the IEM is smooth and curved through out, so the overall comfort was very good. The light ewight of the IEM helped with the comfort aspect further. The cable that came included was a generic braided cable that comes included with most of the Custom IEMs. It had the 2 pins connector on the IEM side, that goes into the regular sockets on the Aria. There are many memory wires out there that I hate but I had no issues with the one on the Aria. On the source side it was a regular right-angle 3.5mm stereo plug.
    Aria is a very efficient IEM. At 15Ohm impedance and 110dB sensitivity, Aria was easily driven to loud levels even by an average smartphone. There was very faint hiss with my iPhone 6. It was so faint that I am not sure if many of you would even notice. On my Fiio X3ii in Low Gain, it was dead silent but on High Gain, I was able to hear a faint hiss similar to what I heard on the iPhone.

    Before I received the Aria for review I wanted to understand its tuning. I felt the description of Aria’s signature on Vibro's website was a little loosely defined, so I approached the maker of Aria, Luke Pighetti himself and here is a snippet of our conversation:
    In short Aria has a smooth, dynamic sound without any harshness that is suitable for most music genres.
    The first thing that stood out was, the extensions on both ends. The bass was quick, controlled and had good texture. The sub-bass had good reverb and went deep. The speed and sub-bass reverb really helped with the bass texture and tonality. Because of the quick and controlled bass there was hardly any excessive warmth bleeding over to the mids. The bass did not have the slam and authority of a DD IEM, but had good punch and did not feel soft. I felt there was a slight dip in the upper bass/lower mids, that sometimes made male vocals sound as if lacking body or laid back. The middle and upper mids had good body enough to sound pleasing but not trending towards thinness or thickness. I'd say the right amount of body and thickness there.
    Female vocals and instruments sounded very good with good definition and dynamics. Tonality and transparency was very satisfying that I did not feel like the Aria needed the Mojo to please me. (Although I wish I did have the Mojo with me to see how well the Aria could scale up. Had to send the Mojo to the retailer for a replacement). I really loved the treble on the Aria. Plenty of air and sparkle but not even a slight bit of harshness. Like I mentioned earlier the treble extension was really good. It was not a bright IEM but has good resolution in the treble details and presents it in a smooth manner. The treble on the Aria was better than my 64Audio A10.
    Now in terms of technical capabilities, it was really up there. A few months, back I tried a $600 multi-BA IEM that really set the bars really high for technical capabilities. (And No, it’s not the Savant... Hint.. it was a 3-Driver, IEM from a French Manufacturer). Although Aria may not reach that level of technicality, I think it performs better or on par with other IEMs in same price range. The soundstage was pretty wide and deep to give the sense that the music was not inside your head. I really liked the presentation on this one. It was neither upfront nor laid-back and for the purpose of the review I’d like to call this positioning the Goldilock zone. The presentation and soundstage helped instruments to space out and not feel congested.
    The instruments were well separated and layered and the imaging if not very precise, was very convincing even through the Fiio X3ii. The timbre and transparency was really nice that made the vocals and instruments sounded very natural. (Once I again I wish I had the Mojo for this one as well). In terms of detail and resolution, it had plenty details to give you the Audiophile like resolution, but not enough for reference like sound or analytical listening. Aria is revealing enough to portray a true tonality, but draws the line there and stays on the side of being forgiving for the most part. In terms of speed, Aria is excellent in adapting to the music being played and is one of its strengths. It plays fast songs really well without lagging behind, while also capable of handling slow tempos with a humble composure. Overall, the note thickness was neither thick nor thin and the sound had good amount of body. IMO, all the above characteristics makes the Aria a versatile IEM and an excellent performer for its price range.

    The bass on the IE80 in comparison is soft and slow. But being a DD IEM, has better decay. The mids is not a strong pursuit of IE80 and so falls short there where Aria is better with its dynamic and detailed mids. Treble wise, Aria has better definition and sparkle but both have a very airy treble. IE80 has a slightly wider and deeper soundstage. IE80 also has a very airy presentation that gives it a laid back sound versus Aria’s Goldilock zone presentation. No ideal winner here, but would come down to one’s preference. In other technical abilities, Aria has an upper hand over the IE80. In terms of Dynamics and Transparency it is clearly better than the colored IE80.
    ARIA vs 64 AUDIO A10:
    My A10 arrived after a refit just a few hours before I was about to ship the Aria so the comparison was very brief. Aria has better bass depth and punch. While A10’s bass has better texture and sounds like a bass coming from a speaker, versus Aria’s bass sounds like listening on a headphone. A10 has better mids than the Aria in terms of definition and note thickness. Treble is one of the 3 areas where Aria is better than the A10. The second aspect being the speed. A10 couldn’t keep up with the speed of Aria on fast paced songs. And the 3rd being the extensions. A10’s lows and highs do not extend as good as Aria.
    In terms of technical capabilities A10 had an upper hand. This is where A10’s hefty price tag sets it apart. On certain aspects like transparency, timbre, imaging, instrument separation, layering and soundstage the difference is clear. In terms of resolution, detail retrieval the difference is only marginal. A10, just like the IE80 has a slightly laidback presentation. And based on the type of music/track, my preference shuttled between A10’s laidback presentation and Aria’s Goldilock presentation. It is an unfair comparison given that A10 retails for x3 times the price of Aria. And when it comes to price/performance ratio, Aria is a clear winner.

    Unlike many manufacturers who offer an array of IEMs, Vibro offers just one model. It must have been a challenge for Luke to make this IEM into something that would click for a wide audience and I’d have to say that his efforts have paid off. Not only is Aria a versatile IEM, I found it handled many genres I threw at it with aplomb. The top and low end extensions, speed, dynamics and versatility make this an easy recommendation, if you are in the market for a $600 IEM to enjoy your music. And the comfort goes a long way as an extra cherry on top. Except for the slight dip in the lower mids, I honestly couldn't find any fault with it's sound. And if you are a fan of wooden faceplates, be sure to check Aria out.
    And one thing that needs a definite mention is that, Aria is every bit what Luke and his website describes it to be. I have had some recent experience of trying few IEMs that were different from the manufacturer's description. But that was not the case with the Aria. It lives up to their words and satisfies the listener. What else could we ask for?
    I would like to thank Luke for giving me this great opportunity to review his creation.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. EagleWings
      @linux4ever , Thank you :) Good to know that you are enjoying your new IEM. Too bad I couldn't try it with the Mojo. I am sure it brings the best out of the Aria..
      EagleWings, Aug 22, 2016
    3. linux4ever
      This pairs very well with AK Jr. The neutral to warmish sound signature of AK Jr pairs well with the neutral to brightish sound signature of Aria. I'm liking it a lot. Aria is one excellent IEM in terms of sound quality as well as looks and finish. The wood plate is really awesome. Is Tsx-500 & Ts-500 models of comply tips that go with this IEM? What other ear tips besides comply are suited for this?
      linux4ever, Sep 10, 2016
    4. Luke Pighetti
      @linux4ever the Aria uses the Comply 600 core size. If you email me I can send you out some updated tips. (Please do it through my site, much easier on my end!) I have also heard that CP100 Spin Fits also work, but I haven't tried them myself. 
      Luke Pighetti, Sep 14, 2016
  9. Talai
    The Aria - focused on extension and refinement
    Written by Talai
    Published Jul 24, 2016
    Pros - Excellent refinement, solid control
    Cons - Lack of mids, pricey
    Hi Head-Fi/Vibro Labs fans,
    I was the second stop on the Aria tour, and I've had a great week reviewing them. This post will contain some of my thoughts and impressions, and I'll be touching on several different aspects of the Arias. We'll go over the build quality, appearance, and of course - sound quality.
    I won't hide the pictures - check them out at this link. I'll be referencing them throughout the review.


    The way that Luke has (graciously) set up this tour is that every user will get a  week to gather their thoughts and impressions, and that's exactly what I've been doing over the past week. I've taken the Arias with me to work and just listened to them for large parts of the day in order to have enough time to put together some real impressions.
    If you'd like to see the playlist that I used for the most part, click here to check it out on Spotify. I keep it updated with all of the tracks that I use for critical listening. During my testing I ran the Arias through the iFi Micro iDAC 2 (with the iPurifier) for the most part, but there were also a few instances when I just ran them off of my Nexus 5X. All music was either Spotify streamed at 'extreme' quality (just 320 kbps) or played off of local FLAC files.
    Fair warning, I'm not a 'real' audiophile - I just like my music to sound good, and it's as simple as that. I'll be honest and objective in the review, but if I'm slightly off on some of my audio terms please forgive me :wink:

    Packaging, Accessories, and Build Quality

    The Arias arrived in great condition from @sq3rjick, and I'd attribute part of that to the excellent case that they ship with. It looks to be a variant of a Pelican or other high end travel case, and really does a great job of keeping everything safe and secure. It's got laser cut foam that fits really well inside, and that means that the Arias don't move at all once you have them in place. The case also includes an information card in the bottom with the model, serial number, and Luke's signature. Neat addition.
    This is a section I normally include in my reviews, but I'll keep it extra short in this one - the Arias are pretty standard accessories-wise, and I've found that in general most high end IEMs or customs will be similar to each other in this aspect. The tour edition included an absurd amount of Comply tips and alcohol cleaning pads, but the standard editions will include a more normal amount of tips. You'll get a cleaning tool as well. 
    Build Quality
    Okay, so the Arias are 3D printed. That's pretty cool, and it ended up working really well for the universal version. I'd be interested to see how that would pan out for a custom, but in theory it would end up being about the same final quality. If you run your finger across the surface of the Arias it feels perfectly smooth, but visually you can see the effects of 3D printing - it looks to be very slightly dimpled. It ends up being a really neat effect, and the shells are still very clear for being 3D printed. The internal components are easy to see, and you can tell that this set of Arias was very well built. The included cable is just your standard 2pin.
    Size wise, the Aria customs were surprisingly small. They fit into my ears really well and were really comfortable, and even though they were a universal version the Comply tips did a great job of noise isolation.
    I've only got two small complaints for build quality, the first being that the 'ripples' on the shell make the Arias less visually appealing when compared to your typical poured shell custom. The second concern is potentially more of an issue, and that is that the connector for the 2pin cable on the shell are at a slight angle. This means that the pins on the cable themselves will end up bending to fit into the shell properly (check out the pictures for an example of this). It's not a huge deal once you've got the cable inserted, but at least with this pair of Arias if you're switching cables more than a few times it would likely make the pins weaker from all the bending. If you've got an expensive aftermarket cable you'd want to be careful.

    Sound Quality

    Alright guys, I'm going to keep this section semi-short compared to the rest. I'm much better at just getting the main impressions out fast than going in-depth on comparisons and minute details, so that's what I'm going to do.
    Good things
    The highs/treble on the Arias are definitely a highlight. Good extension and a lot of reach makes songs that play well with treble really shine. I don't want to say that the sound signature is entirely V-shaped, but to my ears the focus has more treble than the advertised warm signature would suggest. 
    The bass is really good as well. It's very precise and controlled, and the extension is definitely up (or down?) there. If you really take the time to listen for it, there's a lot of detail and depth to the bass, and it's never boomy or overpowered. As a bass lover, this is something that I'm really happy about.
    So to recap what I'm trying to convey so far - we've got well controlled treble with really good extension, and we've got bass/sub-bass with exceptional quality and control.
    Not so good things
    The mids are where the the Arias start to struggle. The mids aren't as upfront as the rest of the sound, which almost makes them sound recessed with certain songs. This isn't to say that they sound bad, it's just that they aren't there in a lot of cases. If you're all about that treble life it won't be as much of an issue, but it's definitely something to keep in mind.
    Also in this section I have to include something... more on bass. A quick visit to the Vibro Labs website promotes the Arias as being warm, and possessing "deep bass extension". A warm signature does suggest high quality (and in some cases lots of) bass, but that's something that I felt was missing with the Arias. Yes, there is some bass (as covered earlier), but in my opinion it felt to be a bit lacking. My personal preference is a true 'warm' signature, with lots of high quality bass - which makes sense, as I'm a basshead. This isn't to say that the bass is poor quality, as it was very controlled and presented well. The sub-bass is really solid, but overall the quantity just wasn't there. Same takeaway as before - this might not be an issue for you, but it's something to keep in mind.

    Final Thoughts

    Yes, I have complaints, but overall I enjoyed my time with the Arias. While the mids most certainly could use some work, I still found my head bobbing and the music was enjoyable. They definitely made my week go by faster!
    Regarding purchase advice, I think that if you're looking at purchasing the Arias you should keep the price tag at the front of your mind. The universal version retails at $599, and the customs at $699, which does seem high to me for what you get. At that price point my personal choice would be to gloss over the Arias in favor of something with more bass power and mid refinement. Remember that $600 will buy you a lot in terms of sound quality (think Noble or 64 Audio), so keep comparisons in mind as well when making the final choice.
    In the end it does come down to sound preference, and keep in mind that my personal preferences may be different that your own.

    Thanks for reading the review guys, hope you enjoyed! I'll be looking forward to seeing more impressions in the coming weeks [​IMG] 
      sq3rjick, ustinj and onyxwulf like this.
    1. Luke Pighetti
      Hey Talai, thanks for the review. :) A few comments:
      It is a Pelican case that I put my sticker on! What a great case.
      The tour model's jack is at a slight angle as you noted, I fixed this for all future Arias just the other day. Hooray progress!
      You described Arias unique tuning quite well. Fast, controlled, deep subbass without the boom of a warmer sig. I like it. Highs are extended and controlled. Sweet. Mids are relaxed, so it's not quite a reference signature. For people looking for a reference sig... stay tuned. :wink:
      For people looking for a unique, fun, versatile, U-shaped and extended tune with exotic hardwood, Aria is for you!
      Luke Pighetti, Aug 17, 2016
  10. ngoshawk
    An elaborate song for solo voice
    Written by ngoshawk
    Published Jan 12, 2017
    Pros - Super-solid bass, warm sound, wood covers add quality, top class build, quite a pleasing overall signature
    Cons - Large nozzle, fit on the larger side, Pelican case now cost extra
    Aria: “an elaborate song for solo voice”
    My parents used to live in Maine. My Dad worked for the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad. He was a Civil Engineer for the company working on the maintenance and upkeep of the railroad, in all weathers and all conditions. He loved it. Two of my sisters were born in Bangor, where Vibro Labs is located. Once I found out that I was on the tour, I sent Luke an email stating the above. I told him a story. A story of my father and his love for the Northwoods of Maine. His love for the wilds of Northern Maine. He absolutely was at peace and solitude of thought in the woods of Maine…a much, much wilder Maine, back then. One where he would regularly see Black Bear, Moose, Mountain Lion and other wild critters to his delight.
    Mt. Katahdin, Fall
    Part of what he did in this job was to travel the far reaches of the railroad, to the hinterlands, to the wilds of Maine. You might say it helped Transcend him to a wilder time in our history. A time he would use to devote his love to the railroad, knowing full well it was the lifeblood of this country at the time, a desperate vein of existence which the country needed for it’s survival. A way to make the country grow and become what it was at the time…the engine that drove the World. The key to a world’s prosperity.  A love, which saw him foretell the demise of the industry he loved and dedicated his life and career for, still the most efficient way to transport goods and services across this vast country. An industry, which has lost out to the “me first, I need it NOW” generation. His love for his job easily carried over to a love for the wild. A love for all things natural and beautiful. A love he effortlessly carried over to us. He was most at home working on the railroad and living in the wild or making beautiful items from the wood that surrounded him. Much the way Luke and company do at Vibro Labs.
    My all-time favorite model railroad car
    He quite often used his weekends to tend a camp deep in the woods or care take on Mt. Katahdin, the highest point in Maine at 5,267’. Part of what he and his partners did was keep and maintain a 13’ high pile of stone on top, so that the mountain was exactly 5,280’, one mile. Deep travel up and down the wild Penobscot River led to the cabin and he tells of when they floated a potbelly stove down the river, in full Spring flood on a homemade raft of large logs, so that they would have heat in the cabin. He once told me that was probably the silliest thing he ever did, but he felt his party was never in danger. A true outdoorsman, he passed those skills on to my three sisters and myself. A gift we cherish to this day.
    It is this determined love for the Wild North, which I believe drive Luke and his crew at Vibro Labs. A determination to deliver an excellent product at an understated blue-collar price, if you will. A gift he is sharing with us, and one in which I believe he has succeeded with the Aria. A product, which while not a cutting edge innovative piece, other IEM’s have multiple Balance Armature drivers, a product which successfully channels his love for the Northwoods and an ear for a no-compromising sound. One, which he clearly states is his taste, his “opinion” of what an excellent In-Ear should sound like, while harkening easily to a vision of those woods which he and his crew clearly love, as did my father. One that through the Aria I can now say I share with the both of them. A gift to me, of which I am ever grateful. A listening treasure which I will cherish as fond a memory of as the story my father told me of the Maine woods.
    I am grateful to @Luke Pighetti and Vibro Labs for inclusion on the Aria tour. One, which has had a few bumps, but one, which continues and I am glad. All the Vibro crew asks is an honest review and I would have it no other way. This is a good piece of kit.
    I read the Aria Tour thread thoroughly, awaiting the product. I stopped when I hit the reviews. I did not want someone’s opinion to temper my judgment (it didn’t) before I received the Aria. As the day drew closer, I peeked. I read a couple of the reviews. I read a couple more. And finally I had read them all. I decided that I DID want some formulation of others so I might gain a sense of what to expect. I categorized what I read, and shoved it to the back of my gray matter. Opinions, which I drew out with my time together. I agree with much of what has been said, disagreeing with others (well, of course!), but a commonality arose from my view and the others; one that this was an excellent IEM, which would probably not offend many in its tuning. A tuning, which had good reach in the bass, a slightly warm sound signature and a non-offending treble and mid. Early reviews likened a slight V-shape to the sound, with the mids playing behind the bass and treble.
    My first listen and I disagreed with this assessment. I immediately thought the mids were quite far forward. Coming from my Campfire Audio Nova, the Aria seemed much more forward in presentation. More forward in the mid tones, with better bass. As my week unfolded through over 45 hours of listening (Christmas break helped), I developed a sense that the mids were not as far forward as thought originally. The bass and treble pushed those mids slightly ahead, but a solid if not mild V-shape was heard. This may seem like a dichotomy…how can the mids be pushed forward by the bass and treble, but the signature be a V?! Well, that is part of the tuning, which is presented by Luke and the gang. A sound I will delve into below.
    A mid-tour return to Luke for a tune-up and replacement of the wood covers (to match what he was currently selling) brought mixed reviews. A drop in price from the original $599 to $499 for the Universal Aria did not hurt, either! Some stated that the tune was changed, and invalidates what some had heard. I am not sure since I did not hear prior to the return. But I will say that I agree mightily with the current tune. It is warm, inviting and deep. Lindsey Stirling’s Transcendence sounds simply invigorating, mesmerizing, and entrancing; not to mention the joy on the faces of the Paraguayan kids who made their own instruments. A young Philanthropist, Lindsey shows a diversity in which she includes in her music videos as well as a love for what she does using the wonderful cultures of our planet. I must thank @Army-Firedawg for turning me onto Lindsey; she is fabulous, diversified, and a wonderful mark with which to judge tonality and reach of any headphone.
    Case fits easily into a pocket
    @twister6 stated in an excellent TOTL IEM shootout, that we must review headphones (and gear) not based upon our likes, but how we actually rate the product. We must put aside our "sound preferences" and rate the item on its own merits. This makes perfect sense to me. But, when something elevates our own tastes (as the Aria has mine); then we should probably incorporate and modify our definition of musical "tastes" to include the redefining...
    My first listen and...before I knew it, it was 0230 the following morning. I had already put 5 hours into them...oh Schiit! The Aria BEG you to turn the volume up. Saying, rather loudly, LET'S GO! I'M IN CONTROL, NOT YOU! Oh, and HANG ON! That was my first impression, and one I held unto the end. The Aria did not demand your attention, rather they were like my father and the Penobscot River…come on let’s go, we have miles to go, and you do not have a choice…you are coming along. I will not wait forever. I’m glad I jumped on.
    Quite the nice looking unit.
    Current Specs (Universal):
    1. Circassian Walnut
    2. Smoke SLA shells
    3. 20Hz – 20kHz
    4. 15Ω impedance
    5. 110 dB/mw sensitivity
    6. $499 Retail with the standard $29 cable and Comply T600 Isolate and Comfort tips
    7. Build of the shell is 3D printing with a cascading effect much like those water walls you see in fancy buildings (picture) kind of cool, it is.
    From @Jackpot77 I read that the Aria is a 4 BA configuration, with two drivers allocated to bass and two to treble. Midrange is derived from the “outer ranges” of both, without their own dedicated driver. I agree with @Jackpot77 in that I don't hear the "scooped out mids" either, as some on Head-Fi have mentioned. If anything, the mids sound SLIGHTLY forward to me...belying the slight V-shape.
    Devices of choice:
    In various iterations I used the following, with no rhyme or reason (mostly):
    1. iPhone 6+
    2. Fiio x3ii alone and with Fiio A3
    3. MacBook Pro with Schiit Audio Modi 2 Uber/Magni 2
    4. Nobsound NS-08E
    Upon opening the box, I was pleasantly surprised with the walnut backing. It reminded me of my high school shop production…a walnut dining table for my mother (toned down to a coffee table, it was high school and I was not the most motivated). Although my Mother’s project was toned down, I marveled that no matter how much I sanded the walnut, and with the finest grit we had at the time (400g), there were always those minute pockets where saw dust accumulated. I kind of liked it, but you know how it is…my shop teacher was fabulous, but wanted all the sawdust removed. So I did. Looking at the dust marks on the Aria brought that memory back immediately. I did not mind. These are on the larger size, and do stick out of my smaller ear a bit. Take that as you will, I could still get good seal with the Comply TS600 Isolate tips, with no pain even after long listening sessions.
    Seamless would be an understatement as to how the walnut connects to the 3-D printed shell. I was sure that I would feel the seam. Shame on me for not trusting the artist. Overall, the build is quite exquisite. Not exotic, but exquisite. I really liked the “ramp” on the downslope of the shell towards the quite large nozzle. It looked like a tilled hillside in the South American Andes. I really liked that shape. Overall this is a very well built unit, with your choice of cables. The standard one was provided (I was a bit taken aback, but that quickly changed), which retails for $29 on the Vibro site. The Linum ($79, separately) can also be had, as well as a much more premium balanced one. In a conversation with Luke he stated how he liked the regular cable, but his girlfriend liked the Linum. I would be happy with either, but knowing how the Aria sounded with the normal, I would “settle” for that quite happily. Tactilely soft, the cable felt good and would seem to wear well, knowing that most of us treat such a purchase with much respect.
    Very, very good quality build
    Listening sessions:
    My main point of comparison for this review is the excellent Campfire Audio Nova. While I did throw the MEE Audio Pinnacle P1 into the fray, this was mainly to see how the P1 compared to the Aria. And it handled the challenge quite well, confirming yet again to me what a fine piece it is.
    One of my first detailed listens, after that late night was the movie Fury. I really like that movie, and it has some really good music. During the prep scene at the crossroads, where all in the tank fully understand that they will probably not survive the night; a choice of impassioned music played hard-hitting bass, with a full sound that enveloped my head. I am at the crossroads with the Aria! Stay and fight with me the Aria says! For those who have not seen the movie, I will not spoil it. Suffice to say, that the Aria drew me into the movie, up close and personal. To me, the sound stage is slightly smaller, more intimate than the CA Nova, but the sound is of better detail. Playing both through the Fury scene, the Aria handled the build up and complications without trouble. But, for the first time, I heard in my Nova a congestion of sound. While slight, and it took the Aria to make me realize this, it is there in more complicated pieces, verified by the more vibrant of Stirling’s songs. Woe, I shant unhear it, but this will in no way make me appreciate the Nova any less.
    That said if a product can make a fellow $500 IEM sound congested, even slightly then to me it clearly (pun intended) indicates a higher level of detail separation in the instrumentation. One I was not expecting. Not to mention making a fine acquisition of mine sound somewhat hollow in comparison (an opinion from a co-worker, which I echoed).
    I actually like seeing the inner parts, a first
    Continuing with the audition, I watched the Rangers v Celtic Scottish Premier League (SPL) game on New Years Eve using the Aria, which worked well as a monitor. What a game it was! This was the first time in 4.5yrs the game was held at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow; the Rangers home turf. After a ban, which saw the Rangers drop all the way to the third division in Scotland for insolvency and failure to maintain appropriate finances, they were back in the top tier (SPL), challenging Celtic.  One of the fiercest rivalries in the whole of the soccer world called “The Old Firm,” it is based in large part on the Protestant vs Catholic faith; this was to be a true test if Rangers were indeed back on top. Celtic has not lost in the SPL this year having soundly beaten Ranger 5-1 in the match at Celtic Park. This was a good match, with Rangers drawing first blood. Celtic eventually settled into the game, winning 2-1, when former English Premier League player Scott Sinclair finally finished one of his many chances late for the win. I am a Rangers fan. I do not like Scott Sinclair…
    Rangers v Celtic make Real Madrid v Barcelona look like a toddler match...
    The Aria was a competent monitor for the game, but not really what it was meant to do.
    Moving into more musical tastes, Lindsey Stirling’s Zi-Zi's Journey was quite stunning. Diverse of instrumentation, including mostly electric tones, the Aria shined in the “metal-like” sound. It has been said that the Aria works quite well for EDM and based upon this listen, I do not doubt that statement. An excellent punch from the bass and treble, which is not overpowering, but clearly there the Aria shined. I found myself turning the volume up again to match the energy provided by the IEM presentation.
    Electric Daisy Violin was even better with a deeper “grabbier” bass-line. Very present, the bass laid down a line, which was clearly followed by her passionate violin work. Support instrumentation was in the proper place, as support. This song to me laid probably the widest sound stage of any of her songs; a welcome change from the narrower set of other music.
    Wonderful walnut finish
    The Phoenix by contrast sounded weak and thin, with over-present upper mids and treble. While not bad, I do believe the intention of the sound Engineer was to provide a “vibrant forward” sound. Let’s just say that they succeeded, and the Aria accommodated that sound. While listenable, it was not pleasant. A flaw of the music, I do believe.
    The Arena was a tale of two listens. On my iPhone 6+, the Amazon Music “house sound” was thin and lacked energy. Substituting bass for actual sound quality the Aria faithfully reproduced the unpleasantries. Again, not the fault of the Aria. But, when playing through the MacBook Pro/Schiit stack, the YouTube video was transformed into an absolutely vibrant representation of passion, ability and quality. Yes, I know that even the official videos do not produce the best audio quality, but this was quite good. I listened, and watched the cinematography over and over marveling at the diverse movements, costumes and MadMax-like setting. A trend was forming in the Aria…
    The "terraced" effect of the 3-D printing, quite nice
    Moon Trance highlighted a really good bass line (electric-bassy) with the reverb or rumble, which gives good extension to that bass. Tight, full, detailed, and "fit" is how I would define the Aria bass in this song. Instrument separation is good, as is vocal placement. Another good example of how Aria can handle EDM-like Hip Hop music.
    Hold My Heart featuring ZZ Ward just epitomizes what the Aria brings to the table. A song with a sultry, sensuous bass line combines like satin sheets on your bed with Ward’s vocals. Throw in Lindsey’s violin work, what with the finger work; and you have an incredibly sumptuous song. One, which makes you just sit there, taking all the music in, completely enveloping your senses; both visual and auditory. The Aria provides that wonderful bass line and vocal-mids to make you truly appreciate the musical complexity of Ms. Stirling…Just wow. I was falling for either her, or the Aria…I could not decide.
    Johnny Cash’s Long Black Veil was intimate and wonderful running through the Schiit stack and MacBook Pro-quite and iTunes. When you hear the intonation of his voice, and the breaths he takes during the song, the IEM has won me over. Compared to CA Nova the Aria is a fuller, deeper sound yet again. Hitting harder down low, Cash was quite pleasing. This is making me think of selling the Nova to fund the Aria Universal or Custom...
    In another light, simply spectacular!
    The longer I listen, the more I like it and the less I want to take the Aria out of my ears...I was finding a very satisfying “punch” from the bass. Almost like you would find coming from a fine floor standing speaker. The enclosure (the IEM here) punching the floor (my ear) with authority to let you know it is powerful. Not an overwhelming authority, but a respected punch, which lets you know the IEM is there for a purpose.  Dragonfly from Ziggy Marley is an excellent example of this. Excellent definition, intimate sound stage yet wonderful separation of instruments, vocals exactly center stage with support instruments where they need to be and that bass enclosure punch. Coming in at the right time, crystal clear and coherent, the sound is just…well…right.
    Wild Women by Francine Reed & Lyle Lovett---just wow! Her voice oozed through the Aria. This was the only instance where the Aria took a back seat. There is no way Francine would let ANYONE be in charge, except her. Her voice is powerful, full, deep and rich. A voice, which could bring a headphone to its knees, without mercy. Thankfully, the Aria was up to the task, allowing Ms. Reed center stage for a change. It was worth it. You had a front row seat to an iconic voice, with superb results. The two were just a fabulous combination, period.
    The Allman Bros is one of my all time favorite groups, and second only to Stevie Ray Vaughn in the number of times I have seen them live. They are an excellent test for good ole’ rock-n-roll music with that southern flair. Man I just love their music…The piano solo of Chuck Lovell’s in Jessica is an all time great. One of the best ever, and even better in person when he tours with them…I swear the solo went on for 15 minutes…and you could actually FEEL him abusing the ivory to get what he wants out of the keys. The Aria was right there with him on stage, I swear. When you throw in Dicky Bett’s guitar solo, you have a song, which can test almost any headphone. The Aria was in the front row, jamming along with the Allman Brother’s (and Francine), guiding them down the road of music. Not content to be along for the ride, but helping the group fulfill their musical promise.
    Source comparisons:
    Since many of us use more than one type of transport, I felt “obligated,” oh darn…to test the Aria (I really like saying that…Aria…) using what I had from my Fiio x3ii to my iPhone 6+ to my MacBook Pro.
    Fiio x3ii:
    The overall “cleanest” sound went to my Fiio x3ii, even when hooked up with my Fiio A3 amp. Almost “antiseptic” in sound this allowed the Aria (there it is again!) to bring its wonderful warmness to the excellent DAP. One, which to me makes the Fiio all the more valuable. By allowing (to me) the IEM to show it’s “color,” the Fiio let the Vibro (fooled you…) color my palette of sound. The match was not lost on me, and I quite enjoyed everything from Steely Dan’s excellent Gaucho album to Dave Holland and Pepe Habechuela’s wonderful Spanish Guitar album Hands. What with the dichotomy of bass, bass guitar and Flamenco, one would think that a preference would come to the fore. Honestly, non-did. Dave Holland’s bass line is like we are the calluses on his hand. Strumming each string WITH him. Conversely, Donald Fagen’s voice seemed like we were his Uvula watching the sound exit his mouth. And much on the Head-Fi thread was made of how the Aria (back to that of course) handled and loved EDM. I would not disagree, but it really handled the differences of genre quite well with the Fiio. Again, the IEM was allowed to shine.
    iPhone 6+:
    Many of us simply do not have the time, means or modus operandi to run a DAP day-to day. What with working in a school setting, I am bound by the district’s policy (as it should be) of streaming music. As such, we use our Smartphones through Amazon Music, native music, Spotify, or Tidal. I tend towards Amazon Music, because I am cheap, and I like the variety. Even though I am post-50, I still enjoy newer music ranging from Lindsey Stirling (as if you could not tell from above…) to twentyonepilots, to Coldplay, to Dave Matthews. Pretty much anything I threw at the Aria sounded good. While not up to the MacBook/Schiit stack combo or the Fiio/Fiio; as a music-playing device, I would be quite happy using the combo. The fact that the smaller clamshell case now comes standard makes for an even better fit into my pocket. Deep lush sounds emanated from Dave Matthews already deep voice on his version of Long Black Veil, an incredibly sad and forlorn song about true love. The Aria was extremely respectful of the historical aspect of the song, while showing the way to the true feeling of the song. I have not heard the song sound that good except for the MacBook/Schiit stack combo. It was truly an introspective moment in time. One, which would easily justify this portable unit as a real unit.
    MacBook Pro/Schiit stack:
    This was a pretty clear favorite of mine, even though the Fiio provided the cleanest of sounds, the Mac/Schiit provided me with my favorite sound. Full, deep, bassy (but not overwhelming), and far-reaching; the sound also provided me (in most cases) with the widest sound stage. The Aria really highlighted its strengths in this set. A bass that could shake the housings as mentioned above (but not rattily), warmness on a cold winter night and a welcoming mid section, which allowed the vocals to take the center, the combination thoroughly brought out the highlights of any YouTube video shown or iTunes song. Excellent separation of instruments, placed exactly where the musicians want, imaging exactly as it should be; the Aria just provided a naked-truth sound, which hit all of my buttons. Quite impressive; this showcased how the Aria takes charge of the music, and you had better hang on, and get your feet under you. Lest you be dragged through the mud whilst the Aria laughs mightily in front of you.
    I am reminded of some of my favorite mountain bike races…the muddy, cold ones. I always seemed to excel in those events. I just loved that we were not fighting with Mother Nature, but trying to coexist with Mother Nature on a level SHE wanted. This is how the Aria treated the music out of the Mac/Schiit. And this defines what I stated at the beginning where the Aria was in charge. And you had better wear a helmet. A musical race where you do not mind crashing, because the Aria will pick you up, and will sound better as a result.
    As @jinxy245 pointed out in his excellent review, these are not “Mid-head” IEM’s, the mids tend to be relaxed and pleasant. I agree mostly, but found the mids to be a bit forward. Mind you, I did not dismiss this, and quite liked it. An addition to the overall, I found the mids to be the left and right arms, which connected your best friends as you happily walked along, the bass and treble on the left and right. A connection with which I valued the tuning from the artist. Luke hit the mids right for me, tying the overall presentation together. Combine this set up, and I would happily sit at my computer all day.
    Closing thoughts:
    I would like to thank Luke for this tremendous honor, and thank him for the genuine listening pleasure, which he crafts in the woods of Maine. A place near and dear to my family (alas I have never been…), the artisan’s wares shine through in the Aria. The true measure of the hobby we love. Just a well-rounded piece the Aria is. No big deficiencies and strong in all suits, not weak in any. What a Utility Player brings to a baseball team, or better yet a Special Teams player brings to a football team (American, sorry). The one who hits the hardest on the team, and accepts their role knowing it is vital to the success of the team. The Aria while boisterous of character, ultimately knows its place…one, which does the dirty work for you, so you can enjoy what you were meant to…the music.
    Some of us write from quite an emotional point about the gear we test (as I did for my beloved Nova). While we must “procure” the needed analytics of the instrument of our test we MUST also include that emotional aspect into our thoughts and scribble. Without emotive response, our music is dead. One only need watch Lindsey Stirling’s stirring We Found Love, sung and played with true heart from Kenya to understand what music means to most cultures. If the instrument we harbor and hold dear can evoke that kind of emotive response then we have justly reached what we desire musically. I am lucky enough to be auditioning another excellent piece of gear whilst I write this, and it evokes that same kind of emotive response, but through a different avenue. It is an open-ear headphone, so in a completely different sense, it completes that same emotion as the Aria, but for different purposes. I mention this, because I am darn lucky to be able to do this. When a piece such as the Aria can emote that same response as something which costs twice what it does, then I am enamored. I am taken to that musical place with which we all desire. That majestic place which mimics whatever imaginative version of Avatar our heart desires. That special oneness place in which we all desire to get. Whether it is with that over-ear or the Aria, I can say that I have met and found that place, and I’m OK with that.
    It seems that each time I audition something; I state that I have raised the bar of my awareness. I have “found my listening bliss.” Well, this is the first time, I can honestly state that if I were to only have the two headphones with which I am discussing, then so be it. I have indeed found it. My Avatar. My place of musical harmony. And it is the Aria, which has drug me here; rather noisily I might add to reach this peak. One, which upon arrival, the Aria states quietly (as a change), we have arrived. An elaborate song, indeed. And I am happy.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. ngoshawk
      Thank you all! Much appreciated. Pretty easy, when I follow the excellent reviews before me. My Aria will be ordered soon.
      ngoshawk, Jan 13, 2017
    3. Luke Pighetti
      Man, this review gave me the chills, especially the opening and conclusion. Thank you.
      Luke Pighetti, Jan 13, 2017
    4. ngoshawk
      Thank you, kind sir. You should be quite proud of your wares.
      ngoshawk, Jan 13, 2017