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Vibro Labs Aria quad armature in-ear monitor

Rating:
4/5,
  1. ustinj
    Vibro Labs's Aria has high potential ... but not as expected
    Written by ustinj
    Published Jun 2, 2016
    3.5/5,
    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:
     
     

     
     
    [​IMG]
     
    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: 
     
    Lows
     
    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.
     
     
     
    Mids
     
    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.
     
     
    Highs
     
    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!)
     
    CUSTOM ARIA 
     
     
    [​IMG]

     

    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. 

     

     

    [​IMG]

     

     

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

     

    [​IMG]

     

     

    ...

     
    UNIVERSAL ARIA
     
    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. 
     
     
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] 
     
     
    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.
     
    SUMMARY
     
    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.
      Cheers!
      Dr4Bob, Jul 28, 2016
  2. MissChristie
    Vibro Labs Aria: Technically complement but with a divisive signature.
    Written by MissChristie
    Published Feb 8, 2017
    3.0/5,
    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.
  3. jjacq
    Vibro Labs Aria: A Great Work in Progress.
    Written by jjacq
    Published Aug 22, 2016
    3.0/5,
    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
     
    ARIA
    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.
     
    SE846
    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.
     
    UERM
    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.

    _DSC4603Custom.jpg

    Sound Quality

    ARIA
    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.

    SE846
    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.

    UERM
    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