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Vibro Labs Maya quad armature in-ear monitors

Rating:
4.875/5,
  • MAYA is a true flagship earphone with a musical-neutral signature. It is as close to neutral as possible while still maintaining a touch of musicality. Maya builds upon the legendary extension of Aria while providing midrange neutrality and improved room acoustics. The result is a neutral, musical earphone that accurately portrays vocals, preserves microdetails, and presents deep sub-bass extension.

    Maya is extremely versatile, but is highly recommended for acoustic genres.

Recent Reviews

  1. FortisFlyer75
    Maya - Breath of Vibro fresh air to the IEM arena
    Written by FortisFlyer75
    Published Dec 7, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Natural timbre, detailed without sounding analtyical, imaging and open soundstage, Excellent extension, non fatiguing listen
    Cons - Maybe bass light still for some out there, Needs to be more alternative tip selection, had some issues with supplied comply's.
    Vibro Labs - Maya Review
     
    November 2016
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    Firstly a thanks to Ejong7 & Luke Pighetti @ Vibro labs for letting me be part of the Maya tour and be able to spend two weeks with them in comfort of my own home to do a review on them.
    To start with I am one of those who had heard of Vibro Labs and kept hearing about the Aria’s in circles on head-fi but had not manage to hear a pair and see the tour come up so decided to see what the talk was about as I was looking for another pair of IEM’s also.So I am glad for the opportunity to try the Mayas in the comfort of my own home for a couple of weeks.
     
     
    The gear tested with the Mayas in this review is:
    1. Chord Hugo with DFI USB cable from HP Spectre X360
    2. Vorzuge Pureii+ amp
    3. Sony ZX1 Walkman
    4. HIFIMAN SuperMini & MegaMini
    5. Tag Mclaren DVD32R top loader CD player via Chord Indigo COAX into Hugo.
     
    All files in either Flac or WAV format. 
     
     
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    Maya Stats:
    1. California Buckeye
    2. Smoke SLA shells
    3. 20Hz – 20kHz+
    4. 12Ω impedance
    5. 114 dB/mw sensitivity
     

     

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    In the box

    1. Maya earphone
    2. 2-pin detachable cable
    3. Standard & Exhibition cases
    4. Comply Comfort & Isolate tips
    5. 2 year warranty
     
     
    The Build
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    The Mayas come in an exhibition case which is essentially a pelican case with Vibro Labs badging on lid which is idiot and tank proof and has had the clever sense to have a laser cut die foam for the IEM shells to sit in and the excess cable sit under the foam whilst the Buckeye finished Mayas are on display through the clear window of the Pelican case.
    The Mayas come both Comfort and isolate comply tips in three different sizes for both (small, Medium & large) and also a round soft zipper ballistics type case in addition.
    To top it off Vibro labs offer two years warranty which is handy!
     
    The shells themselves are a good quality and the faceplate was a seem-less affair with a smokey see through shell which shoes how sparse the shell is with only packing quad drivers only.  The cable supplied is the standard affair you see with other IEMS which works quite well with the Mayas.
     
    The Comply tips was for me a mixed experience as I used them many moons ago and I tried all sizes in both types but for me after a prolonged listen they became irritable and noticed my ears sweating quite a lot inside (presumably due to such a tight seal) with Comply’s so even though they sounded alright was just a comfort issue for me which led me to wonder if I got these I would be better of jumping to custom fit for only another $100 with Vibrolabs. I would have tried silicone but I had all narrower IEM tips so made it hard to try any other tips with the Mayas in the time I had them.
     
     
    Sound Impressions…
     
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    Sometimes you listen to something for the first time and the first track you listen to within that first minute you think you are listening to something special that is a bit different… well the Maya’s were just that for me but of course you then have to say to yourself was it just that one track that just happened to sound impressive and everything else after that does not live up to expectation of what you initially heard.  This is where the Sherlock Holmes in me was intrigued and investigated further.
     
    First thing that struck me was how intimate and close the music was to me yet had room to breathe with plenty of air and placement and layout of instruments was nothing I had heard for a long time on an IEM and I have heard quite a few this year.
     
    I felt I was having an education in less drivers = more as it sounds like this driver set up of a quad BA almost doesn’t sound like listening to BA drivers the way it has been tuned and almost sounds dynamic like in its cohesive sound field yet is fast in response and keeps a good up tempo to songs as it sounds effortless and engaging like I have not heard for a while in an IEM.  The nearest I can put these too in the way they image and present the music in semi over lapping layers timed perfectly is the Mr. Speakers Ethers and the way Dan tuned them but these seem faster in their pace. 
     
    The way the Mayas are tuned with its energising non offensively tuned signature makes these forgiving with poor recordings even much so that they actually sound somehow quite good to listen to which I found a mystery but some of my old songs on cd from the late 80’s to early 90’s was the first time I could sit and enjoy listening to them as previously these recordings would sound dull and enclosed even through something like my Chord Hugo DAC but yet the Mayas was like some sort of Enigma decoding device for music as it was separating the information better to those old lifeless recordings and think the very close presentation the Mayas provide with the mids, vocals and the treble section been extended with a life like guilt edge to musical notes that pass through the Mayas.
     
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    The treble is never harsh or too sharp but at same time is equally gets your ears taking note of its presence yet it just made those old recordings come to life like I have not heard on many other IEMs before with tired old recordings which was a big bonus as you just assume when you’re getting a flagship IEM that can excel with detail it is going to be not so forgiving with those older recordings but with the Mayas this was not the case.
     
    It’s probably the Mayas been forgiven at the top end that is what appeals a lot amongst its array of appeal abilities as you know you are not going to get any nasty surprises and Vibro Labs have shown you do not need a screeching tuned high end to get a good extension with realistic sounding Hi-Hats, symbols etc.  The track I find tests the theory is the Michael Jackson speed demon remix which is fast paced but with a lot of gear will make your ears bleed but the Mayas are so fluid and smooth but not warm or fuzzy at all.  Have to say it is joy to hear this song without my ears been stabbed with what felt like a hot poker!
     
    Imaging and soundstage is wide and spatial with placement of instruments guided with high accuracy. Vocals and micro details are immersive and again all adds to the layers you hear on the Mayas. Arrangement and placement of instruments and vocals is clarity preserved with a good ability to time details to layer in back and forth just at the right moments keeps your attention without your brain having to try hard to listen out for any nuances in details the Mayas reproduce.
     
    My impression painting a picture in my head when I was listening to these was like having a centre channel speaker with the left and right channels and then the extra width in the soundstage was like having two side speakers coming in but the way imaging and soundstage is executed does not sound unnatural to listen to and is one of the more accurate IEM’s I have heard for natural and precise placement when engaged with the music playing. 
     
    I listened to some of my good old tried and tested demo tracks and for first time in a long time when I heard Yello “The Race” song the racing car at the start pans and tracks from left to right with perfect cohesion and the wide soundstage really helps give the effect of it zooming past in front of you from one side the other and then the solid mid bass performance of the  Mayas kick in really well for the tempo as the song starts, it was a breath of fresh air listening to this old great demo track again and was very reminiscent of when I have heard that through floor standing speakers in the past. I would also say the Mayas soundstage has surpassed my original JH16’s which in comparison makes them sound a tad narrow channelled now. 
     
    I could not get over how most instruments on the Mayas manage to tonally sound real consistently with the guitars on anything having great leading edge detail to each string played you can easily tell what type of guitars they are playing.  The detail been heard which is so easy to pick up for starters is not just what I’m hearing here it is the effect which feel real with really good reverb from strings, for instance like Hosiers album with “Get me to the church” track the bass guitar really has great slam and control of each note and is so easy to pick out yet the reverb really comes through in the big hall sound recording it portrays which again the Mayas can really let this song shine and make you believe you are there in that church with Hozier, it just has a great way of putting you right in there like you are there with them instead of been more in the crowd at the front but manages to do it without been weird and not sounding alien or messing up the soundstage with the way it comes across.
     
    Even piano works do not sound coloured or off key and again the Mayas capture the detail of the in each piano note which I could sit there and easily listen to Tori Amos or Jacques Loussier as the piano even though the mids sound a little forward are not pushed in your face and hold a natural presence of tonality with any piano I heard on my time with these. It’s been a while since I heard Ivory’s on a pair of IEMS not sound thin or anaemic and have plenty of body to each note. 
     
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     All Bass and Drums?
     
    I have to say the bass registry is the only thing I really deliberated on in my own head whether I thought it was sitting just right at all placed in terms of imaging and delivery was suiting the rest of the elements that made the Maya signature what it was, there was nothing un-towards with the sound of the drums in terms of tonality and sounded real with hi-hats or the drum brushes are been used sends a tingle down my spine how natural it sounds but how the lower mids to upper mids was easy to separate what was going on but after listening to them for a while it made sense the way they have been tuned and laid out in the scheme of things as it becomes a natural cohesion of hearing the mid information first followed by the bass information just behind it never bleeding into the mids.
     
    The bass never tread over mids at all, always been concise and clear all though prominent to the listener they deliver a balance of real mid bass has great texture in detail and control and lower mid bass has a good slam kick when needed or the recording delivers that info although the sub bass is not exactly far and few between on these it is only there If the recording requires it so after been used to a pair of JH16’s sort of always turned on type of sub sonic bass these are not going to be Richter scale 10 making the earth move inside my head with landslides every minute of the song but this is good as it will only reflect what the recording has to offer so it’s not as if the Mayas do not have a deep sub bass but they will choose to do it when required which gives a better sense of balance to the natural signature the Mayas try to provide with accurately portrayed instrument timbers so for me as long as you have the right size and type of tips in with a good seal you will hear a good quality deep sub bass when it is asked upon by the recording.
     
    My JH16’s good as they rock for bass they are a forced tuned bass and good as this is for reliving all those gigs with super slamming bass it is not a natural response bass and the Mayas reflect the rest of its signature keeping this theme running.  The good thing is when the sub bass is there is still takes you by surprise as you never know when it is going to just drop the beat to the basement floor and it’s like “holy Maya” after say three minutes into a song it can just come out and surprise you how low the Mayas bass just registered. They can deliver some form of bass slam when they want to, just not as often or still low for those familiar with a Jh16 level of bass or simply Beats depth of bass might want to audition these first to be sure if you can live without the thrills every five seconds of blow your socks off sub bass hit. 
     
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    The Mayas lower bass to mid-range is arranged with tight grip and clarity with cutting guile to detail and never heard any muddying or tempo slow down at all and the way the bass is done with the rest of this IEM provides the right balance for it to do its magic in delivering a natural feel and sound with music.  Would I still prefer the Mayas to have the levels of sub bass my JH16’s deliver?... yes and no, it would be nice if it had a bit more low bass reaction sometimes but having a JH16 reference of sub bass would ruin the essence and purity of the Maya’s strengths of providing a slightly mid prominent driven sound with a naturalness in tone and the spatial air these have to work would be ruined so I am happy with them where they are albeit another one or two db on the sub-bass would have been interesting to see if it would not ruin the current essence of Mayas signature.
     
    Listening to music which had acoustic guitar… well I thought any of my favourite rock music like AC-DC, Muse, Slash, Joe Bonamassa was sounding fresh and new, no wait; real again then acoustic music is something else on these and listening to a less know English guy who has been around for years Adrian Legg if you can find his cd’s let alone streaming services out there really shows how string work should sound on an IEM let alone speakers yet my mouth was open at times with how nailed on the timing, imaging and minute amount of details to be heard was immense but all sounded natural and fluid with the treble end finely tuned just right to make the most of the fret detail sound sharp and real without bleeding or losing control and sounding unnaturally sharp. The extension on the treble with the Mayas really made acoustic steel guitar of Adrian Legg have a sense of height and realism as if listening to it live.
     
    And talking of live music the Mayas are again just as comfortable with live music and really has the ability to scale the size of the concert with its sense of space ability to image accurately and noticed even the more not so well recorded live sets seem to have a little more energy to songs which is again in part to the mids just been raised a little all though you never notice with everything been so tonally natural sounding other than the closeness and up front sound which make up the Mayas traits to form the signature
     
    As always Rodrigo & Gabriel’s slick hand work really shows up the fret details and how well the Maya deals with the speed of it all and showing the extension of the highs on their highly tuned or strung acoustic guitars.  This is reminiscent to me of when I heard the Cavalli Liquid Gold amp and how it showed it could reproduce highs with great extension and trailing edges of notes and sound tonally so real without sounding thin and strained nor either too warm and really had not heard a treble like that on anything before I heard the Liquid Gold and for this to remind me of that shows how well the Mayas sound in what is just an important frequency path as the mids or bass. 
     
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    Even though in general the Mayas are friendly even with poor recordings the only thing the Mayas did not forgive was anything with a poorly mastered top end and would sound quite flaky or crass at times (almost like listening to a mp3 compression with no detail in treble notes) so can only surmise the mids are tuned in a way that bring out dull recordings a bit but the tuning of the treble is a different challenge all together maybe but I’m glad the Mayas concentrated on getting the treble right with high quality recordings as this is not the Mayas fault recordings are bag crap by so many labels to start with but when there is a top notch quality mastered recording done correctly the reward is like icing on the cake with the rest of the Mayas signature.
     
    I have not got lost in all my live albums for a long time going through Muse in Rome, Def Leppard Live in Vegas, Fleetwood Mac – The Dance, Cream Royal Albert Hall with that 19 minute drumming song Toad which is a good showcase for the Mayas maintains tight mid to low mid bass high amounts of energy but the one that was put on the demo peddle stall that complimented the Mayas was Ryan Adams - Ten Songs from Carnegie Hall which is recorded to a high standard as are most of R. Adams albums to be fair but he is one of those artist that seems to almost personally put sound quality at the forefront of everything he does and the Mayas openness with soundstage and ability to hang out fine details so clearly and precisely with even the usual spurts of coughing and people rustling in their chairs was a joy to hear with this recording. 
     
    Those who are a bit sensitive to high frequency’s and like their treble with plenty of detail and extension yet stay smooth enough without sounding warm will like the Mayas treble for sure.
     
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    Vocals
     
    This is another main factor that hooked me straight away was the Mayas take on vocalists, near field positioning yet with plenty of breathing space so vocals always stay concise and easy to track especially backing vocals having a way of steering themselves even busy passages of music to sit in just the right placement depth just between the lead vocals and the rest of the music. 
    The timbre and grains of detail make a singer’s palate come to life with neutral tonality which makes vocals have more realism especially when they sound close as the Mayas portray the mic of a singer.  I personally love the vocals which excel with the mids and propel songs with confidence in portraying the emotion of the song to come through.
     
    The Mayas ability with the highs extension allow vocals to soar and hold on to their notes longer like Ellie Goulding’s Delirium album or Sarah McLachlan’s Fumbling towards Ecstasy where you can hear the rasp in her voice and the saliva as she sings more notes which is  another old recording (early 90’s) reborn with the Mayas for me. This is one of my more favourite vocal set ups of recent times tuned on an IEM as it really does pull you into the music if you can hear the vocalist properly to start with and Vibro Labs certainly mastered that here as I never get fatigued listening to vocals on the Mayas with the placement, detail and clarity of whoever singing (I most probably do include Shane
     
    When I had my trusty old Sony ZX1 on shuffle one night a couple of OST tracks came on, the  first been the Armageddon soundtrack by Trevor Rabin has great clarity and depth with height give the Mayas a big scope with soundtracks none more so than the master of film scores Hans Zimmer’s Inception or Interstellar really stretches the fabrication of its cohesive sound and tests the low end and high end extension than most music will do out there and the Mayas handle it with ease but listening to film scores through the Mayas will give you the impression you may have open back cans on with its large scale and ability to add weight and body to some of these demanding tracks Hans Zimmer produces. 
     
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    Which leads me on the side for a minute to TV & Films as I have been watching the Westworld series every week and one night was a bit late so watched it on my laptop in bed with the Mayas with it through the Chord Hugo and was honestly blown away how good these where with TV shows or films as the large panoramic soundstage and imaging is set for these types of shows so will be watching more films or shows with them from now on as Mayas are perfect with those vocals and clarity and precision of noises and sound effects for films to excel.
     
    The Mayas paired well with any source I put with them and did not have any issues with hiss with my gear unless I put my Vorzuge Pure amp on med gain there was a slight hiss then with no music playing but these do not need med gain so was all okay for me.  They loved been with the Hugo and with my ZX1 Walkman brought great dynamics with a perfect signature match together. 
     
    The Mayas are one of those IEMS that is just simply great with any genre but super excels a tad with more acoustic and vocals and handles anything thrown at it really as it is agile, fast, smooth and quite a forgiving IEM with poorer recordings and with high quality recordings this is a non-stop “Mayathon” of musical happiness as they are non-fatiguing to listen too. 
     
    Jazz, Blues and classical are also perfect match for the Mayas also from tracks I played from Gregory Porter to Nina Simone and BB King and the only genre that for some may not feel there is enough in terms of quantity in the Sub Bass area for those who may like a lot of Heavy Metal or Dance/ Club anthems as some might be looking for that more constant visceral thumping bass but I personally like the balance as I think it would detract away from the balance of this tuned set up the Mayas has. Again after what I’ve heard so far I’m a happy camper in the Maya park so far. 
     
    I have heard plenty of IEMs of late and most that go past the clouds in the price ladder making the Mayas look like a toy but apart from a couple I’ve heard of late which one is two times dearer and the other is six times dearer!  I just feel the Mayas for the money are different and something I feel is more a speaker profound in its delivery which is a feat for pair of IEMS which makes it feel like listening to the Mayas is like listening to vinyl… Analog fluidity will embarrass some of those other BA driver IEMS out there that can sound more digital in comparison with the Mayas natural timbered fluid and open sound.
     
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    Conclusion...
     
    Apart from two minor quirks for me with maybe a tad more bass could have been tuned just a tad more without affecting the current signature would of given that little extra bit more weight in the sub bass and the issue for me personally with the Complys would be nice to have silicone tips that fit also as an alternative but it has been hard for me to pick any real negatives as this happens to be especially for the price a high performing signature IEM that made me forget wanting to listen to my JH16’s for the first time ever in five years!
     
    Apart from that I have found this one hard to find many negatives with as for me it is the most balanced natural friendly and open soundstage non fatiguing IEM at a good price for the sound I have heard for a long time. 
     
    The epiphany moment with these Mayas was less than a minute into my first song with them and just knew they would be something special… a bit like that famous scene out of Jerry Maguire when Rene Zellweger says to Tom Cruise “You had me at hello”, well the Mayas had me at track one.
     
    I originally thought I was finally getting to hear the Arias putting myself forward for this tour but Luke sprung the surprise on us it would be something different and ended up been the Mayas and how glad I am he did as even after hearing so many IEMS lately even in the sky is the limit price range I have not been more happy with the way the Mayas find a finely tuned perfect harmony balance between detail, dynamics, space, musicality with a sense of tonal realism. I’m off to start my Maya fund and hopefully get these soon as I miss them already.
     
    Maya the force be with you.
     
    It’s not a race, it’s a Mayathon…
     
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      jinxy245 and Luke Pighetti like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. BartSimpson1976
      Am really happy with what I heard from them so far.... Guess I shouldn't complain when getting a pair of 1k IEMs for free...
      Well, but I still want to get into the CustomIEM game sooner or later. Therefore will continue monitoring VibroLabs products.
      BartSimpson1976, Dec 11, 2016
    3. FortisFlyer75
      That's one of the things I like about Vibro Labs is you can get Luke to upgrade the universal version to custom fit for a relatively low price which is what I might do for now and get them converted later on at some stage when I've got the money to have an Exhibition finish on them.
      Not to mention they are still a good price for a set of flagship customs to some of the other offerings out there.
      Enjoy your Jh13's in the meantime and hope you get them in time for Christmas! 
      FortisFlyer75, Dec 11, 2016
    4. glassmonkey
      Nice review! Also, good news for folks, Spinfits do work with these but you'll need to keep an eye on the tips to ensure they don't fall off.
      glassmonkey, Dec 12, 2016
  2. glassmonkey
    Vibro Labs Maya Universal IEM: neutrality with passion
    Written by glassmonkey
    Published Nov 4, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Natural timbre, neutral with passion kind of signature, forgiving, competitive price, tall soundstage, good resolution & speed, comfortable
    Cons - Soundstage depth, not as detailed or as fast as some higher priced IEMs, no lip to hold tips on, no silicone tips in box (add Spinfits, buddy)
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    Acknowledgment   

    Thanks @Luke Pighetti of Vibro labs and @ejong7 for setting up this tour. I was loaned the Maya for two weeks in exchange for my honest opinion.
     

    Introduction

    The Mayan’s were an incredibly advanced civilisation, in art, literature, mathematics, engineering, and in astronomy. Their calendar was incredibly accurate, and extended hundreds of years past the demise of their civilisation, a source of many doomsday predictions . My Dad did his college studies in cultural anthropology and was absolutely fascinated with Central American and South American civilisations, so I grew up with big hardback anthropology books with pictures of Mayan pyramids, Aztec artwork, and Toltec heads—maybe these will be future IEMs from Vibro Labs. So if I’m thinking of what Maya, might mean before I listen, I can go two ways: the previously described allusions to dead civilisations, or I can think of Maya Angelou, brilliant poet, dramatist, and civil rights activist. I’m guessing that since poetry and music share some genes, that this is the way that Luke Pighetti, the one man band behind Vibro Labs was thinking of it.
     
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    Chichen Itza from WikipediaMaya Angelou from Mayaangelou.com

     
    Vibro Labs is basically a one man operation out of Maine. Luke Pighetti, founder and engineer of the the aesthetic and sonic characteristics of the company’s two IEMs, the Aria and the Maya, has some history with ZMF on designing their wood enclosures. He has affinity and talent with wood and his products look lovely. I’m hoping that the Maya is as lyrical as Ms. Angelou and it’s sonic images as compelling as the Ancient Americas.
     
    Like most sensible people I started falling in love with music as a child. My first portable audio device was a Sony Walkman (the cassette kind) that I got when I was 10 years old (24 years ago).  I listened with the cheap Sony on ears that came with the Walkman until I bought a Koss CD boombox and started listening to UAF College Radio and 103.9 (alternative rock at the time) in Fairbanks, Alaska. I once listened to Louie, Louie for 3 days straight, and I’m not insane—did you know there is a Spanish gospel version of Louie, Louie?
     
    Like political tastes and tastes in friends, my musical tastes evolved through association and then rebellion and experimentation. From the songs of my father (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, ZZ Top), to the songs of my peers (Dr. Dre, Green Day, Nirvana, Weezer), my tastes evolved, expanded and exploded into the polyglot love that is my current musical tapestry. Like a Hieronymous Bosch mural, my tastes can be weird and wonderful: dreamy Japanese garble pop, 8 bit chiptune landscapes percolated with meows, queer punk, Scandinavian black metal; or they can be more main-stream with minglings of Latin guitar, Miles Davis trumpet, and banks of strings and percussion in the Mariinsky Orchestra. Mostly my audio drink of choice is a rich stout pint of heady classic rock and indie/alternative from my musical infancy and identity formation (the 90s). Come as you are, indeed. Beyond the weird, the wonderful, the interesting and accepted, I’m a big fan of intelligent hip-hop artists like Macklemore, Metermaids, Kendrick Lamar, Sage Francis and Aesop Rock. I even dabble in some country from time to time, with First Aid Kit and the man in black making cameos in my canals.
     
    My sonic preferences tend towards a balanced or neutral sound, though I’ll admit to liking a little boosted bass or treble from time to time. If I have to choose between warm and bright, I’ll choose bright almost every time. A few screechy high notes are preferable to me than a foggy unfocused bass guitar. As my tastes are eclectic, and a day of listening can involve frequent shifts in my sonic scenery, I don’t generally want headphones that try to paint my horizons in their own hues. I need headphones that get out of the way, or provide benign or beneficial modifications. I desire graceful lifts like an ice-dancing pairs’ carved arc, not heaving lifts like a man mountain deadlift.
     
    My last hearing test with an audiologist was a long time ago and under strange circumstances. However, I have heard tones all the way down to 10hz and all the way up to 23Khz using headphones in my collection. Either my headphones tend to have a hole in frequency at 18kHz or my hearing does, because I never seem to hear it. I’m sensitive to peaky treble, and treble fatigue, even when I can’t hear what might be causing it. I do enjoy smooth extended treble. I like deep tight bass and impactful drums, and dislike upper mid-bass emphasis.  I like my vocals crisp, so stay away from Josh Tillman’s voice you nasty upper mid-bass hump.  I like air in the stage, not just cues to distance and height, but the feeling of air moving around and through instruments. Soundstage shouldn’t be just about hearing, I need to feel it. I listen at volume levels that others consider loud (78 to 82 dB), but I just set it to where the dynamics peak. I’m not here to shatter my eardrums. I like them just how they are.
     
    I generally don’t believe in using EQ, not even for inexpensive headphones, especially in reviews. I won’t claim that I haven’t done it, but I generally try to avoid it.
     
    I believe that burn-in can make a difference, but I also acknowledge that there isn’t any measurement that appears to give conclusive proof that burn-in exists. I trust my ears, fully acknowledging that my brain may fill in expected details, may colour my interpretation, or may be subject to its own settling period with a headphone. In my experience, burn-in effects are not as large as proponents of burn-in tend to advertise. I’ve also noted that using white/pink/brown noise, I almost never observe changes beyond 24 hours of burn in. When people tell you that you shouldn’t listen to your headphones until they have 200 hours on them, I think these people need to be ignored. No matter what, you should be listening to your headphones at different stages, right out of the box and at intervals. How can someone observe a difference without baseline observations and follow up observations to measure change trajectories? If you really want to be serious about controlling for effect, you need volume matching, source matching, and tip/pad matching.
     
    I’m a firm believer that cables can make a difference, but I don’t think they always do. When I tried out Toxic Cables line, they were in a bunch of baggies at the Cambridge 2015 HeadFi meet without any labels tell me what I was listening to. The cheapest looking one was the one I liked the best. I was excited that I wouldn’t have to spend much to improve my sound. It turned out that the cheapest looking one was the Silver/Gold top of the line cable. I’ve heard the difference that USB cables can make, from upgrading from the crappy cable that came with my Geek Out 1000 to a Supra USB, and then again when upgrading to the LH Labs Lightspeed 2G with the iUSB3.0. When I picked up a cheap shielded power lead from Mains Cables R Us to replace my standard kettle lead on my integrated amplifier, I heard more crunchy and clearer treble. I switched the leads with my wife blinded and she heard the same difference. I didn’t tell her what I heard and let her describe it herself. But cables don’t always make a difference. When I switched from my standard HD650 cable to a custom balanced cable (Custom Cans UK, very affordable), the sound stayed exactly the same when hooked up via a top tier (custom made by my local wire wizard, Dillan, out of  silver/gold Neotech wire) 4-pin XLR to 6.3mm converter. Balanced mode made a difference in clarity and blackness of background—this indicates that the amp was the deciding influence, not the cable. Your mileage may vary and you may not hear a difference, but I have.
     

    Vital Statistics (specs from manufacturers and distributors)

    Every company that makes a product has a story to tell about their product. These stories are told in charts, graphs and superlatives of varying levels of believability. In my experience chatting with Luke Pighetti, he seems to be a straight shooting kind of guy. My Maine man seems as honest as his beard is long—may his Samson mane never fray.
     
    photo.jpg
     
    Here’s what he had to say about the Maya on the Vibro Labs website:
     
     
    Specifications
     
    Drivers
    Four balanced armature drivers
    Frequency response
    20Hz - 20kHz
    Impedance
    12Ω @1kHz
    Sensitivity
    114dB/mW
    Shell
    3D printed with acrylic impregnated California Buckeye, with exhibition pieces in other exotic woods by special order
    Accessories
    1.32m (52”) cable, 3 sizes Isolate and Comfort Ts600 Comply foam tips, Pelican case with laser-cut velour insert, round zipper soft case, brushpick cleaning tool and stickers, numbered and signed certificate of authenticity
    Warranty
    2 years

     
    Good on ya for offering a two year warranty. It's a very nice statement, Vibro Labs.
     

    Form & Function

    The Maya has a tiny footprint and feels light and comfortable in the ear. The shape of the IEM means that it doesn’t have much contact area with the ear surface. Whilst this ensures comfortable fit for a wide variety of ears, it also means that beyond the tip, there is little to block out ambient noise, so I found isolation on these below average with Spinfits equipped. When equipped with the included Comply Isolate tips, the world outside was just a maze of moving lips and silent cars unaware of your existence—like that moment in the movie where the lead is realising the gravity of their predicament—aw crap, what were you saying? “Lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying,” without the nastiness of feeling totally alien to your own humanity.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    The Maya, as you may have noticed above does not come with any silicone tips. Personally, I’m not a fan of the Comply sound on most IEMs. I find that it makes the bass warmer and less detailed and reduces treble. I’m not a fan of warm bass, and not a fan of muted treble (even if only slight), so my tip of choice is the Spinfit medium (red). The Maya is poorly designed for using with other tips than the supplied T600 Comply tips, as it has a very large nozzle. I believe that the size of the nozzle, and the lack of ridge or texturing on the nozzle are responsible for one of my Spinfit tips falling off. It was an uncomfortable moment, as you want to have your sound impressions be consistent throughout on a review. Luckily, I found some spares that I forgot I had. I think that the nozzle on the Maya is needlessly large, as there are only two not terribly large sound bores. The nozzle could also be improved by having a lip or ridges, as this would make it more difficult for tips to fall off. Noble IEMs also have large nozzles, but they have designs that mitigate tip slippage.
     
    The case that the Maya comes with is an authentic Pelican case and feels pretty bombproof. This is the first IEM Pelican case I’ve handled, and I like it. The foam insert doesn’t seem that useful though. I’d say an insert that secures the IEMs and has a compartment for the cable and tools and tips would be more useful, but not as sexy on presentation.
     
    Maya-5.jpg
    Maya-4.jpg

     
    On the tour, we didn’t get standard packaging, so I can’t comment on what that looks like. I imagine mostly the same, but with tips in packs instead of in big Comply T600 series demo kits. @Luke Pighetti gave us a comprehensive treatment, tons of tips, and alcohol wipes to clean up. Well done. Every tour should do so well with regard to foamies. It would have been nice to be able to rate the retail packaging, though.
     
    The cable is a really good stock cable. It slides nicely over the ear, is light weight, flexible, relatively tangle resistant, and non-microphonic. The y-split could look nicer—I’ve seen the same split on cheap Chinese IEMs, and the slider could be something other than a piece of clear tubing, but those are minor niggles that don’t really matter. The clear tubing actually works better than most sliders I’ve used, it moves smoothly and I didn’t have problems with twists and tangles due to it. If you want a swish looking cable, you were probably already getting an aftermarket cable anyway. This cable does the job well. The right side is marked with a red dot, and the left is marked with a blue dot. Given how secure the 2 pin fit is, you won’t be changing cables in the dark, so no need for elevated bumps or anything like that to tactically tell you which side is which. I really like those tactical clues and wish more manufacturers would do them, but they aren’t always necessary.
     
    Maya-6.jpg
    Maya-8.jpg
    Maya-9.jpg
    Maya-11.jpg

     

    Audio quality

    The way that Vibro Labs describes the Maya is accurate, it’s mostly neutral with a little bit of lift in the midbass and a little bit of lift in the lower mids that gives vocals a bit more weight and makes things rock a little more. Extension is good on both ends of the spectrum, listening to Why?’s Mumps Etc… album really highlights how deep the bass extends. Timbre throughout is spot on. The little boost in the mids gives vocals more weight without changing the tone, it is subtly done and very well executed.
     
    I tested the Vibro with all kinds of music. It has the speed to keep up with Dragonforce and Animals as Leaders. It has excellent detail rendition. Everything is loaded with texture. Acoustic music from Amber Rubarth sounds poignant. Led Zeppelin rocked. The Maya is musical, poetic, and good looking to boot.
     
    What the Maya doesn’t have is a deep soundstage. It has above average width and excellent height, but the depth and width are compressed a little compared to the Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered (UERR). The UERR had less height than the Maya. Within that limited depth, the imaging is very good. You can pick out individual instruments’ relative positioning with ease, but they won’t have as much air around them as some other offerings in the same price range. On this journey, I only had the UERR to compare to among high-end offerings, but I remember other headphones I’ve listened to along the way.
     
    To test out the ability of the Maya to render complex passages, I threw on Dragonforce – Heartbreak Armageddon. Around the 6 minute mark there is a really complex passage filled with guitar, airy backing ambient synth, vocals and bass. The Maya isn’t quite as resolving as the UERR on this portion. It gets a little smooshed with all that content coming at it, and it smooths out some detail (just a little). It still performs very well, the UERR is just a bit faster, edgier, and has more depth, aiding instrument separation and detail resolution.
     
    The Maya didn’t have problems matching with any of my sources, though when music isn’t playing, that moment when you’ve plugged the headphone in and haven’t pressed play yet, I did get some low hiss on all the DAPs I had on hand (HiFiMAN SuperMini, HiFiMAN MegaMini, iBasso DX50). Those DAPs range between 0.5Ω and ~2Ω output impedance. When music was playing I didn’t generally hear anything at all outside of the most silent of passages, i.e. 99.99% of the time I didn’t hear any hiss. In other words, no problemo.
     
    terminator.jpg
     
     
    When compared to one of my favourites that I have on hand, the 64 Audio X2, the X2 has a more forward mids presentation, which gives some truly impressive drum impact, and is lacking in detail compared to the Maya. The Maya just has more resolution. The Maya manages to have a smooth tonality without being rich and without losing detail. The imaging on the Maya is more precise than the X2 due to that detail advantage. I’m very happy with it.
     
    I tried the Maya with well recorded music and poorly recorded music. It showed the positives of well-recorded music, but didn’t outright expose some of my poorer recorded tracks like Wolf Parade’s Apologies to the Queen Mary album (excellent album, really terribly mastered). I would class the Maya as being forgiving of poor quality content, which will be welcome to most folks. We’ve all got shamefully mastered music that we like, for the most part. You’ll still like that music with the Maya.
     

    Conclusions

    The Maya is dynamic natural IEM with a nice musical neutral signature that plays really beautifully with just about any genre. The Maya accomplishes this organic musical signature through subtle, tasteful boosts in the mids and bass that give the music a bit more presence and grip. There are no parts of the frequency range that are excessively boosted.
    It isn’t a perfect headphone, as it isn’t a total detail master and is a bit lacking in soundstage depth, but at $699 perfection isn’t expected. It will also hiss on some sources in near silent passages (less than 1% of listening time).
     
    The performance of the Maya was as delightful as the UERR, but more musical and more forgiving of poorly mastered content. While the UERR is pinpoint accurate, it doesn’t play nice with all source material.
     
    I think the Maya is going to be a rousing success. It looks beautiful, sounds amazing with whatever you throw at it and is competitively priced. This is an excellent, well-rounded IEM, I hope that this is a big hit for Vibro Labs.
      pedalhead, sq3rjick, twister6 and 2 others like this.
    1. meringo
      Well said! My MAYA customs are the only IEMs I use now. This is exactly the sound I've been looking for.
      meringo, Nov 4, 2016
    2. senorx12562
      Nice review, thanks for your efforts. Luke is obviously doing something right.
      senorx12562, Nov 7, 2016
  3. McCol
    Wonderful neutral earphone with astounding detail
    Written by McCol
    Published Oct 18, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - An excellent all round sounding earphone, that handles with ease anything you throw at it.
    Cons - Bass may lack impact for some, UK price point(Bloody Brexit!!!)
    My earphone tastes
     
    I usually prefer an earphone that gives a smooth nuetral presentation with maybe just a wee bit of impact on the bass but not overly so, like my mids and highs to be lush.
    I never really keep any more than 3 or 4 earphones at one time, I tend to sell products if I prefer a new purchase over current models I may own.
    At the moment I possess the Fischer Amps FA-4 xb, Flare Audio R2pro and have just recently bought the Fidue Sirius A91.  Recently I have sold the Etymotic ER4sr, Senn IE800 and Aurisonics ASG 2.5.
    Over the last few years I have tried and owned some wonderful earphones from many different companies but am happy with my current line up.
     
     
    Testing equipment and music used.
     
    Pretty straight forward here as I only used my recently bought Cayin I5 and my Samsung S7 smartphone.
     
    Music was a selection of tracks in Flac or MP3 320 that I have used over the years when testing out new earphones and players.  Mainly alternative/indie guitar based music with a few bits of electronic and other stuff thrown in.  I use certain tracks to test the stereo separation, speed and depth of bass and treble respone and overall just a musical response that suits my hearing!   I don't use or read charts of measurements, nothing against it but if I'm honest I don't always really understand them!!
     
    Tracks
    David Bowie - Starman and Rock 'n' Roll Suicide
    The Smiths - Well I wonder and I know it's over
    The Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the devil
    British Sea Power - Bear and Lately
    New Order - Perfect Kiss and Blue Monday
    The Wedding Present - Kennedy and I'm not always so stupid
    The Velvet Underground - Oh sweet nuthin and What goes on
    Lou Reed - Waves of fear
    Belle and Sebastian - A century of fakers
    Malcolm Middleton - Choir 
    The Jesus and Mary Chain - Never understand
     
     
    Vibro Labs Maya 
     
    The tour package arrived with a pelican case and numerous comply tips to play around with.  
     
    The first thing that struck me was the fantastic build quality of these earphones, my attempts at photos don't do them justice so I havn't uploaded them, it's better to look at Jackpot77's pictures on his review, they show them better than my pictures did.
    The build is top of the line standard, smooth finish that feels like it could survive a few falls if it needed to.  Cables are good quality and it's nice to see the 2 pin connectors still being used on new earphones.  
     
    The fit of these earphones is also excellent, the body of the unit is a nice snug for for my ears which are probably medium sized.  The nozzle sits nicely in the canal without going to far but far enough to feel like you a nice seal.  Earphones are light and after a few minutes it's easy to forget they are in place, the light cables also help with this. 
     
    Soundquality from the Maya is joy, a real pleasure to listen too that never fatique''s or grates on the ears.
     
    The highs are very well detailed with a nice sharp snap to cymbals and snare's in the percussion.  Despite this snap and detail they don't grate as some earphones do when reproducing the percussion.  Speed in the percussion is also very accurate and doesn't intrude or overbear after long listening.  In Joker77's review he talks about the guitar and how the Maya does an excellent job, can't disagree with him on this.  Listening to Kennedy by The Wedding Present is often spoiled by earphones when they struggle to reproduce the speed and attack of Devid Gedge's riffs, not the Maya's, they handle it with ease and never gets cluttered.  
     
    Vocals are also quite smooth although I found them to sit back a little in the mix but this could be more to do with the other iem's I have become used to recently.  Again as with the percussion and guitars on songs, the Maya never seems to struggle with vocals, displays the emotion that is intended when it is required by a track.  An example of this being Bowie's Rock 'n' Roll suicide, the Maya captures the closing vocals by Bowie in a way which only a few of the iem's I've owned over the years can manage.  It is able to show great separation in these passages, nothing gets congested and it's easy to pick detail out of each track.  Like Joker77 states in his review, it's that feeling of hearing the music from all corners of a room that Maya excels with.
     
    Bass is where the Maya might lack for users, not for me though. I found it to be accurate and have a depth to the note that some so called bass lovers Iem's don't display.  The bass line and drum on Blue Monday and Well I wonder were reproduced in a very accurate and musical way.  What might lack for some people is there is no thud or impact to the bass compared to some earphones.  This is not exactly a bad point but some people may miss this aspect.  I personally found that listening to more New Order tracks and Peter Hook's sublime bass playing was really good on the Maya, has a certain subtleness that some might not appreicate.
     
    Soundstage is perhaps a little narrow compared to some of the previous iem's that I've owned but that is a little unfair as the sense of placement these display more than makes up for what I perceive to be a slightly narrow soundstage.  That might not make sense and is difficult to explain but despite the feeling of the music coming from different directions the Maya doesn't have that deep and wide staging of say a Senn IE800 but that's not a bad point against the Maya just a difference in sound.
     
    The thing I loved about the Maya overall was it's ability to sound musical, some iem's are too harsh or detailed and may sound technically good but they often lack a musical know how that the Maya has in abundance.  It's this musical delivery and it's detail that I loved more than anything about the Maya.
     
    Comparasions
     
    Difficult to compare the Maya's to my current earphones, the Fidue A91 is a different type of iem for me with it's 4 BA driver and 1 dynamic driver set up, from the onset it has more soundstasge and gives that impact to the bass that the Maya does not have.  If I had to choose it would be the A91 as it does everything the Maya does but with a little bit more detail and lushness in the mids and highs as well as a bigger soundstage.
     
    Comparing them to my Fischer Amps FA4-AE xb is more of an even match, the Fischer has been one of my mainstays for waht seems like around 3 years now, maybe longer.  The Fischers are light, sound excellent and are excellent value for money that have stayed with me when earphones treble their price have been sold on.  The Maya's in some respect are simialr to my ears, they both have a musical, nuetral but detailed sound and are around the same kind of mark when it comes to bass, maybe the Maya's edging it overall with that lovely musical reproduction of music.
     
    Conclusion
     
    I've loved using the Maya's and really wanted to buy them as a possible long term replacement to my Fischers which are starting to show their age a bit.  However for us UK buyers there is an issue.  Since the crash of the pound when the stupid 52% of our nation decided to leave the EU this means that with current rates the Maya would be £575.  As good as they are that puts them in the price range of the Senn Ie800 and only £140 less than the Fidue Sirius A91.  For me that makes them a bit pricey as I can try the Fischer models for almost £200 less.
    This is no fault of Luke or Vibro Labs though, or a downside to buying the Maya which overall is one of the best earphones I've heasrd in a few years.
  4. Jackpot77
    Vibro Labs Maya - taking musical neutrality to the next level
    Written by Jackpot77
    Published Oct 3, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Detail retrieval, incredible grasp of room acoustics and imaging, lively take on a musical neutral sound, non fatiguing, great extension at both ends
    Cons - May be bass-light for some, neither warm not analytical
    20161003_065445.jpg
     
    Vibro Labs Maya (universal) – initial impressions
     
    In my travels on Head-Fi over the last year or so, Vibro Labs is a name I had heard bandied around in various forums, mainly as makers of the Vibro Veritas IEM measuring system, or due to their work with Zach Meyerbach and his ZMF brand on the highly rated ZMF x Vibro line of modded Fostex planar headphones. On looking a little deeper, it turns out that Vibro Labs is actually the brainchild of Luke Pighetti, who to all intents IS Vibro. Reading more about the firm on their excellent website led me to a few threads and reviews regarding their first ever IEM (the Aria), with people praising the unusual tuning and CIEM-style build, among other things. About the same time I started hearing about the first model, an opportunity came up to participate in a European tour of Vibro’s sophomore offering, the Maya. I have already written up my review of the Aria, and this is my impression of the “big brother” of the Vibro lineup. For those who have read the previous effort, there will be some similarities as the IEMs are essentially the same from a design and ergonomic standpoint, so you might want to just jump ahead to the sound descriptions. This review is based on the two week period I got to spend with the Maya as part of the UK tour before sending them on to the next lucky recipient.
     
    About me: newly minted audiophile, late 30s, long time music fan and aspiring to be a reasonably inept drummer. Listen to at least 2 hours of music a day on my commute to work – prefer IEMs for out and about, and a large pair of headphones when I have the house to myself and a glass in my hand. Recently started converting my library to FLAC and 320kbps MP3, and do most of my other listening through Spotify or Tidal HiFi. I am a fan of rock, acoustic (apart from folk) and sarcasm. Oh yeah, and a small amount of electronica. Not a basshead, but I do love a sound with some body to it. Please take all views expressed below with a pinch of salt – all my reviews are a work in progress based on my own perceptions and personal preferences, and your own ears may tell you a different story.
     
    20160922_121353_HDR.jpg
     
    Tech specs (from the Vibro website)
     
    Faceplate – California Buckeye
    Shells – Smoke SLA
    Frequency range – 20Hz to 20kHz+ *
    Impedance – 12 Ohms
    Sensitivity – 114 dB/mw
    *the tweeters in use on the Maya have been confirmed by Luke @ Vibro as technically going up to to 40kHz, but as no-one but Knowles (who build them) can verify measurements that high, Vibro has stuck to thr “20+” designation
     
    20161003_065509.jpg
     
    Unboxing
     
    Like the other model in theoir IEM lineup (the Aria), the unboxing for the Vibro is pretty simple – the IEMs arrive in an  “exhibition” Peli case sporting the Vibro Labs logo, with an additional pocket friendly semi-hard case for day to day use (not included in the tour package). As the tour gear arrived in a cardboard box, I am not aware if there is an official Vibro “box”, but given the minimalist packaging aesthetic of the Aria, I imagine the Maya follows in the same vein. The Peli case is clear, coming in a standard 1010 size, with the only visible adornment being a black Vibro labs sticker on the lid. The usual Peli zigzag hard foam cushioning is present inside, with the IEMs, cable and cleaning tool all held firmly in place in a laser-cut velour insert which is custom cut to completely fill out the inside of the case. The insert is perfect for transporting the IEMs in safety (if you don’t mind disassembling them first, but doesn’t actually allow for any more accessories to be lugged around in the case as well unless you want to take a scalpel to the foam to carve out some extra space. Like the Aria model, the warranty card is actually hand written on the inside of the case itself (facing out of the bottom panel) – this lists the model name, serial number and who it was made for, and allows you to keep the important warranty detail for their impressive 2 year warranty handy in case of emergency. In terms of accessories, the Maya comes with two sets of Comply foam tip triple packs (T-600 size, both the normal fit and the more spherical “comfort” tip), a cleaning tool and a braided CIEM style 2 pin braided cable. The accessory loadout isn’t particularly huge, but two working cases (one for day to day carry, one if you need your gear to survive a nuclear war), six sets of tips and a decent braided cable are certainly nothing to balk at.
     
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    Build quality and ergonomics
     
    ** As the Maya and the Aria are based on the same outer shell, the below section is copied from my previous Aria review with a few minor adjustments – please skip on if you have already read the previous review **
     
    There is plenty of information on the Vibro Labs website (www.vibrolabs.com) on the manufacturing process and materials used in these IEMs, so I won’t go into massive detail here – the body of the IEM is made out of a transparent acrylic, with an exotic hardwood faceplate on the outer face. The faceplate is devoid of any branding, and currently comes in Buckeye wood, with the option of selecting a “masterwork” for additional outlay, which will be something slightly more unique. The main body of the IEM is 3D printed, and holds a similar ergonomic shape to many high-driver count universal IEMs like the current Noble series. As the shells are see-through, the internal wiring and driver mechanism can be seen clearly – there is plenty of space left in the bottom half of the shell, so I suspect that Vibro could release a higher driver count IEM at some stage without too much major rework on the housing (if they were so inclined).
     
    The quality of the build is excellent, with the 3D printed shells feeling smooth and blemish free, with a slightly mottled look when held directly to the light due to the peculiarities of the manufacturing process. They are very smooth and well finished, with the inner face containing the only conspicuous attempt at branding, with an engraved “Vibro” logo in white across the top part of the shell. In comparison to the smoky shells of the Aria, the shells on the tour version of the Maya are more or less clear – after a messaging exchange with Luke @ Vibro, he has confirmed that the Maya shells will indeed be “smokier” in the production versions, as the demo model came from a lighter production run. The wooden faceplate also deserves special mention, blending seamlessly into the main body of the IEM and providing a fantastic and unusual look when worn. The wood itself is beautifully worked and polished to a high shine.
     
    In terms of fit and ergonomics, the Maya fit very well in my larger-than-average ear canals – this is quite fortunate, as the sound bore of the IEM is one of the wider I have used, taking a set of Comply T-600s quite easily. That being said, I was easily able to get a very good seal with both ears, and once in, the shape of the shells kept the outer of the IEM around level with the outer part of my ear, so still felt pretty comfortable to wear for extended periods. For those with smaller ears, it may be more of a challenge to get a perfect fit, but Comply tips should help all but the most unspacious of eardrums get a good seal. I would venture a guess that these won’t be the best IEMs to try sleeping in, but at the pricetag involved, I wouldn’t imagine most people would risk wearing them to bed anyway. It is worth noting that my girlfriend has exceptionally small and shallow ear canals, and she wasn’t able to achieve a comfortable fit, but she also struggles with a few of my other IEMs, so not a major concern,
     
    20161003_065558.jpg
     
    Sound quality
     
    Test gear:
    LG G5 (with HiFi Plus 32-bit Sabre DAC add-on)
    Hifiman Supermini
    Cowon Plenue D
    Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (straight from the output jack)
     
    Test tracks (mainly 320kbps MP3 or FLAC/Tidal HiFi):
    Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – S.O.B. / Wasting Time
    Blackberry Smoke – The Whipporwill (album)
    Slash – Shadow Life / Bad Rain (my reference tracks for bass impact and attack, guitar “crunch”)
    Otis Redding – Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay (vocal tone)
    Sister Hazel – Hello, It’s Me (bass tone)
    Chris Stapleton – Whiskey And You
    Elvis – various
    Leon Bridges – Coming Home (album)
    Foy Vance – The Wild Swan
    Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (album)
    Rodrigo y Gabriela
    Mavis Staples – Livin’ On A High Note
    Twin Atlantic – The Great Divide / GLA
    The Darkness – Permission To Land
    Led Zeppelin - Mothership
     
    20161003_065452.jpg
     
    General impressions on the sound signature
     
    When I initially heard the Vibro Labs “sound” on the previous model (the Aria), I will admit I took a while to fully wrap my head around it in terms of getting the most enjoyment out of the music. With the benefit of a little brain burn-in under my belt already, the Maya was a much easier IEM to “slip into”, with a far more neutral overall tuning, without any major music emphasis. Luke @ Vibro has stated previous he isn’t a fan of ruler-flat reference tunings, and while the Maya definitely doesn’t have a particular emphasis in any of the sound ranges, the sound is still definitely more on the musical than analytical side of the fence. The Maya sport the sort of tuning that the Focal Spirit Pro has become famed for, with a nice balance across the full range, great extension in both directions but still a dash of music and sparkle in the sound to stop it becoming too “reference” and dull. One of the main talking points for people who didn’t like the previous Vibro labs model (the Aria) was the relative recession of the midrange compared to the bass and treble. This is certainly not the case with the Maya, with the mids being lifted in line with the rest of the sound frequencies to provide a more upfront and engaging vocal presence. Another tweak made by Vibro Labs is to boost the output of the quad-armature setup around the 16kHz – this doesn’t give an audible treble “spike” as this is already higher than most people without perfect ears can hear with any degree of distinction, but it does give a greater feel of “room acoustics” as a result as that is apparently where the brain picks up a lot of locational information from when processing sound. Overall, these IEMs are balanced, highly detailed and sport an air of refinement and excellent imaging that confirms their position as a genuine mid-fi flagship contender.
     
    20161003_065827.jpg
     
    Highs
     
    The highs are clear and concise, with great extension and a very good sense of space. The tuning has been smoothed out slightly from the previous model, and presents a clean and decently weighted treble all the way up through the range without any obvious spikes or hotspots. The clarity of the notes is very good, with a good feeling of solidity and precision that plants the notes firmly on the soundscape, ringing out with authority and no little energy. There is a slightly airier feel to the stage than the Aria, but it still doesn’t drift too far into ethereal, with good room for the notes to expand but not so much that they get lost in the space.
     
    Starting out with my normal test track for high frequencies, “Starlight” by Slash and Myles Kennedy sails through with flying colours, Kennedy’s soaring vocals pulsating with energy in the higher registers without crossing over into sibilance or cutting too sharply into the audio landscape. The Jimmy Page-esque dissonance of some of the guitar work also passes my listening comfort test, with the notes being clearly defined and sharp but still listenable. Listening to the high notes, you start to hear some of the “room sounds” that the Maya was tuned to bring out in the sound. There seems to be a greater than usual sense of the space around the artist and the instrument being played, furnishing the backdrop with all the usual micro-details like fret-sounds on guitar neck and breath sounds into microphones. In itself, this isn’t unusual for an IEM in this sort of price range, but the difference with the Maya’s presentation is the feeling that you can place each of the sounds in the correct part of the 3D landscape, adding to the feeling that the music is actually being played “in the room” rather than in between your ears.
     
    Going on my usual search for sibilance, Chris Stapleton is next up on the playlist, “Whiskey and You” playing its familiar refrains into my ears with a nice mix of smoothness and emotion, all the while avoiding the fingernails-on-the-chalkboard screech that some gear can turn some of the more “raw” parts of the chorus into with Stapleton’s gravel and bourbon soaked vocals. Switching across to cymbals, the Maya has a nice clear splash to the sound, with a reasonably natural decay and nice emphasis. Nothing too hot or excessive, but it definitely has a presence in the track.
    In terms of extension, Luke @ Vibro has confirmed these tweeters can fire way in excess of the human hearing threshold of 20kHz, and I don’t appear to have any music that has pushed these even close to the limit in terms of extension, so I am inclined to listen on that front. Overall, a mature and clear sounding treble tuning, with limitless extension and a great grasp of air and the in-room sound – very well done.
     
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    Mids
     
    The mids are the most obvious departure from the previous Vibro Labs IEM “sound”, with the Maya’s neutral tuning brining the vocals and other mid-based instruments into line with the bass and treble, providing a slightly more energetic and crisp sound as a result. The detail presented by the combined bass and treble crossover is excellent, bringing a great sense of realism to vocal performances as you almost hear the reeds moving in the singer’s throat on certain tracks. The detail is well controlled, however, and doesn’t detract from the musical slant on neutrality that the IEM portrays.
     
    Guitar-based music plays very well on the Maya, with heavy riffs coming across with a good sense of energy and speed in driving rock tracks, and singing sweetly in the background on more acoustic numbers. Playing some Led Zeppelin through the Mayas, Jimmy Page’s guitar work on “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is crisp, energetic and driving, feeling as fresh as the day it was recorded. Other guitar heavy tracks like “Shadow Life” by Slash pour out of the sound bores with a great sense of crunch and definition, chopping the track into small sharp pieces of pure rock vitriol for the listener to digest. As you can probably gather, the Maya has quite an energetic presentation for an ostensibly “neutral” headphone, and this does help most types or rock and metal music to sound really good, bringing my feet to life to tap along to the track I was listening to on more than one occasion. The reasonably solid weight from the treble is also felt in the mids – the sound isn’t thick, but it hits with presence and solidity, pinning the music down nicely around it.
     
    Male and female vocals are portrayed equally, the drivers not playing any favourites, leaving both sounding smooth and emotional at the same time. Keyboard based instruments are portrayed well too, with a realistic timbre and natural sound to the piano notes on both electronica and more laid back acoustic styles of music. In terms of overall tonality, the Maya has a crisp and musically neutral sound – nothing feels overly warm or analytical either, with a punchy emphasis that reminds me slightly of the Focal Spirit Pro in terms of musical neutrality.
     
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    Bass
     
    As this is a neutral tuning, the bass isn’t as heavy as its younger sibling the Aria, with a decent weight and presence but nothing excessive. This definitely isn’t a bass-head’s headphone, with the bass sounding punchy and authoritative but remaining firmly in the “just enough” category rather than the “my fillings have just melted due to the vibrations in my head” section. For tracks with a deep and driving bassline, the Maya copes well enough, playing “Hello, It’s Me” by Sister Hazel with a good amount of warmth and substance to the liquid bassline that permeates the song, without raising it above the rest of the soundscape. Switching across to “Bad Rain” by Slash, the texture and growl of the bassline is there in all its glory, but slightly further back and more restrained than usually presented on a more bass-heavy tuning.
     
    Switching over to electronica, and Emile Sande comes through the IEMs with a decent sense of bass rumble, but not quite the presence in the super-low registers that its sibling commands. Kick drums and percussion is snappy and precise, with a wonderful sense of placement to drum head impacts that fleshes out the rhythm section in your head and sits you just in front of the drum stool. Impact is decent for an all-BA setup, but nothing spectacular, and certainly nowhere near as visceral as the bass you can get from a decent dynamic driver. The tradeoff to this lightness of touch is the excellent speed the BA bass exhibits, tunring on a sixpence as the song demands it and making the most convoluted of basslines (think Primus) stand clearly defined in the listener’s ears.
     
    Overall, a satisfying and musical lower end, which retains its place in the soundscape well, doesn’t bleed or colour the sound in the midrange and does what is expected of a neutral tuning. The only area that really stands out is the detail, with the dual woofer setup being able to drag real texture and richness of sound from the lightest of bass notes, the lowered emphasis making the detail stand in prouder relief rather than being drowned out by the pumping mid-bass. Like I mentioned, bass-heads won’t be jumping for joy, but for people who like the bass just how the artist recorded it, the Maya can quite happily oblige.
     
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    Soundstage/separation
     
    Much like the Aria, the soundstage is good but not excessive, providing a feeling of playing a little way outside your head (mainly in the horizontal axis). Where it differs from the Aria is in the sense of 3D placement and realism the Maya can portray, with a palpable sense of being in the studio or the room with the musician with some better recorded Hi-Res tracks, with the locational cues ringing out loud and clear in the listener’s mind and providing a very “holographic” style of presentation. Separation and placement is very good, with the quad-BA drivers making light work of keeping the duelling guitars of Rodrigo y Gabriela or the twin guitar attack of Metallica blended together so they sound musical, but separate enough to have served divorce papers on each other when you need to follow one of the individual strands. The detail level the drivers are capable of also help here, with everything feeling crisp and properly defined, occupying its own space in the sonic landscape. This is a very good example of an IEM that just sounds “right” to me in terms of presentation, keeping a musical rather than analytical outlook, but furnishing the listener with enough audio detail to build up a pretty comprehensive picture in their heads at the same time.
     
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    Power requirements
     
    At 12 Ohms with 114db sensitivity, the Maya are definitely not a difficult IEM to drive, playing pretty nicely with my LG G5. I have been reviewing a few DAPs while I have been listening to these, and just like their little brother the Aria, I find that cranking the output to high gain where the DAP used has that option (or in the case of the Hifiman Supermini, just plugging it in to the minute powerhouse) gives the sound a little boost in terms of dynamics. I have no scientific basis to prove this theory, but for me, a little more juice renders much nicer overall results with this IEM.
     
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    Comparisons
     
    Vibro Labs Aria – This is the first IEM model that was produced by Vibro Labs, and now sits behind the Maya in their “pecking order”, with a $200 price differential. In terms of build, the IEMs look almost identical, with the Maya having a different wood faceplate and a transparent rather than smoky 3D printed shell. The ergonomics, fit and build are otherwise identical. The main differences in the Aria when comparing them to the Maya is the tuning, with the Aria having a more “U-shaped” sound, with more emphasis on the low bass frequencies and high treble, leaving the mids sitting further back in the soundscape compared to the flatness and more forward mids of the Maya. The Maya sound a little more energetic than the Aria, with similar punch in the bass but lower quantity and a greater vocal presence, with the Aria producing a slightly more laid back sound. In terms of treble, the Maya is actually capable of greater extension than the Aria, but carries less emphasis overall. In terms of detail, soundstage and “room sound”, the Maya is the more proficient of the two, with the more neutral tuning and more sophisticated acoustic and electronic crossovers being used to mesh the dual woofer and dual tweeter drivers together produceing a more technically adept sound. As I stated in my previous Aria review, these two IEMs are far more similar than they are different – I lean towards the Aria for my own preferences as I prefer a slightly more laid back and “musical” tuning, but in terms of technical ability and sheer capability, the Maya is probably the better IEM. I think they make an excellent pairing, with the more neutral tuning of the Maya pushing the Vibro “house sound” out to a wider audience who may not necessarily fall for the more laid back charms of the Aria. Neither would be a poor choice, so if you get the chance, try them out to see which version of the tuning you prefer.
     
    Nuforce HEM8 – this is an impression from recent memory rather than a direct A/B comparison, as I recently sold on the HEM as I was so impressed with the Aria, but thought it was worth including just for context as the only other quad BA IEM I have heard in this price bracket. The sonic signature of the HEM8 is a darker and more rich take on things, with a heavy note weight and a more closed in treble. It is also slightly less extended in the bass frequency range, with a heavier bass emphasis and a slightly warmer sound than the clearer and more neutral Maya. The Maya clearly wins on extension at both ends of the frequency range, and sounds airier and more detailed as a result, with a better presentation of micro-detail. For me, the HEM8 are a very good IEM with a warm and slightly dark tuning that is very good in its own right, but the additional clarity and detail the Maya can provide, along with the more “in the room” presentation make it a clear winner from a sonic standpoint for my personal requirements.
     
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    Overall conclusion
     
    The definition of progress is forward movement in the desired direction of travel, and I think that term applies pretty well to these IEMs. After launching a pretty well reviewed set of IEMs in the Aria, Vibro Labs could have sat back and created a “new” version of the existing tuning – instead, they took the sound signature and looked to see how it could be improved to bring more technicality to the table and appeal to a wider audience without losing the overall “flavour” that made the Aria so unique. I think they did a pretty good job here, as the Maya is a technically excellent IEM, with great ergonomics and finish and a much more “mainstream” tuning in the midrange to appeal to a more analytical and wider set of listeners. The sense of realism and physical location in the soundstage of various sounds is superb, and adds a great “in the room” feel to the sound. Coupled with the lively take on a neutral tuning and the smooth and fatigue free listening experience, if you are in the market for a technically accomplished and detailed IEM with great grasp of sound spacing and engaging but still reasonably flat signature, these are an excellent option.  In terms of rating, I actually prefer the Aria for my musical preferences, but can comfortably admit these are the “better” IEM of the two Vibro Labs in terms of imaging prowess, detail retrieval and overall capability, so have no problem rating these at 5 stars. They might not be 100% perfect for me, but I imagine they will certainly be a much better fit for quite a few other people out there.
      Brooko, FUYU and Luke Pighetti like this.
    1. Luke Pighetti
      Hey @Jackpot77, I just wanted to say that I feel very well represented by your reviews. Thank you.
      Luke Pighetti, Oct 4, 2016
    2. omgflyingbanana
      Interesting note on the Knowles tweeter's range! Do you happen to know which one is used in Maya?
      omgflyingbanana, Oct 6, 2016
    3. Jackpot77
      Don't know what tweeters are being used - Mr Pighetti on the comment above might be the best person to speak too on that score as he designed them - drop him a PM?
      Jackpot77, Oct 7, 2016

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