Dope Audio earphones — unusual planar IEMs
Oct 16, 2020 at 5:29 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

cleg

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Dope Audio is a small IEM making startup from Saint Petersburg, Russia. They've decided to do an unusual thing: create a planar magnetic IEMs, utilizing the benefits of this technology to the maximum. And so appeared Pure, model with close to perfect step response, low distortion and close to linear FR

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Here are the measurements by creators
photo_2020-10-16 11.27.20.jpegphoto_2020-10-16 11.27.29.jpeg


The price is 680 euros. The lineup consists of 3 models:
  • Pure — neutrality and linearity pushed to the maximum
  • Soft — for treble sensitive persons who want more relaxed highs
  • Heavy — balanced armature model tuned for a "fun" sound
Some links:
Official site: https://dopeaudio.pro
Headfonia review: https://www.headfonia.com/dope-audio-dope-pure-review/
My review video:
 
Oct 24, 2020 at 5:47 AM Post #2 of 8

B3w1ld3r3d

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Dope Audio is a small IEM making startup from Saint Petersburg, Russia. They've decided to do an unusual thing: create a planar magnetic IEMs, utilizing the benefits of this technology to the maximum. And so appeared Pure, model with close to perfect step response, low distortion and close to linear FR

cropped-IMGP6079-1-scaled-1.jpg

Here are the measurements by creators
photo_2020-10-16 11.27.20.jpegphoto_2020-10-16 11.27.29.jpeg


The price is 680 euros. The lineup consists of 3 models:
  • Pure — neutrality and linearity pushed to the maximum
  • Soft — for treble sensitive persons who want more relaxed highs
  • Heavy — balanced armature model tuned for a "fun" sound
Some links:
Official site: https://dopeaudio.pro
Headfonia review: https://www.headfonia.com/dope-audio-dope-pure-review/
My review video:
Sounds an interesting, niche product.

I'll take the opportunity to say that I watch and read (those in English) many of your reviews and I appreciate the effort and balanced approach taken. I have found the content very informative and helpful.

If I can, I'll ask one question. Does the Dope Audio Pure, using only a single planar driver, meet your requirements/expectations of an IEM? If I'm correct, you have previously stated that other single planar IEMs have not really 'hit the mark' for your own personal tastes (apologies if I'm attributing that view to you by mistake or misrepresenting it). In any case, I would appreciate hearing your view.
 
Oct 24, 2020 at 11:38 AM Post #3 of 8

cleg

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Thank you for a great question. Yes, in general, I prefer a hybrid models, like IMR EDP for example, because usually single planar IEMs deosn’t deliver enough bass weight for my taste (like Tin P1). Another example I hope to review soon — DIY IEM model from Kyiv master with a DD and ribbon driver.

But Pure Dope it’s another thing, they don’t trying to create a “regular” sound, their idea was to deliver a totally neutral IEMs with a perfect step response. And that moves them aside from competition, making them a totally unique. It’s definitely not a model “for everyone“, but it’s more a unique experience I really recommend for an experienced audiophile. As far as I know, there is no another such IEMs. And if some “established brans” release something similar, they could charge 2-3 times more for it )))
So I’m really happy to have a Pure Dope in my collection. But at the same time, it’s not a model I can recommend to everyone, ‘cause you need to understand what you’ll get with them
 
Dec 14, 2020 at 7:36 AM Post #6 of 8

Lohb

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Anyone try out Soft Dope...? I think that is the one I'd like...not a fan of hot treble.
 
Feb 4, 2021 at 2:58 AM Post #7 of 8

Ta6ypeTka

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As a big fan of portable devices and high quality of sound with a tangible focus on clarity, resolution, soundstage and imaging, I’ve been using planar oems for long time and have been struggling to find a decent pair of iems. I’m not a great fan of armature drivers for a couple of reasons; practice has shown that I’m preferring listening to my MrSpeakers Ether c Flow 1.1 rather than to any armature/hybrid iems literally in any scenarios. The best of the best armature/hybrid/dynamic iems I’ve heard (AA MAD16, In Ear PP8s, CA Solaris, Noble Kaizer, JVC HA-FW10000) don’t even closely stand to the experience I have listening to my Ethers.
Thus, I haven’t yet found any iems that could find some usage in my audiophile journey.

And you can imagine my happiness while I’ve discovered that some planar iems are appearing on the market. ~ A year has passed since that and there are several companies with several models of such iems: quite a bit, but not that many at total. Afaik, there are: Tin Audio P1 and P2, Myst Izoem1 and Izoem3, Dope Audio PRO Pure, Soft and Lucid and several other models of other chinese companies, that I haven’t yet manage to listen to (and not really willing to do so basing on other audiophiles’ reviews). Amongst these (I’ve heard all of them), I can say, that I still haven’t found a pair for myself, however, I suggest, that it’s due to my personal specific hearing aspects and listening scenarios and that many others might find one of these headphones as desired pair of iems.

Starting with the ones, that I’ve liked the least: Myst Izoems. Both models are quite similar in the means of aspects that I didn’t like: insufficiently airy sound, comparably not big soundstage and a bit muddy mids. I like more clear, transparent and open-sounding headphones.

Tin Audio P1&P2 are pretty decent ones, especially for their price tags, however, I’ve liked them slightly less than Dope Audio PRO models. Generally, they have an amazing resolution along with the dense, fast and clear attacks with transparent and clear attenuations, pretty decent soundstage and good imaging. P1 is more neutral, while P2 is yummier and more emotional in the upper base and mids; both have quite an extensive amount of treble, and P2 has way more. That’s the point that actually made me dislike them. I’m having annoying sibilance in P1 and literally insane sibilance in P2. Snares and “s” in vocals making my ears “bleed”. Besides said, P2 generally do sound better. Better imaging, deeper soundstage, more accurate and natural sounding mids. P1 has a bit unnatural mids. However, if I got to choose one, I would go for P1 since they are almost fine for my ears in terms of sibilance; it’s the model that I can listen to almost without any claims considering this issue (with a tube amp and a gecent dark copper cable).

Sadly, I’m having the same issues with treble with all the planar models of Dope Audio PRO as well. But all the rest is amazing with them. All three models sound pretty much similar to each other. To make it easier, it’s transparent, clean and flat P1 with slightly higher resolution and more natural sound overall. All three models have more sibilance, than P1, but less, than P2.

Pure Dope is literally the best pair of iems I’ve heard so far in terms of everything except treble. I can’t evaluate and describe it since I can’t understand it. It’s literally painful for me. All the rest is outstanding. Excessively huge and open soundstage, airy and transparent mids, ultimately fast and precise attacks (but the sound isn’t harsh and sharp overall), perfect tone balance and very solid and dense punch, although the bass isn’t elevated even a tiny bit. Only well-made planar driver is capable of doing so, and this is clearly heard in Pure. These are reference iems.

Soft is now discontinued and was made as an attempt to lower the treble sibilance and slightly soften the sound and make it a bit more fluid. It was a success in this regard, however, I personally like Soft less than Pure; all the aspects are remaining except the amount of treble at 7khz is smaller and mids are slightly softer. Whilst I would prefer them to be more precise and to make sound more fluid by a source; likely – a tube amp.

Lucid is basically the same model as Pure once again with lowered amount of treble, but this time with the remaining precision and attacks. However, it’s as intended; in reality mids aren’t same airy as in Pure. They are still super open and airy, but not same as in Pure (the difference is tiny, though). The level of sibilance is way lower than in Pure, though, and it’s almost same as in Tin P1.

Overall, here is my conclusion over Pure, Lucid, P1 and P2:
Best sound level generally: Dope Pure. Most emotional and yummy: Tin P2.
If comparing Dope Lucid vs Tin P1, Lucid is generally better, but has slightly more sibilance. If one is afraid of sibilance, but wants to get planar a planar iem, this is the choice he has to make. However, many my friends simply don’t understand my claims and are just casually listening to Pure and P2, wondering What am I being worried about.

As for my experience, I’ve succeeded finding a scenario, in which I don’t have any claims on sibilance in Pure. This is jazz with few symbols and snares, played on neutral dac (my case is Sonic Frontiers SFD2 MK2) with the dark tube amp (in my case it’s Woo Audio WA8. Although it’s dark and makes treble less bright, the quality and precision of sound in general and treble in particular is great with this one) and using a decent copper cable. And with this setup, I would say, you will not find a better sounding iems on Earth. They are wide, deep, open, airy and transparent af, have a reference level accurate precision, dense punch, now with the ultraanalog dac and a groovy and emotional tube amp musical, groovy and engaging with yummy bass and instruments’ body. And with this setup they don’t have any sibilance even for me. No any other iem model is capable of such an insane potential; no any iem model can be same airy, open and precise while being groovy and having a dense and precise punch at the same time. And having such an insane quality level of treble while not having sibilance; they are perfect in amount and outstanding in quality in such setup.



As an addition, I want to discuss the possible portable sources for planar iems, because this is a rather specific aspect and I have some experience in it. However, I’m not going to discuss all of the devices that can provide enough power in this case; I’m going to talk about tube amps. I suppose that izodynamic headphones generally “like” tube amping. Not in terms of power supply specifics (ofc it’s easier to provide higher voltage and tougher to provide higher current, that suits dynamic and electrostatic headphones and doesn’t suit planar ones), but in terms of sound signature. And this specific case has pretty tough limitations:
1) We would like to use iems on the go, so the source has likely to fit a jeans’ pocket (and be comfortable enough);
2) The source has to be powerful enough to provide sufficient power supply to these planar iems (all of them are rather tough ones).

There is a list of portable tube daps/dacamps/amps that I have studied while investigating this issue down below. Sadly, I have found no powerful daps with a decent level of sound quality to be a good match for one of the iems discussed above. Among dacamps/amps... Guess, how many ones can we have, that will fit both criterion? All right. One. It’s Oriolus BA300S. His thickness is only 16.5mm, while the closest competitor is 20mm thick. And if we talk about in-pocket usage, thickness matters the most. And these 3.5mm are the killer-feature of 300S. Luckily, it doesn’t only have the proper sizes, but the decent sound as well. It has transparent trebles, juicy and slightly elevated lows, slightly emotional and fluid mids (you could want more of groove and emotions, though: it’s not super accented; not at all), pretty deep soundstage and amazingly natural-feeling imaging (sort of outstanding at this point: I haven’t heard any other portable tube amp/dacamp with such a greatly natural feeling imaging). It’s nor not softening lows neither reducing dynamics. Sadly, it's not darkening treble so that scenario with Wa8 described above isn't possible for me (basically, among all the portable tube amps I've heard only Wa8 fits well in terms of reducing sibilance).

And now we have to find a proper dap for the combo. Again, thickness matters the most. And if we consider a decent level of sound... I have found the following options: Hifiman R2R2000; Hifiman HM1000, Quloos QA361, Questyle QP2R, Questyle QPM. Again, quite a few. And we even have to get rid of QP2R, because 300S is “weak” and doesn’t have its own power regulator but works as a booster for power; the power level is still regulated on dap; and the power, that 300S “adds” to the daps is rather miserable, so QP2R+300S won’t be able to power planar iems discussed above. If you are budget-limited as well, you might choose only among QA361 and R2R2000 red. Basically, these are 2 main options, IMO, in a budget segment, that will fit well the needs in this specific scenario. QA361 is more neutral in every aspect, while R2R2000 is more dynamic, pushy, dense and groovy. Both are pretty powerful daps. If your budget is higher, I would rather pick R2R2000 black, HM1000 or QPM, more likely, the HM1000. Or the R2R2000 modded by Romi audio.

In any option we pick, we get a powerful source of <34mm thickness with an amazing level of sound, with a tube warmth and groove that fits izodynamic headphones so well; and thus one of the 4 planar iems discussed in the beginning will have a really decent match with one of the sources described in this part.

I am discussing it here because I suppose that tubes are really a better way to drive planar headphones in terms of sound signature, and, since these are planar iems, one would need a portable (likely, pocket fitting) and powerful source for them; and this is a tricky issue.



Notes:
All the written is my opinion. I’m 24 yo; my listening volume is very high (exceedingly high for most of my friends); I'm super sensitive to sibilance. I define mids by regular signer's vocal range (250~2500hz).

Sources (95% of tests):
Chord Hugo 2, Chord Hugo 2 + Woo Audio Wa8 (as an amp), Hifiman R2R2000 red, Hifiman R2R2000 red + Oriolus BA300S JP.

Tracklist:
Behemoth – Blow your trumpets Gabriel;
Meshuggah – Bleed, Demiurge;
Slipknot – All out life;
Ayreon – Day 15 Betrayal, Waracle (semi-acoustic), Sixteenth extinction, a Deathcry of a race (instrumental);
Diablo Swing Orchestra – Bedlam sticks, a Tapdancer’s dilemma, Kevlar sweethearts, Knucklehugs, Jigsaw hustle;
Tool – Jambi;
Igorrr – Cheval;
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take five;
DemoN Sampler – Simon’s solo, Anna Lee, Chitlins con carne, Barrio san Miguel.

List of portable tube daps/dacamps/amps:
wa8, alo cdm, alo continental v3 /v5, cayin n3pro, cayin n8, cayin c9, oriolus ba300s, phatlab phantasy /2, phatlab chimera /d, sassy gt, tu-05, go-dap tt, cypher labs algorythm trio, lucya 6h16, lucya 6021, hifi ad3, elekit tu-hp03, fostex hp-v1, little bear b4 /-x.
 
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May 27, 2021 at 3:36 PM Post #8 of 8

qsk78

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Will leave it here...
Got a chance today to audition three models: Pure Dope, Lucid Dope, Acid Dope.
Let's see if I come up with a detailed review one day...who knows

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