flinkenick's 17 Flagship IEM Shootout Thread (and general high-end portable audio discussion)
Apr 27, 2022 at 7:17 PM Post #38,911 of 39,143

HiFiHawaii808

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Apr 27, 2022 at 7:22 PM Post #38,913 of 39,143

HiFiHawaii808

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I wonder if they'll offer a custom Red Halo FE.
Unique Melody will reshell a Universal into a Custom, but they do not intend to offer a CIEM Red Halo FE. We already asked them.
 
Apr 27, 2022 at 8:26 PM Post #38,914 of 39,143

Tokpakorlo

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Posted the review on Jewel's official review thread: https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/aroma-audio-jewel.25790/reviews#review-28390

The Bird Finds a Rare Jewel:


(Blue Tiger camo...COD anyone?)

Introduction:

The hunt for a TOTL that could replace Traillii has been an extensive effort-one that likely is annoying at this point for others who do take the time to reads my mini-reviews.
Wow man, great review! Thanks for taking the time to share all that with us. I completely agree with you - having owned the Bird and currently having the Jewel custom in my ears, they are both utterly amazing. In the end I prefer the Jewel, but it can be a toss up for many reasons. If the Bird had been available in a custom I probably would have stuck with it, but the custom won me over. I will say the Jewel + Orpheus + N8ii is the most exquisite Hi-Fi experience I have ever heard in a portable setup. Both not without their limitations and idiosyncrasies, but holy hell the sound is wild. A full review is coming when I can get them burned in, and I have a chance to settle in with them. I hated when the Jewel was marketed as a Traillii killer (which it is not) but I do feel that the Jewel is a better, and more lifelike natural sounding presentation to my ears. For some Traillii will still be the better choice, but the Jewel is a stunner.

Quick aside; I received my Jewel customs about a month ago, and they didn't quite seal. So I sent them back to HK, along with my A18t customs, so they could be scanned for the proper adjustment. Due to the Covid outbreak in China UPS delivered them a week late, and then they sat in a warehouse for two more weeks to be disinfected... it was brutal. Because I had to send them my other customs I had nothing to listen to, just imagine having a brand new N8ii and no way to enjoy it... It was originally supposed to take one week, in the end it was 5 weeks. But, Aroma did the adjustment quite fast for me, and then sent them back via next day shipping which I really appreciated. They're finally back in my ears and I am so happy. Fit is good, very comfortable. Perhaps just a tad loose on the right side but they seal so I think we're good. They vanish in my ears compared to my 64As which are more snug.

***(On a side note, Aroma's communication is really not good. Partly because their English is not great - and partly because they just don't write back, I had to constantly ask for updates. In no way do I want to smear their name, and I will accept that fact that I am quite intense and perhaps overly full of expectations. Especially given the cargo I was nervously awaiting their return to me. Sending anything precious to HK right now should be avoided at all costs. The owner was very kind to me, and credit is due for his efforts and willingness to try, the length of the process was just rather painful for me.)

20220427_170923.jpg20220427_171219.jpg
 
Apr 28, 2022 at 9:54 AM Post #38,915 of 39,143

gLer

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Wow man, great review! Thanks for taking the time to share all that with us. I completely agree with you - having owned the Bird and currently having the Jewel custom in my ears, they are both utterly amazing. In the end I prefer the Jewel, but it can be a toss up for many reasons. If the Bird had been available in a custom I probably would have stuck with it, but the custom won me over. I will say the Jewel + Orpheus + N8ii is the most exquisite Hi-Fi experience I have ever heard in a portable setup. Both not without their limitations and idiosyncrasies, but holy hell the sound is wild. A full review is coming when I can get them burned in, and I have a chance to settle in with them. I hated when the Jewel was marketed as a Traillii killer (which it is not) but I do feel that the Jewel is a better, and more lifelike natural sounding presentation to my ears. For some Traillii will still be the better choice, but the Jewel is a stunner.

Quick aside; I received my Jewel customs about a month ago, and they didn't quite seal. So I sent them back to HK, along with my A18t customs, so they could be scanned for the proper adjustment. Due to the Covid outbreak in China UPS delivered them a week late, and then they sat in a warehouse for two more weeks to be disinfected... it was brutal. Because I had to send them my other customs I had nothing to listen to, just imagine having a brand new N8ii and no way to enjoy it... It was originally supposed to take one week, in the end it was 5 weeks. But, Aroma did the adjustment quite fast for me, and then sent them back via next day shipping which I really appreciated. They're finally back in my ears and I am so happy. Fit is good, very comfortable. Perhaps just a tad loose on the right side but they seal so I think we're good. They vanish in my ears compared to my 64As which are more snug.

***(On a side note, Aroma's communication is really not good. Partly because their English is not great - and partly because they just don't write back, I had to constantly ask for updates. In no way do I want to smear their name, and I will accept that fact that I am quite intense and perhaps overly full of expectations. Especially given the cargo I was nervously awaiting their return to me. Sending anything precious to HK right now should be avoided at all costs. The owner was very kind to me, and credit is due for his efforts and willingness to try, the length of the process was just rather painful for me.)

20220427_170923.jpg20220427_171219.jpg
Brilliant writeup. I enjoyed following your journey to the Jewel, right from the early 'not for me' posts, to this one. FWIW, those Jewels of yours look SO much better than the cheap-looking uni, it's like completely different IEMs. Congrats!
 
Apr 28, 2022 at 12:32 PM Post #38,916 of 39,143

solstice15

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***(On a side note, Aroma's communication is really not good. Partly because their English is not great - and partly because they just don't write back, I had to constantly ask for updates. In no way do I want to smear their name, and I will accept that fact that I am quite intense and perhaps overly full of expectations. Especially given the cargo I was nervously awaiting their return to me. Sending anything precious to HK right now should be avoided at all costs. The owner was very kind to me, and credit is due for his efforts and willingness to try, the length of the process was just rather painful for me.)
I was going to send mine to get reshelled, but they told me to wait until the covid situation improves, perhaps because of your experience. Glad they did, that 2 weeks in a warehouse would've been agonizing
 
Apr 28, 2022 at 8:49 PM Post #38,917 of 39,143

Tokpakorlo

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Brilliant writeup. I enjoyed following your journey to the Jewel, right from the early 'not for me' posts, to this one. FWIW, those Jewels of yours look SO much better than the cheap-looking uni, it's like completely different IEMs. Congrats!
Yeah man, it's been quite the journey. To be fair, I think the MusicTeck demo Jewel was kinda funky, heard by myself as well as @aaf evo. My custom sounds different than the universal I demoed. The high end for one is far more open, even right out of the box. Everything is more solid, organized, bigger stage too. I feel customs can sometimes lose high end, and smaller stage from the potentially smaller canal shape, but this one is just the opposite.

And yeah, better to wait on the reselling until the Covid crisis there is over. I'm glad my suffering can at least be of some service to the community here :)
 
Apr 28, 2022 at 9:06 PM Post #38,918 of 39,143

Sifo

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Yeah man, it's been quite the journey. To be fair, I think the MusicTeck demo Jewel was kinda funky, heard by myself as well as @aaf evo. My custom sounds different than the universal I demoed. The high end for one is far more open, even right out of the box. Everything is more solid, organized, bigger stage too. I feel customs can sometimes lose high end, and smaller stage from the potentially smaller canal shape, but this one is just the opposite.

Wait seriously? I only got to try the MusicTeck demo at CJ NYC and had the same reaction and wrote the Jewel off until recently when I saw everyone raving about it. Now I want one in custom.
 
Apr 28, 2022 at 9:32 PM Post #38,919 of 39,143

Frankie D

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Wait seriously? I only got to try the MusicTeck demo at CJ NYC and had the same reaction and wrote the Jewel off until recently when I saw everyone raving about it. Now I want one in custom.
The Jewel was fine at CanJam. They probably had a fit issue with the universal. It also sounded better with the Chiron cable. Not everyone thought it was “the best” they ever heard, but I did not see anyone dislike it. @RTodd would know even more as he was working the table where it was located.
 
Apr 28, 2022 at 9:41 PM Post #38,920 of 39,143

aaf evo

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The Jewel was fine at CanJam. They probably had a fit issue with the universal. It also sounded better with the Chiron cable. Not everyone thought it was “the best” they ever heard, but I did not see anyone dislike it. @RTodd would know even more as he was working the table where it was located.

I had great fit. The demo unit I heard and the universal unit I purchased sounded different in the highs. But I have no way of confirming there was a difference. Very happy with the CIEM though regardless.
 
Apr 28, 2022 at 10:39 PM Post #38,921 of 39,143

KuroKitsu

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On a side note, Aroma's communication is really not good. Partly because their English is not great - and partly because they just don't write back, I had to constantly ask for updates. In no way do I want to smear their name, and I will accept that fact that I am quite intense and perhaps overly full of expectations. Especially given the cargo I was nervously awaiting their return to me. Sending anything precious to HK right now should be avoided at all costs. The owner was very kind to me, and credit is due for his efforts and willingness to try, the length of the process was just rather painful for me.
It's just something to consider when dealing with HK companies.

You'll tend to get better and more frequent responses if:

1). You're a dealer
2). You've made a purchase with them

That's before:

1). They don't know english or had a low level
2). They just actively ignore english queries

Which is pretty surprising given that HKers generally tend to be able to deal with written english fairly well.


Few out of many examples:

Musicteck ran out of stock during the BF Sale in 2020, and PW had to build the cable I ordered. Andrew had to chase them a couple times to figure out where my order was (First, delays from running out of Cardas wire), then them not being able to figure out a Canadian Postal Code, despite having been provided the shipping details.

Been waiting for a week for a response to an email from Astral Accoustics I sent with questions about the Ref Silver after reading the Headfonics review. But somehow was able to send me updates about my order for the White back in 2021.

At that point, I'm better off just wrapping it up into a trip to visit family if I was actually interested,
 
May 1, 2022 at 10:16 AM Post #38,922 of 39,143

Deezel177

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And, she’s live!


After a ton of typing, my review of the Lime Ears Anima is now up on THL! It’s an in-ear to me that isn’t afraid to add color to the TOTL space with its crisp, airy sound and huge, bouncy instruments. So, give it a read if that sounds like the in-ear for you, and don’t forget to hit @Rockwell75 and @mvvRAZ up for their respective tours, if you’re keen to give it a go too. :)



I also said a while ago that this review would be a really special one for me, personally, and it honestly has little to do with the review itself. It’s more about the announcement I’m about to make, because I felt that - given Lime Ears was where my reviewing career started - it’d be a fitting way to announce its end as well. I’m relieved to finally, finally announce that 2022 will be my final year as an audio reviewer. As soon as I finish my remaining reviews, which I expect to be around June or July, I’ll be stepping down from THL and putting down the pen for good.

I made this decision in August of last year, and it was - thank God - a really easy one for me to make. When Nic offered me the THL gig all the way back in 2017, I’d just graduated from college, but I hadn’t yet found my place in church. I did little more than watch a mix console 3 times a week, and I spent the rest of my time watching YouTube videos or playing video games. So, when the offer came, so did an opportunity to be productive and do something very much outside my comfort zone. Still, I always, always knew: Whenever God wanted to tag me in and get me going at church, I’d be ready to leave this gig behind in a heartbeat.

And, that’s what came to pass late last year. Recording, mixing and mastering jobs began piling up. My passion for drumming is stronger than ever. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play and make music with my own band. We start laying tracks for my first original song in a few days, in fact. And, all of that has coincided with less and less of a drive to continue writing, which is how I realized the time had come for me to close this chapter of my life, and move on to bigger and better things.

It’s an extremely cheesy thing to say (as this entire post will probably come off to all of you), but these past 5 years have probably been the most formative of my life; just second to my college years. For the first time ever, I was thrown into the deep end of having actual, professional responsibilities. I had to face dog-eat-dog competition, which - more than you guys can ever believe - was often toxic, bitter and anxiety-inducing. Boy, do I have stories. And, I also learned the value of pacing myself and not letting work overshadow my mental health. These were experiences that changed me infinitely for the better, and I can look back on them now as gifts, rather than burdens.

I also learned that duty import taxes here in Jakarta are borderline criminal, but that’s for another discussion.

Above all (and I warned y’all this was gonna be cheesy), though, it was the relationships I got to build along the way that truly calcified this experience for me. Beyond all the brands I’ve worked with, the support that you guys, as a community across forums and across threads, have given me has been nothing short of riveting. From all the OG’s (you know who you are) who I barely see on the site anymore, to all of you guys now who are too many to name, it’s honestly your words of encouragement that have made every keystroke, every photo set and every hour I’ve spent on Lightroom worthwhile. :D I can say with absolute certainty that I would’ve made this post a long time ago if it wasn’t for all of you, so, from the very bottom of my heart, thank you.

With all that said, this (and my aforementioned remaining reviews) won’t be the end of me on Head-Fi either. I’ll still post and share like I usually do. I may throw in some fun content like a casual interview, or impressions of an IEM I might have tried on a trip, or some stuff from my recording/mixing/mastering sessions. To start, I’m planning a no-holds-barred AMA about my experiences as soon as I officially leave THL. So, if you ever wanted to ask a reviewer anything at all, you can start getting your Q’s ready. But, yeah, though it won’t be as often or lengthy (which may even be a good thing for some of you), the door will always be open for new content to come in. At the same time, I really, really look forward to the day when I can visit Singapore or Japan without having to worry about capturing enough content for Head-Fi. It’s such an alien concept to me at this point, and the mere thought of it sounds like an absolute relief.

As far as my replacement on THL goes, I’m handing the reins to the TOTL segment over to my ever-reliable colleague: @ryanjsoo. He’s been a writer for the site longer than me, and he’s truly long-overdue for an opportunity like this. He never ceases to write like a pro, and I've basically stolen everything I know about IEM photography from him, so I assure you guys that my spot will be in very, very good hands.

Now, the guy taking over Ryan’s spot on THL is someone all of you will likely be familiar with. As Nic heralded me onto the team with his retirement post, I’m incredibly honored to welcome our very own @gLer onto the THL team!

474900.jpg

Again, he’ll be taking over Ryan’s $1000-1500 segment on the site, and, as most of you will probably agree, I trust that he’ll be more than capable for the task at hand; both visually and aurally. Plus, along with folks like @Rockwell75, @aaf evo, @Damz87, etc., I’m very relieved to see the community has a ton of great movers well-integrated within it already, so you don’t need reviewers like me to introduce new stuff when they come out. It’s a more actual-customer-driven market now that wouldn’t have been imaginable back when I started out. And, with IEM tours becoming more and more frequent too, I’m happy to see brands and dealers embrace the change just as much.

To close this very long, very sentimental post, I want to again reiterate the love I have for this hobby and this community. I stumbled onto Head-Fi a shy, awkward teen who’d shudder at the thought of interacting with any stranger, let alone online. And, now, I’m an almost-married (almost-engaged, technically) adult announcing his retirement from a five-year stint reviewing world-renowned audio products to a community of hundreds of genuine companions. As every beautiful development in my life has been, it’s a storyline only a being as out-there as God could’ve come up with, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for it all. In lieu of bigger, deeper, more adequate words, all I have left to say is thank you… thank you… thank you.

Cheers,
Daniel
 
May 1, 2022 at 10:32 AM Post #38,923 of 39,143

rantng

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@Deezel177 Daniel, not much to say beyond what’s already been said. Your reviews will be missed, but it’s good to hear you’ll still be around. Your service to the community will always be appreciated. Excelsior! Provehito in altum

Congratulations to @ryanjsoo & @gLer
 
May 1, 2022 at 10:44 AM Post #38,924 of 39,143

Kerouac

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And, she’s live!


After a ton of typing, my review of the Lime Ears Anima is now up on THL! It’s an in-ear to me that isn’t afraid to add color to the TOTL space with its crisp, airy sound and huge, bouncy instruments. So, give it a read if that sounds like the in-ear for you, and don’t forget to hit @Rockwell75 and @mvvRAZ up for their respective tours, if you’re keen to give it a go too. :)



I also said a while ago that this review would be a really special one for me, personally, and it honestly has little to do with the review itself. It’s more about the announcement I’m about to make, because I felt that - given Lime Ears was where my reviewing career started - it’d be a fitting way to announce its end as well. I’m relieved to finally, finally announce that 2022 will be my final year as an audio reviewer. As soon as I finish my remaining reviews, which I expect to be around June or July, I’ll be stepping down from THL and putting down the pen for good.

I made this decision in August of last year, and it was - thank God - a really easy one for me to make. When Nic offered me the THL gig all the way back in 2017, I’d just graduated from college, but I hadn’t yet found my place in church. I did little more than watch a mix console 3 times a week, and I spent the rest of my time watching YouTube videos or playing video games. So, when the offer came, so did an opportunity to be productive and do something very much outside my comfort zone. Still, I always, always knew: Whenever God wanted to tag me in and get me going at church, I’d be ready to leave this gig behind in a heartbeat.

And, that’s what came to pass late last year. Recording, mixing and mastering jobs began piling up. My passion for drumming is stronger than ever. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play and make music with my own band. We start laying tracks for my first original song in a few days, in fact. And, all of that has coincided with less and less of a drive to continue writing, which is how I realized the time had come for me to close this chapter of my life, and move on to bigger and better things.

It’s an extremely cheesy thing to say (as this entire post will probably come off to all of you), but these past 5 years have probably been the most formative of my life; just second to my college years. For the first time ever, I was thrown into the deep end of having actual, professional responsibilities. I had to face dog-eat-dog competition, which - more than you guys can ever believe - was often toxic, bitter and anxiety-inducing. Boy, do I have stories. And, I also learned the value of pacing myself and not letting work overshadow my mental health. These were experiences that changed me infinitely for the better, and I can look back on them now as gifts, rather than burdens.

I also learned that duty import taxes here in Jakarta are borderline criminal, but that’s for another discussion.

Above all (and I warned y’all this was gonna be cheesy), though, it was the relationships I got to build along the way that truly calcified this experience for me. Beyond all the brands I’ve worked with, the support that you guys, as a community across forums and across threads, have given me has been nothing short of riveting. From all the OG’s (you know who you are) who I barely see on the site anymore, to all of you guys now who are too many to name, it’s honestly your words of encouragement that have made every keystroke, every photo set and every hour I’ve spent on Lightroom worthwhile. :D I can say with absolute certainty that I would’ve made this post a long time ago if it wasn’t for all of you, so, from the very bottom of my heart, thank you.

With all that said, this (and my aforementioned remaining reviews) won’t be the end of me on Head-Fi either. I’ll still post and share like I usually do. I may throw in some fun content like a casual interview, or impressions of an IEM I might have tried on a trip, or some stuff from my recording/mixing/mastering sessions. To start, I’m planning a no-holds-barred AMA about my experiences as soon as I officially leave THL. So, if you ever wanted to ask a reviewer anything at all, you can start getting your Q’s ready. But, yeah, though it won’t be as often or lengthy (which may even be a good thing for some of you), the door will always be open for new content to come in. At the same time, I really, really look forward to the day when I can visit Singapore or Japan without having to worry about capturing enough content for Head-Fi. It’s such an alien concept to me at this point, and the mere thought of it sounds like an absolute relief.

As far as my replacement on THL goes, I’m handing the reins to the TOTL segment over to my ever-reliable colleague: @ryanjsoo. He’s been a writer for the site longer than me, and he’s truly long-overdue for an opportunity like this. He never ceases to write like a pro, and I've basically stolen everything I know about IEM photography from him, so I assure you guys that my spot will be in very, very good hands.

Now, the guy taking over Ryan’s spot on THL is someone all of you will likely be familiar with. As Nic heralded me onto the team with his retirement post, I’m incredibly honored to welcome our very own @gLer onto the THL team!


Again, he’ll be taking over Ryan’s $1000-1500 segment on the site, and, as most of you will probably agree, I trust that he’ll be more than capable for the task at hand; both visually and aurally. Plus, along with folks like @Rockwell75, @aaf evo, @Damz87, etc., I’m very relieved to see the community has a ton of great movers well-integrated within it already, so you don’t need reviewers like me to introduce new stuff when they come out. It’s a more actual-customer-driven market now that wouldn’t have been imaginable back when I started out. And, with IEM tours becoming more and more frequent too, I’m happy to see brands and dealers embrace the change just as much.

To close this very long, very sentimental post, I want to again reiterate the love I have for this hobby and this community. I stumbled onto Head-Fi a shy, awkward teen who’d shudder at the thought of interacting with any stranger, let alone online. And, now, I’m an almost-married (almost-engaged, technically) adult announcing his retirement from a five-year stint reviewing world-renowned audio products to a community of hundreds of genuine companions. As every beautiful development in my life has been, it’s a storyline only a being as out-there as God could’ve come up with, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for it all. In lieu of bigger, deeper, more adequate words, all I have left to say is thank you… thank you… thank you.

Cheers,
Daniel

My initial thoughts were: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
Nic Cage.gif


But all stories have to come to an end at some time I guess. So thanks for all your wonderful contributions / reviews over the past years Daniel! I really enjoyed reading them and I hope that many good things may come on your path in the future. Thanks and also good luck to your successors! They've got some really big shoes to fill imho :)

Btw, now I'm gonna read your LE Anima review...

Cheers!
 
Last edited:
May 1, 2022 at 10:49 AM Post #38,925 of 39,143

gLer

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@Deezel177 I'll keep this short and sweet, as this is still very much your stage and spotlight. Only to say that I am am humbled beyond words for the opportunity to join the THL team, and I can only hope that my contribution will add to the immense value, insight and passion you've given this entire community over the years. Here's to you Dan!

leonardo-dicaprio-leo-dicaprio.gif
 

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