Phonic BW3 (Mk2) - Handmade Wooden 3BAs IEMs
Apr 23, 2020 at 11:09 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

Cheaplad

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Phonic BW3 (Mk2) Silver Wire Edition - Handmade Wooden 3BAs IEMs

Frequency Response: 20-20k Hz
Resistance: 11 ohms
Sensitivity: 113dB@1k Hz
BA: Three Knowles Per Side
Wood: African Padauk

https://www.phoniciem.com/product/bw3/

_OhHY3L9ZubuUW1nP-uvPWUK2EY2k6nS51QMHxpe1CHnvSBjlQpHaaAgP5EdGeA06_-JDdCWal7-bClJSL5pKmtgigDsAyyGCTBET48Qri4KyipP_FvD5AaUJpgwDE0KyT28pd04

These IEMs are one of a kind - handmade wooden 3BAs IEMs made by......not me...... but a brass playing young fellow in Hong Kong, who owns Phonic IEMs. These are made of African Padauk. Also, the monitors used silver wiring, (so it is called SWE - silver wire edition).

I love wood products. But when I came across Phonic's online catalog, actually just three weeks ago, I had approached this craft art with more curiosity than expectation. In the earth with new IEMs being rolled out every day, from all the hybrids / tribrids which sell multi-thousand bucks to all the budget Chi-fi IEMs loaded with 10+ BAs, I thought I have seen it all (if not tried them all).

So what did I expect about these IEMs three weeks ago?
- A reinterpretation of a hobby I love. [Translation: A reason to buy a pair of IEMs with something interestingly new.]
- IEMs with more than a hint of craftsmanship. [Translation: Another hip new pair of IEMs I could show off to my friends.]
- A small but meaningful participation in the design process of these IEMs [Translation: To provide myself with a small reason to get away from all the turmoils and plagues and economical and political catastrophes and worries and melancholia we were all in.]
- Not much about sound, I guess.

And so, do these IEMs help achieve these expectations? A firm Yes, for the first three. And they actually sound good and fun!

(The paragraphs below are by no means a review. I am a user, not a critical reviewer. I have always mixed up all the formidable sound describing terminologies. So please bear with me - just see my words below nothing more than a stream of conscious-esque mumbling.)

Package:

For handmade IEMs, the package is what I would call rudimentary. There is no paper-and-plastic presentation box, no user manual by technical writers, no thank-you-for-buying-our-product card, or no any small cleaning tools or any gizmos. The IEMs do come with a cable (you may choose a 3.5 or a Lighting termination) and a brown protection zipper case which I politely say no to. (Out of environmental concern. And of course, nothing would suppress that cozy Campfire Audio’s leather case that kept my Andromeda safe).

The Look:

“Gorgeous” is the first word when Phonic showed me the finished product of my pair. My pair is made of African Padauk – on Phonic’s website it is mentioned that:

[T]he wood density is about 0.72g/cm3, which is the lower density of the five types of wood, strong low frequency, and strong dive ability. African Padauk is also often used for furniture, with a unique woody scent.

Honestly, switching between this Afican Padauk and other types of wood materials in the offering, I could not sense any discernible difference there by my less than sensitive ears. So I opted for African Padauk because of the light colour and subtle wood pattern. The faceplates could be customized by having the logos or words laser-engraved on them. And the logo containing my initial on the right plate pairs pretty well with the Phonic logo.

31uKeBqOesEQhVNA6yWUITjM5wQOuloDW44YYO2hqcR9bocHG9l5eufYsRTiIToNQAJMcFaz72nx7pYfdx1cGtOrkimegBadOWGBK91VRtPZ7x0iS43dy_0a1U3JjJc66qw_ivWo


Don’t expect two IEMs of the same pair are 100% symmetrical like those factory-made, precisely-cut products. The shells and the chambers are carved out from wood by hand; even with good craftsmanship, there would still be slight traits of asymmetry between monitors. To me, acceptable; but those with OCD should look away.
JFGGZM-skZ6oN3npPTvCmrIW0nA1wN-F1Mc1Hq7ngxGiLkcomPIVA-boINt_Zox77t8dxPd6zFjxqQPBhhjJbTQ0S2AlZD0x3zH867J86bK6JXauCFl7HYpflukJAgdN-HoJhxHo

During the two-week production, Phonic sent me photos of having the IEMs body varnished by Danish oil.

The Initial Glitches:

As the monitor bodies are cut out from a wood log or else, the shapes of them may not readily fit every ear in the world. To me, though, the fit is OK but not excellent. The sound outlets are long, because, Phonic told me, it would be very difficult to hand-carve short outlets on the monitor bodies. So the shells of the monitors would stick out from my ears quite a bit.

When I just got hold of the new iems, I used an after-market cable (Nocturnal Audio Acrux silver cable) without the memory wires, and I had some initial struggle and snuggling with the positions of the monitors and the cable. Then I switched to the great but stiff ALO SXC-8 with the memory wires, which posed an even bigger problem with the positioning. Edit: Using ALO Reference 8 with memory wire, and it helps the monitors to have the best fit and seal. Thankfully when I switched back to Acrux and used the SpinFit tips, the monitors then sit nicely on my ears. With these tips, the isolation has been quite remarkable and I could be immersed in music even listening to it in a noisy environment..

They sound nice…… more about sound will follow…...
 
Last edited:
Apr 24, 2020 at 12:56 AM Post #2 of 12

Cheaplad

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The Sound:

Initial thought: The BW3(Mk2) have a strong clarity and very detailed presentation especially of higher mid to high frequency. Good dynamic and speed. The vocal presentation is rather forward. The bass is not overwhelming but it is still impactful here. The soundstage is not very spacious, but has a rather intimate setting. A fun v-shaped tuning.

Some impressions about Sound:

  • Agnes Obel’s “The Curse (Berlin Live Session)” from Aventine bonus disc - This live rendition has everything - ethereal voice of Agnes, beautiful backing vocals from two string instrumentalists, sound of piano, violin and cello, and ah….. the interference of one pick-up used by them. The imaging is good - you can almost hear Agnes singing in the left and two accompanists singing in the right. In the main chorus, Agnes’ vocal and the backing vocals are overlaying but I could still distinguish their respective voices. The cello, occupying the lower range of frequency, also has a powerful showing here.
  • Thundercat’s “Uh Uh” from Drunk. - Interesting. I could hear something I missed before - the very low bass rumblings (fretting?) at around 0:07- 0:12 in the intro. (These rumblings almost could not be picked up by my Campfire Altas (Single-ended). My Andromeda could pick up them, but in a way less prominent than in BW03) The song basically consists of three parts, the bass shedding, Thundercat’s falsetto humming, and the drumming (high hat?). All three parts, playing concurrently, are all very detailed, especially the bass and the drumming.
  • Dusty Springfield’s “The Look of Love” from her Hits Collection - this song is very suitable for testng the sibilance. And yes, through the BW03 the sibilance is there with the ‘s’ sound, especially in the middle part of the song.
  • 弓ヶ浜-Yumigahama” in Ondekoza’s 富嶽百景 Fujiyama - Long decay of flute sound. Good separation of drum and flute. Fast.
  • Neon Lights” in Kraftwerk’s live compilation Minimum - Maximum - breathing sound of Ralf Hütter is magnified by the forward but detailed high. But his vocal is rather laid-back.
  • Ralf’s vocal in “Computer Love”, my favourite track from Kraftwerk’s Computer World is a bit hollow and recessed. *Note to self*, BW03 are not for Kraftwerk.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody” from A Night at the Opera of Queen. Good and fast presentation of the opera part. A tad subdue guitar solo - detailed but less forward.
  • Another Queen’s song “The Millionaire Waltz” from A Day at the Races - the guitar sound is good here. And the famous walking bass line of John Deacon, due to the detailed low of BW03, is quite a treat.
  • Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” from Paranoid - Detailed bass but somewhat laid-back guitar riff
  • "Roxanne" of The Police from the compilation - Powerful and engaging presentation of Sting’s vocal. Bass is detailed and with good energy and decay.
  • Rainbow’s “Kill the King” in Live in Munich 1977 has the least favourite presentation of a song. Dio’s lush vocal (with some sibilance), Cozy Powell’s power strikes on the cymbals, and Bob Daisley’s bass line are so dynamic and energizing and they actually veil Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar sound.
  • Khruangbin’s instrumental “Maria Tambien” in Live at Lincoln Hall, Mark Speer’s guitar lead has a subdued presentation and is actually out-powered by Laura Lee’s bass line. Cymbals are very clear in the background.
  • The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “The City is Crying” of their Jazz Impressions of Japan, the bassline and cymbals are actually distracting me from Paul Desmond’s renowned alto solo, not in a good way. Edit: Switching to ALO Reference 8, Paul's alto solo is more prominent now, and the bass and cymbals are now more subtle than overwhelming.
  • Minnie Riperton’s classic “Lovin’ You” from Perfect Angel - I guess the song is marred by some technical limitation of BW03. I find some incoherence between Minnie’s lower and higher notes. I don’t know singing but I guess, because these lower notes and higher notes are being taken care of by different BAs, and the transition between them is not good enough? I A-B tested this song with my Andromeda and found the transition and coherence were much better.
  • Some micro details appear to me for the first time - in Kiki Gyan’s “Disco Dancer” from his 24 Hours in a Disco 1978-82, during the keyboard solo at around 2:45, the guitar sound in the back is quite present here. The separation between guitar, handclaps, bass and percussions is actually very good in the intro.
  • Yoyo Sham’s duet with Mark Cheung in “Twistable, Turnable Man” shows a very detailed overlaying voices of these two singers. Truly engaging.
  • These IEMs are made for Charlotte Gainsbourg’s “Le Chat du Cafe des Artistes” from her IRM. Not only Charlotte’s whisper offer a very intimate experience, every instrument is right here with drum, guitar and strings.

Final Thoughts:

For handmade IEMs, the V-shaped tuning made BW03 very fun for listening to many kinds of music. The sound exceeds my expectations. They excel in delivering pop music, especially female vocals, which really suits my taste. On the other hand, these IEMs may not handle some genres of music well - the presentation of some live classic rock is not my cup of tea. But the unique design and look definitely help earn some marks.
 
Last edited:
Jun 5, 2020 at 5:21 PM Post #3 of 12

dabaiyan

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I just received my wood iems today, so I will share my initial impressions here, since I don't want to start a new threadWeChat Image_20200605163908.jpg.
I ordered their new model the BWD8, with the 8mm single dynamic driver, and I chose Taiwan Acacia. First of all, the craftsmanship is excellent, and the owner Kenneth is very responsive and curtious. Shipping to the US is $25 flat, and it took two days to get here, so really not a bad price for shipping.

I tried several different tips, and finally settled on the spinfits that came with the DK3001 pro, because the stem on these tips are shorter, so they can be inserted a bit deeper. The JVC spiral dots tamed too much of the bass, and the final E tips didn't provide a great seal for me, because the stem is a bit long. I'm using an two pin adapter on the cable for now because the two pin cable I ordered from CEMA hasn't arrived yet. But I didn't really have any big issues with fit to begin with, these are very light, and after a while, I hardly feel I'm wearning them.

I've only listened to these for a couple of hours so sound impressions is very priliminary These have a very warm and smooth signature, I would say they are more of an L shape, because the treble is tamed and very smooth, no sibilance at all, some would probably think these are dark sounding. But since I have quite a few bright sounding iems (sony ex1000 & m9, bgvp dm6 etc), this is actually a welcome change for me. The bass is definitely the highlight of these iems, there is a good amount of subbass impact, very punchy and well textured, the wood housing may have added a bit more resonance to the bass texture, which is very pleasant. The mids are forward and very musical, though the bass bleeds a little into the mids, but since I haven't fully burned these in, maybe this will improve over time.The imagining is pretty good, though instrument seperation could be better. The soundstage is not wide, but there is some depth, not exactly holographic, but not conjested either. I would say these are intimate sounding, so they are pretty good for jazz, not great for orchestral music. I particularly enjoy the timbre or tone quality on these, very natural and coherent, I really enjoyed listening to some classical guitar and flamenco tracks like those by Johannes Linstead with these.
Overall, I'd say these are a very pleasent surprise for me, very relexed and non-fatiguing iems, not the most technical, but musical and smooth sounding, suitable for long listening sessions.
 
Jun 5, 2020 at 7:07 PM Post #4 of 12

Cheaplad

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Joined
Oct 3, 2016
Posts
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124
Location
Hong Kong
I just received my wood iems today, so I will share my initial impressions here, since I don't want to start a new threadWeChat Image_20200605163908.jpg.
I ordered their new model the BWD8, with the 8mm single dynamic driver, and I chose Taiwan Acacia. First of all, the craftsmanship is excellent, and the owner Kenneth is very responsive and curtious. Shipping to the US is $25 flat, and it took two days to get here, so really not a bad price for shipping.

I tried several different tips, and finally settled on the spinfits that came with the DK3001 pro, because the stem on these tips are shorter, so they can be inserted a bit deeper. The JVC spiral dots tamed too much of the bass, and the final E tips didn't provide a great seal for me, because the stem is a bit long. I'm using an two pin adapter on the cable for now because the two pin cable I ordered from CEMA hasn't arrived yet. But I didn't really have any big issues with fit to begin with, these are very light, and after a while, I hardly feel I'm wearning them.

I've only listened to these for a couple of hours so sound impressions is very priliminary These have a very warm and smooth signature, I would say they are more of an L shape, because the treble is tamed and very smooth, no sibilance at all, some would probably think these are dark sounding. But since I have quite a few bright sounding iems (sony ex1000 & m9, bgvp dm6 etc), this is actually a welcome change for me. The bass is definitely the highlight of these iems, there is a good amount of subbass impact, very punchy and well textured, the wood housing may have added a bit more resonance to the bass texture, which is very pleasant. The mids are forward and very musical, though the bass bleeds a little into the mids, but since I haven't fully burned these in, maybe this will improve over time.The imagining is pretty good, though instrument seperation could be better. The soundstage is not wide, but there is some depth, not exactly holographic, but not conjested either. I would say these are intimate sounding, so they are pretty good for jazz, not great for orchestral music. I particularly enjoy the timbre or tone quality on these, very natural and coherent, I really enjoyed listening to some classical guitar and flamenco tracks like those by Johannes Linstead with these.
Overall, I'd say these are a very pleasent surprise for me, very relexed and non-fatiguing iems, not the most technical, but musical and smooth sounding, suitable for long listening sessions.
The logos are really nice. What are they?
 
Jun 7, 2020 at 5:22 AM Post #7 of 12

mp39hk

New Head-Fier
Joined
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Phonic BW3 (Mk2) Silver Wire Edition - Handmade Wooden 3BAs IEMs

Frequency Response: 20-20k Hz
Resistance: 11 ohms
Sensitivity: 113dB@1k Hz
BA: Three Knowles Per Side
Wood: African Padauk

https://www.phoniciem.com/product/bw3/

_OhHY3L9ZubuUW1nP-uvPWUK2EY2k6nS51QMHxpe1CHnvSBjlQpHaaAgP5EdGeA06_-JDdCWal7-bClJSL5pKmtgigDsAyyGCTBET48Qri4KyipP_FvD5AaUJpgwDE0KyT28pd04

These IEMs are one of a kind - handmade wooden 3BAs IEMs made by......not me...... but a brass playing young fellow in Hong Kong, who owns Phonic IEMs. These are made of African Padauk. Also, the monitors used silver wiring, (so it is called SWE - silver wire edition).

I love wood products. But when I came across Phonic's online catalog, actually just three weeks ago, I had approached this craft art with more curiosity than expectation. In the earth with new IEMs being rolled out every day, from all the hybrids / tribrids which sell multi-thousand bucks to all the budget Chi-fi IEMs loaded with 10+ BAs, I thought I have seen it all (if not tried them all).

So what did I expect about these IEMs three weeks ago?
- A reinterpretation of a hobby I love. [Translation: A reason to buy a pair of IEMs with something interestingly new.]
- IEMs with more than a hint of craftsmanship. [Translation: Another hip new pair of IEMs I could show off to my friends.]
- A small but meaningful participation in the design process of these IEMs [Translation: To provide myself with a small reason to get away from all the turmoils and plagues and economical and political catastrophes and worries and melancholia we were all in.]
- Not much about sound, I guess.

And so, do these IEMs help achieve these expectations? A firm Yes, for the first three. And they actually sound good and fun!

(The paragraphs below are by no means a review. I am a user, not a critical reviewer. I have always mixed up all the formidable sound describing terminologies. So please bear with me - just see my words below nothing more than a stream of conscious-esque mumbling.)

Package:

For handmade IEMs, the package is what I would call rudimentary. There is no paper-and-plastic presentation box, no user manual by technical writers, no thank-you-for-buying-our-product card, or no any small cleaning tools or any gizmos. The IEMs do come with a cable (you may choose a 3.5 or a Lighting termination) and a brown protection zipper case which I politely say no to. (Out of environmental concern. And of course, nothing would suppress that cozy Campfire Audio’s leather case that kept my Andromeda safe).

The Look:

“Gorgeous” is the first word when Phonic showed me the finished product of my pair. My pair is made of African Padauk – on Phonic’s website it is mentioned that:

[T]he wood density is about 0.72g/cm3, which is the lower density of the five types of wood, strong low frequency, and strong dive ability. African Padauk is also often used for furniture, with a unique woody scent.

Honestly, switching between this Afican Padauk and other types of wood materials in the offering, I could not sense any discernible difference there by my less than sensitive ears. So I opted for African Padauk because of the light colour and subtle wood pattern. The faceplates could be customized by having the logos or words laser-engraved on them. And the logo containing my initial on the right plate pairs pretty well with the Phonic logo.

31uKeBqOesEQhVNA6yWUITjM5wQOuloDW44YYO2hqcR9bocHG9l5eufYsRTiIToNQAJMcFaz72nx7pYfdx1cGtOrkimegBadOWGBK91VRtPZ7x0iS43dy_0a1U3JjJc66qw_ivWo


Don’t expect two IEMs of the same pair are 100% symmetrical like those factory-made, precisely-cut products. The shells and the chambers are carved out from wood by hand; even with good craftsmanship, there would still be slight traits of asymmetry between monitors. To me, acceptable; but those with OCD should look away.
JFGGZM-skZ6oN3npPTvCmrIW0nA1wN-F1Mc1Hq7ngxGiLkcomPIVA-boINt_Zox77t8dxPd6zFjxqQPBhhjJbTQ0S2AlZD0x3zH867J86bK6JXauCFl7HYpflukJAgdN-HoJhxHo

During the two-week production, Phonic sent me photos of having the IEMs body varnished by Danish oil.

The Initial Glitches:

As the monitor bodies are cut out from a wood log or else, the shapes of them may not readily fit every ear in the world. To me, though, the fit is OK but not excellent. The sound outlets are long, because, Phonic told me, it would be very difficult to hand-carve short outlets on the monitor bodies. So the shells of the monitors would stick out from my ears quite a bit.

When I just got hold of the new iems, I used an after-market cable (Nocturnal Audio Acrux silver cable) without the memory wires, and I had some initial struggle and snuggling with the positions of the monitors and the cable. Then I switched to the great but stiff ALO SXC-8 with the memory wires, which posed an even bigger problem with the positioning. Edit: Using ALO Reference 8 with memory wire, and it helps the monitors to have the best fit and seal. Thankfully when I switched back to Acrux and used the SpinFit tips, the monitors then sit nicely on my ears. With these tips, the isolation has been quite remarkable and I could be immersed in music even listening to it in a noisy environment..

They sound nice…… more about sound will follow…...

Very detailed review!! Thank you very much!
 
Jun 7, 2020 at 5:39 AM Post #8 of 12

mp39hk

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 12, 2009
Posts
5
Likes
6
I just received my wood iems today, so I will share my initial impressions here, since I don't want to start a new threadWeChat Image_20200605163908.jpg.
I ordered their new model the BWD8, with the 8mm single dynamic driver, and I chose Taiwan Acacia. First of all, the craftsmanship is excellent, and the owner Kenneth is very responsive and curtious. Shipping to the US is $25 flat, and it took two days to get here, so really not a bad price for shipping.

I tried several different tips, and finally settled on the spinfits that came with the DK3001 pro, because the stem on these tips are shorter, so they can be inserted a bit deeper. The JVC spiral dots tamed too much of the bass, and the final E tips didn't provide a great seal for me, because the stem is a bit long. I'm using an two pin adapter on the cable for now because the two pin cable I ordered from CEMA hasn't arrived yet. But I didn't really have any big issues with fit to begin with, these are very light, and after a while, I hardly feel I'm wearning them.

I've only listened to these for a couple of hours so sound impressions is very priliminary These have a very warm and smooth signature, I would say they are more of an L shape, because the treble is tamed and very smooth, no sibilance at all, some would probably think these are dark sounding. But since I have quite a few bright sounding iems (sony ex1000 & m9, bgvp dm6 etc), this is actually a welcome change for me. The bass is definitely the highlight of these iems, there is a good amount of subbass impact, very punchy and well textured, the wood housing may have added a bit more resonance to the bass texture, which is very pleasant. The mids are forward and very musical, though the bass bleeds a little into the mids, but since I haven't fully burned these in, maybe this will improve over time.The imagining is pretty good, though instrument seperation could be better. The soundstage is not wide, but there is some depth, not exactly holographic, but not conjested either. I would say these are intimate sounding, so they are pretty good for jazz, not great for orchestral music. I particularly enjoy the timbre or tone quality on these, very natural and coherent, I really enjoyed listening to some classical guitar and flamenco tracks like those by Johannes Linstead with these.
Overall, I'd say these are a very pleasent surprise for me, very relexed and non-fatiguing iems, not the most technical, but musical and smooth sounding, suitable for long listening sessions.

Hi! I am Kenneth, owner of Phonic IEM. I am so glad that you have received your IEM. If you think that the sounding is too dark for you, something that you can do to adjust the bass and resonance.

IMG_8906 1000.jpg


As the picture showed above, there are two holes on the top of the wooden shell. Once you seal them by tape, the bass will cut a little bit (about 0.5dB from 100Hz, and then continue to decrease nearly 2.5dB at 20Hz). The resonance will become smaller too, resulting in a more focus sounding.
 
Jun 7, 2020 at 4:04 PM Post #9 of 12

dabaiyan

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 14, 2018
Posts
191
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165
Location
Schenectady, NY
Hi! I am Kenneth, owner of Phonic IEM. I am so glad that you have received your IEM. If you think that the sounding is too dark for you, something that you can do to adjust the bass and resonance.

IMG_8906 1000.jpg

As the picture showed above, there are two holes on the top of the wooden shell. Once you seal them by tape, the bass will cut a little bit (about 0.5dB from 100Hz, and then continue to decrease nearly 2.5dB at 20Hz). The resonance will become smaller too, resulting in a more focus sounding.
I tried to cover the holes with some 3m medical tapes and the bass noticably reduced, seems to have a bit more mid clarity this way, thanks.
 
Jun 7, 2020 at 7:08 PM Post #10 of 12

Cheaplad

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Joined
Oct 3, 2016
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Location
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I tried to cover the holes with some 3m medical tapes and the bass noticably reduced, seems to have a bit more mid clarity this way, thanks.
1591571114031.gif

@mp39hk But... but how about only covering one hole instead of two? Any discernible difference?
 
Jun 11, 2020 at 1:19 AM Post #11 of 12

mp39hk

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Joined
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@mp39hk But... but how about only covering one hole instead of two? Any discernible difference?

There are no major difference in terms of the FR curve when covering one hole instead of two. But one hole has stronger resonance then two holes at the bottom end frequency. And the air pressure is different too. It will affect the sound a little bit (different response time at the bottom end) and feel different when put the earphone in your ear(different air pressure).
 
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