Aka: Nightcrawler, Oof Oink
Was flipping items from the classifieds on eBay.
- Jun 26, 2009
Disclaimer: I’m in no way affiliated with PureSound Technologies Inc., and purchased the ClarityOne merely out of curiosity.
- Sensitivity (1KHz): 110dB SPL/mW
- Frequency Range: 15 Hz - 20 Hz
- Jack Plug: 3.5 mm stereo gold plates
- Cable length: 48 in/1.12 m tangle free
- Transducer: 7.5mm neodymium magnet
- Impedance (1KHz): 8 ohm
- Extra Features: In-line mic with call answer / call end functions
- Warranty: 1YR limited warranty
- Preferred Tips (in order of preference): Monster hybrid foam, Meelec biflanges, Monster triple flanges, Klipsch oval ear gels, Comply T-400
The ClarityOne’s were purchased through the following link, using the following coupon code (holidayshopper) for an additional 25% off, which (as of this writing) may or may not still be active. I received them just this past Monday, November 7th, and since then, they’ve constantly underwent usage, either in my ears, or set off to the side, left playing throughout the day and night whenever unoccupied by my own ears. As such, they’ve been consistently running for nearly 12-14 hours a day.
Preface: Before I begin, I’d just like to say that I’m particularly wary of products that tend to make rather farfetched marketing claims, and the ClarityOne is no exception at that. What drew me in was not the marketing gobbledygook, but much rather their appeal, form factor, the added benefit of an in-line mic (one that isn’t intended strictly for use with the iPhone), and, most importantly, their affordable cost. Admittedly, for PureSound to make such claims as those found on either their manufacture page, or the ClarityOne product page itself, their MSRP was a rather surprising, albeit welcome one. Needless to say, considering the performance of similarly priced in-ear currently dominating the sub $150-$200 market, such as the FXT90, GR07, EX600 (among others), my expectations were rather high, and rightfully so. Briefly speaking, were my expectations met? Well, that’s what the reviews intended for, so read on!
In case you haven’t noticed, the ClarityOne (which I’ll now refer to as ‘C1’ for all intents and purposes) have an impedance of just 8 ohms, the added benefits of which can be read on their website itself.
Beginning with aesthetics, the C1 is quite similar to my Ortofon e-Q5, in that the C1 is (roughly speaking) a shrunken down version of the e-Q5. Unlike the Ortofon’s, however, the cable does not extend out the backside, but from the underneath the earphone itself. I personally prefer this approach, as those of us who prefer to wear our earphones in an over-the-ear fashion from time to time may struggle with the e-Q5, while with the C1, the task is deemed as effortless as wearing them straight-cable. The cable itself is almost entirely free from microphonics when worn straight down, while nonexistent when worn over-the-ear. I should mention however, I’ve encountered a complaint of the cable supposedly beginning to ‘peel’ based on one owner’s account, though I’ve yet to see it reported by any others here or elsewhere. Unfortunately, it’s much too early to tell, since the ClarityOne’s only recently hit the market. As OCD careful as I am with all of my belongings, I’m not too worried. Nonetheless, we’ll know in due time. There also the absence of a chin slider, which I’d really have liked to see, even if it extended to just below the point the where microphone is placed.
Being that I compared the aesthetics to those of my e-Q5, it’s no surprise that the C1 is equally as comfortable, and practically disappears when worn, be it straight cable or in an over-the-ear fashion (my preferred way of wearing them). The fit/comfort is as good as one would hope for, allowing for them to be as easily worn as they are removed. Isolation is on par with the many vented dynamics out there, in that it’s average (at best) to slightly below average, depending on the tips in use. Speaking of tips, what do I make of the included tips are quite similar to the clear silicone tips included with the Ultimate Ears 700 (as shown), and other UE earphones for that matter. The main difference here, however, is a slightly wider bore. In fact, the C1’s stock tips happen to have as large a bore as the JVC FXT90/FX700 tips. I must admit, the accessories I received with my revised GR07’s do leave me with much to be desired, and I’d have loved to see a variety of tips included with the C1, and not just 3 sets of clear silicone tips. Even the aforementioned UE700 happens to include a rather generous array of tips, including the rounded Comply foams. On the bright side, there’s a nice and rugged zipper pouch included, much like the circular Shure pouch, which makes for an easy solution on the go. All in all, nothing to see here folks, move along. Everything is just dandy.
Now for the part you’ve all been eagerly waiting for. If you skipped down to this, shame on you. I’d have done the very same, haha!
My first impression can be found here, and since, I’d have to say enough has changed, and for the better I might add. We’ll start with the bad, and work our way up. I’d much rather you leave here optimistic than not. On that note, let’s begin with the high frequency. If asked to summarize the highs in a few words, the first ones that come to mind would be slightly aggressive. I say slightly, because they’re not the least bit intolerable. Upon first listen however, they were a mixed bag of attributes. Seldom times, they were crisp and detailed, with pleasant sparkle, but more often than not, they sounded edgy and harsh (though not piercing), and rather grainy. As such, I encountered a good bit of sibilance during the first few days. In fact, it reached to the point where I opted for my Comply T-400’s, which, for me personally, resolved the issue altogether. No more sibilance, not nearly as dry, but instead slightly smooth with less sparkle, without compromising much in regards to overall detail and clarity. Going back and forth between the two, the stock tips almost always brought forth the slightly aggressive nature of the C1’s, while the T-400’s brought forth a much more pleasant experience. Hence, as of the third day, for the remainder of my listening, I exclusively used the T-400’s. To my surprise, given the overall warm tone of the C1, the treble is never found lacking, and (for the most part, retains balance, as compared to the rest of the spectrum.
That brings us to the bass, and most probably my absolute favorite aspect of the C1’s. Bear with me, you’ll know just why I’m saving the mids for last. The bass is the very first thing that’s bound to catch the listener’s attention, and only in the best of ways. It’s weighty, believe me, extending quite deep, and all the while tight, controlled, and, at times, even seismic, though never excessive, overpowering, out of place, or impinging on the rest of the spectrum. What I love most is that in no way does the bass bleed into the midrange. The bass reminds me of the Monster line-up (albeit more refined and controlled), with a good bit of sub-bass and mid-bass emphasis, though from my own experience the high end Monster line-up (excluding the Limes Davis) can sound rather muddy and veiled at times. That’s not at all the case here with the C1. While there is an abundance of body, weight, or impact, they act accordingly, and perform as called upon, while never attempting to steal the shine from the rest of the spectrum. In fact, there was one track in particular (W&W – Arena) where they simply blew me away with the amount of control and impact they delivered, and I knew then just what they were capable of, particularly when the tracks calls for greater low end emphasis. As it stands, they’re easily my most preferred fun & bassy in-ears. In any case, as bass-heavy as they sound, the lows yet again retain good balance with respect to the mids and highs, and leaves neither one left behind.
As per the mids, considering the overall warm tone of the C1, the midrange is no different here, in that it’s pleasantly warm and (at times) slightly intimate, refined, with good overall detail, texture, and overall transparency. More often than not, they’re nor forward, nor recessed, but closer to neutral than not in that regard. Vocals sound equally as pleasant, with warmth, slight intimacy, and never lacking definition or clarity. If ever the C1 lived up to it’s name, it’s in regards to the midrange, which boasts the best overall clarity, as compared to the rest of the spectrum. In fact, the overall presentation (as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now), leans towards a warm, well balanced, extremely fun and musical one, without compromising overall detail and transparency. Notes are conveyed with a pleasant thickness, as is commonly found with most dynamics, and tends to compliment the overall signature/presentation of the C1. Timbre and overall definition are equally impressive (especially when considering their price). Their soundstage is pleasantly wide, resembling that of the many readily available vented dynamics out there, in that it’s open and airy, extending to either extreme. Their sense of layering is quite good, making proper use of the extended staging, and while Imaging and instrument separation aren’t the best I’ve come to hear (the UM3X retains that title), they’re no disappointment either.
So, where do the C1’s stand in my eyes? As a bargain, and nothing short of it! I say that because I’m quite impressed with the fact that they manage to deliver a fun and musical experience, and easily stand out when compared to the similarly priced competition. Most importantly, as far as preferences go, they’re right up there with the rest of the sub $150 in-ears. So who should consider the C1’s? Well, certainly not those looking for a dead neutral, flat, thin and analytical presentation. But for those looking for an enjoyable, pleasantly enjoyable, fun and musical presentation, without sacrificing or overemphasizing any one area of the spectrum; with a surprisingly deep and powerful, yet tight, controlled, and detailed low end; with a musical, pleasantly warm midrange; with highs that aren’t lacking by any means (though rather harsh and edgy pre burn-in, or with the stock tips); with a sound that’s open and quite airy; the C1 most certainly delivers the goods. At its current asking price, all things considered, it fares quite well against the competition.
Last of all, there’s the added benefit of in-line mic, with which I tested a few calls, both incoming and outgoing, and encountered no trouble. The microphone rests somewhere just anterior to the collar bone, and offers good clarity. For quite some time, I was in the market for an earphone with an in-line mic, that would support my HTC Desire Z. Unfortunately, both the IE8i and Miles Davis Trumpet failed at that attempt. Fortunately, the C1 not only happens to work quite well with my HTC, but offers a pleasant listening experience at the same time. On that note, the C1 fulfills my Desire (pun intended).
Second Disclaimer: The above is merely my opinion, and as such, should not be taken without a grain of salt. I’ve tried to make it as objective as I can, but in the end, it’s inevitably down to the listener’s own preference/perception. My analysis of the C1 was based solely with their price in mind, for which I truly do believe they’re quite a competent set of in-ears.