PureSound ClarityOne Review
Nov 11, 2011 at 6:25 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 70

i2ehan

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Disclaimer: I’m in no way affiliated with PureSound Technologies Inc., and purchased the ClarityOne merely out of curiosity.
 
 
Technical Specs:
 
  1. Sensitivity (1KHz): 110dB SPL/mW
  2. Frequency Range: 15 Hz - 20 Hz
  3. Jack Plug: 3.5 mm stereo gold plates
  4. Cable length: 48 in/1.12 m tangle free
  5. Transducer: 7.5mm neodymium magnet
  6. Impedance (1KHz): 8 ohm
  7. Extra Features: In-line mic with call answer / call end functions
  8. Warranty: 1YR limited warranty
  9. 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! :D
 
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. 
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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! 
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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). 
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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.
 
Nov 11, 2011 at 6:32 PM Post #2 of 70

i2ehan

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FXT90 vs. C1: Head To Head Comparison
 

 
Ah, the FXT90, the latest dual dynamic driver offering from JVC, and priced at around relatively the same mark as the ClarityOne (excluding all discounts). Being a long time fan of the FX700, I had high expectations from the FXT90, and rightfully so, considering that the FX700 remains the unprecedented king of timbre. While they're both quality in-ears, I'll mention only those areas that differ between the two, since they’re both quite competent in-ears, in their own right. On that note, let’s begin, shall we?
 
I view the FXT90 and C1 as two entirely different sounding in ears (which they most certainly are), striving to achieve a common goal, of an overall pleasantly enjoyable, fun and musical experience. In fact, other than their price point, they bear few sonic similarities. However, in order to truly understand the differences between the two, it’s best to start with the areas in which the two differ most, and that’s in their presentation. If asked to put in (very) vague terms, I’d say that the FXT90 is the brighter (in other words, less warmer) counterpart of the warmer C1, comparatively speaking of course. To my surprise, the dual dynamic FXT90 is comparatively thinner sounding than the C1, notably so across the entire spectrum for that matter. As such, while the C1 presents with an overall warmth and thickness, the FXT90 presents as comparatively less warmer and thinner sounding. All things considered, this is where preferences will surely come into play, where I personally tend to favor the former presentation more often than not, but do appreciate either one equally so.
 
That said, the comparatively thinner presentation of the FXT90 works to its full advantage. The second biggest and most apparent difference between the two is in overall transparency, where the FXT90 is MUCH more transparent sounding than the C1. That’s not to say the C1 is lacking transparency altogether, but between the two, the FXT90 is quite obviously the more transparent one. Ironically, the FXT90 also boasts better overall detail and clarity than the ClarityOne (go figure 
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), particularly in regards to the mids and highs, which boast better overall texture, layering, and are all around more open and resolving. As far as highs are concerned, I still find the C1 much too shrill when coupled with the stock tips, unless paired with the Comply T400’s, which (as mentioned above) do offer a much smoother, less edgy high end. Hence, any comparisons I’ve made between the two were exclusively with the C1 coupled with the Comply T400’s, and the FXT90 with the stock JVC tips (as is preferred). JVC, on the other hand, seemed to have nailed the highs. The FXT90 has one of the most brilliantly resolving, crisp, and refined high ends I’ve come to hear from a sub $200 universal. However, the FXT90 is notably more sibilant than the C1 (where, more often than not, the T's and S's are a tad too prominent), but not the least bit aggressive, harsh, or intolerable in that regard.

 
Other than presentation and transparency, there’s yet another obvious difference between the two. Irrespective of the track, the C1 is noticeably more forward in presentation, than the rather pleasantly shy FXT90, which is not the least bit forward/aggressive in nature. I’m sure you can begin to see where this plays to either ones advantage, in that the FXT90 is the more pleasantly relaxing and laid-back one, much more tolerable at reasonably higher volume levels. Comparatively, the C1 is more engaging, intimate, and all the while equally as enjoyable. As such, while the differences here aren’t exactly subtle, the C1 still happens to fare well against the FXT90, and I find myself reaching for the former more often than not, owing to its forward, more intimate, comparatively thicker and warmer tone.
 
Last, and certainly not least, we come to the low end, the one area where the C1 surprised me most. Yet again, the two share few similarities. For one, the FXT90 is channeled almost exclusively towards delivering a weighty, textured, and controlled low end (particularly with regards to sub-bass), without noticeable midbass emphasis. The C1, as has been discussed in the above review, boasts a perfect blend of mid-bass and sub-bass weight and impact. Hence it isn’t the least bit surprising that the C1 has a much weightier lower end than the FXT90. All the while, neither one has any noticeable bleed, but (as mentioned earlier) the FXT90 still stands high and above the C1 in terms of overall texture and transparency. However, the C1 carries not only more weight, but extends deeper than the FXT90, and it’s for this very reason I find myself reaching for it more often than not, especially when it comes to moderately bassy genres such as dubstep, for which the C1 sounds  fantastic. Again, while the FXT90 is no slouch, and does perform better on a technical level, the C1 is preferably more fun and musical. YMMV!
 
As it stands, the FXT90 draws me in with its much more crisp, detailed, and comparatively brighter high end, with slightly better overall layering and transparency, and a pleasantly calm and less intimate tone; while the C1 draws me in with its fun, deeper and weightier low end, and its thicker, warmer, and all the while forward and engaging presence. Any other factors I’ve failed to mention (such as the soundstage) are due to the fact that they're both closer to one another than not, and either one will fare just as well as the other. Where genres such as dance, trance, techno, electro, dubstep, hip hop etc. are concerned, the C1 seems to be my preferred choice by a hair or two, except where vocals are concerned, inthe FXT90 edges slightly ahead owing to its better overall clarity and transparency. In summary, from a technical standpoint, the FXT90 fairs slightly better, with better overall layering, imaging, transparency, detail and clarity, and a thinner, more resolving sound signature, with an exceptionally crisp high end. On the contrary, the C1's overall presentation tends to draw me in to a slightly greater extent. All in all, they’re both quite competent, and to no surprise, the decision relies almost exclusively on the listener’s preference. 
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Nov 11, 2011 at 6:57 PM Post #3 of 70

popejohnlarue

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Thanks for the review, i2ehan.  
 
Given that these are closer to $100 than $150 (after the discount), it sounds like they will warrant a closer look for sure.  Shame about the highs, but given reports that some sets (i.e. GR07) can be a bit shrill for the first 200 hours, there's a chance things will even out somewhat with further burn in...
 
Nov 12, 2011 at 3:44 AM Post #4 of 70

james444

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Thanks, very nice review, and glad they work for you my friend.
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Btw, it just occured to me that I still owe an answer to your earlier question:
 
Quote:
With their price in mind, what do you make of them my friend?


Take this with a huge grain of salt, since I've only tried them for a short time. Anyway, during my short audition three other phones immediately sprang to mind:
 
- dfkt's Ultrasone HFI-780: I don't know of any other IEMs that would compare to the C1's thin and sharp highs, but I'd think these full-sized Ultrasones are close.
- Hippo VB: Both have strong, high quality bass, with maybe a slight edge to the C1 (and that's saying something :wink:. Similarly detailed and agreeable mids. For treble however I give the nod to the VBs, even though these too are a bit harsh.
- HJE900: Though these share certain sound signature characteristics with the C1, I'd rate them higher because of superior detail and refinement. The C1 have slightly better balanced bass (vs. the HJE900's mid-bass emphasis), but that's about the only advantage over the Pannys I can think of.
 
Bottom line, considering the Hippos cost $79 and you could get the Pannys for about $100-150, I wouldn't say that the C1 punch way above their price tag. But nevertheless they may be a decent choice for those who dig their sound signature and have use for an inline mic.
 
Nov 12, 2011 at 12:15 PM Post #6 of 70

i2ehan

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I'll let you know when my FXT90 arrives, since my first set was faulty and had to be replaced. 
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EDIT: The FXT90's were scanned at my local post office just this morning. So they should be in my hands either today, or Monday. 
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Nov 12, 2011 at 5:06 PM Post #9 of 70

i2ehan

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I purchased a second pair through a different seller the same day I received the faulty pair. Long story short, the first seller agreed to refund me upon return shipment of the faulty ones, while the second seller sent out the new ones via Express, which takes only 3-5 business days time. 
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Let's just hope I have much better luck this time around. 
 
EDIT: Nothing in the mail. Monday it is. 
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RE-EDIT: FXT90 arrived! 
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Nov 12, 2011 at 8:31 PM Post #10 of 70

ericp10

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Nice review!!
 
Nov 12, 2011 at 10:16 PM Post #11 of 70

popejohnlarue

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Uh oh... I hope "buyfromjapan" don't send me the pair you just returned.  They wouldn't do that, would they?  Nah.  No way...
 
But just in case, I may have to ask you for a scan of your fingerprints, i2ehan!!  :wink:
 
Quote:
I purchased a second pair through a different seller the same day I received the faulty pair. Long story short, the first seller agreed to refund me upon return shipment of the faulty ones, while the second seller sent out the new ones via Express, which takes only 3-5 business days time. 
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Let's just hope I have much better luck this time around. 

EDIT: Nothing in the mail. Monday it is.
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Nov 12, 2011 at 10:56 PM Post #12 of 70

ericp10

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Mine are from BuyfromJapan. No problem and they were great to do business with. My FXT90s sound wonderful....
 
Nov 12, 2011 at 11:18 PM Post #13 of 70

i2ehan

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Quote:
Nice review!!


 
Quote:
Uh oh... I hope "buyfromjapan" don't send me the pair you just returned.  They wouldn't do that, would they?  Nah.  No way...
 
But just in case, I may have to ask you for a scan of your fingerprints, i2ehan!!  :wink:


You've absolutely nothing to worry about. Buyfromjapan is an absolutely wonderful seller, and quick to resolve any issues. 
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 As per the fingerprints, I'll show you mine if you show me yours. 
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P.S. Seems someone at home had safely set aside a package for me. You guessed it! FXT90, in all it's glory! Oh, and the best part is, no driver flex or diminished sound in either earpiece!  I'll be spending the next few days exclusively with the FXT90's, and am hoping to compare them to (of course) the ClarityOne, and the GR07. I'll post back my comparison(s) hopefully by next Friday.  
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