[REVIEW] Audéo PFE232- Planx
Nov 10, 2012 at 3:08 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 64

planx

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Phonak Audéo PFE232 Review
 
I’ve had the PFE232 for at least a year now and I was planning on doing a review quite a long while ago, but things got in the way… Anyhow, I’ve decided that I should make one as the Audéo brand has literally erupted since the original PFE112 debuted. I’m not aware if the PFE232 has undergone any changes within a year as I bought my sometime last year. The first thing that comes to most Head-Fiers minds when they hear the name “PFE232” is, “oh, it’s that expensive IEM again”. I understand why people might think that, but that is all irrelevant in my views. Let’s get right at it, shall we?
 
 

 
 
INTRO/PRICE/VALUE: $599 USD. Yes, that is $600 USD. More than half a grand for a small piece of electro acoustics that fits almost perfectly inside your ears. I got mine when Audéo had the promotion where you got both the PFE232 and Perfect Bass 012 for $599 USD, but I didn’t want the 012 so I opted it out for $100. Nevertheless, the PFE232 is a very pricey IEM and it’s hard to think of it as excellent value. However, once you get past the sheer price of the thing, you’re in for a truly wonderful surprise. Best Universal IEM to date? A strong contender that’s for sure.
 
 

 
 
SOUND (The important bit): Mostly used on iPhone 4 and sometimes paired it with the Fiio E11. Often used with the Hifiman HM-602 as a powerful source. Also used with my Ultrabook + Calyx Coffee DAC. 320 MP3, FLAC, and ALAC used (all of Hifiman and Ultrabook uses FLAC and iPhone I converted to MP3 and ALAC). Most of my impressions are based on the results from both the Grey and Black filter mixed. Unless I direct a comment towards a specific filter, consider most of the comments to be a mix of the two.
 
 

 
 
Bass: BA that sounds like a Dynamic, and in some areas better. Maybe some CIEMs beat it, but for Universal IEMs, I’ve heard nothing as good. Extends tremendously low and has very good impact; almost effortless throughout the bass. Very well controlled and balances nicely with the Mids and Treble. The bass from the PFE232 almost sounds like it’s coming from a large Dynamic driver; that “full” feeling you get. You can actually “feel” the bass rather than “hearing” it with many BA IEMs. I found that the delivery is a little on the quick side, but with plenty of body and punch. Has plenty of quantity to please bass dependent genres like Dubstep (really enjoyable here), Electronic, Hip-Hop, and others. And it also has plenty of quality and control to please delicate genres like Classical, Jazz, and soft Pop. I found that only a few select IEMs and Headphones are capable of doing this.  These are my to-go bassy IEMs and they sure do it properly. Amped or unamped, they will deliver, but with that said, the PFE232 really likes being amped and are a huge amount of fun if you really push that Bass Boost to the edge.
 
 
 

 
 
Mids: Lower Mids is mildly recessed causing Male vocals to be a tad less enjoyable than Female vocals and also people find that the bass bleeds into the lower mids, but I find it to be quite minimal. Almost entirely gone with the Grey Filters, but with the Black and Green Filters, you can spot it out if you concentrate. Mids in general are perceived as “recessed” with the PFE232, but from the way I see it, it’s a little neutral while the Bass and Treble is boosted. With that said, the magic really happens when you get closer to the Treble. Female Vocals are truly a joy to listen to on the PFE232. Oh so very crisp and has much energy to it causing it to sound mildly bright. This goes for both the Grey and Black, but it is only a bit more intensified with the Grey filters. Very clean sounding with a mild touch of warmth. Not the strongest segment of the PFE232, but still noticeably good. I find that using Black filters mildly brings the mids down to emphasize the bass and treble, but doesn’t take away the clarity and transparency it shows using the Grey filters. However, with some artists the upper-mids can sound a bit grainy.
 
 

 
 
Treble: Treble is smooth, hot, and has an exceptional amount of energy. I very much enjoy bright treble and to others, what I feel about the PFE232 might be completely different to others who don’t really like bright treble. The PFE232 has a wonderful sounding treble. I love how it has plenty of energy, but it doesn’t sound offensive. Sibilance can be an issue for some, but it isn’t enough to bother me. One thing I noticed with the PFE232 is that it plays everything (bass, mids and treble) very well and up to a high level, but it doesn’t really go beyond the limit. Exactly the same thing with the treble. It has plenty of “brightness” to really make guitars, cymbals, and synthesizers shine, but it doesn’t really cross over to the offensive side. A lot of things can sound bright and enjoyable, but only well tuned IEMs and Headphones can bring it back and stop it from going too far. Mild metallic ring to it, but it's not offensive at all.
 
 

 
 
Soundstage: Very good width and depth along with great separation. Sounds rather realistic, or in better terms believable. I would say on the 3D side of spacing, while many IEMs come close to this 3D feeling. Doesn’t have the crammed feeling you get with a few IEMs.
 
 

 
 
BUILD AND DESIGN: Very well built and after a year of owning it (I’m not too nice with my Portable gear), no problems to report. I actually like this design of removable cables over the Shure SE series and Westone 2-pins. It locks just as well as the Shure SE series cable and doesn’t feel delicate like the 2-pin designs. Cable is a little on the short side for my personal uses… I often find myself tugging at the cable because I’m used to my exceptionally longer DHC Symbiote SE cable and Etymotic ER-4S cable.
 
 

 
 
COMFORT: Hands down the most comfortable IEM ever. Seriously, I’ve tried many IEMs in my years of interest and nothing is as comfortable as the original PFEs and the PFE232. Doesn’t go deep enough to cause pain and discomfort, like Etymotic IEMs, and has very little weight. The earglide actually works well now (compared to the rubbish one they provided with the original PFE) and removes a lot of the already little weight inside of the ear. Add this up with a shell that rests comfortably flat in your ears and Comply foam tips; you won’t need to take a break with these.
 
 

 
 
CONCLUSION: You seriously need to try these out if you’re interested and worried about the price. I don’t agree with people when they say that these are overpriced because it simply isn’t. I see overpriced products as a product that fails to deliver the performance included with the price. The PFE232, in my views at least, deliver up to the price tag and beyond; a truly worldclass IEM. Take a look at the AKG K3003i and FitEar ToGo 334. They are at least double the price of the PFE232 and the PFE232 is still able to compete with them. That’s the beauty of the PFE232. It really pleases the ears and works exceptionally well in every condition. Even though I’m not a huge fan of iPod/iPhone controls/mic, I think it works very well. I often consider not using an amp because of this function entirely! Whether you’re planning on using it with your iPhone, Amp, or whatever, the PFE232 is built to impress and satisfy most users. Overall, the PFE232 is a very fun sounding IEM that doesn’t sacrifice detail and clarity. It has very enjoyable boosted bass and treble and it is a very versatile IEM. If you get the chance to audition one, don’t hesitate as the PFE232 will surely give your ears one hell of a ride. Ahh.. Friggen iTunes just decided to remove all my playlists while I was trying to copy some photos onto my PC for this review and decided to give me useless playlists like "Recently Added", and other non-sense that makes me furious... Not the happiest camper at the moment so please take the time to leave comments 
redface.gif

 
Also, you may have noticed that I haven't included comparisons. If you're interested about the PFE232 vs a specific IEM, I'll try to answer to the best of my abilities.
 
Nov 10, 2012 at 3:22 PM Post #2 of 64

tinyman392

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Nice thorough review.  Agree with just about everything you've said about them. 
 
Nov 10, 2012 at 3:25 PM Post #3 of 64

TwinQY

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Good review. Pretty much agree with everything. Love how you describe the mids as neutral and not recessed like what everyone else says. Any chance for some more comparisons though? 
 
Also, LOL at the 149 updates on the HE-400 Review thread. Those guys put out at a crazy rate.
 
Nov 10, 2012 at 4:07 PM Post #4 of 64

planx

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Quote:
Nice thorough review.  Agree with just about everything you've said about them. 

 
Thanks, I noticed that the PFE232 has a pretty high rate of "keeping" where not a lot of owners let go of them. They are really my favorite to-go IEMs.
Quote:
Good review. Pretty much agree with everything. Love how you describe the mids as neutral and not recessed like what everyone else says. Any chance for some more comparisons though? 
 
Also, LOL at the 149 updates on the HE-400 Review thread. Those guys put out at a crazy rate.

 
Yes, I cannot stress this enough people, the mids is not recessed. This is a common misconception where people think that the mids are "lowered", but in fact the reality is the bass and treble is quite boosted causing this misconception. I choose not to do many comparisons as I find that it's impossible to keep myself unbiased. I can briefly describe some comparisons with other IEMs I've tried, but as with many IEMs, I do not own them. I might have owned them/Auditioned little-quite a lot, but I don't own them currently. Just ask me which IEMs if you're interested everyone! I'll try to answer as detailed as possible.
 
LOL I just gave up after 30 notifications. Not my thread, don't wanna put in that much effort hahahaha.
 
Nov 10, 2012 at 5:18 PM Post #5 of 64

tinyman392

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Quote:
 
Thanks, I noticed that the PFE232 has a pretty high rate of "keeping" where not a lot of owners let go of them. They are really my favorite to-go IEMs.
 
Yes, I cannot stress this enough people, the mids is not recessed. This is a common misconception where people think that the mids are "lowered", but in fact the reality is the bass and treble is quite boosted causing this misconception. I choose not to do many comparisons as I find that it's impossible to keep myself unbiased. I can briefly describe some comparisons with other IEMs I've tried, but as with many IEMs, I do not own them. I might have owned them/Auditioned little-quite a lot, but I don't own them currently. Just ask me which IEMs if you're interested everyone! I'll try to answer as detailed as possible.
 
LOL I just gave up after 30 notifications. Not my thread, don't wanna put in that much effort hahahaha.

 
Slightly recessed mids and slightly emphasized bass + treble really mean the same thing.  You can get the recessed mids by lowering volume, you can get emphasized bass + treble by upping volume :p  In my opinion anyways. 
 
Nov 10, 2012 at 5:23 PM Post #6 of 64

planx

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Quote:
 
Slightly recessed mids and slightly emphasized bass + treble really mean the same thing.  You can get the recessed mids by lowering volume, you can get emphasized bass + treble by upping volume :p  In my opinion anyways. 

 
I don't see it that way. I find that recessed mids and neutral mids are different from one another. Yes I agree how the Bass and Treble are emphasized, but I disagree how the mids are "recessed". I've heard harsh V-shape signatures and that is what I would call "recessed" mids where it's literally recessed to a point where it has no "life" behind it, while the PFE232, in my views, is a pretty neutral IEM to start with, but with noticeable boost in bass and treble, including the upper-mids/lower treble. Quite the touchy topic 
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Nov 10, 2012 at 5:28 PM Post #7 of 64

tinyman392

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Quote:
 
I don't see it that way. I find that recessed mids and neutral mids are different from one another. Yes I agree how the Bass and Treble are emphasized, but I disagree how the mids are "recessed". I've heard harsh V-shape signatures and that is what I would call "recessed" mids where it's literally recessed to a point where it has no "life" behind it, while the PFE232, in my views, is a pretty neutral IEM to start with, but with noticeable boost in bass and treble, including the upper-mids/lower treble. Quite the touchy topic 
biggrin.gif

 
There are degrees to how recessed they are.  Bass and treble are emphasized or the mids are slightly recessed (not both).  I'm just saying that emphasized bass and treble can also mean slightly recessed mids.  It's two descriptions for the same line (from a different perspective).  Kind of like the glass half full or glass half empty, or -1 + 2 = 1 means 2 - 1 = 1.  In other words, I don't see either description being wrong, they are both right in my eyes :p But I agree, they are not recessed as you'd put it (lifeless).
 
Nov 10, 2012 at 5:33 PM Post #8 of 64

planx

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Quote:
 
There are degrees to how recessed they are.  Bass and treble are emphasized or the mids are slightly recessed (not both).  I'm just saying that emphasized bass and treble can also mean slightly recessed mids.  It's two descriptions for the same line (from a different perspective).  Kind of like the glass half full or glass half empty, or -1 + 2 = 1 means 2 - 1 = 1.  In other words, I don't see either description being wrong, they are both right in my eyes :p But I agree, they are not recessed as you'd put it (lifeless).

 
The beauty of different minds my friend 
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I understand what you're saying, and I agree with it as well. I like seeing the two "boosted Bass and Treble with 'fairly' neutral mids" and "recessed mids", as different in my eyes haha. I'm oddly picky with certain wordings.
 
Nov 10, 2012 at 5:35 PM Post #9 of 64

tinyman392

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Quote:
 
The beauty of different minds my friend 
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I understand what you're saying, and I agree with it as well. I like seeing the two "boosted Bass and Treble with 'fairly' neutral mids" and "recessed mids", as different in my eyes haha. I'm oddly picky with certain wordings.

 
For sure :)
 
Nov 12, 2012 at 2:45 AM Post #13 of 64

tinyman392

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Hmm so I was correct when I said that people don't want to part with their PFE232s 
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I'm sure there are some people that don't like that slight V in the 232.  But yes, for the most part, you are absolutely correct :)
 
Nov 12, 2012 at 2:56 PM Post #14 of 64

planx

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I'm sure there are some people that don't like that slight V in the 232.  But yes, for the most part, you are absolutely correct :)

 
I myself usually don't like V-shaped signatures (TF10, Beyer DT990, W3), but the PFE232 is one exception honestly speaking. I think it's because the mids are so much clearer than the others I listed. The W3 and TF10 often sounded "muffled" for me and I just hated that. That's why I always liked Shures, Etymotics, and other IEMs that doesn't have a strong V-shape, while the PFE232 has a shallow V-shape
 
Nov 12, 2012 at 4:41 PM Post #15 of 64

tinyman392

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I myself usually don't like V-shaped signatures (TF10, Beyer DT990, W3), but the PFE232 is one exception honestly speaking. I think it's because the mids are so much clearer than the others I listed. The W3 and TF10 often sounded "muffled" for me and I just hated that. That's why I always liked Shures, Etymotics, and other IEMs that doesn't have a strong V-shape, while the PFE232 has a shallow V-shape

 
We're a lot alike my friend.  If a V-shape is tuned properly though, they do sound magnificent :) 
 

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