- Dec 12, 2010
[size=7.5pt]Specification of Phonak Audéo PFE in-ear earphones[/size]
| Driver|| Dual balanced armature|
| Frequency response|| 5 Hz–17 kHz|
| Sensitivity|| |
| [size=10.0pt]· [/size]Gray filter|| 109 dBSPL/mW, 1 kHz|
| [size=10.0pt]· [/size]Black filter|| 107 dBSPL/mW, 1 kHz|
| [size=10.0pt]· [/size]Green filter|| 104 dBSPL/mW, 1 kHz|
| Nominal impedance|| 47 ohm|
| Weight|| 16 g, 0.5oz|
| Plug|| 3.5 mm 3/4 pole jack|
| Cable length|| 120 cm, 3.9 ft|
The first thing I notice before I audition them, I can feel that it’s a quality product which is well build with weight saving in mind, there is nearly nothing unnecessary with the PFE 232, decent cable with a great touch to it, decent stress relief, a small 3.5mm L-Plug that will get into any phone with a case on. The PFE 232 comes with the microphone cable installed, but also comes with the standard 3 pole cable without a microphone, so either cable could be your back up. In the box, you get 3 sizes of silicon and Comply tips, and nothing was installed on the earpiece themselves except for the grey acoustic filter. Also comes with a set of 3 different acoustic filters, 1 grey (2 in total), 1 black and 1 green. The rest of accessories are the filter replacement tool and the sound tube cleaning tool, and of course, a soft carrying case with two slots which you can put spare tips or filters in, the case also have a belt loop that you can mount on your waist.
As far as I concern, the PFE 232 doesn’t isolate as well as other similarly designed IEM like the Westones or the Shures. But the Isolation is better than the Sennheiser IE80.
After switching through the 3 different filters, grey emphasize the mid-range, black amplifying the bass and highs, and the green giving “perfect bass”, I found the grey filter giving the most optimum sound I want in my IEM and is the more balanced out of the three, which is a great thing about the PFE 232, you can alter the sound signature by switching the filters.
The fit with the PFE 232 is indeed perfect, feels like Westone 4 with single flange, microphonics are really low, because they are over-ear only design, but due to their slightly harder cable, there is still a tiny bit.
After switching through the filters, I find that grey filter is the most enjoyable, giving me a very smooth mid-range along with the sparkly treble, the bass is just the right amount of impact when needed with the grey filter, which makes it overall more balanced when compared with the black and green, in this review it will be using grey filter for all of the time. The Comply will give a better impact but in the same time lose that sparkly treble that’s why I stick with the silicon.
When compared to other dual driver IEM I auditioned before, unlike the CK10 and DBA-02 type of dual BA, it’s more towards giving you the best detail it can handle without sounding analytical or losing bass impact.
The bass of the PFE is well detailed and gives a nice solid impact, but not on par in terms of quantity compared to UM3X or IE80. The PFE 232’s speed is rather quick, and the decay doesn’t seem realistic enough when compared to most dynamic based IEM. The extension is deep, but it doesn’t really give the sense of fullness than dynamic based IEM can reproduce.
The mid-range is very well positioned; the clarity and detail is superb, in the same time it doesn’t sound dry or lifeless. The PFE 232 managed to be detailed and controlled without any edgy sound, it sounds kind of like a thick analytical IEM, all the details are there, but it doesn’t always want to smash you in the face with it like other analytical IEM, but you will be able to hear everything.
Just like the mid-range, the treble clarity and detail is very smooth, with the grey filter it’s sparkly, and the treble doesn’t have the analytical edgy sound here as well, but also manage to give the right amount of detail.
The soundstage is well above average, a wide presentation but not on par with IE80 or SM3, gives a decent height but lacking depth to it, vocal sounds centered, the PFE 232 doesn’t sound all that airy, when compared to the IE80, it certainly loses right the way, but if you compare it with other BA based universal, this will beat most of its competitor.
The PFE 232 to my ears is geared towards everyday music listener, everything is just so refined that people who look for analytical sound would simply go away, it doesn’t carry any sense of edginess. It has a tad of thickness into it, so you can listen to it for hours without any hearing fatigue. The PFE 232 is the best sounding dual driver IEM I have ever auditioned, coming from TF10, UM3X, Westone 2/4, SM3, Shure 425, GR07, IE80, and the lot. The price tag of $599 might seem very much for a universal, but it will be justified when you combine the filter replacement they have, so if you are bored of the sound you can simply change the filter to alter the sound signature. If you have the money and not looking for custom IEM, go for the PFE 232, the 232 will also have a much higher resell value compared to custom, and now it comes with a free pair of PFE 022, which could be a nice Christmas present to hand out.