[REVIEW]: Future Sonics MG5Pro 10mm Dynamic Driver Custom Fit In-Ear Monitor
Jul 23, 2014 at 11:03 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 88


Headphoneus Supremus
Jan 25, 2010

 Synopsis: The Future Sonics MG5pro is a professional stage monitor for audiophiles. It offers a different tuning than its brother, the fully stage-oriented MG6pro, by offering a brighter, more overall tonally balanced tuning. The MG5pro lifts the vocal ranges and matches this with an accurate, well extended treble. The bass is very well controlled and yet has one of the most real low-end sounds of any earphone. Using a single, full range 10mm dynamic driver, it competes with more expensive multi-armature earphones. By keeping the price at $750, Future Sonics has one of the best values in custom-fit earphones with the MG5pro.


Disclaimer: I paid for my set of MG5pro earphones. Future Sonics has never asked me to do a review of any kind for any of their products. I'm writing this review solely because this set has become one of my go-to earphones and I think more people should know about it.
Introduction: Marty Garcia, CEO of Future Sonics was the first person to put custom in-ear monitors (CIEMs) on stage, back in 1982 for Todd Rundgren. In 1985, Mr. Garcia offered the first commercially available CIEMs, for which he was later inducted into the TEC Hall of Fame (http://tecfoundation.com/hof/10techof.html). So, the MG5pros are designed by the person who kicked off CIEMs and has been around longer than anyone. And interestingly, they use a different set up than most CIEMs available today, going with single dynamic drivers in vented shells rather than closed shell multi-armatures. To understand why that is, we need to look at the thinking that goes into Future Sonics CIEMs.
Future Sonics' Philosophy: As a Future Sonics customer, I've had the chance to talk directly with Mr. Garcia and he's shared some of his views on audio. Listening to him, it's really a kind of philosophy of sound, based on the science of the human ear. As I understand it: The ear drum vibrates forward and back for us to hear sound waves. Due to the range and emphasis of the human voice, certain frequencies are emphasized over others and the ear canal itself has its own resonances (which change when something like an earphone plugs the entrance to the canal). At the lower frequencies, we feel the air-moving quality of bass sounds as much as we hear them.
This is what led Marty Garcia to work with vented shell designs with dynamic drivers. A dynamic driver's diaphragm also moves forward and back, like the ear drum, and the vent design allows not only the dynamic driver to move properly, but also lets the ear drum move without air pressure interfering with its movement. An earphone that allows the ear drum to move correctly is going sound better and the music will sound more real.
When it comes to bass, having a vented design allows for a real air-moving feel to bass. Marty Garcia found that musicians were turning up the volume on their closed-shell armature monitors in an attempt to get the feel of the bass. That's why even musicians with high isolation monitors tended to listen at a high volume level. Having a real bass feel means musicians can keep their volume relatively lower in a loud stage environment, even though the isolation of vented designs is slightly less. I find the same effect on a noisy subway or plane ride.
Customer Service: As owners of CIEMs have found, customer service is a huge factor in owning a custom-fit earphone (and issues can come up with earphones from any company). Future Sonics has a longer gap in between new generations of their earphones and they really take the time to get things right before they go up for sale. Once you buy a Future Sonics product, they treat you like a rock star, which only makes sense since the vast majority of their customers are pro musicians.
Future Sonics has been in business for 25+ years, so they have a system in place for customer service. For example, when I had fit issues with my first CIEM, the MG6pro, there was a series of steps to go through, starting with making adjustments to the shell (a re-fit) before jumping into having a new earmold made, which I ended up needing. I worked with them patiently, but, of course, when there's an issue, everyone wants things fixed yesterday. It was worth it to get things right. Future Sonics has been one of the most professional companies I've worked with.
Fit: Fit makes a giant difference in the sound you hear from your earphone. What we hear isn't only what an earphone sounds like! It is how that earphone's sound comes through your unique ears and auditory system. Everyone's ear canal is slightly different and, contrary to what's often said, there's a lot of variation even with CIEMs that fit comfortably. Without the right fit (no vacuum feeling, no pressure in the ear, but good isolation with full bass and an open feel), you won't get the sound you want.
Furthermore, there are types of hearing damage that can give you extra sensitivity to certain frequencies, causing you to hear spikes that aren't present in the earphone response itself. All that is to say: Work with a good audiologist who has a lot of experience with making earmolds for musicians and then work with your CIEM company until things sound right and don't stop until it's right. I just tell audiologists that I'm a singer (which is true, in the shower) so they know I want a great fit even when my mouth is open. A good piece of advice is: Don't cheap out on your visit to the audiologist and have a hearing test while you are there.
Upgrades: One special thing about Future Sonics CIEMs is that when a new generation driver comes out years from now, you can have your set upgraded for a fraction of the price of a new set.
However, you should also know that these cannot be sold and re-shelled by a third party.
Reliability: These earphones a bit special in terms of reliability. First, dynamic drivers are more resistant to damage from shock (dropping them) than balanced armatures. They are also less prone to damage from water and humidity. However, almost every earphone has acoustic filters to shape their sound. These filters are definitely prone to damage over time from moisture in the ear. Over time, sound quality will decrease as tiny amounts of moisture and earwax degrade the filters. Future Sonics actually tunes without any acoustic filters to make their earphones exceptionally durable and able to maintain their sound quality over the long-term. Just something to consider!
The MG5Pro: The MG5pro has a single 10mm high-performance dynamic driver. It's $750 when purchased directly from FutureSonics.com

The MG5pro*
*Tiny piece of my earwax I just noticed on the left earpiece not included with purchase

An in-ear shot of the MG5pro
The 10mm driver
Maybe this should go under customer service, but I confess, I have asked Marty Garcia and his chief of operations, David Gray, about the MG5pro driver many, many times. And they've always been very nice and incredibly patient. So, there's the 13mm MG6pro's driver and then there's the universal fit Atrio (now only available from Future Sonics themselves) which also has a 10mm driver.
Where does the 10mm MG5pro driver fit in? (question one of a hundred I asked). Well, first of all, the MG5pro has a different driver than the Atrio. The diaphragm itself is a bit different, and, interestingly, in order to have a driver in a custom-fit design, there are a number of differences versus a universal fit. So you couldn't really just take your favorite dynamic driver earphone and put it in a custom-fit shell. Not if you want it to sound its best, at least. And the MG5pro sounds pretty darn good.
Isolation: While the MG5pro is vented behind the driver, it actually has quite good isolation, just a step behind fully sealed acrylic customs. Furthermore, noise from wind-the turbulence of air passing over the vent-is present but small as well. It does very well in the subway and commuting situations, as well as international flights, assuming, of course, that the fit is good. Future Sonics official rating of the MG5pro's isolation is 26dB.
The Sound:
My set-up: different set-ups can definitely give a different emphasis to sound, so let's get that out of the way. I use the excellent Apex Glacier portable amplifier coupled with a 5.5 gen ipod for my main audio set-up. It's small, portable and has a great sound. The Glacier has plenty of power for earphones and headphones and is tuned to sound like a high-end tube amp. It has a clear, well-extended range with a bit of warmth and organic smoothness to it. It's a non-fatiguing sound that pairs well with a range of CIEMs.
Impedance: While the MG5pro sounds great straight out of a galaxy S5, I'd say it scales up in sound quality when you give it the power the Glacier offers.
This is perhaps in part because the MG5pro is a higher impedance earphone, thanks to the juice pro set-ups offer. That means MG5pro likes power and has a black background (no hiss). While a Galaxy S5 can drive it to quite loud levels, a decent portable player or even a small portable amp to drive it, would be a nice match. You'll get that extra little amount of detail and control to your sound, really bringing the MG5pro to the pro level at which it was meant to perform. Speaking of which...
A story about the MG5pro's sound quality: A while back I had a full three day weekend with universal fit demos of three top CIEMs. I very carefully found eartips that didn't obscure the sound nozzles, got a perfect fit that disappears in the ears and allowed at least 30 minutes of listening just to allow my ears and brain to get used to the tuning of a CIEM (usually while reading and pretending to get some work done) before really doing at least an hour of serious listening. Then, I'd switch to the next CIEM...that's a normal way to spend time, right?
At the end of one of these long listening sessions, I said to myself "This sounds really great, which CIEM is this one, again?" When I looked over, all the demos were on a side table and I realized that 120 minutes passed before I had taken a break from them and put the MG5pros in my ears!
I've had the MG5pro for 4 months now, so it's no passing fancy or flavor of the month, but a true favorite. Each person is going to look for a different sound. With that in mind, if the MG5pro is right for you, it really does compete at a much lower price. Let's look at how it sounds.
Overall Sound Signature: The MG5pro starts with a lifelike, vibrant midrange and adds an accurate treble that's not too bright or dark and a special bass that isn't too much in amount but has extraordinary punch and depth. It's got a very spacious soundstage (with a good fit that doesn't have a vacuum effect, of course) and great timbre. I'll expand on each of these points below:
Tonality: The overall tonality is balanced, avoiding over-thick sounding warmth on the one hand and thinness on the other. One of the MG5pro's strengths is that it does very well with a wide variety of music genres and this is part of the reason. People coming from either extreme will take a little time to grow accustomed to the MG5pro's monitor sound, but it's worth it as these are a real treat.
The timbre, or realistic reproduction of subtle qualities that make vocal and instrumental music sound truly lifelike, is very good. Dynamic drivers often do very well with this and this earphone is no exception. Violins, male and female voices, guitars, pianos sounds real with the MG5pro.
Clarity: The clarity is excellent overall, even beating those flagship CIEMs which have a slight veil to their sound. However, there's no 5khz spike with the MG5pro. That's what usually gives an artificial clarity (compensating for hearing loss in that frequncy-as well as causing it!). Here, you get a clarity that doesn't push itself in your ears. Plus, the lack of added thickness and richness to note decay does give a clearer sound simply by avoiding any muddiness. Due to this choice in tuning, I'd say it'll be middle of the pack for top-tier CIEMs, ahead of the veiled ones and lacking the added clarity of ones with a 5khz boost.
Soundstage: Spacious and as close to a headphone as an in-ear monitor can be. The vented design probably adds to this here while maintaining isolation. Of course, fit plays a role here to get the best soundstage and sound and the recording itself has many of the cues our ears rely on to create the sense of a soundstage with earphones. That's why an earphone like the MG5pro has the ability to sound greatly spacious with some recordings, and to sound more intimate with others.
This a very cohesive, lifelike sound. Thanks to the single driver, artificial separation and even the smallest phase issues are avoided entirely. To me, dynamic driver designs like the MG5pro give me what I want, which is the sound of live music. Each instrument has its place, but the single driver and sound tube gives that sense of all the instruments and voices playing together in the same space. For dissecting one's music, the multiple drivers and separate sound tubes of a multi-armature design might serve more.
Midrange, the heart of the music: The MG5pro is a professional stage monitor and its tuning and sound are part of an interesting take on its purpose. Future Sonics is perhaps the only CIEM maker where the chief of operations is a musician who uses his FS products on stage.
The first and maybe most important part of this is that the heart of the vocal range has a boost. This is what allows the lead instruments and voices to rise above the mix of sounds in a performance so everyone can accompany them. Having said that, the MG5pro has less of a vocal boost than some other stage CIEMs, including its brother the MG6pro. The MG5pro is balanced in tuning so that full range instruments, such as a piano, sound great and natural from top to bottom.  Plus, the human ear is keyed to sounds in the human vocal range, so we tend to hear to this boost as sounding natural, bringing music alive. I've had some very expensive CIEMs that have a drop in frequency response at this range and they eventually ended up in my desk drawer for having a dull sound. Not the MG5pro, which is in my ears as I write these words. This slight boost allows the MG5pro to really rock while at the same time having the non-fatiguing, flatter, accurate sounding tonality of a true monitor. Across a wide range of genres, from classical and jazz to rock and pop, these earphones give a real sense of letting you immerse in a feeling of live music.
The only fatigue I found was on a poorly recorded musician-self-published track where there was ringing resonance at 3khz or so. Every CIEM I own reproduced this ringing in the recording and the MG5pro, true to its accurate tuning, rang heartily at high volumes with this recording. People with lot of really poorly recorded music or those with a "noise notch" (hearing damage usually around 4khz with hypersensitivity to 3-3.5khz and elsewhere) will want to avoid loud listening to this sort of track with these.
Treble: This is a smooth, full sounding treble with good extension. Unlike other stage monitors, the MG5pro avoids a dark sound with a brighter tuning. It's a fully present treble with no thinness and a nice weight to the high notes of a violin, cymbal or woman's voice.  By having a flatter, more "matte" tuning, it avoids glaring harshness in the treble as well for a non-fatiguing, clear, monitor sound. People who want a dark sound, or those who want extra edgy harshness or those who like added sibilant bite to their treble may look elsewhere.
Bass: For a real bass sound, this is one of the best. The bass here has less quantity than some bass heavy earphones (still north of neutral), yet it more than competes in bass feel thanks to the real air-moving quality provided by its vent system. I really enjoy my closed shell multi-armature CIEMs, but they don't have the air-moving quality in the bass found here.
Maybe it's that special vent design that gives the MG5pro some of the best bass punch I've ever heard in an earphone. Bass dynamics, going from silence to a powerfully and fully textured boom, are phenomenal here. The bass is balanced enough to enjoy in a library, but has the punch and feel to make its presence felt over the growl of the plane or train. I'm always a little surprised when I go to more bassy earphones because it's a reminder of how the MG5pro's bass achieves more with less quantity.
Overall, this is a natural sounding bass with excellent sub-bass extension and texture. It allows the MG5pro to sound great with bassy music while remaining balanced with acoustic genres. 
Conclusion: The MG5pro is an excellent all-around CIEM at a price several hundred dollars less than some of its rivals. With a less warm, accurate tonality that lifts the vocal range, this stage monitor for audiophiles is balanced by a non-fatiguing treble with good brightness and a bass that keeps surprising power well under control. For those who are looking to bring this kind of live stage music sound home, the Future Sonics MG5pro is one of the top choices around.
Check out the second post for some more pictures and comparisons with top earphones!
Jul 23, 2014 at 11:03 PM Post #2 of 88
Pictures and Brief Comparisons with the Noble K10 and JH16fp (right below the pictures!)

Starting with a few pictures:

Orange with Flake faceplate

A blue set of MG5pros

Smoke with Flake faceplates

Brief comparisons!

A note about comparisons: Obviously, these are just my take, here are a few things to keep in mind: First, the human auditory system grows accustomed to a given earphone after a while. That becomes the new “normal” for one’s ears and brain. So, quickly switching to a new earphone is as much about how that earphone deviates from what one was used to as about how the new earphone sounds. I try to take that into account by giving each earphone plenty of listening on its own. The earphones I’m comparing here are all ones I’ve had for months.

Second, there are a couple of ways to influence how one perceives the sound of an earphone. The main one is simply playing it a little louder. An earphone played at a higher volume (at least to the limit of that earphone’s headroom) will often sound more lively and more clear than one played more softly. Earphones can be tuned with lifts or spikes at one or another part of the frequency response to take advantage of this effect. So, the overall volume is at one level, but from 5-7khz, for example, might be several dB higher, giving an added effect of clarity beyond the actual detail resolving power of the earphone. That’s just one example, audio engineers have a number of ways to tweak the sound depending on what they want to accomplish. I try to be aware of these effects.

This is important because the MG5pro is a high impedance earphone, so it needs a few clicks of the dial higher to have the same volume. I’ve adjusted for that in my reviews, nothing objective, just going by my ears. Also, the MG5pro, again, to my ears, doesn’t have extra spikes in the treble to influence perception of clarity. This makes sense as it’s a stage and studio monitor, the main tuning lift is in the vocal range which is important on stage.

Noble Kaiser 10 ($1600) versus the Future Sonics MG5pro ($750):

Well the K10 needs no introduction, it’s the flagship of the Noble Audio line and one of the very best CIEMs available. Here’s my full review of the K10.

It has a full, rich sound from the full, powerful bass to the warm, thick midrange to the smooth and bright treble. It does this top to bottom with excellent clarity and detail. While no earphone is for everyone, the K10 does very well at practically everything and sounds fantastic. The main reason it’s not my “go-to” earphone is that I treat my set like gold! The acoustic-filter-free, dynamic driver design of the MG5pro means I can run out of the house with it after a quick after-shower ear-swabbing and I’m not as concerned of the long-term effects of moisture (a concern that holds for the jh16fp and all my other CIEMs as well).

The MG5pro is less than half the price of the K10 and it actually competes. I would say that the main difference at this level is tuning. The MG5pro is tuned as a stage/studio monitor, so part of the idea is to present music without richness or warmth added. It’s a little more “matte” without added shine to the music so a musician can hear what’s really being played. I happen to really like that and I know it is some people’s preference. The K10, on the other hand, has a richer sound with more warmth in the midrange and sparkle in the treble. I think many people will like how the K10 gives that little extra colorful note to music. It’s just a very nice musical experience. I like it a lot as well. Neither approach is better, per se, it’s really according to what you want to hear.

Treble: The K10 has amazing treble, very smooth, ultra extended. It’s bright but almost always non-fatiguing. The MG5pro actually does very well in the treble as well. Both are well extended in treble. I’m not concerned past 16-17khz (several pro audio engineers have separately defined “air” in music as being from 10-12khz), but the K10 has a set of ultra-high tweeters so it probably extends higher… I’ll say that people who want more sparkle but no harshness will find it in the K10. It’s a bit brighter than the MG5pro. For those who want to avoid any trace of harshness in the upper frequencies but don’t want a dark sound, the MG5pro delivers, which is a real accomplishment. It also has a really accurate, nice weight to notes in the treble range.

Midrange: The K10 is warmer, thicker, richer, more colorful, as I’ve mentioned, while not sacrificing clarity and detail. It’s a beautiful sound. The MG5pro is more of a monitor sound, accurate and clear. Both have excellent timbre, but it’s hard to beat a dynamic driver. Both CIEMS have a rise in the vocal region as this suits the way the human ear prioritizes how it perceives sound. Without it, I’ve found earphones sound dull over the long term even if they wow in the short term. Both of these earphones are for long term enjoyment! The MG5pro has a bit more of a rise, but still less than other stage monitors I’ve heard.

Bass: The K10 has excellent bass, with two of the largest armatures you can buy dedicated to bass. It has good sub-bass extension and a good balance between mid-bass and sub-bass with a tilt toward mid-bass. The MG5pro actually has less bass in quantity. However, it has something special—a real air-moving quality thanks to the dynamic driver in a vented shell design. It also has amazing punch. The MG5pro actually has a more detailed, textured, more real bass sound with more sub-bass rumble available. Think of it as having less quantity generally, but more power in reserve. And this is with the very firm statement that the K10 has excellent, absolutely top-tier bass.

Isolation: The K10’s closed shell is a half step better than the MG5pro’s vent design. The MG5pro is better than most dynamic drivers for isolation, so it does isolate excellently for noisy train and long plane flights.

Soundstage: Most of what we think of as earphone soundstage comes from cues in the recording. An earphone like the MG5pro will seem to change soundstages with the recording based on these musical cues. The K10, of course, is similar. The MG5pro has a slightly more natural sounding soundstage with absolutely perfect coherence (single driver), while the K10 will have the greater separation of a multi-driver design and still very good coherence.

Overall: These are both excellent earphones with different tunings which will appeal to different people (or the same person if you’re me). I think technically, the K10 slightly edges the MG5pro in things like isolation, detail resolution, and separation. The K10 does have more bass quantity, which could be better for some listeners. I think the K10’s supremely well-designed, warm, colorful, detailed tuning will make it a more popular choice for many listeners who just want the most musical experience you can find in pretty much any earphone. It also has the art of Dr. John Moulton—the best appearance of any earphone on the market.

The MG5pro is a great monitor CIEM for less than half the price of the price of the K10. Its clear, accurate mids with a boost in the vocal range, its bright, extended, non-fatiguing treble and its amazing, world-beating bass with not overmuch quantity can stand with the best earphones on the market. It’s an amazing achievement and for those looking for the feel of live music and an organic, real sound, it comes out over much more expensive rivals. The MG5pro’s durability means that it’s the earphone that’s in my ears the most. While no earphone is right for everyone, the K10 and MG5pro are each excellent choices for anyone looking for the high-end sound they provide. I'll also add that both Noble Audio and Future Sonics have the best customer service in the business, so I feel confident recommending either of their earphones.

JHAudio jh16fp ($1150) VS Future Sonics MG5pro ($750)

This one of the few times I’ve had a chance to write directly about my set of jh16fps. I ended up getting a set of jh16fps for a girlfriend and thought I’d get a set of jh CIEMs to match. After spending 3 days at home with the jh13fp, jh16fp and roxanne universal fit demos, I picked the jh16fp for the best sound for me. The jh13fp would have been good as well and in my opinion these two are still the flagships of the JH line for audiophiles.
I’ve had the jh16fp for several months now and I really enjoy the sound. There are two armatures for the treble, two for the midrange and four armatures for the bass in a three-way crossover design. Overall, the jh16fp has a large quantity of great bass, a thick, smooth lower midrange, clear vocals and a peak in the lower treble which adds a bit of clarity and edge but doesn’t go over into fatigue for my ears. It’s a darker tuning, as it is meant to be with the added bass (and the option of the jh13fp), but it keeps the upper midrange and lower treble clear.

The MG5pros are $400 less than the jh16fp and they definitely compete. The MG5pro is a studio monitor which can be used as a stage monitor, while the jh16fp was designed as a stage monitor so there’s a bit of a difference in tuning. The MG5pros are brighter and more balanced, with the less warm tuning giving added clarity. These earphones put the vocal and lead instrument range at the center with relatively less bass and lower midrange quantity. There’s no added peak in the lower treble but a bit better extension to my ears.

Bass: The MG5pro’s bass has just a bit more texture, clarity and control, with less quantity comparatively yet the real air-moving bass energy gives the MG5pro more bass power to grab your attention when the music calls on it. It’s an amazing effect that allows the MG5pro to sound tonally accurate for pianos and string quartets and then accurately powerfully rumble for timpani, hip-hop and dubstep. Make no mistake, the jh16fp has great bass for an armature design and the quantity is greater overall. Both have excellent deep subbass extension.

Midrange: The jh16fp has a smooth, thick sound in the lower midrange that many will enjoy. For a top-tier CIEM (and only by that measure), the richness can be a bit obscuring of ultimate clarity. The MG5pro’s studio monitor sound heads toward greater accuracy of tone, as well as better timbre and clarity here. In the vocal ranges, the MG5pro boosts these frequencies as first among equals, bringing the heart of the music forward just a bit, which adds life to the sound. The jh16fp doesn’t do this as much, but it avoids a sense of recessed vocals to my ears, which is important.

Treble: The MG5pro is brighter sounding, with a full bodied treble that is still non-fatiguing, well-extended and clear. The jh16fp has a bit of a peak to give it a bit more edge if you’re looking for that, but is still on the safe side of the fatigue line to my ears and with my gear. Did I mention that the Apex Glacier portable amp pairs very well with JH CIEMs? That’s what I’m using.

Soundstage: The soundstage on the MG5pro is organic and supremely cohesive, with less but more natural separation and a spaciousness that fits the cues gives in the recording. The jh16fp has a bit more instrument separation and more echo set as the default to its soundstage, so it doesn’t change as much with the recording. When it fits the music and recording, it’s great. The MG5pro has a bit more airiness to the soundstage, the jh16fp has more reverberation. I’ll have an additional comment below in the conclusion.

Other things to consider: Remember that the MG5pro are higher impedance, so I’ve matched volumes by ear. The isolation of the MG5pro is more than enough for international plane flights and commuting on a subway, but the jh16fp’s closed shell is a step better.

The MG5pro has a special reliability. Marty Garcia, the owner of Future Sonics, tunes his earphones without using the acoustic filters which almost every other earphone maker resorts to. These filters are very susceptible to moisture and they degrade slowly over time without the listener even being aware of it, unless they listen to a new set and compare. The MG5pro has a dynamic driver which is tuned by its enclosure and vent system, which keep good isolation and maintain a high resilience to shock and moisture. Take care with either one (why not?), but really take extra care with the jh16fp to avoid moisture in your ears or elsewhere.

Future Sonics has excellent customer service. Yes, they have a protocol to follow for things like fit issues, but if you work with them, they are with you every step of the way. Anyone looking at it fairly would have to admit that JHAudio has had a definitely spotty history. I had a painless experience with them, as have many, although many others have had difficulties and delays. So, it's a mixed bag.

Finally, you can’t sell your FS CIEMs, they cannot be remolded by a third party. JH CIEMs should be able to be remolded and tuned to the original sound by companies that offer this service. However, Future Sonics’ CIEMs can be upgraded when a new generation comes out for a fraction of the price of a new model, which is unique in the industry.

Conclusion: For me, the main difference is that the jh16fp really gives you what a well-designed bassy multi-armature set up can sound like. That means added decay in the bass and lower midrange (which is done right here and not easy to do with armatures) while the crossovers allow for good instrument separation while achieving a good coherence. The armatures have been positioned to try to mimic a sense of a larger soundstage’s echo and there is a smoothness and mellow thickness throughout the lower midrange and below, while the vocal range stays clear and the treble has a peak to give some balancing edge to the darker sound. Many people will love these earphones and, as I’ve mentioned, I really enjoy them. It’s a sound that works really well and if it’s what you are looking for, then the jh16fp is one of the very best.

In contrast, the MG5pro is a single dynamic driver tuned to a balanced, studio monitor quality by a master who really appreciates the advantages of this driver. That means the air-moving quality of a dynamic driver via the excellent vent system which really reproduces the living energy of sound. This is true of the real bass energy of a dynamic driver, but it’s not only bass. Pluck a guitar string strongly and you get a percussive thrum—that’s true all along the instrument’s range and it is reproduced much more realistically by the MG5pro. Music is more alive and you don’t need to turn up the volume as much in an effort to try and get that energy. Decay, tonality and timbre are more natural and realistic. The MG5pro’s bass outperforms the jh16fp not only with energy but edges ahead in quality and clarity as well, which isn’t at all easy to do. The lower midrange is clearer without as much warmth to get in the way, the vocal range is lifted which will sound more alive and the treble is less edgy, less fatiguing but brighter and a bit more extended sounding. The soundstage is more airy and organic, which some will like and others will prefer the separation and reverberation of the jh16fp’s soundstage. It’s a different sound than the jh16fp and each person has their own preferences. For those who want what it provides, the MG5pro more than competes with a top-tier earphone at $400 less. There’s a reason the MG5pro is my go-to earphone. :wink:
Jul 24, 2014 at 10:42 PM Post #4 of 88
  Thanks for the detailed write up!  
Does Future Sonics publish an isolation rating?

Hi there! You're welcome.
Indeed FS does publish an isolation rating for the MG5pro: "26db+/- Ambient Noise Rejection (A.N.R)".
Interestingly, this is higher than the 20db+/- that they publish for the MG6pro, which has a very different vent system for its 13mm driver. While I can't confirm their numbers, the MG5pro does come out ahead in isolation to my ears.
Jul 24, 2014 at 11:10 PM Post #5 of 88
On the professional audio side, here's another brief review of the FS MG5pro which was posted by Tom Pesa on the FS Facebook page and addresses Marty Garcia, the owner of Future Sonics, directly:
Thanks, Marty and FS! My opinion is now firm that the mg5pro is my new "go to" set of ears to not only make mixes but listen to in general. After two major shows and over twenty acts ranging from country, rock, pop, latin and R&B I can only say these are amazingly smooth. Beautiful low end and a smooth representation all the way up to the high shimmer. Every nuance is there of what I'm listening to, acoustic or electronic. I have been wearing them for long 16 hour days of soundchecks, dress rehearsals and shows and my ears never get fatigued. Throw in some long travel days of personal music listening, too. Well done! Still loving the mg6's, but, wow, you hit these out of the park.

Tom Pesa is a pro audio engineer who is a three time Emmy Award winner for live sound mixing as a member of the audio mixing team on the 50th and 51st Annual Grammy Awards. He's worked at the Super Bowl, Grammy Awards and The Academy Awards.
Jul 25, 2014 at 2:04 AM Post #7 of 88
thanks for the review kunlun! always a joy to read your reviews. hmm now i'm tempted to try out mg5pro too haha. damn headfi, making my wallet lighter by the day!
Jul 26, 2014 at 12:31 AM Post #8 of 88
  Great review + background explanation! Wouldn't have appreciated dynamic drivers so much without it.

Thanks! I found it was really interesting to think about, too.
  thanks for the review kunlun! always a joy to read your reviews. hmm now i'm tempted to try out mg5pro too haha. damn headfi, making my wallet lighter by the day!

You're welcome! I'd say it's definitely worth it!
Jul 28, 2014 at 10:21 PM Post #9 of 88
pictures added to second post
comparisons to come
I think I'll at least add brief comparisons to the FS lineup, so comparing the MG5pro to the universal fit Atrio and custom fit MG6pro.
I might do a brief comparison of the MG5pro and Noble K10/JH16fp if there's interest.
Jul 29, 2014 at 2:37 AM Post #11 of 88
  pictures added to second post
comparisons to come
I think I'll at least add brief comparisons to the FS lineup, so comparing the MG5pro to the universal fit Atrio and custom fit MG6pro.
I might do a brief comparison of the MG5pro and Noble K10/JH16fp if there's interest.

I'm definitely interested! Especially with regards to the presentation and soundstage/imaging, and also bass/mid quantity and detail/extension. 
Btw, I had no idea you had a JH16, maybe I missed it in some of your reviews, but maybe some thoughts on K10 vs JH16 would be great as well (we can PM if off topic 
) Thanks for the awesome review!
Jul 30, 2014 at 1:12 PM Post #14 of 88
Okay guys! I'll definitely do a comparison with the MG5pro and K10, that'll come first. Next, I'll be happy to compare my set of jh16fp (I got them a few months ago, but didn't do a formal review since I figured there a few of those out) with the MG5pro. If we don't go overboard with the off-topic stuff, I can even make a few comments on the K10 vs jh16fp. How's that sound?
Jul 30, 2014 at 6:47 PM Post #15 of 88
Okay guys! I'll definitely do a comparison with the MG5pro and K10, that'll come first. Next, I'll be happy to compare my set of jh16fp (I got them a few months ago, but didn't do a formal review since I figured there a few of those out) with the MG5pro. If we don't go overboard with the off-topic stuff, I can even make a few comments on the K10 vs jh16fp. How's that sound?

That sounds amazing! Thanks Kunlun!

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