Subtonic STORM: Impressions and Discussion
Jan 12, 2024 at 5:40 PM Post #692 of 910
human deficiency i guess. how did you find it out of 320max compared to other dacs ? what is the black adapter ? comes with 433 ?
The black adapter is a 4 pin xlr to 4.4mm adapter, I got it from @Chang with my Nightjar Sovereign Symphony cable.

As far as the comparisons goes, I used the PO out of the 320max with Mk433 because I am not a fan of the LO out, there's some brightness coming from the LO, in the mid-treble in particular, that the Mk433 brings forward. In PO, the brightness is still there but not as exaggerated. With 320max (in PO mode) the combo is the expansive stage resolving ability + dynamics but the three aspects are blown up a bit with the mk 433. This is the best sounding combo I can conjure up with the funds I have.

Compared to my Exogal Comet DAC which I primarily use for my Genelec Speakers, the Comet tone is warmer, better separation and imaging, loses in dynamics, stage feels about similar but I could be corrected there.
Compared to DITA Navigator: with the MK433, the tonality is more pleasant and less bright than Mk433 + 320Max, but the stage compresses and I lose out in dynamics as well.

I still feel that I can get better pairings with other DACs but my wallet is limited and still recovering from the holiday spending. I'm hoping to try the Mk433 on other DACs this year though, looking forward to trying it with the Bricasti M1se and the Boulder Amps 812.

I've only heard the Mk465 briefly so I can't comment on ideal DAC pairings there, best of luck there feels like an expensive journey hah!
 
Jan 13, 2024 at 12:38 AM Post #695 of 910
Following ... had the fortune of trying these. And they're sublime. Rich, full, deep with no significant flaws. Natural reference timbre. Sounded amazing out of a headphone amplifier (Naim Uniti Headphone Amp) but also auditioned out of a SP3000 ; SP2000 + C9 and Chord Hugo2.

Was about consider a purchase and they're sold out. Keen to see when they would be released.

And a comparison with Raven, Annihilator and other recently released IEM's. I haven't followed improvements in BA technology or implementation but am keen to learn.
 
Jan 13, 2024 at 2:10 AM Post #696 of 910
As far as the comparisons goes, I used the PO out of the 320max with Mk433 because I am not a fan of the LO out, there's some brightness coming from the LO, in the mid-treble in particular, that the Mk433 brings forward. In PO, the brightness is still there but not as exaggerated. With 320max (in PO mode) the combo is the expansive stage resolving ability + dynamics but the three aspects are blown up a bit with the mk 433. I

You are double amping, so it does make sense that things sound exaggerated. It’s not intrinsically wrong, especially if you like it.
 
Jan 15, 2024 at 11:41 AM Post #699 of 910
A genuine thank you to @McCheese, who met me at a local restaurant so I could have a listen to the Subtonic Storm. You've got to love Head-Fiers that are willing to meet up on a day's notice just to geek out a bit!

First impressions over about 25mins of listening in a moderately quiet place:

Isolation: Really excellent isolation using my Symbio eartips. McCheese later informed me that the Storm are not vented. So, this enhances isolation at the expense of wearer comfort somewhat. For me personally as someone that's on planes a great deal I'd view this as a big benefit. For others who might want to use these listening at their desk, it may affect comfort.

Coherency: I was not able to discern the transitions between drivers. The Storm's crossover network must be really well designed. This results in a sound that sounds like a single driver in the best way. This is the Storm's super power in my opinion.

Overall sound: The Storm has a very natural, neutral sound characteristic. I wouldn't characterize it as a "fun" IEM, it's not the IEM that's going to get you thinking "Wow! That bass is insane" while you rock out to an EDM track. However, I know that I was thinking "Wow, the naturalness of these Diana Van Der Bent vocals almost reminds me of my Shang Sr setup" and that's probably the greatest complement I can give to an IEM's naturalness. I think the Shang Sr is the most natural headphone at any cost.

Soundstaging: About "normal" for me, it reminds me of my Monarch II IEMs in this way. So, while I don't know if Monarch II are considered good for sound staging, or not, but I see this as a plus. Decent "out of head" experience that assures things aren't just playing "flatly" into your ears. I found the sound stage quite deep, and fairly tall, but not all that wide.

Bass: As others have said, the all BA bass setup sounds really good. I felt that the bass was definitely not "one note", or "bloated" in any way, it also didn't seem to be tipped up hugely over Crinacle neutral in my listening. So undoubtedly tipped up a bit, but not in a "rock out" sort of way. This again reminded me of good electrostatic bass. Maybe something like Audeze CRBN, it wasn't quite as detailed as the Shang Sr bass. That said, it's highly satisfying, and breathes new life into BA bass setups. Perfectly integrated with the midbass, and midrange. Sub bass is present, and well integrated.

Midrange: Really excellent, world class. Just comfortable, natural, it just breathes. The tuning here is great. I really like the midrange on the Storm. It reminds me of the Monarch II's, which is a huge complement. It's probably a bit better in it's transition into midbass than the Monarch II. Perhaps similar to a well-amped Susvara in that the really excellent transitions between the midbass, and upper midrange are so smooth that the midrange is just "wider" than normal. I feel as though the midrange is giving me more information This results in a sound that's very easy, pleasant, and exactly what I'd want in a midrange.

Treble: It doesn't jump out at me in any meaningful way. I found the treble natural, and pleasant. I did not detect any etch, or sibilance. It seemed well extended, and I could not discern the transition from the BA mids to the EST highs, so the crossover network is top tier. I wouldn't say that it was blowing my mind, but I think that's also the charm of the Storm's treble. Just really pleasant, well integrated and maybe slightly sweetened.

Final: I think these are really cool IEMs. I wasn't "blown away" by them, as I was the first time I heard the Empire Ears Valkyrie for example, but that's also a really great thing for day-to-day living assuming your usecase works for an unvented IEM. I think that they are not really "specialists" at anything other than just being really great IEMs. In a world where most IEMs try to specialize, or appeal to a cohort, the Storm sort of do their own thing. I think that's what sets them apart. I see the Monarch II as a similar design philosophy. The Storm however are better than the Monarch II in every way, but at a significant cost uplift.

Shameless plug: I do have a "wtb" for these in the Classifieds as unvented, but great sounding IEMs are perfect for my frequent long air travel. I'm also not sensitive to unvented IEMs thankfully!

Thank you again @McCheese! :)
 
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Jan 15, 2024 at 12:47 PM Post #700 of 910
A genuine thank you to @McCheese, who met me at a local restaurant so I could have a listen to the Subtonic Storm. You've got to love Head-Fiers that are willing to meet up on a day's notice just to geek out a bit!

First impressions over about 25mins of listening in a moderately quiet place:

Isolation: Really excellent isolation using my Symbio eartips. McCheese later informed me that the Storm are not vented. So, this enhances isolation at the expense of wearer comfort somewhat. For me personally as someone that's on planes a great deal I'd view this as a big benefit. For others who might want to use these listening at their desk, it may affect comfort.

Coherency: I was not able to discern the transitions between drivers. The Storm's crossover network must be really well designed. This results in a sound that sounds like a single driver in the best way. This is the Storm's super power in my opinion.

Overall sound: The Storm has a very natural, neutral sound characteristic. I wouldn't characterize it as a "fun" IEM, it's not the IEM that's going to get you thinking "Wow! That bass is insane" while you rock out to an EDM track. However, I know that I was thinking "Wow, the naturalness of these Diana Van Der Bent vocals almost reminds me of my Shang Sr setup" and that's probably the greatest complement I can give to an IEM's naturalness. I think the Shang Sr is the most natural headphone at any cost.

Soundstaging: About "normal" for me, it reminds me of my Monarch II IEMs in this way. So, while I don't know if Monarch II are considered good for sound staging, or not, but I see this as a plus. Decent "out of head" experience that assures things aren't just playing "flatly" into your ears. I found the sound stage quite deep, and fairly tall, but not all that wide.

Bass: As others have said, the all BA bass setup sounds really good. I felt that the bass was definitely not "one note", or "bloated" in any way, it also didn't seem to be tipped up hugely over Crinacle neutral in my listening. So undoubtedly tipped up a bit, but not in a "rock out" sort of way. This again reminded me of good electrostatic bass. Maybe something like Audeze CRBN, it wasn't quite as detailed as the Shang Sr bass. That said, it's highly satisfying, and breathes new life into BA bass setups. Perfectly integrated with the midbass, and midrange. Sub bass is present, and well integrated.

Midrange: Really excellent, world class. Just comfortable, natural, it just breathes. The tuning here is great. I really like the midrange on the Storm. It reminds me of the Monarch II's, which is a huge complement. It's probably a bit better in it's transition into midbass than the Monarch II. Perhaps similar to a well-amped Susvara in that the really excellent transitions between the midbass, and upper midrange are so smooth that the midrange is just "wider" than normal. I feel as though the midrange is giving me more information This results in a sound that's very easy, pleasant, and exactly what I'd want in a midrange.

Treble: It doesn't jump out at me in any meaningful way. I found the treble natural, and pleasant. I did not detect any etch, or sibilance. It seemed well extended, and I could not discern the transition from the BA mids to the EST highs, so the crossover network is top tier. I wouldn't say that it was blowing my mind, but I think that's also the charm of the Storm's treble. Just really pleasant, well integrated and maybe slightly sweetened.

Final: I think these are really cool IEMs. I wasn't "blown away" by them, as I was the first time I heard the Empire Ears Valkyrie for example, but that's also a really great thing for day-to-day living assuming your usecase works for an unvented IEM. I think that they are not really "specialists" at anything other than just being really great IEMs. In a world where most IEMs try to specialize, or appeal to a cohort, the Storm sort of do their own thing. I think that's what sets them apart. I see the Monarch II as a similar design philosophy. The Storm however are better than the Monarch II is every way, but at a significant cost uplift.

Shameless plug: I do have a "wtb" for these in the Classifieds as unvented, but great sounding IEMs are perfect for my frequent long air travel. I'm also not sensitive to unvented IEMs thankfully!

Thank you again @McCheese! :)

I've been traveling quite a bit for work lately and I've taken the Storm with me on the my last few business trips: China in November, Germany in December, and back again to Germany and Austria last week (from Seattle). I even met with @CharlyBrown to let him try it out in Munich last week as well!

I must say, I was thoroughly surprised how well the Storm worked for me as an long-haul airplane IEM. I didn't even break out my ANC headphones during some of the flights. They were extremely comfortable and obviously noise isolation of an IEM surpasses that of any ANC, if you get the proper fit/seal. Even with my CIEMs or ANC TWS or others, after a couple hours of being up in an airplane, they start to bother my ears, but never had an issue wearing the Storm. They just fit me wonderfully even when I dozed off for a nap.

Also helps that they sound excellent. :)
 
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Jan 15, 2024 at 12:54 PM Post #701 of 910
Yeah, using the Storm with the Bluetooth ifi Go Pods is interesting, since you can get a lot of isolation without needing active noise canceling when on the go.

Downside of the unvented setup though, you might need a different fit between one of your ears and the other ear (due to how your two ear canals handle the pressure different).
 
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Jan 15, 2024 at 2:12 PM Post #702 of 910
I've been traveling quite a bit for work lately and I've taken the Storm with me on the my last few business trips: China in November, Germany in December, and back again to Germany and Austria last week (from Seattle). I even met with @CharlyBrown to let him try it out in Munich last week as well!

I must say, I was thoroughly surprised how well the Storm worked for me as an long-haul airplane IEM. I didn't even break out my ANC headphones during some of the flights. They were extremely comfortable and obviously noise isolation of an IEM surpasses that of any ANC, if you get the proper fit/seal. Even with my CIEMs or ANC TWS or others, after a couple hours of being up in an airplane, they start to bother my ears, but never had an issue wearing the Storm. They just fit me wonderfully even when I dozed off for a nap.

Also helps that they sound excellent. :)
I'd be curious to hear your impressions of the Annihilator 2023 should you hear them. Appreciate your putting together a ranking list with such great detail.
 
Jan 15, 2024 at 3:49 PM Post #703 of 910
I'd be curious to hear your impressions of the Annihilator 2023 should you hear them. Appreciate your putting together a ranking list with such great detail.
He did! At least for a quick listen as I let @antdroid try my Annihilator 23 and GM while I listened to his Storm 🤩

Speaking of, when will the regular release version be available? I'm having a hard time getting it out of my head...
 
Jan 15, 2024 at 5:37 PM Post #705 of 910

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