REVIEW: LARK STUDIO LSX

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Lark Studio is a new audiophile company, but quite experienced in producing universal and custom products, they just released their first 10 balanced armatures model: LSX.

“The lark is a well-known bird to the music industry.
As it flies high, you may only catch a glimpse of it as its cry reaches you.
The crisp and sweet sound of the lark is a symbol of Lark Studio’s constant pursuit of sound quality.
The lark’s rich colors inspire us to build ever more diverse and beautiful products, with an aesthetically-focused design.
Lark Studio was created out of a passion to bring the market top-notch custom and universal in-ear monitors embodying the beauty of the lark, in both body and sound.

After a long two years of preparation, three audiologists, with a combined experience of 18 years, set out to create excellently-performing monitors that provide an excellent visual and sonic value. Each employee of Lark Studio is a veteran of the audiophile market, with the youngest of ours having more than five years of experience.

We are a group of people chasing dreams.
Our team features an industry-leading tuner, hardware engineer, and product engineer, and together we’ve refined the traditional engineering/production cycle to provide a higher quality product, at a lower cost.
Each pair of in-ears goes through three separate polishing passes at the factory and is inspected for quality control rigorously with each pass. We do not tolerate any defects.
During the production process, our IEMs pass through four separate groups of tests, designed specifically by our quality-assurance team. And just to make sure that nothing gets through, a manual review is done by a trained professional right before we box up your new pair of in-ears.

As a testament to our commitment to our customers, we offer a comprehensive insurance package that covers all forms of damage, be it user error, product defect, or environmental damage. A payment of $180 gets your IEM two years of no-questions-asked insurance. Just send us your IEMs and we will get to work. Please note that shipping must be covered by the customer.

Each of Lark Studio’s products is a labor of love. Every in-ear is made from high-quality materials, including some of the finest exotic woods you can find. Each piece is painstakingly screened for visual appeal and then treated to get the highest level of aesthetic value. We aim to build for you IEMs that transcend utility and become a true work of art, an heirloom quality product.

It is exactly for this reason that when each new employee joins the company, he or she knows they must embody the values of Lark Studios.
The staff strongly believes in the value of their work, as their job lets them bring life to an inert piece of plastic or chunk of exotic wood.

This is the story, and these are the values, of Lark Studios. We aim to provide you with a service that leaves you glad you did business with us. Happy reading!”

Today, i am going to review their custom model, but i have had the opportunity to test their final universal prototype too.

CLSX unit was sent me as a sample unit, I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thanks Lark Studio team for sending me this unit giving me the opportunity to test this engaging and nice-tuned IEM.

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LSX will come in two versions: standard one, with a copper cable and a special version too, with PWaudio Saladin cable.
They will offer their custom version at the same price of their universal one.
From what i know, you can customize the artwork of both your universal and custom models without any additional cost, this is amazing and quite revolutionary.
( at the end of this review, you can find all the specs for standard cable and PWaudio Saladin one).

For more info about lsx or many custom available artworks, you can easily ask to Michael or Arthur on their facebook channel.

PRICE STANDARD EDITION : 1699 USD
PRICE SPECIAL EDITION: 1899 USD

OFFICIAL SITE :http://www.lark-studios.com
FACEBOOK PAGE https://www.facebook.com/larkstudiohifi/

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PACKAGING: usually, don’t like to write much about packaging and other feautures, cause my main focus is sound quality, but the package here, is quite premium and rich: in the large box you can find many adaptors, a warranty card, a soft pouch and other more accessories, that you can see in the picture above.
Where, other companies uses only an hard case for their custom models, Lark Studio uses for both their universal and custom IEM the same premium box( in the universal model, you will find many SpinfFit and Comply eartips, i found a good isolation and great sound with the blue core SpinFit eartip).
For the custom artwork, i choosed a wood faceplates, trasparent shell and their silver/gold logo. Build quality seems premium and sturdy, though the pin socket are a bit tight specially at the beginning( so pay attention when switching cables).
Will update this review, if will find any build quality issue in the near future.

SOUND: All my sound consideration has been made after 150 hours of burn in as suggested by Lark Studio company, with different DAPs such as AK KANN, AK se100 Futura, Opus 1s, Opus2, iFi Nano Idsd black label.
I really found a great improvement after 100 hours of burn-in( usually, i am not a great burn-in believer for multi balanced IEM, but for custom models it needs time to adjust to your ear-canal and consequently when the seal will be good, perceived sound will improve. At this point, i don’t know if the great improvement i found, was due to only the better seal or the burn-in driver, but just to be sure, i suggest to make always a 50/100 hours of burn-in, before judging the overall sound quality.

LSX is quite a neutral, but still engaging iem, and was quite impressed by the refined tuning. Lark Studio created a nice combination of engaging and neutral sound with sweet female vocals.
Bass is for sure, a strong point of this IEM: last time i heard such a quality bass response was with the Rhapsodio Galaxy V2(dynamic driver). Usually multi-balanced IEMs cannot compete in bass quality with dynamic drivers models, but here bass goes very deep, with great sub-bass extension, mid-bass has adequate presence, but never warms up too much the scene. The overall result will depend on the source too, for example this LSX with ak se100 Futura really shines, giving a great punchy and layered bass response.

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Vocals are a bit behind, but have nice tonality and realism, here again this iem has a great sinergy with astell and kern player, cause se100, usually, tends to push vocals more forward. There is a peak on the high-midrange area that creates a great balance with the strong bass response. Both male and female vocals are well portrayed, but feamale ones are really sweet and refined. Listening to Yael Naim or Cèlin Dion on this LSX was a pleasure for my ears.
Treble is clean and well extended and sometimes, will give you some sparkles, but never resulting too harsh or hot.

Soundstage is quite wide and holographic with the right tracks, but i found the universal model to have a wider soundstage(my custom model fits very deep in my ear-canal, so it can changes the overall perceived soundstage).
This LSX is quite easy to drive, but is not the most sensitive IEM out there, so needs a bit of current to really shine. Overall with good players such Opus 2/1s and ak se100 you will have a great result.

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STANDARD EDITION VS SPECIAL EDITION( STANDARD COPPER CABLE VS PWAUDIO SALADIN CABLE):
the standard copper cable will give you a warmer sound, with more focus on bass and vocals(nice with modern and pop music), on the other side Saladin has always a smooth approach with more organic vocals, but will give you a better balance of mid-bass and upper treble( i would say a more audiophile approach). Overall Saladin has a more refined and sweet sound, with better transparency and resolution. I would suggest you to go with the standard edition, if you love a warmer sound with a more focus on bass response.

PAIRINGS:

LSX and Astell and kern SE100: great sinergy, with deep and airy bass response, vocals results more sweet and more forward. Soundstage results a bit more intimate and less wide compared to Opus2, but there is better depth layering.

LSX and OPUS2: bass doesn’t go deep as ak se100, but acquires more rumble and mid-bass presence. Vocals are not forward like SE100, but are still sweet with good tonality. Soundstage is wider and more holographic, but is less deep.
I can easily drive this IEM on mid-gain without any issues.

LSX with Opus1s: Opus 1s is a bit more full-bodied than Opus 2, less neutral, with a warmer and punchier bass response. Vocals are not so weet and detailed like for SE100 and Opus 2. Soundstage is less wide and layered, but there is great left/right channel separation.

COMPARISON:

INEARZ EUPHORIA CUSTOM(999 USD) VS LSX(1699/1899 USD): lsx has better treble response and upper-mid presence, for this lsx, is capable to show a better female vocals. Euphoria has good bass response, but doesn’t go deep as Lsx can do. Soundstage is more or less on par.
Overall INEARZ EUPHORIA, sounds a bit smoother and less fatiguing, but LSX has better bass response and is capable to combine an engaging and natural sound in a better way.

CONCLUSION: this LSX was quite a surprise for me, wasn’t expecting such a refined tuning abilities from Lark Studio engineers and giving the opportunity to their customers to choose artwork customization for both their universal and custom product without any additional cost, will be for sure a winning choice for this new/big company.

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SPECS:
10 precision tuned balanced armature drivers:
3 bass
4 midrange
2 treble
1 super-treble

4-way passive crossover design.

AVX Oxicap Capacitors
Vishay Resistors
Impedance: 19-20ohm
Sensitivity: 109-110 dB
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20 kHZ

SPECS STANDARD CABLE EDITION:
6N OCC 24awg *4 6N 24awg *4
280*0.06mm conductors /
TPU Shielding (Japan)

SPECS PWaudio Saladin cable:

tapping on his vast experience with copper based and silver based cables, Peter Wong has set out to create a new range of products, known as the “Vanquish” series, to mark a new era of PWaudio products.

Featuring a unique geometry and wire design based on his “Sevenfold Pipe” series, together with his knowledge of different types and grades of cable materials, PWaudio has created the Saladin.

Saladin features an all new 7 bundle Litz geometry of copper and silver-plated copper. Drawing from the characteristics of the copper, Saladin presents a vast, yet warm sound that draws the listener in with its intimacy and smoothness, and which also takes advantage of the SPC to present a detailed treble that provides added resolution and energy.

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REVIEW: STEREOPRAVDA SB-7

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This is our first product from the Russian StereoPravda company, so would like to write something about their origin and philosophy:

“There is a set of advantages that have to do with material resources, and there is a set that have to do with the absence of material resources – and the reason underdogs win as often as they do is that the latter is sometimes every bit the equal of the former”.
Malcolm Gladwell, “David and Goliath”.

Misha Kucherenko has been a well known figure in the Russian audiophile circles since 1993 when he co-founded the first Russian real audiophile store called “The Purple Legion”.
Through its history “PL” has been distributing in Russia the products from some of the most respected audiophile brands, including Apogee Acoustics, Krell, Audio Research Corporation, Magnepan, Klipsch, Kimber Kable, MSB, Genesis Louspeakers, Stereovox, Manley Labs, Grado, etc.

In 2002 Misha left “The Purple Legion” to devote his passion and energy to a new company that was called “StereoPravda”. His close relationship with his manufacturing partners lead to transition of most of them for the distribution of their products in Russia from “Purple Legion” to the new company.
Misha is also well known for his independent audio journalistic effort. Despite his unconventional views, for the last 20 years he published more than a hundred of articles and reports in various Russian magazines, including “Audiomagazine”, “Salon AV”, “Class A”, “Art Electronics”, etc. Since 2013 his monthly “Personal Opinion” column on one of the most popular Internet audio forum soundex.ru was read by many thousands of Russian audiophiles. Misha’s journalistic effort culminated in a long interview regarding portable audio, in general, and StereoPravda line of products, in particular, which he gave to a well known American “Widescreen Review” (August magazine called 2015, #198).

As a hard core audiophile and jet set travelling audio journalist for many years he’s been seeing inevitable changes coming to the audiophile hobby. Looking at the progress in various relevant technologies vs stale set of audiophile dogmas brought him a new vision: The Portable High End Audio.
To him, what matters is not a type of a no-holds-barred audio system- be it a home system or a portable one – what does matter is the initial purity of its creator’s intentions and the degree of their realization.

From his stand point and the background he’s not being seeing any adequate audio quality portable propositions coming from “The Big Boys”, so, eventually, capitalizing on his hard-earned reputation, he decided to fill the gap with his own line of products bearing the StereoPravda name.
At this time, the line consists of four In-the-Ear Monitors: SPearphone SB-5, SPearphone SB-6, SPearphone SB-7, SPearphone SB-7A, and also one dedicated portable IEM DAC/Tone Control/two-way differential amplifier to be used with the latter IEM model.

The IEMs are designed by Misha himself, the dedicated DACCA unit is designed by Alexey Malanin, who’s been Misha’s close associate for more than two decades. All these products are result of many years spent on their R&D.
StereoPravda products are 100% hand crafted and individually thoroughly tested.
Misha’s intention with this line is to carry the audiophile torch through High End Audio’s current “neutral zone” to its new incarnation.
And to pass this torch of true values to a new generation of audiophiles.

I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thanks “Big Misha” for sending me this unit giving me the opportunity to experience such an audiophile and pure sound.

PRICE: 2500 USD

OFFICIAL SITE : http://www.stereopravda.com/products/5/33/
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/spearphone/?ref=br_rs

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PACKAGING: SB7 will arrive in a very unique packaging, I would say with a very Russian style. There aren’t a lot of accessories, just some sheets and cards that show the frequency response of the SB7 and some fit tips, you will find a soft pouch to bring your IEM on the go( there aren’t replaceable tips, since the SB7 works only with the mounted ones out of the box).

Build quality is premium, with great attention to details. It’s strange and singular shape is strictly connected to the sound quality. This SB7 was projected not like other common universal IEMs, indeed it fits more like a custom one( reatching the second bend ear canal, not only will give you better isolation, but overall a better perceived sound).

This IEM is not so easy to use, for this, if you are planning to buy one I truly suggest you to follow these guidelines on their site:

SOME FIT TIPS AND SOME INFO ABOUT THE CABLE:

“Each pair of our IEMs (In-The-Ear-Monitors) undergoes an extended audition to make sure that it is 100% perfect. The cable for the StereoPravda SPearphone SB-6 and SB-7/7A is crafted (almost) by hand in his own workshop by our American partner and close friend cable “guru” Chris Sommovigo (of Stereolab). The cable for the StereoPravda SPearphone SB-5 is a generic cable, but which we picked up, after extended auditions of numerous candidates, as the best “bang for a buck” performer.

The mini-jack connector used for the SB-6 and the SB-7/7A is the best one we have ever auditioned.

The mini-jack connector for the SB-5 is the one supplied with the generic cable.

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Here are some basic hints about inserting and wearing our StereoPravda SPearphones family of the IEMs:

For INSERTING please, see the picture attached:

  1. Put the connecting cable behind your neck with its split

closer to the right ear.

For mobile convenience, fasten it with the clip to your collar (the clip positioning can be changed along the cable’s length to adjust each channel’ corresponding extensions).

As this AUDIOPHILE cable is relatively fragile, we would recommend you to “think twice” before making any adjustments, as the coils of the wire would not completely return to the straight shape after twisting.

Wrap the cables around your ear (see the attached picture).

  1. With the connecting wire pointing upwards and slightly in front of you (see the attched picture), slowly insert an IEM as deep as possible(it’s supposed to stop at some

depth, depending on the size of your ear channel). Alternatively, a sharp pain should stop you. Relative unease is a normal feeling while this first undertaking.

  1. When stopped, slightly twist the earphone around, pushing slightly in and out in the ear channel UNTIL YOU FEEL THE SAME EAR CHANNEL ACOUSTIC ISOLATION in each ear.

That is when you pronounce “m-m-m-” or “ah-ah-ah-” sounds, it’s indicated by THE SAME response in both of your sealed ears.

Hopefully, you’ll reach the ear channel isolation with no pain or inconvenience.

The isolation is the key to good sound. Without it the excellent sound is impossible with our designs. So, spend some time making sure you’re obtaining the ear channel isolation, and don’t even try to evaluate the sonic qualities of our products without reaching it.

We are quick to admit that our products are not for everyone, their appeal is limited by the variance in human ear channel anatomy.

So, please, cross your fingers that you’ll pass the admission test!

Otherwise, if your ear channel is too small or a quirky-shaped one, and the use of our products is prohibited by an intolerantly high level of discomfort, we’re very sorry, and are honestly wishing you all the best in your future sonic endeavors!

You can return our product for a full return (please, see our return policy on our website).

  1. RE-WRAP THE CONNECTING CABLE AROUND YOUR EAR (like in

the attached picture). This is important, as the cable, while moving, can constantly twist the IEM out of its correct positioning, leading to the “leakage of isolation”.

  1. If necessary, slightly RE-POSITION the IEM within your ear channel (please, see point 3. above).

So, while moving your head, the ear channel is CONSTANTLY isolated.

Please, make sure that the connectinng cable is wrapped around your ear and SLIGHTLY TIGHTENED around it to make sure that it’ll stay in its place!

The physical design of our SPearphone line is optimized for a CONSTANT (despite on the head movent) level of such isolation in an appropriately (for each model)-sized ear channel.

  1. You’re done.
  2. We recommend to SLIGHTLY change the moving collar clip/R/L cables’ splitting point of positioning on the cable after each use. This procedure would prevent the breakage of the small cable conductors inside at this point of juncture”.

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SOUND: this SB7 is not easy to review, since its sound depends mostly on how good the fit will be. I spent two weeks to find out the best way to use them( my ear canal is a bit small, so required a bit of time to adjust to the singular shape of SB7). Once, found the perfect fit, I enjoyed not only a great isolation, but most important thing a truly audiophile sound. The SB7 is capable to reproduce a great timbre and tonality with extreme soundstage accuracy. This IEM stays on the neutral side, leaning a bit on the bright one, to assure great definition, clarity and airy sound. The reproduction is on top levels and for sure, among the best one I have ever tested. The imperative for the SB7 is to sound neutral, pure without any fun and artificial embellishment.

Bass is on the neutral side, with great impact and decay. It never warms the scene and most important thing, never covers the midrange. Sub-bass, if you will find a  perfect fit and good amplification, is very satisfying, with the right amount of punch and speed. Overall, bass response is natural and well controlled, with great accuracy and definition.

Due to its neutral/bright sound signature the SB7 is a great performer with female voices. Listening to LanaDelRey or Nora Jones on this IEM will be a pleasure for your ears.

Treble response is surely a strong point for this IEM, very defined with plenty of resolution and sparkles, but never sounding too hot and harsh. The overall treble response helps to give a very spacious and airy sound. I truly suggest to pair this SB7 with a more musical and warm player, cause with a reference one, treble can be a bit too much sharp.

Soundstage is great, very wide and holographic. Obviously, the final result will depend by the source and the player, for example with my ak Kann soundstage is more holographic than my Opus1s.

The SB7 is quite easy to drive, and can give you a very good sound just out of common DAPs like Opus and Astell&Kern, but i truly suggest you to pair with a good Desktop DAC/AMP to reach a better tonal balance and more immersive soundstage.

COMPARISONS:

SB7 VS AROMA AUDIO YAO: these IEMs are one of the best I have ever tested, they have totally different sound signature and approach to music, but both of them performs at really high levels. Yao is more on the warmer side, with a more relaxed and romantic sound. Yao has more mid-bass quantity and overall a more organic voice reproduction. SB7 has  better resolution and a more airy sound, with more sparkles, but is less forgiving with low quality tracks. Soundstage is on par, with good separation on both of these IEMs, but SB7 is capable to portray a more holographic stage around you.

Yao is more easy to drive, on the other side the SB7 needs a better amplification to really shine.

SB7 VS RHAPSODIO GALAXY INFINITY: SB7 has better resolution and more convincing tonality and timbre. Bass has better impact and decay on the SB7. Due to the bright signature of the Stereo Pravda IEM, sound is less forgiving with bad players and low quality tracks.

CONCLUSION:

I really loved this SB7 for its pure and audiophile reproduction, but the comfort was not so immediate, at least for my small ear-canal. The singular shape of this IEM is strictly connected to its great sound qualities, but if Misha is able to produce a more comfortable body, with still this top level sound, will easily compete with all the top players out there.

The SB7 is not an IEM for everyone, and StereoPravda knows it, for this I really hope you can audition it by yourself  before buying it, cause the overall final result will depend only  by the fit you will be able to find.

PROS:

one of the most transparent and natural sound i have ever heard

Female voices

Very holographic soundstage

CONS:

not much comfortable for my small ear canals

cable not easy to use on the go

SPECS:

NON-user replacable one size-fits all universal silicon tip;

– SEVEN Balanced Armature drivers per channel, all drivers share the same axis;

– custom Pravda32 connecting cable specially designed for this model by Chris Sommovigo;

– audiophile-grade matching resistors by Vishay;

– mini-jack’s TRS-part by Furutech;

– impedance: 15 Ohms;

– the connecting cable’s length (left earphone to the mini-jack connector): 1.2 meters.

REVIEW: iFi IEMatch/ Ear Buddy

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After the review of their IEMatch 2.5, i am quite happy to test both Ifi EARBUDDY and the standard IEMATCH.

My review of IEMatch 2.5: https://simplyaudiophile.wordpress.com/2018/04/26/review-ifi-iematch-2-5-hiss-no-problem/

So, what does these small dongles can do?
In the first part of this review I will show what iFi claims about their products, in the second part you can find my personal experience with many sensitive IEMs and different players/amp.
The iEMatch® solves the bane of headphone listening by removing hiss and improving dynamics. As most IEMs and headphones are too loud at even half the volume level, listening enjoyment is always curtailed. No more with the iEMatch® in the signal path.
Use the iEMatch® when the headphones/in-ear monitor (IEM) is either too loud and/or there is excessive hiss from the music source. From Smartphones to airplane in-flight entertainment systems, powerful headphone amplifiers, the iEMatch® improves musical enjoyment by:

1. Background noise – significantly reduced
2. Dynamic range – more open, transparent
3. Volume control – increased usable range

Technical example:
If a source has (say) 114dB dynamic range and the Headphone is 30dB too loud, once the volume has been turned down 30dB the dynamic range is reduced to 84dB, or below CD quality, from what is an excellent result for a high-solution source.

With Headphones, especially those that significantly reduce background noise (IEM, noise-reducing etc) excessive levels of electronic background noise quickly become annoying, so noise should always be kept as low as possible.
It literally defeats the object of building a system around an expensive high-resolution headphone amplifier when the volume must be backed off so much that the resulting background noise is so high, quality is reduced to below CD or MP3 audio quality.
By using iEMatch® one can reclaim 12 or 24dB lost dynamic range; as needed to get the most enjoyment from the source; from modern high-resolution recordings down to MP3, the difference is there to be heard.

This unit was sent me as a sample , I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thanks iFi team for sending me these units giving me the opportunity to test these simple and effective dongles.
The Earbuddy and IEmatch aims to do the same thing, but the IEMatch not only shows a more premium build quality, but will give you the opportunity to choose between Ultra (-24dB) & High-Gain (-12dB) sensitivity adjustment.

OFFICIAL SITE : https://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/accessory-iematch2-5/

FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/iFiAudio/

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PACKAGING: more or less both earbuddy and IEMatch has the same packaging and same accessories, so will refer to only the IEMatch one.
The IEMatch comes in a simple, but quite elegant box. With the dongle you will find a velvet pouch and memory-foam contoured ear plugs (-37dB)(that you can use when travelling or in noisy environments).

Build quality is very good, obviously is not one of the most elegant products, but for this price range makes its job. iFi used a Al-Mg alloy casing for the body and a 6N silver/copper matrix wiring for the cable; with a Gold plated 2.5mm Balanced Connection. Like the standard IEMatch, you can switch between high and ultra sensitivity( I always used only high sensitivity with all my custom and universal IEMs, but ultra mode can be quite helpful with sensitive monster like Campfire Andromeda).
Switching between high and ultra mode depends by your iems and sources too, cause ultra mode will oblige to push the volume up and this thing can cause clipping issues.
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PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:

I have tested the iEMatch with my custom INEARZ EUPHORIA both in standard and ADEL configuration, Aroma Audio Yao,Twins, HEIR AUDIO 10.0, Stereo Pravda SB7, Inear SD5, Fiio ex1, Dunu C-Falcon, . For the sources, I have plugged the iEMatch into Opus1s, Astell and kern kann, fiio m7, aune x1 Desktop DAC/AMP.

Stereo Pravda SB7+ Ifi IEMatch/EARbuddy + Aune x1s: this pairing shows how a 2500usd IEM can improve its performance with this small dongle. Aune X1 is a Desktop DAC/AMP with high output impedance, using the IEMatch improves not only some hiss issues, but recover the full dynamic range and the impedance dismatch between the high impedance output of the Aune(10 ohm) and the high sensitivity of this IEM.

INEARZ EUPHORIA custom+ Ifi IEMatch/EARbuddy+ Opus 1s: EUPHORIA doesn’t suffer too much of hiss problems, but I found Opus 1s in high gain can produce some hiss issues. Thanks to the IEMatch I can listen to high volume without loosing the full dynamic range.

Fiio F5 + IEMatch + astellkern KANN: kann doesn’t have too much noise in high gain, but the F5 has good amount of hiss. I found F5, IEMatch and akKANN one of the best pairing for this iem giving me the chance to experience great dynamic and never fatiguing experience.

Dunu C-Falcon + Ifi IEMatch/EARbuddy: C-Falcon is a great IEM for its price range, but like Fiio F5 can suffer of hiss problems. With these dongles, you can easaly raise the volume without increase hisses.

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CONCLUSION: as for the IEMatch 2.5 there is no cons( maybe a bit the price), it just works great and keeps promises, so If you have any hiss problems with your high sensitive custom or premium IEMs, just give a try to this dongle and will surely not regret.

REVIEW: AROMA AUDIO TWINS

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Aroma Audio is quite a young company, founded in 2015 has an independent R & D and design department dedicated to the design and development of portable and desktop audio product.

Talking with Antony, marketing manager of Aroma Audio, I understood their philosophy and the origin of their brand name: “Our philosophy is to make the sound as like as the variations of aroma.

Our team members are experienced in audio products. From the perspective of market demand, we create unique products to meet consumer expectations by our philosophy”.

This company received quite a good response in the audiophile community both for their desktop amp both for their Witch Girl IEM models. Now they released their new Musical Box headphones with these three models:

EARLY, TWINS AND YAO. Today I am going to review TWINS model with 7 armature units.
Time ago, I reviewed their Yao model, this is the link to the article: https://simplyaudiophile.wordpress.com/2017/12/25/review-aroma-audio-musical-box-yao/

Main differences between their Witch Girl IEMs and Musical Box Series: “Witch series has a more pop music style, on the other side, this new Musical Box series is more like England style and so, has a more mature reproduction”.

TWINS unit was sent me for the purpose of this review, I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thanks Aroma team for sending me this unit giving me the opportunity to test such a great product.
Aroma Audio is still a small company, but I am really impressed on how their products have such a premium build quality and audiophile sound. They spent a lot of resources in producing this Musical Box series, so will not give a lot of space for reviewers and marketing. From my experience, both their Twins and Yao can easily compete with other premium and more famous companies out there, so really hope they will obtain more visibility worldwide.

LINK TO THE OFFICIAL SHOP: http://www.aromaaudio.shop/

LINK TO THE OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/aromaaudio.hongkong/

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PACKAGING: Since both their Yao and Twins have the same package and build quality, I will share the same I wrote for my Yao article.
the musical box packaging is really nice and particular: a wooden case that is really cool.
In the wooden case you can find warranty card, instruction manual ( instruction explaining how attach the cable to the earphones in the correct way), Acoustune original silicon tips, hard aluminium case, soft pouch and obviously TWINS IEM with a black standard cable.

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Build quality seems very solid: the shell is made up of transparent acrylic and the faceplate of metal material. I have to admit that TWINS model, as you can see in the images I attached to this review, is a really nice looking IEM.
Comfort wise TWINS IEM is very comfortable thanks to its rounded shape and nozzle angle; it’s lightweight considering that mounts 7 drivers and I was able to find a perfect fit with Acoustune silicon eartips out of the box.
Speaking of isolation, it is very good in this department and if you can find the right eartips you will enjoy your playlist without any annoying external noise.

SOUND: Aroma Audio Twins shares the same philosophy at the base of Yao model: sound with great dynamic ,tempo and musicality, but has a totally different sound signature. Twins has overall a good balance of neutral and clean sound, never sounding too thin or harsh. Bass, like for Yao, is not too much strong, but is capable to give good musicality to the scene. Sub bass is very quick and fast with natural decay. Mid bass gives the right amount of body, but is always natural never warming up too much the music. Overall Twins is capable to show a natural and audiophile bass response never resulting exaggerated.
Voices have good body and realism, thanks to the clean nature of this IEM, female voices are rendered with great accuracy and definition. Treble response is excellent: with great extension, gives a natural and airy sound. Twins is capable to give you good amount of sparkles, but never resulting too much harsh and fatiguing. Overall this IEM has a great fun and enjoyable sound, but still refined and detailed.
Soundstage is very wide and you can enjoy an out of the head sound with the right tracks.

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On the external faceplates this IEM has a switch that can be used to change the overall sound signature: with the switch up, the IEM has a more reference and correct sound, but if you love musicality can result a bit boring( it is not my case). With the switch down, Twins will give you a more fun signature, with more bass quantity and a wider soundstage and so with increased loudness. I usually want that my IEM should sound more neutral possible, so I really loved the sound with the switch up.

Dynamic is very good and so is instrument separation.

Thanks to its low impedance, Twins is quite easy to drive( I usually set the volume bat at 60 with my ak Kann in low gain).

PAIRINGS:

TWINS WITH OPUS 1S: Opus will give you a more organic sound with a full bodied and punchy bass response. Voices are rendered with more body and warmth. Soundstage is quite good and left/right channel separation is great. Opus 1s can drive quite easy this IEM in low gain.

TWINS WITH AK KANN: Astell and Kern KANN will give you a great musicality and enjoyable sound. Bass is not strong and punchy like Opus 1s, but adds a good mid bass emphasis. Voices are rendered very good with great realism and timbre. AK kann has more liquid voice reproduction, on the other side Opus 1s a more organic. Treble is a bit smooth with this DAP, but still defined and extended. Soundstage is great with a nice holographic space around you, in particular if connected in balanced mode( I truly suggest you to upgrade to a nice aftermarket cable like PW audio Saladin to improve tonality and soundstage).

COMPARISONS:

AROMA AUDIO TWINS VS AROMA AUDIO YAO: Twins has a more clean sound signature, capable to give a more airy reproduction. On the other side Yao, has a touch more warmth, with a more mid-bass presence. Vocals on Yao, have incredible realism, so if you are a vocal lower I truly suggest Yao. Twins has a more fun signature, with better clarity and sparkles( in particular if used with switch down).
For me, Twins is a great IEM for its price, but Yao is capable to give you better emotions and realism, so I consider Yao a special IEM.

TWINS VS INEAR SD5: SD5 has a more thin sound, with great female vocals, but can result a bit fatiguing. On the other side, Twins will give you more musicality and better dynamic. Bass on SD5 has more impact, but can sound a bit artificial, on the other side Twins has a more audiophile tuning with a faster and more articulate bass response. Soundstage on Twins is wider, but SD5 is capable to provide a more holographic space around you.

TWINS VS UNIQUE MELODY MIRACLE V2: UM has a more full bodied sound. Bass is stronger and punchier. On the other side twins shows a more natural and audiophile approach to the music. Vocal are well rendered on both of these IEMs, but Twins is capable to give you a more refined female vocals. Soundstage is wider on Aroma Audio Twins, with a better instrument separation. Overall, Miracle will give you a more full bodied sound, on the other side Twins will give you more treble resolution and airy sound.

TWINS VS HEIR AUDIO 10.0: Twins has more clean sound signature, with better definition. Bass on HEIR 10.0 has more body with more impact and rumble. Voices on heir 10.0 can result a bit nasal, on the other side Twins will give you great clarity and transparency. Soundstage is great on both of these IEM, but Twins has a bit wider stage.

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(Twins)Specification
3 ways 4 frequency division
Driver Type:7 * Armatured Units
Switch Up: Sensitiviy:114dB/mW Impedance:24Ω
Switch Down: Sensitiviy:111dB/mW Impedance:32Ω
Frequency Response:20-20000Hz
2) Corss-section
Super High frequency: 2 Driver unit (Knowles composite driver)
High frequency: 2 Driver units (Knowles driver)
Mid frequency: 2 Driver units (Sonion composite driver)
Low frequency: 1 Driver units (Knowles driver)

INEARZ EUPHORIA ADEL VS STANDARD MODEL

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This will not be a review about InEarz Euphoria model, but just a comparison between the Euphoria with ADEL technology and standard one.

For full review of standard EUPHORIA: https://simplyaudiophile.wordpress.com/2018/04/17/review-inearz-euphoria-custom-sublime/

For more photos of EUPHORIA with ADEL: https://www.facebook.com/simplyaudiophile/photos/pcb.371123743398691/371123280065404/?type=3&theater

For the first part of this article, I will share some info about this technology, in the second part you can find my personal experience with ADEL and a sound comparison between EUPHORIA ADEL and standard model.

WHAT ASIUS TECNOLOGIES CLAIMS:
ADEL™ is the world’s first and only patented technology that safely delivers a louder, more spacious and richer sound in professional In-Ear Monitors & Earbuds- all while avoiding the risk of hearing damage caused by earbuds.
Stephen Ambrose, speaking above at Autodesk’s Accelerate 2016 Conference, invented in-ear monitors, an advanced earbud used by professional musicians on stages around the world. This invention became today’s earbuds. When he saw the resulting damage he returned to the lab and with National Institute of Health and National Science Foundation funds solved the problem by creating a second eardrum.
He’s toured with artists like Stevie Wonder, Rush, Simon and Garfunkel, Kiss, and Diana Ross to develop his professional audio products. And today, he’s ready to help bring another innovation to market.
Why? Because too many teens, young adults and professional musicians suffer from hearing loss today and will experience even more in the future. In fact, the proportion of teens with mild or worse hearing loss has increased 77% since the 1990s. And their studies prove the loss is due to earbud use. According the the LA Times, once hearing is damaged it will never recover.

Fact: Earbuds cause hearing loss…

Stephen discovered that when the ear canal is sealed by an earbud, the speaker vibrations create acoustic pressure. In the confined space of the closed ear canal, these become harmful amplified pneumatic pressures and cause the eardrum to move with an amplitude thousands of times greater than normal. Tiny muscles around the eardrum then tighten to protect the ear by dampening the sound. To overcome this dampening you must turn up the volume. The more the volume increases, the more the eardrum tightens. And so on. And so on.
40 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. For 10 million Americans, the hearing loss is noise induced, not reversible and permanent.

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The Solution…

Stephen found a way to break the cycle. It’s called ADEL™ and it’ll change the way you hear music. This technology adds a second eardrum into all of our earbuds. This second eardrum takes the punishment of the pneumatic pressure caused by sound in the ear canal, and delivers clear, crisp sound that’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard. And it’s not louder noise coming from your earbuds.
Vanderbilt University study of Asius Technologies’ earbud performanceActually, with ADEL™, it’s quieter – often operating at 1/10th the amplified in-ear power levels of traditional listening devices (per studies conducted at Vanderbilt University Medical Center). And by not prematurely tightening in-ear muscles, which can dramatically compress the volume, loud sounds actually sound louder and require less overall volume levels. The results from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center study show that using ADEL™ allows listeners to enjoy Enhanced Loudness Perception (lower volumes sound significantly louder and better over conventional devices). This provides them a louder yet safer, high fidelity listening experience at greatly reduced power levels (1/4 to 1/16th typical levels) with no perceived loss in volume.

Before sharing my personal experience, keep in mind these few points:
I tested only the ADEL s1 auto model, on INEARZ site you can buy your custom model with different options: s1, B1, G1, manual and 01 auto model.

I used the same black standard InEarz cable for my audio sessions

My audio experience can be not only influenced by ADEL module, but just keep in mind, that a few mms longer ear canal for custom model, can change sound perception.

More info about s1 auto model: Engineered to automatically tune itself to absorb the pneumatic pressures in your ear canal through a dual membrane design.
-Noise isolation up to -18dB

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PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I spent many time switching between IENARZ EUPHORIA standard model and with ADEL, so these are my sound impressions:

Euphoria with ADEL, for sure, sounds more natural with a bit airier and wider soundstage. Bass has a touch less strong impact, but gains a more natural and correct reproduction. I don’t think, as stated by Asius technologies, that ADEL gives you a richer sound, but to my experience, it is capable to give you a more natural and less fatiguing experience, that most probably is due to the lack of sealed pressure in your ear canal.

With Euphoria Adel, I can reach more satisfying pressure levels with significantly lower volumes. I usually set the volume bar of my astell and kern KANN( low gain) to 80 with EUPHORIA ADEL, on the other side I have to push the volume to 90 with standard model.
Talking with Matthew of INEARZ, he explained me that ADEL doesn’t add any electrical impedance and there are no changes in tuning, so it truly allows listeners to enjoy enhanced loudness perception.
Thanks to both EUPHORIA natural tuning and ADEL module, I found less tinnitus issues during my night audio sessions. I am not telling you that ADEL will cure your tinnitus, but can help to enjoy your audio sessions for more time and with less listening fatigue.

Overall, both EUPHORIA ADEL and standard model are great IEMs and for sure, are among the best IEMs I have ever tested not only in this price range. There are slight sound differences, but EUPHORIA with ADEL model is able to give you a more natural reproduction, with better soundstage in all directions and with ,most important thing, a less fatiguing experience.

INEARZ has just released their new universal models with ADEL technology: ZEN with 2 AND 4 drivers. For more info about, just follow their official site.

ADEL PROS:
Good isolation( considering it adds an open vent in the faceplate)
More natural sound
Airier soundstage
enhanced loudness perception
doesn’t influence the IEM weight and thickness too much

ADEL CONS:
Price is not cheap
Minimal issues with wind noise

REVIEW PWAUDIO SALADIN: IT’S ALL ABOUT TONALITY

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PWaudio is a boutique/company well known for its premium copper cables. Just recently, Peter Wang( chief of PWaudio), showed his new products at Canjam Singapore. In the catalogue you can find new Vanquish models: Saladin, Loki and Xerxes and a new “aeon” 1950s model that is the flagship in charge.
Today we are going to have a better look to their Saladin model. This is our first PWaudio product, so would like to write some words about this company: All PWaudio cables are crafted with care. All cables are hand-braided, soldered with precision and tested by ears for the best audible experience before dispatched. A wide range of selected materials are featured in PWaudio’s line up, including copper, silver plated copper, pure silver cores with different treatment and gauge.

Something about Saladin model: “Tapping on his vast experience with copper based and silver based cables, Peter Wong has set out to create a new range of products, known as the “Vanquish” series, to mark a new era of PWaudio products.
Featuring a unique geometry and wire design based on his “sevenfold pipe” series, together with his knowledge of different types and grades of copper based materials, PWaudio has created the Saladin.
The Saladin features a 7 multi-bundle wire design that is a combination of single crystal copper and silver plated single crystal silver.
The combination of the wire geometry and materials, together with the final tuning using different types of audio-grade and non-audio industry solders, results in a sound that is musical, warm, smooth and inviting for users of the Saladin.

Saladin unit was sent me for the purpose of this review, i am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thank Peter and PWaudio team for sending me this unit giving me the opportunity to test this premium cable.
For more info about Saladin and other products, you can easily contact them on their facebook channel.

OFFICIAL SITE: https://www.pw-audio.com/
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/pwaudio2014/?

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PACKAGING:
packaging is simple and minimalistic: the cable will arrive in a small black box with a PWaudio logo on it and a nice cotton storage bag. If the package is simple, Saladin cable looks very nice with surely a premium feel.
DESIGN: Saladin has a premium build and a great ergonomics: everything is nicely crafted and i found no sign of microphonic issues. Plus, with its gold/silver plot looks nice and elegant. I was quite impressed by the premium feeling that this cable is capable to show.

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SOUND: Saladin is not aimed to bring you incredible resolution, incredible soundstage or amazing fun factor. The beauty of this cable is that wants to portray simply a natural sound with a great timbre and tonal accuracy. For this, has a great sinergy with most of the iem i have tried with. Saladin is capable to show an incredible realism and mature sound, never sounding too flat or sterile. This cable will give you a natural sound with a touch of warmth, never sounding too warm and congested.
Bass is well portrayed, but it is not the strongest focus of this product. Sub-Bass has good impact and fastness, always sounding natural and controlled. Mid-bass has a nice emphasis, giving you a nice rumble and body to the music.
Voices are one of the strongest point for this product: both male and female voices are rendered with great accuracy and near-to-life emotions. Everything sounds so natural with a perfect timbre and tonality. This is the strenght of Saladin: natural sound with great focus to timbre and tonality.
Trebles are well portrayed, sounding always detailed and well extended, but never emphasized too much. Saladin will not give you an exaggerated treble response, avoiding arshness and sibilances. For this could be a great pairing with most of the IEMs out there.
Soundstage has a natural extension both in width and depth, never sounding congested. Saladin is capable to portray a natural space around you, with great instrumental separation.

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PAIRINGS:

Saladin with Aroma Audio Yao: Saladin has a great sinergy with this IEM: Yao is a great performer with great vocals reproduction. Saladin, helps to give a better tonality with a more detailed sound and a more natural bass response. Soundstage improves a bit, with a wider space and better instrument separation.

Saladin with Aroma Audio Twins: Twins has a more fun sound signature than Yao with more sparkles and hot trebles. Saladin helps to have a more mature and natural sound, with a more organic voices. Trebles result less harsh and less fatiguing.

Saladin with Rhapsodio Infinity(20 BA): Infinity has a bit dry sound, lacking emotions sometimes. Saladin helps to give better tonal accuracy, with a touch of warmth. Everithing sounds more natural and near to life with better male and female vocals.

Saladin with Heir Audio 10.0: Heir Audio has too much bass response, with a bit recessed voices. Saladin helps to give more body to voices, with a more natural bass response. Soundstage improves a bit, with better separation and layering.

Saladin with Inear SD5: SD5 has a clean presentation, resulting sometimes, a bit harsh and fatiguing. Saladin helps to have less hot trebles, with a more mature and controlled bass response. Male voices gains more body and better tonality. Overall, this is a great pairing offering a more natural and mature sound reproduction.

Saladin with Inearz Euphoria: this is not a great pairing, cause Euphoria has a strong bass response and is a mid-forward IEM. I usually prefer to use a silver cable with this IEM, cause Euphoria needs more trebles and sparkles.
CONCLUSION: Saladin is a great cable both for its build and sound quality, with a great premium feel. It’s aim is to portray a mature and natural sound with a great focus for timbre and tonal accuracy. For this has a great sinergy with most of the IEM out there.

REVIEW: INEAR SD5

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This is our first product from the german company Inear, so would like to write something about their philosophy and origin: “Under the management of Andreas Schmitt, who has more than 25 years of experience in the production of individual hearing products, we offer an all-round service under one roof.
Our team takes care of the development and production of our products, services and sales throughout Germany.

Our skilled specialists produce an entire range of individual communication systems with precision work and sophisticated technology. Our individual products are produced by using the best modern manufacturing processes, which include the digital capture of the ear mold data, product design with special CAD software and 3D Manufacture systems for the manufacture and assembly of all products by hand. In the field of ear monitoring we work according to the principle »By musicians for musicians«. When it comes to developing new InEar monitoring systems or product enhancement we can immediately test all new products live, in addition to performing all the usual laboratory tests”.
This company is becoming more and more famous in the audiophile community not only for its great sounding IEM, but for their singular and ergonomic shape used on their products too.
“Looks like custom made, sits stable and secure. The base for the housing was developed by overlapping hundreds of different scans from ear impressions. Several prototypes were manufactured in-house and tested on customers to find the perfect fit so the monitor will not move. At the end of the development cycle InEar had created an almost perfect to the anatomy of the ear universal monitor”.
Just recently, they won the IF DESIGN AWARD and i can tell you for sure, that this SD5 is one of the most comfortable universal IEM i have ever tested. So, for this, very compliment Inear!.
I saw many chinese brands just copyed and used their shape, i think without permission, for making their own IEMs, so this thing would mean something!
In their catalogue you can find two audiophile products: stagediver models( with a fun, but still a natural and well controlled sound), that to my opinion are aimed to the vast majority of audiophile and people out there and ProPhile 8 models with a more studio reference signature. I usually love a more natural approach to the music, but i really loved how this SD5, is capable to portray a fun signature, but still with great technicalities and a refined sound.
At the moment, you can only find a standard model for this SD5, but soon, will be released a wood version too ( i think this material should effect the sound giving a warmer response).

SD5 unit was sent me for the purpose of this review, i am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thank Oli and Inear team for sending me this unit giving me the opportunity to test this fun and engaging IEM.
For more info about SD5 and other products, you can easily contact them on their facebook channel. Oli or Andreas will answer you quickly.

PRICE: 949 EUR
OFFICIAL SITE: http://www.inear-monitoring.eu/en/produkte/inear-universelles-monitoring/monitoring-stagediver.htm
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/InEar-Monitoring-287218207940/

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PACKAGING: the overall packaging experience is simple, but quite premium: you will receive a classical pelican hard case with the Inear sticker attached on top.
In the box you will find the SD5 with different size silicon eartips, a gold plated adapter and three cleaning wipes. Eartips have good quality and surely will find the right ones for you , but they are all made of the same material, so you can’t “tune” the sound signature according to your needs. Inear has a lot of experience in custom products, but for universal models, eartips are very important not only for the right fit, but they can drastically change the sound signature of the IEM, so as always, i suggest you to try different ones, with different materials and only at the end enjoy your new product. I tried many: double, triple flange, Comply and Spinfit ones and found that black silicon one with green bore that comes with my old fiio ex1, gives me the best sound( obviously this thing could not be true for you). Hope Inear team will listen to my suggestion, providing more accessories for new releases.
Build quality is excellent, with a black lucid shell, will give you a premium feeling from the very beginning. The product seems sturdy and well built, and i am well trusty can last for many Years.

The SD5 comes with recessed sockets, thanks to this, you can move the cable-end further into the shell and provide a more sturdy mounting point for the cable and the pins of the cable, thus protecting it more.
SD5 comes with removable filters too, keeping cerumen away from the drivers, this thing is a smart and innovative feature in the audiophile community.
The original stock cable that comes with SD5, is a typical OFC wire in a rubbery jacket that makes a great job both for sound quality both for microphonics issues. I switched to many aftermarket cables, but found that the original one makes a great job under a sound quality point of view. If needed, i truly suggest you to pair this SD5 with a more natural or warm sounding cable, cause adding more treble can ruin the overall balance and so sound experience.

Speaking of isolation, it is very good in this department and if you can find the right eartips you will enjoy your playlist without any annoying external noise( they claim to eliminate surrounding noise up to 26 dB).
The overall experience with this product is excellent: SD5 is capable to give you a comfortable and premium experience with great isolation and a fun and engaging signature, but still able to offer a refined sound.

FIRST IMPRESSION: listening to SD5 for the first time required me some time to get used to its sound signature. My previous review was Inearz Euphoria model that has quite a natural and never fatiguing sound , on the opposite, this SD5 has a cleaner approach with stronger bass response . So just waited for burn-in period and with the time, I started to really appreciate this IEM: SD5 has his own philosophy and approach to music, its aim is to provide a fun and engaging experience, but still balanced and refined.

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SOUND: All my sound consideration has been made after 100 hours of burn in, with different DAPs such as AK KANN, Opus 1s, fiio x3, x5, iFi Nano Idsd black label. I tried this IEM for many hours on the go and does very good with Tidal and my iPhone too. Obviously with better sources sound has better dynamic, a more refined bass response and most important thing, a more natural and controlled sound, but overall this SD5 makes a great job out of whatever source it’s connected to.
After 100 hours of burn-in I didn’t notice any improvements, so this SD5 sounds just great out of the box.
After many hours with this product I can surely say that has a clean and detailed response with a W sound signature, it is great in portray both vocals and instruments. Treble pick will give you an airy and detailed sound with great female vocal reproduction, all these things are well balanced with a strong bass response that helps dynamic and to avoid a too much fatiguing sound. Philosophy of this IEM is to give you an engaging and fun signature, never resulting boring , but still perfoming quite natural and detailed. For this can be a good choice for most of the customers out there.

LOWS: SD5 has above average bass quantity and for sure, can be considered a strong point of this IEM.
Bass response is quite strong, punchy, airy, with excellent impact and decay. The overall bass performace is above typical multi balanced IEMs, but still can’t compete with dynamic driver in this price range( bass quantity is above average, but still sounds natural and controlled, for this i will not suggest it to bass-heads). SD5 has a great sub-bass response, with adeguate rumble and a more controlled mid-bass response that never warm-up too much the scene. Here, Inear engineers made a smart choice in tuning this IEM: sub bass elevation will give you not only a more fun signature, but create a nice balance with the overall bright signature of this IEM.

MIDS: if you are a female vocal lover, most probably this IEM will be a great choice for you.
Lower mids can result a bit thin, so the aim of SD5 is not to provide a full-bodied sound, but just on the opposite, will give you a more thin, defined and quite revealing presentation. Upper mids are very detailed and clean, this thing will help with female voices and to give you an airy performance. If you love a warmer, more relaxed sound, most probably this IEM will not be a great choice for you.

HIGHS: treble response is nicely extended with great amount of sparkles and detailes( keep in mind, i usually prefer a neutral/clean sounding IEMs, never smooth or warm).
Highs can result a bit hot and fatiguing, nothing you can’t solve pairing it with a warmer/natural source( for example i found a great sinergy with my Opus1s and ak KANN).
Using bad recorded tracks with this IEM, can give you many problems, due to its quite revealing approach to the music, for this, i truly suggest you to use lossless tracks.

SOUNDSTAGE: soundstage is another strong point of this SD5: very wide and holographic, obviously the final result will depend on the source used. Soundstage is well extended both in width and depth providing a great layering experience. Overall, this SD5 will give you a nice “out of the head” experience, thing that is not common in this price range.
Dynamic and transient response are great and very accurate.
Thanks to its low impedance(13 ohms), SD5 is very easy to drive and will sound great just connected to your smartphone. Obviously, better will be the source, better will be the final result .

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PAIRINGS:
SD5 with astell&kern kann: this is a great pairing: ak Kann, helps to give a great musicality to the scene, with great bass response will surely amaze you for its fun factor, still sounding very coherent and airy. Treble on ak kann is a bit smooth, this thing helps a lot with this SD5, thas sometimes can result a bit harsh. Voices are very detailed and clean, with that “liquid” presentation typical of this DAP. Soundstage is very good: width is just exellent, this combo can give you a nice holographic stage around you. On low gain at volume pushed to 80, I was able to drive quite well this IEM.

SD5 with Opus 1s: in my opinion, this is one of the best pairing with this SD5. Opus 1s will add more body to the music , with a great sub-bass impact. Bass is very full and punchy, Rumble and impact are outstanding with that slam that always bring me to move at the rhythm of music. Voices are more organic, with more body and emotions. Treble is clean and defined, Opus 1S helps this SD5 to sound a bit less harsh and fatiguing. Soundstage is quite big and holographic, but on AK kann soundstage was a bit wider.

SD5 with AUNE X1S DESKTOP DAC/AMP: sinergy here, is not so great. Aune has a neutral/clean sound that doesn’t match so good with this SD5. I would suggest to pair this IEM with a more neutral or warmer sounding source. The overall performance is ok, but a bit fatiguing and harsh on treble. Due to the high output impedance of this Desktop DAC/AMP, all my tests were made with the use of iFi IEMatch between the x1s and SD5. This dongle helped with impedance dismatch and with sibilance issues.

SD5 with AUDIRECT WHISTLE portable DAC/AMP: this is a very great portable combo. With this small DAC/AMP sound is very musical and engaging. Bass is very strong and deep, but not so articulated and refined like on the ak kann and Opus1s. Voices are exellent, with the right amount of body and most important thing, with accurate tonality for both male and female voices. Soundstage is narrower than Opus1s and AKkann, but is quite wide, with good instrument separation.

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COMPARISONS:
SD5 VS HEIR AUDIO 10.0: SD5 has better bass impact, with a more refined and articuated sub-bass response. HEIR 10.0 has a typical multi balanced bass impact, on the other side SD5 is nearer to a dynamic driver one. HEIR has a warmer and more relaxed sound signature, on the other side SD5 is cleaner. Female voices are better on the SD5. Soundstage is quite similar, with great width and depth on both these IEMs.

SD5 vs UNIQUE MELODY MIRACLE V2: these two IEMs have great bass response: SD5 has more sub-bass quantity with a faster response, on the other side Miracle v2 shows a bit warmer, fuller bass, but still on the neutral side. Voices are more vivid and “liquid” on miracle v2, on the other side SD5 has a more clean,peaky and airy approach, this thing helps SD5 to sound very good with female voices. Treble on SD5 has more sparkles and definition. Miracle V2 has above average soundstage, but SD5 is capable to reproduce a wider and more holographic stage around you, with better layering.

CONCLUSION: this SD5 has his own philosophy and approach to music: always sounding fun and engaging, but still capable to bring refinement and technicalities to your songs. Inear team, with this SD5, was able to create a perfect combination of fun and neutral sound with great and premium build quality. If you are looking for a purer and more reference sound, you can always choose their Prophile 8 model.

PROS:
BUILD QUALITY AND PREMIUM FEEL
FUN SIGNATURE, BUT STILL A REFINED SOUND
BASS IMPACT
FEMALE VOCALS
SOUNDSTAGE

CONS:
STOCK EARTIPS
SIBILANCE
MALE VOCALS ARE ON THE THIN SIDE

SPECS:

• System: 3-way system(5 drivers)
• Transmission range: approx. 20 Hz–20000 Hz
• Output sound pressure: 120dB
• Impedance: 13 Ohms
• Cable length:140 cm / (4’7.5″)

REVIEW IFI IEMATCH 2.5: HISS, NO PROBLEM

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iFi Audio just recently released their new iEMatch2.5, that just like the standard model, will reduce hissing and will help with DAP that have high output impedance( this thing can be a huge problem with multi balanced IEMs).
Let’s see what iFi has to say about this small dongle:

“Following the success of our original iEMatch®, which improves sound quality and dynamics for headphone users listening to music sourced from their smartphones, tablets or laptops, iFi is proud to announce the arrival of iEMatch2.5 for those with dedicated hi-res digital audio players ( just keep in mind the iEMatch is compatible only with balanced connections).

Like the iEMatch®, the iEMatch2.5 significantly reduces background noise and widens dynamic range to enable headphone listeners to enjoy the full openness of a recording without having to turn the volume of their music players down to an comfortable level. Lowering the volume reduces audio quality (resolution). With the iEMatch2.5 users can up the volume on their DAP to gain back the ‘bits’ lost with digital volume control but still maintain a comfortable listening level.

When listening to music, you want to hear everything from the high-pitched jingle of a tambourine to the deepest rumble of a kettledrum. In other words, you want a wide dynamic range. Having great DACs, DAPs and headphones to deliver this to your ears is all well and good but there’s a problem – the sound of EVERYTHING will be boosted, including the self-noise of the source AND the sound level. Plus some higher end headphones and IEMS add to this by being sensitive themselves.

At the beginning was quite skeptical, but after many tests with some of my multi balanced IEM, can surely suggest you this product if have any hiss problems with your sources.

This unit was sent me as a sample , I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thanks iFi team for sending me this unit giving me the opportunity to test this simple and effective dongle.

OFFICIAL SITE : https://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/accessory-iematch2-5/
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/iFiAudio/

PACKAGING: The IEMatch 2.5 comes in a simple, but quite elegant box. With the dongle you will find a velvet pouch and memory-foam contoured ear plugs (-37dB)(that you can use when travelling or in noisy environments).

Build quality is very good, obviously is not one of the most elegant products, but for this price range makes its job. iFi used a Al-Mg alloy casing for the body and a 6N silver/copper matrix wiring for the cable; with a Gold plated 2.5mm Balanced Connection. Like the standard IEMatch, you can switch between high and ultra sensitivity( I always used only high sensitivity with all my custom and universal IEMs, but ultra mode can be quite helpful with sensitive monster like Campfire Andromeda). Switching between high and ultra mode depends by your iems and sources too, cause ultra mode will oblige to push the volume up and this thing can cause clipping issues.

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FUNCTION: overall, this small dongle makes all it was promised, and not only helps with hissing and with DAPs that have high output impedance, but most important thing doesn’t color the sound( this is a great PRO).
I just tried the IEMatch 2.5 with Opus1s and Astell and Kern Kann in high gain, so here are my impressions:

Aroma Audio Yao(12 BA) + IEMatch2.5 + Opus1s: Yao doesn’t have too much hiss problems, but overall thanks to the IEMatch benefits the overall scene, with more detailed and clean sound( just to be clear, the IEMatch doesn’t improve sound quality, but the fact that you can push the volume up and keep a low noise will give you a perception of a more detailed and clean sound with full dynamic range).

HEIR AUDIO 10.0 + IEMatch2.5 + Opus1s: this IEM benefits a lot with this dongle, cause is prone to hissing and Opus1S in high gain mode can give a bit of problem here. As before IEMatch will guarantee a more detailed and more enjoyable audio experience.

Fiio F5 + IEMatch 2.5 + astellkern KANN: kann doesn’t have too much noise in high gain, but the F5 has good amount of hiss. I found F5 with balanced cable, IEMatch2.5 and akKANN one of the best pairing for this iem giving me the chance to experience great dynamic and never fatiguing experience.
With my custom InErz Euphoria, I never had any needs to use IEMatch with my sources, cause never found any hiss problems, but I am quite sure it should be useful with a high output impedance DAP like hiby r6.

CONCLUSION: there is no cons about this product, it just works great and keeps promises, so If you have any hiss problems with your high sensitive custom or premium IEMs, just give a try to this dongle and will surely not regret.

Specifications
Ultra (-24dB) & High-Gain (-12dB) sensitivity adjustment
6N silver/copper matrix wiring with FINAL6063-T5 aluminium-magnesium alloy shell
Gold-plated printed circuit board with audiophile components (eg MELF resistors)
Gold-plated 2.5mm male/female connectors
Input Impedance: 16 Ohm
Output Impedance: < 2.5 Ohms (High-Sensitivity)
< 1.0 Ohms (Ultra-Sensitivity)
Weight: 12.2g
Total Length : 116mm

REVIEW INEARZ EUPHORIA CUSTOM: SUBLIME

PERFETTO

InEarz is a company quite famous in custom community for its build quality and great sound at affordable price factor, based In the USA they design and manufacture all products in their lab based in Casselberry, FL.
As always, would like to write something about the origin and philosophy of the company:

“Here at InEarz Audio we want to bring a high quality yet very affordable product, whether its for professionals in the music industry or just someone who just likes to listen to good music. We are a family owned and family operated business that strives to bring the best customer service around and to make sure all of our customers are satisfied”.
Kaysen followed me during the all build process and answered to all my questions about the product, so is always beautiful to feel a “soul” behind a company name.

Today I am going to review their standard Euphoria model with 6BA(2 Low, 2 Mid, 2 High); just recently they introduced ADEL module for all their products in catalogue( plus 200USD). ADEL is a revolutionary “second eardrum” called the Ambrose Diaphonic Ear Lens (ADEL™) which absorbs harmful in-ear pressures, thereby preserving the health of the human ear, thus allowing people to more safely hear sound the way it needs to be heard. In the near future, hope to review the model with ADEL module, in order to explain better how this technology improves comfort and sound quality perceived.

Euphoria unit was sent me as a sample unit, I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thanks Kaysen and inEarz team for sending me this unit giving me the opportunity to test this sweet and natural IEM.

PRICE: 999 USD (basic model)
OFFICIAL SITE : https://www.inearz.com/product/euphoria/
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/search/str/inearz/keywords_search

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PACKAGING: packaging is quite simple, but premium. Euphoria arrived in a black, sturdy case with inEarz sticker, a microfiber cleaning cloth and a wax-cleaning tool. In my package was included a pair of Earasers Earplugs, but don’t know if customers will receive it too.
Build quality is excellent: with rounded acrylic shell, I never felt any pain issues or bad fit. The product is sturdy and will give you surely a premium feeling. Obviously will update my review, If will find any build issues in the next months.
My Euphoria model came in a grey/transparent color with a detachable 2pin cable and recessed sockets( you can add this option for 20USD). Thanks to recessed sockets you can move the cable-end further into the shell and provide a more sturdy mounting point for the cable and the pins of the cable, thus protecting it more. To my surprise, stock cable not only has a great build quality, but has a great audio synergy with this model: I tried many aftermarket cables, but none of them can compete with the stock one. Out of the box, this IEM with stock cable, will sound just perfect: natural, sweet and transparent.

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FIT AND CUSTOMIZATION:
At the beginning, left channel gave me some strange pressure issue; so talking with Kaysen, we agreed to wait few days, and right now it goes just perfect. I am quite impressed they made such a good work with my ear impressions, that was not one of the greatest( maybe one of the worst they have ever seen in their lab). For this, I truly suggest you to wait one week after getting you custom IEM, in order to get used to its fit. You can customize almost every aspect of the design: you can change canal, shell, cable and faceplate color adding ADEL technology, recessed sockets or custom artwork logo. To be honest, I just sent them the photo I liked the most on their facebook page, and work is done.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: If I liked build quality and premium feeling of Euphoria, its technical capabilities just amazed me. Is quite surprising, how inEarz with only 6BA created and tuned such a natural and great sounding IEM. Reading on their site, I was expecting a warm, bassy signature, but to my surprise Euphoria has a perfect combination of natural and fun sound. Tuning an IEM for audiophile people is not so simple: must be natural, with great definition and resolution, but never fall in a boring result. InEarz made just a great job with the tuning of this model. At the beginning, voices and dynamic weren’t so great. I am not a believer of burn-in for multi balanced IEM, so assume what improved the sound was the fit, that improved over one week. So if you are going to buy your first custom product, just use it for one week, in order to have a better fit and so a better reproduction.

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SOUND: All my sound consideration has been made after 100 hours of burn in , with different DAPs such as AK KANN, Opus 1s, fiio x3, x5, iFi Nano Idsd black label. I tried this IEM for many hours on the go and does very good with Tidal and my iPhone too. Obviously with better sources reproduction has better clarity, a more refined bass response and wider soundstage, but overall this Euphoria makes a great job out of whatever source it’s connected to. This thing, makes this IEM an all rounder: not only sounds great with average sources, but works good with 320Kbs files too( obviously with lossless music benefits the overall performance).
Euphoria has a natural approach to music, everything is controlled and refined with good detail retrieval. Balanced is the strong point of this IEM, with a touch of emphasis on bass frequencies to avoid a boring sound. As stated before, inEarz made a great job in tuning this IEM providing a never fatiguing IEM.

BASS: bass response is a bit emphasized, but always controlled and never overwhelming. Sub bass has excellent impact and decay, thing that is not so common in balanced IEMs(obviously can’t compete with dynamic driver on this price range, but for sure, has a great bass response among BA drivers. Mid-bass has a great control and never warm too much the scene. This is not a product for bass-head people, I would say that is more for audiophile ones. The overall tuning of this IEM will give you an audiophile approach to music, with a touch of fun given by the slightly bass emphasis. Listening to “Royals” of Lorde, bass is strong, fast and articulated giving a great rhythm to the track.

MIDS: voices are greatly reproduced, both male and female ones. Tonality and realism are great with good definition, never resulting veiled or lacking body. I would define voices “smooth and liquid”, they are never harsh and never too much in face. They are just a bit behind to give a better soundstage( never think that this is a v-shaped IEM). Euphoria can compete with my Aroma Audio YAO 12BA, that costs 2x its price range in voices reproduction: they are both great IEMs if you love vocals, Yao will give you overall a more organic and fuller sound, on the other side Euphoria has a more liquid, neutral one.

HIGHS: trebles are a bit behind, so if you are a trebleish man, this is not the IEM for you. Euphoria has a good clarity and definition on this spectrum, but it doesn’t never result harsh . If you have hiss problems, Euphoria will be a good choice for you, giving a smooth, natural and never fatiguing experience.
I really love this IEM cause is capable to give you “liquid” trebles, so they never cut like razors, they are smooth, but still, capable of good clarity, definition and detail.

SOUNDSTAGE: soundstage is another strong point of this IEM: wide, but still coherent. Instrument are well placed around you, with great instrumental separation(obviously the final result will depend by the source quality). For example, with astell&kern kann soundstage is great, and you can “feel” the air and space between every instrument. Depth and height are above average, but width will surely amaze you giving you a good “out of the head” experience( obviously can’t compete with semi-open headphones, but makes an excellent job, considering its closed nature). Channel separation is remarkable and you can easily pinpoint every instrument in the space around you.
Dynamic is quite good and well controlled, this thing will help to give you a great tempo and rhythm, but at the same time a gentle and never fatiguing performance.
Like most of the multi-BA IEMs, impedance is quite low, so you can easily drive it with everything and to my surprise Euphoria doesn’t suffer of any hiss issues.

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PAIRINGS: the natural and quite revealing signature of Euphoria, makes quite easy the pairing with most of the sources over there, so you will surely not have any problems in this field.

EUPHORIA WITH AK KANN: I found a great synergy with this DAP: Kann, as always, helps to give an airy sound with excellent musicality. I can easily drive this IEM in low gain pushing the volume to 70/80. Bass is well controlled with good impact, but if you love a strong bass response, this is not the ideal combo for you.
Voices are reproduced with great accuracy, realism and details. Timbre is excellent, resulting in a natural and liquid presentation. Treble are a bit smooth, but still with good clarity,definition and extension. Maybe, I would like just a bit more sparkles. Instrument separation is just great with good air and space between every instruments. Soundstage is quite big, in particular this combo will give you a very wide one.

EUPHORIA WITH OPUS1S: this DAP will give you a more organic sound with a full and punchy bass response, Rumble and impact are outstanding with that slam that always bring me to move at the rhythm of music. Voices are more organic and less liquid, with great realism. Opus1s will give you good clarity and definition on top end spectrum. Soundstage is big and holographic, but can’t compete with ak kann.

EUPHORIA WITH IFINANO BLACK LABEL: this DAC/AMP will give you a warmer sound with great bass response: very punch and rounded. Voices are more organic, but smoothens up too much treble response. If you love a relaxed and sweet sound, you should significantly consider this pairing.

EUPHORIA WITH AUNE X1S DESKTOP DAC/AMP: X1S helps to give more sparkle and trebles, but sometime can result too boring. It just sounds good, but lacks the engaging and musical sound of Kann or Opus1s. To my surprise, Euphoria will not give you any hiss problem with this source too.

EUPHORIA WITH IPHONE 6 PLUS AUDIRECT WHISTLE DAC/AMP: Whistle will give enough power to drive this IEM. The overall sound is quite good with excellent bass response and voices reproduction. Soundstage is quite wide, but can’t compete with Kann and Opus 1s. This combo will give you a natural performance with good definition.

EUPHORIA WITH IPHONE 6: to my surprise this IEM sounds just great with my iphone too, with a very wide soundstage and great instrument separation. My iphone6 can’t compete with expensive DAPs, in particular in dynamic and bass response, but makes a good job with most of the low impedance IEMs. Euphoria is an all rounder IEM, sounding great with just poor sources like smartphones, and I really appreciated this thing on the go .

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COMPARISONS: at this time Euphoria is my first custom IEM, but will receive other ones in the next months, so will update my review in the near future. Is quite interesting to see how Euphoria competes with other premium universal IEMs.

EUPHORIA VS UNIQUE MELODY MIRACLE V2: Miracle has more fun and engaging sound signature with stronger and punchier bass response, on the other side Euphoria has a more neutral approach with a more accurate timbre. Miracle has more sparkle on top end, on the other side Euphoria has a more “liquid” and more smooth treble response. Soundstage is wider on InEarz IEM, with better instrument separation.

EUPHORIA VS HEIR AUDIO 10(10BA): Heir IEM has more mid-bass presence with overall a more congested scene. On the other side Euphoria shows a more audiophile approach to music: with faster and more accurate bass response. Voices on Euphoria are more accurate both in timbre both in presence. Soundstage is quite wide in both of this IEMs. Overall Euphoria has a more accurate and natural sound with better control over the all frequencies.

EUPHORIA VS CUSTOM ART FIBAE 2: they both share fast and articulate bass response, but Euphoria has a fuller and stronger bass response. Voices are more detailed and have more body on the InEarz IEM. Soundstage is a bit wider on Euphoria, that is capable to portray a more coherent space around you.

EUPHORIA VS RHAPSODIO INFINITY( 20BA): you may think that this comparison should be quite unfair, since infinity shows 20 balanced armature, but it is not so. Euphoria, here, is a clear winner with better dynamic and most important thing, a more natural tuning. Bass is stronger with a better impact on Euphoria. Infinity has a bit wider soundstage with a bit airier scene. Overall Euphoria has a better sound, with a more correct and audiophile approach to music.

CONCLUSION: At the end of this review, is quite clear that Euphoria is a special IEM. inEarz made such a great work tuning it; final result is a neutral and refined reproduction with a touch of emphasized bass that will give you a natural enjoyment. As I wrote at the beginning of this review, is quite hard to produce an audiophile product: it must be natural, detailed with good resolution, but never fall in the boring side. InEarz with this Euphoria model, made all these things, and for me, this company can surely compete with all the other premium companies out there( that maybe can have a more aggressive approach to the market with tons of reviews and sharing on socials, but this company, with its “family soul” created not only a great sounding IEM, but a special one, with that special natural sound, liquid voices and never fatiguing presentation will surely satisfy your audiophile needs.

Great job inEarz.

PROS: build quality, dynamic, wide soundstage, overall a natural, coherent and never fatiguing reproduction, matchability with different sources

CONS: treble could be a bit behind

SPECS:
• 2 Low, 2 Mid, 2 High Balanced Armatures
• Triple Bore Design
• Impedance: 12 Ohm @ 1kHz
• Noise Isolation: -26dB (+/- 2dB)
• Input connecter: 1/8″ (3.5mm)Stereo Jack
• Shells made from medical grade, hypoallergenic acrylic

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