It’s always a pleasure for me to receive an email from Campfire Audio. This time, they sent over a pair of their newest IEMs, the Comet. They fall in CA’s more modest price-range, around $200. The last headphones I reviewed from them were their $800 Cascade which, while one of my favorite headphones of all time, are prohibitively expensive for many, if not most. Let’s jump in.
The moment I saw these released, I emailed my Sony representative. I have been waiting al long time for a truly solid entry into the "fully wireless" IEM market. There have been many, too many, erroneous products in this market for years, without one that really works, until Apple's AirPods. But still, those remain earbuds, and have many of the flaws inherent to the form factor (see: boomy bass, spiky treble, some general unrefined-ness). But, after my review of the MDR-1000X, and general exposure to Sony's philosophy towards headphones, I had some level of faith that these would be executed well. After a couple months of waiting for the US office to get some in stock for review, I got my pair. Although they are by no means perfect, they are much more than good enough for this form factor, and I'll break down exactly what I mean below.
I've been excitedly awaiting for these headphones to arrive in my mailbox for a long time. An almost $200 pair of earbuds? Terminated in 4-pin XLR? They're an inherently crazy idea, and I could hardly wait to see how Lee at Venture Electronics had executed them.
Before I even received these headphones, I reached out to Caleb Rosenau, Campfire Audio’s Vice President, looking to get a little wider perspective into the acoustic and aesthetic design of these headphones. With everything that CA says in terms of marketing (e.g. their T.A.E.C. and Polarity Tuned Chamber), I wanted to have more detail into what those terms actually meant, in terms of both acoustics and physical design. Thankfully, Caleb was very open to this and with me, and I came out having learned a lot about Campfire Audio has done that makes their headphones so, evidently, unique.
Just like I mentioned in my review of the TE-04, those and these headphones were sent to me by Fostex after reviewing their TH-900 Mk II and their TH-610. I've now spent two weeks with the TE-05, and have a fairly polished opinion of them. They sell for $150, featuring a single dynamic driver, just like the TE-04, but implementation is everything, and these use a much more standard acoustic enclosure than the aforementioned.
After the TH-900 Mk II and the TH-610, Fostex sent me two of their IEMs to try out. I've had them for about two weeks at the time of writing this. The review for their higher end IEM, the TE-05 should be released next Friday, if all goes according to plan. The subject of this review, the TE-04, however, runs for around $80, and features a single dynamic driver in a very unique enclosure.
After my review of the famous Monk+, Lee at Venture Electronics sent me one of their mid-range offerings: the Asura 2.0s. In the configuration that I received, it costs a cool $88, with a TRRS 1/8" auxiliary connector as the termination. Although it has a very high impedance (150 Ω), its high sensitivity (110 dB SPL/mW) allows it to be relatively competently driven from a phone or portable player.
Unique Melody reached out to me about a month ago, wanting to send me something for review. As mentioned in my impressions post, after a long discussion about my listening preferences and preferred sound signature, we landed on their newest flagship, the Maestro V2. With 12 drivers per side, it certainly has the specifications to match the likes of Noble Audio, 64Audio, and JH Audio in their flagship products.
It was immediately evident to me, given their approach to marketing and to the public conception of their product, that someone serious was working behind Periodic Audio's doors. That person is Dan Wiggins, their founder. His CV is very long, and very impressive. He worked on Microsoft's gaming headset, and on the first few models of Beats, back when they were still produced by Monster. But, the list gets more impressive as it goes, with Dan also having co-founded Doppler Labs and having served as Principal Transducer Engineer for Sonos and Chief Transducer Engineer for Blue Microphones.
Audeze sent me their iSine 10, knowing that I had independently reviewed the 20 in the past. Although I know that it has been emphasized to death, I really can't overstate that this innovation is the most magnitudinal that I've seen in the past 5 years in headphones, generally speaking. I mean, to take the technology and (arguably) the sound of a pair of full-size, orthodynamic headphones and cram them into a pair of portable, in-ear monitors is absurd, in the least. So let's get at it, then.
I am so happy to have had the opportunity to spend this much time with Noble's new flagship, even though it was admittedly shorter than my usual time (simply because there's so many things on my desk right now). My initial listen to these headphones not purely representative of my whole experience, but how impressed I was has persisted.
These are absolutely famous, so I won't do too much in the way of introductions. I purchased these myself, simply because they're just so cheap, and I needed to hear them. I bought the balanced configuration, terminating in a TRRS 1/8" auxiliary connector. No microphone, no controller, no fancy frills, just the headphones and a cable.
Advanced Sound kindly sent me a sample of their Model 3 wireless IEMs in exchange for my honest opinion. I’ve had them in my ears for the past month or so, and have had a pleasure using them. Advanced Sound has employed a very unique and, in my opinion, great design that intuitively offers a better user experience than I have come to expect from wireless IEMs.
Although I spoke to many of the differences that I found between these two headphones in my full review of the Quad Driver, I thought it’d be helpful for some for me to offer a more structured and separate comparison. The break down will be by frequency range first, followed by a general comparison of sound signature in summation, by both general characteristics and by soundstage/imaging/etc.
Along with the Triple Driver, 1More sent me a review sample of their newest offering: the Quad Driver. As the name implies, it has four drivers; specifically, it uses one dynamic driver and three balanced armatures drivers.
1More sent me an evaluation sample of both their 1More Triple Driver and 1More Quad Driver, and I've spent the past 3 or so weeks with them. After the full respective reviews of each, I'll run them A/B as close as I can and post a direct comparison of the two, so that those that are stuck between the two can have a (hopefully) better perspective as to their differences.
I've owned the BlueBuds X for a few years, mainly as a running headphone. I'm only reviewing them now because I feel that at their current price (~$70), they make a really great deal in the market, even today.
When I heard that Audeze was releasing a pair of in-ear planars, I perked up, especially given the prior success of the oBravo ERIB-2As, even though those were hybrids. I ordered them late January and waited excitedly.