TouchMyApps » ortofon http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:42:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.4 Ortofon eQ5 earphones in Review – an earphone for all time http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/06/11/ortofon-eq5-earphones-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/06/11/ortofon-eq5-earphones-in-review/#comments Mon, 11 Jun 2012 08:52:46 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=68450 I hated dolling out a mere GRAB to the Ortofon eQ7. But good build quality, acceesories, and sound alone didn’t do the trick. It could have been easier to wear, and the cable could have been a LOT better. It could have been the eQ5. Specifications Audio Engine: Balanced armature driver Frequency Response: 10-20kHz +/-3db … Read more]]>

I hated dolling out a mere GRAB to the Ortofon eQ7. But good build quality, acceesories, and sound alone didn’t do the trick. It could have been easier to wear, and the cable could have been a LOT better. It could have been the eQ5.

Specifications
Audio Engine: Balanced armature driver
Frequency Response: 10-20kHz +/-3db
Sensitivity at 1kHz: 118db SPL for 1.0mw input
Impedance: 40 ohm
Maximum Rated Input Power: 5.0mw
Weight: 15.9g
Cable: 1.2m, straight
Accessories: 3 pairs of silicone ear tips (S/M/L), 1 pair of Comply foam tips, 4 replacement filters, 2 replacement filter rings, filter replacement tool
Available colors: black, red, silver

The eQ5 sports a very similar driver to the eQ7, a speaker designed and made in Japan by Yashima corp. It rocks. I’d call it a hybrid. Yashima call it a moving armature. The moving part is the killing stroke. The armature is the thud on the back of the head to ensure mortality. It’s got all the cleanliness of a balanced armature earphone and most of the tactile feedback of a dynamic driver. It’s got heaps of love from TMA.

Package and accessories
Unlike its older brother, the eQ5 comes minimally packed. Inside the tiny cardboard box is an aluminium cannister. Inside that are the earphones and their accessory package. As written above, you get just four ear pieces, three in silicon and one pair of Comply foam tips.

The good news about the ear pieces is that they are comfortable. The rubber is soft and easy on the ears. The Comply tips are of course among the softest ear tips in the world. Personally, I find the Comply tips to be a strange combination for the clean and agile sound of the eQ5. My ear canals are on the tight side. They squish the Comply too much and the sound gets muddled. But that’s just my ears. Yours might behave better.

Like the eQ7, the eQ5 comes with replaceable filters and a filter tool. The filters are tiny o rings that are easy to lose. A slight sigh after a bad day of work will send them flying around the room if they’re not in their bag. My advice is this: keep them in their bag till you need them. I’ve been using the eQ5 for about 2 months day in, day out, and have never needed to change them. Knock on wood.

You’ll notice that I’ve not mentioned a case of any sort. There isn’t any, unless you consider having your eQ5′s knocking about in the aluminium cannister. I don’t. You get what I’ve listed above. Which is a shame because the eQ5 is an expensive and beautiful earphone. It needs some protection when not in the ear. I suggest getting a small synthetic wallet from somewhere. I keep mine in a strangely supple keyholding pouch. Wonderful.

Build quality and cable
The eQ7 was a well-made product, just too full of oversight to draw a better final rating from me. The eQ5 is a second generation product from the same Ortofon. It is excellent in almost every metric. Take for instance the earphone body, a milled aluminium bullet. Like its predecessor, it will withstand a car crash, a small bomb, the collision of worlds, perhaps even recess at the local kindergarten.

Trailing from its bum is a very nice cable. Finally. The eQ7 might have been a kiss had it had a good cable. Ortofon did away with the textile weave that made the eQ7 cable look pretty and ruined it for portable use because of horrible microphonic touch noise. The eQ5 uses a soft, but strong cable that delivers very little microphonic touch noise to the ear. It is light and not easy to tangle. In fact, it is one of the best cables I’ve ever used on any earphone. At any price. Maybe Audio Technica’s CK100/CK10 best it. Maybe. The only thing it lacks is a neck cinch to keep the cable together above the y-split, that or a shirt clip. Actually, it could do with an extra layer of insulation after the y split. It is possitively anerexic. Regardint the lack of neck cinch, I do the following: twist the cable about six times to achieve an approximation of a cinch. It works. The cable comes together just below my chin. It just doesn’t look as good.

Finally, cable supports: stress relief, insulation, and y-split, are somewhat mixed. I imagine every earphone lover will notice first that the eQ5 lacks a rubber sheath coming out of the earphone. Instead, the eQ5′s sphincter is lined with about 1mm of rubber. Ah, smooth! This keeps sharp aluminium edges from cutting the cable. I think it is adequate. It doesn’t look strong, but let’s be honest here: most stress relieving sleeves are rubbish. Ones that look strong often place the cable under worse threat from harsh wearing angles. There are few that are worth their hype. So, while initially I felt run over by the lack of a stress relief at the earphone, months later, I feel it is unnecessary. Inside the capsule, the cable is properly knotted and anchored. Could Ortofon have done better? Maybe, but I’ve no complains now.

There is also no stress relief at the y-split. Again, I’m not worried by this. The cable is soft and will withstand thousands of snags and twists. Again, after the y-split, the cable does deserve some more insulation. Stress relief finally comes at the plug. It is soft and flexible and not about to break. Like its older brother, however, the plug is terminated with a straight relief. That means of course that it is under greater stress as it will suffer to be bent more often than an L-shaped cable.

Fit
Earplug meets bullet. That’s it. If you can fit those two hand-in-hand in your imagining, you can get what it’s like to have the eQ5 in ear. Because the eQ5 lacks a stress relief and sports a cable that bursts out of its arse, it is as easy to fit as any earbud ever has been. No squeezing or pulling of the earlobe is necessary. Just plug it in like you would a cable into the mains. Phfiiit!

There are no disadvantages to this design. There are disadvantes to the shape of the earphone, however. The front flange is short, and supported by a thick base. People with small ear canals may find fit uncomfortable or impossible. My ear holes are middle/small sized and manage barely. I’d hate to miss out on the eQ5 sound just because of how God made me.

Another accolade that Ortofon deserve is the lay of the cable. Since it juts out from the eQ5′s bum and then hangs down, it barely touches the face. This not only helps keep microphonic noises down, it also keeps face oil and sweat from the cable. Again, the cable is well designed and seems to resist the deletorious effects of body oils, but still, keeping it away from your face is a good idea.

If you can get the earphone into your ears, you are in for a treat. Since it is light and sports great ear pieces, it is comfortable for long listening sessions. I’ve spend up to six hours a day with these in my ears and have nothing but praises to sing at the end of the day.

As for how you should hang the cable, I think the most natural way is straight down from the ear, not over the ear. The eQ5 fits best with the body angled down. Hanging the cable over the ear will mess with this fit. There are people who use it over the ear with no issues, however. Whatever floats your boat.

Sound
The eQ5 is the most enjoyable earphone I’ve used in years. It bests my favourite CK10 in ways that are almost sexual, and makes me laugh at days I spend pining for custom earphones. Yes, it’s that good.

The eQ5 does bass perfectly. One could reckon it’s a well-tuned dynamic headphone. Yes, headphone. The eQ5 renders natural bass with incredible definition. Its focus is pretty flat with low notes, with no apparent mid or low bass hump, and a gradual decline into the midrange. What’s magical about it is its tactile qualities that aren’t natural in armature earphones. Last night, my wife first plugged these into her ears. What she said was: lots of bass. That morning, she had tried another favourite of mine, the Grado GR8. The much prefers the Ortofon. I can’t say I blame her.

Bass is rendered with wonderful space, and a little warmth. Typical of armature earphones, there is no congestion. Decay is fast, but not perfectly spic-and-span, leaving room for some intimacy. Perhaps that is why I’ve warmed so much to the eQ5. Absolute resolution-heads may prefer something like the CK10 or Audeo PFE. I would imagine that most people, however, would enjoy the more organic sound of the eQ5. It isn’t as organic, say, as the Earsonics SM3, but it is close, and in some ways, cleaner. Decay in no way impacts instrument separation.

From the very lowest voiced insturment, frequency bands stay where they should, and within each band, plenty of detail bleeds straight to the ear. High and mid frequencies are the most clearly voiced. Bass decay accounts for a slightly warmer presentation. But each resounds with clarity that few earphones can muster. An earphone that may be able to topple the clarity of the eQ5 is Fischer Audio’s DBA-02 MKII, which some bass roll off in the low registers, making for a more prominent mid range. Both are clear, but the DBA is lusher. Soundwise, you could consider the eQ5 a flatter, easier to tame Earsonics SM2. The DBA-02 is the SM3′s baby brother.

This clarity lends to a charismatic nature. The eQ5 meets your music. It also meets your EQ. If you feel that one frequency needs a boost, go ahead. There are few earphones that respond as well to EQing as the eQ5… Hmmm. A bump in the lower registers results in incredible gains in bass volume without losing definition, and without introducing artefacts. The same goes for high frequencies and mids.

Speaking of mids, whether it is Ortofon or Yashima that’s to blame, it doesn’t matter. The mids have detail, yes, but a lot of force. From the high ends of the bass notes to the lower end of treble, mids are strong, well-voiced, and detailed. What you get is powerful horns and brass and crystal clear vocals, no matter the gender, along with space enough for complicated musical sets. Perhaps you will get more detail from a perfectly created

The eQ5 isn’t an emotional earphone like the DBA-02 or SM3 can be. Don’t even get me started about Mingo. But, it is honest and detailed, and clearly has its feet in the bass that my ears miss when listening to their favourite CK10′s. Before I get onto amplification, etc., I want to make clear one thing: I’ve talked a lot about bass in this review, but I need to correlate my excitement with my a truth. The eQ5 won’t satisfy bass heads. It has gobs of bass for a ‘neutral’ voiced earphone. Remember, I’m comparing it with the CK10 and DBA-02 on the mild end, and the SM3 on the upper end. What it has it flaunts, but it doesn’t output head-numbing quantities of bass.

Compared to the eQ7. Most of what I said in the eQ7 remains true for the eQ5, however, I have been able to get better fit with the eQ5. Perhaps for this reason, bass response seems better and treble less scratchy. Soundwise, I was astounded by the eQ5 where the eQ7 merely left me smiling.

Amping and background noise
The eQ5 is also sensitive. It’s not on the same level as a FitEar 333 where even the air emits background noise. But, you will be able to hear background noise from your player or amp. It’s not excessive, but it’s enough to make me suggest you keep crap like HiSound AMP3′s and older Sony players in a dark drawer. That said, you won’t need an amp. The eQ5 can trip up players like the above mentioned AMP3 Pro and older players such as Cowon D2, iPod touch 1G, iPod 5G, etc., but the tripping is minimal. While the driver is rated for 40Ω, it seems to dip down quite far when under stress. And considering bass output (note the proviso above), I can’t blame it. That single driver is doing such a clear and powerful job that it must drop to stressful levels under load.

Players with output impedances of 32Ω will struggle with the eQ5. Same with amps. Your player will probably do perfectly if its output is good for 8Ω or less.

Out and about
If it weren’t for the lack of neck cinch, the eQ5 would get accolades in this section, too. As it is, it misses out by the barest of fractions. At 1,2m, the soft cable is about perfect for pocket-play. It is a bit too short for a purse, but then again, I’m giving up on carrying one.

Finally, if only Ortofon included a carrying case, the eQ5 would be perfect. Already it seals out quite a bit of noise, not on the level of the CK100 or SM3, but certainly on par with the best earphones that use similar flange-to-ear tip construction. There can be a little wind howling when worn in strong winds, but nothing too scary. It’s not like the eQ5 is made for exercise anyway.

Conclusion
The eQ5 is the perfect earphone for someone who enjoys a neutral presentation with balanced frequencies, but plenty of oomph in the bottom end. It is clear and never trips up anywhere, presenting itself with a slight bias to bass. It’s my type of earphone. If you love clear, wide, and somewhat muscly sound, the eQ5 could be your type of earphone, too. What makes me frown is the omission of a neck cinch and a carrying case. The latter really eats at me. This is a 250-300$ earphone. It deserves better. But all in all, there is too little to fault. The eQ5 is perhaps the most pleasurable earphone I’ve reviewed at TouchMyApps at any price.

I would like to thank Dimitri from Musica Acoustics for loaning the eQ5 for nearly four months! The problem is that I don’t want to give it back!

App Summary
Title: eQ5 earphone Developer: Ortofon Japan
Reviewed Ver:  black Min OS Req: 4.3.0
Price: 350-300$
  • Generally good fit
  • Quality construction
  • Excellent sound
  • Wonderful cable
  • Easy to drive – no amp needed
  • No stress sleeve on earphone cable
  • Accessories? What accessories?
eQ5-accessories eQ5-cable-plug eQ5-flange-mouth eQ5-in-case eQ5-stress eQ5-box eQ5-iphone eQ5-fit

Hot damn! Headphones really are a rockin’ way to enjoy music, right? Feel free to explore TMA’s headphone oubliette

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ortofon e-Q7 earphone in review – a touch of class http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/05/30/ortofon-e-q7-earphone-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/05/30/ortofon-e-q7-earphone-in-review/#comments Mon, 31 May 2010 03:20:12 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=33721 The earphone market has never been more poised. Multiple driver earphones have come down in price, build quality is on the rise, and selection is huge. But with a huge selection comes the nearly impossible task of selecting the perfect earphone. Every company has a party line, each one sounding better than the last. Then, … Read more]]>

The earphone market has never been more poised. Multiple driver earphones have come down in price, build quality is on the rise, and selection is huge. But with a huge selection comes the nearly impossible task of selecting the perfect earphone. Every company has a party line, each one sounding better than the last. Then, there’s the driver war that follows the following formula: competitor’s flagship model + 1 speaker unit. The formula and good marketing surely sells earphones, but meanwhile, hapless customers have to sort through a hogwash of marketing speak. Well, cartridge-baron ortofon, commissed the clever lads and lasses from the land of the rising sun to make the e-Q7, a single balanced armature earphone that really munches on the brains and selling points of many of its multi-speaker brethren.

Feel free to discuss the ortofon e-Q7 in our forums.

Specifications
Driver: balanced armature
Frequency response: 10 – 20 000 Hz
Impedance: 31Ω +/- 5%
Sensitivity: 117dB +/- 3dB
Cable: 1,2 m; 3,5mm stereo plug (gold-plated)

Fit and Package
The e-Q7 is a ~300$ lump of cold, hard metal, but it warms up over time; it even feels good after a bit thanks to its no-nonsense earplug-style fit. There’s hardly anything to do to seat the eQ7 – no tugging and very little twisting. Just aim, fire, and turn up the volume – you’ll be set in a few seconds. The eQ7 can pretty easily be worn with the cable up, over the ear, but it ain’t perfect. There’s no neck cinch to hold the cable against the body, so the e-Q7’s cables tend to tear away from the ear like an energetic kite. Here’s a tip: use a twist-tie. Or, if you’ve had it with high-technology, just twist the cables around each other a few times.

Otherwise, there isn’t really anything to complain about. I mean, these cold,hard bullets jut straight into the ear, uncouple the environment from your music, and sound brilliant. One thing though: the flanged metal lip that surrenders to the ear pieces is stubby. What happens is the cold metal butt can stop up the inner ear of small canaled people. I am one, but I’ve managed to wing my way through with special foam tips. If the metal flange was longer, the earphone would fit perfectly for any sized ear.

But that bit of carnal knowledge only comes after you’ve torn the box open, pulled out the filters, tool, ear pieces, carrying wallet and marveled at the e-Q7’s jewel-box. In terms of eye-candy, the eQ7 is unrivaled; it is laid out like that bloody expensive thing your girlfriend constantly nags about. Despite its eye-candy, you are left with a good mess of usability. Everything works pretty well. The wallet, however, is large – too large to fit in your trousers; I put it in my purse. Then, the ear tips come in two flavours: 1 set of Comply foams and 3 silicon tips. Each is comfortable, but the silicon tips, which keep their shape even in the ear, are better for preserving sound quality. They also feel great thanks to a gently tapered shape.

Cable and Build Quality
What would a Danish/Japanese product be without a little of the old kick-in-the-pants? Danes make the best sandwiches, bar none. Japanese make the best table tennis bats bar some discussion with the Swedes and Germans. I tend to think the combination of East and West shakes hands quite well. The eQ7 is neither edible nor smashable, but its solid turned aluminium shell should weather either attack well. It has a good-fitting plug, and excellent earphone-side strain reliefs. The plug, however, is straight-angled, so will put more pressure on both the contacts and the digital player. Be careful.

The cable is nylon, so you know what’s coming next. Nylon sucks for a variety of reasons: it retains memory, can unravel, and worst of all, it makes horrid touch noise. Ortofon’s design team did manage to unravel one of those problems pretty well: after the y-split, the cable disrobes, sporting a thin rubber sheath all the way till the earbud. It works. The Ortofon eQ7 could have been supremely microphonic and uncomfortable. Instead, its microphonic touch noises are pretty unobtrusive in comparison to other nylon-cabled earphones. But (and this is an Oprah-sized but), the rubber cable is prone to crystallise, a non-kosher problem for an expensive earphone.

Finally, I must mention Ortofon’s organic-looking filter system. In some ways, it is right on. Firstly, the light mesh puts no pressure on sound output. Secondly, the filters fit under light but sturdy o-rings. It’s quite an ingenious system, but because each part is small, light, and prone to jump out of fingers. There’s another problem: the filter sits pretty near the opening of the ear tip: an excited push could let wax in, clogging the filter. Since you have only a few in the entire package, I suggest not waxing the filter system.

Sound
Who’d have thought that a non-tweakable earphone with only one driver would command such a high market price. Maybe it’s the nice-looking accessories. More likely though, its price is dictated by the overall good build and sound quality. The eQ7 is simply a marvelous machine. One thing that balanced armature fans may immediately notice is the low-level turbulence. Like a dynamic driver earphone, the e-Q7’s bass rumbles tangibly. It’s not on the same level as any mid-range rumbler like the Mingo WM-2, and certainly nothing like the vociferous Sennheiser IE8. But, the e-Q7 moves a goodly amount of air.

Other than the tangible low end pressure, however, there isn’t anything particularly accented about the e-Q7 in comparison to other good balanced armature earphones – and that’s a good thing. It isn’t dry. It isn’t splashy or wet. You get beautifully rendered lows, smooth mids, and a good high section.

In some ways, the e-Q7 is a midway point between two opposing categories of earphones. On one side are the peaky, ‘detailed’ earphones ala Etymotics ER4S. This category keenly separates instruments, and with the help of boosted treble, coughs up all sorts of energetic high-end detail. On the other end is the mid-low oriented thumpers that sometimes heave up especially bass-detailed sounds. This group is championed by by the Victor FX500 and Radius HP-TWF11R and accented by the emotional Mingo WM-2.

Despite the e-Q7’s ability to move a lot of air, the low end isn’t fabulously detailed. You don’t feel puffs of air at ever pluck on a bass string. There is a goodly amount of ripple, but in terms of fibre and texture, the e-Q7 loses to bassier headphones. But as low notes glide into the midbass, magic happens.

Markus Schulz’ Mainstage, a benchmark for low bass performance reveals a little difference to other balanced armature earphones. But move up past 80Hz and suddenly, the e-Q7 starts to move. Suddenly, controlled but strong, bass erupts. It is beautiful and moving particularly in electronic music where speed and strength go together like John and Yoko. According to ortofon’s engineers, the e-Q7 drops as far as 10Hz. I can attest to it moving air at just lower than 30Hz, but the truth is that its sweet spot comes after the space around 80-90Hz when the single armature really starts to dance.

When the e-Q7 gets going, it sings. From the mid-bass to the upper midrange is thrilling. Vocals and electronic percussion are sweet, the former taking no sides in the unfinished battle of the sexes. Chimes and electric chirps are great, and highs, which can heel many would-be-great headphones, are smooth, and pretty well extended.

After my long romp with the e-Q7, I’ll admit to being surprised at my own conclusions. I like the e-Q7 very much, but it is standard. Before you drop your chin, let me explain. If the e-Q7 represented the English language, I’d call it Canadian. Progenitor or not, the UK simply has too much slang. Hell, there’s more slang in the UK than proper dictionary words in the Canadian dictionary. UK Enlish is the beautiful but caustic Etymotic ER4S. And as for Canada’s closest neighbour, the USA, there are simply too many long vowels and violent rumbles to call its English unaccented. It is the Monster Turbine. Both are great earphones, but neither really represent the middle, each taking sides that demand that the other is wrong. ortofon’s e-Q7 sits in the middle, pushing a strong bass and lush midrange while politely offering up a smooth high band. It is as Canadian as can be and I love it.

Highs drop away after about 14 000Hz, but only barely. They remain keenly audible well past 16 000Hz, and lack slangy peaks. Some earphones may be smoother up top, but few do it without sounding dull. Perhaps because of this, the e-Q7 can be considered mild in terms of space and stage. Instruments are keenly rendered, never slipping in toward one another. And there is a good sense of space, just not a massive, encompassing stage.

What about hiss, you ask? Well, the e-Q7 is pretty sensitive. It hisses with all of my sources, but surprisingly, not as bad as some of my other earphones. I’ve not been annoyed by my iPod touch 2G, my Sony Players or Sansa’s tiny DAP’s. The AMP3 Pro2, as always, is a downer with earphones.

Out and About
You know, I reckon it is the shallow metallic flange on the end of the e-Q7 that’s the culprit, but this earphone just doesn’t isolate very well with silicon flange earpieces. Foams that have thick inner supports keep out the outside as do hybrid foams, but overall isolation is very dependent. I love the feeling of ortofon’s silicon flanges, so despite their lower levels of isolation, I tend to keep them in my ears.

And despite sporting a nylon cable, the e-Q7 isn’t horrid for outdoors. Microphonic noises are worse than usual, but not horrid. What is annoying is the cable’s memory. After winding it a few times, then fitting it into the wallet, you’ll find the cable retains its resting shape, curlicueing its way up to the y-split.

Finally, the 1,2m cable length is quite good, but maybe too short for some purses and tall people. I love it.

Conclusion
Combining a high price and a single speaker isn’t always a show of vanity. ortofon’s e-Q7 is a stunning, ergonomic design. It sounds good, looks fab, and feels ultra classy. The fact that its low-band lungs are uniquely windier than many other balanced armature earphones is enticing are its mids and highs. But while sounding fab, it doesn’t put on makeup or an accent. The sound is smooth. It reigns in peaky regions and keeps up an intimate garden of succinct instrument separation. The inclusion of a neck cinch, a better plug, and the exercising of its crystallisation-prone rubber cable and microphonic nylon cable would put it over the top.

Otherwise, I’ve got nothing but love for this lovely earphone.

Headphone Summary
Title: ortofon e-Q7 Developer: ortofon
Reviewed Ver: e-Q7 Black Speaker type: Balanced Armature
Price: 300-400$ Cable: nylon and rubber
  • brilliant, tangible bass and midbass
  • smooth mids and highs
  • great instrument separation
  • classy as hell
  • good filter system
  • comfortable, great silicon ear pieces
  • microphonic nylon cable
  • rubber cable portion susceptible to crystallisation
  • straight plug
  • plug stress relief is too brittle – exerts pressure on the jack and earphone

HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-box HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-casein HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-filter HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-Fit HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-fitkit HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-glamour HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-inDisplay-02 HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-inDisplay HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-jewbox HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-manual HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-Ortofon HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-plug-split HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-side HP-review-Ortofon-eQ7-stress

Hot damn! Headphones really are a rockin’ way to enjoy music, right? Feel free to explore TMA’s headphone oubliette

Read more]]>
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