Review/Impressions: Sonomax SoundCage 4-minute custom earphones
Recently, I Hanseled my way around CES 2011 looking for a place to sit. On my quest for a comfy chair, I managed to lose myself under a pile of crumby marketing handouts, and half naked girls dancing to show off the features of a ... wired router. Amid crappy tablets and massage chairs, I also managed to find Sonomax's booth and discover what I think is the coolest thing to come out of CES. Originally, my mate said this Canadian company were batting with a custom earphone that is fully cured in 20 hours and sets in 4 minutes. Hmmm, I thought, that reminds me of SoundCage, a company that made a 20-minute custom, and that is also from Canada. Well, it turns out that the SoundCage that I discovered whilst getting impressions for the Sleek Audio CT6, and Sonomax are either good mates, or better bedfellows.
The fit experience is - interesting to say the least. First, a Minority Report-esque 'sound cage' with pouches that stick into your ears and inflate with what becomes your ear impression. Those go like wet Willy's, into your ear holes and there they stay for about four minutes.
It doesn't hurt, but half way through, there is a loud pop. Then, the fun starts. Like a storm coming from afar, you'll hear rumbling as the pouches fill up with some patented liquid. During that time, you should sit rather calmly to let the impressions cure. Painless, really.
The end result is as you see above and below, tiny moulds of your ears, and sucked into their centres, nice, phat earphone drivers. I say phat, because dat bass is chubby. A good fit will ensure that low notes roar out from a dog whistle. Yes, the SoundCage 4 is a little dark, but with a good fit, it is reasonably laid back, decently spacious, and even well extended in the top end. Similar to a former love, the Futuresonics Atrio M5, they do lack magic in the midrange, however. I've been sitting with these in my ears for hours now, and, as much as I love their sound with slow electronic, I can't vouch for the overall quality of your favourite rock and jazz music unless you fancy slightly bashful vocals. On the other hand, percussion is great even if it tends to rattle at odd times. Guitars, though, what happened to them? Poor Jesse Cook's famous fingers lose some of their speed and grit. Oh well, nothing is perfect in this world apart from the freakin' incredible bass output of these earphones.
All that said, I LOVE what I hear.
So, where do we go from here? I think this is a unique product with a lot of promise. But at the moment, there seems to be more promise than result represented by the 199$ it costs to scrutinise Sonomax's word. The sound, I dig. The idea, I suck down greedily. The execution, and possible mishaps, however, leave my throat a bit dry.
Sonomax, if you are reading this article, please take steps to address: fit issues, Mother Nature, and potential, though unlikely, injuries.
Your SoundCage system is an audiophile's wet dream and probably a chink-chink sounding echo in the wallet-minded imaginations of potential distributors. I'd like to see this product make a proper, clean splash as I love what I am hearing. For now, though, I'd rather buy the earphones without the custom portion and forgo all the possible problems.
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