Review ortofon e-Q7 - a touch of class
Article Link: ortofon e-Q7 in review - a touch of class
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. Thereís hardly anything to do to seat the eQ7 Ė no tugging and very little twisting. Just aim, fire, and turn up the volume Ė youíll be set in a few seconds. The eQ7 can pretty easily be worn with the cable up, over the ear, but it ainít perfect. Thereís no neck cinch to hold the cable against the body, so the e-Q7ís cables tend to tear away from the ear like an energetic kite. Hereís a tip: use a twist-tie. Or, if youíve had it with high-technology, just twist the cables around each other a few times.
Otherwise, there isnít 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 Iíve 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 youíve torn the box open, pulled out the filters, tool, ear pieces, carrying wallet and marveled at the e-Q7ís 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 Ė 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.
Whoíd have thought that a non-tweakable earphone with only one driver would command such a high market price. Maybe itís 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-Q7ís bass rumbles tangibly. Itís 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 isnít anything particularly accented about the e-Q7 in comparison to other good balanced armature earphones Ė and thatís a good thing. It isnít dry. It isnít 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, Ďdetailedí 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-Q7ís ability to move a lot of air, the low end isnít fabulously detailed. You donít 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 Schulzí 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 ortofonís 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, Iíll 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, Iíd call it Canadian. Progenitor or not, the UK simply has too much slang. Hell, thereís 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 Canadaís 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. ortofonís 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. Iíve not been annoyed by my iPod touch 2G, my Sony Players or Sansaís tiny DAPís. The AMP3 Pro2, as always, is a downer with earphones.
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