We have a busy few months ahead of us in order to finish reviews for the fabulous products from the above companies. Without going into too many details, look forward to our first Custom Inner Ear Monitor review from Sleek Audio, high end products from Sennheiser and the popular Monster Beats Tour as well as a new Metro Fi from Ultimate Ears.
For those of you who are not satisfied with the likes of Monster Turbine or Audeo PFE and want to strap on the big wallet, look for a new product from Westone called the UM3X aimed at musicians and priced at 379$ USD. Some will call the sum paltry but to most, 379$ is too much rent to spend on a music hobby or for your on-the-go listening pleasure. For those who have to have the priciest and best in universal inner earphone technology, the Westone units compete with products from: Ultimate Ears, Sennheiser, Audio Technica, Etymotic and Shure among others.
Westone are held in highest regard in the personal monitor industry and have over 50 years of expertise to dedicate to their monitors. If the Westone 3’s hype is anything to go by, the UM3X will be a force to be reckoned with for personal stage monitors.
Our review is out of course and here: Westone’s Top-of-the-Line Stage Monitoring Universal IEM: UM3x in Review
Phonak – Swiss Precision
Who are Phonak?
“Headquartered in Stäfa, Switzerland, Phonak has been developing, producing and selling technologically advanced hearing and radio systems for more than 50 years. At Phonak, we use our extensive knowledge of hearing technology and acoustics to improve the hearing capacity, speech recognition and quality of life for the hearing-impaired. This know-how has now been used to develop Audéo Perfect Fit Earphones (PFE).”
PFE models have been stirring up the portable headphone forum at headfi which is usually stopped up by the big names: Sennheiser, Shure, Westone, Ultimate Ears and Etymotic. Since we have tried three newcomers to inner ear earphones in our previous reviews, we felt that Phonak’s offering would fit right in! In this review, we look at the PFE 112 and 121 which are our first reviewed balanced armature earphones and promise not to be our last! Feel free to discuss this review of the Phonak Audeo 121 and 112 in our forums.
After Jays released its dual micro balanced armature Q-Jays at $180 in late 2007, there was a big party. For the next few months everyone raved on and on about their unique design and sweet, neutral sound signature. About a year later, and in response to the Q-jays, Ultimate Ears released the UE700 that house, you’ve guessed it right … dual micro balanced armature drivers. The bottle shaped plastic UE phones come at a $50 premium to the q-Jays at $229.99, but how do they stack up the the cheaper Swedish earphones?
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Jays from Sweden joined the earphone market in 2006 with the balanced armature earphone, d-Jays. Since then, their engineers have been busy creating new technology and designs for their products. Later, they introduced the dynamic driver, j-Jays and the dual balanced armature, q-Jays that we tested in May 2009. Today, we have the s-Jays, an earphone that uses a new technology dubbed, ‘siren’, which refers to armature drivers which work similarly to moving coil drivers (dynamic). The drivers are designed to maximize low frequency performance and allow for high volume output without distortion. Jays has taken this technology and put it in their s-Jay, for the reasonable sum of $89.99.
David Leung, Project Engineer for Monster was kind enough to lend his ears and thoughts to TouchMyApps as we asked many questions regarding Monster and the Turbine. If you are an earphone aficionado, then this article may be a great introduction to the exciting team at Monster who are creating market-leading products in the audio-world. For Monster’s Fanfare thread at Headfi.org, click here.
TMA: According to the Head Monster, ‘Life is too short to listen to bad headphones’. How many bad headphones did the monster team go through before deciding that enough was enough?
DL: The Monster team sampled almost everything on the market, starting with the Apple ear-buds, moving to in-ear dynamic, balanced armature types, etc. and found that all were deficient in at least one area, whether it was lack of bass, coloration, poor sensitivity, output limitations, etc. By the time we were done, we tried in excess of 30 headphones.
Klipsch, a leader in consumer and professional speaker systems since 1946, began production of premium earphones in 2007 with the Custom Series and the Image X10. In 2008, the X5 joined ranks in alongside the X10 in the Image line, and in 2009, two new members, the Image S2 and the Image S4, become the newest entrants from Klipsch. Both house new dynamic (moving coil) drivers, a departure from the X5 and X10, which use balanced armatures. Today, we have the Klipsch’s cheapest model, the Image S2, a $49.99 earphone which contends with many other affordable earphones. Be on the lookout for this earphone from electronics’ vendors in August as Klipsch have not yet released the new S2 and S4 earphones.
Established 2005 in southern California, MEELectronics focus on providing customers with quality products and services at the best prices possible. MEElectronics’ products are aimed at iPod and iPhone owners,
offering a multitude of earphones and portable speakers. Today, we have their top-tier earphones with us, the Ai-M6 and the Ai-M9. Both house the same driver, same specifications, and the same sound. The difference you ask? The Ai-M6 is a $39.99 “over the ear” style inner earphone and the Ai-M9 is a $19.99 “straight down cable” style inner earphone that has a mic’d brother for only $10 more.
Zagg: Enter the Earphone!
More popularly known for their invisibleSHIELD line of screen protector, Zagg are now entering a new and vastly different market: inner earphones. A welcome entry, the Z-buds arrive in four attractive colours and a handful of innovation.
Z-Buds Packaging – Dragg
Alas, I tore open the package so quickly that I cannot put it back together for photographs but Zagg have made every effort to show off a product that they feel is special. The box is a pyramid of sorts with all the goodies stuffed deep inside the cardboard, behind razor-sharp plastic. You will need scissors and gloves to be sure that your hands are safe from jagged edges. In all honesty, for the price of 79$, I would have expected a safer packaging system but it is what is inside that counts is it not? Feel free to discuss this Zagg Z-buds review in our forums.
Phiaton, a brand new company that branched from Cresyn Audio introduced itself to our Industry last year, is a stylish, quality manufacturer that focuses on insane-looking products and superior sound quality. Here with us today is the Phiaton Primal Series 200 Earphones which house dual balanced armature drivers with an Integrated 2-Way Crossover and a price tag of $249.99.
Needless to say, once the package arrived, I was expectantly ripping the plastic off of these “Mini Jet Engines” which stun even from the first glance.