Earsonics, a French producer of professional earphones, have broken into TMA with their SM2 DLX, a dual balanced armature professional in-ear stage monitor which is priced at 280 € in France, or 268€ outside the country . It both feels and performs worthy of its asking price and comes in your choice of the following three attires: black, crystal (clear), and white. Like the UM3X from Westone, Earsonics’ top-tier universal iem has been constructed to exacting standards and utilises the same cable type: a durable, non-microphonic twisted strand design which is a benchmark for cable quality. Also, like its American competitor, the SM2 is plagued by a dearth of accessories.
Want to read the entire 3000-post thread? No? Well I have and it has been a blast, but isn’t something easily summed up in a few words. DaveDerek, a headfi member went through the entire thread looking for hands-on impressions and photos, linking each into one of the best posts for people who are considering purchasing the JH13Pro. My own impressions will join that thread as well as a final review in about a month, but take a delicious look at what has been burning up the portable headphone section at Headfi.org.
If you don’t know, Headfi is largest English-language headphone-dedicated forum in the world. While headphiles (as some call us) are still counted among the geekiest of audiophiles, we get around. TouchMyApps will be reviewing a number of hi-end and bleeding hi-end custom earphones in the next month. Among these is the JH13Pro and the Westone ES3x which was mentioned earlier this morning.
I have picked off the links from Headfi and posted them below, but please check out the entire JH13Pro Appreciation thread.
Audio Line Out (ALO), based in Oregon, USA, are masters of audio art. Their cables and line-out docks are among the best-built in the industry. Ken, ALO’s head, is always busy with some new project and this time, he is targeting the budding iPhone audiophile market with a top-secret new headphone amplifier – an amp whose spy-shots fell into my hands and whose final product will come to TMA for review! Following the break are a few details about the project.
My experience with wooden headphones began five years ago with Audio Technica’s Sovereign W1000, a beautiful lively headphone whose smoothness belies its price. Since then, there have been a few: Darth Beyers and Audio Technica’s ES9, but few companies have gone the extra step of pairing down their beautiful creations to the tiny real estate of an earphone or earbud. Mingo, home of a famous headphone shop in Hong Kong number among that handful. The WM-2 which comes in two flavours: bass (silver) and vocal (gold), is created from Longan wood and is an excellent-sounding debut model from the company.
The Beats Tour, Monster’s second foray into quality mid-priced inner earphones, is a departure in sound, design and construction from their first, the Turbine; a product which is backed and co-produced by American hip-hop artist, Dr. Dre. At 150$, the Beats Tour tips the scale toward the more expensive side of portable earphones, but in many areas, stands tall even amidst stiff competition. However, at around the same price, the Tour’s closest competition comes from the Monster Turbine.
The world of audiophillium is an intense place. There are so many great toys, too many of which come at insane prices. Settling – purchasing a cheaper alternative – happens often and unfortunately, can sometimes cost more in the long run in what can only be called, the Real McCoy envy. But, buying The One – that headphone or amp that you know will change your world – is even more troubling as it can sink your rent cheque for some months.
In the quest for the ultimate headphone, TMA has bumped into some great low-priced options as well ubiquitous top-tier earphones. Head-Direct, American distributor for fine Chinese headphone equipment, began production of its own headphone line in 2008: the RE series. The current top spot is domineered by the RE0, a headphone that only a year ago cost about double, but now happily resides at 99$. Today, the RE2 which last year cost 99$ is on table at TMA and ready to purchase at Head-Direct for only 39 bones.
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.
Ultimate Ears are one of the most influential custom earphone company’s out there, catering to bands like the Killers, Billy Idol, Van Halen, Metallica and John Mayer among many others. Frankly put, they are masters of the high-end domain.
But like all high-end companies, Ultimate Ears also produce consumer-oriented gear that compares well with the market in terms of price and performance. We will be looking at several of the iconic company’s products in the next few months, but today, the MetroFi 220vi will sit in the hot seat.
Westone’s UM3x is clearly a professional product. Where hitherto, our headphone reviews have focused on the casual and audiophile listener’s tastes; and in the case of the Sleek CT6 Custom, the musician; the UM3X is designed for stage performers. It’s sturdy, unadorned housing and well-relieved stress points clearly illustrate this fact. Despite Westone’s intended professional market, many users are clamouring to buy this unit for personal use. How does it fare when compared and contrasted with other personal earphones? Let’s take a look.