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.
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.
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 $89.99.
The Beats Tour, Monster’s second foray into quality mid-priced inner earphones, is a departure in sound, design and construction from their first, the Turbine; a product which is backed and co-produced by American hip-hop artist, Dr. Dre. At 150$, 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.
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 $49.99 earphone which contends with many other affordable earphones. Be on the lookout for this earphone from electronics’ vendors in August as Klipsch have not yet released the new S2 and S4 earphones.
The world of audiophillium is an intense place. There are so many great toys, too many of which come at insane prices. Settling – purchasing a cheaper alternative – happens often and unfortunately, can sometimes cost more in the long run in what can only be called, the Real McCoy envy. But, buying The One – that headphone or amp that you know will change your world – is even more troubling as it can sink your rent cheque for some months.
For you hungry headphone-a-philes, keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming reviews. A high-end Westone UM3X has slipped in somehow which will be featured in an upcoming review, but this week’s will be the lovely looking and sounding Q-Jay from Jays of Sweden.
As many of you know, there is a massive headphone convention happening this weekend in California. CanJam will open its doors on Saturday to audiophiles from all over the world and feature all the big vendors that have made headlines in the hot, headphone world.
We have a busy few months ahead of us in order to finish reviews for the fabulous products from the above companies. Without going into too many details, look forward to our first Custom Inner Ear Monitor review from Sleek Audio, high end products from Sennheiser and the popular Monster Beats Tour as well as a new Metro Fi from Ultimate Ears.
For those of you who are not satisfied with the likes of Monster Turbine or Audeo PFE and want to strap on the big wallet, look for a new product from Westone called the UM3X aimed at musicians and priced at 379$ 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