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Saturday, May 17, 2014

STAX SRM Monitor: A flashforward to the future

Disclaimer: This extremely rare item is owned by my good friend, vAsurada, who lives in South Korea. This article would have never been publicized had he not given me permission to do so. My infinite gratitude goes to him.


As previously explained, STAX team up with the scientists at IRT(Institut fur Rundfunktechnik) to further enhance the sound quality of their products. And the ultimate result is ED-1, a diffuse-field simulator for SR-Λ Pro headphone released in 1988.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

NVX EX10S: Aesthetics


Although still a new kid on the block, NVX have proven that they are formidable contenders with their flagship headphone, XPT100. On top of a great sound quality, the headphone also comes with a bunch of accessories for the users' convenience. Of course, their first in-ear monitor, EX10S, is no exception as well.

NVX EX10S: Not an average substitute

Continued from Aesthetics

It has been nearly a year since NVX introduce EX10S to the market. Although it has made its debut within the audiophile community already, not much is really known about its sound quality and true potential.

Besides, it is notable that EX10S shares many technical similarities with Vsonic GR07 mkII, which is one of my most favorite dynamic IEMs of all time. GR07 mkII is well-known for its great sound quality, inverted polarity, unique pivoting nozzle design, and usage of a flexible silver cable. If EX10S's sound quality turns out to be as good as that of GR07 mkII, the IEM shall be a great deal for the price.

NVX XPT100: Aesthetics


Found in 2011 in Sherman Oaks, California, NVX is relatively a new player in the market. According to the website, the company's primary goal is to maintain high product quality through technical innovation while educating consumers with essential facts. While NVX still remains largely unknown as a headphone manufacturer, as long as they stay true to their philosophy, a commercial success is inevitable.

NVX XPT100: Good thing comes in big packages

Continued from Aesthetics

XPT100 is NVX's reference headphone, designed especially for studio monitoring. Not much has really been known about this product since its introduction in August of 2012. While the headphone certainly comes with a lot of accessories: a big case, 2 pairs of ear pads, and 2 cables, does it also come with a good sound quality?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

LEAR BD4.2: Aesthetics


Founded in 2008, LEAR is relatively a newcomer as an in-ear monitor manufacturer. Their company history is quite unique, because LEAR brand itself is from the mainland China, but is also fully owned & operated by an audio retailer called Forever Source Digital based in Hong Kong. According to the official statement, the company is devoted to creating great aural experience through heavy R&D while offering reasonable price.

And BD4.2 is the ultimate result of their continuous effort, featuring quad balanced armature drivers and dual dynamic transducers coupled in a three-way crossover network, along with its metallic acoustic tubing, quad bore configuration, and an adjustable bass control. I guarantee you: There is absolutely no in-ear monitor quite like this one.

LEAR BD4.2: The next-generation hybrid

Continued from Aesthetics

Exclusively designed by LEAR of Hong Kong,  BD4.2 is claimed to feature ground-breaking innovations:

1. Quad-bore configuration
2. Metallic acoustic transfer tubing
3. Adjustable bass control
4. Acoustic low-pass filter

First, separate acoustic transfer tubes, or bores, help minimize the possible interference with sound waves coming from each drivers, while shaping their linear characteristics in specific manner to tailor-fit them to the manufacturer's requirement. As far as I know, no IEM manufacturer has ever tried quad bore, especially when even a 12-driver JH Audio Roxanne has only triple bores.

Second, metallic bores have previously been implemented by Suyama of Japan, and such tubes tend to have lower resonance frequency compared to the ones made of materials with lower density. Moreover, they also yield stable high frequency response due to the tube's constant geometry. The same logic may apply here with BD4.2 as well.

Third, although making the low frequency response fully adjustable may sound tempting, adding an extra adjustable module always increases the cost of development and production. Moreover, most of the bass control implemented in conventional IEMs are poorly designed, and lacks accuracy.

Fourth, other than Ultimate Ears UE900 and Shure SE846, and I've never witnessed such filter placed at the output of an IEM. It usually utilizes a long acoustic transfer tubing, and requires a good amount of calculation, not to mention precise engineering to be practically beneficial.

Consequently, the ultimate question is: Are all of the innovations claimed by LEAR true, and if so, is it possible that they work to the overall benefit of users?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Astrotec AX35: Hybrid just got affordable

Previously, Astrotec's flagship hybrid model, AX60, turns out to be quite a disappointment. Not only its sound signature is nowhere close to that of AKG K3003, which is claimed reference target of the IEM, but also the sound quality itself is simply not up to the standard set by other Chinese manufacturers, such as Unique Melody or Vsonic.

Meanwhile, AX35 is Astrotec's low-end hybrid, featuring a ⌀10 mm dynamic woofer and a balanced armature tweeter. There is nothing too fancy about AX35: The filter is not replaceable, and only one pair of normal size sleeves come with the IEM. What can possibly be expected from such normalcy?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ultimate Ears UE900: Take two

Since my review in 2012, there has been a rumor that Logitech have tinkered the internal configuration of UE900, thus nullifying the result of my analysis. In order to figure out what the hell is going on with Logitech, I bought a brand new pair of UE900 at my own expense.