News Feed: Early February

Unique Melody is working on a triple-dynamic custom in-ear monitor. I guess they’re really trying to look for a unique product in the increasingly-crowded CIEM segment.To me, though, it feels gimmicky.

First off, knowing UM, I believe they’ll be treating these dynamic drivers (sized 13.5mm, 8mm, 5.5mm, respectively for the lows, mids, and highs) just like BA drivers, putting in a reverse horn housing and putting a filter in front of it, exiting into standard silicone CIEM acoustic tubing. Designing a dynamic driver in such a way basically removes the fundamental advantages of a dynamic driver. Dynamic drivers are inherently wideband, compared to the relatively limited bandwidth of BAs (technically balanced armatures are full-range drivers as well, but they not even across the band, their main advantage is speed and very high input sensitivity for the size), so restricting the bandwidth of dynamic drivers with the tradition band-pass approach is a bit silly. Well, at least crossover designs will be easier to implement with dynamic drivers. I’ve heard some very good dual-dynamic earphones before, but I’m still of the opinion that multi-driver setups should be reserved for BA drivers, and even then it’s not the most ideal thing to do. A single, very high-quality dynamic driver (like the one used in the Sennheiser IE800) is the way to go for dynamics. Well, despite my calling them out on it, I hope it ends up sounding good (for their sake). I envision the flavor-of-the-month chasers jumping on the bandwagon pretty soon.

The Sleek Audio SA7 was the audiophile equivalent of vaporware and the brunt of many jokes — no more. Sleek finally announced their availability, but it’s a case of too little, too late. Gone is the carbon fiber bodywork that lured so many in their concept renderings. The price of $349.99 is no longer competitive in today’s marketplace, where there are dual BA earphones to be had for ~$120. Hopefully it sounds good; Sleek Audio has always had a great sense of style and good offerings for sound, but poor execution on the logistics end. That’s one of the reasons why their partnership with 50 Cent went south.

I recently found out about the iFi iDAC. At $299, it’s probably the most “buzzword compliant” DAC/amp product out there — it looks quite nicely built, with good looks, has 24/192 asynchronous USB support (via the excellent XMOS receiver chip), and uses a SABRE chip (don’t know which one though, 9023, 9016, or 9018? There’s quite a bit of difference there…). I’m confused though — I’ve read reports that the output stage is based off the TPA6120, which should make it have an output Z of 10 ohms, but the website says that it’s <1 ohm? That doesn’t make sense. It’s most likely that the output impedance is 10 ohms, which would make it unsuitable for IEMs. Too bad.

Phonak’s Audéo brand of IEMs is closing down. The Swiss hearing aid company is calling it quits. My assumption is bad marketing strategy. It’s too bad, because they had great-sounding earphones. I was a fan of both their PFE112 and PFE232.

Design Changes to FitEar Products

Keita Suyama’s FitEar lineup is undergoing modifications to their pin connectors and to the construction/finish of their universal TO GO! line. All future connector sockets will have the following new socket construction:

The new sockets use a small coil spring system to hold the pins in place, and have revised electroplating.

The TO GO! line will have changes to its faceplace and nozzle area. The faceplates will now be constructed in a matte fashion much like their customs, forgoing their original smooth laquered finish because of concerns of bubbling and ripples on the edges. The nozzle area will now be in polycarbonate for better durability.

New matte finish for the TO GO! 334 and F111…
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