News Feed: Early April

Good New York Times blog article on hearing loss:

UM‘s Triple Dynamic is now pictured:

Image from Unique Melody Global‘s Facebook Page

Looks like it’s being called the “3DD” — honestly, I’m still slightly skeptical about how it’ll perform, but we’ll see.

I don’t personally see the “need” for three dynamic drivers. One high quality transducer would be good, or a microdriver tweeter with a good quality woofer, but three seems extraneous to me.

Then again, I have heard ten-driver BA CIEMs before, and they’re even more over the top with the driver count, and they do sound good as well.

Germany has an old dog up to new tricks; InEar Monitoring has been making CIEMs for years, but has recently come out with the universal-fit StageDiver 2 & 3, impressions of which have been cropping up on German websites in the last few weeks (links here and here).

InEar Monitoring’s StageDiver; Image from:

From the pictures, the shape looks nice, but the shape won’t necessarily guarantee a great fit with everyone’s ears. I’m willing to bet this will be a love-it or hate-it product when it comes to fit.

Stereo and home theater bigwig Onkyo has decided to get into the premium in-ear game with the Onkyo IE-HF300. While it can’t be considered “high-end”, it’s certainly interesting. It looks like a 14.3 mm, titanium-coated dynamic driver, enclosed inside a high-quality ABS plastic housing — not revolutionary, but a formula that works. I’ve always been a fan of large diameter dynamic drivers, provided that they don’t overdo it with the bass.

Detachable MMCX connector compatible cable

Apparently, Onkyo indeed does promise not to overdo it with the bass, but we’ll see.  The MMCX connector should be compatible with any Shure or UE900 aftermarket cable as well. The IE-HF300 model has a high quality 6N (99.9999%) OFC cable included, but if you’re not planning on using that cable, you might as well get the lower-priced IE-FC300. The only difference between the two models is the cable, which is of lower quality and in the flat “Beats style” look on the IE-FC300. While enthusiasts tend not to like flat cables, at least Onkyo‘s is removable and therefore replaceable. Comfort shouldn’t be an issue; I’ve always found the oblique short nozzle to be very comfortable for most ear types, though isolation should be average at best.

We’ll try to get Mono to write something more detailed on the IE-HF300.

Not content to merely sell the AK100 by itself, Astell&Kern has once again done a team-up with an IEM company. They first did it with FitEar and the AK100-111iS, a re-tuned version of FitEar‘s F111. Then Final Audio Design announced a special version of their Heaven IV to be paired with the AK100. Now, they have Heir Audio as well.

Heir Audio announced that they would be selling their two high-impedance Tzar models, the 90 and 350, as a package along with the Astell&Kern AK100. While the Tzar 350 wasn’t my favorite universal IEM, I do believe Heir Audio did the enthusiast community a great service by offering these high-impedance IEMs.

Both the Tzar 90 and 350 are also a far better fit for damping with the AK100 and its very high 22Ω output impedance. Single driver BA IEMs don’t have significant problems with underdamped responses, as sometimes the goal is very much to underdamp the transducer as much as possible, as with the Etymotic ER4 (all three models, P/S/B). As an earphone designed to be similar to the ER4S but with horn amplification rather than electrical damping, FitEar‘s F111 was re-tweaked to yield the AK100-111iS. The AK100-111iS‘s response is de-tuned by a few dB in the frequencies past 1 kHz, so that the 22Ω output impedance would re-tune the FR back up to its originally intended response. I have no idea if FAD made any changes to the Heaven IV to pair with the AK100. As high-impedance IEMs, the Tzar 90 and Tzar 350 do not need to be re-tuned and will still retain their intended characteristics.

Image from Heir Audio’s Facebook Page

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Within the Round Window, Between the Helices, Par Excellence.

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