Rapid Reaction: Astell&Kern x JH Audio Layla

Layla is the latest and greatest entry into what Jerry Harvey has dubbed his ‘Siren Series’ of in-ear monitor offerings, named after women featured in famous rock songs. As the flagship of the series, JH Audio markets her as a mastering reference tool. Bass-adjustable, Layla comes equipped with a cable integrated with an adjustable bass potentiometer capable of adding an additional thirteen decibels of bass at 60 Hz. Layla also boasts 4th order crossovers (an industry first as claimed by JH Audio), patented FreqPhase tuning, stainless steel waveguides, and three sets of proprietary quad-stacked balanced armatures (for a total of twelve). After a successful previous venture, JH Audio now co-ops the universal model with Astell&Kern. To top off the mystique, Layla weighs in at a hefty $2,500. Welcome to insanity! Continue reading Rapid Reaction: Astell&Kern x JH Audio Layla

Rapid Reaction: VSONIC VSD5 & Final Audio Design Heaven VII (Black)


There’s no point beating around the bush; let me make this point patently clear: the VSD5 is no EX1000. It is nowhere in its realm of existence.

I know. I own an MDR-EX1000. I wrote a tribute to it. It’s possibly the last great Sony earphone. Continue reading Rapid Reaction: VSONIC VSD5 & Final Audio Design Heaven VII (Black)

Rapid Reaction: Cowon Plenue P1

** UPDATED 2014/08/22 ** (scroll to bottom)

If I had to boil my thoughts down to two words to describe the Cowon Plenue P1, it’d be: artificial analog.

Sounds like it’s a bad thing, huh?

Well, I don’t know. I really don’t, I swear. Continue reading Rapid Reaction: Cowon Plenue P1

Rapid Reaction: Calyx M

Everyone wants in on the DAP game these days, and the supply chain for lower power, high quality D/A conversion is easier than ever to tap into, and it seems like every hi-fi equipment manufacturer in China and Korea is releasing something within the next 18 months, setting high-end portable audio ablaze.

With so many different products releasing in quick succession, each one touting the “high resolution” moniker, it’s increasingly difficult to determine which one’s actually truly worth considering.

Enter the Calyx M. Continue reading Rapid Reaction: Calyx M

Rapid Reaction: Westone UM Pro 50 — like a warm radiator

I’ve been hard on Westone lately. Innovation just does not seem to be on their minds. They have been obsessed with face-lifting themselves, however. They’ve re-hauled their entire product lineup, from low to high end.

Continue reading Rapid Reaction: Westone UM Pro 50 — like a warm radiator

Rapid Reaction: InEar SD2 (+More?)

InEar Kommunikationstechnik is a German hearing aid and preservation company; its stage monitoring arm is headed by one Marco Raemisch. They’ve been in the custom IEM game for a while, but recently released two universal models under the StageDiver line. I got to hear the dual-driver version, the StageDiver 2. There is a triple driver StageDiver 3 as well; both are two-way crossover designs that output to a single exit bore.

While I only got a quick listen to these earphones, I like them. No, they’re not perfectly neutral or anything like that, but they’re quite pleasant to listen to, given the right tips. Continue reading Rapid Reaction: InEar SD2 (+More?)

Rapid Reaction: EarSonics SM64

Editor’s Note: Sorry about the poor picture quality — I only had my old Nexus One with me when I listened to it.

I got to take a quick listen to the new EarSonics SM64 (version 1, not 2) universal-fit in-ear monitor.

The new reference? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Continue reading Rapid Reaction: EarSonics SM64