The Biz: Asahi-Kasei and ESSTech go to war over mobile superiority

There’s no question that, over the past three years, ESSTech has completely dominated the premium portable digital audio segment. The fab-less circuit design firm kicked things off in 2014 with the introduction of the now-ubiquitous ES9018-2M, a mobile-minded DAC chip designed as a two-channel die shrink of the venerated 8-channel ES9018S (itself the evolved production…

Op-Ed: Embrace the Jack-less revolution!

With the next generation Apple iPhone 7 set to be announced imminently, many people have bemoaned Apple’s decision (not 100% confirmed, but essentially a foregone conclusion, based on the substantial and numerous rumors) to remove the 3.5 mm analog jack from the phone. Not only have highly influential e-zines such as The Verge have come…

The Biz: More Companies Join In On The Manufacture of Balanced Armatures

With so many companies making earphones and headsets, it’s no wonder demand for balanced armatures is on the rise. They’re not just for premium earphones anymore, as BA and hybrid earphones can now be found for under $30, and reach prices upwards of $2500. As mentioned in a previous article of ours, ‘The Biz: What…

The Empire Strikes Back: Empire Ears Line-up Overview

Editor’s Note: shotgunshane was able to get a 10-day loan of the Empire Ears’ universal lineup; read the introduction, or jump straight to sound impressions… By now most of you have probably heard of EarWerkz , perhaps from one of our reports on the company (read more) and their previous flagship Legend CIEM (read more);…

The Biz: E-Earphone’s CIEM Store in Akihabara, Tokyo

Founded by an Osakan man with a full head of hair and a hope to spread the spirit of porta-fi to the masses, E-Earphone is one of Japan’s premier personal audio store chains, with storefronts in both Tokyo and Osaka metropolises. Its aisles upon aisles of headphones and earphones are famed to the enthusiast community,…

The Biz: What companies make Balanced Armature Speakers?

Legal Disclaimer: All information produced in this article has been obtained through publicly accessible means. CYMBACAVUM and its editors and writers, have not been privy to nor have disclosed any confidential information. There are countless manufacturers for dynamic coil speakers in earphones. However, due to their miniature size, the number of balanced armature receiver makers…

The (Backyard) Biz: shotgunshane’s Visit to EarWerkz!

Editor’s Note: shotgunshane resides right around the corner (well, in the same wheelhouse) from EarWerkz, a new custom in-ear monitor company, making it perfect to do a quick profile of the new kid on the block. This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of meeting up with some of the EarWerkz team for an opportunity…

Teaser for ‘Inside Ultimate Ears’

Last year, CYMBACAVUM visited the facilities of Ultimate Ears in Irvine, California and collected a TON of footage. We’ve had multiple challenges with the sorting and editing process due to lack of free time, but this documentary project might just finally see the light of day. To even out our time commitment more evenly, we’re…

The Biz: Show Report – TAA International Hi-End Hi-Fi Show

The TAA International Hi-End Hi-Fi Show is a large annual audiophile exhibit organized by the Taiwan Audio Association. Held this past weekend at the Grand Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan, the show is hi-fi heavy in the traditional sense, so it’s mostly about the KEFs, the Focals, and the Magicos of the world. However, for the…

The Biz: What the possible Apple/Beats deal might mean for enthusiasts

It’s been all over news networks for the past week: Apple is allegedly acquiring Beats Music for a whopping $3.2 billion. Audiophiles collectively groaned, and many analysts raised eyebrows. Why would the world’s most valuable company — a true innovator in consumer hardware and user experience — buy up a headphone company that makes headphones of mediocre…

Sonion’s AcuPass Technology: Making Things Easier for Everyone

Disclosure: All information presented in this article is derived from publicly available documentation. CYMBACAVUM has not been privy to any confidential industry documents. In the world of premium earphones, while many manufacturers around the world are able to design and manufacture dynamic, moving coil transducers, the supply of balanced armature technology to earphone manufacturers around…