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2014-12-16
Heir Audio 3.Ai S In-Ear Monitor Review – Universal Fit With Triple Balanced Armature Drivers

In Ear Monitors manufacturers have become very creative and artistic these past few years. A couple of years ago, Heir Audio introduced a line of in-ear monitor headphones featuring Burl Wood face plate which became very popular. It offered not only great looks and style but also great performance and value for money as well. Today we are going to take a look at the Heir Audio 3.Ai S in-ear monitor headphone, featuring triple balanced armature drivers. The 3.Ai S is basically tuned to be sonically fun, rather than analytical, and has a warm sound signature with great clarity and accuracy. This isn’t the company’s latest creation. Heir Audio recently released the Heir 10.A which is definitely geared towards for those who are looking for more. But for those who are just starting with Balanced Armature IEMs, and who are not yet ready to spend a thousand bucks or get a customized fit, the Heir Audio 3.Ai S is a good placed to start. Let’s get to know more about this IEM in my review below.


Heir Audio 3.Ai S Features and Specs

The Heir Audio 3.Ai S basically features 3 precision tuned balanced armature drivers. One driver dedicated for the low frequency, another one for the middle frequency and one for the high frequency. Basically, each frequency has its own driver. Its shell is made by hand, like all other Heir Audio custom IEMs, and features a Burl Wood face plate. Of course you may opt to change the design of the face plate, and the engraving as well.

The shell is actually not that big, making it a good fit for smaller ears as well. It has a dual bore design, meaning there are two holes on the nozzle of the shell. It has a good amount of noise isolation, at around -26dB and the headphone itself has an impedance of around 25 ohms. This means that it’s very easy to drive, amplifier is not required (but you may use if desired), and will work on any type of player or source.

I’ll discuss more of its features as we take a closer look at the Heir Audio 3.Ai S below.

Packaging and Closer Look



The Heir Audio 3.Ai S didn’t came with a fancy box. But the package was very secure and the casing was covered with a sleeve like the one you see above.



Above is the crush proof carrying case Heir Audio is using. It’s a very sturdy case and I’ve thrown the case several times to see how hard it is. I haven’t actually thrown them really high or really hard. Just a note, the lock is actually removable. So far it has survived my drop and throw test. I thought I damaged the lock while testing the strength of the case. Later I found out that the lock was not broken and it’s removable. Open the case and simply slide the lock upwards to remove it.



There is a layer of foam inside the carrying case that protects and cushions the IEM. Aside from the Heir Audio 3.Ai S, the package also includes rubber bands, a cleaning tool, and three different silicone tips in three different sizes (small, medium, large).



The Heir Audio 3.Ai S, like most of the company’s IEMs, uses the popular 2 pin connector. The included cable consists of four lines, two for each channel, and is braided neatly. The included cable is pretty much standard. If you want a better sounding cable or if you are looking for a particular sound signature or design, you can upgrade the cable with something better, like the Heir Audio Magnus 1.



Here’s a close up look on the shell of the 3.Ai S. By default, it has that nice Burl Wood faceplate. I’m not really sure if you can choose your own faceplate but you can certainly request for an engraving. On the rear portion, you will see a small crown with 3.S underneath. This basically tells what model is the IEM.

Heir Audio’s naming scheme is very easy to understand. 3.Ai S means it has 3 balanced armature drivers, and the 4.Ai S means that it has four and so on.



The first photo (on the left) shows you where the two pin connector goes in. Although there are no locks to secure the connection, the connector doesn’t come off easily. Just be sure to use a high quality connector a well, in case you are getting one from a third party cable manufacturer.

You can also see two holes on the nozzle of the shell. There is also a unique serial number engraved on the side of each pair, near the nozzle, for identification purposes. That serial number is unique to the purchaser so you can actually trace who the owner is in case it gets lost or stolen then sold in an online buy and sell site. Unfortunately the serial number is not clear from the photos above.



The Heir Audio 3.Ai S doesn’t have a very tiny footprint, but it is small enough to fit into most type of ears. The problem with some IEMs that have larger housing is people have difficulty fitting it in, specially if they have smaller ears. Also, since the connector is located above, it’s best to avoid using the IEM if it’s raining or if there is heavy moisture. A single drop of water that accidentally went in between the connector may ruin the IEM.

For a universal IEM, fit is very important. It would greatly affect the sound quality and your experience while using the IEM. Fortunately, size isn’t a problem with the Heir Audio 3.Ai S. But since they offered a limited silicone tips, you might need to buy additional tips or use your favorite one. In my case, the included medium tips with Blue highlight would fit my ears. But later I used another silicone tip, the one that came with the UE900s, since it provide a better fit and seal for me.

Testing and Sound Quality

I have been using the Heir Audio 3.Ai S for more than a month, almost two months to be exact. I started taking notes regarding its sound quality after a month, just to be sure that it has already reached its best performing state. Throughout the course of auditioning the 3.Ai S, I have been using several sources, like the Hidizs AP100, HIFIMAN HM-700, iPhone 5 and even my desktop PC. I used several DAC/AMPs like the Encore mDAC, iFi Nano iDSD and the Objective2+ODAC from JDS Labs. I also used the 3.Ai S and explored different types and genres of music; from heavy metal, pop, instrumental, vocal, etc, and to classical music.



If you haven’t tried any other IEM with more than one balanced armature driver, or you are used to earphones built with dynamic drivers (not the high end type) and around $100-ish and below, I’m sure you will be surprised and amazed with the sound quality of the 3.Ai S. You will experience your favorite music better and hear more sounds with better detail and clarity than before.

Basically, the Heir Audio 3.Ai S has a warm signature. It has a larger bass driver that gives rich and well defined bass. The bass is not actually punchy or boomy, but it will produce a good amount of impact specially if the music will try to force it out artificially. Bass sounds even better specially when produced naturally, like coming from a bass guitar, a Cello or a bass drum. It’s very much present but never dominant and doesn’t over power the higher frequencies. Bassheads might not be satisfied with this kind of sound signature. But for the rest of us, it will be enough.

Mids and highs are exceptionally clear and detailed, without over powering the bass as well. Each frequency simply compliments each other. And if you are looking for that sparkle, the 3.Ai S won’t disappoint you. Vocals are very nice to listen and I think this is one of the strong points of the 3.Ai S. The highs doesn’t seem to be extended too much, but there are some music where the TSS and TZZ sounds, or the sound of the cymbals may be a little bit harsh or near sibilant. However, this may be remedied if you use a better sounding cable, like the Magnus 1. In my case, I used the Linum 2Pin MUSIC cable from Estron.

When I compared the Heir Audio 3.Ai S with the Audio Technica ATH-IM02, the 3.Ai S is generally better sounding for me. It’s clearer and warmer than the ATH-IM02. The ATH-IM02 is basically geared towards being an analytical type of IEM, while the 3.Ai S is geared towards having a fun sound signature. When I compared the 3.Ai S with the Ultimate Ears 900S, which has four balanced armature drivers, the UE900S has the advantage when it comes to detail, layering and sound staging. But for me, the vocals don’t sound as good as the 3.Ai S and it’s a bit darker as well.

Price and Availability

The Heir Audio 3.Ai S has a retail price of $299 and comes with a 2 year warranty. In the US, there are third party online music stores selling the 3.Ai S, but I would recommend that you buy them directly from Heir Audio’s online store here. They also have an Heir Audio USA Shipping Center. For other countries check out their Contact page here. Buying the IEMs directly from the manufacturer is better since you get better support and you will have more options to choose from, including add-on accessories and customizations.

Heir Audio 3.Ai S Review: Conclusion

I find the Heir Audio 3.Ai S an impressive in-ear monitor, with a clear, detailed and warm sound signature. If this is your first time to invest into something better than your typical earphones or in-ear headphones, the 3.Ai S would be a really good place to start. This is a fun sounding IEM, with clarity being its forte. The bass is present, controlled, rich and not overwhelming. I think you can safely traverse from one genre to another, like what I did. But I personally enjoy the 3.Ai S with classical music, instrumental, acoustics, and vocals.

Build quality, overall I wouldn’t say that its shell is indestructible and can survive a fall or scratch proof. I haven’t tried dropping them as I take extra care handling IEMs. But, aside from being shiny and having an attractive Burl Wood faceplate, the shell itself feels solid and premium. Regarding the fit, the shell is neither too small nor too big, but you have to make sure you get that right seal and fit. Otherwise you might find its sound lacking in bass or too sibilant, or probably muffled as well.

Considering its price, looks, build quality and sonic performance, I say the Heir Audio 3.Ai S is a sure winner in its category and price range. If you have the extra money, I would recommend you go for the custom fit version, 3.A S. They are basically the same, but custom fits are always better than universal ones, since you get that perfect fit and seal. This is a highly recommend IEM specially if your budget is just around the $300 mark. For me the Heir Audio 3.Ai S deserves The PC Enthusiast’s highly recommended award without a doubt.


If you haven’t tried any other IEM with more than one balanced armature driver, or you are used to earphones built with dynamic drivers (not the high end type) and around $100-ish and below, I’m sure you will be surprised and amazed with the sound quality of the 3.Ai S. You will experience your favorite music better and hear more sounds with better detail and clarity than before.

Basically, the Heir Audio 3.Ai S has a warm signature. It has a larger bass driver that gives rich and well defined bass. The bass is not actually punchy or boomy, but it will produce a good amount of impact specially if the music will try to force it out artificially. Bass sounds even better specially when produced naturally, like coming from a bass guitar, a Cello or a bass drum. It’s very much present but never dominant and doesn’t over power the higher frequencies. Bassheads might not be satisfied with this kind of sound signature. But for the rest of us, it will be enough.

Mids and highs are exceptionally clear and detailed, without over powering the bass as well. Each frequency simply compliments each other. And if you are looking for that sparkle, the 3.Ai S won’t disappoint you. Vocals are very nice to listen and I think this is one of the strong points of the 3.Ai S. The highs doesn’t seem to be extended too much, but there are some music where the TSS and TZZ sounds, or the sound of the cymbals may be a little bit harsh or near sibilant. However, this may be remedied if you use a better sounding cable, like the Magnus 1. In my case, I used the Linum 2Pin MUSIC cable from Estron.

When I compared the Heir Audio 3.Ai S with the Audio Technica ATH-IM02, the 3.Ai S is generally better sounding for me. It’s clearer and warmer than the ATH-IM02. The ATH-IM02 is basically geared towards being an analytical type of IEM, while the 3.Ai S is geared towards having a fun sound signature. When I compared the 3.Ai S with the Ultimate Ears 900S, which has four balanced armature drivers, the UE900S has the advantage when it comes to detail, layering and sound staging. But for me, the vocals don’t sound as good as the 3.Ai S and it’s a bit darker as well.

Price and Availability

The Heir Audio 3.Ai S has a retail price of $299 and comes with a 2 year warranty. In the US, there are third party online music stores selling the 3.Ai S, but I would recommend that you buy them directly from Heir Audio’s online store here. They also have an Heir Audio USA Shipping Center. For other countries check out their Contact page here. Buying the IEMs directly from the manufacturer is better since you get better support and you will have more options to choose from, including add-on accessories and customizations.

Heir Audio 3.Ai S Review: Conclusion

I find the Heir Audio 3.Ai S an impressive in-ear monitor, with a clear, detailed and warm sound signature. If this is your first time to invest into something better than your typical earphones or in-ear headphones, the 3.Ai S would be a really good place to start. This is a fun sounding IEM, with clarity being its forte. The bass is present, controlled, rich and not overwhelming. I think you can safely traverse from one genre to another, like what I did. But I personally enjoy the 3.Ai S with classical music, instrumental, acoustics, and vocals.

Build quality, overall I wouldn’t say that its shell is indestructible and can survive a fall or scratch proof. I haven’t tried dropping them as I take extra care handling IEMs. But, aside from being shiny and having an attractive Burl Wood faceplate, the shell itself feels solid and premium. Regarding the fit, the shell is neither too small nor too big, but you have to make sure you get that right seal and fit. Otherwise you might find its sound lacking in bass or too sibilant, or probably muffled as well.

Considering its price, looks, build quality and sonic performance, I say the Heir Audio 3.Ai S is a sure winner in its category and price range. If you have the extra money, I would recommend you go for the custom fit version, 3.A S. They are basically the same, but custom fits are always better than universal ones, since you get that perfect fit and seal. This is a highly recommend IEM specially if your budget is just around the $300 mark. For me the Heir Audio 3.Ai S deserves The PC Enthusiast’s highly recommended award without a doubt.


http://thepcenthusiast.com/heir-audio-3-ai-s-in-ear-monitor-review/




2014-11-26
Heir Audio IEM 8.0 Review by Edd Harris

TL;DR:

Heir Audio 8.0 IEM Review: As Heir Audio’s flagship IEM the natural warm dark sonic signature may, at first, appear odd. However, this unique IEM delivers a multifaceted experience that is so effortlessly enjoyed for hours upon end. The fit and function of this in ear monitor is superb, and the craftsmanship invested within the rosewood design is beyond stunning.

Review Preface:

Springing into life back in 2011 it wasn’t too long before boutique China based IEM and CIEM manufacturer, Heir Audio, gained serious notoriety on the various, well respected, Internet forums for their class leading sonic performance and exceptionally beautiful exotic wood faceplates. Now, after a whirlwind few years, humble Heir Audio have successfully built up a competitive catalogue of designs to suit all tastes and budgets. In order to remain competitive a almost every design can be ordered as a custom or universal with, of course, the exception being the recently released CIEM flagship; the 10.A. However, today we have the universal fit ‘8.0’ within our mitts and we intend to precision analyse this powerful IEM to uncover exactly what makes it a solid hit.



What Makes an Heir Audio 8.0 IEM:

Just as the product name suggests, each individual 8.0 shell harbours eight individual balanced armatures (BA’s) with a frequency footprint that is controlled by a series of internal passive crossovers. Just as a note for those whom may not be clued in, balanced armatures operate on a completely different principle to conventional dynamic drivers and, although they sport a much more complex design than traditional dynamics, it is their miniaturised footprint that allows for multi-driver in-ear-monitors to exist. Theoretically segmenting each frequency boundary across a bank of smaller drivers will result in a cleaner clearer signal and Heir Audio have chosen to split 20Hz -20kHz into four sections. This means that the 8.0’s utilise two drivers to cater for each frequency boundary, but the details of this, and the components, shall be discussed later on within this review.

Build Time and Shipping:

As the 8.0 is an universal model it does not have to undergo quite the same building procedure as their custom models, but it’s sheer electrical complexity does still take some serious engineering. From confirmation to completion the 8.0’s took a full three weeks with shipping adding another two weeks on top. Heir Audio does ship their products via EMS’ International Priority Mail which is fully insured and we were supplied with a tracking code to keep an eye on proceedings. If you are a UK customer then the package will pass into Parcel Forces’ hands where you will have to pay the relevant import duty and handling charge. If you cannot wait the length of time that it takes to build the IEM then you can pay for a rush order. At $280.00 this is costly considering that it only knocks down the build time to a maximum of seven days and currently there is no option to pay for a faster means of shipping, it is fixed at $55.00 for the fourteen days so it appears to be all very trivial.

US Estimated Landing Cost:

The base cost of the 8.0 IEM is $999.00 USD and with shipping at $55.00 this figure arrives at: $1054.00. For a product of this type the customs fee is $51.65, so you can expect to have a total landed cost of $1160.65 without any processing fees.

UK Estimated Landing Cost:

The cost of the 8.0 IEM in GDP is approximately £638.95 and the shipping converts to £35.18. For this product type the Import Duty and Sales Tax comes to £150.80 making the total landing cost: £824.01. If you include the Parcel Force standard fee of £13.50 then the completed cost is: £837.51.

Unboxing, Features, Build Quality, and Fit:

Initially arriving in an outer box that is adorned with plastic documents enclosed wallets and a wedge of shipping documentation, it takes a strong and sharp knife the get in and reveal the thick soft foam protecting your ears care package. Once inside you’re drawn to the beautiful red foil embossed sleeve which slips off to reveal an 17cm x 11cm x 4cm Heir Audio branded Otter style box, which appears to be larger than what most other ‘mainstream’ IEM/CIEM manufacturers currently provide. The brilliance of this carry case is that it is virtually uncrushable and is built to take a huge beating. Typically these boxes can be run over with a car and still survive, but some of the other features include the ability to be locked with a padlock, which is not included, and an ‘O Ring’ gasket to make this box and its contents weather resistant -not water resistant!


Inside of the case are all the components needed to get you stared and to maintain your in ear monitors including; the 8.0 IEM’s with Magnus Cable pre-attahed, a pair of rubber Heir Audio DAP straps, three sizes of hard red ear-tips, three sizes of blue softer ear-tips, three pairs of double flange ear-tips, an IEM cleaning brush with ear wax hook, and finally, as IEM’s contain sensitive humidity sensitive components, a small pack of desiccant. All accessories appear to equal the quality of those currently included by other competitors.

As standard the Heir’s 8.0 IEM’s include the upgraded, and highly regarded detachable, 1.4m Magnus 1 cable. On its own this cable is worth $110.00 and starkly contrasts the current universal 92pin (dual prong) standard. Whilst there are a plethora of premium aftermarket cables available, the Magnus 1 stacks up well against the competitors and provides a solid, yet flexible, connection. During our thorough energetic ‘stage use’ tests we found that the Magnus 1 cable effectively inhibited microphonics from effecting the output to any notable degree, and its strength was demonstrated by passing rigorous blunt force scuffing tests. By casting an eye over the entire cable structure I would expect this cable to provide many hundreds of hours of active service, but in order to arrive at this conclusion I would like to explain the cable construction and the materials used.

Typically cables begin with a plastic 3.5mm jack, however the Magnus 1 utilises a bomb proof 90° gold plated Neutrik gun metal socket. Inside this socket is a plastic strain relief mechanism which is finally finished with an outer flexible rubber gasket for reliability. Carrying a balanced signal, the 1.4m length cable sports a quad twist braided construction, over the typical tri-braid design, where the internal core conductor is an Oxygen-Free Electronic (OFE C10100) copper cable of at least 99.99% purity with a pure silver coating. In comparison to the stock cables, previously mentioned, the Magnus 1 cable has much more silver content in order to preserve the clarity and brilliance of the signal with minimal distortion to effect the very delicate balanced armatures. Surrounding the core conductor is a layer of PTFE before being protected with, literally bulletproof, braided kevlar and a final aesthetic layer of black nylon. Typically IEM/CIEM cables are made with a nylon protection layer, but kevlar is far superior where it is able to survive a static load test of 1000kg and a dynamic load of 200kg. As the cable comes to the Y-Splitter it surprisingly does not use any plastic housing, instead the cable is split and secured with heat shrink but I cannot see this being too much of an issue, and just beyond this is some small tubing on the cable in order to stop the driver housings from smashing into each other when worn out of the ears. As we move up to the 92pin dual prong there is traditional translucent tubing with a flexible wire to comfortably guide the cable down behind the ear and stop the IEMs from being ripped out of the ear. Notably the pin construction has an, larger than most, metal housing rather than an cheap plastic design. Although Heir Audio do not currently support recessed 92pin sockets the socket has an 3mm gap to allow for recessed socket use, presumably when used with other brands, but this goes down into two very solid gold plated pins and snugly fits into the socket without bending or feeling soft.

Considering the substantial design of the Magnus 1 the cable only weighs a total of 18.4g and feels very comfortable to wear. Quickly the cable warms up to body temperature and provides the soft flexibility needed to feel like you are wearing nothing. In use the cable design appears to not put too much strain on the driver housings and, more crucially, your ears. Another positive point is that the cable coils well to a small size and manages to stay in its position without any memory effect whatsoever, so there will be minimal frustration during coiling and uncoiling.

Now moving on to the shells and faceplates, I have to say that the finish and build quality of the 8.0’s is second to none and, as for the exotic wood faceplates, they are beyond stunning. From the published photographs I knew that the 8.0’s would look great, but seeing them in the flesh is breathtaking and shows that two dimensional images can really do them no justice.

Across the Heir Audio IEM range the shell colour and faceplate option is fixed. Likewise there is a small Heir Audio logo engraved in gold at the ends of the shells with an individual serial number laser engraved onto the inner shell. To be helpful Heir have colour coded the serial numbers so you can easily determine which is left and which is right, yet the inherent design means that when you come to place them in your ears each shell will only fit in one ear so the small thought it somewhat vetoed.

Other fixed design options further present themselves with the use a smoke black shell and an Siamese Rosewood faceplate. The combination of colours works well and the entire item has been hand polished to create a premium glossy look to best bring out the the delicate grain of the veneer. To add a touch of individuality Heir craftsman have matched and angled two individual veneer cuts so that they appear continuous over both the right and left faceplates. In the process Heir have created an individual product, and one that screams both style and sophistication. Something else that I have noticed is that during the different times of the day the organic faceplates develop a different hue depending on the ambient light. There really is nothing like natural materials! With this said, it is unfortunate that you cannot choose the shell colour and faceplate from a list of options, even fixed, at the checkout. Considering this further it seems a little strange because, unlike some other IEM manufacturers, the shells are not mass produced via injection moulding. If Heir could offer a pick your own colour then this would probably suit more individual tastes. However, in the short term, I would have probably picked a clear acrylic so I could marvel at the inner workings, but in the long-term I love these 8.0’s for their understated class. They are beautiful.

Just as the faceplate materials are important to Heir Audio, so are the materials that go into making their shells. For this they use a special medical grade acrylic that is imported Germany, which is then poured into moulds to create a distinctive ergonomic shape that comfortably nestles within the concha (outer ear). The shape then develops with a long 7mm nozzle that is offset at a slight angle to comfortably travel past the tragus and rest deep within the external auditory canal. In order to clamp the ear tips Heir flare the nozzle as it goes towards the end. Thankfully this technique works well and I’ve never had an issue with them getting lost both on and off the ear, but the overall ergonomic shape of the nozzle considerably helps to make the 8.0’s very comfortable during extended periods of listening with a very nice seal. Anecdotally, some other IEM/CIEM manufacturers feature a larger nozzle bore and smaller nozzle length but sadly, due to my small ears, I have found this configuration to be uncomfortable and not rest deep enough into the inner ear, so I send a big gold star to Heir Audio for their unique design. Possibly one small reservation regarding the nozzle is that it has an open ended ti-bore construction with large open canels. This is not an issue whatsoever with fit, but if there was a small wire mesh inserted here then that might help to filter out large particles from travelling deep and potentially blocking them.

Finally, as a note, I would like share my finding that, when worn, the 8.0’s don’t appear to protrude far from the outer ear structure and another important fact is that Heir Audio shells do not cater for a reassessed socket design but, with all facts considered, the entire structure feels very comfortable to the outer ear.


Configuration:

The Heir Audio 8.0 IEM’s use a total of eight balanced armatures with crossovers tuned to the following: 2x BA’s for low frequency production, 2x for medium frequency production, 2x for high frequency production, and 2x for ultra high frequency production. In the process Heir Audio only use the finest materials within their circuits including; US handmade Knowles Drivers, Vishay Inter resistors, AVX capacitors, and OxiCap capacitors.

Burn-In Considerations:

When ‘burning-in’ new IEM/CIEMs please note that a 60 hour procedure conducted over a three week period, at moderate volume, will highlight the sonic developments. Please beware that cranking up the volume too soon can have an impact on the accuracy and longevity of the BA’s when they are meant to be ‘settling’ in.

Sound Quality:

Having monitored the 8.0’s over a standard 60 hour burn-in, I observed a significant transformation. Initially the 8.0’s exhibited an overwhelmingly dark sonic footprint and slightly cramped soundstage with tight transient detailing, however this quickly subsided to reveal a truly lovable character which is something that we discuss shortly. In the meantime I would like to note that this IEM has an incredible ability to be very continuous across a wide variety of source components. To put this into perspective, the 8.0 exhibited an remarkably similar output when using an iPhone 5s against the Chord Electronics Hugo.

Post burn-in, the exposition of the 8.0’s is still surprisingly dark sounding for an apparent flagship IEM, but the way in which it presents these characteristics is rather unique and beautiful. You could, perhaps, objectify the 8.0 as a comfortable chair; ridiculously satisfying and very understated. Under this term it goes without saying that the 8.0 is not quite the concise detail rich monster that you might have expected and it doesn’t require any any thought to listen to, it just aims to give you an clear concise luxurious organic stage with none of the typical ‘look at me’ bravado. It simply is ‘that’ IEM that you go to for hours of pleasurable listening with no questions asked. You never feel audibly violated, and you never feel exhausted. The 8.0 is faithful and it is luxurious. It is, undoubtably, one of the most natural IEM’s that I have come across in its own outstanding way. I do have one minor caveat, that is you do get an iota of coldness despite the thick and full tonal characteristic. This is a common issue across BA based IEM’s, so I will discount it because it does take some guided thought to notice. Otherwise this is a beautifully musical IEM.

Beginning with the bass frequencies, the 8.0 appears to extend very deep, and it does so with slight pronunciation. This characteristic is unique in that it doesn’t merge, per se, into the low mids and create a confusing wash of indistinguishable tones. Instead you have a bass presence which is full and well defined. The bass attack and transient response is good, it just doesn't have super fast attack and decay on rhythmic instruments which would otherwise fatigue the ear. With this said, fast rhythmic elements are presented alongside slow elements which never cross boundaries and both carry a very solid full force weight behind them. Trying to describe the presence of these frequencies is difficult without misrepresenting the timing, but I have never felt anything other than admiration for how well the bass frequencies are carried. Furthermore the staging of bass frequencies appears, once again, average. The instrumentation is well placed and not stuck in the central domain, it does have some width to it that becomes noticed with the relevant instrumentation; ie. tom-tom hits.

Now onto the midrange frequencies… It is apparent that the low mids are forward in the same way that the bass is. This is no problem because, once again, it brings out the fullness of the rhythmic instruments and perfectly compliments the higher melodic structures. It is faster than, perhaps, the bass range, and has a slight dip within the central midrange where the overall tonal descriptive would be creamy and lush. However, my only reservation would be the slight thinning in the mid to high midrange although, with this said, lead guitars still come across in an agreeable sort of way along with male and female vocals cutting the mix well. In terms of the transient response the low midrange is, again, similar to the bass attack and decay which drastically contrasts the snappier, much higher, high-midrange response. This difference in presentation beautifully pedestals vocal tones and helps to define the spoken, and performed, word amongst complex instrumentation; in particular distorted electric guitar. Furthermore I could not detect any tight frequency bunching throughout the midrange, likewise it was free of distortion and all tonal characteristics came across clear, defined, slightly warm, without any muddiness whatsoever. With this said we can move onto the midrange soundstage and the 8.0’s have a very organic presence about them with no far thrown frequencies. To put this into perspective it’s best to describe the 8.0’s as having a natural venue stage presence with no overly limited vertical and horizontal spatial awareness. The stage on average feels great and the distinctions between instrument placement are very clear and distinct. I do have to say that very occasionally I feel as if the 8.0’s iron over some of the micro details that you would normally experience with a more analytical IEM, but otherwise the midrange is very fun, forgivable, and certainly not stuffed with air.

As we now focus on the treble frequency spectrum it has to be said that, post burn in, the 8.0 extends well and has excellent focus. You can’t say that the treble is bright, it is just there in the right doses. In fact the transient response in this area is much sharper than the bass or low midrange performance, yet the 8.0 never ever becomes sibilant and it manages to vertically position itself a little behind the aforementioned frequencies. In terms of the lateral dimensions, the 8.0’s presentation extends further afield than the low or midrange ever does. Thankfully, before the crystalline clarity gets ridiculous, Heir have tapered the super high frequency extension so that it doesn’t impact on the luscious low and low midrange, thus favouring the darker sound signature. This probably sounds confusing but, don’t get me wrong, the multifaceted nature of this IEM is magical by never making any instrumentation indistinct. Purely the sound signature is there for taste because you can hear every single layer, macro and micro. Simply put, the 8.0 makes no sacrifices, it is what it is; a work of art.

In use the Heir 8.0’s have a very low, whisper quiet, distortion free noise floor. Most notably micro details are accurately presented amongst vast patches of stereoscopic silence. In particular the use of thin ultra high frequency instrumentation cuts through a sparse soundstage with a sort of rounded elegance. Considering that this is, typically, a very cramped bandwidth area the Heir 8.0 decodes the layers with silky elegance and never allows for anything to feel too tight, sharp, and bunched up.

Although the Heir Audio 8.0 IEM performs admirably across a broad range of genres, I have discovered that they have a particular fondness for rock and acoustic genres. The 8.0’s just have a stage presence that pedestals these genres and creates an outrageously enjoyable experience that can can extend for hours at a time without any qualms.

Conclusion:

The Heir Audio 8.0 is the epitome of relaxation and brings an highly comfortable musical experience to the ears without demanding any active attention from the listener. Granted the 8.0 IEMs hang firmly towards the dark side, but they offer a multifaceted performance that manages to retain all of the original detail. Overall The Pro Audio Web Blog awards the Heir Audio 8.0 IEM’s with four and a half stars and, of course, our Outstanding award.

Edd Harris




2014-10-17
Heir Audio IEM 8.0 – Musical Engagement by Willis Mattoali

The IEM market has seen radical changes in recent times, with the number of BA drivers and price rising to new levels. With the ever-changing environment, more and more companies have joined in the fray to battle in the “Game of Tones”. Heir Audio is just one of the few ‘houses’ to compete for the throne. They make CIEMs and universal IEMs, the IEM 8.0 is their flagship universal model. Equipped with 8 drivers, the IEM 8.0 also looks the part. Crafted with the finest Siamese Rose Wood and finished with the color “Black Smoke”, IEM 8.0 is the most beautiful universal IEM I have seen. So, is IEM 8.0 truly “Fit For a King”?

The Fit
IEM 8.0 is bigger than any universal that I have seen. When my eyes first gazed upon it, I wondered whether it was too big but, I was proven wrong. The large size of the IEM in fact helps isolate noise as it covers more than just the canal of the ears. Surprisingly IEM 8.0 is one of the most comfortable IEMs that I have used.

Choosing the right pair of tips is essential to awaken the beast. I spent 1 week trying all the tips at an extended period of time, comparing the different sound qualities that each tip produces. Usually I use medium sized tips but, it wasn’t the case this time around. I felt that the large size dual-flange tip produced the best sound with the most isolation. One issue is that, the large sized tip frequently gets stuck inside my ear canal when I take my IEM off directly. In fact, I have already lost 1 of the tip due to this. Thankfully Sunny has sent me new tips. (New pair of L size double-flange has fixed this issue)

Figuring out the best method of insertion is another key factor. I cannot stress enough that for IEM 8.0 to shine, they need to be well placed in and on your ear. I felt that twisting them deeper and deciding how deep they should be depends on your personal preference based on comfort and sound.

After several tries, I tried the Sugru tip mod and found this to be the best tip of all. Bass became tighter and the isolation improved noticeably.

The Sound
The Head-Fi community is mostly divided into 2 factions. The first faction prefers a more natural sound with high level of clarity and plenty of air. The second faction prefers a darker signature which has a lush and engaging sound. I fall into the second faction and the IEM 8.0 excels to my preference

IEM 8.0 is highly engaging, once you start to plug them into your ears and play your music, the fun begins. Besides the dark tonality, it is very musical. Music sounds so rich and creamy through these earphones. There are 3 things that I feel are the strongest points of it; percussion instruments; drums; and female vocalists.

In the audiophile world we associate bass with fun. Out of all the differences between headphones and IEMs, I feel that bass is the one presented with the biggest difference. With headphones, the bass surrounds you, while in IEMs the bass is ‘in’ you. I have never been satisfied with the bass from IEMs until this. When I played Benny Benassi’s Electroman, the lower-end of the spectrum just rumbles into another dimension. Everything sounded like it was ready to explode yet, the remains in perfect control. The bass is well rounded, the volume is just right, it sounds and feels playful. It does not overwhelm you and destroys the rest of the music but, it elevates. There are minute details on the low-end which many headphones/earphones cannot pick up but, the IEM 8.0 picks it effortlessly.

The midrange is best described as fine ‘butter’; creamy, smooth, lush and engaging. Vocals and more particularly female vocals are divine. I could feel somehow feel Adele’s emotions when I let IEM 8.0 do its job. There is no dryness to be found, and everything sounds ‘lubricated’. Every genre that I throw at it, it performs everything exceedingly, and has an extremely likable sound. IEM 8.0 focuses on the low and mid and this is the key to its appeal.

The treble continues the smoothness of the mid, as things never get too hot. EDM and more specifically trance, is a great genre to listen to with the IEM 8.0 the treble is present but, does not get too harsh. Due to being low and mid centric people might think the treble might take the backseat, and it is true to some extent but, when the treble takes center stage it performs like a true flagship.

Being an IEM, we cannot expect it to perform to the levels of headphones in terms of sound staging. It has a wider than average sound stage but, it extends quite deep. Layering and depth definitely outshines it width. Despite the lack of width the separation between left and right is top notch and in my opinion even beats headphones as you can really differentiate left and right.

Amplifiers

The IEM 8.0 needs a proper DAP or amp to perform, I tried 3 desktop amps and Heir Audio’s own Rendition 1.

Eximus DP-1
I didn’t enjoy the IEM 8.0 with the Eximus, vocals sounded too dry and was not up to the other amps. Though out of all the amps, Eximus proves to be the quitest.

Leben CS300XS with Jupiter Caps Using Mullard EL84 NOS 1975 and GE 5751
Out of the entire amp I tired, Leben had the most hisses. Considering this is a tube amp it is understandable. The hiss is quite evident and only disappears when listening to extreme loud volumes. Except for the hiss the IEM 8.0 sounded the best from this amp and the vocals really shine.

La Figaro 339 with Tung-Sol 5998 and RCA 5693
There is also a hiss with this amp but, noticeably quitter from the Leben. The hiss fades when music is played. While Leben sounded the best, the hiss made it unbearable to listen to. Therefore keeping everything in mind, La Figaro 339 is the best amp in my arsenal for IEM 8.0, vocals are sweet and everything just falls into place. In my opinion, IEM 8.0 pairs excellently with tube amps.

Rendition 1
Heir Audio also produces a portable amp which in my opinion is a great pairing with the IEM 8.0. The amp itself has a neutral sound with a no nonsense design. There are no toggles or any fancy features on the Rendition 1. What you get is a portable amp with blissful sound and a mind boggling battery life.

My current portable set up is DX50>Rendition 1>IEM 8.0 and I do most of my listening while in a public commute, and I charge my DX50 twice and sometimes thrice a week. With the same usage the Rendition 1 is able to last the week without any fuss. This for me is the biggest feature of Rendition 1. There are many portable amps which sound great at the same price range, some are even smaller but, the usually do not last long. Ranging from 8-12 hours at most, yet Heir Audio claims Rendition 1 can last over 30 hours. I am not sure how long it lasts but, it sure is long.

It has a black background but, it still has a small hiss when the IEM 8.0 is plugged in. This amp has sufficient power to drive most earphones and headphones but, do not have too much power to drive demanding headphones. One thing to note, is that it pairs surprisingly well with Sennheiser HD-25.

Conclusion
Heir Audio has certainly crafted an IEM of the highest quality. Not only does it sound good but, it quite possibly is the most beautiful universal IEM out there. If you are in the market for an IEM and you can afford it, you should consider IEM 8.0 as one of the top contenders for your money. This IEM is a musical and engages you to lose yourself in the music. It needs an amp to shine bright but, if not it still does ‘wow’ the heck out of you. So how does “house Heir Audio” fair in the “Game of Tones”; it is “Fit For a King”

2014-08-26
The 8.0 Universal IEM by Heir Audio



IEM’s have perhaps gone through the most rapid and high profile transformation in the last 3-4 years in the world of the audiophile. It used to be the flagship would be something churned out for around $200-300 with a single dynamic driver and some above average packaging. The TF10, the IE8 and some the earlier Westone models were pretty much top of the tree in terms of choice and audio capability and rightly so for varying reasons. Then along comes some bright person with tiny balanced armatures (facts may vary but you get the picture hehe – editor) and taking the concept of musicians’ custom monitor plugs the created the custom in-ear monitor or the CIEM. Some say the CIEM is now just about the most perfect form of IEM being able to pack almost unlimited drivers into the perfectly sealing IEM that is created just for you.

That is value to me and incredibly unique but for others there are certain hurdles that make universals more appealing as their IEM of choice. Hurdles such as cost of doing ear impressions and getting them right, the 1-2 month wait time for your customs to arrive, the possibility they may not fit and the endless post receipt search for that ideal, but expensive, after market cable. Buying a custom takes time and in the last year it can also take a lot of money for a certain amount of risk. Universals such as the AKG K3003, Westone’s WM60 and Dita’s The Answer (The Truth edition) are also challenging the idea that, subject to fit, a universal can sound just as great, pack just as much technology and avoid all those time consuming efforts in getting ready for a custom. Buy it now, get it now, sounds just as good, and resell it higher. The audiophile world is an impatient maelstrom when it comes to audio bliss and the right flagship universal in 2014 could very well hit gold.

Not to be outdone by the latest ‘bigger is better, faster is more satisfying’ mantra of today, Heir Audio have sliced open their custom flagship 8.A and tweaked it into universal IEM, the 8.0 that bears all the hallmarks of a Heir Audio type of earphone and priced at $1099.00. Not cheap, even by today’s standards, but its packing some serious firepower and a type of physical appearance that reeks of luxury in a very nice way indeed. Wood inserts check, 8 balanced armature drivers check, four way passive cross over design check, dual bore design check and a Magnus 1 cable check. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah the super 1020 Pelican case type box used by custom kings such as Vision ears and Heir Audio themselves for their custom earphones with a ton of accessories. That is a pretty impressive universal IEM on paper but what about reality and the sound?

Build & Fit – just like a custom?

It actually came as a complete surprise to me the 8.0 as the guys at Heir Audio and I had been talking about the 8.A up until Sunny and the team suggested trying their all new 8.0 universal. I had not even seen a picture of it on the website (there still isn’t on the main website 8.0 page) and just a tech sheet with some impressive specs I said what the hell lets try it out. Now I was half expecting a more traditional fitting TOTL style earphone such as the Dita’s The Answer or the AKG K3003 hand crafted barrel type driver enclosures which catch the eye but instead I got something more akin to a custom type earphone. I should have guessed given Heir Audio’s fine heritage in custom earphones that the 8.0 would have the aura of a custom with all the design sensibilities that come with custom making.

Mature face, clean lines

Those worried about the lack of customization in the 8.0 need not worry. Heir Audio have opted for an incredibly smooth quasi Westone/Fitear style acrylic shell in dark smoke coloring with a very nice Siamese Rosewood insert as the face plate. It’s supremely mature and stylish looking and adds a much needed touch of character among the plethora of shiny metal IEM’s such as the K3003. Wood is always welcome, even if just at the veneer level. The grain on my particular edition is very uniform and clean also without any messy grain knots. I know some love the uniqueness of knots in their inserts for customs for me personally I like a bit of uniformity and cleaner lines and the 8.0 veneers are as clean as they get.





What’s inside

Inside the ear shell Heir Audio is packing a lot of tech. When you consider the size of some new universals with 10 drivers plus the 8.0 has to be applauded for keeping everything within reasonable dimensions. We are talking 8 paired drivers here in a 4 way passive crossover configuration. That’s two drivers for the low end, two for the mids, two for lower treble and a further two for right at the top end treble reproduction. That is a lot of frequency coverage in a small shell. The drivers are Knowles DTEC drivers and TWFK twin drivers give a nice mix of warmth and clarity.

The Magnus 1 Cable

The Heir Audio 8.0 is terminated with a classic 2 prong detachable cable connection port in the style of Westone, 1964Ears and of course Heir Audio’s own custom range. And praise be to that because not only do you get heir Audio’s impressive Magnus 1 cable but I personally get a chance to try my other two prong terminated after market cables just to compare. The Magnus 1 cable from Heir audio is a bit similar to the EPIC style Westone cable in terms of form and function being very light, over the ear and memory free. However unlike Westone’s super dark and average sounding EPIC cables the Magnus 1 has a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to the materials being used and its sonic qualities such as added silver content (silver plated copper cable), right angled gold plated Neutrik 3.5mm plugs and a Kevlar enforced quad-braided encasing. All of which adds up to a super pliant light and versatile cable that doesn’t come across as overly dark, too light or lean and very comfortable indeed to wear. I had a ball with the Fidue A83 cable which is top notch for a $300 IEM and similar in ways in terms of the braided design but the Magnus 1 takes the cake for comfort and quality materials. It sells for $149 alone so we are not talking cheap throw in cable here. Sure you can grab Toxic Cable’s OCC Cryo Pure Silver cable for a stack more cash to get a ‘higher experience’ but for price to value and comfort the Magnus 1 takes some beating.


Everything else

Heir Audio have also saw fit to package the 8.0 with a ton of high quality accessories normally associated with customs such as the large 1020 type solid black pelican case with rubberized interior, a huge range of tips, a cleaning brush and a couple of branded rubber straps. The carry case is water resistant and pretty tough looking for knocks and drops. If Heir Audio are to believed it will take a load of up to 200kg in variable conditions. Not that I am about to try that mind you so I have no reason to doubt the claim. In total Heir Audio have included 9 pairs of tips with the 8.0 ranging from s/m/l in 7 red and blue configurations (inside not outside) and 2 sets of double flange tips. Naturally I am a double flange fan so I stuck with those throughout the review and also found them to have the best seal and comfort for my ears. Note the Heir Audio nozzle is more akin to a custom IEM finish than any more measured finish from the likes of AKG and Westone so I can’t honestly say what the fitment for those looking to try comply etc though they do look to have a fairly large opening diameter.

The fit

Heir nailed the fit on this universal edition of the 8 series. Initially I was worried that I would have some slight issues given my left ear canal is narrower than my right but everything just slotted in perfectly. The smoothed out acrylic finish combined with a moderate nozzle intrusion and double flange gave a ton of seal and a very smooth flush fit against my ear. Everything felt totally secure. I guess I got lucky with my ear shape because of late, even with some newly arrived customs, I felt the fit on my left ear was never quite right. No such issues here with the 8.0. I wouldn’t rate it as invisible or low profile as the newer Westone UM editions or as perfect a seal as their 8.A but its superior to the Dita’s, the K3003 and the Westone W50 by a country mile and far comfier than the Fidue A83 which is probably its biggest weakness (the Fidue). Whilst my 1964EARS v8 and Minerva Mi-Pro are the tightest in terms of sealing my comfiest fitting in-ear to date is the UM Merlin. The 8.0 this comes very close indeed in terms of comfort and feel against the ear which is remarkable for a universal.

Tonality

Oh man this is one seriously lush and rich IEM. Tonally the Heir Audio 8.0 is an outrageously naughty pleasure – like a big fat chocolate cake with some tasty icing on top. Ok so a slightly OTT metaphor but honestly after a diet of clarity and strident treble signatures right across a range of high end gear reviews of late it really is a musical pleasure to slow it down a touch and get lost in something as warm and smooth as the 8.0. This earphone is not made for intense monitoring or perhaps even the pinnacle of accuracy and detail but what Heir does give you is a bonafide flagship IEM for musicality, smoothness and long-term likeability.

Sadly I couldn’t get to view any frequency chart for the 8.0 so your ears might disagree with mine but after some testing across a range of DAP’s and amps the 8.0′s presentation has a slightly more forward bass and mids signature with a relaxed but very nicely extended treble response that’s clear but smooth and detailed. The 8.0 is not about tight lean or fast bass, nor is it about overwhelming bass head W50 or UM50 type bass explosion. Heir got the balance between both extremes just right with the 8.0. It does wonderfully well with EDM, hip-hop, pop and most other beat laden genres. However the longish decay on the bass softens the impact slightly meaning it may not be as tight as the K3003 but it certainly feels richer and fuller and with more character. Nor is it as extended as the UM Merlin deep bass response but comes across as more focused and less dominant over the rest of the range. The mid-section though slightly forward is oh so tolerant and forgiving even on clean and clear DAPs such as the DX90. Female vocals in particular are more emotional and engaging than observant and pristine without a hint of sibilance.

There is good extension and dynamics on both ends but perhaps the emphasis is on the low end response due to that slightly more forward bass and mids signature. Do not get me wrong, the Heir Audio 8.0 treble does not taper off like the W50 or sparkle as bright as the Fidue A83, it just more relaxed overall. Whilst its not quite up there with the K3003 and UM Merlin in terms of depth and accuracy for imaging and soundstage the 8.0 does indeed produce a very wide and engaging sound stage that doesn’t screw with an otherwise very coherent presentation. There is just enough space for everything to breathe without it becoming disengaged or lacking in intimacy when required.

In just over 3 weeks the 8.0 has taken over as my long listening session king due to that musical and fun signature. We are talking about zero sibilance, minuscule peakiness, coherent if somewhat slow paced mid range and a warm responsive but steady bass impact.

Amps and DAPs

DAPs

The 8.0 is actually rated at 35ohms so on paper it is not the most sensitive IEM on the market, even the mighty Merlin is rated at only 16ohms. Now in the age of modern DAP’s 32ohms is not such a big deal and the likes of the X3, X5, DX90 and the original AK100 all have no issues driving the 8.0, staying well within acceptable volume and power ranges. I had less than stellar results with the AK100 though with that coldish and slightly harsh midrange sucking the life out of it sadly and whilst the X3 and X5 were admirable with their smoother and more weighted low end it was the DX90 that had a slight edge in overall dynamics and clarity. if I had to pick one from that range I would go with the DX90. I am keeping the DAP section a bit short and brief because if truth be told i actually found the 8.0 to really come into it’s own with some solid portable amping which is a first in a long time for me with IEM’s.

Vorzuge DuoAmp

Matching the 8.0 though did throw up an amping combination that suited it’s relaxed signature perfectly with a simple iPod classic tagged onto the my 2013 gear of the year Vorzuge DuoAmp which has an alarming but welcome habit of making just about any IEM I have outside of the W50 sound really fluid and smooth. I had half expected for the whole presentation to end up being too mushy and soft given both the 8.0 and the DuoAmp to have tonally warm and lush presentations but thankfully it didn’t turn out like that at all. Plugged into the DuoAmp the 8.0 soundstage sounded a bit more 3 dimensional with a tighter snappier bass line and a more focused midrange than straight out of the jack on the AK100 and the X3. There was no need to use the bass or treble gain switches with this pairing. The bass switch was a lot of fun but I lost a degree of accuracy in the mid-bass and lower mid-range response with bass becoming a bit bloated though still remaining soft and warm. The Treble gain switch brought a tiny bit of needed sparkle into the 8.0′s relaxed treble response without any undue harshness also. If anything, the DuoAmp treble gain switch worked very well indeed for trance and house adding a little cutting edge to the top to compliment the weightier bottom end.

Cypher Labs Theorem 720

For those desiring a more forward signature and a big increase in dynamics look no further than Cypher Labs Theorem 720. The 8.0′s clarity and fullness, as well as speed and articulation took a decided leap upwards from the DuoAmp using the 720′s own DAC and excellent amp. The lower end tightened up instantly whilst still retaining that lush sound signature. 32ohms really does benefit from quality amping it seems for this IEM.

Solo -DB/ ALO Audio MK3-B+

Not as warm as the DuoAmp or as detailed and resolving as the 720 nevertheless the Solo -DB and the RX-MK3 -B+ brought their own flavor of juice to the table with a slightly drier presentation with plenty of dynamics and a presentation that is not quite as forward as the Theorem 720. The RX-MK3 bass boost pot though is far more sophisticated than the DuoAmp’s bass gain switch with a much deeper extension that stays really snappy. It also introduces a stacking element into the portability that these days I am a bit averse to. The 720 can do it one tin box and do it very well indeed making a dual stack less of a need unless your into amp swapping.

Just Audio Aha-120

One of the largest portable amps, a class A no less and with a unique impedance selector starting at 32ohms which tells the amp how much current drive to throw at any headphone you are connecting to it. Being a 32ohm earphone the lowest setting is more than plenty and there is no discernible difference in terms of character or tonality when running up and down the impedance selector with the Heir Audio 8.0. The Aha-120 brought a much flatter response to the 8.0 than all the other DAP’s. Whereas most of the amps tended to accentuate the more forward bass and mid-range response of the 8.0′s drivers the 120 sort of leveled things out but at the same time thickening up the sound in the midrange considerably. If anything it adds a little touch of darkness and a more analog feel compared to the brighter and airier Solo/MK-3 -B+ combination but without any loss of detail and articulation. Noise floor crept up a bit more than the others though. You also lose access to a quality DAC interface by going back to double amping through your DAP of choice so a slight loss in resolution if you’re using something ‘cheap’.

FiiO E12

Perhaps you spent 90% of your budget on the 8.0 and need a budget amp to match with your DAP or phone of choice. You could do a lot worse than the sub $100 E12 actually (The E11K we have here but not reviewed yet). Whilst the resolution and clarity takes a bit of a drop the noise floor is actually lower than the Aha-120 and the low end feels a bit more weighted than the 120. It is more of a step back to the DuoAmp signature but lacking in a bit of refinement. For all of the initial ‘oohs and ahhs’ about the power of the E12 the 8.0 coped admirably with the E12 sitting at about 12 noon on the pot.

Final Thoughts

The Heir Audio 8.0 is definitely up there as one of my most enjoyable experience with a universal IEM this year. It’s smooth and lush response and highly musical presentation is a God send for my tired ears and sometimes unforgiving track selection. It’s a great fit for a universal, built really well and packaged just like a custom. Unlike a custom though you can buy the 8.0 right away and pop it in your ear free of the dreaded “loose or tight fit” issues you sometimes get with customs.

The price might be a sticking point for some given the natural sounding W60 from Westone is under $1000 and the Merlins are also sub 1k but putting that aside the 8.0 is far more fun and engaging then the more accurate but more expensive K3003 and much smoother and fuller than the thinned out $800 IE800 treble. Those wanting a wholly accurate, neutral experience where everything is pitch perfect and every inch of resolution is achieved might find the 8.0 a bit wanting. This is not an IEM that worships at the altar of micro detail and transparency, it is not for pure monitoring. It’s 32ohm impedance rating actually does suit a bit of quality amping to get the last 10-20% out of the 8.0 even though it sounds excellent with modern DAP’s. The sound signature does change a little depending on the amps you use. Warm and intimate is the DuoAmp, detail and dynamics is the 720′s bag

Its funny that for all the tech being stuffed into headphones and earphones these days less and less are stopping to think is their latest and greatest creation actually an enjoyable listen or striving to be the most accurate irrespective of the tonality or musicality. Is it my type of sound signature? It certainly is when I want to put on the monitoring breaks and relax and just enjoy my music without any demands at a very high level. With the 8.0 things just sound, well, happier.


http://headfonics.com/2014/08/the-8-0-universal-iem-by-heir-audio/








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