InEar ProPhile 8 Measurements and Review (Stream of Consciousness)

Discussion in 'IEM Measurements' started by purr1n, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    InEar ProPhile 8 Review
    Stream of Consciousness Interactive Review
    Has The Campfire Andromeda Been Dethroned?


    IMG_20171005_103810.jpg

    After hearing all the hype about the ProPhile 8, I could not resist purchasing one for the SBAF loaner program. The big question is whether the the mighty Campfire Andromeda has been dethroned? The answer is no.

    Hahaha, I wasn’t going to string people along for this one. To be fair, the Andromeda has had the advantage of a good amount of effort on the part of SBAF members to get it to sound just right (mainly to tone down bass and treble). At the last meet in Pasadena, I counted no less than four pairs of Andromeda, paired with the ZX2, with appropriately rolled tips suited to each individual’s tastes. I guess what I am saying is that these impressions of the ProPhile 8 are early (at least for me), and it’s possible that better synergies and tweaks will be discovered in the next coming days or weeks. Still, I would not discount initial impressions. It was initial impressions after all which almost made me (and I assume many others) shit in my pants regarding the Andromeda.

    I will take measurements tonight; but to start, I am going to assess tonal balance the old fashioned way by using marginal recordings. These are not bad recordings, but recordings with certain characteristics that will help me assess crucial frequency regions. For example, Alanis Unplugged will sound otherwise fine on what I would consider a neutral system, but will exhibit excess sibilance with gear that emphasizes the lower treble. The early Taylor Swift albums and certain tracks on Madonna’s Immaculate Collection can help identify upper midrange peaks (the vocals will be too shrill). Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (CD, not LP) is supposed to be very bassy and slightly trebly - if doesn’t sound this way (like it's only slightly bassy) then something is wrong, and some of the bass drops in Doin’ It Right around 35-40Hz should be at the same volume of the others higher up around 70Hz.

    Here is also another angle on why less than ideal recordings should be used: http://www.changstar.com/www.changstar.com/index.php/topic,2.0.html

    IMPORTANT NOTES:

    All mentions of the Andromeda assume the following:

    • Being fed by the Sony ZX2 which has an output impedance near 2 ohms (less bass emphasis)
    • The Sony ZX2 Sony Sound Process is disabled in Android (less of Sony’s overly organic sound)
    • Comply tips with the filters (less mid treble emphasis)

    Here are some examples to establish my references for neutral sound:

    Note that since the measurements, I have turned down the bass on the JBL monitors down by 2db.

    START HERE:

    When the Campfire Andromedas first came out, I said that they were a dream, tuned exactly as I would have done so (keeping in mind that I rather quickly happened upon their use with the ZX2 and Comply filter tips.) To this day I find it strange as I never asked Ken nor Campfire for a sample. It was actually others who made this arrangement on my behalf. Perhaps the people who made this arrangement knew of my particular tastes. Has the ProPhile 8 changed my opinion of the Andromeda? No.

    In terms of frequency response, I find the ProPhile 8 reasonably within the boundaries of what I would consider neutral (keeping in mind my references), but just missing the target in a few areas. First of all, there is slightly too much upper midrange that makes vocals shrill. The effect is similar to the 3-4kHz bump on the HD600, a bit more pronounced maybe, so @Hands is definitely going to despise this. Normally, I’m accepting of a 2-4kHz bump to account for the fact that IEMs bypass the pinna, but this bump seems shifted a bit too high in frequency for my comfort. Even the vocals on Doin’ it Right, not a test track that I use for this, sound too shrill when compared to my references. The effect of the bump is slight. However, the ProPhile 8 exacerbates this situation with a lack body and foundation - the lower mids to middle mids are depressed. The overall bass seems a bit lower* in volume than I would like; however, extension and bass quality are superb. Think UERM with, but with better bass extension, and much better bass sustain and texture. I’ll try the +3db bass boost or Comply or double flange tips (currently using the silicone) and see what happens. Finally, the overall treble at stock settings seemed subdued, in a nice way, like HD650s. The Andromeda is slightiy brighter overall. However I found a spotlit area on the ProPhile 8 which exhibited excessive stridency with certain tracks (Alanis Unplugged and Erasure Solsbury Hill cover) which were fine with the Andromedas. I don’t listen to only music with natural instruments that are naturally mic’d without amplification, so this last niggle may be a huge showstopper issue for me.

    In terms of technicalities such as detail, clarity, etc., I find them excellent and worthy of a TOTL IEM. The ProPhile 8 has a more damped stately presentation. The Andromeda has more lively transients and is more raw. This is very similar to how the HD650 vs HD600 are damped differently. Tn terms of layering, separation, depth, and expansiveness of stage, I'd give the Andromeda the win. The ProPhile 8 beats the Andromeda with less veiled, less muddied, more textured, and better sustained bass (although I’d like to play with bass settings and tips before I can definitively say this - it’s close though). Finally, the Andromeda seems to just edge out he ProPhile 8 in terms of plankton and clarity.

    Again, these are early day one impressions. To be continued... and ask questions.

    * see post here for update on bass: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...iew-stream-of-consciousness.5192/#post-166309
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017
  2. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Interesting, I found the bass on PP8 to be slightly shelved up compared to Andro (also out of ZX2, Symbio tips). Andro has a more spacious stage, but PP8 had more precise and layered imaging for me. Differences in mid/treble presentation for sure, but nothing that stood out for me, though my ears/brain aren't edumacated enough to distinguish and articulate them. Forgot to try one of Tay-Tay's shoutier tracks.

    How about comfort, secureness of fit, compatibility with other sources? I think these are factors that weigh in the PP8's favour.
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    On the bass, I switched over to the Comply tips to get a better seal and I do now get a bit more mid and upper bass. I tried turning the bass switch on with the silicone tips, but +3db seems about 1db too much.

    Getting back to the bass, it depends upon the track. The fundamentals of the low sub 35-45Hz bass drops on Doin' It Right are louder on the Andromeda. The ProPhile 8 presents more of the initial harmonics (70-90Hz) of these bass drops. There is also quite a bit more upper bass with the ProPhile 8, an overall thicker bass presentation. On material with less sub and low bass (most music has very little sub to low bass), the ProPhile 8 now do sound like they have more overall bass.

    I don't think the ProPhile 8 fits my tastes. The bass is really nice, great heft and sustain, but I find the stridency showing up all too often on the types of music I listen to (and I know it's not always the fault of the recording because no problems on my seven other speaker / headphone setups). The shrillness with vocals is just too difficult to handle. I mean, even Tom Waits voice on Ol' 55 (SHM master) is on another level of fucked up underwater bathroom nautilus sound. And that body, that foundation, it just isn't quite there. (In hindsight, the strength of the Andomedas have always been the mids for me. Wow, I actually agree with @music4321).

    After more back and forth, I've realized the ProPhile 8 don't seem to extend up that much (as an aside, I've never felt IEMs were very good at capturing the last octave, with Andromeda being one of the best at it, maybe a too much in the first half of the last octave). I do wonder if this lack of air might be why I feel the ProPhile 8 seems to be deficient in projecting a with depth front-to-back layered headstage with ambient cues and fine detail. The ironic thing is that I am normally the one who tends not to care about headstage, but in case, the ProPhile 8 seems quite a bit behind, or actually doing what I hate the most: a very wide stage with up front placement and no depth.

    In terms of fit, the ProPhile 8 is a bit too big for me. The area with the switches intrudes, but it's not like I can get them anywhere near flush anyway. It's no big a deal, I can manage, so I don't want to make too much of it. Might be an issue with people with smaller ears though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
  4. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

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    This album is worth buying solely for its stellar version of Uninvited. /noise
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    RTA from Sony ZX2 using pink noise.

    I did this because how the Andro's FR changes with a 2 ohm source of the ZX2 (which seems to be what everbody is using, either that or the IEMatch thing). Note that anything past 8kHz probably isn't accurate. The big spike for the Andromeda at 8kHz is likely a measurement artifact (the location of this peak moves depending on the length of the tube that I use). While the overall treble volume was higher on the Andromeda, the ProPhile 8 exhibited significantly more of that "shhh" stridency than the Andromeda.

    Blue = Andromeda
    Yellow = ProPhile 8

    PP8 vs Andro.jpg
     
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  6. jowls

    jowls Never shitposts (please) - Friend

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    Interesting. Stridency isn’t something I associate with PP8. Using Spiral Dots. I will go look for it.
     
  7. muse

    muse Almost "Made"

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    I also felt that the upper mids were what ultimately swung my preference to the Andromeda over the PP8.

    Strangely though, it wasn't an issue with shrillness or sharpness. Rather, I found it leaner and drier, relatively lacking in musicality. A subjective call I suppose.

    Ultimately, the Andros sounded smoother overall, with slightly better tonal balance, and would suit casual music listening over the raw technicalities of the PP8.
     
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    And everything else. I mean who else can pull off a King of Pain cover without sounding like a turd? Can you image Biebs? I almost threw up hearing Biebs cover of Hallelujah and Pentagramix's cover of Hallelujah sends me into a murderous rage.

    To be clear, this isn't a consistent issue for me as it is largely recording dependent. The two CDs I mentioned (most tracks from Alanis Unplugged and Erasure Other People's Music) did trigger this. With the Capitol Records stuff I have from the late 50s and early 60s, the ProProfile 8 does absolutely fine. The sibilance seems to be an issue with about 10% of recordings I have and regularly listen to. I do not have this issue with IEMs such as the UERM, Andromeda, P1. The Campfire Lyra 2 did exhibit this sibilance.

    Please keep in mind that I'm putting the ProPhile 8 through the ringer and am nitpicking it to death based on its price and what it was sold to me as by "people". Another context is also the ProPhile 8 in direct comparison with Andromeda since that is where I have gotten a lot of personal queries. And finally, who else is going to be the contrarian right?

    But sibilance aside, my main beef with the ProPhile 8 is what I will discuss next in more detail.

    I think we are just talking about the same thing, although I am probably more sensitive here. It's the combination of three things, the slighly depressed lower mids, the elevation in the upper mids, and the BA timbre, that bothers me. The ProPhile 8 is just fatiguing after I listen it for more than 10 minutes. There is certainly some resemblance to the timbre of unmodded new generation HFM headphones with the 3-4kHz peaks, except a bit worse. Seriously, after cumulative exposure to it, I feel that my ears have been beaten up where I cannot take any more.

    In a nutshell, the tonality of the ProPhile 8 is as follows: robust midbass (good), slightly depressed lower mids, excessive upper mids (bad), laid back lower to mid-treble (good), poor top octave (bad).
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  9. MuppetFace

    MuppetFace Sultana of Seafoam Green - Moderator

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    I was initially WOWd by the PP8. They were one of my favs of last year.

    Over time however I started to notice some rough spots which became more and more bothersome. Kinda like my passionate but quick to burn out love affair with the TH900 and Utopia: at some point you start obsessing more and more over these quirks, because in so many other respects it just gets it right, and that makes the shortcomings all the more glaring.

    Tho I’d still take these over the Andromeda, personally.
     
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  10. brencho

    brencho Friend

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    I've also had the experience of becoming increasingly irritated by small quirks or drawbacks when other things are spot on, they stick out more as you said! I'd like to hear the PP8, but the combination of depressed lower mids and excessive upper mids would piss me off i think. I realize tonal balance isn't the only thing that matters, but its the first and most important thing I listen for. I didn't really fall in love with the Andromeda until I got a ZX2, shut off all of the crap that Sony dumped on it, and used a cable that had some copper and some spc. This nailed down the tonality pretty well, and with the tonality the way i like it, i can forgive it other sins. But anyway, you guys have heard the PP8 and I haven't yet, so i'll shut up already and wait to hear it.
     
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    My next approach might just to take it for what it is and try to turn in into a Pinnacle P1 by flipping up the bass switch. The problem for me comes down to balanced armature drivers (third order distortion is just plain nasty up high). I just can't take that shit unless the response is shaped a certain way. Posting measurements soon. I haven't looked at them closely, but I am curious if they might explain some of what I am hearing.
     
  12. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    They have a ProPhile 8S coming out that is supposedly the same thing in a smaller shell.
     
  13. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Marv - are you able to test/compare the PP8 / Andro out of a more basic source (smart phone)?
     
  14. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Tay-Tay's recordings are still what I'd consider "okay" as far as "badness" goes.

    If ya want really really bad nutcase recordings, try anything from Ed Sheeran (especially "Eraser" in his "Divide" album) or Charlie Puth's "Attention", or Maroon5's "Sugar."

    Those tracks are so bad they'll be sibilant on pretty much everything.

    In any case, good impressions, @Marvey! I'd almost considered these, but... "more upper mid" sounds like it's going to annoy me as well. ZX2 also has this weird "upper mid de-emphasis" to my ears so if PP8 sounds shouty even with that...

    Edit: oh, and Andro can sound shouty as well: just get a Sony WM1A and use a 4.4mm SPC cable on high gain with all the sound enhancements disabled. I suspect that's going to please some folks if PP8 sounds like how Marv is describing it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  15. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    Betteridge's law strikes again.
     
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Interesting... The ProPhile 8 sounds quite a lot better out my Pixel (playing some of the same songs, but unsure of the masters from Amazon Music). It seems the upper mids have been relaxed and some of the lower and middle mids are restored. More air too.

    The Pixel has about 5 ohms output impedance. HMMMM. I am HIGHLY suspecting that the ProPhile 8's impedance curve is a LOT MORE reactive than what "people" have been claiming. Gid dammit you assholes. Not trusting any of you rando fucks again. Will take impedance measurements tonight. For myself.

    This might be a really good Pixel / iPhone IEM.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
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  17. jowls

    jowls Never shitposts (please) - Friend

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    Rando fucks. Ouch.
     
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  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Really more pissed at myself. I should know better. SBAF is a lot bigger than it used to. I need to filter information / misinformation better. Nominal impedance of 34 ohms doesn't mean shit. It's the curve that matters. A 1db or 2db change across an octave or two here and there makes a BIG difference. BA driver IEM impedance curves are almost always fucked up. Again, I should have known better.
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Measurements below from near 0 ohm source impedance.
    ProPhile 8 Frequency Response.png
    ProPhile 8 L HD.jpg
    ProPhile 8 R HD.jpg
     
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  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Andromeda FR and distortion for comparison (re-did them on current measurement rig)
    Again from near 0 source impedance
    Andro FR.png
    Andromeda HD.jpg
     
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