Soranik IEMs Impressions and Discussion 2

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by rhythmdevils, Feb 24, 2021.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Knowing @rhythmdevils, he would like a few db less uplight in the upper mids than Crinacle target. He's preferences are very similar to mine, probably exactly the same, except he he has much less tolerance for bright shit or peaks, even if narrow. I can deal with a bit more bumpiness. @rhythmdevils appreciates smoothness. I'm in agreement with @rhythmdevils that the Gaudio Nair is the neutral standard.

    That being said, IEM frequency responses are more or less fubar. That is they very seriously Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition and thus don't have as good a correlation of what is heard compared to headphones. The problems are several fold:
    • IEMs have zero interaction with pinna and cocha. They bypass these structures. The inverse transfer function for the ear done by the brain for one individual's pinna and chocha will be different from another. Thus the perception of frequency response can different quite a bit from 2-7kHz.
    • Tips and insertion depth, will be different from person to person, and especially to an artificial coupler.
    • Approaches to IEM driver selection, crossover design, acoustic chamber design, filtering, are more complex than that of headphones. This can result in much more varied distortion characteristics than seen with headphones (dynamic, ortho, or e-stat). Because of nonlinear distortion throwing a wrench into the works, frequency response becomes less useful for relative comparisons of perceived tonal signature.
    A good example of the above is the PP8. The PP8 according to Crin's plots have almost exactly the same FR as the Gaudio Nair. I found the PP8 to be rather difficult in the upper mids and slightly lacking body in the lower mids when compared to the Nair. I would also be 90% sure that @rhythmdevils no like PP8. FWIW, here are my Nair vs PP8 FR measurements.

    upload_2021-3-14_0-10-49.png
     
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    Last edited: Mar 13, 2021
  2. jaker782

    jaker782 Facebook Friend

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    Very informative! If iem graphs are more or less FUBAR, it sounds like I really need to start valuing subjective iem impressions over what frequency response graphs may indicate. The problem is there are so many iems out there so graphs have become an invaluable tool I use to help weed out and narrow down potential candidates that may suite my preferences (which I have found correlate pretty well to those generally liked on SBAF as opposed to exaggerated v-shaped tunings with extreme upper mid rises). The lesson for me here is to start viewing iem graphs with more of a grain of salt instead of using them as a crutch, which I have been guilty of doing.
     
  3. tranhieu

    tranhieu MOT: Soranik

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    Thanks :) your words mean a lot! Personally I would call them balance sounding than neutral :) by neutral we would need a reference curve to work on, which we obviously did not :p

    The units sent to Crin was indeed rushed. We will work on a better measured demo once we have time.
     
  4. scapeinator1

    scapeinator1 Once You Go Black You'll Never Go Back

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    I was going to write this all out sooner, but had a busy past few days.

    So I heard all 6 Soranik IEMs, what a week it was. I listened to all of them with my Sony ZX300A.

    I’ll just start out by saying two things:

    1. I like the bastille signature (diamond) the most out of the bunch. With the bastille audiophile (the fishes) at a close second. This was not what I had anticipated.

    2. I tend to prefer warm-neutral and what shotgunshane calls “do-no-wrong” IEMs. This experience with the bastille signature has not changed that preference, but they exceeded my expectations by quite a bit.


    In general, I’ve never been someone who really likes straight up neutral. This is because a lot of particularly aggressive sounding tracks can run a bit hot in the treble, like when the guitars kick in for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or “Dirty Little Secret” (All-American Rejects). I’m just treble sensitive I guess. I’ve always preferred to just turn up the volume on my IER M7, which has worked out great. Melodies and vocals are nice and loud, bass is big, with treble pain at a minimum. Given than YMO seems to have liked the M9, I am curious as to what he will think of the soranik iems.


    I enjoyed the neutral bastille signature a lot more than I thought I would and prefer it to the non-neutral audiophile version. The signature has a tonal balance that is very similar to my Koss ESP 95X, which pretty much makes it neutral in my book. Originally, I was afraid the treble would run too hot and the bass would be unsatisfying. I am happy to report that neither of those things were the case. The treble is in a very solid goldilocks territory where 80% of the time it is right at the edge of where my personal treble tolerance would end. All-American Rejects, Linkin Park, Third Eye Blind, some of the more unruly Nirvana songs, all sorts of poorly mastered 2000’s pop punk are listenable at reasonable volumes, which I was genuinely surprised by. That sort of music almost always makes neutral IEMs painful to use for me. Sometimes it does go a bit over the edge such as with aggressively mastered hip hop, such as Pusha T’s Daytona. The bass impresses for sure. Drum hits feel substantial and yet agile. The bass speed is pretty good and I think the “weight” I am hearing might be owed to a slight uplift in the sub bass but not midbass? The bastille signature has surprisingly good sub bass quantity and quality when you listen to certain genres that emphasize it. You don’t get the sense that the IEM is bassy at all and yet it can suddenly surprise you with healthy sub bass when you need it. This is quite nice because you don’t have to sacrifice overall tonal balance for good bass impact. You can listen to modern hip hop right alongside miles davis and it never sounds off. Things just always seem to sound “correct”.


    I think listening to the bastille audiophile made we really appreciate the tonal balance that was achieved on the signature. Take Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” for example. The signature is able to give a sense of soundstage where Nina Simone’s voice is centered but not necessarily forward. And her voice is able to cut through the commanding brass and drum hits with the piano fluttering away in the background. Sorry for the flowery language, but that’s what it sounds like. The signature is able to separate these instruments and give a really strong sense of soundstage. I would describe it like sitting in the 3rd row of an auditorium. There is a sense of comfortable balance. As far as the bastille audiophile is concerned, it kind of sounds like you’re sitting in the front row right in front of nina simone with the band playing behind her. Vocals are quite forward with the other elements feeling like they are spatially recessed behind the singer. I didn’t prefer the way the audiophile presents music, but it did give a very large sense of stage depth overall. The vocals on the audiophile don’t have as much of that BA timbre as do other parts of the range so my guess is this is why the audiophile has seemingly less BA timbre. Also the audiophile seems a bit subjectively darker than the signature for this reason as well. I could see people liking the way the audiophile FR is structured, but personally I would opt for the signature or a warm neutral IEM instead. Don’t get me wrong though, I did really like the audiophile, but the balance of the signature was more compelling to me. Otherwise, the audiophile and the signature share more or less the same DNA, it’s just the placement of instruments and vocals in the stage that is the main difference from a subjective standpoint.


    The others – not as impressed.


    Versailles: Kind of sounded W shaped to me, but not really sure given that I’ve never heard a W shaped sound signature prior to this. Overall bassy in its presentation. I feel like when I listen to electronic music there are 3 blobs of instruments that cut through: bass drums, synths/piano/melody, and hi hats. With things not falling in those ranges sort of feeling decidedly muted. Enjoyable for electronic or rap/hiphop. Probably would just opt for one of the bastilles though tbh.


    Ion 4: bassy, very dark sounding, almost sounds rolled off like using a low pass filter. But there is a rebound somewhere in the treble that cuts through. Not the biggest fan.


    Ion 2S: Again, comes across as bassy. Sounds overall okay, but not particularly impressed with it. Treble sounds a bit metallic. Vocals are pretty recessed.


    Ion 2: Also sounds veiled. I didn’t mind it, but doesn’t stand out to me. Also, kind of gives the sense like you’re listening to music played in another room. Muffled is maybe the word.
     
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  5. tranhieu

    tranhieu MOT: Soranik

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    Thanks everyone for the great feedback. We realized that there's something special about this whole crossoverless/tubeless concept that captivates people one way or another.

    Below is an illustration of how sound waves rebound inside a shell's cavity. The woofer is always the one having the most resonance of all due to its position and size, so balancing its mid-range is actually the hardest part of the tuning process.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Thinkpad X260 via Roon or Foobar2000 via UPnP Output Component or BubbleUPnP > PI2AES [Toslink Output] > Massdrop x Airist R-2R DAC (RDAC) > Zampotech SW51+

    Roon or UPnP > PI2AES [Coax Output] or Pioneer DV-79AVi DVD Player (CD Transport) [Toslink Output] > Schiit Bifrost 2 > DNA Starlett

    Sony WM1A DAP with the Mr. Walkman Custom Firmware Dawn (More dynamic and closer to neutral than classic Sony organic warm sound)


    Quick Intro
    :

    @rhythmdevils told @YMO that he have these Soranik IEMs for @YMO to try out. @YMO first said he will think about it, then @YMO said he would like to listen to the pricey IEMs from Soranik. @rhythmdevils then did an internal “ha-ha” and put @YMO down to listen to all six Soranik IEMs on loaner. @YMO has IEMs, @YMO has things to type about.


    Packaging and Built
    :

    No original packaging, came in a shipping box with three IEM cases. Two are the smaller IEM cases that come with the FiiO IEMs. One is a branded Soranik IEM case that holds both Bastille models. All came with a basic IEM silicon tip that is on the cheap side, but works. They were hard to put on the IEM driver, but once they stick they won’t let go.

    All the IEMs uses the two-pin connectors, which I am indifferent about. The stock IEM cables are the basic litz cables that remind me of the CA IEMs. Light they are, but some might say why you have the same cable on the $1xxx models? I guess in the world of IEMs people can just swap the cable with their preference? These cables can tangle up sadly and I guess with too much force they can break. Honestly I think they are just fine (still bias for the stock Sony IEM cables that came with my IER-M9).

    Fit on all the IEMs are good, but just one/two steps behind to my personal favorite IEM for fit, the Gaudio Nair. All the IEMs have this plastic casing that is not cheap, but soft and open for wear/dents. If you live in a cold environment, I would prefer the plastic casing of the Soranik over the metal casing of the Guadio Nair.


    Input Z Adjustments
    :

    Except for the Versailles, I wasn’t the fan of adjusting the Input Z of the other IEMs. This is due to the Versailles is the only non-hybrid IEM of the loaner lineup. Adjusting the Input Z either makes the sound too meh, or just weird due to the different drivers of certain IEMs. However, as I will explain later it is useful to have the IEMatch for the Versailles.


    Time to Talk:

    The Ions


    The Younger Twins: The Ion2 and the Ion 2S. Straight to the point: They sound almost the same to me, except on the Ion 2S the midrange is a little muffle or not clear enough in the vocals. They sound like $199 IEMs and for the most part they preform like $199 IEMs. For starters they aren’t horrible. They have basic resolution, tight but more focused bass, lower dip mids, slightly rolled off treble, etc. But does it play back to the music as a $199 IEM? The answer to that question is yes.

    If I have to be honest: These don’t blow me away. The cheaper IEM market has tons of options to make your mind melt. It’s cool Soranik is using an interesting hybrid design with these (DD + Magnetostatic) at the $199 price point, but I’m not understand how these are standing out with the crowd. For extra $50 I would be a borderline shill and get the JVC X Drop HA-FDX1 since I think these offer more for resolution and a much better FR for the price. If you want more fun, Moondrop Starfield at $100ish is great and cheap.

    With that being said, I can still listen to them for hours. Yeah I’m not a fan of them, but do they offend me to the point I want to throw them at a wall? The answer is no. That says a lot.

    The Bigger Brother: Ion 4 with the two extra BA drivers (but keep that DD + Magnetostatic driver) is a great improvement over the Ion 2 models, but with the catch of having some of the stereotypical BA flaws of wimp plastic treble. I think with the three different type of drivers together, it works well...but maybe not 100% since I felt at times the transaction of lows/mids/highs can be a little weird.

    Bass and Treble isn’t rolled out like the Ion 2, and the Mids aren’t dipped. These are pretty damn solid! Nothing really weird in the FR range…..but at the same time for the $499 MSRP there’s too much competition for the price, and honestly while the Ion 4 is a good IEM, $50 more gets you the Dunu SA6 (which does have weird Input Z requirements, which the Ion 4 doesn’t have that problem). I also like the cheaper Moondrop Blessing 2 better than the Ion 4 (the Blessing BA + DD setup works much better with no weird issues unlike the Ion 4 IMO, which still sounds a little off).

    Like the Ion 2 models, I can listen to the Ion 4 for awhile with no issues. I don’t want to pull them off my ears at all, and that is always something that I like.

    The Ion 4s don’t change too much if you adjust the Input Z via IEMatch. I think the bass is tone down a bit while the mids are a little more forward on High mode (2.5 ohm) on the IEMatch.

    The Bastilles

    The Bastille models sound too damns similar with a minor tilt on the upper mids on the Bastille Audiophile, while Bastille Signature sounds a little more flatter.

    My comments on both models are similar to @rhythmdevils. Excellent soundstage for an IEM, minor BA flats on these hybrid IEMs (BA + DD), great bass, not annoying mids, etc. I think for those who want a high end hybird IEM using a BA + DD setup should consider theses.

    However, I’m not considering either one of them. While on the technicality levels the Bastille IEMs are high end...I found the sound of both models to be….boring. Neither models grab my attention for music, and I believe there is something off on the transition from BA + DD on the bass/mid levels? Normally for high-end IEMs that are done well they grab my attention and don’t let me go. On the Bastille models...there’s no real magic for me when trying them. I played these on my FW modded Sony WM1A DAP (which is much more neutral than the Sony organic warmth sound), and even that change doesn’t do much for me. I think both models have a minor V-Type sound, but it isn’t big. I just dunno why the sound isn’t grabbing my attention at all on both IEMs.

    @rhythmdevils stated that the Bastille Signature is like a Super Nair..and in some ways yes it is. However...I really prefer to listen to the Nair over the Bastille Signature if I have to be honest. The extra drivers + DD benefits isn’t enough for me to overcome its boring sound signature + improvements for me. I have to be clear, both IEMs are TOTL performing and like the other IEMs they don’t make me want to throw them off my head. I can still listen to both IEMs for hours...but neither model does it for me on a “special sauce” ingredient that takes it to the next level.

    I prefer the CA OG Solaris and the CA Ara over these two IEMs (provided if I have the right Input Z for them) if I have to be honest.

    The Lone Ranger


    Out of the loaners, I really didn’t care about the Versailles that much. It is the only non-hybrid IEM with the lot, it’s also a pure BA IEM driver design with three drivers, bleh blah bleh another four figure pure BA IEM. I wasn’t paying attention to it at all if I have to be honest.

    When I was trying out the different IEMs I keep trying them out and see what grab my attention on first listening, etc. However..everytime I put back on the Versailles I’m like “WTF is this...this shit is LEGIT.

    Soundstage is close to an OG Solaris, very super musical IEM that drags you in and won’t let go. Very minor BA peaking issues in upper mids and lower treble, but that can be fixed which I’ll explain in a moment. Treble is still BA but my goodness it doesn’t suck. The super woofer in the bass IEM really gives it a nice bass response that is airy enough for a BA IEM + speed and gives the music it body that I think is an issue on a lot of BA IEMs that I listened to over the years. Yes I explain mids might have standard BA flaws...it is super minor that it doesn’t bring down how good the Versailles are. The full FR from top to bottom is really not annoying at all. If I have to be honest, these do have more of a V-Sound signature than the Bastilles models at times. However, it is not dumb on its turning and I think these can win over so many fans if people would give them a chance. These sound more dynamic than the Sony IER-M9 that I have in my possession.

    Like @rhythmdevils the Versailles keep fooling me that it sounded like a DD IEM at times. I never heard of a BA IEM doing this much subbass but still keeping the BA tightness and speed. Provided that you know this is a BA IEM, I’m not detecting any real issues on the Versailles. Yes...maybe on classical pieces some will throw a fit on “this piano isn’t a piano,” but on the musical presentation it is top level. Vocals are on point and it is nice the super woofer on the bass can provide more body on deeper vocals. It’s nice, but I can see that some people might say it could be forward for some.

    Downside when I type stuff that I really like...I become less focus on my comments. I did stated earlier about the peaking issues that I think are minor in the upper mids and lower treble. Using the IEMatch doesn’t change the sound signature at all on the Versailles, but moving the Input Z closer to 1 ohm does make it slightly more “flatter.” I run IEMatch on High (2.5 ohm) and for me on the DNA Starlett the peaking issues of the mids/treble (which are minor) are gone. The bass is slightly toned down a bit...which didn’t bug me at all. I’ll say keep the IEMatch around and see what do you prefer. On SW51+ I don’t need it, on DNA Starlett I prefer it, and I don’t use it on the WM1A.

    @scapeinator1 thought the Versailles was W-Sound signature on the ZX300A. I did some testing on my end and I confirm that the Versailles just doesn’t sound good on really warm sources. I did put the WM1A back on the stock firmware (which will sound similar to the ZX300A) and yeah...it is too warm/goo-goo and it is holding the Versailles back. Most prefer warmer sounding chains to reduce the BA IEM flaws..but this is one of the few IEMS that I would recommend run it in neutral or slight warm neutral setups. The Sony organic warmth isn’t doing the Versailles any favors, and this is why I started to use the Mr. Walkman custom FW to change the sound to be more neutralish.

    For some the tuning might have too much bass or maybe minor upper mid focus. For others it is a $1,199 pure BA IEM in a market that is flooded with four figure BA IEMs + is getting to the point of “alright I heard tons of BA IEMs that cost a lot and I feel meh about it.” For me there is something special about the sound of the Versailles that I do believe people should at least listen to it and give it a shot. It is also making me start saving money to pick up a pair down the road...well that’s down the road/later in the year stuff.


    Conclusion
    :

    • None of the Soranik IEMs make me want to throw them against the wall.
      • The lower end Soranik models are solid...but hard to complete with other stuff with the price brackets.
    • Bastilles models are good but they don’t click with me at all.
    • Versailles is fantastic even with the very minor flaws of being a pure BA IEM.
      • Make a decision on what you are looking for if you are spending four figures on an IEM.
      • I think out of the loaners the Versailles to me is the hidden gem of the bunch.
    • Soranik is on the right path here, and we can only hope they will make more stuff that is quite tasty like Pho for export to the world.
     
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  7. Michael Kelly

    Michael Kelly MOT: Pi 2 Design

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    Quick question - why aren't you using coax instead of toslink? the RCA output of the PI2AES has noticeably lower jitter than toslink. I usually only recommend toslink if that's all the dac has.

    Feel free to ignore, I don't want to hijack your thread.
     
  8. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    On the computer setup the Airist R-2R DAC (Airist RDAC for short) keep having tons of audio drop-outs when I move my desk via Coax. Not a fault of the PI2AES, doing the Schiit Eitr to Airist RDAC via coax has the same issue. DAC doesn't give you too much room for Coax connector to connect and ground to the connector well. On my main setup I use Coax from PI2AES to my Bifrost 2 DAC due to no issues with drop-outs.

    Toslink doesn't give me those problems on my computer desk...plus it is for casual listening. Not going to worry about if the sound is slightly offer on Toslink if I'm mostly listening to it while on my computer being a dork. PI2AES Toslink out is still good though.
     
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  9. Michael Kelly

    Michael Kelly MOT: Pi 2 Design

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    It could be that the voltage threshold into the DAC is higher than RCA coax puts out. Our BNC output is a full 1 volt and if you use a BNC to RCA adapter you could see if that does a better job.
     
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  10. tranhieu

    tranhieu MOT: Soranik

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    Thanks YMO for the detailed impression. Regarding the stock cables we are receiving our first batch of the cables that will go with the Bastille and Versailles within next week. We are well aware of the current cable's fragility and I am sure the new one will be much better on that aspect.
     
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  11. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Soranik IEMs 2021
    All listening on Pi2AES via AES to RME ADI-2 Pro BE


    iON-2

    MSRP $199. Hybrid with a magnetostatic driver coupled with dynamic driver.

    These are super light; so light, my ears wanted push them back out slowly over time.

    Bass first signature focused on sub bass. Bass has this soft and indistinct nature due to the overt sub bass focus. While I found it overwhelming on my rock and acoustic tracks, I suppose it was alright with electronic and rap music. The midrange is on the warm and forward side (however still behind the bass) and treble is very laid back, lacking sparkle and presence. Normally bright passages are dull. Cymbals are subdued and treble resolution is smoothed over. Resolution is lacking in general.

    Measurements confirm the sub bass emphasis and the 3k midrange peak explains why vocals still sound forward. No wonder the treble is dull; besides a couple of peaks in middle and upper treble, there’s nothing between 4 and 8k.

    iON-2S
    MSRP $199. Hybrid with a magnetostatic driver coupled with dynamic driver

    A slightly brighter version of the 2. Treble is still super laid back but the 2S has slightly more treble presence and resolution with a hint more sibilance. Bass seems a bit less soft and hazy with slightly better resolution and texture. Vocals seem a little clearer, a little more forward. Would easily choose the 2S over the S. Better, very slightly so, in every way.

    Measurements, for most part, seem correlate with the minor differences heard. I don’t care for either of these in the 2 series.

    upload_2021-4-12_20-35-49.jpeg




    iON-4
    MSRP $499. Hybrid with a magnetostatic driver coupled with dynamic driver, plus 2 balanced armatures.

    Due to the angle of the nozzle, it was a little more difficult to find good fit. I ended up taking the cable off the top of my ears and just letting it dangle, so I could better adjust the nozzle angle.

    Reminiscent, at least from memory, of the FitEar TG334 I used to own. The 4 is definitely on the warm side with a plentiful bass boost, full and rich vocals and enough treble presence to not sound dull. Warm, bassy and smooth.

    Bass has a healthy boost but unlike the 2 series, it is much more pleasant sounding, with greater articulation and somewhat better balance between deep and mid bass. Texturing is much better. It’s denser and more defined.

    Seemingly tuned to be a vocal specialist. Male vocals are intimate, rich and nuanced. These are not neutral male vocals; they have heft and emphasis in lower midrange. Low level nuances, like vocal inflections, are brought forward and easy to hear. This is where the iON-4 excels- male vocal engagement.

    Female vocals are also on the fuller, richer side, also somewhat reminiscent of the FitEar. They lack a bit of energy and harmonics but are still very enjoyable. The result is a slightly less nuanced micro-detail in female voices as compared to male voices.

    Similarly distortion rock guitars are smoothed over and lack bite and attack. However there is an inoffensive smoothness to the presentation that makes hard to listen to tracks much easier to tolerate without completely glossing over details.

    Songs that have bright cymbals sound a little blunted but nothing like the 2 and 2S. Songs that have accentuated sibilance are again slightly blunted with reduced sibilance. As mentioned earlier, there’s enough treble to keep the signature engaging but it’s definitely on the easier going side. Resolution is there, you just have focus and listen for it more.

    I sure would like to hear the TG334 back to back with the iON-4. The iON-4 excels in the acoustic, singer songwriter type music from my library. The midrange is rich and full and engaging. I’m not sure if the iON-4 has changed tuning over the last year or so, as my measurements and impression don’t necessarily match some of the older measurements and impression out there. If you’re looking for a warm, bassy and smooth tuning, this should be considered

    upload_2021-4-12_20-36-20.jpeg



    Versailles
    MSRP $1199. 3 full range balanced armatures in a tubeless/crossover-less design.

    At first Versailles sounded strangely different. The stage seemed narrow left to right but deep and very stretched front to back. Male vocals were very nasally/cupped. I finally decided some of this had to be fit related. I did way with single flange tips and found some dual flange that would slide all the way down on the nozzle. Now things were opening up and sounding more normal in presentation.

    It no longer has the narrow and deep stretched feeling of before before, but male vocals are still very forward and a bit nasally. It’s more cohesive sounding now, so an improvement in the right direction. Ultimately I thought male vocals lacked a natural weight and sounding too lean. Female vocals follow similar suit with a bit of a nasally presentation but do carry a more natural energy than the 2 or 4 series. Rock guitars have more bite and attack than the 2 and 4 series but are lacking some heft and weight.

    Treble sounds solidly extended but noticeably thin. It doesn’t sound airy despite the sense of extension but it is pretty articulate and resolving. I’m also getting a bit accentuated sibilance. While it doesn’t sound splashy or sharp, it’s timbre is a bit off- cymbals are not brassy sounding.

    Bass is light and nimble and lacking a bit in sub bass. Impact however is nicely balanced with the rest spectrum.

    Measurements show a slight roll off in sub bass frequencies (more so on the right side than left) and this seems to correlate with my impressions. The unevenness in the treble response is probably why I’m hearing the treble timbre a bit off.

    upload_2021-4-12_20-37-25.jpeg




    The Bastille Bros


    Bastille Audiophile
    MSRP $1299. 4 full range balanced armatures and 1 dynamic in a tubeless/crossover-less design. I believe the balanced armatures are arranged: 2x tweeters, 1x woofer, 1x subwoofer.

    The Bastille series is the best fitting of the bunch. Comfortable and easy fit first try, even if on the bigger side of iems. Got a little driver flex with the Signature but didn’t get any on the Audiophile. Love the little Koi on the Audiophile faceplates.

    Audiophile tuning seems diffuse-field neutral inspired but with a pleasant and tasteful sounding bass boost. Overall it sounds cohesive and natural. Bass has that natural dynamic driver timbre, vocals are very clear and the midrange transparent. Treble lacks a bit of air but sounds pleasant with enough presence to be balanced.

    Bass is pretty balanced from sub to mid bass. Texture is excellent and rivals OG Solaris. While there is a hint of bass warmth, it’s less so than OG Solaris and never crosses into too warm as OG Solaris can on occasion.

    Both male and female vocals sound natural with realistic weight and energy. Both are intimate and engaging. I don’t find one favored over the other. Rock guitars have very good bite and attack. They also have good weight- thin on a thin recordings and heavy on a thick recordings. Midrange resolution, both macro and micro, is excellent.

    Treble has good lower to mid treble presence with just enough sparkle and resolution, so that it doesn’t fall behind. I personally would like a more extension and air here but the end result is pleasant and unoffensive, without being dark or smoothed over.

    Staging is definitely above average. It’s has large dimensions for an IEM and seems equal in height, depth and width. For me, it’s not as layered, nor as big sounding as the OG Solaris, which is a little brighter and noticeably airier, but the Bastille Audiophile is more natural sounding overall with better timbre.

    Bastille Audiophile is going on the list and should be considered a viable alternative to the Solaris. While on the larger side of housings, it’s more contoured and disappears better than the OG Solaris. Against the OG Solaris I’d have a tough time picking a favorite but against the Solaris 2020, I’d take Bastille Audiophile (or Signature) easily.


    Bastille Signature
    MSRP $1299. 4 full range balanced armatures and 1 dynamics in a tubeless/crossover-less design. I believe the balanced armatures are arranged: 2x tweeters, 1x woofer, 1x subwoofer.

    It’s easy to tell the Signature is from the same lineage as the Audiophile. Overall the Signature is very balanced. Mid bass is slightly less elevated with less warmth than Audiophile but has more a sub bass focus. The midrange of the Signature has a little less weight and heft and as a result, I do find myself wanting to turn this one up a bit more to get more of that midrange intimacy the Audiophile has.

    There is also a bit more treble presence. While brighter sounding, it doesn’t come across as bright, just balanced. In fact, I really like the treble response of the Signature. While the frequency response of the Audiophile fits my preferences better from bass through midrange, the Signature treble response is very agreeable to my ears and doesn’t really lack anywhere, except maybe that last bit of air. Bah, whatever, It really is very good.

    Staging, like the Audiophile, is above average. The biggest changes is that it's not as upfront and has bit more distance from the stage, due to this I think the Audiophile can sound taller than the Signature at times.

    Measurements tend to correlate well between my impressions of the two Bastille Bros. The Signature dips lower in the lower midrange and rebounds higher in sub bass. It's also more filled in after its pinna gain peak for a fuller treble presence.

    Signature is also going on the list. Well done Soranik.

    upload_2021-4-12_20-34-35.jpeg
     
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  12. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Very interesting that you enjoy the Bastille models. I dunno...on three setups I found both IEMs to be pretty damn boring to listen to.
     
  13. tranhieu

    tranhieu MOT: Soranik

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    Thanks for the detailed impressions Shane. That's faster than I thought considering you received the package last Sat!

    Measurement-wise there's some deviation compared to ours, especially around ear canal gain. I would expect 1.5kHz region would raise higher but that might be the coupler.

    I would wholeheartedly recommend cable/source rolling. Having no tubing/crossover means any slight change with the incoming signal can turn the IEM into a distinctively different kind.
     
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  14. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    Just initial impressions so far (subject to change) straight out of the Cayin N3.

    Ion 2: Very smooth character. Top end is not offensive at all. Very well balanced. Makes my IT00 sound more V-shaped (because they are). Buttery smooth and still good macrodynamics.


    Ion 2S: Similar to the 2, just more low end punch and more high end sizzle. Sounds more open and clean. A bit more peaky than 2, but I had to go back and forth a few times. This is great, but might me fatiguing after awhile.


    Ion 4: A big step up in detail, especially in the mids. Louder amd easier to drive than 2 or 2S - those two need more power than I thought they would. 4 just sounds richer, but also a bit dryer. Not quite as "sweet" sounding as the 2 or 2S.

    Note: I like bass in my IEM's and usually prefer dynamic drivers.
     
  15. Tchoupitoulas

    Tchoupitoulas Friend

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    Impressions of the Bastille Signature, Audiophile, and Versailles

    I’d like to thank Soranik, @rhythmdevils, and SBAF for making this loaner tour possible. I’m very lucky to have been able to participate in it - this has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences I’ve had in listening to IEMs. Thank you.

    Preferences and Caveats
    • I typically favor neutral/bright tunings. I have the HD 800 SDR and Focal Clear as my main headphones
    • I also have the Andromeda 2020; I like it very much but part of me wonders if I should have gone with the original for its treble sparkle
    • Since I’m in my mid-40s and have suffered some hearing loss I can’t comment on treble extension
    • At best, I’m only vaguely familiar with what BA timbre is and how it sounds; either it’s something that doesn’t bother me or that I lack the sophistication to discern. My two “proper” IEMs, the Massdrop Plus and the Andro 2020, have all-BA drivers, so maybe this sound may just be something I’ve become accustomed to

    Subjective Stuff

    All three Soranik IEMs are perfectly comfortable. Their shells aren’t large, given that they have multiple drivers in them; the larger Bastille Signature and Audiophile IEMs are still smaller and more comfortable than many others, such as the Dunu SA6, the various Empire Ears IEMs, and, unsurprisingly, the OG Solaris. The size of the Soraniks matters even less since they’re so light. Frankly, I found them no less comfortable than the MD+ which is itself renowned for its comfy fit. They have a fairly deep insertion and isolate pretty well. When it comes to aesthetics, all three IEMs really are very attractive; I’m especially fond of the koi on the Bastille Audiophile.


    Storming the Bastilles
    Setups:
    • After a bit of experimenting, my Sony NW-ZX2 made for the best pairing with the Signature and the Audiophile
    • I also tried these IEMs with other sources, e.g. Bifrost 2—>Magni 3 (output impedance below an ohm) = a warmer, bassier sound; BF2—>ZDT Jr.—>iFi Ear Buddy (2.7 ohms) = brighter and with feeble bass
    • I suspect the Bastilles aren’t as reactive to output impedance as the Andromeda but, for my tastes, a Zout around 1 to 2 ohms would probably be ideal. My AK Jr. (ca. 2 ohms) suited the Bastilles nicely and provided a bit more warmth than the ZX2 but didn’t resolve as well and placed a veil over the sound
    • MacBook Air—>Qobuz—>Lotoo Paw S1 = nice tonal balance but likewise less resolving than the ZX2
    • Silicone tips worked well for both, although the Light version of the Azla Sedna Earfit tips made for a wonky soundstage with a lack of center image; the Regular version fixed this and offered some additional heft. I settled on the Final Audio E tips as they offered the most balanced sound signature, one that also had richer textures and more bass slam.


    The Bastille Signature
    Please forgive the length of the following; my impressions of the Audiophile will be shorter because the two IEMs share many of the same qualities.

    Tuning
    As with @rhythmdevils, I find the Bastille Signature to be neutral, if at times slightly thin. The bass extends deeply, impressively so. It places an emphasis on the sub-bass region, which should appeal to fans of electronic music, all the more so because the bass comes across as being tight and pretty fast, especially in comparison with the dynamic drivers of IEMs like the Dorado 2020 and the Empire Ears Hero. The sub-bass presentation reminded me of the Solaris 2020. Since the Signature’s mid-bass range is less emphasized than the sub-bass, bass guitars, double basses, trombones, cellos, etc. don’t have quite as much tonal richness or weight as some folks might like. The bass is also lacking in texture, at times, although there is plenty of satisfying growl and rumble for me. There’s a ton of bass slam.

    I’m not very confident in my ability to evaluate the mid-range of transducers—I’m usually more likely to notice when something’s off. Little, if anything about the Signature sounded wrong to me; rather, they’re nice and cohesive. Male vocals such as Elvis’s are fine; female vocals on occasion sounded a bit recessed, perhaps. The thin quality of the Signature’s tuning is most apparent with strings in classical music, both in large orchestral pieces and in string quartets.

    While I can’t say how well the treble extends, I can tell that it doesn’t extend as high as some brighter transducers, such as the stock HD 800. The Signature doesn’t have much air, either. Even so, the treble presentation is very appealing. There’s a nice sparkle to it, like the original Andromeda’s (if not quite as much, from memory). Cymbals sound right; they have a nice, crisp zing to them. High notes from trumpets don’t make me wince, which might mean they’re not represented entirely accurately. Acoustic guitars, though, sound lovely and sparkly. Better still are electric guitars, which have wonderful vampirey bite. Never has The Stooges’s I Wanna Be A Dog been so exciting. (I’m not exaggerating). There’s also plenty of treble detail, presumably in the lower- and mid-treble ranges, where there may some emphasis. The treble is smooth. Thanks to an absence of grain and treble peaks, I didn’t find the Signature to be in least fatiguing; rather, I listened to these IEMs for several hours at a time and probably for about 7 to 8 hours on the first day without any discomfort.

    Technicalities
    There’s a lightness and nimbleness to the sound of the Bastille Signature that reminds me of the various Andromedas; I’ve seen people referring recently to the “note weight” or “tonal weight” or “thickness” of transducers and components, and while I’m not entirely sure about these terms, I’ve heard a thicker or weightier sound to instruments on other IEMs than the Bastille Signature—for instance, the OG Solaris (from distant memory), the Dunu SA6, as well as the Empire Ears Hero and Odin (heard much more recently).

    It’s tempting to call the Bastille Signature analytical but I don’t want to imply that this comes at the expense of engagement. In part the technical sound owes something to the IEMs being very resolving. The Signature further offers a clear and clean presentation; I don’t hear any veil, haze, or glare. In this the Signature remind me of my HD 800 SDR and Focal Clear. These are also the most impactful IEMs I’ve heard, with the possible exception of the Solaris 2020. Macrodynamics are strong. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed listening to drums on IEMs as much I have with the Signature.

    Staging is as impressive as the resolution, if not more so. These and the Audiophile are by far the best IEMs I’ve heard when it comes to providing a spacious, open, and airy sound. The width and height of the Signature are outstanding, besting even the OG Solaris. The sound does seem to extend beyond my head; the sense of space makes these IEMs comparable to over-ear, open back headphones. I didn’t compare them directly—being mindful of the inherent perils of comparing IEMs to headphones—but I’d suggest that the spaciousness of the Signature matches and perhaps even exceeds that of the Focal Clear. The imaging is just as impressive, being precise and accurate. If layering is pretty decent, separation is excellent—again, perhaps, being the best I’ve heard with IEMs. Thanks to the pin-point imaging and the vast soundstage, there’s also an excellent sense of space around instruments.


    Comparison with CA Andromeda 2020 (with the same source, the Sony ZX2, which is my most synergistic pairing for both):
    • The Andro 2020’s sound is darker
    • there’s more emphasis on the mid-bass range with the Andromeda
      • this makes the overall bass come across as stronger even if that’s not quite accurate, given that the Signature’s sub-bass is much stronger than the Andro’s
        • when it comes to electronic music with deep bass, the Andro can’t cope whereas the Signature is fine
    • brass instruments have more blart, blare, and crackle with the Andromeda
    • strings are richer and more resonant on the Andro 2020
    • there’s still a stronger emphasis in some of the treble regions with the Andro 2020 than the Signature
      • you can hear the flute rising above an orchestra more clearly on the Andro 2020
    • Male vocals are more forward on the Andro 2020
    • The Signature’s not quite as musical or engaging as the Andro 2020, by which I mean that the Andro offers richer textures and timbres
    • The Signature is superior, though, when it comes to most technicalities
      • I prefer the Bastille for its resolution, staging, sub-bass, bass impact, overall macrodynamics, and treble sparkle
      • The Andro’s resolution is close to, but a bit behind the Signature’s
    • The Andro doesn’t fare as well as the Signature in maintaining instrument separation in complex passages of music
    • The Andro’s staging seems wider although that width is artificial, as if warped by being stretched too far
      • the width and height are more coherent and balanced with the Signature, and they extend further out in both directions
    • The Andro may be better at layering; the Signature has better imaging and separation


    The Bastille Audiophile
    These IEMs sound wondrous: they’re very close to the Signature; both are immediately recognizable as siblings, and whereas the Signature are neutral and slightly thin, the Audiophile are slightly richer and more textured. Again, there’s not a great difference. But the differences do matter. If the Signature sound pristine and clean, the Audiophile are slightly more colored and easy to enjoy.

    While the differences seem just to be a matter of tuning, there are advantages to Audiophile’s sound that seem to go further than just the frequency response. @rhythmdevils totally called it: the soundstage is even more expansive on the Audiophile. It’s astonishingly good (of course, for an IEM).

    The Audiophile’s richer tonality is noticeable with string instruments, which have stronger resonance; there’s less of a smoothness or sheen to them in orchestral pieces than with the Signature. There’s also a stronger sense of individual instruments being woven together. The same can be said for the brass sections of orchestras or jazz bands, as with all the layering of the trombone, sax, other brass, and the double bass in Charles Mingus’s The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. What I’m getting at, I suppose, is that the Audiophile seems to present greater complexity in music.

    Pianos also seem to have more weight and substance to them. I wonder if this is a function of the Audiophile having a bit less of that BA timbre? It might also be that there’s some more bass emphasis. I’m not sure. Either way, there’s a bit more rumble and growl to the bass, I suspect. At the other end of the spectrum acoustic guitars have just as much sparkle with both Bastilles; electric guitars, though, have more bite with the Signature and more crunch with the Audiophile. If there’s less bite to the Audiophile’s treble, there’s more texture once again; I noticed that harmonicas sounded better out of the Audiophile (for instance, in Junior Wells’ Hoodoo Man Blues).

    Comparison with the Andromeda 2020
    • Listening to classical music, the Andromeda 2020 sounds less well balanced than the Audiophile since its bass is a bit too emphasized and boomy
    • textures are richer on the Andromeda 2020; strings resonate more on the Andromeda 2020
    • the double bass and bass guitar are more apparent on the Andromeda thanks to its mid-bass emphasis
    • the bass is looser, rumblier, and less well controlled on the Andromeda 2020
      • this can contribute to the Andro 2020 sounding a tiny bit more constrained than the Audiophile, which is surprising given how open the spacious the Andro is
    • The Audiophile’s bass extends deeper and is tighter and faster
    • the resolution of the Andromeda 2020 doesn’t seem to be quite as good; music sounds muddier than with the Audiophile
    • there’s a slight bit of grain to the Andromeda 2020 by comparison (I’d never noticed this before)
    • The Audiophile handles complex passages better; it’s harder to identity and follow each individual instrument with the Andromeda 2020
    • If layering goes to the Andro, the Audiophile pulls far ahead with staging, imaging, and separation
    • Neither of them are in the least bit fatiguing, to me


    The Versailles
    I should note that I auditioned the Versailles after five days of listening to the Bastilles, which must have influenced my impressions. I can see these IEMs appealing to those who prioritize timbre, textures, and engagement over technicalities, which isn’t to say the Versailles are poor at the latter; it’s just a function of being compared with the Bastilles.

    Setups
    Thank you, @YMO, you’re entirely right about the Versailles not working with warm sources, and I’m glad you posted about this because the pairing with my ZX2 sounded bloody awful and clearly wrong. I assume @rhythmdevils' impressions were with his THX 789 amp. I could see neutral amps doing justice to the Versailles. I wish I had a better source for these IEMs. In the end, I tried them with a Fulla 2 and also with a Bifrost 2->Magni 3, both which with their low output impedance made for a darker tuning. By contrast, the BF2->ZDT Jr.->iFi Ear Buddy (2.7 ohms OI) was closer to neutral. My AK Jr was fairly warm with the Versailles but decent enough. I didn’t get to hear the Versailles with what I’d consider to be an ideal source, so these impressions are at best tentative and uncertain.

    Tuning
    The Versailles offer a lovely rich and mildly warm sound. They don’t extend as far in both directions as the Bastilles, which makes them sound a little less expansive across the frequency range. The Versailles’s sound is less exciting and energetic but more relaxed and immersive.

    Where the Bastilles place an emphasis on sub-bass, the Versailles are more balanced across the bass spectrum, and there’s more heft to the mid-bass. That heft comes with a bit of looseness, compared with the Bastilles, and it’s not as fast. This can be a good thing: bass guitars sound wonderfully rich and prominent - Beck’s song Nicotine & Gravy sound like a proper throwback to the days of funk, which is something you’d miss with the Bastilles’ presentation.

    The mid-range is richer and offers more resonant timbre for acoustic instruments than the Bastilles. These IEMs may be preferable to those who prioritize vocals, more so tenors than sopranos, perhaps. Electric guitars also have nicely textured crunch.

    The treble is again rolled off, as with the Bastilles. Electric guitars lack the bite of the Bastilles. Cymbals are much less crisp and clear. At the same time, though, the Versailles can be a bit fatiguing, which suggests that there may be some peaks in the frequency response. Higher-pitch vocals approach but aren’t quite sibilant. Snares are a bit piercing at times, as are harmonicas.

    Technicalities
    I suspect the Versailles were always going to struggle here against the Bastilles. The sound has a bit of veil to it and comes across as slightly muffled at times (that might be a function of my sources). Some pieces of music come across as slightly hazy; everything’s just a little bit less clean or precise than the Bastilles. There isn’t as much bass slam. Macrodynamics could be stronger. I wonder if there’s a bit more BA timbre than the Bastille Audiophile; pianos can sound a bit crisp, and I wonder if this has something to do with shorter decay.

    The staging is nice and open when compared to most other IEMs on the market. Once again, the switch from the Bastilles to the Versailles doesn’t do the Versailles any favors: they’re not as good layering or separation, and there’s less space for instruments to breathe. The imaging may be just a tad fuzzy and less precise than with the Bastilles.

    Comparison with the Andromeda 2020
    The Versailles are closer to the Andro 2020 than the Bastilles. Even so, I’m reluctant to offer direct comparisons because I have a synergistic setup with my Andros and a less than ideal one for the Versailles. The Versailles and the Andro aren't a million miles apart when it comes to tuning and technicalities; I think the Andromeda 2020 pull ahead slightly on both counts.


    Conclusion
    I could see someone looking for rich texture and an engaging listen favoring the Versailles over the Bastilles. These IEMs might well be competitive with the Andromedas.

    The Bastille Signature pulls off the neat trick of being exciting and energetic without being fatiguing. Its main attributes are its excellent technicalities—especially resolution—as well as strong macrodynamics, a wonderfully open, clean, clear sound, and exceptional staging. I could see it serving as an ideal complement to my darker Andromeda 2020.

    The Audiophile combines the best of all worlds. It makes for a highly pleasing, musical listen, one in which the timbre of instruments are improved and textures seem richer than the Signature’s even as the Audiophile retains the excellent technicalities of its sibling and opens up an even more spacious soundstage. For my preferences, at least, these are the most appealing IEMs I’ve heard. If I were to have a single pair of IEMs, the Audiophile might well be it. I hope Soranik keeps the Audiophile in its lineup for a while yet. I’m seriously considering saving up for a pair.
     
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  16. tranhieu

    tranhieu MOT: Soranik

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    Thank you for the super detailed impression. Probably one of the few most enjoyable reviews I have ever read since I started this hobby more than a decade ago. I will need to reread your post a few more times to fully grasp everything, such a stellar writeup indeed.
     
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  17. NeLey169

    NeLey169 Rando

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    When will Soranik have a new series?
     
  18. tranhieu

    tranhieu MOT: Soranik

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    You're looking for anything? :D
     
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  19. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Since others have so thoroughly covered the details, I am only going to drop a few bullet points of where I might differ. I used an Shanling M6 Pro DAP as well as an Gugnir MB A2 > Asgard 3 for my listening. Also all three came to me with a single sized clear tip (silicon maybe?) that did not fit my ears, so I used my own :

    • Like others, I did not spend much time with the Versailles, the technicalities were not there and with an abundance of "BA timbre" I always wanted to quickly move on to the Bastille's
    • Both of the Bastille's real strength over my CA Ara reference is the natural DD bass and low mids
    • Still, both Bastille's bass is a touch muddy/lacking texture and perhaps with a bit too long decay compared to the BA bass of the CA Ara. I was surprised how with some tracks I still preferred the CA Ara's bass
    • The warmth of the Audiophile FR won me over, as I wanted to EQ the 8k region of the Signature down. The Audiophile was the only one (including my CA Ara) I did not feel the need to EQ the uppermids/treble.
    • To my ears the Bastille's don't reach the detail, separation, clarity, and microdynamic finesse of the CA Ara's in the mids and treble. Not that far off, but still noticeably lagging.
    Based on the impressions of others I had given one of the Bastille a good chance of dethroning the CA Ara for me, but in the end they did not despite their DD woofer advantage.
     
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  20. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    I wanted to add my official comments on Ion 2, Ion 2S, and Ion 4.

    Sources: Theta DS Pro Basic II -> Gilmore Dynalo Clone, Cavalli Liquid Carbon X, Cayin N3, Samsung S10+

    My initial impressions here

    Just to say my initial impressions did not change much. I really like the Ion 2, for how overall smooth and non-fatiguing they are. Again, here are my measurements on my minDSP EARS with the IDF compensation, which does not look very different from @shotgunshane

    Ion 2

    ion 2 - FR.JPG

    They have a nice bass presence that feels like a sub in the room with lots of texture. Then the mids are flat with a dip starting about 3k going lowest at 6k, then back up at 10k. Everything after 10k is super non-accurate on the EARS.

    This dip is I think what attributes to the softness in the highs that remains detailed and open sounding without any harshness or peakyness. Although I also attribute part of this to the Magneto-Static driver. It seems to have really good transient response and not sound overdone. Very dynamic as well without being pounded into my ears. I loved how drums sounded real and percussive. These things are perfect for rock and metal.

    Ion 2S was super super close. You can tell these are basically the same driver config, just tuned differently.

    ion 2S - FR.JPG

    So the bass is not as high and the mid-dip is not quite as big.

    Here is what I said before, "Similar to the 2, just more low end punch and more high end sizzle. Sounds more open and clean. A bit more peaky than 2, but I had to go back and forth a few times. This is great, but might me fatiguing after awhile."

    However, after spending some time with them, they are vastly different. It took hooking up to a better source to hear the difference, but the space in the Ion 2 seems more in your head while the Ion 2S extends out a bit and the low end and top end do not have as much interaction or masking going on. There is a bit more separation

    These just have a pleasant and soft U-shape that is easy to get along with. No nasal sound qualities and the vocals stand out more. Although these might have a bit of sibilance up at the very top of the range, but only certain songs can bring this out in a bad way.

    Yes, I had to A/B the same song, the same part of the song several times before I worked out in my head the difference in SQ. I had to find a really wide dynamic track that had all the frequencies, but still sparse enough to tell differences. Finally found the perfect Steely Dan track, "Black Cow", although you could probably substitute "Kid Charlemagne" just as well.

    Fit on the both of these were great. They fit fairly shallow in the ear and very lightweight.

    Here is Ion 2 (yellow) vs Ion 2S (pink)

    ion2 vs 2S - R.JPG


    Ion 4

    Now the Ion 4...these had an additional BA in them and it shows. BA's and me don't get along mostly because the timbre and percussiveness is so dry. It seems they have attack, but no sustain. The control of the drivers is just not there for me. Now the mids were sweeter, more detailed and nuanced. It did have a richer sound that you can tell is more flat in the dip area, but they still had a dry timbre to me.

    ion 4 - FR.JPG

    A more downward slope and these are basically triple driver. Meaning dynamic for am not sure where the BA is vs the dynamic vs the Magnetosatic, driver is, but I am only guessing Magnetostatic for the mids, and BA for the highs. I think this is what leads to more fatigue up top and more grain. I agree mostly with @shotgunshane again here as male and female vocals sound more intimate and richer, there is still some smoothed over attacks. More neutral sound signature for sure with still some lifted bass.

    Fit on the Ion 4 was a bigger body and stuck out a bit from the ear.

    Here is Ion 2 (pale yellow) vs Ion 4 (purple)

    ion2 vs ion 4.JPG

    The 4 seems to have more bass and also attributing to the richer mids.

    I will also add that the Ion 2 and 2S were the hardest IEM to drive I have ever seen. Not that you might not have the amp to work them or not, but even full volume out of my Samsung S10+ was starting to run out of steam. I noticeably had to turn up like I normally would on full size headphones - about the same amount for my Denon AH-D2000's. I only mean that normal BA's are incredibly easy to drive, but these are more like normal headphones. Which means no hissing from sources, even my N3 at high gain all the way up.

    The Ion 4 however was much easier to drive and I had to turn down the volume of my headphone amp to match the readings. Otherwise it would have been off the scale. The Ion 2 measured 18 ohms DC resistance, Ion 4 measured 12 ohms.

    Oh, and lastly, these are wired out polarity for those that care about such things. Here is impulse response from Ion 2

    ion 2 - impulse.JPG

    Ion 2S and Ion 4 looked similar. This never bothered me. Just wanted to be thorough.

    Overall, my favorite was the Ion 2S. But that is just me. I think it still has a great timbre, the top end is there and adds some space and air. Where my iBasso IT00 sounds like a dynamic, this has some sweet definition that I like and makes me grab that volume knob. It can sound transparent, but still have good bass presence for an IEM. (I may keep them or work out a deal with Soranik - these are nice.)
     
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