If you ask any mass consumer about Inear, the most you will get as an answer would be a shrug. Inear, of Germany, has only been heard in the audiophile community from a couple of years ago, but they have been in the business for some time now as makers of Custom In-ear monitors and hearing protection for musicians. They are known there for their LivePro Series of Custom In-ear monitors which I see a lot in European musicians and artists; proof that these people know what they’re doing; with musicians being the picky ones as to what kind of sound they want to hear and will easily not use a product if they are not satisfied with its sound.
Let’s talk about the LivePro in another review. Today, I wanna talk about the StageDiver series; specifically the much anticipated StageDiver 4; the flagship Universal IEM offering from Inear. I have been waiting for this the longest since I am well aware that sooner or later they will have this one since the SD series is solely based on the LivePro series and the SD has only until StageDiver 3 while the LivePro has the 4. The number, by the way, refers to the number of receivers inside each channel. The SD4 is a 2-way system with four Balance Armature receivers on each channel. It’s always good to find manufacturers who are not into the multi-BA wars and focus more on the tuning. I always believe that even a 2-4 BA receiver IEM, if properly implemented, can be on par if not better than those offering upwards of double digit BA ones. I also want to mention that I have been using the SD4’s younger brother, the dual-BA SD2 for months now. I use it for music and yes, as its name implies, on stage for monitoring too.
What’s in the Box
Well, let’s put it this way, the SD4 does not come in a fancy box of sorts. It doesn’t have a box actually. What you get are the IEMs themselves which come in black (options for a wood faceplate are available in the Inear site), a black twisted IEM cable in the standard 2-pin configuration, a set of Silicone tips (XS, S, M, and L), a 3.5mm to quarter-inch adapter, and 3 sachets of IEM cleaning wipes. All of those are inside a black Pelican 1010 case emblazoned with the Inear StageDiver logo and with an attached carabineer-style hook. From the looks of it, it’s not more of a mass-market product, but a product designed for audiophiles and musicians. I am quite reminded by most pro audio equipment like the Focal Spirit Pro and the Sennheiser HD26 headphones when I saw the packaging. Simple and practical, I must say.
As with any product hailing from Germany, quality is top notch and the SD4 is no exception. Holding the SD4 in the hand feels different from most universal IEMs. It even looks different from most universal IEMs. The first time I saw the SD (StageDiver) series, it elicited a reaction that it’s a custom IEM. It looks like a custom and feels like one when you wear it. The construction of the SD was done by overlapping 500 ear impressions and getting the average shape of those; making the SD4 look and feel like a ‘universal’ custom. I let my wife and some of my friends try the SD4 and some of them find the shape too big. Inear addressed that by having the SD S series. It’s totally the same as everything in the SD range, albeit in a smaller shell; hence the S moniker.
I have tried many universal IEMs and none of them has the stability of the SD while in your ear. You can do just about anything and it will stay in your ear like a suction. I use it for my daily commute, occasional runs, and even on stage as a monitor. No issues whatsoever.
The SD4 comes with a 4 ft. black cable now as opposed to the clear with the SD1, 2, and 3. The clear still looks good, but it becomes green in time probably because of oxidation. I’ve heard many of that complaint and I have experience it myself with my SD2. The black cable prevents that. The wire inside might still oxidize, but since the insulation is black, it won’t be obviously visible. The cable is worn over-ear and unlike most, the female receiving end of the dual pin in the shell is recessed allowing part of the hub that holds the dual pin to be also inserted. I find this helpful in preventing the pins being accidentally bent, but might be a problem for some because the connection is really tight. You must make sure the cable is perpendicular before pulling it. Imagine you’re not King Arthur and you want to get the Excalibur out. That tight. I ended up with bent pins when I removed the cable of my SD2 for the first time. Rookie mistake. Good thing is those were the green oxidized cable.
The SD series comes with a color-coded ear wax filter which is replaceable, but are sold separately. Probably why it doesn’t come with the usual tip cleaner. With the stock twisted cable, microphonics are limited to a minimum and the isolation is similar to customs even with the included tips. I am using the XS tips with mine.
Page 2: Sound Impressions