And finally in my top place are the outstanding Shure SE846 IEMs. Shure have outdone themselves with this quad-BA for their attention to detail, great craftsmanship and world class sound. I am most impressed with the low frequencies which are not only able to retain tautness but great texture and depth too.
They are without a doubt one of the best IEMS for their rendition of present and well-behaved bass. In addition, the intelligible midrange coupled with the great soundstage depth this IEM possesses makes for a remarkable listening experience. At the high price of $999, though, it represents a significant investment for anyone seeking a great sound.
€179/ $149 each
Combining the triad of masteries: neutrality, space and detail, this combination excels in making music equipment sound that much more special. What puts the icing on the cake, is that it is a combo that will not break the bank but rather paves the way into all things audiophile.
I am particularly impressed with the build and design language that Schiit have employed. Not only does it look to have a solid build but the sharp aluminium edges coupled with the clean interface show off the aesthetics of this US-made product. Schiit have thus done a sterling job that very much improves on the original Magni + Modi set-up.
The TH500RPs are a vocal powerhouse presenting mids that are thick, luscious and visceral. Bass is equally weighted and responsive but perhaps lacks some effective bass slam for die-hard bass-heads.
Nevertheless, the sound is full and encompassing with decent soundstage owing to the open-design. Comfort is truly excellent with the pleather ear pads and thus this headphone can be worn for hours on end without experiencing fatigue. Overall, a solid release from the well-known audio giant.
$349 (standalone edition)
A versatile and well-rounded product, the PlusSound Cloud Nine Amp delivers a desktop solution for an audiophile’s daily requirements. From the low-gain switch, to the mid- and high-gains, the Cloud Nine Amp is able to handle sensitive IEMs to high-resistance headphones with ease.
While the sound is not analytical or micro-detail oriented, the experience is musical with a tonality that is lush and spacious. Build quality is stellar and portability makes this device all the more convenient. If there had to be a note of improvement, it would be the option to charge the device from the mains rather than 9V batteries.
Overall, the Fiio X7 is an excellent iteration to Fiio’s DAP line-up with a new Android-based UI interface. The experience is fluid and intuitive which many mid-fi offerings seem to be lacking recently. There is also the option to play streaming devices such as Spotify and Tidal as well as Fiio’s own custom stock music app.
The sound itself is high fidelity with great rendering of micro-details, space and neutrality with the latest v1.4 firmware. There are some minor bugs, however, that need to be ironed out and there is yet to be the release of different exchangeable amp modules. For what it’s worth, though, the X7 is a great device with outstanding potential.