It’s quite refreshing to find a single-driver IEM that this level of performance at the budget level. Since it utilizes only one BA driver, extensions on both ends of the frequency range are a bit lacking. There’s also a very slight reduction in presence. But due to its single-driver configuration, it does not require a crossover for it to work resulting in a coherent response.
I love drivers that have a neutral signature, and the SS-1 has had my attention because of that.
The SS-1 has an average staging quality primarily due to its single BA design. Vocals are upfront and a little intimate. It has a slightly refined and wonderfully detailed sound. The width is still wide enough for me to identify the exact position of each instrument. If given enough power, it can provide more accurate imaging and satisfactory separation resulting in a more three-dimensional sound and better resolution.
The mid-bass is slightly prominent with a moderate rise towards 40Hz and flattening across 50Hz, while steadily moving downward towards 60Hz providing some impact, accuracy, and attack to the mid-bass sound. There’s little sub-bass presentation before 20Hz which reduces the low-end extensions to a degree. This roll off provides more of a blow or a thump than a boom or rumble.
This is not something bass lovers should go for since the low end would be utterly disappointing for them. It’s not bass-inadequate though. There’s just enough for the listener to know there’s something there. But if you’re after clear details, this is something you should consider.
The midrange with the SS-1 is particularly remarkable. There is a slight dip from the 500Hz to 1KHz that puts the instruments just a tad behind the vocals. This doesn’t make the bass bleed into the midrange and swell the instruments’ sound. The notes aren’t sharp enough, but it’s not forgiving enough for me to listen to low-quality tracks. I’d prefer to use these on at least true 16-bit FLAC audio files and nothing less.
Female and male vocals sound quite satisfactorily with this IEM. There’s some slight graininess when listening to female vocal-centric tracks, but this is fine with me. It may be an issue though with those who prefer a smoother vocal sound. Male vocals are presented well too since they sound natural enough.
Instrumental-based tracks are quite detailed. When paired with high-quality and high-powered sources, micro and macro details become present. Overall, the midrange has a sufficiently natural full-sounding quality that can be achieved with the right source.
While the SS-1’s treble range lack extension due to a roll-off beyond 7KHz, it’s still able to provide sufficient details without any sibilance. It pushes higher-frequency instruments like the cymbals, as well as string and keyboard instruments utilizing high-octave notes, a little bit towards the back. It’s not a concern since you’ll still be able to hear details from those instruments regardless of its placements.
There is a slight drop around the 7KHz to 10KHz area which means there is some sparkle and noticeable clarity. It’s quite useable for long-term listening.
Soranik has not released any information regarding the technical specifications of the SS-1. However, it’s power-hungry. I’d have to increase the volume level of my sources to be able to achieve an optimal sound level.
Using the Cayin N8, the volume settings for the SS-1 is 3 times higher compared to the Savant and Andromeda. There’s no perceptible noise nor hiss in the background. Its dynamics improve as it’s driven more by its source.
The SS-1’s performance increases with the amount of power a good DAP or a quality amplifier can pour into it. It’ll be able to maximize its dynamic output and resolution. Albeit, it can still be paired with any source and perform satisfactorily.
iPhone 6s Plus
With the iPhone 6s Plus, I set the volume level at 65%. The highs became slightly elevated and a bit thinner sounding. This was the same for the rest of the frequency range. The midrange was still up front, and the low end had a slightly more powerful kick than usual.
The staging was still average. The sound output wasn’t particularly as compressed as I expected it to be, but probably changing into narrow-bore tips will help get a slightly fuller sound out of this pairing.
Acoustic Research M200
Using the M200, it produced a warmer albeit still neutral signature. Its volume setting was set to 94/150, which is at 63%. The overall sound had a smoother feel to it, but the SS-1 still pretty much retained its characteristics. Dynamics were much better than the 6S Plus, and hiss and background noise was not present at all.
Staging is still average with satisfactory imaging. This is a good pairing to use if you’re out and about and are just after some prolonged casual listening while running errands.
This is an excellent pairing to have. Staging is better than the 6S Plus and M200. There’s also a significant improvement with the details across the frequency range. The punchy and impactful output of the N8’s solid-state mode enhanced the low-end capabilities of the SS-1. The midrange has increased presence, and the highs are more energetic than usual.
What’s great about this pairing is that you can use the solid-state mode to listen to instrumental tracks which enhance the timbre gaining a cleaner and more accurate sound. While the tube mode can be used for those vocal and more bass-focused tracks for that smoother, more aggressive but still detailed sound.
Noble Audio Savant
One of two other BA IEMs that I currently have on hand, the Noble Audio Savant universal IEM has two BAs that have an impedance rating of less than 30 ohms. The approximation is due to the lack of manufacturer information about its technical specification, so the statement was based on the overall resistance rating of the newer universal IEMs from Noble Audio. The stock cable of the Savant is similarly light in weight as with the SS-1’s but utilizing a braided style rather than Soranik’s twisted one.
Both the Savant and SS-1 gave excellent sealing capability, but with the latter providing disappointingly fewer useable accessories. The SS-1 has a more comfortable feel based on my experience.
Comparing the sensitivity of both monitors, the Savant is easier to drive using all three sources mentioned previously. I daresay it’s more efficient than the SS-1, but both did not exhibit any major differences regarding noise and hiss.
The Savant has a more linear approach compared to the SS-1. Both sound natural, but the Savant gains points for being more detailed. The signatures for both IEMs are neutral, but the Savant has a fuller and more laid-back sound than the SS-1.
The Savant has better staging with more identifiable details. It also has a more powerful bass frequency, adding more rumble to the sub-bass and more presence to its kicks. It also has a cleaner treble presence, as well as a smoother timbre. Vocals are smoother but still naturally presented.
Campfire Audio Andromeda
The Andromeda is a 5 BA universal IEM from Campfire Audio with a 12.8-ohm resistance and a 115 dB SPL/mW sensitivity rating. I only utilized around 16/100 of the volume level of the N8 compared to the SS-1’s 45/100 setting, making the Andromeda more sensitive and more efficient when using different sources. Its stock cable is a soft white twisted silver Litz cable with MMCX and 3.5mm TRS plugs compared to the SS-1’s generic black twisted OFC 2-pin cable.
I’d give a point to the SS-1 for its comfortable form factor and size since the Andromeda tends to give me hotspots on my ear after prolonged usage. Though, isolation is virtually a tie in this regard.
If we’re talking about the splurging of details, the presentation of the staging, and its inherent flexibility, the Andromeda wins hand’s down. It has a U-shaped signature compared to the SS-1’s neutral sound. The lower and higher frequencies have better clarity and extensions, the midrange is smooth and has a more natural sound. The whole frequency range has a wealth of detail when compared to the SS-1.
Regarding background hiss and noise, the Andromeda is sensitive enough to pick these up easily from any source. On the other hand, the SS-1 does not do this. So, you’re assured of a noise-free listening activity with the SS-1.
Single-driver IEMs always have limits on how they perform. However, the Soranik SS-1 has surprised me with its coherence and balance. Utilizing its stock accessories, it’ll provide satisfactory performance. But if you want it to match up against most dual-BA IEMs, you’ll have to simply change its cable and stock tips to those that you prefer and believe can help duplicate your preferred sound.
At $150 U.S., this is not a bad deal for budget-level gear considering the quality of the sound that you’ll be getting. I just hope Soranik will be able to at least upgrade its products’ packaging to have that feeling that what I paid for is truly worth its price because most cheaper Chi-fi budget gear has better packaging these days than the SS-1.
Soranik SS-1 Specifications
- Unique bullet design
- Small form factor that’s perfect for everyday carry
- Stainless steel shell
- Detachable cable with industry-standard 2-pin configuration
- Can be used with smartphones as well as DAPs and portable amplifiers