The Elements C-12 provides a welcome alternative to the sometimes shrill and top heavy BA’s in the market today instead offering a smooth bass tuned presentation with a very liquid and warm tonality from top to bottom. The C-12 is engineered for long term low fatigue listening and a slight nod to the consumer market with a fairly responsive mid-bass impact that whilst not the tightest or the boomiest I have come across it does hit pretty hard when required. The mids are perhaps a little mixed with plenty of rich lush tonality on the lower mids and a fairly forward vocal stage but the clarity just gets a shade muted the further up in the range resulting in a relatively tapered and slightly veiled treble top end which lacks a bit of articulation to truly shine. I did say consumer orientated though so its not an overly dark earphone but those craving BA levels of articulation and top end sparkle might be a bit disappointed. The imaging is fairly coherent with good left to right separation and a decent soundstage. I don’t think crossfeed purists will moan too much about the C-12 capability there considering the price point.
The C-12 is relatively easy to drive though I did find they required just a bit more volume un-amped in my standard iPod Classic than some other IEM’s coming in around 60-75% so a small neutral amp will help out in this case. My suggestion for the C-12 for matching would be something like an Ibasso D-Zero or a JDS Labs O2 or paired with a Fostex HP-P1 if amping out of an iGadget. It doesn’t need a ton of power though so if you happen to pop out without an amp don’t fret the C-12 handles most things perfectly fine out of your DAP jack. Just try to avoid warm fuzzy dark amps like the FiiO E11 and think about a little EQ at the top and bottom end just to balance things out.
Genre wise most are going to buy this for the bass response and the non fatiguing top end. Some dance genres or beats orientated R&B sound just great from the C-12 though those which suit the likes of the ATH M-50 v-shape curve might not fare so well. Just accept you have slightly less to work with at the top-end and you will get along fine with the C-12 for hours and hours.
I have to admit I enjoyed the Elements C-12 a lot more than I expected I would. Its quite an endearing little woody IEM with a very relaxed, lush and smooth musical presentation. It does lack a level of articulation and detail that after a while might leaving audiophiles craving for more but bassheads should be relatively satisfied with its bass tuned though in no way overpowering performance. I do look forward to seeing what more is coming out of the Pristine Note production line but for a very first effort I think the C-12 deserves to be ranked up there with the Hisoundaudio’s PO-PO as a very competent budget woody IEM.
Driver : 8 mm (CCAW)
Impedance : 18 Ohms @ 1 KHz
Frequency : 17 to 20 KHz
Sensitivity : 102 dB
Total length : 1.2 mts (split length 28 cms)
Channel Balance : < 2.5% dB @ 1 KHz
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