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Headfonics 2015

The SA-43 CIEM by M-Fidelity

The Final Product

I have to say the SA-43 in white with the beige switches and cable looks a lot better than the pictures in real life but in the end it doesn’t match the imagination and flair of the competitors in that respect. The SA-43 is more of a nod to functionality and durability over wow factor. Build quality is very smooth indeed on the shell and I can have no complaints there. With the silicone fill inside the shell it feels solid and more robust than I imagined it would be. The silicone fill is done through M-Fidelity’s slightly newer, slightly slower silicone fill process which has a significant reduction in bubbles in the end product from the original units some years ago. I only could find one or two at the most which is not bad actually.

The Shell and Design

The final shell and plate color combination is slightly flat with some off white in the shell and a pure white thick front plate. It’s not uniform but it’s not a clash of contrasts either. You can see where both join quite easily. It is not subtle in that respect, almost slightly DIY, but in terms of how it is put together it doesn’t look hastily made or likely to fall apart. I can see the SA-43 shell and plate taking a few knocks and still come out smiling. Durable rather than dynamic is how I would describe the physical form factor and design.

Switches

The switches on the face plate are ever so slightly thicker and longer than the VE6X from Vision Ears single switch and are placed slightly further up the plate. I find that slightly more reassuring as it doesn’t get caught up in my fingers a lot when inserting into my ear like the VE6x has done a few times. They are easy to flick up and down though so it is possible to have a change in dynamics without realizing it when putting them on if you touch them accidently. They are incredibly easy to reach and manipulate though during listening sessions so placement is good thus far. Durability I am not sure, some rate switches for 100k plus up and downs, no ratings from M-Fidelity but you have to guess a similar ball park figure or more.

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Fit & Seal

The fit and seal are good, I mean really good. They sit solid and deep with 100% isolation and are very comfortable inside the ear. Partial credit to the audiologist for providing the impressions to make this possible but overall M-Fidelity have really nailed the fine line between comfortable and tightly sealed. The depth they managed to get on the nozzle is superior also to similar designs such as the Custom Art Harmony 8, the 1964EARS V8 and the AAW W300AR. Nothing is getting past these CIEMs in terms of background noise or leakage and there is zero pressure any contours of my outer ear and canal entry. The wax guards on the dual bore canals handily are also in white meaning I got a little bit of color coordination there if slightly unintentional.

I discounted the big bore designs of Vision Ears and Rhines since the shape on these means they cannot go as deep however in terms of comfort these are up there with the VE6X and ahead of Rhines Stage 5 slightly tighter but great sealing fit.

Cables & Sockets

The SA-43 has a non-recessed 2-pin socket located on the top for over the ear wearing. The sockets are not as tight as the Rhines or Noble 4 universal sockets but there it’s a solid fit for the detachable socket cable. The cable itself, beige in all its glory, is a 49″ twisted plaint cable that doesn’t suffer from too much microphonics and much the same as most stock cables from CIEM manufacturers.

It is terminated with a 3.5mm right angle jack with a good cable tension relief rubber finish. It comes with the usual chin tighter at the y-socket which is also strengthened with the same cable resistance rubber and it’s finished at the top with plastic memory retention covers to handily bend and shape round your ear to reduce microphonics and keep the whole thing steady. I can have no complains on the stock cable but if you have 2-pin aftermarket cable preferences this is an easy switchover physically.

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Accessories

Accessories for the SA-43 are ok actually, nothing amazing like Vision Ears or the 1964EARS hard case bonanza but again erring to the functional and useful side. The small pill case looks like it couldn’t fit a pin in it but surprisingly it works and handy for pocketability and on the go. The larger case it comes in is semi stiffened and reasonably durable with foam contoured sections on the inside to house the accessories and the earphones itself. Apart from the two carry cases you get the wax guard replacements and a cleaning tool as well as a little technical and user manual stuck in the upper webbed pouch area of the main hard case.

Page 3: Sound Impressions

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