CanJam at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2017 – Part 2, Earphones & CIEMs

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Earphones and in-ear monitors

Final E2000 earphone

Final showed the second member of its hyper-affordable E-series earphone range: namely, the E2000 model, which sells for just $44.90 (or $45 in round numbers). The E2000 is conceptually similar to the E3000 as recently reviewed in Hi-Fi+, but is deliberately given slightly warmer and more bass-enriched voicing, which will certainly be pleasing to listeners who prefer earphones with a moderate touch of bass lift. As with the E3000, build quality for the E2000 is very high, especially in light of the modest selling prices. This is an earphone that is inexpensive, but by no means ‘cheap’.

FiiO F9 earphone

The value-minded team at FiiO proudly showed its new F9 earphone, which features the hybrid combination of a single dynamic bass/mid-bass driver plus two balanced armature-type drivers. The dynamic driver uses a light but very strong PEK (polyether ketone) diaphragm. Claimed frequency response is 15Hz to 40kHz. The F9 comes with an extensive set of accessories and is set-up for use with user replaceable MMCX-connector-equipped signal cables. The F9 ships with both a balanced signal cable and a single-ended cable fitted with an inline mic/remote module. The price: $99.95.

Noble 3x balanced armature driver earphone prototype and dynamic driver earphone prototype.

Noble co-founder Dr John ‘The Wizard’ Moulton put in a rare appearance at CanJam RMAF (Pictured above, left, with Noble's Brannon Mason pictured right) and he took time to speak with Hi-Fi+ about three upcoming Noble models he has under development (we got to hear the prototype versions, but at Noble’s request we did not photograph them as their appearance is expected to change considerably en route to production).

The first new model will be part of Noble’s universal-fit earphone range and will feature triple balanced armature-type drivers.  This model will likely take its place somewhere in the range between Noble’s present Trident model ($399) and the recently released Sage model ($599). In fact, we would not be surprised to see the new earphone presented as an updated variation on the Trident theme.

Then, the next two models are what Moulton characterizes as EDC or Every Day Carry models that will—for the first time in Noble history—be based on all-new single dynamic drivers. The dynamic models will come in two versions: an entry-level model with an aluminium earpiece/driver enclosure that should sell for about $120, and an upscale model with brass earpiece/driver enclosures and that will come with a higher quality signal cable. The upscale model will sell for about $299.

The aluminium model should appear around November of 2017, while the brass model will follow later on. Based on a brief listen to the prototypes, we were impressed by the levels of performance Noble’s new dynamic drivers were able to achieve (their sound is reminiscent of that produced by Noble’s more costly balanced armature-equipped earphones).

RHA MA390 Universal earphone

The MA390U ($29.95/£19.95) is the entry-level earphone in the RHA line-up, yet it provides some of the same core ingredients as found in the Scottish firm’s more upscale offerings such as solid aluminium earpiece enclosures and dedicated RHA type 130.8 dynamic drive units. What is more, the earphone comes with an inline universal remote/mic module.

RHA S500 Universal earphone

The ultra-compact S500U ($39.95/£29.95) is the latest iteration of RHA’s popular S500 earphone that again features aluminium earpiece enclosures, a purpose built RHA type 140.1 dynamic drive units, and an inline universal remote/mic module. Like virtually all RHA earphones, the S500U comes with a broad and useful set of ear tips.

RHA MA650 Wireless earphone

The MA650 Wireless is RHA’s new entry-level Bluetooth earphones that features earpieces fashioned from 6063 aluminium, a custom RHA model 308.1 dynamic driver, and a necklace-type AAC, aptX, and SBC-compatible Bluetooth receiver amplifier module with built-in 3-button universal remote. The earphone offers 12 hours of battery life per charge. Voicing is reasonably neutral but with a touch of bass lift and somewhat pronounced bump in the upper midrange/lower treble ‘presence’ region.

RHA MA750 Wireless

The MA750 Wireless ($169.95/£149.95) is in essence a wireless/Bluetooth adaptation of RHA’s classic MA750i passive earphone.  In fact, the MA750 Wireless is essentially what happens if you were to take a set of MA750i earphones and to marry them with RHA’s necklace-type wireless/Bluetooth module. The earphones proper feature 303F stainless steel earpiece enclosures, RHA’s precision =-made 560.1 dynamic drivers, and come with a very broad range of ear tips. The Bluetooth module is essentially identical to the one used in the MA650 Wireless earphone and supports AAC, aptX, SBC Codecs. Voicing is admirably neutral.

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