Due to ranging success and an extensive product line, if you come across Heir Audio for the first time now it is easy to overlook they are still only a few years old and the item that put them on the map in the first place, is a current model the 8.A. The 8.A was and is the company flagship, a custom IEM with 8 drivers and is highly regarded for it is spacious and warm sound signature. A short while later they entered the universal market and you probably know how that went, at the time I LOVED the 4.Ai while I have since fallen out with it (although it has now been through a revision anyway). The 4.Ai had 4 drivers, which at the time was as many as any company had managed, that being said, the wheel started to be reinvented on what was acceptable for a universal IEM. They started to get bigger, more balanced armature drivers were getting squeezed in, Heir had their effort with the IEM 5.0 and then EarSonic moved things on with a 6 driver and before we know it Unique Melody have a universal version of their 10 driver Mentor and JH Audio have a universal version of the 12 driver Roxanne. For Heir it wasn’t just a case of putting the 8 drivers from the 8.A into their universal shell they already had but designing a whole new shell that was going to be as ergonomic as possible while being fitting for the 2 Knowles DTEC and 2 TWFK twin drivers that the 8.A used. Once they had that sorted though, the IEM 8.0 was born. Other than the usual benefits of getting a universal over a custom (faster order time, better resell value, no refits etc) it is also 200 USD cheaper than its custom kin at $1099.
Like their other universal models this comes without customization but that doesn’t stop it looking absolutely stunning. Heir have always been known as the pioneers of wood and you have a silky Siamese Rose Wood faceplate over a dark smoke shell, it really is a very pleasing look, nicer than any other universal I have owned, spare the other Heir models of course.
In regard to build quality they are placed together much smoother than the 2.Ai with the faceplate seamlessly blending into the rest of the housing. That being said it seems like they have gone back to making these by hand, like they would a CIEM, instead of how they make all their other models these days. I say this because while my 2.Ai shells have an identical profile, my left 8.0 monitor seems a little deeper and it also has a slightly more raised concha lock. That being said this was only detected on a very thorough inspection and I am sure as they move forward and make these IEMs more, they will probably getting matched better. They of course have the usual drawbacks of acrylic, such as a risk of smashing but I don’t let this phase me to much as I should imagine like me, you will look after your 8.0s!
The cables are obviously removable and these come with Heirs “Magnus 1” cable option, which they originally developed for those who wanted more than the generic stock cable could offer and actually has its own price of $149. It is a quad braided cable that features Kevlar to make it insanely strong. It is also a very ergonomic and flexible cable and allegedly contains some silver although Heir doesn’t go into any more detail than that regarding wire used. In this case it is certainly one of the nicest stock cables I have come across with only the likes of what the JH Audio Roxanne comes with being favourable.
Comfort wise, call me impressed. When it comes to fitting a lot of drivers into a universal shell that will be able to fit everyone, it can’t be easy. JH Audio 12 driver Roxanne universal is by example, not great, the shell is huge, it isn’t the most comfy and this just doesn’t do great for ones image and the same goes for the image of universal IEMs with stupidly high driver counts. While the Heir 8.0 is certainly bigger than Heirs last universal offerings as well as all of your average, run of the mill models, this still, somehow, manages. I think this is due to some well thought out ergonomics with these almost fitting like a custom, each of its bumps fitting into the different contours of my ear just right. Acrylic is light so they don’t feel like a burden on your ear, especially with the over the ear wearing style of this distributing what weight they do have very nicely. My one little niggle with them actually comes from the slightly emphasized concha lock on the left monitor, causing just a little bit of pressure to my outer ear, after some more intense and long listening sessions.
Next to the smaller 2.Ai
Talking about long listening sessions these are a pair of earphones that really allow you to have them. I can listen for hours, fatigue free, mainly due to a sound signature that incorporates such a relaxed treble. On the other end of the frequency range though we have the exact opposite with a forward and bodied bass, a bass that has a close focus on the mid-bass and continues that forward nature into the midrange.
My Listening Rig – PWAK120-B/Vorzuge Vorzamp Pure/PWAudio Blackicon Cables (Interconnect and IEM Cable)
While there is no denying that these are a top tier sounding earphone, up their with the best, they certainly do things their own way, bringing perhaps the best representation of the warm/sweet or bassy signature I have ever heard, and that’s no easy statement. This is not too say compared to more neutral options (a more common signature) in this more expensive range they do not lack in some areas. Things like speed and detail certainly feel lacking when comparing to the likes of my Lear LCM-5 and M-Fidelity SA-43 and even some cheaper options like the Dunu DN-2000. I will be quite up front with you and say that if this worries you then maybe these just wont be for you, these monitors aren’t trying to be your new reference monitor, just give you a very pleasant, easy and lush listening experience, one that is musical and fun.
Overall technicalities are of course not bad, these do a great job with explosive dynamic and macro details, and they have a vast dynamic range and are very smooth. Yes they smooth other some rough edges and don’t have the last word in transparency and yes your not getting every little micro detail but then this leaves these as a bit of genre master, they love music, pop, rock, jazz and their vast soundstage even helps them compliment my range of classical DSD tracks.
The bass digs deep, it provides rumble that you can feel, rumble that is not shy and will happily whollop you back and forth when called for. Even though they have some raw power down deep, I still feel we get more quantity in the mid-bass, the most accentuated range with these earphones and it is a warm, cozy wave of bass. It has a slightly elongated decay and not the most solid impacting due to an elegant fluidity.
For an earphone with an up front mid-bass they get into the midrange very cleanly. This probably has a lot do with how the forward theme continues right into the midrange, even more obviously with the lower mids, which are warm, cozy and lush, oh and buttery smooth. There is no doubt in my mind that they do start to drop into the higher midarange, which are a little less etched and don’t have an overdone sense of clarity. The slope continues into that chilled out treble, treble that is a nice guy who says his point but doesn’t try and push it any more than that. It is quite fast too be fair but it doesn’t have a lot of sparkle, the best extension or sense of air. It is creamy in texture and it just soothes you as a listener.
This is all thrown into a vast and impressive soundstage, something I don’t say too often about IEMs and when I do, its is not on this scale. While the Tralucent 1plus2 and JH Audio Roxanne and still more 3D, the 8.0 still puts out a sound that is all around your head, throws instrument very wide and even though I said thee aren’t the fastest monitors in the world, the soundstage certainly helps in giving instruments a deserved space, which they become isolated in.
If your after that signature, then your in for a treat, I have not comes across an earphone that quite nails it like the 8.0. It is also easily of the of the best universals I have heard in all aspects, fits great, great accessory pack (Otterbox case, loads of tips, cleaning tool), comes with an upgrade cable and with the sound it provides, it doesn’t leave you questioning the price tag. Its even more perfect for those on the fence of buying a custom 8.A, as you can always resell this nice and quick if you don’t like it and it is my favourite Heir Audio product too date, I think the future is continuously bright for these guys!
By Sonny Trigg