Today we are going to look at some of the lesser CIEMs that I have received along the way. I would love to say that I love all my many custom monitors but some are just tragic, so bad that I throw them out my ears in disgust and think none of you should ever even consider purchasing them. Of all the bad ones, two really stand out as the worst culprits. The first is from Japan (the Earmo Shake 112), known normally for having great quality with brands like FitEar, Earmo have lots of cheesy designs like a cow figurine hanging out the faceplate. Mine are designed nuts with glitter, artwork and loads of colours. The sound is just as erratic but more on that later. The cost is not huge but still a piss take at 69,120 Japanese Yen, which is roughly £380. The next model, is the Starkey Tunz Trio. This is one of the three Trio variations, with there also being a B for bass version and an XB version I am sure you can work out. Starkey used to work with the guys that are now M-Fidelity for some decent sounding designs but for whatever reason went separate ways and decided on their own range. Options are poor, build is tacky and price is not near good enough at £500. Really scary stuff.
When it comes to the sound of both of these it just seems the guys behind them do not have a CLUE about acoustic design, phase linearity, driver matching, or what good sound is. They have learnt how to make a custom shell, and then solder some balanced armatures inside, 4 for the Earmo, 3 for the Starkey. It really is that simple, the drivers do not seem to compliment each other and the sound has no coherency. Its worrying and it way past me not just liking these earphones, they just sound tragic, I would take a lot of budget options other them such as cheap Vsonics and Fischer Audios. In fact I would rather listen to my £12 Sony MH1c over both of them, that surely says enough.
Measuring the basic looking Starkey Tunz Trio
Well let’s take a look at the measurements, subjective impressions would be futile as I can not construct any real sense from how bad the sound is, although I have sort of reviewed the Starkey’s on the old site. Mentioning the Starkey’s, here are the measurements.
After you have processed this mess, I will then go ahead and say these actually sound a bit better than the Earmo’s, whatever that means. First and foremost the channel imbalance is hilairous, Starkey clearly do not measure their earphones, nor do they check for similar sounding channels. The curves are similar but by no means the same, what were they thinking. The measurements show decent depth to the bass and a very obvious boosting after 1kHz making these a bassy earphone. What the hell would the B or XB versions measure like, I wish to never find out. Ok I am a touch curious. The best thing about these has to be the lack of any nooks and bumps, over than the little one after 4kHz on the right channel and a small peak up at around 12kHz. That being said the downward ski slope is not a nice signature, the channel mis match is audible and things like coherenecy and general sound is awful.
Now want to see a CIEM out bad the Starkey, well welcome to Earmo’s Shake 112.
My right channel was gold and glittery, the left has multi coloured swirls with my name in Japanese. The build is still bad though and quality is not there.
WTF!!! No seriously, what is going on. Hmm ok, better channel matching here by quite a clear margin, and hey look, bass is pretty flat from 20Hz to 1kHz but then buckle up as we on a roller coaster ride. From 4 to 5kHz the we lose like 30dB, so much that it goes off the graph. Yes it reinvents itself by 10kHz before falling off the earth again but that stupidity after 1kHz is clearly what makes this such a bad earphone. Its as bad as it look, maybe even worse and while Earmo are coming out with loads of new models, this has done enough damage to me.
Don’t Buy a CIEM for CIEMs Sake
Often people look at custom in ear monitors as the end game of portable audio and maybe if you get a good one, that is the case. But make sure you get a good one because there are quite a few stinkers out there. On top of that some universals are closing the gap, JH Audio’s Layla and Angie, Heir Audio’s universal line, Dunu’s Hybrid series, FitEar, Campfire Audio and these are just to name a few. CIEMs have their benefits but so fo universal fit monitors and you should not get one just for the sake of it, as these products show, you can never be to careful.