New IEM on the block - Musical Fidelity EB-50
Picked up a pair of these babies today.
I've owned more different iems than I've had hot dinners - from the low end Senns to the high end 3 and 4 driver sets.
And Musical Fidelity have hit the jackpot with these EB-50s.
Simply put, they are the best sounding iems I have ever tried.
The attention to detail in the whole package is brilliant - MF have clearly done their research and noted all the stress points that their competitors fail to cover, and ticked all the boxes when producing their debut in-ears. You can check out their website and other marketing material for details on what you get, but suffice it to say you should get a fit with these, no matter what size lugs you have.
For myself, I've had a brief play with some of the tips and found a pair that fit me snugger than bugs in rugs.
Worn over the ear, the earphones themselves are small and lightweight and pleasing aestheritically, in a functional, utilitarian way. The only concession to colour is the blue and red markings for left and right, and I like that - it's non-blingtastic in an understated 'does what it says on the (almost literal) tin' kinda way.
And these things do exactly what it says on the tin. Or in this case, box. The frequency response does indeed seem to back up MF's claims of being ruler-flat, with no frequency band being pronounced or coloured over another. 'Coloured' is not a term you'll hear associated with the EB-50s, I dont think. Everything sounds so natural and unforced and musical in precisely the way the track is meant to sound musical - i.e. you get the sense that all your ears are receiving is the music as intended.
A big claim eh? Well, so far (a few hours) into my listening, I think its true. Admittedly, I've only thrown a narrow range of genres at them - mostly guitar-based folk, Americana, a splash of Dr John, some Dylan, Nick Cave, Bonnie Prince Billy, etc. But every track so far has sounded utterly perfect and devoid of any distorted or maligned bandwidth. Vocals in particular are just so lifelike and textured. You can almost taste them. Lest you infer the mids as pronounced, let me state that they most definitely are not. Neither are they recessed - they're just where they need to be, and the same seems to go for bass and treble.
Soundstage is going to vary I think. according to whichever tips you use, but I'm loving the medium ones (not the ones that come fitted, but the medium black, non-colour cored ones from one of the two little plastic bags of tips that are provided. (MF have bundled so many tips, Ladbrokes must be 'well jel', as the kids are fond of saying these days.) Anyway, these mediums I'm using give me all the depth and breadth of soundstage I could wish for. I dont know whether thats because they have a wider bore nozzle than some other single balanced armatures I've owned (Etymotic ER4P & HF5, Klipsch X5 & X10, Samsung whatever they were called, etc), but the EB-50s are above average in presenting the instrumentation outside of the head, clearly spaced and layered in virtual 3 dimensional space. Nothing seems artificially placed or deliberately stretched - a complaint you could levy at some of the multi-driver units i've had.
And don't forget that these are just single BA iems. Incredible really, when you consider universal iems are now up to 4 drivers with Westone and Sony etc, not to mention the custom end of the market. To put out this quality of sound from a single driver is nothing short of a sonic miracle, in my book.
And for the ludicrously reasonable price of £150 too! That price point ultimately makes these homegrown beauties a real bargain and cause for celebration. Hand on wallet, they outperform products twice their price. It's a congested, competitive jungle where iems are concerned, and growing ever more so, but based on the admittedly limited time I've spent with them, we might just have a new king.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It lets me know what you think without getting all gushy about it.
Pics would really help. At least a link to the makers beauty shot? When I look at the knurling on the body it seems that would be handy to help rotate the body to the right position. I think others might be interested in seeing that.
You'll be coming back with more once you get more time with them? I know BA don't burn in but the brain does. It'll be interesting to hear what think when you've had more time to listen them in.
I think the price is actually on the money so to speak. Certainly they compete and compare favourably with iems at least a hundred quid more expensive, if not more.
In terms of distribution outside the UK, have a look here, where it seems they have a network of dealers who might be able to help: http://www.musicalfidelity.com/dealers/
Infowise, I wont bother posting pics, as the unboxing video on MF's website is much better and clearer in terms of what you get and what they look like:
I will of course post more thoughts as I get them on the EB-50s. So far though, they are seriously addictive and my recent pair of Sony XBA-4s will be gathering dust due to how totally unnatural they come across in comparison. And the Sonys are 4 driver BA, which leads me to question whether the number of drivers really does equal sound quality.
I know the old argument is about extension at both ends, but I am doubtful whether technically being able to hit the heavens or descend to hell really matters next to the mysteries of what makes our ears and brains respond to music positively.
I guess if I was to describe what i've heard from the EB-50s thus far, I'd say they are more extended in the bass than the highs, but thats difficult for me to quantify really as I dont think my upper range hearing is as good as it could be or as it used to be. And as studies show, us men have less sensitivity to treble than women anyway, so given Mobile Fidelity's niche audience is of a certain demographic (I'm guessing), top end sparkle and screech probably aren't a priority compared to juicy controlled basslines.
Put it this way though - while listening and walking home from work tonight, I found myself bouncing along in time to the rhythm sections of tracks in a way I haven't for oh, I dont recall how long. I've never had that from a single BA driver iem before and I actually dont think I've experienced that degree of atunement between my body and my portable music listening at all from any iem. Of course, there's so many factors and variables at play here that this is purely anecdotal and must be taken with the proverbial sack of salt, but its just an initial observation.
Time will tell. And in time, I'll try and tell more.....
I am officially in love with these iems. I've now tested with a range of different music genres, and every single one just works. Treble and bass extension previously mentioned are perfect. Female voices - just this morning I've been soaking up some Joanna Newsom and Gillian Welch - are as exquisitely rendered as male. And strings are sustained and lifelike enough for you to close your eyes and imagine you're in the room with the musicians.
Tonal accuracy is incredible, without any of the downsides of dryness or lack of musical involvement that some analytical iems produce.
Oh man, these things are beautiful - so lightweight and comfortable, I forget I'm wearing them and the soundstage is so coherent and clear as crystal, I just get lost in whatever's playing. And unlike with other iems I've had, I dont get itchy fingers quickly and want to switch tracks - these MF's (double entendre intended) somehow manage to pull you into the songs, weaving some kind of magic spell.
Someone else please get them and join me in pleasureland.
p.s. yes, I'm painfully aware this sounds like mental frothing hyperbole. But I don't care - its what I feel. We're talking music here, right, not applied mathematics.
There aren't mant reviews out there right now, but here's a nice one:
More news: Current favourite tips on these - which are really insanely comfortable and give the best sound so far - are the large Sennheiser single flange (any excuse to use that word) silicones....
And just to clarify some of the better iems I've owned in the past, which I do honestly believe these EB-50s manage to trump sonically:
Radius DDM, Hifiman RE252/262/272, Monster Turbine Pro Copper, Ortofon EQ-7, Audio Technica CK10, Etymotic ER4P/ER4S/HF5, Sony XBA-4iP, Earsonics SM3, Sennheiser IE8.
And thirdly: all of my listening is in flac format via an Internaitonal Samsung Galaxy S3 using Neutron Music Player.
The thread has been cleaned, feel free to discuss the IEMs. Stay on topic, don’t needlessly bump the thread and take this post as a warning of the discussion we had.
At this point I don’t give a crap if you work for MF or you’re just a friend. What the other posters in this thread don’t know about; from your first post on abi you PM’d me and asked for advice/recommendation. After I recommended a course of action what did you do? You did exactly what I told you not to do … like I said, I don’t give a crap about your agenda hidden or not. When you reach out to someone offline and come back to create hoopla around your thread something is not right and you’re not worth the trouble. So if this thread gets out of hand again, I’ll just do what needs to be done.
I've removed some needless flamebait here. I'm also closing it for now.
Personal insults aren't tolerated here. Period. Anyone that doesn't understand that will lose the ability to insult anyone on this forum again.
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