After a brief interruption due to worldwide quarantine, we continue to introduce you to the latest in portable audio. It's time to escape from all this fuss and return to the beautiful, to the music.
Indeed, as we say in Russia, “Music helps us build and live,” and listening to your favorite compositions in good quality is even more fun. Anyway, all the hardships and troubles will pass sooner or later, and art - forever.
Today we are reviewing, perhaps, one of the most worthy of the world representatives of the highest quality audio, in-ear monitors from the respected German brand InEar Monitoring, a 10-driver model - ProMission X (PMX).
You all know very well that I have special feelings for German audio mastering, I mean the convergence of phonograms by sound engineers in the studio, their feeling and understanding of sound, as well as their technique, and audio carriers in general. So this time, getting to know inEar has sent me straight to the real audiophile catharsis. This is a blessed occasion when you know that the meeting promises to be fantastic and the result still exceeds all expectations. But enough with the talk, let's get down to parsing these miracle headphones essentially.
However, it is worthwhile to first say a few words about InEar Monitoring itself. So, for those who are not in the know, a short digression into the history of the brand. InEar is a German company that has been successfully researching professional audio and manufacturing in-ear monitors, as well as hearing aids and hearing protectors, for 27 years.
These specialized products are actively used by musicians and sound engineers, and for lovers of high-quality portable sound there is a series of StageDiver IEMs, the ProPhile 8 model and now the new flagship - ProMission X. InEar also has a range of CIEM (custom Headphones) - LivePro Series: LivePro 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
The ProPhile 8 and ProMission X models are only available in a universal package. The main difference between the universal IEM from inEar, and models from other manufacturers is the extraordinary comfort of wearing them and excellent sound insulation. These are perhaps the only earphones in the world that are not inferior to custom monitors (CIEM) in their ergonomic qualities. Well, about the transcendental sound level of any inEar product, I can talk for a long time and excitedly, but we really need to go directly to the review.
Text: Alexey Kashirskey (aka Hans Barbarossa)
We thank InEar Monitoring for the provided listening sample.
System: 4-way system (10 BA drivers)
Material: Hybrid wood
Frequency response: 10Hz to 20kHz
Sensitivity: 120dB / mW
Appearance, kit and ergonomics
In the standard version, the IEM come in a black cardboard box that snaps onto a magnet, with a signature purple seal sticker on which the inEar logo, company address, and model information are located. In my case, the PMX arrived in an exclusive wooden box with an InEar logo carved on the lid and the slogan “hear the difference”. And it’s simply impossible not to hear, I’m telling you this for sure. Inside, a Sound with a capital letter awaits us, which is fundamentally different from what we heard earlier.
It should be noted right away that the retail version of the headphones, in addition to the box, which is also very pretty, is no different from mine. Inside your box with ProMission X, you'll find what you see in my photos.
Well, the kit is simply gorgeous. Opening the treasured chest, we find a branded leather round case in black with the brand logo, designed to store and carry headphones. Inside the case, we are waiting for the headphones themselves with a removable cable installed in them, 4 pairs of silicone tips (sizes XS, S, M and L), 3 pairs of foam Comply TS400 tips (sizes: S, M, L), wipes for earphones care, a tablet for draining excess moisture, an adapter 3.5 / 6.3 mm, a brush for cleaning sound ducts, a set of sulfur filters H3 and a nice little instruction book. In general, there is everything you need that you might ever need to use IEM.
Externally, the PMX is unrealistically cool. To begin with, this is the most ergonomic shell I've ever had to wear. The universal case is made flawlessly, as if by an individual cast of the ear. And this is no accident. The fact is that for many years the company collected and studied ear impressions/imprints of various shapes, and as a result, managed to find a common denominator that was most comfortable for everyone. Yes, I myself sent my impressions to inEar a couple of years ago, which is why my ears served for the benefit of the audiophile part of humanity. In general, no magic, but many years of painstaking work, experience, knowledge of the matter, golden hands and German accuracy.
The shell of this ProMission X is a fancy alloy consisting of acrylic and several natural wood species. This is an extraordinarily beautiful glossy, smooth surface, on which a bewitching pattern spreads subtly, where the purple-violet space odyssey enters into close contacts of the third degree with forest civilization. And if it seems to you now that I have peered at these phantasmagoric patterns for too long, then it is, but I hasten to reassure that it does not entail any consequences other than extreme visual pleasure - admire this magical miracle as much as you like.
Despite the universal design of the PMX shell, the sound insulation of these IEMs, as in the case of CIEM, is at a fairly high level. So when listening to your favorite music in the hustle and bustle of traffic, nothing should stop you.
Within each IEM placed 10 BA drivers/receivers. Above is a connector for connecting a cable. Replaceable filters are installed in the sound pipes, which serve to protect against moisture and sulfur. The complete cable is similar to what we saw on the SD-2, SD-5 and PP8 models: braided, made of oxygen-free copper, 2pin plug, jack L-shaped 3.5mm, with hard earhooks. For my part, there are no complaints about the cable, and having tried a number of more expensive cables from different conductors to study the sound, I still decided to return to the complete wire. For me, by the way, it is very convenient, but the hard ear hooks are, perhaps, not for everybody. Whether I will change this cable, wait and see. For example, in the case of SD-2, I prefer to use just such a cable, while paired with PP8 I really like the red HanSound RedCore.
Well, according to the results of the first part of the review, ProMission X deserves the highest awards. But the most important thing, as you know, is still ahead: we move on to the analysis of sound. And believe me, conducting a “dry” analysis without the admixture of my overwhelming enthusiastic emotions this time was especially difficult.
Listening was conducted with: MyST DAC 1866OCU V.2, Lotoo paw Gold, iBasso DX220, QLS QA-361, iFI xDSD, iFI micro iDSD Black Lable & Lotoo PAW S1.
With all the devices, PMX played at a high level, the handwriting changed slightly depending on the source, giving PMX its unique shade.
The sound of ProMission X I would describe as well-balanced, smooth, with excellent transmission of the emotional component, the development of micro- and macro-nuances, excellent speed characteristics and amazing musicality. The musical canvas is drawn unusually lively, embossed, rich and contrasting, with excellent transmission of sound tones and a meticulous study of the details of the composition.
Unlike its ProPhile-8 brothers (with the high and low frequency toggle switches turned off), the PMX demonstrates a slight neat rise in the lower register area, with a well-developed, technical bass, as well as a light accent and a more sophisticated manner in the high-frequency region. These well-placed accents do not draw attention to yourself, the PMX sound remains neutral with the main action taking place in the mid-frequency range, but at the same time the listened to songs are added the very highlight, mood, richness of detail and a bit of expression. In general, ProMission X sounds a little more driving and emotional than PP8. The inclusion of the toggle switches Low and High on ProPhile-8 allows you to achieve a similar result, quantitatively low frequencies become even a little more than the hero of today's review, PMX against this background sound more balanced and accurate. In general, the very manner of sound of these IEM models is different, although family ties are, of course, captured.
I would say so, if ProPhile-8 is the sound of a high-class thoroughbred studio monitor, then ProMission X is an expensive home Hi-End speaker system tuned by the same people, but for a different purpose. Namely - to maximize the emotions and enjoyment of listening to your favorite music, without regard to more emasculated studio standards. InEar engineers set themselves a difficult task and dealt with it, in my opinion, excellently.
Yes, at the same time, personally, I would not strongly rank the sound of these two IEM models, each of them has its own unique handwriting and unique charm, and between them there are both common features and various. So here it is a matter of taste and personal preference. I also want to, since we remembered InEar's IEMs, to remember the IEM StageDiver SD-2 model that I adore and the chic StageDiver SD-5, which visited our editorial office and about which I wrote a review, they are also worthy of close attention. But let's return to the analysis of the sound of our today's hero.
From the very first minutes of listening, PMX impresses with its excellent resolution and rather spreading stereo panorama with precise localization of virtual sound sources in a space where each musical instrument is clearly in place. Here, every sound, its movement, as well as the impact force, are clearly distinguishable. This is a naturalistic manner of sound with a wide dynamic range, excellent technicality and a light, emotional color. All material is presented authentically, thoroughly and very musically. Amazing perfect driver consistency and a complete absence of phase distortion.
Low frequencies - dense, fast, with a good study of textures and excellent control. There is a clear cotton, and a tight, biting beat, and textured agile bass. I turn on Brian Bromberg's “Freedom jazz dance”, and here it is - an extremely accurate transfer of playing the bass guitar, where you don’t even listen with your ears, but with some of your inner fibers you feel the tension of the string, its beating on the pickup, you plunge into a bewitching timbre variety and richness of overtones. There is not even a hint of buzz and muttering, but there is quantity and quality combined with excellent balance. The sub-bass region smoothly and harmoniously passes to the mid-bass, which, in turn, life-giving complements the middle, filling it with depth, warmth and bodily substance.
It should be noted, however, that the bassheads are likely to remain unsatisfied. But for me personally everything is impeccable.
Mid frequencies are neutral, smooth, with excellent texture transfer and excellent resolution. Not a single detail escapes the listener.
Extremely naturalistic is the emotional component of the composition. Strings and wind instruments are chased and clean, guitar riffs cut through the air, vocal parts excite your ears so that they take your breath away, and the pianist’s nimble fingers crumble openly over the keys - everything is beautiful, relaxed and with a proper touch of expression. This is an unusually naturalistic, smooth, spacious and very musical manner. The positioning of instruments in space is clearly calibrated and realistic.
ProMission X demonstrates excellent detail and amazing visualization of sound images in space. Gracefully!
High frequencies sound lingering, sophisticated, legible, with good articulation, aftertone transmission and enviable correctness. This is a detailed, spacious, smooth and comfortable feed. This register has an elegant and light accent that adds air to the listening songs, but it is done correctly and accurately. There is no excessive brightness, but there is a magnificent working out of this range and a natural, extremely musical sound without sharpness and distortion.
In terms of genre preferences, InEar PMX is not at all capricious: they play very interestingly both classical music, instrumental, jazz, electronica, rock, and brutal genres.
ProMission X - Extraordinary IEM. This is definitely “TOTAL IEM”, a model of the highest class, with its charm and sophisticated musical flavor, which will find many admirers among the most demanding connoisseurs of sound. Everything is here: a perfectly balanced, clean and genuine sound, causing a storm of emotions, original design, unprecedented ergonomics and a rich set.
It remains only to inform about the price of this pleasure. On the manufacturer’s website inear-monitoring.eu IEM, the ProMission X model can be purchased for 2089 €. Yes, the price is not small, but the sound is worth so much from which you lose peace, head and sleep, and even in such an very original design.
In general, if you have the opportunity to fork out for a chic sound, then I without any hesitation recommend inEar PMX for purchase.
Sound, ergonomics, design, workmanship, kit.
No, (if you remove the price from the brackets).
The more I listen, the more I like it. PMX is just awesome IEM