A Voice of Metal and Clay – A Review of the IMR Acoustics R1

The IMR Acoustics R1 with the Pink filter is a wonderfully dynamic, aggressive IEM which easily falls into the V-Shaped category. There’s an abundance of everything, all the time. Detailing is on equal footing with big bad bass attacks. Texture and articulation are given top priority, while smoothness and timbre get the leftovers.

No matter what filter you use, there’s a lot of treble. Easily too much. It’s bright and shimmery and desperately lacks warmth. I favored Copper for so long because it recessed those highs a bit more than Pink. But even then, it did not deliver a particularly natural tonality. The R1 is simply tuned bright.

There is a kind of artificial, plastic quality to the upper registers. Though it makes up for it with a tremendous amount of air and extension. Headroom for days! There is so much atmosphere filling the space between elements, giving you a thoroughly realistic sense of the stage. Significant quantities of light beam down to reveal every subtle artifact and micro detail. All things told, the highs do more right than wrong. But I can’t help but imagine just how perfect the R1 could be with smoother, warmer treble.

The mids are recessed with the filters I like. If you can do without the bass, there are setups which bring things closer to the front. Using Pink filter, however, they are a good step back on the stage. Fortunately, they are also clear as f**k and of large scale, so you never lose them in the mix.

Despite the descriptions, there is no filter that makes the vocals full, lush, or romantic. They aren’t exactly on the thin side, but they sure as shit aren’t blessed with any great body or warmth, either. Where they shine is in clarity and articulation. Textures are well-rendered, and the artist’s grit is brought out nicely. They have pretty good transparency, feeling airy and effortless.

Electric guitars have excellent speed and savagely satisfying crunch. The texture and grit really comes through here as well. You are treated to a lovely, lifelike reproduction of mid-range instruments, with sparkle, depth, and high degrees of control.

The bass… oh, that bass. No question, my favorite part of the R1. It has such presence and power. You feel it, in a profound, visceral way. 13mm drivers move air like a motherf**ker. It just sounds BIG, on a level independent of tuning. Your ears can tell these lows emit from a larger diaphragm.

With the Pink filter, the bass is elevated a decent amount over neutral, but I find the balance absolutely superb. It does not overshadow the other frequencies, instead filling out the presentation with strong, deep notes which adds weight and authority. There’s more sub-bass than mid or upper bass, attributing to the clean, cooler vocals. R1’s low-end is tight and quick, despite the quantity. It strikes hard, and the decay doesn’t overstay its welcome. Extension stretches well past audible range, ensuring you miss nothing. For me, this portion of the tuning is nearly perfect. I’d like a little more in the 150hz-300hz, for the sake of note body and warmth, but really, these IEMs are doing quite well down below.

Soundstage is gargantuan, in particular with the vents Open. It’s wide and tall, and rather deep, for a pretty even cube shape. I mentioned before, this stage is full of air, which helps it feel all the grander for it. Imaging is spot-on-accurate. Resolution is well above average for even TOTL IEMs, as is separation. In truth, these perform better than most things I’ve tested. They have superb technical strength.

$700 is a weird price-range. I have plenty of headphones much cheaper, and much more expensive, but I have very few options close to that mark. Two of them happen to be Campire Audio pieces. So I guess I’ll give you a comparison to each of them.

Campfire Audio Dorado ($999, Review HERE) actually has very little in common with the sound of the R1, despite being a hybrid with a dynamic driver. The treble is thicker and sweeter and capable of its own brand of sparkle. The R1 has quite a bit more air and extension. Dorado’s vocals are drastically warmer and smoother, with far greater body. This is due to Dorado’s wealth of mid-bass, which is accompanied by all the lower bass you could ever want. Indeed, Dorado is a fantastic, warm, bassy IEM, and all about soothing, velvety audio. R1 is leaner in the upper bass, leading to an altogether leaner, more revealing mid-range. Because of this, and its brighter treble, R1 is more detailed and sharp-sounding. Dorado is perhaps more natural and musical, delivering a rounder presentation, with more overtones. Dorado’s soundstage is nearly as wide, but nowhere near as tall or deep. Resolution and separation, also, have a long way to go before they’re as acutely defined as R1.

Campfire Audio Jupiter ($799, Review HERE) is brighter in the treble than Dorado, but not R1 bright. The TAEC system creates a thicker, shimmery high-range, while R1 is thinner and a bit brittle in comparison. Jupiter is less extended up top, and not as airy. Vocals are further back, smaller, and more V-Shaped. They are closer to R1 in detail and texture, though not quite on that level. The mids are fuller and warmer than R1, but not as smooth as Dorado. The bass, coming from Balanced Armatures, is not as physical and satisfying. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of it, and sufficient quantity of upper bass for a full, weighty sound all through the mids. Soundstage is ok, but not great. R1 is bigger on all axes. And you called it, R1 beats it in resolution and separation, though Jupiter does a better job than Dorado.

One of my favorite-sounding IEMs is the DUNU DK-3001 ($469, Review HERE). It is a much smoother, more liquid sound, while retaining most of the air and clarity the R1 offers. Yet the R1 is the more aggressive in-ear, with details coming at you in a more obvious way. DUNU is a relaxed listen in comparison. The treble is smoother and less sharp, though heightened enough to give tons of light and atmosphere. Vocals are warmer and fuller, sounding perhaps just a little more natural than the R1. Size and placement of the vocals are about equal. DUNU’s bass is killer, also coming from a 13mm dynamic. This is one of the absolute best I’ve hard. The R1 is better, however. It’s more detailed, articulate, and quicker. Both boast great big stages, but the R1 is the bigger by a small margin. Resolution is also noticeably higher in the R1. So basically, the DK3001 has the tuning I like best, while the R1 has everything else.



Pinky Powers

Pinky Powers

Pinky is an artsy twat. Illustration, graphic design, writing. Yet music escapes him, and always has. He builds his own cables, and likes to explore the craftsmanship of others. He's a stabby one, also. At the first hint of annoyance, out comes the blade. I say he's compensating for something... in a big bad way. If we all try really hard as a collective, maybe we can have him put down.


14 Responses

  1. Pinky,

    If I may, what’s the brand name of the black tips that’s shown in the photos? I have the R1 and have been experimenting with various chords and tips….

  2. The IMR R1 uses a slight variation of the industry standard 2-pin connector. This variation does not exclude the use of standard connectors, however, it is hit or miss whether they will fit or not. The main thing to avoid is memory wire of heat-shrink ear loops. Because the R1’s socket is 90° off the standard configuration, cables which have these features are useless. Of course, if you build the cable yourself, you can do anything with the right adjustments.

    I built my cable from Toxic Cable’s DiY store. But good luck doing the same, as I hear the owner recently passed away. 🙁

  3. great review. I got the IRM R1 and i am interested in the balanced cable
    (made by you) you used in your review for the R1 instead of the original one.
    Could you inform me where i can buy it and maybe which specifications are
    needed to get the right cable for the R1?

  4. The account was created with a HBB email address too. So, it’s either him, or someone truly obsessed. lol

    I took it out.

  5. Fgs, Pinky, please remove that address!!
    It’s no joke, that is HBB home address, someone is trolling…:(

  6. Generally, I don’t remove troll posts unless they cross a special line. Just being negative isn’t enough.

    But thanks, man. I think you’re right about the address. 😉

  7. Found it on amazon uk for a bargain price. Wondering to just buy these to see what they’re worth. Artiste DC-1 (No Yatian mentioned)

  8. I deleted one comment because it was excessively hostile/abusive. I don’t wish to discourage discussion or opinion, but you must act like civilized people. 😉

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