IMR provided the R1 free of charge for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.
The R1 sells for approximately $700 USD.
Little did I know, when I contacted Bob of IMR Acoustics, that I had just entered a vortex of controversy. I don’t oft find myself deep in the pools of audiophile gossip, so I was unaware of the whole Trinity debacle. The R1 simply intrigued me, and Bob was kind enough to send a review sample. I knew nothing more than that.
I know a bit more now, but shall not taint this article with the whole sordid affair. Hell, I don’t know the whole story. No one does, except those who were there on the inside. And it doesn’t really matter in regards to this review and this product. The R1 is in stock. You can buy one. What’s more, you should, for it is truly great.
So… the R1 is not a beautiful piece of kit. At least not according to my old-fashioned sensibilities. But such things exist in the eye of the beholder, and you may see it differently. It kind of looks like a hunk of space debris. On the other hand, so does the Millennium Falcon, and lord knows Pinky is susceptible to her charms. Alright. Fine. When I can fly the R1, I’ll call it beautiful as well.
Ergonomically speaking, this IEM is adequate. When seated just right, I can wear it for hours with only mild discomfort. There’s room for lots of improvement, though. If the orientation is off by just a hair, hard, sharp ridges cut into your ear-flesh and cause pain after mere minutes. Luckily, when I begin to notice this happening, I can adjust the shell and find a better fit. Still, forging a mental association between music and pain is probably not an ideal outcome for a manufacturer of audio equipment. IMR Acoustics can do better. Smooth, uniform shapes is the key. No edges or corners.
The cable is another failure in comfort. Bob went for durability over suppleness. I can understand wanting your products to last, but I feel a cable should drape nicely and have no springiness whatsoever. Especially at this price point. We’re passed standard consumer audio gear and into high-end shit, where folk ought to know how to take care of more delicate accessories. As is, you must use the chin cinch ridiculously tight, or the wire flops over your ear all the bloody time. The only method I found to work was to secure the chin cinch behind my head, and use a shirt clip to give me enough lead so I can move my head without feeling the tug. I hate that. I hate it with all my soul.
So I made my own.
This cable simply disappears when worn, elevating the whole R1 experience tenfold.
Design wise, the R1 is an unusual beast. It’s a dual Dynamic Driver… I think. The website isn’t terribly clear. Bob calls it a hybrid dynamic, using a 13mm Beryllium driver with a Ceramic plate mounted on top. The technical capabilities are superb, achieving a range of 14hz up to 40Khz, and 32Ω at 108 sensitivity, give or take 3dB. The R1 does not stop there, separating itself from the pack even further by implementing an adjustable port, for an Open or Closed listening experience. Closed gives you more isolation, filtering outside noises better. Open is more akin to an Open-Back full-size headphone, providing a wider soundstage and an airier, more natural presentation.
I greatly favor the Open position for sound quality. Plus, considering Closed is only slightly better at isolation (neither does well at this) I don’t see the benefit.
But wait! There’s more! You also get five tuning filters to further customize your experience.
Black – Maximum attack with powerful impactful bass, rich mids and controlled highs
Pink – Slightly decreased bass from the black filter with the same mids and highs
Copper – Maximum bass, lush mids and slightly recessed highs
Orange – Balanced bass and mids with rolled off highs
Blue – Beautifully balanced across the range, natural and airy sound with perfect mid and sub bass
For a while I thought I settled on Copper. The bass was a sinful delight. As time wore on, however, I came to realize the bass was too much. Since then, I’ve stayed on Pink (no relation). I did briefly try the others. Black is quite to my liking as well. The others are just too little in the low-end. R1 is capable of serious treble, as well, and I like a filter that tames it down to reason. Pink is damn near perfect.
On the next page, my sound impressions are done using the Pink filter. Keep in mind, as you read, just how great an effect these filters have over the signature. Chances are good one of them will deliver something in line with your tastes.