The world of headphones and earphones has been growing rapidly over the past several years, but there appears to be somewhat of a slowdown as of late. However, the custom in-ear monitor market continues its slow but steady growth with new companies forming every so ofter, such as Perfect Seal and Advanced AcousticWerkes, and now EarWerkz, which is based in Lawrenceville, GA.
EarWerkz was founded by a small group of audiophiles, musicians, and engineers with over 25 years of hearing aid industry experience and 10 years of earphone experience. Their goal is to place a huge emphasis on customer service pre and post sale, with a 10 day turn time standard as well as rush options and work six days a week and ship several times a day. They will reply to support claims and inquiries within 12 hours. You can read more about the EarWerkz difference on their site.
They have launched a full product lineup with two form factors available: Pro and Hero. The Pro style uses a detachable 2-pin cable with the traditional over-the-ear fit while the Hero style uses a permanent cable that is oriented in a downward position and allows for a lower-profile fit.
They have a full lineup of products ranging from dual to eight-driver CIEMs as follows (prices shown include an introductory discount;
Hero series are $10 less; pricing change as of 10/6/14):
Class I ($329): Single-driver
Class II ($379): Dual-driver, two-way
Class II+ ($389): Dual-driver, two-way with boosted bass
Class III ($519): Triple-driver, three-way
Class III+ ($529): Triple-driver, three-way with boosted bass
Class IV ($599): Four-driver, three-way
Class V ($699): Five-driver, four-way
Class VI ($799): Six-driver, five-way
Legend ($999): Flagship eight-driver, seven-way
Color choices can be found on their color gallery page. They all come with a zipper case and cleaning tool and include a 1 year warranty on parts and labor.
I have the Pro versions of the Legend and Class IV for evaluation, and both have quite similar sound signatures. Their frequency response is overall quite natural sounding with a great balance across the entire spectrum for one of the most neutral sounds I have heard. The Legend does have a bit more bass emphasis, which is most likely due to the additional bass capability. Note recreation is also quite neutral with a similar average performance to the Spiral Ear SE 5-way Reference: not too thick and not too thin with what sounds like a neutral average ADSR to my ears. The presentation is on the forward side, giving a more up-close perspective than the other CIEMs used for comparison.
There is debate as to how the number of crossovers lends to the level of detail, and the 7-way Legend is a data point that supports more crossover points equals more detail as the Legend has the highest level of detail I have heard from a CIEM. This detail is well articulated; however the presentation depth isn’t quite up to par with the TOTL CIEMs, which can result in reduced instrument separation. The Class IV was also sounded neutral and articulated detail well, but I need to do more comparative listening with other CIEMs in the price range to form a better understanding of the sound quality. Sensitivity of both is quite high which brings out hiss in lower quality sources and can surface balance issues with analog volume controls on lower volume settings. Overall, the Legend and Class IV are very listenable for extended periods. Full reviews will be coming in the near future.
Both CIEMs fit perfectly while the fit & finish levels are very good as the clear shells are blemish free and clean on the interior. The faceplate mounted recessed sockets are very secure and allow for a shallower shell depth. An interesting thing about the EarWerkz CIEMs is despite the number of crossover points, there are no visible crossovers and the design is filter-free. Both have 3 sound tubes.
There is another option available for headphone enthusiasts: EarWerkz custom in-ear monitors for those that want ultra-high levels of detail.