Ultra-premium design & build, Awesome Eletech cable, Highly natural midrange tone, Very strong technical abilities, Very linear DD bass
Sharp, large housings, Lower-midrange sounds strained at times, Not as perfectly balanced as competitors overall
The Homunculus provides awesome contrast to the status quo, challenging the allure of familiarity with qualities the listener can grow to appreciate.
Metal Magic Research (MMR) is a new audio brand from Singapore, born from the same expertise behind the very renowned Jomo Audio, alongside newcomers with fresh ideas. The company’s universal line-up implements eye-catching artisan metal designs and their entire product range is positioned firmly in the premium price range. As an absolute fiend for unique and premium designs, MMR instantly caught my eye when they announced their first two universal IEMs, the Homunculus and Thummim late last year. The cheaper Homunculus is, to me, especially eye-catching; a titanium saucer with an eye-wetting bronze/silver construction. Its name too, piques curiosity, representing raw materials brought to life by the magic of alchemy. This draws parallels to the intriguing driver setup inside, implementing a tribrid setup sourced from Sonion and Fostex Japan. All of this comes in at a $1699 USD while the flagship Thummim is an astonishing $4499 USD. MMR’s aggressive pricing certainly reflects their intentions and the engineering that underpins each model.
You can read all about the Homunculus and treat yourself to one here.
I would like to thank Joesph from MMR very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Homunculus for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- 4 Triple Hybrid Drivers Configuration
- Dual Electrostatics, 1 Vented Mid, 1 Foster 9.7mm Dynamic Driver
- 3-Way Passive Electro Frequency Division
- TriBore Waveguide
- Eletech Proprietary Internal Litz
- Frequency Response: 10Hz-80kHz
- Impedance: 35ohm
- Noise Isolation: -18db (UIEM)
The Pitch –
Bespoke Foster Dynamic Driver
Covering the low-end is a bespoke Foster 9.7mm DD, a subsidiary of Fostex that some headphone users will instantly recognise as one of the best in the business. These drivers promise very low distortion. In discussion with some of the folks behind IEM design (outside of MMR), it looks like we’ll be seeing a lot of Foster DD earphones popping up in the near future. MMR is an early adopter and from first impression, they are very promising. On a side note, MMR did also made it apparent to me that the titanium shell wasn’t chosen in the interest of acoustics, but rather its hardwearing properties.
Dual Sonion Electrostatic Tweeters
Sonion’s much-coveted dual electro-static tweeters promise to deliver resolving highs and excellent extension. However, they have been contentious due to their need for a high-voltage transformer that dramatically lowers sensitivity, making implementation in a hybrid setup difficult. To append this, MMR implements bespoke circuitry to equalise the impedance of each driver. In addition, the acoustic chambers have been specifically developed to ensure phase coherence and no internal cancellation. The result is a surprisingly sensitive hybrid electrostatic design with a good treble presence while upholding the excellent technical performance offered by Sonion’s latest super tweeter design.
MMR has also partnered with Eletech, including their Prudence SPC cable from factory. This is a proper custom cable from an experienced company with a $250 USD RRP. Furthermore, MMR utilises Eletech Litz wiring inside the earphone itself. This ensures minimal signal loss throughout the entire conductive pathway.
Surely a highlight of this earphone, the unboxing experience feels exclusive and rewarding, quite unlike any other product I’ve encountered yet. The fascinating box design harkens to the origins of the Homunculus in tales of alchemy, very cool. A split-fold lid opens up to reveal the earphones beneath frosted plastic, nestled within protective foam, with a large zippered carrying case below. The case follows a similar design language to the box, it feels hardy and looks dapper. It carries a sweet leather scent and contains the rest of the accessories within. Particular mention goes to the included Acoustune ear tips. These are very popular ear tips that offer a great fit and sound, a great complement to a premium earphone such as this over a generic option. They come within a handy plastic case that keeps them organised.
Immediately, the saucer-shaped housings are among the most unique you’ll see from a universal earphone, truly magical work by the MMR team. The entire shell employs a titanium construction that awes both aesthetically and in the hand with its unyielding rigidity. The 3-piece design is also well-assembled with even seams and no unsightly glue marks or other cosmetic blemishes. The nozzle is well-shaped so as to retain ear tips though no wax guard is to be observed in favour of optimal sonic performance. As can be observed on the majority of high-end IEMs, the Homunculus employs a 0.78mm removable cable.
Distinctly, MMR bundle the Homunculus with the Eletech Prudence (RRP $250 USD). This is a proper custom cable with OCC SPC conductors arranged in Type 4-Litz geometry. Its 4-wire, 26AWG construction is sturdy but never cumbersome while the individually enamelled strands ensure no oxidation over time. Eletech’s gorgeous custom connectors are a great touch and, beyond aesthetics, the cable is also ergonomically delightful. The jacket is smooth, supple and compliant with zero memory and minimal microphonic noise. The pre-moulded ear guides are well-shaped and the cable feels very well-constructed overall. Sonically, I also found the cable a great match to the Homunculus’ sound, forming an exceptionally premium impression.
Fit & Isolation –
The most polarising aspect of this IEM will be its fit as the housings are very large, not necessarily in overall volume, but certainly in height and width which will make accommodation in the ear troublesome for some. Furthermore, a sharp angle runs the perimeter, visually striking for sure, but not ideal ergonomically. Fortunately, similar to the CFA Solaris, the longer nozzles can permit a shallow fit which places the large housings outside the ear, thereby mitigating comfort issues. That said, I personally preferred a deeper fit by a fair margin in both sound and general comfort. With my average-sized ears combined with the medium black-bore Acoustune ear tips, I was able to achieve a relatively deep fit, placing the housings within my outer ear.
Shallow fit – Deep fit
Once fit, the earphones were very stable with a strong seal and great isolation for a hybrid earphone. Of course, they do not compare to a fully sealed monitor or CIEM here but were easily suitable for public transport and commute. That said, they never disappear in the ear as most pod-shaped monitors do, and I experienced a persistent mild discomfort where the sharp ridge contacted the back of my ear. The discomfort necessitated breaks every few hours simply due to build-up of discomfort so those with smaller ears, in particular, should proceed with caution. MMR are looking to introduce a custom variant that may alleviate these concerns.
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