Soft Ears Cerberus Review – Analogue Reimagined

Comparisons –

Soft Ears RS10 ($2099): The RS10 is a more focused and defined sounding monitor in general. It is also tonally clean but is slightly brighter and more revealing. The RS10 has slightly more sub-bass presence and a slightly leaner mid-bass, its BA woofers are faster and more articulate with a more assertive attack. The Cerberus extends a little deeper, delivering greater bass weight overall at the cost of definition and speed. It has a more natural timbre and more textured mid-bass in return. The midrange tells the same story, the RS10 is slightly more forward here and more revealing with a slightly leaner body. The Cerberus has a smoother articulation and more structured notes due to its greater lower-mid presence and smoother treble.

The RS10 has higher resolving power, notes are more detailed and small details are brought more to the fore. The Cerberus does layer a bit better, it is less intense and has a cleaner background. It should come as no surprise that the treble as well continues the same trend, being brighter and more defined on the RS10, more delicate and laid-back on the Cerberus. I find the RS10 to be more detailed, it has a sharper note attack specifically and is generally more defined and separated. The Cerberus has a bit more air and refinement but lacks the same bite. It has a larger soundstage but its imaging isn’t as sharp as on the more intimate, focused RS10.  

Etymotic EVO ($599): A far more economical earphone with a very similar tuning, however, it’s 3x BA design isn’t as capable as that of the Cerberus. The Cerberus has a smoother character while the EVO is more defined and direct but also a lot more intimate, despite being very similarly tuned. The Cerberus has much better bass extension, delivering more weight and texture here. The EVO is faster but also leaner despite having the same level of emphasis. It lacks the same punch and slam but has better detail retrieval. The EVO has a slightly more forward midrange but lacks the same layering and nuance as the Cerberus.

The Cerberus has much better layering and space, it has a very similar clean, linear voicing but a slightly smoother articulation and hint of additional coherence. The EVO measures smoother in the treble but sounds a bit brighter as it has more lower-treble bite. While the Cerberus does have a bit more body and texture, the EVO does resolve slightly better in the foreground. The Cerberus has better extension and more background detail retrieval above. It has higher resolution and better separation on complex passages despite having a less defined leading edge. The soundstage is the biggest differentiator being far larger and airier on the Cerberus.

MMR Homunculus ($1699): The Homunculus has a trick titanium shell and tribrid EST setup. Rather than 4x BA drivers, it has a single vented midrange driver. The Homunculus has a slightly more coloured voicing but a similar smooth and coherent character. It trades some sub-bass weight for a slightly fuller mid-bass, giving it a rounder bass note presentation. The two have a similarly natural note presentation with less pressure and aggression but heaps of texture. The Cerberus sounds a bit more dynamic while the Homunculus has slightly more warmth and punch. Both are similarly well controlled and textured. The midrange is more even and linear on the Cerberus.

The Homunculus is a bit more vocal forward, it has a hint more warmth but is also slightly more articulate. The Cerberus sounds slightly more even and coherent. It has slightly higher resolution and is tonally cleaner, but the two are quite close. The Homunculus has a slightly more linear and present lower-treble. Both are immaculately clean and impressively airy. The Homunculus has a slight edge on detail presence here while the Cerberus has slightly better extension and headroom. The Cerberus notably has a wider presentation and better imaging. It is more layered and organised compared to the Homunculus.

Empire Ears Phantom ($1799): The Phantom is a similar kind of IEM with a 5x BA setup. It has a focus on coherence but a notably warmer voicing. The Cerberus has slightly better bass depth but the Phantom extends impressively for a BA monitor. The Phantom has more bass overall, especially mid and upper-bass, delivering a fuller, bigger bass. Though the Cerberus has a cleaner tuning with better separation, the Phantom’s quicker decay means it isn’t far behind. It is a little tubby due to its tuning but does have more assertive punch properties. The midrange is also cleaner and more linear on the Cerberus. The Phantom is no less structured due to its greater warmth, it has a bit more fuzz and robustness to its sound. It has greater lower-mid presence which gives it a slightly boxy sound.

The Phantom has larger, more forward vocals on top. At the same time, it comes across as slightly more vivid due to its greater upper-midrange presence and more articulate nature. The Cerberus is smoother and more refined sounding, the Phantom isn’t quite as resolving but is a richer and more vivid sound. The Phantom has greater lower-treble presence, being more forward here than the Cerberus and delivering more bite and crispness. The Cerberus sounds cleaner and more separated here. It has more texture but the Phantom is a touch more detailed in the foreground. The Cerberus is airier above, the Phantom rolling off for its signature jet black background. I find the Cerberus has better spatial properties due to its superior background resolving power despite not being as dark. It is able to layer better and extend wider than the Phantom which is clean, but at the cost of extension.

Verdict –

If you’ve dabbled in psychology, you’ll likely have heard of the concept of maximisers and minimisers. From a purchase decision point of view, the former seeks to zoom in and scrutinise every detail, the latter zooming out to enjoy the bigger picture. Soft Ear’s co-flagship options beautifully encapsulate this duality; the RS10 discerns the finest nuance like few others and is an immensely difficult earphone to objectively criticise. Conversely, the Cerberus lacks its surgical precision, it’s a fuzzy edged display that relinquishes sheer resolving power in return for uncanny cohesiveness and atmosphere. This is a perfect sound for those wanting to kick their legs up, zoom out, and enthral themselves in a grand listening experience. Indeed, technical performance is often a key differentiator of high from low-end IEMs, but the Cerberus showcases that clarity and extension aren’t always of highest priority. If you want the most balanced, resolving sound, the RS10 would make for a far more suitable choice. However, should you enjoy a balanced and spacious sound with excellent control throughout, the Cerberus makes for a unique and immensely rewarding listen and continues to surprise after every hour of listening.

The Cerberus can be purchased from Soft Ears for $2099 USD at the time of review. I am not affiliated with Soft Ears and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.

Track List –


Billy Joel – The Stranger

Bob Seger – Night Moves

Cream – Wheels of Fire

Crush – OHIO

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Voices

Dire Straits – Communique

Dirty Loops – Next To You

Eagles – Hotel California

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

H.E.R – I Used To Know Her

Jaden – BYE

Joji – Sanctuary

Kanye West – Donda

Maneskin – Chosen

Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of The Moon

Radiohead – OK Computer

TALA – ain’t leavin` without you

The Beatles – Abbey Road

The weeknd – After Hours



Picture of Ryan Soo

Ryan Soo

Avid writer, passionate photographer and sleep-deprived medical student, Ryan has an ongoing desire to bring quality products to the regular reader.


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