I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Ethanmusic7 and Doug Campbell, who generously sent me Turii Ti for this review.
Softears is not a company I’m familiar with, but it seems they have a dedicated following in Asia, and also happen to be the sister company of widely-known IEM maker Moondrop. So, when I heard mumblings of a new limited-edition IEM catching the ear of very experienced audiophiles, my curiosity was piqued.
Turii Ti is the follow-up to Softears’ previous single dynamic driver flagship, Turii. This is not your run-of-the mill single dynamic IEM; it features, according to Softears, a very elaborate driver mechanism including decoupled magnets, an internal brass cavity, and a series of seven vents to help shape and balance the tuning. The result is a complex design in a small, unconventional shell, aptly marketed with the catch-phrase ‘Twist Your Ears’.
But fancy tech aside, I wanted to know if all the quirks, so-called differentiators, and of course the all-new aircraft-grade titanium shells, justified the ambitious price tag – more than $1,000 up from Turii. Let’s find out together.
Packaging and accessories
This was my first experience of a Softears IEM, and I was rather impressed by the presentation here. Turii Ti ships in an oversized box, silver on the outside, with the Softears printed logo on top and Ti logo adorning the side. The box opens to reveal a ‘Twist Your Ears’ cover sheet, with the earpieces nested in a (real?) Alcantara-covered foam block on one side of the box, and a faux-leather round case with an engraved Ti logo on the lid on the other side.
Softears supplies a selection of tips in various sizes: one set of ‘Ultra Clear’ tips, and two sets of slightly different foam tips. Also included is a standard cleaning tool, a lint-free cloth, two sets of foam filter replacements (for preventing wax from dropping into the nozzles), a metallic card with registration details, a user manual, and a custom cable.
The cable is worth a closer look, since it’s one of the better stock cables I’ve seen. Made for Softears by Liquid Links, the cable features 5N pure silver litz wire in a 22awg DuPont PVC braid that makes it super soft and supple to the touch. The stylish Liquid Links hardware, possibly made of the same titanium alloy as the Turii Ti shells, features interchangeable 4.4mm, 2.5mm and 3.5mm plugs – remarkably similar to Effect Audio’s TermX modular system – on the source side, and 0.78mm 2-pin connectors on the IEM side.
Collectively, the accessories, especially the cable and carry case, add a touch of personal Ti-branded flair, and give the package a rather premium feel, which you’d expect at this price point but is still good to see.
Design and fit
Call it what you like, the Turii Ti shell design – much like the original – is certainly unconventional. The earpieces are made up of a ‘twisted’ angular, CNC-milled rectangular block, most likely housing the sound chamber, with a fat circular driver block sitting on top, leading into the long, smooth nozzle.
The entire shell is made of highly polished and treated aircraft-grade titanium alloy, which is fortunately lightweight enough so that the fit itself isn’t unwieldly. What I don’t quite get is why the nozzles have been made with the same sleek polished finish without a nib or bump to secure tips in place. The nozzles themselves are also quite narrow, which means my two go-to tips – Sony’s EP-EX11 and JVC’s Spiral Dot – slide off and stay in my ears every time I remove the earpieces.
The solution, of course, it to use tips with a harder or more ‘grippy’ core, but this means that you might not be able to use your own favourite tips, assuming you don’t get on with the stock tips of course.
Another quirk is the fit angle. Since the recessed 2-pin connectors are built in to the narrow end of the rectangular housing, the IEMs don’t sit in your ears in landscape orientation, as you’d expect them to, but with a rather awkward upright fit. This means the entire weight of the earpiece, light as it is, rests on the tip and the cable. It took some getting used to but I found the fit mostly comfortable, despite not being able to use my most comfortable tips.
With all the venting Softears added to the shell, external noise isolation is poor for an IEM. It doesn’t quite give you the ‘open headphone’ feel, but you’ll likely hear any moderate sound in the room. These are not commuting IEMs, nor are they walking in public or noisy places IEMs, so keep that in mind if that’s what you were intending to do with them.
Continuing with the unconventional theme, Turii Ti features some unusual technology internally as well. They’re not very difficult to drive, with a sensitivity of 118dB, and in practice are at least 10 volume clicks lower when matched to my other IEMs. At 25 ohms you’re unlikely to experience hiss, even from powerful sources, and I can confirm the noise floor is nice and dark – as long as you’re listening in a quiet room, of course.
Compared to the original Turii, Softears claim to have updated the internal wiring with pure silver, and tweaked the venting and internal bass cavity to further improve clarity. The 10mm custom dynamic driver features a DLC (diamond-like carbon) voice coil and what Softears calls PEEK suspension, which is apparently decoupled from the 1.6T neodymium magnet to allow for greater driver movement and reduced distortion. The entire driver assembly is then housed inside a vented brass cavity structure for added rigidity.
It definitely sounds impressive from an R&D innovation perspective, which is something Softears wants us to know they’re passionate about. How that translates to what it actually sounds like is what we’ll discover next.
Continue to Sound impressions…