At the Headphone List, we typically discuss the overall sound of an earphone and not the driver(s) involved, but sometimes there are exceptions. With four custom in-ear monitors that use the relatively new Sonion 1723 AcuPass driver, a quick comparison/contrast prior to the full reviews was in order. The 1723 combines a woofer and tweeter in a true 2-way configuration using AcuPass technology with a single sound tube. The AcuPass Application note from Sonion explains the details, and cymbacavum.com’s article Sonion’s AcuPass Technology: Making Things Easier for Everyone puts the information into a bit more digestible format with some additional commentary.
Without further ado, here are the competitors:
Weighing in at $295, the In-EarZ IE-P250 was my first experience with the 1723, and I was impressed! The P250 is balanced and has a somewhat V-shaped response that is dynamic and revealing sound. Notes are a bit on the analytical side without being harsh and the sound could be considered bright, but due to the balance it is not like many other dual BAs in that the bass can also really kick. Spatially, the P250 performs well with excellent presentation depth and very good imaging, besting the others in this group.
Minerva Mi-Artist Pro is the acrylic version of the Minerva offerings with a cost of
$525/£375 $835/£499. The Artist Pro is quite similar to the P250, with a balance while still having a V-shape, but there is less emphasis on both ends for a shallower “V.” Performance in resolution, clarity, and space doesn’t quite stack up to the P250, but dynamics are better and there is a better feeling of immediacy with fast music. Deep bass note sustainment is the lowest among the group. Considering the new pricing, the Artist Pro leaves much on the table compared with many similarly priced competitors.
The $500/£375 Minerva Mi-Performer Pro is the only silicone 1723 CIEM I have heard, and the sound is unique among the group, with a more mid-forward sound that is more reminiscent of a stage monitor sound. Performance is a step up from the others with improved transparency, tonal accuracy, and resolution. The P250 offers better clarity, but the Performer Pro has smoother notes despite the better resolution and equivalent detail levels resulting in an overall cleaner sound. Overall performance is the best among the group, and closing in on several triple-driver CIEMs I have previously reviewed.
New to the game, the Perfect Seal Sportsbud Silver offers a canal-only CIEM with a soft canal for a small, covert option that is easy on the pocketbook at $250. The SS is the most bass-heavy of the group, differing from the others with a bass region close to the P250 and treble closer to the Performer Pro. The increased bass does reduce the overall clarity in the midrange, which can reduce the cleanliness of the presentation with complex music. Performance is slightly below the Artist Pro overall, but the lower price makes up for it.
The Sportbud Silver has a rotating cable option so the cable can be worn over-the-ear or cable down. There is a pin inside the shell to prevent the joint from rotating a full 360 degrees, which will prevent the wires inside from continuing to rotate and possibly ruining the wires. The joint works well, but the Y-split was a bit too close for my preference when wearing them in the over-ear position. A detachable cable is also in the works.
The Perfect Seal Sportbud Silver is 15% off, bringing the price down to $212.50 for the month of May using coupon code THL15May.
|Perfect Seal Sportbuds Silver
|Acrylic with soft canal
|Fixed; rotating option
|In EarZ IE-P250
|Minerva Mi-Performer Pro
|Minerva Mi-Artist Pro
The Sonion 1723 AcuPass driver has helped manufacturers offer more price-competitive products, and the Perfect Seal Sportbud Silver and In EarZ IE-P250 are some great examples. The Minerva Mi-Performer Pro offers better performance at a higher price point with a different sound signature, but the value is still good. There are other opotions such as the Custom Art Music Two and a few universal fit IEMs. If you want an exceptional price/performance ratio CIEM, grabbing the Sportbud Silver or P250 will get you there thanks to the Sonion 1723.
You may want to also view:
average_joe’s Multi-custom in-ear monitor list (with headphones and IEMs)