Excellent clarity and resolution, Transparent, Class-leading imaging
Questionable comfort and ergonomics, Lean presentation won’t suit everyone
Though unorthodox in ergonomics and construction, the SB-7 has top-level resolution and micro-detail that enable it to retain perfect composure on the most demanding tracks.
StereoPravda was founded by Misha Kucherenko, a hardcore audiophile and audio journalist from Moscow, Russia in 2002. Misha is renowned for his unique and innovative acoustic designs in addition to his drive to realise them. The SB-7 is the perfect encapsulation of this company ethos; their latest flagship in-ear monitor featuring 7 balanced armatures orientated in the same axis. Though unconventional in design, the SB-7 seeks to provide an excellent audio experience, implementing a hand-made cable by Chris Sommovigo of Black Cat Cable, terminations by Furutech and custom matched resistors by Vishay. In listening, these efforts show and one would hope so given the earphone’s $2500 USD asking price. Regardless, this is not for the value-minded, but those searching for what is, without a doubt, one of the most revealing in-ears on the market. You can read more about StereoPravda and purchase the SB-7 here. For more info about Chris’ cables, see Misha’s blog here
I would like to thank Misha from StereoPravda very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the SB-7 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.
The SB-7 has a premium unboxing with a wooden box with transaprent display panel. Inside are the earphones in addition to a soft pouch. Also included are two pairs of replacement ear tips. Misha provides instructions to replace them, as the stock pair are glued to the earphones.
The SB-7 is completely unlike any in-ear I’ve seen or worn, with elongated housings designed to extend to the second bend within the ear canal (hence SB). With seven balanced armature drivers mounted in parallel and an external faux wood textured sheath, the earphones are slender, permitting their deep fit depth while preventing outer-ear contact and the formation of hotspots. Still, as it is so unorthodox, this is an earphone that takes some time getting used to, and it has been wildly more subject to individual ear anatomy than most earphones from my testing.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the SB-7 is its extreme fit depth that promises a more consistent sound amongst listeners in addition to reduced ear canal resonances translating to improved sonic fidelity. In order to achieve this, the SB-7 employs fixed ear tips glued to the housings. They are technically user-replaceable, and two additional pairs are included in the box, however, doing so is understandably very difficult. The SB-7 also has no filters protecting the sound tubes, with one driver being exposed, outputting directly from the face of the earphone.
Many have addressed the SB-7’s rather unorthodox ergonomics and, indeed, it is very different. However, for my ears, I actually had little issue achieving a strong seal. That said, comfort is definitely not the SB-7’s strong suit with the rough edge of the firm silicone tips digging into my ear and causing discomfort after just an hour or two of listening. Moreover, this pain could persist after taking the earphones out, requiring a day to recover. Otherwise, the earphones isolate very well and other owners have had better luck than me, however, ease of fit and stability are both fairly mediocre at best.
In-line with Misha’s focus on absolute sound quality, the SB-7 employs a cable hand-made by Chris Sommovigo. It’s an incredibly thick unit and reasonably heavy on top. This contributes to the SB-7’s awkward ergonomics as the cable is too thick to reliably route behind the ears and does tend to weigh down the housings, especially when moving. Otherwise, it does demonstrate truly excellent build quality and is manufactured from high-quality components from start to finish. At 1.2m long, it does feel a bit short when connected to a desktop amplifier, a 1.5m unit would have been perfect.
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