Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: dbE PR10 earphone

To be honest, I actually rather dislike earphone because my rather special (yes, I'm special. Get over it) ear shape which causing discomfort after wearing earphone for several minutes. Those shape also make wearing earphone a hassle because it fall out easily. But I got stuck to earphone because when I'm at work and want to listen to music, I can't wear my trusted AudioTechnica SJ33 headphone because its pretty big (it's supra-aural after all), while my MEElectronic M6 isolate too much noise so I can't hear if the phone ringing or if someone call me. So I get this cheap earphone which from our local audiophile forum said great (for the price).
Warning: as I said before, I haven't got many experience with earphone/earbud as I rather dislike them. Take this review with grain and salt.

The Package.
This earphone come with a thin cardboard box. Inside is the earphone itself, a pair of foam, a cloth pounch (which is great, I even used it to store my cellphone sometimes lol), and some papers.

The box. Simple and elegant.
The Build.
The build is pretty decent, the construction is much better than those cheap earphone which come with your cellphone, your portable music player or buy at those electronic store. Not as good as my MEElectronic M6 (which priced higher) but I think it can stand some rough handling (yes, I'm clumsy). The cable is on the thin side. Better than those cheap earphone, though, and made from some rubber which nice to touch. Again, not as good as M6 cable (which very good, and very nice to look at).
The earphone and the cloth pouch included.
Another view.

The Sound.
This earphone got about 100 hours usage, so I'm pretty sure the sound wouldn't changed again (burned in, so to speak). So, how the sound? To state it simply: bright.

This earphone got those nice sparkle on high register, making guitar bite, and female vocal sounded nice and forward, just the way I like it. BUT, high male vocal just neither as nice nor as forward the way female vocal is. Not recessed, just not as forward as female vocal. I tried this earphone with wide range of male vocals, from Il Divo, Sam Sparrow, Il Volo (this trio young classical crossover is GREAT!!!), Joe Jonas, Gregorian to Scotty McCreery, it's always the high male vocals which bit strange while low male vocal are pretty nice and forward.

Mid-tone are pretty nice, again, with sparkle to it, while low are tight and punchy. Drum sounded so nice and punchy on this. Compared to M6, PR10 low are mostly centered around mid-bass. I can hear it clearly on Joe Jonas 'See No More' both on vocal version and instrumental version. The dark, sultry cello on the song didn't as clear as on M6. Sub-bass is almost non-existent, but then maybe because it didn't isolate at all, so the sub-bass tone got loss dunno where (dimanaa~~ dimanaa~~ Ayu Ting-Ting, anyone?)

Sound-stage (or head-stage) is pretty cramped, creating on-stage and in-your-face feeling. Instrument separation is so-so, again, my M6 is better. On simple arrangements like on solos or acoustic sessions this isn't seen, but move to more complex, many layered piece, like Florence + The Machine or some Mozart classical piece, and you can hear how the instrument just smashed together.

Isolation, like I said before, is practically non-existed. None. At. All. So, if you plan to listen to music on the public transportation, please use IEM instead. Save your ear and hearing by not blasting LOUD music to it, IEM will isolate noise so you don't have to BLAST your music volume. Also, IEM will good to your karma, or sin-level, or whatever you call it, as you won't disturb fellow passenger with those tiny-tiny sound from your earphone just because you BLAST is to the MAX. Please, use IEM (In Ear Monitor) instead.

What this earphone do better from my M6 is how the high and mid sounded so airy and... free. No more cramped and boxed sound, everything is just has this nice breath to it. M6, because of its IEM nature, just didn't have the same airy feeling.
Also, PR10 gave me this feeling how the sound frequency is whole, while M6 sounded like it got some drop on mid then peak on high-tone. Okay, maybe male vocal isn't very good, but it's not that bad. Vocal on M6 sounded rather thin compared on the PR10. On PR10, vocal is thicker with sparkle on it, not thin and boxed like M6 is.

The Verdict.
For about USD 11 (it's priced IDR 100.000 locally), I think this earphone is great. Maybe not as good as MEElectronic M6, but then M6 is priced higher (about USD 15-18). And yes, my AudioTechica SJ33 absolutely murder both on sound-quality. But then my SJ33 is priced at USD45-58, which 5 times PR10 price. So, if you still stuck with those cheap earphone from your portable media player or cellphone, or any others, try this earphone from dbE acoustic. It's really bargain for the price: cheap but good.

Thank you, Arif, for the photos, they are great!!! :D