Updated: Nov 13, 2019
An Absolute Disaster
Audeze seems to be on a roll with releasing extremely flawed products lately. I tried these out for a month and in the end had to return them since they are sub-par at best and infuriating at worst.
Packaging wise its pretty standard. The cables are detachable which is always nice. I wish Audeze would release these in multiple colors instead of forcing you to choose a glossy white. A nice glossy or matte black would've been a perfect complement for those wanting to be more low profile. Audeze switches it up with the user manual being included on a flash drive vs. wasting paper as well.
Putting things together is pretty straight forward. Connect the cables, choose your bud style and then you can optionally attach some earbands. The earbands don't lock in or anything, you just pop them onto the ring around the earbuds. This immediately was a problem because they easily spin around the ring since there's no mechanism to lock them in place. The bands themselves were also poorly designed. I was never able to get them to fit properly as they were all way too big for my ears and I have rather large ears.
The same design went into the buds themselves as none of them fit properly inside my ears. This resulted in a ton of sound escaping that made everything sound extremely muffled and distorted. For planar magnetic earbuds with this price tag this is pretty much unacceptable. Even after a month of hardcore listening the sound hardly got any better. On top of that no matter the style from normal rubber to ribbed they all fall off the ear buds due to a poor fit. I lost at least 3 of the tips due to them just falling off as I had one bud dangling in-order to listen to my surroundings (I live in Chicago, better to be safe than sorry.) Keep in mind the ribbed ones have less support so for those with dry skin or other ear problems it will irritate your condition due to the friction.
Sound wise, everything is muffled, muddy, etc. Etymotic's ER4-XR completely blow Audeze's offering out of the water. No matter what you listen to from rock to hip-hop to podcasts it's not only disappointing, but frustrating. Changing equalizer settings only helped so much as it's most likely a serious design issue causing the problems.
One thing I did notice too was that people were able to hear everything I was listening to, even my phone conversations with perfect clarity. I was at a store and a rep was able to hear someone tell me a verification code from 8 feet away. This is due to the semi-open back design, but I didn't think there'd be any serious privacy concerns. This has me thinking if there's too much sound escaping from the back as well and it's hurting the sound even more.
Overall, this was a clear miss. Audeze seems to think if their offering isn't a high-end luxury $600+ device then it's not worth putting much thought into design, engineering, and that they can throw in cheap parts. The sound is completely unlistenable and easily beaten by even cheap earbuds like Skull Candy's Ink'd. I'd be interested in trying Audeze's higher end earbuds (iSINE10 and 20) to see if the sound is any better.