Thanks to the folks at 9Wave and Head-Fi user swbf2cheater for sending me a sample of the 9Wave Studio earbuds for review.
I’m no stranger to earbuds. I’ve owned quite a few pair before becoming a self-proclaimed audiophile about a year ago but for portable use, IEMs have become my listening devices of choice. But despite that, I’ve always had a certain attraction to earbuds. They have a certain charm about them that keeps drawing me back, on occasion. So, when I was offered a chance to review the 9Wave Studio earbuds, I jumped at the opportunity and within a few days, I found a pair of them sitting in my mailbox. Read on for my impressions of the 9Wave Studio earbuds.
Design and Build Quality
The 9Wave Studio earbuds have a distinctive design, with metallic (though not actually metal) accents and smart color coding which uses red coloring on the 9Wave logo and a small red ring at the end of the long stems to denote the right side from the left. The earbuds themselves are almost entirely made of a light plastic, which feels slightly cheap in the hand and I wouldn’t expect these to hold up under heavy abuse. The cable is a bit thin and is rubbery feeling to the touch but is rather flexible and is terminated in a 3.5mm straight plug.
All said, the design is nothing special and feels a bit fragile but isn’t bad.
Comfort and Fit
The 9Wave Studios are comfortable in my ears due to their light design and included foam pads. The fit and comfort is fairly typical of pretty much every pair of earbuds I’ve tried and there isn’t much to say about it beyond that.
Burn-in: These earbuds have been given upwards of 50 hours of burn-in time prior to review.
The low end of the Studios is on the light side but packs a good punch. Extension is good, as I could hear a good amount of rumble at the lowest octaves. While pure bass heft isn’t the strong suit of the Studios, I was surprised with how much detail these can offer, as both sub bass rumble and texture were both quite good.
Midrange presentation is clearly the focus of the Studios and sounds very good in my tests. Instruments and vocals are rendered accurately and are appropriately well detailed. The midrange has a smoothness to it that makes them a very pleasant listen but I was able to detect a hint of harshness in the upper midrange when used with bright sources like my iPod Touch but was nothing major.
Treble is suitably smooth and well extended, usually tending toward brightness and has a good deal of sparkle and detail resolution though isn’t class leading. I did notice a tiny bit of sibilance on bright tracks but again, like the harshness I heard in the upper midrange, it was generally kept to a minimum. At normal listening volumes, you may not notice it at all.
Presentation wise, the soundstage is great, boasting great depth and width with a nice sensation of airiness which contributes to very good instrument separation and stereo imaging.
The sound signature of the 9Wave Studios errs on the side of neutrality and clarity with a reasonably smooth and linear frequency response and great detail throughout the range. The best aspects of the Studios lie in its presentation. As a total package, the Studios are quite the competent performers.
The 9Wave Studio earbuds will be released soon and should carry a price of about $50 USD, which I think is a fine price point for these to have. These are no slouch in terms of detail, presentation or clarity and are definitely the best earbuds I’ve ever heard. Granted, I’m not all that into earbuds and I haven’t heard the top tier offerings from companies such as Sennheiser and Yuin or even the Studio Pro earbuds from 9Wave so I won’t go as far as to say they’re the best earbuds out there but they certainly seem to be well above average. With that in mind, it’s not hard to recommend these to people who are in the market for a great all-arounder that won’t break the bank.