Inear StageDiver 4: Well Tuned

Disclaimer: The German Inear sent us the Inear StageDiver 4 for a two week period. It will go back to Germany right after this review. I suggest you read our previous review of the StageDiver Series before reading the SD4’s review.

box HFN Lieven round kader

 

History

It’s not the first time I have a closer look at one of Inear’s universal monitors. Exactly one year ago – what a coincidence – I reviewed their SD2 and SD3 here on Headfonia. I listened to the latest creation already at the European Canjam show in Essen last September but some issues with availability and a very full review planning only made it possible for us to review it now.

The SD4 is part of the Inear StageDiver series and now has 4 drivers per ear, powered by a 2-way crossover. Impedance is 22Ohm and the SD4 comes in a Pelican 1010 case together with a couple of tips, a gold plated adapter and three cleaning cloths. The StageDiver 4 goes for 679€ which is around $750 and in that regard the accessories are only very basic. For this price I do expect something more from a European company.

Build quality (form factor + comfort)

I’m repeating myself but my ears are very small and only a very select few universal monitors like the RHA t10i, Eterna Rev 1 and Rockjaw Genus fit my ears. C6IEM? Nope. Brainwavz S5? Nope. The list is long. Exactly this is why I love Inear so much: they have managed to create a small universal plastic shell that looks exactly like a custom monitor once it’s in your ear. The inner side of the StageDiver series looks just like a custom monitor, the only difference is it fits everyone’s ears. Comfort wise these are almost as good as custom monitors and if you’re not too fond of people squirting goo in your ear canals, this might be a perfect solution to experience what customs are all about. Full customs will offer you even more comfort but for a universal, the SD4 is pretty much perfect. I just wish more universal IEM companies could do the same for us small eared people.

Build quality, as usual, is superb on these monitors. The cable, while being pretty basic, sounds more than OK. It can easily be replaced with an after market cable if you’d want to alter the sound or get better comfort. I quite liked the stock cable and haven’t really tried any of my after market cables with the SD4. The only thing I don’t like with this cable is the extremely long memory plastic that goes around and over your ears. Well actually it’s just a tubed piece of metal wire, that’s all it is.

Sound

On the Inear website we can read this: “The StageDiver 4 offers enormous reserves in the bass, linear middle notes and finely nuanced high notes. The perfect mapping of frequencies and three-dimensionality offers musicians, sound engineers and hi-fi connoisseurs an exquisite sound experience”. That’s promising a lot.

When I first started listening to the SD4 I wasn’t impressed at all. These didn’t sound at all like the pair I listened to at Canjam. The mids just sounded off and very muffled. Most of the time I’m not a believer of burn in but here it seems it was needed. I let them play for hours without and when I picked them up a few days later, the monitors’ sound had opened up.

Bass in the SD4 is good. It’s not too soft and it’s not too boosted. It’s right where it, for my ears, should be. When needed in your music, bass can really show up and surprise you with a big and deep impact. I can only say bass has very well been done and to me that wasn’t really the case in the SD2 and SD3. This time bass is well controlled, tight and fast. While bass certainly is lifted a bit, as in not neutral, this is in no way a bass head’s earphone. Bass doesn’t run in to the mids at all and again, it’s oh so very well controlled.

More on sound right after the click

Inear StageDiver 4: Well Tuned
4.1 (81.05%) 19 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

15 Comments

  • Reply April 7, 2015

    George Lai

    I’m not sure how it can be a “universal custom” as that is oxymoronic. Earwerkz has the Supra too, a “universal custom”. To me, these are universal IEMs whose shell are just shaped slightly differently to attempt to rest against certain parts of your ear.

    • Reply April 7, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      The Earwerks also is a universal custom. You should compare the inner part to one of your custom monitors, it’s more than just an attempt to rest against certain parts.

      The Inear “shape” is also trademarked and can’t be used by other companies, if I’m not mistaken

      Maybe I’ll get the chance to try the Supra out one day

      • Reply April 7, 2015

        George Lai

        The trademarking aspect will be interesting because if it is so, ear tips manufacturers could also trademark their ear tips shape. Let the battle begin, I say.

        • Reply April 7, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          Have you seen what’s happening with JHAudio vs 1964Ears?

          • Reply April 7, 2015

            George Lai

            Indeed I have though that only proves the relative incompetence of patent offices in general.

  • Reply April 7, 2015

    d marc0

    Another awesome review Lieven! Thank you…
    I have the SD2 and I really dig it. Most of the time the bass is enough for me but I can’t deny that a bit more bass is more than welcome. I’m glad that they added that to the SD4 but how is the soundstage and airiness compared to the SD2? They’re the most important characteristics in the SD2 that made me keep them as my daily driver.

    • Reply April 7, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Thank you!

      I think both are about the same from what I can remember. the SD3 just sounds more analytical because the bass impact isn’t really there. In the SD4 the bass s more present and kind of hides that part from the SD2. Could you demo the SD4 before you buy it?

      • Reply April 7, 2015

        d marc0

        Unfortunately, there’s no distributor in Melbourne, AUS yet. Last time I got in touch with Marco Ramisch, they were still trying to find a dealer. I gave a few suggestions but no news yet.
        This just makes the decision harder for me… my next IEM will either be the Velvet or the SD4.

      • Reply June 9, 2015

        willy vlyminck

        I will demo the SD3 and 4 next week in Roßdorf

        • Reply June 9, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          Do try the SD2 as well, especially the SD2 and SD4

          • Reply June 9, 2015

            willy vlyminck

            I will Lieven,thx for the tip, Ideal for me would be a Sound as far as IEM´s go between the IE80 and the Grado GR10, with the soundstage and bass of the first and Detail and naturality of the latter. The Fidelio L2 gives me the best of both worlds at home, but on the go I like something similair , from there my intrest for the SD Serie, which also gets great Reviews in the German Audio press.

          • Reply June 19, 2015

            willy vlyminck

            I did yesterday, but still a bit confused, the session was relative short, but with the SD2 I immediately did hear an improvement on my IE80 and the fitt is just perfect, as I seems to have a mainstream ear 🙂 . The SD4 sounds more effortless which shows specially on vocals, this remind me of the Grado GR10 but with far more grunt, altough still musical instead of analytical even if the detail richness is no less than impressive. I will however settle for the SD2 as it is good enough for my music and the quality or non quality of the recordings, think of early seventies progressive rock.I was equally impressed with the iBasso 50 soundwise, which I also used partly as player beside my iPhone, and FiiO x1. The most impressive player however is the Calyx,which I used with my own memory card. Maybe the greatest player money can buy, with beautifull classic looks as an extra.

    • Reply June 9, 2015

      willy vlyminck

      Where do you miss that bit more bass? It is always difficult to guess if one doesn´t know the Music you listen to. I want enough bass for Music where the bass guitar is very important, , like Primus, Rage Against the Machine, Kin Crimson, Magma,to Name a few.

    • Reply June 19, 2015

      willy vlyminck

      The main difference for me, that the SD 4 sound more effortless, and this shows specially in vocals, which are more beautifull, almost like the Grado GR10. Incredible detailed withhout sounding analytical, of course it depends a lot on the music you feed them, as well as the player.The SD2 for example sounded really great with the iBasso 50 and high quality recordings.I think I will go for the SD2 as well in the end as I mainly listen to progressive rock, with only few audiophile recordings, exeptions are ” dark Side of the Moon”, “Tubular Bells”, “Fragile” by Yes, Most recordings of ReR and Cuneiform also sounds very very good, certainly to that point that an investment in the SD2 make sense. I also did listen to bass heavy stuff like Chrome Hoof´s Black Gold, and the Rickenbacker did blast in your ears very powerfull, so for my music the SD2 will do but again the SD 4 do all more effortless which makes it possible to listen for hours without any problem.

  • […] in ear monitors in their StageDiver series, I’m especially thinking about the SD2, SD3, SD4 and ProPhile 8. But did you know that Inear has 25 years of experience and that they are active in […]

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