Disclaimer: The Curve was sent free of charge to Dave for the purpose of this review. I have no idea if it needs to be returned
Alclair Curve IEM
In a very real way, Alclair is responsible for me returning to Headfonia. When reading Nathan’s (excellent) review of Alclair’s (excellent) RSM custom, I noticed that their main office and factory is in Osseo, MN. That was less than an hour from where I live! So, of course, I had to go up there and see the place, listen to samples of their customs, and enjoy some music. It goes without saying that I loved what I heard, but I started kicking myself. How did I not know about Alclair? I should have been all over them for reviews. But gosh, I thought, they have some good sounding earphones. If only I was still writing for Headfonia.
Well, those thoughts stewed in me for a while, till eventually, I cracked. I bent my knee and asked L if I could come back. After a blood sacrifice and large bribe, L let me back into the fold. As soon as I was back, I shot an email to Alclair to ask about reviews of a couple of their offerings, one of them being the Curve Universal monitor. After a few emails back and forth, Alclair lets me know that they are putting the finishing touches on a revision of the Curve, and wanted the word out. That sounds like a good review to me!
The original Curve IEM was intended for musicians on stage or for those who love huge bass. The idea with this refresh was to bring in a more neutral sound while keeping the bass rocking. Have they succeeded? Quite wonderfully, actually, but that’s just the short version. If I left it there, L might not like it, so let’s look a little closer at this IEM they call Curve.
It uses a Dual BA design with one driver for the lows and one for the mids and highs. It has an impedance of 22Ohms and a sensitivity of 111dB, so it is pretty darn easy to drive and sensitive enough to pick up on the Matrix M-Stage noise floor. It also played very nice with the Concero HP, which has an output impedance of 2.2ohms, leading me to believe that the Curve is free from any psychotic impedance swings. It should play nice on anything with a relatively low output impedance.
The Curve comes with a modest accessory package. It has a small clam-shell zipper case with Alclair insignia and an attached carabiner (thoughtful), a cleaning tool (useful), and three different sizes of Comply T-200 tips (considerate). I, like most people, use the medium, but large and small are there, should the size of your ear canal be of a different persuasion than mine. I can’t think of anything else I would have expected to come with it.
I should make a quick mention their website. It is of my favorite variety. It is very simple, cleanly laid out, and with a brilliant lack of flash (both figuratively and literally). I have a strong distaste for websites that make the browsing more difficult than it needs to be. No such issues here. I was also going to mention my fondness for their logo, but I see Nathan beat me to it in his RSM review, so refer there for my thoughts.
The Curve uses the same detachable cables that their custom IEMs use and I have absolutely no complaints about it. It doesn’t tangle like a lot of IEM cables I have had. Microphonics isn’t an issue.
The Curve is built out of plastic. One side is gray plastic, the other is transparent. It looks plastic, and it feels plastic. The look certainly doesn’t scream high end, but then neither does the price ($250), so no problem there. More important is that, even though it does look and feel like plastic, it looks and feels like solid plastic. It may not be a modern art masterpiece, but it is functional. As for fit, I know that is a personal thing. L, in particular, has very picky ears. With my ears, the Curve is very comfortable. I could easily forget that I had them in. It fits in fairly flush with my ear to the point I could lay my head down on its side comfortable with these in. That’s why they call it the Curve. They say the curved design will helps the IEM stay in place even while active. I say they aren’t wrong. I also had my wife, who has smaller ears than I, try them on for size, and she reported a comfortable fit as well. So, think universal custom, and that’s about how it feels.
But how does it sound?
Well, let us start with the highs: nice and smooth. It extends fairly well, and with the right setup, maybe even has a little sparkle. Smooth is still the word I want to use. It most certainly isn’t harsh, and the level of detail is nice.
Sound continues after the click here or below, on Page 2