Disclaimer: Cosmic Ears sent me the new BA4 for free. There’s a big chance I will send it back to them after the review so they can reuse the speakers for another model. The Impressions were made by Streukens Audiologists in The Netherlands. I can fully recommend them if you need good impressions
Cosmic Ears: Say who?
Cosmic Ears is a Swedish based company run by Phil Gartell and they specialize in making custom molded in ear monitors (ciem) for professionals and music enthusiasts. For the moment they offer a variety of balanced armatures monitors and hybrids but their product line is continuously expanding.
To quote Phil, “Cosmic Ears’ Vision is to be the most innovative custom in-ear monitor company by delivering high quality, unique and innovative custom in-ear monitors at an affordable price. We want to enable people to discover and enjoy the benefits that a custom in-ear monitor provides”.
One of their unique selling points is their incredible customer service. Cosmic Ears aim to deliver a personalized “one-to-one” service where you’re not just any client. Customization-wise, everything is possible, you just need to contact them (check out the awesome design on mine). Besides that they want to offer the best possible value for money, keeping prices low is very important for them as they want everyone to be able to experience the benefits of a ciem.
All of their monitors are designed locally in Sweden, they figure out the setups and configurations themselves in their own R&D lab and they are all made in their own facilities to guarantee a top quality finish. They don’t copy other manufacturer’s designs and their R&D department never stops working on new configurations etc. They will however do a remodeling for some universals like the famous Triple Fi.
I had the pleasure of meeting Phil in Germany and we ended up chatting for a couple of hours. Not only does he really care about his business and customers but he’s a genuine nice guy.
So how did I actually end up with Cosmic Ears? In 2012 when the company was still new, a friend of mine – who’s always on the lookout for the best price/quality ratio gear – pointed me in the direction of Cosmic Ears (CE). After reading up on the company I decided to shoot them an email/interest check for review. Phil was very careful in agreeing on letting us do a review but in the end I managed to persuade him by sending him a box of candy. I’m kidding of course, Phil wanted to make sure we were serious and once I had him convinced we kept in touch, although I still had to send him some of his favorite chocolates. A couple of months ago we finally decided on reviewing the Cosmic Ears BA4 F (now BA4, see below) and here we are now. In the meantime I have also had the pleasure to listen to the BA1 and the discontinued HY2, which is a hybrid design, but we didn’t get around to reviewing those. We probably will be reviewing the to-be-released BA6, seeing we’ll receive the 1964 V6 Stage as well in the coming weeks.
Phil has informed me that at the beginning of 2014 there will be a shift in the naming of all their monitors, this is to give him space to both develop new models and over the years tweak and improve current models including introducing model ranges. The BA4 will be renamed to “CE4E”, all will become clear in the New Year…
I’d first like to address the “Why Customs?” question a lot of people ask themselves. First of all there is the obvious professional artist/stage side but more and more private music lovers are buying custom molded monitors. The main reason: the fit. I am one of those people with difficult ears as they call it. I’m having a very hard time finding iems that fit my ears and stay in my ears. Then there of course is the high sound quality you get from the balanced armatures and last but not least there is the possibility to customize your earphones so they stand out or don’t at all (if that’s what you prefer).
It’s true that getting customs is a bit more difficult as you will need to get ear impressions made by an audiologist but that’s a sacrifice you will have to make. It’s a really small sacrifice as it only takes 10 minutes for an impression. Okay you then have to go to the Post Office to mail the impressions to the CIEM manufacturer, but come on. For a lot of people who never went down that road this whole process can be a bit scary. “Will my monitors fit?” is an often used argument. That’s why when you order from Cosmic Ears there is an option to select a Pre Fit Service at a small fee (Pre Fit Service is also available as a standalone item). After having sent in your impressions, you will get your custom shells (with no electronics installed) sent to your home to try them first. This way you can still ask Cosmic to make a modification if needed and the first timers can use the shells to see if they can live with the feeling of acrylic in their ears. If you decide to chicken out, all that has cost you is the token pre-fit fee, the token audiologist fee, and okay, the walk to the Post Office. You do get to keep the shells, bag and case and also have 12 months to make up your mind but you then wouldn’t have paid for a full working CIEM only to find that customs don’t suit you. I think this is the only company on the market offering this service.
Another unique thing is their personalized follow up system. CE wants to give a one-to-one service and you can even select to get status updates of the production of your monitors by text messages. I tried it and for someone like me who likes to know what is happening at all time, this is very handy. You no longer play the waiting game where the box suddenly appears in your mailbox, you will be exactly up to date on what’s happening.
What is the BA4?
The BA4 in this review has four balanced armatures for each ear and it uses the standard 3-way configuration: 2 for the lows, 1 for the mids and 1 for the highs, it was originally called the BA4F (F for Fun) but it is now officially the BA4. According to Cosmic Ears the BA4 is their “jewel in the crown”. The 4 balanced armature drivers deliver incredible sound separation with some full fast lows, it is a monitor that can handle every type of genre and is very powerful, this is one not to be missed. We’ll see about that in a bit of course*.
The BA4F came delivered in a nice box containing a protective carrying case, clearing tool/pouch and a ¼ adapter. Keeping the price low, remember? Like most people, I use an Otterbox to safely store my monitors during transportation but those are easily available on Ebay or Amazon for very little money. CE now also have hard cases available for purchase.
Go to the next page for the sound impressions