Treble is ok but it isn’t the monitor’s strong point . It could be more extended but I have a feeling that in, on this monitor, might make the less stellar recordings sound a bit sibilant. For a triple driver design I find the treble to be acceptable though. As mentioned before, there’s more extension here than in some 6 drivers. Of course the number of drivers isn’t everything and the tuning certainly is equally, if not even more important. Treble isn’t bright or sharp: it’s more in line with all the rest and this probably is a softer treble tuning everyone can enjoy. For a number of you the treble won’t be extended enough and I advise getting a silver cable to improve treble focus and extension.
The mids on the C6IEM are gorgeous. I always like Cypherlabs’ mids and it’s no different this time: great clarity, just the right amount of air and good detail. Like I said the mids make this monitor a little more forward sounding but there’s nothing wrong with that. I love how the voices are delivered and everything just blends in with the bass.
I was talking to Mike earlier today (yes he still lives) and he told me he absolutely loves the C6IEM. He described them in a few words: Dark bassy but clear – In a way like Audeze. He even prefers the C6IEM over the Roxanne, SE846 and the IE800. We all know Mike can really love a product and it’s clear the 6CIEM is a new favorite of him. His new daily driver.
The Meh, as Nathan calls it
While the C6IEM clearly is a great sounding monitor I do see a few things that could have been better or different.
First of all there’s the fit. A universal monitor of this size simply won’t fit everyone’s ears and that’s a shame. With all the technology available nowadays, each and every universal IEM in my opinion should fit the smallest to biggest ears perfectly. Unfortunately that isn’t the case in our audio world but I do hope to see an improvement there. That goes for all IEM companies and not just for CypherLabs though.
Second, I feel its price might be an issue. That’s a very personal thing of course but the C6IEM goes for $599 and while I can’t deny you get a very well built monitor and very good sound in return, I can’t keep but feeling it’s a little pricey. Nowadays you can already get 4-driver custom built monitors for under $500 and 3-driver competitors like in example the Westone W30 are a bit cheaper. At the same time Mike thinks the price is exactly right. He agrees the price is in customs territory but the C6IEM gives you great sound as well and you don’t have the hassle with impressions, fit issues, etc. He’s a big fan.
Third, the treble. While it is ok, most people probably expect more out of it, so be warned. An after-market cable could be the right solution for you.
DX90: The DX90 makes the C6IEM a bit warmer sounding and adds a little bass. These of course are the characteristics of the DX90 DAP.
DX90 + Picollo: A little warmer sounding than the DX90 alone and a more bodied sound. Bass impact is bigger than without the Picollo yet it still is in line and not exaggerated. Listeners who don’t like bigger bass might feel it’s too much here.
iPod + CLAS SOLO + Duet: This setup delivers a lot of detail with great clarity and speed. Excellent bass (better quality than on the piccolo).
Fiio E12A (IEM version): Gorgeous mids but with the bass boost on you get even more bass as with the Piccolo. It’s a bit much compared to the mids and the C6IEM loses a bit of that great linearity. Without Bass Boost the monitor performs very well as the E12A’s mids are very musical. The E12A is a good amp but it’s missing the finesse and timbre of the higher end amps like the Duet and Picollo.
AK240: A reference sound. Very linear tuning, great detail, tight sound. This combo has the least bass but the best detail, sound stage, clarity,…
It certainly isn’t the bass monster the advertising makes you think it is, there’s definitely more quality than quantity here. Cypherlabs has created a very good first inear monitor and they can be very proud of it. Sound wise, there is nothing to complain about and I love every single bit of it. I’m convinced the reference tuning will be greatly appreciated by a whole lot of you.
I do wish the C6IEM was a bit smaller size wise but I’m sure the normal ear having listener won’t have anything to complain about. Small ear people, be warned though. The C6IEM can be bought directly from Cypherlabs or via their dealer network. They’re now also offering a combo pack with the Picollo for $899 where you get a $100 discount.
As I explained in the disclaimer, Nathan will be doing a follow up review in a few weeks. If my review hasn’t convinced you yet I’m sure his review will. I have a feeling he’ll love it just as much as me.
Nathan’s review is now on the next page!