CypherLabs C6IEM: A Home Run

Disclaimer: these are not my earphones. They came my way via Belgium, via Headfonia. They went back to Europe last week, EMS the deliverer. Evidently there was a stall in the shipment though. Yep, that even happens in Japan. Thanks Lieven for the loaner. And sorry for the delay. This article is reproduced with permission from Nathan Wright. The original can be found here.

I’m of the opinion that the carbon fibre weave has been played out. Raise your hand if you’re with me. Is that one there? Yes, I think I see a hand.

Nope.

It was a middle finger. That’s fine. I’m okay being alone.

It’s where I drink best.

Body

Carbon fibre back plate or no, the C6iem is a striking earphone. It’s part Formula 1, part prototype, part FitEar tribute. Its metal sound-bore cap fits well. Its glue, its edges, it finish: all bespoke. The countersunk cable jacks will keep your wires stable. That’s good.

I have niggles about the serial number and the box and stuff. This 599$ earphone would look better if its serial number was engraved and/or paint-filled. Or simply printed by a handier piece of equipment. The box is a bit simple, and the stuff inside is just crammed in, in self-sealing plastic blisters.

The tie-dyed advertising photography doesn’t do the real thing any favours. I’ll say it again: carbon fibre or no, the C6iem is a striking earphone. And I assume they look great next to the Picollo.

And Cypher Labs, when you want it to look striking for your customers, Bankroll me.

Sound

If you’ve ever heard a Mr. Speakers Alpha Dog, you’ve heard a C6iem. Sort of. It’s that plus a larger bass and comfier midrange. Let me call it the Alpha Dog Thick And In Your Ear. It drives.

Highs aren’t rolled off, but they kind of pull back next to the mids and bass. And the mids, while they are comfy, they’re not quite Earsonics-comfy or emotional.

And still there’s speed. Space is decent. You’re not going to go ‘wow!’ about left/right separation. The feel is holistic: a round, thriving ball of coherent space occupied by a pretty musical, thrusty bass and comfy midrange and just enough sparkle to keep EDM users happy. Better, there’s no hint of the BA thing. I guess manufacturers have gotten past that. The three spectra gel like nerds over a game of Carcassonne.

I don’t think the C6iem is the best earphone for live music. You know, when you want to feel of the musicians and the crowd. The C6iem isn’t spacey enough for that. Totally what there is enough of is is powerful bass and mids. Bass isn’t overdone, or boomy. It’s thrusty and driven. Oh,  and it’s got good texture. Speed is excellent, so the C6iem works damn well for trance and classical if you like oomph in the bottom end. But if you’re looking for a u-shaped sound, or something studio-ish, C6iem won’t be your thing.

Unless you’re a drummer.

I don’t think 599$ is an outlandish price to ask for these phones. I do feel that Cypher Labs could pretty up their box, and their accessories to make these phones feel like 600$. The earphones are built well and are sturdy, so you’re buying a well-engineered bit of composite that will last a lifetime.

Looking for a second (or first) opinion?

Headfonia: CypherLabs C6IEM: A Home Run
Headfi: Cypher Labs C6iem

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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.

24 Comments

  • Reply January 20, 2015

    George Lai

    Here’s a thought. Cypher Labs should have an arrangement with a CIEM maker for those who like the C6IEM sound but would prefer a customs. The savings from not putting the BAs into a universal shell would go towards making the custom shell.

    • Reply January 20, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Good idea, but in practise not as easy. it’s not easy to get the same sound in a different shell

      • Reply January 20, 2015

        George Lai

        True but it will give an option as well as give Cypher Labs a USP.

  • Reply January 21, 2015

    Darryn Harly Septalingga

    how C6IEM sounds compared to earsonics SM64?

  • Reply January 21, 2015

    Atmaka

    This review came just in time, thanks!

    “All was developed and made in the US of A”

    Somehow the product page on the official website only said “Designed in Oregon, USA” I wonder if they really made it in USA. However, I had a very brief audition with C6iem today. Interesting, but it only has 20 hours break in period so I guess it hasn’t show it’s full potential yet. How do you compare this to Inear StageDiver 2 or 3?

    • Reply January 21, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      That’s a very good link you made with the SD2 and S3. I find the C6IEM to be a mix of both.

      The SD2 has great detail and clarity but misses musicality and a little bass. the SD3 had a bit too much bass and body.

      The C6IEM is like the perfect mix of both. Good catch!

      • Reply January 21, 2015

        Atmaka

        Cool. Thanks a lot for your response. It is priced right in the middle of SD2 and SD3.

      • Reply January 28, 2015

        Atmaka

        Just had a chance to try C6IEM again yesterday, comparing with InEar SD2 and FitEar ToGo! 334, listening to Isn’t She Lovely by Livingston Taylor and Spanish Harlem by Rebecca Pidgeon.

        It turns out to be a bit too dark for me 🙁 Too bad because I really like the build quality, design (I’m a sucker for carbon fiber), and how it fits into my ear (on par with SD2), really comfortable, much more comfortable than 334.

  • Reply January 21, 2015

    Eu Jin

    Really Interested in getting it through massdrop now. How does it sound compared to the HD25-1 II and NAD VISO HP50? If Mike likes it over the Roxannes that should be a good indicator. How does it sound with the Calyx M? God so many unanswered questions. Nathan could you please release the review ASAP so we can get with massdrop =D

    • Reply January 22, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      My C6IEM is in the mail too him, might take a week or 2, so massdrop will be over.
      I don’t think you can compare iems to full sized headphones and certainly not the HP50.

    • Reply January 22, 2015

      ohm image

      Eu Jin: I’ll have it in a week or so. The Calyx M wasn’t mine. It was loaned by Sean Chan. If/when we meet again, I’ll try it out.

  • Reply January 22, 2015

    George Lai

    Did anyone buy at full retail before the Massdrop offer? They can’t be happy campers.

    • Reply January 22, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I see and understand your point, I wouldn’t be happy either. Then again, it’s only 20 units

    • Reply January 22, 2015

      ohm image

      Still, that is sort of a dick move.

  • Reply January 29, 2015

    Nickjan Glas

    very interesting, especially the part of getting good sound iem without all the hazzle of custom made. I am curious also to nathan’s review, as he was very enthusiastic about the grado gr10. which seem to have some similar characterics based on how I read the reviews.

    • Reply March 24, 2016

      ohm image

      Very different sound. GR10 is clearer with a somewhat compressed upper midrange. This is thicker, poundier, and a lot less sparkly.

  • Reply February 23, 2015

    Dlirium

    Pretty clear that the review here left a few important details about the CL’s out. Anyone considering purchasing them should read the comments here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/747007/cypher-labs-c6iem before committing.

    • Reply February 24, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      You’re just not reading it correctly. Bass depends on your preference, tips used and your ear shape/fit. I personally wouldn’t call the bass exaggerated and everyone else I talked to doesn’t find that either. Another problem SOME people on Headfi have is about the treble. The review says the treble could be better, that’s no secret with these but again, that’s personal preference. The price/quality ratio for this one isn’t the best, but that was also covered in the review. So what’s your point again?

      I don’t get it when people don’t read everything but then complain when it doesn’t sound the way they had hoped it to sound. To me the C6 really is a home run, it’s that simple and it’s only logic it isn’t a home run for people with different tastes. That’s how it works in audio. With 19 posts in only one thread and not even one month of posting on Headfi, you, no offence, don’t seem to be the most experienced listener. Then again, post count doesn’t say everything and some “new” people really make sense and have valid points. I however doubt this is the case here.

      • Reply February 24, 2015

        dalethorn

        I get that a lot too – I have no problem reviewing an item with flaws, or as Gordon Gekko said in the Wall Street film “I don’t mind getting a dog but I’d just like to get one with fewer fleas”. Seems to me if the fleas or flaws are pointed out, then users who might want it anyway can choose more carefully.

  • Reply February 25, 2015

    alan tan

    got mine quite a while ago, and most of us here who got it suggests silver cable, so do you owners here think the same? I’m using 1 copper cable from plussound audio and seems good enough, I think the C6iem sounds not satisfying with the original cable, and the response from CL is “custom cable is coming”, well, yet another anticipation

  • Reply August 20, 2015

    Rico Cheng

    Try the C6iem with Samsung Note 4, its so good…

  • Reply November 24, 2015

    Deskolim Cheong

    How to compare with sm64 v2?

    • Reply March 24, 2016

      ohm image

      Completely different sound: SM64 V2 is sparklier up top, with a less full midrange.

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