I used an array of different sources to evaluate the sound characteristics of the Dope Pure. As it is a planar-magnetic IEM it requires a certain load to fully show its potential. The following description is based on sessions with the Lotoo PAW Gold, PAW Gold Touch, PAW 6000, the Astell&Kern SP1000M, Chord Hugo2 and many other sources.
As mentioned previously, the Dope’s impedance and sensitivity demand higher output power. So please be aware that these probably won’t sound right out of a smartphone. They need quality amplification. I have received best results with the above mentioned gear.
The Dope Pure has a generally balanced signature, that features a well defined and linear bass, a smooth and engaging mid-range and a forward and sometimes sharp treble. It is a technically very potent monitor that has a background as dark as your ex’s soul.
Bass on the Dope Pure is neutral and features good physicality. It has a natural sound with very nice extension. For some it might be too low-key, as it certainly isn’t a bass head’s monitor. The lows go deep, but don’t feature a lot of weight in the sub-bass or mid-bass section. If you desire a hard punch or authority, you might not be best suited with the Pure. The Pure’s bass might not be the best suited for Electronica in my opinion. With other Genres it really comes out with a natural sound though. What I like about the bass, is their texture. It’s very precise and comes with high resolution. You get a well formed and organic bass.
The upper-bass segment does give a slight boost to the lower midrange, which enables a mildly warm sound. This makes lower midrange vocals and bass focused instruments appear bolder. Deep male vocals have great body and weight in them. Instruments sound organic and energetic. There is good density and weight in every instrument. There is great resolution in the midrange, which gives the musicians high accuracy and precision. Vocals, both male and female, have good emotions in them with just enough air. The Pure does not suffer from any form of sounding nasal or chesty.
The upper midrange features the highest levels of richness, where they have a glowing sound. The rest of Pure’s signature has a more or less neutral richness. Treble shimmers bright, especially the lower treble region. Cymbal crashes and violins can sound particularly sharp and even to some extent aggressive. Highs go far up high with good energy and sparkle. But if you’re not accustomed to brighter sounding treble, the Pure might be over the top for you.
The Pure performs really well when it comes to technicalities. It has a very dark background and lights up the instruments clearly. Due to this fact, the Pure comes with one of the finest imaging abilities out there. And I am not saying this lightly. The Pure’s background is pitch black, just like we know it from big planar magnetic headphones.
Resolution, layering and instrumental separation are all also done very well. Musicians all have enough room on stage to not get in each others way. The sound stage forms in nice dimensions, but at the same time isn’t among the biggest. What it does really well, is keeping the structure. Even in hard and heavy tracks, it manages to stay on top of every instrument. The Pure separates big orchestras and small bands just like there were no difference.
There aren’t many monitors that come close to the Dope Pure in terms of technical specifications. Planar magnetic IEMs aren’t wide-spread in our world, and only a hand full of manufacturers actually makes some. There of course are the Audeze monitors, the one from Unique Melody (name slipped my mind) and the Nightingale from Advanced AcousticWerkes. Apart from them, I am not aware of others at the moment.
I only have access to the Nightingale and LCD-i3/4. Since the i4 is rather far more expensive, I’ll keep it out. Should you desire a direct comparison to Audeze’s flagship monitor let me know in the comments.
Should there be any other IEM you want to see covered here let me know. I can however only compare the Dope Pure to something I have direct access to. I will not do comparisons based on short term listening impressions, as these are not credible to me. Others do it, and if they’re confident enough with that, that’s fine. I am not.
All comparisons were done using the stock cables. Mentioned prices are in US Dollars and correct at the time of writing.
Audeze – LCD-i3 (1PM; 899$)
The LCD-i3’s driver is more than three times the size of the Pure’s. The Audeze uses a 30mm planar driver in a semi-open design. The i3 has a more open sound compared to the Pure, which is given due to the fact of being completely open-back.
Both monitors have immaculate imaging and a very dark background, but the Pure does surpass the i3 here to me. It renders a finer picture with better contrast compared to the Audeze. In terms of overall signature, the Pure has faintly more warmth in it, while the i3 is more neutral. This also goes for the top-end. The Audeze does not produce as sharp and hard edges as the Dope. So if you’re worried about treble, the Audeze is the safer bet.
The LCD-i3 and the Dope Pure both have a similar bass tuning to my ears. Neither features a lot of weight or punch. But if one comes out on top in this area, it’s the Audeze. It’s slightly more authoritative and puts mildly more presence to the sub-bass. The mids on the Dope sound a bit fuller and cleaner compared to the ones of the i3.
Instruments are better separated on the Dope, but the LCD-i3 creates a much larger stage and pulls you right into the arena, whereas the Pure keeps things more intimate. The i3 features a more holographic staging where the musicians perform in a life-like manner in front of you. The Dope Pure on the other hand, keeps things more inside of your head, but convinces with impressive stereo imaging.
Overall I’d say the Pure sounds cleaner. Notes on it come out as more precisely cut due to the superior black background.
More on page three!