Disclaimer: The German Inear sent us the Inear StageDiver 4 for a two week period. It will go back to Germany right after this review. I suggest you read our previous review of the StageDiver Series before reading the SD4’s review.
It’s not the first time I have a closer look at one of Inear’s universal monitors. Exactly one year ago – what a coincidence – I reviewed their SD2 and SD3 here on Headfonia. I listened to the latest creation already at the European Canjam show in Essen last September but some issues with availability and a very full review planning only made it possible for us to review it now.
The SD4 is part of the Inear StageDiver series and now has 4 drivers per ear, powered by a 2-way crossover. Impedance is 22Ohm and the SD4 comes in a Pelican 1010 case together with a couple of tips, a gold plated adapter and three cleaning cloths. The StageDiver 4 goes for 679€ which is around $750 and in that regard the accessories are only very basic. For this price I do expect something more from a European company.
Build quality (form factor + comfort)
I’m repeating myself but my ears are very small and only a very select few universal monitors like the RHA t10i, Eterna Rev 1 and Rockjaw Genus fit my ears. C6IEM? Nope. Brainwavz S5? Nope. The list is long. Exactly this is why I love Inear so much: they have managed to create a small universal plastic shell that looks exactly like a custom monitor once it’s in your ear. The inner side of the StageDiver series looks just like a custom monitor, the only difference is it fits everyone’s ears. Comfort wise these are almost as good as custom monitors and if you’re not too fond of people squirting goo in your ear canals, this might be a perfect solution to experience what customs are all about. Full customs will offer you even more comfort but for a universal, the SD4 is pretty much perfect. I just wish more universal IEM companies could do the same for us small eared people.
Build quality, as usual, is superb on these monitors. The cable, while being pretty basic, sounds more than OK. It can easily be replaced with an after market cable if you’d want to alter the sound or get better comfort. I quite liked the stock cable and haven’t really tried any of my after market cables with the SD4. The only thing I don’t like with this cable is the extremely long memory plastic that goes around and over your ears. Well actually it’s just a tubed piece of metal wire, that’s all it is.
On the Inear website we can read this: “The StageDiver 4 offers enormous reserves in the bass, linear middle notes and finely nuanced high notes. The perfect mapping of frequencies and three-dimensionality offers musicians, sound engineers and hi-fi connoisseurs an exquisite sound experience”. That’s promising a lot.
When I first started listening to the SD4 I wasn’t impressed at all. These didn’t sound at all like the pair I listened to at Canjam. The mids just sounded off and very muffled. Most of the time I’m not a believer of burn in but here it seems it was needed. I let them play for hours without and when I picked them up a few days later, the monitors’ sound had opened up.
Bass in the SD4 is good. It’s not too soft and it’s not too boosted. It’s right where it, for my ears, should be. When needed in your music, bass can really show up and surprise you with a big and deep impact. I can only say bass has very well been done and to me that wasn’t really the case in the SD2 and SD3. This time bass is well controlled, tight and fast. While bass certainly is lifted a bit, as in not neutral, this is in no way a bass head’s earphone. Bass doesn’t run in to the mids at all and again, it’s oh so very well controlled.
More on sound right after the click