Disclaimer: The StageDiver 2 and 3 were sent to me on loan for a period of 2 weeks and have been sent back to Inear.
Inear is a Germany-based company active in 4 fields: Monitoring, communication, hearing aids and hearing protection. While they also offer custom molded IEMs, they’re mostly known in the audiophile world for their universal IEMs called “StageDiver”.
I met the Inear team at the EU Canjam last year and after auditioning the StageDiver 2 and 3 for 15 minutes I was convinced I had to report back on these universals later. It’s taken a few months but we finally got around to reviewing them.
The StageDivers might look like a custom made IEM but they in fact are universal balanced armature units using a silicone ear tip. According to the Inear website the housing was developed by overlapping over 500 different scans from ear impressions, and should fit as good as anybody. I have small and weirdly formed ears that don’t like universals overall (they just don’t fit) but the StageDivers actually fit right in there. Of course they stick a bit out of my ears and they aren’t as comfortable as my customs but they fit better than any other “universal” IEM and I can use them for hours at a time without issues. There also is a special “S” version that is supposed to be slimmer. I had a friend over with even weirder ears and unfortunately for him they just didn’t fit his ears at all.
The StageDivers come in a nice Pelican case (without inlay), a couple of tips, cleaning cloths and a 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter. The cable used is a standard 3-way cable with a 90° connector and a quite long piece of “memory wire” that is a bit long for my ears. Of all the stock cables I’ve recently used I find the Cosmic Ears’ one to be the best one sound and fit wise but this cable doesn’t do anything wrong to be honest. I did try them with my favorite CIEM cable from Effect Audio but the following impressions were done with the stock cable.
Customization of the unit of course isn’t as possible like with real CIEMs but Inear now is offering wooden faceplates for the StageDiver (+80€) that look quite good. The StageDivers do come with replaceable earwax filters, something you don’t see very often. Marco from Inear showed me how easy it is to replace the filters and I would certainly recommend it to the PRO users or to listeners producing a lot of earwax. (Gross huh)
According to Inear, the 2-way system has perfectly tuned drivers for bass, middle and high tones. An absolute picture perfect sound is achieved by using high-end parts that gives an incredible dynamic full sounding bass. The 2 driver models costs you 359€.
The SD2 has a clear sound that is linear from bass to treble. I find it neutrally tuned and it isn’t warm or especially smooth sounding. It gives you nice clarity and detail and a lovely correct uninfluenced sound. Tight quality bass, good mids and non-peaking treble. All are equally present and the sound stage is quite good (wider than it is deep). I can listen to the SD2 for hours, it’s non-fatiguing and doesn’t do anything wrong. I think a lot of audiophiles would be very impressed with this natural uninfluenced and correct sound.
The 3-way system of course comes with three drivers per ear. Again, according to Inear, the StageDiver 3 has a bass boost that gives an extremely voluminous low-pitch auditory sound, balanced high defined middles and brilliant high tones The StageDiver 3 is especially recommended for fans of the bass and musicians out of the electronic sphere. The 3 driver version is available for 489€.
The SD3 focusses more on bass and is warmer tuned. Bass has a lot more body and is the focus of the SD3 together with the thick smooth mids. The SD3 is warmer sounding and because of the bass and mids, the treble is not the most present and a bit behind. Overall the sound still is very clear and detailed but you get the impression the sound stage is smaller because of the focus on bass and mids. The excellent left-right balance remains and you still get a good level of detail. The SD3 is easy to listen to but is surely more to the liking of the bass oriented listeners or professionals. I have to say I love the way guitars sound using the SD3, and with the extra bass I really enjoyed this unit with the heavier rock music and even dance music. I do find the SD3 to have a more centered sound with lesser space between the instruments than the SD2.
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