You either like or dislike the MMR house design, and that of course is something very personal. It is not the kind of design that I would personally choose but I know that many absolutely love the front and back designs of the MMR IEM series. I have to say I like the Gae Bolg’s red face plate design more.
The aesthetics and form design of the Balmung complies with the form factor of the Metal Series but the Balmung features a completely new faceplate design. MMR has chosen for a phoenix fire vigil as well as a central ‘Balmung’ sword motif polished to reflective luxurious chrome.
This chrome faceplate pays homage to the classic mythological ‘Balmung’ with its azure hue of color shading captured within a mythical theme. Fine details are incorporated into the faceplate design, featuring a dual beveled design to transition the angles of the edges and to accentuate the colors.
Design-wise, the only downside of this is that you can clearly see the line where the chrome and aluminum body meet. That part will mostly be in your ear however, so it isn’t super important. The back side and aluminum body, is very much like that of the Gae Bolg IEM.
The cable has the same design philosophy and bling and that reflects in the connectors and the y-splitter. See the images for more info on this.
The MMR Balmung’s body chassis is built with aluminum and it comes in a smooth gunmetal color scheme. The 3D design of the Balmung face plate motif is achieved with precise cuts that according to MMR challenged CNC precision to the utmost. The Balmung’s faceplate is finished with a highly labor-intensive multi-layered polishing to achieve a smooth luxurious chrome.
Everything on the Balmung looks high end, especially if you like chrome. The faceplate closing, 2-pin connectors and the nozzle are all perfectly finished. Same goes for the cable and its connectors, everything is how it should be with a unit at this price level. The only thing I would have added is a small grill at the end of the nozzle as these IEMs seem to have the tendency to eat up more earwax compared to my other universals. That however might impact the Balmung’s tuning, so it probably was left out for a good reason.
Fit, Comfort and Isolation
Balmung’s chassis/shell utilizes various rounded edges to offer a highly ergonomic finish. According to MMR the Balmung is at least 30% more comfortable than their other units and it should be a lot more comfortable for long listening sessions.
As with the Gae Bolg, a raised backplate platform (with a rune design) is added to offer a cushion against the ear concha for better comfort. The Balmung angle of insertion and nozzle design has been recalculated to offer a better insertion and isolation, allowing a better fit and for the weight of IEM to not rest against the ear canal.
For my ears the Balmung shells are medium to large in size and they stick out of my ears a bit, but they do are comfortable. I actually tend to use the Balmung with foam tips and not with any of the provided Acoustune tips that came with it. With the foam tips I can easily use the Balmung for multiple hours, without them hurting my ear. The nozzle shouldn’t have been wider though, as they already are quite large for my ear canals (with the foam tips). Weight-wise I have no issues at all with the Balmung ear pieces, and the cable is light enough not to pull the units down.
The Balmung is a closed back IEM, so the isolation is very good. The foam tips for me give the best possible fit and highest isolation. This does mean that no sound leaks in or out and as such you have to be careful when wearing these on the go. At home they perfectly isolate out any noise, and I can perfectly focus on the sound the Balmung produces.
MMR states the following:
“The Balmung is engineered with invigorating musicality in mind. Delivering incredibly immersive soundscape and organic natural sound. It presents itself with an airy and precise presentation that captures every bit of bells and whistles as well as musical overtones effortlessly.”5
Let’s find out if this really is the case!
The part on sound was tested with the Astell&Kern SP2000 and SP2000T, as well as with the Luxury & Precision W2 and my Dell laptop. As said earlier, I have used foam tips for the description of the sound, as these work best for me.
I do suggest using a very clean source with the Balmung as it will pick up your noisy source and make it heard. I was pleased to hear that the Balmung was dead silent from my phone and ddHifi DC35b combo, but very surprised that it from the new SP2000T picked up some noise in all 3 play modes. This is not the Balmung’s fault however, the new TOTL AK DAP just seems to be more noisy than before, but more on that in the SP2KT review. Anyway, the cleaner your source is, the cleaner the Balmung will play.
As you might have read between the lines, the Balmung design-wise isn’t really the IEM for me. Sound-wise however, it impresses and with its easy to like tuning, smoothness, detail retrieval and musical delivery it is a huge pleasure to listen to.
I have seen measurements online which show a more v-shaped FR, but to my ears it actually sounds more linear that that. What I also really enjoy in the Balmung is the excellent 3-dimensionality, stereo imaging and left-right balance. They’re just lovely.
The MMR Balmung is very musical, and from top to bottom you get a full sound, with a higher than average amount of body. Of course this is partly due to the foam tips I am using, and it might be less apparent with some types of silicone tips. The delivery is smoother and to the warmer side, but still in a natural way. At the same time, the Balmung’s back ground is clean, though it also depends on your source as it’s rather transparent that way. The Balmung does color the sound and that was done intentionally by MMR, but they have done so in a very refined way. The detail retrieval of the Balmung from top to bottom is good, but it at the same time isn’t the most refined either. The fulness, smoothness and warmth is too present for it to really deliver on this end, but it certainly isn’t lacking in detail either. This would not be acceptable for an IEM at this level and price point.
The Balmung is very pleasant and easygoing on the ears and the timbre, texture and note extension is super nice. In regards to sound stage width, the Balmung for me isn’t the most impressive and you get a more intimate presentation. That however is quite ok, as there is a nice amount of spaciousness and air in the delivery so you don’t get the impression the sound is compacted. In regards to the sound stage, I personally find the depth and the layering of the Balmung to be better.
Another thing I really like with the Balmung is how the vocals are being portrayed. They don’t stick out too much and they’re not too much in the back either. They sit just right and they come with great naturalness. I do find the vocals to play a big, positive role in the Balmung’s tuning.
A point for approval in my opinion is the level of separation. Everything sounds a bit more entangled in the Balmung, so it can for sure be further improved in this area. Because of it’s warmer and smoother tuning, the clarity level also isn’t the highest but I do not find this IEM to sound ark at all either, it’s somewhere in the middle.
The part on sound continues on the third page. Just click here.