The Balmung’s Bass is always present and it has a higher than average weight. Full bass with a good impact is what you get here, the downside being the bass’ speed. Bass is pleasant to listen to, with good punch in the delivery and good with depth. Bass reaches low and combined with its nice layering, it’s pleasant and impressive to listen to. Of course if you like a lighter more neutral bass presentation, the Balmung obviously isn’t for you. The sub bass presence also is there when needed, and bass fans will certainly appreciate that. With the bass you get a good amount of warmth and smoothness but without going overboard and with keeping it musical.
The mids have the same weight and body as the bass and as such they perfectly connect to each other. My favorite part of the mids are the lovely timbre and the excellent texture. Like the bass, the mids are smoother and warmer but they have a lovely sense of naturalism. The mids actually are nicely airy in their presentation and that combined with the realistic and seductive vocals, make the Balmung a high performing IEM in this region, especially if you like a softer and warmer kind of tuning here.
The highs are also full and soft on the ears but they have that typical 4-5k treble peak a lot of the IEMs with this kind of full/warm tuning have. This keeps things exciting and it brings enough energy to the overall presentation to keep things lively and exciting. Treble isn’t the furthest extended tough and it smoothens out after this bump. Very easy to like treble that is never offensive and a tad slower in delivery.
All-in-all the Balmung’s tuning is smoother and warmer, with excellent depth, mid texture and a lovely treble spike. It’s easy to listen to, relaxing and easy on the ear but it at the same time also delivers on the technical front, as it should for a high end IEM.
The most asked about comparison logically is against the Balmung’s little brother, the Gae Bolg (using silicone tips). But we will also quickly compare it to VE’s newest EXT and 64 Audio’s U18s. The source used is the Astell&Kern SP2000T portable player as source.
Vs Gae Bolg
The Gae Bolg is selling for $1,199 USD and it features 5 BA drivers. The GB is more neutrally tuned compared to the Balmung and it is lighter in weight. It also shows a higher level of clarity, with less warmth and a more straight forward presentation, unlike the smooth Balmung. The note extension and texture of the Balmung are more refined and the spaciousness and airiness of the GB don’t come near the technical level of the Balmung. Body-wise the GB is a lot lighter and more neutral, and this is noticeable everywhere but especially in the bass and mids. Balmung’s bass also reaches lower with better layering and that extends to the mids as well. The GB’s vocals aren’t as soft/smooth and they are also more to the front compared to the BG. Though that can be just an impression because of the BG missing the mis thickness of the Balmung.
Both these IEMs have a very different tuning, making them complementary or suited for different types of listeners. Technically the Balmung for me is the most interesting, but that one sometimes sounds a bit too heavy and warm for me. And in that regard I like the Gae Bolg a lot more. It also depends on what type of music I am listening to, but I can see a perfect blend of both IEMs coming up in the future. Or so I hope.
Vs 64 Audio U18s
I have to admit that the 64 Audio U18s is one of my favorite universal IEMs as it performs at a very high technical level, while keeping it musical. The U18s logically has 18 drivers and it is selling for $2,999 USD. So it has more drivers and a higher price tag.
The U18s also has a fuller presentation with good body and presence, but not as much as in the Balmung. The U18s is more to the neutral side in that regards. The same basically goes for the smoothness and warmth, which are also lighter. The U18s is a technically stronger monitor with a lighter presentation. Another big difference between both IEMs is the sound stage, which is wider and more extended in all directions and the treble section which is more even and further extended.
The Balmung and U18s for me share the same concept but the execution is different. Warmth and fun vs precision and a general higher technical performance. I don’t feel these IEMs are complementary as they aren’t different enough. Depending on how you prefer your favorite tunes to sound, the choice here should be easy.
Vs Vision ears EXT
Vison Ear’s newest EXT (the Elysium successor) is selling for €2.650 EURO and has 2DD and 4 EST drivers, very different from the previous IEMs we talked about.
As you probably know, the Elysium as and still is a big hit. The new EXT is considered to be somewhat of the ELY successor, but it’s very different in tuning. EXT’s tuning compared to the Balmung is also quit different. The EXT also have a heavier and full bodied lower section, but it is more clear, faster and less warm. The EXT from bass to top carries more speed and energy and that’s no surprise with the EST drivers. The EXT’s mids aren’t as full bodied and they have a lighter, cleaner presentation. The delivery in the EXT is more neutral but it also is very musical. The vocals are more to the front and more focused, unlike in the softer Balmung. The treble section is also very different. The EXT is super clear and precise here, with a larger extension. Technically the EXT for me is the higher performing IEM, but it is lighter in presence as well, except for the bass presentation. The EXT has a more V-shaped sound compared to the Balmung. So these are very differently tuned IEMS, and making them complementary as such.
The MMR Balmung is a pleasure to listen to. With its full bodied sound and smoother/warm presentation, it is a very musical IEM and it will please many of you out there. It is very easy to listen to and if you like this typical tuning, the Balmung – with its good technical level – will surely impress you.
The Balmung also is a very comfortable IEM, especially with the foam tips. I also like the Balmung because it is so versatile. During office days, they are perfect for conference calls, but they are just as perfect for listening to music to in between meetings. With their warm and full character, they for me are also excellent for watching movies with. Do try that if you have that possibility, you will not be disappointed.
In regards to a Balmung successor, I would personally like to see a higher level of clarity, more speed and a wider sound stage/extension. I am convinced however that MMR already has something in the works just like that. We’ll see!