1. Build quality & Comfort
Yes, I’m one of the lucky guys that gets to listen to a lot of different gear. Lately I have to admit I’ve been “in to” portable audio a lot. I’ve been listening to a lot of custom in ear monitors and as a result you really start seeing differences in build quality of all these different brands.
Cosmic Ears from the beginning has been one of the brands that always delivered extremely well made acryl units. Light, small, no bubbles, symmetric, clean surfaces, etc. Same goes for the inside, sure they’re not 100% identical when comparing left to right but you can see the assembly was done with care. It’s maybe hard to spot in the pictures but the canals are extremely well done. For CE it’s the most normal thing and every single unit that gets sent out passes an intensive quality check. The CE5P fits my ears perfectly. It’s extremely comfortable and I haven’t managed to break the seal at all while I was talking, eating or just putting on weird faces. They in fact are so comfortable I’ve on several occasions fallen asleep with them still in my ears.
That being said, most of the established companies like 1964Ears, JH, Vision Ears, Rhines, etc all have a superb build quality. Most of the time it are the newer or smaller companies that still have room for improvement. In one of the next reviews I will get back to this subject. The thing to remember is that you will get an extremely well made monitor from CE. Their price/quality ratio is extremely high and they’re very proud of that. I’m sure a whole lot of CE customers will agree with me on that.
Almost all of the IEM companies on the market offer a personalization service where you can choose the color your monitors and the creativity on the faceplate. Often you pay premium for it and it’s no different here. Looking at my CE monitors I have plain purple ones and very unique ones but in the end the monitor will be in your ear and you won’t be able to see it. Is it worth paying a premium for? If you like aesthetics, absolutely.
Every company also has a couple of unique designs. Unique as in: “till the others figure it out and offer the same options as well”. Cosmic Ears’ specialties are the steam punk and steam junk, the silver leaf skeleton and paua shell face plates. I also very much like the skull design they did just last week.
I didn’t request anything special for the CE5P but CE came up with something new as you can see in the pictures. The HFN (Headfonia) logo is written in what I call “bullet holes” style. It does look much better in real though. Klaus calls it “Michael Jackson style”, I don’t know who’s right most but my matching MJ gloves are in the mail.
Cosmic Ears asked me what cable I wanted with the CE5P and I chose the Linum BaX. The BaX, together with the 2,5mm balanced, is my fav cable from the Linum product range and it delivers great sound with especially good bass.
I tried a couple of other cables with the CE5P. The PlusSound Apollonian+ cable is my favorite cable when listening to the Earwerkz Legend R. It’s a bit less comfortable than the Linum cable but in return you get good mids and quality bass. Especially the mids have more body compared to the BaX. The $999 Mars cable from Effect Audio (silver & gold) makes the CE5P extremely clear sounding but with retaining the CE5P’s bass and mids. I agree it might be overkill to use a cable that’s more expensive than the monitor itself, but I can only say it sounds sublime. Sound is less aggressive (not that it is aggressive with any of the other cables) but the Effect cable makes it all sound so effortless. If you have a chance to listen to the Mars cable one day, you really should.
I tried the balanced version of the Linum cable as well with the Duet amp (Kobiconn to 2.5) and the AK240 but I actually prefer listening to this specific monitor in a non balanced configuration. Non balanced you get a bit more body and bass but you get a little less detail, separation and a smaller sound stage though. The brand new Lime Ears Aether on the other hand, sounds better in balanced config. The Aether review will follow in a few weeks’ time.
4. Price & Accessories
The CE5P starts at £425. That is $665USD or €600 in real money. That of course is for the basic set and several options will cost you a premium. Compared to the other 5 drivers I have reviewed up till now the price tag is very impressive: Rhines Stage 5 – 1379€, Vision Ears VE5 – 1399€. Yes, you see that correctly. 600€ is still a lot of money but compared to the before mentioned brands, the CE5P is a budget monitor. Remember I in the intro mentioned CE got a little bit more expensive? Cosmic Ears clearly still is one of the cheapest brands on the market and I can assure you their quality is up to all the more expensive brands. You don’t have to take my word for it, just check out the CE thread on Head-Fi, it’s only 333 pages long.
My CE5P came in a black personalized Pelican 1010 box. The Pelican is one of the boxes I use most but CE actually offers several different boxes. Inside the box were the typical cleaning tool, a 3.6 to 6.3mm adapter and a very nice leather cable binder. Accessory wise that’s the basic package and I didn’t really expect anything more (the more expensive brands often come with a cleaning cloth and –spray in example). The leather cable binder was a nice extra though.
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