Review: Cypher Labs C6IEM V2 – Push the Sky Away

Sound

I forgot to add: tips make a huge difference in sound signature. 

Laid back mid bump heads may go wild for the C6IEM. Mids are dry, wide, and hedged by platonic bass and a friendlily aloof high end. Last year I called it: Alpha Dog Thick And In Your Ear. And that, at least to my understanding, summed it up.

Midrange detail isn’t terribly spacious, but it is pretty well 3D. Instrument placement is precise. With the foams, it’s totally Alpha Dog: laid back, thick, warm, and dry. Actually, C6IEM may have a drier, slightly smoother midrange. With the soft rubber flanges, it’s more like a juicy Grado GR10.

Mids and bass gel as good as a coherent single driver earphone. Not that I’ve heard a single BA driver earphone sing such a warm, dry tune. Midrange instruments congregate mainly between the shoulders and spread out about as far as the edge of the scapula. Vocals are rich but don’t jump out at you, making them particularly attached to early The Chemical Brothers albums, and even some uplifting trance.

The single problem I have is with the C6IEM V2’s upper midrange. It just suddenly goes dark with every comfortable tip I’ve used. The V1 was like that all the time. If you value sparkle and a sense of space, use rubber flanges which return a good sense of space that makes trance trancey.

Cypher Labs C6IEM V2 (4 of 6)

Of course, these ears love bright, energetic headphones. I’m a DT880 fan, a Verisonix N500 fan, a Grado PS1000 fan, for god’s sake. Lieven called the V1 a home run. I thought it was good for its signature. I think V2 is better all around.

The bass is strong and doesn’t veer leftward or rightward. It sits centre, grounding the music, and neither bleeds, nor sounds too soft. But its edges feather out a bit into the low mids, and may bloom slightly against artificial ceilings. It is pleasant, and, because it doesn’t hit too hard-edged, it is relaxing as far as biggish bass can get. It is as close to duffy as you can get without being duffy, and almost has that dynamic driver flavour thing going on. It doesn’t overwhelm with slamming sound pressure. Which is great. Recently I’ve begun to enjoy this sort of sound. I would love a bit more sparkle up top to balance it out. 

And from the upper mids, both versions of the C6IEM are dark. It’s the sort of dark that really both complements Sue McLaren’s emotionally charged voice in The Politics of Dancing 3, while de-emphasising the electronic cymbals around it. It is melodic, soothing; it unravels the trance in trance, de-edges the edge in speed metal, and takes the sheen off of live rock – even when unnecessary.

Cypher Labs C6IEM V2 (2 of 6)

It’s a three scotch high midrange. No recording sounds bad out of it, but that’s because it sent the world’s mean bite packing somewhere around the second sip of the third glass. The C6IEM V2’s motto should be: for a biteless world.

I should mention that despite what appear to be madly sensitive specs, the C6IEM V2 isn’t overly prone to hiss. It picks up a bit of background noise from the Lynx Hilo, whose volume I ride up to  about 50 on Nick Cave’s Push the Sky Away, and about 48 on The Politics of Dancing 3. I’m happy with a volume of 10/100 from the Plenue D on Chemical Brothers’s Exit Planet Dust.

VS

Through the foamies it is far darker than the Shure SE846 and the ToGo!334, and less chalky than the former, but chalkier than the latter. Add the silicon flanges and you start to get sparkle and a good 3D stage. Still, it can’t catch Oriolus‘s brilliant 3D stage, nor its foot-tapping and dyamic energy. I don’t get why Cypher Labs packed it with the foamies. They make it so dark. HD650s sound much sparklier  if you slip on the foamies. If you like a dark, warm, but neutrally toned sound, you may really like the C6IEM V2 and the foamies. If you like good-hitting bass and a bit of sparkle coupled with a good-sized 3D space, try the silicon flanges.

Cypher Labs C6IEM V2 (5 of 6)

Amping

The iPhone 6 loses a bit of voltage under load, but not enough to constitute what I would call ‘audible’, and since the C6IEM V2 gets loud enough, and isn’t that prone to hiss, I reckon that the only person that would need an amp is the person that wants absolute perfection (whether or not they can suss the difference), or the person that has a really bad source. And they had better be sure to get an amp that isn’t current limited by the Cypher Labs C6IEM V2. Vorzüge anyone? Picollo, anyone?

End words

Because I don’t have a version 1 here in the office I can’t say for sure if V2 sounds the same or not. If you’ve got the foamies on, it sounds pretty much like what I remember of V1: dark, borderline duffy, but smooth, melodic, rich, and fine for an evening in the comfy chair. if you put on the flanges, it is much more open and inviting. Either way, it is precisely the sort of sound that can’t offend, and may even at times be cautious. It drums up the sort of sound that Nick Cave’s latest does. Headfier, omega1, said: I think this new version should named v1.1 not v2.

I agree.

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

3 Comments

  • Reply March 24, 2016

    Barun C

    Very enjoyable review as always Nathan, although I wish you had the Velvet’s for comparison. How is the quality of construction of the C6IEM’s compared to the Fit Ear TG 334s ?

  • Reply March 21, 2017

    joh wick

    hello, how this iem sound quality or sound character compare with Campfire Lyra II ?

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