In this section we will be looking at a few other customs from competing brands. Symphony’s price point is pretty much right there in the average cost of all my CIEMs and that gives it a few good options to compare it to.
This chapter is intended to give you a better understanding of how the Symphony performs in relation to existing products out there. All mentioned prices are for their custom versions, some of these are offered cheaper by the manufacturers if bought in universal shell.
Comparisons were made with the respective stock cable, to provide a vanilla experience.
64 Audio – N8 (1DD/8BA, 1699$)
The N8 and the Symphony are two different monitors in terms of sound. The 64 Audio has a more present bass response with higher impact and punch, while the FAudio is more neutral and softer to me. The N8’s bass gives lower midrange a good boost and warmth, with a thicker and darker sound.
Symphony is less coloured and keeps the midrange in line with bass and treble, whereas the N8 pushes it slightly behind its lows. Both models have great resolution and texture, the FAudio CIEM is a notch smoother, giving details a slightly softer touch, where the N8 presents them with more precision.
They both have well extended highs, where the N8 seems dryer and less rich to me. Symphony has a easier to listen to treble tuning, which is not as forward or agile as the tia powered N8.
Empire Ears – Phantom (5BA, 1799$)
The Phantom is Empire’s flagship of their Pro line-up. Made to be as close to the original sound as possible it features a warmer and thicker tonality.
Symphony to me bests the Phantom when it comes to achieving a balanced tuning. The Phantom reaches deeper with more body and weight. It also pushes the lower midrange more up front, colouring the sound to a darker degree, where it favours deep vocals over brighter instruments and singers. The Symphony doesn’t have this shortcoming. It gives no preference to any particular range and all musicians are equally good sounding.
The FAudio monitor has higher resolution and a wider treble extension, which also isn’t overthrown by the lows, unlike Phantom’s. Symphony has more air in its sound, which gives the participating instruments and singers good room. The Empire seems more closed in, especially some higher pitched vocals can sound like they’re missing space.
Treble is where the Symphony and Phantom again differ clearly. The Phantom has a laid back and slightly veiled treble, whereas the Symphony has more energy in it and puts them more in line with the rest of the audio spectrum.
JH Audio – Lola (2DD/6BA, 1745$)
Jerry Harvey has set out to create a different hybrid than those found in today’s market. By using a dual dynamic driver setup for mids instead of bass, he realized one of the best sounding and convincing midranges out there.
Lola is packed with emotions and body, which both are a step above the Symphony. However, Lola comes with a few drawbacks the Symphony does not have. For example its resolution is not quite at the level of the FAudio monitor, it lacks treble extension and sounds dark and veiled in its highs.
Symphony reaches deeper into lows with a tighter grip. Lola’s bass is looser and bouncier with less impact and punch. The FAudio CIEM has a bigger sound stage with better layering and depth. It sounds more open to me in comparison to the narrower Lola.
HUM – Dolores (2BA, 1799$)
Shortly before Christmas this year I received my Dolores from HUM. I have heard very good things about their models in the past, and their unique crossover design is something that intrigues me.
Just like Symphony, Dolores features a very nice balance from top to bottom. Both monitors are a lot alike, but have their differences.
For starters, the Dolores has edgier contures, especially in its treble, whereas the Symphony creates softer notes which go smoother. The HUM is also lighter in comparison to the Symphony, which has a bigger body and more weight throughout.
Both monitors have excellent extension, resolution and layering. They also create an equally sized sound stage, where it is difficult to pick one out as top dog. When it comes to imaging, I’m giving the Symphony the nod, as it renders just a touch cleaner.
Reviewing this monitor has shown me that the Eastern market truly has some great monitors hidden. Getting to know the Symphony was a very pleasant journey for me and it has made its way to my personal top picks pretty fast, convincing me with excellent balance and reference, but not losing the organic factor out of sight.
Kicking off the new year with this review feels a bit special to me, as the Symphony is a wonderful illustration of great value, and I’m glad to bring it out and let more people know about this brand.
The Symphony is a prime example of how to do a monitor right below 1700$. Everyone who’s after a balanced, do-it-all monitor should give Symphony a solid consideration. It ticks all the boxes for build quality, accessories and sound, all that makes it go directly to my list of recommended CIEMs. Well done FAudio. Here’s to more discoveries in 2019!
Happy new year everyone, and thanks for being part of the Headfonia experience.