Review: Oriveti Primacy – primate

Sound

Primacy is sensitive enough to reveal hiss from most sources. It doesn’t deliver the hiss-from-vacuum the Ultrasone IQ does. But sources dead silent through noise agnostic Ocharaku Kaede II go shhhhh shhhhh in the background.

Oriveti Primacy-2

Primacy’s sensitivity ensures volume. At home, I am most comfortable listening to older recordings from, say, The Smiths, at volumes from 5 – 6 on an iPhone 4s. Newing up the genres to, say, golden-age trance, ensures that 5 is max for me whilst typing away in my hot studio. On the way back from Tokyo, I bump that number up by one or two stops, depending on how close to the last train it is. Primacy’s thick sound tube, coupled with comply tips is a mean isolating machine. The tube goes way, way in – and at a secure angle. Does Primacy block noise as well as a custom earphone? It’s damn close.

It’s also a mildly energetic-sounding earphone. Not quite as contrasty, or mid-high clear-sounding earphone as the Ultrasone IQ. But not far off the mark. After about 10kHz, its frequency falls off precipitously; obviating sound pressure-induced high-frequency peakiness. Still, highs are open, wide. They’re also Primacy’s widest stereo band. Being stereo wide, they recover some of the presence lost by the slow roll off. In fact, upper mid energy combines so well with high frequency stereo detail that Primacy’s high-end roll off is, for many practical purposes, non-existent.

Oriveti Primacy-5

Stereo detail-wise, mids follow suite, but close up ever so slightly. Bass is the most centred of the bunch, positioning thumps firmly between the shoulders. The stereo image it portraits is amorphous and somewhat sticky. There’s no bass smear, but little stereo feel.

The 3D image cast by Primacy is pretty detailed. Lateral edges curve gently back from its deep centre. Vocals provincialise everything from the shoulders and on in. Cymbals, maracas, thigh slapping, etc., start about ten centimetres beyond that. At the fringes are tambourines, sand chimes, and for the trance head, the all-important electronic chime.

Wider stages exist. But most don’t quite position mid and high-frequency stereo elements quite as delicately.

Vocals push front and centre, dry and unaccented. As mids cross over to lows, Primacy’s low-blended stereo image is chalky and reassuring. Bass and mids compete on a relatively flat plane, neither receiving sound pressure much higher than the other in any band. There may be a small dip of several decibels around 5kHz. Primarily, Primacy is neutral voiced. That goes all the way up to 8kHz before gently falling and alternately rising until 10kHz. By 20kHz, the roll off is pretty evident. But again, primacy’s up-front presentation and great high-frequency stereo detail covers that up.

I fully recommend it for people that love open highs, but may not jive with the shrill. If you really like the ER4 or CK10, primacy may sound a little dark. For everyone else with high mids on the brain – myself included – Primacy strikes a great balance. And, its chalky bass resonates gently, obviating most of could annoy me in the Ultrasone IQ.

That said, IQ is just resonantly wetter than Primacy. Its bass is shinier and detailed with more stereo cues. The two are not that far away. They’re also not that close. Frequency-wise, IQ is more contrasty: slightly suppressed mids between a timidly raised bass and highs. IQ isn’t chalky. Primacy is. If you like your music drier and less accented, Primacy is a great option.

End words

It’s still early but I expect Primacy to show its face in 2016’s year end roundup. I expect it from me and others. It’s a great-sounding earphone at a great price that is super comfy, but, whose cable is sub-par. And, thanks to the obtuse angles governing its MMCX arms, it doesn’t stick as flat in the ear as it could.

Still, very well done.

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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.

17 Comments

  • Reply April 19, 2016

    Barun C

    One of your best articles Nathan, it was a very enjoyable read. Just wanted to know a few things. 1.How is the attack & decay in the Primacy?
    2.Would you recommend it with electronic nu breaks music e.g. Tipper ?

    Thanks

  • Reply April 19, 2016

    Michael Gunin

    Nathan, thanks for reviewing! I’m choosing between Primacy and Kennerton Jimo which you’ve written about as well. From your experience, how do they compare?

    • Reply April 19, 2016

      ohm image

      Jimo is more laid back across the board, closer to the AF78 in many respects. My personal sound preference is for Primacy, but I can’t speak for you. And it fits far more securely. Because of the angle in which the cable juts up across rather than around the helix, it’s not a great active lifestyle earphone but it is FAR better than either the AF78 or Jimo for activity.

      And the level of quality in both finish and accessories shown in Primacy far exceeds Jimo.

      • Reply April 19, 2016

        Michael Gunin

        Thanks. I’m listening to jazz, soul, funk and look for something smooth and non-harsh/sibilant. Laid back is good, but I guess Oriveti is also fatigue-free for long-term listening?

        Have you by any chance heard Cardas A8?

        Durability is important, so Primacy seems better than Jimo as I plan to choose something to be used for a long time.

        • Reply April 19, 2016

          ohm image

          I have not had the opportunity to hear the A8. I hope to get the chance at an upcoming headphone meet in Tokyo. If I do I’ll tell you. Do you own it?

          • Reply April 19, 2016

            Michael Gunin

            Not yet, but it might also suit my tastes. Really curious how it will compare with Primacy, since these two are my main options (DX50 is the source).

            • Reply April 19, 2016

              Michael Gunin

              Still, I also see AF78 available at USD 160-180 which is very attractive.

              • Reply April 19, 2016

                ohm image

                I have not tried the AF140. There are some warm gems among AudioFly’s line up, though.

                • Reply April 19, 2016

                  Barun C

                  I’m considering buying an IEM to accompany the Velvet but I want something different in the overall flavor of the sound. Needed your opinion on that Nathan. Thanks

                  1. Audio Technica CK 10
                  2. Ultrasone IQ
                  3. FLC 8
                  4. Oriveti Primacy

                  • Reply April 19, 2016

                    ohm image

                    I haven’t heard the FLC 8. But each of the others is different to Velvet, the farthest being the CK10, followed by IQ, with Primacy being tokenly close, but only by dint of IQ and CK10 being quite different. I think you’ll find Primacy to be a large remove from Velvet. But if you’re a fan of the ER4 sound, the CK10 is the closest thing.

                    • April 19, 2016

                      Barun C

                      Okay. I used to love the ER4S to bits, unfortunately I lost them in a theater 5 years ago. In terms of isolation they are still unparalleled compared to any IEM I’ve owned or heard.

                      How is the isolation of the CK 10?

                    • April 20, 2016

                      ohm image

                      CK10 is nowhere near the ER4, but it is good. Primacy isolates better than CK10.

                    • May 30, 2016

                      Michael Gunin

                      Hello Nathan, I wonder if you’ve managed to try Cardas A8?

  • Reply September 6, 2016

    Goran

    Can you give me suggestion for earphones for htc 10. Pop music + Enya, enigma style. Budget 300$. I have some ideas like ath ckr10, dunu 2000j, sennheiser ie80…or even primacy. Prefer in ear.

  • Reply January 17, 2017

    Wan

    Hi thanks for the review, I’m looking for a smooth yet detailed IEM (may be slightly warm) , may I ask is this Primacy a good choice? How is it compared to Fidue A83 or IBasso IT03 for that purpose? Thanks

    • Reply January 17, 2017

      ohm image

      I’m sorry but I’ve not heard the Fidue long enough to comment. The same goes for the iBasso. As for smoothness, Primacy is special: detail, but smooth.

  • Reply January 17, 2017

    WAN

    Hmm then it’s really special because smoothnesss sometimes is at the expense of detail, nice to hear this is not the case for Primacy, thanks for your advice!

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