The StereoPravda SB-7 certainly is one of the most unique universal IEMs in the audio world. Let’s discover everything about it!
Disclaimer: The StereoProavda SB-7 was handed to my by Misha Kucherenko at High End Munich directly in exchange for this review. The unit doesn’t need to be returned as far as I know.
For those of you that are not familiar with “Big Misha” or StereoPravda yet, I’ll tell something about him and his company. I’ve met Mr. Kucherenko a few times at High End in Munich and well, if you’ve had the pleasure to meet Mr. Kucherenko in person, it’s a moment you won’t forget.
His unique style, his perfect English, his knowledge about audio and his unlimited drive for his products just make him a very special person. And I mean that in the most positive and respectful way, a true gentleman.
The “About” section on the StereoPravda website really explains it all:
Misha Kucherenko has been a well known figure in the Russian audiophile circles since 1993 when he co-founded the first Russian real audiophile store called “The Purple Legion”.
Through its history “PL” has been distributing in Russia the products from some of the most respected audiophile brands, including Apogee Acoustics, Krell, Audio Research Corporation, Magnepan, Klipsch, Kimber Kable, MSB, Genesis Loudspeakers, Stereovox, Manley Labs, Grado, etc.
In 2002 Misha left “The Purple Legion” to devote his passion and energy to a new company that was called “StereoPravda”. His close relationship with his manufacturing partners lead to transition of most of them for the distribution of their products in Russia from “Purple Legion” to the new company.
Misha is also well known for his independent audio journalistic effort. Despite his unconventional views, for the last 20 years he published more than a hundred of articles and reports in various Russian magazines, including “Audiomagazine”, “Salon AV”, “Class A”, “Art Electronics”, etc. Since 2013 his monthly “Personal Opinion” column on one of the most popular Internet audio forum soundex.ru was read by many thousands of Russian audiophiles. Misha’s journalistic effort culminated in a long interview regarding portable audio, in general, and StereoPravda line of products, in particular, which he gave to a well-known American magazine called “Widescreen Review” (August 2015, #198).
As a hard core audiophile and jet set travelling audio journalist for many years he’s been seeing inevitable changes coming to the audiophile hobby. Looking at the progress in various relevant technologies vs stale set of audiophile dogmas brought him a new vision: The Portable High End Audio.
To him, what matters is not a type of a no-holds-barred audio system- be it a home system or a portable one – what does matter is the initial purity of its creator’s intentions and the degree of their realization.
From his stand point and the background he’s not being seeing any adequate audio quality portable propositions coming from “The Big Boys”, so, eventually, capitalizing on his hard-earned reputation, he decided to fill the gap with his own line of products bearing the StereoPravda name.
If you’re interested in finding out even more about StereoPravda and Misha, then I advise you to watch the following Youtube clip. If not, just keep reading under the video.
The SPearphone SB-Series
The SB-X are unique earphones crafted individually by hand in Moscow, Russia. StereoPravda uses only the best components for their products, such as balanced-armature drivers made by Knowles, cables crafted in Japan and audiophile-grade resistors by Vishay.
Each pair of SB-IEMs undergoes an extended audition to make sure that it is 100% perfect. At this time, the StereoPravda product-line consists of four IEMs: SPearphone SB-5, SPearphone SB-6, SPearphone SB-7, SPearphone SB-7A. The IEMs are designed by Misha himself and they are result of many years spent on their R&D.
Misha’s intention with this line is to carry the audiophile torch through High End Audio’s current “neutral zone” to its new incarnation. And to pass this torch of true values to a new generation of audiophiles.
No Pain – No Gain
As you’ve maybe already seen in the pictures, the SB-series are unique in look and design. SB actually stands for “Second Bend” and the design principle used by StereoPravda explains it all. Unlike the typical earshell design where the BA drivers can be pretty much anywhere in the shell, StereoPravda is lining them up on one axes.
That means that you have a series of Balanced Armatures on one line, and that’s why this IEM looks so special/long/unique. StereoPravda doesn’t use crossovers but they use Vishay resistors in this unit to get the best possible sound delivered to your eardrums. As you can see in the pictures, the special tip is slightly angled, and that is so that the sound reaches your eardrum in the best angle. That also means that the SB IEMs have to be inserted deep in to your canal to get the best possible sound. In fact, the Second Bend is where all the magic happens, hance the SB name of the unit.
StereoPravda doesn’t keep it a secret, the SPearphone SB-7 is a no pain-no gain unit, for the hardcore audiophile.
The SB-7 is StereoPravda’s flagship IEM and it features 7-balanced armature drivers from Knowles. You can find the product page of the SPearphone SB-7 right here: http://www.stereopravda.com/products/5/33/
The “Black Cat”-series cable for the StereoPravda SPearphone SB-7 is crafted (almost) by hand in Japan by cable “guru” Chris Sommovigo. The cable is very impressive in both design and performance. For an IEM cable cable this is a huge cable size-wise and it’s heavy and even a little microphonic. Get it right however, use the shirt clip and sit still, and the cable will be extremely nice. The cable is hardwired to the unit and it’s not replaceable or removable. Another downside of the cable maybe is the big plug it is terminated with as not all portable devices have room to spare fir such a bulky connector.
Like the cable, the tips are also attached to the unit and they can’t be replaced. When you have an issue with them you’ll have to send them back to Russia for maintenance or do the reparation yourself. Not that this is insurmountable but it’s something you need to take into account. At the last High End Munich show, Misha showed me the new tip design he’s working on and I have to say that even though it’s as unique as the SPearphones, it actually will get you the best possible seal. See for yourself:
The SB-7 has two bass drivers at the furthest end (at the back) and it combines them with five drivers for mids and high. The driver closest to the tip are tubeless and the Vishay resistors make sure the sound from all zones is perfectly matched.
These TOTL all-in-line IEM with seven drivers doesn’t come cheap and you’ll have to fork out around $3000 for this top model. The SB-7 recently saw a price increase from $2500 to the actual level, and that was announced at the Munich show. It’s clear that the SB-7 isn’t an every man IEM, it’s for the hardcore audiophile for whom sound is more important than looks, comfort and price.
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