Audio Technica - ATH-IEX1: The purest of natural sound

Kishore Bhargava | Updated on: Jun 29, 2022
Audio Technica - ATH-IEX1

Audio Technica - ATH-IEX1

Audiophile earphones that make everything else sound muddy

Audio Technica is slowly and surely making its way into the luxury audio segment in India. Earlier they launched a couple of over-ear headphones made from fancy Japanese wood, the Asada Zakura and the Kokutan and now it’s the turn of an in-ear monitor, the IEX1. These will be of interest to studio professionals and audiophiles. And anyone else who wants to move to clear and pure sound and has the money to get it. 

This pair of earphones spor: ts a hybrid multi driver and is made of a titanium casing. The dual drivers of 9.8mm and 8.8mm are supplemented by two balanced armature drivers. All of that translates to one thing, a very smooth and natural sound signature.

The box contains the earphones, two sets of cables, one regular 3.5mm and the other a 4.4mm balanced cable, a variety of ear-tips ranging from XS to L and both in silicon and foam. All of these are stored in a hard carrying case.

Design

The design is a typical over-ear loop and despite the fact that the casing is titanium they are super comfortable and can be worn for long durations with little to no fatigue. The loops do indicate the left and right ear pieces and it is also laser etched on the earphone. With the right ear-tips you get an excellent seal and adequate isolation. The tangle free cable doesn’t rustle while brushing against you which happens with some cables. Overall they do have a very premium look and feel to them.

The earphones are very easy to drive with an impedance of 5 Ohms, while a phone can drive it with no issues, it truly shines when connected to a DAC and playing hi-res audio. The frequency range is from 5 - 50,000 Hz which pretty much covers the entire spectrum.

So what does this pair of earphones actually sound like? To test these earphones, I decided to throw a variety of genres at it. When it comes to a balanced sound, pieces from AR Rahman, Jazz greats like Miles Davis, Classic Rock like Pink Floyd and The Doors, produced a sound that was simply awesome. One doesn’t realise how vast a sound stage these tiny little earphones can actually create.

For clarity, singer-songwriters like Joan Baez, Stacey Kent, Tracy Chapman, Rebecca Pigeon all gave the feeling of being in the room with you. You could literally hear every breath they take, with apologies to Sting.

The high notes are brilliant, tracks like Flamenco Sketches by Miles Davis and the theme from Missing by Vangelis are super sharp, yet not enough to make your ears bleed. Percussion, drum brushes and cymbals are distinct and even at low volumes very much part of the music. Every little tinkle can be clearly heard. Wood against metal, the snapping of fingers, the fingers on a guitar string all come through very clearly.

For bass lovers, the earphones are very capable of producing all the low frequency sounds, from the deep voice of Leonard Cohen to a bass guitar. Playing artists like Infected Mushroom and Globular also reproduced very well, though not quite the thump that youngsters would be seeking.

Sound stage

In terms of details and sound stage, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it could be very vast depending on what you listen to. The trio of the Israeli jazz artist Avishai Cohen really sounded grand and if you were to listen to some pieces of Rahman or an orchestra, you would not be disappointed. The stage really feels huge, and the separation is very well defined. 

They say that music makes an emotional connection with the listener, any wonder that friends and family and coworkers looked at me strangely while I jumped up and started dancing around the room with the music only playing in my head. However, what brought me to tears was the price of the IEX1. Yes, these earphones are expensive with a price tag of ₹ 1,83,195/- time to hit the drawing board to build a case or rationale. Not sure I can push another expensive headphone purchase.

Published on June 29, 2022
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