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Has Audeze done the seemingly impossible and created the elusive pair of great-sounding, closed-back, planar magnetic IEMs?
I’m a planar magnetic headphone fan. And I’m an IEM fan. But I can’t say that I’m a planar magnetic IEM fan.
The only pair of IEMs that I’ve heard that seem to benefit from the inclusion of planar magnetic drivers are the Audeze LCDi3, and those are really just open-backed headphones masquerading as IEMs by extending tubes into the ear canals from large drivers clipped outside the ears.
- Superb build quality
- True Audeze planar sound
- Relaxed and enjoyable sound signature
- Spacious yet detailed sound
- Excellent included accessories
- Not inexpensive
- Only a standard 3.5mm cable
- Not the most dynamic
- Somewhat rolled off treble
- One MMCX connector body slid out of place
Once planar magnetic drivers are shrunk down to fit inside an IEM shell, they seem to lose what makes them special. Gone are the snappy bass and rich tonality, and far too often what replaces them is an upper-midrange/lower-treble nasal-sounding harshness. Planar IEMs are a new technology, and it seems consumers are experiencing the inevitable growing pains with sub-par tuning presented by the early manufacturers. So, it’s with cautious optimism that I opened up the Audeze packaging.
Audeze named their new closed-back planar magnetic IEMs Euclid, based on a Greek name meaning renowned and glorious. Inarguably, this is vivid imagery and strong word choice. Are the Euclid the planar magnetic IEMs we’ve been waiting for?
The Euclid are priced north of USD$1000 and feature a closed-back barrel-shaped form, shaped entirely differently from Audeze’s previous portable planars. Did Audeze have to compromise on sound quality to achieve this new size and design? Or will the Euclid herald a new golden age of planar magnetic IEMs?
Take my hand and let’s find out together if the Euclid offer a truly transcendental listening experience.
Audeze LLC, pronounced “odyssey” and originally spelled Audez’e, was established in 2009 in Santa Ana, California when the founders joined with an engineer formerly designing flexible materials for NASA. This space-age material proved perfect for headphone drivers. Audeze quickly moved from a home-based start-up to one of the top planar magnetic headphone manufacturers with the critical and commercial success of their LCD line.
The Audeze goal is to deliver “the most accurate sound reproduction available today. Audeze products are engineered with the latest innovations in materials science and technology matched with precision craftsmanship to produce an astonishingly dynamic and immersive sound. Audeze’s commitment to research and development is reflected in every facet of our products.”
- Form: Closed IEMs
- Drivers: 18mm ultra-thin Uniforce planar magnetic using neodymium N50 Fluxor magnetic system
- Impedance (Ohm): 12 Ohms
- Sensitivity (dB): 105 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point)
- Frequency Response (Hz): 10 Hz – 50 kHz
- THD: <0.1% @ 100 dB SPL
- Removable Cable: Y
- Source Jack: 3.5mm
- Cup/Shell Jack: MMCX
- Sound Port Diameter: 5mm
- Weight (g): 15 g / pair without cable
An austere black box, devoid of product pictures or specs, contains the Euclid within. For the price tag, I expect a high level of presentation and accessories, and popping the top off the box does not disappoint. A genuine, crystal-clear, Pelican 1010 storage case with a carabiner clip holds all the goodies. It can’t be overstated how handy it is to have a see-through case when you have a few pairs of IEMs kicking around.
The Euclid and cable are nestled in laser-cut foam, while the extras fit into a padded mesh bag. It’s all very high quality and no-nonsense. You don’t feel any corners have been cut to meet a price.
In the box
- Audeze Euclid IEMs
- Braided 3.5mm – MMCX cable
- 3.5mm to 6.35mm gold-plated adapter
- Cable shirt-clip
- 3x Comply Isolation foam ear tips (T200) (S, M, L)
- 3x Audeze silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
- Cleaning Brush
- Velcro strap
- Pelican 1010 case with carabiner
- Serial number/certificate of authenticity card with inspector signature
- User guide and driver downloads card (www.audeze.com/products/downloads)
The single-ended 3.5mm Euclid cable consists of a twisted, dual-strand pair of rubbery black wires. It’s more no-nonsense than flashy bling, and that’s just fine with me. The connectors have black metal bodies, and the MMCX connectors are color-coded for ease of identification and snap securely into the IEMs themselves. Microphonics aren’t an issue, but the cable may not be sturdy enough to survive for the long haul.
After only a few uses, when I attempted to disconnect the right MMCX connector from the IEM, the metal body of the connector slid upwards rather than disconnecting. I was able to simply slide it back down in place and remove the connector, but it’s a bit disappointing when a high-end product has this sort of issue.
It appears that the glue failed and now the connector body is easily moved out of place. The left connector does not have this issue. It’s not a problem if you never remove the connectors, but it is necessary to do so to put the Euclid back into their storage case.
The Euclid do not follow the trend of molded, ergonomic, resin-bodied IEMs that are currently popular. The interior 18mm driver is large enough to require a special silhouette, and the bulbous parallelogram barrel-shape of the Euclid reflects this. The diameter is fairly large, although the sloping body contour keeps it from appearing overwhelming in the ear.
The matte black aluminum bodies are impeccably constructed and finished, so while clearly assembled from multiple parts, including a gold ring around their circumference, they are smooth and refined. The outer surface features a carbon fiber circle with a centered metal Audeze A logo. It’s all classy and expensive-looking.
Upon first glance, the Euclid impress and distinguish themselves from other IEMs. These are unabashedly a luxury product, targeted at those that value impeccable design, construction, and materials.
Each IEM weighs approximately 7.5 grams, which is enough to feel substantial, but not too heavy for long-term listening. The size and barrel-shaped design mean the Euclid protrude from the ears, and are quite visible, so it’s fortunate that they look so good! You won’t mind passersby taking a curious glance or two, wondering what those clearly-not-Earpods are.
The nozzle length is about average, but the 5mm diameter is fairly large for those with smaller-sized ears. Although they don’t appear ergonomically shaped, the Euclid fit snugly and securely, and don’t tend to move around or fall out, even with vigorous activity.
I find the silicone tips more comfortable for longer listening sessions than the foam versions, and the majority of my listening was done with the medium-sized Audeze tips. I prefer the slightly less warm and more detailed sound provided by the silicone tips as well.
It’s important to note again that the Euclid are Audeze’s first attempt at a pair of traditionally shaped, closed-back planar IEMs. The iSine series and LCDi3/i4 look nothing like the Euclid, however, they share much of the same internal technology.
- Fazor is what Audeze calls their waveguides positioned outside the driver’s magnets to evenly direct the sound waves in an attempt to reduce interference and diffraction.
- Uniforce is what Audeze calls the variable conductor width used in the voice coil intended to create a uniform magnetic force (or flux) across the diaphragm surface to reduce distortion.
- Fluxor is what Audeze calls their design which increases the magnetic strength (flux) within the driver’s magnet array to improve SPL, efficiency, speed, and driver control.
Where full-sized planar magnetic headphones typically require high-current and robust amplification, the 12 Ohm impedance and 105dB efficient Euclid do not seem to benefit greatly from additional power. This is welcome news to anyone who just wants to plug them into a modest source such as a phone or DAP and not lug about a stack of additional gear to get the best out of their portable IEMs.
Audeze Euclid Sound
Right off the bat, it should be noted that the Euclid have a fairly unique presentation and tuning, at least for a pair of IEMs. I’m happy to report that the Euclid sound far-and-away better than the other traditional planar magnetic IEM designs that I’ve heard! They sound like Audeze headphones.
Proper planar sound is cause for celebration!
Detail and resolution are where the Euclid shine. The Euclid drivers present details differently than other IEMs, almost verging on hyper-realistic – that is, they have a resolving tonality that clearly portrays the music (for better or worse). It all has the potential to sound a little sharp depending on your source, music choice, and file quality.
However, the fine-grained presentation sounds unique to the Euclid, and once you acclimate to their sound signature, you’ll likely appreciate what they bring to the listening experience. Instrument separation is excellent, and voices are clearly distinct from the surrounding music. They do very well to paint a coherent and defined sonic picture for the listener.
The feeling of space and soundstage are truly impressive for a pair of IEMs. The Euclid sound is far beyond the traditional center-of-the-head listening experience provided by many IEMs. While they don’t quite capture the open-backed listening experience of the LCDi3, perhaps surprisingly, they aren’t that far behind. The music is spacious and surrounds the listener.
Punchiness and dynamics are a bit soft, giving a more relaxed presentation rather than a roller-coaster visceral experience. The Euclid are well controlled and tight sounding, but lack a certain subterranean kick and punch that the very best dynamic driver or hybrid IEMs can provide.
The Euclid bass is tamer than I expected and is more neutral than ‘basshead’ in quantity. They feel like a planar driver, quick and controlled, with an Audeze LCD-2 feeling of warmth and character. The bass is dense and meaty but doesn’t descend to utterly sub-sonic levels nor dominate the overall signature.
The Euclid low-end imparts warmth but manages to avoid adding blur or muddiness to the midrange. It’s a smooth presentation that remains refined and clean. There’s plenty of presence for most music, but those looking to shake their brains may want to look elsewhere.
The midrange peaks within the vocal range, which adds energy and presence to voices. This sort of peak is typically the Achilles heel of planar IEMs, with unnatural energy near 3kHz. The Euclid tone this tendency down, and manage to make the midrange take a half step back. The end result is smooth, imparted with weight and density that is a very different experience from listing to balanced armature IEMs.
Thankfully, the upper midrange is remarkably free from harshness or nasal honk. Things sound clean and generally natural. Voices and instruments are clear and easily distinguished. The Euclid offer a peek into what is possible with planar IEMs, and into what has generally been missing from this type of IEM.
Treble spikes a bit in the lower range and rolls off higher up. This is audible in the resolving nature of the Euclid, but they lack some of that sparkle and shine that hybrid electret IEMs, like the Thieaudio Monarch, provide. The smooth nature of the Euclid is on full display in the upper registers, but a sense of airiness is missing.
The treble is clear and detailed but just doesn’t have that ultra-light feeling of extension that some listeners may prefer. Quality over quantity perhaps, and if you prefer your headphone listening to be easier and more relaxed, rather than sharp and aggressive, you’ll gravitate towards the Euclid’s sound.
Where to Buy
I’ve learned to equate Audeze with sophisticated luxury. Their products are the high-end, luxury sports sedans of the headphone world. A mostly black and elegant colorway, highlighted by sculpted aluminum, glossy wood, carbon fiber, and chrome accents. No showy or blingy nonsense, just an overall impression of intrinsic worth. Money where their mouth is.
Expensive, sure, but you get what you pay for.
Are you a full-sized Audeze headphone fan and wondering what pair of IEMs is right for you? Then let me introduce you to the Euclid. They’re what you’ve been waiting for.
The Euclid are fundamentally Audeze planar magnetic headphones. They’re just transformed into a smaller size and shape, and are actually intended for portable listening. They can be driven adequately by almost any device, and just manage to be small enough to be relatively discreet when wearing in public. But most importantly of all, they maintain that Audeze house sound.
The Euclid sound is detailed and spacious, yet they maintain a relaxed and easy-to-listen-to presentation. Sheer dynamics are a bit soft, and they don’t quite portray that limitless high-end or soul-pounding bass that other high-end IEMs can deliver. With their price tag in mind, they aren’t perfect, but they are very, very good. And, without a doubt, the Euclid are profoundly Audeze.