I Tried the I\O Acoustic Volare and Sparred With a New Tribrid Value Contender

The IO Acoustic Volare are tribrid IEMs. (From: Trav Wilson)
The I\O Acoustic Volare are tribrid IEMs. (From: Trav Wilson)

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The V-shaped Volare checks all the boxes.

I\O Acoustic Volare

Our Review Guidelines ⧉
Evaluated over: 3 weeks
Bottom Line

The Volare provide an exceptional entry into tribrid IEMs with premium packaging, comfort, and competitive pricing. Their balanced sound strikes a sweet spot between detail and smoothness, avoiding aggressive treble. These IEMs pleasantly surprised me; while not cheap, they offer top-tier quality at a reasonable price. The Volare set a high standard for newcomers in the market, urging established brands to take note of their impressive debut.

General Usage
Audiophile Usage
  • Design
    outstanding 100
  • Build Quality
    good 80
  • Comfort
    good 80
  • Pairing
    good 80
  • Value
    good 80
  • Bass
    outstanding 100
  • Mids
    good 80
  • Treble
    outstanding 100
  • Sound Quality
    outstanding 100
Dynamic driver, BA, EST
5 ohms
121 db/mW
IP Rating
6 g
What We Like 😍
  • Very impressive packaging and accessories – especially the great cable!
  • Detailed yet unfatiguing signature
  • Sound great across genres
  • Powerful, deep bass
  • Good value for a tribrid
What We Don't Like 🤢
  • May be too big for small ears
  • Not the most dynamic-sounding tribrid design
  • Nozzles are made of resin, not metal
  • Case only holds the shells and not the cable or tips
Thank you to Shenzhen Audio for providing the Volare IEMs for review.

When Shenzhen Audio recently contacted me inquiring if I’d be interested in reviewing a pair of tribrid IEMs from a new high-end audio brand they are introducing, I quickly signed up.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of tribrid IEM setups with a mixture of dynamic drivers, balanced armature, and electrostatic drivers (electret). The TOTL Thieaudio tribrid lineup includes some of my favorite IEMs, including the Prestige LTD and Monarch v1.

So, what must a new Chinese audio brand do to enter the market and stand out amid constant flavor-of-the-week IEM releases? The existing companies release an endless flood of new models and revisions, quickly overshadowing previous darlings. The hype train phenomenon is strong with the fickle, so-called ‘chi-fi’ audio enthusiasts.

New products can compete on packaging, accessories, build, sound, and cost.

In creating the Volare, I/O Acoustic checked all the boxes – a TOTL unboxing experience with a generous assortment of high-quality accessories. Beautiful resin shells house a terrific sounding 9-driver (1DD, 4BA, 4EST) setup. And they are priced at around half of the kilo-buck sets they compete with.

Now, that’s an entrance.

One Minute Review Video

Watch: IO Acoustic Volare short review #shorts


The faceplates have remarkable depth. (From: Trav Wilson)
The faceplates have remarkable depth. (From: Trav Wilson)

Design and Build

The Volare have striking black resin shells with embedded silver sparkles. Their size and shape are very reminiscent of Thieaudio’s tribrid IEMs; they are smooth, contoured, and quite large.

The faceplates are silver and grey strips embedded in clear resin to give them texture and depth. The combination manages to be both refined and eye-catching.

Heygears, a commonly used OEM company, 3D-printed the medical-grade resin shells.

The 2-pin cable socket is recessed, and a small vent is nearby. I greatly approve of the embedded “I” and “O” on the faceplate by the cable socket, which matches the corresponding mark on the cable plug. This makes it extremely easy to discern the appropriate cable side and orientation.

The 2-pin socket, vent, and tubes in the nozzle. (From: Trav Wilson)
The 2-pin socket, vent, and tubes in the nozzle. (From: Trav Wilson)

The lipped nozzle is similar in size and length to the Thieaudio offerings but is made of resin rather than metal and may be slightly less robust in the long run. There is no mesh cover over the nozzle, and the audio tube openings can be seen easily.

This is a terrific cable. (From: Trav Wilson)
This is a terrific cable. (From: Trav Wilson)


The impressive black cable is constructed from 8-strands of silver-plated 6n OFC copper with an aramid fiber core. It’s thick, supple, and non-microphonic. The jacks and splitter are all made of high-quality black metal and feel a cut above the construction of even the excellent Thieaudio cable.

The swappable 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm plugs have a threaded, screw-on sheath to eliminate accidental disconnects. Hooray! I always accidentally pull out standard swappable push-in plugs from cables upon disconnection.

This is everything I want in an IEM cable.

The shape and fit is very similar to the Thieaudio tribrid IEMs.
The shape and fit is very similar to the Thieaudio tribrid IEMs.


Comfort and fit are good for my ears; they feel light at only about 6g per IEM. Although relatively wide and shallow, the ergonomic and smooth shell shape makes up for it. They are very similar in fit to the beefy Thieaudio tribrids – if you have tiny ears, you may struggle with comfort.

The generous inclusion of 4 different sets of small, medium, and large silicone ear tips, plus three sizes of foam tips (15 tips in total), should ensure a good fit and seal for most folks.

Smooth and ergonomic. (From: Trav Wilson)
Smooth and ergonomic. (From: Trav Wilson)

Under the Hood

For the low frequencies, the Volare use a newly developed silica gel suspension, birch dome, 8 mm dynamic driver that reportedly took a thousand hours to design. The four custom midrange balanced armature drivers are intended to reduce the dependence of traditional BAs on the electronic frequency divider.

Exploded view of the drivers. (From: shenzhenaudio.com)
Exploded view of the drivers. (From: shenzhenaudio.com)

Four high-voltage Denmark SONIC electrostatic drivers rated up to 40 kHz handle the high end.

The physical crossover system uses high-precision resistors and capacitors and is paired with the unique sound tube structure in the nozzle to create the Volare’s tuning.

My typical testing rig of an AP-80 Pro-X and Mojo 2 with the Volare. (From: Trav Wilson)
My typical testing rig of an AP-80 Pro-X and Mojo 2 with the Volare. (From: Trav Wilson)

How Do the Volare Sound?

I primarily listened to my typical mish-mash of genres, file formats, and source material using my go-to portable setup of a Hidizs AP-80 Pro-X mated to a Chord Mojo 2. After trialing all the included ear tip varieties, I settled on the included IO-TT55 tips for the most balanced presentation.

The Volare have a v-shaped sound signature with elevated bass and treble and a somewhat recessed midrange, although the ‘v’ isn’t as pronounced as it can be with other tribrid sets. As a result, the bass is relatively relaxed, and the treble isn’t as bright and forward as I expected.

There’s enormous, but subtly presented, extension at both frequency extremes.

The depth of the lowest frequencies is deftly offset by an airy and open high-end. This isn’t quite the sparkly treble I expect from EST drivers, and those that a bright tribrid sound signature has turned off may find the Volare more to their liking.

Clarity is good without being edgy or sibilant, and these are a pair of tribrid IEMs I can multitask and chill out with. Some IEMs command my attention, and I can’t do anything else but get lost in the music. The Volare take a half step back from that presentation and are a little more laid back than the Monarch.

The Volare offer an uncommon load efficiency with a low impedance of only 4.8 ohms and a 97.8 dB/mW sensitivity. They should be paired with amplifiers with a very low output impedance to sound their best, although they seem to work pretty well with even the lowly Apple dongle.

Frequency response measurement of the Volare as measured on a IEC 603118-4 compliant occluded ear simulator (OES). (From: Trav Wilson)
Frequency response measurement of the Volare as measured on a IEC 603118-4 compliant occluded ear simulator (OES). (From: Trav Wilson)


The bass is distinct and punchy, descending to the lowest audible frequencies. This imbues it with a weight and presence without becoming bloomy or thick. It’s elevated but not overblown, so there’s lots of low end when the song calls for it, but it’s not quite to overwhelming bass-head levels.


The lower midrange is lean without being too thin, while the upper midrange shifts more forward in the mix. It’s clean and uncolored, and while certainly not a mid-centric tuned set, the Volare present voices naturally.

Those who prefer a warm, lush midrange probably aren’t going to find what scratches that itch here, but thankfully, the Volare are free of the upper midrange shoutiness that turns me off so many IEMs these days.


The treble is remarkably restrained for a pair of IEMs with 4 EST drivers per side. There’s still the stratospherically high upper-frequency extension, but the top end isn’t hot or sharp. Clarity and articulation are there, but it takes me a little while to acclimate to the Volare’s sound and to appreciate the extensive detail reproduction.

While not quite as airy as the Prestige LTD, the Volare have an open-sounding treble with a touch of sparkle.

The Monarch v1 (left), Volare (center), and Prestige LTD (right). (From: Trav Wilson)
The Monarch v1 (left), Volare (center), and Prestige LTD (right). (From: Trav Wilson)


The Volare are more efficient and play louder than the Thieaudio Prestige LTD at the same power output. Bass is more forward in the Volare, while the Prestige highlight clarity and detail. The Prestige are more forward, and the music has more presence when there isn’t an abundance of low-end music.

When the bass drops, the Volare come into their own.

The Volare are a more traditionally ‘fun’ pair of IEMs to listen to.

The Monarch v1 sound more forward and shriller than the Volare, but that does give them an elevated presence that the Volare can’t quite match. They are more similar in tonality and listening experience than to the Prestige LTD, but the Monarch punch harder and are more in-your-face than the Volare.

They all fit in my ears nearly identically, and I can’t discern them by feel.

I love that the marking on the shell matches the 2-pin plug on the cable. (From: Trav Wilson)
I love that the marking on the shell matches the 2-pin plug on the cable. (From: Trav Wilson)

Where to Buy

Who Should Buy This?

The Volare offer a great introduction to the tribrid IEM listening experience by doing almost everything right the first time: TOTL packaging and accessories, attractive and comfortable design, detailed and controlled sound, and a very competitive price.

Final Thoughts

I’m hard-pressed to find much at fault with the Volare. They offer a remarkably competitive package and are a spectacular first offering from a new company.

They manage to navigate a fine line between detailed presentation and the edgy, overly aggressive treble that can put some folks off of EST drivers. They tiptoe this path with great agility.

The Volare are a fun, not too forward, and terrific-sounding pair of IEMs. A “safe” tuning, perhaps, but that’s not a bad thing.

I didn’t expect to like them as much as I do. Although not inexpensive, the Volare deliver a genuinely top-tier listening experience at a reasonable price. The entry cost for high-grade listening has just lowered, and established companies need to take note.

Now, that's a lot of included ear tips. (From: Trav Wilson)
Now, that’s a lot of included ear tips. (From: Trav Wilson)

What’s in the Box?

The Volare boast one of the most impressive unboxing experiences I’ve ever encountered with a pair of IEMs. Until I tore open the package, I didn’t know what was delivered, as the box seemed far too big for a single set.

The black-hinged cardboard display box has a magnetic closure and folds open to reveal the faux leather case. Confusingly, the case cutouts fit only the IEMs without the cable. That’s an odd miss – it seems that I\O Acoustic intends you to return the cable and tips to the cardboard pull-out drawers in the box.

The case only fits the IEMs and not any accessories. (From: Trav Wilson)
The case only fits the IEMs and not any accessories. (From: Trav Wilson)
  • Volare IEMs
  • Cable with swappable plug (2.5mm, 3.5mm, 4.4mm)
  • 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter
  • 4 pairs of silicone ear tips (s, m, l)
  • 1 pair of foam ear tips (s, m, l)
  • Storage case
  • Cloth
  • VIP card
  • User manual
  • Certificate

Technical Specifications

  • Form: IEM
  • Driver: 1x 8mm custom silicon rubber + wood dome dynamic driver, 4x full-frequency balanced armatures, 4x Danish-imported SONIC high-voltage electrostatic drivers
  • Shell/Cup Material: resin
  • Impedance (Ohm): 4.8Ω±10% (@1kHz)
  • Sensitivity (dB/mW): 121dB/ Vrms (@1kHz)
  • Frequency Response (Hz): 10Hz – 40kHz (IEC61094, Free Field)
  • THD+N: <1% (94dB) THD@1kHz
  • Removable Cable: Y
  • Cable Type: 8-Strand Oxygen-free Copper Silver-plated, swappable plugs (2.5, 3.5, 4.4mm)
  • Mic: N
  • Weight (g): 5g

💬 Conversation: 1 comment

  1. The case has foam inserts in it that can be removed. There is a pouch behind the top foam insert and removing that alone allows space for the cable and additional terminations. Also the bottom foam piece can be removed as well. The foam in the case was to protect it during shipping. These foam pieces can be safely removed and are kinda tightly packed in. A lot of reviews seem to knock this part as well.

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