Moving forward… new design

Greetings everyone! We hope that everyone has been keeping safe and healthy in lieu of all the recent world events. Like everywhere else in the world, things have been slow for us with the disruption of many of our supply chains and work activities.

In our last few updates, we had been going around sourcing for the perfect wood for our IEMs. After continued testing, we have decided to go ahead with a dark hard wood. In our testing, this wood had additional emphasis to the low end, which complemented our planar magnetic drivers. We also felt that the grain of this particular wood was the most pleasing, and its dark colour gave the IEMs a sleek feel. Presenting the new design of our IEMs:

3D Render of our redesigned casing – cleaner lines and more complementary with the dark wood colour

In our redesign, we have also simplified the top plate to make the IEMs cleaner looking. The outer border has been removed and we had curved the top surface to give it a smoother feel. This also allowed us to make the top plate slightly thicker to improve durability. We have started to create a small batch of our new design, here is a sneak peek:

Small volume test prototypes of our new design, new rounded top plate without border
Lacquering of our new prototypes, going for a high gloss feel
One of the completed new prototypes with the new simplified laser engraved logo

We have gone for a laser engraved logo with a gold inlay which complements the dark wood colour. Our emphasis this time is to keep the design clean. To take this further and we have also simplified our logo. What do you think of our new design? We hope you have enjoyed this update!

Trying out more woods!

Hi Everyone!

We have another update for you today. More wood prototypes! We have been going round the region again hunting for different woods to make our planar magnetic IEMs. Searching for that perfect combination. This time we have two new models to feature:

Wood from the Americas – very nice straight grain and musicality

The straight grain of this wood allows it it be very workable and the individual parts could be pieced together without much issue, allowing us to get a good acoustic seal. We also particularly love the way this wood is able to take in the polish to reveal a nice reddish-brown color. Musically this is also one of our favourites, it produces a nice warm tone.

Wood from Canada – For all the light wood fans

At the request of some of our followers, we decided to source for a very light wood. This wood has interesting sound characteristics. We found that the volume was amplified with this wood the sound seemed much louder. Also the sound had a brighter tone.

Was there any particular wood that you liked? Do let us know!

On another note, we are expecting a delay in our launch due to current world events. Our supply chains and labour have been hit hard and we are trying to find reliable alternatives. More updates to follow! Happy listening!

More Prototypes!

Hello everyone, time for another update! Things have been slower recently due the events in the Asia region. We are also affected in Singapore and we are our supply chain is strained, making it difficult to produce new units for testing. Please be patient with us in the coming weeks!

In this update, we would like to touch on the materials and crafting of our planar magnetic IEMS. The casing material is the interface with which we interact by touch with the IEMS and also plays a major role in altering the sonic characteristics of our IEMS. This is because our IEMS are designed like miniature speakers, we do not use acoustic tubing channel the sound to the ears but rather the casing itself acts as the channel. We believe we have a different design philosophy than other makers and we will reveal more on our approach in future updates!

We have been able to source small quantities of different woods from our friends all over! We have made sever new prototypes to study how the different wood variations affect the sound:

We heard some people prefer lightly colored woods while others prefer dark colored ones. Here are some close ups (from darkest to lightest) along with some comments on the sound.

African wood for musical instruments – sleek and executive looking!

This is the darkest of the bunch, it is a type of wood obtained from Africa which is used to make musical instruments. We found that this wood tends to highlight the high frequencies and it was especially good for music with stringed instruments. We particularly liked the sleek look this wood has, however it is really challenging to work with. It was a challenge to find a good cut which had pleasing grain and since it was already so dark to begin with. Lastly, we have had some difficulty choosing a finish which would best reveal its grain. Perhaps we will try a matte finish in future versions to see if it would give this dark wood more “texture”.

Hardwood sourced from Indonesia – one of our personal favorites in terms of looks. Look at that grain!

Next is a kind of hardwood sent to us from our friends from Indonesia. Acoustically, these gave an extra low end kick to our planar magnetic drivers. We found listening to tracks a little punchier and that the tracks had a little more body behind them. In terms of aesthetics, these are one of the really pleasant woods to work with. The pleasing grain pattern was easy to find and just varnishing it a little brought out its really beautiful and complex grain. Take a look at how the right side reflects in the light!

Reddish hardwood sourced from the Americas

Here we have a reddish hardwood sourced from the Americas. These have an interesting look. The dark reddish hue reminds us of some premium stringed instruments. We think some violin enthusiasts might be a fan of such a wood. Sound wise these are pretty balanced, neither enhancing any particular frequency. We think that these might attract a lot of the audio purists out there.

Wood sourced from Africa commonly used to make stringed instruments like guitars

We chose this wood mainly from recommendations from our friends on its use and special accentuation to the treble it gives guitars. In our experience, we found that the high frequencies were more pronounced and accurate. However this wood tend to take off some of the bass, which made these have a “colder” presentation.

European Wood – Straight grained, striking appearance with very clean looking aesthetic

We have sourced this wood from Europe and it has been used to make fine furniture. What attracted us to this wood is their characteristic straight grain. It gives a very striking and clean looking appearance. We used the heartwood part as we felt it had a slightly darker appearance. The straight grain was easy to work with and allowed us to make sets with good sealing quite easily. Acoustically, these can have a rather “echoic” feeling, which can sound spacious, but at times also making tracks with high frequencies sound more sibilant.

Stay tuned for more updates!

The evolution of “Stage” – From ABS to Full Wood Planar Magnetic IEMS

In this update we decide to touch upon the various iterations we have gone through leading up to the development of our current prototype. Looking back, we have been almost 2-3 years in developing “Stage”, it has (and still is) been a great journey developing “Stage”.

Have a look through the various photographs from our collection of planar magnetic prototypes below!

Our first Practical 3D printed prototype

One of our first practical prototypes. This was 3D printed using ABS filament and subsequently treated in an acetone vapour chamber. This used one of our early planar magnetic drivers with regular copper constructions and a singular “Push” configuration. Back then, the volume output of the earphones was very low due to the inefficient design and it had a small sized 12 x 12 mm driver.

Our first 3D wood printed prototype

As we advanced from our ABS 3D printed prototypes, we weren’t satisfied with the sound profiles. As wood lovers ourselves, we started experimenting with other materials. This was our first foray into wood. This was made using 3D as well with wood filament, the surfaces were then hand filed and finished to produce a wood grain. The addition of wood made the sound more warm and spacious. A serious influence to our final designs! These were the first prototypes to feature CNC aluminium caps as well to make a more premium feel.

Wood prototypes with our improved push-pull configuration planar magnetic drivers

In this version, which featured the same 3D printed wood and CNC aluminium caps, we improved on our earlier 12 x 12 mm drivers by adding an additional front array of magnets, making our drivers to become “push-pull” increasing the driving efficiency of our drivers.

SLA 3D printed prototype with the largest ever 17.5 x 12.5 mm planar magnetic drivers in an IEM.

Any planar magnetic lover knows that planar magnetic drivers are power hungry. We knew we needed to increase the efficiency of our drivers in order to achieve practical use on the go. This 3D printed prototype was one of our first using SLA printing technology. These featured our brand new V3 drivers which were “push-pull” and much larger, with 17.5 x 12.5 mm size. The largest ever in any closed planar magnetic IEM.

Our polycarbonate prototype with wood water transfer. V4 drivers with special N54 magnets

Continuing with our love with wood, we started producing prototypes with poly-carbonate shells with water transfer wood grain patterns. This was our first trial with making a “mass production” prototype. These featured our improved V4 large 17.5 x 12.5 mm drivers with special N54 magnets. These also had our new logo with the “D” and “L” pattern with a sound wave effect. We loved the sound… but something was missing…

Where we are now, Planar magnetic IEMS with FULL WOOD construction. These also feature our V5 drivers with a revamped front magnetic array for increased sound transparency

Fast forward to our latest prototype. We just could not turn away from wood sound! Developing this prototype was the most time consuming. Wood construction was difficult and the prototypes we had made were very fragile. We had partnered with various wood craftsmen and after a year of prototyping, we had come up with this prototype which featured multiple parts which had to be had machined and precision fit to ensure no sound leakage. More on this in our next update!

Happy 2020! To All Our Fellow Planar Magnetic Lovers

To all our followers, it has been quite awhile since we have updated! We want to assure everyone that we are still on it and working at perfecting our sound!

Just a sample of the many many prototypes we have built in the past 2 years we have been making planar magnetic IEMS

2019 has been a really fruitful year for us and we have gone to great lengths building hundreds of prototypes and experimenting with many different variants! We are really close to perfecting that wide soundstage experience and we are excited to share this with everyone soon! In the next few posts we will share some snippets on each of the prototypes you see above as we lead up to showing you our final product soon.

From the left column (top to bottom):
1. One of our very first FDM 3D printed prototypes
2. Our first FDM 3D wood printed prototype with CNC aluminium caps
3. FDM 3D wood printed prototype with v2 drivers

From the right column (top to bottom):
4. Our first SLA 3D printed prototype with v3 drivers
5. Polycarbonate prototype, CNC aluminium caps with v4 drivers
6. Where we are now, FULL WOOD, CNC and handcrafted prototype with v5 drivers

Stay tuned!

Upgraded Drivers

Greetings Everyone!

We have been in close contact with our initial reviewers and paying attention to their feedback. In response, we have chosen to upgrade our drivers to address their whishlist:

Left: our new prototype with improved drivers, Right: our previous prototype

Our latest prototype has a planar magnetic driver which measures approximately 18mm x 13mm, compared to our previous prototype with 13mm x 13mm drivers, making them 50% larger! This allows for even greater soundstage, more power sound and punchier bass response, bringing a fuller experience to your listening! To our knowledge these are the largest planar magnetic drivers in an IEM. With careful engineering, we were able to make this increase in driver size with marginal increases to the overall size of the IEM, allowing them to have the same comfort and lightweight design as before.

We will be making even more improvements to the design, bringing you more updates soon!

Sneak Preview of Our Review Sets

Sample review set for Stage Planar Magnetic In-Ear Monitors

Hi All. It has been awhile since our last update. In the past month, we have been implementing fine improvements in our planar magnetic drivers to improve efficiency as well as sound quality. In the lead up to our crowd funding launch, we will reveal more on our unique driver technology, so stay tuned!

We are now working on our review sets for audition to be sent out in the coming month. The above is a sample set which we have prepared, but we might change certain components in order to meet shipping requirements (size, packaging, etc). We have put a lot of effort in designing the wooden box to accompany the premium feel of our IEMS. Do let us know what you think!

Closeup on our Planar Magnetic In-ear Monitors

Additionally, we have updated the color of our Planar Magnetic In-ear Monitors to a metallic royal blue as this suits the overall aesthetics better than the previous turquoise blue. As you may have seen, we are also experimenting with other casing materials such as wood, so this might not be the final version, more updates to come!

True Balanced Adapter for USB Type C Listening

Our Planar Magnetic IEMs in action using our balanced USB Type C amplifier.

In today’s update, we are pleased to announce our next development.

These days, many people are using their mobile phones as listening devices. Unfortunately, most mobile phones lack good audio amplifiers for good listening. To achieve the best audio quality, we recommend that a “balanced drive” amplifier be used, whilst almost all mobile phones are “single drive”, which we feel, is unsuitable for quality listening.

Why should I use “Balanced Drive” ?
More powerful and clearer sound. Balanced drive uses 4 ports, allowing for up to 200% more power and up to 100% less noise.

What is balanced drive? Click here to know more.

Presenting Our Custom Made True Balanced Drive USB Type C Amplifier:

Our USB Type C Amplifier. Made with premium gold plated jacks, our custom balanced drive quad channel amplifier as well as pure silver cables for optimal sound transmission.
Closeup of our gold plated jacks with carbon fiber accents.

Our goal is to provide a good listening experience with our Planar Magnetic IEMS. After an extensive search, we found almost all of the USB-C to 2.5 mm adapters were single ended! Absolutely misleading!

Therefore, we set out to create our own True USB-C Balanced amplifier for mobile phone listening. We have used a quad port 96KHz x 24-bit amplifier chip with a power efficient design, allowing it to operate without additional power and batteries. This means that you can have significantly better audio quality with your mobile phone without using a premium audiophile player!

Wooden Planar Magnetic IEMs

Hi everyone,
We have been experimenting on different casing materials for Stage and finally we are proud to show you some of our progress! We have been experimenting on making a wood casings as we personally like the sonic qualities of wood. Take a look at some of the pictures we have of our new prototype:

Stage with a customized handmade housing
A closer view of the wood housing

Making the wood casing
Creating this prototype was a big challenge, as many portions of it had to be machined and finished by hand. Additionally, we had to change several components of the design as some of the portions in our original prototypes using poly carbonate were too thin. We used a double varnish and staining technique to try and bring out as much of the grain of the wood as possible. We have kept to the original molded shape of Stage as possible so as to maintain its comfortable fit unlike many of the other casings which are produced by CNC machining.

How does it sound?
In our initial testing, we can say that we are excited about the direction this is going. We have fit in our latest push/pull configuration planar magnetic IEM drivers and we have to say that we like the effect that wood has given us. The warmth of the wood complements the planar magnetic drivers and there is great synergy between the two components.

What do you think of a wooden planar magnetic IEM? Do share with us your thoughts!

Looking forward to update everyone again soon. Happy listening!

Wireless Planar Magnetic IEMs?

Just some of the MMCX bluetooth dongles tested with Stage

Happy Lunar New Year to all our followers! In this post we will be writing about all the wireless/bluetooth solutions we have tried to pair with Stage. We have designed Stage with the function to have interchangeable cables using MMCX sockets. One of the ideas which we have been experimenting on recently is the possibility of making Stage into wireless planar magnetic IEMs by using MMCX bluetooth cable replacements instead of the MMCX to 3.5 /2.5 mm earphone cables.

Pictured above are just some of the dongles we have tried, we have auditioned both brand name dongles such as the KZ Bluetooth upgrade cable and the Fiio Rc-Bt Bluetooth cable to lesser known models made by smaller companies online. Additionally, in our testing, we focused on the higher end APTX dongles so as to ensure the highest quality data transmission across bluetooth.

Our preliminary results show that the listening experience by using these MMCX bluetooth cable replacements was sub-optimal. We find that they did not work well with Stage, resulting in a noticeable drop in audio quality in many areas. For now, we will keep this in view, but for now we believe that Stage should be used with high quality copper or sliver cables for the best signal transmission.