Once upon a time, there weren’t a lot of choices when it came to a pair of earphones. Most models were basic dynamic designs and you took what you could get. However, over the past decade or so, earphone technology has come such a long way and now there’s a whole new category of earphones called In-Ear Monitors (IEMs). IEM is just a posh name for a pair of high-end earphones that sometimes feature multiple drivers to create a sound with a wide frequency response that can often outperform a basic single-driver design.
The development of tiny balanced armature drivers has enabled specialist makers of IEMs to produce some incredibly sophisticated earphones. Now the next generation of IEMs is emerging with the miniaturization of planar magnetic drivers by a company called Audeze. The technology has been used in larger headphones for quite a few years. The technology is somewhere in-between traditional dynamic drivers and the expensive and power-hungry electrostatic models.
Planar magnetic headphones use a thin diaphragm made from a flexible sheet of material in a sandwich construction. These sheets contain very thin wires with a current of electricity running through them. The variation in the current vibrates the thin and flexible sheet a little like a wobble board thanks to evenly spaced magnets on either side of the diaphragm which hold it in place until it’s excited by the varying voltage. The result is an incredibly dynamic and detailed sound.
Because planar magnetic designs use larger diaphragms than dynamic headphones, it’s been a bit of a struggle shrinking the technology into a size that’s sufficiently small enough to fit into an earpiece that can sit comfortably in the human ear and be able to stay there.
The result of all the work on the miniaturization of planar magnetic technology has yielded the Audeze Euclid; a stunning pair of IEMs which contain 18mm planar magnetic drivers that create a sound that’s nothing short of breathtaking. These amazing IEMs are supplied with their own Pelican storage case to keep them unharmed.
The styling of the Audeze Euclid IEMs is gorgeous with smoothly contoured housings with an understated matte black finish. The housings are light (considering their size) and their housings are precision-milled from solid aluminum, capped with a layer of carbon fiber. They’re small enough to fit all but the smallest of ears.
The Audeze Euclid feature a luxury braided cable with detachable gold-plated MMCX connectors at one end that create an incredibly secure connection with the earpieces for optimal signal transfer. The other end of the cable was terminated with an unbalanced 3.5mm stereo jack plug. There’s an option to have a 4.4mm balanced cable or a Bluetooth version for those who simply must be wireless. The wearing style involves routing the cable up over the ear so that the earpieces dangle down ready for insertion in the ear. This design doesn’t need ear hooks and uses just a plastic sleeve that ensures a comfortable wearing style.
To boost the comfort levels still further, Audeze has supplied a range of ear tips in sizes to suit most ear canals. The tips are supplied in a choice of regular silicone tips as well as some superb Spinfit silicone tips. There are also some Comply foam ear tips for those people who prefer tips that can expand to the shape of the listener’s ear canal, forming a tight acoustic fit that’s still secure and comfortable.
The Audeze Euclid’s planar magnetic drivers use Audeze’s patented Fazor waveguides that are specifically designed to eliminate the phasing and distortion that can occur on quite a few pairs of closed-back dynamic IEMs. Because the planar magnetic driver is a single unit, it’s easy to drive and has an impedance of just 12Ω. It’s vibrated using patented Fluxor magnetic ray of Neodymium N50 magnets and Uniforce voice coils which produce minimal levels of distortion. They are also highly sensitive and produce a similar response across the entire frequency spectrum.
Another positive of using planar magnetic technology is there’s no need for a complicated crossover to divide up the various frequency ranges between multiple drivers. This means the sound is less messed around with and there is a sound quality and responsiveness that’s unique to planar magnetic drivers. The lack of distortion and the naturally extended bass response make the Audeze Euclid sound more like an open-back pair of headphones even though they are closed-back IEMs.
To put the Euclid IEMs through their paces, I fired up TIDAL and selected the Kronos Quartet’s excellent Folk Songs album. This superb recording features one of the world’s best-loved string quartets with four folk artists: Sam Amidon, Olivia Cheney, Rhiannon Giddens and Natalie Merchant. It’s a beautiful crossover album between classical musicianship and the songwriting prowess of some of the best folk artists.
The track “I See The Sign” by Sam Amidon blends his perfectly pitched style of singing and guitar playing with a delicacy of string playing that the Kronos is so well known for. The Euclid IEMs were able to articulate the pizzicato plucking of violin strings to underpin Amidon’s picking style. You really wouldn’t imagine how a string quartet could meld so perfectly with this Americana style of folk music, but it does and the Euclids extract every drop of detail from this beautifully recorded album.
Olivia Cheney’s track “Montagne, Que Tu Es Haute” brings the Kronos together with Cheney’s beautifully intoned singing of this French number. Cheney accompanies herself in this performance by playing percussion. The beauty of the Audeze Euclid IEMs is you can hear every little sound from Cheney as she keeps time with herself on a drum. It’s spine-tingling stuff. The whole album is a piece of musical gold and well worth a listen if you’re a TIDAL subscriber where the recording is available as an MQA Master. Just make sure you use a good DAC with MQA unfolding so you can hear the full capabilities of the Euclids.
Verdict: The Audeze Euclid planar-magnetic IEMs are the best of their kind available. Top marks to the engineers at Audeze for being able to miniaturize the planar technology into a manageable form that manages to maintain the peculiarities of this amazing type of driver. Every little detail is presented with precision and musicality. These IEMs are so good you can drive them with a top-quality DAC and they’ll sing beautifully. Their tone is perfectly balanced and providing they are driven by a decent quality source; they require no EQ or tonal adjustment. If you want the quality of a top-end pair of open-back headphones in the form of a pair of earphones, these are an amazing choice. These are definitely a pair of IEMs for audiophiles, but if you love music, you’ll love the Audeze Euclid.
Pricing & Availability: The Audeze Euclid Planar Magnetic IEMs are available now and cost £1,249/ $1,299.
More info: USA: audeze.com UK: audeze.co.uk
- Style: In-ear, closed-back.
- Transducer type: Planar Magnetic.
- Magnetic structure: Fluxor™ magnet array.
- Phase management: Fazor™.
- Magnet type: Neodymium N50.
- Diaphragm type: Ultra-thin Uniforce™.
- Transducer size: 18 mm.
- Maximum SPL: >120dB.
- Frequency response: 10Hz – 50kHz.
- THD: <0.1% @ 100 dB SPL.
- Sensitivity: 105 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point).
- Impedance: 12Ω.
- Max power handling: 500mW.
- Min recommended power: > 50mW.
- Wired connection: Braided MMCX.
- Weight: 15g/pair without cable.
- Sound port diameter: 5mm.