Headphones have been used by audio professionals for decades and these days, there are many high-resolution models that meet the demands of mixing and mastering. Some engineers go a step further in accuracy and employ calibration and crossfeed DSP like Sonarworks and GoodHertz CanOpener.
In the studio, most of us reach for over-the-ear headphones, but here at Pro Audio Times, we’ve had a chance to evaluate a number of in-ear monitors (IEMs) that warrant attention.
Our first IEM review is the Tansio Mirai TSMR-3 Pro; a $219 Chinese made model with 3 balanced armature (BA) drivers set inside a seamlessly built resin shell (available in a range of attractive color options).
Included is a durable case, silicone ear-tips and a cable with 2-pin 0.78mm connectors. The wire is a bit underwhelming and prone to tangling, so it’s recommended to replace it with a higher quality cable like the ISN-Audio S8, or H8.
This IEM features a 3-switch tuning mode. We found the 123 (all dip switches up) to sound the most balanced.
Listening to a range of music with the TSMR-3 Pro reveals it as being somewhat relaxed and mid-centric– more like a polite friend than a strong personality that demands attention. Low frequencies are warm and but missing a little snap and texture. Lower mids can sound a bit blurred and murky. Mids are well presented in amplitude but slightly lacking in refinement and expansiveness. Upper mids are balanced but with some recordings, can sound a bit pinched and processed. Treble is unfatiguing but does not extend high enough to provide nuanced air and detail.
Spatial depth and imaging are fair. Think “pleasant park” rather than “expansive vista”.
This IEM requires the right tips to reach its full potential. We went through a dozen before finding a stock silicone pair that sounded good.
This is a somewhat sensitive IEM that pairs well with mobile phones and tablets like the Samsung Galaxy A7 and Apple iPad Mini 3. We got the best sonic results with the iFi iDSD Micro Black Label, which has an”IEM match” mode. The Dell Inspiron 7573 laptop and digital audio players like the FiiO X5III and iBasso DX-80 are not ideal impedance matches–producing too much hiss.
For consumer, everyday use, this IEM will satisfy the tastes and subjective tuning preferences of many listeners. For engineering applications it might not offer the technical performance for critical EQ tasks in mixing and mastering, but for production work like editing and checking for “real world” translation of mixes and masters, we see it as an attractive, competent offering.
Pro Audio Times would like to thank Penon Audio for sending us this unit for evaluation.