Review: Astell&Kern T8iE In-Ear Monitors
Astell&Kern are a subsidiary of the famous iRiver, which was formed in 1999 by seven ex-Samsung employees. They are currently well known for their high-end portable Digital Audio Players.
On the other hand, Beyerdynamic is one of the oldest audio companies getting around – they have been family owned since 1924. Their Telsa drivers (such as the ones found in the circumaural T 90 headphones) have been a particular favourites for audiophiles in recent years.
Interestingly, Beyerdynamic has teamed up with Astell&Kern, and together they have found a way to reduce the size of their Tesla drivers into a premium IEM (In Ear Monitor) offering.
Beyerdynamic have made some IEMs in the past, such as the iDX 160 iE. Previously these models have used traditional neodymium magnets and are generally all under $200. Astell&Kern however, have dipped their toes into the IEM pool once before, teaming up with Final Audio Design last year for the balanced armature, AKR02.
Uniting to create a premium IEM was a bold move from the companies, but the demand for high-end headphones is on the rise. Beyerdynamic's Tesla technology has been earning them tremendous favours in the circumaural (over-ear) market, so it makes perfect sense that they would shrink it down to fit within the confines of an IEM.
Astell&Kern have really made the packaging a treat to open up – it's almost like unboxing a fine piece of jewellery.
Removing the sleeve and opening up the box, you will find a mounted document container with warranty information and instructions. Inside the soft-felt enclosure, you'll find the snugly fitted IEMs. Underneath that, lifting the flap will present two cables - a standard 3.5mm cable (1.3m), and a proprietary 2.5mm balanced cable, for use with Astell&Kern players. Both cables are kevlar reinforced.
Looking down the side of the box, you'll find a small ribbon. Tugging on it will reveal a drawer, filled with more goodies inside:
- Five pairs of silicone tips, made specifically for the AK T8iE
- Three pairs of Comply tips
- A Beyerdynamic branded cable clip
- A leather carrying case for the IEMs, complete with both Beyerdynamic and Astell&Kern branding.
The leather case itself is definitely a stand-out – It felt like opening it would reveal a pristine diamond ring.
Constantly keeping himself busy, Matthew is a production manager, Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt, Head-Fi fanatic, coffee enthusiast and all-round cool Dad.
Posted in: Headphones
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