Breaking the Mold: A Survey of Entry Level Custom In-Ear Monitors Page 2
A short time after posting my budget CIEM article I was contacted by another manufacturer, Alclair, and asked if I was interested in trying their Reference CIEM which they thought would be a good fit for an addition to the article. As it just so happened, I had a spare set of ear impressions so I sent them on their way and a little while later received a brand new pair of CIEMs in return.
According to the company website the Reference model is a three driver, two-way design and is tuned for precise, accurate sound. The basic units without custom graphics sell for $399 and there is a pretty standard array of no-cost colors to choose from as well as an impressive list of optional, moderately price metallic and wood-grain finishes for those interested.
Those of you that read my original Budget CIEM article will know that I was seriously impressed with just how much performance JHA was able to pack into the similarly priced JH5. Well, to my ears, Alclair just reset the bang-for-the-buck benchmark. This is a seriously good CIEM for $399 and it was no accident that these found their way into Innerfidelity's Holiday Buyer's Guide. From the overall craftsmanship associated with the shells to (most importantly) the sonic characteristics it's clear that Alclair went to great lengths to make sure that their product lived up the Reference name. They are more neutral than the 1964 Ears V3s in the lower registers and lose out only slightly on ultimate resolution up top. But don't take that the wrong way, there's nothing really missing or off in the Reference's presentation.
Bottom lineif the Alclair Reference had been included in the original article it would have finished no worse than second and would have kicked both of the models that finished tied for that spot down to third. Yes, they're that good.
Editor's Note: This page is being posted to the front page so people will see it, but it will also be attached as a second page to the original article.