Stealth Sonics Universal IEM Tour – Meet the U2, U4 and U9.
I would like to thank Stealth Sonics for providing the demo units for this tour and Jackpot77 of Audio Primate for organizing the UK tour and letting me participate even though I escaped back to the continent last year. No incentive was given for a favorable review.
Stealth Sonics is a company based in Singapore and while a relatively new player in the IEM market, has had a decade or so experience in audiology/music technology in Southeast-Asia. I first came across them around the NAMM show in 2018 where Stealth Sonics launched their new IEMs. I enjoy occasionally browsing around to see what is new and what might peak my interest and Stealth Sonics certainly did the latter when I saw their universal IEMs. A bold design that made a statement: StealthSonics has Style. That is style, but then with a capital ‘S’, quite possibly it even needs to be italicized as Style. Whether or not it is your cup of tea is another matter altogether, but there is no denying that Stealth Sonics sets itself apart from the crowd. It is an extravert styling with bold colors and design elements, some of which are also functional (more on that later). For me, I am about as extraverted as a particularly agoraphobic hermit crab, so not quite my cup of tea although I do appreciate it when companies have their own unique Style.
It is not just the Style that sets Stealth Sonics apart. They have some really innovative ideas too. For one, their custom shells are coated with a proprietary lacquer that makes them extra hard. So hard that they can survive quite a large drop on a hard floor and that is not something I have seen very often. The universal shells too have some nifty design elements of which the Stealth Damping technology is the most noticeable because it looks like someone stuck a turbine engine to the faceplate. It is meant to help create a tight and clean bass response. The faceplates can however be removed to extend the bass, or replaced to make your universal Stealth Sonics IEMs look even more eye-catching.
The tour package contained the full retail packaging of the U4 to give an example of what you can expect when buying any of the three universal IEMs. So while I can only show the U4’s unboxing, the experience should be the same for the U2 and U9 as well.
The universal Stealth Sonics come in a relatively big box covered by a sleeve with on the outside a picture of the IEMs and specifications. A bit more information can be found on the inside of the sleeve as well. The box itself has a carbon-like look and feel to it and opens up to display the universal IEMs in all their glory. Alongside can be found replacement faceplates. In the case of the U4 these are glossy blue, and I believe the U2’s are red and the U9’s black. Standard on all three are carbon-look faceplates. Below the IEMs is a generous size case, which contains a second cable with a mic, a bag with various ear tips (foam, silicone and double flange), adapters, an allen key for the faceplates, a microfiber cloth and a pouch. Overall a very healthy selection of accessories.
I believe that the regular cable is an SPC, although with all three IEMs it has a different color: black for the U2, blue for the U4 and silver for the U9. The mic cable appears to be a pure copper one with clear insulation.
Build quality and fit.
As I indicated earlier, the Stealth Sonics CIEMs have a uniquely strong build quality thanks to a special lacquer that strengthens the shells. The universal IEMs do not seem to be far off in that respect with a very durable feel to them, but it is a little deceptive because they are extremely lightweight. This low weight is purposely done to improve wearing comfort because Stealth Sonics aim at achieving long listening sessions (6-8 hours) without inducing signs of fatigue. Comfort is essential here and I do find that the low weight helps the IEMs to disappear while I wear them. The shell material below the faceplate also feels very soft and is very comfortable when wearing. The fit though was a little tricky for me to get right and I ended up using Final tips one size above my normal to get the best seal and most secure fit. I am not sure if I got the optimal fit, but time constraints meant that I could not spend too much time tip rolling. The reason it is a little tricky is because the stems are quite thick and short, so the fit becomes relatively shallow.
The included cable is quite a good one and comfortable to use, although the long ear guide did occasionally push and pull a bit more than I am used to because the cable did not settle around my ear. The cable’s ear guides made the cable “float” (as it were) just above my ears because the shape of the bend is held very well, rather than something suppler that settles on the ear. Other than that it is certainly a quality stock cable that I think most people will be very happy with.
As mentioned, Stealth Sonics aim to achieve long, fatigue free listening sessions for their (C)IEMs and have fitted them with what they call a ‘Klarity Valve’. This is a type of pressure relieve valve that helps minimize pressure build up during use. The vent of the valve can be seen on the inside of the shell, just alongside the ‘L’ and ‘R’ indicators of the monitors. I have had issues with pressure build up in the past and I find that the Stealth Sonics IEMs are about as comfortable as using IEMs with APEX/ADEL modules. I did not get any uncomfortable pressure build up and was quite happy to have the IEMs in my ears for longer periods of time.
All listening was done with the Cowon Plenue 2 from the SE out.