Symphonium Crimson IEM Review: A Surprising All-BA Contender Redefining Sound Preferences

Disclaimer:

The following review has been thoughtfully crafted by Mr. Sameer Tangri from Pune, a cherished supporter, customer, and friend of The Audio Store. We express our gratitude to Mr. Sameer for generously sharing his personal insights into the Symphonium Crimson IEM. It is important to note that this review is entirely unbiased, reflecting Mr. Sameer's genuine experiences and preferences. No benefits or exchanges have influenced the content of this review. His valuable contributions significantly enhance our blog, and we sincerely appreciate his unwavering dedication to the audio enthusiast community.

Symphonium Crimson IEM Review

My preferred sound signature:

I prefer a balanced to warm sound for enjoying my music. I own sets like the 64 Audio Trio, Final A8000, and Thieaudio Monarch MKII. I dislike any one frequency overpowering or dominating all others, be it bass, mids, or the treble. Occasionally, I do also listen to reference/analytical sets with a flat sound signature. I dislike all-BA setups, no matter how high-end they are. Hybrids and tribirds are my thing. Spoiler alert! My disklike for all-BA setups is about to be squashed by the Crimson. 😊

Source: Tidal, set to play at the highest quality.
Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/00EerR8pRSZEeU3IfPnPcU?si=902a5a802ecf4942

Chains:
1. Sony NW-A306 -> Crimson’s stock 3.5 mm cable -> Crimson -> TangZu Sancai Wide Bore Matte Texture Silicone Eartips.
2. Sony NW-A306 -> Crimson’s stock 3.5 mm cable -> Crimson -> Moondrop Spring Tips.
3. OnePlus 7 Pro -> iFi Gryphon -> Crimson’s stock 3.5 mm cable -> Crimson -> TangZu Sancai Wide Bore Matte Texture Silicone Eartips.

Review:

Cable –

The 8 core stock cable ending in the 3.5 mm termination is excellent. It has a good thickness accompanied by just the right weight, heft, and feel that makes it feel premium in the hand. Once I touched this cable, I knew I was holding something premium. Further, I found it to be very ‘calm’ during usage. Meaning that it rests very nicely when you are using the IEM. It has a nice fall to it and never gets tangled. Even if it gets twisted during usage or wound up, it rests very nicely and doesn’t jump back up at you with utmost urgency.
Score- 10/10

Symphonium Crimson IEM Review

IEM size and wearing comfort –

The Crimson is definitely on the larger side but it’s lightweight. I think the aluminium build contributes to that. Despite its larger size, it is comfortable to wear for extended periods. I used it for about 2 hours continuously during testing and felt no discomfort or a sense of heaviness in the ears.
One thing to note is that the Crimson’s nozzle is short to medium length with a wide bore. Hence, it does not sit very deep in the ears. What this meant for me is that I used an ear tip of L size which is one size bigger than my regular size M. This is because with the shallow insert the Crimson’s short nozzle offers, the ear tip sits towards the outside of the ear which is larger than the inside. Hence, bigger ear tips offer me a more secure fit with better isolation.
Score- 10/10

Symphonium Crimson IEM Review

Sound quality on chain-1 –

The first thing that jumped out at me when I started testing the Crimson was its tone and timbre which I found very musical. This is unlike any all-BA IEMs I have tested till date which include the revered 64 Audio U12t. This may ruffle some feathers, but I strongly disliked the immensely popular U12t. I found it to have a very dry and sterile tone and timbre. To my ears, it was not musical at all. At its price-point, I found it to offer zero, or probably negative value, to me.Hence over a period, I grew to dislike all-BA setups quite strongly. The moment I saw an IEM was an all-BA setup, I lost all interest in it, no matter how premium the price or renowned the brand. I went into testing the Crimson with this strong negative opinion on all-BA setups; call it a bias if you will.

Coming back to the Crimson’s musical tone and timbre, the more I heard it, the more I liked it. All the frequencies come together beautifully and offered up a sound that drew me in. There were tracks (Tere Hawaale from Laal Singh Chaddha and Ya Rabba from Salaam-E-Ishq) when the music made me stop doing what I was doing, close my eyes, and simply listen to it. The musical sound (especially the vocals) just grabbed my attention with both hands, turned me towards it, emptied my mind of everything, and made me listen! This I think is the hallmark of a great IEM. If an IEM talks to you like this, no matter its price - economical or premium, it is a keeper. This would be an IEM that you will miss more often than you think you will and keep coming back to. My disklike for all-BA setups was squashed by the Crimson!

Coming to the individual frequencies-

Bass:

Reference Tracks: Pepas by Farruko; Don’t Bother None by Mai Yamane.
Given the fundamental differences between the BA and DD technologies, BA bass will never be as appealing as DD bass to me. Yet I find it difficult to fault the Crimson’s bass. It wouldn’t be fair of me to go hunting for faults with a microscope. The Crimson’s bass is there in a natural and balanced way. It isn’t there in a forceful or rumbly way, like how DD bass comes across when it’s well done. Now this would be an excellent, good, ok, bad, or ugly thing depending on one’s personal preference. For me, I enjoyed it as the bass complemented the overall sound without over-powering it. It made its presence felt very nicely and never drew too much attention to itself. One note- at higher volumes, sometimes the bass did sound slightly muddy or bloated to me.
Hence, for bass, I’ll give the Crimson a score of 9.5/10.

Mids:

Reference Tracks: Tu Jaane Na - Unplugged Version by Kailash Kher; I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston; Lukka Chippi from Range De Basanti.
The Crimson’s vocals are the stars of the show and what I believe contribute to the musicality in a big way. Male and female vocals are forward and an absolute hit! The most minor modulations in the singers’ voices came across beautifully. It was extremely enjoyable to sense the emotions in the song through the singers’ voices. I strongly believe the mids and vocals are the highlight of the Crimson. This is the part that grabbed me and made me listen! That’s all I can really say about it.
The Crimson scores 11/10 for vocals. I intentionally give it 11 out of 10 because for me, any IEM/chain that has the power to grab my attention and MAKE ME LISTEN TO IT is worthy of extra marks. Very few IEMs do this for me.

Highs-

Reference Tracks: Into the New World by Girls’ Generation; Caroline by Patrick Droney.
The Crimson’s highs are similar to the bass. They are there and they supplement the sound very well. It is never ever harsh or sibilant and there is good (not stellar) detail. The reference track ‘Into the New World’ can get hot and ugly with some IEMs but the Crimson handled it with maturity and ease never letting it get piercing or uncomfortably sharp. I believe the Tangzu Sincai Wide Bore ear tips helped with this. But at the same time the air was a little suppressed with these ear tips and they did not let the treble gain that little bit of extra presence and air that I think would enrich the sound and experience. This was resolved by using the Moondrop Spring Tips (chain 2 mentioned earlier) but then it affected other aspects of the sound by making it seem like everything had stepped back a bit. The treble gained the required presence and airiness also increased but the vocals stepped back a little too much for my liking with these Moondrop Spring Tips. I didn’t like this compromise as I find the Crimson’s vocals to be their highlight and hence, I can compromise on the treble but not on the vocals. So, I immediately switched back to the Tangzu ear tips.

The important point to note here is that this treble is again something that can be tuned as per your preference with some cable and ear tip rolling.
‘Highs’ score – 9 to 9.5/10

Symphonium Crimson IEM Review

Soundstage, Imaging, and Separation-

Reference Tracks: When the Levee Breaks (remaster) by Led Zepplin; Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd; Hurt by Johnny Cash; Popular Monster by Falling In Reverse.
The soundstage is wide, and imaging is point on. Separation is good too. I could clearly hear the two guitars playing in Hurt by Johnny Cash. The nearby and far away positioning of instruments in When The Levee Breaks also came across very nicely! It was a very natural sound.
The Crimson’s separation does suffer in busy and difficult tracks like Popular Monster. Even the busy parts towards the end of When the Levee Breaks have sounded better to me on some other IEMs. In summary, I’ve heard better at this price point.
‘Soundstage, Imaging’ - 9/10.
‘Separation’ – 8.5/10

Symphonium Crimson IEM Review

Concluding thoughts-

Fundamentally, this is a great set, period. Faults, if any will come down to individual preferences.

For me- its strengths are the musical sound signature, natural tone and timbre, and especially the vocals. Its weaknesses are the treble’s details and airiness, and the separation in busy tracks.
The Crimson responds well to ear tips though and if you have some spare ones lying around, you could experiment with a few to try and tailor the sound signature to your liking.

If you are in the market for an IEM at this price point, this is a solid option that you must try. Other contenders could be the Final A8000 (a great single-DD set), the 64 Audio U12t (if that’s your sound preference).

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