The Prophile-8, a 8 balanced armature in-ear monitor, is the new flagship from well-established German brand In-ear. So far the brand had an offering going from 2 to 4 driver in-ear monitors, either universal or custom.
They are well known for the great comfort of their iems and their impressive build quality.
This product is designed to be as neutral as possible, with two switches on each earpiece, in order to be able boost treble and bass. It is sold around 1500$.
Service and packaging
I bought the In-ear Prophile-8 through Dimitri @ Musica Acoustics, so I was not surprised to get absolutely perfect service as usual:
· Great availability to answer questions
· A true passion for sound
· Prompt delivery and after-sales service when needed
Beyond Musica Acoustics, Marco Ramitz from In-Ear is very accessible and will promptly answer any question you might have, through Facebook or email. He was always patient with me, and I am an annoying client.
In terms of packaging several plusses:
· Includes a large Pelican like case
· Includes all sorts of accessories, including wax filters to replace when used
· Spinfit tips are now systematically included (not at first)
In terms of minuses:
· Outer packing is flimsy cardboard, should do better at this price
· The included tips could be better (but this has been resolved – see above)
· The cable, while decent quality, is not at the level of cables offered by other high end brands (Campfire Audio, Fitear, etc.)
In terms of ergonomics. the Prophile 8 should be an example for other brands. They fit the shape of my ear perfectly. It might be an issue for smaller ears, and unlike for their other iems, they do not have a “small” version. I suppose it is not possible to fit 8 drivers in the smaller shell. The finish is very nice, I like the matte black much more than the glossy black they used before. The switches are easily accessible with the small instrument but will not be switched involuntarily as they are recessed. They seem very robust and click reassuringly when switched.
Let me eliminate the cable subject first. I just use the cables which are terminated properly to test my various DAPS. I am not a huge cable believer otherwise.
In terms of source, the Prophile-8 is easy to drive and quite sensitive, but not to the point of being prone to hiss. It sounded good on all my sources, and hissed on none. It is very transparent, so changing the sources will impact the sound depending on the personality of the source (all of the following is with both switches off):
· I prefer to use either the Sony WM1Z or the Lotoo Paw Gold. They are slightly warmer and will bring some musicality to this very neutral monitor
· The DX200 is slightly drier and even though the combo is good, it may sound a bit analytical / thin in the mids
· The Mojo works ok, but will be a bit aggressive with the Prophile-8
The most important thing affecting the sound of the Prophile-8 is tips. I have literally tried everything in my collection: Sony hybrids, Sony hybrids with foam, Ortofon silicone tips, Comply foam tips, Sony triple comfort, JVC Spiral Dots, Spinfit CP100, CP800, CP220, etc. I finally settled on the Spinfit CP220 double flange which are not the most comfortable, but keep a neutral airy sound and add some depth.
Switches and sound
With the right tips, the Prophile-8 sound, to my ears, as advertised. They are neutral in the sense that nothing stands out over the rest, the bass is impactful and tight but less boosted than on my S-EM9. The mids are very clear, but do not have the thickness of certain brands. They can be a bit thin if the source goes in that direction. The highs a well detailed and extended, with a nice sparkle, but never aggressive.
What stands out particularly in terms of performance, is the openness of the stage and pinpoint quality of the imaging. The stage is not in front of you like with the S-EM9 but more enveloping, surrounding you, allowing for a very involving musical experience despite the neutrality of the sound.
Activating the switch will (very slightly) boost mid bass and / or treble. It is well implemented but never felt it was useful, at least to my taste. But I am not a fan of tunable iems anyways.
The only thing I would change in these iems would be to have a bit more rumble in the sub bass.
Once you have the right tips (it might be easier for you than for me), these are easily among the best BA iems I have heard, at whatever price. They are clearly THE iem to consider for anyone who likes a high performance neutral but still musical iem.