Last December, we covered Shinola’s Canfield On-Ear Headphones, the first entry into the headphone market by a brand that had long been known for everything but audio. At the time, we were happy to see that those were not just a “me-too” product, but rather a real attempt to make good headphones. We next reviewed the company’s Canfield Over-Ear Headphones, which signaled Shinola’s legitimacy in this market. Today, we’re testing Shinola’s new Canfield Pro In-Ear Monitors. The Shinola’s Pro IEMs expand the company’s audio product line into a third form factor but we think they do something even more important — they make clear that Shinola has a “house sound,” solidifying its identity in the audio market.
Like all Shinola’s headphones we’ve tested so far, the physical quality of the Canfield Pro IEM is exquisite. Its metal housings feature tight tolerances and solid build, with contrasting matte and polished black finishes, with no more branding than Shinola’s lightning bolt logo. We remarked that Shinola’s on-ear and over-ear headphones were built ‘like a watch’, and the Pro IEM is no different. Its cable is detachable and very nice. MMCX connectors lead to flexible over-ear guides — finished with adorably tiny heat-shrink tubing — then to fine fabric sleeving, a microphone, three-button control pod (MFi certified) located at the Y-Split, and finally a gold-plated 3.5mm TRRS plug. Included in the box are a rugged canvas storage case and a selection of silicone and foam ear tips.
In short, we’re just as impressed with the physical design of the Canfield Pro IEM as we were with Shinola’s full-size headphones, with the addition of portability and comfort that the IEM form factor provides. If we have one complaint, it’s that the material used for the Pro IEM’s foam tips rebounds too fast — foam tips should stay compressed long enough to allow for clean insertion into the ear canal, otherwise the foam can push forward past the drivers and interfere with sound.
We’re told that Shinola developed the Canfield Pro IEM in collaboration with famed maker of high-end IEMs Campfire Audio — search for “Campfire Andromeda” on any audio enthusiast forum and you’ll see why this partnership has us excited. Inside each of Shinola’s Pro IEMs are four balanced armature drivers — two tweeters, one midrange driver, and one ‘woofer.’ Out of the box, the Pro IEM have a similar sound presentation to its bigger siblings. Bass extends low, but is not unreasonably boosted; midrange is clean, and highs are clear but relaxed. As we’ve noted in our prior reviews of Shinola’s headphones, this is a bit of a double-edged sword: rolled-off highs are non-fatiguing and easy to listen to, but can lack the presence that we find so addicting with high-end headphones. We have no complaints about the Canfield Pro IEM’s imaging and detail — these drivers are quite articulate — but we found that EQ’ing up the treble a bit made these IEMs sound a little closer to our personal preference. For a quick-and-dirty illustration of what we mean, try iTunes “Treble Booster” EQ preset (with the Preamp turned down 6 dB).
Shinola has, in short, taken everything that we liked about its On-Ear and Over-Ear headphones and packed them into an in-ear monitor that, with its quad-driver setup, may be even more capable than its bigger siblings. Though we usually like a sharper treble response, it’s great to see that the Canfield Pro In-Ear Monitors respond well enough to equalization that they can produce both technical and luxury sound signatures with just a few clicks. We can’t help but wonder what could be next from Shinola — will they venture into other headphone technologies? Planars? Electrostats? For now, We have no hesitation recommending the Canfield Pro In-Ear Monitors.
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Model: Canfield Pro In-Ear Monitors