Pros: Imaging, Clarity, Fast attack, realistic overall tone, mid bass punch, female vocal, micro-details
Cons: Poor bass extension, not really musical (subjective), lack of edge and snap to attack, no treble sparkle (lack of extension again), average construction, need deep fit to get best sound (subjective?)
SOUND VALUE: 8/10
PACKAGING is nice. The box has a cool ”Blade Runners” vibe to it. Accessories are generous enough. Carrying case is good-looking. 4cores SPC Cable too looks good enough.
CONSTRUCTION while mostly pleasant to the eyes is questionable in terms of built, with imperfection there and there and a nozzle that goes unglue after a week. The cable is Ok’ish. But Everything is made of plastic. And 2pin connectors arent very secure. And the fit…
Their multiple ways to insert the NEON in your ear canal, but some people including me think the ”Etymotic way” is the best.
It consists of inserting the NEON very deep in there. Once you find the second seal part in your ear canal- the deep one- the real 3D detailed presentation begins. A shallow fit can either tame or boost the bass and soundstage, either way, it sounds more distant and hollow than the Deep Way.
It worth it, but Be careful about going deeeeeeeep.
I decide to do this review with the NEON deeeeeeeply inserted in ear as it should (?) if you want to achieve its full potential.
Vivid neutral with a slight emphasis on mid-bass, and an important mids range and mid-treble boost.
TIMBRE: Smooth bright, very transparent, a bit saturated, and artificial in texturing.
ATTACK: Fast but can got shouty with a fast busy track. In other terms: it shoots sound extremely fast but it lacks a bit of snap and natural decay.
SOUNDSTAGE-IMAGING: Soundstage is very impressive and unique, it feel as if it blossoms in the middle of your head then go out with 3D layers of sound surrounding you from every side, the bass can be in the back of my head while the vocal is in my head and the details of the highs in stereo out of it. Really, you must hear it to understand and this is the first reason why I live the ”deeeeeeep fit revelation”!
Imaging, with well-recorded music, is crisp and airy, with a lot of clean space between instruments. Again, uniquely impressive!
BASS is rolled off in sub-bass extension, but mid-bass is round, just enough weighty and punchy, with great separation and attack speed. Sub-line can be heard, well separated from the kick drum, but dry and thin in body. What can move a bit of air is the kick, but with fast decay that avoids any bleed. The tone is realistic, texture too.
Mids are open and transparent, very well separated and centered but a bit thin and brightish-dryish. Sax, piano, vocal all lack body density. From upper mids and up it’s where the sweet tonality spot begins. Female vocal has great definition and presence.
Highs ,even if non-sparkly and lacking some bite and decay, are the star of the show for me, just after female vocal. They are airy, dig a good amount of micro details and never harsh or splashy. Snare is super thigh and crisp, percussions clear and not too upfront and when needed. It’s near analytical treble, with slight roll off begining in 12khz region, so some instrument might lack of brilliance to them.
Shallow eartips fit way sound is a bit smoother and more distant, still boosted in mids.
Clarity is OK but imaging is abstract, the attack is slower and lack more snap too, all in all it doesnt offer an impressive sound experience compared to the ”Etymotic way”.
VS Audiosense T180 (single Knowles RAF-32873, 40$)
Less deep soundstage, inferior imaging. Timbre is more grainy-brightish. Bass have less weight. Both are mid and treble-centric but T180 dig less micro details and feel more shouty and harsh in upper mids. Vocal aren’t as well extracted and busy tracks can easily go messy. T180 are more comfortable and better built, but in term of sound, they are less refined, clean and extended in bass & treble.
VS Akoustyx R-210 (120$, single custom Knowles BA):
Warmer, more forwards, with more natural timbre and wider, tapestry-like soundstage. Bass is thicker, warmer and less controlled and well separated. Overall sound is smoother and less clinical-analytical than NEON, but less out of your head and holographic too. NEON have dryer, thinner timbre and is more accurate in positioning-separation. Anyway, at the end i find RE-210 more musical and coherent, sounding more like a dynamic driver with weightier more weighty bass, more natural piano, violin, sax, vocal etc. Oh, and no deep insertion fit needed (not possible, like the T180). To be noted that in term of technicality alone, the 70$ cheaper NEON seem superior.
The NEON isn’t an IEM for everyone, its sound signature is axed on clarity, mids and treble and can be improved with an audacious IEM insertion technique that only Ety fans know the secret.
Still, with the right fit, it’s level of technical prowess is high for the 50$ price and can deliver an impressively crisp holographic sound experience that I rarely or ever heard from any other IEM…will I try to Deeeeeply insert All my IEM now, to know if I can retrieve this impressive sound spatiality experience?
I don’t think so. But I think some courageous audiophiles will.