Shi­nola Can­field Pro re­view

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY THEO NICOLAKIS

Detroit-based Shi­nola is back. The com­pany, whose di­verse prod­uct port­fo­lio in­cludes watches, leather bags, and au­dio gear, is ex­pand­ing its au­dio port­fo­lio with the Can­field Pro In-ear Mon­i­tors (IEM). Shi­nola says that the Can­field Pro IEMS were de­vel­oped in con­junc­tion with Camp­fire Au­dio ( go.mac­world.com/cmad).

TOP-NOTCH STYLE AND BUILD

Like their larger sib­ling, the Can­field Over-ear Head­phone ( go.mac­world.com/ scoe), the Can­field Pro IEMS dis­play out­stand­ing build qual­ity and ex­quis­ite styling. In fact, build qual­ity and styling were the first things that caught my eye when I un­boxed and held the Can­field Pro

IEM’S for the first time. Even though there’s sub­stan­tial weight and bal­ance to these head­phones, they never felt fa­tigu­ing while I wore them.

The ca­ble is a thing of beauty. It’s sup­ple with a smooth ny­lon braid, mak­ing it vir­tu­ally tan­gle-free no mat­ter how many times I stuffed the Can­field Pro IEMS in my pocket. Fur­ther­ing the qual­ity ar­gu­ment, the ny­lon braid’s en­try points are re­in­forced with heat-shrink rub­ber.

Speak­ing of rub­ber, the ear-loop por­tion of the ca­ble is coated in rub­ber to pro­vide a se­cure fit and feel. I never had any con­cerns or prob­lems with the head­phones com­ing loose or fall­ing out.

The de­tach­able ca­ble con­forms to the MMCX (Mi­cro Minia­ture Coax Con­nec­tor) stan­dard, so you can use any other com­pat­i­ble MMCX ca­ble. Should the ca­ble fail or wear out, you can re­place it. The left and right mon­i­tors nat­u­rally swivel at the MMCX con­nec­tor point. That al­lowed me to make mi­cro ad­just­ments to their fit.

The mon­i­tors them­selves, the in­line re­mote, and in­line mi­cro­phone are all metal. There’s no cheap plas­tic here. The left and right mon­i­tor por­tions have al­ter­nat­ing brushed and shiny sides, cre­at­ing a stun­ning look. The 3.5mm metal jack has an ad­di­tional rub­ber strain re­lief that will help pre­vent you from ac­ci­den­tally kink­ing or dam­ag­ing the ca­ble at the jack’s neck en­try point.

The in­line re­mote is sim­ple to use and op­er­ates by touch. The pro­trud­ing vol­ume but­tons are large ovals, while the play/ pause button is a smaller cir­cle be­tween them. De­press­ing the con­trols gives you a con­fi­dent feel and pro­duces a light click you can hear and feel. Smart con­trols worked as ad­ver­tised, in­clud­ing Siri.

The ca­ble is a thing of beauty. It’s sup­ple with a smooth ny­lon braid, mak­ing it vir­tu­ally tan­gle-free no mat­ter how many times I stuffed the Can­field Pro IEMS in my pocket.

I also used the Can­field Pro with sev­eral phone calls, and they per­formed ad­mirably on ev­ery call I made.

BAL­ANCED ARMATURE DE­SIGN

Un­der the hood, the Can­field Pro IEMS fea­ture two bal­anced armature re­ceivers: a bass woofer and a mid high-range tweeter. In case you’re not fa­mil­iar with a bal­ancedar­ma­ture ar­chi­tec­ture, it re­lies on an elec­tri­cal sig­nal to vi­brate a small reed or pad­dle thou­sands of times per sec­ond.

The reed is “bal­anced” be­tween two mag­nets, hence the name “bal­anced armature.” Armature driv­ers were orig­i­nally de­vel­oped for hear­ing aids.

COOL CASE, BUT THE SIL­I­CONE TIPS NEED WORK

The Can­field Pro IEMS in­cludes a cloth­cov­ered, hard-shell car­ry­ing case. There’s noth­ing dainty about the square­shaped car­ry­ing case’s zip­per. You feel its grips as it glides. The case doesn’t open flat. Rather, it opens only par­tially, in a Pac Man–like ap­pear­ance.

Three sets each of sil­i­cone and mem­ory foam tips are in­cluded. Un­sur­pris­ingly, I found that the mem­ory foam tips pro­vided the best noise iso­la­tion. They did so at a penalty, how­ever, un­nat­u­rally rais­ing the Can­field Pro IEM’S bass and lower mid-range fre­quency re­sponse. That’s a typ­i­cal trade-off with mem­ory foam tips.

I didn’t care much for the sil­i­cone tips. I

found it dif­fi­cult to get a good seal no mat­ter which of the three sizes I used. I spent sev­eral sec­onds ad­just­ing the sil­i­cone tip an­gle and fit. Com­par­ing the Can­field Pro tips with oth­ers in my head­phone col­lec­tion, the in­cluded tips were more ta­pered, as op­posed to the flat­top tips in­cluded with other IEMS.

Swap­ping out the Can­field’s in­cluded tips with those from the Pe­ri­odic Au­dio Be ( go.mac­world.com/pdab) pro­vided a night and day dif­fer­ence in the Shi­nola’s fit. I think the folks at Shi­nola might want to re­visit the shape of the in­cluded ear tips and ei­ther change them or in­clude more op­tions.

DIS­AP­POINT­ING SOUND

I tested the Shi­nola Can­field IEMS with Astell&kern Kann ( go.mac­world.com/askn) and Fiio X7 MKII ( go.mac­world.com/7mk2) hi-res au­dio play­ers and an iphone 7. I played a mix of hi-res files in FLAC and ALAC, some lossy files en­coded as AAC, and mu­sic streamed via Tidal.

The Can­field Pro’s voic­ing won’t ap­peal to ev­ery­one. If you’re ex­pect­ing a rev­e­la­tory sonic ex­pe­ri­ence, you’ll be duly dis­ap­pointed. Son­i­cally speak­ing, these are just av­er­age-sound­ing head­phones. They cer­tainly can’t com­pete with peers at this price point. I had is­sues with just about ev­ery as­pect of the Shi­nola’s sound.

Most no­tably, the midrange was veiled on ev­ery song I played. Play­ing AC/DC’S “Back in Black” via Tidal was like I was lis­ten­ing to vo­cals and in­stru­ments through

Swap­ping out the Can­field’s in­cluded tips with those from the Pe­ri­odic Au­dio Be pro­vided a night and day dif­fer­ence in the Shi­nola’s fit.

a bar­rier. Switch­ing to an­other pair of in-ear head­phones, such as the Pe­ri­odic Au­dio Be or Astell&kern Billie Jean, im­me­di­ately lifted the veil.

Pi­ano notes es­pe­cially were dull and un­in­volv­ing. For ex­am­ple, I cringed when I heard the open­ing pi­ano strikes of Diana Krall’s “The Look of

Love” and Loren Allred’s “Never

Enough” from The Great­est

Showman. The pi­ano strikes lacked body, di­men­sion­al­ity, and crisp­ness. More­over, both Diana

Krall’s and Loren Allred’s vo­cals were robbed of their rich, sul­try char­ac­ter. The same was true of any fe­male vo­cal­ist I played:

Ari­ana Grande, Adele, Pa­tri­cia

Bar­ber, and Bon­nie Raitt, to name a few.

Fur­ther, mu­si­cal dy­nam­ics were re­strained. On Jour­ney’s clas­sic, “Any Way You Want It,” drums, gui­tar riffs, and Joe Perry’s vo­cals sounded con­strained. The Can­field Pro IEMS sucked the life out of AC/DC’S an­them, “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Per­haps most dis­ap­point­ing of all, the bass lines that kick in at around the 1:15- and 2:00-minute mark of Keala Set­tle’s “This Is Me” from The Great­est Showman sound­track were vir­tu­ally non-ex­is­tent.

BOT­TOM LINE

I de­scribed Shi­nola’s over-the-ear Can­field head­phone as made for hip­sters, not au­dio­philes. Un­for­tu­nately, I can say the same of the Can­field Pro in-ear mon­i­tors. They’re beau­ti­fully de­signed, and they ex­hibit out­stand­ing build qual­ity. For some, that alone will jus­tify the $495 price tag. But I found the lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to be a tremen­dous let­down. There are com­pet­ing in-ear mon­i­tor­ings that sell for half as much that de­liver su­pe­rior son­ics. They just aren’t as stylish or as well built. ■

The Can­field Pro IEM has a de­tatch­able MMCX ca­ble.

Three sets of mem­ory foam and three sets of sil­i­cone tips are in­cluded.

The hard-shell case opens only par­tially.

De­tail of the Can­field Pro mon­i­tors with­out tips.

Ac­ces­sories in­clude a hard-shell case and dif­fer­ent sized tips.

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