Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM: Review – ecoustics.com

Jaime E. Love

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Astell&Kern does not need an introduction in the environment of significant-end individual audio, but the Korean DAP maker is most unquestionably not a brand identify that most shoppers know. Their quality DAPs command a significant value and audiophiles who are very major about high effectiveness headphones and moveable playback, have pretty much assuredly tried or owned one particular of their solutions.

When you have persistently sent the best, probable collaboration partners are not extremely really hard to locate. With the exception of the just lately launched Astell&Kern UW100 Wi-fi Earphones, all of their headphones and earphones have been developed and made in partnership with other makes Jerry Harvey, Beyerdynamic, and Campfire Audio.

The collaborations consequently significantly, have been retuning employment of current headphones or earphones and very little has actually been what I would phone a recreation-changer. The merchandise were being now superior and the modifications were manufactured to better suit the playback capabilities of their current DAPs. There isn’t something mistaken with that but just how significantly does that transfer the needle?

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Box Front

I not too long ago obtained the new Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEMs and I seriously hope that both equally makes consider the ball and operate with it this is perhaps the most effective collaboration that I have been fortuitous to evaluate so considerably and I am happy to see that Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio have learned from their encounter with the Solaris X collaboration and designed the required changes.

The Pathfinder is not the to start with collaboration between the two companies and even though I’m sure Solaris owners will get their torches ready — I wasn’t overly amazed with the Solaris X over-all. I predicted a ton more and I say that since I have been a Campfire Audio customer for a number of years and have a great deal of knowledge with their solutions the Andromeda is a person of my most loved IEMs and nevertheless receives standard use.

I vacation with a pair of Campfire Audio Andromeda and the Astell&Kern KANN Alpha DAP and the mixture is a person that I really like incredibly a lot It is arguably a single of the most enjoyable elements of my day when I can drop myself though I commute listening to new music via these two great solutions.

There was most absolutely some trepidation examining the Pathfinder, since I feared that it might close up getting my fourth chance to review the Solaris which unlike the Andromeda has not been a appreciate affair for me.

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Kit

The Skinny

We are not in the unboxing enterprise, but I was incredibly amazed with every little thing that Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio integrated in the packaging. The package arrives with the Pathfinder earpieces, a divided cloth bag to shield them, and Campfire’s conventional zipper scenario to store the earpieces and a single of the supplied cables.

There are a few sets of cables to choose from in the box 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and one that is terminated with 4.4mm jacks.

Extremely handful of makes do that several only provide a single and cost you up to $350 for the extra cables.

They have also gone the extra mile when it arrives to ear suggestions the package incorporates a established of silicone tips, a few sets of foam recommendations, and a whole established of Closing Audio E-Series recommendations. I just cannot think of also quite a few earphone manufacturers that do that and also incorporate a carry bag for the cable and suggestions, cleansing software, and manuals.

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Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Outside
Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM

The earpieces are finished in black and silver with a cast body in gloss black and steel deal with plates with a mirror complete. The industrial structure is a combination of the Solaris and the angular patterns from Astell&Kern with the faceplate getting 6 facets of various measurements.

The nozzles are vivid stainless as very well with matching rings all over the MMCX port and vent. The full package has alternatively considerable heft and it most undoubtedly feels as if Astell&Kern have had a larger hand in the develop good quality and total seem and experience.

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Cable

The cables are silver plated OFC Copper Litz in a four strand side-by-side flat housing that is also quite visually impactful. The cable looks heavier than it is and with the ear-hooks at the north close, excess weight is perfectly distributed and I had no problems with microphonic noise.

Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio definitely shipped on the visual finish, but extremely number of people today expend this type of funds on earphones due to the fact they are visually attractive the Pathfinder is a hybrid style and design with a 10mm dynamic driver with a dual diaphragm and radial venting procedure to improved command the reduced end.

The midrange is taken care of by a new dual chamber balanced armature, and the highs are managed by a pair of balanced armatures all of the armatures were being custom designed by Knowles for Campfire Audio.

The impedance was calculated at 6.9 ohms (the provided press package lists 6.2 ohms) and the calculated sensitivity was 96 dB/mW, generating the Pathfinder uncomplicated to drive but somewhat source specific. 

The Pathfinder is developed to match perfectly with Astell&Kern DAPs and other resources with in close proximity to zero output impedance. If your source has a significant output impedance, care requirements to be taken when pairing them.

Audio

I paired the Pathfinder with my Astell&Kern KANN Alpha, Sony WM1A, and a borrowed Astell&Kern SP2000 to test its performance with portables, and an RME ADI-2 FSR BE Reference DAC and Yulong Aurora to exam place of work/desktop pairings.    

There was no surprise that the Astell&Kern DAPs presented a slightly hotter and more organic sound than the Sony which leans a lot more in direction of remaining analytical sounding.

Both equally the RME and Aurora available related sonic signature with a bit less heat than the Astell&Kern DAPs but a contact far more than the Sony. The very best pairings were being the Astell&Kern SP2000 and Yulong Aurora that struck the greatest harmony involving coloration, texture, and element general.

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Frequency Chart

There is some extra emphasis in the small finish that gives the Pathfinder a little bit of more affect and definition, but it starts to path-off close to 100Hz and I hardly ever felt that it crossed about increased in the bass range.

The sub-bass is effectively controlled notes had very good texture and detail and I constantly felt that it was very well outlined irrespective of the genre of new music that I listened to.

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The frequency selection from the mid-bass to the reduce midrange is extremely linear sounding and it undoubtedly seems like Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio aimed for a “W” tuning with the Pathfinder.

The new dual dynamic driver is quite articulate sounding with more than more than enough texture, clarity, and command there is pretty much no bleed from the bass into the mid-assortment which retains the in general presentation pretty open up and well balanced.

The Pathfinder is a not a bass head IEM, but with some EQ utilized, the small conclude can supply reference excellent effect and definition and I issue why anyone would want extra. Do not punish your hearing.

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM

The lower mid-array is clean up and no cost of any extra emphasis male vocals are shipped with outstanding note fat, accurate timbre, and more than enough depth. I was quite amazed with how the Pathfinder reproduces the cello and acoustic guitar timbre, element, and under no circumstances pushed also considerably ahead into the blend that they interfere with the vocals.

There is some included emphasis in the midrange that does incorporate some electrical power and existence to violin strings and piano notes I was worried that it would extend too much into the higher mid-vary and affect vocals, but it manages to restrain alone just more than enough and not grow to be tricky or strident sounding.

Just one of the areas of the Solaris’ effectiveness that I did not love was the very similar emphasis in the mid-range adopted by a relatively sharp dip which led to unevenness in the upper mid-vary and lower treble.

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM

Though the Pathfinder shares the exact increase in the mid-selection, it does not experience the exact dip as we transfer from the higher mid-assortment into the reduce treble the end result is that female vocals are smoother, a lot less recessed, and sent with additional resolution and presence. There is a tiny dip but not enough to modify the in general tonal balance and presentation.

The lower treble is extra balanced sounding than the Solaris X percussion has fantastic snap, and cymbals and snares are offered with adequate strength to audio practical. There is some additional emphasis all over 5kHz, but it doesn’t increase considerably further than 6kHz.

Vocals are delivered with very good presence and avoid getting fatiguing in the 6 – 9kHz range. The Pathfinder seems relatively open up at the prime and there is a gradual roll-off all around 14kHz there is a degree of airiness and sparkle at the major that never appears artificial or etched.

The soundstage has really excellent depth and top, but shut IEMs continue to only deliver a rather personal functionality. The orchestra placement demonstrates pretty fantastic stereo separation and instrument separation on the phase. Imaging is excellent with musicians carved firmly in position and with quite minor change.   

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Wired

Conclusion

The $1,900 Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM is a very extraordinary collaboration that exceeds the audio top quality of any Solaris model but produced. I’m heading to take in my phrases and say that it is a retuning of the Solaris and that I appreciate it.

It is surely not economical and you do need to utilize higher good quality DAPs and desktop DAC/Amplifiers to really working experience what it can do your Iphone 13 with a Dongle DAC won’t sound terrible with the Pathfinders but it won’t be the identical practical experience.

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How does it look at to the relaxation of Campfire Audio range? It is their very best launch considering that the Andromeda and that is fairly significant praise.

If you previously very own an Astell&Kern DAP and are searching for a pair of IEMs that will by no means be the weak website link in the chain — think about the Pathfinder simply because they stand for their greatest collaboration to day. If you really do not possess an Astell&Kern DAP, the Pathfinder is nonetheless the greatest Solaris variant but and well value a seem.

The place to obtain: $1,899 at Audio46

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