Perhaps no market is currently more competitive and fast paced than the hybrid in-ear space and as such, manufacturers must keep pace to stay on top of the pack. Oriveti are a company that achieved no shortage of acclaim with their original triple driver in-ear, the Primacy. And for good reason, it was an incredibly balanced, smooth listen with class-leading ergonomics. The Primacy offered a refinement in an emerging market that was dedicated to technical ability over finesse. So it’s rather impressive that, even without clear reason, Oriveti have already updated their brilliant Primacy and in so doing, I believe they’ve crafted one of the capable earphones around their $300 asking price. Keep reading to find out whether the New Primacy is for you, because as always, sound remains subjective and the New Primacy is probably a little less inoffensive than its predecessor.
I would like to thank Marco from Oriveti very much for providing me with the New Primacy. This unit was received both as a warranty replacement for my Primacy and for the purpose of review. This is technically a personal purchase and I will be as objective as possible when evaluating the New Primacy.
About Me – Some background, Gear of choice, Preferences and Biases
I generally prefer a slight v-shape to my sound, but still closer to neutral. I like a lot of detail and clarity, but can appreciate a smooth, laid back sound such as that on the X10`s. I prefer a more neutral midrange within a relatively tight tolerance, but I`m probably more forgiving of brightness over darkness. I`m not particularly treble sensitive and can tolerate large amounts without fatigue, though too much ruins the enjoyment. If I use a different eartip/pad/cover during the review I will note that and describe the sound changes.
Packaging is very similar to the Primacy with a render on the front and specs/exploded vector on the rear. It’s a very visually stimulating package and subtle relocation of text creates a slightly more premium look.
Orivetti nestles the earphones within the same brilliant cable winder mechanism which allows the cable to straighten out very quickly after unboxing instead of wanting to coil.
Underneath lies a simple sheet with the Oriveti logo and basic wearing instructions. It covers the same array of accessories that were included with the Primacy, which is to say, a lot.
That being said, the stock tips included with the New Primacy are of much higher quality and are no longer transparent. The look when installed on the earphones is more uniform, they also won’t yellow with age. I find I can get a much better seal with these tips than those included with the original Primacy where I had to resort to foams or Spinfits.
The design is mostly identical to the original Primacy with a few tweaks that further improve almost every aspect of their fitment. For reference, the New Primacy will be photographed on the left and the original Primacy will be on the right.
The housings are now very slightly larger but also flatter. They are the same shape but the New Primacy is slightly longer. Since the original Primacy was already quite compact, the New Primacy still doesn’t contact my inner ear and actually fits better. The fit is now in-between a Shure/Westone monitor and Phonak style fitment, almost the best of both worlds. Taking them for my usual 6Km run and the earphones stay put much better than the original. They also have a deeper fitment than the Primacy on account of their redesigned nozzle that has a more compact, tapered end.
The nozzle is now completely integrated into the aluminium build whereas the Primacy had an aluminium endcap that was prone to becoming detached. Unfortunately, the new nozzle doesn’t hold tips quite as well due to having less of a lip on the end though it does work fine for the usual Spinfits, Sony hybrids and Comply foams and I haven’t had a tip fall off unintentionally. The angle of the MMCX connectors are also a little more ergonomic contributing to the New Primacy’s more stable fitment.
Oriveti have also updated the earphone’s finish, the New Primacy has more of a matte texture as opposed to the Primacy which has a smoother finish (though this could be due to usage/wear of the older model). I’m pretty ambivalent about the finish, but the newer matte does look more uniform. There is still a palpable seam through the middle of the earphones but it’s similarly small and undetectable in the ear.
Oriveti have also relocated the vent from the MMCX connector up top to the inner surface of the housings. Like before, it doesn’t seem to affect isolation at all and the New Primacy actually blocks noise slightly better due to its deeper fitment. They are now very much comparable to a sealed Shure/Westone monitors in fit stability and isolation, areas where the original Primacy fell slightly behind. What Does concern me somewhat is moisture ingress when using the earphones for exercise (although they weren’t designed for such), since the vent is now more exposed. I haven’t experienced any difficulties with moisture but time will tell.
Pulled MMCX connector on my original Primacy
Oriveti have also fortified the MMCX connectors. The connectors on my original Primacy had started pulling out of the housing though, like the nozzle, the connectors on the New Primacy looks to be much better integrated into the earpieces. One thing that I never experienced with the original was driver flex which is now quite prevalent on the New Primacy (strange since the earphones are vented). I never experienced any on the Primacy but get quite a lot in the left earpiece of the New Primacy. As always, this didn’t affect performance or function during testing but is a concern for longevity.
To sum it up, the build quality remains just as great, various features such as the plastic nozzle and off angle connector are all addressed and the small vent on the body barely affects isolation if at all. Fitment is also deeper and a lot more stable, increasing passive noise isolation while remaining just as comfortable, great job Oriveti!
The cable is also a highlight of the New Primacy. It’s much improved over the original in both build and ergonomics. The new 8-core braided cable is slightly thicker, has a smoother texture (though it is still rubbery) than the original and is suppler, resisting tangles much better as a result. I find it much more compliant when coiling for storage and also more comfortable to wear as it isn’t as blocky as the original. The cable’s more even braid also feels smoother against the top of the ear, reducing abraision.
In addition, the cable’s loose braid soaks up vibrations like no other and the New Primacy has some of the lowest microphonic noise I’ve come across. When combined with the stable fitment and outstanding noise isolation, the New Primacy is pretty great for activity. Oriveti have also fixed the static issue I experienced with the Primacy via superior shelding on the cables.
In addition, the right angle plug is a big plus for portable users and I’m much more comfortable stuffing the New Primacy into my pocket than before. While the jack housing is no longer metal, it’s grippy texture is easier to unplug and the strain-relief is much improved. The connector is also perfectly case friendly with a very slim protruding gold-plated connector.
Render from Oriveti
Utilising the same triple driver setup comprising of an 8mm dynamic driver mated to two armatures, the New Primacy relatively similar to the original with a few meaningful tweaks that make it a considerably more technically capable earphone. Despite this, those who prefer a slightly more vivid sound will likely prefer the original for its increased sub-bass slam and slightly brighter midrange/lower treble. The New Primacy is more linear all around, more refined and more textured though it is essentially the same beast. Again, I come back to the W30 vs W40 debate, the New Primacy being the W40. Whilst the W40 is slightly more balanced than the W30, slightly more detailed and more coherent in the lower frequencies, the W30 has more clarity, more punch and is generally more dynamic. In the pursuit of balance and precision, we often forget that our subjective projection of perfection will rarely match that of someone else, or similarly, a machine’s objective measurements. Keep reading to see if the New Primacy is for you whether you are new to audio or perhaps looking to upgrade from the original Primacy.
If you value linearity and balance, the New Primacy is definitely an upgrade over its predecessor, itself a very nice sounding earphone. To my ear, the New Primacy sounds more balanced than the original, especially with regards to bass and treble. Sub-bass is far more neutral in quantity and sounds less muddy and bloated as a result. Mid and upper bass are quite neutral, perhaps slightly lifted with a little extra bass depth over more explicitly neutral earphones. The New Primacy is also quite balanced throughout its midrange save for some extra body throughout. And compared to the original Primacy, lower mids are more forward so the earphones end up sounding less bright and more natural. Treble is also more linear, they still have a little bump for clarity but roll off less after that; I find myself enjoying the high-end response a lot more than the Primacy. So the New Primacy isn’t a neutral earphone, but it is one that finds stunning balance between frequencies.
Tip Choices –
For my preferences, the New Primacy actually sounded slightly flat out of the box and I personally prefer the sound when paired with the Spinfit CP100’s. They give the New Primacy a slightly more u-shaped sound with a little extra sub-bass and sparkle, the soundstage also improved as the drivers are furthered from your ears. I think the vast majority of buyers will enjoy them stock and pretty much everyone else will enjoy them paired with Spinfits, it’s subtle but just what they needed to my ears, the New Primacy is off to a good start. The Spinfits do touch the midrange more than I would like and vocals do sound slightly diffuse at times, more on this below.
JVC Spiral Dots:
After some extensive ABing, I’ve decided that the JVC Spiral Dots have the greatest synergy with the New Primacy for my tastes. They are just as comfortable as the Spinfits but fit a little deeper and thus are slightly more stable and isolating. They bring out the treble response, more so than the Spinfits, whilst providing a similar kind of bass boost. However, they do this without touching the midrange, in particular, the Spinfits made upper mids slightly less coherent. The New Primacy’s sound gorgeous with the JVC Spiral dots, it provides that extra level of airiness and openness over the stock sound without sibilance or hollowness though they don’t expand the soundstage quite as much as Spinfits.
Bass is the most improved frequency range over the Primacy and is a strong performer regardless of price. The New Primacy has less bass quantity than the original Primacy overall but is substantially more linear. Sub and deep-bass are well extended with a slight lift while mid-bass is tight and punchy. I feel like sub-bass extension is actually slightly worse than the Primacy due to their more obvious venting though the NP easily bests pretty much any conventional balanced armature earphone. Sub-bass has a softer tone and subtly portrays rumble without the outright slam of the original. That being said, quality is outstanding, Oriveti have really tightened up the bass response on the NP, producing much more definition than the original model. They have a similarly textured bass response to the better armature-based earphones out there such as the Westone UM 50 Pro’s, perhaps the originals had a crossover issue that sapped that last bit of definition. So the slight loss of sub-bass slam in comparison to the originals is definitely warranted, bass quality is much improved.
In more general comparison, bass is definitely one of the most textured I’ve heard from an iem, especially impressive since these are hardly a lean-sounding earphone. If you’re looking for a slightly punchier earphone that retains the raw definition of balanced armature earphones like the Etymotic ER-4, the New Primacy is pretty spot on. It resolves intricacies in the low end that the original Primacy couldn’t even glimpse. To put performance into perspective, the Sennheiser ie800 resolves only slightly more texture even if it has more extension and slam, it also costs about 3 times as much and has far less passive noise isolation. The UM 50 Pro is far more coloured as well, but being an armature earphone has slightly less extension and deep rumble than the New Primacy. The New Primacy also has similar bass resolution and texture to the UM 50 Pro while remaining far more neutral for home listening. So overall, the New Primacy holds up very well to these far more expensive earphones and are a very solid upgrade over their predecessors in the low end. I definitely think it’s a stronger performer quality wise than the similarly priced W30 but some may prefer the W30’s punchier midbass.
The midrange also receives slight revisions to tuning though the differences are not as pronounced as the changes to the bass. The midrange now sounds slightly more balanced and in better coordination with the bass. The New Primacy definitely sounds more mid-forward but this character is well balanced by the slight bass and lower treble bumps. They also avoid sounding over-forward as both lower and especially upper mids have more body. Lower mids in particular, are less scooped and upper mids are smoother with an extra ounce of body, but both are otherwise mostly comparable in tuning and quality. Both upper and lower mids also possess more clarity than the Primacy despite being smoother. Detail retrieval is just as good with similar presentation and due to improved linearity, the New Primacy does pick up more micro-detail. Female vocals no longer sound so aggressive due to the added body, thinner female vocals are much more flattered and male vocals lie in better balance with the rest of the sound. One aspect that does suffer is separation, which is slightly worse than the Primacy due to the more intimate midrange. So the midrange is much like the Primacy but tweaked to bring more balance whilst retaining clarity and sense of detail. And while the newer Primacy does sound clearer than the Primacy, it’s technically not as bright due to the more forward lower midrange.
Compared to the ie800 and UM 50 Pro, the New Primacy sounds more balanced. Those earphones are more engaging but are also more V-shaped and I understand that kind of sound is not for everyone. That’s not to say that the New Primacy isn’t engaging, they just presented in a different way. Clarity is also closer to the ie800 than the darker UM 50 Pro and I would still characterise them as brighter than neutral. I find that they don’t quite sound as open and immersive as these higher priced earphones and even some of the more sculpted earphones around $300 – $400, but technically, the New Primacy is consistent and versatile a result. On a recent venture I had a chance to compare them to the the Westone W40. The New Primacy was immediately more balanced than the slightly darker W40 and the high end resolved more detail, impressive for an earphone that is actually considerably cheaper than the Westone.
I mentioned in my initial impressions that the New Primacy had more treble presence than the Primacy. However, after some more extensive listening, this is not necessarily the case. The original Primacy had a spike in the lower treble that gave it a more aggressive sense of detail and the impression of a more open sound. And while the New Primacy does have a little bump, lower treble emphasis is not to the same extent as the original, and the NP can even sound slightly darker. But where the Primacy rolled off after the bump, the New Primacy is more linear and extends further. Middle and upper treble details are much improved on the New Primacy, high hats and cymbals sound more textured and have more accurate body. The NP is also more detailed even if those details don’t quite “pop” as much as the Primacy. In the grand scheme of things, the New Primacy is still a relatively natural sounding earphone rather than an airy or crisp sounding one. They still don’t sound as open as the ie800’s and other more treble forward earphones but are also not nearly as fatiguing long-term. Where I found that treble sounded somewhat one-dimensional on the original Primacy, the New Primacy possesses that sense of air and extension that bumps them up from great to exemplary.
Despite boasting the same 8ohm impedance and FR, the New Primacy is actually little more sensitive than the Primacy, though they are also more prone to hiss. That makes them one of the more sensitive earphones I’ve tested and while they aren’t Shure sensitive, these earphones may have difficulties with a particularly noisy source as there is a moderate amount of noise even from my Oppo HA-2. But from my HTC 10, these are absolutely silent, I suppose the 10 has a lower gain amplifier. As far as amplification goes, the Primacy really doesn’t require much power though it will benefit from a cleaner source. They scale decently with my HA-2 but sound pretty great straight from my phone. As long as your source is relatively clean and has a low output impedance, it should serve the Primacy well.
The soundstage is slightly improved, possibly due to the larger vent. They now sound more rounded, depth is improved but width is slightly reduced and the entire presentation is slightly more intimate, it’s a fair trade that ends up sounding superior most of the time. This is partly due to the NP’s much-improved imaging; where I felt the Primacy had some issues with instrument placement, the New Primacy is universally more accurate and has a stronger centre image. That being said, as the New Primacy is more mid-forward and thus slightly more intimate in its overall presentation, separation does suffer slightly, it is simply a by-product of the new tuning. The New Primacy on account of it’s clear midrange and more extended high-end very rarely sounds congested but also rarely sounds spacious either. The UM 50 Pro and ie800 both have quite a lot more space and the ie800 is appreciably more separated too. The W30 is probably a more fair comparison, the New Primacy is more spacious and slightly more separated but the W30 images slightly better. It’s a well-presenting earphone though soundstage is not their biggest Forte.
Extra note –
I did actually try the original Primacy with the new 8-core cable of the New Primacy and interestingly the sound did change very slightly. Of course, the Primacy didn’t sound identical to the New Primacy, but I feel that the the 8-core cable is slightly brighter sounding than the 4-core cable on the Primacy. Upper mids were clearer and more prominent, bass was a little tighter but still overly emphasized in some frequencies and highs sounded slightly more open. Lower mids remain slightly behind in the mix and the soundstage wasn’t affected in any way; imaging was still slightly off with their usual more width based sound. It was interesting to see the changes but we can safely assume that the cable is just one fragment of the plethora of small sound revisions that have occurred between iterations of Primacy.
Balance seems to be a recurring theme in this review and that’s because balance almost perfectly sums up my experience with the New Primacy. While the Primacy was a relatively balanced earphone, there were some deviations that caused deatil retrieval to suffer, most notably the sub-bass/lower bass emphasis and treble roll-off. The New Primacy is now exceptionally linear with very tasteful accentuations imparting a sense of refinement very rare from an earphone of this price. If you own the Primacy, the upgrades are probably still not worth the trade up, especially if you were able to achieve a great fit. But if you are currently looking into the Primacy, the New Primacy is the technically superior earphone, just make sure their balanced, sligthly mid-forward sound matches your individual preferences.
I’ve also made plenty of comparison to my personal benchmark, the Sennheiser ie800 which has fantastic sound quality and a very engaging tonality that I personally enjoy. While the New Primacy is rarely better than the ie800 quality wise, it’s as far off as the price difference would suggest and I could see many taking the New Primacy over the ie800 on behalf of their more linear tonality and vastly superior ergonomics. In fact, there are occasional songs where the sub-bass on the ie800 does overshadow that last bit of texture whereas the New Primacy never has such issues; it’s a very consistently strong performer due to its balanced, linear nature.
Overall – 9.75/10, The New Primacy is a shockingly brilliant earphone at a very competitive price point. It is subtly improved in almost every regard over its predecessor, crafting a considerably more compelling overall package. The New Primacy has surprisingly few compromises compared to the much more expensive flagship earphones and comfort, isolation and fit stability are all superlative. Their sound is also very balanced, clear and resolving; I’m especially impressed by their bass response which is extremely defined and really outperforms Oriveti’s asking price. I think a few might find them slightly mid-forward and the soundstage isn’t the most spacious around, but the New Primacy remains a highly recommendable product for me. After the high of the HD800S, it’s been a pleasure to review a product that provides such a premium performance without the premium price.
The New Primacy is currently available from Amazon for $399 USD, please see the link below for the most updated pricing and availability:
ORIVETI NEW PRIMACY – Whole Aluminium Earphones Body, Triple Driver Hybrid 2 Balanced Armature+Dynamic, High Fidelity, Cable Detachable, In-Ear Headphones (Matt Black)