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Craft Ears Craft Six Quick Review

Pros – 

Dynamic-like power and extension from BA, Excellent detail retrieval, Superbly balanced signature, Pinpoint accurate imaging

Cons – 

Very large uni housings may have comfort issues for some, Forward vocals and thinner note weight may polarise

Verdict – 

The Craft Six competes in kilo-buck turf in both tonality and technicality at a substantial discount.


Introduction –

Craft Ears is a newcomer from Poland with big aspirations. The company’s first two models the Craft Two and Four were very well-received by enthusiasts and critics, I took a look at the latter in my review here where I was similarly impressed. Despite this, there was one main aspect that drew me to the company; and that was their transparency about their acoustic designs. The staff are responsive, confident and proficient, happy to lay out all of the science to back their lofty promises. After months of development, their efforts have born fruit in the form of the Craft Six, currently the highest-end model in their line-up featuring 6-BA setup with a 5-way crossover. This earphone also marks a big innovational step forward of the company, implementing multiple proprietary technologies. All of this comes at a highly competitive 745 EUR preorder asking price, and 945 EUR launch price. You can read more about the Craft Six and purchase one for yourself here.

 

Disclaimer – 

I would like to thank Jed from Craft Ears very much for their utmost patience with me while explaining their design and for providing me with the Craft 6 for the purpose of this review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. This quick-review will be covering a demo universal unit that is to be sent to the next reviewer after my evaluation. I will attempt to be as objective as possible.

 

Specs –

Frequency Response: 2Hz – 23KHz

Impedance: 7-ohms

Driver setup: 2x Sub, 1x low-mid, 1x mid-high, 1x tweeter, 1x super-tweeter

Crossover: 5-way electrical

 

The Pitch – 

RASEN Bass

The Craft 6 implements “Reference Acoustic Spiral Enhanced Bass”. This is a patent-pending 3D printed low-pass filter that promises true subwoofer extension from current BA drivers. I’ve been told this operates similarly to that implemented on the legendary Shure SE846 but with modern innovations that increase efficiency.

True Load

The staff behind Craft Ears were proud to tout the extremely flat impedance and phase offered by their latest earphone. This functions similarly to the FIBAE technology pioneered by Piotr at Custom Art, whereby the earphone’s signature does not vary with output impedance, at least, to a much smaller degree than most. Meanwhile, phase-coherence brings benefits to imaging and detail retrieval by minimising destructive interference between the drivers. This successfully circumvents two of the most polarising aspects of multi-driver design.

SES

“Space expansion system” is a field-specific 3D printed horn-loaded tweeter tuned to a particular bandwidth. We’ve seen this implemented on some other high-end IEMs that have been very well-received. I’ll leave it to the professionals to offer in-depth clarification.

 

Design –

My demo unit arrived in the form of Craft Ears’ new universal housing. Much like their customs, the universal housings are 3D printed and immaculately finished. They assume a deep piano black design set to stunning red-stained wood faceplates inscribed with the model number. A thick clear coat provides additional depth and intrigue and the total lack of seams, orange peel or other imperfections results in a high-class aesthetic. The housings themselves don’t follow any traditional design, being of the faux-custom variety. The Craft Six utilises a 0.78mm removable cable, the OCC MK2 from Rhapsiodio.

DSC08541

It’s a beefy 4-wire unit with copper conductors and carries all of the flare you’d expect from a high-quality custom-cable with chrome/carbon-fibre connectors and pleasing strain relief. The pre-moulded earguides showcase great attention to detail, curving both backward and inwards to offer an especially secure fit without pressure point formation. I also love the matte jacket which routes cleanly through clothing if offering a bit less visual intrigue than clear units. The cable itself is very high-quality, a bit springy but highly tangle-resistant. It represents a great complement to the Craft 6 for a premium overall package.

 

Fit & Isolation – 

They’re very well sculpted earphone, with long, tapered nozzles providing a deep fit and an anti-helix fin providing an exceptionally locked-in sensation. Fit stability is excellent as is isolation, being fully-sealed, easily sufficient for travel and loud environments. That said, the housings are very large, and protrude noticeably from the ear. They also contact a lot of my outer ear and may cause discomfort on those with smaller ears. I personally found them to offer good levels of comfort during long listening sessions, albeit, they never quite disappeared as some IEMs tend to.

 

Sound –

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Testing Methodology: Measured using Arta via IEC 711 coupler to Startech external sound card. 7-9KHz peaks may be artifacts/emphasized due to my measurement setup. Measurements besides channel balance are volume matched at 1KHz. Fit depth normalized to my best abilities – the brighter measurement is with the tips installed, shallow fit while the darker measurement is tip removed, deep insertion. Due to these factors, my measurements may not accurately reflect the earphone or measurements taken by others.

 

Tonality – 

DSC08542

At its elevated asking price, it almost goes without saying that the Craft 6 is an impressive listen. Yet even among its peers, the Craft 6 shines in many regards; that being its resolving treble and especially powerful, extended bass. Fundamentally, it builds atop the foundation of the Craft Four, while introducing a more neutrally-toned and linear signature. It retains light colouration, being slightly vocal forward and analytical but with a bit of bass emphasis that grants it excellent balance and accurate tone overall. The Six is, in turn, no longer as euphonic as its cheaper sibling. And yet, as it carries quite a substantial boost in technical ability, one would hardly misses the added warmth and body. The Craft Six is a wonderfully insightful listen, but may not appeal to those craving warmth and full, dense notes.

 

Bass – 

The low-end showcases some of the best extension I’ve ever heard from a BA-earphone. This impression is aided by light emphasis through the sub-bass, together with providing a powerful rumble and visceral slam at the very bottom. The timbre is still BA-ish in nature, being quicker decaying than most dynamics if a little more drawn out than most BA’s, and being highly controlled. There is a bit more information and texture in the sub-bass than normal for sure. Working alongside that terrific extension, the commanding presence, power and extension of the Craft Six’s sub-bass might just mislead a fair few. This is followed by a gradual drop through the mid and upper-bass, providing a well-balanced presentation overall with slightly thicker albeit highly defined notes set to a neutral tone.

 

Mids – 

DSC08548

The midrange has a neutral tone and lighter note weight alongside a clear and revealing character. It showcases sound linearity with an upper-midrange emphasis around 3KHz providing a bump to vocal size and clarity in addition to bringing vocals forward without over-stepping on intimacy. As the upper-bass and lower-midrange are lightly attenuated, the source of its neutral and highly-defined presentation, vocal body lies on the thinner side. Nonetheless, emphasis falls off through the 4KHz region into a lower-treble trough, providing wicked smooth articulation and a hint of additional density that redeems some note weight and structure. As such, sibilance and raspiness are non-existent despite the superlative clarity of the Craft 6’s vocals. Altogether, the midrange is clear, highly-resolved and very refined, a well-executed demonstration of a neutrally-toned sound.

 

Highs – 

Despite possessing a trough around 5KHz, emphasis picks up quickly after, leading to a moderate 7KHz peak. I hear very quick, concise note attack and accurate decay, superb control and a clean transient response, all contributing to outstanding fine detail retrieval. The background is dark, providing strong foreground/background contrast and a focused foreground. Meanwhile, a peak in the upper-treble works in tandem with excellent extension to provide a surprising amount of air set to abundant sparkle and micro-detail presence. Such a tuning produces thinner but not brittle instrument body alongside a slightly tizzy character. I would argue that the treble strays furthest from linearity, favouring greater engagement and a more aggressive detail presentation over perfectly accurate timbre. Still, as the tone is a touch on the warmer side, this helps to retain a fairly natural image. The Craft Six showcases truly superb detail retrieval front and foremost without wearing on the ear in quantity.

 

Soundstage – 

Such a presentation works wonders for the soundstage too, which stretches beyond the head in width and provides a surprising amount of depth too; albeit slightly reduced due to its more forward vocal presentation. Imaging is sharp and accurate. Vocals occupy a strong centre image and localisation is pinpoint sharp. Separation is strong on account of the Craft Six’s neutral tone and slightly thinner note structure. I would still classify the Six as providing convincing coherence. Its bass provides volume and stability to its stage, avoiding sounding diffuse. The Craft Six is well-structured with defined layers and precise imaging.

 

Early Verdict –

DSC08539

An earphone like the Craft Six is difficult to evaluate as its technical properties work in tandem with a tuning that emphasizes their presence to the listener. To clarify, it is easy to mistake a forward lower-treble for high detail retrieval, bright background for sparkle. The list goes on, and reviews shall henceforth, be crucified for their misnomers. Thankfully, the Craft Six offers an incredibly solid technical foundation for its vivid yet neutrally toned signature, end to end extension is superb and the organisation of its presentation is excellent too. Surely, this earphone does not represent perfect timbre, being slightly forward, detail aggressive and, in turn, delivering a lighter note weight which may not please all. Still, the Craft Six ticks all the boxes a high-end IEM should, the treble is sparkly and resolving of minutiae, the midrange is revealing yet refined and its bass is a revelation. I was sceptical of the company’s proprietary acronyms, but the product cannot be denied. The Craft Six competes in kilo-buck turf in both tonality and technicality at a substantial discount when bought on preorder, and I will be sad to see this one go.

Comparisons, source synergy and in-depth breakdown coming soon to the extended review!    

The Craft Six is available from on Craft Ears (International) for $745 EUR  (preorder) with a retail price of $945 EUR after this period has ended. I am not affiliated with Craft Ears and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.

 

Track List – 

brb. – relationship

Bob Seger – Stranger in Town

Emotional Oranges – The Juice: Vol. II

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Fleetwood Mac – Tango In the Night

George Michael – Listen Without Prejudice

Joji – Sanctuary

Kanye West – Only One

Keshi – skeletons

IU – eight

Nirvana – Nevermind

OOHYO – Honey Tea

Pixies – Surfer Rosa

Radiohead – OK Computer

Rich Brian – Amen

Sharon Van Etten – The End of the World

Sun Rai – Pocket Music

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers

Yosi Horikawa – Wandering

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