Class-leading build quality and cable, Comfortable fit, Balanced yet forgiving sound tuning, Dynamic yet immaculately clean bass, Huge soundstage
Midrange resolution falls behind competitors, Imaging could be better
The Phoenix 6 is one of the most surprising and impressive IEMs I’ve reviewed as of late. I applaud Astrotec for their versatile, beautifully tuned and meticulously constructed flagship that represents a serious contender in the high-end space.
Astrotec are a Chi-Fi audio manufacturer who made a name for themselves with their premium metal designs and high-end earbud designs. The company has since branched into a variety of form factors like many others, approaching IEMs and TWS models throughout a range of price ranges. One of their most notable releases was the Phoenix, their first flagship-level in-ear monitor. It adopted trick wood/titanium shells and hybrid driver configuration with the EST tweeters cranked to the max. Overall, it was a coloured, unabashedly fun-sounding high-end IEM. Since, the company has teased a successor for some time and it has just hit the market in the form of the Phoenix 6. As its name would suggest, the new model sports an additional 2 drivers over its predecessor in addition to a titanium-alloy construction. Alongside its TOTL specifications comes a considerable jump in refinement all around in addition to a more premium price tag.
The Phoenix 6 just launched for $1559 USD. You can read all about it and treat yourself to a unit here.
I would like to thank Ryan from Astrotec very much for reaching out to organise a review of the new Phoenix 6. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Drivers: 1x Customised Dynamic Driver, 1x Sonion BA, 4x Sonion EST
- Housing: Titanium Alloy
- Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 50 kHz
- Impedance: 5 ohms
- Sensitivity: 108 dB
Behind the design –
Quad EST Setup
Sonion’s EST drivers were a wonderful proof of concept but, in reality, proved difficult to implement in a desirable manner due to their frequency response and poor efficiency. This was improved upon with the 2nd generation drivers that bumped up efficiency by over 50%. However, if you wanted a true EST IEM experience without requiring a dedicated electrostatic amplifier like Shure’s KSE models, it was the quad-tweeter EST drivers you wanted. This tweeter package contains dual high and dual ultra-high EST tweeters that further boost efficiency and sound quality. Unfortunately, quad-EST setups are commonly reserved only for the most price prohibitive IEMs in truly summit-fi territory. Astrotec makes a strong case for themselves by offering the same setup at a substantially lower asking price.
Hybrid Driver Setup
Making up the remaining two drivers is a customed dynamic driver covering the low-end and a single sonion balanced armature for the midrange. This provides a flexible 4-way setup with Astrotec’s desired frequency response and sound quality. The company reasons this setup allowed them to achieve a clear sound with rumbling bass and extended highs rich with details.
High-Purity OFC Cable
The Phoenix 6 is a flagship model and with that, the company has spared no expense. In addition to sporting an SPC single-ended cable, the Phoenix 6 also comes with a high-purity silver-plated OFC cable with 4.4mm balanced termination. The high-end balanced cable uses a complex geometry with 30 OCC copper cores around 200D bulletproof fiber damping with silver conductors
Where most Astrotec products provide a very similar unboxing, the Phoenix 6 takes it up another level to showcase its flagship status. There’s an additional outer sleeve with printed colour artwork and a clean satin black background. Beneath is a magnetic hard box containing the earphones and accessories within a foam inlet. The selection is generous with Astrotec’s familiar magnetic leather carrying case that has a protective skeleton and interior pocket. The ear tips are organised within a foam cutout and come in 4 varieties. Included are 2 pairs of dual flange tips, 2 pairs of more isolating memory foam tips, 3 pairs of bass tips and 3 pairs of vocal tips. They provide some customisation of the sound and fit to listener preference.
Anyone can appreciate Astrotec’s designs as a premium BOM and sleek styling has come to define the company’s products even in the budget price tier. The Phoenix was one of the most visually distinct earphones I’ve reviewed and the 6 builds upon its legacy. Gone are the rosewood housings in favour of a more uniform, space-age all-titanium complexion. Despite being renowned for how difficult it is to work with, Astrotec has done a wonderful job with terrifically tight tolerances in the form of an even finish and barely palpable seams and joins. The new housings are smaller and more ergonomically formed yet captivating all the same with their stunning rippled exterior. As the company set out to achieve, they form a union of science experiment and polished gemstone that makes a statement like few others.
Using ubiquitous 0.78mm 2-pin connectors, the Phoenix 6 was designed for cable swapping. However, that shouldn’t feel necessary for most listeners as the stock cable showcases excellent quality. It’s a 4-wire square braid cable with a soft, translucent jacket that showcases the OCC copper and silver conductors below. With a 26AWG gauge, it feels very reminiscent of many aftermarket custom cables. Despite this, it is supple and transmits minimal microphonic noise making it an ergonomic delight. At the same time, it has a good amount of heft and thickness that provide a sturdy impression that matches the bulletproof shells themselves. The pre-moulded ear guides are well-formed and the metal connectors contribute to stunning visual coherence. A 4.4mm balanced termination completes the package.
Fit & Comfort –
The Phoenix 6 has a typical shape for an IEM and represents a noticeable improvement over its predecessor. The new model is smaller and shapelier so as to achieve better articular fit with the features of the outer ear in addition to minimising hotspots. Where the original Phoenix did wear on my ears over time, the Phoenix 6 is superbly comfortable long term and simply feels a lot more elegant and well-formed. In addition, the nozzles are now slimmer and longer achieving a deeper, more stable fit and a superior seal.
I applaud the ergonomics here as I was able to wear them for hours on end with no issues. The one downside is a small amount of driver flex with a deep fit, however, as usual I didn’t find this to affect performance or reliability during my testing. Isolation is similar to the Phoenix which means they are well above average for a vented hybrid monitor, but still not nearly as good as a custom or fully sealed monitor. This means they will be suitable for daily use and commute, but I would want better isolation for especially noisy environments such as air travel.