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Craft Ears Aurum Review – Joie de Vivre

Comparisons –

Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 ($1499): The Solaris is Campfire’s high-end W-shaped hybrid IEM with some quality traits. It offers a warmer, more coloured voicing altogether but both share a similar sparkle in the upper-treble that many find indicative of strong technical performance. In the bass, the two are evenly matched in terms of overall emphasis. The Aurum has greater sub-bass focus which grants it a cleaner tonality and a more separated mid-bass. The Solaris 2020 is slightly faster and the driver provides slightly higher definition. However, this is difficult to appreciate as the tuning is warmer and fuller in the mid-bass which gives it a slightly tubbier timbre by comparison. In return, it is noticeably punchier and equally dynamic despite having less slam.

The midrange is more transparent on the Aurum and more even-handed. The Solaris has more vocal focus and greater contrast – with both greater warmth and greater top-end clarity. The Aurum has slightly better separation while the Solaris sounds more engaging and articulate with more isolated vocals. The treble tells a similar story, the Solaris 2020 is an airy, articulate and sparkly monitor. Though thin, it has great vibrance and detail presence alongside a bit more bite in the lower-treble. The Aurum provides slightly greater resolving power with small textures being more apparent. It sounds a bit more damped but provides a darker background despite having almost as much sparkle and energy. The Solaris 2020 does have a noticeably larger stage and both have sensational imaging.

Astrotec Phoenix 6 ($1599): A close competitor with a very similar driver setup, the Phoenix 6 is also tuned similarly but in a more laid-back fashion. The bass tuning is nigh identical on both earphones as is the level of emphasis. The Phoenix 6 has a smidge more lower midrange and a few tones down the upper-midrange and treble by a few dB giving it a fuller, more coherent voicing. Despite this, the low-end doesn’t sound too similar. The Phoenix 6 has a notably thicker presentation with bolder notes and a heftier slam that give it a more dynamics-focused presentation altogether. The Aurum is tighter and faster with a cleaner and more separated presentation. This gives it the advantage on detail retrieval.

The midrange is natural on both and devoid of intensity. The Aurum is noticeably clearer and more tonally transparent with better separation. By comparison, the Phoenix 6 has a slightly warmer and more laid-back voicing. It sounds a bit roomier but also more forgiving. The Aurum has a slight resolution advantage with small details being more apparent. The treble is more energetic and present on the Aurum with the Phoenix 6 maintaining its smoother character. The Phoneix 6 has a bit more lower-treble giving it more initial bite but the Aurum has greater clarity and extension with a more vibrant sparkle and more micro-detail. The Phoenix 6 has the larger stage by a good degree while the Aurum benefits from sharper imaging.  

Effect Audio Axiom ($1499): The Axiom offers an engaging V-shaped sound with a capable drier setup. It has greater bass emphasis and its boost is centred around the mid-bass instigated a much warmer and more coloured overall voicing. The Aurum has much better separation and simply sounds a lot cleaner and more authentic. Its notes are more defined. The Aurum by comparison, hits a lot harder, with far greater punch and a great sub-bass slam too. It isn’t as detailed but represents a fun listen. The midrange is reasonably natural on the Axiom, especially considering its level of bass emphasis. It has greater clarity in the upper-midrange to balance out its bass and, given, isn’t stretched thin either.

In fact, the Axiom has a laid-back midrange in general which contrasts to the more balanced, neutral Aurum. Naturally, the Aurum has the technical advantage and benefits from greater separation on top. The Axiom is much warmer and a bit more articulate though I cannot say it is to my preference by comparison. The treble is sharper on the Axiom and more vibrant. The Axiom has a slightly more defined leading edge but the Aurum has superior extension and headroom by a noticeable degree. It sounds more open and has more abundant micro-detail at the very top. Despite this, both have similar a soundstage size with the Aurum having sharper imaging.

MMR Homunculus ($1699): A unique tribrid from MMR. It has a warmer, more mid-focused voicing but good coherence all the same. The low-end is even with a light mid-bass bias, and it has slightly less emphasis. The voicing is clean and very natural. The driver offers superior definition and control delivering a more textured response altogether. The Aurum has greater slam and a slightly cleaner mid-bass tuning but lacks the same driver quality. The midrange is more present on the Homunculus and its voicing is just a little off due to its slightly earlier peak. The Aurum sounds a bit more effortless here and has greater transparency. The Homunculus has bigger, more forward vocals and they have a slightly drier quality.

Besides this, there is little to complain about on the Homunculus as it offers great coherence and definition. Both have a smoother articulation, the Homunculus has slightly better layering but the Aurum does resolve small details a little better. The treble is more energetic and present on the Aurum by a noticeable degree. The Homunculus has a linear but laid-back top-end altogether. It is airy and similarly resolving but chiefly, has a more accurate timbre with greater texture and note body. The Aurum by comparison, has better definition and detail retrieval. It has a lot more sparkle and greater clarity which makes for a more engaging listen and pushes micro-details further forward. The Homunculus returns with a wider stage and better layering as aforementioned. The Aurum has slightly sharper imaging.

Verdict –

Having been immersed in the audio world for almost a decade and having heard countless combinations of gear, I’ve found that the best kinds of products are those that make you forget their asking price. For a premium, high-end monitor this isn’t easy to achieve. The SIX was one such creation and yet it was still not perfect as its treble and revealing midrange tuning could occasionally fatigue. The Aurum then comes across as an appreciably more refined offering whilst making further improvements to the excellent technical traits the SIX became renowned for. The price bump is mild and expected but also well deserved. The Aurum is a very well-rounded package with exceedingly tasteful colouration that contributes towards an enjoyable, versatile and simply fun listen. Perhaps some may not love the upper-harmonic bias in the treble and don’t expect a reference monitor either. However, it definitely isn’t too far off and ever more suited towards enjoyable daily listening for audio enthusiasts. The Aurum has become a personal benchmark around its asking price and will likely remain so for some time to come.

The Aurum is available from Craft Ears (International) for 1295 EUR at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with Craft Ears and receive no earnings from purchases made through these links.

Track List – 

Billie Eilish – dont smile at me

Bob Seger – Night Moves

Courtney Barnett – Rae Street

Cream – Wheels of Fire

Dire Straits – Communique

Dirty Loops – Next To You

Eagles – Hotel California

Elton John – Honky Chateau

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

H.E.R – I Used To Know Her

Jasen – BYE

John Mayer – Continuum

Kanye West – Ye

Missy Higgins – The Sound of White

Radiohead – OK Computer

TALA – ain’t leavin` without you

The Beatles – Abbey Road

The weeknd – After Hours

Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride

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