Disclaimer: I was loaned these headphones by Austrian headfier, Edgar Kaksis.
Update: MyST Audio informed me that these are IzoPhones-60, not IzoPhoned-60. The title has been updated to reflect this change.
The poor Japan Post man must have a hernia by now. I'm nearly on my second. The IzoPhones-60 are heavy, solid things that say tank more so than the 50mm Jupiter 3. They've got the same rough-and-tumble finish: blemishes here, clamping power there, industrial design run completely amuck.
Naturally, IzoPhones-60 is made by MyST, the ones that designed a favourite of mine: the PortaDAC 1866 [reviewed at Headfonia].
Unlike the Jupiter 3, IzoPhones-60 is engineered on its own terms. It's not made to fit the decaying moulds of a captured German factory. IzoPhones-60 is a freaking marvel of Russian engineering. Also unlike the Jupiter 3, IzoPhones-60 aren't cheap. They go for something like 1200$ USD.
Case in point: its headband adjusts on click less stalks about as thick as my wife's baby finger. They adjust tight enough for my small head, and have lots of room to grow. And, they clamp like the Dickens. (And you could kill someone with them.) At their crest is a sliding bit of leather and and synthetic felt to keep the head comfy. Below that is a steel band wrapped in hardcore nylon.
This is a headphone designed for a purpose, where function completely determines form, where metal meets what appears to be military-grade sundry parts. And yet, taken in after a glass of good potato alcohol, really is elegant.
MyST opted to plug cables via easily-found 3,5mm jacks. IzoPhones-60 comes packed with the world's most unobtrusive headphone cable. The thing disappears. It looks, and feels, like a cheap IEM thing. But it is actually pretty sturdy.
Each headphone cup rotates freely around its fulcrum (a massive flathead bolt stuck in a single rifled barrel). If you unplug its cable, each cup horizontally rotates 360º in its yolks. Appreciable clamping force ensures the pads angle perfectly to your noggin.
The hot-swappable pads are held into place by friction and gaskets. There is no set angle at which you must re-insert them. You can do it in the dark. I've done it in the dark.
The simplicity of function, and the guilelessness with which MyST impale, lesser, tawdry solutions, on the lance that is the sliding headband adjuster, is Jovian in scale. Holy bloody moly.
Which brings us to this:
It is good. It is fast, reactive, light, swimmingly wide, and rounded out with a spherical bass that anchors a one of the most natural sublimation of the reference sound that I have heard. Highs are clear, open, and wonderfully sparkly. They completely duck sibilance, and take most of their energy from the high midrange, which is one area where most of the action happens.
The other place where most of the action happens is bass. No, IzoPhones-60 is not a bassy headphone. It is a tempered mother. It reaches low, just not with heaps of sound pressure. For instance, it won't render the subtly deep intro to Markus Schulz's Mainstage with anything more than a whisper. That said, if you're into sustained dubstep bass, IzoPhones-60 really really massages the brain. And because the stereo image is so damn wide, it yawns all over the room in which you're enjoying Kusanagi's Toronto is Broken and vodka.
Time for an aspirin break.
If anything, IzoPhones-60's bass sounds a bit of its driver. The planar magnetic diaphragm slaps drily in the upper bass region where there is good sound pressure. I'm ambivalent: typically, I dig driver sound, but when enjoying headphones in which I can pick it out, I tend to analyse a bit too much. The good news is below:
The overall sound signature is pretty flat with the exception of a forward-tipped high midrange. It's not a boring headphone. It is bright, but not too bright. It's a sound that really grows on you, but doesn't have to work too hard. IzoPhones-60 doesn't start out on Boring Street. It's got enough contrast in its extremes to be engaging and fun, whilst somehow sidestepping the cacophone.
I look forward to completing a full review at Headfonia in a few weeks. So far, I've been digging IzoPhones-60 straight out of an AudioEngine D1 [reviewed at Headfonia], and when fixing hummus for my misses, out of an iPod nano, which to be honest, barely covers the volume requirements of this headphone.
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