IMR Acoustics is a new in-ear brand around the block, founded by Bob who previously worked with Trinity Audio. So who is Bob? Before talking that, let me first give a brief insight into Trinity Audio. TA has been considered as one of the popular manufacturers for their active communication with the users and for their cost-effective gears. Bob was the one who communicated with users and managed the entire making of their product. Now, as a guy who used to be a TA fanboy, I’ve tried almost all of their gears since their debut to Kickstarter with the Delta V-II. Few of their products felt to be somewhat like prototypes, but overall I had very good impressions with TA. End of last year, Bob got out from TA and started his own brand, IMR Acoustics.
Now before moving on, some of y’all may have heard about the complicated situations now going on with Trinity Audio. For those who do not know, I rather suggest you search up what is going on with them because it’s going to get way too long to explain. Anyway, Bob has clarified that IMR Acoustics is clearly a distinctive brand departed from Trinity Audio, so I won’t be relating IMR much to TA here.
Enough with the background, let’s now move on to the IMR R1. IMR R1 is classified as a flagship IEM and currently priced for £500.00 (approx. $700). IMR R1 is their first model and they are preparing for other 2 IEMs – resulting in a lineup with total 3 products. Cheaper or pricier, that is unknown.
The R1 comes with a normal sized box and various accessories, including a 3.5mm cable, 2.5mm cable, 4 pairs of filters, AV adapter, 7 pairs of eartips, carrying case, and a shirt clip. It comes with most of the essential accessories and I’m quite satisfied with it. The packaging itself, though, seems to be somewhat simple. It didn’t particularly surprise me as I was aware as TA used to have a similar style of box.
But anyway, I’d still prefer the packaging to have a stylish look, or a similar approach to what Campfire Audio does. Their packaging is simple, yet beautiful. This is the first product from IMR, so I suppose this would get improved soon.
The earpieces are fully made out of metal coated with a color of gunmetal. I wasn’t able to find any flaws from its build quality and the earpieces seem to be pretty darn durable. The driver configuration is a hybrid 2DD, using a 13mm neodymium motors with a ceramic driver.
R1 isn’t only unique with its driver configuration but also has a switchable open/close port. I haven’t seen such feature from any other IEMs so far and caught my eyes right away when I first discovered the R1. The switchable port system that allows users to easily tweak the sound as well as the isolation. Sound leakage is moderate or relatively less than most ported IEMs, and it significantly improves when the ports are closed. There isn’t much change for isolation, only showing a minimal difference. Though isolation is actually decent enough either way, so I don’t find this problematic at all. The difference does exist sound-wise, and I’ll talk about that below on the sound section.
Cable / Ergonomics
The stock cable feels smooth, chubby and has a sturdy feeling in terms of durability. It’s not particularly thick or stiff, so it won’t be problematic while you walk around with these. The cable has a comfortable fit and doesn’t occur microphonics. One thing that I’d like to see a change though, is its connector alignment. It uses a normal ciem 2-Pin (0.78mm) connectors, however the connectors are aligned horizontally, not vertically like most IEMs. This doesn’t mean that your ciem 2-Pin cables won’t fit but you have to re-shape the earguide if the cable has one, and the process gets even longer if the earguide is shaped only with shrink tubes without the steel wire.
Usability / Matching
The fitting is pretty nice. It’s ergonomic and comfortable even after long time listening sessions. It’s meant to be worn over-ear, so wearing these straight down won’t give you the best experience. Keep that in mind if you prefer wearing earphones straight down.
IMR R1 shows adequate, but distinctive sensitivity to different filters, players, cables, and eartips- not extreme though. In this review, I’ve used JVC Spiral Dots eartips (as I believe it performs the best with these) and the stock cable. Aftermarket cables could surely bring out more from the R1, but the stock cable does its job. At least this cable doesn’t feel like holding back R1’s potentials. I have used the black default filter and paired with my QP2R and DX80.
R1 does an awesome job presenting weight and depth of the bass without getting muddy or loosened up. It is impressive how clear and prominent the bass sounds without overwhelming the upper frequencies. There’s a bit more bass amount than typical slightly-V shaped but less than Shure SE846 or Campfire Vega. The edges of the bass are polished, giving a smooth, analog taste. Now, most flagship IEMs that are well known for its bass performance are usually equipped with a large amount of bass. R1 manages to keep up with such IEMs, picking up all the details to the very low notes, however with just the right amount of bass.
Don’t get me wrong, the amount is plentiful and has a strong and manly rumble to the lows; it just doesn’t get the point where it feels stuffy. I’m quite positive bassheads could also find R1 to be satisfying. What I also love from the bass is its wideness. It spreads out wide without the border (or the edge) of the bass getting vague, making the bass more prominent and full-bodied. It also got great density with that DD-style punch at the lows.
The sweet, creamy mids are slightly stepped ahead with a natural thickness. The vocal sounds lively and airy, providing a very spatial presentation which I found to be quite unique. R1 does well on both male & female vocals, and I’d say it has that “Multi driver-like” richness but with better coherency. The overall brightness is just about neutral, however the ceramic driver adds a brighter tone to the upper mids, making the female vocals more refreshing. The sibilance section from the frequency is briefly polished, making it non-fatiguing.
It’s easy to think dynamic drivers would sound dull on the trebles, but thanks to the ceramic driver R1 manages to pick up the details with good precision. Highs feel clear, crispy, and does well on expressing the dense texture from treble instruments. It’s visibly brighter than lows or mids, however it won’t be a problem as it doesn’t get spiky. The highs on the R1 tends to stay transparent without any coloring added to it. The treble spreads wide sideways as the bass did. And with the spatial mids added to that, IMR R1 generates one of the finest, largest headroom for an in-ear.
IMR wasn’t trying to add unique coloring or sound signature on the R1 but stick to the basics and eventually nailed it. The R1 aims to maximize wideness for both frequency response and staging. They have accomplished it very nicely and could consider R1 to have one of the largest soundstages among flagship IEMs available to the market. It’s a good start, and I’m will be keeping my eyes on how IMR will shape out their products even better.