Pros: good separation, and extension in both ends. Engaging, Build Quality, Tuning
Cons: Spartan packaging and accessories, Bass resolution
Driver Setup: 7BA
Disclaimer: I purchased the Audio Lokahi IEM with my own money at full price and this review is written of my own accord.
The Audio Lokahi is a DIY-ed earphone, designed by a university student in China as far as I’m aware. It is available for purchase on Linsoul Website at US$239 (subject to availability). I got my pair through an agent in China and shipped it over, so I paid around 150 USD including shipping and waited about 3-4 months for it to arrive. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Accessories and Build Quality (Score: 8.5/10)
These IEMs shipped with the most basic yet functional of accessories. It came with a brown pleather zipper case with generic silicone tips and a brush. The cable it came with was a simple white 4-core SPC cable. A little underwhelming, but I’m assuming most of what I’m paying for is going into the sound. I got myself a balanced silver cable from XINHS and most of my listening hereon were done with it.
The shells are quite gorgeous and feel like polished gems in the hand. They have a nice weight to them and are very well-rounded.
Fit (Score: 8.0/10)
Achieving a good fit required finding the right tips. The included generic black silicone tips weren’t going to cut it or do the earphones justice. The nozzle is a smooth metal tube and some tips like the JVC Spiral Dots would slip right out. I tried on Sony silicone tips as well as SpinFit CP100s and they seemed to do the trick for me. The Sony tips minimized the “vacuum effect” so I stuck with that eventually. The shape of the shells filled up my smaller ears nicely.
Sound (Score: 8.7/10)
Frequency Response Graph for Audio Lokahi IEM
- Lotoo Paw S1
- Hiby R5
Music listened to
- Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Beethoven Symphony 7
- Boston Symphony Orchestra – The Nutcracker Suite
- The Vamps – Cherry Blossom
- Stevie Wonder – In the Key of Life
- Bastille – All This Bad Blood
- The Lumineers
- Paul Kim
- X Ambassadors
- Børns – Blue Madonna
Bass (Score: 8.5/10)
The bass is well-extended with a satisfying subbass presence. It is well-balanced and has no ugly mid-bass bump or bloatedness. That was quite impressive given my experience with many pure BA IEMs suffering from the Mid-bass timbre issues. There is still something in the bass that’s holding this pair of IEMs back. It is a tad bit blunted at times and could use more punch and quicker decay to match the speed and coherence of the upper frequencies. It’s telling on bass drum hits, or kick drum hits, where the speed and timbre seem to lag behind the rest of the frequencies.
Mids (Score: 9.0/10)
I especially enjoyed the liveliness in the mids. Instruments like violins and clarinets sound lively. The textures of the instruments are crisp and well-articulated, thanks to the technical ability and speed of the Lokahi.
The timbre of brass instruments can get a little thin and bright, but I’d say it’s a part of the Lokahi’s sound signature and a matter of preference, give and take if you will. I would have appreciated a more bodied and broader sound with more lower mids. This would certainly beef up the overall weight of the sound, for a mellower response (my personal preference). Nevertheless, the mids were a joy to listen to, especially on instrumental music. On Boston Symphony Orchestra’s performance of The Nutcracker Suite, the melodies of the upper woodwinds and violins never failed to bring a smile to my face.
Treble (Score: 8.5/10)
The treble on the Audio Lokahi is no slouch. It fully captures the air and shimmer of instruments like cymbals with excellent upper treble extension. To top it all, it is well controlled with a realistic timbre, deftly avoiding any sibilance. It is quite a wonder that the Lokahi is able to achieve such a well-balanced sound while keeping tonality in check.
The soundstage is below average, with the sound a little too one dimensional for my tastes. The best part of the Audio Lokahi would be the overall tuning. I liked how the balance between the bass and the upper mids was done and provides a nice breath of fresh air from the many warm-sounding earphones I have in my collection. The tuning is versatile and works for many genres.
The only all-BA set I currently have in my possession is the Sony IER-M7. Overall, it would be unfair to pit these 2 IEMs against each other, but as IEMs in my collection, they complement each other like 2 sides of a coin. The M7 has a more laid-back and tame response coupled with a wide soundstage. On the other hand, the Lokahi has a more engaging yet intimate presentation. The Sony is a much more relaxing listen and works much better on grander tracks like orchestral symphonies with every detail presented cleanly in a controlled manner. On the other hand, the Lokahi has a more forward presentation that works better with vocals, synths and a variety of pop songs. They both play to their strengths and suit the different moods I have for listening.
Having ordered the Audio Lokahi through on a whim, I had no idea what to expect, and truth be told, I more or less forgot I had ordered it after the months of waiting. Receiving it and feeling its polished build quality in my hands was already a very pleasant surprise. Imagine my delight when I found out they were such a pleasure to listen to. For the price I paid, the Lokahi is a no brainer and simply nothing short of stellar. It was a timely reminder of why I enjoy this hobby so much and I’m already keeping my eyes peeled for another gem like this out there.
Overall Grade: A-
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