Before starting this review, I would like to share technical aspects and package details.
Also, I would like to thanks to Penon Audio for this great opportunity. Here is the link of the Sphere: https://penon-official.com/product/sphere-iem/
Driver: Balanced Armature
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20000Hz
Passive noise reduction: 26dB
Earphone interface: 2Pin 0.78mm
Cable Length: 1.2M
6 pairs of silicone eartips
Astell & Kern AK120
Emotiva Big Ego
Package, Design & Isolation;
Penon Sphere shares the same famous red and blue colored box as the other Penon products and the unboxing experience is also similar. There is a rounded wooden carry case, velvet pouch, cleaning tool and silicon tips inside the package. Package contents are not the best but it is fairly enough for not to complain about it. Actually, that wooden case is way better than the most companies’ cheap nylon case.
Sphere’s design looks simple but it is elegant with its black shells and blue sparkle Penon-Sphere name on the faceplate. There is no other color option but I assume many people like it a lot. Right faceplate has Penon logo on top and left has Sphere name. Sphere uses 2pin 0.78mm industry standard socket, so it is suitable to use with after market cables. Shell design is simply geourgeus. Its small and custom like design provides fantastic fit and you can use without any pain for long long hours.
The stock cable looks simple and it is similar with other brands’ stock cable. Cable material is SPC I believe but not sure for that. It is 4 braided which I am guessing it has 30awg size and its material is pretty soft and ergonomic. It has metal L-shaped 3.5mm jack and metal y splitter. There is not much to say about it. It is good and simple but Sphere deserves a better cable I believe.
With the proper tips, Sphere provides great isolation, and it blocks all the noise that comes from outside. I’ve used it outside many times and Sphere did a fantastic job to isolate outside noise. Stock tips are does great job, but I always find mandarin tips are better for my ears. Ergonomic design and size of the shell is fantastic.
Sphere has a slightly warm and balanced sound character. The musical and natural sound structure makes it very pleasant to listen. I’ve experienced many single ba driver earphones, and they were lack in bass quantity, but Sphere has surprisingly strong and deep bass. It’s a pleasure to see that bass doesn’t lose its control to disturb other frequencies. The mid frequencies are slightly laid back but quite balanced and the detail level is pretty high. The vocals are surprisingly clean and slightly forward. Treble is another frequency that I found successful in Sphere. Both extension and level of detail are impressive for a single ba driver. I don’t know what driver model and brand that they used, but Penon seems that they push all the limits of the armature driver. In the period of popularity of hybrid and multi-drivers iems, Penon reminds that the single-driver earphones are also perform very well. The perception of the soundstage is quite spacious. Although it is not possible to talk about such a wide and deep stage, it offers spacious instrument separation. Overall, Sphere is a very impressive earphone, especially for the price. It might be the best single armature driver earphone I’ve listened to.
The treble is neither too bright nor too laid back. The extension and the level of details are certainly very successful. No sibilance or sharp presentations which it makes easy to listen. As I said, the balanced structure of the sound character is reflected in the treble. The instrument separation is successful and the distinction is sufficient. You can clearly hear every single instrument. There’s no wildly detailed presentation, but it’s certainly impressive. Especially when I remember Sphere has only one driver.
Mid frequencies are slightly laid back and vocals are relatively forward. Due to the softness of the overall presentation, the mid frequencies are velvety smooth and easy to listen. The instrument sounds are natural and are not thicker or thinner than they should be. The distance between the instruments is also very easily distinguishable. Especially vocals have a very clean and smooth presentation. So, I listened to a lot of vocal songs and I really admired Sphere’s vocal presentation.
Bass is another frequency area where Sphere is extremely successful. The bass goes deep enough for many genres. It is not hard to say that I get fulfilling results, even though with EDM music. Of course, it is not strong and powerful as like as dynamic driver, but it certainly has kept your rhythm with your feet. I would also like to point out that the armature driver does not have those dry, dull presentation, it has natural and soft strokes instead.
The soundstage is not very wide, but it certainly does not have a closed presentation. The instruments and vocals are playing in wide area. And the background of Sphere is quite clean and dark.
Sphere vs Final Audio B2:
Final Audio B2 is the new earphone from Final Audio’s line up and it has also one armature driver like Sphere. Both earphones are beautiful in different ways. B2 feels more premium and elegant in hands with its metal body while Sphere has acrylic simple design, but Sphere is also beautiful iem. Both earphones provide good ergonomics but Sphere is much better and comfortable into ears. Sounds; B2 sound is mildy forward, slightly dark and rolled off on both bass and trebles while Sphere is natural, slightly V-shaped and bright in tonality when I compare with B2. Sphere trebles has more sparkle and extended better and also clearer. B2’s trebles are rolled off and it is slightly veiled. Instruments separation is more audible and better with Sphere. Mids are more forward and pronounced with B2 while Sphere has slightly laid back and centered on stage. B2’s lush and smooth sound making vocals more intimate and romantic. Bass is better in terms of control and dynamic on Sphere and also more in quantity. B2’s bass is rolled off and it is not as deep as like Sphere. Soundstage is wider and airier on Sphere while B2 has more intimate due to its forward mid presentation.
Rhapsodio SGD2.98 MK2:
SGD2.98 MK2 is warm and smooth cable which is great match up with bright earphones. Sphere matches good with SGD2.98 MK2 and It mostly improve bass frequencies with harder beats notes. It hits harder and goes deeper. Overall sounds become warmer and bright atmosphere on the treble’s switches to smooth and lush atmosphere. Mids notes becomes little bit bolder and It adds some weight on mid-bass. Soundstage is wider and it has more depth than the stock cable.
Effect Audio Eros:
Ares is one of my favorite cable from Effect Audio and is safe choice for most earphones. Sphere and Ares are matches great; I like the synergy between those two. Bass become tighter and more controlled, quantity is same or maybe slightly better, hard to understand. Mids are clean and clear, vocals have more forward and dramatic presentation. Treble is more tamed but still clear and extend pretty well. Soundstage is noticeably better both wide and depth. Overall, I like Ares and Sphere matches.
Penon Audio Leo Plus:
Leo Plus is silver plated gold-silver-palladium alloy cable from Penon Audio. I haven’t tested with other earphones yet but it matches with Sphere really great. It improves all frequencies top to bottom. Trebles are more pronounced and detailed; it extends better in every way. Also, instruments separation is much better and more distinguishable. Mids are more forward, thicker and it adds some body. Bass goes little bit deeper, but the biggest improvement is much more controlled and tighter with Leo+. It also improves soundstage both depth and width. Overall, Leo+ is great partner for Sphere.
When Penon Audio start to make cables, I wasn’t sure about their sound quality and I had some suspicious about their success, but they did a great job. They’ve released many good cables which I am using with some of my TOTL earphones. After the success of the cable they decided to release their new IEM, and I knew at the moment that I’ve heard it will be good iem. Sphere is very impressive earphone and its retail price is bargain for its sound performance. All the frequencies are alive and dynamism is so good to listen. Gambling with the 1 balanced armature was a little bit risky for the first product, but they did a great job. Sphere is great earphone bottom to top and it deserve some attention at this price range.