CanJam at RMAF2016: Astell & Kern Michelle and AK T8iE Mk II IEMs

The latest of many collaborative efforts between Astell & Kern and headphone makers are the Jerry Harvey Audio Michelle and the Beyerdynamic AK T8iE Mk II. Having just been at the Jerry Harvey booth I gave the new Michelle ($499) a good listen. This three driver BA universal fit IEM sounded very much to me like the new custom fit JH3X Pro ($599)—a very straight-down-the-middle, neutral sound. Pricing seems to align well, this felt like a solid performer at a reasonable price to me.


Astell & Kern collaborative effort IEMs: the Jerry Harvey Audio Michelle and Beyerdynamic AK T8iE Km II.

Also recently introduced is the AK T8iE Mk II ($999) IEM by Beyerdynamic. This compact IEM features an 8mm dynamic driver, silver-plated fiber cables with coaxial construction, and an improved voice coil design. Though the fit seemed a bit insecure (I should have tried the foam tips), once in place I found the sound well balanced and nuanced. I have to say that I often find the dynamic driver IEMs with diaphragms between 5-8mm tend to sound very good to my ears. George Cardas believe that matching the diaphragm size to that of the eardrum has strong benefits. A lot of hearsay there, but I tend to think it has some merit.

I'll let Jimmy Moon tell you about it in the video.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Stefraki's picture

Have to say I agree with Tyll about Dynamics being the 'end game' for IEMs, and indeed headphones. There is something alluring about exotic driver types, but once you hypothesise a dynamic, planar magnetic, electrostatic and balanced armature that all sounded ultimately identical—there would really be no need to consider anything but the dynamic.

The planar is heavy and often comparatively inefficient, the stat needs a special amp, the balanced armature generally needs multiple drivers leading to the huge shelled beasts that the IEM world is now riddled with (just look at the photo of A&Ks two new models in this article).

Specialist enthusiasts have a tendency to want something special that non-specialists don't have—bulky rubber banded rigs of exotic players and DAC amps over a simple all-in-one device, exotic driver types and so on, but in the end it will all come back to simple dynamic drivers that do the job without odd compromises.