Phonak Audeo PFE 232

Phonak PFE 232 ($599)
Swiss hearing aid manufacturer, Phonak, entered the earphone game in 2008 with the single driver Perfect Fit Earphone (PFE). The PFE became a hit with the enthusiast crowd for its balanced and accurate sound as well as its lightweight, ergonomic form factor. The single balanced armature driver was well-tuned and the PFE remains competitive today. Phonak even raised the price in 2010 to slot in a cheaper, more consumer-friendly model, dubbed the "Perfect Bass." It comes as no surprise, then, that although Phonak's new PFE 232 model is a "mere" dual BA, it is aimed square at the top of the universal IEM market with an ambitious $599 price tag.

Design
The original PFE was widely revered for its ergonomic over-the-ear form factor, and the desire to keep the flagship small and ear-friendly may have had something to do with Phonak selecting a dual-driver configuration for the 232. The design is reminiscent of the older Phonak models, with a small chamber and nozzle fitting inside the ear and a smooth "arm" containing the drivers extending upward to route the cables over the wearer's ears. Though the in-ear footprint of the 232 is a bit larger than that of the older PFE models, the earphones are still exceptionally lightweight and the fit is very secure with the included cable guides. Microphonics (cord contact noise) are non-existent in the cable--comparable to high-end Westone models and custom monitors. Isolation, on the other hand, is average for an in-ear in its class--even with the included Comply foamies, the PFE 232 doesn't isolate quite as well as an entry-level in-ear from Shure or Westone.

The PFE 232 is made of plastic, but the assembly and finish are well in line with the price tag. The cables are thinner than those found on the new Shure models, but still sturdy, flexible, and tangle-resistant. Best of all, the cords are detachable, utilizing proprietary connectors at each strain relief. Phonak included both an iPhone cable with an inline mic and 3-button remote and a standard stereo cable with the 232--a practice I sincerely hope to see other manufacturers adopt.

Speaking of accessories, the PFE 232 includes a slew of them--3 sets of single-flange silicone tips, 3 sets of Comply foamies, a cleaning tool, a zippered carrying case, and a pair of silicone over-the-ear cable guides. Plus, as with the original PFE, the 232 includes a set of tuning filters along with a tool to swap between them. The filters are identified by color and, in addition to protecting the earphone nozzles from earwax and debris, alter the acoustic impedance to affect the sound in different ways. The 232 includes 4 grey, 2 black, and 2 green filters. The green filters were first seen on the Phonak Perfect Bass while the grey and black ones are inherited from the original PFE. The filters are reusable and the included tool makes swapping them quick and simple. Replacement filters are available for purchase directly from Phonak. A discussion of the acoustic properties of the filters can be found on the next page.

COMPANY INFO
Phonak Sounds AG
Laubisrütistrasse 28
CH-8712 Stäfa
Switzerland
audeo.pfe@phonak.com
+41 58 928 48 48
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
13mh13's picture

"-at $599, the PFE 232 is at least three times dearer than its predecessor, and those looking for a balanced sound signature are better off with the $169 model anyway."

So ... at that $$, might as well wait for the Senn IE800, putatively being released in few  mos. 

Okay, can I go back to defecating, now?

(picture removed. Too big. Keep it under 600 wide. Tyll)

.....aahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tyll, add that to your rose garden. Who says shit HAS to stink?

|joker|, please don't forget  to add kitty-litter to your shopping list.

John Grandberg's picture

Because I have no idea what is being said. 

13mh13's picture

Here you go ...

 MEOW ... translate : "What a crappy day THIS was ELEVEN years ago!" 

ultrabike's picture

Dunno about the IE800... The linky you provided says it's £599 ~ $960... And not sure how it will sound either as lately $$$ IEMs don't always give you quality sound for the money.

Haven't heard the PFE 232, but one problem I had with my PFE112 (aka PFE 121 in black and minus the controls) was that it could come across bright with certain songs, which may still be a problem with the 232. It may be the peak from 7kHz - 10kHz shown in the compensated FR curves:

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AudeoPFE232.pdf

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AudeoPFE121GrayFilter.pdf

On the plus side, from the FR plots, the bass is also more pronounced and deep on the 232 than in the 112 which is a good thing ... I think... I always felt the 112 where somewhat bass lean (though undistorted).

From the article I get it is a good cute tip (i.e. not necessarily cat dung), but may be not on par to the quality for your money ratio that you get from a PFE1xx... I guess.

ljokerl's picture

The PFE 232 retains most of the treble intensity of the 112/121. Personally I've always preferred Etymotic's BAs when it comes to treble. The bass quantity of the PFE 232 is increased significantly over the 1** PFEs.

wilzc's picture

So you've also had a taste of the VSonic GR07???!!

These are my all time fav recommendations to others!!!

What do you think of them?!?!?

ljokerl's picture

but I did review the GR07 in my long head-fi thread: multi-iem-review. I'll see if we can get them measured in the near future.

wilzc's picture

Was replying to Tyll

Your review of the GR07 was great.

But I think Tyll's aural preferences/tastes are more  aligned with mine.

One has to take to account the slight 'reviewers bias' don't we?  spite of how neutral one tries to be :P

 

 

Alondite's picture

The GR07 (preferably the original Mk. I model) is the headphone I want to see measured more than any other in the world. I have an idea of what I think it would look like on paper, but I really want to know if it measures as good as I think it sounds.

I do agree that it sounds wonderful, and is not only my go-to IEM, but generally my go-to headphone period. 

13mh13's picture

WTF ever happened to the much-touted Cardas IEM project, anyway?

ultrabike's picture

You need to be more "Irrational but Efficacious" dude...

That said, the latest scoop on Cardas stuff might be found here: http://www.head-fi.org/cardas

And ah... errr... "your are welcome to your uninformed opinion" cheeky (http://www.head-fi.org/t/611640/lots-of-science-y-type-stuff-on-the-card...).

13mh13's picture

CONFUSED  ... In none of your provided links are there immediate answers to my query. Why post such unresearched links ... uh ... "dude" ... "cheeky"?

ultrabike's picture

LOL!!! I'm being sarcastic. I'm not a Cardas fan...

As far as your query, I can narrow it down a bit... This is the last official post about them AFAIK: 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/613539/will-cardas-iems-be-released-this-month#post_8557901

Lawk's picture

I would like more video reviews :( Last one must have been the Noontec....

X