BLOG #29. StereoPravda Introduces a New Model - SPearphone SB-5 – At CanJam-London-2017 (July 15-16)

It goes without saying that due to the peculiar form factor of our SB-7 ear monitors we’ve been constantly reminded about the limitations of their market appeal.

All this time we’ve been trying to cut the number of drivers in our designs and to change an earphone configuration, but it happened to be not an easy task.

The electrical and acoustical interaction between the drivers loaded to their respective sound tubes is a very complicated matter, which is far from being a linear function.
And by “linear function” I don’t mean JUST the linearity of the final ear monitor’s price/performance ratio.
There are two ways to deal with a problem: one is to graduate from a University, spend a few years on an appropriate PhD, then come up with a set of finely tuned skills, and only after that to start to look at the solution in the hope that one day it’ll come.

The other way is to build a prototype after prototype and after serious number of prototypes had been built to develop a sense of intuition to feel when you’re on the right path, that can be wisely used to seek out the ultimate solution.
…And to pray to God that one day He’d bless you with the one.

  As with pregnancy or food digestion, you can’t really speed the process up.

That’s why the SB-5 development stage took so long, even longer than it took us to come up with the SB-7s (actually, without the experience we gained developing the flagship model, we wouldn’t be able to successfully complete the SB-5 project).

As we’ve had enough resilience and stamina to strike the latter path for the SB-7s’ project, we decided to develop the SB-5s with the same approach.

We are quick to admit such “an intuitive” development phase, especially, as we don’t, really, see some sonic results of the alternative technique which would impress us so much that we would stop at our tracks.

So, only He (aka “The Luck”) knows which path to the solution is the shortest one...

Probably, all these years while we’ve been looking for a smaller footprint SPearphone we were prudent enough so that, eventually, just a few weeks ago we were blessed with a final production sample of the SPearphone SB-5s.

It’s worth mentioning that to complete the latter project successfully we were definitely helped by a clear cut sonic vision (pun is intended) of what we’re looking for in a “trickled down” version of the SB-7s.
First, we were not ready to sacrifice the level of SB-7s’ sound quality just for the expanded market appeal of a new “smaller footprint” product.
And, second, what we wanted to achieve with this new one was something different: to demonstrate a different aspect of Balanced Armature-drivers’ sonic capabilities.

To elaborate: there are several aspects of BA-drivers, which are utilized according to the intended specialization.
For instance, their miniscule size and high sensitivity allow using them in various hearing aids, in which the speech intelligibility is the only aspect considered.
Then, as another example, there are custom ear mold and universal tip In-The-Ear monitors which, as their main aspect, can utilize the same small size and high sensitivity properties of the drivers to build some “100%-universal” products, when each of those can be catered to unlimited number of customers.

  What we strongly believe is that the uniqueness of BA-technology, based on literal inversion of human hearing anatomy and physiology with a striking similarities in shapes, sizes, and processes with the human hearing apparatus, provides the necessary conditions for its another special musical aspects, that is its unique capability of achieving more than just “a decent” sound quality.
We, actually, strongly believe that, despite all its limitations, the BA-technology, more than any other portable audio transducer technology, is capable of directly passing the very meaning of music.

  The development of the SB-7s proved this with all the certainty and showed us the way to slant the job of voicing the SB-5s towards augmenting this aspect of the BA-technology.

With this exact disposition, we approached the development of the SB-5s vs the SB-7s.

Apparently, in terms of physical dimensions, with the SB-7s we reached a saturation point in the number of drivers used, and in the diameters of the accompanying sound tubes.
The means we’ve had in our disposal to voice a new product were more limited than with the SB-7s’, as, obviously, we had to sacrifice the number of the drivers in the earphone to achieve a smaller physical profile.

The “silver bullet” driver complement for the SB-7s happened to be sent to us from Above, and as any attempt to change it for a better one failed miserably, we decided to stick with it for the SB-5s.

To make the change we obviously had to remove a couple of drivers from the Heaven’s Gift…
…But as we’ve got more free space inside the ear monitor to work with – due to the drivers’ removal -  we’ve got an additional opportunity to optimize the sizes and shapes of (the smaller number of ) the inner sound tubes.

There is no denial that the SB-5s’ voicing process yielded a sound which is a little “darker”, but still is very similar to the sound of the SB-7s’.

  At the same time, you can definitely hear some different aspects of the BA-drivers’ sound signatures demonstrated in each of the models.
If the SB-7s ( a “no-holds-barred” device, which you need to pass a medical test on the size and the shape of your ear canal to use it successfully) and our “100%-universal fit” SB-3s (having a set of serious music limitations due to their intended widest marketplace appeal) are at the opposite poles of usability, then the SB-5s are developed as a separate entity.

The latter is definitely not a product riddled with its own set of compromises carefully woven around its core strengths that is sandwiched between the other two.

I must admit that for the vast majority of the music I am interested to at the moment I’d listen to via the SB-5s then via the SB-7s, because the “5s”, delivering the sound with more expanded sonic “gray scale”, provide me with many more relevant clues on the meaning of reproduced musical thoughts.

I would compare the SB-7s’ sound to a powerful razor sharp weapon, while the SB-5s sound more like a razor sharp origami knife.
Both are very sharp “knives”, but their intentioned utility is different.

By a “powerful weapon”, I mean a (music-wise and loudness-wise) universal tool, which can be successfully used in a multitude of extreme situations (listening to an extremely loud Metallica track included), while “an origami knife” is a (music-wise) specialized artistic instrument, which is indispensable for a certain specialized skill (like digging to a quiet Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s amazing music tapestry).

So from such a perspective of two different aspects of BA-technology, even compared to SB-7s, which are not slouch in that area, the main aspect of BA-technology which manifests itself in the sound of SB-5 is a provision of a specialized tool for those who are first and foremost are interested in refining such skills of artistic music listening.

And on top of it, compared to its Big Brother, the SB-5’s smaller profile is another blessing from (the BA-technology and) The Above to the many of those who previously were not able to comfortably use our flagship model.

StereoPravda SPearphone SB-5’s specs:
- five Balanced Armature drivers per channel, all drivers share the same axis
- Chris Sommovigo’s custom Pravda32 connecting cable
- impedance: 15 Ohms
- total cable length: (left ear to the mini-jack connector): 1.1 meter
- MSRP: $ 2 000

21.06.2017 // Author:  (Bigmisha) // Number of views:  190

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