InEar ProPhile 8 Review

with cable

Few earphones have proven as enticing to me as the InEar ProPhile 8, and I’ve  been waiting for ages to get my hands on one of these.  The biggest feature?  Tuning switches that allow you to adjust bass and treble on each earphone, leading to four different sound profiles.  Now that I’ve finally gotten a review sample, I can dive into a full review.   But how good does this $1499 earphone sound?  And with those four different sound profiles, could this be the last earphone you’ll ever need?

InEar ProPhile 8 Review

sculpted shell

The InEar ProPhile 8 comes with 7 pairs of eatips, a 1/4” stereo adapter, cleaning cloths, and a carrying case.

Featuring a matte black shell, the ProPhile 8 feels impressively understated.  When stacked up against gold faceplates or abalone inlays, it can appear as a cheaper alternative.

But the sculpted housing still features an almost-perfect fit, thanks to the contact points that press slightly against the cavity of your ear.   As a result, even without the cable, the ProPhile 8 housing can stay put in your ear.  Add to this the over-the-ear cable and you’ve got an earphone that just won’t fall out.

As you might expect, isolation comes across as pretty impressive, thanks to that fit.  I can barely hear my fingertips slamming the keyboard as I write this review.  And the Prophile 8 conveniently blocks out my coworkers arguing about the best dog breed (it’s the Basset Hound, dammit).  Belaboring this point, using the earphone with the included foam tips blocks out almost all surrounding noise, and if you’re looking for the world’s most isolating higher-end IEM, this may be the one.

On the inside of each earpiece, two switches allow users to change the tuning of the earphones.  The upper switch controls a +2 dB treble boost, while the lower switch offers a +3 dB of bass.  Perhaps the biggest feature in the ProPhile 8, this technology gets its own dedicated section below.

Inside each housing, 8 drivers offer 4-way crossover.

The included removable cable measures a standard 4 ft and joins to the earphones via a recessed two-pin connection.

For most of my listening sessions, I used the ProPhile 8 (Standard/Large size) in the most neutral-sounding configuration.  I cover the different switch settings and corresponding sound profiles at the end of this review.  Listening sessions were done using a modded iPod and pocket amp, as well as an iPhone 8.  I highly recommend using these ultra-sensitive ‘phones with either a smartphone or a DAP, and amplification needs are very, very minimal.

with ipod

InEar ProPhile 8 Review – Sound Quality

Low End

Housing some strong detail, the low end on the ProPhile 8 is no slouch.  Bass and drums feel thick enough, while beats drop emphatically.  So, if there’s bass in the track, you’re going to hear it.  However, there’s also some excellent control here, preventing the lows from every bleeding or devolving into a mess.  While pretty much on par for the sound one would expect from a monitor, it may sound a bit dry for some folks.

model number

Midrange

Only slightly forward, the mids deliver a fairly impressive listening experience.  Instrumentation and vocals seem abreast of one another, leading to the impression of a very neutral sound.  As such, it’s a great sound for genres like classical and jazz.  Yet, those stellar vocals make this earphone work just as well with other genres like rock, pop, and hip hop.

switches

High End

Slightly smooth (even at its most neutral), the high end on the ProPhile 8 can feel like it’s  lacking something extra at times.  However, extended listening and cycling through a wide range of listening material reveals a precise but tempered treble.  While never sparkling with detail on any track, the sound always remains clean, comfortable, and revealing.

inside view

Soundstage

The sense of soundstage here only feels slightly narrow or congested.  Truthfully, there’s actually a good sense of depth here, allowing instruments and vocals to float atop one another.  This separation does a lot for the ProPhile 8’s  sense of clarity.  And, on simpler tracks or compositions, this earphone still sounds fairly spacious.  Only on the most intricate recordings does this soundstage sound narrow or overlapping.

Switches and Sound Profiles

neutral configuration

Neutral (both switches “off”)

I spent most of my listening sessions with this configuration.   To be honest, I usually gravitate toward the most flat or un-emphasized sound I can get.  And while the sound under this configuration still feels like the most accurate, I still like the Bass Boost setting for general music enjoyment.

treble and bass configuration

Bass and Treble (both switches “on”)

This configuration proved more fun than I was expecting, and not too crazy compared to having both switches off.  Slightly more v-shaped, there’s  just a little extra emphasis on the low end here – a bit more thump or slam.  The high end benefits, too, without waxing too sharp or uncomfortable.

bass boost configuration

Bass Boost

With a greater emphasis on the bass and some rolled-off highs, this configuration provides a nice alternative to the v-shaped Bass and Treble configuration, or even the Neutral configuration.  Fans of a warmer sound will love this configuration, with the relaxed sound working well with most genres, but still retaining a wealth of detail.

treble boost configuration

Treble Boost

This configuration lends just the slightest emphasis to high frequencies.  Pop and some rock tracks sound worlds better with this configuration.  However, I still found it just a bit fatiguing for long-term use.

InEar ProPhile 8 Review – Conclusion

Pros and Cons

Pros:   With its malleable sound and attention to detail, the ProPhile 8 feels like a force to be reckoned with.  The ironclad comfort and low-key appearance only add to the impression of a classy earphone.

Cons:  Soundstage could be a little wider and less narrow.   The lack of flashy faceplates or other outlandish styling may discourage some audiophile dandies.

with cable

Final Analysis

The InEar ProPhile 8 offers an impressive sound, and one that can morph to suit a wide range of tastes.  Less of 4-in-1 solution, the ProPhile 8 feels like an earphone with a relatively fluid sound that can be molded to suit the users’ tastes.  At $1499, the ProPhile 8 offers a solid value.  Anyone who can accept the slightly narrow soundstage will feel rewarded by the attention to detail and tractable sound profiles.  Our take?  A great price for a truly unique earphone.

Snatch the InEar ProPhile 8 for the best price here:

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