Massdrop x MEE Planamic Mini-review

I’ve always respected Massdrop for the strides that they have made for the audiophile world. Bringing the vintage into the mainstream, making the expensive cheap, sprinkled in with their own philosophies of what they believe to be the best sound… and now, an interesting new piece of tech: the “Planamic”, which is essentially a planar driver magnetically charged on a single plane rather than the typical two. I, not wanting to miss out on the wild and whacky experimentations of the industry, approached them for a review unit.

The Planamic is what I’d personally describe as “dark chifi V”. If that doesn’t make sense, it basically has boosted bass, a bump in the mid-vocals and then an early roll-off in the top end. The signature itself is of course a purely preferential thing, but what mashes my potatoes is what is of course the basis of the entire ranking list itself, the technical ability (and partly timbre/tonality).

Let’s start with the bass. As a primer, the “perfect bass” will ideally be one that has a fast and clean initial hit (also known as “attack”) but also linger slightly afterward (also known as “decay”). The attack of the Planamic’s bass is soft, poofy and way too blunt. It isn’t clean and slightly slow so the bass notes tend to overlap rather easily, creating a muddy effect. The decay is also too long, contributing to how congested the experience is as a whole.

Into the midrange, everything just sounds muffled. The tonality is all over the place, at times there’s too much overtone while in others there’s a void in the harmonics. It is somewhat acceptable for tenor/alto instruments as well as male vocals but falls apart in the soprano/female vocal ranges. The details get smoothed over and feels like the music is operating in a fog constantly. Which brings me to my next point…

The treble is arguably the worst aspect of the Planamic. There is such a huge contrast between the midrange and the treble that there is no snap or proper texture to any of the higher percussion instruments. Now I understand that dark, “no treble” signatures are also a preference thing so anyone can definitely enjoy the Planamic as something to match their own tastes. However, I myself have heard much better dark IEMs and there still needs definition and resolution in the treble, even if it is tuned to be more subdued.

The imaging… it’s average. It’s not bad but I can’t find anything really good about it, much less outstanding. It’s not going to break any laws of physics but hey, most IEMs are average anyways.

Conclusion

One of the harder things about asking for review units is when the unit in question is so average that I struggle to find the words to pad out the description. This “planamic” technology certainly is interesting and I’ll always be in support of any new concepts that pop up within the porta-fi world. Unfortunately though, the pioneers are usually never the greatest and the Planamic is no exception; it’s certainly not a bad IEM but it performs at the same level as what I’d expect a mainstream earphone would. However, I do hope that MEE and Massdrop continue to experiment around and come up with new and novel ideas. Certainly exciting times in the IEM world still.

Grade:

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