Let me provide a brief list of highlights
• Drivers: For starters, the PFE 232 is—unlike the PFE 121/122—based on dual balanced armature drivers. This alone is a huge upgrade.
• Better, and now detachable, signal cables: The PFE 232 appears to come with even higher quality signal cables than the PFE 121/122, and the cables are detachable and user replaceable. Though it might seem a small point, it’s not; better cables = better sound.
• Headset or earphone only—you make the call: Unlike the PFE 121/122, the PFE 232 can be run sans microphone module with purist-oriented straightline signal cables, or you can leave the standard mic-equipped headset cable installed. The point is that the PFE 232 lets you establish your own priorities.
• All the acoustic filters at your fingertips: Unlike the PFE 121/122, the PFE 232 comes with a full set of all the types of acoustic filters that Phonak offers, meaning you can experiment to your heart’s content until you find the just-right voicing curve that works for you.
I’ve only had very brief listening time with the PFE 232, but at this stage I like what I hear. I configured the PFE 232 with my preferred filter choice (the Phonak Grey Filters) and ear tip choice (the Phonak silicone ear tips, size L), and gave the ‘phones a brief sonic “shakedown cruise.” What I discovered, in very simple terms, is that the PFE 232 sounded very much like the PFE 121/122 (not a bad thing at all, in my book), but with the imaginary sonic “Refinement” and “Resolution” control knobs both dialed up to “12.” And that’s what makes this earphone so cool. It builds upon the established strengths of the PFE 121/122, but then pushes that core sound to a fundamentally higher level. The changes aren’t radical, nor would you want them to be (when something ain’t broke in the first place, you want to be very, very careful about how you make improvements), but they are immediately audible and musically rewarding.
Stay tuned for an upcoming full-length review in Playback. Until then, happy listening.