What do quieter backgrounds buy you? Well, for starters they buy you freedom from the onslaught of unwanted sound that surrounds all of us, more or less all of the time, and especially when we’re trying to listen in noisy, “hostile” environments. Second, they buy you the ability to enjoy satisfying sound without having to crank volume levels to the moon. Third, and for some reason this is a benefit that many listeners do not anticipate, they buy you the ability to well and truly hear what your earphone drivers are actually doing, and without the obfuscation of noise getting in the way.
I can’t speak for you, but I often tend to assume that sonic resolution, detail, clarity, transient speed and so on are properties of drive units, but the Sensaphonics 2MAX experience has forced me to re-think that assumption. As many über high-end loudspeaker makers (e.g., Magico, Wilson Audio, YG Acoustics) would tell you, a driver is only as good as the physical platform in which it is mounted. In Sensaphonics’ case, the earpiece platform resists external vibrations extremely well, so that you can finally hear clearly what the drive units are doing. As a result, I find that the Sensaphonics 2MAX monitors are defined by their vivid and intensely focused, intimate sound.
I’ll save further comments on the tonal balance and other sonic characteristics of the Sensaphonics 2MAX until I prepare my full-length review for Playback, but until then let me offer one useful tip for music-minded, audiophile listeners. If you study the Sensaphonics 2MAX, which is a two-way, two-driver design, you'll find that it is neither the most complex nor the most expensive monitor that Sensaphonics offers. Be this as it may, Dr. Michael Santucci, who heads up the firm, told me that the 2MAX is the most neutrally, accurately balanced model his company offers. If you’re seeking an in-ear headphone primarily for listening to recorded music (as opposed to monitoring live, onstage musical performances), I’d therefore suggest looking into the 2MAX (or its sibling model, the 2X-S) first.
Until next time, happy listening.