Review: Symphonium Audio Aurora (2 BA Wonder)

Introduction

If you haven’t heard of Symphonium Audio, you can be forgiven. Symphonium Audio is relatively new to the audiophile market. The company was conceptualized in early 2015, when their founding members were unhappy with the current offerings and state of the personal audio market. 

That was because many earphones on the market were made to be low-cost, easy to replace and were not designed to last long. Earphones that did sound good came with an even higher price point that made it inaccessible to most consumers.

Thus in 2017, they set out to create an earphone capable of providing great sound quality at an affordable price. So, after many months of R&D, they created two IEMs, Aurora and Mirage. These IEMs have 2 BA (Balanced armature) and 1 BA drivers respectively. I have bought both Aurora and Mirage IEMs for review.

In this review, I will be focusing only on the Symphonium Audio Aurora.

I’ve had the Aurora for about 3 weeks now and have listened to them for a total time of at least 60 hours and have burned them continuously for 50 hours. I’ve used them mostly daily during this time period to listen to all genres of songs (rock, EDM, pop, movie soundtracks, Western classics, etc.).

Don’t want to read the full review? Here’s your TL;DR :

The Symphonium Audio Aurora provides a really good price to performance ratio and I would highly recommend it to people who would like an overall energetic and forward presentation to their music.

But wait! Before you dive into the review, I have a quick disclaimer for you: I have received the Aurora IEMs from Symphonium Audio directly for reviewing purposes. I have paid for the IEMs (although I did get a discount) but this doesn’t mean that I have been incentivised or pressurized by Symphonium Audio to write this review for them. All the words used in this review are my own and this review is written in the most unbiased way that I could have done.

You can buy the Aurora HERE

Now, on to the unboxing of this IEMs.

Unboxing the Symphonium Audio Aurora

Priced at $249, these IEMs have exceeded the budget category of IEMs and landed its feet into the mid-fi category but the packaging of these IEMs far surpasses even more expensive IEMs than themselves. The Aurora’s packaging is exactly the same to that of the Mirage so I won’t be changing the description of the unboxing between them. The IEMs come in a large book-like case which flips out from the side, exposing 2 cases inside it (which is a first at its price range).

The box of the Symphonium Audio Aurora

One of the cases is cylindrical hard-shell case and the other one is a rectangular hard-shell case. Upon opening the cylindrical case, we will be greeted by the IEMs themselves with the wire attached to it and wrapped around the cable is a leather cable manager which is a nice touch, although the manager is a bit small to be honest.

Reveal of cases after opening the box

The other case contains a satin pouch inside which resides 3 pairs of silicon tips, 2 pairs of ComplyTM T-500 Isolation foam eartips and a cleaning tool for the IEMs. Also, something which I generally don’t talk about in a review, the rectangular case is really good with its compartment covered with velvet so that your IEMs stay scratch-proof and well protected.

So, to summarize, when you receive the Symphonium Audio Aurora you’ll get:

  • The IEMs themselves.
  • 5 pairs of ear tips (3 pairs of large-bore silicon tips and 2 pairs of ComplyTM T-500 Isolation foam tips)
  • 1 0.78mm single-ended cable
  • 2 Hard carrying case
  • Satin pouch
  • Cleaning tool
All the accessories that comes with the Aurora

So as far as accessories goes, I doubt that you would need to buy anything extra for the Aurora as these IEMs comes with a ton of them. Now let’s move on to the design and build quality of the IEMs.

Note: The design and build quality of the Mirage and the Aurora IEMs is exactly the same. Due to that, even the ergonomics and the fit of the IEMs remain unchanged. Basically, the only differentiating factor between them is the sound that they produce. Hence, I decided to keep the same content for both of them until noise isolation.

Design and Build Quality

The overall build quality of these IEMs is great if not excellent. The shell of the IEM is made of acrylic with only one sound port. There is a damper just outside the front of the nozzle so be careful when you are cleaning the nozzle of the IEMs as you might damage it. The IEMs are very light and feels nice in the ears. But there is something which I want to shed light onto here. There is a visible rough line where the two parts of the shells are joined. Although this does not affect the overall functionality of the IEMs, it takes away from the overall look from the IEMs. But other than these small quibbles, these IEMs scores very well in my books as far as build quality is concerned.

The Symphonium Audio Aurora themselves

Now coming to the cable, Symphonium Audio has used a 4-core 2-pin connector OFC cable. This cable looks and feels good in the hand and generally doesn’t get tangled in itself. Plus, the ear guides on this cable is perfect. It is neither too stiff, nor too flexible. So, it does a great job in keeping the cable behind your ears (as it is an over-the-ear worn pair of IEMs).

The cable used in the Symphonium Audio Aurora

So, overall the cable is perfectly fine and for the price, the overall build quality of both the IEMs and the cables is really good.

Ergonomics and Fit

Now this a place where your mileage may vary a lot. The Aurora like most other IEMs at this price uses an over-the-ear fit. My ear canals are small so I used the small tips included in the box. Now, the fit of the Aurora on my ears is simply phenomenal. They have a really deep insertion in my ear canal. The cable also really helps with the overall fit of the IEMs. I have the tendency to listen to my IEMs when I go to sleep and with normal cables, whenever I lie down, the cable often moves out of my ear and dangles beside it. But with the implementation of the ear guides with the cable, the cable stays behind my ears no matter what.

The fit and isolation is simply phenomenal in these IEMs.

As far as ergonomics go, since they insert quite a bit deep inside the ear canal, it might feel a bit uncomfortable for a minute, but after that it feels really comfortable and light on the ears. I have worn them continuously for 4 hours without feeling the need to remove them from my ears. Sometimes I have literally forgotten that they were in my ears. So, ergonomics is also great in these IEMs and there is honestly nothing to complain about in here.

The fit of the IEMs in my ear is simply astounding

Noise Isolation

Now coming to noise isolation, since the fit and insertion was extremely good on these IEMs (at least for me), basically most of the ambient noise was cut out by at least 20dB. Only the horns of the vehicles and the rumbling of my bus was slightly audible (I usually test noise isolation inside public transportation as it gives a very nice idea of what to expect). So, although it won’t be able to cancel out high frequency and/or loud noises like the metro or an airplane completely, even at low volumes, you can completely block out all kinds of noises. To be honest, these IEM’s isolation far surpasses any other IEMs that I have tried. But enough about this, let’s start with the main factor which is the make-or-break property of any audio gear, i.e., its sound which is in fact, the only differentiating factor between the two IEMs that Symphonium Audio made.

Sound Quality

Now, on to the most subjective part of the review: sound quality. Also, I won’t be posting any graphs in this review (or any review for that matter), as I don’t believe in graphs as much as I believe in my ears!

This time, I’ll be listening to the earbuds via 3 sources:

  1. PC -> Fiio Q1 (Mark-1) -> Aurora
  2. Asus Zenfone 5Z -> Fiio Q1 (Mk.1) -> Aurora
  3. Hiby R3 -> Aurora

I will also list the soundtracks that I’ve used for each section of my sound test. (Note: All my tracks are either 44 kHz / 24-bits – 192 kHz / 24-bit FLAC or DSD64/DSD128).

Bass

These IEMs sports dual BA (balanced armature) driver in a dual passive crossover to maintain its coherency and just like the Mirage, its bass has a surprising amount of impact, depth and texture for a dual BA pair of IEMs while retaining its fast pace and energy. It’s much more controlled and tighter in here. The sub bass has an even bigger bodied and textured than the Mirage but it’s not overly pronounced and it keeps quite a bit of detail in it. The bass is really well detailed in these IEMs without tending to sound overly boomy like the Mirage.

The bass in these IEMs is simply much faster and cleaner than the Mirage’s bass.

There is no frequency mixing between the lows and mids and it sounds really clean and detailed. Bass guitars are well textured and sound a bit thinner (which is a good thing to be honest as it gives a bit more detail to the guitar) than the Mirage on these IEMs. The mid bass is also much tighter and faster in the Aurora all the while retaining the impact that I came to love on the Mirage.

So overall, for a pair of IEMs targeted for mainstream consumers and audiophiles on a budget at this price, I would say that the bass response is simply excellent for a dual BA pair of IEMs and it far surpasses the bass of the Mirage.

Tracks used:

  • Axel Thesleff – “Reincarnation”
  • Martin Garrix – “Animals”
  • Martin Garrix, Tiesto – “The Only Way is Up”
  • Alessia Cara – “Here”
  • Diplo – “Revolution”
  • Zara Larsson – So Good (album)
  • Jordan Comolli – “Alone”
  • Marshmello – “Alone”
  • Axel Thesleff – “Done”
  • J Balvin, Willy William – “Mi Gente”
  • Logic – Indica Badu (ft. Wiz Khalifa)

Mids

The mids here is forward in nature just like the Mirage. But unlike the Mirage, the vocals sound much more natural and textured in here. Male vocals have a slight warmth in them and is thinner than that of the Mirage’s and female vocals sound much more energetic, detailed and forward here without sounding in the least bit tinny and sibilant. There is a lot of detail in these IEMs for its price and I was able to detect a lot of small micro details with these IEMs which I was not able to detect in the Mirage. There isn’t a hint of sibilance even in the most sibilant which is a great thing as well and the separation between the vocals and the other instruments is also excellent.

These IEMs produces the vocals in a much more energetic and forward manner.

Drums also sounded much clearer and more detailed in these IEMs. In tracks like “Back in Black” or “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC, the drums sounded slightly thinner, full bodied and also had a good amount of impact without losing as much detail as the Mirage. Also, the separation between them and the vocals was also better than the Mirage without any mixture of the different frequencies even in not so well-recorded tracks like “Paradise City” by Guns n’ Roses. In the song “The Reason” by Hoobastank, Doug Robb’s voice (the lead singer of Hoobastank) sounded wide and the drums had a nice impact, detail and energy to them.

So, for its price, Aurora really did a nice job in the mids department as well. Now, onto the treble

Tracks used:

  • Adele – 25 (album)
  • Charlie Puth – Nine Track Mind (album)
  • Ed Sheeran – X / Divide (album)
  • Amber Rubarth – Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
  • AC/DC – Razor’s Edge
  • John Newman – “Love Me Again”
  • Elvis Presley – “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”
  • Sigrid – “Everybody Knows”
  • Hoobastank – The Reason

Treble

I am really happy to say that the treble here in the Aurora is miles better than the Mirage. Let’s start with those cymbals and hi-hats. They sound much more crisp, energetic and did not roll off at all like the Mirage did. The Aurora also had quite a bit of detail in them. Especially its rendition of guitar is really good. They sound clear, well textured, detailed and natural unlike the Mirage which tends to thicken the notes of the guitar and has excellent separation as well from the other instruments in any given soundtrack. In tracks like “Numb” by Linkin Park, even though they are not the best recorded amongst tracks, the Aurora did a nice job separating the electric guitar from the piano that is played at the part “I’ve become so numb…”.

Now coming to pianos, their rendition is much more natural and detailed in the Aurora than in the Mirage. In the track “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin, the piano is handled quite well and has a lot of detail in it. Now, bells sounded controlled and energetic in the Aurora without a hint of boominess in them. Trumpets also sounded clear and natural in here.

So overall, I am really impressed with the treble that the Aurora has offered me considering it is only a 2 BA pair of IEMs.

Tracks used:

  • Led Zeppelin – IV (album)
  • Ed Sheeran – X / Divide (album)
  • Linkin Park – Meteora
  • Amber Rubarth – Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
  • Pink Floyd – Dark of The Moon (album)
  • John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Paco De Lucía – Friday Night In San Francisco (album)
  • Ludovico Einaudi – Islands: Essential Einaudi (album)
  • Axel Thesleff – “Reincarnation”
  • George Gershwin – “Rhapsody in Blue”

Soundstage, Positioning and Separation

(a) Soundstage and Positioning

Now, there are 2 ways to accurately measure a IEMs’ soundstage and positioning. First, is to use well-recorded binaural tracks (see track list below for more info). The second method (which I personally prefer more) is gaming. I have used two games specifically for this purpose. One is the well-known CS:GO and the other is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (the latter is a much more immersive experience).

Now, soundstage. For a pair of IEMs, I would say that they have an above average soundstage. It is just as wide as the Moonbuds Crescent which is a pair of earbuds and comparing a closed-off pair of IEMs to a pair of open earbuds and saying that both of them have very similar soundstage is saying a lot about the soundstage of the IEMs to say the least. I felt that the soundstage here was quite expansive and was spread out in a circular fashion.

Now coming to its positioning, I felt that it is very similar to that of the Mirage. To test it out, I fired up CS:GO and I could easily pinpoint the source of the gunshot. Furthermore, in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, I could feel the voices whispering in my ears. Even in orchestral soundtracks like in Symphony No.5 by Beethoven, the overall layering and positioning of the instruments is quite good for its price. So overall, I was pretty impressed with the soundstage and positioning that the Aurora provides with respect to its price.

(b) Separation

The separation of the instruments is also really good in these IEMs. Again, coming back to orchestral music, the separation between the different instruments in, say “Symphony No. 5 in C minor” by Beethoven, is honestly remarkable for a 2 BA system. You can distinguish all the instruments that are being played in the track. Also, the instrument layering was also much better in the Aurora than in the Mirage. So overall, I was really happy with the separation of instruments it provides.

Tracks used:

  • Amber Rubarth – Sessions from the 17th Ward (album)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Vapor (album)
  • Led Zeppelin – IV (album)
  • John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Paco De Lucía – Friday Night In San Francisco (album)
  • Beethoven – Symphony No.5 (album)

Drivability

You should be able to easily drive them out of a smartphone but to really get the full out of this beast, you should definitely get a nice set of DAP or DAC/Amp. They have an impedance rating of 75Ω and a sensitivity of 109 dB +/- 3dB so you shouldn’t face any difficulty while driving them out of your smartphones even though I wouldn’t recommend doing so as a DAC/Amp can really open up these puppies really well.

Technical Specifications

  • Symphonium Audio
  • Aurora
  • In-Ear Monitors
  • Dual Balanced Armature Drivers (Tuned Sonion Drivers)
  • 75 Ω
  • 109 dB +/- 3dB (1 kHz/1 Vrms)
  • 10–19000Hz
  • 3.5 mm
  • 2-pin (0.78mm)
  • 1m 4 core OFC Cable

Conclusion

In conclusion, in Aurora for the price of $249, you are getting exactly what Symphonium Audio offered with the Mirage: a solid pair of IEMs which looks, feels and sounds really good for its price. It comes with quite a few accessories to get you started and its superb fit in the ears is a cherry on top. The only difference between the Mirage and the Aurora is their sound quality and if I am being honest with you guys, there is quite a bit of difference between them. The overall sound, especially the treble is much more controlled, energetic and detailed and the price to performance ratio of the Aurora is simply superb. So overall, I really liked the Aurora and I would likely recommend this to people who likes a lush, relaxed and intimate presentation to their soundtracks.

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