In today’s review, Mike listens to the new SeekReal Airship which is a single 10mm carbon-nanotube dynamic driver in-ear monitor. It has a price of $179.
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The SeekReal Airship sounds gorgeous. I am very impressed with it and for the price, it really puts the Shuoer Tape in its place by a few steps.
Excellent smooth tone
Balanced sound signature
Very small form factor
I am always so excited to experience a company house sound for the first time. I have been tossed into the ocean, essentially, without any experience with this company in the past.
I didn’t know what their house sound tone was or what they offered prior to receiving the Airship package in the mail. I am happy to report that I now want to hear the other two models and see if they can surprise me as much as this Airship has in the last few weeks.
SeekReal Audio has designed a 10mm CNT Dynamic driver type for this Airship IEM. Don’t let that sway you, even if we are in the midst of ever more complex multi-driver creations.
For scaling and reference needs, the dynamic world is the biggest. However, it is also the most difficult to sell to the audiophile community these days.
Dynamic pure designs still have a lot to offer as premium and hyper-expensive elements become much cheaper over time. The former $1000 tier sound is now commonly found for $200 today.
The Airship has a cylindrical carbon diaphragm design which is untypical of older dynamic driver designs and again, confirms that we are now getting innovation at a much more affordable price point.
The SeekReal Audio Airship is highly pleasing to the ear and the eye, no doubt. The physical design is a sleek and powerful feeling, it is also heavy in the hand and exudes a very high-quality tactile feel to the exterior.
The weight factor makes me feel like it is premium and not cheaply made and in the budget to mid-tier, that is what we need.
The design of the shells is also on the very small side and has one of the smallest shells I’ve ever seen or held in my hand. That means it will fit pretty much anyone’s ears and stay stable with its all-aluminum casings. A tiny aluminum entry port requires more force to insert the plugs into each shell than I feel comfortable with.
For an entire week, I thought these IEMs had a poorly designed cable entry that just didn’t fit because I kept having my cable detach right off the casings so often.
I then said I have to be doing something wrong, and I push them in a bit harder than I should have and that did the trick, they really go much further into that port than I thought they were supposed to. That’s a good thing, they remain extremely snug in place now.
Comfort & Isolation
I have not come across fit issues while I am sitting or standing in a stationary position. However, I have found that on bumpy car rides, as a passenger, or when rolling down the road on a bike and hitting some bumps, these IEMs have a little bit of trouble staying secure in my ear no matter what type of ear tips I am using.
They do not and have not ever fallen out, but they tend to get dislodged now and then when I am moving around and shifting from place to place in my daily routine.
I find them highly comfortable though and one of those sets that are small enough to feel like they vanish in my ear after a while. Despite the heavier weight factor, they are not cumbersome in the slightest.
As far as isolation goes they are average at best. These are not toted as special niche isolating IEMs, so they perform exactly as many other IEMs that are made of an all-aluminum chassis.
The Airship comes with a standard silicone set of 3 tips: small, medium, and large, as well as a set of much nicer foamies that I find to be the best of the bunch.
Beyond that, it also comes with some tiny filter swaps that you can impart onto the nozzle and alter the sound a bit to your preferences.
In my experience with this IEM the black foam tips fit my ear best and offer the snuggest fit. I find them all comfortable and relatively basic, but undoubtedly, the foam tips work best with this IEM, at least in my experience and in my opinion.
The SeekReal Audio Airship’s stock cable is a standard oxygen-free copper cable with a 3.5mm termination. I do not have much thought on the cable outside of the stereotypical impressions that I tend to post in my reviews with regard to cable type.
I am happy that this company did not opt for a silver-style cable, which generally I find to be more treble happy. They wanted this model to be balanced in tonal signature overall, so it was very smart of them to opt for copper styling.
The cable itself is a standard two-pin connector input design, so at least we can swap cables easily if need be with something more expensive if you have it.
Packaging and Accessories
The Airship comes with a standard cardboard box that is relatively small, with some interesting artwork on it. I enjoy seeing that type of thing and not just a black box with some logo or text on it.
At least some effort was given to the box design and I appreciate that because the artwork is cute and funny with aliens abducting people into their spaceship. I laughed when I first opened the package and saw this.
In the box is included a really nice leatherette zipper case, I really love these cases! These are enjoyable and well-padded. They also look great too. I like these because they are a hard/soft style, with a plush exterior but a firm inside to keep things snug. The outside is soft feeling, and slick, while the zipper feels hefty and weight.
The Airship’s whole M.O. is balanced and accurate sound, so this IEM is bass moderate. The texture is very firm and very direct. The tone is very neutral, lacking warmth and instead wandering on the fringe of cold/clinical.
The low-end quantity is less than desirable on a totally flat EQ, but understandably stubborn since the intent of the IEM’s sound design was to be clinical and as accurate as possible. So too comes harshness and physical impact that has a strong kick factor.
The SeekReal Airship is also not responding to extra bass boosting to achieve more quantity until I went a little crazy and kicked it to +10dB…then this IEM started to really flesh itself out! Yea! That’s what I am talking about!!!
As usual, I dial up a +5dB factor on the low end and almost nothing happens in the way of a different projection of bass quantity to my ear. That just means the IEM is very strict and not intended for bass heads who want a lot of exaggeration unless you go nuts and have a very strong bass boost.
You likely shouldn’t even do that if you wanted a clinically accurate sound reference balancing anyway, but I’m crazy, and I like testing the limits to see what things are capable of. Without any EQ, the bass experience is right on the cusp of bass light. With some added boost, you can get solid bass and enjoyable bass levels out of it.
The Airship is moderately mid-forward and sounds wider than I am used to lately, and with a gently bloomed vocal section of the frequency spectrum.
I really enjoy Mac Leathan and NF, both rappers, and my home gear lately are typically very forward, so I am used to their voices feeling like they are in my head and projecting outward.
In this case, the Airship is wider feeling and more relaxed in the midrange. I call this moderately mid-forward because it is neither very recessed, nor very engagingly forward and in your face.
The fidelity factor is very smooth, despite the clinical coloration and tonality. This isn’t the IEM I would recommend for those interested in a very forward vocal experience, but those who might want a step backward and who are looking for a wider appeal in physicality and placement of vocals? Yes, they will enjoy this, for sure.
The top end of the midrange is lacking any sense of nasalness and sharpness, which is odd because most clinical IEMs have a severe harshness problem in these areas, but this IEM is very smooth.
The SeekReal Airship top side is refined, smooth, and lacking bite factor and brightness that I always find to be a problem in clinical tone IEMs. However, that comes with a cost, the brightness factor can use a tiny bump up to make it more interesting and you can achieve that with small EQ tweaks.
Unlike the bass, the top side is more response-friendly to alterations. Truly, the treble experience of the Airship is highly reserved in tactility and very safe in brightness factor. So safe, I think it needs just a smidgen more and it would be quite stellar.
The fidelity factor is not a problem, as mentioned, these newer IEMs are all in the ballpark of yesteryear’s $500+ tier, so the fidelity factor is quite grand for the price.
Smooth, slick, enjoyable, and relaxing. These are terms I use to describe the physical qualities of the top side of the Airship, while neutral, accurate, and clinical are terms I would say describe the tonality.
The Airship is noticeably wider than it is tall, lending a more relaxing flare to the experience. The air factor between instruments is actually a very good and natural feeling.
It isn’t a titan in imaging, but the realistic feeling and dense vocal factors make me feel like this Dynamic driver is actually Planar.
The width factor combined with a dense hefty sound signature, with a lacking brightness on the treble side equals your ear being more adept and able to focus on imaging factors without getting stuck on a lacking quality here or there.
Large broad sound is only found in the bass when boosting a lot, but the entire rest of the spectrum feels narrow in a sense of right and left, where the depth of field is just good overall and nothing to write home about.
The height factor is not something that those who want a forward and engaging larger experience will enjoy, this is set up for those who like the widescreen effect.
At 32Ω, the Airship does not seem to benefit from any extra amplification, but it demands a good middle-tier source of sufficient quality first and foremost.
When I use a custom balanced cable on my Tempotec V6, I get the sense that I’ve done nothing for the experience in the slightest vs just using the standard 3.5mm output. I found this to be the case with larger amplifiers too when I plugged into my SMSL amp.
Driving power is something you can toss out of your head any phone or half-decent source will power this to the max and then some. You should focus on the quality of the source first and foremost.
Firmness factor, imaging, dynamics, and any and all physicality features do not change when bumping up to higher voltage outputs. My SMSL ho100 does nothing for this IEM at all and I hear not one lick of a difference between it and my portable V6 player.
It is so hard for me to get passed the xDuoo X3 II that I reviewed years ago, and that is because I can toss on the XRK portable amplifier (my favorite portable amp) and achieve some of the most musical and fun sounds that I’ve ever had
I am still waiting for a more expensive DAP to be made that is warm and musical that is small and can be paired with the XRK. But, in this case, the X3 II is not good enough in fidelity to do justice to the Airship. The more expensive V6 is required to achieve that.
It doesn’t seem to matter what amplifier I drop in; the tonality doesn’t change. It isn’t until I start messing with EQ to see where things end up that I can even alter the tone.
Flat EQ equals the same tone even on some warmer amplifiers. So, I think they achieved their goal of making an IEM that is very accurate sounding.
Do you know how hard has been to take me away from my Tapes? Neigh impossible. I love them. They are so fun, pure, and effortless. However, they sound like mud when contrasted with this Airship. Mud.
The Airship has much more bass depth and a much larger, broader bass sound. The Tapes are focused, very pure, and precise. The Tape treble is hazy and not clean in comparison to the very refined and smooth treble on the Airship. The Tapes also sound box-shaped, while the Airship sounds wider than tall.
Akoustyx R-220 & R-115
Some time ago, I was sent a dual package from Akoustyx that included this R-115 that sold for a similar $199.
This R-120 is essentially what the Airship is, just made years ago and not as nice sounding. All the same qualities as if the R-120 evolved like a Pokémon into a better Pokémon with better everything.
This is a clinical-sounding IEM with a stubbornness to change and alter without excessive EQ, but when it got that, it shifted into a much thicker feeling and enjoyable (less clinical) sound.
The imaging experiences are similar, wider than tall and they both seem to be unable to change with higher voltage. The 115 model is the cheaper model that is less pure and more musical feeling. It also is vividly more forward but far less clean sounding than the Airship at just $115.
I am not someone who enjoyed clinical tonality in the past eras, but things are changing and these types of IEMs are becoming more and more friendly to my ears in terms of the harshness factor. Now, they are smooth and buttery on impact, lacking a powerful hard-hitting, and ugly top-side treble.
The SeekReal Airship sounds gorgeous. I am very impressed with it and for the price, it really puts the Shuoer Tape in its place by a few steps. This is refined, smooth, easy to power, and very clean in tone and texture.
Interesting IEM, no doubt! This is one of the most beautiful sounding neutral IEMs I’ve had in a very long time.
SeekReal Audio Airship Specifications
- Unit configuration 10mm CNT Dynamic Driver
- Cable configuration Oxygen-free copper silver plated
- Cable length 2m
- Plug specification 78 2pin removable
- Sensitivity 110db
- Impedance 32 Ohm
- Frequency response 10-40kHz
- Total harmonic distortion ＜2%