Introduction to the Craft Ears Aurum review
If you’re our reader, you should know that we are based in Poland and we are big fans of good quality audio gear made in our country. You should also know Craft Ears, the company that is specializing in the production of custom in-ear monitors for on-stage monitoring, but for a couple of years, they are also conquering the audiophile market with universal versions of their CIEMs.
A few years ago Bruno reviewed their mid-range model Craft Ears Four, after his review I decided I also need to listen to it and unfortunately it was so good that I ordered a pair of them for me. Since then it’s been my main travel earphone. I’m still fascinated that they managed to produce such a good IEM at that low price, and then they released 3 new pairs with names originating from the Latin metal names – Cuprum, Argentum and today reviewed Aurum, but I’ve heard some rumors that this isn’t their last word and we can expect some new stuff in the following months.
The reviewed Craft Ears Aurum comes from the bundle with iFi Go Pods, but it arrives in a separate box and the review of the Go Pods is coming soon, so let me write about only the package of the IEM. So inside the black cardboard, you will spot an all-proof hard case – it’s a box that has a pro-audio origin, so you can throw your IEM to the van with piano, octobass, and a fridge full of Corona (for the family), then drive it through Passo dello Stelvio and you don’t have to worry that they will be crushed or flooded.
Additionally, in the package there is a cable that also has the onstage DNA, it’s very flexible, light, and pretty long for an IEM cable, as an audiophile you will probably replace it with something more premium looking, but musicians probably appreciate this kind of cable. And thanks for the length, it’s pretty nice for gaming, you can move a bit further from your desktop DAC.
The last thing is a set of SpinFit eartips – the Craft Ears team claims it’s the best matching ear tip for the IEM, and I have to admit. Reviewed Craft Ears Aurum paired with the SpinFit is even better sounding than with my favorite Final Type E.
Overall you can feel the pro-audio heritage of the setup but it’s only the good part – everything looks great but it’s very utilitarian as well.
Design, Build and Comfort
The build quality of Craft Ears Aurum is great. The shell is smooth with tight 2-pin connectors, but if you don’t like this type of connector, feel free to contact the company, they can do almost anything you want to, if you like MMCX connectors, they can replace it.
As I mentioned, the body of the IEM is smooth. You can hardly spot the place where the faceplate is connected with the shell but there is one place where I thought they forgot to polish my sample – the end of the nozzle, but it turns out it’s expected. Thanks to that the eartips hold way better than on the polished nozzle and you don’t have to worry it will slip.
Another thing that is connected with the build quality is the comfort, these two things can’t exist without each other. As I mentioned, the build quality is superb and the design is well thought out, so if you have average physiognomy of the ear canal the Aurum will fit your ears great. Additionally due to the materials used the shell is very light and it doesn’t strain ears.
To be honest, especially paired with SpinFit eartips, it’s one of the most comfortable earphone I’ve ever used. But if your ears are more unique, you don’t have to worry, there is a possibility to order the Craft Ears Aurum in a custom fit version, then the earphone is printed from your ear canal impression and this guarantees it will fit perfectly. Additionally custom fit provides even better sound isolation which in the universal version is still pretty decent, but if you are looking for an IEM to listen to music in an extremely loud environment, then you should decide to order a custom one.
Earphones with dynamic drivers and multiple balanced armatures is a common thing in the market, but what’s impressive in the construction of the Craft Ears flagship, is the usage of electrostatic driver, which usually requires special energizer that can drive this kind of driver, but the IEM can be driven with normal headphone amplifier.
When writing about drivers it’s worth mentioning that reviewed Aurum features a 5-way crossover, that “splits” the signal between 7 drivers – one 10mm DD for low-end, four BA and two electrostatic drivers. The sound is improved thanks to the custom-tuned SES 2.0 system.
Aurum also features the Craft Ears True Load™ technology. It ensures extremely flat Impedance and Phase, which helps in achieving great coherency between three different types of drivers. The impedance is very low 9.6 ohm, what’s interesting, usually that’s the value measured at 1kHz and it varies depending on frequency, but Craft Ears claims that the impedance fluctuates by a maximum of 0.8 ohms – that’s really hard to archive especially with 7 different drivers inside.
How does the Craft Ears Aurum sound?
If you know Craft Ears Four, then you will spot that Aurum sounds like a natural evolution of the Fours. Great soundstage and positioning, and very fast and responsive bass that’s what I loved the Four for, now Aurum does the same thing but with some more advantages, so fasten your seatbelts and proceed to my sound description.
Let’s start with the already mentioned bass, it’s very fast and precise with great texture. Thanks to the dynamic driver the sub-bass is also very present, maybe it’s not tectonic, because this adjective should be reserved for Fir Audio Radon 6 bass, but it’s really impressive. When properly driven the punch and slam in Graceful by French 79 is hypnotizing, I could focus only on this line, but the mid-bass is also rich and thicc.
It could be slightly more textured, but now it balances between smoothness and texture, so if the sound engineer wanted the music to sound relaxed it is indeed, but when the precision is expected, then you can feel the texture very well. A great example can be The Less I Know The Better by Tampe Impala. The first few bars are very harsh and dry, with a very fast punch, but later everything gets smoother and more vivid.
The midrange has a nice, affectionate timbre. The lower midrange where are placed e.g. male vocals is slightly recessed when compared to the rest of the mid-tones. This causes some vocals to sound like behind the whole band, in Africa by Toto David Paich’s vocals don’t sound like the leading one, and the electric guitar is pushed forward. But besides this issue, the midrange is very nice. When properly driven it’s rich and sweet.
Oh, and don’t get me wrong, by properly driven I mean for example the audio jack of MacBook Pro 14, that’s enough the issue begins when I wanted to drive it with Apple Dongle, but let’s be honest, who would buy a €1300 headphone and drive it with €10 dongle, especially when it’s available in a bundle with iFi GO Pod for additional €100 (during 2023 holiday you can get it for free on their website with code “FREEiFi23”). But let’s get back to the sound, if you’ve read my previous reviews, you should have spotted that I’m a big fan of Nick Cave’s vocals, and with this earphone, he sounds just great. In Jubilee Street he sounds warm, calm, and bold, but everything is still very natural.
I’m still catching myself on comparing reviewed Craft Ears Aurum with Four and when describing the treble I would like to do it again because it’s even more detailed than in the older model, but it’s more forgiving at the same time, so poorly produced recordings don’t cause my ears to bleed. It’s gentle and sweet but with teeth, the texture is amazing – harsh but in a pleasant way, like tannins in red wine, without it the sound wouldn’t engage that much.
The sound of the upper registers of the harpsichord in A Quai by Yann Tiersen is charming. The energy and dynamics produced by the IEM makes me want to keep listening even if it’s late at night and I’m exhausted after a day of work. Well, if you will have an opportunity to try Craft Ears Aurum, just listen to the wholeTiersen’s soundtrack from The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain, with the airiness and precision of the IEM even if you think you know that film score, you will surely discover some new stuff you didn’t hear previously. Shortly speaking these EST drivers does the job, I used to listen to Kinera Nan•Na previously and it also charmed me a lot, but Craft Ears Aurum does it on a completely different level.
If I had to make it hot for Craft Ears I would say that the depth of the soundstage is “only” fine, nothing breathtaking, just OK, and at flagship level I would expect a bit more in that term. And if we are done with moaning, we can proceed to the rest of the soundstage description. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything that is a serious flaw, even if I would like to. The width and height are very impressive if only the depth would be as good… Imaging and holography are perfect and I can describe it only in superlatives.
I could easily position the sound sources, and while playing games I had no trouble with telling where my opponents were. The last test I’m usually conducting while reviewing headphones is layering, and for me, the best benchmark song to conduct the test is Bubbles by Yoshi Horikawa. It Has been a couple of years since I used to listen to Susvara plugged into Niimbus US5 Pro and Chord Dave, but it’s still the setup I can’t forget because of the layering it provided. The disturbing fact is that reviewed Craft Ears Aurum plugged into Fiio M11 Pro (approximately it’s worth $2000) is inappropriately close to the setup worth about $24 000. This is just ridiculous, and I love it!
Lime Ears Aether R
This is a showdown between two Polish-manufactured earphones, where the ex-flagship and the flagship models go head-to-head at a similar price range. When comparing the Aether R and the Aurum, the Aether R exhibits a more pronounced nasal sound compared to the Aurum. On the other hand, the Craft Ears IEM manages to avoid a muffled sound and doesn’t feel compressed like the Aether R.
The Aurum, in contrast, offers a more open and airy sound signature with superior texture and resolution. The only thing I’m missing in Aurum that is in Aether R is the switch for more power in the bass, I could really like that thing, in particular, in custom fit versions it would be more useful because due to great isolation users wouldn’t have to listen to music that loud, but then the bass response is lacking a bit. However, when it comes to technical aspects, the Aurum clearly emerges as the winner. It excels in terms of separation, detail reproduction, and the spaciousness of the sound.
To be honest this is a closer comparison than the previous one, although Craft Ears Four are nearly half of the price of Aether R and it never aspired to be flagships. I’m the owner of a custom fit version of Four, but I used to test the universal fit version, so I will try to enlighten the differences between it and a universal fit version as well. I fell in love with the bass of Four, it is fast and powerful, I couldn’t believe it’s produced only with a balanced armature, but Aurum produces it even better, with similar speed and texture, but goes lower with even more impact. The midrange of both earphones is also pretty similar in terms of signature, but again I thought Four is great, but Aurum unveils some more micro details and dynamics in the music. The treble of the Four is very technical, but when compared with Aurum it sounds a bit dry and soulless. Don’t get me wrong it’s great, but Aurum keeps at least the same level of technicalities, but also it sounds richer and can provide a more vibrant sound when the producer of the music wanted to do so.
Fortunately I bought my CIEM a couple years ago, because now I would have a difficult decision to make. Both models are bang for the bucks at their price ranges, and I would have to decide in which price range I would like to stay. Nah, whom am I deceiving, it’s obvious that my wallet would cry, but I would choose Aurum over Four, but I’m an audio freak.
As mentioned Craft Ears are available in a bundle with iFi GO Pod, and usually, it is a cost of additional €100, but during the 2023 holiday you can get it free with Aurum, just use the code “FREEiFi23” on the checkout on Craft Ears website. BTW they finally managed to finish the website, so check it out and play with the CIEM configurator, a bit 2010 Flashplayer vibe, but it’s pretty cool you can partially visualize what your earphones can look like. But let’s get back to the pairing of Aurum with GO Pod. If I would have to buy it separately for €399, then I would probably go for Apple AirPods Pro 2, but in a bundle, it’s pretty nice.
GO Pod provides just enough power to drive, and remember there is a difference between loudness and proper driving. Aurum can be way too loud, but it’s still on the edge of being properly driven and it’s particularly audible in the bass range. It’s getting a bit slower when compared with a proper amp like Topping A90. But considering its convenience, it’s still a pretty good option for listening on the go, while running or rock climbing.
The midrange is a bit less vivid but still very detailed and well-textured. I would say the timbre of vocals is like the vocalists would live in 70% – everything sounds like you would have expected, but it lacks THIS sparkle.
The treble is still very detailed and engaging. I think the minor lack of driving capacities doesn’t affect this part of the frequency range.
Craft Ears Aurum Review – summary
If you can hardly decide what you are looking for, or what kind of music you would like to listen to, then you should give Craft Ears Aurum a try. It’s a very capable and universal IEM. For me, it’s one of the best earphones at this price range, or even just one of the best earphones currently available in the market, and currently my favorite as well. If I had to pick one IEM to rule them all, then I would surely pick Aurum.
Additionally now is the opportune moment to make your purchase, as you’ll receive the iFi GO Pod bundled with the Craft Ears Aurum for free by using the code “FREEiFi23” on craftears.com.
Big thanks to Craft Ears for providing the Aurum for this review. I wasn’t paid or asked to say anything good or bad about this product, all of the above is just my personal, unbiased opinion.
I’m a 24 years old software engineer, but also coffee, wine, and audio gear freak based in Cracow, Poland. I like to get lost in the city, but I hate getting lost while reading pompous audio reviews. My goal is to provide simple and informative reviews that I hope will help you to find your way around the rabbit hole.