1x DD, 4x BA, 2x EST
Craft Ears is one of my beloved companies, and their Craft Ears 4 model won a 2020 Ear Fidelity Award for the best CIEM. It’s still one of my favorite IEMs, and I’m using it as a daily driver. The Aurum is a huge upgrade in terms of sound quality. There’s only one con compared to the CE4, but I’ll return to that later. As many of us know, the “Aurum” means gold, and that’s the style of this IEM. Black or white shell with golden ornaments. That design is debatable, but remember that these guys can do anything you want on the shell. And they’re doing it really well!
Besides that, the company had a birthday on 15th February (the same day that I did, lmao), and they have a huge promo till the end of February 2022. If you’ll buy Aurum, you’ll get Argentum for free. That’s like a no-brainer to me. If you’re not interested in the second IEM, you can get the 13% discount or all designs free of charge. That’s a really nice gesture, and these guys will never take you down with their customer service.
Packaging & Build Quality
The first thing we’ll see is the new box, which is really elegant and solid. Inside the package is filled with paper, and in the middle, you’ll find a small case with IEMs and cable inside. Below you’ll find the SpinFit eartips.
IEMs are made perfectly. Smooth, with tight 2pin connectors. The thing I love till the first touch is the nozzle. The whole shell is 3D printed, but the nozzles aren’t polished. Thanks to that, the eartips hold way better, and they won’t slip down as it can happen with smooth nozzles. Of course, if you have your favorite tips, they might get loose after a long time of use, but that’s rather unusual.
The cable is from the Rhapsodio company. It has a delicately weird texture, as it’s not fully smooth, it’s like a matte glass. The earstand is also uncommon, it has two 60 degree folds instead of one, long fold. I had to get used to that type of cable. 3,5mm Jack connector and 2pin connectors are well made, and I wouldn’t be scared that something can happen to them even after a long time of use. About the tips, well, everyone has their favored ones, and unfortunately, the SpinFits aren’t on my list.
Comfort and Sound Isolation
Comfort is a really personal thing, especially with the type of earstand that’s used in Aurum stock cable. In my case, that is quite irritating, the IEMs are slipping out of my ear, and I had to fix them every 10-15 minutes. My friend that tried the Aurum said that this cable is absolutely lovely. He hadn’t done anything after he put them in. With other cables, the Aurum sits really good in my ear. They’re pretty lightweight and I’m not feeling them in my ear. They’re just here, and that’s lovely.
Noise isolation is really good, especially with Final E Tips. It’s obviously not the level of CIEMs, but it’s a fully closed shell that sits pretty deep in the ear. I can easily use them at a cafe, and I don’t hear the people chatting around. The only thing that can get through is high tones, some hisses, and stuff like this.
Well, there’s a lot of tech inside the Aurum. There are seven drivers with a 5-axis crossover. To be exact, there is a single 10mm DD for low-end, four BA drivers, and two electrostatic drivers with custom-tuned SES 2.0 system. We met with this system before, it was used in Craft Ears Six. And well, it’s making an awesome job. You can read more about the tech used inside here. I’m not feeling as confident to describe that as the CEO of Craft Ears, Jędrzej, who made all that tech happen.
As I mentioned before, the Craft Ears Aurum is like an upgrade from CE4. It’s a lovely, full-of-life sound signature, with a huge soundstage, lovely imaging, and addition of fun. It’s making Aurum maybe not ultimately unique, but very universal and just possible to be your only one IEM.
Solid bass is a must-have for me, and that’s what Aurum provides. I really love that fatigue-free bass, which gains in power when we provide more power for Aurum. So, right now I’m using xDuoo XD-05 Plus and it’s the easiest way to check how much power they require. When I started on low gain, the bass was pushed forward, a little clumsy. Now I’m on the highest gain, with the boost turned on, and damn. This subbass is just wonderful, it’s bold, well-textured, and makes a really lovely ambient for any song I’m turning on. The midbass is lovely too, it’s also rich and pretty thick. It could be a little more textured for my taste but it’s nicely balancing between smoothness and kind whirring. When it has to be more wild and precise, it is, so that’s the good thing. For example, the song “The Less I Know The Better” by Tame Impala shows that very good. In the beginning, there’s more texture, just to slide to a smoother experience when the voice comes in. The kickbass is fast but it makes that speed sound really natural, so it’s getting closer to the live music. I really like that in “bad guy” by Billie Eilish, but also any rock music where the drums have to hit any harder.
The midrange is sweet, with a humble timbre. The lower midrange is delicately pushed back compared to the upper one. Sometimes guitars can get in front instead of the singer but that doesn’t happen often. They’re individual cases that happen only with particular artists that I could count on my fingers. Besides that, the midrange is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Especially when Aurum gets some juice. With low-power sources, it can sound a little dry. With e.g. Cayin RU6 powered from a laptop, that problem disappears. Let’s go with some mainstream song, “Why’d You Call Me Only When You’re High?” by Arctic Monkeys. It’s rather a calm song, but the voice of Alex Turner is awesome. He’s not free of his typical sounding like he’s behind a curtain but it’s feeling a little closer and more intimate.
If you’ve read my older reviews you probably know that I’m a huge Dua Lipa fan, and I’m falling in love with her once again. In “Boys Will Be Boys” she sounds really natural and just lovely. With different cables, like Cross Lambda Ignite Pro or Erua Audio Miro, she sounds a little sweeter, which makes it almost perfect for me. Let’s get back to male voices for a second, Michael Kiwanuka went live. “Cold Little Heart” is lovely. His voice is rich, natural, and bold.
For some people I know, it isn’t about the timbre in the midrange, it’s about the details. Well, they won’t be disappointed too. Craft Ears Aurum takes as much as possible from each song. It doesn’t matter if I’m listening to some metal, rap, rock, or classical. Everything is in its place, even if some elements are a little rounded. Nothing is lost, thanks to a fantastic separation.
The treble sounds wonderful too. It’s wide open, with a lot of details and no sibilances. Although, it’s rather neutral sounding with a small inclusion of sweetness, gentleness, and smoothness. I’m swapping between the “Pristine” by Snail Mail and soundtracks, and there are no weak points. All songs provide a lot of emotions, with a nice punch in cymbals, drum plates, and so on. Let’s take “Troopers” by Ludwig Goransson from “The Mandalorian” season two. I can’t tell if that’s a live instrument or not, but the sounds at the very beginning are fabulous. They’re fast, sweepy, and provide a lot of air. Of course, that’s without tiring the listener, as some IEMs that sound similar can do. But what about classical music? “Winter” in F by Antonio Vivaldi is just charming. Whenever those violins are going higher I’m stopping by to just listen to them. There’s so much energy that I’ve never heard, maybe with Hifiman HE1000SE on some high-end stack. I can’t take anything bad from that part in the Aurum review, but maybe it’s just me and my love for electrostatic drivers at this point.
The soundstage is lovely, but it has one weak point, and I’ll start with that. The depth. It’s okay. Nothing above, and I would require a little more at this price point. The rest is around what I’d expect or higher. The imaging and holography are for sure the best things. The layering provided by these two is almost outstanding. It’s like sitting inside of the old tree and all growth rings are playing. It’s showing its best with huge squads in classical music. There’s no chance that anything will get lost in the performance. What about the size? Well, besides that depth which isn’t the best one, I have to admit that it’s huge in terms of wide and height. It’s really good in showing us the specific directions and positions, so I find it useful even in demanding video games like Hunt Showdown or Rainbow Six Siege. It’s also lovely in movies and TV series that sometimes can shock us in how they were recorded.
Long story short – Aurum is seriously power-hungry, so if you want them to sound correctly just get them what they need. In my case, it is the best with XD-05 Plus or Cayin N6 E02. Aurum is rather source-dependent, but in a kind way, and there’s no way to destroy the sound using inappropriate DAC/Amp. Of course, if it has enough power. Also, even if the stock cable is of fantastic quality, you can start thinking about a new one pretty fast, as it’s worth it. They gain so much with better cables that it’s almost unbelievable.
VS Campfire Audio Holocene
Well, that’s a pretty straightforward comparison, as the Aurum is better in every single technical aspect. In terms of sound signature, they can be quite similar, but Aurum has way bolder bass and a little pushed back lower midrange which isn’t the problem with Holocene that is more neutral and even. The sound is more textured in the Aurum but the treble, which is smoother and more delicate than with the baby Andromedas.
VS Fir VxV
Well, this time they’re more even in technical aspects. VxV is smoother in the whole performance, with a little darker presentation I’d say. That’s caused because of the little pushed forward upper midrange in the Aurum, but that’s also adding more clearance to the sound. CE Aurum is also more dynamic, with more emotions and more fun in the sound. In the end, VxV offers a little better depth but doesn’t have this width and height that we can hear in the Aurum.
VS Lime Ears Aether R
Okay, that’s a fight of ex-flagship with a flagship. Aether R is more nasal than the Aurum. There’s no feeling of blanket put on the sound sources, and it isn’t squeezed like with the Aether R. 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 terms of technicalities, again the Aurum easily wins. They’re just better with separation, details, and the amount of air in the sound.
The Craft Ears Aurum is a really nice upgrade from their Four model. A lot of details which are shown in a kind way, without getting us blown by the sharp edges or getting everything too smooth and clumsy. That’s just one of the best CIEMs on the market at this price range, and it’s going to be very hard to jump over them.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Campfire Audio Mammoth, Vega 2020, Craft Ears Four, Dunu EST112, Final A8000, Fir Audio VxV, Craft Ears Six, Dunu Falcon Pro
- Sources– Cayin N3Pro, Cayin N6ii R01/E02, xDuoo XD-05 Plus, Earmen TR-Amp, Earmen Eagle, Cayin Ru6