- Warm, yet rich tuning in all bands.
- The epitome of Penon Audio sound.
- Huge bass.
- Superior midrange, lush, balanced, homogeneous, euphonic, passionate, organic and present.
- Treble tuned to be the icing on the cake, extended and linear.
- Specialists for macro detail, long but intense listening, thanks to their dense and vivid sound.
- Great ergonomics, very low weight.
- Very good set of accessories.
- Remarkable price/performance ratio.
- Very easy to move.
- Somewhat limited air area.
- The sound is melodious and analogue, but far from analytical.
- Both micro detail and separation are notable, though not superior.
- The presence and density of each range prevent a more expansive, ethereal, three-dimensional scene.
Link to the Store
Once again, I have the honour of reviewing another model designed by Penon Audio. By now, many will have been able to discover what the Penon house sound is like. It is a profile well endowed in bass, warm mids and smooth highs, subtle sparkle, but detailed and rich. This is IEMS for long hours of enjoyment, if you are one of those who enjoy full bass and shy away from exciting mid-highs. Well, in this sense, the Penon Globes more than live up to all those attributes. They are hybrid IEMS, with the classic 2BA + 1DD configuration. One of the great attractions of the BA driver configuration is that it mixes Sonion for the mid frequencies and Knowles for the high frequencies. For the low frequencies a 10mm dynamic driver is used. The capsule is made of resin and has a slim, but slightly thick, semi-custom shape. Its outer face is very attractive and a kind of glitter pattern in different, bright colours can be seen, while the brand name and model name is inscribed on each capsule in gold capital letters. To continue, the Globes use an 8-strand SPC cable, which can be chosen with either a 3.5mm SE or 2.5mm BAL plug. And finally, Penon accompanies this model with the usual range of accessories, plus ePro EP00 silicone tips in sizes SxMxL. At the time of writing this review, this model can be purchased for $339, a price that places it in the mid-range, but with a great quality/price ratio. We’ll look at why this is the case below.
- Driver Type: 1DDD 10mm + 1BA Sonion for mid frequencies + 1BA Knowles for high frequencies.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz.
- Sensitivity: 116dB@1kHz@1mW.
- Impedance: 10Ω @1kHz.
- Jack Connector: Choice of 3.5mm SE or 2.5mm BAL
- Capsule connection type: 2Pin 0.78mm
- Cable length: 1.2m
- Cable Type: 8-strand SPC.
It is true that Penon does not usually vary much in its presentation, nor in its accessories. But I will never be the one to criticise this fact, when those who read me know how square my reviews are, always written with a fixed structure, which does not break. In this sense, I totally justify Penon’s presentation: I would do the same. My product is not sold by the attractiveness of its presentation, it is sold by the content. And that’s how the quality of the accessories is prioritised over the design of a flashier box. The Penon Globe box is eminently yellow, clean. Its dimensions are 130x103x61mm, a compact size. On the main side, the brand logo in the upper left corner. In the centre, a realistic photo of the capsules, bottom right, the product description. On the back side, only the brand’s markings can be read, in the lower right corner, as well as the logos of the regulations it complies with. Once the outer cardboard has been removed, the box is bare and smooth, in two colours: maroon on the sides, violet on the opposite sides. Penon in gold on the main side, a presentation of the brand, the specifications of the model and the brand’s (again) contact details on the back. Inside, a bunch of little zip pouches protecting all the contents and the brand’s trademark pair of cases. In a nutshell:
- A blue zipped case with the logo inscribed in gold on the lid. It is rectangular and tall.
- A leather envelope with clip closure, light brown in colour.
- Globe capsules.
- One cable with 2.5mm SE plug, 8-strand SPC.
- 3 pairs of grey silicone tips with orange core, sizes SxMxL.
- 3 pairs of grey silicone tips with green core, sizes SxMxL.
- 1 pair of bi-flange tips, single size.
- One metal clamp.
- One cleaning tool, with brush and mini fork.
- One green velcro strap, with brand logo.
- 3 pairs of ePro EP00 silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
The cable is available in 3.5mm SE and 2.5mm BAL.
There is little left to say about the presentation of this Penon product, as it is very similar to other products already reviewed. So I repeat myself: Simple, effective and quality.
The included ePro EP00 silicone tips are designed to improve the timbre, sound quality, maintain the treble, sparkle and liveliness, without negatively altering the rest of the frequencies.
Construction and Design
The capsules are made of medical grade resin. They are dark, but slightly translucent. Their shape is semi-custom, stylised on the outside, shaped like an African continent, but slimmed down in the southern part. The profile of the capsule is thick and on the short side you can see a ventilation hole protected by a white grille. The inner side is smooth, with a subtle shape that matches the edges of our ears. The mouthpieces are short, with a slight indentation at their base, which separates them from the inner side. There are two holes at the flat end, where the sound comes out. The connection is 2Pin 0.78mm gold-plated, fully integrated into the capsule. The outer side has a pattern of different bright colours, as if there is glitter mixed with black droplets inside. The right capsule reads Globe in gold and capital letters, while the left capsule reads Penon.
The cable consists of 8 SPC strands. The connector sleeve is an irregular cylinder, thinned at the output end and rounded in the middle. It is silver, metallic and the brand logo can be read on it in white letters. The splitter piece is smaller and is a bevelled cylinder at its ends, rounded in the centre. Same composition as the connector. The pin is a hard, transparent plastic ball with a hole in the middle. The gold-plated 2Pin connectors are mounted on two cylinders matching the rest of the metal parts of the cable, but this time they are more regular and smooth. White R and L letters can be read, to differentiate the channel. There are guides on semi-rigid plastic ears.
The size of the capsules is average, despite their high thickness. The weight is ultra-light and the external pattern is subtle, elegant, pleasant and eye-catching: it catches the eye in just the right place for controlled beauty.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
It is true that the shape is no different from other Penon models, but what does it matter when the result is excellent. The Globe has a semi-custum shape and its medical grade resin construction ensures a very good fit and stellar ergonomics. Their very light weight and smooth surface, as well as the adapted shape of the inner side, provide a huge comfort that will last for hours. The body is still stubby, but the outer face is not very large, so the medium size also facilitates both fit and ergonomics.
The fit is shallow and could be medium with the biflange tips. But, for my usual large tips, the insertion is shallow. The inner side is smooth and there is hardly any contact with the parts of the ear. The rotation on the inside is minimal and the fit durable, suitable for everyday life and outdoors.
Again, the cable has over-ear guides, but I prefer them. Their friction is subtle and the shape adopted is respectful and they don’t get in the way. It is a pleasure to wear Penon on the ears.
Penon continues to insist on the warm profile, similar to a tiny, diminishing W. This time, though, the peaks are increasingly soft and smooth. However, on this occasion, the peaks are increasingly softer and smoother, with the sub-bass being the most emphasised section of the spectrum. This generates a sound that is boosted in the low end, with a physical and full-bodied first midrange, smooth mid-highs and flat, controlled highs, but well extended towards the air.
There is a clear warm balance as most of the sound moves in a narrow dB range, giving an idea of the tonal balance the Globes possess, even though their profile is not neutral.
On the other hand, at 10Ω and 116dB sensitivity, the Penon Globes are extremely easy to move and very little power is needed to drive them fully.
The lower zone is extensive, rich, full, complete, deep and physical. Its sonority is warm and keeps a certain level of darkness. Its punch is powerful, starts from very low and is completed as a dense and compact wall, generously well cemented from the sub-bass. Bass-lovers have to put the accent here and understand that the Globes are the paradigm of the Penon sound, with a bass that is not politically correct. There is no neutrality in this range, it is a blatant mix of power, punch and physicality. These IEMS are not just for bass-heads, the Globes are much more. But neither are they canonical or audiophile basses. The colour is very characteristic and its technical capabilities are remarkable, but it’s not a completely tight bass, it’s not the fastest, it’s not dry, it’s not completely defined. It is vigorous, moves a great deal of air and has a deep, dark, hazy roughness, with a moderately fast decay, but with a aftertaste that broadens its physicality, its body and its impact on the sound. The lower zone has a magmatic, sweeping character that advances irremediably, without being able to be stopped. It is a force of nature that breaks through the sound, flooding it. But they also have excellent control, because the Globe is not only about bass. In this sense, these Penon’s have a great agility to deliver heavy, unfiltered bass and turn it into a party that never loses its composure, with quite absolute mastery of the situation. Their technical ability proves that power without control is useless and this is not the case. The Globe possess an intimidating ability that goes beyond their power and is demonstrated in complex passages, being able to move and respond with speed, agility and vigour, generating planes and raising instant walls, as well as producing lighter, well-structured layers. To discover and enjoy.
One might think that with such a low zone the mids would lose prominence. Not at all, my idea is that the mids are the real magic of the Globe. And they are because the great control of the lows allows their exposure to be stellar, even predominant in many occasions. From the low end creeps warmth and a faintly dark afterglow, that half-light that brings physicality to vocals and density to instruments. Again, there is no neutrality in this sound and that sense of warmth persists, giving colour like a haze, like a continuum. But don’t take this as a softness without detail, because it is not. This is a signature tonality, which becomes very apparent in the Globe. Be warned: if you’re looking for a fully light-exposed midrange, you’d be wrong to choose this model. The central range is completely steeped in romanticism, it has soul, passion, sweetness and a captivating presence. It is a colour that permeates the sound, that sticks in our ears, in our memory. It is an almost analogue sound, valvular, organic, with a transparency seen in candlelight, close to fire and passion, to sensations, straight to the heart. You have to get into the Penon sound and once inside let yourself go, abandon any critical listening and understand the sound as a pure pleasure, get into a midrange created in the evening light, but remarkably rich, detailed and intoxicating, close and immersive. This is the way to prepare your brain for the Globe sound. Once you get to this point is when the innate quality of that Sonion BA driver blossoms, loaded with tremendous musicality and delicate detail. You’d never think a BA driver could have so much soul and reproduce notes with so much texture, nuance and a perfect marriage of technical skill and descriptive ability. It is a unique sound, completely characteristic and special. I know it can’t be to everyone’s taste, but once inside, the result is extremely captivating and eloquent. And this translates to both the male and female vocals, as well as the instruments. Their recreation and conjunction is close, exposed and broad, but also full of capacity and very well structured. The details are delicate and perceptible, simply visible and easily observable, without being analytical in sound, but purely rich and revealing, both in nuance and harmonics. The only drawback in this respect is that the micro-detail, although present, is not entirely complete, being ambiguous at times.
Treating the central range as an independent band, we can highlight its balance, there are no valleys or big peaks, everything is smoothed and moves in a few dB range. Thus, it is a full band, present, very well balanced and complex. There is no sibilance or extremes, which improves the balance of the range despite its very special colour.
The Globe’s treble remains balanced and adheres to a controlled but extended emphasis. Their linearity and range reaches up to the air zone, where they begin to decay. But until then, their content is quite full and descriptive. Again, the zone bears the hallmark of the house: it is all about maximum treble expressiveness and efficiency, but without losing control or smoothness. In this respect, Penon goes one step further by following that guideline and manages to perfect the upper range, thanks to the addition of a Knowles BA driver, exclusively for the high end. The treble is there, both for its own sake, for its own particular brilliance, as well as to support the rest of the band. One could even say that the high band feels like a protagonist, because its presence is fully integrated into the overall balance and equilibrium of the sound, but without standing out individually more than the other strips. This is what has been achieved with this triple driver, that each band is the protagonist in its own way, but without losing the musicality, the smoothness, the tonal balance or the balance. This is how sparkle, flare, excitement and brilliance are redefined in pursuit of an organic and delicate musicality. All of this exists and is obtained in the upper range, but in a smooth and controlled, yet evident way. On this occasion, the treble is neither hidden nor avoided, the range is linear, as is its presence. Only the air area suffers, while the first half is vibrant, even crisp, but fully proportioned and integrated into the sound signature. In this way, the sound becomes even richer, filling the rest of the notes with harmonics, details and nuances. I would only have liked a larger amount of air to make the sonority more complete.
One of the outstanding properties of the recreation of the scenery generated by the Penon Globe is the space it occupies. The image is large, oval, dense and with a clear three-dimensional volume. The sound is wide in width and height, with good depth, but perhaps a little too front and close, because of the great balance between the three bands and their individual prominence. This means that the depth is not as pronounced, hence the oval shape of the soundstage. Another reason is the limitation of air, something that prevents the recreation from being more ethereal or gauzy, and makes it appear more tight, organic and analogue. The micro detail is not completely explicit and despite the richness of nuance, the separation is not so obvious. The great musicality and smoothness of the ensemble produces a euphonic sound with a more subdued and continuous light, which prevents a more separated, defined and higher resolution sound. The background is not overtly visible and the silences are not cut with a knife. Perhaps this is the other side of the coin of a warm, musical and totally passionate sound.
Starting at the end, the Globe is the evolution of the ORB. The addition of one more driver enhances the sound, although the tuning is not exactly the same. The slight excitation of the high mids of the ORBs and the fact that they have one less driver gives a slightly cleaner, less full, less dense, not quite as compact sound. The Globe’s wall-of-sound feel, its greater physicality starts from the lows all the way to the high end. The Globe’s sound is richer in many ways. But, at times, the simpler sound of the ORBs facilitates a lighter and somewhat more vivid listening experience. I have the feeling that both bass drivers are the same, but tuned subtly different and because of that lower density, the bass sounds a bit more compact, dry and tight on the ORBs. It is a personal feeling or maybe the higher emphasis on the lower end and a bit lighter in the mid-bass helps this situation.
In the midrange the physicality and body feel of the Globes distances a fuller range, being, comparatively, a bit easier on the ORBs. The mids are very good on the ORBs, but when compared to the Globes and their less neutral and passionate tuning, the differences are obvious. It is at this point that the informative and descriptive level provided by a range-specific driver comes to the fore. The same translates to the high end, but in an even more pronounced way. While the work of the full-range BA driver is very good, it is not up to the level of a specialised mid and treble driver, however appropriate the tuning. And that’s the difference, in this case, more drivers, more sound, more richness, more information, more extension, more density, better musicality and musical complexity.
The sound is bigger in the Globes, but the comparative simplicity of the ORBs creates a cleaner feel that makes the sound appear crisper, clearer, even more open. The lower density also contributes to a more volatile, even more separated sound in the ORBs.
JH Audio TriFi 10th Anniversary
For some reason, when reviewing Globe I thought of this classic model that I own. This is a commemorative limited edition to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the popular Triple Fi 10. This TriFi is a universal 3-way, 3-driver IEM. Jerry Harvey was involved in the development and redesigned the drivers just for the TriFi. It features JHA’s FreqPhase technology.
In a way, the TriFi is the epitome of extreme warmth, of a sound that borders on darkness, slightly unbalanced by its great mid-bass response. There is a similar hint of passion in the mids, albeit more distant, sunken and dark. It is, without a doubt, a passion of other times. The low bass intrudes into the midrange and although it favours male voices, it has a recessed upper-midrange (who would think that now). However, the upper range has good linearity, presence and extension, although the air range suffers greatly. Memories are fuzzy and a quick switch to the Globes is like walking into a room and turning on the light. The difference with a model that was expensive a few years ago is not sustained by the TriFi’s tuning, which was already risky and warm in its time. Not that the Globes are a completely current model either, but the comparison becomes odious.
In the low end, the TriFi’s have plenty of texture, despite coming from a BA driver, as well as a strong emphasis on the mid-bass. But the physicality, power, definition and technical ability of the Globe’s dynamic driver is far superior, not to mention its structural recreation and depth.
The TriFi mids are a strange mix, where the first half is clearly emancipated and the second half retracted, just the opposite of current tunings. What I like about the Globe is that it eschews this trend of excited mid-highs and finds a very balanced tuning in the middle range. It retains the warmth and passion of that past, but revised and updated with great success. The result is obvious and the comparison is unparalleled.
In the upper range the competition is a little more even, but what the TriFi cannot do, at this stage, is reach the level of the Globe. Time does not pass in vain and it shows, neither the resolution, nor the definition, nor the technical ability is similar. The result is a much more realistic brightness, despite the overall softness of the Penon.
The TriFi’s are not able to recreate the music as well as the Globe’s and everything is smaller and more congested on them. The darkness of the JHs contributes to a smaller, more intimate soundstage.
The JH Audio TriFi’s are classics and that is why I keep them in my collection. They were left to me years ago and I don’t know what happened then. I bought them third or fourth hand, not very expensive and when I had them I thought they were not what I had heard before… As a collector’s item they are worth… But they don’t stand up to a comparison with a model whose price is currently half of what the TriFi used to cost. What will happen to my headphone collection in 5 years?
I think the Globes are one of the best exponents to get into the sound that Penon Audio is looking for.
The bass is full, complete, wide, deep, physical, but very expressive. Dedicated to bass-lovers.
The midrange requires getting into the lap of that Penon sound I’m talking about. It’s a warm, euphonic range, which may seem a little more subdued if you’re coming from IEMS with more excited mid-highs. But, in fact, it’s like lighting up the sunset, it’s the best light of the day, the best atmosphere to enjoy the music, it’s the light of the soul, of romanticism, of passion. I think it is the light that Penon is looking for. And this half-light is not unique, but receives the refined flashes of a soft, yet detailed, defined and well extended treble, to fill the mid-range with sweetness and nuances, breathing the necessary air to separate and elevate them.
I invite you to enter… through the big door, to this sound, by the hand of the Penon Globe.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- S.M.S.L Sanskrit 10th MKII + iFi ZEN CAN.
- Hidizs AP80 PRO-X.
- HiBy R3 Pro.
- Earmen Colibri.
- Earmen Sparrow.
- xDuoo Link2 BAL.
- Tempotec V1-A + Hidizs DH80S.
- Tempotec Sonata E44.
- Hidizs S9 Pro.