Ortofon Denmark is best known for being a seasoned manufacturer of cartridges and stylus tips for both DJ turntables and home hifi record players alike. Less known in Europe and America is that Ortofon’s Japanese daughter brand has quite the different gear line-up to offer for the Asian market. Not only does Ortofon Japan provide everything from amps to speakers for an upper class home hifi system, lately they also entered the portable audio market with two in-ear phones, first the e-Q7 and now the e-Q5.
While other brands often jump on the profitable IEM bandwagon with a “me too” attitude, adding yet another pair of generic phones to the unmanageable pile of models a customer has to wade through, Ortofon Japan sure entered this market in style. The e-Q7 and e-Q5 use neither dynamic drivers nor balanced armatures, as found in 99.9% of all other in-ear phones available. They use a newly developed technology instead, a hybrid of aforementioned transducer designs, a so-called “moving armature”, or “single pole armature”, manufactured by Yashima Electric. This kind of speaker features a diaphragm as in a traditional dynamic driver, but instead of being driven by a voice coil, it’s driven by a miniaturized armature ‘motor’. While regular balanced armatures rest between two magnetic poles, the Ortofon driver is surrounded by a single magnetic field, thus the “single pole” moniker.
Generally speaking, dynamic drivers are often said to have a more full-bodied, more substantial sound, with better soundstage – while armatures are said to have better precision and speed, yet are often thinner sounding (thus the reason for multi-armature IEMs with crossovers, to beef it up a bit).
Let’s see if Ortofon Japan managed to combine the best of both worlds in their moving armature equipped e-Q5. Continue reading…