A relative newcomer to the audio industry, Alclair Audio is primarily known for producing great sounding custom in-ear monitors at comparatively low prices. However, we’ll be looking at Alclair’s distinctive universal offering today. Aptly named the “Curve”, the earphone features dual BA drivers inside a highly unique curved shell. How does it sound? Keep reading.
DISCLAIMER: This unit was provided by Alclair for the purposes of this review. We are neither affiliates nor employees of Alclair. All media rights are reserved.
The earphones come in very simple packaging. Upon opening the cardboard box, I found a black hard fiber case. Inside was a cleaning tool and 3 sets of Comply tips (including the pair that goes on the earphone). I wish that there was more to the Curve’s packaging, especially in the eartip department. Silicone tips would definitely have helped to make the whole package more complete, especially considering how fast Comply tips fall apart.
The Curve is made completely of plastic. The front part of the earphone is clear, while the back is an opaque grey. It’s definitely not a beauty by any means, but does seem pretty durable. When it comes to fit, I was actually amazed by how well the Curve’s unique shape worked. Resting firmly in the concha with a guiding edge around the antihelix, the Curve initially felt somewhat uncomfortable. However, after just a day’s worth of use, I became accustomed to the feel of the Curve, and found that it was easy to attain an excellent seal that stayed on during active use. It also goes without saying that sound isolation is very good.
While the design is excellent, some improvements definitely have to be made to the cable. Starting off with the positive aspects, the split is extremely durable. However, the slider is is immediately disappointing –it’s a clear piece of plastic tubing that simply looks out of place. The earguides are made of the same plastic tubing and are uncomfortable to wear after long periods of time. The braids are nice and feature very little memory, but are quite thin and get tangled very easily (this is not an overstatement). In addition, this earphone does not have a filter, so frequent cleaning may be necessary for some.
Overall, I’d say that the Curve is built on a solid foundation. With a few more adjustments and refinements, I could foresee this being one of the most comfortable and best-fitting universal monitors out there.
There has been comparatively little discussion (and even fewer reviews) on the Curve earphone. Before I continue, I want to first establish that my review is not intended to dispute or discredit the opinions of any other reviewer. However, I do have to say that my impressions of the Alclair Curve were rather different from those established in the only other formal review that I have been able to find on Head-Fi (i.e. prepare yourself). Starting with a general overview of the Curve’s sound –I found that it reminded me a lot of the ATH-IM02. It’s still got plenty of forwardness, but isn’t quite as aggressive as the IM02. A big part of this can be attributed to the enhanced bass performance of the Curve. Featuring good extension and an excellent body, the Curve’s bass is quite impressive. And while it certainly does exhibit a tinge of slowness at times, it wasn’t by any means a deal breaker. There is also very little bleed into the midrange.
The mids are just a tad south of neutral, featuring a bit of warmth that goes a long ways in helping to smooth out the overall SQ. In this regard, the Curve’s mids are also slightly laid back, which I found to be a good thing more often than not. Long listening sessions were enjoyable, and never fatiguing. Detail retrieval is good, but won’t satisfy the particularly critical listener. Sibilance is (thankfully) nonexistent, and only very rarely did I encounter peaky sounds.
The highs are great. It’s got a good amount of sparkle, but fortunately doesn’t come off as tinny. Imaging is good, and instruments are relatively well separated. Overall, soundstage is medium sized, featuring good airiness while still maintaining a level of intimacy. In summary, there are two words I’d use to describe this earphone –comfortable and subtle. The Curve really doesn’t break any major conventions in terms of SQ. And it’s a good thing that it doesn’t. It really helps the Curve cater to multiple genres, and it’s great to see such an excellently performing all-around earphone.
The Curve is definitely a very enjoyable earphone to use. Design-wise, I was very impressed by just how well the Curve fits. The curved design really works, and is an excellent choice for active users. Sonically, it performs very well in many expects, and definitely deserves its place as a solid contender in the dual BA market. If you’re in the market for a unique pair of earphones with excellent sonic qualities, then I’d definitely recommend the Curve.