Hello, hello! Welcome to another installment of the Bus Ride Impression. Coming off a very nice meet yesterday with earbuds folks, I was able to get a chance to try yet another Indonesian wonder, Crow Audio, and I was pretty mesmerized by two of their products.
Yes, that is right. I have to admit, sometimes having tried a lot of gears might make me a bit jaded with the new offers in the market today, but somehow once in a while something will pop out of nowhere and surprise me with how these gears perform. In the case of Crow Audio, I was only given a few minutes of audition for Raven MKII and Dietris 300 Ohms but I will have to admit how engaging both sounded like. These two offered a sound that is quite engaging particularly the Raven MKII which seems to sound a bit different from the conventional ones that I have tried. Yes, it is not as if it a totally unique tonality, it’s just that it has a distinct flavor that one would not normally get out of those currently in the market right now. Which bring to a point: brand is one thing, but the earbud model is totally something else.
Before I go on droning off, I would first like to thank my benefactor, Ronan Halili, for allowing me these babies. I know these has been in my possession for quite some time now, so I am now giving these baddies a much deserved air time.
So, let’s break it down and see how the Raven MKII does with my current gears.
While there are other brands with much better packaging, the Raven MKII does strut with an interesting packaging: a tin. While to others it would like a pomade (heck, I remember one being used by my grand dad a long time ago), this gives the Raven MKII quite a nice container. At this age, you would normally see those typical earphone cases, the hard shell ones, while others would even include lesser storage such as a pouch, but to Crow Audio, they didn’t settle for such. While inexpensive, it is a novel idea to include the tin storage as it will provide a really good protection for the earbuds.
The earbuds, however looks like the conventional shells in the market. With a black finish, one would mistake it as the common ones, but what made it distinct is the cable used. I haven’t had a chance to discover as to what material was used, I would hazard it to be a high purity copper, based on how it sounded, but I can be wrong as it may be the tuning of the drivers that does most of the work (the more likely scenario here). I do like how supple the cable is given that is braided and has quite a thicker gauge (24AWG perhaps?) as it simply follows any movement I make while wearing the Raven MKII. Plug doesn’t seem to be any special (it could have done a bit more pizzazz, but I might be asking for too much), but Crow Audio decided to use a simple carbon fiber designed splitter perhaps to give it a bit of a signature look. Crow Audio could have done a bit of better work by polishing the edges off, it looked like it was just cut by a metal saw or something crudely done. Not a biggie though, but for the obsessive-compulsive ones, this might be a bit of an issue.
Nothing else much on the packaging, but I will have to say that given the price, it could have been more, but then again there really isn’t anything else to look for with this gem.
Now this is where the Raven MKII shines. It is not something that would typically be of my preference in terms of tonality, I guess it really was more on how it was tuned that gave me such chills while using it. I would say that the Raven MKII has a certain hint of warmth that was not overdone, perhaps just enough to give it the body it needed. I would say the mid ranges and the higher ends seems to be reference sounding (balanced?), it is just that it was tuned in a very good manner that while it carries that bump in the low ends, it never got in the way of the mid-range, making it look recessed or what. I will say that if you look at it on an FR graph, I would probably see the highs slowly sloping down to the mid range and staying there with some minor bumps off the higher frequencies.
Let’s try a variation of sources as I try the Raven MKII:
Higher Ground (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mother’s Milk) – Hifiman HM901S
The cover from Stevie Wonder would perhaps be an excellent choice to gauge how an audio gear measures for its low frequency capabilities. With the Raven MKII, I enjoyed how Flea played with the basslines of the track as played by the earbud. It also allows to exhibit the raunchy guitar riffs while allow the basslines to still be very distinct and accurate. Anthony Kiedis’ voice still remained upfront but not excessive. The cymbals off Chad Smith’s drums allowed some sparkle that personally, I would typically find a bit lacking, but I guess the tuning of the Raven MKII sounded quite so cohesive that I really don’t mind it. Fact is, the continues slap in the high hats are very distinct, you will not find anything lacking at all.
Walk On The Ocean (Toad The Wet Sprocket, Fear) – Astell & Kern AK100/Glove Audio A1
Glen Philips’ voice totally stood out with the Raven MKII. Perhaps it was with how the guitars nor the accordion was played, but I liked how his vocal blended well with the accompanying instruments. Of course the drums are stellar with the Raven MKII, with each pound quick and tight, very much enjoyable as it keeps the pace up for the track.
Truthfully (Lisa Loeb, Firecracker) – Motorola Moto Z/Centrance HiFi-M8
Evereything sounded quite accurate with this track using this set-up: basslines has such a beautiful hum while the acoustic guitars sounded quick and accurate which harmonizes really well with the piano. To top it all up, Lisa Loeb’s voice were highlighted quite well by the Raven MKII; I guess this kind of tracks is where the Raven MKII stands out, it allows such beautiful melody with softer, less than aggressive tracks.
Which may be my only con for the earbud, while it does sound good, I think you can only maximize it with the use of relaxed tracks. I wouldn’t mind using it with fast and aggressive tracks though, just thought that it will do a better job doing slower tracks.
Is the Crow Audio Raven MKII a worthy buy for $75? Definitely, and with my love for Indonesian buds, I must say that if you are prioritizing which ones to buy, the Raven MKII should be one among those that are on the top of your list. Maybe after the Edimun V3, I will have the Raven MKII on the second for my Indonesian earbuds list.