- Reasonably well-balanced signature
- Clear and detailed
- Very respectable sound stage
- On the pricey side
- Not many accessories included
- Looks don’t match the price
InEar StageDiver 4 Specs
- Impedance: 22-ohm
- Drivers: 4x Balanced Armatures – 2-way crossover
- Frequency response: 20-19,000 Hz
- SPL: 120dB
- Cable length: 140cm
- Cable connections: 2-pin
What’s in the box?
- StageDiver 4
- Hard storage / carrying case
- 4x Pairs silicon eartips
- 1/4″ adapter
- 3x Cleansing wipes
The included accessories for the StageDiver 4 is rather skimpy, to say the least. Whilst you do get a very rugged Pelican-style hard storage/carrying case, only 4 pairs of silicon eartips are included. Granted, these are some of the better stock eartips when considering the vast majority of included tips out there.
A nice 1/4” adapter is also a welcomed addition.
The StageDiver 4 (as the numerical value suggests) houses a quad-BA setup along with a 2-way crossover network. In terms of the housing, the StageDiver 4 doesn’t offer anything particularly interesting, as it has a simple gloss-black finish. A particular downside to this housing design is just how darn slippery it is. Unless you clean your ears every 5 minutes with alcohol pads, you’re bound to find out just how slippery it can be. This makes tip selection even more important, as even a slightly too big eartip will force the StageDiver 4 to become “unseated” rather promptly.
The housing is very well made, though, as there is absolutely no visible seam between the main shell and the faceplate, and also features a larger diameter nozzle, just like the ProPhile 8. This large nozzle size makes tip-rolling (trying out different tips) much easier, as many of the aftermarket tips tend to have larger connecting bores.
The StageDiver 4 also has removable cables. However, just like InEar’s ProPhile 8, these are 2-pin connectors. As noted in the ProPhile 8’s review, care must be taken when inserting the cables to ensure that you don’t end up with an out of phase connection. The cable that comes with the StageDiver 4 seems to be the same cable included with the ProPhile 8, so the same rules will apply. Be sure to note the little red and blue markings on the 2-pin connectors, as these correlate with the colour of the Cerumen-filters in the IEM’s nozzle in order to distinguish the left from the right IEM (right = red, left = blue). These markings are quite small, and the blue dot can be particularly difficult to see, especially in low-light.
In order to ensure that the cables are inserted correctly, hold the IEM in one hand with the nozzle pointing directly at you, then insert the left cable so that the blue dot is facing to the left, whilst the right is inserted so that the red dot is facing to the right.
Source: Hidizs AP60
DAC/Amp: IFI Micro iDSD Black Label
As always, tip selection is going to matter, and the StageDiver 4 has some very good tips included. The black silicon tips are comfortable, and offer good isolation. They don’t feel or sound quite as good as my preferred JVC SpiralDot tips, but very respectable for stock eartips nonetheless. As noted in the ProPhile 8 review, the StageDiver 4 also has a deeper than usual insertion. As such, you’ll likely find yourself needing to use smaller tips than what you would with other IEMs. Get the right tips though and the StageDiver 4 will reward you tremendously.
There is a theme here, and that is that InEar definitely know what they’re doing. InEar clearly have a house sound that they stick to, and it works. Compared to their flagship ProPhile 8, the StageDiver 4 does share some important sonic similarities. Although the StageDiver 4 isn’t as well balanced and neutral as the ProPhile 8, it does get pretty close. The thing is, the ProPhile 8 is indeed a reference IEM, which wouldn’t appeal to as many people. The StageDiver 4, on the other hand offers a more widely enjoyed v-curve signature. This is not to say that it doesn’t offer great detail or sound stage. Quite the contrary, actually.
Despite the v-curve, the StageDiver 4 never feels overly boomy or artificially bright either. All the details are there too, just not quite as pronounced as on the flagship. It isn’t a deep v-curve either, but just enough to add some excitement.
Whilst not having the accuracy of a reference monitor, the StageDiver 4 absolutely hits the perfect balance between reference and “fun”.
Bass presence is there, but not overpowering. In short, InEar’s extensive tuning has paid off greatly. Playing Macklemore’s Downtown provided some pretty deep bass, almost reaching the “chest-rumble” point.
Vocals are satisfying clear, with a slight emphasis going towards female vocals. Melissa Menago’s Little Crimes sounds great, with the StageDiver 4 portraying the emotion in her voice, along with the sound of falling rain in the background particularly well.
Highs are sparkly, albeit it with some just a touch of sibilance at times. The StageDiver 4 doesn’t seem to have been intended for loud listening volumes, but sits much more comfortably at relaxed volumes. This could be alleviated with using narrow-bore or foam tips, but at the slight expense of increased bass presence and a narrower sound stage.
Soundstage is certainly above average, creating a convincingly realistic stereo image, especially with binaurally recorded tracks such as those from Amber Rubarth.
InEar genuinely have another winner on their hands. Although the StageDiver 4 doesn’t offer the same reference quality of the ProPhile 8, that inherent DNA still comes across clearly. A reference signature isn’t for everyone though, in which case the StageDiver 4 represents a very healthy compromise between a reference sound and that of a more traditional v-curve signature. Add in the StageDiver 4’s sound stage and you’ve got a fantastic daily driver.
The only downside to consider here is the price. At just shy of $755, the StageDiver 4 isn’t cheap by any means.
There’s a good reason for this, though, as all of InEar’s products are designed and built in Germany. As such, it would perhaps be a bit unfair to compare pricing to offers from Asia. Nevertheless, cash is king, and you’d still need to consider this point when making a purchase. Thus far I would consider the DUNU DK-3001 to be a strong contender against the StageDiver 4. The DUNU doesn’t have the same comfort as the InEar, but the DK-3001 does offer some truly excellent sound, exceeding that of the StageDiver 4 to some extent. It also costs nearly $200 less than the StageDiver 4.
Decisions, decisions. Whatever your pick may be, either of those are exceptionally good and do offer good to great value for money.
The TECH MERIT rating system is designed to take as many aspects of the device into account as possible. As such, we have a basic rating, as well as a final rating. The basic rating rates the product purely as a high quality portable audio device, and is generally a good indicator of how it stacks up to its rivals in terms of standard features and specs. The final rating, however, grants bonus points for any extra features and specs that aren’t quite as common, and is a great way to judge the product as a complete package.
Look and feel: 5 / 10
More than 3 pairs of eartips included: YES
Protective case: YES
Quality control: 10 / 10
Seems durable: YES
Microphonics: 8 / 10
Comfort: 9 / 10
Relatively balanced signature: YES
Soundstage: 9 / 10
Detail retrieval: 9 / 10
Sibilance: 8 / 10
Instrument separation: 8 / 10
Isolation: 9 / 10
Hiss: 7 / 10
Small size: 8 / 10
Relatively low power required: 9 / 10
Weight: 10 / 10
Competitive price-point: –
Relative value: 8 / 10
Basic Rating: 8.4
Removable cables: YES
Number of cables included: 1
Premium cables: YES
Pairs of eartips above 3 pairs: 1
How premium the case looks and feels: 8 / 10
Battery life above 8 hours: –
Volume/remote controls: –
Metal body: –
Tuning system: –
Premium look and feel: –
Use of exotic materials: –
Bluetooth connection quality: –
1/4” adapter included: YES
Final Rating: 9.0