Alpha & Delta D6 – Balanced and durable IEM review
Hi folks. Today we’re looking at the Alpha & Delta D6 IEM. Lend Me UR ears is a Singapore based retailer of personal audio equipment. The store was opened in December 2011 with a goal to
“bring quality audio products to the masses and providing good customer service in the process.”
They offer free international shipping and international warranty for all items purchased. LMUR also develops their own earphone brand “Alpha & Delta”.
A little over a year ago in September 2016, I reviewed the Alpha & Delta D2 (review here). My wife has been using it as her daily driver ever since and it’s still in perfect condition – a testament to its durability and build quality. Lend Me UR ears has long been developing a new line of IEMs and one of them, the Alpha & Delta D6 is finally ready for the people.
The Alpha & Delta D6 has a clear, resolving and balanced sound that’s not often found it its price range. The D6 boasts some impressive features including a Dual Air Chamber acoustic design, licensed HDSS high definition technology and Hi-res audio certified drivers. But how does that relate to the end user experience? Let’s see if we can find out.
*Note this is a pre-production model so there was no packaging included. Here is a look at the accessories that will be included in the retail version:
1 pair of ear guides
1 shirt clip
1 pair of foam tips
9 pairs of silicone ear tips
1 leather case
1 leather cable wrap
Build, comfort and isolation
The D6 sports metal housings in a polished, gunmetal grey colour. They are of the common cylindrical shape type that is popular in IEMs with a couple of rings toward the back that serve to give the shells a more interesting appearance rather than having a plain and straight surface. On the rear of the shells are the Alpha & Delta branding and HDSS lettering.
I would have liked to see the rear edge a little more rounded as it can sometimes press against the antihelix and cause hotspots. On the top of the shells towards the rear is a very pinhole sized vent/bass port and there’s another at the base of the nozzle.
The nozzles are of average length and width, making tip rolling easy and there’s a distinct lip to hold the eartips securely. The D6 are very lightweight and look to be very durable and well built.
Onto the cable now and easily the nicest cable I’ve seen on a sub $100 IEM. The white, 8 core, silver-plated copper cable is deliciously thick from the plug to the Y-split. It feels fantastic and sturdy in the hand yet is really soft and supple, so it sits well and there’s no bounciness to it.
There’s a metal Y-split made from the same metal as the housings and the same gunmetal grey colour. The strain reliefs from top to bottom are fantastic.
There’s a small bump on the left side where it attaches to the housings to denote the Left side. The cable terminates in an L-shaped plug, again using the same metal as the housings. There’s also a substantial spring style strain relief here, similar to what you find on some Trinity Audio IEMs. It works extremely well but I feel it could have been made half as long and still be just as effective.
The only downside to this cable, in my opinion, is that it is non-detachable but it really feels built to last and as is absolutely gorgeous.
Comfort is good, as is the norm for this shape in an IEM and the light weight of the shells doesn’t cause any burden on the ears. I found noise isolation to be about average and suitable for most situations.
About HDSS high definition Sound Technology
Real-time crystal clear sound without distortion
Speakers create sound through vibration. Due to the small enclosure, the reflected sound waves can distort our music by interfering with the sound waves entering our ears. HDSS technology removes these reflected waves to ensure crystal clear sound.
Detailed 3-dimensional sound reproduction
The removal of reflected waves also allows speakers to disperse sound coherently, allowing for a naturally projected soundstage.
About Dual Chamber Acoustic Design
The dual chamber acoustic design redirects reflected sound waves into a uniquely designed second chamber which absorbs these sound waves. This reduces distortion and improves the clarity and soundstage of the earphones.
Built like a tank- 3 years warranty
The weakness of any pair of earphones lies in its wires. Majority of the earphones uses 4 core cable. Once breakage occurs in one of the cables, the earphones cease to function. Many earphones also do not come with sufficient strain reliefs to reinforce vulnerable areas such as the 3.5mm jack.
In response, the D6 reinforces the 3.5mm jack with a spring-loaded design. Furthermore, D6 uses an 8 core silver plated copper cable to ensure extra durability. Thus, even if wire breaks, the remaining cores will ensure the continued functionality of the earphones.
This is a very different beast from the A&D D2. It’s more balanced and resolving across the board. The bass has more texture and definition, vocals and midrange are clearer and treble has more presence and extension. There isn’t any single area where the D6 shines, it’s more of a goodness across the board type of IEM. The sound is balanced and leaning slightly towards bright.
While the D6’s sub-bass has great extension it doesn’t carry a lot of weight, keeping in line with its balanced approach. When it comes to mid-bass the D6 has lovely texture and definition but is consistent with the sub-bass in its mature levels. There’s enough punch there to drive music and a natural, fairly fast decay that brings realism and at the same time great control. This is not an IEM for the bassheads out there but for those looking for a more even tonal presentation.
Midrange is very tidy, its instrument separation impressive and level of clarity above average. Vocals are sweet, particularly for female vocals that get a little boost and are a real treat. Male vocals also get some love with a little weight carried over from the upper bass to give them enough richness to avoid sounding thin, yet at the same time don’t sound coloured.
Lovers of classical music should appreciate the timbre and clarity of the D6’s midrange with its slight upper midrange boost – Beethoven’s String Quartets by the Emerson String Quartet sounds fantastic with these. Don’t think these are limited to the classics though – “Down” by Run the Jewels sounds energetic with the vocals still managing to pop despite the tracks heavy bass.
Treble is nothing short of excellent on the Alpha & Delta D6 for something in its price range. The extension is fantastic, providing plenty of air and detail. It’s nimble and energetic but never strident or piercing. The sheen of cymbals and bells is really nice, the way they ring before fading into the distance. There’s enough sharpness to grab your attention but it eases up before it becomes uncomfortable and its far-reaching nature adds greatly to the dynamic range. It’s clean, it’s nimble and it pops.
Soundstage here is very clean with a fair amount of width and depth. The D6 creates good space between instruments and positions them accurately enough to let you know just where they’re situated. Stereo separation is another strong point and imaging is above average, the overall impression is one of clarity and detail.
The most notable difference here is the bass, with the series 4 having a much more pronounced mid-bass. It’s a really punchy and impactful bass which actually sounds a bit over the top after listening to the D6 for several consecutive days. The jump between the bass and midrange is more noticeable on the Series 4 – that meaty bass doesn’t carry over into the lower mids, making them sound a little thin.
The TFZ’s thinner, boosted upper midrange gives less distinction between upper mids and treble making the top end sound less separated and lacking the separation of the D6. While the Series 4 sounds more typically V-shaped the D6’s rise from low to high is more linear without the associated peaks found in the Series 4. The D6 has a more defined soundstage with superior imaging.
The TNT has more bass presence but it lacks the texture and definition of the D6. Both these IEMs are fairly balanced but where the TNT puts more emphasis on bass the D6 instead boosts the upper midrange. While the D6 has a bright personality the TNT is a smoother and more relaxed listen.
Both of these IEMs have good detail retrieval but the D6 has more clarity in the midrange that gives it an edge in instrument separation.
Treble on both is light and airy. The TNT being a little smoother in this area and soundstage is equally impressive on both with the D6 having a slight advantage in imaging.
Alpha & Delta D6 Conclusion
The Alpha & Delta D6 was certainly not what I was expecting after my experience with the D2. The D6 has a much more refined and mature tuning. It is definitely a big step up in terms of technical performance.
With its mature tuning, the D6 is a more serious offering from A&D that aims more towards transparency and resolution compared to the D2’s fun and relaxed approach. The Alpha & Delta D6 impresses not only with its clarity and detail but also with soundstage and imaging.
Anyone looking for something more balanced and less V-shaped than the typical offerings in the $100 range should take a look at the Alpha & Delta D6. It offers a solid build and great sound and comes with a very impressive 3-year warranty.