The package contents are fairly sparse: in the box, you’ll find the Heartfield Deer earphones, a detachable SPC cable, some silicone eartips and documentation.
It’s not every day you see an IEM like the Heartfield Deer. At first glance, it looks like a piece of diamond-encrusted jewellery. That’s because each of the faceplates has been adorned by hand with 198 pieces of gem-like crystals.
The crystals glimmer and shine in the light and the result is rather extraordinary. True, the appearance of the Deer will be polarizing and people are likely to either love it or hate it. I personally love it. It looks better in real life than in photos. In fact, I was astonished at the quality of these artisan-built earphones.
They have some real heft to them, courtesy of the brass-coated platinum cavity. So, not only do they look prestigious, they feel it too. In addition, these IEMs are very comfortable in the ears. The shells contour naturally to the shape of my ears and I can wear them for long periods of time without any discomfort.
The passive noise isolation is above average, making the Deer especially good for noisy environments such as commuting on public transport or walking around a busy shopping mall.
Judging from the looks of the Heartfield Deer, I expected it to have a neutral-bright sound. Well, there’s a reason people say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Because the Deer sounds exactly the opposite.
It has a bold, warm sound with a heavily accented bass. In fact, I’d comfortably label this a basshead IEM because it really thumps. The overall sound signature is U-shaped but it could also pass for an L-shaped sound.
The bass is pretty intense – those looking for a neutral or uncoloured sound will not find what they’re looking for here. But if you’re chasing big bass that thumps and rumbles then you’ve come to the right place.
Both the sub-bass and mid-bass are big in quantity and overall impact. It’s surprising how much air the Deer’s little 6.8mm driver can push. If you’re curious about the quality of the bass, it’s a mixture of both good and bad. On one hand, it’s not the fastest bass and there’s a significant amount of bleeding into the midrange.
On the other hand, it’s a bass loaded with texture and one that is unapologetically tuned for fun. However, due to the sheer quantity of the lows, it will undoubtedly be too much for some listeners to handle.
Just like the bass, the Deer’s midrange is a mixture of good and bad. The mids have a warm tone with slightly thickened notes. This works really well for instruments like cellos and violins and the Deer also produces some gritty and textured electric guitars.
But due to the quantity of bass, the midrange tends to get congested during busy segments. Furthermore, the bass bleeds fairly heavily into the mids, causing some smearing.
Male vocals sound rich and chocolatey smooth yet still articulate. Female voices come through with more vibrance and cut clearly through the warm undertones. The Deer’s midrange is emotive and is likely to have you singing along with your favourite artists. However, if you’re after super clean mids you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The treble tuning is mostly safe although the lower treble can be a little sharp on occasion. There’s some sparkle and energy in the upper treble that’s entirely necessary to counterbalance the mammoth bass.
The detail retrieval is quite good on tracks with less bass but the details quickly get masked over on recordings where there’s more happening in the lows. Overall, I quite like Deer’s treble; it’s lively yet mostly inoffensive and has a fairly natural timbre.
Soundstage and Technicalities
The soundstage has average dimensions and is slightly wider than it is deep. Despite the modest size of the stage, the imaging is okay. Due to the warmth of the sound, instrument separation varies between good and below average depending on the amount of bass in the music.
The Heartfield Deer is an IEM that surprised, disappointed and delighted me. I was surprised by its bold presentation and energy, disappointed by the excessive bass and delighted by the sonic mosaic it creates when paired with the right music. Bassheads will love it but neutral purists would probably loathe it.
Aesthetically, the Deer is likely to be divisive but I think it looks fantastic and I appreciate its unique design. Physically, the Deer feels like a more expensive item thanks to its exquisite and robust build quality. Overall, I think the Deer is good value for what it offers and I’ll definitely be looking out to see what Heartfield does next.