The Panther Audio Aura D2X is a hybrid dual-driver IEM with 1 dynamic driver and 1 balanced armature driver. It has 2 tuning switches enabling a total of 4 different sound profiles and retails for HK$1,980 (approx. US$255).
About Panther Audio
Panther Audio was founded in 2018 and is based in Hong Kong. The company’s goal is to introduce more people to “Pursuing The Ultimate Sound Quality” in their daily life. They make both universal and custom in-ear monitors with a variety of driver configurations.
Wire type: 4 strands, high-purity single crystal copper silver-plated wire
Cable length: about 120cm
Packaging & Accessories
The Panther Audio Aura D2X comes in a large matte black cardboard box with a glossy panther image and logo on the top. It’s a vast departure from the single faux leather carrying case that my Aura DX4 came in. I love seeing brands mature and evolve over time and this was a really pleasant surprise to see. Here’s what you get in the box:
Panther Audio Aura D2X earphones
Detachable 2-pin 3.5mm cable
Faux leather carrying case
3 pairs of ‘balanced’ silicone eartips (S, M, L)
3 pairs of ‘bass’ silicone eartips (S, M, L)
1 pair of orange-core silicone eartips (M)
Branded cleaning cloth
Tuning switch tool
3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter
Thank you & warranty cards
Tuning switch info card
Aura D2X’s fully hand-moulded, pseudo custom shells are crafted from medical-grade resin. The build quality is exquisite with no visible seams and perfectly rounded edges on every surface. The shells are a translucent, smoky grey colour adorned with honey gold flakes.
On the left faceplate is some Panther text and on the right is the brand logo, both in silver. On the top side are the 2 tuning switches and the single vent, while on the front are the 2-pin sockets. The dual-bore nozzles have a lip that securely holds eartips in place. In terms of build quality, these are some of the best I’ve seen at this price point.
When it comes to comfort, the D2X fit my ears like a glove and I can wear them happily for hours at a time. Noise isolation is slightly above average, blocking a good amount of outside noise. These would be ideal for noisy environments and would also be suitable as a stage monitor for live performances.
The D2X comes with a 0.78mm 2-pin, 4-strand high-purity silver-plated single crystal copper cable. There’s an optional 8-strand upgrade cable available as well which is what I received with my review sample. It has a tight, uniform braid with a black TPU sheath. The 2-pin connector housings, Y-split, chin slider and right-angled 3.5mm plug are all matching glossy black aluminium.
Strain relief is good from top to bottom and the overall feeling is quite premium. In terms of handling, the cable is lightweight and drapes well. There are no kinks, wire memory or microphonics. Overall, this is a nice cable that feels congruous with something in this price range.
Panther Audio’s entry-level hybrid has a slightly warm tuning and punchy bass. It doesn’t reach basshead level but with the tuning switches in ACG (“Game”) mode, it leans in that direction. With the exception of the bass, the D2X has a fairly linear presentation with a small bump in the lower treble. It has a musical character but one that also happens to be quite strong in technical ability.
The 2 tuning switches in the D2X let you choose from a total of 4 sound profiles. Let’s assume that the switch OFF position is 0 and ON is 1. The 4 modes are:
Equalization 1,1 (boosted bass and mids)
ACG/Game 1,0 (boosted bass)
Original sound 0,0 (default tuning)
Pop 0,1 (boosted mids and treble)
For my personal preference, I stuck with the Original sound mode (0,0) which is what I’ll be primarily describing throughout the sound analysis. It has a light V-shape and to my ears offers the best balance of bass, clarity and soundstage/detail. Having said that, I was fairly content with all of the configs and I was not offended by any of them.
The bass lays the foundation for the D2X’s sound signature. It produces a warm and full-bodied sound that could be generally described as musical. The 10mm graphene dynamic driver is punchy and powerful but also quite nimble and controlled.
It has a nicely defined leading edge, meaty impact and fairly fast decay. The transition from sub-bass to mid-bass is quite linear, making it an engaging and enjoyable bass. The overall bass extension is gratifying and sub-bass notes have good depth with a tight, fast rumble.
Listening to Zymosis’ “Discover Yourself”, the bass slams with powerful impact yet the mids and details are present with minimal bleeding. This is a result of the speedy bass decay, snappy attack and overall control.
D2X has a fairly neutral midrange with natural note size and fast transients. It’s a reasonably forward midrange, particularly in the “Pop” tuning mode that makes vocals and instruments more upfront and intimate.
There’s an underlying warmth inherited from the bass but the resolution and clarity are on point. The lower treble lift keeps things clear and snappy while the relative forwardness of the midrange presents vocals that are intimate but not cloying.
In Opeth’s “To Rid The Disease”, the vocals are upfront and engaging and have a natural tone. They rise clearly above the melodic piano and rhythmic bassline of the song. The acoustic guitars have a nice mix of body and strings while electric guitars have bite without sharpness.
The DX2’s highs are relatively laid back except for a slight lower treble peak at 8kHz. As a result, there’s ample clarity and definition without any sibilance or sharpness. But at the same time, the subdued upper treble means there’s not much sparkle. DX2 aims for an inviting presentation rather than a highly detailed one.
Having said that, the Aura D2X still has good detail retrieval: a testament to its resolution and instrument separation. But those looking for a lively or forward treble won’t find that on the D2X. However, those who appreciate a smoother, non-fatiguing sound will relish the character of the D2X’s highs.
The D2X has a rounded soundstage with a good sense of depth. It’s not a particularly large stage but has a stable centre image and good layering. Live recordings sound convincing and vocals are tangible with a neutral position and note size. It’s not an especially wide stage but sounds reach towards the outer headspace.
Shanling ME500 Platinum ($289)
The Shanling ME500 Platinum is a triple driver hybrid IEM with 1 dynamic driver and 2 balanced armatures. It has been one of my favourite earphones in this price range due to its impressive detail retrieval and strong dynamics.
ME500 bass is lighter in quantity with a slight sub-bass roll-off but equally good extension. Although the midrange is slightly thinner than the D2X, it’s equally as forward but even more so in the upper mids. Female vocals sound brighter and more vivid on the ME500 compared to the D2X’s fuller, more mellow tone.
A 4-5kHz peak gives the Shanling more vocal presence but one that is more prone to occasional sibilance. Another peak at 8kHz lifts the ME500’s clarity above that of the D2X but the sound is thinner and crash cymbals have a slightly brittle element.
The Shanling has a larger soundstage due to greater treble extension and its thinner tone. Furthermore, the lifted upper treble of the ME500 gives it an edge in imaging capability but can become fatiguing over time.
BGVP VG4 ($247)
The BGVP VG4 is a quad-driver IEM with 2 Knowles balanced armatures and 2 Sonion balanced armatures. It has a lighter, brighter tonality compared to the D2X. Despite everything looking more forward on the graph above, the VG4 is leaner in terms of tone and note size.
Like so many multi-BA IEMs, the VG4 has very quick, controlled lows but lacks overall bass impact. The mid-bass is punchy enough but the sub-bass doesn’t carry much weight. VG4 has more midrange clarity and a pristine, clean sound compared to the warmer D2X. As a result, while the VG4’s clarity is impressive, the Aura D2X’s vocal tone is more natural.
With the VG4’s lifted upper mids and core treble boost, it has an exciting, crystal clear sound with impressive detail retrieval. It gives it a really high-fidelity sound, enhanced precision and energy along with some occasional sharpness but it’s within tolerable limits. VG4 has a wider soundstage but in complex passages, some of the resolution is lost due to the treble focus.
The Panther Audio Aura D2X has exquisite build quality, versatile tuning and technical chops. The new retail packaging is awesome and shows just how much Panther Audio has matured as a brand since I reviewed the Aura DX4 a year ago. If you’re looking for a musical earphone with good resolution, detail retrieval and versatility, the D2X is an IEM that I can easily recommend.