It is not easy for a new comer to strike the market, especially for market that has been long crowded by competitors. Chord & Major is a good example, few years ago when I heard about them, I can’t wait to listen to their products (Iems), thus I requested review units from them, and I must be very lucky because I have tried all their product range including the 9’13 Classical (I like very much until today, dark sounding and have very good tonal also exceptional transient response, round soundscape and easily centered music representation,natural but detailed), 8’13 Rock (Crystal clear vocal, energetic – not treble harsh and good bass response), 7’13 Jazz (Boosted bass weight and bass impact, bring out the detail of the pipe organ easily, such as flute and trumpet) and 6’13 Ballad (Good, clear vocal, open sounding). Believe me, they all shine at their own games. That is why I have become Chord & Major’s fans after my first attempt with their product.The idea behind the tonal range IEM is very creative and making sense, taking me as example, my main music is ballad, classical and jazz, I know which IEM is in the game now, you don’t really need to own all to get the best, just buy the one that you think you will use the most. Sound quality is not the only thing that Chord & Major will shine though, if you ever hold their product, you know how well C&M put effort on the packaging, finishing and build quality of their products, they are not making any typical Chinese product, they are making product that they can proudly called them ‘Product of Taiwan’, they paid neat attention on every detail, honestly I can’t find any manufacturer that willing to pay so much attention on their products, the wood texture and excellent build quality are trademark of their products, this is good culture and I really hope they can continue doing this. Chord & Major 5’14 World Music Tonal Earphone (239USD) This is a very unique IEM. The tonal strength of 5’14 according to Chord & Major are world and live music. This review actually took longer time because world music is not music genre that I am quite familiar with, I took time to listen to them and understand the music genre. I also needed some time to fully understand the characteristic of the IEM before I published the review, sorry for my delay. From the outer, it has different wood ‘texture’ and ‘colour’ compared to other C&M products, thanks God all good culture of C&M are well presented in 5’14 too, the build quality is excellent, the cable strain-relief mechanism is very good and one could expect 5’14 to run long before breakage. Moreover, the packaging is very nice too and I think the earpiece cleaner that bundled in the packaging is practical and handy. I don’t have any comfort issue with 5’14 too, the IEM isolated reasonable well from outer noise. The only complain for me is C&M might need to consider including the 3.5mm to 6.25mm adapter in the package. I like the cable of 5’14 too, it is round type (I prefer round type cable than flat cable), not tangle easily and it is good quality. You really need to hold their product to understand how much effort they put into their products. Audio Quality I paired the Chord & Major 5’14 world straight from my ‘newly’ acquired Apple iPad 2 (Direct music streaming with Netease music app, 320kbps MP3), I also paired it with iFi Audio iDAC Micro(Lossless Format), sometimes amped with tubeamp BL-2 and iFi Audio iCAN Nano. It is not easy to collect world genre music, luckily internet are all convenience today, I found them through Netease music apps (A Spotify, Deezer alike music apps, which is China based and legal), I have huge catalogue of lossless world music in my collection too. So how is it actually sounded? In general, it is open sounding, has good, wide and open soundstage. Not only it has good detail, but it also portray detail in a very natural way (Not harsh). How could I not to mention the bass? Oh! The bass is natural, open and fast. Bass is wide and present enough when the music needed it, but when music didn’t need it, you won’t get those disturbing and boomy bass. The bass performance of 5’14 is detailed and natural enough, it has good texture and amount for the bass, in summary, I will just say that the bass performance is very ‘audiophile’. I played the master of Chinese drum, Yan Xue Ming (阎学敏)’s 天下第一鼓, for those who don’t know this album, it is actually a very enjoyable album with lots of drum hit (which hit deep low) especially the track one, not only drum but few Chinese’s traditional percussion and instrument is in this album too, accompanied by great recording, this album is not only about drum bass but also an excellent album for one to know good headphone/speaker’s positioning, treble, bass detail and capability to ‘draw’ the shape of instrument. C&M 5’14 is indeed a very capable iem, the drum details and positioning of the musician is well portrayed, I can listen to the detail (the vibration of drum and sense of air) very well, I can feel that it is not boosted anything but just ‘represented’ them truly. When the drums hit faster and faster, 5’14 followed the drums easily, speed and instrument separation is good here. What is surprised me more is the ability of 5’14 to ‘draw’ the shape of instrument, you can actually ‘see’ the instrument when you listened to them, the IEM must be have very least coloration to have this ability, you can listen to track 2 of this album, it really give me new way of listening experience. Then I switched to album River of Sorrow (江河水) by 闵惠芬(Min Hui Fen), another enjoyable album by Chinese musician. The er hu performance is very enjoyable to listen to. The details in the instrument are well represented. It is a very open performance and I really like how it sounded, the coloration is minimal and soundstage is open and wide. Let it be Er hu, Gu qin or other instrument, when I switched to other album they sounded excellent. My favourite live album, Diamonds and Rust in the Bullring by Joan Baez, is very good sounding too through this IEM. Centre image is very good, sense of air/live and soundstage performance is its strength. Sometimes I really don’t like headphones/IEM to have an empty soundstage, luckily it is a stellar performance here. Track ‘No woman No cry’ is still as good as it used to be, detail level is very good here. 5’14 is hitting market for live and world music, I can see it now, it is really shine in these music. The clapping hand sound of the track is well presented and feedback of audience are well separated too. It is not only shine in instrument representation, it actually has a balanced and neutral sound in an open sounding manner. Amanda McBroom’s vocal is still sweet and detailed in the album Amanda. The vocal is nuance and open, it is so comfortable to listen through 5’14 because of the open sounding’s manner. Final Verdict It is a top notch performer here, it is a tonal IEM so don’t listen to trance/hip hop music with it, yes it do have excellent bass quality (What I called very audiophile) but not in those music genre, you won’t like it because it is just not boosted enough and too open sounding for those music genre. Chord & Major has once again come out with something excellent. The only complain that I have is the 5’14 is quite prone to hissing, it is so much that I could called it ‘hiss detector’, but other than that it is a solid performer, especially in what it is made for. So Chord & Major, is a full size/portable headphone will be released? Especially the ballad and Classical series.