Chord & Major 7'13 Review: Smooth Sailing on Smooth Jazz

Chord & Major is a relatively new Taiwanese company specializing in building premium earphones. However, they design their lineup differently from other companies. Instead of making several tiers of earphones according to driver quality and tuning them in whatever way fashion they want, Chord & Major takes a driver and tunes it to perform well in a specific music super-genre. Today, I have the pleasure of reviewing the C&M 7'13, their earphone designed for jazz music.

You can find the official page for the 7'13 here. Buy it at Sedo Audio here for $199.

Disclaimer: This review is based upon a sample unit provided to me by a manufacturer or distributor in exchange for my honest opinion and un-edited words. I do not profit in any way from the writing of the review. I would like to thank Chord & Major for sending me this review unit.

Preference and Bias: Before reading a review, it is worth mentioning that there is no way for a reviewer to objectively pass judgment on the enjoy-ability of a product: such a thing is inherently subjective. Therefore, I find it necessary for you to read and understand what I take a natural liking to and how that might affect my rating of a product.

My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, bass. The mids should be slightly less pronounced than the treble, but still ahead of the bass. I prefer a more bright upper range.

Source: The 7'13 was powered like so:

PC optical out-> HifiMe SPDIF 9018 DAC 3.5mm out-> earphones

or

AP100 3.5mm out -> earphones

or

HIFIMAN Megamini 3.5mm out -> earphones

All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.

Sound Signature

Initial Impressions:

The 7'13 is intended to be used in more laid-back songs, and doesn’t exude energy. While my exposure to Jazz music is quite low, it is still easy for me to notice how much better the genre sounds on these IEMs than most others. I think this is due to a subdued upper-mids and smooth treble. The bass, however, is great.

Treble: Songs used: White Flag, Midnight City, Outlands

As I mentioned in my initial impressions, treble is pretty smooth. This makes the 7'13 very easy on the ears, never even approaching sibilance or harshness. White Flag’s background details did get pushed back pretty far, but were never lost completely. Midnight City showed me how well-tuned the treble is. While it is indeed farther back than I am used to, the timbre and presentation of the treble is still quite good and makes for a very natural upper-register. However, contrary to my expectations, Outlands did perform quite well, feeling open and decently symphonic. The violins, while somewhat lacking in emphasis, had a relatively solid edge and a satisfying tonality.

Mids: Songs used: Jammin’, September, Stayin Alive

I adjusted the test songs of my mids section to better reflect the intended use case of the 7'13: Jazz music.

The mids of the 7'13 are buttery-smooth, and are quite lax in presentation. Detail is still present, and the 7'13 is quite adept at hardening up some background details and ques. The drums and guitars of Jammin’ had a soft and gentle presentation, carefully ensuring to not trample the careful ambiance created by the producer. Saxophones and other related instruments sound good, universally. No matter what song I tried, which album I tested, these staple Jazz instruments had a darn good timbre.

One thing to note, is that the upper-mids are quite recessed, which can suffocate some genres with more active upper-mid-ranges. I’m not too concerned though, as the Jazz songs I tested remained largely unaffected.

Bass: Songs used: Lights (Bassnectar Remix), Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix)

The bass on the 7'13 extends downwards well, but doesn’t place to much emphasis on those lower bands of frequencies, instead choosing to fatten up the bass response in the mid-bass. This works quite well in Jazz, while still leaving other genres intact. Bass speed is also decent, with In For The Kill really pushing the 7’13’s ability to shape and extend bass lines. The 7'13 responded well, pushing itself deeper into the sound spectrum.

Clarity: Songs used: Throne, Map of The Problimatique, I’m Not Alright

Despite Throne being the last song I’d expect to perform well on an IEM designed for laid-back music, I have to say that the 7'13 did do decently. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but there was very little distortion, and the bass never became boomy or overblown. The treble did loose shape a bit during the chorus.

The intro of I’m Not Alright features both a heavy drum sound and an array of string-based instrumentation. While I never stopped hearing the string instruments during the drum beats, it did become quite hard to hear. That isn’t to say the bass became boomy, just too pronounced for my tastes. There was very little micro-detail loss in the chorus, something I really have to give C&M props for, especially given the fact that the 7'13 makes use of only a single dynamic driver.

Packaging / Unboxing

The Tonal Earphone series from Chord & Major is far and away the best package set of earphones I’ve come across to date. The package as a whole is compact, stylish, and protective. The inside of the box is divided up efficiently, and the cable of the IEM is coiled up such that it won’t get kinked or bent before the customer gets it. Each Tonal Earphone comes in a box made from a different material. The 7'13 comes in the wooden-brown flavor. It feels very premium and is indicative of the high price tag.

Build

Construction Quality

The build of the 7'13 is fair. The stress relief on both the 3.5mm cable and driver housings could be beefed up a little bit.

I’ve been spoiled by the cable on the 01'16, but I think that the 7’13’s cable could definitely use an upgrade given it’s non-detachable. That isn’t to say that this cable is terrible or horrid, but sprucing it up a bit definitely couldn’t hurt.

The driver housings are built from wood and what looks like brushed stainless-steel. The steel contrasts the wood well, giving the 7'13 a striking but understated design. The 7'13 has a little wing sticking out the back that the cable is threaded through. As for whether or not this is a structural or purely cosmetic feature, I do not know.

Comfort

The 7'13 is quite comfortable for me. The tips that come pre-installed on the 7'13 fit me well and seal out the sound of my keyboard reasonably well. Listeners with smaller ears may experience some discomfort due to the sudden cutaway from the nozzle to the body.

Accessories

None of the Tonal Earphones from C&M come with a large number of accessories, but those that they do come with are high-quality. Inside the package you will find:

  • 1 soft carrying pouch
  • 1 cable winder
  • 1 cleaning brush
  • 2 extra sets of eartips

However, I would like to see Chord & Major include a wider variety of eartips. When you compare the offerings of the $130 RHA MA750i to that of this $200 IEM, the disparity becomes quite apparent. At the very least, try and throw us some genuine Comply.

Summary

The Chord & Major 7'13 is laid back IEM with build quality that screams premium. While a better cable and wider variety of eartips would be appreciated, the 7'13 will do the Jazz enthusiast right. However, if you are like me and have a diverse music library, you may want to consider other Chord & Major IEMs, such as the 8'13 and 01'16.

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