Effect Audio Axiom

I recently reviewed the UM MEXT which is my favorite strange/warmer IEM at the moment right around $1200. After that it's the Symphonium Helios which goes for a better all rounder tuning at $1100. The thing with all-rounder tuning is that you get the best of all worlds but you don’t get a special focus that can make an IEM really special. This is where Effect audio is trying to mix up the norm. They announced the Axiom, a hybrid IEM with the option of using “modules” that will not only switch between 2 pin/mmcx but using different modules will also change the sound tuning of the IEMs. This would allow people to swap tuning modules out if they didn’t want multiple IEMs or if they just wanted a different tuning once in a while for maybe different genres. Unfortunately my review unit was delayed due to the Axiom selling out so while I waited for more to be made, I poked around to get some impressions of the Axiom from other audio reviewers such as SenyorC’s review over at his website Acho Reviews to get an idea of what might come of an IEM that doesn’t have a cable included. The Axiom finally arrived after a few weeks and after much testing I’m ready to give my thoughts!! The Axiom uses a hybrid design with a single dynamic driver doing the lows and mids and two balanced armature drivers handling everything else. There is no cable included and the Axiom comes in at $1499. Options for an Effect Audio cable at a discounted price can be bundled as well.

Quick shoutout to Nic from Effect Audio for sending the Axiom to review. While I always appreciate the chance to test and review products sent in from manufacturers, it never affects the rating of my reviews.

Looks and fit

I actually really like the way these look. The shell is a little bigger but the metal is smooth and the curves look good. The nozzle is titanium and they did a good job of blending the shell with the nozzle instead of simply having only the nozzle stem section show metal. I also really like the insert of the faceplate too. The website shows an almost brown color but in person it's a nice silver/black/slightly red jade finish insert. Overall, I really like the looks of the Axiom.

Isolation and sound leakage

The passive isolation is average but this is the cost of having a hybrid design. A little better isolation than some other hybrids I’ve used in the past. The sound leakage isn’t bad either. It’s not excessive for an IEM with DD vents. I still wouldn't use these right next to someone trying to sleep but I would use them on a plane or bus without much worry about irritating the person next to you.

Packaging and accessories

The packaging is really simple but it's a nice box that has a tab that you pull to slowly remove the top like a pack of Wrigley’s stick gum. Inside the box there are the warranty cards, Axiom(with MMCX installed), 2 pin module, tips and screwdriver. Oh and there is a tea packet underneath that which makes for the nicest smelling unboxing I’ve done. This is a very barebones package. No case or cables included so they figure if you’re gonna spend the money on the Axiom, this isn’t your first rodeo and you probably have things like extra tips, cables and cases laying around. The other package it comes with is the Silver module which has the same unboxing experience except inside are more warranty cards, the silver modules and some extra screws.


These final impressions were done off a mix of the Hiby R6 2020 and the SMSL SU-9 connected to the SMSL SP400. These are what the Axiom sounded like to my ears. This was also using the CP100+(large) ear tips from Spinfit. I also used my own DUNU Chord cable for MMCX(black module) and a Moondrop cable/EA Thor Silver II cable for the 2 pin modules(black/silver). Things like ear tip selection, module selection and DAC/amp selection will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.

Black stock module

The stock module goes for a very “V shaped” tuning that is more treble heavy. The lows have a nice impact while sounding fast and dynamic. The lows don’t reach down super low but the quality overall is really nice. There is a little bit of mid bass boost that gives that area a heavier thump that lingers and gives a longer decay. The mids go for a more clinical and clear sound. Everything has a little extra sharpness and the vocals come through clear. The vocals do get a little sibilant at times, though mostly with female vocals. The vocals are a little recessed as well but I do prefer my vocals a little further away from me personally. The treble is really sharp and almost violent most of the time for me. There is good detail I can hear up top and it never sounds metallic or splashy. It just has a lot of speed and bite which gives things like cymbals too much energy. I have a lot of warmer IEMs so I actually enjoyed this upper sound tuning and I find it fun at times but I would use the silver module mostly if this was the only IEM I had, which I’ll get into below.

Silver alternate module

The silver module goes for a super relaxed and warm tuning which really surprised me. I wasn’t even sure what the silver modules in the separate box were for at first. The lows are fairly impactful with good “slam” when needed. This is a very warm and lushess low end which manages to stay controlled enough but it will blend with the lower mids. I wouldn’t quite call it bleed as it doesn’t overwhelm the mids at all. The mids are relaxed as well and this comes off a little more boring to my ears but the vocals do come closer to the listener vs the black module. Vocals do have really good detail but there's definitely a sense of warmth around the voices. I did find more enjoyment with vocals on the silver module. The treble is also somewhat neutral and not quite what I personally want when it comes to treble sharpness and energy. It does actually pull in details really well and possibly better than the stock module but the overall warmth really shows and the sparkle/bite from the upper notes feel somewhat held back. I personally like some energy and bite from the treble. The black module has more zing/sparkle but since it’s always borderlining too bright, I prefer the treble of the silver module. I actually think this is the module most people will probably pick between the two. Especially if they plan to use this as an “all rounder” IEM.


The soundstage between the two wasn’t huge but with the different tunings, I did feel I heard some differences. I noticed the silver module had a fairly wide but “in your face” wall of sound which resulted in “ok” depth. The black modules had a better balance in terms of width and depth but both did staging pretty well. Imaging was really good on both modules with the silver module being easier for me to pick out things on the stage at times.


The Axiom is sensitive and it’s easier to drive in terms of volume output. The Axiom to me is very source dependent and I found the slight sound signatures from source gear to make a decent difference. I was able to pick up hiss on some source devices but even on iFi balanced stuff it wasn’t bad.

Gripes with the Axiom

I think the lack of a cable is a weird choice. I understand that Effect Audio is attempting to save the planet(and money) by not having a stock cable that “cable rollers” will possibly just toss in the trash but I would still like the option to at least pick if I want a cable or not for free. I will admit I do have a pile of stock cables that I don’t use but I keep them around as back ups. They do however offer discounts on a few of their cables when bundled with the Axiom which I do like. Effect audio did send a really nice and expensive Thor Silver II cable and while I did test the headphones with it, I decided to keep the total price of the Axiom closer to the MEXT and Helios that I hold to high regards. Thus all my final testing was done off a cheaper $50 Moondrop modular cable. I used the Thor Silver cable with both 2 pin IEMs I used for the comparison section. I did use a DUNU Chord cable for the MMCX stock black module. 

I would also like to see some more info on their modules. While it was confirmed that the silver module comes with purchase of the Axiom, I couldn't find much info on their website. This isn't the end of the world and I was told about some of the plans for future modules so I expect more info to be available on their website eventually.

Modules to come

Speaking of modules, I was told that an adjustable bass module would be incoming in the near future that would allow for one to play with the bass levels. Not sure how it will work but they also plan to release a few more modules after that. How soon? I’m not sure but I do look forward to checking them out eventually.

Tip rolling

The tips that come with the Axiom are simple and an afterthought. I couldn’t get them to make a seal so I said “nope!” and grabbed my bag of Spinfit(skittles) tips and started rolling for a comfortable fit and seal. While I did notice there was a noticeable treble difference with the wider more tips, I played it safe and went with the CP100+ tips from Spinfit. I found that to get me the best balance overall. The AZLA XELASTICS came in second place and those work really well but those are a slightly wider bore and the treble was too bright for me on the stock modules.

IEM comparisons

I Used the Axiom in its silver module setup for the comparisons. While the black module is a strong treble focused tuning, I simply preferred the silver module at the end of the day.


The MEXT is currently my favorite IEM in my collection next to the Clairvoyance. I like the weird bone conductor driver and the vibrating shell that gives a sort of “echo” or longer decay in the mids to lower treble. The MEXT does lack a little detail in the upper treble but it does the bass really well and the vocals are some of my favorite from IEMs in general. The Axiom goes for a good bass and mids but it does the treble better IMO and it just pulls in better detail up top. I still really like the MEXT and I find myself grabbing it for electronic music mostly. I’m using the Axiom more and more however and it’s starting to become my go to for most genres. I think the MEXT is a fun experience with very different tuning tricks due to the bone conductor stuff but between the two, detail retrieval goes to the Axiom.

Symphonium Helios(from memory)

I don’t have the helios anymore so it only gets a smaller comparison here but it was a benchmark “all rounder” for me personally that did detail retrieval really well and hovered in the “clear but not bright sound signature”. This was great but due to the uncomfortable fit and giant shells, I couldn’t really listen to them for long periods of time. I love the Helios and it was an achievement of serious tuning from an all BA design that left me wishing it had a less industrial shell design. While the Axiom didn’t have the same wow factor on first listen like the Helios, the Axiom(silver module) does detail retrieval around the same as the Helios but with an overall warmer sound tuning. I don’t have both to A/B test unfortunately but I loved the sound from the Helios and I love the sound from the Axiom off the silver module so while I can’t pick a favorite between the two since it's not fair without having both in hand, I would say try to give both a listen if possible.

THIEAUDIO Clairvoyance

The Clairs are my favorite tuned IEM to this day still. I am starting to notice it isn’t able to keep up at times in terms of technical performance when compared to more expensive IEMs but I will always love it and probably stay biased towards it forever.  Both the Clair and the Axiom with its silver module have a smoother tuning when I listen to them separately. The Clair has a good dynamic and natural tuning that is still clear up top and I find it to be just what I want most of the time. When I A/B test them together it’s a different story though. Going from the Clair to the Axiom results in a much warmer sound from the lows to the mids. Vocals, while warm, come in more detail over the Clairs. While the treble has a little more sparkle on the Clairs, the detail retrieval from the Axiom is miles ahead. I like both IEMs but the Clair comes in half the price and I think it’s great for those looking to move on from sub $500 IEMs but I would pick the Axiom over the Clairs when jumping past $1k.

Amping Combinations

HIBY R6 2020

The R6 2020 is my go to portable for testing gear or wanting a “close to desktop” experience on the go. The R6 is a nice $800 mid tier DAP so I think it pairs well price wise with the Axiom. The R6 continues to give me confidence I’m getting close to my desktop stack in terms of power and sound reproduction. I found the black module to be well controlled and the treble didn’t want to murder me as much as my desktop stack I tested with. I think the R6 2020 does have a warmer signature but not so much that I thought it didn't work with the silver module well. Staging was above average and imaging was good as well. I did get a very faint hiss via balanced when using the black module but I didn’t notice it with the silver module. Overall I think the R6 pairs well with the Axiom.


I hit about 25/99 volume so these are about as sensitive as the DUNU EST112 via balanced. The SMSL stack I use for all my testing performed the best when paired with the Axiom. The stack however was the more resolving source gear and it made for the most violent performance when it came to treble from the black module. The SU-9 did a wonderful job of keeping everything tight and clean. Staging was wide and deep compared to the cheaper dongles I used. I found the silver module and the SMSL stack pairing absolutely wonderful. It’s hard to say what is overkill in terms of powering an expensive(to me) IEM but I got really great results from my R6 DAP so I think a good source in general will do the Axiom wonders.

Overall thoughts

I wasn’t sure what to make of the Axiom at first since but after spending some time with it, I really enjoyed the Axiom and the fact they had modules that heavily changed the sound tuning was a bonus. I find this a neat feature and depending on one's use case scenario, this will make a great single IEM that allows you to play with the tuning whenever you want, or just another IEM one can add to their collection after picking a module they like. I personally liked the silver sound module over the stock one and this is how I plan to use the Axiom in the future. I really liked the Axiom and I would recommend it, especially since it comes with both the stock and silver modules. I would like to see a “beginner” package of sorts available with a super small price increase for those that might need a simple cable, maybe a carrying case and different ear tip options. I was told right before releasing the review that a “package” was being made to include a cable in the future so this will be nice to see for those who need a cable. Good job to the team on making something different and interesting and I look forward to seeing their next IEM down the road! Thanks for reading!!

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