I/O Audio VOLARE Review: Familiar Yet Magical Vibes

As a huge fan of the Moondrop Variations and older THIEAUDIO Clairvoyance/Monarch MK2, I have a specific love for refined slightly V-shaped tuned IEMs. I’ve been out of the reviewing game for quite a few months due to dealing with our old apartment flooding and destroying mostly everything we owned so I’ve been excited to review something new since most of my gear is in storage.  I was offered a chance to check out the new VOLARE from a new brand called I/O Audio. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I have to admit I was a huge fan on first listen which prompted me to dig out a few old IEMs since the VOLARE sounded familiar in a way. The VOLARE is a Tribrid IEM consisting of one Dynamic Driver, 4 Balanced Armatures and 4 Electrostatic Drivers. The VOLARE comes in at $599.00.

Quick shoutout to my friends over at Shenzhenaudio for sending a demo unit to check out and review. While I always appreciate the chance to test and review products sent in from manufacturers or dealers, it never affects the rating of my reviews.

The I/O VOLARE can be pickup below:


Onto the review of the I/O VOLARE! My personal preference is a hybrid/tribrid IEM where I get good hitting bass and have a detailed treble with decent mids. When it comes to an over ear headphone I prefer a spacious sound with a deep low end, the mids to be more forward and the highs to be a little bright with some sparkle. I listen to a lot of genres but I hover in the classic rock, blues and edm music with some rap here and there.

Gear Used

IPhone 14 Pro Max with headphone adapter, iPad Pro M4 w/ Moondrop Moonriver 2 Ti, Moondrop Variations, THIEAUDIO Monarch MKII, Eversolo DAC-Z8/SMSL SP400 desktop stack via Audirvana.

Looks and fit

The shell has a unique design. I have a love-hate relationship with the shell since I really like the face plate but I’m not a fan of the shell color design. The shell has a really nice dark grey/black color that turns to a sparkling grey/white color when you look directly at a part of the shell. If it didn’t have the sparkle, I think I would like the shell more. On the flip side, it’s not a boring black shell so it gets a pass for being different. I think I would prefer a light grey flake or some type of other design in place of the sparkle. The faceplate reminds me of a grey leaf or something along those lines. It looks fancy and they put an I on the left side and O on the right side. When it comes to fitment, the shell is about medium sized with a 30-40 degree angle on the nozzle stem from the shell. I tend to have issues with nozzle angles like this and none of the provided tips quite held a seal in my ear for longer listening sessions. I swapped in some Spinfit W1 tips and that solved my issues for fitment. It’s lightweight and comfy for long sessions as long as I use my preferred tips.

Isolation and sound leakage

Passive isolation is decent given the slightly bigger venting hole near the connector. I would say it will lower outside noise a bit but it still allows louder noises to come through. The sound leakage is noticeable at louder volumes and if you’re within a few feet of the IEMs in a quiet area but I would use these somewhere quiet without much worry. I would probably recommend just lowering the volume a bit in quiet areas.

Packaging and accessories

The VOLARE comes in a big ol box that has a flip top and three drawers. While I really prefer a smaller package to save on paper waste or for storage purposes, I give the VOLARE a pass since this is I/O Audio’s first IEM which is also a flagship for them. Inside the top area of the box we get the IEMs inside the extremely oversized carrying case. Which I felt dumb as I had a hard time getting the top foam stuff inside the case out and almost thought it was meant to be there(it’s not). I would have preferred something smaller as I’m not able to fit the carrying case in my pockets or even my everyday sling bag I use for work. Next is the top drawer which houses the wonderful cable and three plugs for different source outputs. The second drawer had the tips inside and I’m happy they include 7 different tip sets. This allows for a good way to try and get a comfortable seal and possibly a deeper fitment(more on that in the sound section). Finally we have a drawer that has the quarter inch to 3.5mm adapter and a little sleeve with the warranty cards and user as well as a cleaning cloth and a “ownership VIP card” which has the serial number printed on it. I do like the design of the card which has an I on the front and O on the back(a common theme). I like that they include a good chunk of accessories and this was a very nice unboxing experience.


These final impressions were done off the Eversolo DAC-Z8 connected to the SMSL SP400. This desktop stack is what I use for the main sound impressions for all my reviews. I use this in combination with Audirvana and Roon and the SMSL SP400 has been in use since 01/2021 and the DAC-Z8 since 04/2023. These impressions are what the VOLARE sounded like to my ears. This was also using the Spinfit W1 tips. Things like ear tip selection and DAC/amp selection will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.

The VOLARE has a V-ish shaped sound but it does sound very refined and well tuned. So much so that I assume the I/O brand must have a few industry people on the design team that knew what they were doing. The bass has a nice strong presence and thumps pretty well without overloading the lower mids. Sub-bass provides strong impact that sounds detailed and the mid-bass doesn’t sound muddy. Mids sounds pretty detailed but do sound a hair thicker which makes these sound a little warmer throughout the lower frequencies. The Vocals do come in clear and sound natural enough. I can hear a tiny bit of softness to female vocals on just a few tracks but it’s not common enough that It affects the vocal performance overall. The upper mids are pretty strong here and I found tip depth made quite the difference in how strong the sibilance can get. In my case, running Spinfit W1 tips at a deeper fit, caused the upper mid sibilance to disappear. With some of the stock tips at a further out fitment, I got quite a lot of sibilance which I wasn’t a fan of. When the sibilance is under control, I do find the details in instruments to be pretty good. The treble has some good bite and speed but it doesn’t sound much stronger than the upper mids which does make it sound a little better balanced to my ears. The resolution and detail retrieval in general are great in the upper frequencies so I found the overall sound to be quite resolving and fun.


Staging is slightly above average in width/depth. There is a good balance between width and depth which gives the sense of a normal soundstage to my ears. I found imaging stellar and even with the strong bass hits, I could still pick out specific placements of sounds in busy tracks. While not anything special, staging and imaging get a thumbs up.


The VOLARE isn’t hard to drive but does like a little power. It hovered around 27-30(out of 99) volume on my headphone amp via the balanced output which is a little above average in power required to get a volume I like compared to other IEMs.  Like most modern hybrids, the VOLARE isn’t sensitive and shows no floor noise on any source gear I tried it with.

Stock cable

The stock cable has a black matte finish and the cables have a rubber feel that doesn’t reflect much light which makes it feel higher quality compared to other cables that go for a 8-weave black rubber look. The 2 pin connectors have an I and O listed on their respective left/right sides. The plug end is a QD system and uses a rather fancy black “crown-like” design that makes screwing and unscrewing easier. The gold accents on the plug inner housing doesn’t quite match the IEM shells but I’ll give it a pass for looking good. The cable is pretty lightweight for a 8-weave and I found the soft rubber ear guides very comfortable for longer listening sessions. I would leave the cable alone unless you have a preference for a different cable design.

IEM comparisons

Moondrop Variations

Both the Variations and VOLARE have a somewhat familiar tuning. Though I would consider the VOLARE the more detailed of the two. The bass is thicker sounding on the Variations while the VOLARE keeps things a little more tamed which overall sounds a little better balanced for a strong bass presentation.  The mids on both are clear with the VOLARE coming in just a little meatier than the Variations. I think both sound fine here and when it comes to vocals, I think the VOLARE tends to sound a little clearer than the Variations which has a slight haziness to the vocals. The upper mids are strong on both and while neither one causes me any fatiguing issues with my preferred tips, I still find the VOLARE has a little sharper sibilance on some tracks. The treble is noticeably stronger on the VOLARE and I think it also pulls in better details. The speed and sharpness sound a little artificial on the Variations but this could be due to the older but still decent quality EST drives being used in the Variations. Both do sound stage well but I think the Variations do sound a little wider.


When you run the two IEMs back to back, I find they sound quite different in tuning but they do sound about the same in terms of detail retrieval and overall resolution. Which is quite the compliment to the VOLARE seeing as it comes in $400 bucks less. These two however have tunings for different listeners. The bass is substantially stronger and fuller sounding on the VOLARE where the Monarch has a respectable but more tame bass response. Both do bass well but the VOLARE really lets you know that it’s ready to party on tracks with focused added bass. The mids are clearer and more detailed on the Monarch MK II and vocals also sound more detailed and natural on the Monarch MK II. The upper mids are better balanced on the Monarch as well. The treble sounds about the same between the two but both manage to pull in details really well with the Monarch pulling in little micro details a bit better. I always forget how great the Monarch MK II sounds as I can only listen to it for a bit before the nozzle angles cause too much fatigue in my ears. I think fans of neutral-bright tunings will find the Monarch MK II and probably the MK III a better option. For the every day and every genre listener who likes a little more bass, the VOLARE sounds so much more forgiving and brings way more smiles to my face whenever I listen to both.

Amping Combinations

Moondrop MoonRiver 2 Ti

The little Moondriver 2 Ti is my daily on the go dongle when I’m at work or in the living room relaxing. The MR2 Ti has a slightly warm tuning which compliments the VOLARE quite well IMO. The bass sounds slightly warmer without adding any extra bass impact. The mids are detailed but just a hair softer in presentation and vocals still retain their mostly natural sound. The upper mids are still strong but with a little better control. The treble is well maintained but does sound a little stronger here compared to the upper mids with this pairing which makes the perceived detail a little better. Staging is pretty balanced still though I feel it sounds a little wider than my desktop setup which I tend to notice with the MR2 Ti in general. A great pairing and I enjoy using this pairing away from my desktop.

Eversolo DAC-Z8/SMSL SP400

As mentioned in my sound impressions, this is the main stack I used for my overall impressions of the VOLARE. While I found I got the best performance from this setup for the VOLARE, I was also very happy with the performance the portable MR2 Ti was able to provide. I don’t think a big desktop unit is needed but if you already have a nice desktop setup, I think a good desktop stack will give a little extra performance to the VOLARE.

Overall thoughts

I really like the VOLARE and I think most people will enjoy these IEMs with little to no complaints. This set manages to be detailed and yet fun sounding in terms of tuning. I do believe these are worth a recommendation and they’re worth a listen if given the chance to check them out! This falls into line with some of my favorite IEMs and I find myself constantly listening to the VOLARE as my daily IEM over my more expensive IEMs. Great job to the team at I/O for a first IEM that is a real treat to listen to! I’m very interested in seeing what they bring out next! Thanks for reading!!

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