SA C12

Signature Acoustics C12 IEM Review

  1. Introduction
  2. Specifications
  3. Sound Quality
  4. Conclusion

IEMs or In-ear monitors have become very popular these days. A few years ago very few IEMs existed, and these were priced generally very high.

For the lower end market earbuds were the popular choice while IEMs were for the discerning few. US and European companies like Etymotic ears, Ultimate Ears, Shure and others were the only few manufacturers who made IEMs.

With the arrival of Chinese companies however the IEM market has exploded with IEMs now available from as low as $1 to an eye popping $2000+ for custom IEMs that are molded on the users ear canal.

In addition to Chinese companies even big manufacturers like Sennheiser, AKG, Shure and others have started manufacturing IEMs in China while their more expensive models are made in the EU.

Signature Acoustics is an Indian company started in Navi Mumbai and is the first Indian company to launch an Indian branded IEM.

While like most manufacturers the IEM itself is ‘Made in China’, many manufacturers take the easy way out by simply re-branding an existing Chinese earphone under their brand name and selling it to the market. This allows companies the option of launching many IEMs at once.

However Signature Acoustics took the more difficult route of finding a manufacturer to tune an IEM to their requirements. So the C12 is not a simple rebrand of an existing Chinese earphone but it has been customized and built from the ground up after sampling various drivers, housings, wires and cases to come up with a brand new product.

To their credit each IEM comes with a beautiful hand made metal case which is something unheard of in this price range. The metal case is also ‘100% Made in India’.

However the heavy case doesn’t really lend for portability but I am told that Signature Acoustics will be redesigning the case shortly in favour of a lighter leather of faux leather one.

  1. finally a C12 review that didn’t drool over ‘Made in India Jai Hind’ crap. i really doubt these are made in india. assembled maybe, or maybe that box is made in india. if thats the case theres no guaruntee that they will not change the output quality of the headphones at some point. i am not suprised, the management must have thought that if circle and intex are doing it, why not we? its sad that no1 in india is honest, just my 2 cents. things like this will make us look as if we are frauds and lairs.

    1. While you are correct that there was some ambiguity over where these earphones were actually made as nothing is actually mentioned on the box and the case had the “Made in India” text rather prominently.

      That said its not feasible to make IEMs in India as the cost is very prohibitive and most Indian companies lack the capability to make something as small as an IEM driver.

      And Signature Acoustics is an Indian company so at least that much is true. And while there is some ambiguity over the made in India part we must also give credit where credit is due. These earphones are pretty well made and the sound quality is pretty good for the price. Also these aren’t some direct OEMs with their brand but the housing drivers and cables have all been tweaked and carefully chosen for the final IEM. Similarly it would have been very easy for Signature Acoustics to simply order for a small pouch from the Chinese manufacturer which would have improved their profits. However they still took the pains and efforts to have a made in India case.

      So IMO we should feel good that an Indian company is trying to stand out with audio products that are unique and have an Indian component in the package.

      1. micromax is also an indian company, but their phones are bulk purchased from china and labelled over here. some now get them in pieces and put it together so that they can justify that it is made in india. whether or not the IEM is good is not the question, but it should be said that when iem hype picked up after ep630 i ended up buying cheap but good but which does not even last more than few months. thats why ive stopped reading iem reviews in te. now if you see signature acoustics they promote the reviews that favour them like erodov who compared it with ie2 using a patethic source. the fact that signature acoustics does not share this review is reason enough to believe that you have pointed out something that they didnt, that these are actually source dependent. but i wish there was a way for you say something about its lifespan if possible. i used to buy those soundmagic crap and they used to die after sometime.

        1. What you say is true. Signature Acoustics doesn’t just purchase the IEMs in bulk but even tunes the sound further once they land in India at their workshop in Navi Mumbai.

          I am not the only one to say that they are source dependent. Vandal on TE also said the same thing in his review.

          Unfortunately its very difficult to comment on life span of IEMs even after using them for some time. For instance my RE1 died after a year. Another pair I bought (which I sold off) died 3 times in 6 months (the buyer got a replacement every time and the replacement would also fail).

          The RE1 I got as replacement has so far lasted me almost 3 years now and I have no explanation why mine has lasted so long considering the build quality looks the same as the previous versions and the RE1 is my most used IEM.

          Similarly its too early to comment on SA lifespan. If you really want piece of mind, RHA Audio (which I have also reviewed here) comes with a staggering 3 year warranty and the price of the RHA is around the same as the SA C12. However its sound signature is very different from the SA C12 so you may or may not like it.

    2. Dear Nishant,

      The C-12 is not some random OEM picked up from a chinese manufacturer and sold as a re-branded product . A lot of research goes into choosing the right driver, housing , cables , filters , tips etc before the product reaches the final stage. To give you an idea , there were close to a dozen prototypes of the model before the final model.

      Though the earphone itself is not manufactured in India but the complete tuning , assembly, quality checks and packaging is all done in India . Even the brass case (carved out of single block of brass), that comes with the earphone was decided upon after a lot of research is completely manufactured in India and is a piece of art. We see no reason why we shouldn’t we be product about the efforts that have gone into creating the brand and product.

      You comparing Signature Acoustics to brands Intex ,circle etc which just rebrand chinese products on a large scale and retail them , makes me feel you probably have misunderstood our vision and ideology of offering quality products at a much more value for money pricing and unmatched customer service .

      I would urge you to visit our garage setup in Navi Mumbai to know what really goes into making sure that each earphone stays true to the sound and quality that is promised. I am sure you would appreciate the same instead of bad mouthing the brand.

      1. you can say whatever you want. every indian company imports from china and puts their label on it: whether they bring it piece by piece or the entire product from the shelf. even datawind does it. also, every indian company says that they dont do direct imports, and that they do research and development and all that crap. fact is no1 wants to admit it. even those components that you’ve ‘carefully’ chosen are made in china, yes? so how are you claiming its made in india? you’re abusing people’s sentiments as they will melt down to the assumption that it says ‘made in india’ when reality is that it is not. if u look at rha audio or creative audio, they dont claim its made in usa. they say its designed in uk or whatever, but its made in china. ur components are made in china, therefore its a chinese product and u r the only company who is uber proud of their packaging rather than product. that too an impractical box. to what ur saying, you shouldnt say anything more than assembled in india. stop manipulating people’s goodwill and country’s name for your petty benefits.

        1. Actually Signature Acoustics haven’t mentioned that the earphones are made in India or China. They have said made in India only on the brass box which is made in India.

          Also I have been told by Signature Acoustics that the brass box is on its way out and in future a leather pouch will be given instead. The pouch will be made locally.

          Even RHA which you have mentioned have said nothing about where the IEMs are actually made.

        2. As Brendon mentioned , we have never gone around saying that the earphones are made in India . There is a difference when we say that its an Indian brand and product / designed in India and the product being made in India. Its pretty understood and just like any other brand would proudly associate themselves to their country of origin , so do we. No one here is trying to manipulate people or their emotions .

          Everyone knows that iPhone,iPad or pretty much every electronic product is made in China but no one goes around calling them a Chinese product.They are still associated with the brand and country where they are designed .

          End of the day no one buys a product for their made in India tag , we are not designing products for patriots but for people who love music. Giving an Indian touch was just something that came naturally and required a lot of efforts . Skipping it would only mean easier work for us and more profits.

          Just the brass case has a Made in India tag and that’s because it has actually been made in India. As much as the case may seem impractical to some users , its also appreciated by many for the work of art . So it may become a part of the limited edition package or be sold separately if customers demand.

          You making absurd assumptions and false claim that we are trying to sell a product with the Made in India tag is not true. If some user who has review’ed it , feels proud of an India brand , its his view and emotion . Not something we have forced upon or manipulated with false claims.

  2. different reviewers are experiencing different sound signatures. how can i know which piece exactly performs? or are reviewers having problems to distinguish the sound quality?

    1. Its more to do with the reference people are using. Professional audio magazines generally have a 10 lakh plus reference speaker set up and they then review other headphones or speakers using that system as a reference.

      Over here no one has such a luxury and many people use 10k – 15k headphones are reference which are far from neutral.

      Unfortunately the same is true for me though I do have a 60k B+W speaker set up to test for neutrality.

      That said if you compare with most reviewers of this particular headset you will find all of them find them bassy with decent mids and decent treble.

      Some will say the mids are excellent or treble is excellent since their reference headphone/earphone may not have good treble or mids and so compared to the reference the SA mids and treble will be better.

      This is where reviewer bias for audio products come in.

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