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Phonak Audeo PFE 012 - Phonak Audeo PFE 012

By Hugo Jobling


  • Recommended by TR
Phonak Audeo PFE 012


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

Although they do give the PFE 012s a bassier output that the PFE112, the green filters definitely don't negate any of the advantages of the more expensive model. The same great positioning is still on offer; the sense of space the PFE 012's create is truly amazing for a set of IEMs. This works well with any music, but complex, especially orchestral, pieces really benefit with separate instruments much easier to pick out than with lesser earphones. However, despite this open soundstage, there's no lack of cohesion to the PFE 012s' output; think of it as a well-blended cocktail.

The PFE 012s' clarity is unrivalled at this price point, too - not quite Etymotic levels of precision, but definitely within spitting distance. Phonak's expertise in the hearing aid market no doubt helps here. We think that's part of the reason the PFE 012s are quieter than other earphones at the same output volume, too, helping ensure you don't damage your hearing, even Phonak is robbing itself of potential customers with that move. We hasten to add, though, that while they PFE 012s aren't loud, they are loud enough - think audible not ear-splitting.

The PSE 012s may be bassy for a Phonak earphone, but the fuller bass is subtle rather than overpowering; you'll hear kick drums drive through with a bit more force, brass instruments slightly greater presence and bass guitars' twangs sear through a touch more. With the right music it works well. Hip hop fans, for example, will appreciate the extra kick given to basslines; we certainly preferred listening to Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Eminem's Recovery with the PFE 012s more-present low end.

The same difference (we hesitate to say improvement, it's a matter of personal preference) can be heard with heavier music. Giving Biffy Clyro's Puzzles and Brand New's Daisy a play through, we rather liked how kick drums gained extra extra, well, kick, and bass lines reverberated more strongly.

All that said; although we found a lot to like with this bass-emphasis, and can see a lot of listeners favouring it, our preference is still for the flatter more balanced tone of the grey filters supplied with the PFE 112s. We're no fools and we're certain that the more visceral tone of the PFE 012s' green filters will definitely have its fans, but for us it's all about accuracy. But we're not sure we'd pay £40 more for that, even given the extra accessories that come with the PFE 112s.


The price of the PFE 012 earphones is impressive to say the least. The loss of a few unnecessary (if nice to have) accessories versus the PFE 112 'phones is well worth the £40 saving. And while we prefer the more natural sound of the PFE 112's filters, we can definitely understand the appeal of the extra bass offered by the PFE 012s; in fact, with the right music it's an arguable improvement.

Our Score

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December 9, 2010, 3:02 pm

I bought a pair of these recently and have found them to be excellent.

I'm amazed at how clear vocals are i.e. I can now hear the words to songs(!), and I'm impressed by the amount of detail that can be heard when listening to classical music.

If you find the volume too low then invest in the FiiO E7 headphone amp. Buy one anyway; you won't regret it.

One word of warning; be sensible. Don't be tempted to push them too far down your ear canals (never a good idea) as the you may find that the tips remain in your ears after removing the heaphones!


December 9, 2010, 3:56 pm

I've been an owner of the pfe 112's since launch and had many, many happy hours listening pleasure from them. Once word of warning though the filters are highly susceptible to the oil from your skin and will need to be replaced.

I have gone through countless filters, sometimes only going a day before it needs to be replaced again.

At the moment I have to use them without filters, an unhappy compromise imho, the sound is raw and has a grainy quality to it but I can't afford to keep purchasing filters.

Would I recommend them? Yes I think so but only if you don't have oily skin or can stock up on the filters.


December 9, 2010, 6:18 pm

As it happens I used an E7 to drive these; will echo the recommendation 100 per cent. Properly awesome DAC/amp combo (as my review said: http://www.trustedreviews.com/....


December 9, 2010, 8:59 pm

Great review - I like the fact that TR's earphone reviews always emphasise the type or genre of music to which the phones are best suited, without resorting to the kind of technical language only understood by serious audiophiles. At least one of my Christmas present choosing dilemmas is now solved - thanks TR.


December 9, 2010, 11:59 pm

Hmm, is it fate or coincidence that the left bud of my trusty Sony MDR-EX71 died today... very tempting upgrade...


December 10, 2010, 2:23 am


Would you please be able to review the Hifiman RE-0 or the RE-Zero's (two different models). I'd really like to know what you think of them.


December 10, 2010, 5:16 am

I shall see what I can do.


December 11, 2010, 5:25 am

had these and paired them with the comply foam tips that come with the 112's.

been very durable so far and loving the sound!


December 21, 2010, 11:33 pm

Hi, I have had my pair of shure E4C's for 6 years, I have used them every single day even at gym!! They have done me proud for £99. The sound was'nt amazing but good!! and the noise cancelling quality was fantastic!!

Now I want to get these earphones but are they better? I wanted to find out if the filters need regular replacing? How they compare to the higher quality phones....can the sound be reproduced much better with other phones, such as sennheisers, ultimate ears, shure?? Thanks


March 1, 2012, 2:32 am

Great........if you dont mind replacing the filters after every 3-4 hours of use.

At ~ £25 for 5 pairs, that works out at a cost of about £1.50 per hour to listen to sounds with these headphones at an acceptable quality level.

You have been warned. If you are still stupid enough to buy into all the review hype then go right ahead.

P.S. It is not 'oil' that these filters are vulnerable to, but the build up of pressure. Wear these whilst sitting at a PC and the filters will last a good amount of time. Wear these whilst being on the move and they filters will go to pot in no time.

Worst headphoens I ever bought. Stay well clear off!

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