Pros: Detail, tonal balance, price
Cons: Simbilant, picky about source material
Hi Head-fi, welcome to my first ever IEM review!
I feel I should review these before getting my HD600s, because these probably won't get as much head time after that.
I picked up these IEMs used from a fellow head-fier exactly 5 months ago.
My source for the review:
iPod Classic 6G<~~Fiio L9 LOD~~>Objective 2
70% Classic Rock
(Check my profile for specifics, or http://www.last.fm/user/mechgamer123)
Comparisons I have:
AKG Q701 (Very short listening time before returning)
Hifiman RE-ZERO (previously owned for a few months)
Yamaha EPH-100 (Very short audition)
Sennheiser HD600 (Short audition)
First off, I'd like to say I like the design of the IEMS. They aren't amazingly beautiful, but they're going to be in your ears, so who cares... The cable has been unraveling slowly but surely since I got it. Again I haven't really cared. The cable does look cheap, but so far I haven't had stiffening like I did with my RE-ZEROS. Strain relief is decent. I'm probably not the right person to ask about durability, because I always baby all of my tech. They haven't broken yet. That's good enough for me.
If you couldn't tell by the picture, they're ment to be worn over the ear, which means cable noise is nonexistent. With the stock tips, I haven't been able to get a good seal in the second part of the ear canal. Seal in the outer part of the ear canal is pretty good though. I have heard etymotic tri-flanges help with this. I will buy some when I get the chance and report back. I also tried the comply foam tips included with the B2s, and they toned down the treble and made the bass a bit more muddy. But once they wore out, I never bothered to replace them. Isolation is decent with the silicon tips and pretty good with the complies however. You can listen to music within safe levels even if you're in a loud environment. When the B2s are in the first part of your ear canal, they feel almost nonexistent. However, when I tried deep insertion I could definitely tell they were there. So overall their comfort should be pretty good for most people unless you have small ear canals.
Phew, here's the big one. Usually the make-or-break point for many audiophiles. I'll try and describe what I'm hearing to the best of my abilities, but keep in mind I'm relatively new to the audiophile world. Also, just as part of a personal opinion, I believe headphones don't sound their best until you've been listening to them for ~20 hours without using other headphones. Whatever you wanna say, it's like a "burn in" period for your brain. I just appreciate the strengths and notice the weaknesses most after to listening to them for extended periods of time.
Bass: The B2s aren't bass monsters. Most BA headphones aren't. But in my opinion if the track requires bass, the B2s will deliver it. It will punch fairly hard on the low end, but not to the extent that most bassheads would like. Overall I'd say it's very balanced with the rest of the sound spectrum. Compared to the RE-ZERO, there is no competition, the ZEROs have no bass. Compared to the yamaha EPH-100s however, the bass seems weak. But the EPH-100s are really a basshead IEM. So I consider these to be a pleasant balance somewhere in between.
(instead of going on to describe the mids and highs, I will instead describe how different instruments sound, I think that's more important, and not every instrument fits into the "mid" or "treble" categories.
Guitars: This was something that blew me away from the first time I heard them. The timbre for the guitar is spectacular. Coming from the RE-ZERO, I was shocked at how much better having good timbre made songs sound so much better! The timbre is definitely better than the EPH-100, and probably slightly worse than the HD600s, but I would consider them to be on-par with each other.
Bass guitar doesn't get it's own section... You can hear it, but it is a bit recessed compared to other instruments.
Drums: This is the point where you decide if the simbilance is worth it or not to you. These IEMs really do portray the cymbals in a very neat way. They sound sharp and completely natural. Also, most of the other drums in the upper half of their frequencies sound lifelike as well. While they don't do as good of a job on lower drums like the kick drum, the sound from the drums is still something truly awesome and very natural for the most part.
Piano: Pianos sound excellent. The timbre is mostly spot on. I can say the timbre is better than on either of the other 2 pairs of IEMs compared, but the timbre on the HD600 is better in this area by a fairly significant amount.
String Instruments: The timbre for strings is also great, on par with guitars and drums in that it sounds almost lifelike. Maybe even more than any other type on instrument.
-(Please note my "reference" song for piano and string instruments is "yasashii boukyaku aru hi no yume." The timbre of the instruments in this song really adds to the emotion of the track. It sounds epic.)
Wind Instruments: Again, the timbe makes wind instruments sound great as well. I didn't get a chance to listen to wind in the HD600, but I can see where there could be room for improvement on the timbre. Overall they still sound incredibly natural though.
Vocals: The vocals are perfectly balanced. Not forward or recessed (like the Q701). However, if your recordings are poorly mastered, some Ts and Ss can hurt your skull...
Soundstage: These are no open backed over the ear cans, but they do a mighty fine job in the soundstage department. You won't think everything is out of your head, but instrument separation is great and you can hear exactly where all of the instruments are.
Closing Notes on Sound: Sound quality overall is great compared to the other 2 IEMs I've compared that are in the approximate price range. Also, the level of detail of the B2s is great from what I've gathered, but I haven't really had a good listening session in a while where I just pick out details, so I don't really want to say too much about microdetails.
TL;DR on SQ: The Timbre is amazing, you will love or hate the slight simbilance, and the balance is excellent. Really good sound quality!
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to post them!