Pros: Amazing medium / Great details and layering / Big soundstage / Very good isolation / well made and sturdy
Cons: Price / Sensitivity so high it requires a clean source to keep hissing away / Big for small ears (a few girls had trouble wearing them)
- 3 Pairs of silicone tips
- Cleaning Tool
- Cable Clip
- Box - Pelican1010
it's a handmade tank!
Everything in the 334 feels of strength, the acrylic shell is thick and makes my jh13 look fragile.
The IEM connectors are almost identical to what you have on a HD650. For me, this is a good choice because it avoids the usual fragile metal pins we get on most customs. I bend these rods on my jh13 regularly and I'm always afraid of the day when one will remain stuck in the IEM.
one pin is bigger than the other so you cannot invert polarity. Most manufacturers don't care if the polarity is inverted on IEMs even without removable cables. Not saying it's very important, but it shows how much Suyama san cared and wished for his product to be perfect.
The cable is too stiff for me, it makes me think of a guitar string surrounded by a heat-shrink tube . Fragile and cheap are two descriptions that will never come to mind when talking about this cable. I still do not know if I should love it or hate it. On one hand, it is a miracle when a cable can survive me a whole year, and it seems on its way to enter my personal Guinness book of cable survival. At the same time the rigidity transmits really too much vibrations for me and the cable clip becomes almost mandatory(not as much as an er4 but with the same idea).
The memory wire is more flexible than what I'm used to. And I welcome that as it guides the wire enough to stop it from jumping from over the ear, yet it's flexible enough to critically reduce strain over my ear. I usually get cables without memory wire or cut it out when I have no choice, but in this case I'm pleased with it and find it to serve its purpose very well.
colored dots to avoid the famous "always wrong on first attempt" also known as the "usb trap".
Titanium tube to separate trebles from mids and bass. Unlike the F111 and Parterre where the tube ends up in a cone shaped extrusion to enhance the trebles as they only have 1 and 2 driver to deal with the entire range. On the 334 there are 4 drivers in a 3ways so the tube is just a tube and only used to minimize interferences from the other drivers on the trebles.
334 are a bit bulky, so really small ears should look elsewhere. But most of the hull is out of the ear, and I did not find it problematic to use. It took me some time to find the best way to place them:
-Find tips because what's provided wasn't great for me.
-How you'll bend the memory wire really plays an important role for long-term comfort.
But all this is no more than routine for me on universals, so really no significant problem with comfort. I use it every day without pain and can clearly wear them longer than my IE80 or hf5.
Isolation: although it depends on the tips you'll use, it is very good for a universal. Not etymotic level, but clearly on a high level. With some comply foams I felt the isolation was better than on my jh13. Acrylic thickness probably plays a big part here.
Simply my favorite universal out of all those I've tried. Given the price we are entitled to have at least that, but I was really surprised by these IEMs. And I had certainly never imagined they could put my jh13 (no freq phase) in difficulty.
-The mediums are my favorite on any IEM I've heard. Custom or not, both in definition and how natural they sound. I understand very well that signature is a matter of taste, some like the lush laid back mids of a W4 or my fellow IE80, others salivate from listening to the boosted and bright er4 medium. Well the 334 is pretty much in-between with an electrically flat medium-to-trebles signature. When you hear details, it's because of how precise the 334 are, not because there is a +8db on the frequencies of that instrument/voice. And trust me on that one, you'll hear details, loads of them! That's how I love voices, detailed but not forced onto me by some frequency tricks(what annoys me the most with the jh13, voices aren't doing it for me even though it's a stellar CIEM). Even though the mids should be considered slightly recessed, it is the part that really shines. That's how good it is.
-Trebles don't extend very far, like any multi BA driver IEM, but for a multi BA they sound very nice. I'd say that most of it drops after around 10khz as usual, but here you still get a good quantity of lower volume details up to maybe 15khz(take into account that my own ears are not so young and I can't say night from day after 17khz anyway). I find the trebles more natural and clearly more defined than on my jh13(non freqphase). It just doesn't have the extra “air” you can get from a few good fullsize headphones. And as said for the mids, trebles are pretty steady until the point where they drop down(no feeling of steady roll off, it just stops at some point). So most cymbals and other treble oriented sounds end up with a very natural and rich sound. Much more at least than all those IEMs with 1 big spike in the 8 or 10khz and a dead-zone right before and after that frequency. Here the 10khz has enough back up to get a cymbal to sound real, something I'm sadly not used too.
my other favorite cymbals on IEM were from the EM6. too shy on the jh13, too spiky on the EM32, too forward on the Parterre yet a little less detailed. and just harsh or muffled on most IEMs I've heard. I have to say, I can deal with the most distorted bass, but have a hard time being satisfied with trebles on IEMs. 334 isn't perfect in the trebles, but for an IEM it almost is. Again with the em6 the closest to what I like and find "real" on a cymbal.
More than saying that the mids or the trebles are great, I should say that they're so balanced to my ears that no part is masking the others.
-bass go very low and are heavily emphasized in an attempt, I guess, to convey speaker bass feeling. In some ways it works wonders, but it's not perfect and will be too much for some people. The overall feeling is that there is a strong bass presence with round and very wide sub bass. The texture is incredible and the soundstage as big as it gets on a BA driver IEM. But the other effect of those strong sub bass is a feeling that the bass is slower than usual as the 80-100hz impacts merge mostly into the sub bass, taking away part of the "'slam" feeling.
Coming from the jh13 with some of the fastest bass response feeling you'll encounter, it's pretty puzzling.
Coming from some dynamic driver phones with big bass, it's already a lot more usual.
All this to say that depending on your tastes, the bass could be overwhelming and feel “too slow”. For people used to consumer grade headphones and bass lovers, bass quantity should be pretty fine and lovable(same kind of sound, better quality). In case it's too much for you, you can get satisfying results by EQing down the sub bass. You will immediately feel a relief and an increased speed with just 1 or 2db less in the 60hz and lower. Otherwise adding an impedance adapter from 8 to 30ohm can give nice results for the same purpose (8ohm being my personal choice. 30Ohm tended to alter the mediums I love so much so I dismissed using it).
and for the hardcore bass head, boost the 80hz even more to add impact to the already great rumble.
So it's a bassy IEM, no arguing about that. It's the bass phone that doesn't crush the rest. My IE80 has no medium, my hd650 has mids, but slightly recessed/muffled. On the 334 I could say that I wished for a “faster” bass, but never have I though that the bass was detrimental to mids and trebles. I certainly wouldn't recommend using a warm or bass boosted source as it would immediately be too much. But a nice flattish source(with no hiss) is a great experience with those TO GO! 334.
-imaging/soundstage: huge for an IEM, all “To Go!” Have an impressive soundstage/headstage(call it how you like), very wide and textured. The specificity of the 334 comes from the drivers vertically aligned and how the 3 ways are kept vertical until the end. It helps getting some height effect with a frequency dependent positioning.
When listening to a well mastered album it won't really alter the song as we're talking physical separation of a few millimeters compared to the a vertical imaging of 10 or 15centimeters for some songs. But when listening to a song with virtually no imaging cues, the 334 will make some up. Just enough to add some fun to the music. Old punk fans rejoice!
It's a very sensitive IEM, meaning it will make noises from your source to hiss louder than most IEMs. Not the 334's fault as the noises do come from the source. But to fully enjoy the qualities of the 334, I strongly advise you to avoid sources known for hissing.
Worst case scenario: You love your hissing source. Well just add a clean amp, it will solve the hiss-ue and improve the overall sound.
As mentioned before, the source impedance will affect the 334's sound signature a little. And it was, surprisingly or not, a very bad combo with the FIIO X3. Because the output impedance is so low you actually get more bass than on other sources and you end up with a more V shaped signature. Added to the already warm X3, bass becomes overwhelming.
The dx50 is better but hisses enough to annoy really quiet listeners. If you're rich, I recommend the zx1 or anything+ a nice amp. The 334 is a good IEM, don't go cheap on the source now.
That said, if you don't mind the buffering noises, I spent a lot of time pairing the 334 to a clip+ and it was very nice. The 334 makes up a little for the narrow soundstage of the clip+ so the result doesn't suffer any critical flaw and is very enjoyable.
I usually push people to go as close as possible to zero impedance on their source's output, but here a source with 3 to 5ohm might actually please more people. The change in signature is subtle but still audible. And at those levels of sound quality, ultimately the signature will be the judge.
Here's an unrealistic and simple graph showing how your source's impedance will affect the 334. keep in mind that I cut all possible corners in the calculations so the values aren't reality. The purpose is to give directions and proportion for the changes not values at a 0.1db accuracy.
(frequency graph and impedance values for calculations were all stolen shamelessly from M.R.O. thx to him)
Instruments separation from resolution to image positioning is excellent, you end up with incredible details (dat medium) without resolving to the usual tricks of boosting strategical mid and treble frequencies(like somewhere from 2to5khz and 8to10khz). I personally am not a fan of very spiky boosts so I'm happy with the way the 334 sounds.
The signature is clearly miles away from monitoring(yet pretty close to electrically flat), I see the 334 as a high quality, fun sounding IEM dedicated to enjoyment.
In the same brand the f111 was closer to the so called neutral signature(er4 style). But doesn't extend as much in the bass and clearly doesn't have the same level of details. The Parterre has more treble boost and a great imaging in my opinion(the best of those 3), but still I found the 334 to have, if not more details, more natural trebles. It's weird for the "bassier" IEM to impress me most in the trebles but that's how it was.
The price is no joke. My ears would tell people to go custom for this price. My wallet on the other hand would explain that a 334 can be sold with very little loss. When trying to sell customs is a different story (if the custom can actually be reshelled, else you've lost it all). So there is no wrong choice, but surely a hard one to make.