Pros: CHEAP, awesome mids and HF, soundstage
Cons: build quality, bass, need amp, cables
I got these in a parcel on the 13th after reading the reviews on Head Fi and elsewhere - (nearly all comparing them very favorably to much pricier options). The left headphone fell apart within one week of usage. Still waiting to hear back from the seller to see if I can source a new pair. So I'm back to using my Audéo PFE 112's for now... (no bad thing).
Bear in mind that I've only owned these for a week so far.
The sound quality Is great for something in this price-range. This has already been said many times before so I won't go into too much depth, but the mid to high end is VERY detailed. They lack warmth and come across as very analytical IEM's quite similar to a pair of Etymotic ER-4P's, but if possible, more detail in the mids - however, I'm no basshead but I found them overly cold/flat. I was forced to tweak the EQ.
After browsing head-fi I tried removing the filters and foam from within the body. This served to make them overly sharp at the high end and found that replacing the filters but leaving the foam out helped reign them in. I found using foam TX400's also helps with the bass (even though seal is inferior to the silicone caps). I believe this really helped the sound and makes them slightly warmer.
The sound-stage is impressive and very wide open. These are great (after modding - much much better) to listen to Classical and Jazz, even classic/proggy stuff - hammond organs really shine. Brass is awesome - I tested with:
- King Curtis (Live at Filmore West) - Memphis Soul Stew(ALAC)
- Charles Mingus (Let My Children Hear the Music) - Adagio ma Non Troppo (ALAC)
- Dmitri Shostakovich - String Quartet No. 15 in E-Flat Minor Op. 144 (1974) II- Serenade (Adagio) (FLAC)
All of the above sounded great. Crystal clear and wonderful clear separation between instruments and vocals nice fast attack. The funk was somewhat removed from King Curtis though... and similarly in other more bass heavy tracks.
Bass is detailed, not nearly as terrible as indicated in some of the reviews I've read it does seem lifeless - I found this depends heavily on the seal you get with which tips you choose.... I ran these through several amps. I used them on my imac through a mini 3 at home - this added a bit of warmth and helped out the bass. When on the move I found the E5 is a good (cheap) option to add a bit more drive - foam tips helped the bass here - however, I think they would benefit from a nicer amp.
I initially used the double flange silicon tips (which are huge) - these isolate exceptionally well, but after switching to the TX400 foam tips, I'm not going back.
I have to mention that these fell apart on me after 1 week. The left ear has also started to crackle in more bass heavy notes, but I blame dodgy E5 amplification for that - they were fine on my home amp.
Even with the quality of sound - if any headphone falls apart after a week of use I'm afraid it's a write-off. I could just be unlucky though as others don't seem to have had the same bad luck.
To be fair - it's just a superglue fix, but if I was out on the move and this happened, then it potentially could have ended up with the wires pulled out or worse. So far these have the worst build quality of any headphone I have ever owned - the cables have a weird memory to them (and they are kind of crappy cables at this price) - the newer version which I have has a banana shaped jack.
After playing with them and hearing the sound change (positively - I'm sure they got a touch warmer) after a week of burning in and constant wear - I'm in agreement that these are a nice set of IEM's. If you get a 'good pair' and they don't fall apart on you, then great. However, I think they seem to be getting too much praise for what they offer. I'm certainly glad I didn't pay the full launch price for them.
I for one will be sticking with my PFE's for a while - they are far superior IEM's for very little more in price and it's preference I'm sure, but they seem to have a nicer quality and mellower bass. I'm honestly hoping for a full refund rather than a replacement set - but they'll make a nice backup pair if I get a replacement.