Pros: Very pleasant sound signature, comfortable for many ear shapes and sizes, incredible value
Cons: Prefers a shallow seal, cheap build quality, slightly thin sound
Build Quality/Design: This is probably the only part of these IEMs that feels like it belongs at the price point. The housings are entirely plastic and don't feel extremely durable but not extremely fragile either. Little driver flex is present. The cable is very poorly relieved, with no strain relief at the housing end and stiff relief at the 1/8" plug. The Y-split is minimal and not relieved either, but it feels like it will be less of an issue than the housing. The cable is very plasticky and thin, especially above the Y-split. However, it does not carry much cable noise worn cable-down and almost none cable-up. The design of the housings is all black and pretty minimal. These aren't going to catch anyone's eyes on the streets for good or bad reasons.
Comfort/Isolation: The small, lightweight plastic housings are very comfortable for long periods of time. They don't seal very deeply, not making me feel like my ears are being violated. The medium tips provide the best seal for my ears. Cable-up fit is possible, but I usually leave them down because they are far more comfortable that way. I sometimes personally feel like they have an insecure seal, but they have never fallen out of my ears. Bi-flanges would probably fix that problem for me. I feel like these IEMs would be very comfortable for a wide range of ears because they are small, lightweight, and don't require a deep seal to sound their best. Isolation is better than average for a dynamic driver even with the shallow seal, as they are not vented or ported. The small housings do not jut out of the ear very far at all, minimizing wind noise.
Sound Quality: As usual, I'll be splitting this section into bass, mids, treble, and soundstage.
Bass - Sub-bass has good impact and is more present than mid-bass, minimizing any bloated feeling. This also gives some authority to the bass, making it thunderous when called for. My bass-heavy test track,
Daft Punk's "Lose Yourself to Dance," feels pretty nice in the sub frequencies. It's bass guitar line feels more separated from the kick drum than most other headphones I've listened to this track with, allowing for better resolution while still feeling thunderous. The first verse of U2's "Beautiful Day" has a nice balance between the bass guitar and kick drum, with the kick drum feeling very appropriately restrained. I prefer more bass, but what's here is good. I did some experimenting with my iTunes equalizer and really liked using a bass booster preset, as it gave even more authority to an already mildly bassy headphone, among other things (which I'll discuss later).
Mids - Very slight recessed compared to the bass, but still pretty visible. Katy Perry's vocals on the chorus of "Roar" sound appropriately powerful but lack a little fullness. Jon Foreman's varied timbres in various Switchfoot songs sound normal for the most part, but the song "Vice Verses" sounded very hollow and canned to my ears. Acoustic guitars sound good but generally lack body, as do electrics. Pianos have the best sound of all the instruments, having sparkle and a decent amount of body. Snare hits are crisp with good attack. Hard rock can sound overly harsh at times but generally stays manageable. The cooler texture may be more accurate and detailed, but I don't really prefer it to warmer sets. That is another reason why I enable the bass booster preset: it adds a lot of natural body to the mids.
Treble - Not a whole lot to say here, as I have a hard time intensely judging highs. They aren't sibilant or rolled off. Texture feels crisp but not overly so. They feel quite dominant in the mix to my ears, yet another reason why I equalize them. Occasionally grainy and somewhat artificial sounding. Not bad, but not that good either.
Soundstage - Very intimate, but not entirely in-the-head. Decent width, decent height, poor depth. Instrument separation and detailing is good due to no overbearing mid-bass and crisp treble.
Conclusion: I may sound negative on these headphones, but they really are decent headphones. When price is factored in, these become the bargain-bin heroes. There is not another set of headphones I would rather have for under $20. They are widely available as well, making them good in a pinch. Even if they don't last longer than six months, they are so cheap it really shouldn't matter. Their V-shaped sound is popular among consumers, but they will work for almost everyone who needs cheap IEMs.