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Multiple IEM Shootout v.3

post #1 of 297
Thread Starter 

[Disclaimer] This review/comparison is on subjective term based solely on my personal experience, idea and opinion. You should not take any of the following as absolute truth and you are free to disagree. You are more than welcome to ask question regarding the rating but I can't guarantee a satisfactory answer, though I will try my best to reply. There is no question that some (*not all) of the IEM in this review / comparison are provided to me freely, but I am not a shill and I do not work for any seller / manufacturer. I do, however, work with some of them in providing R&D feedback solely from an end user's standpoint.

Reviewing gears: Dell XPS420 - FooBar2K (ASIO) - Meier Audio's Corda 3MOVE (DAC+AMP)

Reviewing music:
1) Custom made music CD by ripping songs to FLAC than normalized/burnt via Nero9. Two songs with compression artifact included (CD → wma/mp3 → CD).
CD Tracks: [ Love Song - Sara Bareille / Have You Met Miss Jones? – Robbie Williams / Come Away with Me – Norah Jones / I Was Doing Alright – Diana Krall / Nostalgia – Yanni (Yanni Live At the Acropolis) / Not Of This Earth - Robbie Williams / Red Hot – Vanessa-Mea / Maneater – Nelly Furtado (artifact) / 1234 – Feist (artifact) ]

2) [August Rush: Music From The Motion Picture] ripped with Monkey Audio codec (.ape).

Rating Style:
★★★★★-The best
★★★★---Really good
★★★-----Average
★★------Just OK
★--------Not worth it

For Soundstage ONLY:
█ ▆ ▄ ▂ ▄ ▆ █ - Great / Wide
▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ - Small / Acceptable
▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ - Flat / In-Your-Face

Glossary:
{┏━} - L-shaped / bent mini jack
{┃} - Straight style mini jack
Ч-cord - Asymmetrical cable (a.k.a. J-cord)
Y-cord - Symmetrical cable
ABF - Amplification Benefiting Factor
For definition of audio terms, please visit the audio glossary thread.


Here is a quick review of the rating system:

Note: A Sonic Diamond™ is awarded when the IEM achieves an overall value ranking of [4.85 / 5] or higher. What this usually means is that the IEM is selling at price point two classes (usually over $50~$100) below its own, representing the best of deals. Beware: this is just an endorsement based on personal opinion.

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Content: (in sequence)

V1:
Shure E3c
Etymotic ER6i
Creative EP630
Sennheiser CX300
Altec Lansing iM716
CrossRoads MylarOne X3
Sleek Audio SA6
Head-Direct RE2
Head-Direct RE1
UE Triple.fi 10
Sony MDR-EX700SL
JAYS q-Jays
Sony MDR-EX85SL
Shure SE530
CrossRoads MylarOne Bijou 3
Westone UM2
Future Sonics Atrio M5 rev.2
SoundMAGIC PL-30

V2:
Head-Direct RE0
Maximo iMetal iM-390
LEAR Le01
SoundMAGIC PL-20
Philips SHE9850
JAYS' s-JAYS
SoundMAGIC PL-11
NuForce NE-7M
CrossRoads MylarOne Quattro
CrossRoads Woody One
CrossRoads Woody Two
Maximo iMetal iM-590
Alpha BRAINWAVZ
Beta BRAINWAVZ
SoundMAGIC PL-50
Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic (ADDIEM)
Woodees IESW100B
Astello Radiance+

V3:
(post #2)
Kanon MD-52
Hippo Boom
Fischer Audio FA-999
Fischer Audio Omega
Fischer Audio Paradigm v.2
Fischer Audio Enigma
Fischer Audio Silver Bullet
Fischer Audio Eterna
MEElectronics M2
MEElectronics M6
MEElectronics M9
MEElectronics M11
MEElectronics R1
HifiMAN RE252
Hippo Shroom
Hippo VB
Ortofon e-Q7
SoundMAGIC PL-21
(post #3)
Sherwood SE-777
Hippo Epic
Cresyn C222E
Cresyn C230E
Cresyn C260E
Audio Technica ATH-CKS70
Phonak Audéo PFE 121
VSONIC R02 Pro II
VSONIC R04
Phiaton PS210

Brainwavz M2

Fischer Audio Eterna (beta?)

Fischer Audio SBA-01

Fischer Audio DBA-02

Brainwavz M1

Fischer Audio Omega v2

Fischer Audio Eterna v2

Hippo Shroom-EB

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[REVERSION]
This section contains the re-summarization of Multiple IEM Shootout v.1 and v.2. The ratings and remarks have been updated (in blue) for better synchronization with the current market.

Note: The prices are estimated based on reputable retailers', official dealers' and ebay selling price in order to better reflects the street price of the genuine product.

Multiple IEM Shootout v.1 (Link)

*N/A = discontinued / XR = Extra Remark.

Shure E3c (2004)

Variation: E3g, SCL3
Transducer: Single Balanced Armature
Spec: 26Ω (@1kHz) | 25Hz~ 18kHz | 115dB SPL | 28g
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.41m~ 1.57m.
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated L style, heavy build.
Eartips Used: Shure Gary Soft Flex
Packaging: ★★★★★
Build Quality: ★★★★★ (heavily build)
Accessories: ★★★★☆ (everything you need is included)
Isolation: ★★★★
Microphonics: ★★ (earbud style) | ★★★★ (over-the-ear style)
Comfort: ★★★ (thick cable is too heavy, plus no memory cable)
Soundstage: ★★☆
Sound Quality: ★★★ (warm, but bass and treble are lacking)
Value: ★★★ (not the best sounding for its price)
Remark: With sound quality of an entry class IEM, E3c does nothing spectacularly good but comes with a higher-than-competitor’s price. A solid choice 4 yrs ago, but not anymore. The thick cable is quite a burden to use on any wearing style.
SQ: 3 | Value: 3.5 ($100)
XR: Lower in price rises the overall value. For the same price, the replacement model SE210 with an updated design is a probably better buy.

 

Etymotic ER6i (2005)

Variation: Black and white models with different accessories
Transducer: Single Balanced Armature
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 50Hz~ 16kHz | 108dB SPL | <28g
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.40m
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated straight style, light build. (Black model is L plug).
Eartips Used: Tri-flanges
Packaging: ★★★★☆
Build Quality: ★★★★ (light build)
Accessories: ★★★★ (included pouch offers little protection)
Isolation: ★★★★★ (-36dB!!!)
Microphonics: ★★★ (earbud style) | ★★★★★ (w/ shirt clip)
Comfort: ★★★★ (light to wear, but deep inserting eartips)
Soundstage: ★★ (one of Ety’s weak point]
Sound Quality: ★★★ (analytical, bass light and flat sound but offers great detail)
Value: ★★★★ (cheap street price and great sound when used with foam)
Remark: One of the main competitors with E3c when it was released. Street price is low now which makes it a good choice as entry class IEM. With Shure Black Foam sleeve, the bass problem can be improved. Thin cable but it will harden up in time result in more microphonics.
SQ: 3 | Value: 3.75 ($80)

 

Creative EP-630 (2006)

Variation: Black and white color, EP-635 (lanyard style).
Transducer: Single 8mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 6Hz~ 23kHz | 106dB SPL | 9g
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated straight style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Packaging: ★★★
Build Quality: ★★★★ (light build)
Accessories: ★★☆ (nothing but different size eartips)
Isolation: ★★★
Microphonics: ★★★
Comfort: ★★★★★
Soundstage: ★★★
Sound Quality: ★★ (warm, muddy bass without much treble)
Value: ★★☆ (cheap price so there is nothing to expect)
Remark: Except for comfort, there is nothing especially good on EP-630. However with price so low, how can one expect it to sound good? It will serve okay as a cheap backup, but not really a good choice for SQ.
SQ: 2 | Value: 2.5 ($40)
XR: eBay listings are mostly fake which means the only way to get a real EP-630 is paying full price on major retailer. Now also comes with different colors. You will be better off with something else rather than paying the full MSRP

 

Sennheiser CX300 (2006)

Variation: n/a.
Transducer: Single Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 18Hz~ 21kHz | 112dB SPL | 9g
Cord Style: J-cord, 1.20m
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated L style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Packaging: ★★★
Build Quality: ★★★★ (light build)
Accessories: ★★☆ (nothing but different size eartips)
Isolation: ★★★
Microphonics: ★★★
Comfort: ★★★★★
Soundstage: ★★★☆
Sound Quality: ★★☆ (warm, bloated bass)
Value: ★★★ (Get it for cheap than it is a slightly better choice than EP-630)
Remark: The bloated bass is the biggest weakness of CX300. The official price is also too high (however, this seems to be very common among Sennheiser’s low end products). With the current low street price, it is a reasonable good backup option.
SQ: 2.2 | Value: 3 ($20~30)
XR: Discontinued, replaced by CX300 II

 

Altec Lansing ‘InMontion’ iM716 (2007)

Variation: n/a.
Transducer: Single Balanced Armature
Spec: User selectable HD / Bass mode on inline volume control pod
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.40m
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated L style, light build.
Eartips Used: Tri-flanges
Packaging: ★★★★
Build Quality: ★★★★
Accessories: ★★★★☆ (Included case is balky, but functional)
Isolation: ★★★★☆
Microphonics: ★★ (w/o clip) | ★★★★ (w/ clip)
Comfort: ★★★ (not the best to wear because of the inline volume pod)
Soundstage: ★★ (HD mode) | ★★☆ (Bass mod)
Sound Quality: ★★★★ (Analytical and flat sounding, Bass mode adds a bit warmness)
Value: ★★★☆ (One of the best bargain when you find it cheap. Only downside is the fact that it is out of production, so don’t expect warranty for long)
Remark: One of the best values in IEM market as dealers are clearing their stock with ultra low price. The volume pod can be mod'ed to give an even better SQ closer to than of ER4P. However, don’t expect Altec Lansing to honor the warranty once you mod it. Will sound really great if you amp it.
SQ: 3.5 | Value: -- (N/A)
XR: Discontinued and hard to find.

 

CrossRoads MylarOne X3 (2007)

Variation: n/a.
Transducer: Single Dynamic
Spec: n/a
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated straight style, light build.
Eartips Used: UE style bi-flange
Packaging: ★★ (very simple package)
Build Quality: ★★☆ (light build, need good care to last)
Accessories: ★★★★☆ (A lot compare to its price)
Isolation: ★★★
Microphonics: ★★ (w/o clip) | ★★★★ (w/ clip)
Comfort: ★★★★☆
Soundstage: ★★★☆
Sound Quality: ★★☆ (balance, a bit bass light, but good detail)
Value: ★★★★ (Cheaper than EP-630 on local price, yet better than CX300)
Remark: Despite the build quality isn’t really good, X3 sounds like a pair of less refine ER6i, and you can’t beat it for the low price and a good solid warranty.
(See in-depth review here and modification here)
SQ: 2.6 | Value: -- (N/A)
XR: Discontinued.

 

Sleek Audio SA6 (2008)

Variation: Wireless adapter available
Transducer: Single Balanced Armature with Custom Porting
Spec: 50Ω (@1kHz) | 110dB SPL
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.15m, Replaceable
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated L style, heavy build.
Eartips Used: bi-flanges
Packaging: ★★★☆
Build Quality: ★★★☆ (there are still room for improvement, but overly good)
Accessories: ★★★★☆ (Included case isn’t very functional)
Isolation: ★★★★★
Microphonics: ★★★ (earbud style) | ★★★★★ (over-the-ear style)
Comfort: ★★★★☆ (one of the most comfortable deep inserting IEM)
Soundstage: ★★★★ (w/ Bass+ port)
Sound Quality: ★★★★☆ (warm, mid centric with some of the best vocal but doesn’t lack bass or treble)
Value: ★★★★ (For $250, I'll expect a bit more) | ★★★★★ (Fantastic new price!)
Remark: SA6 is a great example of how single BA transducer can sound great. Though the overall quality (both on sound and build) isn’t the best yet (when considering its price), I believe there is still room for improvement as SA6 is the first IEM for Sleek Audio. The custom porting (VQ system) works well. For people who love a warm, full, detail yet musical sound, SA6 just might be the one for you. [UPDATE] To me, SA6 is on the warm side, but not dark. The mid has a full body that is especially good with vocal. The treble (T++ port) reaches quite far and gives enough detail to show some sparkle but not to a point of fatiguing. Bass (on B+ port, pin hole mod) is accurate and fast, though not the best or biggest impact I heard and lack a good resolution on depth, it seems to well suit the full mid. The soundstage is better than most but not the best I heard. All and all, SA6 presents a very musical sound that can easily make most music more engaging. I'll say SA6's sound signature is a combination of all the nice characteristics I'll be looking for in a pair of IEM. As of why it falls short of being the best is because, though SA6 is really good sounding, it can still be a bit congesting on busy passage. I think it is because SA6 still lacks the best resolution and the body of sound to be ranked as the best. [UPDATED EDIT] With the new price of $200, SA6 are now one of the best value IEM in the market IMO.
(See in-depth review here and modification here)
SQ: 4.35 | Value: 4.3 ($150)
XR: 2009 reversion improves on cable and housing's durability, which has always been an issue for the original SA6.

 

Head-Direct’s RE2 (2008)

Variation: n/a.
Transducer: 9mm Single Dynamic
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 103dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 18KHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 0.90m.
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated straight style, very light build.
Eartips Used: Big bi-flanges
Packaging: n/a (sampling package)
Build Quality: ★★★★ (solid but nothing spectacular)
Accessories: ★★★☆ (a shirt clip will be nice)
Isolation: ★★★☆ (semi-open design but doesn’t leak sound)
Microphonics: ★★★ (earbud style)
Comfort: ★★★★★
Soundstage: ★★★★☆
Sound Quality: ★★★☆ (analytical and flat, light on bass, clearly a step up from ER6i and approaching the amped iM716)
Value: ★★★★★ (what can a man ask for with such a low price of $99?)
Remark: RE2 sounds like a more refine ER6i. Though not pumping out a lot of bass, the great detail should be more than enough considered it is only $99. The included big bi-flanges really do their job well. Better soundstage and not need for amping make it a better choice over iM716. [EDIT] Good synergy with FiiO E3, so try them both together if you get a chance.
(See in-depth review here)
SQ: 3.2 | Value: 4.6 ($30)
XR: Price has been lowered but the 90 days warranty lower the overall value.

 

Head-Direct’s RE1 (2008)

Variation: n/a.
Transducer: 9mm Single Dynamic
Spec: 150Ω (@1kHz) | 103dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 18KHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 0.90m.
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated straight style, very light build.
Eartips Used: Big bi-flanges
Packaging: n/a (sampling package)
Build Quality: ★★★★ (solid but nothing spectacular)
Accessories: ★★★☆ (a shirt clip will be nice)
Isolation: ★★★☆ (semi-open design but doesn’t leak sound)
Microphonics: ★★★ (earbud style)
Comfort: ★★★★★
Soundstage: ★★★★★ (the best soundstage when amped)
Sound Quality: ★★★★☆ (slightly dark but very smooth and forgiving, must be amped well to reveal its potential. One of the best dynamic I ever heard).
Value: ★★★★☆ (Not getting 5 stars after factor in the price for an amp, but still quite a great deal)
Remark: With a fast and detail amp, RE1 can sound amazingly great, putting it next to some of the best universal IEM in the market. Even after factoring in the price of reasonably good amp (~$150), I still think it is a good deal. If you already have a good amp, than there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider getting a pair of RE1. Mind you the slightly dark SQ means it is not the ultra detail IEM you are looking for. However, It is perfect for those who want a smooth and laid back sounding IEM that you can listen for hours and feel no fatigue at all.
(See in-depth review here)
SQ: 4.5 | Value: 4.5 ($79)

 

Ultimate Ears’ Triple.fi 10 Pro (2008)

Variation: Known as 'Triple.fi 10' as well. 10vi for mic support.
Transducer: Triple Balanced Armature in two ways configuration
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 10Hz~ 17kHz | 117dB SPL | 16g
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.10m. Memory cable. Replaceable.
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated L style, heavy build.
Eartips Used: Mod’ed Shure Black Foam
Packaging: ★★★★☆
Build Quality: ★★★★★
Accessories: ★★★★☆ (Included foam are trash)
Isolation: ★★★★ (-26dB, better with foam eartips)
Microphonics: ★★★★★ (over-the-ear style)
Comfort: ★★★☆ (won’t work if you have really small ear canal. Big earpiece)
Soundstage: ★★★★☆ (very good, but not the best. Great instrument separation)
Sound Quality: ★★★★★ (very balance and airy, a slight harshness on treble but fixable by foam).
Value: ★★★★☆ (Not getting 5 stars because I am expecting everything to be perfect but it is not, see remark)
Remark: If you can get a good fit, there is no doubt that TF10 has one of the best SQ in universal IEM. I’ll like to think that I am paying a premier price because everything is best in its class, but it just isn’t so. The foam tips included are basically trash as one of them broke apart even before I fully inserted it onto the IEM, and the other one is even worst as the foam is glued to the silicone tube on the wrong side (the smooth side should be facing the eardrum but it is not). They should have asked Comply to produce the foam instead of making some sub-par accessories themselves. [UPDATE] Cheer for UE cause they do listen to their customer, and now all UE's products seems to be shipped with Comply!
SQ: 4.8 | Value: 4.55 ($300)
XR: Reduced warranty time (to one year) lower the overall value. End of 2009 discount ($99~200) makes it a rather good buy.

 

Sony MDR-EX700SL (2008)

Variation: MDR-EX700LP (one piece cable)
Transducer: Single 16mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 4Hz~ 28kHz | 108dB SPL | 7g
Cord Style: J-cord. Two pieces, 0.50m + 1.00m (LP model has one piece cable)
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated L style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Packaging: ★★★★★ (One of the nicest looking package on IEM)
Build Quality: ★★★★☆ (cable tangles too easily).
Accessories: ★★★★☆ (excellent case and tips but shirt clip needed!)
Isolation: ★★ (around -20dB, the second worst of all)
Microphonics: ★★★★ (earbud style)
Comfort: ★★★★☆ (quite comfortable despite the size)
Soundstage: ★★★★ (good soundstage, but a bit lack in depth / not airy enough)
Sound Quality: ★★★★☆ (balance, too much harshness on treble not even T400 can fix, good bass, slightly recessed mid in comparison).
Value: ★★★★ (Overall nice package, but SQ isn’t there yet)
Remark: If you even want to sell people a two piece cabal IEM, you better included a shirt clip. Despite using really light material (aluminum, magnesium), the combined cable is still fairly heavy and annoying. Once I put a clip on it, I realize it won’t fit the case anymore (not that the SL model fits well before). Beside the missing clip and harshness, some of the major downside include the easily tangle cable, very little isolation, plus comfortable but easily damage eartips. Sony has made an effort to create a worthy high class IEM, but it isn’t at the top yet. If you want to get EX700, get the LP model (one piece cable) instead. [EDIT] After a lengthy burn-in (~150hrs), the harsh treble seems to quiet down a bit (2~3dB maybe?) to a slightly more tolerable level (but still harsh in general).
SQ: 4.2 | Value: 4.3 ($185)
XR: Much lower street price improves its overall value.

 

JAYS q-Jays (2008)

Variation: Black and white models. q-Jays LE (red and blue models)
Transducer: Dual Balanced Armature
Spec: 39Ω (@1kHz) | 20Hz~ 20kHz | 95dB SPL | 8g
Cord Style: Y-cord. Two pieces, 0.60m + 0.90m
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated L style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Packaging: ★★★★☆ (One of the nicest looking package on IEM)
Build Quality: ★★★★★ (solid European's quality).
Accessories: ★★★★☆ (excellent accessories only let down by not functional case and not shirt clip)
Isolation: ★★★★
Microphonics: ★★★ (earbud style) | ★★★★ (over-the-ear style)
Comfort: ★★★☆ (where is the shirt clip when you need one?) | ★★★★☆ (w/ my O.J. mod, see remark).
Soundstage: ★★★☆ (fair soundstage)
Sound Quality: ★★★★ (slightly warm, analytical but very slight harshness on treble, excellent bass on quantity and quality).
Value: ★★★★☆ (solid package for a mid class IEM)
Remark: Though might not be the best sounding IEM in its price range (close though), the extra goodies that come with the package do proof q-Jays to have an excellent value for the money. The two downsides are 1) the included case won’t fit the IEM with extension cable (without putting a lot of stress on the cable) and 2) why won’t JAYS includes a shirt clip for a two pieces cable? See also my Olive-on-Jays mod.
SQ: 4 | Value: 4.1 ($180)
XR: JAYS also offers custom eartip for q-JAYS now for extra cost.

 

Sony MDR-EX85SL (2008)

Variation: MDR-EX85LP (one piece cable)
Transducer: Single 13.5mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 5Hz~ 24kHz | 105dB SPL | 6g
Cord Style: J-cord. Two pieces, 0.50m + 1.00m
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated L style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Packaging: N/A (OEM package)
Build Quality: ★★★★ (Nothing special)
Accessories: ★★★☆ (Still looking for the same old shirt clip)
Isolation: ★★★
Microphonics: ★★★
Comfort: ★★★★ (Weird angle of the earpiece)
Soundstage: ★★★ (fair soundstage)
Sound Quality: ★★☆ (warm, not particularly detail but acceptable, slightly muddy mid, bass lacks depth and quality)
Value: ★★★ (Low street price gives it a fair value)
Remark: EX85 is about the same level as CX300 in SQ, but different in sonic character. CX300 has bloated bass and treble while lacks good body mid; EX85 has good mid but lacks good detail and bass depth. Like the CX300, it can serve as a good backup pair since the street price is reasonable, but it isn't 'monitor' level SQ like Sony claims.
SQ: 2.2 | Value: 2.9 ($40)

 

Shure SE530 (2008)

Variation: SE530PTH (with extra Push-To-Talk unit)
Transducer: Triple Balanced Armature in two ways configuration
Spec: 36Ω (@1kHz) | 18Hz~ 19kHz | 119dB SPL | 29g
Cord Style: Y-cord, Two pieces, 0.45 + 0.91m
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated straight style, heavy build.
Eartips Used: Shure Black Foam
Packaging: ★★★★★ (aluminum box is really nice)
Build Quality: ★★★★☆ (loose connection in less than a week of action, lemon replaced)
Accessories: ★★★★★ (olive is good, attenuator is a plus)
Isolation: ★★★★★
Microphonics: ★★★★★ (over-the-ear style)
Comfort: ★★★★☆ (heavily built cable isn't particularly comfortable, plus there is no memory cable to hold the cable in place)
Soundstage: ★★★★ (good, but not the best. Slight improvement when using silicones eartip)
Sound Quality: ★★★★☆ (Slightly on the warm side with good, solid and full mid and bass, a bit dark sounding if used from a warm source, slightly roll off treble but improved when amped; On the plus side, SE530 is slightly more forgiving on low bitrate music).
Value: ★★★★ (More expensive than TF10, but doesn't offer more of anything)
Remark: Does SE530 sounds good? I guess the answer is 'Yes'. Does it sound better than TF10? My instinct tells me 'No'. The reason is, SE530 sounds so 'conservative' (if you can describe it that way) that it lacks surprise of any kind. It seems to have a very solid sound characteristic but the lack of spark always leaves me wanting for more. I guess most people will find SE530's sound pretty easy going, but I think I'll prefer a sound that carries more excitement in it. Perhaps I am just not too fond of Shure's house sound? One thing that worths noticing is, despite the fact that most IEM sound very 'intimate' (that is, not resembling a big can), SE530 does carry a more or less 'big can' feel in its sound character. On extra note, SE530 could easily be the most comfortable IEM in the batch, but I just wish Shure could include memory wire on the cable which would have made wearing it a lot more easier.
SQ: 4.7 | Value: 4.5 ($280)
XR: The updated model, the SE535, will feature an replaceable cable

 

CrossRoads MylarOne Bijou 3 (2008)

Variation: Various colors
Transducer: Single 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 20Hz ~ 22kHz | 95 + 4 dB SPL | 2mW (10mW Max)
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.40m
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated L style, light build.
Eartips Used: UE style bi-flange
Packaging: ★★★☆ (improved since previous version)
Build Quality: ★★★★ (Good build, significant improvement with aluminum earpieces, proper strain relief, and stronger cable )
Accessories: ★★★★☆ (A lot compare to its price, still a CrossRoads strong point)
Isolation: ★★★
Microphonics: ★★ (w/o clip) | ★★★★ (w/ clip)
Comfort: ★★★★☆
Soundstage: ★★★ (slightly less airy thus less soundstage)
Sound Quality: ★★☆ (warm and fun sounding, lower midrange hump around 200Hz ~ 250Hz, but decent detail. Slightly better than CX300 but not on the level of X3 yet)
Value: ★★★★ (Same price as the X3i, still cheaper than EP-630 or CX300 in local price. Factoring in the improved build quality and accessories, it still holds better value than the cheaper CX300 (in U.S.))
Remark: First, the Bijou 3 needs a lot of burn-in. You should burn it in for at least 50hrs before even attends to listen to it. Serious audition will be better scheduled after 100hrs. With out proper burn in, Bijou 3 can sound very muddy with uncontrolled mid bass and roll off high. Second, although the build quality has shown significant improvement, the sound quality does not (show improvement as significant). In fact, one can argue whether it is an improvement on SQ, or perhaps it is a change of sound characteristic as the old MylarOne sounds quite different from the current Bijou 3 (from analytical to fun sounding). Personally, I do prefer the more analytical sound of the old X3. Those of you who find Bijou 3 lower midrange hump muddy up the sound can try to EQ the 200Hz ~ 250Hz region down a bit. The end result is a more balanced sound that has better controlled treble and very slightly deeper bass than CX300.
SQ: 2.5 | Value: 2.9 ($57)
XR: Discontinued.

 

Westone UM2 (2008)

Variation: Black and translucent.
Transducer: Dual balanced armature
Spec: 27Ω (@1kHz) | 20Hz~ 18kHz | 119dB SPL | 30g
Cord Style: Y-cord. Braided. 1.30m
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated L style, heavy build.
Eartips Used: Stock Comply P-series slim foam tips
Packaging: ★★★★ (Nothing spectacular here)
Build Quality: ★★★★★ (Solid. The cable might seem fragile at first but actually well constructed)
Accessories: ★★★★☆ (Lacks silicone tips. Comply tips are good but silicone tips should be included)
Isolation: ★★★★☆ (Excellent isolation, close to the best)
Microphonics: ★★★★★ (Close to no microphonics at all. Braided cable works very well)
Comfort: ★★★★★ (Definitely one of the most comfort IEM there is. The soft cable is a big plus!)
Soundstage: ★★★☆ (Fair. The warm and forward mid reduces airiness, results in smaller soundstage)
Sound Quality: ★★★★☆ (By far the warmest IEM among all the top end IEM. Very mid centric, like SA6 w/ stronger bass response, but doesn't sparkle as much on treble and less airy, very slightly harsh)
Value: ★★★★ (As a dual driver, UM2 has SQ that can rival those triple drivers, but there are newer, cheaper dual driver on the market that come with better accessories. For the price I paid, it kind of makes me wish for more)
Remark: UM2 spots a very warm, very musical sound signature. Slightly stronger bass than SE530 (mostly because of more mid-bass), with a more forward, fuller mid but less treble detail. Though warm, there is a bit of highlight on the 6~8kHz region resulting in slight harshness, which actually prevents it from sounding too dark despites the fact that it sounds less detail than SE530 (especially on the upper treble). Because of the much forward mid, soundstage actually suffered a bit as the sense of airiness is greatly reduced. Depends on your listening preference, UM2 can be good or bad. It certainly isn't for those who are looking for balance, neutral, cold or analytical sound. However, If you like your music warm and full, UM2 could be the treat you are looking for. If sound signature is a scale, I will place TF10 on one end, SE530 very close to the middle, and UM2 at the other end.
SQ: 4.6 | Value: 4.0 ($250)
XR: The high standing price of such an old model is hurting UM2 value, consider that all its main competitors have lower street price now.

 

Future Sonics Atrio M5 rev.2 (2008)

Variation: M8 (blue color earpiece), more color available now.
Transducer: MG5pro™ single dynamic
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 18Hz~ 20kHz | 112dB SPL
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.30m.
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated L style, light build.
Eartips Used: Stock EarFills sleeves
Packaging: ★★★★ (Nothing spectacular here)
Build Quality: ★★★★★ (Quite solid)
Accessories: ★★★★★ (The included case is larger than needed, but of good quality. Two packs of foam tips are a plus)
Isolation: ★★★★ (Better than average, but not among the best. isolation improves if using foam tips)
Microphonics: ★★★★ (earbud style. The QuietCables II works rather well)
Comfort: ★★★★ (The EarFills bi-flanges are not the easiest eartips to insert or remove)
Soundstage: ★★★☆ (Fair soundstage, lack in airiness which limits soundstage, strong upfront bass (or weak mid / treble, depend on your own view) distorts overall imaging)
Sound Quality: ★★★★ (Fun and slightly warm, monstrous bass with great depth but very slightly lacks in speed, quite forgiving, lacks in fine upper treble detail and close to sparkle-less)
Value: ★★★★★(The MSRP might be listed close to US$200 but the actual street price can be 1/3 lower. For that reason, Atrio has earn a spot as the top valuer)
Remark: It is not an opinion if someone tell you Atrio M5 / M8 is for basshead, it is the truth. It is hard to imagine an IEM is capable of kicking out so much bass in such great depth - that is you can also hear the sub-bass with decent frequency response. No IEM I heard of is ever close to push out half that of Atrio in the bass department. One of the best thing is, Atrio is able to pump bass out without muddy up the mid and retain enough treble detail to not sound dark, though it definitely isn't the detail sounding IEM people are looking for. Generally, I consider Atrio to be quite smooth sounding and not fatiguing, provides that you are into big bass. Atrio can be fatiguing if you can't accept big bass smashing into your head (as more than one occasion I actually feel my head is vibrating.) On extra note, Atrio requires a bit of burn-in to reach its final sound signature. I'll suggest 50 hrs as the minimum and 100hrs before any serious audition.
SQ: 4.1 | Value: 4.6 ($160)

 

SoundMAGIC PL-30 (2008)

Variation: Black and white models.
Transducer: Single 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 12Ω (@1kHz) | 20Hz~ 22kHz | 102+3dB SPL | 10g
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated straight style, Light build.
Eartips Used: UE style bi-flanges.
Packaging: ★★★☆ (surprisingly well packaged for the price)
Build Quality: ★★★ (Okay build quality. Care needed to last, especially on the bass knob)
Accessories: ★★★★☆ (Good selection of eartips included, especially the Shure 'olive' style foam. Good thing that they also include a shirt clip)
Isolation: ★☆ (less than -20dB, the worst of all. Foam will improve isolation but will result in a darker sound signature)
Microphonics: ★★★★☆ (over-the-ear style, very little microphonics even w/o the shirt clip)
Comfort: ★★★★ (Good, but the cable doesn't particularly like to stay over-the-ear w/o a bit of persuasion)
Soundstage: ★★★★ (Airy sound with a good sense of space and separation)
Sound Quality: ★★☆ (Neutral sound w/ a bit of analytical quality, bass light but offers good detail. SQ is roughly on-par w/ Bijou3 but with an opposite presentation. Resemble the SQ of MylarOne X3 but w/ less bass. Quite seal and eartips dependent for achieving an ideal sound)
Value: ★★★★☆ (Capable of matching the performance of those which double in price and beating most, if not all, sub $50 IEM gives PL-30 a rather good value for money)
Remark: Before serious auditioning, a 24 hrs burn-in is recommended for the removal of the slight hint of harshness. If you can get them for less than $30, I'll say you have got yourself a good deal. Less than $20? Even better. However, paying such an low low price does come with its own downside (I have to wait for a month just to receive my $20 PL-30, and it will probably take all the patience in your life because the shipping update is pretty much not existed). At this point, you should have realized PL-30 isn't the Excalibur you are hoping for. It is not the magic cure if you are searching for better SQ. However, PL-30 does capable of rival most IEM around the $50 mark (and that's probably as far as it goes). Due to the earpieces' design, getting a good seal might require a bit of effort. A bad seal means PL-30 will turn from bass-light to bass-none. Using the foam, however, will darken PL-30 overall sound signature in exchange for more bass. Personally, I find the two different setting for bass knob to be quite subtle. The clear bass setting is slightly airier, while deep bass setting gives a bit of warmness to the overall tone. You will most likely get more result via EQing. For those who are looking for more bass w/o resolving to EQ, try FiiO E3 (the synergy is good, but there might be a hint of hiss depends on your DAP).
SQ: 2.5 | Value: 4.1 ($25)

 

 

Multiple IEM Shootout v.2 (Link)

*XR = Extra Remark.


Head-Direct RE0

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 64Ω (@1kHz) | 100dB SPL | 15Hz ~ 22KHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.30m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: N/A (sampling package)
┣ Accessories: ★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Not a very exciting look but it has by far the best build among Head-Direct's own IEM. Decent isolation is more than enough for daily use. The included filter replacement is a good plus. Quite sturdy. [Update] The new version of RE0 has a fabric 'knit' type of cable.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ [Good / Average]
┣ ABF: [Mid]
┣ Overall SQ: [4.6 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is very balance and neutral, with a much fainted sense of warmness due to the rather smooth frequency response curve. Ultra fine detail like that of Etymotic, slightly lay back mid with good bass impact but lack true depth. Capable of rivaling some of the best universal IEM in the market. Not a very sensitive IEM but can be used unamped without any major SQ reduction. Pairing with a warm sounding amp is recommended.
Overall Value: [4.7 / 5] - US$ 200 | [5 / 5] - US$79 (since late '09)
Final Remark: RE0 is an excellent IEM that addressed some of the short coming of RE1 – amp is more or less not as important, detail has been significantly improved, and so is the overall SQ. All in all, it is the best of the family – and it put the IEM a few steps closer to being the best IEM in the market. The reasons why RE0 doesn’t receive the top value rating are 1) because user would probably be getting an amp down the road and 2) there are a few sub-$200 deals that come with very nice packaging with a lot of accessories even though they might not be as good in SQ. (In-depth review can be found here)
SQ: 4.6 | Value: 5 (Sonic Diamond™ for current sub-$100 sale price)
XR: Now comes with PPE cable and L-shaped mini plug.

 

Maximo iMetal iM-390

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 18Hz~ 22kHz | >100dB SPL
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.30m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Good packaging but I don't like blister pack in general. Quite an assortment of goodies are included but I do hope they will include bi-flanges eartips. Build quality is pretty high. The included hardcase is one of the best I have seen, especially considering its price point.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ [Good / Average]
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.5 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm, energetic, and musical, but doesn't have a lot of detail. Good vocal and bass response suitable for most genre of music. Very good SQ for IEM in its price range.
Overall Value: [4.5 / 5] - US$40
Final Remark: With solid build quality, great accessories, and a decent sound, this IEM is quite a keeper. Not many IEM in the sub-$50 category are capable of doing everything right. More than often they have some kind of major short coming that lower their overall value. I am happy to say iM-390 isn't one of those. I am quite impressed by the solid performance and value of iM-390, especially since it isn't from a dedicated audio brand. If you have only $40 to spend on IEM, this one should be in your list of consideration. (In-depth review can be found here)
SQ: 2.5 | Value: 4.5 ($34)

 

LEAR Le01

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single 10.7mm Dynamic
Spec: 20Ω (@1kHz) | 10Hz~ 26kHz | 112dB SPL
Cord Style: Ч-cord, 1.00m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Bi-flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Le01 comes in a nice looking box, but the content isn't better than others in its price range. All in all, it is just about average / typical in most account. Relatively weak isolation means it won't stand up to big noise. There are still places that can use some improvement, like better cable, a pouch / case, etc.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ [Small / Acceptable]
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 2.7 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm, fun, slightly dark as treble roll off a bit but bass is quite big though not the deepest. Sound better with bi-flanges.
Overall Value: [ 4.2 / 5] - US$40~50 (price depends on dealer)
Final Remark: Le01 has quite an easy going sound signature. It is fun to listen to and pretty fatigue free. There isn't a lot of detail but enough to keep thing interested. If you are a basshead on a budget (or just someone who are looking for a good bass), this will be the IEM you are looking for, but don't expect it to isolate against really loud noise. Overall, it is a pretty good sounding IEM for its price. (In-depth review can be found here)
SQ: 2.7 | Value: 4.2 ($40)
XR: Le01+ already released

 

SoundMAGIC PL20

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 12Ω (@1kHz) | 20Hz~ 22kHz | 94dB SPL
Cord Style: Ч-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Bi-flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Unlike its bigger brother PL30, PL20 comes in a more inconspicuous package. Most of the accessories in the PL30 are in here as well, but there is no hard case. Instead you get a soft pouch. Build quality is typical of SoundMAGIC - decent but care will be needed to last. PL20's isolation is better than PL30, which is no surprising since PL20's design is more conventional. What is unexpected is how the very little microphonics the cable has.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ [Good / Average]
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 2.4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is balanced with a little bit of warmness, good on treble and mid but bass light. Not as airy / spacious as PL30's presentation but acceptable soundstage.
Overall Value: [ 4.3 / 5] - US$13~18 (price depends on dealer)
Final Remark: PL20 is by all means not a bad IEM for its price. It is a little step down on SQ in comparison to PL30. However, its (still) decent SQ, cheaper price and better fit / isolation make it a good inexpensive back up. For those who wish to know, PL20 also pair quite well with FiiO E3 but there is the suggestion of very faint hiss when silence.
SQ: 2.4 | Value: 4.3 ($15)

 

Philips SHE9850

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single Balanced Armature
Spec: 12Ω (@1kHz) | 20Hz~ 20kHz | 115dB SPL | 14g
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Shure Black Foam
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★☆
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum: SHE9850 comes with pretty good packaging and very well accessories pack, as you might expect from such a big company. Beside the three different sized silicone single flange, you will also find a pair of Comply T100 in the box. The slide in/out black aluminum case is a big plus, it even has space for an extra set of eartips and the nozzle cleaning tool. A shirt clip is also supplied. The earpeice itself looks gorgeous with metal nozzle and BA drive housing inside transparent hard acrylic shell finished with soft rubber strain relief. The only downside is the cable used doesn't seem to be as high class as the earpeice, but that is just an minor issue. The good news is microphonics is quite low and isolation is excellent with both foam and silicone tips.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.25 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm and full, musical but not to a point of fun sounding. Vocal is sweet and so is the mid (kind of remind me about Shure). Treble changes a lot with the eartips used. Pairing with silicone eartips can sound a bit dull as treble roll off too early. Pairing with foam tips give more treble at the price of a bit harshness, but it is still not a very detail sounding IEM. SHE9850 is definitely tuned with foam tips usage in mind. I put in a pair of Shure olive instead of T100. The overall difference b/w them is minor but T100 does sound a bit smoother and less harsh. One point worths noting is the bass response. It is very good (both in quality and quantity) for a single BA transducer with accuracy, body and impact all together.
Overall Value: [ 3.9 / 5] - US$90~95
Final Remark: I generally won't expect much from Philips, but SHE9850 does prove itself to be a well made IEM. I paid mine with a higher price tag since I got it from a local electronic chain store that doesn't do much discount on headphone, but the online price of $90 is about right for SHE9850's SQ. It reminds me of my old E3c, except SHE9850 is better in most way. I'll like to think of SHE9850 as E3c-done-right, with slight better treble (on foam tips), improved bass, and a great look. The little harshness can be a bit annoying some time but it is well with in tolerable range. All in all, SHE9850 is quite good as an entry level IEM as long as you can find it around / under $90. (In-depth review can be found here)
SQ: 3.25 | Value: 4.6 ($$37)
XR: A huge drop in price makes it a much better buy.

 

JAYS' s-JAYS

Variation: Black and white models
Transducer: Single Rounded 'SIREN' Balanced Armature
Spec: 69Ω (@1kHz) | 20Hz~ 20kHz | 113dB SPL | 10g
Cord Style: Y-cord, 0.60m + 0.9m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, heavy build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★☆
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum: Like all JAYS' product, s-JAYS is really well packed and top notch in build quality. It might not have as many accessories compare to its bigger brother the q-JAYS, it is still more than adequate. The IEM has two pieces cable which add up to a longer than usual length, but it is always better to be longer than shorter. You also get a small leather carrying case, five different sizes of eartips plus one set of foam, replacement filters, airplane adapter and signal splitter, and an user manual. The earpeices are physically larger than your typical single balanced armature IEM, more so when compared to its tiny dual drive brother q-JAYS. Then again, the balanced armature transducers used are very different from the normal small boxy shape. s-JAYS is in fact the first to utilize the rounded shaped BA transducers called 'SIREN', produced by Knowles Electronics. Isolation is typical, enough for most noisy environment but the extreme. Microphonics is also typical. Despite its larger size, I find s-JAYS with stock eartips to be more comfortable the q-JAYS with stock eartips. It might look bulky but in fact s-JAYS is quite light. The housing is easy to handle and surprisingly comfortable when used. One of my complaint about the small q-JAYS is that the housing is so small that the cable often pulls it out from my ear canal (I have to mod a foam tips to solve the problem), but s-JAYS stays firm in my ear easily. The one thing I don't like about the earpiece is the very tiny 'left / right' marking on the short strain relief. I would imagine a small 'red / blue' dot will serve the purpose more effectively. In all, I'll say JAYS has again successfully brought another fine product to the market.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Mid]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.15 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm, mid centric, laid back and very smooth . Unamped, the sound can feel a bit veil. Everything sounds further back on both sides but lacks a sense of depth. Amped, the detail and vocal is brought back to the front and it opens up the soundstage, especially on the depth. Treble rolls off a bit early, so not very detail sounding. Bass is strong, but slightly lacking in clarity and speed - yet it is still very good for a single balanced armature transducer. In a sense, s-JAYS carries a little taste of dynamic transducer in its sound signature. Though it may be too smooth and laid back for some, it is a very fatigue free and relaxing IEM.
Overall Value: [ 3.8 / 5] - US$80
Final Remark: s-JAYS is a very curious sounding IEM. It doesn't sound like what I would expect from BA drive yet it is not totally dynamic (moving coil) sounding as well. It gives me the impression of a hybrid especially when it is unamped. Thought not very difficult to drive, I do feel s-JAYS benefits quite a lot from the extra power, even from a small amp like the E5. JAYS has been marketing the s-JAYS as their lower end entry class, and I do think they have priced it just right for its SQ. It is definitely a good choice for stress free long listening session, and the alien / bee / bug shaped earpieces are a plus for those who want something unique. (In-depth review can be found here)
SQ: 3.15 | Value: 3.8 ($80)

 

SoundMAGIC PL-11

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 12Ω (@1kHz) | 20Hz~ 22kHz | 97+3dB SPL | 12g
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Packaging and build quality is basically consistent with the other SoundMAGIC products I reviewed (decent for the price). Accessories is about the same as PL20 - eartips (3 sized), Shure olive style foam tips, shirt clip, silicone cable warp, and a soft pouch. The earpieces has better isolation than those previously reviewed SoundMAGIC's but microphonics is also more of an issue. You probably will need to use the included shirt clip.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ [Small / Acceptable]
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 2.4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is on the warm side with big bass. Treble is actually as good as PL20 but fine detail tend to get flooded by the bigger bass. Mid performance is also on par on PL20, but doesn't suffer the bass flooding issue. Due to the lost of fine detail, soundstage isn't as wide as PL20, but overall acceptable. In a way, you can say PL11 is bass enhanced PL20. If you want big bass, PL11 is the one for you.
Overall Value: [ 4.3 / 5] - US$13~18 (price depends on dealer)
Final Remark: Like PL20, PL11 is another very decent IEM of its price. It seems SoundMAGIC really has a strong point at making affordable good budget class IEM. You simply can't go wrong with any of its product - all you need to do is to figure out which IEM has the right sound signature you are looking for.
SQ: 2.4 | Value: 4.3 ($15)

 

NuForce NE-7M

Variation: NE-6 for no mic version.
Transducer: Single 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 12Ω (@1kHz) | 20Hz~ 22kHz | 100+3dB SPL | 12g
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★☆
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: NE-7M's box is pretty nice. Inside, you will find the manual, three set of different sized silicone eartips and a set of foam tips, a shirt clip which already attached on the IEM's cable, and a very nice synthetic leather pouch. Unfortunately all the included eartips are the same quality as those found on SoundMAGIC. I have a hard time getting good fit with those eartips and eventually switch to my old MylarOne eartips. With the proper tips in place, isolation is decent. Microphonics is not a major problem since there is a shirt clip. It is about as comfortable as any shallowly inserted IEM.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★★
┣ Soundstage: █ ▆ ▄ ▂ ▄ ▆ █ - Great / Wide
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.3 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature resembles PL-11, but better on all count. Treble is slightly more refine but harshness can still be detected especially on loud volume. Mid is about the same. Bass hits harder and very low - not quite the Atrio level but certainly better than most IEM I reviewed. Soundstage is very wide and spacious, some of the best I have ever heard.
Overall Value: [ 4.35 / 5] - US$49
Final Remark: In case you wonder: No, NE-7M isn't rebranded PL11 or X3. It is a class (or two) above those IEM. For the low price, NE-7M has fantastic price / performance ratio, just two things: 1) The included eartips couldn't match up with the IEM's sound quality and should be replaced. 2) You might not be able to use it as headset if you are not using iPhone. I tried it with my Sony Ericsson cellphone with no luck. Once you look pass those two minor imperfection, NE-7M could just be some of the best $50 you can ever spend on IEM.
SQ: 3.3 | Value: 4.35 ($50)
XR: Based on the same transducer, NE-6 is even a better buy for those who don't need a mic.

 

CrossRoads' MylarOne Quattro

Variation: Red / Burgundy / Black (color)
Transducer: Single 7mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 20Hz~ 22kHz | 95+4dB SPL
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Bi-flanges
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★☆ ~ ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★☆
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Packaging is pretty plain and simple, but there are quite a few accessories included. Inside, you will find the IEM, a short manual, 4 set of different sized single flange eartips (L, M, S, XS), 1 set of bi-flanges, an airplane adapter, a shirt clip, an useful pouch, and 3 set of 'Bass select ports' for bass customization. Build quality is pretty solid, Isolation varies depends on the flange and the ports in use. Microphonics is acceptable. Again, it is as comfortable as any shallowly inserted IEM
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: █ ▆ ▄ ▂ ▄ ▆ █ - Great / Wide
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.15 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signatures are on the warm, slightly laid back side, probably because the upper mid~lower treble isn't very upfront. It actually resembles Bijou3 sound signature in many ways but better on all count. Treble extends very high but it is not the most detail sounding and should be adequate for none analytical listener. Bass (and mid to some extent) can be tuned by changing the bass select ports. Port #1 has the biggest bass but on the expense of resolution. Port #2 is the most balanced among the three. Port #3 has the best detail but a bit bass shy and has the narrowest soundstage. Due to the slightly low sensitivity, the volume might need to be turned up a bit more, but amping isn't necessary at all. Finding the right match between bass select ports and eartips is important for getting the right sound, which basically is the essence of Quattro's customizable sound.
Overall Value: [ 3.75 / 5] - US$88
Final Remark: CrossRoads has successfully applied the tunable concept and created a worthy IEM that is Quattro. It might not be a giant killer or ground shaker per se, but it is still a solid entry level IEM and a good follow up of the old MylarOne series. It does require a bit of effort to burn in so 50 hrs on high volume should be minimum before any serious audition. (In-depth review can be found here)
SQ: 3.15 | Value: 3.75 ($88)

 

CrossRoads' Woody One
Variation: Black / White (color)

Transducer: Single 10mm Dynamic
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 18Hz~ 22kHz | 105+4dB SPL
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.30m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Bi-flanges
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Packaging is pretty plain and simple. Inside, you will find the IEM, a wooden case as big as the packaging itself, 4 set of different sized single flange eartips (L, M, S, XS), and 1 set of bi-flanges. Due to the use of wooden housing, a bit of care is needed as it won't take abuse well. Isolation is better than average. Microphonics is quite good though I do like to see a shirt clip. Comfort is good if you have mid to big size ears. User will small ears might not get a good seal easily due to the large earpieces.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.7 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signatures is very warm with big deep bass, full, upfront mid and a smooth upper end. Bass is big, deep, and slightly wet with a moderate attacking speed. Not really very refined but does retain enough control to not sound too boomy or muddy. Mid is full and upfront which tend to sound best with male vocal but not as well on female vocal. Upper mid and especially the treble sound pretty smooth without a lot of upper end sparkle and detail. No sibilance to speak of. Soundstage is slightly better than average and not as good as Woody Two.
Overall Value: [ 3.8 / 5] - US$95 (estimation)
Final Remark: See Woody Two's. (In-depth review can be found here)
SQ: 3.7 | Value: 3.8 ($95)

 

CrossRoads' Woody Two

Variation: Black / White (color)
Transducer: Single 10mm Dynamic
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 18Hz~ 22kHz | 105+4dB SPL
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.30m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Bi-flanges
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: See Woody One's.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.7 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signatures is on the warm side yet still well balanced without any obvious flaw. Bass goes pretty deep but not as much as Woody One nor has its pronounced rumbling quantity. However, It does has a better sense of control in speed and attack. Mid is well balanced with a more upfront upper vocal (which is what makes female vocal sweet to listen). Treble is well extended with good highlight and sparkle which give great detail close to the point of being analytical. Soundstage is quite good and have a sense of airiness. Sibilance is minimum at worst and only very brief during the brightest passage.
Overall Value: [ 3.8 / 5] - US$95 (estimation)
Final Remark: Both Woodies seem to be more for in house rather than outdoor use and probably not be as versatile as their little brother, the Quattro, but they do offer more in what they have. If SQ is the only concern, I certainly prefer both over Quattro. I am not sure whether it is because of the use of wooden/metal housing or any other reason, but both woodies seem to have a distinct lushness in their sound that set them apart from other IEM even though one might consider the sound to be colored. Those who like big bass and smooth top will love Woody One and those who like well balanced sound will love Woody Two. Between the two, I think most people will be well covered.
(In-depth review can be found here)
SQ: 3.7 | Value: 3.8 ($95)

 

Maximo iMetal iM-590

Variation: Black and white color, mic support.
Transducer: Single 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 17Ω (@1kHz) | >100dB SPL | 12Hz ~ 22KHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.26m, Fabric Knit Cable.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Proprietary single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum: Very good packaging with a whale full of accessories including 4 set of eartips, 2.5mm and airline adapter, extension cable, shirt clip and a great hard case. Overall build quality is pretty good. Isolation is a bit low but okay for light noise situation. The fabric 'knit' type cable has less microphonics but tend to tangle up easier. Overall a very comfortable IEM.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.45 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is on the analytical side but balanced. Bass is not strong but it has good attack, control and presence, Upper mid / lower treble is a bit more forward, Ety-like but not as piercing though vocal can be a tiny bit harsh on bright recording. Treble is well presented and detail with an above average, airy soundstage
Overall Value: [ 4.6 / 5] - US$59.99
Final Remark: iM-590 is simply a good blend of qualities (sound and build) and quantities (accessories, warranty and price) which shouldn't disappoint anyone. In fact, I think this IEM deserves to be placed under the list of best-sub$100-IEM-deal, if there is one around.
(In-depth review can be found here)
SQ: 3.45 | Value: 4.7 ($45)
XR: Better value because of lower in price.

 

MP4 Nation's Alpha BRAINWAVZ

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single 8mm Dynamic
Spec: 20Ω +/- 15% (@1kHz) | 110dB SPL | 15Hz ~ 28KHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.26m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: N/A (sampling package)
┣ Accessories: ★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★☆
┣ Comfort: ★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: OEM package with three set of eartips. Sturdy build quality. A bit more microphonics but overall average in most count.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ [Small / Acceptable]
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 2.4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is slightly dark with a very mid and bass centric, fun and more personal sound. Big bass, heavy mid, and not very detail on the treble but still have a tiny bit of sparkle. Mid is slightly congested, but the bass has good resolution and texture. Vocal is pretty forward and dominant. Upper treble rolls off early. No sibilance to speak of. Soundstage is small due to the lack of fine detail and airiness.
Overall Value: [ 4 / 5] - US$16.50
Final Remark: Price wise, alpha Brainwavz is in the same region as the SoundMAGIC PL11 and PL20. PL20 is good on detail but lean on bass while PL11 is more bass oriented. Both has better soundstage and detail than alpha. However, alpha has better bass performance and sweeter vocal. SQ wise, I consider them to be just about the same. It is definitely one for the basshead with small budget.
(In-depth review can be found here)
SQ: 2.4 | Value: 4 ($16.50)

 

MP4 Nation's Beta BRAINWAVZ

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single 11mm Dynamic
Spec: 24Ω +/- 10% (@1kHz) | 110dB SPL | 8Hz ~ 28KHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Big bi-flanges
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: N/A (sampling package)
┣ Accessories: ★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum: The final version will have a pair of orange cone silicone eartips, a pair of translucent white cone eartips, a pair of big bi-flanges, a pair of orange foam eartips, shirt clip, a fish bone shaped cable winder, a pair of removable metal mesh and a high quality soft pouch by Mofi. Included eartips are not suitable from small ear canal. Isolation is about decent but nothing specular. Microphonics is pretty good for this type of hanging style IEM. Overall build quality is very good for its price.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 2.75 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: beta with the mesh has a well balanced sound without any major strength or weakness. Its sonic characteristics resemble that of CrossRoads Woody 2, but in a lesser form. Without the mesh, beta becomes brighter sounding on the cost of bass quality
Overall Value: [ 4.6 / 5] - US$34.50
Final Remark: beta is an major upgrade from the alpha, both on build and sound quality wise. People with tight budget will not be disappointed by the beta, especially consider it high performance / price ratio. It is one of those IEM that are fully capable on taking down many other that have double or even triple the price tag. Those who are looking for the best bang for the bucks should put this one high on your list of consideration.
(In-depth review can be found here)
SQ: 2.75 | Value: 4.6 ($34.50)

 

SoundMAGIC PL-50

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single balanced armature
Spec: 55.5Ω +/- 15% (@1kHz) | 109 +/-2 dB SPL | 15Hz ~ 22KHz | 8g
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Packaging is by far the best of SoundMAGIC, very classy looking. You get 4 set of silicone eartips and 3 set of black rubbery foam tip, user removable ear hook, hard case and a small warranty card. The foam tips is a bit small in size in comparison to Shure olive. The earpieces, cable, Y-splitter, and mini jack are all quite good in quality. Isolation is average on foam tip, Microphonics is great in over-the-ear style. The earpiece is very light and very comfortable.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm, smooth and easy going in general. Bass is neither big nor shy; Treble is neither bright nor too dull; Mid is full and dominant with a rather sweet vocal, which work fairly well in most genre of music. Soundstage is about average and better when used with silicone eartips.
Overall Value: [ 4.7 / 5] - US$ 55
Final Remark: I have only one prediction: This is going to cast an even bigger storm than PL-30!!!
(In-depth review can be found here).
SQ: 3.4 | Value: 4.7 ($55)

 

Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic

Variation: Also known as Apple Dual Drive IEM (ADDIEM)
Transducer: Dual balanced armature
Spec: 23Ω (@100Hz) | 109 dB SPL | 5Hz ~ 21KHz | 10.2g
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.10m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: The packaging is quite simple, as is most Apple's product. In the box, you will find the IEM itself with the metal mesh and mid size single flange eartips pre-installed and sits inside a triangular plastic hard case. There is a pill shaped hard case holding the small and large sized eartips. Underneath them all is the user manual with an extra pair of metal mesh. It will be good if they also include a shirt clip, but no biggie. The nozzle of the earpeice is machined from aluminum and well cut for the metal mesh. The strain relief and the cable are all very soft. I find the cable to be a bit on the short side. The iPod / iPhone specific remote/mic is on the cable of the right earpiece. Its construction is a bit flimsy so if you intend to use the remote and mic, you might want to be more careful with it. Isolation is slightly below average but improve with foam tips. Microphonics is better than average because of the soft cable, but you might want to add a shirt clip if you are peaky about it. The stock eartips insert pretty deep so it is not as comfort as shallow inserted IEM, but still fairly good.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.2 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is on the cold, neutral, analytical side. Treble is by far its strength - crisp and sparkle though slightly sibilant. Bass lacks body and mid is too clinical if you use the stock eartips. Vocal is a bit further away but not too recessed. Foam tips (such as this) sounds warmer and more natural, but at the cost of a bit crispiness. Even so, it still sounds much colder than ER6i. Soundstage is about average.
Overall Value: [ 4.65~3.7 / 5] - US$35~79 (price depends on dealer and condition)
Final Remark: Dual balanced armature this is, but q-JAYS this is not. Regardless of how many transducers it has, ADDIEM is a compatible IEM for its original price range, not particularly high value but neither a waste of money. For the low eBay price however, ADDIEM is very much worth a consideration for all you analytical listeners, as long as you can look pass some of the short coming associated with these eBay items (questionable origin, B-stock, need of aftermarket eartips, etc).
SQ: 3.2 | Value: 4.70 ~ 3.7 ($25~79)
XR: The cheap ADDIEM deals on eBay are running drier by the days. Seem like more cheap eBay deal pop up recently.

 

Woodees IESW100B

Variation: IESW101B (w/o mic + remote)
Transducer: 10mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@100Hz) | 105 dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20KHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★☆
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum: The packaging, though simple, adequately shows off the beauty of the wooden earpieces. Beside the IEM, you'll also find a soft pouch, four sets of single flange eartips, a shirt clip, and a small manual. The wooden earpieces look and feel very good, but they are a bit on the long side. The cable does feel a little bit flimsy and the metal mesh is undersized, but nothing majorly flawed. Isolation is about average.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.3 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is on the warm side, slightly lush on the bass and mid region but still quantitatively balanced. Treble is above average but the slight harshness on 5kHz region can be a bit problematic on bright music. Soundstage is about average.
Overall Value: [ 3.75 / 5] - US$69
Final Remark: Woodees is a fairly good sounding IEM with a slight touch of wood - not too much as to the degree of wooden-cabinet-speaker-like lush sound; but neither is it too little that you can't tell. Overall, it is still a good choice for iPod / iPhone user that can take advantage of the mic and remote.
(In-depth review can be found here).
SQ: 3.3 | Value: 4.35 ($50)
XR: Lower in price rises its value

 

Astello Radiance+

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 11mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@100Hz) | 92dB SPL | 10Hz ~ 25KHz
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m, Fabric Knit Cable.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: The packaging is fairly plain and simple, just unsealed blister pack. Accessories are also simple, three pair of silicone single flange eartips and an airline adapter (though a free set of Shure single flange and an earwax cleaner are given as extra). Build Quality is very solid, but the fabric knit type of cable is a bit stiff. Isolation is probably the worst as it is designed to be opened on both side of the transducer for sound tuning (more on this later). Microphonics isn't bad and it is quite comfortable to wear.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 2.45 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm, musical, mellow and smooth with a fairly full mid and bass. Treble and detail are there but not on the center stage. A relaxing sound signature that tends not to have any real fault with most music genre nor does it excel with any. Soundstage is pretty good due to the nature of its double-opened design.
Overall Value: [ 4.0 ~ 4.2 / 5] - US$30~42 (discount vs. regular price)
Final Remark: Astello Radiance+ is the brainchild of Stereo Electronics, a well known headphones and A/V store in Singapore. As their first IEM, Radiance+ is certainly not disappointing, but the decision to have a double-opened design means isolation is close to minimum. That by far is probably the most problematic for Radiance+ as an IEM. Beyond that, Radiance+ is actually quite a nice and stress-free IEM that you can keep listen to all day long. Consider that Stereo Electronics is selling them at a discount / promotion price now, it is not a bad choice at all for in house use where isolation is not important. As part of the promotion, you can also purchase a incredibly good quality hardcase for less than $2 which you can easily put an iPod Nano 4 inside with the IEM and all its accessories with room to spare. That probably is one of the best bundle of I have ever seen - but unfortunately the only place that sells this IEM is Stereo and they don't do Internet business. Well, at least you have an excuse to visit them now.
SQ: 2.45 | Value: 4.0 ~ 4.2 ($30~42)
Edited by ClieOS - 6/17/10 at 10:14am
post #2 of 297
Thread Starter 

Multiple IEM Shootout v.3

Kanon MD-52

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 10mm Dynamic
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 106dB SPL |10Hz ~ 28kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, very light build.
Eartips Used: Stock single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Fairly poor packaging, three pair of different sized eartips and warranty note are what you get with the MD-52. The build quality is quite poor overall.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.5 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is slightly warm, fun and energetic with a full mid and very decent bass response. Treble isn't bad either but lacks refine detail. It resembles PL11 sound signature, but does things slightly better.
Overall Value: [3.2 / 5] ($10)
Final Remark: For a $10 pair of IEM, MD-52 sounds very good. However, the poor build quality makes it only a decent deal overall. It would have been a better buy for twice the money if only it has a better build quality.


Hippo Boom

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 102 + 4dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Stock double flanges
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Decent paper box without anything too fancy. In the box, you will find a pair of double flanges and 5 pair of different sized single flange eartips (XL, L, M, S, XS), a shirt clip and a fordable soft pouch. Overall build quality is pretty good. Isolation is more than enough for daily use while microphonics is average (but the shirt clip helps).
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ - Small / Acceptable
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.5 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm, slightly dark and as the name suggested, with a boomy bass. Mid is recessed and treble isn't quite as detail. Soundstage is small due to the heavy bass. An sound signature that is completely opposite of what PL30 offered.
Overall Value: [4 / 5] ($35)
Final Remark: Boom is definitely built for basshead. Thought it might not be any where nears 'accurate', Boom still retains enough control to make the music enjoyable (unless you are not a basshead, of course).


Fischer Audio FA-999

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 101dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.1m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━}style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Blister pack over hard paper box. Not much accessories to speak of beside the shirt clip and manual. Good build quality and decent isolation.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ - Small / Acceptable
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm, smooth and very full with a pretty good bass response going down to the 20Hz. Treble rolls off early at 16kHz and the air killing fullness makes it veil. Bass can be a bit boomy on bass heavy music.
Overall Value: [3.5 / 5] ($21)
Final Remark: A decent deal for its asking price only if you are a basshead. In depth review can be found here.


Fischer Audio Omega

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Dynamic
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 105dB SPL | 12Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Like the FA-999, not much accessories to speak of. There is a Velcro strip on the cable for warping. Good build quality and better than average isolation. Microphonics is low due to the over-the-ear design.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.7 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is fairly balanced without any major flaw. Good treble and airiness though lacks very fine detail, Vocal is neither too close nor too far, bass is very solid and goes down deep with good slam and speed. Soundstage is better than average.
Overall Value: [4.6 / 5] ($22)
Final Remark: Omega is definitely the best sub$30 IEM I have ever heard so far. The SE530 like design and the good fit also add more points to the listening experience. For only $1 more expensive, it represents a big jump in SQ over FA-999. In depth review can be found here.


Fischer Audio Paradigm v.2

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 104dB SPL | 10Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, heavy build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Good paper box design, three set of eartips, soft pouch and manual. Good build quality and better than average isolation. Microphonics is acceptable.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.8 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: Slightly warm with very decent treble and bass response (which also goes down to 20Hz but much less in quantity compared to Omega), the strength of Paradigm v.2 lies in its clear vocal and mid range, yet remains fairly neutral without too much coloration. Soundstage is about average.
Overall Value: [4.5 / 5] ($31)
Final Remark: An overall solid performer. In depth review can be found here.


Fischer Audio Enigma

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Dynamic
Spec: 18Ω (@1kHz) | 102dB SPL | 8Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, heavy build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Good paper box design, three set of eartips, soft pouch and manual. Good build quality and isolation. Microphonics is acceptable.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.25 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm and full with a good treble and an excellent bass response. Vocal is slightly more laid back but not to a point of being recessed. Soundstage is very good but the warmness does reduce the airiness a bit. It plays well with all type of music genres but really excels in none.
Overall Value: [4.2 / 5] ($40)
Final Remark: Enigma is yet another very solid offer. In depth review can be found here.


Fischer Audio Silver Bullet

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Dynamic
Spec: 18Ω (@1kHz) | 102dB SPL | 12Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, heavy build.
Eartips Used: Single flange (generic replacement)
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Good paper box design, three set of eartips, soft pouch and manual. Stock eartips are too soft for a good seal. Once replaced, good seal and isolation. The earpiece housing is fully metal and have some weight to it. Microphonics is acceptable.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: █ ▆ ▄ ▂ ▄ ▆ █ - Great / Wide
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [4.5 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: Once you replace the stock eartips with any good quality single flange, you will find the over sound signature to be slightly warm with good airy and well detailed treble, better than average bass that is a bit low in speed and impact and a recessed yet not totally out of place vocal. The sound signature resembles that of TF10 except Silver Bullet is even more laid back with bigger space.
Overall Value: [4.75 / 5] ($53)
Final Remark: While not everyone will like the very airy and spacious presentation, the overall performance is still commendable for a pair of $53 IEM. Depends on how you like your music to sound like, Silver Bullet can very well be the match made in heaven because of its unique sound signature. In depth review can be found here.


Fischer Audio Eterna

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Dynamic
Spec: 18Ω (@1kHz) | 1110dB SPL | 8Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, Normal build.
Eartips Used: Stock Bi-flanges
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Good paper box design, two set of eartips (L, S), one set of bi-flange, soft pouch, silicone ear guide and manual. Good build quality. Very good seal, isolation and comfort. Microphonics is low due to over-the-ear design.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★★★
┣ Soundstage: █ ▆ ▄ ▂ ▄ ▆ █ - Great / Wide
┣ ABF: [Low ]
┣ Overall SQ: [4.75 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is slightly warm and upfront. Treble is there but not on the center stage. Midrange is full and vocal is sweet. Bass has a really good body, depth and decent speed though it still misses the deepest of sub-bass compared to that of real bass monster (i.e. Atrio). Airiness and soundstage are almost spot on for a pair of IEM, neither too far or near and yet retains clear separation and layers
Overall Value: [5 / 5] Sonic Diamond™ ($59)
Final Remark: Eterna is a pair of very musical sounding IEM - it is not about accuracy of the sonic reproduction, but the 110% dedication to fun and music enjoyment. Technically it doesn't have SQ (treble, mid, bass, soundstage) as good as other top-tier IEM, but it 'blends' them so well that I consider It to be one of the best dynamic universal I have heard (placing it alongside with IE8 and just slightly ahead of RE0 - * I am making a point of Eterna being 'one of the best' dynamic, not comparing it directly to IE8) and to best them all - it only costs $59. I dare to say I even prefer it over almost dull sounding SE530 and almost on par of TF10 (only because TF10 offers better accuracy with less coloration). To add more points to Eterna, it is almost as comfortable as UM2 and has a really good build quality. If I have to pick a weak point from Eterna, it is the lack of hard case since it is rather bulky with the ear guide in place. Highly recommended with a Sonic Diamond™ Award. Warning: Read the in-depth review carefully, Eterna may not be everyone's cup of tea. In depth review can be found here.


MEElectronics M2

Variation: w/ iPhone mic.
Transducer: 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 16 + 15% Ω (@1kHz) | 95 + 3dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.10m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: N/A
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: M2 has transparent cable with silver lining inside that is flexible and functions well. Microphonics is surprisingly low. Overall build quality is good. As bundle earphone, it has is the 3 set of different sized eartips and a shirt clip. Will be good if a pair of bi-flanges is included for the slightly odd shape (big diameter on the base of the nozzle). Due to the fact that it is open back in design, isolation is slightly worst than average.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.7 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is fairly balanced with slight brightness. Treble has good extension but there is a bit of sibilance. Mid is slightly further away but not really recessed. Bass lacks real depth but still has good control and speed. Soundstage is about average.
Overall Value: [4.6 / 5] ($12)
Final Remark: M2 is a good performer that punches above its weight. In depth review can be found here.


MEElectronics M6

Variation: Black and Maroon color
Transducer: 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 16 + 15% Ω (@1kHz) | 95 + 3dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Eartips Used:
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum: Over-the-ear design with transparent cable like that of M2. It comes with a shirt clip, cable warp, airline adapter, soft pouch, 3 set of single flange eartips (S, M, L) and a pair of tri-flange. The included tri-flange actually doesn't fit the IEM that well. The rather odd nozzle size (5mm diameter) also presents another problem for future eartips replacement. The other minor problem is the memory wire which has thick copper wire that makes the memory wire hard to bend thought probably more resistant to breakage. There is still room for improvement on the nozzle (should be slightly longer and wider) and eartips selection but the overall build quality is quite good. Isolation is about average. Microphonics is next to none. A hard case will be nice.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.2 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature resembles that of M2 but warmer with better energy. In comparison, M6's treble is slightly smoother and better presented (there are still a tiny amount of sibilance in the brightest note), mid is more upfront with better texture while bass has better impact and body. Soundstage is pretty good with decent airiness.
Overall Value: [4.6 / 5] ($40)
Final Remark: While getting a good seal (and a good sound) is more difficult with M6 due to its thick memory wire and eartips, it is still a noticeable improvement over M2 and a very decent sounding IEM in its own right. In depth review can be found here.


MEElectronics M9

Variation: w/ iPhone mic.
Transducer: 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 16 + 15% Ω (@1kHz) | 95 + 3dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.10m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Bi-flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: M9 uses more typical black cable. Thought not as good as the transparent cable, it is adequate for the job and the asking price but it does have a lot more microphonics in comparison. It comes with a hard case, cable warp, 4 set of single flange eartips and a pair of bi-flanges, plus one airline adapter. The one thing that should have been included is shirt clip. Overall, M9's build quality is still very decent. For the same reason as M2, isolation is slightly below average.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: █ ▆ ▄ ▂ ▄ ▆ █ - Great / Wide
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.1 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature also resembles that of M2 and M6, but not as warm as M6. Treble also has good extension but there is harshness (especially on bi-flange). Mid is slightly recessed in comparison. Bass is not as full as M6 but still has good body and decent depth. Soundstage is better than M6 with good sense of airiness and space.
Overall Value: [4.7 / 5] ($18) [4.85 / 5] ($20)
Final Remark: With performance almost as good as M6, M9's much lower price is practically a steal even with lesser build quality and harsher sound. In depth review can be found here.
A Sonic Diamond™ is given to the new revised M9 with transparent cable. Yes, it is $2 more expensive than before, but the improvement in build quality is beyond that small increment in price. You can hardly ask for a better $20 IEM than the new M9.


MEElectronics M11

Variation: w/ iPhone mic. Black and Red color.
Transducer: 7mm Dynamic
Spec: 16 + 15% Ω (@1kHz) | 95 + 3dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Bi-flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: M11 has transparent cable and a shiny metal housing which feels a lot classy. It comes with a soft pouch, 3 pair of single flange eartips, a pair of bi-flange, a pair of tri-flanges (which work out better on M11 than M6), cable warp, shirt clip and airline adapter. Isolation is slightly better than average. The smallish earpieces actually make it possible from deep insertion, but a shallower fit tend to have better detail and soundstage. Microphonics is better than average.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.2 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is slightly on the darker, smoother side compared to that of M2 / M6 / M9. Treble extents quite far but in much smoother, sparkle-less fashion. Mid is slightly recessed but not too far away. Bass has a fairly good body but not as impactful as M6 or M9. Soundstage is decent with a fainted sense of airiness.
Overall Value: [4.6 / 5] ($40)
Final Remark: While M11 might not sound as exciting as M6 or M9 in a direct comparison, its smoother sound signature allows for more relaxing / less fatiguing listening session without losing quality. It will be good for those who don't like brightness yet demand a decent amount of detail. In depth review can be found here.


MEElectronics R1

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 10mm Dynamic
Spec: 16 + 15% Ω (@1kHz) | 95 + 3dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.10m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: R1 is mostly made of wood, even on the nozzle portion (which is usually metal on other woody IEM). It uses the same type of transparent cable as other MEElec models, but has a blackish color to it. It comes with a soft pouch, 3 pair of single flange, cable warp, shirt clip and airline adapter. The wooden housing itself is painted with a clear coat of water proof sealant, but one should probably be best avoiding too much moisture near the housing. The overall build is good but the marking (company logo and left/right channels) gets wiped off too easy, making it hard to tell which side is which. Isolation is about average. Microphonics is better than average.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ - Small / Acceptable
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.75 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm and full. Treble is decent with a fainted sense of harshness. Mid is a bit distanced and has a sense of hollowness to it, bass is full but can get bloated on bass heavy music. Soundstage is below average due to the excess warmness.
Overall Value: [4.4 / 5] ($40)
Final Remark: While R1 has been blessed with some woodified lushness to its sound, the lack of fine control at the bottom end renders it to be less impressive than it can be, or else it could very well be another great choice for basshead. In depth review can be found here.


HifiMAN RE252

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 9mm Dynamic with silver coil
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 103 dB SPL | 16Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.2m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, Light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★☆
┣ Comfort: ★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Decent hard plastic case, three pairs of single flange, one pair of big and normal bi-flange, 5 pair of replacement filters and a shirt clip. Would be nice to include a soft pouch as well. Improvement build quality since RE0 especially on the new PPE cable. Average isolation and microphonics problem on the Y-splitter up. Decent fit though requires sometime to break in the semi-custom silicone housing.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [4.7 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is balance, yet neither totally neutral nor colored. Very good treble and detail, rather dominate yet not very upfront mid and vocal, and decent while still remains mostly neutral bass performance. Decent soundstage but lacks real depth. While not needed, pairing with a warm source or amp is recommended.
Overall Value: [4.7 / 5] ($199) | [5 / 5] ($99) (Black Friday '09 sale)
Final Remark: My first impression of RE252 resembled that of UM3X (in a brief audition, I might add) - not that they sound alike but that I find them both to be lacking of personal characteristic. It is not always a bad thing for an IEM to not have a strong characteristic. It means the IEM is less picky about the genre of the music and be more of a Jack-of-all-trades (the downside is of course 'master-of-none'). In the end, I think RE252 really redefines what I would call as a 'balance' sounding IEM in its own terms as I can hardly say if there is any major flaw in its sound. Perfect it might not be, I think RE252 is still earn to be crowned the new flagship of the RE series. In depth review can be found here.
A Sonic Diamond™ is given to RE252 for the ongoing Black Friday 48hrs sale price of $99.


Hippo Shroom

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 6mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 95 dB SPL | 10Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Stock Single Flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum: Packaging is more shiny than other models in the Hippo lineup. Besides the IEM itself, there are a synthetic leather soft pouch (like that of NuForce NE-7M), three pair of different sized black eartips (small, mid, large) and three pair of different sized red/blue colored eartips. The earpieces are small and resembles that of CrossRoads' Quattro. Isolation is above average and good enough for fairly noisy environment. Microphonics is only about average so a shirt clip is likely to be helpful. Decent comfort but small ear canal might has a harder time with the larger nozzle. Nice mini plug but lacks effective strain relief. The transducer is housed in the front of the nozzle just behind the vent, will need regular cleaning to avoid earwax and dust accumulation. Overall still a very decent build quality but not for rough use.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.45 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is between neutral and balanced, but more toward neutral and analytical. Treble is well extended with good sparkle and resolution, but can occasionally sound a little bit sibilant on brightest note. Mid is well presented. Vocal is clean and a bit upfront, but can sound a little lean at time. Bass has good speed and decent impact, but not excessive in quantity and rolls off more significantly on the lowest part of the sub-bass region. Basshead needs not apply. Soundstage is above average, airy and transparent with good decay.
Overall Value: [4.4 / 5] ($57)
Final Remark: Clean, transparent, and analytical sound is where Shroom's strengths lie, but in a sense it can be too lean for those enjoy a warmer, sweeter vocal or big bass. Shroom is more in line with ADDIEM's sound signature, but slightly better on overall performance. The overall SQ is on par with iM-590 - just that iM-590 has better bass and mid while Shroom is better at treble and transparentness. In depth review can be found here.


Hippo VB

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 10mm Dynamic
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 105 + 4 dB SPL | 18Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.30m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, Normal build.
Eartips Used: Generic Audio-Technica style Single Flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★☆ ~ ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Packaging is similar to that of Hippo Boom, very simple. There are a decent hardcase, a shirt clip, three pair of different sized eartips and three pair of bass tuning plates (which printed in reverse on the degree of bass strength indicated on the box). Anodized aluminum housing has a solid feel and weight. The bass tuning plates concept is similar to that of Quattro's, but improved with the inclusion of rubber o-ring that prevents accidental unscrewing. Stock eartips are a bit too springy and uncomfortable. Overall build quality is good due to the more robust design. Isolation varies based on bass plate but decent overall. Microphonics issue is decent as well. With generic eartips, it is quite comfortable.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.95 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature of VB is lively and on the warm side. On the triple dotted / small bass plate, bass has a decent impact but less in quantity and more toward neutrality. Mid and treble are drier and brighter. Soundstage is also noticeably narrower. On the two dotted / mid bass plate, bass has a very good body and depth, especially on the mid-bass region (and it does go down deep). Mid and treble have better resolution due to better airiness which also give a better soundstage. This by far is the best sounding bass plate. On the dot-less / big bass plate, bass is noticeably more boomy and much warmer, which in term floors over the detail and mud up the mid, treble and soundstage. On all the bass plate, treble does get sibilant from time to time on brighter music (except it is less noticeable in big bass plate due to the excessive warm muddiness). Sometime there can also have too many sparkles in the treble which will sounds too 'busy'. However, the sibilance is not to the level of annoyance as long as the volume is kept at a reasonable level.
Overall Value: [4.6 / 5] ($79)
Final Remark: In many ways VB sounds like the CrossRoads Woody 2 without the wood lushness, while tuned more toward a livelier, focus sound signature (and no doubt both have been benefited from the larger dynamic transducer). It might have minor issue here and there, but VB has outperformed its price tag. For those who enjoy a warm, musical, and lively sound, VB is a great sub-$100 option. In depth review can be found here.


Ortofon e-Q7

Variation: Black / Red / Silver colors
Transducer: Single Balanced Armature
Spec: 40 Ω (@1kHz) | 120 dB SPL | 10Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, Light build.
Eartips Used: Single Flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★☆
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: One of the best packaged IEM. Velvet inner-lining hard paper box, real leather hard case, 3 pair of eartips (S, M, L), 3 pairs of replacement filters, a filter removing tool, a pair of replacement filter locking rings, and a pair of mid size Comply T400 foam tip. Strain relief on mini plug is too rigid, no cable guide - other that those, build quality is top notch. Two parts cable design (fabric and regular) works well to reduce microphonics, but isolation is slightly below average. Very comfortable but will lose seal if move a lot.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [4.65 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm and mid focus, well suited for vocal lover. Treble is clean and smooth, though does roll off on the top end, but not more so than SE530 or UM2. Mid is full, focus and sweet, but not overpowering nor sibilant. Bass has good impact, body and extension, but no rumbling big bass. Soundstage is only average. In many ways e-Q7 sounds like the midway of SE530 and UM2, with pros and cons in between the two.
Overall Value: [4.5 / 5] (¥24100 ~ US$270)
Final Remark: Ortofon e-Q7 is by far the best single BA based IEM I have ever heard, placing it alongside with some of the best multi-ways universal IEM in the market. This proves again that more transducer is not the only answer to the question of better sound quality, even in the world of balanced armature. The lower in overall value reflects the fact that e-Q7 can not as easily acquired as many other IEM which often results in higher mark up and/or shipping fee. In depth review can be found here.


SoundMAGIC PL-21

Variation: Color variation, Microphone support (MP21)
Transducer: 9mm Dynamic
Spec: 12 Ω (@1kHz) | 97dB±2dB SPL | 15Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Sony Hybrid Clone
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Similar style packaging as PL50, Nice looking for its price tag. Accessories include 4 pair of silicone single flange eartips (S, M, L, XL) and 3 pair of foam tips (S, M, L), warranty card, shirt clip, soft pouch and a pair of ear hook. Build quality is close to PL50, similar design with slightly lesser quality material. Microphonics is about average, but the inclusion of shirt clip, ear hook and the angled nozzle make it easier to wear it over-the-ear to solve any microphonics issue. Isolation is a tiny bit below average on the stock eartips, but better on the foam tips. Overall, PL21 has one of the best build quality on among $20-ish IEM.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.7 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm to slight dark, musical, smooth, and has a small emphasis on the mid. Bass extends very deep, does rumbling sub-bass better than any IEM of its class while retaining very good control. Quantitatively not a bass monster but it does show a good bass impact and body. Mid is full, a little forward and vocal is sweet, no sibilance to speak of. Treble has a decent extension but lacks sparkle to show fine detail. Soundstage is about average.
Overall Value: [4.7 / 5]
Final Remark: Well priced, well built, and a good sound - PL21 is one very solid IEM in the $20 range. As an overall package, perhaps it even rivals most of the sub-$40 options out there as one of the best all-arounder. In depth review can be found here.


Edited by ClieOS - 6/17/10 at 10:09am
post #3 of 297
Thread Starter 

Sherwood SE-777

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single Balanced Armature
Spec: 53Ω (@1kHz) | 105dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Sony Hybrid clone
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum: Very well packed, classy and standing apart from many other all-too-typical design. Accessories include three pair of single flange silicone eartips, one pair of bi-flange, a simple manual, and a hardcase, all really well made. The overall length of the single flange eartips is a bit short, making it uncomfortable to wear - alternative aftermarket eartips recommended for more comfort. The earpieces are anodized aluminum with an unconventional design but feels very solid and have a class of its own. The design of the Y-splitter with a small metal logo adds more points to the overall design. The glued on filter looks seamless and high in quality, but it would have been great if a few replacement filters are included. However, the filter material doesn't seem to be easily contaminated. Microphinics is great and isolation a slightly above average.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is very warm and fairly musical, with a full sounding mid and bass. Treble is clean, very well extended but smooth, capable of showing a good degree of fine detail yet it is not the highlight of the sound. Mid is warm and full, slightly forward with a sweet vocal. Bass is also warm and bigger than average body, but slightly slower than expected and do not have a very strong impact, not quite a bass monster and roll off at near 20Hz yet a very good performance (both quality and quantity wise) as far as BA based IEM is concerned. Soundstage is average due to the slightly forward mid, but there is still a good sense of airiness in it.
Overall Value: [4.7 / 5] ($79)
Final Remark: SE-777's warm and musical sound is fairly fatigue-less and non-aggressive, well suited for music lover who spend long hours on their IEM. If anything else, SE-777 is a fine example of how well the sub-$100 IEM has evolved with performance reaching / invading the next price range, and perhaps even beyond that. It is simply a superbly made IEM that out performs its asking price. SE-777 also has a very good synergy with Linearossa W1, bringing its SQ to the next level. In depth review can be found here.


Hippo Epic

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 10mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 96dB SPL | 10Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.0m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, Light build.
Eartips Used: Stock single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★☆
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Being the entry level of Hippo line-up, there isn't much accessories to speak of - just a soft pouch and the colorful sets of silicone eartips. Build quality wise, Epic is solid but nothing extraordinary. The earpieces are very common housing found on many other Chinese IEM, but the cable is fabric knitted and a little better than just typical rubbery type. Though having a better durability, fabric cable is also known to have more microphonics problem than rubber cable. If you are picky about microphonics, I would suggest a shirt clip to 'anchor' the cable so it won't rub against your clothing too much. Being a semi-opened IEM, isolation isn't a strong point of Epic.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ - Small / Acceptable
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.45 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is similar to Hippo Boom - warm, mid and bass centric, and not very detail, except Epic is more mid forward, grainier and less refined on the vocal and treble region, plus it is less punchy on the bass department and lesser in soudnstage. Overall, it is a more balanced sounding than Boom, but not quite as smooth sounding. Due to the slight mid forwardness, soundstage isn't particularly wide.
Overall Value: [3.3 / 5] ($48)
Final Remark: Personally, I prefer Boom smoother sounding by a tiny bit more, but Epic is close enough in performance that it is more of a personal preference rather than clear cut winner / loser. Overall, it still retains a decent price / performance ratio as a products aiming more toward the budget buyer rather than serious listener. More pictures and detail can be found here.


Cresyn C222E 'Petite Buddy'

Variation: Color variation
Transducer: 8.8mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 90dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Blister pack looks decent. Not much accessories to speak of besides 4 size of silicone single flange eartips (XS, S, M, L), which is a pair more of the typical (S, M, L) combination. The build quality is very decent and well made and shows a class above most of the Chinese made IEM from small companies. It is not that it is functionally superior, but the attention to detail is what often set a company's products apart from the crowd. Like most of this type of IEM, fit is decent. Isolation is about average and microphonics is pretty decent.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is very conventional: warm, full, mid centric, sweet vocal, decent bass with enough detail not to sound dark or feel severe lack of treble and an average soundstage. It is the kind of sound a casual listener will like as there isn't too much or too little of anything in the mix. Considered it is intended to pair with the colder sounding Nano 4, the synergy is actually fairly good.
Overall Value: [4 / 5] ($15)
Final Remark: See C260E for final remark.


Cresyn C230E

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 8.8mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 90dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Packaging and build quality are similar to C222E but has a slightly better cable and over-the-ear style ear pieces. The ear pieces are very light and fit inside the ear comfortably. The only accessories are 3 pair of eartips. Isolation is about average and microphonics is not a problem due to the over-the-ear design.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.45 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is similar to that of C222E, but more extended on both ends and not quite as mid centric. Treble is a little better but still far from being analytical, mid is a little sweet but overall closer to being neutral, bass is warm and boomy in the middle. Soundstage is average as well.
Overall Value: [4 / 5] ($19)
Final Remark: See C260E for final remark.


Cresyn C260E

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 8.8mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 91dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Packaging is similar to C222E / C230E, but looks and feels a bit more expensive then the other two. Beside the three pair of eartips, it also have a shirt clip. The metal stem on the ear pieces seem very well finished. Fit is fairly comfortable. Isolation is slightly above average and microphonics is pretty decent as well.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: █ ▆ ▄ ▂ ▄ ▆ █ - Great / Wide
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.5 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is on the specious and balanced side. Treble is better extended and more refined than the others, capable of showing micro detail to some degree. Mid is neutral, decent and doesn't have the fullness like the others. Bass is not as boomy as C230E and has a decent volume, impact and control. Soundstage is by far its strongest point. It is specious with some TF10-like / less in-your-face type of performance.
Overall Value: [4 / 5] ($21)
Final Remark: Cresyn is a bit difficult to find on the international market actually, but on most places I do find to sell these models, the prices are pretty decent in related to their performance. Giant killer they might not be, they are still well worth the money for the decent sound and build quality that rival most big brand name. Perhaps they will serve well as a lower end backup or simply gift for friends and family members who listen to music casually. These Cresyn are simply a decent step up from the stock and they won't break the bank. In depth review can be found here.


Audio Technica ATH-CKS70

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 12.5 Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 106dB SPL | 5Hz ~ 24kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.20m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Stock single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum:The packaging is simple but nice. Accessories include 4 pair of silicone single flange eartips (XS, S, M, L), user manual, and a small soft pouch. Build quality is decent. Soft yet tangle free cable. Plastic earpiece with aluminum cover on bass chamber. L-shaped mini jack is a bit on the small side, but the strain relief is soft, bendable and does its job well. A two positioned nozzle allows user to select whether (s)he want the eartip to mount more upfront or recessed on the nozzle to customize sound and isolation. Decent microphonics and fairly comfortable
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.6 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is very warm and fairly musical toward the fun side, with a full sounding mid and bass. Treble is decent and smooth, but lacks sparkle and roll off a little early. Mid is warm, forward with a thick, slightly rough vocal. Bass is also warm, big, slow, impactful, ever present and full of resonance at the lower end. The bass reflex design helps deepen the bass to as low as 5~10Hz with quantitative improvement. However, bass speed, decay and resolution are not quite as good as other bass heavy IEM with sealed design, such as Atrio and SE-777. Soundstage is fairly wide but lacks a sense of airiness. The ever present of strong bass can be considered a weak point if you are not a very dedicated basshead.
Overall Value: [3.9 / 5] ($85)
Final Remark: CKS70 is a fun IEM to listen to with a unique outer look, but it lacks the best resolution and detail in its price category even for a bass heavy IEM. There are a few other bass strong IEM with more refined sound if you are looking for something technically better. CKS70 is solely reserved for those who need an air pump to squeeze the last drop of brain juice out of their eyes - and rock on!!! In depth review can be found here.


Phonak Audéo PFE 121 with microphone

Variation: PFE 111 (white, mic-less), 112 (black, mic-less) and 122 (black, with mic)
Transducer: Single balanced armature
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 107dB SPL | 5Hz ~ 17kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.10m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Stock single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: A great blend of elegant and simplicity in packaging. Accessories include three different sized single flange, a pair of Comply foam tip, the earwax cleaning stick with a metal loop at the end, a small hard plastic case with 6 spare filters and filter exchanging tool, a pair silicone ear guide, and a great functioning two compartmented soft pouch. Two kinds of filter allow for sound tuning. While there are build quality issues with the older v0 batch, the problems has mostly being remedied in the new v1 batch. Isolation is only average, microphonics is pretty good. Great comfortability with the over-the-ear design.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ [Good / Average]
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [4.6 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature of PFE with grey filter is balanced, toward neutral yet analytical, clean and great in resolution. Treble is very well extended, highly detail, sparkly yet not overdone. Mid is decent with a slight forwardness but not to the level of being sweet. Bass has a good sense of speed, quality and low extension, but lean in quantity, body and depth. Soundstage is slightly above average with a good sense of airiness and instrument separation. The overall sound signature of PFE with black filter is smooth, warm and musical. Treble is still fairly well extended, but sparkles without the edge in a smoother fashion. Mid is well bodied, sweet with good texture. Bass is not big, but has good speed and impact with decent body and depth. Soundstage is average.
Overall Value: [5 / 5] Sonic Diamond™ ($160)
Final Remark: In between the two kinds of filter, I think it is hard not to acknowledge that the single balanced armature based PFE is quite a performer. With versatility in sound, improved build quality, generous 2 years warranty, great customer service and an amazingly high price/performance ratio, the new Phonak Audéo PFE v1 is a great IEM whether it is the mic or mic-less version. Recommended with a Sonic Diamond Award™. In-depth review can be found here.


VSONIC R02 Pro II

Variation: Black and White color.
Transducer: 11mm Dynamic
Spec: 24Ω (@1kHz) | 105dB SPL | 12Hz ~ 25kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.30m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Stock bi-flanges
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★☆
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: IEM come with decent thick paper box. Accessories include a pair of bi-flanges, 3 pairs of different sized single flange eartips (S, M, L), a shirt clip and a soft pouch. Being the latest of VSONIC long running series, R02 Pro II 'Silver Cable' edition (or sometime simply known as the 'silver' edition) has good build quality, with silver plated cable and soft, tangle free, slightly translucent rubbery cable sleeve that look and function well. Strain reliefs are adequate though the Y-splitter is on the small size. Microphonics is fairly low, which can be further improved by shirt clip or wearing over-the-ear. Isolation is slightly below average. Good for street but not enough when it is really noisy. Like other R02 type of IEM, it is quite comfortable to the ear.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: █ ▆ ▄ ▂ ▄ ▆ █ - Great / Wide
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.35 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm, smooth, fairly musical with a better than average soundstage. Treble has decent extension, but in a fairly smooth fashion and lacks the top sparkle to show off fine detail or give better resolution. Mid is slightly full, but not enough to show texture or being sweet. Bass has good impact and body, though not at the deepest end. Soundstage is good from side to side (width), but not airy enough to show true depth. It might not have the best of anything, but the overall blend doesn't have any major flaw as well. In other words, R02 Pro II has a rather 'popular' sound signature.
Overall Value: [4.65 / 5] ($43)
Final Remark: See VSONIC R04 for final remark.


VSONIC R04

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 11mm Dynamic with multi-layers bio-cellulose diaphragm
Spec: 24Ω (@1kHz) | 105dB SPL | 10Hz ~ 24kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.30m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, heavy build.
Eartips Used: Sony Hybrid clone
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum: IEM come with decent thick paper box. Accessories are a bit slim with only 4 pair of 3 different sized single flange (S, M, M, L), a pair of foam tip and a pair of big bi-flanges. Features the same translucent cable sleeve as R02 Pro II with ultra pure mono-crystal OFC wires, physically thicker and less flexible, doesn't quite want to stay over-the-ear without slicone ear guide. Strain reliefs are beefed up but a little too hard. The earpieces are rectangular on the front, but rounded on the back for better comfort and fit. Nozzle angle is user adjustable with the stem being made out of aluminum. Low microphonics, isolation is slightly over average. Tight fit but not uncomfortable.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.7 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is very warm, quite musical, mid-centric with a good vocal performance. Treble extends far enough, but has some unwanted peaks on the lower end and roll off too early at the upper end, giving the feeling of veil with a little rough edges. Mid is full, forward, sweet and well textured. Bass is slightly above neutral with decent impact, not quantitatively large in any sense but fairly good in quality and helps to accentuate the mid. Soundstage is only average but with better resolution than R02 Pro II.
Overall Value: [4.2 / 5] ($78)
Final Remark: While R02 Pro II has a mellower, easy going sound to suit different genres of music and taste, R04 strength in mid range makes it great for vocal but a poor choice for most instrumental music. The official price for R02 Pro II is around $30 in China, which is much more attractive than the $40+ price point commonly found on eBay (not to be mistaken with the cheaper and older R02 Pro). The official price for R04 is around $73 in China, and the good news is the only R04 seller on eBay is selling it at a reasonable $78. It is not hard to recommend both models even on the higher prices, but inflation on the international market reduces the value / bang-for-bucks factor on both models. More accessories are planned in the future packaging of R04, probably when it is officially released for international market. In-depth review can be found here.


Phiaton PS210

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single dynamic
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 98dB SPL | 10Hz ~ 27kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.15m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, Light build.
Eartips Used: Sony Hybrid clone, Comply T400
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★☆
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum: Good, simple plastic / paper package that feels like an elaborate origami puzzle. Average quantity with accessories with only 4 pair of different sized single flange eartips (XS, S, M, L) and a carrying case, which is however a gorgeous looking leather pouch in cylinder shape. Good overall build quality though a heavy mini plug will be handier. Some Comply T400 will be great as well. Half in-ear design is fairly comfortable but it has very little isolation to speak of. Microphonics is quite low.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: █ ▆ ▄ ▂ ▄ ▆ █ - Great / Wide
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [4.1 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is analytical, clean, very airy and specious with crisp treble while relatively lean in the mid and bass departments. Treble is well extended and very crisp with slightly graininess on the top yet full of detail. Mid is slightly recessed, but not by much. Bass extends decently low with good speed, but doesn't quite have the impact, body or depth. Soundstage is very wide. To smooth down the graininess and add warmth and forwardness to the mid and bass, Sony Hybrid eartips is recommended. For a relaxing sound, Comply T400 is a good choice. Also, sealing one of the small vents adds the much needed body, depth and texture to the mid and bass.
Overall Value: [4.8 / 5] ($95)
Final Remark: There are so many simple ways that PS210 can be tuned to one's liking makes it a rather playful and enjoyable experience for me as both as listener and reviewer. Despite the fact that it doesn't have near enough isolation to actually be used in anywhere noisy, the "half in-ear" half earbuds-like quality of PS210 is what I consider a trade-off, not a total disadvantage from a sound quality point of view. PS210 will be a great choice for analytical listeners that are looking for openness that is not typically found in IEM and do not demand isolation, more so if you are willing to play around a bit. MSRP is $119 but street price can be as low as $95 - it is a no brainer for me. In-depth review can be found here.


Brainwavz M2
M2-SDA.jpg
Variation: N/A
Transducer: 10.7mm Dynamic
Spec: 20Ω (@1kHz) | 115dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.3m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Stock single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: N/A
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Very good build quality. Aluminum earpiece with decent metal mesh filter. Silver plated OFC cable is very flexible and fairly tangle- and memory-free as long as it didn’t get coiled up too tightly. Microphonics is decent overall. The final version will have an L plug like the beta Brainwavz instead of a straight plug like that in the picture. Strain relief on the earpiece is by far the only weakness as they don’t look particularly as well made as the rest of the IEM. Accessories wise, there are 3 pairs of good quality Sony Hybrid like single flange eartips, 3 pairs of foam tips, a pair of silicone ear guide, a hard case, a shirt clip. A soft pouch will also be included as well. A one year one-to-one replacement warranty if there is any problem other than user’s error with the M2. Microphonics is decent on the Y-splitter up and almost silence from the Y-splitter down. Isolation is above average. Due to the Sony Hybrid like eartips, it is fairly comfortable in long use.

Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ - Small / Acceptable
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.7 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum:  The overall sound signature is on the warm and musical side, but still maintains good degree of balance. While the treble is decently extended, it is in a smooth fashion and not quite as sparkly as I would like. Mid is fairly sweet with a slightly forward vocal, which works out really well but not overdone to the level of being mid centric. Bass is very snappy, impactful, dynamic and well bodied. It appears and scales out well when needed but doesn’t intrude into the mid. It serves as an accentuation rather than a distraction. Soundstage shows decent air and depth but lacks in width.

Overall Value: [4.75 / 5] ($60) Sonic Diamond™ ($50) For the pre-sale price
Final Remark:  M2 just shows us how far the IEM world has gone in the last few years. When I first joined HF, sound quality like that of the M2 would have been well over $150, and yet today it is priced far under $100. It is incredible that newer IEM in the lower price range continue to surprise us with better and better sound. This is going to drive the manufacturers of the middle price range IEM nuts as you can’t just simply sell a $150 IEM without being outdone or chased around by something 1/3 of your price! While the original ViSang R03 (which the M2 is based on) is already at great value, the M2 is just a nicer package in comparison especially if you consider the pre-sale price of $50. It is almost a steal and I will recommend it with a SDA for the current pre-sale price. In-depth review can be found here.

 

 

Fischer Audio Eterna (beta?)

EternaRev.jpg

Variation: Original version
Transducer: Dynamic
Spec: 18Ω (@1kHz) | 1110dB SPL | 8Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, Normal build.
Eartips Used: Stock Bi-flanges
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Good paper box design, two set of eartips (L, S), one set of bi-flange, soft pouch, silicone ear guide and manual. Cable has been improved with less momory effect. Good build quality. Very good seal, isolation and comfort. Microphonics is low due to over-the-ear design.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.6 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: Overall sound signature is the same warm sound as the original version, but in a lesser and technically more balanced and polite. Treble is smooth and fairly detail, but rolls off just a little early. Mid is full, decently sweet but feels a little dull. Bass has good impact and decent bodied, but a tad too slow and slightly congressed. Soundstage is slightly above average though lacks a real sense of air. In a quick sum, the new Eterna sounds like a compressed version of the old version – less extreme edges, more polite yet also lost the ‘magical blend’.
Overall Value: [4.5 / 5] ($59)
Final Remark: See DBA-02 for final remark.

Note: This unit is possibly a beta unit and might not be the new reversion.

 

 

Fischer Audio SBA-01

SBA-01.jpg

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Single balanced armature
Spec: 30Ω (@1kHz) | 109dB SPL | 50Hz ~ 23.5kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.3m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, Normal build.
Eartips Used: Stock single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Minimalistic packaging (and in a way, pretty green). One pair of small and one of mid single flange eartips, ear guide, two pieces of manual / warranty paper, and a soft pouch. The pouch is made out of padded nylon mesh which is great for ventilation Mainly hard plastic construction.with transparent section , look cheap but well build. Good looking metal grill on the nozzle and overall small size, can be wore over-the-ear or straight down without any trouble at all, But a cable guide should be included. SBA-01 has a more UE like nozzle size with no bump/ridge to hold the eartips, and Comply T400 is slightly too big to have a firm grip. Microphonic is not a big issue for over-the-ear design. Isolation is a little below average.

Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.7 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is slight warm and musical with a full sounding mid, especially in the upper region. Treble is well extended though not quite as refine and lacks good sparkle. Mid is decently full with a sweet vocal, but a little harsh on the upper region when in loud volume. Bass is quite deep with a good speed and impact but not vest in body. Soundstage is about average.
Overall Value: [4.2 / 5] ($76)
Final Remark: See DBA-02 for final remark.

 

 

Fischer Audio DBA-02

DBA-02-SDA.jpg

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Dual balanced armature
Spec: 43Ω (@1kHz) | 108dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 24kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.3m.
Mini Jack Style: {┃} style, Light build.
Eartips Used: Stock single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★★★
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Minimalistic packaging with three pairs of quite decent single flange, ear guide, a leather pouch, and the warranty / manual. Mainly hard plastic construction with transparent section. Housing is slightly on the bigger side which requires a little more adjustment when wearing though not too bothering. Strain relief on the earpiece should be elongated just a few more millimeters and hold on tighter to the cable. Strange black and white retro color combination. Comply T100 or P-series (for Westone) seems to fit fine and Shure olive will probably fit but tighter. Microphonic is not a big issue for over-the-ear design. Isolation is a little below average.

Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ [Good / Average]
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [4.63 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is fairly balanced sounding with a brighter, more analytical presentation. Treble is very well extended to the top, detailed and full of sparkle, but might be a little too aggressive for non-analytical listener.  Mid has good texture, neither too forward nor recessed, but the upper mid is a little more forward which can sound slightly harsh on brighter music. Bass has good impact, body and speed. Not quantitatively big, but above average. Soundstage is quite good, very airy.

Overall Value: [4.9 / 5] Sonic Diamond™ ($150)
Final Remark: In just little over half-a-year since I wrote about Fischer Audio, I have seen the company’s market expended in both demographic and product line. While I am not too impressed by the re-tuned Eterna (beta?), SBA-01 and especially DBA-02 really standout well as the company new venture into balanced armature based IEM. More importantly, I am glad to see FA still maintains its bang for buck pricing policy and willingness to explore the unknown territory. I have given the old Eterna an SDA for its unique blend of sonic signature, and now I think it is time for the new flagship DBA-02 to receive the same recommendation for its technical performance. In-depth review can be found here.

Note: the quoted prices are MSRP, the actual street price might be higher.

 

 

Brainwavz M1

M1.jpg

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 10.7mm Dynamic
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 110dB SPL | 20Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.3m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, Light build.
Eartips Used: Stock single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: N/A
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: More than decent build quality, though earpiece could use some strain relief. Silver plated OFC cable is very flexible and fairly tangle- and memory-free as long as it didn’t get coiled up too tightly. Microphonics is decent overall. The final version will have an L plug instead of a straight plug like that in the picture. Accessories wise, there will be 3 pairs of good quality single flange eartips, 3 pairs of foam tips, a pair of silicone ear guide, a hard case, and a shirt clip. A one year one-to-one replacement warranty if there is any problem. Microphonics is decent on the Y-splitter up and almost silence from the Y-splitter down. Isolation is above average. Fairly comfortable in long use.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★☆
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [ 3.4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is warm, smooth, musical while a little laidback. Treble is decently extended but doesn’t have a lot sparkle, smoother than that of M2. Mid is full and vocal is quite sweet. Bass has good body and decent impact though just a tad slow and mellow out the general sound impression. Above average soundstage but limited by its inabilities to present good airiness and form a detail image.

Overall Value: [ 4.75 / 5] - US$ 40
Final Remark: If you seriously can’t afford the M2, then M1 is probably one of the next best things. Like the M2, It has a great price, good build, more than decent selection of accessories and a one year one-to-one replacement warranty to back it all up. It is IEM like the M1 that really redefines the borderline of what it means to be a high price/performance ratio IEM in the budget market. In-depth review can be found here.

 

 

Fischer Audio Omega v2

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Dynamic
Spec: 32Ω (@1kHz) | 105dB SPL | 12Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, normal build.
Eartips Used: Single flange
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★☆
┣ Accessories: ★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Like the original Omega, not much accessories to speak of. The Velcro strip on the cable for warping and cable guide are gone, but the rest are the same. Good build quality and better than average isolation. Microphonics is low due to the over-the-ear design.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [2.75 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: he overall sound signature of Omega v2 is close to that of v1: fairly balanced without any major flaw. Good treble and airiness with a slightly improved detail presentation, Vocal is neither too close nor too far, bass is smaller though still solid and goes down deep with decent slam and speed. Soundstage is better than average. The impression is that V2 is a more mature version of v1, smoother in overall frequency with better control. Improvement is nothing major but noticeable.
Overall Value: [4.4 / 5] ($34)
Final Remark: See Eterna v2 for final remark

 

 

Fischer Audio Eterna v2

Variation: N/A
Transducer: Dynamic
Spec: 18Ω (@1kHz) | 1110dB SPL | 8Hz ~ 22kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, Normal build.
Eartips Used: Stock Bi-flanges
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★☆
┣ Isolation: ★★★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★★
┗ Quick Sum: Same as the original Eterna. Good paper box design, two set of eartips (L, S), one set of bi-flange, soft pouch, silicone ear guide and manual. Good build quality. Very good seal, isolation and comfort. Microphonics is low due to over-the-ear design.
Sound Quality:

┣ Treble: ★★☆
┣ Mid: ★★★★
┣ Bass: ★★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [3.7 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The over sound signature of Eterna v2 is also close to that of v1: Warm and musical, but smoother and less fun. Technically the v2 shows more control. Treble rolls off early, lacks sparkle and detail. Mid is full to almost wet. Bass has decent impact and full bodied, dominating the overall sound though doesn’t bleed too much into other frequency. Soundstage is about average and lacks a real sense of air. Basically the new Eterna sounds like a warmer, smoother version of v1. While it is still technically not an accurate sounding IEM, the tuning definitely makes Eterna a different beast in my ears, trained. While the V1 has been rated highly for the fun sound (but not for it technically ability), the similar yet more polite v2 doesn’t quite seem to do the trick. Technically better or not, a preference is a preference.

Overall Value: [4.5 / 5] ($59)
Final Remark: I love my original Eterna and wish that you can hear what I call a ‘musical blend’ is. The Eterna v2 is simply too polite, too smooth for me to really rock out with – don’t get me wrong to think Eterna v2 is just a bad sounding IEM - It is not. It is still a very good sounding IEM for its price and compared well to other more expensive IEM, just that it doesn’t quite have the blend of sound which I have enjoyed a lot. For both the v2 models I sense that Fischer Audio is tuning their IEM toward a more controlled, perhaps in a sense ‘more acceptable’ sound that depends lesser on the listener preference, a kind of ‘popular’ sound signature. Though Eterna v2 might not fit my taste totally, I still want to take my hat off to FA for their dedication to continuously improve and update its older series. For now, I think it is safe to assume the new DBA-02 is cleanly taking over the crown as the new flagship models. In depth review can be found here.

 

 

Hippo Shroom-EB

Variation: N/A
Transducer: 6mm Dynamic
Spec: 16Ω (@1kHz) | 95 dB SPL | 10Hz ~ 20kHZ
Cord Style: Y-cord, 1.25m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} style, light build.
Eartips Used: Stock Single Flange
Physical Properties: (same as the original Shroom)
┣ Packaging: ★★★★
┣ Accessories: ★★★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★★★★
┣ Isolation: ★★★★
┣ Microphonics: ★★★
┣ Comfort: ★★★★☆
┗ Quick Sum: Packaging is more shiny than other models in the Hippo lineup. Besides the IEM itself, there are a synthetic leather soft pouch (like that of NuForce NE-7M), three pair of different sized black eartips (small, mid, large) and three pair of different sized red/blue colored eartips. The earpieces are small and resembles that of CrossRoads' Quattro. Isolation is above average and good enough for fairly noisy environment. Microphonics is only about average so a shirt clip is likely to be helpful. Decent comfort but small ear canal might has a harder time with the larger nozzle. Nice mini plug but lacks effective strain relief. The transducer is housed in the front of the nozzle just behind the vent, will need regular cleaning to avoid earwax and dust accumulation. Overall still a very decent build quality but not for rough use.
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★★★★
┣ Mid: ★★★☆
┣ Bass: ★★★★
┣ Soundstage: ▆ ▄ ▂ ▂ ▂ ▄ ▆ - Good / Average
┣ ABF: [Low]
┣ Overall SQ: [4 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum: The overall sound signature is balanced while analytical, more forward than the original Shroom. Treble is still well extended with good sparkle and resolution, though the occasional sibilant on the brightest note also remains. The mid is slightly full and well presented. Vocal is clean and upfront in just the right amount, adding a little sweetness without being too obviously colored. Bass has good speed, impact, as well as quantity - enough to make everybody happy but does not over-flood to another region. Soundstage is about average. To add more soundstage, Try UE style bi-flange. Squeeze them in till about 3~5mm of space between the opening of the bi-flanges and the front of the nozzle. It will transform the listening experience.

Overall Value: [4.75 / 5] ($57)
Final Remark: The new EB is in essence, the perfection of the original Shroom. It even outperforms the more expensive VB in many fronts and really threatens to take the crowning position in the entire Hippo line. If only it has a better build quality like the VB and I would have gladly given it a Sonic Diamond Award for the asking price. In depth review can be found here.

 

 


The v3 review ends here. A new review has been planned and till then, enjoy!

 


 

After some consideration, it seems too troublesome to keep the same kind of review thread in the long run. Thus I decide to do away with massive shootout and instead focus more on concise comparison thread. Hopefully something easier to read as well. Till I figure how to do it, please just refer to 'The List' below for ranking. Ciao.

 

Model Name
---Picture---
Variation:
Transducer:
Spec: Ω (@1kHz) | dB SPL | Hz ~ kHZ
Cord Style: Ч / Y-cord, m.
Mini Jack Style: {┏━} / {┃} style, build.
Eartips Used:
Physical Properties:
┣ Packaging: ★☆
┣ Accessories: ★☆
┣ Build Quality: ★☆
┣ Isolation: ★☆
┣ Microphonics: ★☆
┣ Comfort: ★☆
┗ Quick Sum:
Sound Quality:
┣ Treble: ★☆
┣ Mid: ★☆
┣ Bass: ★☆
┣ Soundstage: █ ▆ ▄ ▂ ▄ ▆ █
┣ ABF: [Low / Mid / High]
┣ Overall SQ: [1 / 5]
┗ Quick Sum:
Overall Value: [1 / 5]
Final Remark:


*In many ways, trying to assign a number to represent SQ or value is fundamentally flawed due to the inherent subjectivity of any review and comparison. However, the choice of using such system is simply because of the lack of a better solution. Thus you, the reader, must understand what I would like to refer as the 'margin of taste' factor - that is, the closer two IEM are rated, the more likely the ranks are influenced by personal taste instead of actual performance difference.

">*Check out 'The List' for IEM ranked according to SQ.

Always remember: This review/comparison is only my opinion. YMMV.


Edited by ClieOS - 12/8/10 at 8:13pm
post #4 of 297
Impressive review dude. I hope you extend the comparo to other popular IEM's like the Klipsch Image S4's.
post #5 of 297
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjsoviet View Post
Impressive review dude. I hope you extend the comparo to other popular IEM's like the Klipsch Image S4's.
Thanks. I'll try my best. However, I think I have something much much more interesting than S4 to show you all in the upcoming week. I am having a little goose bump right now listening to it as I am replying (yes, it is that good).
post #6 of 297
Really want to see a comparison of the middle class like the Audeos, Turbine, S4, FX500 and Denon C700
post #7 of 297
Looking forward to this. Mind telling us what IEMs you're gonna review?
post #8 of 297
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ductrung3993 View Post
Really want to see a comparison of the middle class like the Audeos, Turbine, S4, FX500 and Denon C700
I would love to review Audeo and FX500 if I got the chance (and the budget). Not so much on C700, but I wouldn't mind. Pretty much uninterested in all things Monster due to personal reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by winwin View Post
Looking forward to this. Mind telling us what IEMs you're gonna review?
Kanon MD52 (from an old request), Hippo Boom, 6 models from Fischer Audio and 5 models from MEEletronics.
post #9 of 297
I personally hope the "something more interesting" then the S4s turn out to be my long overdue Cyclone PR2s, or ELSE I'll have to splurge even MORE on this "interesting" thing... :S

But looking at your review lineup, it might just be the MEE M11 or any of the Ruskie IEMs... OR, the hippos...

Which DOES translate to more buying... :cry:
post #10 of 297
Thread Starter 
PR2 and the new PR1 Pro are all very interest IEM by their own right...just that, too many IEM, too little money
post #11 of 297
PR1 Pro? What, where? It's new?

Argh, new stuff to watch for... Oh my thinning wallets... :cry some more:
post #12 of 297
Thread Starter 
PR1 Pro already makes its way to several Chinese forums for review. It won't be long till you find it on eBay.
post #13 of 297
hippo boom?? wah.. i think Hippo VB is "on the way" too
post #14 of 297
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
Thanks. I'll try my best. However, I think I have something much much more interesting than S4 to show you all in the upcoming week. I am having a little goose bump right now listening to it as I am replying (yes, it is that good).
Can you give us the name of this "goose bump" IEM?? I have the Image S4 right now and am still in the return window if there's something better IEM for same relative cost ($80 USD). Is it one of the MEElectronics??
post #15 of 297
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmhaynes View Post
Can you give us the name of this "goose bump" IEM?? I have the Image S4 right now and am still in the return window if there's something better IEM for same relative cost ($80 USD). Is it one of the MEElectronics??
Unfortunately, no. Not from MEEletronics (yet to burn them in), but from Fischer Audio - which is kind of hard to find outside of Russia and Scandinavia. I am hoping to persuade them to go international. Hopefully they will take my advise seriously as I really believe they have some really great stuffs there in the motherland. So, don't return the S4 just yet.
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