My first venture with the ETL/HDSS phones happened by chance when searching the web one day. Took that chance and spent some cash to have them sent from the factory to try them out.
My original thread...
Plenty of info on the technology in that thread, swbf2cheaters thread links, TBI...http://www.tbisound.com/dsp_sound_etltech.asp, or just Google searching HDSS or ETL speaker tech. I leave it to the individual on how much they want to read up on it.
In my original thread I asked if we might see more of these picked up and distributed that we will be able to purchase them. Enter the Blue Ever Blue line of earphones. Thanks to David of Biolinks for sending out the review units.
BioLinks is a master distributor of HDSS products manufactured by TBI Sound and Blue Ever Blue; all of which feature ETL technology. TBI owns the rights to the tech and Jan Plummer is the inventor and CEO of the firm.
I have been advised that they will be available on the BeB site...http://blueeverblue.com/ and elsewhere like Amazon. I'll update in this thread as I find out more info.
Here are the phones:
The 328R or "black" earbuds.
The first HDSS earbuds were my favorite under $100 bud. Not that I have heard them all but preferred them over the MX471, MX880, PK2, and others. The newer version is very similar and may sound a bit more refined. The fit is different which does change sound. Welcome changes are a Y-cord and a much smaller housing. The drivers are 13.6mm down from 16mm. The smaller size allows for some tuning using physical means with different pads, Breppies, etc. Doubling up on foams can give them more bass or a combo of pads plus donut pads for more bass and keeping more treble. You get the drift; different combos can give different tweaks like IEM tip types.
The fit I get with the stock foams brings a fairly neutral sound. Well extended on both ends. Good separation and excellent depth. Above average detail. High clarity and transparency. I have no trouble going back and forth with the PFE(grey filter) and these. Excellent, very natural bass that is tight and fairly quick. These continue the excellent mids shown in the previous versions; detailed, well separated, and great intelligibility of vocals. I tend to stick with the stock foam for the most part. I could double pad bringing a warmer sound but I can also just add some bass. They take EQ quite well on either the Clip+ or my Sony S639.
An attractive and sturdy housing, small size/light weight, and sound that is way above the asking price($25 MSRP). I think they are the best example of the ETL technology. They do most of the promised things such as natural sound, no fatigue, great balance, good imaging, realistic tone/timbre, matching well with sources/amps and takes EQ well. A great way to try out the speaker tech on the cheap. They don't have the most robust cable and YMMV on fit with earbuds but those are the only downsides I can see. The cable is fine, similar to earlier MEE cables and you do get a one year warranty. And fit is an issue inherent to earbuds, so nothing new there.
Again one of my favorite earbuds in a better form factor this time around. A winner and should end up being an earbud favorite similar to the PK3. Cheaper for those who don't use buds enough to justify spending $70/$80 on PK2's or MX880's and they perform well enough to satisfy those who want a more "audiophile" earbud.
The 388B or " the white"
The "white" are very similar to the first version in my original thread. Similar comfy, sturdy housing. Gone are the rubber strain reliefs in favor of solid plastic and the cable is not quite as good as before. The small cord slider on the first one is absent on the 388B.
They do share show most of the ETL traits and their particular forte is an above average stage size, good texture and highlighting vocals. The white's issue is that they are the darkest and thickest of the 3 in-ear models. Thick and wooly best paired with a brighter source. The right tips and EQ bring forth what they can do well but out of the box they have a bit of a blanket over the sound. 100 hours of burn-in at least. Tweaked a bit they do have nice low extension and a good punch down low. Some treble EQ helps to accentuate their detail and texture which are satisfying at times when coaxed out of them.
The 866B or "the red"
The 866B and 868B have more generic housings we have seen before. What you'd expect to see on a new company's first release. The good thing is that they are sturdy and not cheaply glued together like some others they resemble. The tube mesh screens are metal. The 866's are a smaller bullet style housing about 10mm across at the widest point. Again a comfortable phone that can be worn both ways quite easily with the short strain reliefs. As a first release the accessories are a bit sparse. S/M/L tips and a standard velveteen case. The good is that I find the stock tips are an excellent match for them.
Their sound has a bit of a low emphasis with clear and sweet vocals. They have a slight boost to the treble that adds some crispness. The bass while emphasized still has good tightness and decent quickness and snap. I like the separation and decent depth. Depending on player they may be a tweak or two away from being just right but can be a very enjoyable phone that has a little bit of an "it" factor where they aren't giant killers but you are happy with them and enjoy them for what they are. I think they are a keeper myself and get quite a bit of use out of them. Easy to grab, a shallow, less obtrusive fit that still gives decent isolation, and lots of fun with snappy bass, sweet vocals, and some crispness up top. Good for those who want a less invasive in-ear.
The 868B or "the silver"
The "silver". Again a widley seen housing. Though all aluminum with fine nylon mesh screens. All Aluminum includes even the reliefs. Quite sturdy. I want to whack them with a hammer or something to see how much abuse they can take. The cable is fairly average though. These have a 5mm long sound tube to help with fit since the the 10mm drivers are the largest of the BeB in-ears.
These remind me of the CC51 in some ways. A bit thicker than I would like but the proper tips helps with that. Still these are consumer sounding and have strong bass. These have the largest, most airy sound of the bunch and the most authority. They also have the least accentuated mids of the in-ears thanks to the big bass and the most boosted treble. The mids straddle the line of starting to be recessed. They definitely stand out the least but the quality mids are there. you have to look harder than the other phones though. The silver do best with less of a seal. Too deep a fit can result in a bit of boom. Perfectly fine if you are a bass-head they are capable of being bass-head phones. I prefer them a bit more balanced. The bass can be quite quick as well. An interesting combo of power and quickness down low. With the boost of the highs they sparkle more than something like the CC51 and don't sound as smooth or laid back. What I would call powerful and strong but lively and quite crisp. An interesting phone that I don't consistently like better than the 866 but at times do. When I'm in the mood for the power I like them. Sometimes I'll reach for the "red" instead. The silver do show more technical ability than the red but are not as smooth.
The first release under the Blue Ever Blue label is quite interesting. Four phones was some undertaking to start out. All a bit different. Maybe something for everyone. As with the first HDSS, where I thought there was one winner out of the two, We have a couple keepers out of the four(as far as my preference goes). The 328R earbuds are a real winner and make it all worth it, AFAIC. Buds are not the most popular but these are probably the best cheap bud we have seen. The small, comfy, and fun 866B are also a keeper. The 868B can be quite good but may just get lost in the $60 - $75 price range. The white are just fine and fall in line with many other budget in-ears, they just don't differentiate themselves very much. A decent start for sure. Like Mee back with the SX and M2 it would be nice to see where this goes in a few years. Thanks for reading!
Edited by jant71 - 5/27/11 at 5:14pm