My quest for a decent, dirt cheap IEM is over! Ever since my EP-630 broke, I’ve been buying random, cheap IEM’s in the hope that I would find one that was as okay as the ep-630. Well I’ve finally found one, and this one is much more than just okay!
First off, I’ve never owned any headphones over $50, so I don’t really know how these compare to those, but I do own the ksc-35 and ep-630 headphones and Pensil R70.3 (with 12” Alpine type r sub tuned flat to 20hz) and Wharfedale Sapphire SP-83 speakers and have also heard many low/mid range Sennheiser, Skullcandy and Monster headphones, so I’m not a complete audio noob =).
Never before have I heard anything that impressed me as much as these cheapo IEM’s; and I’m not just saying that because of the price.
If I were to describe the sound signature, I would say its; very full bodied, very bassy, very detailed. Lively and forward. Not very warm at all. CX300esque.
This IEM just seems to do everything right. Lots of powerful, yet tight bass that goes deep, a beautiful, crystal-clear midrange, sparkly, well defined and extended treble, and a surprisingly wide soundstage!
The name of the IEM?
XKDUN CK-700. Yeah, terrible name.
They also look quite nice. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another glossy painted, aluminium shelled IEM before. Unlike some other cheap IEM’s, the tips on these are quite good so it’s easy to get a good seal. Noise isolation is very good.
Build quality looks alright, apart from the aluminium sleeve on the plug sliding off. That’s purely cosmetic though. Wires are your run of the mill, slightly rubberised variant.
They aren’t perfect though. Unfortunately, the midrange can be a little harsh on some tracks, especially at higher volumes. I’m hoping it will get better with more burn in. The crapload of bass can be overwhelming on some tracks and also, the upper midrange/treble aren’t quite as nice as my speakers. Less than perfect recordings sound pretty bad on these. Ignoring these imperfections, these phones are phenomenal!
Oh, I haven’t mentioned the price yet have I?
Six Bucks. Free shipping.
Had these since they first came out (think its nearing on 5 years now). Always liked the full, clean sound these had. Treble seems rolled off though, and while bass was plentiful, I always thought it was a bit muddy. Mids are quite good, but a little shouty at times. Soundstage is pretty much nonexistant. In comparison with the ck-700, it does everything the ep-630 does well, but much, much better! There’s extended treble, stunning mids, spacious soundstage and surprisingly, even more bass! Fortunately, the bass from the ck-700 is much cleaner.
The different sound signature makes it harder to compare, but I have to say, I prefer the sound of the ck-700! Theres a lot more bass, and it does sound tighter. Mids from the cx-700 sound more detailed and cleaner, though the koss does sound crisper. The ksc-35 does have a more “sparkley” treble than the ck-700, BUT to me, I thought the ck-700 had a more accurate and broader treble. The koss treble seemed kind of one noted. One thing the koss excels at over the ck-700 is (not surprisingly) openness/airyness and soundstage, helped by the brighter signature.
When I first got these, they sorely lacked any treble, but the soundstage seemed good! Heck, it was so good it made mono recordings sound stereo! Turns out that one of the earphones were wired out of phase. After I fixed that (note: the top pops right off with thumb strength. Terrible build quality), drilled a huge hole in the back and used them for x00 hours, the treble really opened up. They really do sound quite nice now, but compared to ck-700, the bass and treble is lacking and the mids aren’t anywhere as detailed.
Most popular IEM on focalprice with many positive reviews, don’t know why because they sound awful! Weak bass and pretty much no treble. Mids have that typical “tin can telephone” signature to them.
Well reviewed on focalprice. Very average sound. It has okay bass, okay mids, okay treble, okay clarity and okay soundstage. Nothing wrong with the sound, but nothing special about it.
These were my biggest disappointment. From all the positive feedback on Soundmagic products, I was expecting these to smoke the ep-630’s, but to my dismay, they didn’t have much treble(about the same as the ep-630), rather lifeless mids and hardly any bass. Granted, they were the cheapest in the soundmagic range. They are neutral sounding and easy to listen to though.
Dealextreme orange IEM.
The most popular IEM on dealextreme. There’s some treble, and some bass, but pretty much nothing inbetween. Should also add that these stick so far out from your ear, that the slightest yank on the cable pulls them right out.
Very muddy bass and rolled off treble with an overly warm presentation. The Ck-700 is substantially better overall.
No comparison in regards to bass, the CK-700 has heaps more bass, with unbelievable quality to match. Soundstage seemed wider with the CK-700 . Treble and clarity were about equal (both excellent). To me the CK-700 seemed less colored, though I did like the HD448’s warm signature, and lack of sibilance.
Both IEMs are very comfortable once in your ear, but the SHE3580 has the advantage of being lighter and shorter than the CK-700. This means that the SHE3850 has the huge advantage of being comfortable while sleeping.
Better with the CK-700, thanks to its metal housing and slightly thicker more rubberised tips.
Both IEMs offer quality treble with good extension but in terms of amount, the CK-700 has the SHE3580 beat. There’s just so much more sparkle evident on songs like ”Incubus - Are You In” and “Jessy J – Running Away” (not to be confused with Jessie J, though she’s not bad either). That’s not to say the treble on SHE3580 is lacking. I think it has the right amount to be considered “flat”.
This is the range where the CK-700s biggest flaw lies. Somewhere near 5 kHz is a noticeable peak, which comes across in some songs as harshness and/or sibilance. This renders some (a small percent of) songs annoying and sometimes unlistenable. Nevertheless, the mids are very clear and detailed.
The SHE3580 is nice and flat in this area (smooth sounding) with negligible sibilance, thus, the SHE3580 is more forgiving of poorly recorded material. Nonetheless, the CK-700 still has the edge in detail, especially with more complex songs. (test song: “Brooke Fraser - Hosea's Wife”)
Teriffic bass from both IEMs, but noticeably more midbass present on the SHE3580 (this is not a bad thing; I found the midbass on the CK-700 to be lacking) and a bit tighter sounding too. But this is probably due to the CK-700 having more sub bass! At a guess, maybe 40% more in the sub 50hz range (test song: “Three 6 Mafia – Late Nite Tip”). This amount may seem excessive at first, but once you get used to this, it’s actually quite pleasing.
Instruments and voices from the CK-700 seem to come from different locations at every angle, whereas with the SHE3580, they seemed clumped together in a small area to the side. This difference is subtle though, and only noticeable on some songs. (Test song: “Nine Inch Nails - We're In This Together”)
Overall, comparing them side by side, they don’t actually sound all that different. Both IEMs have terrific bass, extended treble and overall excellent sound quality. Heck, I even got the IEMs mixed up a few times while listening to them. The difference is even less noticeable if you use a filter mod on the CK-700 to tame the mids and highs.
There’s no clear winner here. For me personally, despite its midrange peak, I still prefer the CK-700 for its deeper bass, better detail and more sparkley treble (which makes songs like “Inna - Amazing” and “Magnetic Man – Getting Nowhere” just that much more fun). I can see many preferring the less flawed, warmer, more flat sounding (akin to commercial Hi-Fi) SHE3580 though.
There was nothing wrong with them, their sound is pretty mid-tier at a very low-tier price. Of course it does have a few problems, I'm currently making an IEM review (I'm nowhere as good as Joker, ClieOS, i2ehan or anyone else for that matter but I just want to help people). Here's my review of it: I was bordering on 6/10 or 7/10 for sound but I decided that as I had to think, I should give it 6/10 which I feel is pretty fair. I've not finished with final editing or pictures yet so hopefully it is readable and informative. Just FYI, I'm sticking with integers on the scale and Sennheiser CX300s and Brainwavz Alpha are 5/10 whilst the JVC FX1X are 6/10 for SQ for comparison purposes. I would actually rate these slightly higher than the JVC FX1X, but as I said, I want to stick with integers to make it easier.
XI DUN CK-700 (Focalprice EP771W)
The XI DUN CK-700 come in surprisingly nice packaging, a display type card box with plastic windows and velcro. 3 sizes of silicone tips are included. No cable clip though unfortunately.
Build quality: 6/10
Build quality is actually very good but there are some perks which bring down the score. The metal housing feels very sturdy and tough, however the strain reliefs are made from the same metal, as we all know, metal cuts anything else pretty easily so it doesn't bode well for the cable in the long run. Although the connector is an I plug, the strain relief on it seems pretty decent. Unfortunately there have been many people with problems of the metal band on the connector sliding off but this can be easily fixed with superglue.
The cable is slightly rubbery but is very microphonic. Luckily, this can be partly solved by wearing these over the ear. The included silicone tips are quite good and only a step lower than Sony Hybrids. Unfortunately a cable slider is not present.
Fit and isolation: 5/10
The housing is a pretty similar shape and size to the Brainwavz Alpha, allowing quite decent insertion depth, leading to decent isolation. It can be worn both cable down and up with ease. However, the nozzle is a bit longer and so the tips doesn't quite sit flush with the housing, leading to a slight gap for wind noise.
The low end of these seem to have both a very long decay time and an enormous sub-bass hump, leading to a lot of bass rumble, giving a false impression of muddiness in the low end. However, the low end is actually quite fast and detailed and beats both the CX300 and the Alpha in this respect. Actually, the whole sound spectrum is very dynamic with good, albeit slightly unrealistic detail retrieval, hinting to me that the trebles may indeed be boosted. These are in no way bright or hot though, they border between balanced and V-shaped to my ears, edging closer to a V-shaped response. Vocals are still in the right place though and still sound full. The rest of the midrange is slightly recessed though but not by a noticeable amount.
Due to how dynamic these sound, both separation and soundstage seem to be above average at this price point but separation could be better if it weren't for the long decay time of the low end. Handles busy tracks very well although the rumble muddies the sound a little but the detail in the foreground more than makes up for it.
In short: A very fun IEM which is excellent save for the long decay time of the low end. Definitely worth their price point and at least worth a try.
Order link: http://www.focalprice.com/EP771W/index.html
Edited by Ranked - 1/7/12 at 4:28am