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The discovery thread.! New NiceHCK DZ7 1DD+6 BA iem impression by ericp10. Page 2153 - Page 1725

post #25861 of 32896

Someone on here has now been to my home town :smile: Regarding the weather, you were pretty unlucky as we have had a decent summer (by our standards!) here, around 70+(F) most days. The 'fringe festival' is just that, only here for the summer period, which attracts a lot of tourists! Glad to see you enjoyed your time here!

post #25862 of 32896
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gee Simpson View Post

Someone on here has now been to my home town smile.gif Regarding the weather, you were pretty unlucky as we have had a decent summer (by our standards!) here, around 70+(F) most days. The 'fringe festival' is just that, only here for the summer period, which attracts a lot of tourists! Glad to see you enjoyed your time here!

Lovely town...the weather was unbelievable, but really didn't put a damper on things at all. I'd love to make it back at some point (I'll bring more Tums smily_headphones1.gif. )
post #25863 of 32896

Thought you might find some interest in this, doctorjazz:


The 36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival which will take place Aug. 28-Aug. 31, 2014 in Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington).

This year's headliners include:

- trumpeter and noted film music composer Terence Blanchard
- vibraphonist, jazz education pioneer and author Gary Burton's New Quintet, 
- bassist Dave Holland and his all star fusion band Prism featuring three of modern jazz's leading lights – Craig Taborn, guitarist Kevin Eubanks (formerly of The Tonight Show Band) and drummer Eric Harland
- Cecile McLorin Salvant, jazz's most celebrated new straight-ahead singer in years (and rightly so)
- Chicago-born bassist Rufus Reid with an all-star ensemble
- trumpeter and now elder statesman and noted mentor Tom Harrell leads a new band, Colors of a Dream featuring jazz's biggest breakout crossover star of the last decade, Esperanza Spalding
- Sun Ra Arkestra celebrates the centennial of Hermany 'Sunny' (Sun Ra) Blount's "arrival" on planet Earth from Saturn

The Festival will officially open with a Tribute to Nelson Mandela by Chicago composer Ernest Dawkins. The Millennium Park performance of Dawkins' Afro Jazz Opera will also be the final concert in this year's Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz series. The Sun Ra Arkestra, celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of its founder, a Chicago legend, will close out the Chicago Jazz Festival.

post #25864 of 32896
Sounds great, wish I could get away from my office some more. It was a bit of a stretch even taking this past week, as we're going through a software conversion that is really difficult, but we have always taken a late August family vacation, so I took this trip. Harry Potter and Dr.Who provided lots of the interest for my younger daughter, and it worked out great. I have seen a number of the artists, the Sun Ra Arkestra many times when Ra still walked among us, Holland with different bands (not the current one), think he's fabulous. Seen Tom Harrell, Terrance Blanchard. Of course, with a great jazz artist, what they did previously shouldn't be what they do TODAY, and I wish I could check it out. Thanks for the heads up, though, if you are going, I'm sure it will be great!
post #25865 of 32896
Looks like the sidy U2 and penon IEM are same....links below.....

http://cart100.com/Product/39817003962/

http://penonaudio.com/PENON-IEM
post #25866 of 32896
Quote:
Originally Posted by doctorjazz View Post

Sounds great, wish I could get away from my office some more. It was a bit of a stretch even taking this past week, as we're going through a software conversion that is really difficult, but we have always taken a late August family vacation, so I took this trip. Harry Potter and Dr.Who provided lots of the interest for my younger daughter, and it worked out great. I have seen a number of the artists, the Sun Ra Arkestra many times when Ra still walked among us, Holland with different bands (not the current one), think he's fabulous. Seen Tom Harrell, Terrance Blanchard. Of course, with a great jazz artist, what they did previously shouldn't be what they do TODAY, and I wish I could check it out. Thanks for the heads up, though, if you are going, I'm sure it will be great!

 

 

:beerchug:

post #25867 of 32896
Thread Starter 


Sorry it took a while for a size comparison shot. My Z1060 is roughly the size of a standard smart phone. 3"X5" My C5 is on the bottom fits perfectly.


You can see how small the other amps are in comparison. The E11K is size of a deck of cards.


Edited by Dsnuts - 8/23/14 at 12:25pm
post #25868 of 32896

So, always looking to keep a gauge on the cheap stuff like the ATH-CLR100, Panny HJE190, some of the Chinese budget phones, and other stuff, I have had a persistent urge to grab a JVC HA-FX32...


I saw them on the bay, as seller refurbs for $2.50, I grabbed a pair from here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/JVC-Marshmallow-HA-FX32-BLUE-In-Earbud-/311004286712?pt=US_Headphones&hash=item48694ccef8

 

Good seller, no complaints and he sent me a pair of JVC F14 buds as well.

 

So, not gonna be giant killers but after not even a day of run-in and a tip change(they only came with the stock foams) to UE clear style they they run nearly neck and neck with my pair of reference Tenore and Brainwavz S5 with side vents taped over. They have a two post position tube and I like the UE tips on the second post best. Seemingly not too tip dependent and sound good with most things except a couple that thicken them up too much like the S5 bi-flanges I tried.

 

Very much like the Philips but better balance and more refined(smoother/less peaky) and of course the two position post. One gives more bass and extension that the Tenore struggles to keep up with. Much like a Ref Tenore with a sub added. Still, even with the post position giving more bass, still not as mid-recessed as the Philips 3580 was. Hard not to like the big bass full bodied sound when A/B-ing them. Ref Tenore wins out technically overall but sounds a bit dull or ho-hum vs. the fun sound of the JVC. The 11mm is a big driver for JVC(outside of the FX850's 11mm most current JVC in-ears use smaller drivers) and helps give them surprisingly good bass.

 

Only my one pair and tested with Minidisc, iriver, and Sony S639 players unamped but they seem to be the real deal. Tenore and S5 with my favorite tips on can't shake the little JVC upstarts in fun or even ability. A bit plasticky but the cable is a bit better than the 3580 and the ATH-CLR/COR cables. A $2.50 bargain. Worth the $15 or so a new pair can be had for but only about the cost of a cup of coffee for the refurbs. Just can't say how the stock silicone tips will sound with them as they didn't come with them. The stock foams do sound very good with them.

 

I certainly encourage someone to at least grab a pair of the refurbs and hopefully confirm my experience with them. We might have the next cheap thing!

post #25869 of 32896
Quote:
Originally Posted by jant71 View Post

So, always looking to keep a gauge on the cheap stuff like the ATH-CLR100, Panny HJE190, some of the Chinese budget phones, and other stuff, I have had a persistent urge to grab a JVC HA-FX32...




I saw them on the bay, as seller refurbs for $2.50, I grabbed a pair from here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/JVC-Marshmallow-HA-FX32-BLUE-In-Earbud-/311004286712?pt=US_Headphones&hash=item48694ccef8

Good seller, no complaints and he sent me a pair of JVC F14 buds as well.



So, not gonna be giant killers but after not even a day of run-in and a tip change(they only came with the stock foams) to UE clear style they they run nearly neck and neck with my pair of reference Tenore and Brainwavz S5 with side vents taped over. They have a two post position tube and I like the UE tips on the second post best. Seemingly not too tip dependent and sound good with most things except a couple that thicken them up too much like the S5 bi-flanges I tried.

Very much like the Philips but better balance and more refined(smoother/less peaky) and of course the two position post. One gives more bass and extension that the Tenore struggles to keep up with. Much like a Ref Tenore with a sub added. Still, even with the post position giving more bass, still not as mid-recessed as the Philips 3580 was. Hard not to like the big bass full bodied sound when A/B-ing them. Ref Tenore wins out technically overall but sounds a bit dull or ho-hum vs. the fun sound of the JVC. The 11mm is a big driver for JVC(outside of the FX850's 11mm most current JVC in-ears use smaller drivers) and helps give them surprisingly good bass.

Only my one pair and tested with Minidisc, iriver, and Sony S639 players unamped but they seem to be the real deal. Tenore and S5 with my favorite tips on can't shake the little JVC upstarts in fun or even ability. A bit plasticky but the cable is a bit better than the 3580 and the ATH-CLR/COR cables. A $2.50 bargain. Worth the $15 or so a new pair can be had for but only about the cost of a cup of coffee for the refurbs. Just can't say how the stock silicone tips will sound with them as they didn't come with them. The stock foams do sound very good with them.

I certainly encourage someone to at least grab a pair of the refurbs and hopefully confirm my experience with them. We might have the next cheap thing!

I was about to order these but realise delivery to Oz would be $17+ damn it
post #25870 of 32896
Quote:
Originally Posted by spurxiii View Post


I was about to order these but realise delivery to Oz would be $17+ damn it


True, didn't think to mention that. The FX32 seem to a N.A. model and tough to get outside of US/Canada w/o international shipping cost adding up. No real Japanese equivalent going by the driver size and other specs. I'm assuming the FX31 could be quite good as well but not the same phone.


Edited by jant71 - 8/23/14 at 3:50pm
post #25871 of 32896

HOW do you like that NWZ 1060??  Is that a new walkman model?  seems pretty pricey on amazon listings,

any better deals on it?

 

Originally Posted by Dsnuts View Post
 


Sorry it took a while for a size comparison shot. My Z1060 is roughly the size of a standard smart phone. 3"X5" My C5 is on the bottom fits perfectly.


You can see how small the other amps are in comparison. The E11K is size of a deck of cards.

post #25872 of 32896
Thread Starter 

Older actually. It was the first Walkman to come out with and android OS I think the F models were a revision of the Z you see pictured. More pricy because it is not made anymore.  It was and still is a nice player a bit slow and limited space but Sony always get the sexy form factor and UI correct. Sound wise I would equate it with a X3 or a DX50 in quality with the ability to use android apps and music enhancers. Always been a fan of Sony players. I also own an older S545 which is still going strong. Warm musical sound of this player never stirred me wrong. The battery is still going strong after over 12 years of use.. Wish all batteries were like the ones Sony uses.


Edited by Dsnuts - 8/24/14 at 9:22am
post #25873 of 32896
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dsnuts View Post
 

Older actually. It was the first Walkman to come out with and android OS I think the F models were a revision of the Z you see pictured. More pricy because it is not made anymore.  It was and still is a nice player a bit slow and limited space but Sony always get the sexy form factor and UI correct. Sound wise I would equate it with a X3 or a DX50 in quality with the ability to use android apps and music enhancers. Always been a fan of Sony players. I also own an older S545 which is still going strong. Warm musical sound of this player never stirred me wrong. The battery is still going strong after over 12 years of use.. Wish all batteries were like the ones Sony uses.

thats great to know, cause i had kind of given up on sony digital players sounding good.  i was long time ago a big fan of sony tape walkmen which

were the best sound at the time.  good to know that they are back in the game for warm digital sound and that the batteries are supreme! wonder if

sony will come out with anything to rival the DX90 and its cohorts??

post #25874 of 32896
Thread Starter 


Sony ZX-1. Kinda pricy but Sonys newest high res player. I know a few guys that ended up selling theirs after they got the DX90 however. I am sure these sound great but is spendy for what you get. A used one fetches $500. New one currently goes for $680 on amazon..

post #25875 of 32896

Head-fi Budget-fi Hype: Origins..............

                                                                                                                                Weigh-in:

                                                                                                     Heavy Weights

 

                                                                           

 

                                      

 

     

(Sony XBA-H3 v. Dunu DN1000 v. Fostex TE-05 v. FAD HEAVEN V v. Brainwavz R3 v. Zero Audio Tenores v. Ostry KC06  v. Sony MH1/C  v. VSonic VC02 v. TEAC ZE1000)

 

The IEM market is getting really hot and competitive these days and not only the big names are bringing the heat because many smaller brands are upping their sonic game as well with many of their latest releases. Therefore, without a doubt brand names like Sony, one of the biggest electronic makers in the world will showcase their latest and greatest R&D with their hybrid flagship, correct??? Welp the answer depends on who you ask because the XBA-H3, Sony's latest hybrid flagship has divided a lot of the head-fi community initially. The crux of this division seems to have been caused by personal sonic preferences/ biases and not based on the actual sonic performance/ technical abilities of these Sony XBA-H3s. But this is understandable because we all have our own biases in sound signatures, therefore in this write-up I will try to simply and effectively convey the characteristics as well as some insights of all the IEMs that will be reviewed without trying to put too much emphasis on my personal biases. No promises though!!! :ph34r:

 

Now that I got the preface outta' the way lets get this sonic battle rollin'. Fight!!!


 

 

Sony XBA-H3:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

 

Weight Class: Hybrid

 

Hype Origins Pre_ramble rumble : P (Click to show)

The hype of these Sony hybrids or more accurately put "anti-hype" started with some seasoned TOTL (Top Of The Line a.k.a summit-fi) head-fiers not so glowing impressions of these highly anticipated hybrids from Sony. The interest for these H3 weren't just due to the fact that they were constructed of the latest hybrid tech which consists of a 16mm Liquid Crystal Polymer Film diaphragm and a full-range Balanced Armature + HD super tweeter (WoW that sure is a mouthful of technical mumble jumble), but supposedly these H3s were tuned by the same sonic maestros that had tuned the highly praised and now discontinued MDR-EX1000 as well. Hence coming from such a respected lineage, many loyal followers of those beloved EX1000s was justified to have high expectations for these H3s. Sadly reality often differs from our expectations, because not only did these H3s supposedly sound very different from the EX1000s but their bass heavy presentation was so offensive to some that it was met with pretty negative and critical impressions. So are these Sony XBA-H3s really THAT disappointing compared to their beloved EX1000 brethren??? I can't really tell ya' how those EX1000s sound cuz I have yet to hear them but I sure can with these Sony XBA-H3....

 

 

With these Sony XBA-H3s you LITERALLY get it ALL. What I mean by this is that you get everything in spades from the deepest of the lows to a great treble extension and everything in between. The overall sound signature of these H3s is very refined and smooth with great clarity, musicality, dynamics and timbre. What immediately jumps out at you is the crazy deep/ textured sub bass, FULL OUTTA' the head sound/ experience with an overall very effortless and refined sound signature from top to bottom. The bass quality of these H3s is mostly sub bass focused with just a hit of mid bass impact that doesn't bleed into the rest of the sonic spectrum despite its BIG quantity. Their mid bass slam is nowhere as much in quantity as compared to the ASG 2s and H3s hands down bests the ASG 2 in sub bass quantity as well as quality. Hence the bass of these H3s is full bodied/bold/deep/textured and overall what I would call "bombastic" cuz it has this explosive clarity to them that is never overly warm/muddy/dull/ nor slow.

 

Ok so these H3 humvees has got bass cannons attacked to them, what else they got??? Surprisingly these H3s also have a very sweet and forward mid range with amazing resolution as well (almost on par with the ASG 2s but the ASG 2s has got a slight leg up cuz its mid-range resolution is their bread and butta' and is one of the best I have heard to date).  The highs/treble of the H3 also extends further than the rolled off ones of the ASG 2s but yet it's still able to sound super smooth and refined without any sense harshness, brightness nor sibilance whatsoever. This it seems is where those dedicated HD super tweeters comes in to play cuz you can literally hear them working twerking their magic in the treble extension of these H3s.

 

The "audiophile basshead IEM" moniker was invented for these Sony XBA-H3s cuz their entire sonic spectrum simply comes out to play in spades with nothin' recessed or lacking whatsoever. This is what I call TOTALphile material here folks cuz it's a total and complete sonic package that simply immerses your senses in their musical rendition and leaves nothing outta' the experience. There is no ifs or buts about it, these H3s has got a big, bold and full presentation period and not just in the bass. Unlike the overly powerful and fatiguing presentation of the JVC FXZ200, these XBA-H3s has amazing atmosphere, spaciousness and 3Dness that is encapsulated by a VERY large soundstage which those JVCs can only dream of. In comparison these H3s makes the tuning of those FXZ200s sound congested, slow, overly thick and basic. Therefore for gias that can only appreciate a "flat" analytical, cold and dry sound look elsewhere cuz these Sonys ain't for you. But, if you are just regular audio enthusiast that enjoys a very musical and fun sound these are your ticket to audio nirvana.

 

TL;DR Hype Check: 

TOTALphile material is what these Sony XBA-H3s are. It has basically set a new standard for what a basshead audiophile IEM should embody not just for its bass depth/ quantity, but refinement and balance across the sonic spectrum as well. This right here is an audiophile bass IEM done right and what popular mainstream brands like Beats only wishes it could accomplish sonically. Though it is very evident in the style/ color scheme of these H3s there's some "beats" inspiration/aspiration but thank goodness sonically these H3s more than delivers unlike what Beats are infamous for. Praises aside due to their MASSIVE driver/ housing size, even though I didn't have any trouble with the ergonomics (fit/seal/comfort) the bulky design of these H3s is not very practical for on the go use. Passive isolation is average at best, which is kinda' disappointing since these would make for amazing commuter IEMs for their sonics alone.  Despite passive isolation is not their strong point, their big, full and otta' your head bold and musical sound more than makes up for it once the tunes are on full blast. :basshead: As the result these H3s are on my wishlist once their prices drop low enough making resistance truly futile for me. But for now their lil' brother, the Sony MH1/C (those amazing sounding micro driver IEM that's infamous for their horrid J-cord flat/thick cables) will be more than enough to hold me over cuz they are VERY similar in sound signature and presentation.


 

 

DUNU DN1000:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

 

Weight Class: Hybrid

 

Hype Origins Pre_ramble rumble : O (Click to show)
Just like the current hype on the T-PEOS Altone 200s and funnily by some of the same culprits, the DUNU DN1000 had a similar buzz in that it was almost met with unanimous universal praise from all the head-fiers that had initially heard them. But what REALLY caught my interest was this bold statement here, cuz my immediate reaction was LITERALLY.....  : O'rly???!!!  Since I am such a big fan of the GR07 BEs, after reading this ground shattering hype I had my sights and was determined to obtain a set of those alleged VSonic GR07 killa's in order to hear the hype for myself.  Did these DUNU DN1000s live up to their hype for me......

 

First off what makes these DN1Ks shine is their great treble/highs extension. The treble is truly the star of the show here in that it is very well extended and it's perhaps some of the best treble I have encountered from all the IEMs I have heard to date because it has this refined shimmery and sparkly quality to it, yet is never overly bright, harsh or sibilant. There's good bass depth as well as texture on these DN1Ks, but not as superbly textured as say the VSonic GR07 BEs because of its very visceral and organic qualities. The mid-range on these DN1Ks is good but is not overly forward nor is very lush, therefore it is basically very satisfactory but just doesn't jump out at you as much compared to their treble. Hence this is the reason why these DN1Ks might somewhat appear to have a sight "V" shape sound to them due to its slightly more emphasis on the bass and the treble in comparison to their mids. For me though their sound signature slants more toward a very gradual "U" curve cuz the mids are forward with great resolution and 3Dness, but it's just not the central focus in this IEMs is alls. It's suffice to say that the mid-range on these DN1Ks DO NOT sound recessed whatsoever, because overall there's very good balance across their sonic spectrum.

 

So how do the different color ring options come into play with these DUNUs and do they make a difference??? These DN1Ks have very good bass depth and texture no matter which ring you choose, but for me the blue ring sounds the most clear with overall the best balance of staging, treble sparkle and bass texture outta' all the ring options. The red ring gives you the most sparkle to their treble and is the most "bright" sounding of all the rings but yet is never harsh nor sibilant. The silver rings on the other hand gives you the most bass but clarity seems to suffer a bit as well as soundstage cuz it sounds more closed in/ intimate in sound/ presentation. The treble with the silver rings is not as sparkly as the other rings so it's slightly a less fatiguing listen if that is what you are looking for. No matter which ring option you choose the staging is large but not as MASSIVE as say the Sony XBA-H3s nor is their bass as full bodied and bombastic sounding, hence overall the sound signature is much more balanced on these DN1Ks than the H3s especially in the bass department. The sound signature and presentation that DUNU seems to be going for with these DN1000s is one that is more conservative, and polite versus the more grand, bold, and ultimately more fun tuning of the Sony XBA-H3s (not that that's a bad thing per se... because it all boils down to personal sound signature preferences). 

 

Consequently, due to the DN1ks more mature and analytical leaning sound signature, head-fiers immediate comparison to the VSonics GR07 variants is indeed warranted cuz both are very technically capable. So do these DN1Ks blow the GR07s outta' the water like some passionate proponents of the DUNUs has claimed. Nope not by a long shot, but the shimmery and extended treble of these DN1Ks bests that of the GR07 BEs for sure. Their mid-range is also more 3D, with better instrumental separation and resolution hence it sounds slightly more airy compared to the GR07 BEs, though the VSonic bests them in overall lushness, texture and organic timbre.  The quality of bass depth and texture of the GR07 BEs is also superior to that of the DNUN DN1Ks but overall quantity is very similar on both sets. So in summation it's suffice to repost what I have already stated how I see these two IEMs....

 

Quote: http://www.head-fi.org/t/630585/vsonic-gr07-bass-edition-impressions/2025#post_10258371
 Yeah no problemo. And here is another revelation i had recently regarding how these gr07 BEs compare to the new kid on da' block that is the DUNU DN1000s........

 

I actually like them A LOT (referring to the DN1Ks). They don't best the gr07 BEs on all fronts but is a great side grade to them. Lets just say those gr07 BEs are akin to that old school analog sound that has great flavor/ texture but is lacking a bit in HD/3D resolution. These DN1Ks are akin to the new school digital sound that has amazing 3D_ness/ clarity and extension. I like the treble of the DN1Ks more than the BEs, but the bass of the BEs wins in overall texture/ depth. Mids on both are on par. So both are amazing.

 

TL;DR Hype Check: 

These DUNU DN1000s don't really do anything "wrong" nor offensive sonically per se but in taking a more safe and pedestrian path, they also lack a bit of character or "flavor" if you will that gives them more of a distinctive and unique character to their sound.  Hence despite these DN1Ks are VERY good technical performers it doesn't really offer me a very memorable or seductive listening experience that would make me want to revisit them time and time again unlike the GR07 BEs even though those VSonics are "flatter" sounding and is more 2D in presentation. The organic texture and timbre of the GR07 BEs simply gives those VSonics a more unique listen even though the DN1Ks has slightly more of a fun factor due to its better mid-range 3D resolution and more emphasis on the bass as well as a more sparkly treble.


 

 

Fostex TE-05:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

Weight Class: Single Dynamic

 

Hype Origins Pre_ramble rumble : X (Click to show)
If there was such a thing as a parallel bizzaro universe that pirates audio forum would do it for head-fi, cuz the vibe there is just weird especially due to many of head-fi's formerly active/ exiled/ banished often resides there. I can't argue that those pirateers know their stuff so when many of them started to CRAZY hype the new IEM in Fostex's upcoming lineup from showroom auditions, any serious audiophile would have to take note and pay close attention. Their hype got me so bad that I even hyped them up some prior to their release in The Discovery Thread in order to amp my anticipation as well as others for this IEM that is blessed by those pirates which supposedly blows their respectively priced peers outta' the water. Hmmm blows outta' the water, wonder where I have heard this similar hype before??? :rolleyes: Anywho ahoy mateys all aboard the $100 $150 Fostex TE-05 hype cruise for a smooth sail to audio budget-fi nirvana and beyond???

 

These Fostex TE-05 are smooth and clean with great precision and clarity across their sonic spectrum. There is also a good amount of air to these TE-05s, along with good sub bass depth and extension. Therefore, due to their tight sub bass and slight mid bass emphasis there is very little grain hence there is nothing that will bleed or muddy up the rest of their sound. Mids are nicely forward but not overly lush along with a great treble extension that is slightly sparkly, yet it doesn't get too bright, harsh or sibilant.

 

Now how do these TE-05 compare to the rest is the million dollar question, welp to put it into perspective both the TE-05 and the DUNU DN1000 performs and plays on the same technical sonic level for me but yet still sound pretty different. The major difference between the DN1K is that their presentation/ sound signature has slightly more weight and texture to it (more dynamic and realistic sounding) while the TE-05 has better speed, air, micro details (almost akin to Balanced Armature Multi-driver IEMs in air, clarity and precision). Due to such BA traits the staging seems larger on the TE-05 and is more 3D in presentation than the DN1Ks but the DUNUs is not far behind at all. So with the DN1Ks you get a slightly more hefty (no where as meaty as the H3s though) sound while with the Fostex TE-05s you get an even more lively/ cleaner and clearer sound. Therefore musicality wise I would put the TE-05 slightly above the DN1Ks but both are on par technically and sonically. 

 

TL;DR Hype Check: 

The DUNU DN1000s and Fostex TE-05 seems to do the justice and fidelity to the music without adding too much coloring to it, but that is where I have problems with both, cuz they seem to play it a bit too safe in their presentation and while you don't really feel anything lacking, there is just that missing PRaT/musicality/emotional connection to the music which is sadly a bit lacking for me in both sets. The H3s seems to be OVERLY musical cuz of their fun yet technically amazing presentation, while the DN1Ks as well as the TE-05 is technically very capable and does everything just "right" but in doing so there isn't much interesting attributes that gives their sound a distinctively unique character which immediately distinguishes them from the rest.


 

 

FAD HEAVEN V:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

 

Weight Class: Single Balanced Armature

 

Hype Origins Pre_ramble rumble : > (Click to show)
It's a rare sighting to see those TOTL flatters in The Discovery Thread, so when one pokes their heads in and consistently hypes something, us lowly discovery bois have no other option but to pay close and serious attention. It's common perception, welp for me at least that balanced armature IEMs is lacking in bass compared to their dynamic counterpart and when they do have great bass quality, the quantity is never enough. It doesn't help that my perception of FAD gears as mostly associated with hipsters and trendies due to their boutique price$$$$s and appeal. Armed with such invaluable prejudices I was ready to take on their FAD Heaven V which have had quite a sustained recommendation from a few non Discovery Thread regulars. I was skeptical regarding how a single Balanced Armature driver IEM by some hipster boutique brand can possibly sound good, esp. in the bass department cuz those TOTLers are known for their flat/ bass-lite "reference" leaning tendencies so....

 

I think it is safe to say that if one is looking for a PERFECT balance between musicality and technical performance the FAD Heaven Vs is your safe bet. These Heaven Vs are literally like a Sony XBA-H3-lite in that their sound signature and presentation is eerily similar but is just a bit tighter and leaner. Overall the sound of the Sony XBA-H3s are more refined cuz they are like the Heaven V2 in that its bass depth, extension and texture is superior to that of the Vs and those super tweeters employed on the H3s gives it a more refined and smoother treble quality but yet still remain very well extended. I would say the mid-range resolution and forwardness is on par on both with the Vs sounding more balanced due to its less bass quantity. Compared to the super fun yet technically capable H3s these Heaven Vs almost sound a bit analytical and slightly technically colder in presentation but on their own they are far from cold nor analytical. With the Sony MH1/C tips I was not only able to even better bass depth and quality outta' these FAD Heaven Vs but fit/seal/ and isolation is also improved as well. The only down side of these Vs that I can think of is their somewhat microphonic and cheap feeling flat/thick cable, but when a shirt clip is applied it isn't nearly as much of a problem as compared to that of the MH1/Cs.

 

For a single Balanced Armature IEM the low end of these Heaven Vs are surprisingly deep, bold with amazing quantity as well as quality. Not the most textured bass but it is one of the better bass presentations out of all the gears I have auditioned/owned so far and I would even put it above the DUNU DN1000s and Fostex TE-05s in both quantity and quality. Their sound is surprisingly coherent, cohesive and realistic with great timbre as well, and is much better than that of the older Sony XBA-3s infamous metallic tinged treble/ more artificial sound. The mids on these Heaven Vs are pretty lush and forward with great resolution and sense of 3Dness along with fantastic instrumental separation. Treble even extends further and has more sparkle than the Sony XBA-H3s but H3s is more smooth and refined overall. 

 

TL;DR Hype Check: 

So these Heaven V was a trip and an interesting experience for sure. A personal revelation for me is that stuffing more of the latest and "greatest" tech into bigger housings doesn't ALWAYS guarantee nor equate to a better or superior sound, cuz it all boils down to how well the drivers, and in this particular case single "driver" is tuned. It's all in the mastery of the tuning and not the number of drivers one can stuff into an IEM is the wisdom of the day. If I haven't made this painfully apparent by now, HOW THE HELL AM I GETTING SUCH A BIG/BOLD/MUSICAL/FUN SOUND FROM A SINGLE DRIVER, AND IT'S A WEAK SUPER SAUCED SINGLE BALANCED ARMATURE DRIVER IEM AT THAT THAT CAN RIVAL THE CURRENT CROP OF HYBRIDS!!!??? :triportsad:


 

 

Brainwavz R3:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

Weight Class: Double Dynamic

 

Hype Origins Pre_ramble rumble : < (Click to show)
These Brainwavz R3 or "milk machines" as some likes to refer them as, never really had my interest nor caught much hype here at head-fi despite pretty favorable reviews for their sonic performance from a few head-fiers that was able to get them in as review samples. Guess I am a very vain and superficial person but their goofy shape and design is already a major deterrent/ turnoff and I could not possibly imagine myself buying one of these things. Due to their large housing and badly implemented/ unnecessarily long over-ears memory wire, these R3s don't just look odd but their "unique" design is also horrid in terms of ergonomics, fit and seal as well.  Hence, they were never even in my radar until I read d marc0s comparative review of them to the KEF M200s. What caught my interest was not that he favored these R3s over the M200s but I was shocked to read that these funky R3s actually were able to "hang" with those KEF M200s sonically and even bests them in some aspects. With that hype in mind I was VERY interested to hear what it has to offer sonically. I had to put my strong personal feelings regarding aesthetics aside and decided to get these Brainwavz by any means necessary cuz that's what a TRUE audiophile does correct, we put sonic performance above all else no??? :triportsad:  These R3s turned out to be everything I had expected and then some...... 
 

As expected these R3s are truly HORRID in terms of ergonomics from their large bulky housing to their overly long and stiff memory wire all the way down to their fat tube-like cable/ GIANT/ heavy tentacle shaped/textured Y-cable splitter and 3.5mm phone jack.  It is suffice to say that these are an epic fail in terms of basic IEM design/aesthetics. My initial "struggle" (and that's putting it lightly) with their fit and seal was akin to my initial encounter with those MASSIVE coat hanger ear guides/housing of the KEF M200s in that I wanted to toss them outta' the window cuz I could barely get them to stay in my ears, let alone wear them for a prolonged listening session. These R3s and the M200s are amongst the worst in terms of fit and seal for me of all the IEMs I have used, so it is pretty fitting that I will be comparing these two sonically in this write-up (thank goodness they both are admirable sonic performers, and is worth the hassle pheeeeew).

 

Aesthetics and ergonomics aside sonically these R3s are winners because they offer a very balanced sound from top to bottom and is very technically capable. If you are able to get a proper seal/fit with the right type of tips the bass quantity and quality on these R3s is very good in that there is ample depth and texture that reaches pretty low into the sub bass regions. The impact and slam in its mid bass is very good in quality as well, hence there is very little bleed into their mids or highs. Mids are forward but is not overly so with a touch of lushness to it, although not as lush as say the VSonic GR07 BE, the Ostry KC06 or even the Zero Audio Tenores. Their mid-range also has very good clarity, resolution, definition and good sense of 3Dness to them cuz instrumental separation/ projection and soundstaging is very well done. Treble/highs also have very good extension without ever sounding overly bright, sibilant nor harsh but it does lack some sparkle and refined shimmer that the DUNU DN1000s does so well in. Welp if you haven't realized by now after I have posted "very good" ad nauseam, these R3s are a very good sounding set of IEMs that doesn't compromise on anything really cuz nothing feels lacking per se. So these R3s seems to do no wrong sonically but what really makes them "special" that it's worth posting??? 

 

The Brainwavz R3 and the KEF M200s have very different sound signatures and I would consider both are playing in the same sonic field technically. The KEF M200s has a very warm and smooth sound signature with most of its bass emphasis on the sub regions with very little mid bass slam or punch. It also have a very lush and nicely forward mid-range with VERY good 3D sense of space, instrumental separation, wide soundstaging and resolution/atmosphere, in fact some of the best I have heard from all the $200 and under IEMs despite its warmth. Treble on these M200s is smooth and extended just as their bass is, therefore nothing is really lacking on these M200s if you prefer a non-fatiguing smooth, warm and refined sound across the sonic spectrum. In contrast, the R3s has a crisper sound due to its fine balanced of sub bass depth/ texture to mid bass slam and punch ratio. Therefore, the overall bass of these R3s not only have better impact and speed but clarity as well.  Upon initial listen these R3s might sound like your typical "V" shaped signature due to their crunchier more energetic sound presentation. There appears to be a slight lift in the bass and treble regions of these R3s compared to their mids but with more careful listens I didn't really hear any mid-range recession of any sorts. I would attribute this quality as their unique sound presentation rather than a recessed mid-range, hence these R3s are neither "V" shaped, nor "flat"/analytical/ cold sounding but leans towards the latter more than say the more warm, smooth, bassy sound of the M200s. These R3s also has this very slight metallic tinge to their sound akin to the Sony XBA-3s (not as bad as that of the Sonys) but yet have very good timbre and dynamics, therefore these R3s sound pretty unique in that regard as well.

 

TL;DR Hype Check:

In all consideration the Brainwavz R3 is an IEM that only a true hardcore audiophile will take their time to appreciate (unless you got them for free as review samples : P) because I can't imagine any typical consumer would bother with their horrid ergonomics. This is the main deal breaker for these R3s but since I only traded a cheap set of $30 IEMs for them I was patient and happy enough to play around with them. Though I would say they are worth their asking MSRP sonically these R3s don't really punch higher than that sadly and with their current design I can't see myself paying more than $50 for their total package because they are just too bulky and impractical for on the go use. They are a very good sounding IEM but it does lack some refinement in their treble (can use some more sparkle/ shimmer), with better mid-range lushness as well as bass texture/depth cuz these minor refinements are what separates them from a true top performer. Good effort on Brainwavz part on the sound and technical capability of these R3s. Although they are built like a tank and seems indestructible, Brainwavz's design team utterly dropped the ball on these R3s cuz I can not imagine how it could have passed their beta/ R&D testing stages with such bad ergonomics/aesthetics IMO. On that note this is the only possible way I can find myself able to wear these R3s in a comfortable manner without constantly having to fiddle and worry about losing seal due to bad fit.......

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

... was only able to get proper sound/ adequate bass quality/quantity using soft Mee wide bore double flange tips cuz all my other tips doesn't fit/seal/sound right.  LoL :triportsad:


 

 

Zero Audio Tenores:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

 

Weight Class: Micro Driver

 

Hype Origins Pre_ramble rumble : I (Click to show)
Funnily akin to Brainwavz R3, these Tenores were also flying under the radar for quite some time since their initial release. It wasn't really their poor ergonomics, design or anything like that they didn't get much attention here at head-fi, cuz their Basso brethren got their shine in the hype limelight from many regular contributors in The Discovery Thread. Despite there were a few positive comments here and there prior to their supernova hype from Tenore owners, it was merely glanced over without much attention. This was the case until recently some TOTL flatters seemingly outta' nowhere got themselves a set of these Tenores and started to hype the bejesus outta' them for their "flat" sound signature. And from there it was hyped to the high heavens by many seasoned TOTLers who live and die by their holy flat curve bibles. The Tenores "flat" gospel was so strong it eventually reached mass pandemonium which exploded their appreciation thread from a measly 60 something pages to over 270 pages currently in a span of a few short months. It seems we have a few things to learn from those TOTL flatters cuz such outlandish hype even makes us discovery bois blush. So being a hype bandwagoner hipster that I am, I was determined to jump on this hype train no matter what and as the saying goes "better late than never". So was the Tenore train really as flat, smooth and amazing as they are hyped up to be......

 

Can't say that I am mind blown by these Tenores tbh since I have heard gears that does a lot of the things better BUT they are hard to fault in that they do everything almost just "right". Besides the crazy lush micro details of these Tenores, which adds A LOT of refinement to their overall sound, nothing really immediately jumps out at you cuz the overall sound is very well balance from end to end of their sonic spectrum. This can be a fault itself in that some that want a more "unique" and exciting sound might fine them a bit boring cuz they are kinda' in the lukewarm side of things which is neither too cold (analytical) nor too warm (bassy). The Tenores like I said is smooth with great lush micro detailing in its mid-range with great 3D resolution which not only gives you a very good sense of clarity/ precision but separation as well. They are not the fastest sounding IEMs by a long mile but their speed is just "right" and goes very well with their overall sound signature/presentation.  The sub bass of these Tenores has good depth with little to no mid bass punch/slam, though lacking some texture. All in all they sound very clean and clear without any bass bleed into their mids or treble.

 

The smooth sound signature of these Tenores reminds me a lot of the Sony MH1/Cs. Their mids are not recessed whatsoever nor are they overly forward, so combined with good amount of air and resolution makes these Tenores very capable in terms of instrument separation and soundstaging. Their soundstage is not extremely tall nor wide (not as wide as the Ostry KC-06 for sure), but it is very adequate and satisfactory. As previously stated there isn't much mid bass punch/slam since the bass of these Tenores are mostly sub bass focused, but even my so called "reference" bass-lite set already has ample quantity for my bass needs. Highs/treble is pretty well extended but there is not much sparkle there, which further adds to their overall smooth, non-sibilant/harsh presentation of these Tenores. On that note I would say that these Tenores sound almost like a fusion of the Sony MH1/C and the Fostex TE-05, in that they are smooth like the Sonys but has better balanced due to its slightly better treble extension, but it also has a lusher/ better detailed mid-range similar to the Fostex TE-05. Akin to the TE-05s, these Tenores despite being a dynamic driver IEM sounds almost like balanced armature IEMs in tuning cuz of their precision/ refinement, yet it also possess the natural timbre that dynamic IEMs are more known for. If I had to nitpick the sub bass of these Tenores can sound a bit soft compared to the likes of the Fostex TE-05 which not only reaches deeper but has better quality and quantity as well, though these Tenores aren't THAT far off in both depth and technical ability.

 

TL;DR Hype Check:

So for me these Tenores lived up to their hype and didn't cuz they are no doubt a very good sounding IEM that doesn't have many glaring faults, but they are not the most exciting sounding that's for sure. From memory the Tenores aren't even THAT much "better"/ more refined than their Zero Audio Bassos brethren which has an amazing bassy yet airy sound with a large soundstage that can hang with the best budget-fi IEMs out there not just in the bass department. Although these Tenores are indeed "flatter" sounding than some of the other budget-fi IEMs I have heard, they are lacking some texture in their bass department, some sparkle and shimmer to their treble as well as some mid bass slam/punch which would add more musicality and refinement to their overall sound. A true giant killer they ain't but they can certainly hang with A LOT of the more expensive IEMs I have heard. But if those TOTLers already praise them as so, then those super bucks $1K and over TOTL gears ain't all that and a bag of chip it seems if these lowly inexpensive Tenores can already hang if not best those in some aspects. Guess it's really more exclusivity of the TOTL Brands and prices rather that their actual sonic performance it seems.....


 

 

Ostry KC06:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

 

Weight Class: Single Dynamic

 

Hype Origins Pre_ramble rumble : D (Click to show)

Interestingly these Ostry KC06 were the 1st TOTL flatter hyped budget-fi IEMs which predated the Zero Audio Tenores. Thanks to james' TOTLer street cred his hype of these KC06 caught the interest of many flat sound signature lovers on head-fi. With his subsequent tour of these Ostriches, and many praises later these Ostry KC06s exponentially soared to new hype heights that will forever be recorded in the budget-fi hype annals. So are these budget-fi wonder birds REALLY as amazing as those TOTL flatters make them out to be or is it just pure hype??? Initially I wasn't that impressed by these Ostry KC06s as I documented here because the DAP/amp that I drove them with didn't really gel very well with them, hence I was pretty underwhelmed by how they sounded. I had expected these Ostriches to be MUCH more refined and high end due to all their hype, but thank goodness when I switched up my sources these seemingly harmless Ostriches FINALLY unleashed their sonic beast within!!!

 

These Ostry KC06s have amazing soundstaging more so in width than in height. Although not the most 3D in presentation I have heard, they nonetheless have a very good sense of 3Dness and airiness to their sound, more so than the VSonic GR07 BEs but still lacks a bit of air when compared to the likes of the Fostex TE-05s. For what it lacks these KC06s more than makes up for it in its great balance of airiness, texture and depth that is very coherent along with a very natural atmospheric presentation. What I mean by the great atmosphere of these KC06s is that their mids are literally flying all over you face and between your head due to their very wide staging and very lush mid-range. As many have already commented the passive isolation of these Ostriches are somewhat below average due to their heavily vented nature, and the same could be said for the TE-05s though with music on these Ostrys isolates slightly better than the Fostex. But with music on I have no problems using these as my daily beater set and it isolates well enough for even my public transit needs so YMMV. The treble of these KC06s are nicely extended with some nice sparkle yet is never harsh, overly bright nor sibilant, and has better control than that of the GR07 BEs. Mids on these Ostriches can sound a bit diffused with improper seal/ wrong type of tips but when you do find the correct tips (for me best sounding tips is the Fostex medium stock ones) the mids is nicely forward and lush. These Ostry KC06s are very easy to drive as well, and it has some amazing synergy with my Nokia N9, hence it is the only IEM for me that is not lacking nor have me wanting more straight from my phone. Aside from the VSonic GR07 BEs who would have thought that these cheapo budget-fi wonder birdies could satisfy so much of my audiophile needs on such a simple and basic setup. These KC06s Ostriches truly offers a high end sound for peanuts!!!

 

So how does the bass and technical ability of these Ostriches measure up with the rest??? Compared to the Zero Audio Tenores these Ostry KC06s are not as "smooth" sounding but they are MUCH better textured especially in the bass department, because it gives you a better sense of clarity/ transparency right off the bat due to its better treble extension (yes the KC06 has some of the best treble I have heard with only the DUNU DN1000 treble besting it). That isn't to say the Tenores are not clear, on the contrary they both have great resolution in their mid-range, one is more of the smoother/ silkier variant (Tenores) while the other have more crisp clarity (KC06). The bass quality and quantity is what truly separates these two, unlike the Tenores the Ostrys have more mid bass punch and slam, along with decent sub bass depth. Hence these KC06s have a really clean and tight punchy mid bass without any sort of hump or bloat, and for most pop, even for hip hop music it is pretty adequate in terms of both quality as well as quantity. Though the sub bass of the GR07 BEs have better depth, texture and weight, these KC06s still gives you that visceral sense of the bass especially with their mid bass impact. The soundstage is wider on the Ostrys so this gives a sense that there is better air/3Dness/ better instrument separation hence as I already stated atmosphere in these KC06s is simply AMAZING!!! In contrast the Zero Audio Tenores sound more intimate with a smoother, cleaner, and more precise sound without much grain, hence it is closer to a more hi-def sound of newer tech balance armature and hybrids. Both the Tenores and KC06s have their distinctive qualities that is neither positive nor negative but is dependent more on ones personal preferences in sound signature and presentation. For all you phone/tech nerds out there a good analogy for these Ostrys versus the Zero Audios is that the KC06 is akin to the more saturated and rich displays of Super AMOLED while the Tenors are similar to the clearer and more vivid IPS LED variants.

 

TL;DR Hype Check:

Richness and vibrantness directly correlates to texture for me, hence these KC06 is very similar to the sound of the VSonic GR07 BE which also have a more old school "analog" type of sound. What I mean by analog is that they have great texture to their bass and sound that is not the most clean, clear or precise but there is great "flavor"/ lushness to it. These KC06s basically takes the more monitor/ flatter 2D presentation sound of the GR07 BEs and further improves upon it by adding more air, a better sense 3Dness with better instrumental separation and wider staging, therefore a more sonically "liberated" version of the GR07 BEs if you will that is sightly less textured but with an improved treble that is less peaky. For anyone that loves the VSonic GR07 variants will surely dig these Ostriches cuz they are pretty damn similar yet different at the same time. Due to these unique qualities, this is why the KC06s for me has a more old school "analog" type of sound versus the smoother HD sound of the Tenores. To put in into proper perspective, these Ostry KC06s no doubt can hang sonically with the VSonic GR07 BEs, DUNU DN1000s as well as the Fostex TE-05, but it doesn't really bests any of them and for me is sightly less refined overall.


 

 

Sony MH1/C:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

Weight Class: Micro Driver

 

Hype Origins Pre_ramble rumble : C (Click to show)
The hype on these Sony budget-fi wonders originated from no other than ClieOS head-fi's IEM/AMP Reviewer Extraordinaire. What REALLY peaked my interest though was the nutman literally commanding everyone on The Discovery Thread to order a set of these things. I was resistant to get them initially cuz was already somewhat burned out from all the previous hyped FOTM budget-fi stuff and was thinking of passing up on them cuz I don't "need" these. By definition needing and wanting something are two totally different things but in this hobby sadly "need" and "want" is always blurred and is often one of the same. As usual resistance was futile so I eventually succumbed to the hype and ordered a set of Sony MH1/C to hear what all the hoopla was about. These MH1/C was truly a sonic shockers not in that I was floored by how amazing they sounded but by how bad it sounded straight outta' the box plastic baggie it came in. They sounded like a bloated, slow, and muddy mess during my first listen and I was like these fools be trippin' hyping this thing up. But since I am open minded about "burn-in" I put them through their paces and blasted them for a total of one full week and listened to them only twice or so in order to make sure their drivers didn't die from the sonic torture burn-in as well as to check how they have progressed. There was basically zero "mental burn-in" since I barely listened to them during the entire process and what little listening was only for a very brief amount of time. A week in there was some minor changes but nothing really major so I almost gave up on them, but one night decided to give them an even more aggressive burn-in routine, and lo and behold their once bloated mess of a bass bloomed into a pretty refined and substantial sounding set of "sonic diamonds". LMAO

 

These MH1/C not only showed me how drastically an IEM can change as the result of burn-in but it also showed me what a more refined higher end sound was like. My initially impressions of these Sony MH1/C was that they are smooth, almost smooth to a fault. Coming from FOTM budget-fi hyped IEMs such as the JVC FX101 and FX40 with their overly extended bright/sibilant/ harsh treble and "V-shape" sound signature, these MH1/C almost sounded a bit too smooth up top even though their treble extension is quite good. But after some in-depth listening they made me realized that more extension is not always better per se as in the case of the JVC FX series but the overall balance and refinement of the extension is key. Hence these MH1/Cs gave me a small glimpse of what a true higher end/ more "refined" sound was like and that it wasn't "just good for their low price" (don't you just hate that cliched caveat!!! :angry_face:) but good regardless or their price. It basically redefined and set a new standard for me regarding how a true budget-fi sonic wonder should sound and perform technically. I was so impressed with these MH1/C that at one time I amassed a total of 3 sets but their horrid j-cord flat/fat cable discouraged me from ever using them much. Subsequently I sold them all off in hopes that someday I would fine someone that can re-cable them for me because sonically these MH1/Cs are worth the extra effort/time and resources.

 

Due to the recent resurgence in hype by some of the TOTL flatters, there was renewed interest in these Sony MH1/Cs. The hype on them was pretty much gone due to some quality control issues and their infamously bad cable, but this newly revived interest also bought some new modders into the mix, and by chance I also stumbled onto a head-fier that was willing to offer a professional re-cabling service for these MH1/C and as the result this thread was spawned. The professional re-cabling route was a bit spendy for me so I contacted another head-fier to see if he was able help me with the job. I was ecstatic that I was FINALLY able to fine someone that was willing to help me do a re-cable for a very reasonable price, so I sent head-fier luisdent multiple pairs to experiment with in order to fine tune his re-cabling craft.  And as the result my two re-cabled MH1s was born..... so how do they sound???

 

These MH1/Cs have amazing modding potential especially for seasoned modders that are handy with IEM re-cables. As exemplified by the two re-cabled sets head-fier luisdent did for me, they can be tuned easily with just simple modifications but yet still retain the original smooth and refined sonic characteristics. So with that said, these Sony MH1/C are bassy IEMs without a doubt, but they are not bassy to the point where it muddies up the rest of the sonic spectrum. In fact their bass quantity as well as quality is very much in line with their very smooth and effortless sound signature and presentation. There is not much mid bass slam nor punch since the bass of these MH1/C are mostly sub bass focused hence they have adequate depth and extension all the way down to the sub bass regions, though is lacking in texture. Despite their large bass quantity it never really bleeds much into the mids nor the treble, hence the overall all sound of these MH1/C still remain very clear and transparent especially in their mid-range. Their mids is neither overall forward nor lush, so combined with the extended yet smooth treble of these Sonys makes for a smooth non-fatiguing listen. This was the reason why initially these MH1/C almost sounded smooth to a fault cuz there is not much peakiness in any part of their sonic spectrum and I believe this was also the reason why those TOTL flatters have such high praises for them as well.

 

TL;DR Hype Check:

Despite their recent hype I would nonetheless consider these MH1/Cs as under the conventional consumer type of sound/tuning in that it still leans towards a more basic/linear type of presentation. It also lacks some sophistication and unique qualities that separates them from more interesting sounding IEMs such as the VSonic GR07 BEs which has amazing bass texture, as well as a very lush mid-range. Also there isn't much width nor height to their soundstage, hence you won't get that outta' the head atmospheric/ spacious sound that you get from the Ostry KC06s. Compared to the likes of the Zero Audio Tenores they also lack some micro details/ 3Dness and resolution in their mids as well as some sparkle and shimmer in their treble that you get from the DUNU DN1000s. Therefore, these Sonys despite they are a very good sounding set of budget-fi IEMs their slight lack of refinement here and there is what separates them from being a true budget-fi "giant killer."  As I have previously stated these MH1/C are very similar in sound signature and presentation of the FAD HEAVEN V and the Sony XBH-H3 hence if you want a taste of those more expensive IEMs, these cheapo Sonys is your best and safest bet. I would say these MH1/Cs are worth the extra cost and trouble of getting them re-cabled but if you end up paying near $100 just for this service then it is not the wises option because there are many other IEMs out there these days that is on par if not bests these Sonys, ie; Ostry KC06/A, Zero Audio Tenores, Zero Audio Bassos, TTPOD T1-E, VSonic VSD3S, and VSonic VSD1 to name a few that range from the upper $30s to lower $70s.


 

 

VSonic VC02:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

 

Weight Class: Micro Driver

 

Hype Origins Pre_ramble rumble : 0 (Click to show)

My interest in these VSonic VC02 was initially piqued by that pesky Ghostfits in The Discovery Thread with his latest revelation of a more balanced, bass-lite slant. Guess sooner or later our initial lust for our basshead fix settles down a bit and want something that is more suitable for prolong listening sessions that is non-fatiguing but yet still is very enjoyable without feeling that there are any aspect of the sonic spectrum is lacking. These VSonic VC02 supposedly received pretty high praises from joker and has a loyal following here at head-fi, but like most noobs I was more fixated by the latest and greatest FOTM gears so these never caught my attention. After Ghostfits' hype however I had to give them a try......

 

 

The VSonic VC02 is a very clean and balanced sounding set of IEMs. What I mean by "clean and balanced" is that these have very good clarity and transparency to their sound and nothing is really overly emphasized across their sonic spectrum. You get a bit of everything without anything pushed too forward nor recessed, so this is what I meant by "balanced". These VC02s somewhat reminds me of a dynamic version of Sony XBA-3 but on a smaller scale and without that infamous metallic tinge of those Sonys. No, these VSonic VC02 are not technically on par with the Sony XBA-3s but rather these VC02s is almost like a "poor mans" dynamic versions of the Sony XBA-3 that is more natural sounding. As expected from a triple BA IEM, the XBA-3 bests these VC02 in precisions/clarity/instrumental separation/transparency especially in the mid-range and soundstaging but these VC02 bests them in a more natural timbre and is more dynamic in sound. Overall the XBA3 is more "refined" but the VC02 sounds more coherent/cohesive hence this is why it has better overall dynamics and "realism" compared to the more artificial sound of the Sonys.

 

Now that I think of it, these VSonic VC02 also has a very similar presentation as the other micro driver IEMs in this write-up such as Zero Audio Tenores and Sony MH1/Cs in that they are all relatively "smooth" and balanced as well as non-fatiguing in presentation that is very well balanced across their sonic spectrum. The Sony MH1/C being the one most skewed towards a warmer more fun bassy sound, but yet still have a good balance of forward mids and treble. I would even say these VC02s is the most "balanced" outta' the lot cuz the Tenores' low end reaches slightly deeper into the sub bass regions while the sub bass of these VC02 rolls off slightly more early but hits slightly harder than the softer bass of the Tenores. With the Sony MH1/C tips on these VC02 their sub quantity and quality increases even more which even satisfies my basshead needs when properly amped. Akin to the Zero Audio Tenores and Sony MH1/C these VC02 will shine only if they are properly driven since they are somewhat of a power hunger IEM. In fact coincidentally all three of these micro driver IEMs require about the same level of power from the veturecraft go-dap amp.

 

TL;DR Hype Check:

All in all these VC02 can hang with the best of them and even with some of the most hyped budget-fi IEMs such as the Sony MH1/C and Zero Audio Tenores. Like the Tenores these VC02 might not "WOW" you right off the bat, but they eventually will grow on you due their balanced and non-fatiguing sound especially for long listening sessions. Overall the Zero Audio Tenores' mid-range is better than these VC02 due to their great micro-details and 3D resolution but the mids on these VC02s are no slouch and is not really that far behind, cuz it's just missing some lushness and resolution is alls. Though they are not as "fun" or smooth sounding as the MH1/Cs and not as refined overall as the Tenores, these VC02 can more than stand their ground sonically due to their very balanced, natural and technically capable sound.


 

 

TEAC ZE1000:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

 

Weight Class: Dual Balanced Armature TWFK config.

 

Hype Origins Pre_ramble rumble : $ (Click to show)
The hype for these TEAC ZE1000s was started by who other than.... me. :ph34r: Looking back at it now, it all feels like a big set up by those Canned Land mofos to publicly sloot-shame me. haha On a serious note these TEAC ZE1000s had everything going for them besides two things; bass quantity and a strange tizzy resonance issue on my set. If not for those deal breakers, these would have been some serious contenders for budget-fi giant killer material. Welp they were in fact also a MSRP "giant" in that they originally costs a cool $350 full retail upon release but no one paid them any attention hence their price plummeted into the $30 range we see today and can technically be considered as budget-fi material (MSRPs is such a load of bull LMAO :rolleyes:). So how does a $350 IEM sound that can be had for $30 these days????

 

The design and look of these TEAC ZE1000s is very dated cuz even the glue that held the back strain relief was literally peeling off. Aesthetics and built quality aside, the million dollar question is can these old school $350 MSRP IEMs hang with today's current crop of budget-fi sonic wonders??? Yes in a sense that sonically these ZE1000s are very capable IEMs because they have great lushness and resolution to in their mid-range as well as very extended sweet sounding treble that has some nice sparkle to it, but their bass is lacking especially in outdoors noisy environments. Unlike the FAD Heaven V that had amazing bass quantity as well as quality, the dual BA TWFK config of these ZE1000s are sadly not as well tuned and is more of your conventional garden variety that focuses mostly on the mids and treble.

 

All my initial listening sessions of these ZE1000s was in quiet indoor environments hence I did not factor in how well their sound would fare in noisy outdoor conditions. I had mostly been listening to Asian pop music with these ZE1000s cuz it sounded just mesmerizing due to their great mid-range resolution and sparkly treble. Despite I am more of a hip hop head ironically I seldom used these for hip hop for some reason and one day while out and about I decided to test them with some hip hop albums, lo and behold my prior belief that their bass was adequate in both quality as well as quantity suddenly felt extremely underwhelming all of a sudden. Not only was I taken back and was underwhelmed by their lack of bass quantity in noisy environments but there wasn't much depth, extension nor texture as well. Overall the lows just sounded way too soft and lacking for on the go use, but once I switched back to pop music where its mostly dominated by vocals and mids I was in audio nirvana again, sigh. Never have I heard such sweet sounding vocals from any $30 budget-fi IEM before, not even the MH1/C nor the Tenores but alas the soft and lackluster bass of these dual BA ZE1000s just couldn't satisfy my bass head leaning needs. 

 

TL;DR Hype Check:

Aesthetically design of these ZE1000s are utilitarian that is without much flare or uniqueness to them but sonically they are pretty amazing for $30. These were soooo close for being a true budget-fi sonic gem discovery but sadly almost doesn't count. It is just too bad that their sound is of your typical Dual Balanced Armature TWFK configuration that mostly emphasizes on the mids/ treble while the lows are somewhat neglected. They have very good timbre as well as a very cohesive and coherent sound to them that bests even that of the Sony XBA-3s in naturalness. With their stock tips which sounded the best and most balanced, the bass end took too much of  a back seat to the mid-range and the treble hence music genres such as hip hop where good bass depth, texture, slam and punch is essential, these ZE1000 sadly just felt inadequate and unsatisfying. Thank heavens that some hoarder bought up the entire stock of these ZE1000s before anyone could even jump on the hype train that was started by me. Guess my hands are still semi-clean for this slightly misfired hype but for $30 I wouldn't mind buying these again if there weren't any tizzy resonance issues.....


 

 

Budget-fi Hype Final Take_down:

 

Long story short, I have sold off all of my top end IEMs and ain't in THAT much of a rush to get another set. Those DN1000s are good but I can't see myself holding on to them for that long because to me they are not really game changer, nor end game material so...This was the reason why my DN1Ks is no longer with me and why I was planning to pick up the FAD Heaven Vs if I have a chance to get them for a good price.  But then I got a set of MH1Cs in (4th set/ time getting them) again and they sound crazy similar to the presentation of the H3s as well as the FAD Vs so that is making me do a double take HARD on why would I need to spend $200 on those if the MH1Cs is already like 80% and more of their sound for only $16 dollars. LMAO:rolleyes:  The Fostex TE-05 would have been a good pick up for $100 but for $150 it seems overpriced to me despite they have a detachable cable along with a good built so those are gone as well. Guess I am just EXTREMELY critical of the $150 and over IEMs I have heard so far because none of them were able to completely blow away any of the budget-fi IEMs I have reviewed here outta' the water. The closest $200 IEM that I was happy with was the VSonic GR07 BEs, but then the Ostry KC06 came along and they can preform almost on the same sonic/ technical level (and even besting them in some aspects) for a fraction of the price of those VSonics so....

 

Maybe I am just very easy to please, really cheap or delusional or a combination of all of those things but my current collection of budget-fi sonic wonders more than puts into proper perspective of how utterly crazy the law of diminishing returns is in this audiophile hobby because as those TOTL flatters have already divulged, cheapos such as the Sony MH1/C, Zero Audio Tenores as well as the Ostry KC06 aren't really THAT far from even TOTL summit-fi IEMs in terms of sonic performance. This eclectic IEM comparo further piggybacks on that notion in that despite the tech implemented does somewhat dictate how an audio gear might sound, at the end of the day it all boils down to how masterly tuned it is. Therefore, even though many of the budget-fi "giant killers" fell short of their hype, they nonetheless are amazingly tuned and great sounding gears regardless of their low price. So for now I am just BLISSFULLY ignorant in my sonic nirvana bubble with my ever growing collection of budget-fi sonic wonders. hoho

 

 

edit: Almost forgot to give a HUGE shout out to Danny for all the IEM loans, Mech with the trades, Sharky dood with the re-cables/trades and all those lovely Canned Land mofos/ hypesters for the inspiration in making this write-up possible (you know who you are :wink_face:).

 

BIG THANKS MENG!!!

:beerchug: 


Edited by sfwalcer - 8/27/14 at 7:19pm
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