Introduction and Comparison: LG QuadBeat (Special Edition)
As of late, there is an overall strong sympathy for a new product from LG very similar to the Sony. The "QuadBeat" is LG's idea of a cheap headset with maximum enjoyment for most users. Personally, I prefer its approach to the Sony MH1C, but this is for an overall feel of the product and not focussed on sound quality.
The package is simple and it uses up more space than necessary. Unfortunately, LG does not pack any extras with the product. You get but 3 sizes silicone tips and that's it. Of those, the biggest size fit my ears fine. I usually go for size M so larger ears will have big troubles getting a proper seal. Further, the nozzle is pretty big in size and your average tips will not fit - or when forced upon - alter the sound noticeably (shut treble short, which might be a good idea for some, though).
This is all that you can find in the package.
Design is minimal, the metal housing feels good.
I like the build quality. I am not a fan of flat cables, but these work pretty well. They do get tangled but they are not as stiff as those found with other earphones. The cable design is symmetrical.
The connector is not gold-plated and the earpiece is not fully closed. There is a small vent on the top which hurts isolation a bit.
Compared to the MH1, this is a huge improvement. Sony's cable design is the worst I have yet seen, annoying me with a stiff, inflexible and unusually broad rubber. Furthermore, the huge plastic headset remote is extremely bothersome.
Logitech's UE200 feel very fragile in comparison to either. They are very light-weight. I do fear a short life span when put into women hands and purses, though.
All 3 in-ears have a small body and can be worn with the cable over the ear.
Finally, MH1 and QuadBeat offer headset functionality. Neither of them work with any iPhone I have tried, though. I also have the 200vi from Logitech which works like a charm. The remote on the Sony is abysmal, the QuadBeat keeps it simple and unobtrusive.
One button remote without ostentation. LG compatibility only?
All three IEMs are balanced, all of them are a good entry into hifi territory and pull clear of bass focussed presentations. Yet none of them is flat.
Kickbass is very noticeable with the LG and this is where the QB pulls its energy from. It has a moderate and enjoyable punch and but slightly warms up the mids. In relation to the subbass it is too strong, though, giving the bass a cold tilt. Subbass is present but it cannot add enough weight for a lush and full sound. Objectively speaking, the sound is a little bit thin. Personally, I like this light-weight presentation as it does add punch without pressing the vocals.
The UE200 is very similar to the QB but has the upper bass less elevated. It's closest to neutral of all three but extends poorly in the lower regions. If you are into bass heavy music, steer clear and avoid this little fellow.
Where both others are lacking, MH1 flexes its muscles and serves a powerful and controlled punch with impressive extension and abundance of subbass. The bass is much stronger than with any other of the two and will appeal to EDM fans or any other genres that ask for low-end. It's the least neutral of the bunch, though, warming up the overall sound and recessing the vocals noticeably.
Mids and resolution:
The LG have nice mids, fairly clean with good resolution. They are not as plastic or full-bodied as some might prefer, but separation of the vocals works nicely. Female vocals pull attention from overly present overtones. This works similar to a presence peak in the 2-3 kHz area but causes less fatigue. I've only had the QB for a few days so I did not make up my mind yet if this is intention or pure luck by LG. Either way, it works well and I like it.
Mids on the UE are relaxed with a slight dip in the presence range. It's similar to the UE900, but not as veiled and less noticeable. I like the tuning a lot. Compared to the other two, resolution does feel a little bit lacking or rough. The sound is a little grainy and muddy at the same time.
MH1 has the most recessed mids in this comparison. The bass does bleed in a bit and gives a warm touch. Voices sound very plastic and almost 3 dimensional, which is also because of the solid weight of the undertones. Voices do get pushed by a presence peak which can cause a little fatigue after extended usage. Resolution is the same as LG.
Highs are present, no doubt, but to my astonishment they are never annoying, pushing or even slightly sibilant. Instead, they feel extremely smooth and well extended, adding a whole dimension of air and easiness to the sound.
Logitech balanced out the highs according to bass and they did it well. I've had zero issues with sibilance. Extension is not as impressive as with the other two and it's also not quite as smooth. Very solid, nonetheless.
Sony did balance out the strong bass a bit but luckily kept the overly warm feel. Extension is great and humble. In very rare occasions, I did have some sibilance annoyance but overall the performance is good.
Soundstage and cohesion:
The newest addition to the budget class, the LG QuadBeat, impressed me a lot. It does have a slightly cold tilt but it's a lot more enjoyable than I thought. The smooth highs are really something and the sound is just airy and easy to listen to. Basskick and punch is strong but never distracts from the vocals. Female Pop music (= Michael Jackson, ow!) works best with this tuning. Separation is good and soundstage is fairly big too, yet it does feel artificial and I have some instruments in my head play in the wrong position, but it's okay. The QuadBeat is a mirrored MH1 and can cause just as much fascination. Give it a try!
Personally, I grab the UE200 most often. The soundstage is small, almost congested, which is a bummer. Yet it's the most neutral and performs great without fatigue.
The Sony is highly popular. It's the typical balanced presentation, warm tilt with presence peak - very similar to the Philips Fidelio line. The soundstage is big and impresses with depth, especially considering the tiny housing.
I have added a poll because I did not want to pick a winner in this review. The UE200 pleases with a relaxed and a (relatively) neutral presentation. The Sony does feel superior as for bass, soundstage and resolution, but is also causes fatigue and the bass might be too strong for quite a number. The QuadBeat is a pleasant surprise but I'd expect it to be a niche product if it weren't for the aggressive advertisement by LG.
I'm happy if you leave a comment or add your own impressions. Thanks!
Edited by Ultrazino - 4/23/13 at 1:52pm