Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
LG Quadbeat 2 vs Sony MH1 Livesound Comparison
The LG Quadbeat 2 was brought to my attention after our good friend, Inks started the appreciation thread. I know for a fact that LG’s Quadbeat series have quite a following because of its impressive performance to price ratio. Initially, I had no interest because I’ve moved on to the mid-tier level of IEMs but then Ink’s claims on the Quadbeat 2’s performance really got me intrigued! Now that I have the QB2, it’s time to answer my curiosity. Is it really as good or even better than upper low tier IEMs out there? I purposely re-purchased a Sony MH1 Livesound headset so I can set a benchmark. Personally, I consider the MH1 to be one of the best budget IEMs (i’ve owned/heard) because of the resolution/detail it delivers despite the overly warm bass end. So without further ado, let’s compare the two!
SETUP: Ipod Touch 5th Gen > JDS labs C5
Sony MH1 Livesound + Sony MH1 Tips (shallow insertion)
LG Quadbeat 2 + Sony MH1 Tips (deep insertion)
Apple Lossless and 320 kbps mp3s
>The LG Quadbeat 2 went through 70+ hours of burn-in.
>Sony MH1 has clocked 30+ hours.
>No EQ was applied for both sets.
Bass is very forward, boomy, yet well controlled but there are occasions where it bleeds into the mids. Sub bass is the highlight thus, rumble is magnificent and it digs really deep even when not called for. I would categorise the MH1 as a bass-head IEM with a balanced tuning. Decay has a bit of delay and it affects how fast songs should’ve been presented. Not ideal for metal and fast hard rock genres but fortunately, it’s not that bad. Texture and timbre are the strengths of the MH1 resulting in a very FULL sound.
Moving to the Quadbeat 2 you instantly hear the difference in bass quantity most notably in the sub bass region. It’s a lot lesser in quantity compared to the MH1. Bass is also well controlled and hard hitting, a bit tighter, and sounds clearer on the LG. Bass decay is very quick; as a result, QB 2 performs really well with fast beat tunes from the likes of Earth, Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson, and Gloria Estefan. Heavy metal bass kicks also sound really impressive. Personally, I would’ve liked a bit more body/fullness to the QB2’s bass end. Maybe a little bit more sub bass presence, a bit delay on bass decay, and a bit more depth would make it perfect! Overall, good tuning on LG’s part.
These IEMs have different ways of presenting their BASS end. Both are impressive in general with a few caveats: bass bleed on the MH1 while the QB2 on the other hand lacks a bit of sub-bass presence. It’s a tie for me here because both IEMs can showcase their strengths over the other depending on the kind of music you’re playing.
The mid section is a little bit recessed but the MH1 makes up for it with great texture and timbre. Everything just sounds so natural to me. Although not the highlight, vocals are presented smoothly with good clarity and detail. Distorted guitars in rock/metal sound smooth and meaty because of the added warmth; really full sounding. Acoustic strings are played with substantial clarity with a smooth and natural timbre. Other instruments that are emphasized in the mids such as piano and trumpets are very well presented. What surprises me is that despite its warm signature, detail and resolution is superb on the MH1. Very refined indeed!
Mids is in a perfect place with the QB2. Vocals are more intimate and engaging especially when listening to live music. Everything is also detailed but a lot more clearer this time because there’s no bass bleed into the midrange. Despite all these, I do find the upper mids to be a bit unresolving. To my ears, the upper mids lacks dynamics and fullness, quite dry, and unrefined. These traits can be fatiguing when listening to alternative, grunge, and punk rock where crunch driven guitar distortion highlights the song. IMO, these traits also affect the timbre and decay of cymbals making them lose their natural ringing sound. Guitars at times can sound thinner than usual when played at higher octaves. So altogether, the MIDS is a mixed bag on the QB2 in my personal experience. Now, despite all that; given the right song/genre, the QB2 can still sound really good. Examples of these are songs by the following artists: EWF, MJ, Janet Jackson, Madonna, Gloria Estefan, Whitney Houston, 90’s boy bands, RnB artists, etc...
I prefer how the Sony MH1 presents its mids. Smooth yet REFINED.
The treble on the MH1 is very hard to judge. To some it may sound too smooth and lacking a bit of sparkle for added airiness. Some would insist that it is what makes the MH1 a great all-rounder: never sibilant no matter what genre is played. Personally, I’m a mixture of both. The great thing about MH1 in the upper frequency is its ability to extend quite a bit without sacrificing refinement. If I were ask to improve MH1 it’ll be to add just a little bit of sparkle exactly how Zero Audio did with the Carbo Basso. On a negative note; due to the smoothness: cymbals and high-hats doesn’t sound as natural as they should. Fortunately, detail and extension is there to more than make up for lack in timbre.
I love the treble on the QB2! It is well extended, crisp, and borderline sibilant sparkle. What’s really impressive is the fact that this IEM is not plagued with dips and peaks. It may come as a bright sounding signature, a bit of a v-shaped if I may add; but it is well implemented because of the touch of warmth from the bass end. The QB2 does not have the best timbre even in its price range, yet it’s airiness is more than enough for me to value how LG has tuned this IEM in this frequency range.
It’s a toss-up between the two. There will always be some who prefer the detailed smoothness of the MH1 and there are those who value more clarity and sparkle. I personally prefer the QB2.
Detail is impressive for a budget IEM; add that to good separation and placement then you have a winner! Even in complex songs where various instruments play on top of each other, the MH1 remains coherent. If only clarity was improved by adding just a little bit of sparkle and reducing the bass’ forwardness, then the MH1 will be very hard to beat.
Detail is just as good although separation and imaging are not its main forte. The QB2 can sound incoherent at times and is evident in busy instrumentations in a song (i.e. Get This Party Started - PINK).
Average soundstage at best but depth, separation, and detail makes the entire presentation a pleasure to listen into: well layered and 3D sounding. Never did I experience congestion with the songs that I have in my playlists so far...
Soundstage is surprisingly wide, better than the MH1. Unfortunately, the QB2 lacks in depth and layering. These result into a more linear sounding presentation; more 2D sounding which can also lead into occasional congestion in some songs when instrumentations get a little bit too busy.
Warm but well balanced sound signature wrapped in smoothness.
Bright sounding with a touch of warmth - Nice!
As much as I like the sound signature of the Quadbeat 2, I do find it incapable of delivering in certain songs/genres. This puts it at a disadvantage when placed head-to-head against the MH1 which is a better all-rounder. BUT… and it’s a big BUT: when playing the right kind of songs/genres, boy this IEM can really sing. I now have a separate playlist just for the LG Quadbeat 2 because it can be a magnificent IEM if you choose the songs wisely.
So, is the LG Quadbeat 2 worth all the attention? YES and NO… YES because it can be a great sounding IEM if given the right type of songs. NO because it does have a few glaring faults. But I can’t really complain... this is a $30 IEM after all!
Edited by modulor - 11/15/13 at 8:52am