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D marc0's Journal: My Head-fi Journey (NEW: T-PEOS Altone 200 Review!)

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Thread Starter 

 

It's been a year since I first discovered Head-fi and what an amazing journey! I couldn't deny the fact that it is very inspiring to see people converge and share each other's knowledge. Educational and yet fun! I'm very grateful to the friends I've met along the way; headfiers who've help me grow as an audio enthusiast. To pay it forward, I've created this thread to document whatever I can share to people who need them. I'm not an expert... not even close. Everything I've written is all based on my experience as someone who simply loves music and appreciates great sound.

 

 Contents:

  1. ZERO AUDIO Carbo Basso DX210
  2. Sony MDR-1R Dynamat Mod and Squeaking Hinges Fix
  3. T-PEOS H-200 vs SONY XBA-3ip Comparison
  4. T-PEOS H-200 with SPC Upgrade Cable
  5. T-PEOS H-200 Filter Mod​ + Recommended Tips
  6. DUNU DN-1000 vs T-PEOS H-200 Comparison
  7. LG Quadbeat 2 vs Sony Ericsson Livesound MH1 Comparison
  8. Sony MH1/MH1c Vent Mods
  9. RHA MA750 mini Review
  10. HYBRID TRILOGY: Astrotec AX-60 vs DUNU DN-1000 vs T-PEOS H-200 Comparison
  11. T-PEOS H-100j vs H-200 Comparison
  12. Tralucent Audio 1Plus2 (original version) mini Review
  13. Dual Dynamic Skirmish: KEF M200 vs Brainwavz R3 Comparison
  14. Noble 4 (universal) Unboxing
  15. Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10pro mini Review
  16. Noble 4 (universal) Review
  17. Unique Melody 3X Review
  18. T-PEOS H-300 Review
  19. EarSonics SM3 V2 Review
  20. Sony XBA H3 Review and Comparisons 
  21. Noble PR (pure/reference) Review
  22. DUNU DN-2000 Review
  23. T-PEOS Altone 200 First Impression 
  24. Topping NX1 Portable Headphone Amplifier Impression
  25. T-PEOS Altone 200 Review: "High End Sound, Cheap as Chips!" (NEW!)

 

 

Coming Soon:

 

  1. Etymotic-Research ER4s mini Review                

  2. Audeze LCD 2.2 Review                                                   

     

     

     

     

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

1. ZERO AUDIO Carbo Basso DX210

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/586909/the-discovery-thread-yamaha-hph-200-pg-1110-kef-m200-pg835-philips-fidelio-s2-pg-724/9645

 

 

 

 

I won't cover anything else aside from the sound because I believe Ds has that covered in his previous review of the Carbo Basso.

This is my impression straight out of the box and changed the tip with Meelec double flange tips.

 

Source: Ipod Touch 5Gen

Amp: FiiO E11 (EQ: 0; Gain: 1)

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

BASS

One word: WOW! This pair has the most authoritative bass I've ever heard in an IEM. Very clean, goes really deep and just right in between Punchy and Boomy bass. To me it's just perfect... I now hear a lot of micro details in the lower frequencies (details that I didn't really notice with the XBA 3). This reminds me of the FX3X bass but more refined and detailed. Listening to Megadeth's Kill the King and this can really handle with heavy metal speed. Not as fast as the XBA 3 but the timbre and decay is so much more authentic. Double bass kicks sounded so good, exactly how you hear it on a live concert!

 

MIDS

Midrange is so smooth and just about right... not as forward as the XBA 3 but is never lacking and it doesn't disappoint. It doesn't leave you wanting for more because it's there. But for those who love vocals tho, especially female vocals; this may not be the right IEM for you. Mids are not forward enough to highlight female vocals. These phones are not for those who focus on a particular component in a song: may it be guitars, drums, or vocals; this IEM is for those who listen to a song as a whole and have fun with the entire presentation.

 

HIGHS

Buttery smooth... think about MH1c with further refinement/tuning. I just love how this pair NEVER reach sibilance. I've thrown every pitchy song in my collection and not once did this pair sounded sibilant. If you have songs by pitchy female artists such as Taylor Swift or Avril Lavigne, this IEM is the solution. I turned up the volume all the way to the top (w/o amp) and their voices didn't go overboard! I believe I can listen to the Carbo Basso all night long and I'd never feel fatigued. It doesn't have the detailed precision of the XBA 3, but on the other hand: it doesn't have the artificial peaky sound either. Just a smooth and refined highs with enough detail to produce a fun yet non-strident music.

 

 

 

 

DETAILS

While midrange and treble where not spectacular (like CKN70), the details in the bass department will more than make up for it. This is not an analytical IEM and should never be evaluated as one. As a fun IEM, this delivers more than what's expected. Compared to the XBA 3, the Sony excels in the high frequencies but the DX210 owns the XBA 3 in the lower frequencies.

 

I'm loving the DX210... This is not a neutral/analytical IEM but a fun and well balanced BASS IEM. It will not replace my XBA 3 but it will definitely get heaps of ear-time because it's just so much fun to listen to. You can really enjoy each and every song in your playlist. That amazing bass even transforms classic acts such as England Dan and John Ford Coley and make their songs sound like they've just been recorded in the recent years. As a result, those oldies don't sound so out of place when they play right after a modern pop song. For $42, I'd say the Zero Audio Carbo Basso DX210 is worth MORE than what I paid for. L3000.gif

 

My apologies for not providing more details as I am still a novice at this... but I do know when a pair of cans sound good/bad. A big thanks to Dsnuts for this discovery, it is an awesome IEM for the price indeed!

 

 

 

 

I just wanna share my new favourite tips for the Bassos: these are the T-PEOS H200 clear silicone stock tips.

It does everything the Meelec double flange tips do + better bass definition (tightness).

 

My tip rolling chronology for the Carbo Basso:

  1. Meelec M6 Double Flange tips
  2. Philips 3580/90 stock tips
  3. Sony Hybrid tips
  4. Zero Audio DX210 stock tips
  5. T-PEOS H200 clear silicone stock tips

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

2. Sony MDR-1R Dynamat Mod and Squeaking Hinges Fix

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/625015/sony-has-new-headphones-mdr-1r/2415 / http://www.head-fi.org/t/625015/sony-has-new-headphones-mdr-1r/2490

 

 

 

 

So I finally did the Dynamat Mod and here it is...

Mod by Andew_WOT: http://www.head-fi.org/t/665529/dynamat-mod-for-sony-mdr-1r

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

 

 

Results:

  • Amazing clarity throughout the entire spectrum. I can say that this sounds equal to or a bit more detailed than the Momentums.
  • Bass is now LOT tighter/punchier with lesser QUANTITY(which is good).
  • Sub bass is still there, and more refined.
  • Mids are so much clearer BUT is also a little bit more forward; making the MDR1r a LOT more MID-centric.
  • Soundstage is a tiny bit narrower compared to stock but not a drastic difference.
  • Sound signature may disappoint those who don't like Mid-centric presentation.
  • NO LONGER a forgiving headphone; this is now more transparent in presenting badly mixed/mastered recordings.
  • NOT as relaxing compared to stock. Too much detail in the MIDS? not sure here...

 

Personally, I like this mod! The MDR1r now sounds like a $300-$400 headphone (I valued these cans around the $200 range).

Big thanks to Andrew_WOT for the Mod instructions and Amarphael for her spare Dynamat.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by john53 View Post

Some other flaws are some slight noises when you move your head or move your mouth when you eat something,and jack rattle issue,although I can live with them,nothing too bad here.

 

Easily fixed by applying a small amount of Tamiya Molybdenum Grease on the hinges inside the cups. While you're at it, best to try the dynamat mod as well. Highly recommended!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

3. T-PEOS H-200 vs SONY XBA-3ip Comparison

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/642308/t-peos-h-200-new-triple-hybrid-iem-appreciation-thread/825#post_9484218

 

 

 

 

My H-200 was burned-in for 60+ hours; drastic changes were in Bass (tamed down and fuller) and Highs (a lot smoother compared to Out-of-the-box). Entire presentation became more balanced vs the slightly warm signature during out-of-the-box performance.

 

SETUP:

 

H-200 + stock clear silicone tips (small) + black cable with mic/remote

XBA-3ip + 1.5mm foam filter mod + Comply Tsx-200 tips (medium)

Source: Apple iPod Touch 5th Gen

No Amp was used because both IEMs sounded great plugged directly to the iPod Touch. As a matter of fact, the Sony XBA 3 is harder to drive than the H-200. So, volume setting is different for each IEM to reach equal loudness: H-200 = 65% / XBA-3ip = 75%

 

Tracks Used:

David Guetta - She Wolf (feat Sia)

Britney Spears - Till the World Ends

Jennifer Lopez - Dance Again (feat Pitbull)

Tool - Schism

Pantera - Domination

Live - All Over You

Michael Jackson - Dirty Diana (remastered version)

Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight

Pink - Get This Party Started

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

SOUND COMPARISON

 

 

*

 

 

BASS

         The H-200 bass kicks sounded a tad bit hollow when listening at lower volumes but when set higher (65%) it becomes a lot fuller and well textured. Mid bass is very clean and detailed equal to the Sony's. Sub bass quantity is equal to the XBA 3 but the H-200 is a tad bit fuller and textured because of the Dynamic driver characteristic. The XBA 3 on the other hand has more punch and impact at lower volumes but when both IEMs are set at higher volume, the difference becomes negligible. In terms of speed: the Sony is definitely unbeatable but if I wasn't comparing, I didn't find the H-200 slow at all. As a matter of fact, the H-200 handles heavy metal double bass kicks fairly well. As a conclusion, the XBA 3 performs better at low volume; at higher volume, both IEMs are equal. The XBA 3 wins by a tiny weenie margin.

         UPDATE: I am now using a SPC upgrade cable and I must admit; I didn't expect the change would be that drastic. Bass is so much fuller and has stronger impact even at lower volumes. The "hollow" sound bass kicks at lower volume are gone; so my new verdict is: H-200 wins over the XBA 3 by a slight margin.

 

 

MIDS

         No contest here... The H-200 has a more forward mid section making vocals (especially female) sound lush and airy. Vocals on the XBA 3 sounded a tad bit distant in comparison. Distorted guitars in rock/metal sounded great on the H-200 because the "crunch" is easily heard. Other instruments such as acoustic guitar, piano, trumpets, etc... just sounder fuller on the H-200. In short, the H-200 sounds a LOT more detailed in the Mids when compared to the XBA 3. H-200 wins by a huge margin.

 

 

HIGHS

         The Sony XBA-3 is known to be very well extended in the treble region; very detailed and open sounding. There is a problem tho: the grainy texture in treble area when set at higher volume. In this comparison, my XBA 3 has a modded filter + comply tsx-200 and this problem is GREATLY reduced. I even thought that this time, the Sony will stack up really well against the H-200... I was wrong! The H-200 is better in every area with just a very little hint of the grainy texture at higher volume; BUT this is only apparent in crappy recordings. Amongst the tracks used in this comparison, I barely even noticed the grainy texture on two tracks (She Wolf and All Over You) with the H-200. On a positive note, the H-200 sounds more natural that the cymbals, high-hats, and percussion instruments are such a pleasure to hear. You don't get that satisfaction with the XBA 3 because they sound a bit "metallic". Again, the H-200 wins by a huge margin.

 

 

*

 

 

DETAIL / SEPARATION

        Both IEMs are really good in imaging and detail. You can definitely hear things here and there that you don't normally here from mediocre headphones. What separates the two is the H-200's ability to present detail without difficulty; you immediately hear it! The XBA 3 on the other hand, the detail is there, but when it gets really busy you'll have to make an effort to search for those instruments in the background. Once you find them, the detail is definitely there. The H-200 wins by a slight margin.

 

 

SOUNDSTAGE

         The H-200 has an average soundstage to my ears but it's definitely there. Maybe because I'm so used to the XBA 3s great soundstage where you get that euphoric feeling and immersion to the music that you're listening in to. If I were to give the XBA 3 a score of 7 in soundstage, the H-200 will be a solid 5.

         UPDATE: Using the SPC upgrade cable improves the Soundstage indeed; both IEMs are now equally good in presenting a wide presentation and it's really hard to pinpoint which of these two is better. H-200 and XBA-3 are just equals in soundstage.

 

 

CONCLUSION

         So, which IEM is better? The H-200 by a huge margin! Do I feel that I've found the upgrade that I was looking for? That is a solid "YES" for me! I am very happy with the H-200 because I can just throw any music/genre and these cans deliver with a bang! It's enjoyable, a bit forgiving to crappy recordings and most of all: it is not strident thus extended listening sessions are never fatiguing.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

4. T-PEOS H-200 with SPC Upgrade Cable

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/642308/t-peos-h-200-new-triple-hybrid-iem-appreciation-thread/2130#post_9781481

Seller: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Athena-upgrade-cable-for-T-Peos-H-200-H200-/261340670711?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cd91e2af7&_uhb=1

 

 

 

 

So here I am with the upgrade cable from an eBay seller who does custom cables for various IEMs like TF10s, Westones, and IE80's. This is a braided 6 x wires 99.99% SPC with 24K gold plated copper pin connectors and WBT 4% silver solder. I'm quite happy with the build; simple, clean, and seems durable. There's one little issue with the connectors which I'll elaborate down below.

 

Now, I'll describe the changes in the H200 sound...

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

BASS: Lower frequencies are now less forward making the overall sound signature less warmer and closer to a more neutral sound. Bass drums sound a bit more clearer, snappy, and better textured. TBH, I like this change in the lows for most of the songs I listen to: Rock, Metal, Contemporary, 70's/80's Pop. The only time I wanted more Bass is when listening to modern EDM but as a consolation, the bass boost on my JDSlabs C5 is now more serviceable because of this. I used to feel the bass was too much when bass boost was on with the stock cables.

 

MIDS: This seems to be the least affected by the upgrade cable. Clarity in the MIDS is what I observed to be noticeable in the H200 with upgrade cables; the lushness in the vocals really stands out when listening to music.

 

HIGHS: The best thing about the upgrade cables is that they seem to get rid of the random harshness in the Treble region. The metallic shimmer that is occasionally heard is gone for the most part and sibilance is no longer an issue for me. Now, CLARITY... again this is what the upgrade cables are all about. Everything is now at another level when it comes to CLARITY and DETAIL. I just couldn't go back to the stock cable because I'm so immersed into the music when listening through the H200 with upgrade cable.

 

SOUNDSTAGE: The upgrade cable adds a bit more width and a lot more depth to the H200's soundstage.

 

SOUND AS A WHOLE: The H200 sounds VERY different with the upgrade cables. It's less warmer in the low end and a bit colder in the higher regions. The sound signature is leaning towards a more analytical sound with a bit of warmth. And that's not all... my favourite change in sound is the background. I now have this weird experience that when listening to music, the background seems to be a lot darker than it used to. It's like this void behind the music as if there's really nothing else around you. Just you and the music... I can't even explain it for lack of better word or I'm just not technically skilled in audio. Overall, I love the changes that the upgrade cable brings. It has opened up my mind and I now firmly believe that premium materials in cables can make a huge difference in sound.

 

CONS:

*Microphonics - people who can't deal with microphonics should stay away from this cable. I personally don't mind because I use a shirt clip AND I only use the H200 for critical listening at home.

*Cable - not as supple and manageable as the stock cable but not too rigid either. Plus there's a Sennheiser branding on the chrome plated housing of the 3.5mm jack.

*Connectors - the jacks are a bit bigger and longer than the ones on the stock cable. Bigger is a plus because they now fit tightly in the IEMs. Longer is not so nice because there is a gap between the jack housing and the IEMs (see picture below). Fortunately it is easy to remedy: O-rings! I got the o-rings from a body piercing shop; even got them for free! The O-rings will serve as a spacer. (UPDATE: Just got a word from someone who's recently bought the same cable; the length of the Jacks are now fixed!)

 

AppleMark

I really hated that gap!

 

AppleMark

Now that's more like it!

 

CONCLUSION: This cable cost me US$75 shipped... a bit expensive because the supplier had to order the connectors in bulk because they originally didn't have them. So is the extra $75 worth it? If you have an H200, the upgrade cable is a MUST IMHO. Not only does it sound HEAPS better, but I think this is what the H200 should sound like right from the start. It's a shame that T-PEOS didn't originally consider SPC's as the secondary cable instead of the Red Stock Cable. That would have been the complete package!

 

Now, it's only a matter of time before T-PEOS releases their own upgrade cables. I hope they do it soon for the sake of all H200 owners because the sound is just amazing!

 

 

 

Seller: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Athena-upgrade-cable-for-T-Peos-H-200-H200-/261340670711?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cd91e2af7&_uhb=1

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

5. T-PEOS H-200 Filter Mod + Recommended Tips

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/642308/t-peos-h-200-new-triple-hybrid-iem-appreciation-thread/2325#post_9884599

 

Originally Posted by d marc0 View Post

 

 

You might wanna try this:

Take a couple of earbud foam covers. Thick, premium ones are preferred.

 

Wrap one cover on each nozzle then insert the STOCK silicone tip over

Cut out the excess foam from the base of the sleeve.

Hopefully the reduction of sibilance will be a significant margin for you.

Goodluck!

 

Now with some minor changes... I'm now using the Sony hybrid tips instead of the H200 black stock tips. Originally I used the stock tips because they are very easy to insert over the foam cover/filter. Apparently the Sony hybrid tips do a better job at controlling the peaks in the treble. It'll be a LOT more difficult to do this procedure with the Sony hybrid tips but as we all know: Patience is a virtue! Maybe practice with the stock tips first; then go for the Sony hybrid tips for your final mod.

 

Materials: Sony Hybrid Tips; Earbud foam covers; Nail scissors

 

1. Cut an earbud foam cover right in the middle. You'll use each half for each IEM.

2. Insert the IEM nozzle into the halved foam cover (SIDEWAYS). The tip of the nozzle should be directly against the side of the foam cover. The seem should be right in the middle of the nozzle's opening. The reason for this is I find the sides (where the seem is) to be the thickest part of the earbud foam cover.

3. Now pull the foam cover tightly over the nozzle. Not too tight because you don't want the foam to be too thin at the end of the nozzle. Make sure the seem is right in the middle of the nozzle's opening.

4. Insert (carefully) the Sony hybrid tip. This will be difficult because these tips have a small sleeve diameter. But take your time... a little twist and turn can help a lot.

5. Once the tip is on the nozzle, it should be secure and tight. You can then cut the excess foam off with a nail scissor.

 

 

Recommended tips for the H200:

 

  1. Sony MH1 (medium/large) - shallow insertion
  2. Sony Hybrids (medium/large) - shallow insertion
  3. H200 black stock tips (large) - shallow insertion
  4. LG QB2 (large) - shallow insertion
  5. Meelec M9 bi-flanges - shallow insertion
  6. Dunu DN-1000 translucent grey tips (medium) - deep insertion
  7. LG QB2 (medium) - deep insertion
  8. H200 translucent grey tips (medium) - deep insertion

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

6. DUNU DN-1000 vs T-PEOS H-200 Comparison

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/681435/dunu-dn-1000-dunus-hybrid-iem-appreciation-thread/120#post_9896132

 

 

 

 

I've had a wonderful experience with the T-PEOS H-200. By the time Dunu DN-1000 came, I was a bit hesitant; thinking how much better could it really be over the H-200? Well, let's find out:

 

SETUP:  Ipod Touch 5th Gen > JDS labs C5

             T-PEOS H-200 + SPC cable + Sony Hybrid Tips (shallow insertion)

             DUNU DN-1000 + Red Rings + Translucent black stock Tips (shallow insertion)

             Apple Lossless and 320 kbps mp3s

 

NOTE: 

The DN-1000 comes with various tips and sound adjustment rings. Different combination of tips + rings can result into different intensity in mid-bass and highs. Personally I prefer the least bass thus my setup: Red rings + Translucent black tips + shallow insertion.

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

BASS

 

H-200:
Bass is well controlled, fast, tight, and punches hard. I would categorise the H-200 as a borderline bass-head IEM. Decay is just perfect for me to enjoy even the fastest songs in the heavy metal genre. Texture and timbre sounds natural and pleasing even at high volumes. Sub bass is surprisingly present when called for and doesn't  intrude if it wasn't originally intended in the mix. There's a subtle mid bass hump but it does not bleed into the upper frequencies.

 

DN-1000:
Bass is also well controlled, just as tight, but punches harder and sounds fuller in the Dunu. I would categorise the DN-1000 as a bass-head IEM (If H-200 is a 5, the DN-1000 is a 7). Please NOTE that this is not because the Dunu's bass db is way up there; it's more because of how this IEM presents bass -- Fuller Sound (reminds me of the Zero Audio Carbo Basso). There's a tiny bit of delay in sub-bass decay; as a result bass recovery isn't fast enough for me (PERSONALLY) to really enjoy some of the fastest heavy metal tracks. As a consolation, this IEM sounds better with RnB and Hip-hop because of that fuller sound in the bass decay. Texture and timbre sounds marvellous but I can't truly tell if it's natural sounding like the H-200. I don't mind, because it just sounds so mesmerising, oozing with quality layered bass. In regard to mid-bass, I honestly can't tell if there's a hump. I don't hear any bleeding into the upper frequencies but definitely, the DN-1000 sounds warmer than the H-200 (Please NOTE that I'm using an SPC upgrade cable which makes the H-200 sound a bit colder/analytical than stock configuration).

 

VERDICT:
Both IEMs are equally competent in producing low frequencies. It's more on the presentation that they really differ. I would say: "A basshead will choose the DN-1000 over the H-200 purely because of preference."

 

 

MIDS

 

H-200:
The mid section is very well placed. Vocals (especially female) sound lush and airy; a bit distant from my imaginary stage. Sounds like I'm sitting in the middle of the room. Distorted guitars in rock/metal sounds great on the H-200 because the "crunch" is easily heard. Acoustic strings sound so clear and bright; a tad bit dry and thinner than natural but the crispness and clarity more than makes up for them. Other instruments such as acoustic guitar, piano, trumpets, etc... sound amazing on the H-200.

 

DN-1000:
Mids are a notch more forward on the Dunu. Vocals are now the star of the show!
Just as lush as the H-200 but now sounds much closer to the stage. Quite intimate as a matter of fact but what makes it spectacularly weird is how the DN-1000 makes everything sound like a live performance. Imagine yourself in a huge concert hall sitting at the 2nd row. The vocals may sound intimate but the rest of the detail and instrument separation are presented in a HUGE "headstage" nullifying any hint of congestion. Instruments sound really natural especially the guitars and percussion. It's amazing how realistic everything sounds: exactly how I hear instruments when played live in front of me. Clarity is as good if not better than the H-200.

 

VERDICT:
The DN-1000 is slightly ahead because the mids in general just sounds fuller and more natural to my ears. Presentation in relation to staging is only a matter of preference.

 


HIGHS

 

H-200:
The H-200 has really good treble; bright and airy (brighter than the DN-1000). There is just a very little hint of the grainy texture or metallic tinge at a high listening volume; BUT this is only apparent in crappy recordings and some singers' voice characteristic. On a positive note, the H-200 sounds really natural in the treble region that the cymbals, hi-hats, and percussion instruments are such a pleasure to hear. There's an occasional peak in the upper treble that may affect one's listening experience but I personally, am not affected by this in most of the songs I listen to. Please NOTE that this will vary depending on your source, song quality, tips, and depth of insertion. I personally use the large Sony hybrid tips, SPC upgrade cable, plus shallow insertion which to my experience have greatly reduced the peak problem. A foam filter mod will completely nullify the peak but at the expense of the airiness which is a unique characteristic of the H-200 that I truly love.

 

DN-1000:
The DN-1000 is quite impressive in the treble region. Everything sounds so natural and airy. Micro-detail is just as good as the H-200 and best part is: there is almost no trace of grainy texture or metallic tinge even at high volumes. Very transparent and just as good as the H-200 in revealing artefacts in crappy/compressed recordings. There is a peak around 6.5 kHz which I managed to identify through Accudio's parametric EQ. It is ONLY apparent in certain songs/singers. You usually hear this in the "SSSSs", especially from female singers/vocalists. VERY IMPORTANT--The intensity of this peak will depend on your tips and depth of insertion. I discovered that wide bored tips coupled with shallow insertion are very effective in reducing this peak to a point where it is negligible. Narrow bored tips tend to increase the peak to the extent of sibilance.

 

VERDICT:
The DN-1000 is slightly better in the higher regions because it doesn't have the problems that plague the H-200 treble. Aside from that, the slight problem with the peak around 6.5 kHz can easily be remedied with no modification needed. Just the right tips + the right sound adjustment rings + shallow insertion = well controlled treble.

 

 

 

 

DETAIL/SEPARATION

 

H-200:
Detail is above average with great separation and placement. Only in really complex songs with heaps of instruments playing at the same time does it affect the H-200's coherency. Everything is still there but I find it a bit more challenging to distinctly separate the various instruments.

 

DN-1000:
Detail is a bit better and clearer on the Dunu with just as good separation and placement. What sets the DN-1000 ahead of the H-200 is how coherent everything sounds: no matter how layered the track is, the Dunu never fails to present each and every instrument separately.

 

 

SOUNDSTAGE

 

H-200:
Above average soundstage when paired with SPC or pure Silver upgrade cable. I own a SPC cable and have auditioned the pure Silver cable for two weeks. I've come to a conclusion that upgrade cables significantly widen the soundstage and change the sound signature to a bit more colder/analytical sound.

 

DN-1000:
Just slightly above if not equal in width to the H-200(with SPC cable). It is hard to determine because the Dunu has a HUGE "headstage" presentation that it intersects with my illusion of soundstage. So it may sound wider but in reality it may just be as wide with much bigger height and depth.

 

 

SOUND SIGNATURE:

 

H-200:
Slightly warm and analytical.

 

DN-1000:
Warm and analytical.

 

 

 


CONCLUSION:

 

I will leave the conclusion to you guys because despite the technical advantages of the DN-1000 over the H-200, the latter still holds certain qualities that the Dunu just cannot replicate. As a huge metal head, I will still be using the H-200 heaps because it's still the best IEM I have for my favourite genre.

 

I hope I've provided enough detail that'll help you determine if the DN-1000 is a keeper or just another FOTM. Personally, I think it's a keeper.

 

I'll be collecting hybrids from now on… and I can't wait to get my hands on the Sony XBA-H1 and do another comparison: "Battle of the Hybrids".

 

Cheers!

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

7. LG Quadbeat 2 vs Sony Ericsson MH1 Livesound Comparison

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/686412/lg-quadbeat-2-appreciation-thread/240#post_9980458

 

 

 

 

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

 

NOTE: 

>The LG Quadbeat 2 went through 70+ hours of burn-in.

>Sony MH1 has clocked 30+ hours.

>No EQ was applied for both sets.

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

 

 

BASS

 

Sony MH1:
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.

 

LG QB2:
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.

 

VERDICT:
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.

 

 


MIDS

 

Sony MH1:
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!

 

LG QB2:
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...

 

VERDICT:
I prefer how the Sony MH1 presents its mids. Smooth yet REFINED.

 

 


HIGHS

 

Sony MH1:
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.

 

LG QB2:
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.

 

VERDICT:
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/SEPARATION

 

Sony MH1:
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.

 

LG QB2:
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).

 

 

SOUNDSTAGE

 

Sony MH1:
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...

 

LG QB2:
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.

 

 

SOUND SIGNATURE:

 

Sony MH1:
Warm but well balanced sound signature wrapped in smoothness.

 

LG QB2:
Bright sounding with a touch of warmth - Nice!

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION:

 

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!

 

Cheers!

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

8. Sony MH1/MH1c Vent Mods

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/632892/review-sony-mh1-the-best-kept-secret/2625

 

Reduces bass quantity; tighter/punchier bass kicks; reduces veiling in the lower mids resulting to more detail.

 

I'd like to share the vent mod that I've done based on the modifications suggested by head-fier mods and also RinChoi's Blog.

So special thanks to everyone responsible for the various modifications for the MH1/c.

 

Materials:

  1. Band-Aid Clear (Plastic)
  2. Earbud Foam Cover

 

 

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

TOP VENT:

Cut a piece of plastic band-aid; enough size to securely cover and stick on top of the top vent. My reason for using Band-Aid is because of the small holes on them which will serve as your pin-hole vent. Notice in the photo below, the hole is aligned on top of the top vent. This is important because sealing the vent completely IMO eliminates reverb thus, making the bass kicks sound unnatural and plasticky.

 

 

 

STRAIN RELIEF OPENING

Cut 4 pieces of foam from earbud foam covers to serve as dampers on the strain relief openings. Feel free to choose other foam materials that you see fit for your mod. The size of the cut pieces is 4mm W x 5mm L. You can increase the length if you want more dampening.

 

 

 

Now insert the foam pieces in the strain reliefs. You'll need two on each side (front and back sides of the strain reliefs).

I applied a tiny drop of super adhesive in the strain relief to keep the dampers from falling off/out.

 

 

 

Here's a photo of the strain relief with dampening:

 

 

 

I highly recommend this mod to those who want something reversible and easy to do.

Happy listening to your MH1/c with vent mods! :beerchug:

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

9. RHA MA750 mini Review

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/675848/new-rha-iems-the-ma750i-and-ma600i/330#post_10094520

 

 

 

 

I was so excited when I first saw the official RHA MA750 photos. They looked totally cool and robust that I just wanted to get my hands on them! It was at a time when I was also drooling on the Philips Fidelio S2 then a few weeks later both IEMs were getting a lot of praise. So I ended up sitting on the fence between the two unable to decide which one to get. To make the story short, I didn't end up with any of them because out of nowhere, the Dunu DN-1000 got released and it just felt right skipping both RHA and Philips for the attractively priced Dunu hybrid.

 

Fortunately, a fellow headfier is kind enough to loan me the RHA MA750! I still keep thinking back what it would've been if I ended up with the MA750 instead of the DN-1000? Now I can finally satisfy my curiosity...

 

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > JDS labs C5

               iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS labs C5

               16/44 FLAC and 320kbps MP3

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

BASS: Bass is what I love about the MA750. Quite forward and to my ears they sound a bit more forward than the Sony MH1. It has powerful authority especially in the sub-bass yet it doesn't sound overwhelming like other IEMs with emphasised bass end. It sounds clean, well controlled, and smooth! I do notice a bit of mid-bass bloat BUT it actually works in its favor; it makes bass guitars sound natural and real. Bass kicks may not sound as tight as balanced armature IEMs but the fast decay and excellent resolution is more than enough to keep me very satisfied. Well done RHA!

 

MIDS: This is where it feels like a mixed bag to my ears... if I don't listen closely, like lets say I'm outdoors: instruments like guitars sound so natural with great timbre plus the vocals in the lower mids is great - sounds smooth and well placed. Unfortunately, when I do a close A/B comparison vs the T-PEOS H200 it becomes apparent that it lacks just a bit of fullness. I then notice that there is a little bit of a veil in the mids where most vocals are presented. Moving into the upper mids, I hear a bit of sibilance; usually heard with the SSSS's in most female vocals. It hurts my ears when listening at high volume levels but is bearable when you turn it down a few notches. Now, this is not apparent in all recordings but definitely noticeable in most tracks that I listen to regardless of the genre. Overall, if I listen to music at a much lower volume level I wouldn't be too bothered with these flaws. The mids in general is really nice as long as you listen to music in quiet environments where you can keep the volume at maybe 50-60% out of an iPod or @25 clicks out of the C3.

 

HIGHS: The treble is quite alright in the MA750. I can hear decent detail/resolution and extends quite well but this can only be achieved if you listen at low volume levels. If you turn up the volume a bit, the peaks in some areas at the lower treble will mask and overwhelm the detail that you're suppose to hear from the upper treble. Timbre in the highs may not quite sound as natural as the DN-1000. Timbre is a little thin sounding; a little bit thinner than the T-PEOS H200 making cymbals lose a bit of its natural ringing/clanging sound. If RHA can tame some of the peaks and tune to a more natural timbre in the highs for their next model then it'll be a winner! RHA is definitely heading in the right direction.

 

SOUNDSTAGE: Personally, I think this is RHA's strength. Their tuning really presents a stage so wide that it is a pleasure listening to live music! It is even wider than my H200 and can stand against the Sony XBA3!

 

OVERALL SOUND: The MA750 is quite a unique experience for me. It is warm sounding but at the same time cold sounding in the upper frequencies. What really impresses me is how you can listen to any type of genre and enjoy them track by track. Thanks to how RHA tuned the bass end, genre is not a factor in enjoying this IEM. As long as you listen in quiet environments at lower volume levels, you'll definitely love the MA750!

 

Special thanks to @H20Fidelity for letting me review this unit!

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

10. HYBRID TRILOGY: Astrotec AX-60 vs DUNU DN-1000 vs T-PEOS H-200 Comparison

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/687252/australian-tour-impressions-astrotec-ax60-hybrid-3-way-universal-iem-2-x-ba-dynamic-driver/120#post_10128226

 

 

 

 

After hearing about the AX-60 Australian Loan Tour, I was quick on my feet and requested to be part of the tour. As a current owner of the Dunu DN-1000 and T-PEOS H-200, I've learned to appreciate and love the wondrous characteristics of the hybrid sound. So naturally, the AX-60 brings forth a lot of interest in me because I want to know how it'll perform against my other two hybrids.

 

SETUP:  Colorfly C3 > Tralucent T1

               ASTROTEC AX-60 + Reference Filter + Heir Tips (average depth insertion) NOTE: Not a pure bass-head so I didn't use the other filters.

               DUNU DN-1000 + Red Rings + Translucent black stock Tips (shallow insertion)

               T-PEOS H-200 + SPC cable + Sony MH1 Tips (shallow insertion)

               Test tracks are all in 16bit/44Khz FLAC format.

 

NOTE: 

The AX-60 sound signature is VERY dependent upon the type of tips. I find wide bore tips allow better extension and resolution in both low and high ends of the sound frequency. Narrow bore tips tend to restrict the airiness and in some cases decreases the width in soundstage.

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

BASS

I honestly had a difficult time with the subtle differences in bass when comparing the AX-60 against the DN-1000; as a matter of fact they are more similar in this part of the sound spectrum. I had to listen really closely to nit pick and I've determined that the AX-60 is a little bit more boomy but in a good way. Indeed the AX-60 sounds warmer as a whole but I personally think that it is more of an effect from the rear vent resulting to a slight boomy but natural sounding bass end. What separates the AX-60 is the stronger impact/punch in bass kicks and better texture in the sub-bass with excellent layering. I'm speculating that the dynamic driver used in the AX-60 is just more technically advanced than that of the DN-1000. That being said, I'm not saying the DN-1000 is a slouch in bass; it also has a very capable dynamic bass driver. Compared to the H-200 things become interesting... the punchiness and speed in bass kicks are very similar to the AX-60 except the H-200 is a few db lower and has quicker bass decay. The AX-60 is more similar to the DN-1000 in terms of bass decay - there's a bit of a delay but no worries there because they still sound great even for EDM. The only genre that I prefer the H-200 bass over the other two hybrids is heavy metal.

 

VERDICT:
Based on technical ability, I can conclude that the AX-60 has an edge over the other two hybrids. It is just more revealing and can produce all those layers in the lower frequencies with such ease.

 

 

 

 

MIDS

This is where most of the differences between these three hybrids come into play. In the lower mids where most vocals are heard in their fullness, the AX-60 is a little bit recessed compared to the DN-1000. The H-200 comes third, a little bit under the AX-60 making vocals sound a bit distant in comparison although still excellent in clarity.. The AX-60 may sound a bit recessed when compared to the Dunu but on its own I don't really consider it recessed. I find vocals with AX-60 to be just in the right place creating a perfect setup in creating a space for the rest of the instruments to surround the vocals that is situated in the center. Please take note that because the lower mids is not upfront, the forwardness of the mid bass can sometimes creep in the lower mids resulting to a warmer signature. The DN-1000 being more forward on the other hand, provides more clarity and coldness to the sound signature. This may sound like the DN-1000 is taking the prize but the AX-60 has a wild card: detail retrieval is excellent and a notch more revealing. So, even if the DN-1000 has more clarity and sounds more analytical, the AX-60 wins by pushing more detail upfront.

 

Going up into the upper mids, another turn-over comes up! The H-200 is more forward and revealing than the other two hybrids making this its strength; making guitars, both electric and acoustic sound so edgy and upfront. Guitar crunches are superb and such an excellent presentation with the H-200. The DN-1000 is smoother and laid back in this area thus making its overall sound less fatiguing than the other two hybrids. The AX-60 is right in the middle of the two; tho not as revealing as the H-200, its presentation is still very much in line with the lower mids which maintains its strength in the mids as a whole: TIMBRE in the AX-60 is king! I just love how the cymbals ring... they just sound so REAL! The guitars also sound so good on the AX-60 that its perfect for Jazz, Classical, and Acoustic Rock.

 

VERDICT:
As much as I love the guitar crunches on the H-200 when listening to Rock and Heavy Metal... the clarity and cold sounding mids of the DN-1000... I just can't help but adore how technically capable the AX-60 is in presenting a linear, natural sounding, and detailed MIDS.

 

 

 

 


HIGHS

The H-200 has really good treble; bright and airy (brighter than the DN-1000). There is just a very little hint of the grainy texture or metallic tinge at a high listening volume; BUT this is only apparent in crappy recordings and some singers' voice characteristic. On a positive note, the H-200 sounds really natural in the treble region that the cymbals, hi-hats, and percussion instruments are such a pleasure to hear. There's an occasional peak in the upper treble that may affect one's listening experience but I personally, am not affected by this in most of the songs I listen to. Please NOTE that this will vary depending on your source, song quality, tips, and depth of insertion. I personally use the large Sony hybrid tips, SPC upgrade cable, plus shallow insertion which to my experience have greatly reduced the peak problem. A foam filter mod will completely nullify the peak but at the expense of the airiness which is a unique characteristic of the H-200 that I truly love.

 

The DN-1000 is quite impressive in the treble region. Everything sounds so natural and airy. Micro-detail is just as good as the H-200 and best part is: there is almost no trace of grainy texture or metallic tinge even at high volumes. Very transparent and just as good as the H-200 in revealing artefacts in crappy/compressed recordings. There is a peak around 6.5 kHz which I managed to identify through Accudio's parametric EQ. It is ONLY apparent in certain songs/singers. You usually hear this in the "SSSSs", especially from female singers/vocalists. VERY IMPORTANT--The intensity of this peak will depend on your tips and depth of insertion. I discovered that wide bored tips coupled with shallow insertion are very effective in reducing this peak to a point where it is negligible. Narrow bored tips tend to increase the peak to the extent of sibilance.

 

The AX-60 can be a bit piercing in some recordings especially when they are badly mixed/mastered. I do commend it for its micro-detail/resolution retrieval. Definition in the treble region is definitely one of its many strengths; you hear so many different instruments popping here and there when listening to well recorded tracks. Again, cymbals and other percussion instruments just sound so real and timbre is just superb! In spite all of these, I still find the H-200 and DN-1000 to be a bit more airy in the highs. Not that its a huge deal but I personally do prefer airiness in presentation.

 

VERDICT:
This is very hard to conclude because each of the three hybrids have their own strengths that are highly commendable. Because of this, I'll base my decision to my preference and that is the smoothness and airiness of the DN-1000 treble.

 

 

 

 

DETAIL/SEPARATION

Hands down, detail and separation are just a couple of the many strengths of the Astrotec AX-60. This hybrid is really capable of retrieving details that you don't normally hear in other average IEMs. You may hear the details with the H-200 or DN-1000... but the AX-60 just presents them effortlessly. Instrument separation is the best I've heard yet in an IEM. Please take note that this is the most  expensive IEM I've heard as of: 02/01/14.

 

 

 

 

SOUNDSTAGE

The AX-60 is the first IEM I've heard that comes really close to a full-sized headphone in presenting a decent soundstage. I thought the DN-1000 is awesome... but after hearing the AX-60 I realised that it's one of the widest possible for an IEM. If the DN-1000 can present a soundstage from ear to ear; the AX-60 can reach up to the back of your head depending on the song. That's how good it is.

 


CONCLUSION:

 

I feel so fortunate to get the opportunity of reviewing the Astrotec AX-60 because it is such an AWESOME hybrid. This experience made me realise that in spite how good an IEM like the DN-1000 is, there is still something out there that can out perform it. It comes with a higher price tho... Now I just wonder, how much better can a TOTL IEM be? I guess I'll find the answer very soon...

 

Special thanks to @H20Fidelity for notifying me about the loan tour and @billymav of NoisyMotel for making this happen!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

11. T-PEOS H-100j vs H-200 Comparison

 

 

 

 

I'm a huge fan of the T-Peos H-200 despite its flaws that I have spent quite a bit of my money (upgrade cable) and time (filter mods and tip rolling) just to improve its overall sound. I truly feel that the H-200 is the best IEM (that I have heard) for heavy metal. As a metal head, I value fast bass response with short decay and forward mids to highlight guitar crunches and shreds - and that's what the H-200 does best! Then came the H-100j... so I thought: how awesome it could be if T-PEOS fixed all the glaring flaws in the H-200 and offered it at a fraction of the cost! Well, let's find out!

 

SETUP:  Colorfly C3 (no amp)

               T-PEOS H-100j + foam filter mod + Sony MH1 Tips (shallow insertion)

               T-PEOS H-200 + SPC cable + foam filter mod + Sony MH1 Tips (shallow insertion)

               Test tracks are all in 16bit/44Khz FLAC format:

  •  Daft Punk - Lose Yourself to Dance
  •  Gloria Estefan - Conga
  •  Guns N' Roses - Knockin' On Heavens Door
  •  Phil Collins - Easy Lover
  •  Kenny Loggins - Forever
  •  Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
  •  Janet Jackson - Call On Me
  •  Pantera - Domination
  •  Metallica - Battery

 

NOTE: 

The H-100j can be very edgy and harsh in the upper mids so proper tip selection and the addition of some sort of dampening is required. You can choose hifiman filters, earbud foam covers, or even tea bags as filters.

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

BASS

The very first track I tried the H-100j with is Daft Punk's Lose Yourself to Dance and immediately I was impressed! Bass is layered, punchy, powerful, and extends really well to the point where I got  to a conclusion that the H-100j bass is technically better than my beloved H-200. My previous reviews/comparisons with the H-200 in them provide details on how much I really like its bass response. So for me to say that the H-100j is better is such a great feat; at least in my books. I couldn't believe my ears... so I quickly queued in my heavy metal test tracks from Pantera and Metallica and the H-100j presented the bass end with such ease and finesse!

 

VERDICT:
As much as I hesitate to write it here... I have no choice but to acknowledge the fact that the H-100j outperforms the H-200 in the bass department.

 

 

 

 

MIDS

Listening to Daft Punk and Gloria Estefan with the H-100j sounded so promising. Instruments/Synthesiser sounds really great because the mids are VERY forward. Everything sounds so rich and full; very detailed, and clarity is probably even better than the H-200. Unfortunately, it all went down hill when I started playing other test tracks that exhibit more electric guitar crunches and edgy vocals like Axl Rose's. The H-100j is just a few notches too forward in the upper mids that edgy instruments or vocals were just too much; even for my not too sensitive ears! I couldn't even enjoy the second half of Guns N' Roses - Knockin' on Heavens Door because I started feeling fatigue. Please note that I already added extra dampening/filter yet it was still too edgy for my ears! Fortunately for the H-100j, it is not always the case as long as there aren't any edgy sounding instruments/vocals involved in the recording. That's why the mids still sounded really good when listening to Gloria Estefan, Tina Turner, Daft Punk, and other well mastered recordings. If you have average quality music in your library, the H-100j will make you regret having them in your music player.

 

VERDICT:
No contest here because the H-200 is heaps more forgiving and a much better all-rounder despite the slightly recessed lower mids and slightly forward upper mids...

 

 

 


HIGHS

The H-200 has really good treble; bright and airy (brighter than the DN-1000). There is just a very little hint of the grainy texture or metallic tinge at a high listening volume; BUT this is only apparent in crappy recordings and some singers' voice characteristic. On a positive note, the H-200 sounds really natural in the treble region that the cymbals, high-hats, and percussion instruments are such a pleasure to hear. There's an occasional peak in the upper treble that may affect one's listening experience but I personally, am not affected by this in most of the songs I listen to. Please NOTE that this will vary depending on your source, song quality, tips, and depth of insertion. I personally use the large Sony hybrid tips, SPC upgrade cable, plus shallow insertion which to my experience have greatly reduced the peak problem. A foam filter mod will completely nullify the peak but at the expense of the airiness which is a unique characteristic of the H-200 that I truly love.

 

The H-100j is a bit smoother because it doesn't sound as peaky in the upper treble. There is a trade-off tho... it doesn't sound airy because to my ears there's a sudden roll-off in the highs. Timbre is greatly affected that the cymbals and other percussion instruments don't accentuate as they're suppose to; leaving a feeling of dryness... very flat sounding to my ears. There's really nothing more to say about the H-100j's highs because it doesn't provide more resolution to make the music lively and real. The only upside: it is not prone to treble harshness even for a sibilant track such as Phil Collins' - Easy Lover.

 

VERDICT:
The H-100j falls short of resolution in the highs thus, not able to provide a more airy and lively sound. My guess is it lacks one more BA driver to produce that extra extension to present the detail and resolution that we all look for in a hybrid IEM.

 

 

 

 

 

DETAIL/SEPARATION

The H-100j is quite a detailed hybrid with amazing clarity and sparkle but falls short in high resolution because of the treble roll-off. What it also lacks compared to the H-200 is the ability to separate various instruments and place them in different positions in the presentation. Most of the time, the H-100 sounds quite congested and everything just sounds too busy for your brain to process. The H-200 on the other hand performs a lot better in these aspects.

 

 

SOUNDSTAGE

The H-100j doesn't sound wide to my ears. As a matter of fact, the lack of soundstage width and depth causes a VERY intimate listening session. Too intimate that you feel that your listening to music in a small telephone booth or office cubicle. It may benefit some genres and artists but most of the time it just leads to a congested feeling.

 


CONCLUSION:

As much as I wanted the H-100j to correct the flaws of my beloved H-200, I couldn't really blame it for failing. It is a budget hybrid and we shouldn't expect it to outperform the much pricier and technically advanced T-PEOS H-200.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

12. Tralucent Audio 1Plus2 (original version) mini Review

 

 

 

 

A few months into this hobby I started reading more about TOTL IEMs and since then I've been wondering how good/different can those IEMs really be? I couldn't comprehend why audiophiles spend thousands of dollars on them when I personally find myself content and happy with my H-200 at the time. I figured there's only one way for me to understand them... and that is to hear a TOTL IEM myself.

 

I am very fortunate, that Tralucent Audio gave me the opportunity to audition and finally hear my first TOTL Hybrid IEM. Just for the record, the most expensive IEM I've ever heard prior to this was the Astrotec AX-60 (AU$399) and for a full-sized headphone was the Sennheiser HD800.

 

 

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > Tralucent Audio T1

               iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > Tralucent Audio T1

               16/44 FLAC and 320kbps MP3

 

NOTE: 

This is the original version of the Tralucent Audio 1Plus2 and is no longer available. I believe the current model is a revised version with a better dynamic driver, further tuning refinement, and shell improvements. For more info: http://www.tralucentaudio.com/shop/index.php/tralucent-audio-1plus2-hybrid-universal-iem.html

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

 

 

BASS: I am not a basshead but I truly appreciate good bass whether its forward or linear and the 1Plus2's bass quantity sits comfortably in between. True bassheads will still find the bass satisfying because it digs really deep to produce a sub-bass with great rumbling texture yet not overwhelming. Mid bass is a bit recessed for my liking but it doesn't take away from the overall presentation because the bass still sounds tight and punchy. I just personally prefer more bass guitar presence in most songs. Layering is technically great providing rich bass tones just oozing with fullness throughout the entire low frequencies. Speed and decay are perfectly tuned to my preference and that is fast speed with minimum delay in decay. I didn't have any problem listening to heavy metal bass kicks because the 1Plus2 keeps up really well. Details in the bass lines are easily heard most of the time but I did find however,  the detail retrieval is a bit better on the H-200 when things get really busy with bass guitar riffs. I can still hear the detailed bass lines on the 1Plus2 but the H-200 just produces those riffs clearly with ease. NOTE: I think this has been fixed with the updated version because Tralucent Audio apparently replaced the dynamic driver with a better one. So even if I haven't heard the updated version, I'm confident that the revised 1Plus2 is at par if not better than the H-200's bass performance.

 

 

 

MIDS: This is the second time where I couldn't find something wrong in the mid section from an IEM; the first time was with the AX-60. To be honest, I can play any song in my library... even set it on shuffle mode; and enjoy every single one of them with the 1Plus2. Vocals and guitars are just sitting neutrally linear to my ears. I can't truly tell if there's any dip or peak but what I do know is I don't have any complaints. Unlike the H-200 which can be a bit edgy in the mids with some songs, and the DN-1000 sounding a bit too smooth with some female vocals. What impresses me with the 1Plus2 is the level of detail in the mids. I can hear details with ease that there's no need to make an effort to look for a certain instrument in the background. As a matter of fact, because the vocals in general are not upfront; the instruments are clearly heard all over the place and envelopes the vocals nicely.

 

 

 

HIGHS: The treble is quite nice and smooth on the 1Plus2. Rarely did I detect any sibilance and when i did, it was very mild that it didn't matter. I did find it a bit dry thus timbre is quite affected especially when cymbals come into play. They sound a bit thin for my liking but nothing of major concern. Again, detail retrieval is superb and I can easily hear thin sounding instruments that you don't normally hear on average IEMs. What sets the 1Plus2 apart from other detailed IEMs is its ability to produce the same or more detail without sounding harsh or fatiguing. I can listen to the 1Plus2 for hours at a time and never get tired or fatigued.

 

 

 

SOUNDSTAGE: The 1Plus2 can present a stage wider than the DN-1000 and nearly as wide as the AX-60. It is impressive because the 1Plus2's instrument placement and separation are the best I've heard in an IEM. There wasn't a song in my library that sounded congested on the 1Plus2. This is a very well tuned IEM in my personal opinion.

 

 

 

CONCLUSION: As my journey in this hobby moved farther; owning and auditioning other mid-tier IEMs brought a realisation that no matter how minute an improvement is, the impact on the overall sound is what really matters. Now that I've personally heard a TOTL IEM, my realisation is further confirmed! If I quantify the strengths of the 1Plus2 and compare them against my mid-tier IEMs, the difference isn't really that far fetched. In some areas, my preferences even swayed in favor of the other mid-tier IEMs. Despite all these, I'm surprised that I actually find my enjoyment with 1Plus2 significantly better than all the other IEMs I've tried. I do admit that this is very subjective and I am truly just relaying my personal experience.

 

I may have praised the 1Plus2 but it isn't a lost cause for the mid-tier IEMs either. My satisfaction goes both ways: 1. I got to appreciate mid-tier IEMs even more because they sound so good in spite costing barely half of TOTL IEMs. 2. My experience with a TOTL IEM was such a pleasure because I love music! I personally think that the Tralucent Audio 1Plus2 was made to enjoy all kinds of music. I definitely enjoyed every moment I placed them in my ears. An experience that I will never forget and has become my new benchmark for the best sounding (musically) IEM in my books.

 

Now for the real question at hand: Is it worth paying so much money to enjoy your music? It really depends how you value the overall experience. Reminds me of how I always tell my friends on what really matters: "It's the journey... not the destination."

 

Special thanks to Gavin of Tralucent Audio for letting me review this unit and to @H20Fidelity for making this happen!

 

 

 


 

 

 

 
13. Dual Dynamic Skirmish: KEF M200 vs Brainwavz R3 Comparison
 

 

This was originally meant for a Dual Dynamic Trilogy comparison with the HAVI B3 in the line-up... unfortunately the B3 I got was not the original PRO version. Instead, I got the enhanced version that is too bassy, muddy, and lacked a bit of sparkle to sound right. It is not worthy of being compared to the likes of KEF's M200 and Brainwavz' R3, both awesome sounding dual dynamics.

 

The M200 and R3 both have a notorious reputation of potentially ruining ones experience because of fit issues. The M200 with its enormous nozzle plus fiddly ear guides are just as much of a hassle as the R3's unorthodox shape and extremely long ear guides.Those of you who have read my past reviews know that I don't really tackle aesthetics and fit. My reasons being: 1) Issues arising from those factors are fully discussed in dedicated appreciation threads and 2) I believe such issues although problematic for a number of users may not actually be a problem for some. As for these dual dynamic IEMs, they both were a bit troublesome for me personally; fortunately I was able to overcome my issues with them after a few adjustments here and there.

 

Now that the "fit issue" that is worth mentioning is out of the way, let's find out how these dual dynamics sound!

 

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > JDS Labs C5

               KEF M200 + Dunu DN-1000 translucent black stock tips (deep insertion)

               Brainwavz R3 + large grey stock tips (deep insertion)

               Test tracks are all in 16bit/44Khz FLAC format.

 

NOTE: 

The KEF M200's sound performance can vary significantly depending on insertion depth and the type of tips used. I find deep insertion + wide bore tips allow better extension and resolution on both low and high ends of the sound frequency.

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

 

 

BASS

This is where the major difference between the two dual dynamics lie. The M200 is significantly more boosted at the low end compared to the R3. To my ears, the latter is much closer to a neutral bass presentation with just a little bit of boost and a bit of roll-off in the sub bass; the  M200 on the other hand sounds much closer to the level of bass of the Sony MH1/c and extends better into the sub bass region. The M200 is definitely a lot warmer and has more impact than the R3. To give you a better picture of the difference in bass levels: I had to activate the bass boost on JDS labs C5 to get the same approximate bass level of the M200 from the R3. With the bass boost on, the R3's bass extends further plus the impact is just as good as the M200. That being said, one isn't necessarily better than the other because they both perform really well in this department. The M200 bass may sometimes bleed into the mids although this is only apparent when comparing the M200 closely to brighter IEMs such as the R3. Otherwise, listening to the M200 on its own I really can't detect any bass bleed into the mids not unless the song is mastered with exaggerated bass forwardness.

 

Aside from the bass levels, the feel is also quite different between them. The M200 extracts a lot more air out of those humongous nozzles vs the R3's subdued air. I'm guessing this is because of the unique configuration of the R3 where both drivers are facing each other vertically resulting to a more confined air pressure before leaking out of the nozzles. Very different from the more orthodox configuration of the M200 where in the drivers are faced directly towards your eardrums. NOTE: I'm only talking about the amount of air coming out of the nozzles and how they feel as they reach your inner ear.

 

Layering is magnificent on both IEMs with the M200 excelling a bit more in terms of resolution. Bass lines are more articulate when listening to the M200 but the R3 is not far behind as long as the bass boost is activated on the JDS labs C5. Without the bass boost, the R3 still sounds clean, punchy, and detailed. Speed and decay is a bit better on the R3 although the M200 is really close. You'll have to listen very closely to hear the minute differences. Timbre is equally excellent and I must say that both dual dynamics are amongst the best sounding bass timbre I've heard in an IEM.

 

VERDICT:
Based on technical ability, the M200 is a bit better but the R3 is really not far behind especially when paired with a decent amp like the JDS Labs C5 and the bass boost switched on. Personally, I like the versatility of the R3... if I need more bass presence because the song requires it, the bass boost switch is just a flick away. The M200 on the other hand... if I feel there's too much bass, there's not much I can do but fiddle with the EQ settings which I really dislike. Most bass reducers are not done right, so one has to painstakingly create his own EQ settings.

 

 

 

 

MIDS

The tuning becomes a lot more similar between these dual dynamics with the M200 just sounding a little bit recessed in the lower mids and a little bit forward in the upper mids. When I say little, it is really small that it's unnoticeable upon casual listening. The R3 is more neutral in the lower mids with a little more forward upper mids. Pretty similar to the M200 but the R3's vocals and guitars are just a little bit more upfront when compared. Nevertheless, both IEMs are rich/full sounding, quite detailed, with above average clarity. The most apparent difference is that the R3 can sound like it has more clarity when compared closely because of the warmer signature of the KEF. The M200 can sometimes sound a little bit grainy which adds some character to vocals like they are coming from standalone speakers. I just love how vocals are produced by these dual dynamics... so lush and mesmerising. In the upper mids, the R3 is bit more revealing giving it the upper hand when playing tracks that present vocals as the main focus. Guitar crunches are also a little bit more edgy and clearer but the M200 is not far behind. TIMBRE is again splendid on both IEMs! I'm quite overwhelmed by how real the vocals, guitars, and piano sound on these dual dynamics.

 

VERDICT:
Despite how similar these dual dynamics are in presenting the mids signature wise, I ended up preferring the R3. Not  because of the more forward upper mids but it's more on the overall presentation which will be further explained in the IMAGING/SEPARATION section below.

 

 

 


HIGHS

The M200 has really smooth treble with good detail/resolution. Sibilance is never an issue unless you're listening to a badly mastered track. The only downside I can nit pick is that it doesn't sound as natural as the Dunu DN-1000. Cymbals, hi-hats, and percussion instruments may sound a little bit thin and lacking a bit of reverb to make them ring! Sometimes, you really have to listen closely to hear the hi-hat because it seems to get drowned in the background by the other instruments. Fortunately, the M200 extends really well in the upper frequency... you'll just have to listen very closely to hear the micro details that lie in the background.

 

The R3 on the other hand is quite impressive in the treble region. Everything sounds so natural and airy with a lot of sparkle, sizzle and ringing. Micro-detail is as good as the Astrotec AX-60 and I commend it for staying within the limits to not sound sibilant. Very transparent, well extended, and excellent in revealing artefacts in crappy/compressed recordings. There are a few peaks here and there but are well controlled and just add definition to the instruments in the treble region. I really love how awesome the cymbals and hi-hat sound on the R3. Probably the best I've heard from a dynamic IEM!

 

VERDICT:
Hands down, the R3 excels in the treble region not just against the M200 but in all other dynamic IEMs I've heard. The R3 can even hold its own against hybrids like the T-PEOS H200, Dunu DN-1000 and Astrotec AX-60 only losing in overall refinement.

 

 

 

 

IMAGING/SEPARATION

Although both M200 and R3 are equally great in detail retrieval, what sets them apart is how one excels in placing vocals and instruments in the right areas and separating them effectively to promote cohesiveness. The M200 has a slight problem in imaging/placement. Most of the time its focus is right in the middle of the stage where it combines vocals, guitars, and piano/keyboard in the same area. As a result, they occasionally sound like fighting for the position/area giving the impression of confusion to the listener. The R3 on the other hand, does a great job at separating the vocals and instruments placing them in areas within the soundstage where they can be heard distinctly. The presentation is well organised giving you the illusion of a real stage.

 

 

SOUNDSTAGE

The M200's soundstage width is decently good to my ears. It has great height but lacks the depth for it to sound more spacious. The R3 is better in width and sounds almost as wide as the Dunu DN-1000. Depth is excellent with acceptable height. Overall, I prefer the more spacious presentation of the R3.

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION:

 

To be honest, I am quite surprised with the outcome of this comparison. I went in thinking that there's no way the Braiwavz R3 can best the awesome sounding KEF M200. Initially I thought that the M200 is the best sounding dynamic IEM I've ever heard but after listening to the R3, the latter didn't only best the M200 but also revealed its flaws that I didn't really discover before. With the R3 priced a lot cheaper than the M200, all I can say is: "Good on you, Brainwavz!"

 

Special thanks to @H20Fidelity and MP4Nation for making this review happen!

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

14. Noble 4 (universal) Unboxing
 

 

UPS left a present for me! You can only imagine the smile on my face the moment this box fell into my hands :normal_smile :

This is it! My first venture into the $500 realm. Let me share the pleasure of unboxing this masterpiece from Noble Audio.

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

Once opened, I was greeted with the proud logo of Noble Audio. The main item is properly packed well protected by foam inlays and it shows how much the manufacturer really values their product.

 

 

I can't wait to see what's inside...

 

 

Pandora's box has been opened! Full of goodies...

 

 

Contents: Noble 4 IEM, Noble cable, SML (red) Silicone tips, SML (blue) Silicone tips, SML (black) Foam tips, SML Bi-flange tips, IEM nozzle cleaning tool, 2x Noble bands, Noble Owner's card, and Noble Pelican Hard case.

 

 

A closer look at the tips... they are not of high quality but does the job. I'd recommend the use of your other favourite tips. The Noble bands are really nice!

 

 

The Pelican Hard case is well built and looks decent. Foam lining within the case is properly installed. No complaints here.

 

 

And finally, the Wizard's work for us to hear. I really like the cable... it's supple, doesn't tangle, seems durable, and light-weight. The connectors fit securely and really tight which is good because they don't slip off easily. If I were to nit-pick, I'd say I prefer a branded piece at the Y-intersect; but that's just for show so not a big deal for me. I'd also prefer a 90degree jack over the 45degree but still not critical IMO.

 

 

The IEMs are made of plastic. I would've love a light-weight metal housing but that would also increase the price. I do appreciate that the Noble logo is engraved on the housing and not just some cheap print or sticker. The screws also add a bit of industrial accent which I really like. They are very light and surprisingly small! I can't imagine anyone having fit issues with these as I already have small ears and they fit perfectly.

Great job Noble Audio! Totally worth it IMO... thank you for the swift and easy transaction!:beerchug:

 

So stay tuned for my Review and as a teaser this is my first impression:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I can't detect any flaw! :eek:
 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

15. Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10pro mini Review

 

 

December 2012… I was about to purchase my very first mid-fi IEM and I vividly remember being on the fence trying to decide between the Sony XBA-3 and Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10pro. I’ve ask so many people, read so many reviews, and followed appreciation threads but I just couldn’t decide! Until a few days later, someone posted his used XBA-3 on ebay… with a price that was just too hard to resist. And so, there goes the deciding factor: PRICE; but did I make the right decision?

 

Fortunately, a fellow headfier is kind enough to loan me his Triple.Fi 10pro! I used to wonder what it could've been if I ended up with the Triple.Fi 10pro. Well now, I can finally find the answer...

 

SETUP:    Colorfly C3 > JDS labs C5

                iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS labs C5

                16/44 FLAC and 320kbps MP3

 

Continue... (Click to show)

 

BASS: Bass is powerful on the TF10! A lot more forward than the Sony XBA 3 which at times lack that extra punch in the lower end. The TF10 sounds a bit more rounded and very “dynamic” like; so natural to my ears that I can almost say that it’s coming from a dynamic driver if I didn’t know about the balanced armature drivers. There is a mid-bass hump BUT it actually works in its favor; it makes bass guitars sound natural although sometimes they can be a bit boomy if the song is bass-enhanced. Surprisingly despite the mid-bass hump, Bass kicks still sound solid and punchy! Most IEMs that have mid-bass bloat that I’ve heard don’t do this. They all sounded muddy and messy in the low end. Well not the TF10! I find the bass tuning on this to be great for a triple balance-armature driven IEM. Like any other balanced armature IEM, the bass on the TF10 has fast decay and well-controlled; producing well layered and textured bass. I’ve always described my Sony XBA 3 to be a “dynamic” sounding BA IEM… well the TF10 is MORE “dynamic” sounding!

 

MIDS: The MIDs is the deal breaker to whether or not someone’s listening habits conforms to the TF10’s sound signature. There is a recession in the upper mids resulting to a v-shape signature which means guitars and vocals are positioned far way back from the rest of presentation. Upon initial listen, one may immediately conclude that the midrange is veiled but if you listen closely… all the detail/resolution are still there. The positioning is just far way back that stringed instruments such as the electric guitar will sound distant.

 

Personally, I tried to fix this thinking it’ll make the TF10 sound better. I tried EQing down the bass end, also tried EQing up the upper mids, etc… and no matter what I do, it just doesn’t sound right! Yes it does sound better if you use parametric EQ and bring it closer to a neutral sound signature but it also takes away the “MAGIC” in the TF10s signature. I asked myself: “How did this IEM become so popular when it’s too dark sounding and too recessed in the upper mids?"

 

Well, the answer is “volume”. Yes, listening volume has to be changed for me to enjoy the TF10’s goodness. This IEM needs to have the volume set quite high at a level where the midrange is more prominent. Luckily the Treble is tuned to conform to this so it doesn’t sound harsh or fatiguing! More on this at the next section…

 

So with volume set to high, the TF10 sounds fantastic! A fun and engaging sound with PRAT that can keep you from taking these IEMs off your ears! Plenty of detail in the midrange with timbre that sounds so natural, you won’t believe it’s coming from balanced armature drivers manufactured and tuned in 2008! Instrument placing is adequate with no sign of coherency issues.

 

HIGHS: The treble is very smooth on the TF10; a lot smoother than the XBA 3! This is what makes it possible for users to listen at high volume levels… no harshness nor edginess that can cause fatigue. I can hear good detail/resolution but just a little behind the XBA 3. Fortunately, the upper treble extends quite well so there’s plenty of room for detail/resolution. Timbre in the highs may not quite sound as natural because of the lack in decay/reverb which are responsible for making the cymbals ring naturally. Treble is a little bit too dry for my liking but nothing crucial. The good thing is, the TF10 is not plagued with the glaring flaws that the XBA 3 suffers from. No metallic taint in the upper treble and not a sign of graininess at all! So if you take the overall presentation in the treble region, the TF10 is heaps better than the XBA 3!

 

 

SOUNDSTAGE: The soundstage is quite decent although not as wide as the XBA 3 (from memory). Nevertheless, the presentation is good enough that I haven’t encountered any sign of congestion.

 

OVERALL SOUND: The Sony XBA 3 has a more linear presentation from the midrange up to the upper treble while the TF10 on the other hand is V-shaped which is meant to sound fun and engaging. TF10 quite puzzled me upon initial listen because I just couldn’t grasp its intended presentation thanks to the recessed upper midrange. Applying EQ will definitely fix the problem but personally I don’t find it appealing. I can almost immediately say: that's not how the TF10 is suppose to sound. So without any EQ the TF10 can be a beast when you make that midrange more audible by playing it LOUD! You just gotta find the threshold where it isn’t too loud that it may damage you hearing. I found mine, and every time I listen to the TF10 I get reminded that I was such a fool for choosing the XBA 3 over this classic performer!

 

Special thanks to @H20Fidelity for letting me review this unit!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

16. Noble 4 (universal) Review

 

 

 

 

For the longest time, I have been longing for my very own "Reference" IEM mainly for the reason of having a standard point of reference in writing up reviews and comparisons of IEMs. In addition to that, each and every respectable reviewer and enthusiast at head-fi that I know has at least one or two "Reference" sounding monitor. I truly believe that having one will help me improve my work as an enthusiast because it'll increase the consistency in my descriptions or impressions especially when comparing different sounding IEMs.

 

At a certain point, I almost convinced myself to get the Etymotic ER4s but was held back because of my dislike for triple-flange tips plus deep insertion requirement to attain the best possible performance out of it. Then I stumbled upon the Noble thread and noticed a number people who've listened to the Noble 4/4C/4S describing them to be a great "neutral" sounding IEM. So I lurked around, read as many reviews/impressions as I can, asked a few people around, and finally thought that the Noble 4 could be the one that I've been looking for! So, is the Noble 4 truly a "Reference" sounding IEM? Well there's only one way to find out! I bought myself a pair and for the very first time ventured into the > $250 realm of sound gear. I've never spent this much on an IEM before so here's me hoping that I made the right decision in choosing the Noble 4...

 

 

SETUP:  Colorfly C3 > JDS Labs C5

               iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS Labs C5

               16/44 FLAC, ALAC, and 256kbps AAC

 

TEST TRACKS:     Avicii - Heart Upon My Sleeve / Addicted To You                   Daft Punk - The Game of Love / Doin' It Right

                            Planetshakers - The Anthem (live)                                       Michel Jonasz - Le Temps Passe (live)

                            Jewel - Somewhere Over The Rainbow                                 Celine Dion - Tell Him (Feat. Barbara Streisand)

                            The Police - If I Ever Lose My Faith In You                            Phil Collins - Easy Lover

                            Train - 50 Ways To Say Goodbye                                          Roxette - Look

                            Bruno Mars - Locked Out Of Heaven                                     Led Zepellin - Fool In The Rain

                            Metallica - Orion (Through The Never - Soundtrack)              Pantera - Art of Shredding

        

 

Continue... (Click to show)

 

 

BASS: Having only owned IEMs with boosted low end, I was prepared to feel underwhelmed. To my delight, the Noble 4 bass is well extended, punchy, and tight! Sub-bass is well heard and felt even at 20hz; although not at the same quantity as the T-PEOS H-200, the N4 is still very satisfying to my preference. Sub-bass rumble never fails to come out when called for even for non-EDM tracks. Listening to electronic tracks from Avicii and Daft Punk, seldom did I feel the need for some bass boost but I'd be lying if I didn't say that a bit more rumble is more than welcome for electronic music. However, I do find it bit lacking in quantity for heavy metal despite having the speed to keep up with double-bass kicks. It just needs a bit more oomph to project that "Authority" from an aggressive genre. Other than that, I find the sub-bass to be sufficient for most common genres that we listen to. As for the mid-bass, I don't hear any significant bump and to my ears the Noble 4 is really close to flat. I do hear a bit of warmth which I really like and if my hearing is accurate, I think the Noble 4 bass is in between flat and the GoldenEars Target which slightly elevates from 100hz all the way down to 20hz. What I really love about the bass is how fast, clear, and well controlled it sounds when playing bass guitar and drum passages. Timbre is nearly perfect considering this is coming from balanced armature drivers and what's surprising is they almost sound like a dynamic driver! Listening to live performances from Michel Jonasz and the Planetshakers, I can't stop marvelling upon how great the bass sounds and that it easily rivals the best I've heard. The Noble 4 may not have the WOW factor that bass enhanced IEMs have, but listening to how clean, clear, punchy, tight, fast, and well controlled the bass sounds... I often forget about "quantity"!

 

 

MIDS: All I can say is WOW! This is what got me hooked to the Noble 4... timbre, clarity, and detail is its main forte. Vocals sound so natural that listening to Jewel - Somewhere Over The Rainbow is like having her sing right in front of you! Duets such as Tell Him by Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand are presented very well that you'd appreciate the contrasting tonal differences between the two vocals. Instruments sound excellent, full and rich... I've never heard the piano, cello, and violin rendered this natural ever! The KEF M200 is pretty close but the clarity and clean tone from the balance armature driver in the Noble 4 keeps it ahead. For the most part, I find the mids really neutral and it only starts to deviate after 3Khz where it's supposed to slope down to render a more smoother sound. To my ears, I hear the upper mids staying forward 'til about 7Khz before it starts sloping down; making the Noble 4 sound MID-centric and presents the extra clarity and resolution that most of us look for in an IEM. As a result, distorted guitars sound just a little bit edgy and vocal sibilance becomes quite apparent if it exists in the recording. The balance armature dedicated for the midrange is quite transparent and I instantly notice nuances, even the shortcomings in the mixing and mastering of the tracks. Those who desire to enjoy each and every track in their library should be aware of this because no matter what you do, this IEM will reveal everything!

 

 

HIGHS: The upper register extends really well... it's smooth but not too smooth like the Sony MH1. Detail/resolution is impressive to a point that it reminds me of the Tralucent 1Plus2! Seldom did I hear sibilance and when i did, it was only because it already existed in the mix. Again, timbre and decay are magnificent... cymbals are presented really well and they ring like how I used to hear them live. Listening to Led Zepellin - Fool In The Rain exhibits how natural the cymbals sound on the Noble 4... and even with a very difficult track like Phil Collins - Easy Lover, the cymbals in the intro are done right which is rarely achieved by any other IEM in my experience. The right amount of reverberation is required to make the instruments sound right in the upper frequencies and the Noble 4 has what it takes to sound just right. Despite being transparent and all that, I still find the sound signature to be borderline analytical which I really appreciate because it stays being musical and enjoyable. Sparkly but not too bright... clear but not thin... detailed but not harsh... in short, the Noble 4 sounds just right.

 

 

 

 

IMAGING AND SOUNDSTAGE: The soundstage is quite wide for a neutral sounding IEM; wider than the Sony MH1 although not as wide as the Dunu DN-1000. The presentation has the right amount of intimacy at the centre of the stage but keeps a good distance between instruments. I noticed that this varies from one track to another depending on how the track was mixed. In so many ways, I can almost conclude that the Noble 4 is a good representation of how the track was recorded. Headstage is also a good characteristic of this IEM with a presentation spanning to the back of the head and over the head... a nice decent out-of-head experience. Again, this will also depend on the track and how it was recorded in the first place. Such a capable IEM this is... it doesn't exaggerate much nor underplay the presentation of music.

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION: So is the Noble 4 a true "Reference" monitor? I honestly can't say... What I can say however, is that I can't find any significant flaw in its sound and presentation. There is a slight forwardness in the upper midrange/lower treble but I personally find it an advantage as it brings more clarity and detail without sounding too analytical. In other words, in spite its superb transparency and resolution, the Noble 4 still retains musicality and makes you enjoy listening to music provided that your source file is of high quality not just in terms of compression but mix/mastering as well. Is it for everyone? I don't think so... bass heads will find it lacking in bass, metal heads will find the bass bit too tame, but those looking for accuracy will find contentment. I for one adores the Noble 4 and will be using this as my reference for future reviews/comparison. This will bring more confidence in my impressions and conclusions with the hope that they can be of better service to everyone.

 

Special thanks to @joker @H20Fidelity @Jupiterknight @kova4a without whom I may not have been courageous enough to invest this much on an IEM.

To Noble Audio: Good on you! Please continue to bring forth quality audio products.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

17. Unique Melody 3X Review

 

 

 

 

Hybrid IEM’s are getting more attention these days. I have a feeling that we’re about to enter the golden age of hybrids; the reason is manufacturers are closing the gap to the perfectly balanced sound signature may it be neutral, u-shaped, or even v-shaped. I’m a huge fan of these hybrids because I admire the combination of the natural bass texture from dynamic drivers and the exceptional clarity/resolution from balanced armature drivers. The best I’ve heard so far is the Tralucent 1Plus2 but we all know that it is a top-of-the-line hybrid with a very pricey tag. What I’m really looking forward to are the mid-tier hybrids that are performing better than what their prices suggest. Sony has the XBA H3, Dunu with the DN-1000/2000, T-PEOS brings the H200/H300, Aurisonics’ popular ASG 2, and for this review: Unique Miracle 3X. Djvkool has organised an Australian Tour and I’m quite fortunate to be included. So without further ado...

 

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > JDS Labs C5

                iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS Labs C5

                16/44 FLAC, ALAC, and 256kbps AAC

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

NOTE: The UM 3X pairs really well with the Colorfly C3 because it tames the sub-bass a bit.

 

 

BASS: This defines the entry level for a bass head’s IEM. Sub-bass rumble doesn’t go unnoticed as it’s always there even when not called for. I’d say that this is not suitable for bass enhanced recordings because the sub-bass would mask some detail on most occasions. Most of the time, I find it too much for EDM, Hip-hop, and RnB. However, I do find the quantity just right (borderline) for other genres especially pop and rock recordings in the 70’s and 80’s. Decay and speed is enough to keep up with double-bass kicks in heavy metal but not as fast as T-PEOS H200/H300. As a result I find the other hybrids to be more clean sounding but on the other hand, the UM 3X has more impact and quite visceral. As for the mid-bass, I don’t hear any emphasis because I hear more from the sub bass and the lower midrange. Detail retrieval is quite good when playing bass guitar and drum passages but falls a bit short when things get more complex like in some metal tracks. Timbre is quite natural except for the extra rumble that isn’t normally heard. Listening to live performances really highlights the UM 3X’s bass prowess - full bodied, well textured, layered, with plenty of authority. A great IEM for well mixed/mastered tracks that don’t have any emphasis on sub bass.

 

 

MIDS: I find the mids quite forward especially in the upper mid-range. A lot more forward than the T-PEOS H200 or Noble 4. Timbre, clarity, and detail are very good with vocals sounding full, rich, and quite emphasized. Unfortunately, this bump in the upper mid-range causes sibilance on artists with full sounding vocals in the upper octaves between 3kHz and  5kHz. Instruments sound excellent, full, and rich… especially guitars yet trumpets and saxophones are too emphasized and can be hot at times. In spite this limitation, when played at a lower volume plus a well mixed/mastered recording the UM 3X can really sing; thanks to its excellent transparency, clarity, and resolution. The presentation is really nice, with lots of air and the feeling that everything in the mid-range floats over the rest of the sound.

 

 

HIGHS: Treble presentation can be great depending on the quality of the track/recording. The lower treble is a bit edgy and little bit splashy making harsh recordings a lot more aggressive. Fortunately, the upper treble is quite smooth and extends well. So if the music is of great quality, the treble region is pleasant on the UM 3X. Cymbals ring naturally and decay is just a little bit longer than desired. Lots of air in the background providing an excellent presentation of space and adds more character to the UM 3X’s sound signature.

 

 

 

 

IMAGING AND SOUNDSTAGE: Soundstage is quite wide just trailing behind the Dunu DN-1000. Height is excellent with sufficient depth resulting to a 3D-like imaging though still not as expansive as the DN-1000. Imaging is really good with excellent distance in between instruments; making good use of the space in the stage.

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION: The UM 3X has the potential to be a great hybrid; personally I’d like it to have a tamer sub-bass, mid-range, and lower treble. Otherwise, those who like to play around equalisers will find a gem in the UM 3X because the drivers in this hybrid are very capable and a few tweaks can definitely make them sound worthwhile. As a side note: those wondering about fit because these IEMs are HUGE need not worry... I have relatively small ears and yet the design of the UM 3X allows for a snug and tight fit.

 

Special thanks to @djvkool for making this tour happen. Good on you mate!

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

18. T-PEOS H-300 Review: The Could've Been...

 

 

 

T-PEOS is back with their new flagship hybrid! The H-300 is getting heaps of mixed impressions from everyone who got their hands on them during the pre-sale promotion. Some ended up selling theirs in a few  days, others are still figuring out if it’s a keeper, while a handful of people claim that they sound really good! My first impression of them was great that I ended up selling my beloved H-200. That is really a drastic move considering how much I value the H-200, my favourite IEM for heavy metal. Whether I'll end up regretting my decision or rejoice that I’ve finally bought myself a pair H-300 will be revealed at the end of this review. Special thanks to Kwon Sungoo and T-PEOS for making the Australian H-300 Demo Tour happen and @H20Fidelity for facilitating this.

 

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > JDS Labs C5

               iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS Labs C5

               16/44 FLAC, ALAC, and 256kbps AAC

               Using the stock coloured cable + Comply TS200 foam tips.

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

 

 

BASS: WOW! WOW! WOW! I love the bass on these. Goes deep, with just enough sub-bass rumble that doesn’t linger too long with its decay. Punch may not be as hard hitting as the H-200 but it definitely has enough impact coupled with speed to keep you happy with your EDM and Metal favourites. Bass heads may not find this their ideal bass monster but the quantity is at a level where it can’t be ignored. Detail is the best I’ve heard so far… enough to make me forget the Astrotec AX-60 and KEF M200. Containing all that detail will need a lot of speed to avoid congestion and the H-300 delivers no matter what genre you use to put it to the test. It seems like all the boxes in the bass department are ticked; but wait, there’s more: TIMBRE! Bass that sounds so natural that it just keeps you wanting for more!

 

 

MIDS: At first I was like: dang! it’s a bit recessed... thanks to the emphasised lower treble, the mid-range gets left behind because that's just how it is with v-shaped sound signatures. Fortunately, only the vocals are greatly affected; making them sound a bit contained and weird like there's a very thin veil over them (not from the bass but from the treble). Despite the restrained vocals, instruments still sound excellent; full and rich especially when you listen at high volume levels to bring up the mid-range. Detail, timbre, and clarity is amongst the best I’ve heard. When volume matched, the mid-range is almost as good as the Noble 4. Yes ladies and gentlemen, pretty close to Noble 4! Now why would I get to that conclusion when the H-300 vocals sound a bit restrained? The answer is in the next section...

 

 

HIGHS: Oh how I wish this ended differently. The treble although not as extended as the Sony MH1 is still great because the roll-off is only noticeable beyond 14 kHz. Resolution is exemplary in the H-300; you get to hear micro-detail you’d normally miss with most average IEMs. Unfortunately, I hear a peak from 7 kHz to 10 kHz and its severity will depend on how the track is mixed/mastered. Reminds me of the Astrotec AX-60 but the H-300 is more refined and detailed. Tracks from artists such as Daft Punk, Avicii, Earth Wind & Fire, and Dream Theater don’t get sibilant at all. What’s disappointing is that it’s quite common to have bright sounding tracks in one’s library. Artists such as Van Halen, The Used, Train, Phil Collins, and Chicago can be too much for someone’s tolerance to cymbals shimmer or vocal sibilance. The peak also affects timbre and as a result cymbals sound a bit too thin for my liking.

 

Now here’s the kicker… if you can somehow get rid of that extra shimmer, edginess, and aggressiveness from the peak between 7 kHz and 10 kHz, the H300 can stand amongst the best out there. As a matter of fact, it sounds near perfect to my preference when the peak is tamed a bit. With the treble peak reduced, vocals will no longer sound restrained, cymbals will ring naturally, and clarity is better than ever. I’d be hard pressed to choose between the H-300 and Noble 4 because they complement each other really well. Reducing the peak can be done in several different ways: one can use foam filter mod as a damper or do the old fashion EQ tweak. My preference is about 7db reduction from 7 kHz to 9 kHz which can easily be done with Parametric EQ or to a certain degree with foam filter mod + Comply TS200/TSX200. Just enough to get rid of the harshness without changing the tonality of the H-300.

 

 

 

 

IMAGING AND SOUNDSTAGE: Soundstage is really wide and can easily keep up against the Dunu DN-1000. Height is above average with sufficient depth yet not as expansive as the DN-1000. Imaging is excellent coupled with instrument placement that’ll immerse you into the music. Such an excellent presentation that can sound like its coming from a decent full-sized headphone.

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION: So what does clarity, resolution, natural timbre, amazing bass, nice mid-range, and peaky lower treble compound into? It’s T-PEOS H-300: the could’ve been! It could’ve been one of THE BEST out there if not for the peaky treble. T-PEOS is getting there and hopefully will close the gap to perfection when they release their next flagship: H-400 maybe? For now I’m happy with the H300 but not rejoicing... not just yet.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

19. EarSonics SM3 V2 Review

 

 

 

 

It’s embarrassing but truth be told I’ve never heard of the Earsonics SM3 V2 in the year and a half of being a member at head-fi. Fortunately, our good friend djvkool offered to lend me his unit for review and I’m really grateful for the opportunity of hearing this triple-BA which I find such a pleasure to listen with.

 

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > JDS Labs C5

               iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS Labs C5

               16/44 FLAC, ALAC, and 256kbps AAC

               Using Sony hybrid tips

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

 

 

BASS: No bells and whistles really… just a normal sounding bass presentation to my ears. Nothing special to catch ones attention nor flaw that can be criticised. I find the low end quite close to neutral with a bit of warmth that is quite nice. I do however, find it just a little bit lacking in refinement to extract that little bit more texture in producing bass guitar riffs. Maybe its just me being too spoilt by bass boosted IEMs such as the H300. Sometimes, it can sound a little bit muddy which I believe is coming from the lower midrange bleeding over the mid-bass. This bleeding only happens when playing rock and metal tracks with overly distorted guitar riffs that are thick sounding. But overall, there’s really nothing to complain about because the low frequency is presented really well with good speed/decay, detail, and sub-bass extension.

 

 

MIDS: This is where I had a bit of difficulty assessing the SM3 V2 because there seems to be a veil surrounding the entire presentation. At first I thought the mids as whole was recessed but later found out that the detail is all there and quite neutral in most sections. The lower mid-range is quite forward and thick in texture; as a result vocals are quite intimate, lush, and full sounding. Instruments also sound lush, rich, and detailed but a bit too thick with distorted guitars. But then I realised; I was missing the clarity in the upper midrange of which I’m used to from Noble 4 and Dunu DN-1000. This is where the accents from cymbals and vocals get emphasised and the SM3 V2 seems to have a very laid back upper mid-range resulting into a very smooth vocal/cymbal presentation. This is perfect for those who are sensitive to sibilance. I threw all my sibilance test tracks at the SM3 V2 and NONE of them gave me problems. The down side, this presentation is not for everyone… some will find it veil sounding and I can’t blame them. I personally find it a decent solution when I’m in need of a relaxing musical session.

 

 

HIGHS: The treble section reminds me so much of the UE TF10; I'm not really accurate about this because I don’t have the TF10 for a real time A/B comparison but from memory they are quite similar. Laid back yet there’s enough sparkle to produce the detail needed. It also extends really well, extracting every bit of detail that one might look for from their favourite track. I really don’t have anything bad to say about this section but if I were really to nit pick… there’s a slight graininess but that's about it. I don’t even mind it because I can really appreciate the detail and extension that the SM3 V2 provides.

 

 

 

 

IMAGING AND SOUNDSTAGE: Presentation is the main highlight from the SM3 V2 which I will attribute to its superb imaging and sound-staging. Instruments are placed all over place that they surround the vocals to produce a mesmerising experience. Never did I feel congested in any of the tracks I used for this review. Soundstage is above average and yet not exaggerated; the width varies depending on how the track is mixed/mastered and in some tracks it reaches the back of your head. Height and depth are excellent resulting into a 3D-like presentation such that I can’t put into words how awesome the SM3 V2 does live music!

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION: What a surprise! Another IEM that’s really enjoyable despite the flaws in its tuning. If only the lower midrange was more refined and the upper mid-range a bit more forward, this could’ve been an awesome piece of work. For what it’s worth, the SM3 V2 is such a pleasure to listen to. I enjoyed every minute I spent with it and for those who are dismissing it because of the slight veil… it can easily be fixed. How? That’s for you to find out once you give the Earsonics SM3 V2 a go!

 

Special thanks to @djvkool for letting me review this unit.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

20. Sony XBA H3 Review and Comparisons

 

 

Celebrating Easter Sunday with the Sony XBA H3!

 

 

The moment Sony announced its entry to the hybrid IEM market I got really excited. Imagine a Sony MH1 tuning with the EX1000 bass and XBA 3 clarity hopefully w/o the metallic treble… This could be the best Sony IEM in history! Can it compete against the other hybrids that have gained popularity in the past couple of years? Let’s give the XBA H3 a go and find out!

 

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > JDS Labs C5

                iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS Labs C5

                16/44 FLAC, ALAC, and 256kbps AAC

                TEST TRACKS: Dream Theater - Greatest Hit (…And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) album

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

 

 

BASS: Each and every hybrid IEM I’ve reviewed so far has impressed me with their bass performance but Sony’s XBA H3 is the first to bring a mixed bag of impression. It has a strong emphasis on mid-bass but oddly coupled with a close-to-neutral sub-bass. The bass quantity is not really at “basshead” level but the impact/presence is quite good. Unfortunately, there’s a bit too much mid-bass and it usually causes bloat and bleeding. This will also depend on the tempo and complexity of the track and I’ve noticed that it can get away with slow clean songs such as acoustic performances and ballads. The problem occurs when dealing with complex, fast tempo tracks such as progressive metal. Bass decay stays a little bit too long thus bass bleed/bloat becomes more apparent. Fortunately, the problem is not so obvious with some genres such as EDM and 80’s Pop/Rock.

 

MIDS: This is where the XBA H3 falls really short of my expectations; the mid-range is quite recessed. What makes it worse, the recessed area is right in the middle where most of the rich detail reside. As a result, most instruments such as the piano, violin, and guitars at high octaves sound dull and distant. Distorted guitars sound too thick and masks the rest of the details. Vocals sound distant and restricted, diverting your focus to the surrounding instruments. Fortunately, the upper mid-range is quite forward saving the entire presentation from sounding veiled. Vocal sibilance is never an issue which is a plus! The XBA H3 doesn’t have the clarity of the other hybrids I’ve heard but at least cymbals sound natural and clear providing the necessary sparkle to even out the overall presentation.

 

 

HIGHS: The treble section is the XBA H3’s main strength with enough presence to complement the emphasised bass. It is very detailed, well extended, airy, sparkly, and never sibilant. Cymbals sound great and vocal sibilance is almost non-existent resulting into a relaxed listening experience without compromising detail. Micro detail is easily extracted and can easily compete against the best I’ve heard. The only fault that I can point out and I’m really nit picking here; is that the XBA H3 still retains a little bit of the grainy texture and metallic tinge that were prevalent in the previous XBA series of IEMs. Not as bad but still faintly audible to my ears.

 

 

 

 

IMAGING AND SOUNDSTAGE: Overall presentation is quite pleasing because of the XBA H3’s superb imaging and sound-staging that’ll project an illusion of being in a large concert hall with you situated right in the middle.  Instruments are placed well and will never sound congested no matter what genre you choose. Soundstage is not the widest but is perfectly balanced with its height and depth resulting into an impressive 3D-like presentation.

 

TAPE MOD: It has been suggested that covering the bass port and punching a needle-sized hole over the port can help improve the bass performance. After trying this mod on the Sony XBA H3, I am convinced that this is a MUST! Not only did it lessen the mid-bass hump, it also improved the speed, decay, and impact. The mid-bass no longer bled as much and the bloat is almost gone! As a bonus, the recession in the mids is now only noticeable at a lesser extent because it is no longer overwhelmed by the mid-bass.

 

 

 

 

VS DUNU DN-1000: The Sony XBA H3 bass is not as controlled nor detailed against the DN-1000. Sub-bass rolls-off much earlier and is less visceral when compared against the Dunu. Bass guitar riffs are better defined on the DN-1000 especially on complex and fast tempo recordings. However, with the Tape Mod applied on the XBA H3, the improvements in its bass is so drastic that the overall performance now matches the DN-1000.

 

The mid-range is less desired on the XBA H3 because the DN-1000 is more forward with clarity that goes beyond its price range. Vocals are more enticing with the Dunu plus the instruments sound richer and the overall presentation is more intimate.

                 

The XBA H3 is technically better than the DN-1000 in its treble performance because the latter is tuned close to neutral with excellent extension. The Dunu is not far behind tho, only trailing behind because of occasional sibilance in the lower treble (tip/insertion dependent) and it lacks a little bit in extension and micro-detail retrieval when compared to the Sony. However, Sony’s treble is a bit grainy and metallic unlike the smoother treble of the DN-1000.

 

Imaging is marginally better on the XBA H3 but the soundstage/headstage is quite similar to the DN-1000’s.

 

 

 

 

VS T-PEOS H-300: Bass and Mid-range wise, there is no contest here. The H-300 is simply the better performer in all areas because its bass is more extended, balanced, detailed, and visceral; the mid-range is a lot more detailed, richer, and has clarity that is remarkable in its price range. Timbre is also more natural sounding on the H-300 unlike the XBA H3 which can sound dull at times.

 

The XBA H3 is technically better than the H-300 in its treble performance because the latter is tuned close to neutral with excellent extension. The H-300 is not far behind tho, only trailing behind because of the obvious peak in the lower treble and it lacks a little bit in extension when compared to the Sony. However, Sony’s treble is a bit grainy and metallic unlike the smoother treble of the H-300.

 

The XBA H3 is arguably just as good as the H-300 in imaging but the soundstage/headstage sounds more expansive on the H-300.

 
 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION: The Sony XBA H3 is the odd one amongst all the hybrids I’ve reviewed so far but I personally find the overall sound quite enjoyable. I am really attracted to its sound especially with the tape mod applied just as long as I keep myself not too critical with its flaws. As a side note, the presentation and sound signature is quite different from the other hybrids because the XBA H3 has retained the Sony house sound. I actually applaud Sony for staying true to their sound and I truly believe that if they retune that mid-range and lessen the mid-bass a bit their next hybrid can be great sounding IEM. Sad to say that this is not the ultimate Sony IEM that I’ve been hoping for. Sony XBA H30... maybe?

 

Special thanks to @djvkool for letting me review this unit.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

21. Noble PR (Pure/Reference) Review

 

 

 

Having owned the Noble 4 (Universal) I am quite content to finally acquire a close-to-reference IEM. Although my goal was for a true reference IEM, I settled with the Noble 4 because unlike ER4s I don’t have to give up comfort over sound.

 

A couple of months ago, Noble Audio recently released a couple of innovative products to add to their line of universal IEMs. These are the “Switch” Universals: variable-tuning IEMs namely the Noble FR and PR. They feature two sets of BA drivers and passive crossovers that allow the user to change sound signatures by simply toggling a switch on the faceplate. This is probably one of the first, if not the first IEM to basically have two monitors in one casing.

 

Noble PR (pure reference)

P configuration (switch up) – Transparent, detailed, precise. Transparency and precision are all that matters here. P stands for pure.

R configuration (switch down) – Analytical, resolving, fast. An analytical sound with an emphasis on clarity. R stands for reference.

Specification:

• Two separate configurations, two dedicated crossover networks
• P configuration impedance > 240 ohms
• 2 balanced-armature drivers
• R configuration impedance > 30 ohms
• 1 balanced-armature driver
• Detachable cable with industry-standard 2-pin configuration
• Rose gold plated pentalobe screws

 

For more info: http://nobleaudio.com/products/universal/switch/

 

 

Noble Audio knew of my search for a true reference IEM and asked me if I was interested in reviewing the Noble PR to see if this is the true reference IEM I was looking for. I humbly accepted the opportunity and now we are here to check if the Noble PR can perform as per reference standards.

 

Continue... (Click to show)

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > JDS Labs C5

               iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS Labs C5

               16/44 FLAC and ALAC

 

TEST TRACKS:

              Dr. Chesky’s Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc

              Dream Theater - Greatest Hit (…and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)

              Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

              Tina Turner - Greatest Hits

              Roxette - Greatest Hits

                  

 

The contents in the box are similar to the Noble 4 (universal) package as shown above.

 

WHATS IN THE BOX: The Noble PR came in a well thought of package; the content is surrounded by a perfectly cut-to-form foam for maximum protection from external forces. Inside is a magnificent Noble branded black otter box which I find really well built and projects a quality impression. Inside the otter box, I was greeted with a generous amount of tips in various types and form. An IEM cleaning tool is also present along with a couple of Noble bands, stickers, and a Noble owner’s card. Last but not the least is the Noble PR IEM and a 1.2 meter braided cable with dual prong connectors.

 

 

The noble cable is durable, light, non-microphonic, and supple making it one of the best custom cables I've ever tried.

 

 

NOBLE R Configuration - REFERENCE (switch down)

 

SOUND: The Noble Reference aims to sound flat across all frequencies and it seems to deliver in this category. BASS is surprisingly detailed and textured despite the lack of weight in the sub-bass to project the ideal depth. Sub-bass is still present despite a slight roll-off thus sounding quite faint and is no where near as visceral as most dynamic driver IEMs. However, the quality is top notch and I’ve never missed a bass guitar note; not even in complex songs where notes can get messy/muddy with most bass boosted headphones. Bass is tuned very close to flat although quantity is highly dependent on the tips used. I discovered that bi-flange tips work really well in keeping the integrity of the tuning. In terms of performance, the bass has speed and probably the quickest decay I’ve heard from an IEM so far. MIDS is also superbly detailed and perfectly balanced with the lower frequencies nullifying any chance of bleeding. Vocals are very engaging and seem to be the main focus in the overall presentation. The overall tonality is a bit cold and analytical. Timbre is very close to neutral and the listener can definitely admire the realism in its projection. HIGHS is well controlled and kept in line with the rest of the frequencies showing no signs of exaggerated peaks nor dips. This allows the Noble Reference to have great detail and resolution without sounding harsh nor sibilant. Treble is well extended... not the best I’ve heard but quite possibly on par with the Etymotic ER4s. Micro detail is easily heard without effort and airiness is quite good. PRESENTATION is very intimate in my experience. The Noble Reference has a neutral sound signature with a presentation that's focused on vocals. Soundstage width is average but surprisingly expands wider when the track calls for it. Instrument separation is also decent with ample distance between instruments. Imaging is quite good although it doesn’t exhibit a 3D-like presentation. The listener is placed really close to the stage and can project a closed-in feel depending on how the track was mixed/mastered.

 

I can imagine that the “Reference” mode will be of use to someone who needs a break from a serious listening session. It doesn’t have any enhanced section across all frequencies and so it paves a way for a laid back listening experience for as long as the source material is of excellent quality. Keep in mind that transparency is one of the key traits of this IEM so lossless files are preferred for a more satisfying experience. Fortunately, it doesn’t require a lot of power to drive so a good old iPod will suffice in achieving a satisfying performance.

 

 

The switch functions really well and seamlessly transitions between R and P modes.

 

 

NOBLE P Configuration - PURE (switch up)

 

SOUND: If I was to describe the Noble Pure sound with one word, that would be “DETAIL”. This can possibly compete with the rest of the detail monsters out there; and having heard the Tralucent 1Plus2 (original version) I can attest that the Noble “Pure” is definitely in the same league in terms of detail retrieval. BASS quantity and quality are very similar to the Noble Reference but somehow I find the Noble Pure's bass more revealing. I honestly have difficulty justifying my findings because doing A/B comparison between the two modes is a challenge. After so many hours of comparison, I decided to stick with how I felt about the music in between modes. I found the bass in Pure mode to be more satisfying and cleaner but I must admit that I lack the evidence to support my conclusion based on how I felt. My apologies to everyone for I do not have the technological means to measure deviations or differences in the IEM’s performance. MIDS is again superbly detailed and perfectly balanced with the low end nullifying any chance of bleeding. Vocals are well placed and sit perfectly in line with the overall presentation. There’s a slight emphasis (not a peak) in the upper mid-range that amplifies clarity/transparency and as a result, the overall tonality is colder and more analytical compared to the Reference mode. HIGHS is also slightly emphasised specifically in the lower treble but it’s still in line with the upper mid-range with no exaggerated peaks. This allows the Noble PR to extract the most detail and resolution out of a track but at the cost of being borderline sibilant. If the track was originally mixed/mastered with emphasis on the treble, the Noble Pure will reveal it easily. On the other hand, if the track excels on how it was mixed/mastered then the Noble Pure will capitalise on that and bring the most satisfying experience in terms of detail, clarity, and transparency. Treble is also well extended and on par with the Etymotic Research ER4s. Micro detail is easily one of the best I’ve heard in an IEM and the airiness also adds more breathing space for its excellent sound resolution. PRESENTATION is quite unique in my experience. The Noble Pure has a neutral/reference sound signature with a little bit of emphasis in the upper mid-range and lower treble but with no exaggerated peaks. As a result the soundstage width is quite wide for a neutral signature and it’s coupled with excellent instrument separation. Imaging is also a bit better and seems to project a more 3D-like presentation when compared to the Reference mode. The listener is placed in front of the stage without any trace of congestion resulting in an intimate and pleasing experience.

 

A fair bit of warning: because the Noble PR is tuned to extract the most detail and resolution, such a feat also comes at a cost… they are painfully revealing of flaws in a track/recording. Sibilant tracks will sound the worst through the Noble PR and it is pertinent that one should consider not only the compression of the music file but the mixing/mastering as well. Aside from the source material, one should be mindful of the volume level too. I normally listen at a fairly loud volume but with the Noble PR, I just can’t. It is just too detailed and revealing for loud music sessions. One more thing: at 240 ohms impedance this mode needs quite a bit of power to perform well so a good reliable amplifier such as the JDSlabs C5 is required to attain its ideal performance. When all of these conditions are met, you will be rewarded with a level of detail you can only get from a TOTL headphone.

 

The ear guides are well constructed and quite functional for various ear sizes.

 

The ports and connectors are well built and fit securely, showing no signs of loose connection problems.

 

 

CONCLUSION: So is the Noble PR a true "Reference" monitor? In my personal experience, YES and it comes in two flavours. I find the Noble Reference sound signature to be my ideal preference when I want to focus on the vocals in the music. Ballads, A Cappella, and Country are the perfect examples of genres that’ll really shine with the Noble Reference. As for the Noble Pure sound signature, this mode is the perfect solution whenever I want to hear the most detail from a song regardless of the genre. I applaud the level of the clarity, detail, and transparency that Noble was able to attain with the Noble Pure. Is the Noble PR for everyone? Very unlikely… Noble Audio is very straight forward in their description of this IEM in their website: “A purist’s earphone, switch seamlessly between two different interpretations of what “detailed” really means and hear minutiae you’ve never heard before.” and I couldn’t agree more.

 

 

 

Special thanks to Noble Audio for letting me review the Noble PR.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

22. DUNU DN-2000 Review

 

 

 

DUNU’s first 3-driver hybrid, the DN-1000 was quite popular in 2013 and considered to be one of the best buys for that period. I certainly felt that it was the best IEM I’ve purchased last year. Now that DUNU has released the new DN-2000, can it live up to its predecessor’s reputation? There’s only one way to find out...

 

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > JDS Labs C5

               iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS Labs C5

               16/44 FLAC and ALAC

 

Continue... (Click to show)

TEST TRACKS:

              Dr. Chesky’s Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc

              Dream Theater - Greatest Hit (…and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)

              Pantera - Cowboys From Hell

              Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

              Avicii - True

              Tina Turner - Greatest Hits

              The Corrs - Greatest Hits

 

             

 

 

BASS

 

Bass is well controlled but quantity wise, it’s significantly lesser and much closer to neutral than its bass boosted predecessor: DN-1000. The good news is, DN-2000’s bass response extends well down to the sub-bass region and is much cleaner overall. In my previous reviews, I have mentioned how I really like the bass tuning on the DN-1000 except for the slightly delayed decay. I am happy to report that the DN-2000 has quicker bass decay making it suitable for fast heavy metal songs. Unfortunately, I find the texture to be slightly on the soft side for my preference. A very slight boost around 80hz and mild reduction around 400hz will help attain a much solid/tighter bass impact. Personally, I would’ve preferred the DN-2000 to retain the bass quantity of it’s predecessor coupled with a quicker decay because I feel that the extra warmth in the low end is necessary to counter balance the bright sounding high frequency. Overall, the DN-2000’s bass performance is great as it is now more versatile in handling various music genres unlike its predecessor.

 


MIDS

 

The midrange is very well placed and in line with the low end frequency. Vocals sound a notch more forward on the DN-2000 compared to its predecessor mainly because of the balance between the bass and mids. Vocals both male and female really shine with amazing clarity and transparency. Timbre is slightly on the thinner side but it doesn’t detract from sounding natural and lush. Distorted guitars sound a little bit edgy and vocal sibilance can be quite apparent if it exists in the recording. The transparency makes it easy for the listener to instantly notice flaws in the mixing and mastering of the tracks. The DN-2000 is quite revealing and can be a great solution for analytical listeners.

 

 

HIGHS

 

I am quite impressed with the DN-2000 in the treble region because it’s probably one of the most detailed and extended IEM I’ve heard so far… it can compete with more expensive IEMs such as the Tralucent 1Plus2 and Noble 4. Everything sounds so natural and airy. Micro-detail is excellent and there is almost no trace of grainy texture even at high volume levels. Very transparent and quite revealing of flaws in compressed recordings. There is a peak at the lower treble which is both good and bad. Good for well mastered recordings but very bad for overly compressed MP3s. Sibilance can also be one of the issues especially when using inappropriate tips and insertion methods. VERY IMPORTANT--The intensity of sibilance will depend on your tips, seal, and depth of insertion. I discovered that wide bored tips coupled with shallow insertion are very effective in reducing this sibilance to a point where it is non-existent. Narrow bored tips tend to accentuate the lower treble to the extent of sibilance.

 

 

 


IMAGING AND SOUNDSTAGE

 

The soundstage is wide and quite similar to the Dunu DN-1000 except in the case of the DN-2000, soundstage width depends on how the track was mix/mastered. If the track calls for it, the DN-2000 can be just as wide. Headstage is not as 3D-like as its predecessor but is good enough to project a decent out-of-head experience. Again, this will also depend on the track and how it was mixed or mastered. Instruments are well placed all over the soundscape resulting into a pleasurable and non-congested musical experience.

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION: So how does the DN-2000 stand against its predecessor? It’s hard to say because of two things: DN-2000 is more expensive and such price difference can be hard to quantify in terms of value especially against the DN-1000. Secondly, the sound signature is quite different between the two which leads us to a conclusion that people who already own the DN-1000 may not necessarily like the new sound. Personally, I find the DN-2000 less fun/musical and more analytical but I prefer it because I usually listen to heavy metal over electronic music which is better on the DN-1000. The DN-2000 is a GREAT hybrid in its own right but whether one will prefer this over the DN-1000 is more like a matter of personal preference.

 

Special thanks to Rocky@Dunu and @djvkool for making this review happen.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

23. T-PEOS Altone 200 First Impression

 

 

 

First of all I'd like to thank T-PEOS for sending this review unit. These did not come in retail packaging so I won't be able to show you photos of the box and accessories. I did however receive a small pouch with a few tips and a shirt clip.

 

Continue... (Click to show)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:

 

I really like the material used for the casing (aluminium and steel) unfortunately the photos don't show how nice they really are. Simple, clean lines, but definitely feels premium. I am however concerned about possible scratches/dints if these are handled roughly or even when simply tucked away then the earpieces bump against each other. I guess only time will tell how these will fare after constant usage.

 

The size is perfect... these IEMs are smaller than your average monitors. Even smaller than the Zero Audio Carbo Basso; to think that was very comfortable for my tiny ears. The Altone 200 is more comfortable and I simply don't feel like I have them on after long periods of listening because of the lightness and the smoothness of the surfaces.

 

Now the sound... oh boy! T-PEOS has impressed me once again. At the price that these are being introduced, I expected a small back step in sound quality. To my delight, it is the exact opposite! They kept the best qualities from their previous offerings and fined tuned the rest of the frequency that needed refinement. The BASS is better, more visceral, and textured compared to the H200 from memory. Reminds me so much of the H300 bass: tightness, detail, texture, sub-bass extension, and layering. MIDS is quite nice because it maintains clarity and detail you'd expect from BA drivers. Despite the boosted bass and treble, the vocals sit firmly in the background. I didn't notice any veiling whatsoever and never felt missing on detail/clarity. This is one of those rare moments that an IEM with this sound signature did not neglect the vocals/mid-range. HIGHS still has the signature T-PEOS emphasis in the lower treble and I'm happy to report that it's now more refined and more controlled. Not perfect but close... still very highly dependent on the quality of the recording + volume level. To my ears the balance between the BASS vs TREBLE is nicely done. Imaging and resolution is still as good as the T-PEOS flagships. The emphasis in the lower treble may still bother those who are really sensitive in this area but I can confidently say that those who can handle it will appreciate the added sparkle/brightness/resolution.

 

Please take note that I'm using Sony noise isolating hybrid tips with shallow insertion. I haven't started tip-rolling just yet so there may be slight changes in my impressions if I end up using different tips for my final review.

 

 

 

To those who have owned or heard the H200; it is time to move on and enjoy a MUCH better IEM. The Altone 200 has a much improved bass response, no dips in the upper midrange, and a more refined/controlled treble performance. It still has the T-PEOS house sound but in a much improved fashion.

 

Stay tuned for my full review...

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

24. TOPPING NX1 Portable Headphone Amplifier Impressions

 

 

 

 

The NX1 is a basic portable amplifier from Topping that's getting quite the attention. This mighty little amp is quite small making it ideal for portable use. It's the perfect size to match the Colorfly C3 with great build quality that can take a beating. The aluminium casing is not only sturdy, the surfaces are decently finished as well. Despite the affordable retail price (under $50), its build quality says otherwise. Here's a few more facts about this amplifier:

 

Specifications:

- Output Power: 100mW (RL=32Ω, THD+N=1%)

- THD + N < 0.001% 32Ω 50mW

- Frequency Response: 20-20kHz±0.2dB

- Suitable Headphone Impedance: 16-300Ω

- Noise < 10μV

- Battery Capacity: 1000mAh

- Working Time: Approx 100 hours

- Dimensions: Approx 9CM x 5.8CM x 1.35CM

- Weight: Approx 93g (unit only)

- Gain(@1kHz): +6dB (GAIN=L); +15dB (GAIN=H)

 

For more info: http://www.tpdz.net/en/products/nx1.htm

 

 

Continue... (Click to show)

 

 

SOUND: To be honest, I was quite sceptical on the NX1's sound performance. Budget amplifiers usually skip on the good internals to make-up for the affordable price. Fortunately, the NX1 doesn't sound like your usual budget amplifier! Paired with the Colorfly C3, the sound is just marvellous; clear, crisp, detailed, and very neutral. The low end is well extended and the top end is airy resulting into a respectable sound quality you'd never expect from a $50 device. As a matter of fact, I struggled differentiating the NX1 from the JDSlabs C5D because the overall tonality is quite similar. What I really like about the NX1 is the level of clarity it retains from your source and at the same time maintaining a neutral sound signature. I don't have any complaints about the NX1's sound performance whatsoever and if there is it'll be pairing with really sensitive IEMs. Using the Noble 4 results into an audible hiss that can be heard even when playing music at a very low volume. As for my other IEMs such as the T-PEOS Altone 200, there is barely any hiss and I'm quite happy with the pairing. 

 

 

 

 

FEATURES: The most important feature that I really admire about the NX1 is the power duration. Topping is claiming approximately 100 hours of play time with this device! That is some feature a constant traveller will surely appreciate. You're not only getting the portability due to its small size, but you also get more than enough juice to last you a plane trip around the globe! Well the plane will run out of fuel before the NX1 runs out. I haven't really tested the 100-hour mark but my experience of over 24-hours constant operation is enough to convince me that the NX1 is more than enough for my needs. This amplifier also has a Low and High gain which are handy for various headphones. I'm just not sure if it is powerful enough for high end power hungry headphones. But then again, I don't think the NX1 was built for such usage. I only wish there was a bass boost feature. A simple bass boost toggle switch would've made the NX1 the best budget portable amplifier in my books.

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION: For those who are preparing a budget setup; look no further. I highly recommend the Topping NX1 Portable Headphone Amplifier. It's built to last, has power that keeps on going, sounds really good, very portable, and most of all quite affordable. Pairing this amplifier with the Colorfly C3 must also be considered because of the size and the NX1 inability to change the C3's sound signature which is just great!

 

Special thanks to everyone responsible for the NX1 Aussie Tour!

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

25. T-PEOS Altone 200 Review: "High End Sound, Cheap As Chips!"

 

 

 

 

T-PEOS is at it again… this time with the intention of pleasing the consumer market by offering an excellent sounding earphone without breaking the bank. The Altone 200 is the latest 3-way Hybrid Design adopted from their flagship IEM, the H-300. To achieve their goal, the main components such as the dynamic and balanced armature drivers are kept intact but extra features such as removable cables and premium accessories were excluded. Fortunately, the build quality of the IEM casing is excellent! Made from aluminium and steel with a superb smooth finish. The best part is how small and light these IEMs are… they can be easily inserted and stay comfortably in your ears. As for the most important question: how is the sound quality? Well let’s find out! T-PEOS was kind enough to send me a review unit and so here I am to share my first hand experience with the Altone 200.

 

NOTE: I did not receive the final retail packaging, so a few photos were taken from other sources.

 

SETUP:  Colorfly C3 > JDS Labs C5D

               iMac 2011 > JDS Labs C5D

               16/44 FLAC

               Using Comply TS200 foam tips.

 

TEST TRACKS:

              Dr. Chesky’s Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc

              Dream Theater - Greatest Hit (…and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)

              Pantera - Cowboys From Hell

              Tool - Lateralus

              Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

              Avicii - True

              Adele - 21

              Tina Turner - Greatest Hits

              Jewel - Greatest Hits

              Janet Jackson - Greatest Hits

              Nirvana - In Utero

              Bryan Adams - So Far So Good

              Michael Jackson - Bad (Remastered)

 

 

This could possibly be the final retail packaging for the Altone 200. Photo courtesy of H20fidelity.

 

 

BASS: I’m a self-confessed fan of T-PEOS bass and the Altone 200 is no different. The bass performance was a big step-up on the H-300 and I’m glad that the quality is just as good with this new hybrid. The only minor differences are the decay, which is a bit quicker and the air is a bit lesser with the Altone 200. I reckon the smaller casing is a factor for these differences and whether anyone would prefer one over the other is a matter of preference. If the H-300 is Batman, the Altone 200 is Robin (Dick Grayson)… not as brawny as Batman yet more agile and charismatic. I say “charisma" because the bass quantity is perfect for almost all kinds of genre. Extends deep, with appropriate sub-bass rumble and a natural timbre to match. Its impact and slam are forces to be reckoned with, so visceral that they'll keep you entertained especially with heavy metal and electronic music. I am confident in claiming that its bass is one of, if not the best in detail I’ve heard from an IEM. Listening to Daft Punk’s Giorgio by Moroder (05:24 - 08:44) exhibits Altone 200’s bass prowess, a feat one could not simply ignore.

 

MIDS: What’s remarkable about the midrange is its totally free of bass bleed despite the boosted bass. The transition between mid-bass and the lower midrange is seamless enough that I don’t get distracted by coherence issues. Vocals may sound a bit far back in the background when listening at low volume. Increase the volume and the Altone 200 will surprise you with detail and clarity. The key is to find the volume sweet spot; only then the smooth, clear, and detailed midrange is realised. In my experience, the Altone 200 sounds at its best around 50%-55% volume on iPod Touch 5th Gen or 25-30 volume on the Colorfly C3. Male vocals are rendered smoothly while female vocals are a bit lifted. Guitars sound really good with accurate thickness and a little bit of edginess for that added crunch… perfect for heavy metal, rock, jazz, and acoustic. Clarity is among the best I’ve heard while timbre is just slightly on the thin side and really only noticeable during a volume matched A/B comparison with the Noble 4. The Altone 200 is far from a mid-centric sound signature yet it’s not far behind in overall midrange performance. The balance between bass and midrange is impressive and the fact that it’s being compared to the Noble 4 is already quite an accomplishment.

 

HIGHS: T-PEOS is known for emphasised lower treble and its definitely one of the distinct characteristics in the T-PEOS house sound. The Altone 200 stays true to its origin and I’m happy to report that the lower treble emphasis is more controlled and refined than any of the previous models. Cymbals sound quite natural but can sometimes be brighter than normal depending on the recording. Sibilance is only an issue if it already exists in the mixing/mastering of the track. Honestly, I did not encounter any issues with high quality recordings even if the genre calls for a brighter than normal sound signature. Resolution is probably the best in this price range where micro-detail is easily heard and better than most mid-tier IEMs. Overall, I’m quite happy with the treble this time around… a lot better than any of the previous models. If I were to nit pick, a little more emphasis on the upper treble will be perfect. There’s a bit of a roll-off but fortunately, micro-detail and airiness are still there. Not vividly perfect but certainly good enough and nothing a simple EQ can't solve. PLEASE NOTE: I used Comply TS200 for this review and results may slightly differ with various types of tips.

 

 

 

The RED strain relief is a nice touch to distinguish between right and left earpieces.

 

 

IMAGING AND SOUNDSTAGE: Soundstage is wider than average and can easily be improved with a slight EQ bump in the upper treble. What I like about the soundstage is that the width varies accordingly to the track being played. If the track calls for it, the Altone 200 will certainly deliver. Not as expansive as the Dunu DN-1000 but certainly not far behind either. Imaging remains exemplary comparable to previous flagship models like the H-300. Instruments are well placed with near accurate distances within the soundstage that is quite immersive. Impressive I must say considering that this is almost a budget IEM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION: I’ve been looking forward to the day when T-PEOS finally releases a product that’ll satisfy my sound preference. I was spoilt by the H-200, thrilled by the H-300, and now satisfied with the Altone 200. I cannot stress enough how happy I am with the direction T-PEOS is heading. The Altone 200 is proof that these guys take customer feedback seriously and then strive to exceed expectations. Good on you T-PEOS!

 

Special thanks to Sunggoo Kwon of T-PEOS for the review unit and @H20Fidelity for his contributions in the development of Altone 200.

 

 

 


 


Edited by d marc0 - 7/15/14 at 6:39pm
post #2 of 492
Thread Starter 

reserved

post #3 of 492

Great reviews, thanks for the comments and congrats on your work

post #4 of 492
Nice work 😎
post #5 of 492

WOW!!! Great setup you got here marc0, wish i was at your level. ;)

 

Can't wait for those upcoming reviews. :popcorn:

post #6 of 492
Wowzers, impressive thread.
post #7 of 492
Thread Starter 

@Don Lehrer 

@mochill 

@sfwalcer 

@DannyBai 

 

Thanks guys! :beerchug:

 

 

Sad News! One of the drivers in the right ear piece of my M200 has died. I'm trying to get a replacement either through the seller or KEF directly.

So the comparison AX60 vs M200 won't be happening. AX60 may arrive tomorrow for review so stay tuned...

 

Cheers!

post #8 of 492
Quote:
Originally Posted by d marc0 View Post
 

@Don Lehrer 

@mochill 

@sfwalcer 

@DannyBai 

 

Thanks guys! :beerchug:

 

 

Sad News! One of the drivers in the right ear piece of my M200 has died. I'm trying to get a replacement either through the seller or KEF directly.

So the comparison AX60 vs M200 won't be happening. AX60 may arrive tomorrow for review so stay tuned...

 

Cheers!


^ Man that sucks to hear, hope they will send you a replacement set. Other head-fiers has posted similar issues before, but it seems to be in the minority thankfully. Don't worry though i got ya' already covered on the m200 write-up. ;)

 

Can't wait to read your take on those AX60s!!!

post #9 of 492
Quote:
Originally Posted by d marc0 View Post
 

@Don Lehrer 

@mochill 

@sfwalcer 

@DannyBai 

 

Thanks guys! :beerchug:

 

 

Sad News! One of the drivers in the right ear piece of my M200 has died. I'm trying to get a replacement either through the seller or KEF directly.

So the comparison AX60 vs M200 won't be happening. AX60 may arrive tomorrow for review so stay tuned...

 

Cheers!

Really sorry to hear that, I hope you can get a replacement. I´ll stay put...

post #10 of 492
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Lehrer View Post
 

Really sorry to hear that, I hope you can get a replacement. I´ll stay put...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sfwalcer View Post
 


^ Man that sucks to hear, hope they will send you a replacement set. Other head-fiers has posted similar issues before, but it seems to be in the minority thankfully. Don't worry though i got ya' already covered on the m200 write-up. ;)

 

Can't wait to read your take on those AX60s!!!

 

Yeah! it was a bummer. Fortunately, the seller has offered to help me get a replacement. I'll just have to post the M200 back to the UK...

 

By the way, the RHA MA750 review is already up: 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

9. RHA MA750 mini Review

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/675848/new-rha-iems-the-ma750i-and-ma600i/330#post_10094520

 

 

 

 

I was so excited when I first saw the official RHA MA750 photos. They looked totally cool and robust that I just wanted to get my hands on them! It was at a time when I was also drooling on the Philips Fidelio S2 then a few weeks later both IEMs were getting a lot of praise. So I ended up sitting on the fence between the two unable to decide which one to get. To make the story short, I didn't end up with any of them because out of nowhere, the Dunu DN-1000 got released and it just felt right skipping both RHA and Philips for the attractively priced Dunu hybrid.

 

Fortunately, a fellow headfier is kind enough to loan me the RHA MA750! I still keep thinking back what it would've been if I ended up with the MA750 instead of the DN-1000? Now I can finally satisfy my curiosity...

 

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > JDS labs C5

               iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS labs C5

               16/44 FLAC and 320kbps MP3

 

 

BASS: Bass is what I love about the MA750. Quite forward and to my ears they sound a bit more forward than the Sony MH1. It has powerful authority especially in the sub-bass yet it doesn't sound overwhelming like other IEMs with emphasised bass end. It sounds clean, well controlled, and smooth! I do notice a bit of mid-bass bloat BUT it actually works in its favor; it makes bass guitars sound natural and real. Bass kicks may not sound as tight as balanced armature IEMs but the fast decay and excellent resolution is more than enough to keep me very satisfied. Well done RHA!

 

MIDS: This is where it feels like a mixed bag to my ears... if I don't listen closely, like lets say I'm outdoors: instruments like guitars sound so natural with great timbre plus the vocals in the lower mids is great - sounds smooth and well placed. Unfortunately, when I do a close A/B comparison vs the T-PEOS H200 it becomes apparent that it lacks just a bit of fullness. I then notice that there is a little bit of a veil in the mids where most vocals are presented. Moving into the upper mids, I hear a bit of sibilance; usually heard with the SSSS's in most female vocals. It hurts my ears when listening at high volume levels but is bearable when you turn it down a few notches. Now, this is not apparent in all recordings but definitely noticeable in most tracks that I listen to regardless of the genre. Overall, if I listen to music at a much lower volume level I wouldn't be too bothered with these flaws. The mids in general is really nice as long as you listen to music in quiet environments where you can keep the volume at maybe 50-60% out of an iPod or @25 clicks out of the C3.

 

HIGHS: The treble is quite alright in the MA750. I can hear decent detail/resolution and extends quite well but this can only be achieved if you listen at low volume levels. If you turn up the volume a bit, the peaks in some areas at the lower treble will mask and overwhelm the detail that you're suppose to hear from the upper treble. Timbre in the highs may not quite sound as natural as the DN-1000. Timbre is a little thin sounding; a little bit thinner than the T-PEOS H200 making cymbals lose a bit of its natural ringing/clanging sound. If RHA can tame some of the peaks and tune to a more natural timbre in the highs for their next model then it'll be a winner! RHA is definitely heading in the right direction.

 

SOUNDSTAGE: Personally, I think this is RHA's strength. Their tuning really presents a stage so wide that it is a pleasure listening to live music! It is even wider than my H200 and can stand against the Sony XBA3!

 

OVERALL SOUND: The MA750 is quite a unique experience for me. It is warm sounding but at the same time cold sounding in the upper frequencies. What really impresses me is how you can listen to any type of genre and enjoy them track by track. Thanks to how RHA tuned the bass end, genre is not a factor in enjoying this IEM. As long as you listen in quiet environments at lower volume levels, you'll definitely love the MA750!

 

Special thanks to @H20Fidelity for letting me review this unit!

 

The AX60 didn't arrive today... hopefully I'll get it after the holidays. 

I do have a T-PEOS H100j with me so stay tuned for a comparison with its big brother H200!

 

Have a Happy Christmas everyone!

post #11 of 492

Nice review.

post #12 of 492
Quote:
Originally Posted by d marc0 View Post
  Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

Yeah! it was a bummer. Fortunately, the seller has offered to help me get a replacement. I'll just have to post the M200 back to the UK...

 

By the way, the RHA MA750 review is already up: 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

9. RHA MA750 mini Review

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/675848/new-rha-iems-the-ma750i-and-ma600i/330#post_10094520

 

 

 

 

I was so excited when I first saw the official RHA MA750 photos. They looked totally cool and robust that I just wanted to get my hands on them! It was at a time when I was also drooling on the Philips Fidelio S2 then a few weeks later both IEMs were getting a lot of praise. So I ended up sitting on the fence between the two unable to decide which one to get. To make the story short, I didn't end up with any of them because out of nowhere, the Dunu DN-1000 got released and it just felt right skipping both RHA and Philips for the attractively priced Dunu hybrid.

 

Fortunately, a fellow headfier is kind enough to loan me the RHA MA750! I still keep thinking back what it would've been if I ended up with the MA750 instead of the DN-1000? Now I can finally satisfy my curiosity...

 

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > JDS labs C5

               iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS labs C5

               16/44 FLAC and 320kbps MP3

 

 

BASS: Bass is what I love about the MA750. Quite forward and to my ears they sound a bit more forward than the Sony MH1. It has powerful authority especially in the sub-bass yet it doesn't sound overwhelming like other IEMs with emphasised bass end. It sounds clean, well controlled, and smooth! I do notice a bit of mid-bass bloat BUT it actually works in its favor; it makes bass guitars sound natural and real. Bass kicks may not sound as tight as balanced armature IEMs but the fast decay and excellent resolution is more than enough to keep me very satisfied. Well done RHA!

 

MIDS: This is where it feels like a mixed bag to my ears... if I don't listen closely, like lets say I'm outdoors: instruments like guitars sound so natural with great timbre plus the vocals in the lower mids is great - sounds smooth and well placed. Unfortunately, when I do a close A/B comparison vs the T-PEOS H200 it becomes apparent that it lacks just a bit of fullness. I then notice that there is a little bit of a veil in the mids where most vocals are presented. Moving into the upper mids, I hear a bit of sibilance; usually heard with the SSSS's in most female vocals. It hurts my ears when listening at high volume levels but is bearable when you turn it down a few notches. Now, this is not apparent in all recordings but definitely noticeable in most tracks that I listen to regardless of the genre. Overall, if I listen to music at a much lower volume level I wouldn't be too bothered with these flaws. The mids in general is really nice as long as you listen to music in quiet environments where you can keep the volume at maybe 50-60% out of an iPod or @25 clicks out of the C3.

 

HIGHS: The treble is quite alright in the MA750. I can hear decent detail/resolution and extends quite well but this can only be achieved if you listen at low volume levels. If you turn up the volume a bit, the peaks in some areas at the lower treble will mask and overwhelm the detail that you're suppose to hear from the upper treble. Timbre in the highs may not quite sound as natural as the DN-1000. Timbre is a little thin sounding; a little bit thinner than the T-PEOS H200 making cymbals lose a bit of its natural ringing/clanging sound. If RHA can tame some of the peaks and tune to a more natural timbre in the highs for their next model then it'll be a winner! RHA is definitely heading in the right direction.

 

SOUNDSTAGE: Personally, I think this is RHA's strength. Their tuning really presents a stage so wide that it is a pleasure listening to live music! It is even wider than my H200 and can stand against the Sony XBA3!

 

OVERALL SOUND: The MA750 is quite a unique experience for me. It is warm sounding but at the same time cold sounding in the upper frequencies. What really impresses me is how you can listen to any type of genre and enjoy them track by track. Thanks to how RHA tuned the bass end, genre is not a factor in enjoying this IEM. As long as you listen in quiet environments at lower volume levels, you'll definitely love the MA750!

 

Special thanks to @H20Fidelity for letting me review this unit!

 

The AX60 didn't arrive today... hopefully I'll get it after the holidays. 

I do have a T-PEOS H100j with me so stay tuned for a comparison with its big brother H200!

 

Have a Happy Christmas everyone!

 

Way to go D Marco! Wish you a a happy Christmas too

post #13 of 492
Quote:
Originally Posted by d marc0 View Post
 

 

 

Yeah! it was a bummer. Fortunately, the seller has offered to help me get a replacement. I'll just have to post the M200 back to the UK...

 

By the way, the RHA MA750 review is already up: 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

9. RHA MA750 mini Review

Original Post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/675848/new-rha-iems-the-ma750i-and-ma600i/330#post_10094520

 

 

 

 

I was so excited when I first saw the official RHA MA750 photos. They looked totally cool and robust that I just wanted to get my hands on them! It was at a time when I was also drooling on the Philips Fidelio S2 then a few weeks later both IEMs were getting a lot of praise. So I ended up sitting on the fence between the two unable to decide which one to get. To make the story short, I didn't end up with any of them because out of nowhere, the Dunu DN-1000 got released and it just felt right skipping both RHA and Philips for the attractively priced Dunu hybrid.

 

Fortunately, a fellow headfier is kind enough to loan me the RHA MA750! I still keep thinking back what it would've been if I ended up with the MA750 instead of the DN-1000? Now I can finally satisfy my curiosity...

 

SETUP:   Colorfly C3 > JDS labs C5

               iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > JDS labs C5

               16/44 FLAC and 320kbps MP3

 

 

BASS: Bass is what I love about the MA750. Quite forward and to my ears they sound a bit more forward than the Sony MH1. It has powerful authority especially in the sub-bass yet it doesn't sound overwhelming like other IEMs with emphasised bass end. It sounds clean, well controlled, and smooth! I do notice a bit of mid-bass bloat BUT it actually works in its favor; it makes bass guitars sound natural and real. Bass kicks may not sound as tight as balanced armature IEMs but the fast decay and excellent resolution is more than enough to keep me very satisfied. Well done RHA!

 

MIDS: This is where it feels like a mixed bag to my ears... if I don't listen closely, like lets say I'm outdoors: instruments like guitars sound so natural with great timbre plus the vocals in the lower mids is great - sounds smooth and well placed. Unfortunately, when I do a close A/B comparison vs the T-PEOS H200 it becomes apparent that it lacks just a bit of fullness. I then notice that there is a little bit of a veil in the mids where most vocals are presented. Moving into the upper mids, I hear a bit of sibilance; usually heard with the SSSS's in most female vocals. It hurts my ears when listening at high volume levels but is bearable when you turn it down a few notches. Now, this is not apparent in all recordings but definitely noticeable in most tracks that I listen to regardless of the genre. Overall, if I listen to music at a much lower volume level I wouldn't be too bothered with these flaws. The mids in general is really nice as long as you listen to music in quiet environments where you can keep the volume at maybe 50-60% out of an iPod or @25 clicks out of the C3.

 

HIGHS: The treble is quite alright in the MA750. I can hear decent detail/resolution and extends quite well but this can only be achieved if you listen at low volume levels. If you turn up the volume a bit, the peaks in some areas at the lower treble will mask and overwhelm the detail that you're suppose to hear from the upper treble. Timbre in the highs may not quite sound as natural as the DN-1000. Timbre is a little thin sounding; a little bit thinner than the T-PEOS H200 making cymbals lose a bit of its natural ringing/clanging sound. If RHA can tame some of the peaks and tune to a more natural timbre in the highs for their next model then it'll be a winner! RHA is definitely heading in the right direction.

 

SOUNDSTAGE: Personally, I think this is RHA's strength. Their tuning really presents a stage so wide that it is a pleasure listening to live music! It is even wider than my H200 and can stand against the Sony XBA3!

 

OVERALL SOUND: The MA750 is quite a unique experience for me. It is warm sounding but at the same time cold sounding in the upper frequencies. What really impresses me is how you can listen to any type of genre and enjoy them track by track. Thanks to how RHA tuned the bass end, genre is not a factor in enjoying this IEM. As long as you listen in quiet environments at lower volume levels, you'll definitely love the MA750!

 

Special thanks to @H20Fidelity for letting me review this unit!

 

The AX60 didn't arrive today... hopefully I'll get it after the holidays. 

I do have a T-PEOS H100j with me so stay tuned for a comparison with its big brother H200!

 

Have a Happy Christmas everyone!


^ Nicely done there!!! Great insights, can't wait for that 60s one. hoho :beerchug:

post #14 of 492

Nice comparisons, very well done... I am working on something similar myself

post #15 of 492

Nice reviews, looking forward to more, HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

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