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Review - DX160 iE
Before I start I need to mention that the following are my personal opinions based on what I can only describe as a 'novice level' experience with IEMs.
In my youth I had experience with a small number of ear buds and for many years have simply ingnored earbuds and IEMs altogether in my persuit of quality headphones.
Only about a week before receiving the DX 160 iE, did I by chance acquire a CX300 II, so fortunately I had some time to get used to the sound of low-end IEMs again before writing this review.
Source & Equipment
Sony Vaio > ODAC > Objective2 Amp
Ipod Classic > FiiO L11> > PA2V2
I won't linger on this, but I will say it was better than I expected.
Overall I am impressed with the qualtiy and finish of the materials.
The machined metal housing is very pretty and has an excellent finish.
I am a little concerned that the outer circle is a plastic that may scratch too easily over time, but it has a nice slightly matt/pearlescent
finish that I like the look of.
The flat cable has a slighty rubbery feel to the material. This works well as an anti-tangle measure; a feature I have experienced works
well too with my Sennheiser Momentum cable.
My only concern is that there isn't enough strain relief or support around cable termination points.
There is plenty of strain relief on entry to the IEMs themselves, but at the plug-end of the IEM-cable, the entry into the plug seems a little too
sudden considering two cables meet at this point.
As the extension cable only has to deal with 1 cable terminating at each point, the build seems more than sufficient.
The clip certainly isn't the highlight of the product, but it works well and looks good.
Design & Aesthetics
The flat cable really does help keep things tangle free. I've had experience with flat cables before, and these performed even better than
others due to higher flexibility and light weight.
I really like how the extension cable terminates at 45 degress. It's a surprisingly good compromise between a 90 degree and
perpendicular plug and makes is much easier to unplug than a 90 degree plug.
The IEMs are a little big. They do stick out of my ears a fair bit, and due to my ear-canal shape, they also point slightly downwards; this
means that they look like they're about to fall out and makes them look sort of 'sad'.
I think it's great that there's a physical mark (a small dot) on the inner right IEM to make it easy to locate the right side IEM in the dark
or for the visually impaired, however I would have preferred a more obvious visual key other than a small 'R', indented into the rubber, as
I'm more accustomed to the common industry practice of a small red ring or marker.
The extension cable feature I found totally unnecessary. I can see how this would be great if you just clip your ipod nano (or similar device)
to the top of your shirt, or under your shirt collar or something. However the only thing it did for me is add more weight to the cable which
forced me to use the clip. This quickly became a small part of the routine, but I personally didn't gain anything from it.
Unfortunately cable microphonics were quite pronounced. I've heard worse, but they were pretty bad. This made me want to walk slower
so the cable would stop waving around so dramatically due to the extra weight of the extension cable plug.
I have quite small ears and apparently quite small ear canals too. I tried out the smallest varieties of silicone tips provided, but found that
they didn't offer any improvement to comfort and isolation, and only the very smallest fit properly while providing a good bass-seal,
although they were a little loose.
So I've auditioned these almost exclusively with the Comply T400 tips provided. These gave the best bass seal, massively superior
isolation (over 90% of sound is blocked out compared to the silicone tip 50-60%) and best sound quality.
I think for my needs, size T300 would be a better match for my ear canal size, but due to the greater tolerances memory foam tips
offer, I was able to use these T400 tips without much trouble.
Not much to say here, but despite the zip which I thought would make for a slightly more time-wasting design, I was quite happy with this.
I didn't use it, but there is a small pocket in the lid, I assume for the splitter, or extension cable storage.
Disclaimer - my reference of neutrality for an open headphone is the HE-500.
My reference for a closed-back headphone that is close-to-neutral (0-2000hz) is the Sennheiser Momentum.
Silicone tips vs. Comply T400 tips:
Firstly I would like to say how glad I am these came with the Comply tips. My entire sound experience with these would have suffered
greatly without them, as none of the silicone tips provided equal comfort, isolation or sound quality.
With silicone tips, the slight hump in mid-low bass is more pronounced and slightly loose.
With Comply tips the hump was still present but tighter. That's all I'm going to say about difference in tips.
Overall I was very impressed with the bass. The extension and texture are more than I would expect from a full-size headphone at this
There is however a slight mid bass hump that bloats radically on some electronic recordings, but this is limited to a very small
frequency range and therefore doesn't occur often.
This was the only thing in the whole package that really made me uncomfortable for a few days. I really enjoy neutral, rich mids, but
I found that the upper mids were emphasized. This seemed to glare midrange detail but left me wanting when it came to vocals,
of which both male and female sounded thin and slightly distant.
It took a few days to get used to this, but I still don't know how I feel about it.
The resolution however is right on the money though. Very difficult to fault.
From my experience with the CX300 II I wasn't expecting anything spectacular from the treble. I was however pleasantly surprised to find
that the treble was present, detailed and even possessed a slight shimmer.
The treble does roll-off quite a bit, so I wanted more sparkle at times.
My biggest surprise was how good rock music in general sounds with these. Guitar tones are excellent and drums have a very rhythmic
tight sound. Some studio recordings that sound too analytical on most headphones actually sounded musical with these.
Queen's We Will Rock You and Led Zeppelin's studio recording of Moby Dick had perfect percussive crunch and the guitar solos were
fantastic in tone and texture.
I really enjoyed listening to Gorillaz with these. Often I don't pay so much attention to bass with other headphones, but these forced so
much texture and bass detail upon me that it was refreshing to hear it in a different way.
Soundstage, Air, Speed, Separation.
Compared to headphones the soundstage is very much in-the-head, but feels wider than anything else.
There is a sense of space and air to the sound, but no more than a half-decent closed-back headphone can offer.
The speed of these impressed me, and lends itself well to fast-paced multi-layered music.
Separation is excellent, and equal to or beyond the ability of headphones at this price.
This is a quick EQ setting I made in Foobar that gives a closer to neutral presentation. There is absolutely no science here, just a
simple, quick picture of what sounds better to me.
The most notable resulting differences are: less bass hump, full mids, much improved vocals and treble sparkle.
For 100 euros, these are worth it. *edit*
They offer more flexibility than closed-back portables in the same price bracket and in some ways they offer a better sound experience too.
I'm still not sure if the stock frequency response is something I could ever get used to and fully enjoy due to my own personal preference,
but with EQ the potential is there for a close-to-neutral-but-bassy sound that is detailed and tonally excellent.
Despite the small niggles I have with the DX 160 iE, they provided me with a very intimate listening experience, removing my
attention from the bustle of my morning commute and replacing it with a well engineered mid/hi fidelity sound.
I can honestly say I will miss these, and will be seeking an IEM replacement for my CX300II in the future.
I'd like to give a big 'Thank you' to Beyerdynamic for permitting me keep the test model, I won't need to seek a replacement ^_^
EDIT - 20.04.2014
It's not good news.
After another week with these IEM's I'm more confident in saying that I'm not sold on these.
The more I wear them, the more uncomfortable these get. I wish they were smaller and lighter.
The only good news I can offer is that the stock signature is more kind to the vocals of Michael Jackson, which are much less
affected by the slightly scooped mids. Overall I found his vocals the most enjoyable with these IEMs.
Edited by GREQ - 5/8/14 at 12:46am
These sound like they might have a similar signature to the AKG K545 which has a similar emphasis in the upper midrange. Personally I enjoy this emphasis if I use the headphone for a while so my brain gets used to it. I would love to hear these but will have to see as I my IEM usage has dwindled as of last so can't justify buying them just to hear what they sound like. But you never know.
I only auditioned the K545 once, so its signature isn't fresh in my mind, but I think you might be onto something there.
I think if you imagine the K545 with a significant sub-bass boost, you're more than half way there.
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My Review of the Beyerdaynamic dx 160ie In Ear Monitors
I will start with the summary / conclusion. This way you get all the important information right away. If you want to know how I came to my conclusion, you can just continue reading. If you don't want to you simply don't have to scroll through a ton of words
- Very nice mids! Organic and full bodied.
- Potent bass
- Little to no listening fatigue.
- Highs: some detail doesn't reach your ear, and sound lacks sparkle. They just don't shine.
- Soundstage: Rather intimate and close to the head. Good for some tracks and genres, but I have heard better. Good in width, not so much in depth.
- Air/Space: I often miss some airiness.
- Transparency: While the mids are fairly transparent and vocals are particularly clear and easy to follow, the rest can often sound dull and uninspired. I think this comes from the softened treble and the limited soundstage.
- The potent bass. Again. On some tracks it's just too powerful and bloated.
- The cable.
- Isolation: it's ok, but not more than that.
- COMFORT! I have to use the smallest pair of all the tips to even get a decent seal. Once they are properly positioned I just don't find them comfortable. Especially on the left ear it's almost like a piercing kind of pain. Listening session don't last longer than 15-20 minutes due to that. My girlfriend found them absolutely unbearable.
My experiences with the dx 160ie that led to what you have just read:
The packaging and everything not related to the sound quality:
Very good for the price. The packaging and the accessoires suggest that this is a premium product. The pouch is well made, albeit a bit small. Quite a selection of ear tips! In my case only the smallest ones give me an acceptable seal, but at least I didn't have to buy additional tips.
The dx 160ie + the small sized stock tips are not comfortable, at all. I have experienced worse, but I am always aware of their presence. After a few minutes they begin to hurt. After some more minutes I already feel the urge to take them out and never put them in again, it is that bad.
Isolation is ok. When I listen with these IEMs while commuting (bus + train) they are able to block out a fair ammount of ambient noise, but when I mute the music a lot of it still goes through. On a scale where 1 means no isolation and 7 perfect isolation, I give them a 4.
Cable noise is no problem. I wear them over-ear. The cable itself feels slightly heavy compared to the weight of the IEMs themselves. Wearing them cable-down it feels to me as if the cable pulls on the IEMs.
I listened to the these combinations:
ibasso dx50 (fw 1.2.8) -> dx 160ie
Galaxy Nexus / Blackberry Q5 -> dx160ie
These are my impressions with the dx 160ies on my favorite music suitable for evaluation. All of these tracks are 16bit/44.1khz .flac files.
Capricorn - George Duke (from Faces In Reflection) / features E-Bass, Drums, Synthesizer, piano and male voices.
- Mighty bass
- Lacks air
- Soundstage ok, rather intimate but believable
- Percussion is tight, I like it
- Mids are really nice, Synths are powerful and organic, voices are pronounced and clear
- I miss some detail and transparency
What's new - Elvira Nikolaissen & Matthias Eick (from I Concentrate On You) / features female jazz voice, piano, guitar, double bass, trumpet and some digital effects
- Bass is strong and a bit too thick
- Voice is very easy to understand and follow
- Piano lacks sparkle, but easy to listen to
- Soundstage is quite intimate
- Trumpet lacks air
- A bit dull as a whole
Thousand Knives - Ryuichi Sakamoto (from Playing The Piano) / features two pianos
- Lower registers are rich and full
- Highs lack sparkle
- Good pace and timing
- Sounds a bit dull
Dream Dancing - Tony Bennett and Bill Evans (from Together Again)/ features male jazz voice and piano
- Good soundstage
- Voice is nice and quite rich
- Lower registers on the piano are really good, "tasty"
- Good timing, the swing feel of the song comes through
Cherry Pie - Sade (from Diamond Life) /features female voice, E-Bass, drums, guitar, percussion, some additional effects
- Good soundstage width, depth is lacking
- Bass too strong, bloated
- Very nice voice
- Drums are tight and have some nice kick
Um Beijo - Kenny Barron & other artists (from Spirit Song) / features piano, violin (or viola?), double bass, drums, saxophone, trumpet
- Nice violin, good tone
- Piano is ok, lacks sparkle
- I miss air, soundstage is not as big as it could be
- Trumpet is really nice
- Awesome saxophone, the tone!
- Best track so far, the most enjoyable with these IEMs.
Too Young To Die - Jamiroquai (from High Times) /features Strings, E-piano, guitar, E-Bass, male voice, drums and percussion
- Strings are placed in a wide room, nice
- Bass too strong, but the bassline is killer (Stuart Zender!)
- Voice is really good
- Good drive and energy
Strange Fruit - Marcus Miller (from Tales) / features synthesizer, bass clarinet and some ambient sounds
- Beautiful synth
- Very nice clarinet, great tone!
- Together with "Um Beijo" the best experience with these IEMs
+ many other songs that didn't reveal anything about the dx160ie that I didn't already know....
I tried the dx 160ies with an awesome mobile game called "Osmos". The soundtrack is truly remarkable not only for a mobile game - it features a nice selection of tracks from a genre I'd call "ambient electronica", all of them have been recorded in very good quality. The dx160ie goes really well with this kind of music, delivering an immersive and full bodied sound.
Comments from my fiancée (not half as much into audio as I am):
About the comfort: Maaaaaaaan, that hurts.
About the sound: Not my cup of tea. They sound dull and I think there's too much bass.
Note that I didn't tell her my opinion before she gave them a try.
Sooo... these are my findings. It's now up to you to decide whether you want to give the dx 160ie a try or not. I don't like recommending gear, everyones a bit different and our opinions are not the same every day.
Would I buy them? Maybe, if they were considerably more comfortable, had a less bloated or prominent bass and a bit more air. End of story!
I tried my best and sincerely hope that you enjoyed reading this review.
Edited by AManAnd88Keys - 4/16/14 at 12:36pm
I certainly did.
I now have a better understanding of IEM's lower tolerances (compared to full size headphones) when it comes to comfort, microphonics, build quality, aesthetics etc etc.
As this is my first real dive into IEMs and now will thoroughly enjoy reading the differences of opinion that pop up.
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- 217 Posts. Joined 10/2012
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Beyerdynamic DX 160 iE Review
This is my first review on a pair of IEM’s. Even though I own a few pairs of IEMs like the Shure SE535’s as well as Apple earphones and other earphones, this will be my first review on an IEM so I will review these as best as I can with my own experience and my own personal experience and opinions. As each individual has different tastes when it comes to sound, I can only offer my personal experience with the DX 160 iE’s. I want to sincerely thank Beyerdynamic and staff for allowing me to be one of the lucky few to be a tester, thank you Beyerdynamic.
Source and Equipment used to test the DX 160 iE’s
Sources – PC Running Jriver MC19, Creative Titanium HD( PC SoundCard), Apple iPod, HTC Smartphone, Sony CD player
Source Equipment Chain – Jriver MC 19->Optical->Schiit Bifrost Uber->Schiit Vali
Technical Specifications according to Beyerdynamic:
Transducer Type – Dynamic
Speaker Size – 10 mm
Frequency Range – 10 – 25,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance – 47 Ohm
Sensitivity – 107 dB
Cable Length – 1.2 m (0.3 m without extension)
Connector – 3.5 mm jack plug
I was very impressed with the packaging of the DX 160 iE’s. The packaging displayed and portrayed the product as a premium product, and the packaging indicates that it is clear that Beyerdynamic speaks of the DX 160 iE’s as their flagship Earphones. When you first open the flap of the box, it displays the earphones very neatly and in a secured foam casing, and also displays the protective hard carrying case. Therefore, in my opinion, I believe Beyerdynamic did a spectacular job in regards to packaging the DX 160 iE’s.
The DX 160 iE’s do not fall short in the accessories department. I was pleasantly surprised with all of the accessories and goodies included. Accessories included:
- Silicone Eartips (7 Sizes)
- Comply Foam Eartips (1 pair, Medium Size)
- Adapter Plug to Share Music
- Detachable Extension Cable
- Hard Carry Case
- Cable Clip
One thing I was a little disappointed about in the accessories department was the lack of a ¼” adapter. I find those handy when connecting to a headphone amp when the connector on the earphones is only 3.5 mm. Considering for most the DX 160 iE’s will be used as mobile earphones, I can understand why a ¼” adapter was not included, however it would have been a nice addition. The other disappointing factor in the accessories department was that they only included one pair of medium size Comply foam tips, it would be nice if they included small, medium and large Comply tips.
The DX 160 iE’s look beautiful in my opinion. I really like that the housings are made of metal, and I think the shiny aluminum rings are attractive. Beyerdynamic did a good job of detail here. I also really like the flat cables, this makes them less likely to tangle, they’re lightweight, and they also look great.
For me personally, I have not found the DX 160 iE’s extremely comfortable as my ears and ear canals are very small. Even the small silicone tips where a tight fit. After an hour or so of listening, I would have to take them out to give my ears a break from how tight they were in my ears. This may not be an issue for those with bigger ears/ear canals.
The DX 160 iE’s do offer excellent isolation, especially with the Comply foam tips. The silicone tips provide a decent seal and block a good amount of outside noise, however the Comply tips really provide excellent isolation blocking outside noise extremely well and by far my favorite tips to use. With the comply tips, it is best to gently squeeze and twist the foam tips and then insert them into the ear and hold them there for a few seconds, doing this causes the foam tips to expand creating a tight seal and excellent isolation and bass response.
To be fair, I cannot say I have a pair of earphones or IEM’s close to this price range to do a complete comparison to, but my reference headphones and IEM’s are the Sennheiser HD650’s, Shure SE535’s, and Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros (250 Ohm).
I have to say personally, I was pleasantly surprised with the bass the DX 160 iE’s could provide and produce. I can say I did not expect them to have the bass that they possess, and especially with the Comply tips, the bass in my opinion is excellent and has some “thump” to it. I am clearly impressed with the bass that the DX 160 iE’s can provide at their price point.
Overall the mids where “ok” however I found that to me it sounded like the upper mids were a bit emphasized. Vocals and guitars sounded a bit thin in this department, however with a little Eq’ing I was able to get the mids to a more comfortable level for me personally.
For me personally I found the treble to be the most disappointing in the DX 160 iE’s sound signature. I am not a treble monster by any means, in fact I prefer a darker sounding headphone like the HD650’s. With my experience with different full-sized Beyerdynamic Headphones, the treble always seemed to be bright and sparkled, this does not seem to be the case for me with the DX 160 iE’s. I found I had to apply some EQ to emphasize the higher end of the EQ spectrum (around 12433 Hz and 16360 Hz respectively). This compensated for the lack of treble for my tastes.
The soundstage isn’t very wide-open, it feels like the sound is right in your ear, however it isn’t the worst either. I have heard closed-back headphones that sounded right in your ear as well. I found that if I use a program called Redline Monitor I can really increase the soundstage of the DX 160 iE’s and they sound a lot more open and the soundstage a bit wider.
Personal Opinion and Observation on Music Listened To
Instead of going in to detail on specific songs that some of the readers may or may not have listened to, I will go by genre.
Overall I think the rock, metal, and progressive genres sound very good with the DX 160 iE’s. The genre sounds very balanced with great sounding guitars and drums, if the bass isn’t turned up too loudly, everything sounds very clean and you can hear the instruments well.
In my opinion, the DX 160 iE’s really shine in this genre. Turn up the bass in the EQ on these genres and the sound really comes alive. Deep bass, great synth sounds, and even pianos and acoustical instruments sound full and lively. Vocals are still a bit diminished, however it isn’t horrible.
For EQ’ing I use Ozone iZotope 5. With a few tweaks with the EQ using a Flat HP and Bell EQ’ing, it really makes the DX 160’s come alive and in my opinion, you can truly hear what the DX 160 iE’s are capable of.
The DX 160 iE’s are a very solid performer at their price point. They offer excellent build quality, plenty of accessories, and great sound. Connect them to a good DAC/Amp combo and these really shine for the price. Although for my own personal tastes I had to do a little bit of EQ’ing, once I got the EQ to my liking I was extremely impressed at what the DX 160 iE’s are capable of. The only downside is the comfort and lack of more Comply foam tips, and as stated earlier in my review, it would have been nice to have included a ¼” adapter for the 3.5 mm connector.
All in all, the Beyerdynamic DX 160 iE’s in my opinion are a solid performer for their price and should be considered if looking for a mobile earphone/IEM in this price range.
As this was my first review on an earphone/IEM, I hope some readers have found it useful and informative. Each listener has their own tastes, and mine have been expressed in this review. I hope this review was helpful and I thank Beyerdynamic for the opportunity to be a tester for the DX 160 iE’s.
Now after listening to the DX 160 iE's for an extended period of time, I have really grown to enjoy these quite a bit. Comfort was an issue at first, however it does not seem to be an issue anymore as I have gotten used to the different tips and found the ones most comfortable to me. Their sound has grown on me as I have continued to listen to these and only these for the past week or so. Going from a full-sized open-back earphone to an IEM right away makes a difference in a bad way. However listening only to the DX 160 iE's I have grown to really enjoy them and I think they produce great sound for the price. I really enjoy these.
Edited by TheGame - 4/27/14 at 10:04pm
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Review of the Beyerdynamic DX 160 iE In Ear Monitors
Source and Equipment
I tested these earphones using my Sony Xperia Z1 Compact mobile phone, iPad Air and Sansa Clip+. I did not find them particularly source dependent, although they did require quite a lot of power to drive. I had to have the volume at about 70% to reach my usual listening level, whereas my Sony XBA-1s only require about 60-64%.
I listen to a wide range of music and so I tried a variety of tracks out with the earphones. Among the tracks I used were: Massive Attack – Angel, No Order – Regret, Eric Clapton – Layla (Unplugged), The Commodores – Easy, Live - Lightning Crashes, TLC – Creep, Michael Jackson – Billie Jean and Snoop Dogg – Who Am I
Accessories and Packaging
The packaging is decent from the foam casing to the way the earphones are displayed in the box. You definitely feel that you have purchased a premium product. I was pleasantly supplied by the supplied accessories. The earphones come with a decent carrying case, which has pocket to store an airline adapter or extra tips. Various sizes of silicon tips are included, along with pairs of bi and triple flanges and Comply foam tips. Also included are an extension cable, shirt clip and Y-splitter adapter.
From an aesthetic point of view the earphones look very nice with the silver and black housings. They also feel very sturdy thanks to the metal housing. The nozzles are close to 5mm in diameter and so you will not be able to use Etymotic or Shure tips without really forcing them on.
The flat cables are lightweight and do not get tangled up easily. The cable termination points are a little fragile and it feels like the cable could be pulled out with some force applied. I did like how the cable termination point is set at 45 degrees, as it meant I could easily insert the earphones into my iPad with its hard case on.
I had mixed feelings about the comfort of the earphones. On the one hand they are fairly lightweight and so comfortable to wear for long periods. However, due to their large size and shallow insertion, I found it difficult to get a decent fit with any of the silicone tips (including the triple flanges). I felt they were always loose in my ears and I had to re-insert them at regular intervals. Admittedly I have ear canals that start narrow and then become very wide. The fit was much better with the supplied Comply tips, which also produced the best sound.
Isolation and Microphonics
I would describe the isolation on the earphones to be below average to quite good, depending on the tips used. The isolation was worst with any of the silicone tips due to the fit issues mentioned above. The best isolation is definitely provided by the Comply tips, but I still found I had to turn the volume up slightly more than normal when travelling on the London Underground. There is a limit to how isolating these IEMs will be due to their large shape and shallow fit.
There is a fair bit of microphonics from the cables. I didn’t find it particularly bothersome when walking, but found it more pronounced when jogging or during exercise. Microphonics are not as bad when worn over the ear.
Firstly, I should say that my preferred sound signature is neutral with some emphasis on the bass and treble. I also did not apply any equalising when testing the DX 160s.
I was impressed with the amount and quality of bass with the DX 160s. I am not generally a bass lover, but I found that it controlled, impactful and definitely comparable to higher tier IEMs. I was particularly impressed when listening to Massive Attack’s Angel, which is a track with a lot of bass. I am not a fan of earphones where the bass overpowers the music, but I didn’t feel this was the case here.
I found the mids to be one of the weakest aspects of the earphones, particularly the lower-mids. Both male and female vocals sounded veiled, as if they were pushed into the background. Increasing the volume did remedy this slightly and for some reason it was less of an issue with the Comply tips. Also, a couple of tracks that I tested such as Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean actually benefitted from having less prominent vocals.
The treble is average with some presence and hardly any roll-off. The treble detail is also pretty good, though not comparable to the bass. However, I felt that the treble lacked sparkle. I noticed this particularly on New Order’s Regret, which sounded subdued and even dull.
Apart from the bass, another area I was impressed with these earphones was the level of detail and separation. This was especially noticeable on tracks like Eric Clapton’s Layla where I could clearly hear the different instruments. The soundstage is fairly narrow, but I did not experience the closed in feeling that you can have with some IEMs. Since the overall sound signature is warm and smooth, I found I could listen for extend periods without experiencing listening fatigue.
I think that the DX 160 iEs would be well suited to those who like their music with a good amount of bass and like a warm and smooth sound. The build quality is fairly decent and there is a good selection of accessories. They would also suit those who prefer a shallow fit from their IEMs and are not too concerned with isolation. However, I would not recommend them to those who prefer an analytical/neutral sound and like detailed and prominent vocals.