BFD Audio has been in the audiophile scene for 6 long years, Chad Wu is the owner and he is currently doing IEMs alone, I won’t call it a DIY simply because he’s using advanced equipments for molding and tuning his works. Currently he has 11 products, and I got the most basic amongst his lineup which is the single BA UNIX. His current top of the line is the NYX which has 1 DD, 2 BA, and 4 EST drivers which has a bass boost switch, another one is GAIA which has 14 BAs per side and has low and high switches.
BFD Audio UNIX
The BFD Audio UNIX is the entry level IEM of BFD audio and it contains 1 BA driver per side. Mr. Chad said that it should sound slightly V or U shaped. The packaging is outstanding to be honest, the box is made out of solid card board, opening the box, there’s a hard case containing everything and under the solid case there is a black carrying pouch containg stickers and cleaning tool. The included eartips looks good and it has a slightly wide bore design, in my experience it fits really well it it feels more neutral than the Final Audio type E eartips, it might not as flexible as the spinfits but it is a good generic eartips. There are 3 pairs of foam tips which is very soft for me, it is very easy to mold.
The cable is said to be made out of SPC as per Mr. Chad Wu, it feels premium and he used the same materials for the wiring inside the shell this is to ensure better response from cable rolling. The shell design looks good and very delicate, it shows that it is crafted with precision since I didn’t saw any differences between the right and left earpiece, good job. Overall I can say that the BFD Audio Unix is built very well and can compete with other brands in the same price range.
- Driver: Single Knowles BA
- Shell: 3D printed
- Cable: 8 core SPC cable
- Impedance: 21Ω
- Sound pressure level: 93db/1 kHz
As I said the packaging feels very good, from box to inclusion it is very impressive, there’s two cases one solid and feels like a pelican case and the other one is a smooth black pouch that feels premium for me, there’s two BFD audio stickers which is made out of a gold and silver sticker paper, there’s a cleaning tool and 6 pairs of ear tips. I’m very impressed with the packaging I don’t have any problems with it since the size isn’t too big nor too small, just enough for it to look elegant.
Fit and Comfort
With the stock silicone tips, I can get a very good fit and isolation, there’s very minimal outside noise coming in even when I’m using it while commuting. With foam tips, the penetration isn’t that deep maybe this is due to the shorter nozzles or the UNIX but I don’t really use foam tips often because I prefer the confort and seal of silicone ones. The comfort is nice too, it isn’t too big and it has good curves to fit my ears properly, in terms of weight it is very light thus I can wear it for 2 hours without feeling any discomfort. The downside is I cannot use it while listening on lying on my bed sideways, the UNIX is too large to be used that way.
I love IEMs and earbuds with midcentric to flat sound signature as I really love listening to vocals rather than instruments. My genre ranges from heavy rock, alternative rock, pop rock, acoustic, pop, jazz and folk. Majority of my test tracks are in 16 bit – 44 khz and 24 bit – 48 khz FLAC file and here is the list of my commom test tracks.
- Reese Lansangan – For the Fickle (background, female vocals and upper mids)
- Foo Fighters – Bridge Burning (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
- Jensen and the Flips – Come Closer (Mid Bass, Mids)
- Ed Sheeran – Dive (Mid bass, Lower Mids)
- Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why (Upper Mids and Instruments)
- Paramore – Hard Times (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
- Utada Hikaru ft. Skrillex – Face My Fears (Imaging Layering, Bass, Mids, Treble, Coherence, Quickness)
- Passenger – Coins in a Fountain (Mid bass, Layering, Imaging, Instruments, Lower mids, Treble)
- Tori Kelly – Hollow (Background, Upper mids)
- Ariana Grande – Raindrops (Background, Upper mids)
Sub bass is very deep for a Single BA IEM, listening to some Billie Eilish tracks rumbles are very enjoyable and I think it’s far from being rolled off. In terms of body, it doesnt sound thin at all in fact it has very good texture and it doesn’t sound too smooth. It has moderate speed and is placed a bit forward. Mid bass is slightly less emphasized compared to the sub bass, it sounds tight and fast, for me it lacks a bit of body and weight and is a bit thinner compared to the sub bass. For a single BA, the bass is commendable and I think it will pass for bass heads folks out there.
Lower midrange is a bit recessed but definitely not too much, listening to my favorite band, “The Passenger” I can say that the tuning prioritised clarity and transparency over lushness and body. I wouldn’t say that it sounds hollow but it slightly lacks body on the lower midrange portion. Going to upper midrange, I listened to Adele’s Sweetest devotion and I was in awe due to the fact that it sounds transparent and slightly forward. The upper midrange sounds clean but never shouty nor shrill, it is quite intimate and sweet due to slight bump but not too much to sound congested, I love female vocals thus, I really liked the tuning of the UNIX. Though there’s a dip at 3k-4k, it’s a bit audible especially for an artist with very wide vocal range, but this dip helped preventing the UNIX to be too bright. The timbre is natural for me despite not being too warm and full.
Treble feels rolled off to me, From 10k Hz onwards it sounds smooth. I’m not a treble guy but it is very vital especially when listening to rock-metal tracks. It is airy but for me it lacks extension. Attack and decay speed is definitely fast. It has good clarity, lower treble sounds a bit forward but anything more than that doesn’t sound forward, luckily it has good amount of sparkle. The treble of UNIX might be tuned for long listening, listening to treble dominated tracks never sounded fatiguing when I’m using this Set. Also, it might be due to the limitation of the BA driver used.
Sound stage and Resolution
The sound stage sounds medium-ish room to me, for my ears it sounds wider than deeper, it has decent height too. I’d say that the size of the stage being projected by the UNIX is medium sized room, it doesnt sound too open as expected from a single BA IEM. Luckily, it is pretty coherent and accurate with good enough layering and imaging capabilities. Resolution is very good on bass to upper midrange but slightly lacks at treble region.
Sound Signature and Synergy
The Sound Signature of the UNIX is U shaped and is considerably balanced to my ears. Pushing the treble a bit more forward should make the UNIX a formidable sub 200 USD IEM, nonetheless it still amazed me. Hearing several single BAs like Comet, Neptune and KOEL, this easily stacks up to them or even better.
The warmish midrange of the Shanling M3s really helped the UNIX, the synergy is good except for the treble, I would love pairing the UNIX with touch brighter sources like Cayin n5iis or Questyle QP1R. Sub bass is very deep and is agile enough for complex tracks. Midrange sounds transparent but never shouty. Treble sounds smooth and airy. There are better DAPs to pair with the UNIX but the M3s is definitely a good pairing with the UNIX especially for someone who doesn’t love treble that much.
I used the UNIX on balanced with the R3 and used my smartphone via bluetooth, I listened to some Aimer and Melanie Martinez and I can say that the upper midrange sounds really good except that there are some dips but it isn’t severe. Bass feels sufficient considering that this is a single BA IEM. Treble seems to be more present here and impedance curve of UNIX might play a huge role since it sounds less emphasized on the micro and M3s.
iFi micro iDSD LE (IEMatch ultra sensitive)
The UNIX sounded fuller with this source, midbass gained body but still retaining it’s neutralish positioning. There’s more headroom and it sounded more spacious and general, allowing more details to come out specially on the midrange and bass. Treble sounds fine, still smooth but a bit more extended. I love this pairing because it adss more weight to slightly thin bass of UNIX and it gives more space on the overall sound.
The KOEL is roughly half the price of the UNIX at around 3000 Php (60 USD) vs 7500 Php (150 USD). Both have a single BA driver that’s why I compared the two. Sub bass easily goes to the UNIX, it is deeper, more texture and has better body compared to the rolled off sub bass of KOEL. Mid bass goes to the UNIX again due to better speed and resolution. Lower Midrange goes to KOEL, it sounds more natural and warmer in comparison to the UNIX, but the UNIX wins when it comes to resolution. Upper midrange goes to UNIX, it is sweeter and has better resolution, it is also sibilant free despite being transparent. Treble goes to the UNIX, the UNIX may sound a bit rolled off but the KOEL has less treble extension and clarity. Sound stage still goes to the UNIX, the midrange of KOEL is too forward making it less spacious, resolution obviously goes to the UNIX.
I find the two to be similar sounding with the IT01 being more V shaped, warmer and less treble presence. Sub bass of UNIX has better control and more texture without being too forward so it’s a win to UNIX. Mid bass still goes to UNIX in my opinion, the IT01 might possess more weight and is more forward but it lacks texture and speed. For lower midrange, I’ll give it a tie, the IT01 is more recessed but has better body compared to the UNIX. Upper midrange goes to UNIX with better resolution, timbre, and positioning. Treble goes to UNIX, again the IT01 sounds smoother and slower compared to the UNIX. sound stage goes to the IT01, it’s airier making it sound more specious it has better depth as well. Resolution goes to the UNIX since the IT01 sounds smoother overall.
The Neptune is a more neutral IEM but that doesn’t mean it’s better. Sub bass goes deeper and has more texture with the UNIX, the Neptune has an earlier roll off and has a more faint delivery than the UNIX. The bass also goes to the UNIX because it is faster and has slightly more details, but the Neptune has slightly more body. Lower midrange goes to Neptune, it is warmer and more natural, it is less recessed as well, upper midrange goes to UNIX because it is more transparent and sweeter compared to a little bit warmer and muddier Neptune. Treble seems to be on par, the neptune sounds more sparkly but doesn’t extend that much too while the UNIX has more air in it. For sound stage, they almost have the same size but in terms of layering and imaging, the UNIX has a slight edge, maybe because it is faster that’s why it never sound congested even it is a single BA IEM. Resolution goes to the UNIX especially on the bass and midrange department.
Campfire Audio Comet
Right of the bat, the Comet sounds warmer and thicker overall. Sub bass has same depth and they are both impressive for a single BA IEM, but the Comet sounds smoother and less detailed so the UNIX has a slight edge here. Bass goes to comet, it is fast and have enough body to give life to any bassy track you throw. Lower midrange goes to comet as well, the UNIX has more transparency but it sounds too anemic for lower midrange that requires body, and Comet has it. Upper midrange and treble goes to UNIX because it is cleaner, more transparent has better extension and packs more details, the treble of Comet is too smooth for my liking, it lacks definition as compared to the UNIX. Sound stage goes too UNIX especially in terms of depth, imaging and layering goes to UNIX as well. Resolution still goes to UNIX with better ability in recovering micro details from bass to treble.
BFD Audio has been in the underrated market for quite some time, it’s just that he lacks advertisement in fact he’s been making triple hybrid driver configuration with switches even before Fearless Audio and BGVP Audio done it. Craftmanship wise, the shell is done nicely, it has very good finish, the packaging looks nice and he even included 1 solid pelican-ish case and 1 high quality pouch, lastly I noticed that it uses silver cable inside the shell instead of conventional copper. The quality of cable is worth mentioning as well, it is a 8 core SPC cable and has an impressive splitter, jack and ear guides. As for the sound, it is a detailed IEM with mild U shaped signature. Sub bass goes really deep for a single BA IEM and it has great texture, mid bass is slightly thin but again it is quite detailed and has enough impact. Lower midrange lacks body and is slightly behind in terms of positioning but it is also detailed. Upper midrange sounds sweet and quite forward even there’s a dip around the upper midrange around 3 kHz to 4 kHz. Treble sounds more than decent even though it doesn’t extend too much, luckily it is airy and quite detailed. Layering and imaging is good, not spectacular but it outperforms almost all single BAs under 12,000 Php (240 USD). This is an easy buy if you want good fit, good design, good sound quality, good packaging at less than 10,000 Php, it is a very balanced IEM for me.