I purchased the EPZ 530 at a discounted price from Aliexpress.
It can be gotten here: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004100928567.html (no affiliate links).
- Driver configuration: 5 x balanced armature drivers - dual Sonion 38AM007 for the bass, 1 x Sonion 2389 for the midrange, Shengyang ED05 BA + E50DT BA for the treble
- Impedance: 32 Ω
- Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
- Sensitivity: 115 dB
- Cable: 2-pin, 0.78 mm; 16-core gold, silver and palladium alloy cable; 2.5 mm, 3.5 mm and 4.4 mm modular termination
- Tested at $386 USD
Other than the IEM, these are included:
- 3 pairs of wide-bore silicone eartips (S/M/L)
- 3 pairs of narrow-bore silicone eartips (S/M/L)
- Modular terminal plugs for 3.5 mm, 2.5 mm and 4.4 mm sources
- Semi-rigid carrying case
- Large wooden case
- Cleaning brush
The packaging is downright luxurious, and is well-befitting of something retailing at the midFI region. The 530 comes in a massive wooden box, which adds a whiff of elegance. I've definitely seen pricier sets with stingier accessories, and other than the lack of foam tips, everything else that an audiophile needs is included.
We have wide-bore and narrow-bore eartips provided - the former boost treble and stage, whereas the latter increase bass, though with some compression in soundstage. Do explore to see what suits your needs.
EPZ has provided a 16-core gold, silver and palladium alloy cable. This cable terminates in a 2-pin connector (which is my preferred connector type compared to MMCX), and it is well-braided with minimal microphonics. There is a chin cinch for added grip.
The cable's selling point are the 2.5 mm, 3.5 mm and 4.4 mm modular plugs, which promises greater source synergy, for various single-ended and balanced sources.
Last but note least, we have a cleaning brush and a leatherette semi-rigid case. The case is tough externally, with the innards containing webbing and a soft material to cushion the contents.
The rest of this review was done with the stock cable and stock wide-bore silicone tips. No aftermarket accessories were used, so as not to add any confounders to the sound.
The 530's wooden shells are milled from 5-axis CNC carving. Not many IEMs utilize wood as a shell material, and this aids in the tuning/resonance, in addition to adding allure to the aesthetics. During ordering, one can opt between an exotic mamba green or lava orange hue, and both are lookers in their own right.
The housings are akin to semi-customs, and are light with excellent ergonomics. Fit is snug with an added concha protrusion, and I found no discomfort despite longer sessions.
Each shell has an emblazoned serial number, and we can see a well-designed acoustic tube in the nozzles, unlike some CHIFI which just dump an undampened BA in the nozzle and hope for the best.
Being an unvented IEM, passive isolation is top-notch, and EPZ advertises that it can hit 26 dB. On my field tests, it is thereabouts, and that allows the EPZ 530 to be used in noisy places or even for stage monitoring.
This is a 5 BA setup:
- 2 x Sonion 38AM007 handles the bass
- 1 x Sonion 2389 takes care of the midrange
- The treble is settled by a Shengyang ED05 BA + E50DT BA.
It is uncommon to find Sonions nestled in $300ish IEMs, so kudos to EPZ for using such prized ingredients at this price-point. Of course, tuning and implementation trump driver brand/type/count, so let's read on to check out how the EPZ 530 fares sonically.
I tested the EPZ 530 with the following sources:
- Apple dongle
- Cayin RU7
- Fiio K11 DAC/amp
- Fiio KA13 dongle
- Hiby R3 Pro Saber 2022 DAP
- Khadas Tone Board -> Schiit Asgard 3 amp
- Questyle M15 DAC/AMP dongle
- Sony Walkman NW A-55 DAP (Walkman One WM1Z Plus v2 Mod)
- Sony Walkman NW A-55 DAP (Walkman One Neutral Mod)
- Sony Walkman NW WM1A DAP (Walkman One WM1Z Plus v2 Mod)
This IEM is easily driven even off weaker sources, with amplification not truly required.
SOUND & TECHNICALITIES
Graph of the EPZ 530 via IEC711 coupler. 7 - 8 kHz is a coupler artefact peak.
Tonally, the EP530 sports a consumer friendly mild V-shaped signature, which is quite all-rounded for most music genres.
The 530 is a sub-bass focused IEM, with bass quantity just north of neutral. There is a lack of rumble like most pure unvented BA IEMs, and the decay moves less air than a traditional DD bass. However, the bass here is of exquisite quality, being very textured, tight and fast, with not an ounce of mid-bass bleed.
There is just a slight lower midrange recession. This frequency band is very transparent due to the tuning (ie no big bass encroachment). With the 530's superb layering and imaging, it is very easy to pick out instruments and vocals on a dark background in the midrange. With a 6 dB ear gain, the upper mids are forwards without being shouty, which is much appreciated.
The 530 is bright in the treble, make no bones about it. It is sparkly in the higher frequencies, bringing great clarity and resolution to the table. Sibilance is mild, though the tuning may be fatiguing for our treble-sensitive folk, especially at higher volumes (Fletcher Munson curve). However, trebleheads will love this region, so YMMV. Nevertheless, the treble may be adjusted with eartip choice, source pairing, or playing at lower volumes.
The EPZ 530 is a technical beast, with a holographic soundstage and excellent micro-details; one can pick up minute nuances in the music, and technical junkies and analytical heads will find a kindred spirit. Imaging is pinpoint and instrument separation is very spacious. It is probably one of the most resolving midFI IEMs, and can give some pricier contenders a run for money in technicalities.
Indeed, with the great ergonomics and isolation, and coupled with the stellar technicalities, the EPZ530 may be an option for audio work or stage monitoring.
Being a pure BA IEM, there is no running away from BA timbre, though it is not the worst offender in this department; I've definitely heard other pure BA sets which do much worse here. As mentioned above, there is some BA bass heard with regards to bass decay, and perhaps using a vented BA would have helped here (though of course this is asking for the moon considering the price of the 530).
Comparisons were made with other pure BA IEMs. Single DDs, hybrids and planars were left out of the comparisons as the different driver types have their pros and cons.
The Nezha - Tangzu's erstwhile flagship - contains 7 BAs: 2 x Sonion BAs, 4 x custom BAs, and 1 x EST (the EST is an electret/magnetostat). It sports a warm U-shaped tuning, and is much thicker in note weight, with a darker treble, compared to the 530.
While treble-sensitive folk may be more comfortable with the Nezha, it is however, quite veiled and muddy in sonics, and is a league or two behind the 530, losing in soundstage, micro-detailing, imaging and instrument separation. The Nezha's timbre is a bit more natural though.
The T800 is an 8 Knowles BA IEM. Likewise, the T800 has solid isolation, almost hitting 30 dB in this region, though it is a bit more uncomfortable to wear.
The T800 is more V-shaped, and is brighter in the treble/upper mids, resulting in a more fatiguing and sibilant soundscape. The T800 has a vented subwoofer bass, so it actually sounds very close to a DD bass in terms of bass decay and movement of air.
Both sets are technical champs, and provide excellent soundstage, micro-detailing and imaging.
Hiby Crystal6 II
The Crystal6 II is a neutral bright 6 Sonion BA set. It has less sub-bass, but markedly more treble and upper mids. As such, the Crystal6 II is very fatiguing and sibilant, and is even more harsh than the 530 in the upper frequencies.
The Crystal6 II has poor isolation, and has bad BA timbre, with an unnatural BA bass heard. The Crystal6 II is quite proficient in technicalities, but still lags behind the 530 in soundstage and imaging.
Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite
The Orchestra Lite is warm neutral. The Orchestra Lite is thicker in note weight, with a tamer upper mids/treble region, and it is smoother than the 530.
The Orchestra Lite has way weaker technicalities, and it is not even close in this department.
The EPZ 530 is one of the best purchases I've made in 2023. It blends beauty and brawn nicely into an elegant package (literally and figuratively!). Accessories - with the modular cable specifically - are stellar, and fit and aesthetics are second-to-none.
In addition to sporting a consumer friendly V-shaped profile, technicalities are the 530's calling card, with soundstage and imaging a highlight, allowing it to best other pure BA gear at around the same price point. The easy drivability and top-notch passive isolation are also laudable traits, and indeed, this IEM may be an option for stage monitoring and audio work.
For a pure BA setup, there is admittedly a tinge of BA timbre and some BA bass, but those are common issues that most other all-BA IEMs face, and the 530 is arguably not the biggest villain in these areas. Tonally, the 530 is a bright IEM, so our treble-sensitive brethren might want to explore with eartip rolling or source pairing or using it at lower volumes (Fletcher Munson curve), but once again, there are other pure BA competitors out there which do way worse here.
The 530 was released about 2 years ago and I am thankful to have unearthed such an underrated gem. As someone who does stage monitoring weekly, I will surely be bringing these puppies along for gigs, in addition to using it for listening sessions on the go.