I would like to thank GeekWold for providing the GK10S unit.
It can be gotten here: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/3256806123759223.html (no affiliate links).
- Driver configuration: 1 x balanced armature driver + 2 x piezoelectric ceramics drivers + 2 x dynamic drivers
- Impedance: 10 Ohms
- Frequency response: 20 Hz - 40 kHz
- Sensitivity: 106 dB
- Cable: 2-pin, 0.78 mm; 3.5 mm termination. No info on cable material
- Tested at: $49.90 USD
Other than the IEM, these are included:
- 3 pairs of wide-bore silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
- 3 pairs of narrow-bore silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
- Carrying pouch
Accessories are quite decent for a budget pair, can't nitpick too much here.
No foam tips are included, but we have 2 variants of silicone tips. The narrow-bore ones boost bass and tame the upper frequencies, whereas the wide-bore ones do the opposite, and open up the staging a bit.
The stock cable is a 2-pin one. While GeekWold has not provided any info on the cable materials, suffice to say, it is quite decent. Well-braided, the cable has no microphonics, but can be somewhat tangly.
GeekWold has added a leatherette soft carrying pouch to the accessories, which operates via a drawstring mechanism. It is not as sturdy as a hardcase, but should sufficiently prevent scratches.
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 GKS10S comes in a unique heart-shaped motif, with a marbled face-plate. Fashioned from resin, ergonomics are excellent - it is light and can be used for extended listening sessions. The inner aspects of the housings are smooth.
I did not find any driver flex on my pair. Being a vented IEM, isolation is bang average.
The GK10S utilizes a very uncommon 1 x balanced armature driver + 2 x piezoelectric ceramics drivers + 2 x dynamic drivers setup. Unfortunately, we have no information on the driver brands used.
I tested the GK10S with the following sources:
- Apple dongle
- Cayin RU7
- Chord Mojo 2
- Fiio KA11 dongle
- Fiio KA17 dongle
- 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. However, with a 10 ohm impedance, based on the rules of eights, the GK10S is best paired with a source with < 1.25 ohm output impedance (10 divide by 8). If something with a higher output impedance is used, it might skew the frequency response and cause the GK10S to be super bassy and boomy.
SOUND & TECHNICALITIES
Graph of the GeekWold GK10S via IEC711 coupler. 8 kHz is a coupler artefact peak.
Tonally, the GK10S sports an L-shaped bassy signature.
This IEM is sub-bass focused, with deep sub-bass extension and rumble. It is definitely one for bassheads in terms of quantity. Quality wise, bass is on the slow side, with below average texturing. The copious bass amounts contributes to mid-bass bleed, and the GK10S does not perform well when complex bass tracks come out to play - we hear smudging and smearing of the basslines sadly.
The lower midrange is recessed, and this region is very hefty, warmed by the aforementioned mid-bass bleed. Upper mids hit nearly 9 dB in ear gain - but surprisingly, this region is not shouty, due to the gargantuan bass balancing it out.
The GK10S is a dark IEM, with the treble rolling off very early. While this will be a treble-sensitive listener's cup of tea, we lose a lot of resolution and clarity in the mix. No doubt there is no sibilance, but cymbals and high hats are very muted, with a distinct lack of air and sparkle. The treble is surprisingly overdampened for a piezo/BA tribrid, where most piezos usually furnish exceptional treble extension.
Moving on from the niche tonality, the GK10S also sadly doesn't fare well in timbral accuracy. When acoustic instruments are heard, there is a marked metallic tinge, possible contributed by the piezos and BAs inside. Note weight is hollow and artificial.
More woes in the tuning are that the GK10S is sub-par when it comes to technicalities. While soundstage is above average in width, height and depth are just average. Micro-details and clarity are lacking, due in part to the dark treble. Instrument separation and imaging are also poorly done. Thus, we hear a somewhat wide soundstage with nebulous imaging, so notes are fuzzy in the headspace. I would describe the GK10S as sounding "lowFI".
Comparisons were made against other tribrids. Planars, single DD and pure BA IEMs are omitted, as the different transducers have their own pros and cons.
Kinera Celest Plutus Beast
The Plutus Beast boasts of a special configuration: 1 x 10 mm bone conduction driver + 1 x balanced armature driver + 1 x 10 mm square planar driver.
The Plutus Beast is also L-shaped and bassy, though with better treble extension and less bass than the GK10S.
Technically, the Plutus Beast is ahead, with better soundstage, imaging, instrument separation and micro-detailing.
It also has a lowish impedance at 8 ohms, which makes source pairing a tricky proposition.
Celest Phoenix Call
The Phoenix Call houses a DD + 2 BAs + flat planar driver. It is tuned to a more aggressive V-shape, with greater treble extension, though with some sibilance present, and may not be the best option for the treble-sensitive. Sub-bass is also lesser with the Phoenix Call.
The Phoenix Call is in another league when it comes to technical chops, with a more expansive soundstage, better micro-detailing, imaging and instrument separation.
The Phoenix Call has a thinner note weight, but is more agnostic with source pairing, as it has a 32 ohm impedance.
It is back to the drawing board for the GK10S. While on paper, it may have an eclectic driver setup, the final product is a mega disappointment. The L-shaped dark profile presents a very lowFI soundscape, with marked loss of resolution. While soundstage is acceptable, the fuzzy imaging and poor instrument separation gives a sense of muddiness.
Actually, there are other L-shaped tribrids such as the Plutus Beast that show how an L-shaped bassy signature can still keep decent resolution. Having said that, perhaps the GK10S will be a suitable IEM for the very treble-sensitive or those that want an immense bass rumble. Even so, bassheads may find the timbre and bass quality are not up-to-mark on the GK10S, so it is a case of bass quantity over quality.
Some redeeming points are the decent ergonomics and accessories, though the low impedance of this IEM may make it fastidious with source pairing, especially for gear with higher output impedance.
This IEM is not recommended. For similarly priced tribrids that are superior, check out the Kinera Plutus Beast or Celest Phoenix Call - even though those are not perfect, they at least do a much better job in other departments.