GS Audio GD3B

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100+ Head-Fier
Missed reference
Pros: Non-fatiguing, comfortable fit, good build quality
Cons: Poor dynamics, vague bass, sub-bass roll-off, treble roll-off, angled hooks on stock cables, uncanny timbre
TD:LR; Warm, low contrast, soft, non-fatiguing, comfortable fit, however not competitive.
Not recommended. Hearkens back to previous generation single BA type performance.

My rating system:

5 :star: : Surpassed all expectations, and continued to engage and excite long after first impressions. I would not be disappointed if I could only every listen to this item for the rest of my life. Personal example: YanYin Aladdin
4 :star: : Fantastic but with at least one Achilles heel, or the thrill died down, or the factors that make it engaging also limit its versatility. Personal example: NF Audio NM2+
3 :star: : Doing little enough wrong, and enough right, that I could use these cheerfully as daily drivers until I have possession of a 4 or 5 again. Personal example: HBB x Tripowin Mele
2 :star: : Too many sacrifices of what I like, if I had to use them daily I’d be constantly aware of what I was missing/ would prefer. Personal example: Penon Fan with wide bore tips
1:star: : I would rather listen to buds bought at CVS; general consumer products are doing less wrong and more right than this item. Personal example: Penon Fan without wide bore tips

You’ll see that personal enjoyment is more or less the gauge. This is a subjective review. There is no point in writing a review in one direction then ending in another by adding “but some people might like every flaw I just listed”. I believe if we all review honestly according to our subjective tastes, a realistic impression of the item will start to extrapolate itself, and sets with clear merits and clear shortcomings will be apparent regardless of preference. For example I see reviews on AliX saying these are phenomenal and tonally accurate - if that's your take on it, please write your review! Mine can not be too helpful on its own.



My source: Apple lightning dongle, default music playing app. 320kbps MP3 usually, some ALAC.

My habits: Most often just listening on shuffle. I tend to listen while driving, doing the dishes, or working at my desk, those are the only three opportunities I really get.
With this review, iPhone volume was at 50% all the time, occasionally bumping to 60% to see if it helped with dynamics (it often did).

Music tastes: Eclectic and very broad. The only way I think I could describe it would be by listing all the artists, which would be obnoxious. Feel free to ask if listen to a particular artist often.

Disclaimer: When I purchased these I contacted GS Audio for a reviewer’s discount, which they provided. After tax and shipping, I still paid close to $80 for these, which for me is a lot to spend on a venture. So the discount does not affect my opinion, these were still a personal investment, and I am quite clearly not buttering up my take on them.
Because I pledged to write a review, this is my first published review. I have been meaning to collect thoughts on a different IEM, but I wanted to be true to my word to GS Audio - I have owed them this review since they provided the discount. As a teacher and a parent to two young children, this Thanskgiving break has been my first opportunity to make a move on this since receiving these this summer.

As you probably know by now, GS Audio is a company that has been producing the IEMS of some big names in audio, to their specifications. Even as a solitary consumer you can ask them to customize your IEM in all sorts of ways. If you want the sound of a particular model with the design of another, open up a chat with them. They are exceedingly kind and gracious to talk with. Their comments on AliExpress show they are mature and grateful in their treatment of even critical reviews (FiiO and others could learn from that), as they see it as helping customers to make an educated pick from their numerous offerings and configurations.

This particular model is somewhat of an enigma. The GD3A has been hailed as an incredible all-rounder with a sound-quality and enjoyment factor far exceeding its asking price. This is supposedly the “reference” variant. As per my title, that’s where some confusion enters in. In many cases “reference” variants are an euphemism for “We chopped of the sub-bass, stifled the mid-bass, and doubled the pinna gain, we’ll flip a coin for whether or not to over-represent the treble for added “detail”.

While I’m glad these do not follow that low-effort formula for what a studio reference sound should include, what was actually done is not favorable to my tastes, and not remotely in line with studio reference. Quite to the contrary, it favors a lack of detail, and a warm tonality. Entirely relaxing rather than overly stimulating.



I listened to tens of songs critically, taking notes. I’ve extrapolated these main characteristics so I should only need to go into more detail on tracks that were exemplary, catastrophic, or showed a rare nuance, or to represent another genre even if my response was the same.

Common notes:
  • Vocals - can risk sounding distant or muted (worst case scenario: a blocked-nose delivery). There’s a flatness to vocals. Sometimes the sounds from singers would make more sense if they were humming than singing.
  • Percussion - this came up in my notes again and again. Very limited slam/punch, no matter what the intended crescendo percussion is rarely able to contribute a dramatic effect. Something is not quite right about snare-level accents to beats, perhaps because they fit in the frequency region everything seems to be strained through (see more re: dynamics). Cymbals are not addressed in a descriptive way. They’re there. A constant ride cymbal might remind me of a long strand of tinsel hung across a wall, for uniform sparkly fuzz. Kick drums move no air into the ear.
  • Stage/imaging - the L/R channel differention that any stereo recording has and uses to dramatic effect is present and works. Do not expect to be able to picture the shape/layout/size of a venue/studio in your minds eye from that information alone.
  • I’m not sure if “dynamics” is quite the right term here. But there seems to somehow be a compressed distance between he highest emphasis and the lowest emphasis. If I was describing something visual, I would use the phrase "low contrast". Everything is channeled through a hazy warm conduit, and in doing so anything remotely busy leads to masking, or sounds obscuring one another. Separate elements do not have their own space.
  • A warm, muted, hazy, “humming” treatment of the majority of mids. There are some instruments/synthesizers/and rare tracks where this is actually a good match. Guitars/strings/horns are missing necessary bite/jangle - a deficiency in brightness once more.
  • I often noted that the start of a song was fine - usually when only one voice or instrument was used as introduction - with performance dropping as soon as layers were added.
  • Bass is too soft and has no texture, what I assume people mean by “one note bass”
  • There is never any risk of sibilance or shoutiness.
  • Isolation is good, provided the shape works well for your ears (it did for mine).
  • In my experience true of all IEMs, but they are tip dependent. Given all the issues above, I recommend the best way make sure they are not magnified is to avoid tips that are too long or narrow bored.

Particular examples:

Hellwalker from Doom OST (Mick Gordon) - sub-bass does make an appearance right at the start, with quantity in line with “reference” levels. As guitars join from the sides they are missing just about all of their characteristic timbre. Highs/digital sounds sprinkled in should have their own space and pull sound into more of a 3D cavity by having floating frequencies at a new high level in the mix… they are safely layered at top of the shallow dynamic range, no differentiating sparkle.
No punch at all in drums, impossible to use them for dramatic effect.

Little Wing, All Along the Watchtower, and Crosstown Traffic all by Jimi Hendrix - these all sounded surprisingly good. I’m wondering if the original recordings border on abrasive if they still manage to retain their “edge” through these unlike most of the other tracks I sampled. Drums still lackluster. The hummy warmth actually equates to a bit of a tube amp feel, which is great for Jimi.

The Red Telephone by Love - one of the better listens. Mellow. Buzzy/twangy guitar sounds golden, when strings come in they shine the right amount of light onto the track. Drum timbre still drab. Warmth and low detail seem appropriate to the track, somewhat of an analog vibe. Could the guitars use a little more brightness? Yes.

Electricity by Motörhead - guitar wall promising tonality to start, but then vocals combine to make a grainy and subdued wall of noise instead.

Nobody died by St Savior - fine until 2:46 when drum joins in, not just the usual “drum sounds weak”, but it genuinely makes the entire track claustrophobic at that point on. Again, as though there’s a narrow “flat warm” bandwidth everything is being pushed through.

Won’t get fooled again by The Who - organ off to a good start, then guitar is untextured, drums are damp… vocals no issue actually.

A sky for shoeing horses under by Why? - off to a good start until the drums come in sounding like 808 samples. Vocals actually fine, and gravelly guitar in left side has the right feel and presence.

A most peculiar man by Simon and Garfunkel - nice listen. The track is devoid of most of the elements that have proved problematic. Delivered gently, vocals appropriately intimate.

Cory and the Wongnotes intro theme by Cory Wong and the Wongnotes - chubby trumpets, bass guitar nowhere near as audible, yet alone commanding, as it ought to be.

Waltz #1 by Elliott Smith - Piano needs more weight/reverb, plucked strings need brightness, lead and backing vocals need more separation. Tonality suits the track fine.

Alone by Alan Walker - no stridency at all to the vocals, some would see that as a plus. Warm but a little hazy. Usual complaints with bass impact, quantity not the issue. Should be a lot of air in this production.

Dizzy miss Lizzy by The Beatles - Guitar lick from start actually seems to twang at the eardrums the right amount - but then John sings at half the right volume level. Ride cymbal is just white noise. Apologies to Ringo.

The color of love by The Smashing Pumpkins - off to a good start. Tuning seems to suit the warm synthetic sound. Billie is not veiled. Besides needing more space and separation between vocals, and the poorly described drums, this could pass.

Cemetery gates by The Smiths - wish Morrissey vocals were a tad more prominent, but this mix works. The usual Smiths curse of a thinner sound is avoided. At higher volume level, although missing some sparkle and jangle, this sounded lovely.

Anvil by Lorn - not enough treble for a floating separation of upper notes, all lumped with analog mids. Sub bass sounds appropriate on entry.

The trees they grow high by The John Renbourn Group - female vocals fuzzier than they ought to be, I’m familiar with this singer’s voice. Otherwise pleasant.

Rose of my head by Johnny Cash - besides Johnny’s voice having a raspiness to it, tonality is fine.

Diferencias sobre la guaracha by Jordi Savall (and family?) - mellow. Non drum percussion sounds right. Live performance details lost but not a problem for the track. Strings fine, neither moving nor dulled.



An IEM I didn't like, from a company I do. If I was not listening critically, I would probably find this IEM to be “fine”. I’d probably be listening to music without thinking about it, nothing would be harsh, but nothing would be jumping out at me as impressive either. If it was my first IEM I might even be impressed compared to bundled earphones, TWS, etc.
My given ranking stands however, as every tier of IEMs is seeing remarkable shifts in value. At around $80, this has to play ball with a used ER2XR (US) or a new Mele, ISN D02, Moondrop Aria, and actually I’d imagine dozens sets that come very well recommended up to that price point. I don’t think it can.
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