Samsung AKG OEM In Ear Headphones

General Information

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Pros: Decent build quality
Midrange is tonally correct on a good sample.
Impedance vs. frequency isn’t too crazy for a multi-driver IEM.
Good distortion performance
Has predictable response to common mods
Good value: the IEM in the $99 box set can be had dirt cheap online.
Cons: Inconsistent sound from sample to sample, even within the same batch.
Some samples have imbalanced channels.
Treble response can be very different with small changes in insertion depth.
Limited to shallow insertion, which can result in a peak and a null in the treble.
There are fakes online.
This isn't really a formal review. It's just a fitting place to post my experience with the product so that I can link to it in forum discussions without having to retype the same comments over again. I suppose it kinda sorta works as a review.

Samsung EO-IG955 with iPad Mini (2).jpeg

It used to be $99?
The EO-IG955 is the earphone that originally came bundled with the Samsung Galaxy S8. It's also sold as a separate product, retailing for around 100 USD. Samsung acquired Harman and its subsidiaries, including AKG, who was responsible for tuning the EO-IG955's sound.

Retail box.png

The retail box. Source: Samsung Electronics home page​

The EO-IG955 is also sold by itself without the box and the case. I got a three-pack from e-Bay for $20, but I've seen it sold for even less than that. Not bad for an IEM that usually retails for $99. But I hear that there are many fakes out there, and there are even guides online to help you spot one.

So what do we get in the box? The EO-IG955 has two transducers: one 11mm-diameter driver for the low frequencies, and one 8mm driver for the treble.

Samsung EO-IG955 exploded view.png

Exploded view of the Samsung EO-IG955. Source: Samsung Electronics home page​

Zerodecibel has a nice tear-down on their site: link


A word or two about the measurements
The first two sets of measurements that I found were at zerodecibel: link and The Ear-fi Blog: link. They provide lots of useful information like impedance vs. frequency, and distortion. I don't think it's the complete story though, because they each measured only one sample, probably from a retail box. Here's what I got from the three-pack:

Samsung EO-IG955 3 pairs.png

Frequency response of the IEMs in the 3-pack from e-Bay​

The bass response is obviously inconsistent, especially compared to other OEM-bundled IEMs like the LG Quadbeat 3 and the Sony MH755, whose performances are more repeatable. One of my samples has too much bass for my liking, and another one has mismatched channels. I'll call these samples 3 and 2, respectively.

Some of you are probably itching to blame Samsung's bad quality control. Are these dirt cheap IEMs the factory rejects that failed to pass QC? Or is the IEM's design to blame—that it's not robust, and that small changes in venting cause large changes in the response? I don't mind too much. My expectations weren't that high for such an inexpensive e-Bay 3-pack. Plus, you can sometimes fix the bass response. More on this later.

At least I got one pair that sounded fine from the start. Sample 1, the one with the least amount of bass, sounds best to me:

Samsung EO-IG955 sample 1.png

Frequency response of sample 1​

The EO-IG955 responds predictably to simple, reversible mods. Blocking the rear vent and partially or completely sealing the seam between the front and the rear of the IEM has this effect on the bass:

Samsung EO-IG955 with different levels of rear venting.png

Effect of blocking the rear vent and sealing the rear cavity
Light gray: stock
Magenta: complete seal of rear cavity
Others: varying amounts of leakage​

Here's where to make the seal:


Where to seal.png

Where to seal the rear cavity​


Varying the leakage gives us some control over the bass response. Thus, we have a way of reducing the bass on sample 3 and fixing the mismatch on sample 2.

The EO-IG955 also responds nicely to dampers placed in front of the output tube. Use your favorite damping material: tea bag filters, microfiber cloth, micropore tape, etc. I'm lazy, so I just put a little bit of earbud foam inside the silicone sleeve, and placed as close to the grille as possible.

Samsung EO-IG955 and earbud foam damper.png

Effect of earbud foam damper in the output tube
Light gray: stock, left channel​

Some folks find the response at 3 kHz too intense, so here's a way to reduce it. The default response is a good match for my hearing, so don't do this. What about the spike at 8 kHz? That comes from the ear canal's half-wavelength resonance. A foam tip can damp its response:

Samsung EO-IG955 with Comply TX400.png

Frequency response with Comply TX400 foam tip
Light gray: stock, left channel​

It's getting close to the Harman IE target, so I should like this smoother response, right? Not so fast…


Insertion depth or the lack thereof
When I listened to sample 1, I thought it sounded fine. If I were being picky, I’d say that the treble sounds a bit off. Some sounds were emphasized, and some sounds were withdrawn. Vocals had a slightly scratchy character, as if the singers were straining. Snare drums sounded a bit too sharp with their attack, perhaps with too much snap, and they took on a hollow character, as if listening through a tube. At the same time cymbals and hi hats sounded suppressed. Shakers sounded somewhat withdrawn, and they took on the same scratchy and hollow sound. Very often, IEMs overdo the sparkle, sometimes annoyingly so. Here’s, it’s the reverse.

(Not that it matters much, but among the tracks that I used were Bird on a Wire and Cousin Dupree. I don’t necessarily listen to these artists, but Harman’s research had indicated that their listeners, novice and trained alike, were more discriminating when they evaluated headphones with these tracks, compared to others on their play list.)

After investigating with a sine sweep, I found that I hear the peak at 6.3 kHz instead of 8 kHz when I inserted it in my ears as deep as I could. The EO-IG955’s housing and strain relief make deeper insertion impossible. (To verify this, I used a program like Sinegen, or a finer version of this online tone generator: https://www.szynalski.com/tone-generator/). I later made a few more measurements, this time with shallow insertion. The following is the closest I got to what I feel I actually hear:

Samsung EO-IG955 shallow insertion.png

Frequency response with shallow insertion
Light gray: deeper insertion, left channel​

There's a big slide in the response after 7 kHz. I'm actually hearing the peak lower, so 7 kHz sounds a lot softer to me than 6 kHz. The smoothest response comes when the insertion depth causes an 8 kHz peak. That’s almost 6 mm deeper that what’s possible with my ears. Any deeper, and we get a dip in the response at 7 kHz. This can be seen in zerodecibel’s and The Ear-fi Blog’s measurements, which show the peak at 9k. The EO-IG955 is a shallow-insertion IEM. I doubt most adults can get it deep enough in their ears for the heard response to match those measurements.

The 6.3 kHz peak that I’m hearing doesn’t sound as severe as it looks in the graph. Using a parametric EQ to flatten it and smoothen the treble response makes a subtle difference, even though the adjustment is several dB. But the sine sweep sounds a lot smoother afterwards, and it makes all the difference. Subtle change as it is, the treble now sounds more natural, with the realism restored.

Unfortunately, a system-wide parametric EQ still isn’t available for my mobile devices unless it’s built into the earphones themselves, like on Jaybird IEMs. The Radsone ES100’s 10-band graphic EQ can’t make these fine adjustments. They’ve announced that a parametric EQ is planned for a future firmware update, but that was at least eight months ago; it’s still vaporware as of this writing.

I found that an absorbent foam tip brings the response closer to what I like, and makes it easier to fix with a graphic equalizer:

Samsung EO-IG955 with Comply TX400 and shallow insertion 2.png

Frequency response with Comply TX400 tips and shallow insertion
Light gray: shallow insertion with silicone tips​

The TX400 damps the ear canal resonance, makes the transition less abrupt, and brings up the response from 8-10 kHz. Indeed, the sine sweep sounds smoother with the TX400. The response above 10k isn’t as strong, so there isn’t as much “air” as before. But overall, it sounds less wrong, and it’s easier to EQ.


Comparisons
The obvious comparison is with other OEM-bundled earphones, like the LG Quadbeat series and the Sony MH series. Here are some that come close to my sample 1:

Comparison with LG QB3 AKG, Sony MH755, Moondrop Spaceship.png

Blue: LG Quadbeat 3 tuned by AKG
Green: Sony MH755
Red: Moondrop Spaceship
Light gray: Samsung EO-IG955, sample1 and sample 3​

The MH755 (my samples at least) have too much low bass. Fortunately, it’s easy to reduce with EQ or simple acoustic mods. The peak from the ear canal resonance is just a small bump unless you get a sample with more damping at the output tube's opening. It’s more forgiving of differences in insertion depth than the LG or the Samsung. I can insert it deeper in the ear than the EO-IG955, especially with the small tips, because the housing and the strain relief don’t get in the way too much. The high frequency extension is ok, but it’s not as strong as on the Samsung, with its dedicated tweeter.

The LG Quadbeat 3 sounds similar to the MH755, but its deep bass isn’t as crazy. The peak from the canal resonance is more exposed, but It’s not that noticeable unless you’re listening for it or your music has a lot of content at that frequency. My QB3 is the variant tuned by AKG. It has less bass than the non-AKG model, but it has a noticeable peak at 4.5 kHz. I’ve heard the regular QB3, which I prefer when I shelve down its bass.

I tossed a Moondrop Spaceship in the comparison even though it’s not an OEM-bundled earphone, because it’s cheap and its frequency response is similar from 100 Hz to 3 kHz. It sounds closer to my EO-IG955 sample 1 than the Moondrop Crescent. Its response in the bottom octave is the weakest here, and you can see the roll-off in the graph. Maybe a partial cover of its front vent will bring it more in line with the rest of the spectrum. I used to have another pair of the Spaceship, and its bass was similar. The treble, however, is different between samples—different, even between channels of the same pair. It’s not as consistent with channel matching as the Crescent, judging from my pair, and measurements I’ve seen online. Its treble is like the MH755’s, with the not-so-apparent peak from the canal resonance. Like the MH755, it’s also more forgiving of differences in insertion depth than the Samsung. The Spaceship isn’t as airy sounding as the Crescent, or the MH755 for that matter, let alone the Samsung.

In the graph, you can see in light gray that the EO-IG955’s bass can be very different from sample to sample. It also shows what can happen to the treble depending on how deeply it is inserted in the ear.


Wrap up
Overall, I think this is a good sounding IEM. The engineering needed for a two-way design seemed to have been done competently, which is more than I can say for some cheap multi-driver chi-fi designs. Best of all is the value: the IEM that comes in a $99 box set can be had dirt cheap online.

Samsung EO-IG955 with iPad Mini (1).jpeg

Update: August 17, 2019
Wide bore and stock tips.jpeg

Left: stock tip
Middle: wide-bore tip
Right: Comply TX400​

I tried it with wide bore tips. The difference in diameter is actually greater than it looks in the photo above. I didn't notice much of a difference. If anything, it made deeper insertion more difficult. My measurements didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary either:

Samsung EO-IG955 sample 1 with wide bore tips and deep or shallow insertion.png

Samsung EO-IG955 sample 1, frequency response with wide bore tip
Red: deep insertion
Green: shallow insertion
Light gray: stock tip, both deep and shallow insertion shown​

The insertion depth made a much bigger difference in the sound than switching to the wide bore tip. Compared to many others, this IEM is more sensitive to differences in the way it is inserted. The choice of tip might make deeper insertion easier, or could change the effective length of the ear canal's tube. What I suspect is that a longer silicone tip can produce a different effective distance to the eardrum. I might be able to take advantage of that idea later.
yuriv
yuriv
@SweetEars I just tried it with different kinds of wide-bore tips. I posted my findings inside a spoiler at the bottom of the review. I didn't notice a significant difference from stock tips. This IEM is sensitive to insertion depth. If you're getting much different sound, could it be that your wide bore tip facilitates deeper insertion or makes the effective distance to the eardrum different? It could be that, if we haven't ruled it out, instead of the difference in bore diameter.
SweetEars
SweetEars
I used the orange lining tips and wide bore black tips... both sound good with wider sound stage and layering..
yuriv
yuriv
@SilverEars Oluv offered to send me one of these a while ago. Then you put it in the ER2SE tour. I figure it's cheap enough to get my own samples for modding. I wonder where you're hearing the canal resonance. For me it's at 6.3 kHz and no higher, which is not ideal. Best is 8 kHz because the peak and the null cancel each other out and smoothens the response. We all could be hearing very different things because of individual differences in ear canal geometry.
Pros: Sound quality
Treble
Detail
Balance
Cons: Not as full sounding as they could be
A bit tiresome in the long run
Cheap looking and feeling
Not expensive at all, so people tend to ignore them.
For a bundled OEM headphone, I can't help but shake my head and wonder how much I've enjoyed them.

I actually prefer them, to the Triple and Quad drivers from 1More. They fall short only of my Dunu-1000s and Master and Dynamic earbuds, and very short of my AKG N20 - BUT for what they are, they are really impressive.

Detailed, articulate and airy. Nicely balanced, although not as full sounding as they could be, perhaps. They are also too bright at times for me, but I prefer that to the alternative.

I have right in front of me the Galaxy Buds (2019) and laugh at how I thought they would be so much better if they had the sound quality of the AKG OEMs. The Buds are $130. The AKG OEMs are free. Do the math.

Good one, Samsung.
kyluc88
kyluc88
I am using Etymotic HF3, 1More Triple, FA-3000C, Sennheiser CX-80, Tin T3, AKG K-545, EOZ Air, some Plantronics, Jabras, ... something for work, something for different kinds of music i listen to.
"Samsung IEMs tuned by AKG" i got with Glxy 10e are similar in sound to 1More Triple, and Sennheisers, but have better defined bass, less boomy, the soundstage is much better, and i prefer them to those 2 pairs.
SweetEars
SweetEars
the only problem with these earbuds is the soundstage although being wide is not wide enough . a change in the form factor, driver design may help
Pros: Airy, detailed fluid silky treble and mids..
clear and wide soundstage ....
Present bass
Cons: Sound lack slightly in body and fullness....
Bass may lack detail
item_XXL_23055033_32441488.jpg


Review of The Samsung AKG tuned earbuds which comes free with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S9 smartphones.

Testing is done with the large bore tips of the TRN V20 earbuds .A general description of these earbuds sound signature can be described as follows :

Woolly - Loose sound articulation.
Wet - A reverberant sound, something with decay. Opposite of Dry.
Timbre - The tonal character of an instrument
Soundstage - The area between two speakers that appears to the listener to be occupied by sonic images. Like a real stage, a soundstage should have width, depth, and height.

Spacious - Conveying a sense of space, ambiance, or room around the instruments; stereo reverb; early reflections.
Naturalness - Realism.
Musical (or musicality) - A sense of cohesion and subjective "rightness" in the sound.
Low Midrange (Low Mids) - The audio frequencies between about 250Hz and 2000Hz.
Imaging - The sense that a voice or instrument is in a particular place in the room.
Headstage - The perception of the Soundstage while listening to headphones.
Grip - A sense of control and sturdiness in the bass.
Fast - Good reproduction of rapid transients which increase the sense of realism and "snap".
Dynamic - The suggestion of energy and wide dynamic. Related to perceived speed as well as contrasts in volume both large and small.
Depth - A sense of distance (near to far) of different instruments.

Detail - The most delicate elements of the original sound and those which are the first to disappear with lesser equipment.
Definition (or resolution) - The ability of a component to reveal the subtle information that is fundamental to high fidelity sound.
Brilliance - The 6kHz to 16kHz range controls the brilliance and clarity of sounds.
Breathy - Audible breath sounds in woodwinds and reeds such as flute or sax. Good response in the upper mids or highs.

Attack (2) - The time taken for a musical note to reach its peak amplitude eg. notes will tend to sound more defined rather than blended with other notes.
Articulate - Intelligibility of voice(s) and instruments and the interactions between them.
Ambience - Impression of an acoustic space, such as the performing hall in which a recording was made.
Airy - Spacious. Open. Instruments sound like they are surrounded by a large reflective space full of air. Good reproduction of high frequency reflections. High frequency response extends to 15 or 20 kHz.

Sound signature
: These earphones do not have a weighty sound signature or basshead type, they emphasise more on individual tonality and timbre of sounds with transparency and clarity.The mids and highs are nicely sparkly, natural, and accurate . Bass is rendered but not in copius amount , but just a bit backstage in the mix . The overall result is a brigh but silky signature, never fatiguing, but with a more top-end energy .


Treble: Airy and detailed. In between sparkle and grainy-crisp signature. subtle details on clear recordings are present .Not harsh or sibilant but it is not smooth either, A rough gritty/grainy texture is present that adds some naturalism to the sound reproduced.Fluid and watery. Silky, engaging smooth but detailed and clear.

Mids: Forward and wide, sharp Transparent and a decent amount of detail is present.Concentrated on the lower mids and higher mids have a bright sound. Comes off with a lower centre of mids espcially in vocals. However the vovals lack some detail and fullness. Overall the mids come off as airy and silky just like the treble . However the vocals do well with some depth and articulation betwene highs and lows on clear sources.

Bass: A decent amount of bass that is neither full nor bloated but transparent. Tight and expressive but doesn’t have a hard “edge” to it. It has good impact and some far-reaching rumble. Neiether forward nor recessed but expanding sideways Just right but at the back of the sound signature . Boom is present in recordings that have emphasised bass . A good amount of sub bass is present with a good grip around the lower mids but overall the bass is emphasised more in the mid bass-sub bass in between- section but comes across as loose with some lack in defintion and detail. However not a major flaw as the other aspects of the sound signature comes off really well

Soundstage: the most impressive part of these earphones . They present a surprisingly wide and airy transparent soundstage with clarity and depth. Spacious and detailed. The highs mids and lows float in a wide soundstage presented all around the head.

Overall they provide an impressive sound signature for free bundled In-ears.
SweetEars
SweetEars
for free earphones they do reasonably well...and have certain things that remind u of higher priced IEMS
kyluc88
kyluc88
I am using Etymotic HF3, 1More Triple, FA-3000C, Sennheiser CX-80, Tin T3, AKG K-545, EOZ Air, some Plantronics, Jabras, ... and with Samsung Galaxy 10e i got those "tuned by AKG".
Before i gave them to my kids to tear them apart, i actually tried them and .. pleasant suprise!!
Those "Samsung tuned by AKG" have QUITE good sound quality, if proper seal / tips are used.
SweetEars
SweetEars
yes changing the tips to other iems ones helps

Comments

I have to agree with most of this. I have the S9+ and immediately tossed the earbuds aside as I have a higher end IEM (Fischer Amps FA-3E) that I love. My daughter wanted to use the FAs one day and I was left reaching for the AKGs. I was quite surprised with the detail and bass that they provided. And the soundstage? Wow! It's even better than my FAs. However, I'm not switching. LOL
 
I have a pair of these from the Samsung S10e, they sound really good considering they are bundled with a phone.

I read that the S8 earphones were tuned differently and supposedly better, I managed to get a pair online from a seemingly reputable source. They came in OEM packaging (including the extra silicone tips) with the following product codes:

"EO-IG955"
"GH59-14744A"
"RYBK7"

"MADE IN VIETNAM" on the back of the plastic box.

Appearance wise, the S8 version I received look identical to the legit ones that came bundled with the S10e, only the S10e version are black and the S8 are a gray-blue colour. They have the correct markings on the cable splitter and the jack. The only difference being the AKG logo is slightly smaller on the S8 version when compared to the S10e ones.

Sound wise, the S8 ones sound like they have more forward treble and less bass. I'm not convinced these are legit, but I don't have the original S8 bundled earphones to compare them with.

The original S10e version sounds far better to me, treble isn't so harsh and it has more bass.
 
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