URBANFUN YBF-ISS014

General Information

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Latest reviews

baskingshark

Headphoneus Supremus
Urban Legends: Life Is Like A Box Of Urbanfuns
Pros: Comfortable and well fitting.
Good details and instrument separation for a single DD set.
Great soundstage at price point.
Accurate instrumental timbre.
Quality bass with good transients and nice texturing in bass.
Easily drivable.
Cons: MMCX QC issues and doubt in driver type (and hence tuning) exists even today.
Depressed lower mids, distant male vocals sometimes.
Slightly below average isolation.
Sellers greedily went to price gouge and jack up the price from $39 USD to $60+ USD after it was hyped to the moon.
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DISCLAIMER

I bought the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 at $29 USD at my own expense from a local second hand shop.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

“My Mom Always Said Life Was Like A Box Of Urbanfuns. You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get.”
Statement courtesy of Headfier lgcubana and Forrest Gump.

This above statement is a microcosm of the MMCX QC issues and driver doubts that plague the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 even till today. The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 sports a V shaped tuning with good transients, nice soundstage and great technicalities for a single DD set, coupled with authentic timbre and good bass texturing and extension. It is a big pity that QC problems overshadow, distract and detract from the otherwise good sound of the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014. The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is indeed urbane and fun, and the hype is justfied IF (and this is a big IF) a working legit beryllium driver set is obtained.


SPECIFICATIONS
  • Driver Type: Purportedly 10 mm beryllium plated single dynamic driver. Some have unfortunately gotten a “noble metal” driver which has different tuning.
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 40 kHz
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 107 dB/mW
  • Cable type: MMCX
  • Available at $60ish USD

DECODING THE URBAN LEGEND: MMCX QC AND IGNOBLE “NOBLE METAL” DRIVER CONTROVERSY?

Forgive me for meandering, but before we go on to the review proper, I would like to tell an urban legend (no pun intended) about the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014’s MMCX QC issues and ignoble “noble metal” driver controversy. Feel free to skip this, but I feel it is only fair to describe this in more detail, so that potential buyers go in with their eyes open. As we know, budget CHIFI is not a paragon for robust QC, but the MMCX QC issues and driver controversy of the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 takes this to a new and almost laughable level, such that I have to dedicate one whole section for this.

The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 was originally retailing at $39 USD when it first launched, but after it was hyped to the moon, the sellers are now selling it at $60 – 69 USD. Well willing buyer, willing seller. Supposedly this price gouge was to “guarantee” that the MMCX and driver issues are fixed, but as of the time of this writing, I still see numerous reports on audio forums of faulty MMCX connectors even with recent purchases (which come in a white box).

MMCX problems aside, there is also a possibility of receiving a “noble metal” driver instead of a beryllium driver when purchasing the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014. Some platforms like Taobao do let you select which driver version to buy, but other places like Aliexpress/Amazon do not. Well you can ask the Aliexpress sellers whether they are selling a beryllium version with good MMCX connectors, but all salesmen will tell you what you want to hear and you can be none the wiser. To be fair, maybe the sellers themselves also are none the wiser on what driver type is supplied by their suppliers. So it is really playing Russian roulette to see which driver type comes in the mail from said platforms.

There have been some fellow audio enthusiasts in the audio forums who own both a “noble metal” and beryllium driver Urbanfun YBF-ISS014, and they say the tuning is different (credit to Slater and chickenmoon from Headfi). According to guru Slater (credit to him), who has both driver types, the beryllium version has deeper subbass and more treble extension, so basically he finds it more dynamic. Slater finds the “noble metal” version more balanced, like a shallow V shape with less extended subbass and treble. The “noble metal” driver is apparently an aluminum-magnesium alloy, which isn’t that noble after all if it changes the tuning. I’ve also read quite differing review opinions about this set too. Could that be explained to some extent by the different driver types received by reviewers?

So comes the million dollar question: how does one tell if their Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is a “noble metal” or beryllium driver? Well credit once again to Slater, who writes this on headfi:

“The only way to tell is to remove the nozzle mesh and shine a light onto the driver inside the shell. There is a very small hole in the center of the metal cover over the driver, and you can see the center dome of the diaphragm.

Using a powerful magnifying glass, you should be able to tell what type the driver is.

If it is highly reflective, like a chrome mirror finish, then it is the beryllium driver. If it is dull greyish/silver metal, and does NOT have a mirror finish, then it is the noble metal version.”


My Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 was bought second hand, features a black box with a monkey logo and has a pink cable, so it is one of the older batches (unlike newer batches that come with a white box +/- grey cable). I’m not as hands on as Slater, so I didn’t dare to force open the nozzle mesh and hence can’t confirm 100% if it is a “noble metal” or beryllium driver. But I think based on the sound description (see below), it seems to tie up with some others that my set is V shaped with good subbass extension and texturing, so it probably is the beryllium version.

In fact, due to the doubt of driver type, and these MMCX problems, I decided to buy my Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 second hand from a local shop, so that I could test the MMCX and the sound before purchase. So regarding the urban legend of the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 QC issues, I experienced it firsthand: my set had some MMCX issues on the left earpiece, but the seller was flogging it second hand at a relatively cheap $29 USD. There’s an old adage: “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”. I almost laughed in the shop seeing the black box with a monkey logo laughing back at me. Well after listening to the set, I thought the sound was actually very good, the basshead in me liked the subbass texturing, so at that price, I felt that’s an acceptable risk to stomach, I’ll just leave a cable on the MMCX connector permanently. However, if I bought it at the current full price of $69 USD price and found a wonky MMCX, I would have been pissed for sure.

Other than testing it prior to purchase, you can consider buying the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 from a platform/local shop with a robust returns policy, eg Amazon, as there’s a chance of getting a lemon. If you are gonna buy it from Aliexpress or somewhere else without a good customer support/returns policy, don’t blame us if you get a lemon or ignoble “noble metal” driver, Caveat emptor!

I know some budget CHIFI companies skimp on QC to save costs, but this is a real case of penny wise, pound foolish. Other than myself, there are multiple reports of MMCX QC problems in the audio forums, that are reported even in newer batches of the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 which came with a white box. Some had no sound from one side of the IEM on arrival, some had their MMCX breaking after a few cable changes, some had their sets die after a few weeks of use. So much so the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is now famous (or rather infamous) for their poor QC. In fact I held off on buying the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 for months cause of this, and perhaps others will be facing the same dilemma. I do hope Urbanfun can get their act together and do a thorough review of their QC/driver issues and ensure that every set comes with a working MMCX and beryllium driver. The small amount of effort, time and costs put into good QC will in the long run provide better sales and reputation for the company. There’s readily available solutions like finding a different factory/supplier for your MMCX connectors, spending a bit more on higher quality MMCX connectors, or even using a 2 pin connector etc. There is a already a good product lying underneath here, just that it is tarnished with the QC/driver doubt brush.

Anyways, thanks for reading the background urban legend behind the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014, let’s get to the meat of the review now.


ACCESSORIES

In addition to the IEM, it comes with:

1) Silicone tips and foam tips of various sizes.

2) Stock cable -> pretty well braided, minimal microphonics. Mine is pink, and of the older batch; I see newer batches arrive in a grey cable.

3) Semi rigid zipper case.

4) Small metal case for foam tips.

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The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is quite well accessorized, everything is useable out of the box, no need to mess around with aftermarket tips/cables.


BUILD/COMFORT

The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is made of metal, the shape of which is rather reminiscent of the BLON BL-03, but the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014’s fit is much much better due to the longer nozzle compared to the BLON BL-03. It is very comfortable and ergonomic, I can use it for hours with no issues.

No driver flex was detected on my set.

For my set, the left side MMCX housing was a wee bit wonky as stated above, as it had difficulty connecting an MMCX cable until after multiple attempts. I think the housing side was a bit loose, but after some difficulty, I managed to pair a cable on it and I intend to leave it there till kingdom come. Hence, I strongly suggest you stick one MMCX cable on the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 and DO NOT change the cable unnecessarily (if at all). That’s my general rule for MMCX type IEMs, but it will be respected 100% for sure on the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014. In fact, I have even seen other users using micropore and other tapes to attach the cable onto the MMCX connector permanently.


ISOLATION

Having brought the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 for a spin on the subway, I find its isolation is slightly below average. Like other vented single DD type sets, it generally loses to multi BA unvented gear in the isolation department. The good thing is the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 has boosted bass, so this tends to counteract the bass losses in a noisy environment, like during transit, but it still wouldn’t be my first choice for a commuting IEM due to the lack of isolation.


DRIVABILITY

I tested the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 with a Shanling Q1 DAP, Ziku HD X9 DAP, Samsung Note 5, Tempotec Sonata HD Pro, Sabre HIFI DAC (ESS ES9280C PRO) and a Khadas Tone Board -> Fiio A3 Amp. The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is pretty drivable from lower powered sources, with only slight scaling of soundstage and technical performance with amping, so amping is not truly needed.

The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 lies on the warmer side tuning wise, so I find that pairing it with a warmer source may make things overly muddy. As such, I preferred neutral or more analytical sources with it.


TEST TRACKS

1) Forrest Gump OST – Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates Urbanfuns

2) Doris Day – Que Sera Sera —> I really liked the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 at 01:14, it really showcases the timbre of the voices when Doris Day sings the following heavenly lyrics:

“When I was just a little girl,
I asked my mother what will it be?
Will it be “noble”?
Will MMCX by wonky?
Here’s what she said to me:
Que Sera Sera,
Whatever will be will be,
The future’s not ours to see,
Best buy it with a good warranty!
Que Sera Sera”

3) Van Halen – Loss of Quality Control

4) The Beach Boys – Noble Metal Surfer

5) Lenny Kravitz – Mr. Cab Noble Driver


SOUND & TECHNICALITIES

The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 sports a warm V shaped tuning, with hefty bass and boosted upper mids.

Beryllium drivers are purportedly marketed for giving fast transients and taking well to EQ and indeed, the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 has good transients and control in the bass especially, and doesn’t distort even with robust EQ.

The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 has one of the better technical performances for a sub $100 single DD set, with good details and instrument separation, though some multi BA/hybrid type gear may have better technicalities at this price point. Imaging on the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is above average but nothing to write home about. Soundstage is wide and tall for the price, though depth of soundstage is about average. Music sounds spacious yet natural with the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014.

Timbre is authentic and excellent for acoustic instruments, with notes being precise, yet with good note weight.


Bass:
The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 has great subbass extension, with bass just a level shy of basshead jawrattling levels, depending on the track. Subbass seems more elevated than midbass for me, with midbass being punchy with only mild midbass bleed. Forgive me for the pun, but a legit beryllium driver Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 with great subbass can really live up to the name “suburban”, the basshead in me totally approves this. The subbass amounts of course depend on getting a good eartip seal, as bass is usually the first to be lost in a bad seal. But I think those that are bass averse or prefer a neutralish bass may need to look elsewhere. One also can potentially decrease the bass amounts by using a wider bore silicone tip instead of the stock ones.

Despite the copious bass quantities, the beryllium driver has some sort of sorcery that gives the bass good control with excellent texturing, remaining clean with tight transients. The bass doesn’t encroach much into vocals or the mids, and there’s good bass timbre also.


Mids:
Lower mids are more recessed than upper mids on the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014, though the balance between the 2 is quite well done. I did find rarely, that there was a slight glare in the upper mids, for example with brass instruments when the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 was played at higher volumes (Fletcher Munson curve). But by and large at moderate and low volumes, I thought the upper mids were tame and inoffensive compared to some budget CHIFI offenders. The lower mids reccession loses a bit of points for me though and midlovers might need to look elsewhere, as male vocals sounded a bit distant.

Timbre for acoustic instruments is excellent along the mid frequencies, with instruments sounding quite natural to my ears, other than the aforementioned lower mids recession.


Treble:
Upper treble extension for the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is not the best, this is not a treblehead set, but it is not fatiguing and not sibilant and is a safe treble for our treble sensitive brethen. Nevertheless, details and clarity are above average, but won’t beat some brighter multi BA/hybrid sets in the treble clarity, details and treble extension.


COMPARISONS

I decided to compare the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 with some other hyped single DD sets. Multi BA/hybrid sets have their own pros and cons compared to single DD sets, so it would be comparing apples and oranges as such and they were left out of this comparison.


1) iBasso IT00 ($69 USD)

The iBasso IT00 is more U shaped in tuning, compared to the V shaped Urbanfun YBF-ISS014. Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 has more boosted upper mids, but more depressed lower mids. Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 has better bass texturing and bass rumble and the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is more basshead in quantity. iBasso IT00 has better extension at the treble, with more airiness.

Technicalities wise they are close, with both being good for a single DD set, but they both won’t beat some multi BA/hybrid sets in the similar price bracket in technicalities. The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 edges out the IT00 in timbre and soundstage, whereas the IT00 has slightly better clarity and instrument separation. Imaging is about on par. Tonally, I prefer the IT00 for the less depressed lower mids and airier treble.

Isolation is also better on the IT00, and coupled with the more balanced tuning, I do pick the IT00 for daily use and transit use more often than the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014. But when I need my basshead kick or listen to bass forward music genres, eg EDM, then the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is selected, so they are complimentary sets in a way.


2) BLON BL-03 ($25 USD) (but it probably costs closer to $40 – 50 with aftermarket tips/cables in view of the atrocious stock fit)

The BLON BL-03 at higher volumes has shoutier upper mids. Bass quantities are similar, but the bass of the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is of better quality and speed and texturing, with the BLON BL-03 having a slower, boomier bass that can’t keep up with fast or complex bass tracks. The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 also extends better for me in the subbass and has better technicalities in all other departments compared to the BLON BL-03. Timbre between the 2 sets is excellent and about on par.

Fit and accessories are way better on the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014, with the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 having a longer nozzle that doesn’t necessitate messing around with spacer mods, longer nozzle eartips or aftermarket cables. The BLON BL-03 has slightly worse isolation, though both are poor in the isolation department as a whole.


3) TFZ NO. 3 ($109 USD)

The TFZ No. 3 is more V shaped and is shoutier in the upper mids with louder volumes. The No. 3 is a bona fide basshead IEM and has more bass quantity and extension than the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014, but the No. 3’s bass is pretty bloated and uncontrolled when compared to the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014’s faster and tighter bass. TFZ No.3’s bass isn’t particularly textured or accurate either.

TFZ No. 3 has a much poorer instrument timbre with a more claustrophobic soundstage, with notes sounding quite compressed in the TFZ No. 3. Other areas of technical performance are also better on the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014. TFZ No. 3 perhaps has better isolation, and may also be an option for those wanting jawrattling bass in view of the massive bass amounts, though the bass isn’t the best in quality as discussed above. Other than QC issues, I don’t see (or rather hear) any other areas where the TFZ No. 3 is better than the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014, despite the former’s higher price tag.


4) Final Audio E3000 ($50 USD)

The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 is more V shaped than the Final Audio E3000, with better extension on both ends. Bass is better textured, speedier and more tight on the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014. Final E3000 is more midbass focused, and I found the subbass a bit lacking personally. Lower mids are less recessed on the Final Audio E3000, with better timbre and a more natural tonality on the Final Audio E3000. Upper mids are smooth and non fatiguing on the Final Audio E3000, in contrast to the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 which can get a tad hot in the upper mids with louder volumes on rare occasions. Vocals were definitely better balanced on the Final Audio E3000 due to the less recessed lower mids.

The Final Audio E3000 has better soundstage, though at the expense of poorer isolation. Technicalities wise, I thought that instrument separation and imaging were better on the Final Audio E3000 too.

Build wise, other than the possibility of a wonky MMCX on the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014, I still preferred the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 to the noodle thin non detachable microphonic cable of the Final Audio E3000, which may be a point of failure down the line. I think some wear the Final Audio E3000 over the ears to eliminate the cable noise, though I had a few stares when I tried that in public previously, and the isolation doesn’t cut it for transit use for me, YMMV.

The Final Audio E3000 is quite a power hungry little beast, despite the specs on paper, and amping definitely allows it to scale a lot, in contrast to the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014, which is quite drivable even from humble smartphones.

Overall the 2 sets are pretty different, but i preferred the Final Audio E3000 cause of its tonality, timbre, mids and soundstage compared to the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014. The Final Audio E3000 still manages to stand the test of time and is quite an underrated gem in the sea of new hypetrains, only thing is the crappy non detachable microphonic cable and lack of isolation preclude me from using it more for outdoors and transit.


CONCLUSIONS

So, is this an urbane and fun set? Well, only if you get a legit working beryllium driver Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 with working MMCX connectors. The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 sports a V shaped tuning with good transients, nice soundstage and great technicalities for a single DD set, coupled with authentic timbre and great bass texturing and extension. It should actually be one of the top sub $100 single DD sets, but……..

“My Mom Always Said Life Was Like A Box Of Urbanfuns. You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get.”

We come back to this statement about the QC issues and driver doubts surrounding the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014, which sadly distract and detract from an otherwise good sound of a legit beryllium driver Urbanfun YBF-ISS014. As such, I cannot universally recommend this set, or can only recommend it with major reservations. I strongly suggest to only buy the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 from a place with a good returns policy/customer support, eg Amazon, or buy it from a second hand shop in my case, where you can test the MMCX and sound prior to purchase (or no purchase). If you feel lucky and wanna play Russian roulette and get it from Aliexpress and other places without a solid returns policy/warranty, then by all means, but don’t blame us if a wonky MMCX or ignoble “noble metal” driver set comes in the mail! Caveat emptor!

Based on sound alone, I would have rated the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 very high, even in my top 5 sub $100 single DD sets, it is truly a basshead set that warms my basshead heart (no pun intended). It is with great pity that I have to deduct points from it and knock it down from a highly recommended set to a meh recommendation, due to the QC problems and driver doubts, not to mention the price gouge stunt the mercenary sellers pulled after it received massive hype. I’d be happy to change my review and rating if Urbanfun can show that it can consistently churn out future Urbanfun YBF-ISS014s with a good track record of working MMCX connectors and being 100% legit beryllium drivers. As it is, the QC issues and driver doubt will be an albatross around the Urbanfun YBF-ISS014’s neck for the foreseeable future, and it will be held back from the pantheon of great budget CHIFI over very correctable and preventable issues.
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RikudouGoku

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Performs on a very high level and definitely above its price
Massive sub-bass but still very clean, fast, tight and has a lot of texture
Mid-bass punchy and clean
Well balanced Male/female vocals
relaxed treble, non-fatiguing and warm
Details
instrument separation
Stainless steel build
Accessories
Cons: Bad treble extension
MMCX connector (QC problem)
Physical size can be too small for big ears
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EDIT 2020-10-20: From 4.5/5 to 3.5/5. Not because of sound but because of their continued failure to fix the QC problems AND the fact that you STILL do not know if you are getting the beryllium or a noble metal version. Even after increasing the price from the original 40 usd to the current 70 USD and after months of them telling us it has been fixed over and over it again, simply unacceptable. Shame, because it does sound great.

Edit (2020-05-12):
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This is how I fixed the QC problem, attaching the cables first and then micropore tape it. Avoids any strange feeling to your ears (thanks to micropore tape being meant for human skin) and stops the cable from spinning (mmcx spin is annyoing), only downside is that to remove/change the cable you have to remove the tape too.

Disclaimer
: I received this for free by DD-Audio store on AliExpress because of their delay in shipping. Thank you very much. I also burned them in for 50 hours before I started listening to them.

Price: 59 usd

Specifications:

Driver unit: 10mm Beryllium Diaphragm Dynamic Driver

Earphone sensitivity: 107dB/mW

Frequency response range: 20-40KHz

Plug Type: 3.5mm Gold Plated Straight Type

Cable length: 1.2m±3cm

Earphone Interface: MMCX

Weight: 35g



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Accessories:


S/M/L silicone narrow bore tips

S/M/L Foam tips

4 core cable

Soft case

Hard case

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Cable:
Nothing special but not really bad. It has ear hooks but no chin slider, the 3,5mm plug has a very nice surface for you to grip on it. Due to the MMCX connector on the ISS014 itself being very fragile (at least it looks fragile) I suggest that you get a better cable and NEVER detach it. Do keep in mind that short mmcx plugs doesn’t fit at all. The plug below fits.

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But this below doesn’t fit.
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Build:
The entire build is made out of stainless steel with a mirror finish (you can use it as a mirror lol), it has a vent hole and mesh filter. It is a small iem but feels very well built since it is out of stainless steel.

The downside to the build is the MMCX connector as mentioned before, it really doesn’t look like it can handle many cable swaps and is unable to fit some MMCX cables too. Also because of the thick nozzle it is difficult to swap tips and some are unusable (for example the Final Audio Type E tips doesn’t fit).

Fit: This fits good and I have no issues with it (unlike the Blon 03 where I have to use an O-ring and still have a hard time with fit). Although since the body is small, people with big ears might have a problem with them but at least for me it definitely is better than the Blon 03 in fit.

Comfort: Personally, I prefer smaller iems that doesn’t cover your entire ear, as those that do, produce a lot more heat and makes it less comfortable in longer sessions. The ISS014 is a small iem and therefore to me it is very comfortable and I can use them for a long listening session without feeling any fatigue from it. They are also good for sleeping as they are very flat and doesn’t protrude from your ears.

Isolation: Below average isolation, due to its small build and the vent holes. Not recommended if you need isolation. (I couldn’t try it outside though, due to covid-19 but tried it with my speakers playing music at home.)

Setup: Fiio M11, ISN S4 (4,4mm), Stock tips

Lows: Very clean bass despite having quite the large quantity. Definitely sub-bass focused, but bass in general is fast and tight while having a large quantity. Also, very good texture too which makes the bass very enjoyable and especially the sub-bass.

Mid-bass: The mid-bass isn’t as boosted as the sub-bass but can still be felt and is punchy and clean. It stays clear from the vocals and this can be heard in for example Metallica – Fight fire with fire (1:11 - 1:23). And in Halestorm – I get off (0:00 – 0:13) you can hear how textured and clean the bass is.

Sub-bass: The sub-bass is the meat of the ISS014, it has a quantity level that should satisfy bassheads AND it stays clean, fast, tight and textured at the same which is exactly how I want it to sound like. In the song Will Sparks – Sick like that (03:08-03:22) you can hear how clean, fast, tight and textured it is. And in Contiez ft. trey G – Trumpsta (Djuro remix) (01:30 – 01:43) you can hear how much it rumbles. Very good extension as it reaches low and rumbles very good.

Mids: very good balancing between male/female vocals, warm and organic and no sharp peaks at all. Details is high despite its warm tuning. Although quality is a bit better on the male vocals than the female.

Female-vocals: As mentioned above the female vocals are a bit worse when compared to the male vocals, that is because the female vocals doesn’t sound as natural as the male vocals does (and that the Blon Bl-03 has a more natural female vocal reproduction which I will get into more details later)

Male-vocals: The male vocals have a warm and organic sound to it and I suspect that the bass has something to do with it, but it is very clean and separated from the bass.

Highs: a very natural and clear treble, no sibilance or sharpness for me. Very high amount of details here and has some air in it to make It sound more natural (although it could have been more because the extension isn’t that good here.) it is a warm iem so the treble should not be a problem for a lot of people.

Soundstage: average soundstage.

Tonality: a warm L-shaped iem that has excellent timbre and overall sounds very natural.

Details: very good details despite being so warm and with its bad treble extension.

Instrument Separation: very good separation and probably the clean bass to thank for that.

Songs that highlight the IEM: , , , , ,
Good genres: Bass focused songs, Rock, Metal, Trance,

Bad genres: Orchestral, OSTs, Acoustic songs


Comparisons:

LZ A6 (Pink Filter):
Treble quantity and quality is way above the ISS014 (also extends much further but also have a bit too much air for it to sound completely natural).

Mids has a bit more quantity in the A6. A6 has more details in the mids but the ISS014 sounds more natural especially the male vocals but the female vocals are also more natural although not as big a difference as the male vocals.

Mid-bass is tighter, faster and cleaner on the A6 (although much of it is due to the treble difference and that the bass quantity on the A6 is lower than the ISS014). But the ISS014 has more texture in the mid-bass than the A6.

Sub-bass has more quantity in the ISS014 and more texture than the A6, but the A6 has a cleaner, tighter and faster sub-bass.

Technicalities such as soundstage, instrument separation and details are much more impressive on the A6, but timbre is better on the ISS014 and does sound more natural overall.

The A6 suits treble-heads and/or people that want as clean sound as possibly while also having an impressive bass. The ISS014 is for the people that love a high quantity sub-bass while having excellent quality like staying clean, tight, fast and textured.

Blon Bl-03(mesh mod): More treble quantity but quality is equal on the 03. Mids are leaning more towards female vocals quantity and quality (they sound more natural) on the 03 while male vocals are better on ISS014 as it sounds more natural with its warmness (also better balancing between male/female vocals on the ISS014).

Mid-bass is very similar, except it when there is a lot of things going on there, it gets chaotic on the 03 (that’s the instrument separation though…). Sub-bass however extends lower, rumbles more and has quite a bit more texture (tightness and speed are similar though).

Soundstage, Details and instrument separation is better on the ISS014 while timbre is on the same level (bass is more natural on the ISS014 and male vocals while female vocals and treble is more natural on the 03).

The big question though, is the ISS014 worth upgrading from the 03? From the non-modified 03 I would definitely say YES, but with the mesh mod?

The differences gets smaller and more up to your personal taste, if you like a brighter set then the 03 would be better but if you want a better bass and male vocals while also being warmer (lower treble quantity and easier to use for longer listening sessions) then the ISS014 is better ( also don’t have to deal with modifying or adding O-rings to make it fit) . Fit is much better on the ISS014 for me though, don’t have to deal with O-rings or have to use wide-bore tips like on the 03.

Shozy Form 1.1: Treble has more quantity (especially at 8khz) but is quality is quite a bit lower since it doesn’t sound nearly as natural as it does on the ISS014. (it does extend a bit further though.)

Mids are as well balanced between male/female vocals as they are on the ISS014, but it is recessed when compared to the ISS014. Quality is better on the ISS014, since it is more natural.

Mid-bass quantity is lower on the 1.1 but is a bit faster, tightness is about the same, quality is better on the ISS014 since the 1.1 doesn’t have the same punch.

Sub-bass is the most similar part of these 2, 1.1 has lower quantity and doesn’t extend as low but is a bit tighter and faster, Texture is better on the ISS014.

Soundstage, instrument separation, details and timbre are better on the ISS014 and overall sounds much more natural.

The 1.1 is better if you want a brighter sound and less bass quantity. But the ISS014 kind of beats the 1.1 senseless in everything else (sound wise, the fit and isolation is better on the 1.1.)

Final Audio E5000: The ISS014 has more treble quantity and quality (the bass affects the overall sound on the E5000 a lot). Mids are similar but the E5000 has a thicker lower mids (due to the bass again) but the ISS014 has a better female/male vocal balancing.

The bass is completely different, the E5000 brute forces with quantity, extension and rumbling. Much slower and looser bass on the E5000 and doesn’t have nearly the same texture as the ISS014. This does make the E5000 a less versatile iem than the ISS014 because the bass does make the entire range feel very muddy. But on the songs that the E5000 plays well, it REALLY plays well (one example being Metallica – Nothing else matters), it is kind of a specialist iem.

The soundstage, details and instrument separation are better on the ISS014 due to it having more treble quantity and also a much more controlled bass that doesn’t muddy the entire range. Timbre is similar in how natural they sound but again the bass is the Achilles heel of the E5000, it sounds too muddy and therefore not as natural as the super control in the ISS014.

The E5000 suits specific songs better (examples being Metallica – One, nothing else matters, Sad but true and Enter sandman), otherwise the ISS014 is a better choice in versatility, sound quality and price.




Conclusion:
In conclusion the ISS014 is a really good iem and it performs at a very high level, with excellent control and texture in the bass and its relaxed treble that makes it possible to use for a long listening session. Sound wise it is a 5/5 but the Biggest issue with it has nothing to do with its sound, but the QC problems that seems to have haunted it for many months now (related to the MMCX connector). If you are getting the ISS014 you have to be aware that you are gambling on getting a good set without any problems, but if you win, you win BIG. Thanks for reading.

Cable source:
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/resistance-of-cables-pics-comments-and-links.907998/

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Sheephead
Sheephead
Sheephead
Sheephead
RikudouGoku
RikudouGoku
@Sheephead Thanks! I cant say for sure, but it does look like the MMCX is pretty short. I would try this one instead: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000400771561.html

(Although if you get that fiio cable from amazon, worst case scenario if it does not fit you can just return it because amazon return rules are very good.)

Project A3

New Head-Fier
Pros: Lightweight shells
- Soft and supple, cable
- Soft V-shape signature
- Natural and analog mids
- Slightly enhanced mid-bass
- Sweet and smooth sounding treble
- Good detail in the highs
Cons: Heavily polished shells are easily scratched
- Highs could be more extended
- Lacks air and transparency
Sound Review by KZW
Disclaimer: Urbanfun has graciously provided us with this sample unit in exchange for an honest review. The views discussed below are a reflection of Project A3's thoughts surrounding the product. The sample has been run-in for at least 50 hours prior to reviewing in order to achieve an accurate representation of the product.

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CLICK HERE TO JOIN US now in Project A3's Official Telegram group for exclusive news and more.

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Introduction:
Upon first impressions, the Urban Fun ISS014 shares “fundamental design cues” with the Blon BL01, a budget phenome that has left audiophiles panging for future releases. If they were both placed side by side, both iterations share the exact shame shell-type. And it is oftentimes, easy to mistake one for the other. Apart from the difference in termination (2-pin vs MMCX), both of them share the same heavily polished, chrome shells.

Nevertheless, what it sounds like is what truly matters; Sound is king, not aesthetics. And both earphones start to walk their own path, as the ISS014 houses a “beryllium dynamic driver”, while the Blon BL03 boasts a “diamond-like carbon driver”.

Priced at a $59 USD, a significant margin as compared to the Blon BL03’s measly price of $29, the ISS014 is separating itself from the competition with the large price jump.

Will the Urban Fun ISS014 be another revolutionary earphone in the Chi-fi market? Available at Aliexpress.

Specification:
  • DRIVER UNIT: 10 MM BERYLLIUM DIAPHRAGM DYNAMIC DRIVER
  • SENSITIVITY: 20-40000HZ
  • HEADPHONE PLUG: 3.5MM GOLDEN TYPE
  • WEIGHT: 35 GRAMS


Gear Used & Tracklist:
Sony NW-A105|Aune X1S |Periodic Audio Nickel (Ni) |Venture Electronics Odyssey |Google Pixel 2XL |

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Unboxing:
The Urban Fun ISS014 comes in a plain, black box. Upon removing the lid, the contents displayed are as follow; a generic, round IEM case, a tin-case with foam tips inside, several silicone ear-tips and the earphones themselves.

While the package might sound sparse, it is to be expected, given the reasonable price-tag. Nothing is missing, and the usual suspects are provided as per usual

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Scalability:
The Urbanfun ISS014 is remarkably easy to drive, and amplification is unnecessary. It is incredibly sensitive, and pairs well with most sources without any distinct or large variations in sound quality.

On the Venture Electronics Odyssey, the Urban Fun ISS014 displayed little to no hiss, and it reached my ideal listening volume at approximately 40% (of the max) on my Google Pixel 2XL.

On my the Aune X1s, the ideal listening volume was reached by turning the volume knob upwards of about a millimetre; as you can tell, the Urban Fun ISS014 was designed for low-power output sources.

Changes are minute, and I could only see a change in resolution with the AUNE X1s, no thanks to its superior DAC/OPamp and grounding.

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Fit:
Don’t be fooled by the metallic shells; they may look heavy, but they actually wear really light on the ears. Weighing at a measly 85 grams, the ISS014 sits snugly in my inner ear canal, with little to no discomfort (as I sit here, writing this review). The stem is of adequate length, resulting in a tight fit that doesn’t displace easily from my usual “head-shake test”. There are no sharp or coarse protrusions; the shells are immaculately finished and feel much more premium when compared to its attractive price-tag.

The cables are braided but twisted, resulting in a cable reminiscent of the Campfire Audio Litz cables equipped on their newer offerings, such as the IO. The twisting results in little to no microphonics, and it is supple enough so as to not retain kinks or unwanted bends that make it hard to stow away in the provided case.

I’m usually seated right in front of my fan, and the Urban Fun ISS014 barely picks up any wind-noise. The miniscule vent is played beside the spout of the earphone, and it isolates really well, even in noisier conditions.

Overall, I am duly impressed by both the fit and finish of the ISS014.

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Reference Tracks / Remarks:
Tyler the Creator- Earfquake
Desire- Bizarre Love Triangle (Cover)​

The Urbanfun's bass-response is lively, and it digs deep in the mid-bass regions. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm does not carry over into the sub-bass; it doesn't reverberate as expected when listening to trap-heavy beats. A v-shaped signature is tailored to complement music with heavily synthesized production standards. The Urbanfun's laidback response clearly favors harmony (on paper, at least) amongst all the core frequencies. The beryllium, dynamic driver is clearly being put to good work.

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Reference Tracks / Remarks:
Natalia Lafourcade- Soledad Y El Mar
Destroyer- The River​

In admittance, those criticisms stated above were minor nitpicks; I am enamored by the mid-range response of this tiny but mighty earphone. It ticks all the right boxes; it has an accurate timbre, it is neither peaky nor sharp and the interplay between the upper and lower mids is perfectly balanced to my ears. However, vocals might sounds slightly further away; after all, it is still a v-shaped signature.

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Reference Tracks / Remarks:
Natalia Lafourcade- Nunca Es Sufficiente
John Coltrane-Blues Train​

I found it quite difficult to critique the highs here. My only gripe here is the lack of bite; it doesn't need to be completely smooth. Some forwardness and energy is needed here for it to sound spectacular. It's so close, but it isn't quite there yet.

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Reference Tracks / Remarks:
John Frusciante- Murderers​

Like all other earphones in the sub-$100 market, it doesn't do a bad job at recreating a cohesive soundscape. But, it isn't a standout feature for sure. It hits all the right markers, but it fails to surpass them.

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Reference Tracks / Remarks:
Santa Esmeralda- Please don't let me be Misunderstood​

The Urbanears are no slouch when it comes to positional cues. The placement of each vocal or instrumental cue is easily differentiated with little effort. However, don't expect "balanced armature" like separation; it lacks that "faux", multi-driver split characteristic. What we have here, is a coherent iem that manages crowded tracks decently well (this is no top-of-the-line, flagship).

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Reference Tracks / Remarks:
New Order- The Perfect Kiss
Townes Van Zandt- Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel​

To surmise this section, the mid-range has a tonality that pairs well with many genres of music, from Americana (with that luscious twang of an acoustic guitar) to New-wave (think New Order and waterline synths). However, it is a jack of all trades that aims to satisfy most tastes. It excels in everything, but doesn't specialize in anything. Take of that what you will.

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Comparison Chart
How we compare:
We chose other similarly priced earphones or similar offerings from the same brand that Project A3 has reviewed in the past, to ensure that we remain as impartial as possible in our comparisons.
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Conclusion:
The Urbanfun's, as its namesake suggests, is boatloads of fun to listen to with a multitude of genres, both old and modern. By sound-merit alone, the ISS014 could stand vis-a-vis, against its pricier counterparts. I foresee myself placing the Urbanfun ISS014 in my current circulation of daily drivers.

Be sure to follow Project A3 on Facebook for more reviews*.

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*All ratings are accurate as of date of publication. Changes in price, newer models may affect Project A3's views on the performance and value of the reviewed product.
harry501501
harry501501
this was one of the best reviews i've read of any iem. nice one

Comments

Solar1971

100+ Head-Fier
Looks very nice to my eyes. But that English, could use a bit of help.
But in my opinion there are too many basic, simple 1 DD IEMs as it is currently.
no need for another.
 

saengcchi

New Head-Fier
Looks very nice to my eyes. But that English, could use a bit of help.
But in my opinion there are too many basic, simple 1 DD IEMs as it is currently.
no need for another.
I disagree, I think there are too many chifi hybrids. A single, quality and well tuned dynamic driver can go well above and beyond just an okay hybrid.
 

Solar1971

100+ Head-Fier
Looks very nice to my eyes. But that English, could use a bit of help.
But in my opinion there are too many basic, simple 1 DD IEMs as it is currently.
no need for another.
Well I guess i’d have to disagree with you myself. I have the opposite opinion. Single DD is at a disadvantage according to my ears. You are comparing a WELL TUNED DD. Vs a JUST OK hybrid.
You just made my point for me. It takes a WELL TUNED DD to compete with a JUST OK hybrid.
How about a fair comparison. A WELL TUNED DD vs a WELL TUNED hybrid ? Every hybrid that I have that is well tuned is (for the most part) superior to any DD only IEM I have except for 1. I love my TFZ #3 but they were 109$ when I bought them. By CCA C10 are better (overall) and they were sub 40$. But I guess when I get the Blon I will find out. Who knows, maybe they are magical and awesome as some people have said. That’s why I ordered them. I know the Blon are also single DD. But maybe not as good as these.
I want to hear them for myself.
 

saengcchi

New Head-Fier
Looks very nice to my eyes. But that English, could use a bit of help.
But in my opinion there are too many basic, simple 1 DD IEMs as it is currently.
no need for another.
We can agree to disagree :) some things I overlooked when I made my point:
1. hybrids are a lot harder to tune than just a single DD. anything KZ (cca is a KZ subsidiary) has had metallic and unnatural timbre. one of the things blons do so well is having natural timbre :) that’s why i said an “okay” hybrid. because for the price of a well tuned chifi DD, you’re not going to find properly tuned hybrids.
2. the cost of multiple drivers in a hybrid faces the problem of diminishing returns, especially given that balanced armatures are harder to tune right than DDs. instead of putting the budget into multiple cheap BAs, you can put all of it into a fancy graphene coated, beryllium coated, diamond-like coated or carbon nanotubes like we’re seeing with the new craze of single DDs. the market has seen single DDs that are tuned well edge KZ hybrids stuffed with BAs in detail and aren’t even that much more expensive.
of course anyone can have their own personal opinion and music taste and i’m super biased towards single DDs, if you’re happy with your hybrids than more power to you man. but if you like natural timbre and fast bass decay, you would enjoy single dynamics!
 

Solar1971

100+ Head-Fier
Looks very nice to my eyes. But that English, could use a bit of help.
But in my opinion there are too many basic, simple 1 DD IEMs as it is currently.
no need for another.
Yeah. I’m still new to IEMs. I’m still learning about even my own tastes. Lol. Some days I like 1 set. The next day I’m enjoying a different set. I guess I don’t really have a true favorite yet.
I’m looking forward to the Blon 03’s. I want to feel the magic. :)
 
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