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ZhiYin QT5

Rating:
2.83333/5,
Tags:
  1. Brooko
    ZhiYin QT5 – Perfect Example of How Not To Make an IEM
    Written by Brooko
    Published Jun 27, 2016
    1.5/5,
    Pros - Stainless shell seems nicely built, leather carry pouch
    Cons - Tuning (awful), nozzle width, cable (poorly built), value
    qt507.jpg
    For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images

    INTRODUCTION

     
    Firstly I want to thank a local NZ Head-Fier (AudioDHD) for allowing me to spend some time with his QT5. Scott I owe you.
     
    Its been my practise not to review any IEMs I regard as truly awful – as usually any hype they get will die down as more people review them and the inconsistencies or issues become noticed. I'll usually alert the manufacturer, give them feedback, and return the goods. It happens rarely. This review in an exception.
     
    They would never have come on my radar if I wasn't involved in currently reviewing the new Fidue Sirius 5 driver hybrid. Long story short – someone critiqued the value of the Sirius (they hadn't heard them – go figure), and suggested that there were other 5 driver hybrids which were much better value. He quoted the ZhiYin QT5 as an example. So I popped along to the thread, read some of the praise and noticed a local (AudioDHD) who had a pair. A couple of PMs later – and we arranged to swap IEMs for a week – he got my 64Audio Adel U6 – I got the QT5.
     
    So I've had these for 5 days now – and my opinion won't change. They are possibly the worst tuned IEMs I have heard for quite some time. Normally I wouldn't write this up – but the only reviews so far (both on Head-Fi and another review site) are very positive – and to be honest I wouldn't want someone buying these in the hope they are giant beaters. I just wanted to post a review that reflects how I truly hear them. Talking to a few people in the last week – and they have shared graphs (which confirm this pair are the normal tuning) and also told me that they are not happy with the sound either. What worries me with this is that more people aren't bringing this up.
     
    This will be a pretty stark review – I'll show you what I've found, outline the shortcomings, and let you draw your own conclusions. I hope that this might be helpful for some. I also want to make it clear that I'm not targeting anyone here – some people may genuinely like these IEMs. But I find it difficult to listen to them for any reasonable length of time.
     
    ABOUT ZHIYIN
    I've tried to find something about the company, but consistently drawn blanks. I know they are based in Dongguan, China, and that their company name has a phrase as a suffix (Sounds Of Nature Zhiyin Audio Products Co). They appear to have 500-1000 employees (so they are a reasonable size), and their core business lists the manufacture of “loudspeaker, speaker, minute computer loudspeaker, lcd TV speaker, lcd MONITOR speaker, speaker, horn, mobile receiver, DV speaker, DC speaker, speaker, av loudspeaker”. So far I have been unable to find a website.
     
    DISCLAIMER
    The QT5 used for this review is a loaner from Head-Fier AudioDHD – I borrowed it for the express purpose of finding out how it sounded. Apparently they retail for around $265 on AliExpress. I am not affiliated with Zhiyin and this is my completely honest view on this earphone (I am not embellishing this review in any way).
     
    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.
    I'm a 49 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (including the FiiO X5ii, X3ii, X7, LP5 Pro and L3, and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). I also use a portable set-up at work – usually either X3ii/X7/L3 > HP, or PC > E17K > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyerdynamic T1, Sennheiser HD600 & HD630VB, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and lately it has mainly been with the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and Adel U6. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).
     
    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.
     
    I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 49, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays).
     
    Over the last few days I’ve tried the QT5 paired with low impedance sources, and I've tried them with added amplification. The X3ii and E17K is my test rig and has enough power and perfectly flat response to give me a good read on most IEMs. The QT5 is no exception, and I don't think I've missed any opportunity to fairly and ethically give them similar chances as my other reviews.
     
    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

    THE REVIEW

     
    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
    Scott sent these down with just the case and some tips. The case is leather, and really one of the best things about these IEMs. It's pretty good quality, has a belt loop and although it won't provide hard shell protection, for day to day use it seems pretty good. Apart from that, Scott sent me the following tips.
     
    qt501.jpg qt502.jpg qt503.jpg
    Case and accessories
    Tips and ear stabilisers
    The case is one of the best attributes of the QT5 package

     
    1. 3 pairs red and clear S/M/L silicone tips
    2. 3 pairs red and clear silicone tips which must be from another set – because I don't think they'll fit
    3. 3 pairs black S/M/L silicone tips (one medium was missing)
    4. 4 pairs clear silicone tips
    5. A packet of ear guides
     
    qt504.jpg qt505.jpg qt506.jpg
    Belt clip
    Tip selection
    QT5 and cable

     
    The first thing I noted about the tips is that the bore is huge. These tips will not work with other earphones and vice versa.
     
    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
    I’ve listed below the known specifications for the QT5.
     
    Type
    Five driver hybrid in ear monitor
    Driver type
    1 x 10 mm DD and 4 x BA
    Current Retail
    $261 (Ali Express)
    Freq Range
    10 Hz – 40 kHz (really??)
    Impedance (earphone)
    8 ohm
    Sensitivity
    118 dB
    Jack
    3.5mm gold plated Oyaide mini-plug
    Cable
    1.2m (+/- 5cm), removable (MMCX)
    Cable material
    8 core silver plated copper
    Weight
    60g
    IEM Shell
    Stainless steel
    Body shape / fit
    Cartridge (can be worn up or down)

     
    FREQUENCY GRAPH
    The graphs below are generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. I must stress that they aren’t calibrated to IEC measurement standards, but the raw data I’m getting has been very consistent, and is actually not too far away from the raw data measured by other systems except for above 4-5 kHz where it shows significantly lower than measurements performed on a properly calibrated rig. So when reading the graphs, don’t take them as gospel – or at least remember that the area above 4-5 kHz will be significantly higher in actuality. It is my aim to get this system calibrated at some stage in the near future.
     
    qt5channels.png
     
    I've also shown a second response from another set, and I've had confirmed that this response is consistent with at least 2 others – so I can only assume this is the default tuning.
     
    download.jpg
     
    What I’m hearing (subjective) – noted before I ever had these on the measurement bench.
    1. Reasonable sub-bass, elevated mid-bass, and extremely elevated lower mid-range and upper mid-bass.
    2. A massive hole in the presence area – vocal overtones are very distant leaving fundamentals with practically no harmonics. This leaves a very dissonant and confused overall signature.
    3. Vocals sound hollow and very unnatural.
    4. Upper mids are completely overshadowed by the huge hump in lower mids. Female vocalists sound muffled and flat.
    5. Lower treble is subdued, and lacking any real detail
    6. Soundstage is pretty narrow, and imaging suffers simply through the lack of harmonics in the presence area.
    7. Overall the default sound is boomy with hollow and sucked out mid-range, no clarity and pretty lifeless. Cymbals have no real decay. It is one of the most unnaturally tuned IEMs I have ever heard.
     
    As you can see from the graph the drivers are matched very closely so I can't see this being failed drivers.
     
    BUILD & DESIGN
    The QT5 utilises a stainless steel cartridge type shell. At first glance it is a very nice two piece construction, and although there are some edges, there is nothing noticeable which would cause discomfort (apart from the nozzle – but we'll discuss that shortly). The QT5 is 21 mm long from tip to base, and has a circumference at it's widest point of 13mm. The main body has a slightly domed rear with a single central vent or port. As you move forward to the nozzle, the QT5 tapers down. The nozzle itself is 7mm in length, has no lip, but is an incredible 7.5mm in diameter – and it is this diameter for the entire length of the nozzle. The nozzle opening is finished with mesh to protect the internals.
     
    qt508.jpg qt509.jpg qt510.jpg
    Rear of the shell and driver vents
    Well built stainless shells - but massive nozzles
    Connectors, another view of those nozzles & ring for R indicator

     
    The cable connects with a standard MMCX connector, and other cables like the Shure standard cables or MEE's P1 cable have no problems connecting. Strangely there are no L/R markings on the nozzle, and the only way of telling left from right is to reply on a rubber ring attached to one of the earpieces.
     
    The cable is an 8 core (2 sets of twisted pairs each side, joining to form 4 twisted pairs in a curiously loose litz type braid below the y-split. The cable material is single core silver plated copper. At the top is 95mm of heatshrink tubing used to create ear guides. This works pretty well – but they aren't exactly formable – if you straighten them, they will return to their original shape. There is no cinch, although you'll see from the photos that Scott has added a Sony rubber cinch (I didn't realise until afterwards that it wasn't part of the intended cable). The y-split is a piece of clear tubing / heatshrink. The cable is approximately 1.2m in length and terminates with an Oyaide 3.5mm gold plated straight mini-jack. This jack is iPhone case friendly – but one thing I've noticed already is that a lot of the “gold plate” is already wearing off – which considering the age of the IEMs is not reassuring.
     
    qt515.jpg qt517.jpg qt516.jpg
    The silver plated copper cable
    Connectors and ear guides
    Y-split and Scott's Sony cinch

     
    OK – those are the basics – so lets get to some “plain speak” about a couple of design errors. We'll cover the cable first. It's discoloured already (not sure if this is through use or if it came like this). Secondly it is a very untidy braid – honestly my 12yo daughter braids much tidier than this. It just looks very unprofessional – loose, raggedy, like a piece of unkempt string you would use to tie a parcel. I'm really not sure why they didn't go with a simply twisted pair into a twisted quad – tidier, easier to handle (this is too bulky), and looking far more professional. I've attached photos of a simple copper braided cable and also the MEE P1 cable so you can see the difference.
     
    qt518.jpg qt519.jpg qt520.jpg
    Oijyade jack
    Poor braiding on cable
    QT5 cable left, and MEE P1 cable right

     
    Second design fault is the massive nozzle. Firstly – anyone with narrow canals is going to have massive problems with fit and overall comfort. I asked my wife and teenage children to try these – none could get a seal and the complaint from all three was that the nozzles were too wide. This then leads to another issue in that I cannot use any other tips with these – it is simply impossible to get them on. I prefer foam tips. I have no options. I really can't see why anyone in their right mind would choose to use a nozzle this wide – it isn't just questionable – it's lunacy. And I'm really surprised reviewers have not made a bigger deal out of this.
     
    qt521.jpg qt512.jpg qt511.jpg
    QT5 cable and a braided copper cable
    Comparison of nozzle sizes
    QT5 nozzle is massive

     
    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
    Initial fit for me is pretty good, and I do have reasonably large ears and canals. Normally I use large tips. Spending any longer than an hour with them though, and they start to become “obtrusive” - it's just the width of the nozzles I think. I could probably get used to them over time. The point is, I shouldn't have to though.
     
    The included tips give enough options to get a fairly good seal, and the clear ones seem to give me a brilliant seal. What I miss though is that I can't use any of my own tips. Nothing fits, and that is why the choice of this nozzle size is such a poor one. What happens when you lose or run out of tips? Or if the tips you have just aren't suitable? And like I mentioned earlier, if you have smaller canals – forget it – these are very unlikely to fit.
     
    qt513.jpg qt514.jpg
    QT5 - no way my foam tips will fit :frowning2:
    Qt5 tips top vs popular Ostry, Spiral Dot and foam tips (none will fit) 

     
    Isolation – despite having a reasonable seal, isolation is below average for a vented dynamic. I can hear my wife in the background talking to the kids (and this is with music playing at my preferred 65-70 dB level. I would have like to try any foam tip to see if I could get a better seal ……. but oh yes, no other tips will fit. #Frustrated.
     
    SOUND QUALITY
    This section is going to be briefer than my normal – mainly because there is very little more to say. I'll do it mainly with bullet points. I wasn't going to spend a lot of time, but true to form I can't seem to reconcile with trying to do anything half-way. So here are some reasonably brief thoughts on the QT5 using my standard test tracks.
     
    The following is what I hear from the ZhiYin QT5. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes may be different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). It could also be that there is some huge variation in the tuning of some of the QT5's out in the wild. I can only hope this is true – because I cannot imagine any competent engineer aiming for this sort of signature.
     
    The testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my FiiO X7 (AM3 module) and included white silicone tips. I used the ALO Audio balanced Tinsel cable. For the record – on most tracks, the volume level on the X7 with the AM3 balanced was 20-25/120 on low gain which was giving me an SPL range of around 65-75 dB (C weighted measurements from my SPL meter).
     
    Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and most can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.
     
    Initial Thoughts
    I've already covered this earlier – so lets skip straight to the meat. In a single sentence though, the QT sound very incoherent with a congested mid-range, no harmonics or overtones, and sort of a hollow or sucked out flat sounding mid-range. Treble has no life, and cymbals have very little shimmer or decay.
     
    Overall Detail / Clarity / Resolution
    Tracks used: Gaucho, Sultans of Swing
     
    1. Bass actually sounds reasonably balanced, with slight elevation of the bass guitar.
    2. Vocals are there but distant / weird – sucked out with no timbre or tonality.
    3. Lead guitar is there but has no structure or edge.
    4. Detail is smeared – and all the little clicks which are in Sultans on a normal pair of earphones are gone. Simply not there.
    5. Overall – hollow, sounds like the whole song is being played in a tube. It is flat and lifeless.
     
    Sound-stage & Imaging + Sibilance Test
    Tracks used: Tundra, Dante’s Prayer, Let it Rain, Flower Duet (Lakme)
    1. Imaging is OK, but not crisp or clear – just sort of fuzzy, but at least consistent.
    2. There is no real sense of depth or width – these have a very narrow stage – very much inside my head (even with the binaural track Tundra)
    3. With Dante's Prayer, piano was OK, but the cello lacked life and tonality. Loreena's vocals are muffled and barely intelligible. This is horrible – I'm skipping to the applause section to check immersion.
    4. A sense of the crowd being left and right – but the applause is again muffled and sounds as though I have a heavy blanket over my head.
    5. Live recording of Lakme's Flower Duet (Netrebko and Garanca) started OK (maybe I am slowly getting used to this weird tonality) – until the first couple of notes were sung. Distant, no air, flat – and this is from two of the best Sopranos around. Awful.
    6. There is a small bit of sibilance present in “Let It Rain” - I know it exists in the recording. But the whole track again is lifeless, and this is usually a bright , clean enveloping track.
     
    Bass Quality and Quantity
    Tracks used: Bleeding Muddy Water, Royals
    1. Muddy Waters is pretty weird – its kind of gloomy but Mark's voice has no texture and there isn't a lot of impact
    2. Bass has reasonable speed – but no resolution. It's there but sort of cloudy.
    3. I can't tell if there is bleed into the mid-range, because half the mid-range is missing
    4. Decent impact for Lorde's “Royals” and enough sub-bass to produce rumble, but Ellas vocals sound like she's singing through a wall. Hollow, dissonant and unpleasant.
     
    Female Vocals
    Tracks used : Aventine, Strong, For You, Human, The Bad In Each Other, Howl, Safer, Light as a Feather, Don’t Wake me Up, Ship To Wreck, Mile On the Moon
    1. Probably the worst section. Agnes Obel in particular sounded horrible with the QT5. Her vocals are there, but have no air or sweetness. It's like someone put a shell of her there to sing, and then took out most of what makes her voice stunning to listen to.
    2. This was repeated with Hannah (London Grammar) and if there is a headphone that can make her voice unpleasant you know to avoid it.
    3. Perhaps the best track was Gabriella Cilmi's “Safer” - and it wasn't that it was good – just that it was less bad than the others. Again it sounds tonally flat, lacking detail or air.
     
    Male Vocals
    Track used: Away From the Sun, Art for Art’s Sake, Broken Wings, Hotel California, Immortality (Seether), Keith Don’t Go, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.
    1. Slightly better than with female vocals but still sounds flat and muffled with no real resolution
    2. Nothing I tried sounded good, or even “OK” - it was continually like a veil was over the recording. And I'm sorry – but if someone is saying these are more resolving than the FLC8S then they need their ears checked. My Apple Earpods are miles better than these.
    3. Pearl Jam is always my go to. Vedders voice was at least a little clearer, but normally this track is alive with cymbals and hi-hats, and the decay on the cymbals is one part of the track that really makes it pop. There is virtually nothing there with the QT5 – it is very distant, cloudy, veiled.
     
    At this point I'm going to stop – no use beating a dead horse. Sonically these are quite simply a mess. Using their default tuning there isn't a single positive thing I can say about them.
     
    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
    As I alluded to earlier, the QT5 is very easily driven out of a smartphone or DAP. Because of the low impedance, I avoided the iPhone, but the sound was consistent on all of the other DAPs I tested. I also volume matched and compared X3ii vs X3ii + E17K, and there was no discernible audible difference in dynamic presentation (what dynamics?). Based on the specs alone (8 ohm and 118dB SPL), straight out of the headphone-out of most sources should be more than enough. These neither need nor benefit from amping
     
    I already knew I wouldn't hear any hiss (my hearing is not sensitive enough), but because of the size of the nozzles I was unable to have my daughter or wife help me check.
     
    RESPONSE TO EQ?
    This was an easy one for me because I already had the frequency plot, so knew exactly what I'd need to do. Rather than explain it, I'll show you how drastic I needed to be using the X7. To really correct it, you'd need a decent multi band parametric equaliser. Once I'd done this, it still wasn't perfect, but at least there was a lot of life back again – and some decent tonality. I went back and tried some of the tracks like Aventine and finally the QT sounded like a decent earphone. The fact that I had to make such drastic changes simply shows how badly they are tuned in the first place. But there is some potential here.
     
    Screenshot_2016-06-27-20-12-32.png
     
    COMPARISONS
    Sorry – wasted enough time on these already so I'll simply leave you with some graphs. The first is of the very good MEE P1. Notice the difference in bass presentation, and in particular the difference in the mid-range. And if you look at most good earphones on the market today, nowhere will you see the huge hump the QT5 has in the 400-500 Hz area, nor the suck-out in the 1-2 kHz area. There is a reason for this – and it should be self evident.
     
    qt5vsMEEP1.png qt5vssirius1.png qt5vssirius2.png
    QT5 vs MEE P1
    QT5 vs Fidue Sirius (vent open) 
    QT5 vs Fidue Sirius (vent closed)

     
    The next graphs I'd like to show are of the Fidue Sirius. One is without the bass port blocked, the second with it covered. The port is on the internal face of the earphone, and I suspect the true signature is somewhere in between when worn. Once again you'll notice the stark contrast in frequency response curves, and probably even notice a little similarity to the MEE P1 graph. I should probably have avoided matching at 1 kHz because in reality the Sirius graph would be more accurate matching (crossing lines) at about 1.5 kHz. So why am I showing you this – simply because it was a comment about the Sirius that made me go looking for the QT5. As you can see – there is simply no comparison. One of these two earphones is pretty much garbage, the other is one of the best earphones I've heard this year.
     

    ZHIYIN QT5– SUMMARY

     
    This is without doubt one of the worst tuned earphones I have heard or reviewed. It has a nicely built stainless steel body, and a really good leather pouch – but that is where things stop for me. The cable is very poorly put together, there are incredibly bad design choices with the nozzle sizing, and the actual tuning itself is just incredibly bad. If you have the time or inclination though, with some careful EQ, these can sound pretty good.
     
    What saddens me most about the QT5 is that we have reviews out there stating these are good IEMs. I know preference plays a big part – but even if the sonics were better on a few models (consistency of the freq charts I've seen would indicate otherwise), the cable quality, and nozzle size alone would indicate these are not 5 star perfect. Couple that with the admissions that you need to EQ them to improve them – and the stellar reviews these are getting are quite simply misleading. I hope that a few will now go back – really listen again and compare these to models which are recognised as very good at their price points. I hope they will then objectively regrade and re-evaluate their reviews.
     
    Sadly I cannot recommend these even slightly, and definitely not at their asking price. If you're prepared to really tweak them (EQ) you can get decent sound out of them – but TBH you can do a lot better for a lot less money. 1.5 stars for me – 1 for the shell quality and the leather case. Half for the ability to get them sounding decent with some EQ.
     
    Thanks again to Scott for the loaner. Scott – I'm going to send you my personally owned Alclair Curve when I send back the QT5. They are yours to keep. Its the least I can do for you putting up with these!
      djvkool, peter123, SerenaxD and 14 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. leobigfield
      This is sooo strange... Maybe they are internally connected wrong (+ and - inverted)? A ****ty QC in a DIY brand could lead to these kind of mistake. 
      leobigfield, Jul 5, 2016
    3. Brooko
      Unlikely given that we have at least 4 units which measure exactly the same.  Unfortunately none of the alleged "good units" have been measured yet.
      Brooko, Jul 5, 2016
    4. lordsinister
      Thank you for this review @Brooko as I fell for the QT5 hype and almost purchased it but glad i didn't.  So relieved I put that money towards the Trinity Phantom M4 and M6.  Can't wait for them to arrive!  :)
      lordsinister, Jul 7, 2016
  2. FUYU
    Did somebody say flagship? - The ZhiYin QT5
    Written by FUYU
    Published Jun 18, 2016
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Phenomonal Soundstage; Great details
    Cons - Sketchy quality control; Needs a good source to shine; limited eartip selection; comfort
    Note: The ZhiYin QT5 were bought from Shenzhen HCkexin for around 260$ including a discount:
    www.aliexpress.com/store/product/2016-New-ZhiYin-QT5-Hybrid-5-Drive-Unit-In-Ear-Earphone-DIY-HIFI-Headphone-Kill-K3003/1825606_32640588846.html
    I'm not affiliated with ZhiYin or HCkexin in any way.

    Preamble:

    First of all, welcome to another review here on Head-Fi.org.
    My name is Noel aka. FUYU, I'm 19 years old and a avid lover for everything technical.
    While everything subjective, I like to explain in more rational enclosure with graphs and technical prowess.
    I care about facts and facts only, meaning no fancy 300$ cables and value by price-to perfomance.

    So, we're back with another chinese hybrid. This time with one featuring 1 Dynamic Driver and 4 Balanced Armatures.
    Back at Fuyiya Avic around 1 1/2 years ago, I listened to something magical. My all-time favorite earphone, till to this date. The IBasso Oriolus (Mk.1). The warm and enveloping signature just fascinated me and yet it had more than sufficient technical prowess. Butter smooth transition of frequencies, a great soundstage and fantastic treble and mids, never shouty or recessed. But I swore to myself to never buy anything beyond of 300€ for one singular product. And to this day, I remained true to that oath. (It is pretty hard, trust me.) Anyway, time progressed and my bankaccount began to tremble from all the small purchases I did over the years. As it happend to be I saw some opinions on the newly emerged ZhiYin QT5, which quite frankly intrigued me in more than one way.
    A 5-way hybrid for less then 300$, with a smooth, warm and spacious sound? (The Oriolus is a 4-way hybrid)
    I just had to pull the trigger...


    Enter ZhiYin QT5:
    Official ZhiYin Thread:
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/808607/zhiyin-qt5-4ba-1dd-impressions-thread

    IMG_20160618_123657.jpg

    Specifications:

    > Drivers: 1 Dynamic Driver + 4 Balanced Armatures
    > Impedance: 8Ω
    > Headphone sensitivity: 118dB/mW
    > Frequency range: 10-40000Hz
    > Interface: 3.5mm
    > Cable Length: 1.2m±5cm
    > Weight: 60g
    > Color: Silver
    > Microphone: No
    > Headphone plug type: Straight type
    > Headphone Interface type: MMCX Interface
    > Cable: MMCX 8-core silver plated cable
    > Accessories: leather pouch, 9 pairs of various eartips, various "earhooks"

    Build and Accessories:

    Build quality is at first glance, excellent. A fully metal shell inspires confidence. The aluminum materal seems sturdy enough for the worst of situations, like shark-attacks or end of the world scenarios.
    However there are some little issues with the rather unwisely placed bass-port on the backside of the shell, which can cause driver flex, when inserted. Furthermore the wide nozzles make tip-rolling a pretty difficult challenge. Luckily the included tips are plenty, which makes finding the right tips a question of choice. The QT5 uses a standard MMCX-connector, which I personally dislike (I prefer 2-pin connectors), but they seem sturdy enough. There are however some reports of quality control issues. In case anything goes wrong on your purchase, feel free to contact either me or bhazard and we can help you sort out things. Another downside would be the rather heavy shells, which will cause discomfort for some. I haven't had too many issues, but it is definitly noticeable.

    IMG_20160618_123402.jpg IMG_20160618_123606.jpg


    Isolation and Fit:

    Isolation is slightly above average.
    Fitment is despite the large nozzle fairly straight forward. The housings seem quite large, but they're actually rather small for a 5-way hybrid. Both down the ear and over-ear style are possible, although the included cable encourages you to wear them over the ear, which is my personal favorite out of the two options. The included cable (extra 20$) is thick and consists of multiple stinges of wire (8-core cable). The cable could be a bit more supple, but for such cables, many of Head-Fis finest individuals pay hundreds of dollars. :rolleyes:

    Pairing:

    The QT5 has an ultra low impedance of just 8 Ohm, making it either the hardest or easiest to drive earphone I've ever encountered. Like always, get a good source. Especially in this case where the ZhiYin will
    reveal everything from noisefloor to bad mastering and/or low bitrate. Watch out for the output impedance of your device. The lower the better. Ideal is sub 1 Ohm.

    Overall Sound:

    Super clean. Super fast, super detailed.
    Sound is generally balanced with a slight tilt in sub-bass and mid-bass and maybe mid-to upper mids. It doesn't sound overly warm as there is a slight dip in the lower midrange, which gives enough breathing room for the great soundstage to envelope you. The real negative is the rather average to bad coherency. The QT5 is has some dips and peaks which can sound slightly off with some tracks, especially around the lower-midrange. On their own, all frequencies are quite goodly sounding, but the aforementioned issue, causes many tracks to sound off.

    EDIT: Because of the dips and coherency issues, it is highly advised to use EQ with the QT5.

    Bass:

    Bass is quick, snappy and not overly boomy. The bass is wonderfully natural and fits right in the rest of the spectrum.
    There is definitly enough mid-bass for most, but not enough to satisfy bass-head needs.

    Mids:

    Mids are really well placed. Great detail and seperation. Decay is always at the right place. Vocals have transparency and good resonance.

    Treble:

    Extention is great. As for someone who is treble sensitive, this can make or break an IEM. But luckily everything is at the right place. Not overly bright and neither muted or smoothed off.

    Soundstage:

    Soundstage is phenomenal. Top-notch seperation. Everything is distinct, thanks to the blackness of it's presentation.
    Width, height and depth are all well above average.

    Comparision:

    > LZ-A3: Priced around 100$ lower, the A3 has a smooth, mellow tone, which is impossible to offend anyone. This is the biggest strength, but also greatest downfall of the A3. The QT5 sounds quite a bit more raw, as it unleashes you with a less smooth presentation. It is however two levels above the LZ in detail, seperation, treble quality. The A3s transitions are fantastic, whereas the QT5 falls flat.

    > MusicMaker Shockwave 3: A more fair comparision, as this 5-way hybrid is the direct competitor of the ZhiYin. The Shockwave has a more aggressive tuning, with more forward bass and treble, making it V-Shaped. Hence Sub-bass impact on the SW3 is greater and argubly more fun. It's a bit of an unreasonable tuning for those who seek fun with the refinement and seperation of TOTL-options. Still the QT5 is more neutral and without the fatigue is better suited for longer periods of listening. Sound-Quality is rather similar. Mids and Treble are more resolving on the QT5, whereas the SW3 trumps with insane sub-bass. But, the SW3 unlike the QT5 doesn't have these coherency issues.

    > IBasso Oriolus (MK.1): My favorite earphone right next to the Kumitate Labs KL-REF. I never heard the Mk.2, sadly. The Oriolus has a slightly smoother, but equally detailed presentation.
    Yet, the Oriolus is tuned a bit more fun, due to it's almost U-Shaped presentation. In contrast the QT5 is what some might consider "W-Shaped". A signature with various dips in frequency-response. Conherency is just so much superior on the IBasso.

    Final Words:
    Wierdness assured. At first I was hyped like the little child I am. Detail and Seperation were top-notch, but something felt off. I posted this review as more of a extended impression. Sadly the more you listen to the QT5 the more notice it's faults in the tuning. This was a great lesson for me personally, why? Because I got fooled at first. An expensive fool it was, as it costed me 260$. Lesson learned.​
      hqssui and crabdog like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. FUYU
      I haven't heard the DQSM D2, so I can't comment on that.
      FUYU, Jun 19, 2016
    3. AudioDHD
      Nicely written review! You described the QT5 very well!
      AudioDHD, Jun 21, 2016
    4. Lohb
      "the A3 has a smooth, mellow tone, which is impossible to offend anyone. This is the biggest strength, but also greatest downfall of the A3." I know everyone is not going to amp these A3, but using a higher gain amp point gives them more of an edge and bite.
      Lohb, Jun 21, 2016
  3. bhazard
    Flagship specs at accessible pricing
    Written by bhazard
    Published Jun 2, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Soundstage, fun sound
    Cons - Variations in sound signature. Dark by default, but can be cleared up with EQ
    Introduction
     
    Zhiyin, a somewhat unknown company to anyone outside of China, has recently produced the QT5 which I am reviewing today. It is handmade, with four balanced armatures and one dynamic driver. It immediately caught my attention, as a configuration with these specs can normally run up to $1,000, such as with the Shure SE846. The SE846 actually does not have the extra dynamic driver that the QT5 has, making the QT5 an even higher spec IEM. Multiple drivers do not automatically equal good sound though, so I had to see for myself if the QT5 was worthy of competing with similar flagship models in its price range and beyond. Four Balanced Armatures (3 from Knowles) and one Dynamic Driver for $288, seems like a bargain… or maybe is it too good to be true considering similar specs cost much more just about everywhere else?  
     
    I’d like to thank Jim at HCK audio on Aliexpress for providing me the QT5 at a discounted price in exchange for an honest review.
     
    About me
     
    I’m a price/performance value shopper in everything I purchase. I spend an extensive amount of time researching purchases and always look for a good value.
     
    I have also spent many years as an A/V and music enthusiast. I have owned some high end audio equipment, from amps, speakers, subs, to just about anything audio related you can think of. I eventually moved on into building my own DIY custom speakers, as I felt the value and performance of most commercial speakers were lacking. I found out through this process that you could create high end setups from equipment costing thousands less than most branded commercial setups.
     
    Since I cannot play music at 100+ decibels all day and night in an apartment complex, I started looking for similar values in the Headphone/Earphone/IEM world. In a Beats dominated setting, I was very disappointed.
     
    I then found out about some excellent headphones/IEMs at great prices being made by Asian companies that are not known of here in the US. It renewed my interest in headphones and became the basis of the Asian audio thread.
     
    My love of quality audio continues to this day, and I enjoy sharing my opinion of the gear I listen to. I have been guided toward purchasing some life altering, fantastic gear from great reviewers, and I feel if I can guide someone in the same way in which they truly appreciate what they have found, I’ve done what I wanted to accomplish.
     
    REVIEW
     
     
    **Update**  I need to do a rewrite on this review.
     
    After taking measurements and A/Bing those measurements with an EQ correction curve, the dark lower mids are noticeable. The large dip in the 2kHz region hurts the sound as well. Once corrected via EQ, it becomes clearer. 
     
    Attached is an EQ curve to help with this. Unzip and use in Foobar2000
     
     
     
    I will update the review in the future. I still like the QT5's soundstage and resolution, but I also notice the problem areas a bit more. Apologies for not noticing these sooner.
     
     
    The QT5 can be found for purchase here:
     
    http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/2016-New-ZhiYin-QT5-Hybrid-5-Drive-Unit-In-Ear-Earphone-DIY-HIFI-Headphone-Kill-K3003/1825606_32640588846.html
      Carlsan, peter123, mgunin and 8 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. anticute
      Great review! Now I'm just waiting for a few DQSM/SW3/QT5 comparisons, and then I'm pretty sure I'm going to become a poorer man..
      anticute, Jun 9, 2016
    3. bhazard
      @TwinACStacks and I have swapped our QT5/SW3 for a week or so. The level of detail retrieval is very similar in both, but the SW3 is more V shaped. Mids are a bit better on the QT5, and treble is less enhanced as well, almost neutral with full extension. At times the SW3 is a bit too bright, and at others it's just right. Both have excellent subbass, but bass overall might tilt in the QT5's favor too. Still to early to really judge.
       
      Not to take away from the SW3 though.. it surpasses my old DN-2000 at the same price.
      bhazard, Jun 9, 2016
    4. Tang Arlen
      I pretty prefer your review, I agree everything with you about these phone. So I have contacted the seller Jim through the Aliexpress you have introduced in your review. But because the Jim was a Chinese businessmen who can't make business with Chinese and can't mail the phone to Chinese adress, so I can't buy these phones. Ai, I pretty love these.   I really admire you.
      Tang Arlen, Jun 14, 2016