ZiiGaat X Fresh Reviews Arete

General Information

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5 Driver Hybrid Configuration​

Like its name implies, the Arete utilizes every driver to its full potential in this 1DD+4BA configuration. Classic American Knowles drivers were selected for the midrange and treble, owing to their tried and true performance, while a new biocellulose diaphragm dynamic driver was chosen to deliver a powerful bass.

Biocellulose Diaphragm Driver​

A robust 10mm biocellulose diaphragm dynamic driver powers the sub-bass and bass response. Using stronger neodymium magnets, the bass response is extremely responsive and tight, while the biocellulose membrane allows better texturing in the low-end. Compared to typical balanced armtuare woofers, this larger 10mm dynamic driver allows significantly better bass performance.
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American Knowles Balanced Armature Drivers​

Two Knowles 29689 balanced armature drivers, famed for its persistent best-in-class midrange performance, deliver natural and accurate mids and mid-trebles. Particularly, vocals and string instruments excel thanks to the precisely tuned 29689 drivers. Finally, the Knowles 31736 twin-balanced armature drivers was selected to deliver pristine upper treble response. These drivers are some of the best known and beloved drivers in the IEM industry, and we have brought them back to introduce a fresh sound, thanks to our latest tuning innovations.

Balanced Monitor Tuning​

Tuning was the most essential aspect in developing the Arete. The tuning had to be natural, like professional studio monitors, while still delivering punchy bass and an enjoyable listening session. The midrange is almost flat and natural from 300Hz to 1kHz, which allows instruments and vocals to sound exactly like they were recorded, without any coloration. Additionally, this neutral midrange allows excellent layering and imaging of instruments, allowing listeners to discern each instrument line within the mix.
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Concentrated Bass Impact​

To deliver a subwoofer-like bass signature, the bass has been tuned with a 9dB shelf that precisely cuts off at 300Hz. The bass hit is strong and deep, yet clean so that it does not add any muddiness to the sound. The tuning of the lower frequencies allows music enjoyers to fully appreciate all of the bass in the music, while retaining a clean and natural overall tone.
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Professional Treble Response​

The treble was carefully tuned, balancing clean tone with a comfortable and natural perception of upper treble harmonics. The upper treble response is free of any unnatural peaks or harshness, while delivering all the micro-details and nuances in the music. Finally, our special utilization of the Knowles 31736 tweeters allows excellent treble extension, allowing a more airy and spacious sound.
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Three-way Crossover​

The Arete’s tuning was made possible by an intricate 3-way electronic crossover system, along with three independent acoustic sound tubes per side. This configuration provides the best separation in the frequency ranges.
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Collaboration with Fresh Reviews​

ZiiGaat has collaborated with Fresh Reviews in creating the Arete. Fresh Reviews is a popular Youtube and social media audio reviewer that has amassed an in depth understanding of the world of Hi-Fi. With the help of Fresh Reviews, ZiiGaat has been able to make the Arete as best sounding as possible.

Latest reviews

vandung2510

100+ Head-Fier
ZiiGaat X Fresh Reviews Arete's Review - Good for gaming, just as good for music
Pros: - Nice build quality with even better faceplate
- Balance midcentric tuning
- Distinct bass rumble
- Great vocal performance
- Relaxing treble
- Great imaging
Cons: - Lacks sparkles
- Not great resolution
- Not the best cable quality
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Introduction:

ZiiGaat is a relatively new iem brand in the Chifi world, first appearing in the end of 2023.

They may be new, but before having a name of their own, they were actually a team of engineers, silently developing OEM and ODM audio products for a lot of consumers and professional brands, so they have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. And now, by working closely with Linsoul as their retailer, they wanted to share their work and products to the community without having as many corporate restrictions as before.

They have released a few iem from various price point, first with the Nuo – their budget single DD iem, then the Cinno – A 1DD+4DD hybrids for under 100$, all the way to their recent flagship and collabs with HBB: The Jupiter – A tribrid with 1DD, 6BA and 4EST

Last time, I reviewed their Doscinco: A balanced L shaped tuning hybrid iem with 2DD for bass 3 balanced armatures for midrange and treble. And now, I have a new iem from them: The Arete. This is the iem that ZiiGaat has collabed with FreshReview – a great youtuber who is a professional gamer that also review gaming mice, headphones and in ear monitors.

By incorporating his gaming experience into the Arete, ZiiGaat is aiming to create an iem with great musical as well as gaming capabilities

Disclaimer: I would like to give Linsoul a special thanks for sending this iem over in exchange of honest review and impression.

Specification:
  • One 10mm Biocellulos Dynamic Driver for bass
  • Two Knowles 29689 Balanced Armatures for midrange
  • Two Knowles 31736 Balanced Armatures for treble
  • Three-way crossover
  • MSRP: $250 on Linsoul website
Packaging
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Similar to the Doscinco. Arete arrived in relatively simple boxing. The content of the box is also simple. They include the iem, a rectangular carrying case with a few pairs of tips and a cable inside of it.

Overall a very bare bone amount of accessories for the price

Design/Build quality/Comfort
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The Arete shells are made out of medical grade black resin. It feels very light yet sturdy in the hands.

The faceplate of the Arete looks very minimalistic yet really nice. It has grey swirly, flowy epoxy patterns with many glistening pink-purple-ish confetti pieces. Depending on the angle, those confetti can have a different color to them.
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The shells are bigger than your average iem. It doesn’t have the usual rear wings like many other universally fit iem, so to me, the Arete does need a bit of wiggle action and play around with several tips to get a decent fit. Isolation is around average level, heavily depending on the eartips and fit.
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Cable wise, it’s very basic. It’s a 4 cores OFC with plastic hardwares. The outer PVC sleeves feel a bit stiff, as opposed to being soft and plush. The strands are only 2mm thick, so it’s not the thickest. The quality of the cable reminds me of some cheaper cable from Kbear or Xinhs. Although it gets the job done, I'd have preferred a thicker, higher quality cable so that it’s harder to tangle up.

Sound impression:

Source: Poco F3+UAPP, Dell laptop + Foobar 2000
Dac/Amp: Chord Mojo, EPZ TP50, Onix Alpha XI1.
Cable: Stock
Tips: Baroque eartips.

· Before diving into the sound impression, the Arete has reverse polarity right out of the box. It’s not that the left and right side are out of phase with each other. It’s just that they're in reverse phase together. How do I know this? I have an iec711 coupler and when I measure it, it shows the impulse response like this.
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· My coupler was wired incorrectly(+ wire at - and - wire at +), which is usually a characteristic of a copied coupler. So any iem that measures correctly, it would have the first peak pointing downward or having a negative number on the percentage poll.

· Does it matter? Most of the time, no. As long as both sides have the same polarity, you probably won't recognize it. I personally did not recognize it until I measured it. I say this in case you’re someone who are picky about it (a.k.a me) and worry it may affect the staging and such of the iem, can just rotate the 2 pin part 180 degree and the “problem” would be solved

· If you’re wondering if it’s the cable’s fault, no it’s not. I’ve already checked the cable using the multimeter and the cable was wired correctly

That is why during the review of this iem, I've rotated the cable and listened to the iem in the correct polarity. Since I didn't bother cutting the earhook off, I just used a lighter to soften the earhooks then bend it the other way.

- Driveability: The Arete is really easy to drive. This iem already sounds quite good with the stock cable and out of the 3.5mm port of the TP50 and Onix dongle.
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The channel balance is superb.

Tonality: Balance midcentric tuning

Bass:

The Arete has quite a balanced amount of subbass and midbass, although subbass is still a bit more than midbass.

Why So Serious’s bass drops and Trentemoller’s Chameleon has good texture and reverberation and air movement. It’s tight, yet JUST sound diffusing enough. It has that classic lingering sense of dynamic driver while not being over done (which would then makes the bass hits too drawn out and too sluggish)

Midbass has good authority and texture as well. It’s not the meatiest midbass region ever, but it still packs a punch. Kick drums have good presence and definition to them, evident in AC/DC soundtracks. Not just kick drums but also contrabass, cello, taiko drums all sound nice.

Overall, my tiny nitpick about the bass is that i would’ve want a bit more midbass on some songs that have many bass instruments, so that they could have more heft and body to them. However, i understand the tuning of choice for the bass of the Arete, so that it’d not masked the details of the midrange and because the bass of the Arete already sound good with 80% of my library, i’m already quite satisfied with it. General pop, or electro pop sound quite fun with the Arete. The transients of the DD also isn’t the fastest, so don’t expect hardcore metal to sound good with the Arete.

Mids

With a bass shelf that got cut flat at 250hz, the lower midrange sound very clean and clear with just a hint of warmth to it. There’s no bleed or muddiness into the lower midrange.

Instruments have quite a natural timbre to my ears. Piano notes sound very pleasant on the ears with just enough amount of resonance. Violin and viola sounds smooooth and velvety, woodwinds instruments sound a bit mellow and rich while still keeping each of their natural tone. The note weights of these instruments are surprisingly good even if the graph shows there’s a flat upperbass and lower midrange. It’s not too light and not too heavy.

Both male and female vocals are on a balancing neutral spectrum. They’re definitely not thin sounding. I’d say female vocals are a bit better than male vocals with the Arete. With male vocals, baritones sound smooth yet not quite thick sounding. Tenor sounds exactly on point to my ears, I have no complaints about this.

For female vocals, mezzo and soprano have that classic lively and engaging sound to them, while also sounding silky. Contralto, although still sound expressive, lacks just a bit of depth or chesty characteristics. At higher volume, the Arete doesn’t exhibit any shoutyness.

With “Shivers” by Ed Sheeran, there’s very little amount of sibilant.

If i have to nitpick, the midrange does lack that very bit or sharpness and definition to it.

Treble

The treble to me sounds quite relaxing. It’s decently extended, just not the most airy or having a lot of sparkles and brilliance. The upper harmonics are there, supporting the rest of the frequency while not sounding too overbearing. The quality of the treble is actually quite good as it doesn’t sound harsh, splashy or spiky. There is also some slight sense of BA timbre, but after a while or when I'm not paying attention, I don't notice it as much.

With Caravan – John Wasson, cymbal crashes and hi hats just sound forward enough, still sound natural but more on a softer side. Besides the initial attack; the decaying, the tail notes extracted only slightly below the surface level. It’s not like a smooth glide where it extracts every minute detail. Because of that, I feel like the resolution is only at a decent level.

Technicalities:

Now, even with the help of FreshReview, the soundstage of the Arete isn't the biggest. All the 3 dimensions are quite above average. I’d say it has more depth and width than height.

Imaging on the other hand is great. In my opinion, it is one of the best imaging from a sub 300$ iem. I myself am not an avid gamer, so take my opinion with a heavy pinch of salt. With Apex Legend, I can easily follow the direction of where the enemies come from, the foot steps or the changes of direction when I'm moving and such.

The imaging capabilities also shows with the first 30 seconds of the track “Letter” by Yosi Horikawa, where you can just close your eyes and immerse yourself into the track itself, detecting and following those spatial cues with great accuracy.

The layering, by extension, is also good, although it’s not the sharpest, most lazer cutted layering iem.

Comparison:

1/ ZiiGaat Doscinco
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Another hybrid from ZiiGaat, the Doscinco.

The Doscinco uses 2DD for the bass and 3BA for the mids and treble, rather than 1DD for bass and 4BA for mids and treble on the Arete.
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For the sound, the Doscinco has a balance L shaped tuning while Arete has a more midcentric tuning

For the bass, the Doscinco has higher subbass and midbass quantity with faster transients, while the Arete sounds more balanced and has better textured bass despite having a bit lower driver speed. The bass sounds more organic and natural with that lushness happening in the bass.

For the midrange, the Doscinco is more colored/warmer than the Arete. It feels more recessed and a bit dryer, less life to the vocals than the Arete’s. Female vocals sound clearer, less veil on the Arete. Male vocals sound lusher and denser on the Doscinco.

Instrument’s timbre is more natural on the Arete as well as having more breathing room between them.

As for the treble, the Arete has more energy up top while the Doscinco sounds more laid back and smoother. The lower bass shelf of the Arete does make the details coming through easier.

Technicalities, the Arete wins in terms of imaging and soundstage. The Doscinco feels like it’s focusing on the fun factore more.

2/ Simgot Supermix 4
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So the reason for this comparison is that, from a graph perspective, the Arete sort of fixes some points of the SM4 that I don't like as much. First is the lower subbass amount and second is the lower upper midrange. Together with this combo, the Arete now sounds more midcentric and more of a loud volume set to me

The bass of the Arete sounds more organic with better texture on the bass instruments. Midbass are now punchier, more authoritative, less masking by the subbass. Bass instruments have more presence to them. The bass of the SM4 excels in the cleanliness and the subbass extension.

The midrange on the SM4 feels more forward and clearer, but noticeably more fatiguing on the ear at high volume. The Arete’s midrange feels more velvety. Female vocals have higher clarity on the SM4, but shoutier than the Arete. Male vocals sound not as lean on the Arete and the Arete has a thicker note weight.

The treble on the SM4 is noticeably smoother with more detail extracted, the decaying of percussion instruments feel softer and wispier, yet it’s also plagued with the PZT timbre. The treble on the Arete is more laid back and inoffensive.

Technicalities wise, the Arete wins by quite a large margin in the imaging department, while the soundstage sounds wider and deeper.

Conclusion

Simply put, I really enjoy the Arete. I really applaud ZiiGaat for going out of their comfort zone and making iems with different sonic performances, catered to different audience profiles. Although it doesn’t have many accessories included, I do think the Arete’s performance is worth its asking price.

If you’re looking for an iem with a balanced tonality with the midrange standing more in the spotlight without the use of overly boosted pinna gain, an iem with superb imaging capability, suitable for many types of FPS game, I'd highly recommend the Arete.
As for the music, the Arete is suitable for a wide range of music such as pop, electro pop, rock and orchestras.

That’s it for my review and thank you for reading.
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Tzennn

500+ Head-Fier
Ziigaat Arete - OF GAMER, FOR GAMER
Pros: - Good value through out especially if you're have drum based music library
Cons: - Slightly weird presentations.
Ziigaat Arete (wide bore)
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Shell is okay, normal box, normal accessory, black color make it looks kinda cool
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If you're interested in graph comparison, here's the link
+ i'm a normal asian dude with some music producing background
+ i like clean balanced sound signature with focus on sub bass and lower treble, especially looking for a good dynamism and harmonic playthrough, i like vocal, not necessary mid dominant, can consider myself as treblehead
+ 60-68db listening session
+ Avarage score 4/10 (Quarks/ 7hz Zero) Middle score 6/10 (Tanchjim Kara)
+ Bias score is i like it or not, doesn't sum on overall score
+ Same value systems like crinacle
- Bass (8/10): Heavy thumpy, overall sound weighty and really pull down energy of the song (which is good and bad points). Kick drum sounds authentic with good resonance and air. If you're into drum involve genres then this is literally for that (i really enjoy old pop songs with these).
- Mid (8,3/10): Load of energy through out, overall sounds oddly natural? I meant most instrument kinda jump out on you in a circle and sounds somewhat natural, lack a little bit of texture, there're not much to say but a little odd artificial natural sounding and slightly lag behind in texture. Okayish separation.
- Vocals (6,3/10): Plasticky and kinda weird from 750hz to 1400hz (middle of the vocals), make vocals sound unatural
- Treble (6.8/10): Good sparkle and shimmering, unatural with good amount of ba timbre (but i don't find it too offensive), not the best in extension. Percussion is so so.
- Detail (6.8/10): Macro (7,3/10), Micro (6.3/10)
- Soundstage (6.5/10): Large studio room / 32inch monitor soundstage
- Imaging (9.3/10): Used for game, so yeah (lack some layering)
Bias (4/10): W shape
Overall : 6.5/10
Value: :star: (good value but can be niche)

Thank you to Ziigat for providing this touring unit for Vietnam
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Redcarmoose

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Fast pace from a dominant mid-bass 10mm Biocellulose Dynamic Driver
Two Knowles 31736 BAs covering the treble
Two Knowles 29689 covering the mids
A three-way passive crossover generating balance
At only 5 grams each, the semi-custom 3D resin build are a joy to wear for long periods
All 5 stars due to being even, complete and correctly tuned
Big spread-out details of imaging gaining visualization through size
As such tuning style results in long gaming sessions or regular audiophile listening jaunts
A fluid smooth demeanor gaining spread-out detail through a cohesive down-tune of BAs
As such this 5 driver Hybrid arrives at a perfectly flat midrange from 300Hz to 1kHz
Scales wonderfully with the additional $346.82 pure silver LAVRiCABLES Master V4 audiophile cable!
Cons: As such the ARETE is not designed for cellphone use
ZiiGaat ARETE
Redarmoose Labs June 24th, 2024

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$249.00
https://www.linsoul.com/products/ziigaat-x-fresh-review-arete

ZiiGaat has collaborated with the YouTube personality Fresh Reviews in design.

Specifications:
5 Driver
Two 31736 Knowles Balanced Armatures for treble
Two 29689 Knowles Balanced Armatures for midrange
One 10mm Biocellulose Dynamic Driver bass
Three-way crossover
3D printed semi-custom build

Hello!
We have on test today the ZiiGaat ARETE. Such an IEM is actually the third ZiiGaat I have reviewed so far. The ARETE is a warm, yet balanced Hybrid IEM that is definitely big sounding and upper-midrange forward (yet smooth) and provides a wide, tall and deep soundstage. Part of the excitement comes from a fast yet profound mid-bass that holds enough bass texture though uses a slight sub-bass curtailment to arrive at this pace and definition! Included are 4 Knowles BA drivers and a 10mm Biocellulose DD to achieve this performance.

Disclaimer:
This single review came out a little different. Well in reality very different being I used other than the included cable to journey to the far reaches of audiophiledom. Yep, this review is a little crazy, though it makes complete sense to me and hopefully it will to you too. So if you’re hankering for a more straightforward review, this one is not it. Yet we are joining the ARETE with aftermarket cables and letting the ARETE beat-up a slightly lesser (but great) IEM in order to discover the true nature of the ARETE’s demeanor. This review was in-fact a fun one to do, and I guess I’m not following the cookie-cutter template to a review here, where some would suggest not to use aftermarket cables or compare a $249.00 IEM against a $149.99 IEM. So at least what we are left with here is a detour off the regular taken path……into the realm of Redcarmoose Labs doing at times just what it does.

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Comparisons:
To get a grip on just how the ARETE performs I’m going to compare it to the new Simgot SuperMix 4. Yes, the SuperMix 4 is only $149.99………….yet after much debate I found that I could explain all the concepts about the two IEMs with side-by-sides. Sure the ARETE is the better IEM, yet with the SuperMix 4 being a 1 DD, 1BA, 1 Planar and 1 PZT driver..............it does really well to go ahead and simply define sound in relation to the ARETE. Where one goes left and one goes right, so to speak. I’m also going to test two cables with the ARETE as the ARETE came with only a 3.5mm cable, I’m going to see what happens when I rotate in the $69.99 SIMGOT LC7 cable and the expensive $346.82 LAVRiCABLES Master V4 pure silver cable. There may be a question as to why I’m matching this particular $346.82 with an IEM that’s less money than the cable? All I have to say to defend my choices was that I was looking for the new match for the V4 ever since I got it and reviewed it. And sure there were a few real success IEM stories in my April 27th 2024 review of the LAVRiCABLES Master V4, yet here are the addition of two more, namely the SuperMix 4 and the ARETE!

Yep, both the SuperMix and the ARETE just opened-up, the bass in both IEMs became better defined and stage was added to both. Yet while using the LAVRiCABLES Master V4 cable it doesn’t always work out wonderfully, yet here the V4 made both the SuperMix 4 and the ARETE the best they could be in my use. So how do you not report on such affairs? Plus strangely enough the cable shortened the sound differences between the two IEMs. Meaning the cable made the SuperMix 4 climb closer to what the (unarguably better) ARETE could do.

Yet in truth the Simgot LC7 is (the opposite) and thus complementary to the LAVRiCABLES Master V4. Plus the SuperMix 4 is in-a-way complementary (and opposite) to the ARETE!


What follows is my experiences with the two IEMs and the two cables. Through the experience I actually will define what the ARETE is and what the SuperMix 4 is.

My other ZiiGaat reviews:

https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/ziigaat-cinno.26844/reviews#review-32557
https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/ziigaat-nuo.26845/reviews#review-32542

The other ZiiGaat IEMs besides the ARETE:

ZiiGaat Doscinco: 2DD+3BA Hybrid (Audiophile Tuning) Price 269.00
ZiiGaat Cinocotres: 2DD+3BA Hybrid (Studio Tuning) Price $269.00
ZiiGaat Cinno: 1 10mm LCP DD+4BA $99.00
ZiiGaat NUO: Single Full-range 10mm LCP driver $29.00
The Linsoul/HBB Jupiter 4EST+6BA+1DD is powered by ZiiGaat $1.599.00

My prior reviews of the two cables we are going to be using today:

https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/lavricable-master-silver-v4.27143/reviews#review-33691
https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/simgot-lc7-iem-cable.26954/

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So let’s get started shall we?

Package:
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Included cable:
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Build:

The ARETE weighs only 5 grams each, making it one of the singular lightest IEMs you can buy. Combine that with the correct balance of weight distribution and there is no other choice but to win here. The other surprising thing has to do with how they designed the nozzle-end. Showcasing a metal grillwork screen that actually extends farther out that the nozzle. This is also mounted to a metal nozzle tip, with a lip that will never leave the ear-tips in your ear after you have extracted the IEMs! Such fitment is one of the best I have found this year, with a no-nonsense build, really much like many IEMs to come before……..and even though this back-side shape doesn’t look like a fully involved semi-custom form, it is and fits just as good as you could ever ask for. There are red and blue rings off the side (as shown in pictures for venting). There are flush-mounted two pins and during my review process I must have changed cables 30 times, and I was always met with a firm yet workable 2Pin fitment. The faceplate utilizes a kind of metallic foil that is colored and glitters to where some have an issue with the showiness of such, yet it is not all that vibrant when the light is not striking it. Truly this is one IEM that somehow simply looks better in hand or wearing it? Each IEM duo has serial numbers identifying the pair.

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A pure awg 22 silver cable like the LAVRiCABLES Master V4 (to the left) will always be much thinner than a copper plated with a smidge of silver affair, like the Simgot Audio LC7.

Back-to-back tests:
This test cycle was done with the DIVINUS VELVET ear-tips, which are from a company called DIVINUS, the Sony WM1A with MrWalkman’s aftermarket firmware, and the LAVRiCABLES Master V4 pure silver cable in 4.4mm. Later I’m going to roll in the SIMGOT LC7 cable too, just to come face-to-face with how it changes the tone. Look, the included cable is nice and lets you in on 90% of the sound, sure if you wanted to simply use the included cable the ARETE it is fine.

This is Head-Fi, and there is a pretty good chance people are going to have audiophile devices to use like DAPs and aftermarket cables.

Round one:


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The ARETE:
Turbonegro
Apocalypse Dudes

Get it On
This album came out way back in early 1998. Maybe it was my age when I first heard it? Yet this album is one of my all time favorites of all time, the whole album. Yep, even though it almost never gets used for IEM reviews here at Redcarmoose Labs the album “Apocalypse Dudes’ rates in my personal top grouping of albums heard in my lifetime. Here we are testing to see how both timbre and balance of frequencies go. Sure the ARETE is so balanced I could have chosen almost any album. Yet here today we are going to explore Rock (this song) EDM (Robert Miles with Children) and finally Taylor Swift with "LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO" off her reputation album. Where the most important (maybe) thing with “Get it On” is rhythm (pace) and bounce. Of course the tones need to be true to tone, but the ARETE gets there in its own special way. Most would not call this laid back, yet it is due to the fact the SuperMix 4 actually has more forward vocals. Yet here the ARETE is sporting its stuff with 2X 29689 BAs midrange to kind of display a larger size vocal displacement into the stage than the SuperMix 4. And due to this provocative large sizing we don’t need extra higher tone for detail. Nope, when an image is this big, just the size can reveal details and noticeability. Really the vocals are perfect here, yet what ZiiGaat did was down-tune the vocals avoiding the intrinsic metallic tone BAs naturally have. It’s that Sonion and Knowles as manufacturers are both rewarding modern-day IEMs with better timbre, and often this down-tune is not letting any brightness emphasize that timbre!

“Apocalypse Dudes”
Right when this song gets going at 00:14 when the guitars come in we are greeted with this idea that ZiiGaat wants to get across. Gone are those metallic guitars of 2019, we are actually blessed with great guitar timbre. Not only that, but the guitar is out in front regardless of tune. Yep, mixed with the drums and bass becoming a groove that just doesn’t stop. When I first heard this album in my friends record store in 1998 the very first thing I identified with was the guitars. It was a time when this exact guitar sound was rare, and it brought back memories of just what was possible with Rock. Really it was all I needed, and still is. Up until 00:40 there is a classic jam-out. Yep they decided just to throw a starter like the instrumental guitars, the leads, the power chords, the kitchen sink…..all into your face..............like it is nothing. After 00:40 the vocals start and we find them in the perfect zone for Rock. I mean this is the balance, but at the same time this year has had its share of forward vocals IEMs, and this is not what the ARETE is about. For any of you reading that have got burned by too hot of forward vocals with a purchase this year, have no fear, as this is both smooth and correct. Smooth enough to allow me freedom to explore a pure silver cable in the end. This is not the biggest stage, but it could be the recording? Yet inside here we find nice vocal and backing vocal placement. At 02:55 we have a breakdown, and all of a sudden the stage enlarges, which actually is a surprise, as this band can do anything it seems? At 03:40 there is a nice bass fill-in and the ARETE makes it heard. At 04:04 the song ends and we are thrilled, maybe only because I haven’t gone back to my old favorites here, but also because thrilling due to completeness, thrilling due to evenness and most of all this playback was correct.


Timestamps refer to the original song, not the Youtube video.

The SuperMix 4:
Turbonegro
Apocalypse Dudes
Get it On

44.1kHz - 16bit
A little harder to drive, but also a more forward vocal, which I already knew. :)

While the ARETE BAs are so down-tuned to avoid metallic-ness, though here we are swimming in slightly brighter waters, and even more forward itemization due to this brighter tone. Yep that PZT driver and Planar are doing something (and the single BA too), and this bass is good also!

Where both IEMs are portraying a style of smoothness, here there is also a gritty treble and upper midrange due to the forward vibrance, where it almost gives the illusion of more detail?

Well, if anything there is more contrast to this SuperMix 4 adventure, though at the same time the ARETE is more even and filled in, but the SuperMix 4 is going for it here, really working with this particular file to expand the stage and make it bigger than I expected? I mean yes, there is a touch of Planar grain, or PZT effervescence……..or something? To where the ARETE comes off more relaxed, but also it is a more familiar neighborhood, yet with this song that hyperactivity is great from the SuperMix 4. All and all the two IEMs are really complementary, but further studies will release more information into my ears and into keyboard words.

Round two:

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The SuperMix 4:
Children
Robert Miles
Dreamland

44.1kHz - 16bit
The best part of this opening is the sub-bass frequencies found at 00:15 onward. At 00:18 they are all the deeper and appreciated here as they are so well done I would go and say this is a gift at a single penny under $150.00! Truly this is great. But I feel we are going to find out today that yes, one IEM is a little better at one style of music, and the other IEM better at another, making having them both to not in any way be a waste of money. Yet what is happening here (somehow) at 00:26……is that the bass has been separated.........why? Two instruments of course……there is a deep drone and a mallet like deep synth effect too, and we can differentiate both! Right before the piano starts there are sound effects, probably dolphin snaps, and yes, they are found in their own zone here. At 00:42 the piano starts…………and we hear it in somehow correct timbre? The SuperMix 4 has 160 hours of burn-in and that may have done some extra burn qualities to the PZT and Planar driver? At 02:21 the drums take hold……..which (in this version) is a good part of the song. As such the drums are found deep yet holding fantastic pace, with none of that big weighty bass to result in a smear of the midrange.

The ARETE:
Children
Robert Miles
Dreamland

44.1kHz - 16bit
I will let you in on a little secret, I already heard this before in testing………and I loved it. Yep the sound is just so slightly fuller and smoother. Offering up that image density that is the cat’s meow with both songs so far. So somehow we don’t have that bass synth in the beginning (at 00:18) that is separated, yet somehow there is slightly less note definition, but more thickness and moody heft that makes you not look for details. Of course the ARETE is $249.00 and we have it matched with a top notch V4 $346.82 silver cable. What that is doing is accentuating the highs, offering up more separation and delegating special places for these tracks to live. The bass is cleaner and purer, the stage wider and spread out. But part of the reason for all this is the innate ARETE smoothness.........which gives us room to grow here. Meaning I have tried this DAP and cable set-up before and it wasn’t always so smooth and approached too bright, even some IEMs where this silver energy and different DAP mixture created (treble) distortion, because the other IEMs were pushed to the brink of what they could do. But no not here, we are enjoying synergy at its finest. Thicker than the SuperMix 4 and more filled in and even due to more BAs in action, and not worrying about PZT distortion or Planar timbre. We are in-fact more conventional in design, and not experimental like the SuperMix 4. Yet for the money, and just what it does, especially with that last Rock song.........the SuperMix 4 is a total value, it is just this EDM is smoother and more of a level playing field for the magic to take place. I mean the synths are bigger and take hold of more texture to feel and gain emotion all-the-way till the end. :)

Round three:


Timestamps refer to original song, not the Youtube video.
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The ARETE:
Taylor Swift
reputation
LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO

44.1kHz - 16bit
The beautiful chord entry at 00:00 holds absolutely zero off-timbre here. Imagine such shiny intro embellishments right at the start.........so separated and stand-out-ish? And in-fact this is a whole grouping of bright lights to here/see. Yep, sparkles and piano chords and violins. They (the production staff) are not waiting a second to introduce the theme of this number to you, and decided that a grouping of bright lights could introduce you to the song theme they were going with. And sure with the LAVRiCABLES Master V4 we have just that.............sparkle and construction of elements positioned way out into sight, and close-up. These sonics make the bass seem that much more deep by contrast when it arrives. The beautiful violins remind me of a Beatles song in how they simply add this mood of drama, and maybe even revenge that Taylor seems to be on course for? Yes, I’m sure it was the Beatles as an inspiration for this opening 15 seconds! At 16 seconds the street mix style sub-bass throb hits us. Sure this is a pop song so why not throw in some Beatles and some street sounds to get the folks going.

In fact the very first we hear of the vocals, the electronic drums ride along too for a sonic intro like no other. And sitting in your chair reading this you may guess that all that prior talk about warmth and smoothness was continuing on here? When nothing could be farther from what is going down. I mean we have 5 drivers here, and all 5 mean there is a capable and effective stance at delivering whatever comes the ARETE way. Yep, there is perfect forwardness and brightness to these vocals, Because we are talking Hybrid here........there is also a separate track delivering a DD driver via a three-way crossover...........then into the separate sound tube and bass into your ears! Sure there is a lot of studio compression on her voice, like studios do always, only there is world class production in this…….and Mrs or Ms Swift is way, way out front here, as forward as I have ever heard vocals to be. More forward and more vibrant than I expected, and I like it. Sure I have used this song before, and I used to listen to it every day when it came out. But you know how popular music has a limited shelf-life……….where maybe the song LWYMMD could get boring or old, or worn-out with multiple listens? I don’t know, it has 59.3 million YouTube listens/views…….so I guess they accomplished what they were after with it?

Why is an audiophile listening to this? Well I actually had an infatuation with the production quality back in the day. The way the bass throb is positioned at 00:31. The continuation of the same style of accent at 00:35 to the left. Yes, these tricks of sonics can be super simple……not to mention the handclaps. I mean they are not real hand claps but an amalgamation of all kinds of sounds that occur just that fast. In fact these sounds also were another fascinating thing that I still give this song credit for realizing. Just at 00:37 and 00:38 there are two claps, one starting first from the right then setting-off a follow-up to the left. I mean this was the style of fireworks that got many into headphones early on….....maybe? As speakers in a room don't do this exactly.

At 00:45 we are introduced to the chorus and just by chance they are using the piano tone which was shown in use at the get go……….yep at 00:00, funny how that works.

If Taylor Swift was (in person) as many multitracks as they used here there would be a room full of Taylors singing right now.

My point? I mean what is the point of the whole paragraph and preceding paragraph? I am simply disclosing that the ARETE is clear and nimble enough to help me realize all the magic that first attracted me to this song.


And no I’m not a Taylor Swift fan, no I have no pictures of her on my computer…….wait I may have one or two, still that fact doesn’t make me a fan…….well maybe I’m a closet fan? At 01:14 she sounds almost Italian? These are the new things that can take place when you revisit a song you used to listen to all the time.

At 01:24 there are a whole lot of drums and those electronic bass throbs..........so much so that it may go against regular thought that such combinations of sounds could even go together?

I mean there was a time when vocals were left to shine, when the electronic bass was a little subdued? But maybe that’s the little secret here, that everything is happening at once. And for-sure the ARETE somehow has made a name for itself (here at Redcarmoose Labs) for replaying this correctly. I know I use the word "balanced" a lot, but I have no other word to use so I’m going to use it again anyway. Balance……balance lets every tone become heard, and somehow gives room for it all to exist here simultaneously. In fact my single word for this song is simultaneously, Taylor Swift is heard along with other Taylor Swift's (multitracked) simultaneously, along with all the rest in this sonic hodgepodge. I’m guessing the absolute service here that is given to vocals comes from mid-bass quality over sub-bass emphasis?

SuperMix 4
Taylor Swift
reputation
LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO

44.1kHz - 16bit
Here we are gifted with more sub-bass. But due to the size of everything in comparison, it is not noticeably that much more. Where sure the drops go slightly lower into the sub-bass realm, but the SuperMix 4 has a slightly smaller footprint in action. Where even the vocals hold slightly more contrast in comparison to the ARETE, but they are of smaller size. The ARETE on the other hand uses its stage immersion to gain vocal details and vocal size. So vocals come off with slightly more detail with the ARETE, even though frequency wise they are set back. Same as this bass, where the bigger footprint adds to bass immersion with the ARETE. Yet while of thinner note stance, the SuperMix 4 performs ridiculously good in its price bracket. Also there is a feature of technicalities which enables a seemingly more separated SuperMix 4 stage, held into what feels like a further spread of items (even though the items are of thinner density) these items are of incredible entertainment and holding quick transient responses. To where sure the upper frequencies of the SuperMix 4 hold a tinge of Planar or PZT flair, but the more you listen the more normal that flair becomes. Where there is a different tinge of more metallic ARETE timbre, yet it is offering less of this Planar or PZT distortion, in trade for down-home clarity.

SIMGOT AUDIO LC7:
Here we try to learn what benefits and drawbacks are found with the LC7 in use.


SuperMix 4:
Slightly less energy up-top arriving in a smoother playback. What’s wild is the added note-density found. Which was a slight issue with the LAVRiCABLES Master V4. Where these images of speed are still there, it is just everything falls slightly closer to home, as well as a slightly less contrasty playback. Vocals don’t hold that forwardness or contrast, or energy found with the silver cable. Everything is closer to home and the tone is fully more relaxed........and more laid-back. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as there will always be that crowd that are wanting a smoother less hyper style of playback........without the fireworks. Those types are also fine with the included (yet diminished) cable detail amount.

ARETE:

The LC7 is playing to the amount of stage differences here. Meaning there is added lower midrange and smoothness which makes the size of stage even more noticeable than the (distracting) treble items that we had with the LAVRiCABLES Master V4. Meaning, take away the tip-top frequency and a listener quickly realizes what stage width is provided. With the tone down of brightness we are now relying on a more cohesive and consistent stage and positioning. Bigger robust images of slightly dimmer color are illustrated to our warmer and denser stage, holding a greater lower midrange which is the LC7 personality anyway.

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Cable conclusion:
Each of the test IEMs were asking for the expansion and LAVRiCABLES Master V4 lifted treble dialing in the items, positioning them into a higher realm. This truly is a story because I tested this silver cable with the ARETE and SuperMix 4 before the photographs posted here were taken, and all I could think about was how much of a profound difference the LAVRiCABLES Master V4 silver 4.4mm cable made in comparison to the SIMGOT LC7.

The striking part was using them back-to-back. Where not only was there a whole new dimension to the treble, items were sculptured and detailed into finite illustrations. The stage was profoundly wider with the LAVRiCABLES Master V4 and there was a noticeable tightness to the bass rhythm, not only the rhythm, but each and every drum beat, was better defined into the stage. Sure it's a $346.82 silver cable against a LC7 $69.99 copper plated silver affair. In so many ways this too would depend on what you were after in the first place. I’m not going to argue that some want that extra lower-midrange that the $69.99 LC7 provides. Maybe even some would be repelled from the brighter illumination of details found with the LAVRiCABLES Master V4 cable? I mean sure, for a lot of IEMs there is a need to get a mix going of copper and silver, as that’s the tonal balance we are striving for, only here today this was a special place with both IEMs. Even at the start of the testing process I knew I had a chance to find improvement in introducing the LAVRiCABLES Master V4 here.

And my guesses were right! It is just not everyday that circumstances allow for the IEMs you are reviewing to gain clarity and pace, definition and detail.

Disclaimer:
Some folks will read this review and take it as 1/2 a cable review, and I wouldn’t argue that fact. You see the end results are always a complete combination of everything, the IEM, the DAP………the file choice, cable and ear-tips chosen. There is no-way to get around that. Sure these extra cables cost money, and maybe more than what a reader of this review is willing to dish out. And that’s OK, because at least the reader can realize that there are opportunities to change the IEM character. Now I was waiting to arrive at these cable and IEM unions for awhile.

I needed a set of IEMs that were found on the warmer side of the street, to offer-up the freedom of choice to use the LAVRiCABLES Master V4 cable in rotation. Is the ARETE the best combo of the two?

($346.82 + $249.00= $595.82) ARETE
($346.82 + $149.99 = $496.81) SuperMix4

Or would the SuperMix 4 be better with the LAVRiCABLES Master V4? Really as far as finds go I think the ARETE and LAVRiCABLES Master V4 is the winner? The $595.82 ARETE and LAVRiCABLES Master V4 combo is totally something special and worth the money in my eyes. Of course this is all personal tonal taste and what you are after in the end. The point I’m making is that often I get an IEM in for review that has a small spike, or a section of unbalance that will not allow me to use the LAVRiCABLES Master V4. Mainly because that artifact will get blown out of proportion. :)

But here the ARETE is so even, complete and correct that we can have a field-day in rolling cables. And keep in mind it doesn’t have to be a $346.82 aftermarket cable to find happiness.

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1st Conclusion:
So we know the ARETE has a sculpted and reserved sub-bass that allow for pace to pretty much be achieved all the time. We learned that the included ARETE BAs of two 31736 Knowles Balanced Armatures for treble and two 29689 Knowles Balanced Armatures for midrange do a great job at keeping things relatively free from off-timbre and jumpy midrange spikes that often makes an IEM unlistenable, or of limited use. We learned the One 10mm Biocellulose Dynamic Driver bass has just the right amount of emphasis without going overboard. That pretty much balance and pace was important to the ZiiGaat design team in design of the ARETE.

And finally I’m going to touch on the collaboration here. It is said the ARETE is designed with gaming in mind. Now since my gaming years were many many years ago I’m going to take the idea of smoothness and a big stage as being how they were going to make this work for gaming. That with 4 BAs all firing off, that they create an environment which lends itself to hearing spacial clues as well as the tuning of the 10mm Biocellulose driver holding back the last few dB of gaming blasts. I have only so much as glanced at Fresh Reviews YouTube channel to get a glimpse of who he is. Yet I look at this collaboration as with all collaborations, that it is a marketing ploy that is based on the reality of an individual bringing tuning skills to the table, and putting a face on what would normally be a regular guy, or group of regular guys looking at graphs in the back room. The truth of the matter is it doesn’t matter who you are or what your application is for the ARETE.

Tuning values:
Reason being that there are tuning values here that are consistent with a correctly tuned IEM for music as well as possibly gaming. One of the greatest features is you don’t have to own a DAP or a silly $346.82 aftermarket cable to find happiness here. Am I exploring how I can make the treble more audiophile with this aftermarket cable? Sure I am, but I would do that anyway regardless of the IEM in question. And that raises another question.

Would I be “OK” just using the ARETE straight out of a regular phone 3.5mm?


Regular phone use:
The truth is I waited 24 hours before trying the simple phone in use……to gain an ear-reset! I have heard better in phone use for less money. But that doesn’t mean it is not workable in a pinch. Now that doesn’t make the ARETE bad, it just owns a slight clutter and congestion that more power and resolve helps out. The stage while relatively large is too smeared and lacking pace from the bass and even the drums are a little un-exciting. Taking the 3.5mm plug over to join it with the WM1A I had sitting nearby was a breath of fresh air. In reality while holding almost the same tonal display, we are gifted with an opening-up of sorts, a separation that makes 100% difference in the end? Big display items of guitars and drums now show up on the outskirts of the stage, and even the center vocal is now left alone to shine (in place) in the center stage.

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In comes the FiiO E17K Alpen 2 DAC/Amplifier:
https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/fiio-e17k-alpen-2-usb-dac-headphone-amplifier.20540/reviews#review-15766

Recently I have been taking the 2015 FiiO E17K Alpen 2 DAC/Amplifier out as a way to see what an IEM response would be like apart from a phone. And surprisingly it now seems when an IEM is great from a phone it sounds schiity from the FiiO E17K?

Hence my curiosity here resulting in that we have an IEM that is truly bad from a phone…….so let’s see what shenanigans take place with this alternative.

By the way I never reviewed the FiiO E17K due to feeling I couldn’t add to the reviews in a constructive way, yep all the reviews were already darn good for this little device. Now I keep my FiiO E17K Alpen 2 DAC/Amplifier protected in a case and somehow the battery always remains at full-charge? While only suppling 3.5mm output the FiiO E17K holds a medium soundstage and is slightly colored if you conclude an ample amount of warmth to be color. The other thing I did was to choose music that reminds me of gaming music.



Sure the music doesn’t provide the spatial positioning clues you get in a game, nor the blasts from FPS gun exchange, but it will have to do here. While I’ve read there is 24bit support activated with newer firmware releases, here we are using Vol 1. As such limited to 16bit instead of the fully file viable 24bit. Yet the FiiO does use the tracks 48kHz format. Here is the emotion of a blockbuster motion picture. Such wide expanses over the sonic horizon here. The deepness of the footstep sounds that turn into drums. The fast effects swaying from side to side, the deep throb of the main drum……it is all here for the taking. Call me a fanatic, but when an IEM makes the most of a dated piece of gear I can’t help but be amused. No it doesn’t quite have the stage of the Sony WM1A, but few devices do anyways. What is charming is how the ARETE makes the very most of this OST............seemingly going along with the stage size, getting the tonal balance right and most of all transferring the emotion which is expected from a Junkie XL OST.

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Furiosa (A Mad Max Saga) OST
Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL)
The Bear

96kHz - 24bit

The Sony WM1Z and 7Hz Aurora cable:

Curiosity got the best of this Head-Fi member. I simply started to wonder what would happen if we supplied the ARETE with more than its share of bass tone? Where the Sony 1Z is renowned for this slightly excessive thunderous bass physicality. The top-end balances that out with a more forceful treble which entails a bigger treble stage.........all combined with a slightly diminished midrange. This in fact is the polar opposite to the Sony WM1A, which holds a forward midrange and cleaner speedier bass action. The 7Hz cable is just a nice included cable with the Aurora IEM. Here we were gifted with the amusement that the sub-bass was still fully missing…….that this union was still emphasizing mid-bass and pace to surprise. What was generated though was a clarity of that mid-bass, and by chance the vocals leaped forward giving respect to positioning and realism. All and all this proves that we get the ARETE signal quality and the ARETE responds up accordingly. Truth to be told, I could listen to this one set-up for the rest of the day!

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2nd Conclusion:
Get the ARETE a gaming set-up or a DAP………or anything but a simple phone and you will be happy. Of course I don’t have every phone in existence, but a quick switch over to the 3.5mm output of the MacBook Air also confirmed, you don’t want to take the lovable ARETE to this part of town. Nope, it is a friendlier and smoother signal that somehow aligns to fulfill the sonic design ambitions inside the ZiiGaat ARETE!

Look, as far as driving the ARETE ZiiGaat had specific goals in mind…….and if you provide support for the ARETE in the form of a smoother signal, you can even climb the sonic building of different cables to enhance what the ARETE is ultimately about.


Yep, this place we can get to is by far a special place and far out-weights the simple asking price of $249.00. And if you are wanting to drive the opposite direction into utilizing the ARETE with the included cable and a desktop or portable Dongle…........you are fine too. I’m not an electronic engineer, I only use this stuff so I don’t have the faintest clue as to why this is, but it’s a rainy day here at Redcarmoose Labs in addition to the month I’ve spent getting acquainted with the ARETE.

I can assure you I know and understand the ARETE forward and back. We are simply enjoying what a full-featured 5 gram IEM invention can do. The 4X Knowles BA utilization is just that, a three-way crossover supplying just the right tone to the 2 midrange drivers and the 2 treble providers, resulting in bigger imaging than you would guess. It is this size of replay that is my favorite part, that and the fact that all 4 of these Knowles BA providers have been detuned to emit a warm and fluid outcome. As such Hybrids are always my personal favorite way to go. The 10mm Biocellulose driver finishes up our thickness with analogue reverberations and perfect mid-bass pace, without the sub-bass clutter.

Remember all these parts would mean nothing at all if it wasn’t the exact tune that was ZiiGaat’s goal at the start. What I mean is plenty of IEMs cross my desk that are 80%-90% effective, but somehow the sonic engineers missed part of the tune. Yep, the sound designers left a sonic artifact which disrupted the evenness or the completeness that become the hallmarks of all great IEMs.


You see even at the midrange price-bracket of $249.00 we have that. This correctness of tone means that the ARETE makes friends with all music genres and gets a higher score than some past IEM tests. Sure the ARETE is not everything, but due to its smooth nature becomes both listenable and exciting. Heck, it even made my 9 year old FiiO E17K Alpen 2 great.

So in the end we find out it’s not how much you spend, but how you find synergy. That sure we could add the LAVRiCABLES Master V4 and have the sonic freedom to chase a new and different arena in treble imaging and itemization. I did this just to prove that the ARETE has it in it to scale-up and up. That these BAs are actually friendly to extra frequencies if you eventually want to go there. In a way I’m providing the extra midrange and treble energies to challenge what the ARETE can do.

Panache:
The ARETE has the sonic panache to go there. I invite you to take a visit to the town of ARETE, really you have very little to lose, unless you combine the ARETE with a phone output, or the straight-out of your computer output, and have expectations for success.

$249.00

https://www.linsoul.com/products/ziigaat-x-fresh-review-arete

Disclaimer:
I would like to thank Kareena from Linsoul for the love and the ZiiGaat ARETE review sample.

Disclaimer:
These are one person's ideas and concepts, your results may vary.

Linsoul website: https://www.linsoul.com/
Linsoul Aliexpress Store: https://ddaudio.aliexpress.com/store/2894006
Linsoul USA Amazon Store link: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=merchant-items&me=A267P2DT104U3C

Equipment Used:
Sony WM1A Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single ended
Sony WM1Z Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single ended
Samsung Phone 3.5mm
HiBy R3 II DAP 4.4mm balanced
Apple MacBook Air to USB TypeMini to FiiO E17K Alpen 2 DAC/Amplifier
Apple MacBook Air 3.5mm output

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