Aminus hates everything (Or, Aminus rants and reviews stuff)
Mar 31, 2020 at 10:44 PM Post #511 of 794

ngd3

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Good review, thanks! As a fan of my (modded) FAudio Passion, I've been curious about the Minor. Seems these two are similar in many ways.

As for peaky treble, the 6-8kHz unevenness can be reduced with a simple strip of 3M micropore tape. Guess that will work on the Minor just as well:



(DF-compensated) Green = Passion stock FR, yellow = 60% nozzle coverage with 3M micropore tape, red / blue = 90% nozzle coverage with 3M micropore tape.

You can see that micropore damping doesn't work quite as well for treble unevenness above 10kHz, that range would require more advanced modding. But the main weakness of this tuning, which is the 6-8kHz peak, can be very easily improved.

Can you link the 3m product you use? Seems there are at least 2 variants
 
Apr 9, 2020 at 2:35 AM Post #515 of 794

RelentlesSausage

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Depends entirely on preferences. A12t is bassy, dark-ish (if not just straight up dark), dynamic, lower mid focused. Viento is lean, upper mid forward, aggressive (too much so for a lot of people), textured. They are fairly opposite tonally, but have similar things going on in each.
Dang, neither really perfect. I think I'll go with the a12t since I cannot figure out how to get ciem viento haha. Thanks for the reply!
 
Apr 9, 2020 at 2:57 AM Post #516 of 794

hkpants

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Dang, neither really perfect. I think I'll go with the a12t since I cannot figure out how to get ciem viento haha. Thanks for the reply!

I'm actually in the process of looking into getting a Viento. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to link stores but the Singapore store Zeppelin and Co. can help you order the CIEM Viento.
 
Apr 9, 2020 at 6:53 AM Post #517 of 794

aminus

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How would you compare the Hidition Viento and Violet?
Completely different IEMs. It's been too long since I last heard one, but Violet is the bassier, warmer and more colored of the two.

@aminus have you try out the FiR M3? if so thoughts // opinion // impression on them? They're one of the very few that does DD in CIEM which got me interested. If not when you get a chance to try them do share your thoughts.

Thanks.
...meh? The FiR stuff all claims to be tubeless (which it is) but really doesn't sound any better than traditional tubed stuff. My guess is they dampened it to hell and back which pretty much kills all the benefits staging and imaging wise of tubeless setups. That and it's really flat dynamically.

Dang, neither really perfect. I think I'll go with the a12t since I cannot figure out how to get ciem viento haha. Thanks for the reply!
Nothing is perfect, doubly so in portable audio.
 
Apr 19, 2020 at 9:39 PM Post #520 of 794

aminus

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How does the midrange of the Violet sound?
I'm afraid to say I can barely remember at this point. It's simply been too long since I last heard one. The main things that still stick out to me about it, though, are the subbassy bass response and the slightly sharp and odd treble tonality.
It sounds like these trying times: Distant.
Yeah, as you can probably guess I'm pretty much not capable of hearing anything until this "circuit breaker" period is over. I have signed up for the Fearless Dawn loaner tour so that will be the topic of a review, when it lands in my hands. But for now don't expect much, if anything new, from this thread.
 
Apr 19, 2020 at 10:08 PM Post #521 of 794

hkpants

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@aminus thanks for the response! I'm getting to chance to demo either the Viento or the Violet (only 1) so I'm trying to get some info on them. Unfortunately, not many people have experience with them. But thanks for the insight!
 
Apr 20, 2020 at 2:19 AM Post #522 of 794

papa_mia

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Yeah, as you can probably guess I'm pretty much not capable of hearing anything until this "circuit breaker" period is over. I have signed up for the Fearless Dawn loaner tour so that will be the topic of a review, when it lands in my hands. But for now don't expect much, if anything new, from this thread.
I'm reading free contents I shouldn't be asking for anything here mate but I have to admit I just talked out of my a$$ to provoke a reply from you :deadhorse: and I'm surprised your buddy crin isn't just sending you a pair directly like "Hey buddy here's my stuff I need a reality check pls".
 
Apr 20, 2020 at 3:39 PM Post #523 of 794

aminus

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@aminus thanks for the response! I'm getting to chance to demo either the Viento or the Violet (only 1) so I'm trying to get some info on them. Unfortunately, not many people have experience with them. But thanks for the insight!
Viento. Violet is honestly way too colored for most people (including myself) to fully appreciate, and it’s a hefty 3 grand or so as well. Viento is a hell of a lot more reasonably priced and it’s good to hear an often talked about IEM to get a good perspective of what people use as reference points.
I'm reading free contents I shouldn't be asking for anything here mate but I have to admit I just talked out of my a$$ to provoke a reply from you :deadhorse: and I'm surprised your buddy crin isn't just sending you a pair directly like "Hey buddy here's my stuff I need a reality check pls".
Nah I gotta get in line like everyone else. I probably could have heard it at Music Sanctuary before the lockdown happened but I was playing it safe on the whole corona thing.

I do feel bad for not updating this thread in a while, but I really don’t want to risk getting this virus. I’ve already had to get tested for it once (thankfully negative or I probably wouldn’t be posting here) and I don’t intend to do that again.
 
Apr 20, 2020 at 5:05 PM Post #524 of 794

hkpants

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@aminus appreciate the insight. Definitely take it safe, it's not worth getting the virus. Can't enjoy music if you're dying.
 
May 10, 2020 at 11:06 AM Post #525 of 794

aminus

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Fearless x crinacle Dawn:
Perhaps one of the more interesting concepts for IEMs in recent memory is reviewer collaborations with companies. I mean, it makes sense. Who better to give directions and targets for tuning than a well versed listener who knows what works and what doesn’t? And undoubtedly one of the most influential reviewers of today’s industry would be Crinacle. Between the large library of IEMs he’s measured and ranked, as well as his firm grasp on FR and audio science stuff, it really does seem promising to have him essentially tune an IEM using an already commercially available tuning machine (that is the Fearless Y2k) and have the manufacturer of said tool release it like a bog standard mass market product.

At the same time though, the hurdle lies in the fact that Crin has little to no control over the drivers used, their crossovers (beyond the SPL of individual parts of the crossover of course), the tubing and acoustic filtering used on the drivers, etc. It’s a fairly tight framework to work off of, and in such a scenario one essentially has to do their best with what they have to work with. Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that the Dawn’s weaknesses lie almost entirely within its intangibles, and very much understandably so.

But let’s get started on what is undoubtedly the standout of the Dawn: the tuning.

I’d be lying if I said the Dawn’s bass wasn’t, well, not fantastic. It has a lot of quantity, and to that end it also has surprising impact for a BA. But where it kind of falls flat is the blobbiness and sloppiness of it. Transients do have a looser and less controlled decay, along with a blunted attack (more on that later). It’s reminiscent of the Vision Ears Elysium prototype from Canjam SG 2019, but with a significant bass boost, which in turn attracts more attention to it as a flaw. Aside from that the bass extension is actually not bad for a BA, and the bass texturing does seem to be better than average. Overall not the best bass I’ve heard by a long shot, but I really don’t know what to say if you were expecting that from a BA.

Within the realm of BA bass alone, I do feel like it doesn’t stand up there with the heavyweights of their respective categories. The Viento absolutely has it beat in transient performance, and though it comes close to extending as well as the Violet, it does feel like it’s off by just that last 10 or 20hz. It doesn’t quite slam with as much incision as the A/U12t either (though it has tons of impact, likely moreso than the venerable 12t), and definitely doesn’t match the IER-M9 in cleanliness of timbre either. All in all, it does some things right, but has flaws that keep it from standing with the best.

I do feel like the best approach here would have just been to not boost the bass as much. Not drawing attention to the Dawn’s bass as a weakness would have worked better than trying to brute force it, but that’s just my opinion.

But this is where things get really good. The Dawn’s midrange is nothing short of excellent. It’s slightly thicker and warmer than what I would call neutral, but only by a hair, and this is entirely to my taste considering I don’t listen to female vocals or anything of that sort at all. It’s not as thick as, say, blue filter FDX1 (which I would say edges towards excessively thick), and though leaning towards the lower mids, it doesn’t sound hazy or recessed in the upper mids like the A12t might. Despite being on the meatier side, it never sounds murky or asphyxiated, and it never sounds like it’s smothering higher register instruments either. I have basically no qualms with the tonal qualities of basically any midrange instrument I’ve run through this thing. String quartets, keyboards, guitars of the acoustic and electric variety, vocals, they all sound really well balanced and reflect my experiences with a lot of these instruments in real life. It cannot be understated how well tuned I think the Dawn’s midrange is. It’s an extremely well executed midrange tuning, and I don’t think I can complain about it at all.

The treble of the Dawn, all things considered, is actually pretty good. I don’t hear any egregious peaks or dips with it, which leads to a pretty even mid treble focused tonality. But it does have 2 particular flaws. The first is a lack of extension, which is partially obscured by the second flaw, the thin and wispy electret treble timbre. The thinner timbre does do a serviceable job obfuscating the rolloff past 10khz, mostly because the wispiness almost sort of sounds like what you’d get if the thing actually did extend, though there’s definitely still a lack of air that gives it away as an illusion of sorts. But at the same time the wispiness also makes it sound too lacking in weight in cymbals. Cymbal crashes do have a lack of gravitas and body to them not unlike a recessed lower treble region, except, well, the lower treble region isn’t actually recessed with stuff like cymbal stick impact. It doesn’t have this to the same extent as, say, the Annihilator or the Elysium (both of which are electrets that do extend, and probably have a much more pronounced wispiness for that exact reason), but it’s still there and undoubtedly a flaw.

But as mentioned earlier, these two flaws actually do kind of play off each other and cancel each other out… sort of. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this approach of using one flaw to play off another from a general perspective, but in the context of having to work in a tight framework, this is actually really clever. Clever enough that perhaps a less picky or discerning listener wouldn’t really be able to point out how this was done, and perhaps would be able to ignore the presence of a weakness in the treble execution entirely.

But this is where the cracks begin to show in the concept of the tuning machine. The Dawn’s intangibles struggle a fair bit compared to how gracefully implemented the tonality is. I’ve already mentioned the sloppy bass transients, but it goes beyond just bass. Truth is, the blunted attack affects the lower midrange as well, and perhaps some fundamentals of the upper midrange too. There’s almost that overdamped sound to it not unlike a lot of excessively damped headphones, which leads to a lot of rhythmic bits lacking snap to them. This in turn affects dynamic performance - while the Dawn’s microdynamics are actually surprisingly nuanced and capable, I feel like its macrodynamics are held back by the softened transients. It gives off a softened peaks-esque presentation which is, again, something one might hear in overly dampened headphones. The Dawn’s macrodynamic capabilities as is aren’t really that bad either, but they’re prevented from really popping out with full force by the softened leading edges of its presentation.

The Dawn’s midrange also has a fair bit of plastickiness in the midrange which can smear over textures, which in turn kind of leads to worse macrodetailing and texturing. I don’t have my A12t on hand right now, but from memory, my string quartets lack the string texture which is usually fairly prominent, not just on the A12t but on other transducers I regard highly. I also feel like the Dawn struggles a bit with layering dense music. It has that “gets confused in dense sections of music” syndrome which damn near every other IEM has to some degree, but strangely enough it performs above average when the music is just a handful of cleanly panned instruments. I would probably suspect this is down to the even midrange tonality - no real recessions means nothing gets buried.

I think it’s clear that I like the Dawn, but also think that it was inherently kind of held back from the start by how little room there was to work with. In a perfect world FR would be the end all be all and a wonderful tonality like this would be all that’s really needed to nail down the can of worms that is sonic performance. But unfortunately that’s really not the reality of the situation. It ends up being a case here where the Dawn has this really good tone but feels a little underwhelming in overall technical performance. And it’s not even like the technical performance is total garbage either. It genuinely does some stuff well, like microdynamics, and ignoring the lack of immediacy in transients, there’s clearly a lot of macrodynamic range with it. But between the blunt bass/lower midrange transients, the lack of macrodetail, and issues with layering, I think it’s clear that Crin did the best he could with what he had to work with, and did come out on top in some respects, but not all.

Now here comes the real question: at $1400, is the Dawn worth your money?

I think so, for people who absolutely want the best possible tonality and are willing to ignore the intangible flaws. In terms of pure tuning, I feel like the best IEMs at a TOTL price tag would come down between this and the Viento, and the Viento is a very differently tuned IEM that is simply too bright and too aggressive for some people. I do feel like its primary competition comes from the $600 more U12t, mostly because both have similar tunings, and the U12t has much, much better intangible performance for $600 more. But I don’t think the midrange tuning of that is as well executed as the Dawn’s, and it has its own tonal quirks like the recessed mid treble region and dipped upper midrange harmonics. So it’s not quite an all round upgrade, though it comes close to being one.

In that sense, the Dawn has cleanly carved out a niche for itself, and in this respect it is good enough to stand mostly unchallenged. I think that for what is more or less a pioneer, both for a mass produced “machine tuned” IEM as well as for reviewer collaboration IEMs (though others like james444 have come before in some respects here, I do feel like modding an IEM is not quite the same as tuning one from scratch), the Dawn is pretty damn respectable. And quite honestly I’m excited to see what Crin can do with less constraints in the future.

Listening was done with my WM1A’s 3.5mm out, as well as the single ended output of my BHA-1/Bifrost 2 stack.

Recommended for people seeking what is possibly the best implementation of a bassier and warmer tonality executed at a TOTL level. It might have some flaws, but those willing to overlook them will be pleasantly surprised by just how well tuned this thing is.

Pioneers might never be the best, but this one is definitely not a slouch.

Score: 7/10
PS: Wonder why that tonality is so good? Well, not to imply anything, but…
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Just saying. Happy quarantine everybody, and see you hopefully soon when this camarovirus thing dies down.
 

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