Aminus hates everything (Or, Aminus rants and reviews stuff)
May 10, 2020 at 2:33 PM Post #526 of 794

candlejack

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 12, 2010
Posts
1,588
Likes
1,758
Location
Europe
I, for one, think that reviewers working with companies makes no sense at all. It might make sense for the company (publicity) and it might make sense for the reviewer (financial compensation & credentials), but it doesn't make sense for me, the one reading the reviews.

In the same vein, I don't think it's a great idea for you to review the work of a friend. I also find the 7/10 quite suspicious given how few others have made it that high and how many "flaws" are highlighted in the review itself.

But, as always, appreciate your work!
 
May 10, 2020 at 10:27 PM Post #527 of 794

aminus

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Posts
585
Likes
1,419
Location
A special place
I, for one, think that reviewers working with companies makes no sense at all. It might make sense for the company (publicity) and it might make sense for the reviewer (financial compensation & credentials), but it doesn't make sense for me, the one reading the reviews.

In the same vein, I don't think it's a great idea for you to review the work of a friend. I also find the 7/10 quite suspicious given how few others have made it that high and how many "flaws" are highlighted in the review itself.

But, as always, appreciate your work!
I think it makes sense from a consumer perspective, mostly because it gives companies which may not otherwise have a particularly clear direction a better idea of what kind of tonal qualities they should be aiming for. There are a lot of IEMs like, say, the Fourte, that have good or outstanding intangible qualities, but are intolerable in how they’re tuned. Perhaps a more focused vision in how it was tuned would have led to a better rounded product. This does lead to reviewers (hopefully) not reviewing their own products, but thankfully the review industry is not a monopoly... not for now at least.

As for the Dawn itself, I really want to point out that, for all its flaws, it’s midrange is probably the best I’ve ever heard on an IEM. Perhaps if the driver choice and damping were more optimal, it’d be as good in my eyes as the greats like the Viento or the A12t. But it’s held back from being in that calibre by, as you mentioned, its numerous flaws. And yes, Crin is a friend of mine and I’m undoubtedly going to be somewhat biased towards him, which is something I can try to avoid, but won’t be able to entirely. I did try to convey as much of my genuine thoughts on it as possible, and ultimately I do think it’s deserving of the score given, almost entirely because that’s just how good the tonality is. But I do understand if one takes my praise for it with a grain of salt due to my association with Crin.
 
May 10, 2020 at 11:37 PM Post #528 of 794

duaned

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 28, 2018
Posts
786
Likes
311
Location
Adelaide, South Australia
I would rate it 3/10 given its value proposition ( in my view). Just plain overpriced.
 
May 10, 2020 at 11:55 PM Post #529 of 794

hkpants

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 2, 2020
Posts
394
Likes
308
Location
USA
I would rate it 3/10 given its value proposition ( in my view). Just plain overpriced.

Are you saying this from the perspective of
  • someone who has tried the Dawn and does not believe it is worth its price (relative to other IEMs)
OR
  • someone who believes that all expensive audio gear is poor value
 
May 11, 2020 at 5:06 AM Post #531 of 794

mvvRAZ

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
May 10, 2019
Posts
4,882
Likes
10,098
Location
IEM desert (EU)
Are you saying this from the perspective of
  • someone who has tried the Dawn and does not believe it is worth its price (relative to other IEMs)
OR
  • someone who believes that all expensive audio gear is poor value
911 I just witnessed a murder
 
Jun 10, 2020 at 1:09 PM Post #532 of 794

aminus

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Posts
585
Likes
1,419
Location
A special place
Moondrop Blessing 2:
Forgive me for this, but I've been out of the loop for a good bit. It's been a while since I last really paid attention to current audio trends and hype, nevermind went out to an audio store and sat down and listened to stuff. But that's not to say I've been completely oblivious. I'm well aware of the current hype surrounding Moondrop, namely the Blessing 2 being a giant killer and whatnot for a paltry $300. Mind you, I was one of the first people I'm aware of to in my circle to get their ears on a pair, but I didn't think it was much more than alright. It had a pretty decent tonality but had issues with treble peaks and a general lack of resolving ability. For $300, that's a given really. But since it's become a popular opinion of sorts that the B2 competes with flagship level IEMs, I find it hard to avoid viewing and therefore writing about it in such a light.

One of the most hyped aspects of the B2 is that the bass response is a major improvement over the original Blessing. Considering I happen to have both of them on hand with me right now, I can pretty safely say this is accurate, but at the same time it really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. That's not to say that the B2's bass response is that great, though. While the B2's bass is undeniably DD, it has a major issue in that it's overly lacking in texture. Not to the extent of a BA woofer, but man is it pushing it. For comparison I wouldn't bat an eye at calling something like the FDX1 much, much better at bass texture, though that has obvious flaws in other areas. This is kind of disappointing given how hyped up the B2's bass response was in my eyes, and leads to major wideband coherency issues that I'll get into later. To add to that, I find this affect bass separation as well - it gets muddled with bass guitars and kick drums far too often and I would personally attribute that to poor macrodetail ability.

That aside, the B2's bass response is pretty alright. The bass slam, while not extremely hard hitting, is about right for a DD woofer of its amplitude, and the bass transients are clean and quick enough to not create any egregious time domain incoherencies with the midrange or treble. I'm mostly just disappointed by the strange smooth timbre of this thing's bass.

The midrange is like the B2's primary strength. It has a level of tonal coherency throughout the midrange not unlike the Fearless Dawn, and I can understand where comparisons between the two come from. It's slightly too upper midrange forward and maybe a little too shouty for my tastes, but these are but minor concerns. As a whole, the B2's midrange is at the very minimum pleasant, and it's nice to see a cheap IEM pull off a midrange that's really listenable, and all things considered, probably has the best midrange tonality I've heard in a sub-$1000 IEM. I can totally get behind that.

But the real issue with the B2 lies in its treble response, and how it clashes with its bass.

Graphs can be, often times, decieving. On paper, the B2's treble response is extremely smooth. Save for a barely even 2 dB hump at 6khz it's very linear, much more linear than a lot of the IEMs I've lauded for their treble response. But practice says otherwise. For whatever reason, I hear the B2 as having a not-so-insignificant treble peak around that region that isn't too far off from the one that the HD800 is infamous for. I hear that distinctive treble grit and bite that's really not pleasant. At times it veers into straight sibilance, which is especially bizarre given that's more the domain of a 7khz or 8khz peak. Depending on tracks and mastering, cymbals can sound rough and be difficult to listen to. And that's not all there is to it either.

Earlier I mentioned the odd uncanny smoothness of the B2's bass response, and how it clashes with the treble response. It just sounds off to have such a bare and featureless sounding bass response sit next to a treble response that's rough, but otherwise fairly textured (though I question how much of this texture is timbral coloration). Perhaps the most disappointing part about this is not that it's your bog standard incoherency issues that hybrids generally run into, but one that could have been avoided entirely. Had Moondrop chosen a much more resolving DD woofer, or found a way to turn down the 6khz peak and reduce the treble harshness, I honestly doubt this would have been an issue. As is, it's two opposing approaches to sound clashing in the same IEM, and though this is a non-issue to many, I find it giving off a feeling of unpolish that is frankly unacceptable when talking about TOTLs or their would be killers. On the other hand, from the perspective of a $300 IEM, this is perfectly fine and par for the course. There are much more expensive hybrids that sound far, far more incoherent.

But at the same time, this feeling of unrefinement is one that plagues the B2 outside of its mere tonality and in its intangibles. The lack of macrodetail mentioned with the bass response is also present, albeit in a much less jarring manner, in its midrange, which often times just doesn't sound all that detailed despite what its brighter high clarity tuning would have one believe. In turn come the layering issues which are most prominent with instruments mixed on top of each other, as opposed to ones spread out throughout the stereo mix. And this is despite the fact that the imaging is, thanks to its fairly wide and thick shell (which unfortunately punishes people with smaller ears) slightly out of the head, though not what I would consider sonic wall-less. The Blessing 2 also has odd issues in its dynamics: while it does pretty well with macrodynamics (not the among the best I've heard like where I would place the U12t or the NT-6, but it still does them better than what I would consider average in IEMs), it struggles a lot with microdynamic delineations, and there are a lot of moments where it feels strangely unengaging despite the great midrange tonality.

Mind you, this stuff is completely normal for a $300 IEM. I've been unrelentingly ruthless to the B2 in judging it, versus how I treated, say, the Minor, or the ER2. But this is to make a point. The standards I judged the B2 with are with how I would judge a flagship competitor IEM. The B2 is, simply put, not this at all. Is it a great budget IEM? Without a doubt. I can see most people buying it and being satisfied with it just off of the midrange tonality and bass slam alone. But this isn't enough for an IEM to become a flagship competitor. There is much more to it in my eyes than simply having a decent bass response or midrange tonality, and as it stands I really don't see the B2 as worth more than what it retails for. Competing with the steadfast benchmarks like the ER2 and FDX1 is exactly where it should be, and I wouldn't bat an eye at anyone choosing any one of those three over the others.

All listening was done with my WM1A's 3.5mm jack as well as my Bifrost 2 > BHA-1 stack's single ended output.

I really should make it clear again because this review has portrayed the Blessing 2 in a pretty negative light: the B2 is not a bad IEM, not even close. My problem lies with the kilobuck killer comparisons, and that it doesn't meet the standards I would expect for an IEM to be worth of such a title. I also want to make it clear that I'm well aware that my opinion of the B2 has been somewhat tainted by the fact that the hype surrounding it doesn't meet my expectations. This is, unfortunately, inevitable for anything that's hyped, and it's hard, if not impossible to separate such an IEM from the reputation surrounding it. But I feel like it is ultimately dishonest to temper an aspect of my opinion on something simply because it's unfairly biased. After all, what are audio reviews if not biases and opinions laid out in context?

In any case, the Blessing 2 is going on the recommended list for bringing another competitive IEM to its respective price bracket. But for nothing more. It is without a doubt a good IEM that is worthy of recognition and lauding for being a capable hybrid in a sea of budget single DDs, as well as pulling off one of the best midrange tonalities you can buy on the cheap. But I don't think any of its praise beyond that is warranted at all. And with that I leave you guys for hopefully not another month.

Score: 6/10
Note: Yes, I know. I need to review S8 as well as the new stuff that's come out during this quarantine/hiatus period. Very soon this will become possible again, I hope. Until then.
 
Jun 10, 2020 at 1:49 PM Post #533 of 794

Sound Eq

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Nov 9, 2013
Posts
10,721
Likes
2,147
interesting thread, just our curiosity which is the iem that got highest ranking from Amninus
 
Jun 10, 2020 at 2:01 PM Post #535 of 794

Sound Eq

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Nov 9, 2013
Posts
10,721
Likes
2,147
Sony IER-Z1R - 9/10
wow this is good news, as I adore my z1r

its the safest recommendation i can give to anyone by the way and I heard alot and own / owned alot

I think instead of hunting for a new iem, i just should experiment with different cables for the z1r, assuming that would add more refinement to it in the mids, although I have no problem with how it sounds with stock cable

ak sp2000 and z1r is absolute bliss
 
Jun 10, 2020 at 9:36 PM Post #536 of 794

papa_mia

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 2, 2018
Posts
774
Likes
1,114
Location
16 kHz
And with that I leave you guys for hopefully not another month.
8b6 (1).gif
 
Jun 18, 2020 at 3:02 PM Post #537 of 794

surfgeorge

Member of the Trade: 3D Printed Accessory Designer
Joined
Feb 26, 2018
Posts
2,042
Likes
1,952
Location
Austria
@aminus did you have a chance to listen to the DUNU LUNA in the meantime?
I received the EU tour unit a couple of days ago and have been really impressed.
I feel it‘s the successor for my EX1K. Similar bass but much more dynamic and more textured, brighter midrange but without that spike of the EX1k, imo perfect timbre and very good treble. Soundstage not as wide but deeper and better imaging.
With input from @james444 I’m using a bit of damping though to tame the upper mids by a couple of dB, otherwise it’s a little too aggressive for me.

Would love to know what you are thinking of it.
I am putting together a list of what I can sell to finance it, and cancelling the Blessing 2 order will help too :)
 
Jun 22, 2020 at 3:13 AM Post #538 of 794

aminus

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Posts
585
Likes
1,419
Location
A special place
@aminus did you have a chance to listen to the DUNU LUNA in the meantime?
I received the EU tour unit a couple of days ago and have been really impressed.
I feel it‘s the successor for my EX1K. Similar bass but much more dynamic and more textured, brighter midrange but without that spike of the EX1k, imo perfect timbre and very good treble. Soundstage not as wide but deeper and better imaging.
With input from @james444 I’m using a bit of damping though to tame the upper mids by a couple of dB, otherwise it’s a little too aggressive for me.

Would love to know what you are thinking of it.
I am putting together a list of what I can sell to finance it, and cancelling the Blessing 2 order will help too :)
Unfortunately not. I was hoping I could get some ears on the Luna during Canjam later this year but I doubt I need to say why that’s not a possibility anymore. I do know some people who have heard it but those are others’ personal units, and something tells me my holing myself up at home is not aiding myself in getting my hands on one.

In any case now that the audio stores are open again I need to find the time to go and visit them. Let’s see if I’m lucky enough to run into one.
 
Jun 28, 2020 at 11:53 AM Post #539 of 794

aminus

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Posts
585
Likes
1,419
Location
A special place
Quarantine Catchup: The Campfire 2020 Roundup
Campfire is not a brand I’ve been particularly kind to in the past. That much can be said by anyone who has kept up with this thread. It’s not because of any sort of personal beef or anything like some may think, I just genuinely disagree with a lot of their tuning direction. The Andro and Solaris sounded, simply put, wrong to me. And for one reason or another, the same applies to every other product from them that I’d heard so far. Their tuning style was always either some variant of excessively bloated and bassy or a weird wannabe colored-neutral that had some sort of glaring tonality issue.

But every company has the ability to improve, and Campfire is no exception. The Andromeda 2020 is, dare I say it, actually good. I abhorred the original Andromeda’s excessive thickness and murkiness, and used as many synonyms for “suffocation” as I could think of to describe its upper mids. But I don’t need to do that for the Andro 2020. Gone is the excessive lower midrange thickness (though by no means is it a lean IEM), and the awful flabby bass has be tightened up a decent bit. Make no mistake, this is still BA bass, but it’s gone from “offensively bad” to “not great”. Still an improvement in my eyes.

Curiously enough, the legendary 7-9khz Andro treble plateau is gone. I actually prefer this treble response more. It’s more mid-treble oriented than the original Andro’s treble tonality, but it also doesn’t sound as one note and artificially crashy as the original Andro. Perhaps it might be due to the introduction of a pinna gain region on the 2020 (finally, jesus) but I hear a lot more of the sonic wall-less soundstage on the 2020 that was, in my eyes, plainly not there on the original. This too comes with a massive (and I mean massive) improvement in layering capability. The Andro 2020’s layering is on par with some of the best in this category, and I’m really surprised by this considering the original sucked bad at it.

My primary criticisms with the Andro 2020 would lie in, once again, its lower midrange. I'd say they trimmed a lot of the fat, but they didn’t trim all of it. There is still too much lower midrange on the 2020 that at times sounds odd and a little bloated. Male vocals do have an occasional uncanny valley effect to them that’s... not great. This also comes with a bit of midbass bloat as well. Needless to say the two of these hand in hand is not exactly a good combination, though I don’t think it majorly detracts from the listening experience. There’s also a lack of dynamics which was present in the original - that one had a compressed-everything-downwards kind of sound to it not unlike an overly dampened headphone, this one sounds a little more like everything is pushed up ala PP8. Gun to my head, the latter is not as bad as the former, but neither is really that ideal.

All in all? Of the uncountable number of Andro refreshes, limited or main line, this is the only one that’s warranted. This is not an IEM that needs residual hype from 2016 to sell itself, it is a genuinely good product that I wouldn’t mind recommending to someone after the layering ability and tonality it has.

Though as much as I genuinely think the Andro 2020 is a good product, I’m also not quite fond of the Solaris 2020.

Let’s start with the mids. I disliked, no, despised the OG Solaris’ mids. Not even because of the oft cited 4khz upper midrange dip that effectively killed all female vocals, but because of the 2khz spike that rendered any sort of the lower midrange instrument a harsh grating disaster. The Solaris SE actually improved this latter point, but the 2020 is a regression in this regard. I wouldn’t necessarily call it harsh anymore so much as I would sharp or shouty, though it still is equally grating. Not helping this at all is an awful sibilant treble peak which pushes an already edgy frequency response right into painful territory on certain tracks. On more forgiving material the Solaris 2020 just has a general sense of wrongness to its midrange. It sounds lean, but at the same time the midbass is bloated and the upper mids sound sucked out. It’s a bizarre combination of things that should not have been put together and it ends up producing a really weird sounding product that’s as hard to describe as it is disconcerting to listen to.

What else... I do hear a general improvement in resolving ability and layering capability, but I don’t find this to be a particular improvement over the Andro 2020. The bass response is also not great either - not that the original Solaris ever had good bass, but this one sometimes pushes on nigh indistinguishable compared to the Andro 2020’s bass, which is nothing new considering BA-like bass was something the OG Solaris was pretty infamous for. While the dynamics are certainly not compressed like the Andro 2020's, they’re also nothing amazing either. There is a fairly large margin between this and heavyweights like the U12t or the NT6. Not a fan of this one.

And I saved the best for last. Ara. I use the word “best” sparingly because the Ara is pretty much what I would classify as a total mess.

Let’s start with the treble response. Had I listened to the Solaris 2020 after the Ara I probably wouldn’t have minded its treble response that much considering the Ara is infinitely worse in the same regard. Jesus this thing is sibilant, sharp, and generally painful to listen to. The treble is a splashy disaster that hisses more than a den of angry snakes dropped into a swimming pool. It’s not even like the midrange is any good either. I can’t decide if the mids are sucked out, veiled or both at the same time, and I don't think the Ara can either. Though resolving, it’s not like it sounds exponentially more detailed than the Andro 2020 or Solaris 2020. And the bass response and dynamic ability on the Ara is by far the worst of the trio - where the Solaris sounds like DD bass mimicking BA bass and the Andro sounds like BA bass trying (and failing) to be DD-ish, the Ara is just plain BA through and through. Its dynamic capability is flat and unengaging, failing at both macro and microdynamics like a lot of other “boring” IEMs do. I really don’t see any redeeming factor with the Ara, doubly so next to the genuinely impressive Andro 2020. I’m confused by the point of this release, but then again the same can be said for a few too many of Campfire’s products.

All listening was done with the WM1A’s 3.5mm jack.

The Andro 2020 is pretty definitely my favorite Campfire product yet. The Solaris 2020 and Ara on the other hand... need work. In any case I’m pretty impressed by the massive improvement that the Andro 2020 is over the original, though I’m not sure if fans of the OG will like the 2020 refresh. They’re pretty different IEMs overall and I can see OG loyalists not liking the 2020 due to the lack of the distinct treble plateau and the greatly trimmed lower midrange. In my eyes though these are steps in the right direction, and I hope that Campfire continues making more of them in the future.

Scores:
Andro 2020: 7/10
Ara: 2/10
Solaris 2020: 3/10
 
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread

Top