BEST VALUE ''around 100-300$'' CHIFI & NEWCOMERS IEM with REFERENCE List (no BIG brands here)
Jan 23, 2020 at 6:27 AM Post #376 of 574

baskingshark

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Posts
5,537
Likes
18,490
Location
Jabberwock Island
Before my question, I'll write a small wall of text to narrate my current situation...

I like to listen to music and watch movies both at home and outside, so I enjoy iems, headphones and speakers alike. At home i tend to favor speakers, but on the go i don't have a clear favorite. In the past I used Sony, Ath and Shure iems, but eventually I started to favor headphones.
Recently I wanted something that I could bring with me when I don't have a backpack so i started to look into the iem market again, and found the Chi-Fi world. I was very skeptic at first, but my first order was so cheap that I thought:"Whatever, let's give it a try". My first two purchases were KZ Zst Pro and Zsn Pro. While I disliked the former with a passion, the latter blew me away. I was definitely not expecting that kind of sound quality in the 15$ price range. I then jumped into the rabbithole and purchased a few other sub 100$ iems from Kz, Trn and Dunu. Some were clear upgrades, while others offered a different sound, all at a very reasonable price.
I then decided to make my first over-100% purchase. It took me weeks to decide between the Ikko OH10 and the Bqeyz Spring 1. I eventually decided to go for the Spring 1 following several good reviews and a much lower price tag (here in Taiwan the Spring 1 are 130$, while the Ikko are around 230$).

I've been completely blown away by how good they sound. I know for many people they are are an entry/mid tier set of iems, but the Spring 1 coupled with my Fiio M5 are giving me such a great combination for the price that even when I would have the opportunity to carry headphones I still prefer to pick the Spring 1.

Which brings me to my question. In the 100-300$ range are there iems that are substantially better than what the Spring 1 can deliver at 130$, or would I be better off getting a better dap? I use the M5 all the time, so an option would be to invest money in a much better dap (dx160? fiio m11?) rather than other iems, and use the M5 for sports. I'm a bit worried about diminishing returns in this price range >_>

The past year or so, I think the most bang for buck range for CHIFI IEMs is the $30 - 100 range, beyond that there are diminishing returns in this hobby the higher u go up. U can try the Audiosense T800 ($298 USD) if u are looking for an upgrade over the Spring 1, though they are not tuned exactly the same. I would consider the Audiosense T800 a pretty versatile midrange IEM, it excels at details, though it is a bit bright. The brightness can be tamed with knowles filters, eartips, +/- cable change. For sure it beats my midfi Westones/Shures/Sennheisers that cost much more. I auditioned a few TOTL sets last year and definitely these TOTL gear are better than the T800, but maybe by about 30ish % better, though they can cost 10 times more.

Also, quite a few experienced audiophiles advised me to upgrade whatever is nearer the ears first (ie transducers like IEMs/cans), and then slowly go downstream (eartips -> amp -> DAC -> source file, maybe cables last if u ain't a cable skeptic). According to them, it's the most price effective way in this hobby, and I personally follow this advise and I think it works for me, though maybe others have different opinions on which to upgrade first, YMMV. IMHO, u still have some room to upgrade for transducers from the Spring 1, though it is quite subjective how deep u wanna go down this rabbithole*.

* pro tip: the rabbithole is endless and a new flavour of the month hypetrain (sorry scratch that, flavour of the week hypertrain) will soon come out. I've learnt the hard way to stop buying multiple budget gear < $50 USD and just save up and get one good set, once u know your preferred sound preferences.
 
Last edited:
Jan 23, 2020 at 2:51 PM Post #377 of 574

kukkurovaca

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 7, 2017
Posts
1,456
Likes
981
I've been completely blown away by how good they sound. I know for many people they are are an entry/mid tier set of iems, but the Spring 1 coupled with my Fiio M5 are giving me such a great combination for the price that even when I would have the opportunity to carry headphones I still prefer to pick the Spring 1.

Which brings me to my question. In the 100-300$ range are there iems that are substantially better than what the Spring 1 can deliver at 130$, or would I be better off getting a better dap? I use the M5 all the time, so an option would be to invest money in a much better dap (dx160? fiio m11?) rather than other iems, and use the M5 for sports. I'm a bit worried about diminishing returns in this price range >_>

"Substantially better" is a tricky concept to apply because as @baskingshark said, diminishing returns kick in hard the higher you go in price point. I think the best thing is to figure out if there's any particular area where you want to see an improvement over the Spring 1, and then look for something to meet that need.

For me, there are 2-3 issues with the Spring 1: bass is not great (good slam, not as much detail or extension as I might prefer though, and too much midbass, and often described by listeners as "wooly" or uncontrolled), timbre is weird unless you do the filter mod, and if you do the filter mod, then sibilance is too much for me. These things can be corrected by EQ, and doing so yields an extremely competent and versatile IEM, for my preferences.

I think at lower price tiers you are often making a choice between a great overall tuning and great technical performance. Spring 1 falls more in the latter camp. Going up a little bit in price bracket makes it easier to find IEMs that do both. But...that pricier IEM may well not sound better than the EQ'd Spring 1. I have a Massdrop Plus which has an excellent tuning and good technical performance, but it's not that interesting to listen to. Great for when you need something neutral-ish, though. Is it a better overall IEM than the Spring 1? For sure. Would I pick it over the Spring 1 if I could only have one? Absolutely not. Of course, you can easily do better for the money than the MD Plus now, but still...

And if you're already totally happy with the sound of the Spring 1 as it is -- I'd say save your money for a year or two and let the industry get better at tuning for piezo, magnetostatic, and electrostatic hybrids.
 
Feb 14, 2020 at 3:23 AM Post #378 of 574

d13m

New Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 4, 2017
Posts
13
Likes
5
Location
EU
Hi, guys! Need advice

My list for future:
LZ A6 Mini - 76$
Tinhifi T4 - 100$
QOA PINK LADY - 119 $
BQEYZ Spring 1 - 139$
KINERA IDUN - 139$ Tried them locally in the shop didn`t realize why it costs in 5 times more than TRN-V90, but I like shape
HiFi BOY OS V3 - 160$

Is it possible to get a good sound in cheap IEM? Or it will be less noticeable differences between expensive and my cheap IEMs?
 
Feb 14, 2020 at 3:39 AM Post #379 of 574

baskingshark

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Posts
5,537
Likes
18,490
Location
Jabberwock Island
Hi, guys! Need advice

My list for future:
LZ A6 Mini - 76$
Tinhifi T4 - 100$
QOA PINK LADY - 119 $
BQEYZ Spring 1 - 139$
KINERA IDUN - 139$ Tried them locally in the shop didn`t realize why it costs in 5 times more than TRN-V90, but I like shape
HiFi BOY OS V3 - 160$

Is it possible to get a good sound in cheap IEM? Or it will be less noticeable differences between expensive and my cheap IEMs?

There's diminishing returns in this hobby. I haven't heard any of the above in your list, but a CHIFI that costs $150 USD is not 3 times better than a $50 USD CHIFI.

My personal view is that the best "bang for buck" lies in the $50 - 150 range for IEMs, if u go higher there's improvements, but you would be paying hundreds more for those improvements. If i could give a ballpark figure, my $50 - $150 range IEMs can hit about 70 - 80% sound quality of my $300 - 500 USD IEMs. And though I don't own anything more than $500 USD, I've auditioned a few sets from $1000 - 2500 USD, and the midfi $300ish IEMs can hit about 70 - 80% of these TOTL sets.

So it depends if u wanna chase that last 20% sound improvement at high prices or u can be satisfied with price to performance. If money is not an issue, then definitely by all means go for the best quality, but too bad most of us have bills to pay and mouths to feed. The good news is that CHIFI has come leaps and bounds the past 3 years and nowadays some CHIFI can compete with western midfi sets and only cost 10 - 20% of the price, so the entry barrier to audiophile sound has dropped a lot.
 
Last edited:
Feb 14, 2020 at 6:23 AM Post #381 of 574

yorosello

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 14, 2019
Posts
1,140
Likes
1,158
Location
Dal
There's diminishing returns in this hobby. I haven't heard any of the above in your list, but a CHIFI that costs $150 USD is not 3 times better than a $50 USD CHIFI.

My personal view is that the best "bang for buck" lies in the $50 - 150 range for IEMs, if u go higher there's improvements, but you would be paying hundreds more for those improvements. If i could give a ballpark figure, my $50 - $150 range IEMs can hit about 70 - 80% sound quality of my $300 - 500 USD IEMs. And though I don't own anything more than $500 USD, I've auditioned a few sets from $1000 - 2500 USD, and the midfi $300ish IEMs can hit about 70 - 80% of these TOTL sets.

So it depends if u wanna chase that last 20% sound improvement at high prices or u can be satisfied with price to performance. If money is not an issue, then definitely by all means go for the best quality, but too bad most of us have bills to pay and mouths to feed. The good news is that CHIFI has come leaps and bounds the past 3 years and nowadays some CHIFI can compete with western midfi sets and only cost 10 - 20% of the price, so the entry barrier to audiophile sound has dropped a lot.
Yeah I can definitely agree. After I listen to the Blessing 2, which was $300, I could say they can compete with sony M7 which are 2x the price.
 
Last edited:
Feb 22, 2020 at 11:22 AM Post #385 of 574

OpiateSkittles

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Posts
236
Likes
216
Location
Wisconsin, USA
Hi, guys! Need advice

My list for future:
LZ A6 Mini - 76$
Tinhifi T4 - 100$
QOA PINK LADY - 119 $
BQEYZ Spring 1 - 139$
KINERA IDUN - 139$ Tried them locally in the shop didn`t realize why it costs in 5 times more than TRN-V90, but I like shape
HiFi BOY OS V3 - 160$

Is it possible to get a good sound in cheap IEM? Or it will be less noticeable differences between expensive and my cheap IEMs?

This may be a little late but, for what my opinion is worth, the Tin T4 is great and, if you don't mind waiting about a month to get them, are on massdrop rn for 80 dollars for 4 more days. (estimated ship is March 25th I believe).
 
Feb 24, 2020 at 9:16 AM Post #386 of 574

Wiljen

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 16, 2015
Posts
3,695
Likes
3,802
Location
TN
Hi, guys! Need advice

My list for future:
LZ A6 Mini - 76$
Tinhifi T4 - 100$
QOA PINK LADY - 119 $
BQEYZ Spring 1 - 139$
KINERA IDUN - 139$ Tried them locally in the shop didn`t realize why it costs in 5 times more than TRN-V90, but I like shape
HiFi BOY OS V3 - 160$

Is it possible to get a good sound in cheap IEM? Or it will be less noticeable differences between expensive and my cheap IEMs?

Several on your list are quite good, one obvious missing one is the Moondrop Starfield which to my ear is better than the T4 and different than the Spring1 (Spring1 more energetic, Starfield more relaxed). Of those listed, I'd go for the Spring1, then the T4, but the A6 Mini is no slouch either on the cheaper side.
 
Feb 24, 2020 at 10:18 AM Post #387 of 574

Noor Al-Tamimi

New Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 22, 2017
Posts
43
Likes
8
Of that list the only brand I've tried is Vsonic back in the day. I tried the Vsonic GR03 and GR07 and actually found the GR03 to be more warm and pleasant to listen to.

They're probably the best budget earphones I've tried but I believe that particular model is discontinued now. I'm curious what they replaced them with.
 
Feb 24, 2020 at 1:36 PM Post #388 of 574

jant71

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 19, 2005
Posts
7,556
Likes
4,690
Of that list the only brand I've tried is Vsonic back in the day. I tried the Vsonic GR03 and GR07 and actually found the GR03 to be more warm and pleasant to listen to.

They're probably the best budget earphones I've tried but I believe that particular model is discontinued now. I'm curious what they replaced them with.

You might mean GR02 :) Don't think there was a GR03. Vsonic is not a serious player anymore anyhow. They just stick with GR07 for around $100 and live off of it. Nothing good in budget nor in value as they go pricier with the chrome VS7 and VS9 which could be cheaper than they are. Old VSD are not good in today's market except if VSD5 is found for a cheap price and VSD3 seems to have a good size stage but cable isn't well regarded and some tuning issues that make it a pass at $50. They are doing more pleasant and smoother sound than they used to but they are middle of the pack now living off the domestic popularity they gained and the GR07. Funny whe they were the new kid on the block, back in the day, and were doing new and better value over the big brand names and then they went and became sort of a fat cat that fell back to the pack. They no belong in a "Best Value" thread like this.
 
Feb 24, 2020 at 11:05 PM Post #389 of 574

DynamicEars

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Posts
2,390
Likes
4,491
Hi, guys! Need advice

My list for future:
LZ A6 Mini - 76$
Tinhifi T4 - 100$
QOA PINK LADY - 119 $
BQEYZ Spring 1 - 139$
KINERA IDUN - 139$ Tried them locally in the shop didn`t realize why it costs in 5 times more than TRN-V90, but I like shape
HiFi BOY OS V3 - 160$

Is it possible to get a good sound in cheap IEM? Or it will be less noticeable differences between expensive and my cheap IEMs?
Several on your list are quite good, one obvious missing one is the Moondrop Starfield which to my ear is better than the T4 and different than the Spring1 (Spring1 more energetic, Starfield more relaxed). Of those listed, I'd go for the Spring1, then the T4, but the A6 Mini is no slouch either on the cheaper side.

you have great options, and I agree with @Wiljen that Starfield can added to the list, scrap the T4.

for me : Spring 1 for detailed and smooth mids with great technicalities , A6mini for huuugeee soundstage and very great imaging and layering and great bass quality (not quantity), Starfield for great timbre and relaxed trebles and if you like DD more. (I dont have starfield but I read so many good reviews and they sounded close to KP/KXXS which actually on $170 bracket)

and NX7 pro if you like treble details and extension. or saving a bit more to get i3. Or more to get H40. lol I didnt help
 
Last edited:
Feb 24, 2020 at 11:42 PM Post #390 of 574

baskingshark

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Posts
5,537
Likes
18,490
Location
Jabberwock Island
you have great options, and I agree with @Wiljen that Starfield can added to the list, scrap the T4.

for me : Spring 1 for detailed and smooth mids with great technicalities , A6mini for huuugeee soundstage and very great imaging and layering and great bass quality (not quantity), Starfield for great timbre and relaxed trebles and if you like DD more. (I dont have starfield but I read so many good reviews and they sounded close to KP/KXXS which actually on $170 bracket)

and NX7 pro if you like treble details and extension. or saving a bit more to get i3. Or more to get H40. lol I didnt help

Between the H40 and I3, what are their strengths and weaknesses?
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top