crinacle's IEM Ranking List
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bukumurah

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Hi @crinacle would you be willing to share a more detailed impression on the PP8? They seem to have gotten a unique status as being neutral, flat, dead, reference, etc.. lol

Cheers!
 
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papa_mia

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Really excited about the FiiO FA7. A refined version of the FH5 with better ear insertion and 4BA
Not necessarily a refined version of the FH5. I've seen a lot of reports about the mid-bass hump bleeding into the mids masking details and more importantly they have different signatures.
 
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ezekiel77

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Really excited about the FiiO FA7. A refined version of the FH5 with better ear insertion and 4BA
They're different animals. Notes are quicker and better defined, but I seriously miss the dynamic driver bass of FH5. If you made me choose between the two it's still FH5. The new black FH5 addresses the fit problem with longer nozzles.
 
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Voodoo Child

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Hey crinacle I also wanted to know your thoughts on the latest campfire solaris did it not live up to the hype as from your list its seems to be in a lower category compared to the likes of trio or u12t ,what was lacking in the iem, I personally think the midrange is very important so between the three which would have the strongest midrange and some general thoughts on the solaris as it was supposed to be like a budget totl compared to the current crazy prices of totl iems, the reason I brought up solaris was becuase I loved the andromeda but the fit was bad and then the solaris turned out to be even larger, I still dont want to spent tia fourte money tbh
I happened to listened to both Solaris and UE18+ (Probably Gen 2, in universal shell) for a week or two, and had listened to the U12t (in both M15 and M20 modules) for an extended period of time. So please allow me to give my opinion of each iem character and sound for you (including the Trio).

Firstly, four of them have different approach in term of the sound signature. I think the U12t has a mild U shaped sound, with everything nicely balanced, with a wide soundstage. Trio has a V shaped sound (I think the mids is pushed a bit more backwards than the U12t, but not what I would called significantly recessed), with a prominent treble (for my ears though, I actually talked to a lot of people who also used the Trio, and their impression of the Trio is quite vary, probably something to do with the source of the sound I guess). Solaris is somewhat pretty balance sound with some emphasis in midrange, with energetic bass and treble (mild W shape?? I guess. Dunno), with a wide soundstage. The UE18+ is quite balanced, too. To my ears it is noticeably warmer than the Solaris, but still have a good and well extended treble. I think the U12t and the UE18+ are not too far apart in overall sound signature, with the UE18+ having bit more body and the U12t is a bit more lean, especially on the M15 module. I think the U12t displayed a bit more 3 dimensional sound and superior layering. While the Solaris, if you like the Tia Fourte sound signature, I think this is the best choice among the four of them, I once listened to both of them head to head and I think they both have a similar sound signature and both have a holographic soundstage. And the Trio.... its a very good iem, but a bit too much sometimes. It sounds a bit too aggressive to my ears. And the midrange is a bit too solid for my taste. But if you want a “fun” iem, with loads of air, clarity, and very good impact, then the Trio is for you.

If your emphasis is the midrange (which It happens to be my emphasis on iem too), I think the Solaris and the UE18+ is probably a more suitable choice. Not that I think the mids on U12t and Trio aren’t great, but I think the midrange of both Trio and U12t has been positioned a bit behind compared to the other two, and it is more lean, too. If you want a more tonally accurated sound, weighty vocals, with a good low end impact I think the UE18+ Gen 2 is a good choice (BTW I don’t know if you can buy the Gen 2 anymore, I listened to the Gen 3 once and I like the Gen 2 more. The Gen 2 is more energetic I think). But if you like female or higher pitch male vocal, I think the Solaris is a good choice, it is more colored than the UE18+. It has lush and sweet, yet very very energetic sound. But I think it has strange “hollowness” in the vocal, its midrange has a relatively big imaging but lacking in weight, so I don’t think it will goes down well with a lower pitch vocals.

“I think” in term of sheer performance the Solaris is a little bit behind the Tia Trio and U12t, especially in the lower region and layering (It is just my opinion though, don’t think too much of it). But if you like good mids and good imaging I think Solaris is a very very good iem. For me it has one of the best imaging ability in iem at any price, and a very wide and holographic soundstage, it reminds me of a good blend between the Zeus XIV and the Tia Fourte, I really like it, I like it even more than the Tia Fourte. BTW the Legend X, the current Empire Ears flagship monitor, is ranked at the same tier as the Solaris too, and it is even more expensive. So I think it isn’t the matter of “not as good as the other TOTLs”. They both are very good iems, I can say at least that.

Ps. I know you didn’t asked me, I just wanting to help (Haha).
Ps 2. Yup, if you have small ear canals Solaris’s fit probably won’t goes down too well. I have small ear canals (but perfectly fine with the Andromeda’s fit) and using Solaris sometimes feels like I’m mildly torturing my ear canals. The sound is worth it though.
 
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beaniebaesha

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Well thanks FangJoker and Voodoo child thanks for all the comparisons it just makes my life easier, well the issue is if your spending something more than 1.5K sound and fit have to be very important , so the solaris is the only one I can try out of three, I will only have people who have heard the iems to sort of help me out steer me to the right iem, out of the all the iems Voodoo Child which would you recommend as daily driver apart from the ue18+ gen 2 as that iem only comes in custom in my area and I have only heard it once it sound nice to me, but unfortuantely I am looking for an iem that sounds great and should last for a while ,64 audio and campfire are the only one that look like people actually paid attention to the quality of materials and sound as well, so between only the u12t ,trio, and solaris, I am not spending 3.6k on fourte that is just plain madness in my opinion, which would be the easier to live with and which iem has a lots of clarity, even warm v-shape I am fine with as long as the vocals dont get lost but are present and have their space and there is no hiss, because when I had the andromeda she hissed so much it was unbearable after a while.
 
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Voodoo Child

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Well thanks FangJoker and Voodoo child thanks for all the comparisons it just makes my life easier, well the issue is if your spending something more than 1.5K sound and fit have to be very important , so the solaris is the only one I can try out of three, I will only have people who have heard the iems to sort of help me out steer me to the right iem, out of the all the iems Voodoo Child which would you recommend as daily driver apart from the ue18+ gen 2 as that iem only comes in custom in my area and I have only heard it once it sound nice to me, but unfortuantely I am looking for an iem that sounds great and should last for a while ,64 audio and campfire are the only one that look like people actually paid attention to the quality of materials and sound as well, so between only the u12t ,trio, and solaris, I am not spending 3.6k on fourte that is just plain madness in my opinion, which would be the easier to live with and which iem has a lots of clarity, even warm v-shape I am fine with as long as the vocals dont get lost but are present and have their space and there is no hiss, because when I had the andromeda she hissed so much it was unbearable after a while.
For me in term of sound signature I think the U12t will probably be the safest choice, its the most all-rounder of the three, and you can slightly altered the sound with the APEX modules, too. But if you preferred more intense sound, DD bass, with prominent treble - even more prominent than the Andromeda, then Trio is an interesting choice, too. I don’t think the Solaris is that much of an all-rounder iem. It excels in some genre that will be beneficial from an energetic sounds like pop, not so much in genres that require lots of oomph like hard rock or metal. But if your emphasis is very much on vocal then Solaris is a nice choice but if I have to choose one between the three as my everyday main iem I’d probably choose the U12t.

Solaris is prone to hiss, I can say at least this much. It doesn’t hiss that badly I guess (definitely not as bad as Empire Ear Zeus, probably around TG334 level of hiss, I guess). I’m perfectly fine with it, by the way I’m perfectly fine with Andromeda too in term of hissing, so I’m not sure you’ll be fine with it. I don’t think Trio or U12t will be prone to hiss though.

As a daily driver I think both Trio and Solaris is amazing in term of portability. I used just a Pelican 1010 box and carry them around easily, its not that much prone to scratches as long as you handle it carefully, and they have a good, solid shell, too. I don’t like the shell of the universal UE18+ that much (I saw the built of the custom one, definitely look more solid than the universal shell). I never owned the U12t but from my eyes it build is as solid as the Tia Trio.
 
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beaniebaesha

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Well I will have a listen to the solaris and then decide between the u12t and trio and yes I like a little ommph in my music.,but thank-you for all your impressions really helped my out Voodoo child it will be a tough decision but I will have to decide, I also wanted to ask did try the u18t its a but above my budget but I just wanted to know how it sounds compared to u12t and trio if you have listened to it thanks
 
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Voodoo Child

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Well I will have a listen to the solaris and then decide between the u12t and trio and yes I like a little ommph in my music.,but thank-you for all your impressions really helped my out Voodoo child it will be a tough decision but I will have to decide, I also wanted to ask did try the u18t its a but above my budget but I just wanted to know how it sounds compared to u12t and trio if you have listened to it thanks
I think U18t has a wider soundstage, more prominent treble with more sparkle, and more detailed (maybe?). U12t has a little bit more body, sliiightly more forward midrange, and more weighty low end. To be honest I don't think the U18t is my cup of tea. The last time I listened to the U18t and U12t head to head I think the U18t sound quite....congest? I don't know, U18t has more driver count but I don't think it seperate each instrument as cleanly as the U12t, or maybe my brain is just screwed that day. Either way, I definitely preferred U12t.

This is just my opinion though, I spoke to several people who already tried both of them, and some seems to preferred the U18t, too.

Comparing Tia Trio to U18t, I think Trio is more fun to listen to. While U18t is more suitable for critical listening.
 
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deafdoorknob

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Hello,

This is in response to our valued customer and member of the 64 audio family @crinacle, as well as @echineko and the rest of the Head-Fi community.

First and foremost, we are very sorry to hear about your experience with your custom N8. We want to help and will do everything in our power to rectify the situation.

We believe with all such situations there comes a silver lining. That silver lining is the opportunity to learn, to improve, and ultimately, to make our customers happy. After thoroughly investigating on our end, we believe we understand why this happened and will confirm when we get the unit in for investigation and repair.

To answer questions regarding the tuning as seen in @crinacle’s custom pair, and whether it is intended going forward, the answer is, no. This was not the intended tuning. The two sides matching could be the result of performing the same process to both sides during production. Our demo units provide the intended sound signature and we translate that signature to all custom units. The custom and demo should look very similar across the frequency spectrum.

The N8 is a special product in our lineup. It shares a tubeless low frequency dynamic driver similar to our Fourte and Trio products. After thorough investigation, we believe that the discrepancy in sound signature is most likely caused by a difference in air volume inside the shells. In the design stage the original tuning of N8 was achieved with a representative internal air volume of the shell based on an average ear size. This translates consistently to the demos because they use a universal shell that is properly sized for this average internal air volume. Early on, we suspected that there could be changes in the low frequency response of custom N8’s depending on the actual air volume of shells among different customers. However, we ran tests in the development stage that showed only slight variances among different shell volumes that fell within our established tolerances..

Although more investigation is needed, it is possible that @crinacle’s ear shape yielded an internal volume of air that is beyond the predicted ranges that we designed for. The FR deviation we are seeing from the measurement supports this, but again, we will investigate further once we receive the units.

At the end of the day, we have a customer that is not satisfied and that’s not ok. We are hoping that this initial response helps shed some light on a possible explanation while we dig further. We will follow up with the community as soon as we know more.

Thank you,
Vlad Belonozhko
64 Audio / CEO
i hope that @64Audio realises that there is a demand for a universal N8, and that the variabilty in internal volume could have been avoided altogether with the hypothetical universal version. just my 2 cents...
 
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pithyginger63

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I know the A12t is pretty highly regarded here. I haven't listened to a whole lot of totl iems because my own A12t was a blind buy, but I think it's still a step behind the only other totl iem I've heard, which is the JH Layla.
 
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beaniebaesha

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Thanks Voodoo child, I am tossing again between the u12t and trio, I think both fourte and u18t is just too expensive for me and I want something easy and comfortable to listen with, with critical listening iems I feel it is a trap because you lose the essence and soul of the music it awes you at the start but then you realise it has becomes too sterile and you start to dissect the music which some people enjoy but the I feel like whats the purpose of that, you do require certain level of the critical listening but balanced with soul and musicality is what my final aim as well as being portable and plays with many sources without too many issues, if anyone has views please jump in, i am basically a open book eg andromeda was a really good iem probably the first iem after something like the ie800 that actually made go wow, but there was a big issue that I felt the sound was a little too thin and I needed something with a bit more body more natural organic.
 
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crinacle

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Hey crinacle I also wanted to know your thoughts on the latest campfire solaris did it not live up to the hype as from your list its seems to be in a lower category compared to the likes of trio or u12t ,what was lacking in the iem, I personally think the midrange is very important so between the three which would have the strongest midrange and some general thoughts on the solaris as it was supposed to be like a budget totl compared to the current crazy prices of totl iems, the reason I brought up solaris was becuase I loved the andromeda but the fit was bad and then the solaris turned out to be even larger, I still dont want to spent tia fourte money tbh
Solaris sounded a little choked out and hollowed to me. Perhaps it was the reduced upper midrange but I don't want to make hard statements.

Hi @crinacle would you be willing to share a more detailed impression on the PP8? They seem to have gotten a unique status as being neutral, flat, dead, reference, etc.. lol

Cheers!
Not a lot more I can talk about based off my impressions of demo units apart from the fact that it's neutral, has intimate imaging and sterile to the point of sounding... flat.
 
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crinacle

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Lime Ears Model X Review: Two-faced

Introduction

The Model X is Lime Ear's quad driver model that was first released back in late 2017. As with most other boutique-style companies, the Model X was offered only in custom and universals only existed as demo units for distributors and sellers. I myself have tried the Model X demos before and have ranked them at A- a few months ago. Now, Lime Ears is offering the Model X in universal shells commercially and have provided me with a unit for a full review.

Lime Ears Model X Universal

The Signature

The most defining feature of the Model X has to be its switch system. Now yes, what was once a feature exclusive to kilobuck IEMs has now been gaining relevancy on the IEM stage in recent years, with many cheap chifi models now sporting switches. However, most switches seem to be rather specific with their changes with most opting for rather focused frequency boosts, most popular being boosting the bass. Lime Ears takes a rather unique (for now at least) direction with their Model X switch, changing the overall signature of the IEM quite drastically.

On what I dub "neutral mode" (switches down), the Model X is... well, neutral. A little like the UERM in a way with some extra upper midrange, so it's what I'd personally define has slightly coloured due to the small tilt in tonality towards the higher frequencies. More or less completely flat from the bass to the lower mids so it fulfills the classic textbook definition of sterility and being "reference" in that regard.

Turning up the switches to what I dub as "warm mode", the Model X could be an entirely different IEM and I'd be none the wiser. There is a wide band boost in the lower frequencies as well as a slightly reduction in the upper mids and treble, which balances out the tonality nicely. Even in this mode though, it's not that warm and still less warm than something like the Massdrop Plus. Lime Ears intends for the "bass boost" switch to be used for low volume listeners per the equal loudness contour, though objectively speaking it's not quite accurate since they'll require a much higher sub-bass increase than what is tuned in. But let's just throw the textbook out the window for now.

The Bad

To be absolutely clear, the Model X is a very capable all-rounder (moreso with its dual signatures) and so these aren't hard flaws, more like shortcomings that any potential buyer should be aware of.

For one thing, the treble tilt can get a little hot. It's not quite screaming in your face demanding damping, but it gets fatiguing for sensitive people like me who can appreciate a rolloff. That said, it's just emphasised but not splashy, so it retains definition and control despite its brightness. I can see the Model X being a "makes you wince" kind of sound for many people but at least it has the resolution and definition to justify the use of foam.

Bass is another issue but it's pretty much a guaranteed talking point on the "The Bad" section of my reviews if it's a pure BA IEM. I do have my biases and I'm not afraid to talk about them; the Model X's low end doesn't hold a candle to any of my hybrid or DD IEMs and so sounds limp and inarticulate in comparison. That said, even in the realm of BA IEMs the Model X also doesn't have particularly good "BA bass". It still fails to convey the authority and darkness of a bass drum in an orchestral piece or the proper rumble of a deep synth note. Of course you can still hear the notes, but my usual criticisms of BA bass apply here, no escaping that.The characteristics of the bass itself don't change much between modes, with only the overall volume getting louder or softer depending on the switch position.

Additionally, there's a hint of that crunchy, plasticky aftertone that's a sign of the good ol' BA timbre. Thankfully it's not too obvious and I've definitely heard worse, but that is something to look out for if you're sensitive to that kind of phenomenon. Rather common in these kinds of reference-style BA IEMs so given the amount of it I'm hearing, I'm willing to close one eye.

The Good

Let's shift the fluff out of the way; the Model X is very good bordering on exceptional. What I feel is its strongest point is the way that both modes are tuned. I've let no less than ten people have a go at the Model X and there was almost a 50/50 split between those who prefer it in "neutral mode" versus those who prefer it in "warm mode". Small sample size but it's hard to argue that the Model X can offer something to almost everybody. As I've said before: "neutral to warm in a pinch", though it is to be noted that the Model X is capable of both proper neutral as well as proper warmth, nothing half-baked with either.

That being said, tuning is nothing if not backed up by technical proficiency, especially in the kilobuck realm. But obviously I've avoided talking about technicalities in "The Bad" section for a reason here. The Model X scores high marks across the board, nailing resolution, definition, tonal balance and attack speed and achieving passing grades for timbre and decay naturalness. There is virtually no smearing of notes even on the warm mode, remaining clean and defined even on my busiest metal tracks. Furthermore, there is almost no sacrifice in technicalities when going neutral to warm mode, a nice surprise given the amount of monitors I've listened to that fall apart with just a small emphasis in the lower midrange.

Neutral mode tends to bias percussions and plucked strings more, though the bias shrinks on warm mode. Depending on your tracks and genres, there isn't an emphasis of one instrument type over the other and the tone is well presented, perhaps one of the best in my recent pool of review units.

Conclusion

Proper tuning, proper technicalities, proper use of a switch. Not much to say, the all-rounders are always the hardest to praise.

Perhaps I'll get some flak for doing this only after getting a review unit, but my reputation will survive. Lime Ears deserves this.

Rank adjustment: A- A
 
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deafdoorknob

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Lime Ears Model X Review: Two-faced

Introduction

The Model X is Lime Ear's quad driver model that was first released back in late 2017. As with most other boutique-style companies, the Model X was offered only in custom and universals only existed as demo units for distributors and sellers. I myself have tried the Model X demos before and have ranked them at A- a few months ago. Now, Lime Ears is offering the Model X in universal shells commercially and have provided me with a unit for a full review.

Lime Ears Model X Universal

The Signature

The most defining feature of the Model X has to be its switch system. Now yes, what was once a feature exclusive to kilobuck IEMs has now been gaining relevancy on the IEM stage in recent years, with many cheap chifi models now sporting switches. However, most switches seem to be rather specific with their changes with most opting for rather focused frequency boosts, most popular being boosting the bass. Lime Ears takes a rather unique (for now at least) direction with their Model X switch, changing the overall signature of the IEM quite drastically.

On what I dub "neutral mode" (switches down), the Model X is... well, neutral. A little like the UERM in a way with some extra upper midrange, so it's what I'd personally define has slightly coloured due to the small tilt in tonality towards the higher frequencies. More or less completely flat from the bass to the lower mids so it fulfills the classic textbook definition of sterility and being "reference" in that regard.

Turning up the switches to what I dub as "warm mode", the Model X could be an entirely different IEM and I'd be none the wiser. There is a wide band boost in the lower frequencies as well as a slightly reduction in the upper mids and treble, which balances out the tonality nicely. Even in this mode though, it's not that warm and still less warm than something like the Massdrop Plus. Lime Ears intends for the "bass boost" switch to be used for low volume listeners per the equal loudness contour, though objectively speaking it's not quite accurate since they'll require a much higher sub-bass increase than what is tuned in. But let's just throw the textbook out the window for now.

The Bad

To be absolutely clear, the Model X is a very capable all-rounder (moreso with its dual signatures) and so these aren't hard flaws, more like shortcomings that any potential buyer should be aware of.

For one thing, the treble tilt can get a little hot. It's not quite screaming in your face demanding damping, but it gets fatiguing for sensitive people like me who can appreciate a rolloff. That said, it's just emphasised but not splashy, so it retains definition and control despite its brightness. I can see the Model X being a "makes you wince" kind of sound for many people but at least it has the resolution and definition to justify the use of foam.

Bass is another issue but it's pretty much a guaranteed talking point on the "The Bad" section of my reviews if it's a pure BA IEM. I do have my biases and I'm not afraid to talk about them; the Model X's low end doesn't hold a candle to any of my hybrid or DD IEMs and so sounds limp and inarticulate in comparison. That said, even in the realm of BA IEMs the Model X also doesn't have particularly good "BA bass". It still fails to convey the authority and darkness of a bass drum in an orchestral piece or the proper rumble of a deep synth note. Of course you can still hear the notes, but my usual criticisms of BA bass apply here, no escaping that.The characteristics of the bass itself don't change much between modes, with only the overall volume getting louder or softer depending on the switch position.

Additionally, there's a hint of that crunchy, plasticky aftertone that's a sign of the good ol' BA timbre. Thankfully it's not too obvious and I've definitely heard worse, but that is something to look out for if you're sensitive to that kind of phenomenon. Rather common in these kinds of reference-style BA IEMs so given the amount of it I'm hearing, I'm willing to close one eye.

The Good

Let's shift the fluff out of the way; the Model X is very good bordering on exceptional. What I feel is its strongest point is the way that both modes are tuned. I've let no less than ten people have a go at the Model X and there was almost a 50/50 split between those who prefer it in "neutral mode" versus those who prefer it in "warm mode". Small sample size but it's hard to argue that the Model X can offer something to almost everybody. As I've said before: "neutral to warm in a pinch", though it is to be noted that the Model X is capable of both proper neutral as well as proper warmth, nothing half-baked with either.

That being said, tuning is nothing if not backed up by technical proficiency, especially in the kilobuck realm. But obviously I've avoided talking about technicalities in "The Bad" section for a reason here. The Model X scores high marks across the board, nailing resolution, definition, tonal balance and attack speed and achieving passing grades for timbre and decay naturalness. There is virtually no smearing of notes even on the warm mode, remaining clean and defined even on my busiest metal tracks. Furthermore, there is almost no sacrifice in technicalities when going neutral to warm mode, a nice surprise given the amount of monitors I've listened to that fall apart with just a small emphasis in the lower midrange.

Neutral mode tends to bias percussions and plucked strings more, though the bias shrinks on warm mode. Depending on your tracks and genres, there isn't an emphasis of one instrument type over the other and the tone is well presented, perhaps one of the best in my recent pool of review units.

Conclusion

Proper tuning, proper technicalities, proper use of a switch. Not much to say, the all-rounders are always the hardest to praise.

Perhaps I'll get some flak for doing this only after getting a review unit, but my reputation will survive. Lime Ears deserves this.

Rank adjustment: A- A
iirc, in your measurements the “bass on” mode of X is rather similar to the andro’s FR, i am curious to know where/how the X “loses out” to the andros. thx.
 
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