FranQL DIY Earbuds - Magical Mystery Tour
Nov 18, 2023 at 7:24 PM Post #46 of 67
A little time away from my earbuds to recover from a cold but I'm back with them again this evening.

Center stage tonight, the Ibis. This earbud has the most fulfilling instrument timbre out of all the earbuds/IEMs/headphones I have listened since I started my journey into this hobby.

Amongst other instruments, one of my favourites - the viol - is sublime on it. My words just won't do it justice. Deep notes fill the space outside the head and resonate with an honesty of attack and decay that I find unrivalled. I can feel the bow against the string and the air pressure of the deepest resonant frequencies emerging from the body of the instrument. The tonality is warm, smooth but detailed, not neutral but natural. It's 'woody', organic and flattering and places it all on stage that is grand in height and width. There's something unique and special to this driver, something that was largely nascent in earbuds I have heard use it before. It's naturally smooth, yet detailed, agranular and analog. Fran came along and unleashed it with a dimensional stage and with a low end that has a realistic weight. I know that this wasn't an easy tune. He says it's the hardest build of his collection and when he had his eureka moment making it work in the DP100 shell, it was great fun to hear the excitement.


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Welcome back bro! :)

Described in such a way that I too can almost hear it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on (what seems to be) a beauty of an earbud.

Even though I really love the buds that he first created for me some time ago, it seems as though his skill is increasing in tuning (and overall sound quality) by a whole lot over time. Even though at some point I will have all four main "end game" buds from him, I almost wish they would suck in some way or another (though, so far they do NOT) to see his "what is next" moments.... LOL

I only continue to buy other earbuds simply out of curiosity at this point. Between the ones I have bought and kept, and the ones that Fran has been kind enough to include me in, I have all the different signatures I could ever want completely covered. :)
 
Nov 19, 2023 at 8:18 AM Post #47 of 67
Welcome back bro! :)

Described in such a way that I too can almost hear it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on (what seems to be) a beauty of an earbud.

Even though I really love the buds that he first created for me some time ago, it seems as though his skill is increasing in tuning (and overall sound quality) by a whole lot over time. Even though at some point I will have all four main "end game" buds from him, I almost wish they would suck in some way or another (though, so far they do NOT) to see his "what is next" moments.... LOL

I only continue to buy other earbuds simply out of curiosity at this point. Between the ones I have bought and kept, and the ones that Fran has been kind enough to include me in, I have all the different signatures I could ever want completely covered. :)

There will always be a 'what is next' moment for me and it's probably because of what you mention - they all have different signatures. I don't know what's coming next but it will probably offer a different flavour of greatness.
 
Jan 13, 2024 at 12:52 PM Post #48 of 67
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Clan Audio 'Draco' cable with FranQL Blue Moon. Two lovingly crafted bits of audiophile greatness. The quality copper adds a warmer slant with a better low end presence to the Blue Moon without losing that lightness and open quality that makes vocals so enjoyable.

The cable was created for the purposes of pairing with the FranQL Draco that should arrive alongside FranQL Caelum next week or soon after. I'm looking forward to putting them through their paces and seeing if the chosen cable composition is a good match for the Draco.
 
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Jan 13, 2024 at 10:21 PM Post #49 of 67
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Clan Audio 'Draco' cable with FranQL Blue Moon. Two lovingly crafted bits of audiophile greatness. The quality copper adds a warmer slant with a better low end presence to the Blue Moon without losing that lightness and open quality that makes vocals so enjoyable.

The cable was created for the purposes of pairing with the FranQL Draco that should arrive alongside FranQL Caelum next week or soon after. I'm looking forward to putting them through their paces and seeing if the chosen cable composition is a good match for the Draco.
Congrats on your new (and incoming) shiny(s)! :)

They are all very lovely sounding gear in their own way. I would not trade any of them, unless I had no other choice. I would consider all four (of the set) as end game in the way that they were intended.

Though, after hearing all the differences in them (some subtle, some obvious), I am actually pretty curious about the Hydra (which the Blue Moon replaced).
 
Jan 17, 2024 at 2:51 PM Post #50 of 67
Well, for someone who appreciates Fran a lot, I've just discovered this thread and I'm not going to put a series of "like" on all your previous posts, but that's the spirit.
So I've got the BlueMoon, which seems to have improved even more with hours of listening; it's more complete and as delicate as L'APWS in its part.
It's true that I use DAP LPs, whose rendering is for me the best and the association of rather expensive DAPs with earbuds is probably not often possible;
But in this configuration, I put APWS second.
I also have a set of Ibis MMCX, but only one other compatible cable, a PWA August fun, Cu very light, which suits them better than the Blue Moon one, and there, it's a real joy for jazz in particular and on the one I like, based on few instruments and rather cool.
Yes, Fran has a rare ear for tuning his creations, and it's hard not to admire this gift (and love his kindness).
And finally, I'm waiting for another MMCX cable from Gordie. To be continued...
 
Jan 19, 2024 at 9:13 AM Post #52 of 67
BlackPanther in the house. Amazing creation. A dream for prog/rock/metal genres.
 
Jan 19, 2024 at 10:48 AM Post #53 of 67
very interested in a blue moon, how much are they priced?

Fran is a hobbyist DIY'er so doesn't make-to-sell his earbuds. If you're interested, it would be worth dropping him a PM.

BlackPanther in the house. Amazing creation. A dream for prog/rock/metal genres.

Nice! You must share more with us when you can. Give us the juicy details. 😂
 
Jan 19, 2024 at 11:01 AM Post #54 of 67
Nice! You must share more with us when you can. Give us the juicy details. 😂
Fran build the BlackPanther specifically for this genres. I will share impressions soon. The drivers need burn-in. Out of the box vocals and instruments sound great. Excellent imaging and separation. Sounds very airy and clean with bass boost. Also the more you increase the volume the better they sound.
 
Jan 25, 2024 at 9:52 PM Post #56 of 67
If you can somehow source another Smabat 150TI driver, these make for some really good bass. I have to say that the pair that @FranQL made for me could be considered bassy, though still probably not quite "basshead" levels, even among IEMs (true story). But the great thing about these buds is that they not only have quantity, the bass is good quality too. I have enjoyed the heck out of these buds. As I have mentioed on the earbud thread, Smabat makes some fantastic drivers, but they don't seem to know how to use them. This is where Fran comes in with his craft. So you see Fran? It ISN'T as easy as all that... A big company like Smabat can't seem to get it right, but you can take their drivers and make something splendid! :beerchug:
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Then there are the OG ones that he sent to me. These are a sort of balanced sound, not too bassy, but not too shy. Treble being in the middle too. These are fantastic buds also. I believe these were made with the Smabat 40Bio driver?!
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Next come the ones we have been talking about as of late. These are similar (but different) to the Yinman 2.0 600. These (and the next pair) are on another level from all the store bought buds I have listened to thus far. One of Fran's finest creations (IMHO).
Caelum.jpg

And finally, last but certainly not least, these are among the finest sound (overall) that one could expect (if the tuning matches your tastes) from an earbud. The Caelum are right up there with these, but I lean towards the tuning on these more often. With all these fine earbuds, I feel so spoiled. :)
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Wow! Caelum and Aquila are works of art! Very nice work @FranQL! You are a legend in the earbud world and your reputation is legendary! Kudos!
 
Jan 25, 2024 at 10:22 PM Post #57 of 67
If you can somehow source another Smabat 150TI driver, these make for some really good bass. I have to say that the pair that @FranQL made for me could be considered bassy, though still probably not quite "basshead" levels, even among IEMs (true story). But the great thing about these buds is that they not only have quantity, the bass is good quality too. I have enjoyed the heck out of these buds. As I have mentioed on the earbud thread, Smabat makes some fantastic drivers, but they don't seem to know how to use them. This is where Fran comes in with his craft. So you see Fran? It ISN'T as easy as all that... A big company like Smabat can't seem to get it right, but you can take their drivers and make something splendid! :beerchug:
20220830_113956.jpg
20220830_114217.jpg

Then there are the OG ones that he sent to me. These are a sort of balanced sound, not too bassy, but not too shy. Treble being in the middle too. These are fantastic buds also. I believe these were made with the Smabat 40Bio driver?!
20220822_091356.jpg
20220815_220213.jpg
20220815_211509.jpg

Next come the ones we have been talking about as of late. These are similar (but different) to the Yinman 2.0 600. These (and the next pair) are on another level from all the store bought buds I have listened to thus far. One of Fran's finest creations (IMHO).
Caelum.jpg

And finally, last but certainly not least, these are among the finest sound (overall) that one could expect (if the tuning matches your tastes) from an earbud. The Caelum are right up there with these, but I lean towards the tuning on these more often. With all these fine earbuds, I feel so spoiled. :)
Aquila.jpg
Hi @samandhi,

What are these cases called that you got your buds in? I need about ten of them. Lol. They look something made for a pair of flats.

Thanks for any info
 
Jan 27, 2024 at 10:44 PM Post #58 of 67
Sorry for taking so long to answer. I am still early in the "getting over" process of Pneumonia from the tale-end of Influenza A.

They are actually a simple case for a memory stick (though very nice ones IMO), and I have not been able to source these on a consumer level. I DO love them because they are just about the perfect size, and they have a magnetic clip/close. They were given to me for specific software used in my industry, and I have not been able to find ones just like them. I am sure there are some out there though, because someone on either here or on the earbuds thread pointed to something like it. Try doing a search on one of the two threads mentioned.

If you DO find them, could you please report (for all) so that I/we can also get some more?! Thanks very much.. :)

P.S. I assume you are indeed talking about the hard plastic rectangular cases, rather than the bags, yes???
 
Jan 28, 2024 at 3:03 AM Post #59 of 67
Sorry for taking so long to answer. I am still early in the "getting over" process of Pneumonia from the tale-end of Influenza A.

They are actually a simple case for a memory stick (though very nice ones IMO), and I have not been able to source these on a consumer level. I DO love them because they are just about the perfect size, and they have a magnetic clip/close. They were given to me for specific software used in my industry, and I have not been able to find ones just like them. I am sure there are some out there though, because someone on either here or on the earbuds thread pointed to something like it. Try doing a search on one of the two threads mentioned.

If you DO find them, could you please report (for all) so that I/we can also get some more?! Thanks very much.. :)

P.S. I assume you are indeed talking about the hard plastic rectangular cases, rather than the bags, yes???
Yep. I'm taking about the rectangular cases. And I'll do a search and see if I can find them. If I do I'll let you and the thread know about it. Cuz those cases are extremely cool and look perfect for flats. Lol

There are like circular semi hard cases (and a ton of different cases) on Ali for really cheap. So if I can't find the ones you're using I'll just do a batch buy on some other case.

Hope you're getting better. Pneumonia sucks.

Edit: These are 68 cents a piece. But the shipping keeps going up when you get more than 1. I just picked up 3 of them for $3.33. I figured I can't beat that.
https://a.aliexpress.com/_mPlClaa
 
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Feb 20, 2024 at 12:42 PM Post #60 of 67
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FranQL Draco with Clan Audio 'Draco' Litz Copper MMCX cable


I just wanted to make an appreciation post on my latest earbud from @FranQL - 'Draco'. I had a lot of anticipation for this set. The take home message from discussion with Fran was that it represented a 'reference' sound to his ears. A sound not as forward or as bright as Blue Moon and with a flatter bass response than both Blue Moon and Caelum. Everyone has a different take on what 'reference' is, all with a variable distance from 'neutral' (another contentious term) but in this case, knowing how Fran values the midrange in all of his tunings and his commitment to a natural take on instrumental replay, I was particularly excited to hear the reference sound of Draco. This excitement was amplified in the knowledge it contained my favourite driver of all the DIY drivers available - the 600ohm bery. It is reasonably hard to drive and performs best with good amplification and it has (in my view) unbeatable timbral characteristics. The driver reveals more note texture than any other driver I have heard and, tonality/tuning aside, is able to offer the most 'accurate' representation of various instruments in my music library. It also has what I consider above average technical qualities in soundstage size and imaging.

How does the Draco fare? Quite simply, it's now the best bud I own and also the best I have heard since coming to the earbud scene in early 2020. The overall tonality is a mid-centric neutral. The upper midrange is lifted to a natural vocal intimacy and the bass is rather flat with a close-to-neutral lower midrange but with just enough weight for male vocals and lower string body and note weight. There is a great deal of clarity and the treble is informative but not overtly enhanced. The bass is not the focus and trends quite flat, with the common earbud sub-bass roll off and only a smidge of midbass impact. The tuning works to the strengths of the driver, with the clarity and upper midrange presence bringing out as much detail as can be produced for strings, vocals and woodwind. Cello and double bass feel full but not enhanced. The driver has some awesome properties in it's decay and the tuning and housing used here really lets the driver breathe to hear the extent of that tail end. Vocals are intimate but not as forward as Blue Moon, nor as bright. They are weighted perfectly. I love both male and female vocals on Draco. They are truly beautiful and the breath and body are in harmony. Compared to Blue Moon and APWS they are more embodied from the chest. Yet, the Draco still achieves that breathe-like ether and romantic aura that makes both of these earbuds special. Importantly, Fran has achieved this intimacy while avoiding shout and sibilance, something that has the potential to spoil those intimate moments. Technically, the soundstage is above average in my view (as expected) but not distorted, nor the widest I've heard but the depth and imaging is very satisfying. Microdynamics, texturing and note definition are superb. There is no smearing. Macrodynamics are satisfying but not class leading (I don't believe this is one of the driver strengths, nor is it something I seek for my library of intimate acoustic / small ensemble performances).

It is hard not to draw comparisons to the Alpha from TGXears that utilises the same driver and an earbud I have had a long-lived love affair with. The Alpha is drier with less lower midrange presence and a smoother, more open sound with less upper midrange and lower treble presence. This can be combated to a degree with proper amplification and louder listening volumes but it still remains softer in the higher frequencies where a lot of the 'sweetness' of vocals and string instruments tends to fall. Certainly, for my taste I prefer the Draco and do believe it's the better implementation of this driver. Nonetheless, I still value the Alpha for its still better-than-average timbre and less intimate, more open presentation that might lend to larger performances.

It turns out Fran's reference is my reference too and for that I feel very fortunate. I had a natural affinity for this driver, I really do think it is special and to see it taken close (?) to it's natural limit is very fulfilling. I understand that this took many iterations experimenting with tuning and housings to get here and it shows.

Thank you, Fran!

A track for you all to enjoy tonight:

 
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