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HDSS Earphones with ETL Technology

  1. jant71
    I was checking out the web and came across two earphones. They bear the High Definition Sound Standard lettering and talk of ETL technology.
    Some ETL talk from the TBI Audio Systems website...
    "You only have to listen and if you get close to other small speakers you really hear the chaos existing inside the enclosure. If all of the sound that you hear is all over the room then where is all of the sound on the other side of the drivers' cone? It remains trapped in the box bombarding the cone with chaotic sound waves that cause a sound character termed boxy and colored. This problem exists with all speakers especially small ones."
    "The ETL™ (Embedded Transmission Line) provides a unique loading foundation that allows a bass reflex design to perform to infrasonic frequencies actually below 20 Hz. It does this while providing inherent acoustic shielding for the drivers' diaphragm to eliminate interaction with reflected room signals."
    "ETL™ eliminates the biggest enemies of the speaker driver, the enclosure itself and the rooms negative effects on placement. In doing so it creates for the first time an enclosure, which improves the drivers operation in real acoustic spaces. It does this by creating a coherent controlling internal pressure from the source signal itself, which drives the entire diaphragm surface the full frequency range thus resisting the effects of lower pressure reflections. The room becomes acoustically friendly and positioning can be where it needs to be including on the wall, on stands, on shelf or bookshelf placement. Room reflections become benign facts of life not modifiers of the drivers acoustic impedance thus allowing the individuality of the rooms sonics to co-exist with the loudspeaker and its placement."
    So, very basically, ETL is essentially mounting the driver differently so it behaves like a piston and reduces housing resonance and sound waves interacting in a negative way.
    OEM Starsonic has produced two models using the tech. The E1 series, EP-828-E1 canalphones and the EP-888-E1 earphones...
    Being curious I got a hold of a sample of each. I paid for them from one of the global suppliers. They are not free samples.
    I got my samples and burned them in for ~50 hours. Then I listened to them for a while. Do they do the things mentioned in the above chart?  They do sound pretty natural and are relaxing without fatigue. They are strong in the vocals with good clarity/intelligibility and detail. They both have a pretty airy stage with nice extension on both ends. Good detail and clarity(varies with tip on the in-ears) also. The do gradually lose impact but keep their sound balance well as they go to low volumes.
    They are both a little better than I thought they would be and spending a few $$$ on them was worth it. I'm all for experimenting, trying out something new or different, but it is better when it works out.
    I'll throw them right into the fire. First up, the 828 in-ears against the popular and high value Xears TD100. A stiff challenge indeed! 
    I chose the TD100 since they are a popular, good performer and they have a similar signature making for a more appropriate comparison. Apples to apples if you will. Very much so as they are hard to tell apart sound-wise. The Starsonic are slightly less bassy, take one more notch of volume, and the soundstage is slightly smaller. The detail level is equal but slightly harder to hear on the Starsonic. The slight edge goes to the Xears for a slightly more effortless sound. Hey, more burn in may loosen up the 828's drivers a bit and even them out. Feel free to PM me as I don't like having essentially two of the same phone. I'll keep the Starsonic as a Y-cord with slider and lighter housings work better for me.
    Next up, the EP-888-E1. The challenger is a solid little entry familiar to a few people who use buds, the Sennheiser MX471.
    The Sennheiser is inexpensive, good looking, well built, has a great cable, and sound well worth the admission price. The Starsonic has a nice housing but with big 16mm drivers they will give some people fit issues. The Senn is made for smaller ears and can be built up with rubber rings and foams. The EP-888-E1 has a lousy cable. One of the weaker ones I have seen on a bud. A reverse J-cord with the right side being the short side. Really looks weak next to the Senn. But, in this case the Starsonic wins the battle of SQ. A bigger, more open sound with better detail and clarity. Slightly more extension also. The caveat is the signature which has 2 or 3dB less bass than the MX471. I feel both can use some bass through EQ or an E3 amp thrown into the mix. Still, the EP-888 has more separation, sharper notes, a bigger deeper stage. The Senn is slightly mid forward while the 888 is nearly flat from bass to mids to treble. A better quality warmer sounding cable could make these a real winner!
    This little experiment was fun and it paid off. Not sure what will become of the tech. These seem like very basic entry-like models so something of higher quality/more advanced design could be really good. Hopefully, we will see more headphones/earphones with this tech.
  2. xtasi
    Awesome.  Gonna post further impressions of the 828 when they burn in more?
  3. lucozade
    @jant71 , interesting post ,thanks
  4. jant71

    I'll keep putting some hours on them both. Wouldn't mind if the 828 gained more clarity. They do really change with different tips like a few other earphones I've had. ETL is used mostly in speakers and I wouldn't expect it to do anything about how fit or tips can alter sound in a canalphone. Also wouldn't mind if the 888 developed more bass punch. The 888 actually was a step below the MX471 in SQ and had less bass then it does now.


    I thought they were pretty interesting and though pretty generic had a good look to them. Nothing groundbreaking but worth a try out. Not readily available but I put them out there. Maybe someone has seen them branded somewhere. Also the Starsonic site is interesting. Plenty of models to check out including a JVC style micro driver model and a few armature based phones that some people may recognize.
  5. jant71
    Well, I put quite a few more hours on both. The 888 earbuds improved more than the 828 did.
    The 888 are the best under $100 buds I have heard(along with Gigabeat stock buds). MX580, MX880, PK2, MX471 are a step or more(PK2) below them. The soundstage, clarity, extension, speed, and separation are just better. Real transparency the others don't have. Only issue is a bit of suck out in the upper low to mid-bass. Can sound right depending on source and with an amp but sometimes there is just an empty spot between the low bass and mids. A mid-bass dip instead of the more usual mid-bass hump problem. I have not gone out of my way to get thicker pads for them but that might be a good idea. I also need to try the Rockbox EQ out and find the right frequency but it should be fixable. As is they are very worthy of the High Definition name. Still a weak cable and may need a bit more bass for some people(closer to a DBA than a DDM for sure). Super impressed by these and better than I had hoped.
    As for the 828, not much in the way of burn-in improvement. Some but the right tips and fit are the key here. I forced my JAYS black silicones on them and they reach there potential. Some others sound good also. Thing is having less isolation is better similar to with the IE8, DDM, and some others. They can provide a lot of isolation so losing some is okay. Still as much iso as the CX281, TD100, and other in-ears. Just a bit less than the above average amount they can provide as a canalphone is best. Like their brother, great with extension, separation and detail. They are an upfront phone with aggressive guitars and great mids. Pretty intimate and detailed with strings and vocals. Hard to beat under $50 and even up to $100. These would make a great back-up to the DBA-02 as far as signature and presentation. The 888 has the one flaw in their frequency response but these have none. Their problem is only fitting them right or they will thicken too much in the bottom end and lose treble sparkle. Just extended, smooth, very natural sounding phones. Still think they are as good as the TD100. I prefer the 828's strengths and presentation so I am keeping the 828's.
    Again, very happy that I took the chance on these. Unfortunately, they are not easily available yet but do keep an eye out for them or something that mentions the tech as they are worth checking out.
  6. swbf2cheater
    I'm receiving a demo set of these for review, I cant wait to hear them
  7. mvw2
    Ah!  TBI you silly guys.  I have a set of their tweeters which as far as most are concerned is a LPG 25NFA but with their patented ETL design incorporated in and another $50 tacked on.  TBI isn't much about developing their own speakers though.  It makes sense for TBI to seek an oem manufacturer and incorporate their tech into more products to sell.  They might as well use that ETL patent for whatever they can.  I am curious how much TBI has done in terms of making the earphones unique as in if the same products exist under different brand names or if they actually pieced together a very specific package to their own design.
  8. swbf2cheater
    funny, a few minutes after I posted that, I got the demo units in the mail 
    they are Blue Ever Blue 328R/866b models.  I just got the DTX10 buds as well and the Fiio e11 is due tomorrow, so expect a review sometime later this week.  Initial impressions are great, the 328R(MSRP of $24.99) earbuds and 866B(MSRP 39.99 or 49.99 yet TBD ) as Jant71 says :)  Im definitely diggin' the iems, they are so tiny and comfy.
  9. kanuka
    nice comparison with the mx471. im  surprised you find the 471 mid fwdd, at least compared to my k312p they 471 are  more bassy, reccessing the vocals a little more
  10. Huxer
    What is meant by "BURN"?

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