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High-End Earbuds (VE, Blox, SHOZY etc) and Earbud Gear Discussion & Impressions Thread

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  1. goldenSHK
    UPDATE: APRIL 28, 2016
    This is a ranking/list of earbuds in order from overall sound quality that I have and extensively listened to. The rankings are: overall impressions, description of sound signature as a whole, then highs, mids, bass. Then an overall score out of 10 incremented in .25, this is to gauge the distance between each rank, sometimes the distance between #1 and #2 is less/more than the distance between #2 and #3 so the numerical overall ranking is meant to show the distance between ranks. ​
    Upcoming earbuds: Monk+, Rose Mojito (possibly), SeaHF 400
    Gear used: Macbook Pro, xDuoo X3, Geek Out 1000, Hiegi Donut Foams, VE Donut Foams

    NOTE TO READERS: In light of recent events and increased discussion about biased reviews/free products for good reviews on Head-Fi, I wish to point out that no product on this list was discounted or given to me for free for a review. All earbuds in this list have been purchased directly by me from manufacturer/vendor or third party.

    1. Sennheiser MX985
    Very revealing and crystal clear mids and highs associated with audiophile sound. Can hear things in music you don’t hear with lower quality gear. Bass is neutral and leaves a bit to be desired compared to VE Zen. Not very comfortable. Would not recommend wearing these for hours.
    Sound Signature: Fairly neutral with a bit of sparkle up top and in the middle
    Highs: Very lifelike and crystal clear. Tiny bit sibilant sometimes. Very revealing
    Mid: Crisp and beautiful, lifelike
    Bass: Neutral, punchy, bit lack of sub bass compared to competition
    Overall: 9.00/10
    2. VE Zen 2.0
    Thick, spacious, and very enjoyable. Much more fun than the MX985, but also a bit rolled off at the top. Use these as my daily driver earbuds, extremely fun, low hitting, but unfortunately extremely power hungry. X3 can power these fine though with volume really cranked up. 
    Sound Signature: Warm, lush, organic
    Highs: A bit rolled off, but still detailed, never harsh
    Mid: Crispy like the MX985 but a bit laid back
    Bass: Extremely deep and textured for an earbud. Very revealing down low more than anything on this list.
    Overall: 8.75/10
    3. SHOZY Cygnus
    Very revealing just like the MX985. Can hear more detail than Zen 2.0, like Grado sound, they are very lifelike and clear except they still have decent subbass. Most comfortable earbuds in the entire list hands down, PK shell is something special when it comes to comfort. Best build quality of all earbuds on this list, unfortunately being white everywhere only attracts dirt and makes them look dirty/dusty after heavy use (including oxidation of cable, which does not affect sound quality.)
    Sound Signature: Fairly neutral, but a touch of high and mid accents​
    Highs: Very lifelike and crystal clear. Tiny bit sibilant sometimes. Very revealing
    Mid: Crisp and beautiful, Grado-like
    Bass: Neutral, punchy, bit lack of sub bass compared to competition
    Overall: 8.50/10
    4. Blox BE5
    Very black background. It is eerie how lifelike these are. Blox is a bit forgotten about but they still compete really well. Very revealing and crystal clear mids and highs associated with audiophile sound. Can hear things in music you don’t hear with lower quality gear including VE Monk and Asura 2.0. Bass is neutral and leaves a bit to be desired compared to VE Zen, but subbass is at least present.
    Sound Signature: Fairly neutral with a bit of sparkle up top and in the middle
    Highs: Incredible detail. Tiny bit sibilant sometimes. Very revealing
    Mid: Crisp and beautiful, forward
    Bass: Neutral, punchy, subbass is present, but bass doesn’t sound “powerful” like Zen 2.0 
    Overall: 8.50/10
    5. Blox BE7
    Pretty much exactly the same as the BE5 but instead of a bit more bass you have a touch more detail in the mids. It’s tiny though, these are almost the same, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in a blind test.
    Sound Signature: Similar to BE5
    Highs: Incredible detail.
    Mid: Crisp even more detail than BE5
    Bass: Neutral, punchy a bit less than BE5
    Overall: 8.50/10
    6. Blox ANV3se
    Signature Blox sound again, very detailed, easy to drive, decent black background, natural organic sound.
    Sound Signature: Decently neutral
    Highs: Clear, not sibilant
    Mid: Neutral, above average detail
    Bass: Neutral, punchy, bit lack of sub bass compared to competition
    Overall: 8.50/10
    7. Creative Aurvana Air
    These are really good even though they are an old earbud, great build quality and respectable soundstage. Have a “fun” hint to the sound signature.
    Sound Signature: Kind of warm, ok detail
    Highs: Very lifelike and crystal clear. Tiny bit sibilant sometimes. Very revealing
    Mid: Organic sounding
    Bass: Neutral, punchy, bit lack of sub bass compared to competition like SHOZY
    Overall: 7.75/10
    8. VE Asura 2.0
    Clearer than the Zen 2.0, but lacks bass impact and depth. Feels more intimate at the center. Quite good, but overshadowed by SHOZY in almost all areas except for maybe soundstage.
    Sound Signature: Fairly middle ground/neutral, bit of spike here and there​
    Highs: more revealing than Zen 2
    Mid: Crisp
    Bass: Neutral, punchy, lacks texture and depth
    Overall: 7.50/10
    9. Yuin PK1
    Detailed in mids, warmish when amped, really good earbud that is often times forgotten. It is not as detailed and organic as I hoped in the highs.
    Sound Signature: Touch of warmth when properly amped
    Highs: Clear, not sibilant, not extraordinary or anything
    Mid: Neutral, respectable, sounds natural
    Bass: Punchy, can hit deep when amped and respectable detail
    Overall: 7.25/10
    10. VE Monk 1.0
    Excellent bass and sound quality for the price, but lacks resolution and realism that the more expensive earbuds provide. It definitely feels like you are listening to earbuds, but great earbuds for $5.
    Sound Signature: Warm, bass accentuated, dark
    Highs: Not great resolution, but at least it’s almost never harsh
    Mid: Decent and fairly lifelike, but a bit grainy
    Bass: Jaw dropping for an earbud, let alone a $5 bud
    Overall: 6.25/10
    11. Dasten M760
    This earbud was all the rage about 1-2 years ago before VE, it was $25 and still produces some extremely natural mids that I think is really soothing. However, it’s just too bass anemic. With the advent of newer earbuds that feel more like full size headphones and a more balanced sound, this earbud is only recommended for mids and bass light music, if you can even find one at all.
    Sound Signature: Bass light, mids forward, highs not harsh but detailed
    Highs: Great highs
    Mid: One of my favorite mids on all earbuds
    Bass: Really leaves something to be desired
    Overall: 5.75/10
    12. Apple Earpods
    I feel that these are the standard everything should be measured up against because they are the most used IEM/bud on Earth, so if it’s not going to be better than this why use something inferior to the Earpods? They sound decent, surprising bass response for earbuds that came out years ago. Decently detailed but really can’t compare to some of the buds on this list.
    Sound Signature: Warm, with neutral ish mids, a bit shiny highs.
    Highs: Slightly above average in detail, not harsh, but not smooth either
    Mid: About average, nothing to write home about
    Bass: Punchy, strong, but lacks detail and texture, makes listening to modern music fun
    Overall: 5.25/10
    13. Dasetn MC5
    Warmish, “closed in” feeling (some call it intimate), but I don’t prefer this type of sound over airy, open. This was the original $10, budget earbud that the Monk crushed.
    Sound Signature: Fairly neutral with a bit of sparkle up top and in the middle
    Highs: Decently detailed, would call it average compared to high end earbuds
    Mid: Congested compared to high end earbuds
    Bass: Very good, punchy, impressive
    Overall: 4.75/10
    14. Tingo Croons Tg-38S
    I think these were the first budget earbuds to catch on at Head-Fi, I was never a fan. They sound artificial, shiny, but really detailed. It was way more "flavor of the month" thing than real substance. 
    Sound Signature: V shaped. Recessed mids
    Highs: Detailed, at times harsh depending on music
    Mid: Not great.
    Bass: Decently respectable for earbuds especially for a $15, but now crushed by Monk+
    Overall: 4.50/10

    Tympan and BloodyPenguin like this.
  2. jrazmar
    hi golden. glad we're back on track here. I wonder why's the MC5 missing??? too early to tell or not deserving to be on the <$50 list? [​IMG] mine is still on the way. pls post your review and you might be able to add the BE7 later once BenF can share his full impression.
  3. goldenSHK
    I simply haven't added it in since I am not done writing my full review. I'll post everything later tonight and if it is good enough I'll be adding it to the recommendation list (read: will be adding soon)
  4. alv4426
    I bought a new phone last week and to my surprise it came with a pair of earbuds instead of IEMs. Given that I am the only person who actually kinda liked the old school Apple Earbuds (they are terrible but I liked something about them), these new Sony ones have the same flavor for me. I wanted to get back into earbuds which is where it started for me so I ordered a pair of MX985 cause I always wanted a 980 but I thought they were too expensive, a pair of MC5, and Im thinking about ordering a PK2 cause they are on "sale" for about $50 not sure if worth it. Its gonna be awhile since it seems you cant get earbuds in the US. Thanks for starting this thread and keeping earbuds threads alive cause they really are some of the best value for money if they work for you and thats from someone who has never even heard a truly decent set.
    PS: Should I buy the PK2?
  5. goldenSHK
    Earbuds need to hopefully make a comeback in terms of popularity. I don't understand why they really lost the battle with IEMs. I became enthralled with earbuds after learning that there are actualy high end versions still in production. Their natural soundstaging is second to none and always hard for IEMs to compete with. However, it's very very hard for earbuds to get bass right so I think the more bass-centrist modern music really makes IEMs more appealing. So you ordered both the MC5 and MX985? I'd say those two compliment each other rather well. The MX985 is regarded as a great all-rounder for any type of music but won't make any one genre sound amazing due to its flat sound signature (which is a great thing if that's what you like). 
    What type of sound signature do you really prefer because you've got a neutral earbud and a warm, lush sounding earbud coming your way; they should compliment each other well. 
    Also, I'll be posting my review of the MC5 in great detail later tonight so you can see what kind of sound you should be expecting. 
  6. tukangketik
  7. alv4426
    I'm not very picky when it comes to sound signature, as long as it's good at what it does. Btw I ordered the PK2 as well but I may cancel my order and wait until I get what I ordered. But seriously the value is crazy all three (mx985, mc5, pk2) for a little more than $160. And I'm happy with these crappy bundled buds so I'm expecting awesomeness.
  8. goldenSHK
    Dasetn MC5 Review:
    dasetn12.png   dasetn33.png   dasetnbuds.jpg
    Dasetn MC5 with packaging and cable tool.               Dasetn M760 and MC5 with doughnut foams + Tingo Croons TG38S          Notice the electrical tape on strain relief area...
    These earbuds are the first Dasetn product at least in my experience to come with the real Dasetn brand and the full package treatment. Previously when buying from Dasetn you’d get the DIYed earbuds and they’d come in some random beats by dre clamshell case or small tin with the conspicuous buds in a plastic baggie. Now, the MC5 comes with a plastic casing with Dasetn Audio branded on the paper sheet and the entire specs of the buds written on the side of the paper. Inside the package you’ll find the buds, a clip, a set of pink donut foams and two sets of normal black foams. Included is also a cable management tool to keep your earbud cables from tangling when not in use. This is a very professional packaged appearance. This is something really new for Dasetn as he becomes more established and definitely a step up from Blox’s wimpy paper box and 1 set of foams.
    The construction of the actual earbuds is fantastic and very unique in appearance. I really like the opaque plastic that lets you see the innards of the buds and the front grille is metal and of great quality as opposed to the standard plastic grille of most housings of this type (such as Blox and Tingo). The one problem is the cable like usual. Although not as poor as the Dasetn M760 red cable, it would have been nice if the cable quality was more on par with the Tingo Croons TG38S – but it’s not. (Dasetn if you’re reading this, maybe high quality cables + plugs on the buds can be options in the future we can order at a higher price if we prefer?)
    These things really shine in terms of sound with their supposed Foster OEM drivers. The sound signature is very balanced but a touch of warm, lush thickness. The bass is simply excellent which is a very pleasant surprise for any earbud, especially of budget earbuds. I would say they are as good as the ANV3SE, but I don’t have those with me to compare anymore and am going by memory. I had issues with the bass with the Tingo Croons TG38S and Dasetn M760, but there’s simply nothing to complain about here in terms of bass. The soundstage is quite expansive, but perhaps not as airy as the M760 or TG38S possibly due to the impactful bass making the MC5 feel a tad bit closed in. Instrument positioning is unmatched though and better than the M760 and TG38S. The mids are engaging and clear. Nothing to complain about; they aren’t as forward as the 760 which is good or bad depending on how you like your music. The highs are non-sibilant and feel good to listen to. I don’t think they are any less detailed in a general sense than the TG38S, but some microdetails might be gone due to slight smoothening of the highs due to stronger bass presence. Overall, I much prefer this type of sound than almost any other earbud I’ve heard except perhaps the M760. If you listen to a lot of modern music (EDM, hip hop etc) the MC5 should be your go to for portable budget audio. If you listen to a very wide spectrum of music, the MC5 can sound great, but you might want to pick a better all-rounder like the MX985. If I had to relate these to full sized cans I’d say they are the earbud version of the old Denon DX000 series cans with just a tiny bit less warmth but just as full bodied. These things are different but excellent. The bass for an earbud, let alone a $10 earbud is just too good. If you found the bass lacking in your previous earbud purchases, you simply must try these.
    Dasetn’s first professionally packaged and delivered earbud is a homerun in my opinion. These things sound amazing and have no business being priced the same as a burger combo at your local fast food joint (which I think Dasetn actually mentions in his eBay listing for the MC5 lol). Although full disclosure, I still listen to the M760 the most for my portable music needs (at least for the time being), I was close to replacing them with the MC5.
    Technical notes:
    DAP: iPhone 5C with/without various EQ apps; dedicated USB DAC/amp
    Amp requirement: Not necessary, but scales alright (probably shouldn’t bother to be honest)
    Foams: Recommended. I used included doughnut foams and handmade doughnut foams
    -Professional packaging and accessories
    -Great textured bass and impact
    -Non-fatiguing highs
    -Superb instrument positioning
    -Sound signature sounds full and powerful (as if you’re not making a compromise using buds vs. cans)
    -Low quality cable/would like to pay more for product if upgraded cable was an option
    -A tad less detailed than high-centric buds such as the TG38S
    Overall score: 4.25/5.00
    I will be doing all my reviews out of a 5 star model from here on out. Doubtful any will get a perfect score, but I hope there will be a few. 
    alv4426, shak85 and BloodyPenguin like this.
  9. mtliu
    subscribed and will post as time permits. 
  10. shak85
    Subscribed ! Great job golden :wink:
  11. goldenSHK
    You'll definitely be impressed no doubt. Of course you will probably prefer the MX985, but yo have to appreciate how the MC5 is a $10 earbud and for how much it costs, I hope you'll agree with me that dang, is it good. As for the PK2, I am unsure if you'd like it more than the MX985, if you can return it after trying it then there's no hurry to cancel your order. I say go for it. I think if you enjoy the PK2 then you might want to upgrade to the PK1s then if you have a strong DAP or an amp with you on the go. Either that or wait for the Blox flagship to go on sale at the end of this year. Report your impressions when you get the chance. 
  12. goldenSHK
    If anyone has the Yuin OK1 or MX985, I'd love a quick comparison between the two as I might potentially purchase one in the coming days. 
  13. shak85
    I'm interested as well . I already have pk1 but would also like other options .
  14. jrazmar
    I have ordered the BE7. I currently have the earphones on my sig. Will post quick comparison and overall rating soon. So far, the M760 is my personal favorite. I just wish it has a better cable like the TG38S or TC100.
  15. shak85
    I'm thinking of getting OK1 . Does it justify the big cost?
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