Knowledge Zenith (KZ) impressions thread
Jul 8, 2021 at 6:08 PM Post #56,041 of 56,712

MacAttack7

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"For an even more egregious set, we look at the RA C-Cu from oBravo. Honestly, if the 6K dip was from a measurement anomaly, I'm pretty sure Crinacle would have adjusted his setup until it hit at 8K like he tries to target. Aside from that, we get a 10dB channel gap at 130Hz, and massively recessed sub-bass. This aligns with Crinacle's actual review of this nearly $10,000 set. He was not happy about it, given all the hype and goodwill the brand has."

I wish there could be a debate between Crinacle and the guy who designed this RA C-Cu.
I find it hard to believe they created a $10,000 IEM that is no better than some mainstream $50 IEM, so I would love to hear an explanation.
The earphone business is so strange. It seems like there is barely any relationship between price and performance.
 
Jul 8, 2021 at 9:48 PM Post #56,043 of 56,712

mndless

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Finally got my parts in from AliExpress, so I've been testing different tuning options for my CCA CKX. The CKX has always had close to perfect tuning for me, but my treble sensitivity has led me to want just that tiny bit of treble reduction and smoothing, possibly with a bit of bass gain as well. To this end, I ordered some new metal mesh wax filters, paper/fabric tuning filters, and two different densities of foam tuning plugs. I first tried tuning them by removing their existing perforated metal wax guard and jamming a high density foam plug in the nozzle next to the TWFK 30095, then installing a #400 tuning filter to the backside of the replacement wax guard aligned over the BA in the nozzle. This definitely showed that tuning in this manual, passive way would be possible on this IEM, as it dramatically cut down the treble response, but it also ended up cutting down the mids way too much and boosting the bass overmuch. The treble also lost a fair bit of it's sparkle. So I decided to try again. I removed the wax guard and salvaged it for reuse by removing the tuning filter from it. I removed the high density foam tuning plug and decided to try installing a low density one in a slightly different manner. This time I used a pick to poke a hole in the foam and tore out the side to create a split in the foam tuning plug. I used this split to wrap the foam around the nozzle of the BA driver, ensuring a good seal without bunching up the foam and changing how dense it was. You can just barely see the foam in the nozzle in this pic:
20210708_204838.jpg

You can also see the new #200 fabric tuning filter stuck, off-center onto the back of the wax guard. The 4.7mm wax guard ended up being the size that worked for the CKX. These wax guards are extremely finely woven stainless steel and offer a non-trivial amount of treble smoothing and reduction on their own. Something like .75-1dB of treble reduction just from those wax guards.
20210708_205621.jpg

And now with everything installed. They sound fantastic to my ears. Treble has been cut by about 1.5-2dB, but more importantly, I don't hear any of the treble spikes that had bothered me about their stock tuning. The bass to mids transition feels smoother and there's been about a 1.5-2dB sub-bass to bass gain. They still have that lovely sparkle in the treble. Female vocals sound great and aren't fatiguing like they were before, but male vocals haven't been diminished either. They're still coherent and I feel like the soundstage has expanded a fair bit. I tested them with this song before and it sounded like the microphone was inside a box that they were dropping the marbles in, but now it sounds like they're dropping the marbles on a wooden floor in a decent sized room.
All in all, if you're treble-sensitive like I am, I can highly recommend this modification.

Edit: trying to fix the AE links because posting from mobile just ruins all the good things.
 
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Jul 8, 2021 at 11:21 PM Post #56,046 of 56,712

baskingshark

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The earphone business is so strange. It seems like there is barely any relationship between price and performance.

Yes there's not really a correlation between price and performance. Or at least not linearly. Budget-midfi is where the sweet spot of price to performance ratio is. There's really huge diminishing returns once u go up the ladder to pursue TOTL sets.

Even TOTL sets have weaknesses and ballpark I would say they have 10 to 30% better performance than midfi sets, but cost 10x or more.

So at the end of the day, just set a budget for yourself and be happy. There's always gonna be a new hypetrain every week, things move so fast in chifiland that what you bought today can be obsolete in a matter of weeks. Some folks wanna chase that last 10 to 30% sonic improvement at all costs, but most others are happy with price to performance ratio of budget-midfi gear.
 
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Jul 9, 2021 at 12:09 AM Post #56,047 of 56,712

r31ya

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The problem being the price/performance line is a steep curve after passing budget midfi.

6.5 hours? Now we're getting somewhere. But that metal rim is tacky...
This is what i waiting for. Bigger battery in the iem and less thirsty bluetooth chip

If then they add CVC system for the microphonics and at least AAC or APTX it would be awesome.
 
Jul 9, 2021 at 12:14 AM Post #56,048 of 56,712

chinmie

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6.5 hours? Now we're getting somewhere. But that metal rim is tacky...

yup, granted that today's 5.2 tws standard seems to shift to the 10 hours area, but i still think 6 hours would be enough in daily scenarios
 
Jul 9, 2021 at 12:26 AM Post #56,049 of 56,712

mndless

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yup, granted that today's 5.2 tws standard seems to shift to the 10 hours area, but i still think 6 hours would be enough in daily scenarios
I love my FiiO LC-BT2 because of it's up to 24 hour battery life. I love rarely needing to recharge it while I'm trying to listen to something like youtube videos or audiobooks, etc. I also appreciate that the LC-BT2 supports operating while charging. Just one of the side benefits of a neck band style of wireless adapter.
 
Jul 9, 2021 at 12:27 AM Post #56,050 of 56,712

mndless

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The problem being the price/performance line is a steep curve after passing budget midfi.


This is what i waiting for. Bigger battery in the iem and less thirsty bluetooth chip

If then they add CVC system for the microphonics and at least AAC or APTX it would be awesome.
I've gotten to the point where I just won't bother buying anything that lacks LDAC support. You get so much more resolution in the bass and the treble doesn't fall off immediately after 14kHz.
 
Jul 9, 2021 at 12:31 AM Post #56,051 of 56,712

mndless

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Yes there's not really a correlation between price and performance. Or at least not linearly. Budget-midfi is where the sweet spot of price to performance ratio is. There's really huge diminishing returns once u go up the ladder to pursue TOTL sets.

Even TOTL sets have weaknesses and ballpark I would say they have 10 to 30% better performance than midfi sets, but cost 10x or more.

So at the end of the day, just set a budget for yourself and be happy. There's always gonna be a new hypetrain every week, things move so fast in chifiland that what you bought today can be obsolete in a matter of weeks. Some folks wanna chase that last 10 to 30% sonic improvement at all costs, but most others are happy with price to performance ratio of budget-midfi gear.
Chi-fi mid-fi sets range up to nearly $800. After that point the diminishing returns really cease to make fiscal sense. I mean, dropping more than $400 on a set of IEMs is already at the turning point of return on investment. It really does depend on how willing you are to chase those diminishing returns. I just can't wait for someone, maybe KZ, to put pressure on the market with EST equipped budget options that aren't tuned like an EKG. I'm looking at you, Shuoer and BGVP with your Singer, Tape, Tape Pro, and Zero models. The fact that they include electrets at all is impressive, but their treble is just so weirdly tuned.
 
Jul 9, 2021 at 12:54 AM Post #56,052 of 56,712

baskingshark

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Chi-fi mid-fi sets range up to nearly $800. After that point the diminishing returns really cease to make fiscal sense. I mean, dropping more than $400 on a set of IEMs is already at the turning point of return on investment. It really does depend on how willing you are to chase those diminishing returns. I just can't wait for someone, maybe KZ, to put pressure on the market with EST equipped budget options that aren't tuned like an EKG. I'm looking at you, Shuoer and BGVP with your Singer, Tape, Tape Pro, and Zero models. The fact that they include electrets at all is impressive, but their treble is just so weirdly tuned.

Just wait a few years, I'm sure the day will come when we can get EST for cheap. And I don't mean fakely marketed EST like the Shuoer models which are actually electrets/magnetostats instead of legit EST.

Just 3 - 4 years back, a single driver western IEM would be around $100USD, a multi driver would be $250 or north of that. Nowadays we are so blessed to get budget hybrids below $30 USD that don't sound that bad. We are already in a kinda golden age for CHIFI IEMs, budget/midfi CHIFI have already caught up or overtaken western/boutique brands in terms of price to performance ratio. No need to sell a kidney to fund this hobby now.

One can even argue CHIFI is breaching the TOTL segment eg DUNU LUNA, QDC Anole VX, those sets can stand toe to toe with western SUMMITFI brands, so I'm sure market forces will make it a survival of the fittest kinda thing, especially in this covid economy. Some western brands have been affected quite badly by covid, like being sold off or not doing well eg Sennheiser, Audiofly etc. But one thing CHIFI needs to get more consistency is in the area of QC. The sneaky thing is that most of the western brands are made in China anyways, but I think these western brands have a bit more focus on QC before they release their stuff, due to the need to maintain their branding image. CHIFI is kinda fly by night for some smaller companies, getting warranty and returns may be a problem, but hopefully it will improve, especially for the more established CHIFI brands.
 
Jul 9, 2021 at 1:05 AM Post #56,053 of 56,712

mndless

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Just wait a few years, I'm sure the day will come when we can get EST for cheap. And I don't mean fakely marketed EST like the Shuoer models which are actually electrets/magnetostats instead of legit EST.

Just 3 - 4 years back, a single driver western IEM would be around $100USD, a multi driver would be $250 or north of that. Nowadays we are so blessed to get budget hybrids below $30 USD that don't sound that bad. We are already in a kinda golden age for CHIFI IEMs, budget/midfi CHIFI have already caught up or overtaken western/boutique brands in terms of price to performance ratio. No need to sell a kidney to fund this hobby now.

One can even argue CHIFI is breaching the TOTL segment eg DUNU LUNA, QDC Anole VX, those sets can stand toe to toe with western SUMMITFI brands, so I'm sure market forces will make it a survival of the fittest kinda thing, especially in this covid economy. Some western brands have been affected quite badly by covid, like being sold off or not doing well eg Sennheiser, Audiofly etc. But one thing CHIFI needs to get more consistency is in the area of QC. The sneaky thing is that most of the western brands are made in China anyways, but I think these western brands have a bit more focus on QC before they release their stuff, due to the need to maintain their branding image. CHIFI is kinda fly by night for some smaller companies, getting warranty and returns may be a problem, but hopefully it will improve, especially for the more established CHIFI brands.
Absolutely. I don't expect bargain basement EST/electret drivers in the near future. Development takes time, especially if you're serious about releasing a product to really challenge the established TOTL products. But look how far we've come when a relatively recent entrant like Linsoul's Thieaudio can drop $530 IEMs that can legitimately stomp all over IEMs literally three times their price. We're getting there, and we're getting there much faster than anyone reasonably expected us to, and it's so exciting that sometimes you forget how much time these things should take and you develop these unreasonable expectations. The future for the audiophile community is surprisingly bright despite the plague that crushed some of our beloved brands. There's so much to look forward to, and hopefully improvements to QC in the cheaper product segments will be one of those things.
 
Jul 9, 2021 at 3:10 AM Post #56,054 of 56,712

forestitalia

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so you truly hated it. do you have experience with other dark/warm signature sets?
Don't hate anything, plus now Amazon agreed to take the AST back (first time I return a device). Mostly I'm fascinated by the defender of brand around here whatever.
I have another 12 earphones, some from KZ, of which I'm satisfied, ZAX, ZSX, KZ10pro.. DQ6 are warm, warmer signature maybe the Meze Solo, they are quite good.
Surely my expectations were higher passing from 50 to an asking price of 130$, then got a pair of earphones that can't reproduce cymbals properly, is still hi-fi?
 
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Jul 9, 2021 at 3:30 AM Post #56,055 of 56,712

mndless

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Don't hate anything, plus now Amazon agreed to take the AST back (first time I return a device). Mostly I'm fascinated by the defender of brand around here whatever.
I have another 12 earphones, some from KZ, of which I'm satisfied, ZAX, ZSX, KZ10pro.. DQ6 are warm, warmer signature maybe the Meze Solo, they are quite good.
Surely my expectations were higher passing from 50 to an asking price of 130$, then got a pair of earphones that can't reproduce cymbals properly, is still hi-fi?
I noped out just from the graphs. They looked way too weird for me to drop $130 on it. Even if Amazon has excellent customer service, I dislike abusing it due to my own poor choices. I don't much like purchasing earphones that I know ahead of time will require significant EQ to sound right.
 

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