Precog's IEM Reviews & Impressions
Apr 3, 2021 at 9:49 PM Post #481 of 1,078

Precogvision

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Meetup Notes 4/3/20​


Met up with @MRS today and got to hear some new stuff. As usual, these impressions were derived from quick listening sessions of 15-20 minutes each. Don't expect anything crazy in-depth, and this stuff is subject to change.

DUNU EST112:

graph-4.png

Thankfully, this is no Zen (or maybe that’s not such a great thing if you enjoyed the Zen). As a whole, the tuning here is solid if not a tad strident; I think 3-5kHz could have been dialed back some. There’s actual treble extension on the EST112 even if it’s decidedly lacking in some post-10kHz energy. Coherency is mostly an issue within the context of the DD contrasted to the midrange BA. The DD being used is poofy and a tad too uncontrolled. Imaging sounds more open than some of Dunu’s previous designs. While not to the level of refinement that the SA6 exhibits, I think this is a pretty solid package for what you're getting.

Earfun Oluv Edition:

graph-5.png

Despite the sound demos in the promotional video sounding absolutely nothing like any of the IEMs that were showcased, I will be the first to admit that this IEM has a pretty decent tuning. It’s inoffensive. It reminds me of the ER2XR in some respects; however, minus any of the ER2XR’s technical chops to back it up. Along these lines, even by TWS standards, this IEM has really poor technicalities. Quality-control seems to need work too, as there’s an audible channel imbalance going on with the unit I heard.

Moondrop Aria:

graph-7.png

If you’ve heard one of the Moondrop 1DD IEMs, suffice it to say you’ve basically heard them all. That said, there are small differences here and there between them. The Aria has the most bass quantity and the most relaxed upper-midrange; it’s even smoother, warmer than the Starfield. Terrific timbre as expected. There are more minute intangible differences between the Moondrop 1DDs, but I'd need more listening time to attest to them confidently. Nonetheless, it goes without saying that I like the Aria. It's difficult to complain when Moondrop undercuts themselves again, and the included KXXX cable is the cherry on top.

Moondrop Illumination:

graph-6.png

Well, here’s a doozy, and not the good kind. The Illumination’s tonality is pretty alright if not too upper-midrange oriented for my tastes. But the Illumination’s technicalities are lacking. And I mean really lacking for $800. Basic macro-detail sounds smeared with instruments colliding, mushing into one another like there’s no tomorrow. There’s something wonky about the imaging too with which it sounds like soundstage depth is being compressed. Moondrop’s own SSR giving the Illumination a run for its money in the technical department at a mere 1/20th the cost is, uh, not pretty. Seriously, I'd take any of the Moondrop 1DD derivatives over this.

Prisma Audio Azul:

graph-8.png

This is the brainchild of Australia-based DIY-er “veebee” on Discord. Sporting a mere 2BAs, the Azul takes on a “less is more” approach. It follows a reference oriented curve that harkens to the Etymotic ER4XR. Bass is expectedly limp, the midrange is lean, and treble is fairly splashy. Technicalities, though, are surprisingly refined given this is a 2BA setup; perhaps less “flat” sounding in the macrodynamic department than the ER4XR and not nearly as dark. Like most reference oriented IEMs, sheer resolution is the Azul's strong point; on the flip side, I would point to a lack of center image distinction being the biggest issue here. In short? If you enjoy a reference curve and object to having the depths of your canals plunged by Etymotic’s infamous triple flanges, then you might want to give this IEM a listen.

Scores:

Dunu EST112: 5/10
Earfun Oluv Edition: 3/10
Moondrop Aria: 5/10
Moondrop Illumination: 4/10
Prisma Audio Azul: 5/10
 
Apr 3, 2021 at 10:14 PM Post #482 of 1,078

InvisibleInk

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Meetup Notes 4/3/20​


Met up with @MRS today and got to hear some new stuff. As usual, these impressions were derived from quick listening sessions of 15-20 minutes each. Don't expect anything crazy in-depth, and this stuff is subject to change.

DUNU EST112:

graph-4.png

Thankfully, this is no Zen (or maybe that’s not such a great thing if you enjoyed the Zen). As a whole, the tuning here is solid if not a tad strident; I think 3-5kHz could have been dialed back some. There’s actual treble extension on the EST112 even if it’s decidedly lacking in some post-10kHz energy. Coherency is mostly an issue within the context of the DD contrasted to the midrange BA. The DD being used is poofy and a tad too uncontrolled. Imaging sounds more open than some of Dunu’s previous designs. While not to the level of refinement that the SA6 exhibits, I think this is a pretty solid package for what you're getting.

Earfun Oluv Edition:

graph-5.png

Despite the sound demos in the promotional video sounding absolutely nothing like any of the IEMs that were showcased, I will be the first to admit that this IEM has a pretty decent tuning. It’s inoffensive. It reminds me of the ER2XR in some respects; however, minus any of the ER2XR’s technical chops to back it up. Along these lines, even by TWS standards, this IEM has really poor technicalities. Quality-control seems to need work too, as there’s an audible channel imbalance going on with the unit I heard.

Moondrop Aria:

graph-7.png

If you’ve heard one of the Moondrop 1DD IEMs, suffice it to say you’ve basically heard them all. That said, there are small differences here and there between them. The Aria has the most bass quantity and the most relaxed upper-midrange; it’s even smoother, warmer than the Starfield. Terrific timbre as expected. There are more minute intangible differences between the Moondrop 1DDs, but I'd need more listening time to attest to them confidently. Nonetheless, it goes without saying that I like the Aria. It's difficult to complain when Moondrop undercuts themselves again, and the included KXXX cable is the cherry on top.

Moondrop Illumination:

graph-6.png

Well, here’s a doozy, and not the good kind. The Illumination’s tonality is pretty alright if not too upper-midrange oriented for my tastes. But the Illumination’s technicalities are lacking. And I mean really lacking for $800. Basic macro-detail sounds smeared with instruments colliding, mushing into one another like there’s no tomorrow. There’s something wonky about the imaging too with which it sounds like soundstage depth is being compressed. Moondrop’s own SSR giving the Illumination a run for its money in the technical department at a mere 1/20th the cost is, uh, not pretty. Seriously, I'd take any of the Moondrop 1DD derivatives over this.

Prisma Audio Azul:

graph-8.png

This is the brainchild of Australia-based DIY-er “veebee” on Discord. Sporting a mere 2BAs, the Azul takes on a “less is more” approach. It follows a reference oriented curve that harkens to the Etymotic ER4XR. Bass is expectedly limp, the midrange is lean, and treble is fairly splashy. Technicalities, though, are surprisingly refined given this is a 2BA setup; perhaps less “flat” sounding in the macrodynamic department than the ER4XR and not nearly as dark. Like most reference oriented IEMs, sheer resolution is the Azul's strong point; on the flip side, I would point to a lack of center image distinction being the biggest issue here. In short? If you enjoy a reference curve and object to having the depths of your canals plunged by Etymotic’s infamous triple flanges, then you might want to give this IEM a listen.

Scores:

Dunu EST112: 5/10
Earfun Oluv Edition: 3/10
Moondrop Aria: 5/10
Moondrop Illumination: 4/10
Prisma Audio Azul: 5/10
That Prisma graph looks good. I'll have to investigate this one further. Thanks!
 
Apr 4, 2021 at 2:35 AM Post #485 of 1,078

Precogvision

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What is the meaning of splashy treble? Which has leaner mids, ER4XR or Azul?

Prisma (Azul) discord here if you guys are curious https://discord.gg/ZsfScxrn

Hmm, perhaps something similar to the quality that the Viento-B exhibits where there is a "ring" after treble instruments hit. But by contrast, the Azul's treble seems less decay oriented. I think Animus mentioned something about the initial attack extending further than it should, thus lending to overt emphasis on hits. So I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's more of an intangible thing with the Azul given that there also isn't a peak showing on the graph like the Viento-B.

About which has leaner mids between the ER4XR and Azul, I honestly couldn't say. I haven't heard the ER4XR in quite some time.
 
Apr 4, 2021 at 9:24 PM Post #486 of 1,078

Precogvision

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Audio Lokahi Impressions

...yeah, no joke, this company’s name is “Audio”. If you’re not familiar with Audio, they are a DIY-er that’s been making a name for himself on the overseas market. I believe he also go under the handle “Violator73”. This unit was kindly loaned by @tgx78 for review.

graph-3.png

The tonal balance of the Lokahi leans more U-shaped to my ears for reasons I’ll delve into shortly. Everything preceding the treble can be considered well-tuned. You have your controlled bass shelf, flat lower-midrange, and relatively neutral upper-midrange. The bass itself is decent for BA. The extra mid-bass is satisfying; however, it lends to hints of that “farty” BA quality on more bass-intensive tracks. Texturing seems above average with more “grit” to bass notes than your standard BA monitor. Slam is middling, clearly falling behind the SoftEars RSV I have on-hand and sounding much more dry in timbre. The midrange follows suit. As well as it’s been tuned, I hear that characteristic transient edginess, that dreaded BA timbre. Still, I’ve certainly heard much worse on these fronts.

Treble is where things get interesting. The Lokahi is a very airy and treble-intensive IEM. Running a sine-sweep by ear, there are audible peaks at 5kHz, 8kHz, 11kHz, 14kHz, and 16kHz. Yeah. Some of these are more pronounced than others (namely 5kHz, 8kHz, and 16kHz); nonetheless, I don’t need to tell you that’s the equivalent of a treble rollercoaster. On the bright side (no pun intended), the extension and sheer air here is commendable. I do not think I have heard such an airy, raw treble response from an IEM at this price point. But the sheer magnitude is dubious; like so, it cannot be considered natural and it borders on disconcerting over prolonged listening to my younger ears.

Now onto the intangibles. For an IEM sporting no less than 7 BA drivers, the Lokahi is surprisingly, well, not particularly detailed. I say this in the sense that it’s not necessarily an issue of transient attack - resolution and speed are good - so much as it is a general lack of internal, true detail. Imaging is also not a big standout to my ears despite the excessive upper-harmonic air. Instruments do not have that elusive “floaty” quality, and staging is sonic-walled by extension. We’re certainly out of three-blob territory though, and positional cues are rendered better than average. In terms of macrodynamics, the Lokahi suffers from the flat, overly-loud quality that plagues most BA IEMs; the excess of treble air probably doesn't aid this perception. In all, one could say that the Lokahi is technically competent, although the driver-spam leaves a bad taste when you've stuff like the Prisma Azul and the ER4XR giving the Lokahi a run for its money in the technical department.

Of course, everything is relative. I cannot ignore the price, as IEMs like the Lokahi are largely predicated on “punching above their weight”. At $120? The Lokahi would be an excellent value. But at $240 - the current MSRP and double the initial cost - expectations rise considerably. Under something like Crinacle’s metrics, sure, the Lokahi can comfortably play ball in its price bracket and then some. But I will be blunt: Head-to-head, I still prefer the Etymotic ER2XR and the Moondrop KXXS, the mainstays of the $200 bracket. I do not think the Lokahi matches these IEMs for coherency and that special sauce factor on my bias scale. Still, there is a certain rawness - like that of an unpolished gem - to the Lokahi’s sound that will no doubt appeal to some listeners. And at the very least, the Lokahi is a good IEM, a commendable effort from the rookie brand. Recommended - just don't expect a giant killer.

Score: 6/10
 
Apr 9, 2021 at 9:03 AM Post #487 of 1,078

SteveK27

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@Precogvision
Hope you get to review the upcoming thieaudio Excalibur and Oracle.
Really curious about your take on these two iems
 
Apr 9, 2021 at 8:11 PM Post #489 of 1,078

Precogvision

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@Precogvision I've been reading some of your reviews. Is there an output impedance that you prefer for the Andromeda 2020? Would you use high or ultra on iematch normally? Thank you!

Hey, I would say that I prefer a lower-impedance source for more bass. It might seem funny, but the High setting on the IEMatch is actually far too loud for me by the time sound starts coming from both channels, so I'm relegated to the Ultra setting by default. Most of my listening on the Andro 2020 gets done off of the Apple dongle these days. Hope this helps :)

@SteveK27
Sorry, missed this. I'll probably hear them eventually, although it's hard to say when.
 
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Apr 10, 2021 at 11:23 AM Post #491 of 1,078

twiceboss

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Had a quick meet-up with MRS today and listened to a few IEMs. These are just brief impressions, as I only spent about 15-20 minutes with each IEM and didn't get around to graphing them either.

Audiosense AQ7: Here's a strong contender for one of the wonkiest IEMs that I've heard in recent memory. So what's the best way of going about this? Bass is largely sub-bass oriented, shelving off at around 300hZ or so. The lower-midrange is on the leaner side, but male vocalists don't sound thin at all. Listening to Rodney Atkin's "Watching You," the macro-detail to his voice is exceptional. But here's where things get messy; the ear compensation is far too aggressive, and its followed by a strong dip throughout the upper-midrange. Female vocalists sound like...they're almost floating? The imaging on this IEM is also all sorts of wonk; while incision, perhaps, is not poor, positioning cannot be considered remotely accurate. Detail is quite decent on the AQ7. Definitely a memorable IEM, but for all the wrong reasons.

Audiosense DT200: Yeah, this one makes a whole lot more "sense" I think. It doesn't have the detail of its older brother, the AQ7, but the tonality is much more pleasant here. Leans warmer, maybe something of a bassier IEM by virtue of not having a lot of treble. It doesn't quite roll-off completely, but expectedly, treble extension and technicalities are where this IEM needs work.

BGVP DM8: These are pretty decent actually. Bass is heavily mid-bass emphasized which lends to the perception of slam - I know it fooled me for a moment - until you hear the decay. Midrange is fairly balanced, slightly upper-midrange leaning. Treble is this IEM's strongest suit; the DM8 is very smooth post-5kHz, and thankfully not in a "this rolls off into the abyss" sense. Color me impressed here. Technicalities are about to be expected; average imaging, layering, the works. I think this is a likable enough IEM despite how it might graph.

Final Audio E500: Very surprising. It's not an MH755 contender - much less killer - but this is a pretty sweet IEM for $20. Whereas the MH755 is a considerably sub-bass oriented IEM, the E500 acts as a foil, leaning much more heavily toward mid-bass. The midrange, in a very un-Final Audio fashion, is actually not a shouty train wreck and sounds less forward than on the MH755. Treble seems to have something of a similar lower-treble tilt, extension is equidistant (so generally not great). Technicality-wise, I would give a slight edge to the MH755. I haven't been a big fan of any of Final Audio's IEMs; how ironic that their cheapest IEM would be the one to win me over.

Sennheiser IE 300: I had hopes for these, but alas, reality is often disappointing. They lean strongly V-shaped with far too many quirks moving into the upper-midrange and treble. Female vocals are husky and sibilant. Treble is "tinny" in that it reminds me of listening to rain hit an aluminum roof. I guess in some respects, it does harken to the Sennheiser "house sound" (oh hello, HD800S). Bass is probably the saving grace here - and there's quite a bit of it - but even then, these IEMs do not nearly merit their price of entry in this reviewer's opinion.

VSonic GR07 (Bass Edition): Apparently this was a pretty popular IEM back in the day. It's one of the most in-head IEMs that I've heard in terms of center image distinction. Don't have much else to say; I spent a couple of minutes with it and moved on.

Scores:

Audiosense AQ72
Audiosense DT2004
BGVP DM85
Final Audio E5004
Sennheiser IE 3003
VSonic GR07 (Bass Edition)2

Sony IER-Z1R re-visited for review and Thieaudio Voyager 14 impressions next week if I have time.
well there you go my fav cheapest IEM E500. The tuning is outstanding for that price. Im not a subbass kind of person so I do take E500 any day than mh755, even sub $300 ...
 
Apr 11, 2021 at 7:31 AM Post #492 of 1,078

CharlyBrown

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Erlkonig [6/10]

Vision Ear's 13BA, $4500 IEM made out of actual silver. The Erlkonig sports an adjustable tuning switch; unfortunately, the first two settings are pretty much unusable for my preferences because what little treble the Erlkonig has is inundated and bass transient attack takes on a noticeable level of blunting. Settings 3 and 4 are more balanced. The Erlkonig is highly resolving with good amounts of staging chops, but stumbles on the micro-dynamic side of things in the midrange where transient attack takes on something of a dull, in-limbo quality.
This is a huge surprise to me, given all the tremendous praise this IEM gets from many owners. My conclusion is that many manufacturers build „Special Editions“ or „Limited Editions“ just to generate hype and artificially create IEMs with a „magical“ touch.
 
Apr 11, 2021 at 7:52 AM Post #493 of 1,078

Strifeff7

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Hey, I would say that I prefer a lower-impedance source for more bass. It might seem funny, but the High setting on the IEMatch is actually far too loud for me by the time sound starts coming from both channels, so I'm relegated to the Ultra setting by default. Most of my listening on the Andro 2020 gets done off of the Apple dongle these days. Hope this helps :)

@SteveK27
Sorry, missed this. I'll probably hear them eventually, although it's hard to say when.
any ETA on the Mest Mk2 review ?
 
Apr 11, 2021 at 12:22 PM Post #494 of 1,078

Precogvision

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This is a huge surprise to me, given all the tremendous praise this IEM gets from many owners. My conclusion is that many manufacturers build „Special Editions“ or „Limited Editions“ just to generate hype and artificially create IEMs with a „magical“ touch.

Yup, that’s pretty much why anything limited or special edition comes out! Of course, this is not to say it’s necessarily a bad thing, as consumers generally want it too. About the Erlkonig, and just VE IEMs in general, I would say I’m not a big fan of their house-sound which certainly doesn’t help in this case either.

any ETA on the Mest Mk2 review ?

*Supposedly* one is getting shipped out to my boss, Taron. Should work its way to me eventually, but no ETA.
 
Apr 11, 2021 at 12:32 PM Post #495 of 1,078

HiFiHawaii808

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This is a huge surprise to me, given all the tremendous praise this IEM gets from many owners. My conclusion is that many manufacturers build „Special Editions“ or „Limited Editions“ just to generate hype and artificially create IEMs with a „magical“ touch.
Think about it. Have you ever heard many negative comments from anyone who bought an IEM that cost over $3000? It's hard for the brain to handle the cognitive dissonance associated with spending over $4000 on something that sucks. At a minimum, they probably don't want anyone to know that they did it. If you are a professional reviewer, are you likely to trash a crappy IEM that cost over $4000? Probably not if you want them to ever provide you with another review unit. In addition, you are not likely to buy one at that price. So, the impressions of high end IEMs tend to skew toward shill levels.

edited to note: This is why I love @Precogvision. He's too young and naive to do anything but tell the truth about what he hears. He's honest and doesn't care much about politics. He is influenced by smart reviewers since he often times will hedge his comments in deference to differing professional opinions. But, he will always point out the negatives about what he hears. He does it in context, though, which differentiates him from some other reviewers who don't provide their negative comments in context. The truth is that every IEM has pros and cons and we should know what those are so we can make informed choices about what we buy.
 
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