A good point.Budget reference in the same vein as the Aria was the king of the $80 IEMs and hyped beyond hyped. You either like or not like.
I owned both and I do not own either today. There are other, perhaps, more polarizing but better to my ear choices. Titan S over the Aria, even with it's over the top pinna gain and The Mecha Warrior C2 over the Waner, if you can handle the lower treble. Yet both of the aforementioned hypebot iems are safe starting points for folks to find out what they like.
As for Crin, I do respect his ratings as they lay out over a possible spectrum, with some ranked really low and some really high but distrbuted in a way that resembles reality perhaps?
So many people here rank lots of stuff 4 or higher out of 5 but find all kind of faults. Kinda like the folk at Beer Advocate rating a beer 4 out of 5 but say they would never buy it again. Kinda makes the reviewer pretty much useless.
I have Aria, and while not exactly my favourite tuning, I could clearly see that Aria was (and even now is) a good reference for DD tuning, and under-$100 IEMs.
Not that I expected a lot from Wan'er, and I bought it on positive impressions from Princess Le, but then it is still notably underwhelming relative to all recent budget IEMs that I tried: Hola, JIU, LinLong and even Princess Le. The latter had more tamed treble rather than trying to get more of it in Wan'er and hit the limitations of the driver.
I will test later with Chesky's Spanish Harlem and Correnteza and few different sources.I find the Wan'er absolutely amazing with vocals for the price. Of course it's not the most dynamic nor resolving. It also looks nice and fits well. Stock cable isn't good.
Judging by common experience of changing $1k+ cables to fine-tune the sound with those TOTLs - there must be a lot of scam and a lot of mass-hype to me.Well, in current days of the tiers gap getting slimmer and slimmer - aren't they a "scam"*? Or at least most of them.
I pereonally have really hard time in past few weeks telling what is the edge that 2,5 years old flagship UM Mest OG has over 250$ Quintet. Such a stellar set
*not a scam from the dictionary description as you get what you pay for, but a "pseudo scam" in a way that they are completely unjustified in price. I mean based on the tuning or technicalities as compared to lower tier ones which tend to sometimes be tuned or built better or have better "technicalities"
Edit: obviously it is all purely subjective, but I strongly believe that if you strip a lot of IEMs from price tag and premium packaging a lot of tier lists would be shuffled heavily in a surprising ways. Minds and our own expectations and biases play a lot of tricks on us, me included
Also, there are people whining about TOTLs worst then about KZ. So I am sure I enjoyed Krila more than many of them their totls.
Then, exactly, sending the same IEM to reviewers, in two different shells - one branded "KZ" and another by their favourite sponsoring brand - would be devastatingly revealing test.
Sure! I thought that I would get $600 worth of this deal and bought twoRemember when KZ build authentic sub300$ killers?
On a more serious note, AS12 was the case where the later version has been significantly revised. Earlier copies have brutal treble BAs (never used ever since) strongly dampened (and I removed the dampeners for the ultimate treble experience - my hardcore reference), while the BA bass was really nice.
The later version (changed quietly at some time) came much more refined.
In any case, AS16 pro largely supersedes for $45, at least as a starter all-BA IEM.