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Toranku's thoughts and impressions on IEMs [Constantly Updated]

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  1. toranku
    Subscribe to the thread for updates :)
    ~CTRL+F to search up specific brands/models~
    Directory of First Impressions and Thoughts
    #1 First Impressions: Astell&Kern x JH Diana IEM
    #2 First Impressions: AAW Canary, Nightingale & ASH (Winter Portafes 2018)
    #3 First Impressions: Jomo Trinity & Dunu DK-4001 (Winter Portafes 2018)
    #4 First Impressions: Periodic Audio's Lineup, NuForce HEM Dynamic & NuForce HEM1 (Winter Portafes 2018)
    #5 First Impressions: New Flipears CIEMs (Winter Portafes 2018)
    #6 My thoughts on: Campfire Solaris
    #7 My thoughts on: Faudio Major
    #8 My thoughts on: JVC/Victor FW10000
    #9 First Impressions: Fender TEN 3
    #10 My thoughts on: Canal Works U77
    #11 First Impressions: AAW x Shozy POLA & AAW AXH Holiday Edition
    #12 My thoughts on: Yamaha EPH-200
    #13 First Impressions: FAudio Passion & Comparison against FAudio Major
    #14 Further thoughts on: JVC/Victor FW10000
    #15 First Impressions: iBasso IT01s
    #16 My thoughts on: Onkyo IEC-3
    #17 My thoughts on: Empire Ears Phantom
    #18 First Impressions: Lime Ears Aether
    #19 First Impressions: Whizzer Kylin
    #20 My thoughts on: PEARS SH3
    #21 First Impressions: Westone UM PRO Series
    #22 My thoughts on: qdc 8 driver series (8SS, 8SH, 8SL & Gemini)
    #23 My thoughts on: RHA CL2
    #24 My thoughts on: Faudio Scale
    #25 First Impressions: Canal Works L32V & L33BB
    #26 First Impressions: JH Lola
    #27 First Impressions: HYLA TE5B & TE5T
    #28 First Impressions: JH Roxanne & JH 16v2
    #29 First Impressions: Ikko OH-1
    #30 First Impressions: 64 Audio U12t
    #31 First Impressions: Jomo Flamenco SE Universal
    #32 First Impressions: Ostry KC07
    #33 My thoughts on: Sony IER-M9 & IER-M7
    #34 Revisited: Flipears Aim, Axis, Redeemer & AXL
    #35 First Impressions: Fender THIRTEEN 6
    #36 First Impressions: Faudio Harmony
    #37 First Impressions: Hidition Viento-R
    #38 First Impressions: Dita Project 71
    #39 First Impressions: Fiio FA7
    #40 First Impressions: Fiio FA1
    #41 First Impressions: Kinera IDUN
    #42 First Impressions: Sony IER-Z1R
    #43 First Impressions: Noble Khan
    #44 First Impressions: NocturnaL Atlantis
    #45 First Impressions: NocturnaL Eden
    #46 First Impressions: Kumitate KL-Meteo
    #47 First Impressions: Kumitate KL-Sirius
    #48 My thoughts on: Beyerdynamic Xelento
    #49 First Impressions: Earsonics Purple
    #50 My thoughts on: AKG N5005
    #51 First Impressions: Azla Orto
    #52 First Impressions: Future Sonics MG5HX

    Directory of Articles
    #1: Ramblings: Clarity, mud, texture & tuning.
    #2: Ramblings: "BA Timbre", Tone & Coherency
    #3 My Personal Test Tracks, Duration Of Testing For Impressions & My Musical Preferences

    What is this thread and blog about?
    This thread contains quick links to my specific posts that contain my thoughts on certain topics. This thread is all about my honest thoughts on things. No paid reviews and no free IEMs received in exchange for reviews. Just my honest thoughts and my honest thoughts only.

    Feel free to ask me anything - I'll try my best to answer if I have the experience.

    Who am I?
    I go by the alias of Toranku. I am a Singaporean audiophile who is mainly interested in IEMs. I currently reside in Japan. With both countries being a very healthy and suitable platform for testing an abundance of IEMs, I am very lucky to have tried out many IEMs and I feel like I am adequately prepared to talk about what I hearing. I currently run everything out of my trusty Onkyo DP-X1.

    Disclaimer and Preferences:
    These are my honest thoughts and is how I hear things. Personally, my sonic preference is sound with a warmer tilt + non-fatiguing treble. Please note that impressions may change over time. Even things like my mood can change how I hear things.

    What will your content cover?
    I will usually write about my first impressions and thoughts on IEMs. I will also do coverage of what I've tried in audio festivals and conventions such as CanJam.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019 at 9:10 AM
  2. toranku
    Reserved in the rare event that I run out of space.
     
  3. toranku
    Update: Transferring my blog posts to the headfi thread. My OG post's links will link directly to my headfi posts. Stay tuned.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
  4. toranku
    I have decided to post my content to this headfi thread straight. Transferring the contents of the blog over. Formatting will be less of a headache anyway.
    First Impressions: Astell&Kern x JH Diana IEM
    [​IMG]

    It’s no secret that AKxJH’s Billy Jean was well received by the Japanese. The Billy Jean was ranked #1 in sales for a couple weeks after its release.

    Enter Diana, another IEM made by the same collaboration. Sporting a bright red metal shell, the Diana sits right at the entrance of E-earphone’s store in Akihabara. Priced at US$800, it creeps into the entry-TOTL realm pricing.

    Build & Construction: Construction feels solid yet light at the same time. Seems suitable as a daily beater.

    Cable: Really impressed with the cable. It features an 8-core wire that is soft yet thick at the same time.

    Sound (first impressions!): Like the typical JH house sound, the IEM is very obviously tuned for a fatigue free experience. I would describe the sound signature as being bass boosted with laid back highs. While such a signature is of my preference, I found that the Diana’s attack was blunt and smeared, perhaps due to having such a dark treble.

    The body of the transients are thick and bodied. Decay is of an average to slow speed. Due to the smeared attack of the Diana, imaging does not seem sharp and precise. However, the IEM is undoubtedly smooth and an easy listen. Its transients reminded me of the EX800ST. Vocals are warm and thick.

    In terms of soundstage, the presentation is certainly very intimate. Everything is thrown right in front of your face. It does seem to layer and separate instruments decently, but I will need more listening time to come to a better conclusion.

    Overall, the IEM is very laidback due to the smooth sound and blunted attacks. Treble fatigue should be non-existent. It sounds as dark as the 334 to me, but with more bass. The Diana is ok…but I honestly expected more for something that carries such a price tag. For something with a similar signature, I think the Westone UM Pro 50 (redesigned) should be considered especially since the Westone is cheaper.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
    gemmoglock and FastAndClean like this.
  5. toranku
    First Impressions: AAW Canary, Nightingale & ASH (Winter Portafes 2018)
    [​IMG]

    AAW’s lineup saw three new faces: Canary, Nightingale and ASH. After hearing the new three, it immediately became apparent to me what AAW’s house sound was. AAW goes for a presence bump (4-5k) with a seemingly great deal of extension at the upper treble. To be honest, I do not like the direction of where they are headed.

    The Canary is a hard to drive, DD + BA + Estat hybrid. I did find it muffled sounding (despite a presence boost!). Bass has decent slam and impact but it sounded wooly and loose a lot of the time. Imaging needs to be sharper especially in a market where people prioritize precision in imagery. Signature seems to be a v-shape from what I am hearing.

    Nightingale, AAW’s new planar shares the same type of sound with the Canary. It’s attack seems soft and lacking impact (at the bass). However, it is of a mid-forward signature. The Nightingale sports vocals filled with air…and at times so much air as if singers had a can of compressed air in their mouth. Vocals did feel unnatural to me. It is a smooth sounding IEM. The most outstanding feature of the Nightingale was it’s soundstage – especially in terms of width. Just stupidly wide.

    ASH is the other new hybrid from AAW. Smooth immediately comes to mind. The IEM seems to have more of a focus in the upper range frequencies. Not my type of tuning. Like the other two, it has vocals that are VERY airy.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
    ezekiel77 and FastAndClean like this.
  6. toranku
    First Impressions: Jomo Trinity & Dunu DK-4001 (Winter Portafes 2018)
    [​IMG]

    Another Singaporean IEM maker, Jomo, introduced the Trinity to the Japanese crowd. The Trinity comes in 2 tunings – Stainless Steel and Brass. Trinity is a DD + BA + Estat hybrid.

    The Stainless Steel model had audible channel imbalance so I am not going to talk about it until I can get my hands on a working unit…

    Jomo Brass, brother to the SS, goes for a huge bass emphasis. It’s aggressive, playful and fun. The bass (and especially the subbass) had just the right slam and impact. It really does not hold back. However, the midrange sounded a little nasal which I am guessing is a consequence of the huge subbass boost. Treble was decent and fine.

    [​IMG]

    Dunu introduced their new IEM, the DK-4001. DK-4001 goes for a upper frequency focused sound which I am not a fan of. Bass has a good snap to it but it came off as wooly. Despite how much treble it had, imaging was hazy. I do think the cable is quite innovative and revolutionary though! The connector at the end of the cable has 4 pins which can be changed from 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm. Makes for easy swapping when you are testing new DAPs.
     
  7. toranku
    First Impressions: Periodic Audio's Lineup, NuForce HEM Dynamic & NuForce HEM1 (Winter Portafes 2018)
    [​IMG]


    Periodic Audio’s IEMs are not a new face in the IEM world. They are budget IEMs that all have a playful bass bump. I really like the concept of using different materials like Beryllium to change the sound.

    Periodic Be really took my breath away. It is stupid fun. Bass slams hard and with massive quantity. However the Be’s bass did feel loose to my ears. Vocals don’t feel too far back compared to the rest of the spectrum. Treble could use a little more crisp and snap to it…but I have no complaints especially for the asking price!

    Periodic Mg is the more laid-back brother to the Be. It is considerably thicker and warmer. I felt that the bass was even more loose compared to the Be and it’s imaging could be a little more precise.

    Periodic Ti is the one with the oddest tonality of all 3. It felt like I was listening to music underwater. Not my cup of tea.

    [​IMG]

    NuForce HEM Dynamic: Hell of a bassy and dark signature. I don’t think this one will sit right with audiophiles. It is way too dark to be even considered. However it does sport a stage tuning – the bass level should go down with loud noise and give a greater balance to the spectrum. It does sound muffled due to the lack of treble I must admit. Vocals are warm and rather forward.

    NuForce HEM1 (1BA): It shows a greater mastery of balance compared to the 1DD. There is only a slight midbass hump and treble is not as rolled off. However it being a BA configuration, bass can get limp especially with the deeper subbass registers. But for $85? With it’s super comfortable shape and great isolation? I am recommending this over the traditional UIEM stage monitor: the Shure SE215! Of course there are so much chifi options under $100 nowadays…but I doubt that most of them will be truly as comfortable as the HEM1. The HEM1 has warm vocals that are brought forward. With it’s inoffensive and easy-to-listen sound, I think this IEM is great for the gym or for budget-conscious musicians.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
  8. toranku
    First Impressions: New Flipears CIEMs (Winter Portafes 2018)
    [​IMG]

    Flipears is a CIEM maker hailing from the Philippines. I was a fan of the tuning of the 6BA Axis and was hoping they take it up a notch.

    Flipears Redeemer (8BA): I picked this one up first since it is the successor to the Axis. The signature is rather “balanced” sounding with a slightly boosted bass. However I did find that the Redeemer’s transients were a smeared. This smearing issue was a small problem with the Axis since the Axis was heavy and thick, but it makes the Redeemer sound “low-res” with its more balanced sound. It needs more sharpness to its attack. Meh otherwise.

    Flipears Ace (16BA): The staff behind Flipears told me that they brought along the Ace (16BA) and the Alpha (14BA) for the show but they are not officially released into the Japanese market. I was curious what they are going to do with 16BAs, so I tried it immediately after Redeemer.

    The Flipears Ace has a big sound. Bass is boosted and vocals are thrown forward in the mix, causing the treble to be laid-back. Very in-your-face presentation, like the Axis. While the midrange was nice and warm, imaging was hazy and undefined. Bass sounded wooly. However it does have decent distance on instrumental separation and it gives the impression of a big stage.

    Flipears Axl (10BA): Similar to the Ace, but now with less bass as well as a midrange that is skewed towards more neutrality rather than warmth. Midrange is just as forward, but bass takes a step back.

    Flipears Alpha (14BA): Similar to Axl but now with more treble.

    Further thoughts on Flipears: Flipear’s house sound is painfully obvious. Every model seems to sound similar to each other. It’s as if they just added drivers to boost certain frequencies and called it a day and built their lineup from there. I can’t say I am a fan. The house sound goes for a intimate presentation but the imaging tends to be undefined and hazy.
     
    patzispatz likes this.
  9. toranku
    My thoughts on: Campfire Solaris

    I forgot to take a picture whoops

    I have previously tried the Solaris at Headphone Festival. In the Festival, the Solaris first sounded "balanced", with the upper mids and treble seeing a small boost in the FR as well as a nicely extended subbass. The subbass has good control and wasnt overshadowing anything in quantity.

    However, I can't say that is the case anymore. The Solaris at E-earphones sounded quite trebly and is skewed to the higher frequencies to quite a great extent. I did not remember the Solaris being this bright. Unit variance seems to be a real problem with the Solaris. The Solaris I tried earlier had BA-sounding vocals. While having a small "presence" edge/boost, vocals (especially female) felt very weightless and hollow whilst being thrown a little more forward into the mix. However, I have to say that the size of the stage is commendable. Rather expansive with lots of space as well as depth. Imaging is sharp and pretty precise. The bass however, sounded very limp and lacking as a whole. As such the entire unit sounded borderline harsh with the treble energy + upper midrange forwardness.

    I honestly am not sure what type of genre best fits solaris. The BA timbre comes in really strong and instruments feel fake majority of the time. When females sung, I just wanted them to stop. The hollowness bugs me. In terms of technicalities I do think its rather capable. Just needs some retuning.


     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
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  10. toranku
    My thoughts on: Faudio Major
    [​IMG]

    This is not my first time listening to the Major. It's my fourth time actually. The Major is a u-shaped IEM that is extremely smooth. The tonality is on the neutral side of things. Now, I've heard a lot of u-shaped IEMs. One of the problems that U-shaped iems tend to have is being thin. The Major however, does not sound thin to me. The thickness is rather "standard" and "average". I think that it is due to its smoothness that a lot of Japanese people like them. When cymbals are struck, you cant really hear the shimmer at all. Its VERY smoothed out. The texture is like water (outside of basslines of course). Treble peaks are not spikey and its pleasing.

    The Major does have a boosted subbass extension. I do think that due to how much extension it has on the subbass, vocals can sometimes feel "underwater", albeit not to a very noticeable degree. It's just very slight - something that I don't like about the 64 N8. The midbass is slightly lifted which helps it to sound more energetic. Basslines rumble in the background of my rock songs - something I am very happy to hear.

    In terms of soundstage and imaging, I think it is where this iem truly shines. Stage is very wide and has nice depth and height to it. Imaging and positional cues are very accurate as well - sometimes the width is so much that it feels like its playing beside my ears. However, I think that this IEM may not have enough bite/edge in the upper midrange and treble for some due to how smoothed out it is, and I would say that its smoothness is a love it or hate it thing.

    Overall a very well thought out and executed IEM in my opinion. Definitely more balanced sounding than the Solaris due to the smooth u-shape signature.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
    deafdoorknob and ahmedie like this.
  11. Snekismyfriend
    So do you think it's FLAWLESS?
     
  12. toranku
    Haha, just needs another 200 more hours of burn in...

    I will revisit this again as often as I can to validate/affirm my impressions though.
     
  13. toranku
    My thoughts on: JVC/Victor FW10000
    [​IMG]

    It's my fifth time trying the FW10K. This release from JVC received quite a lot of praise from the Japanese, with people touting a rich and emotional sound. JVC probably released this in anticipation of the Z1R...

    I disagree. I'm personally perceiving it as to having quite a lot of focus on the upper frequencies. Yes there is warmth, but the setup somehow sounds like a multi-BA setup. To some extent, I even found vocals a little thin. One thing I have to give it credit for is that it does have quite good width. Vocals are centered and imaging at the sides are precise with good bite/attack. It does have depth but I do feel that there needs to be more bass. It's a little too limp sounding to be honest. Vocals sound like they have too much "presence". Very transient-led presentation that has a focus on the upper frequencies. Not a fan.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
  14. toranku
    First Impressions: Fender TEN 3
    [​IMG]

    I don't think I've had a good experience with Fender IEMs to be honest. Most of them sound rather average. I do also find that they are tuned towards having good bite on the upper midrange. I doubt they are targetting the audiophile, but the guitar musician. One thing that stuck out to me immediately was the tips. Just why Fender. Why is it a good idea to have sticky-feeling tips. I dont like sticky tips in my ears. I cant believe it's an intentional design. Another thing that struck out to my was the colored cable. The L and R are colored blue and red respectively! Good touch on that. They also have quite a long nozzle which promotes a deep of a fit as possible, and that might cause some fit problems with people who have more shallow ears.

    On to the sound. It has a sound that's somewhere U to V-shaped. Male vocals are noticeably recessed right from the start. It does have a decent subbass boost and midbass feel rather neutral. However the upper midrange and treble is definitely lifted. The tonal balance is skewed towards the upper frequencies. Female vocals actually sounded thin and shrill to me and as expected, guitars have a great bite. Somewhat smooth sound. Imaging is rather average. Stage is a little bigger than a typical multi-ba iem. It is the opposite of my ideal tuning preference so I can't say that I am a fan of it.

    Waiting on you fender to produce something worthwhile for us audiophiles...
     
  15. toranku
    My thoughts on: Canal Works U77
    [​IMG]

    Ah. I finally arrive at Canal Works. Canal Works is a japanese iem maker. Since Japan's (japanese made) ciems are mostly dominated by fitear, brands that are not fitear have to find ways to differentiate themselves. Onkyo has tried it and the results are meh. Kumitate produces hybrids and interesting, niche iems. Lets look at how CW does their magic. Currently, CW does multi-BA iems. They have a PSTS tuning system that allows the changing of resistor values to manipulate sound. In addition, CW has the L07QD+ model where 5 BAs are put together with no cross over and there is a bass driver added for increased bass. How will their TOTL iem sound in a non-PSTS universal?

    The L77 is their TOTL monitor meant for rock. The L72 on the other hand, is more neutral. The U77 is the L77 in a uni form, and it includes a beautiful metal nozzle which the L77 does not have. I've found that the U77 has slightly more upper mids and treble than the L77 too. The U77 has a slightly warm tonality. Signature is a boosted treble with a slightly boosted bass. It's made for rock (especially jrock) and the tuning is very apparent in that aspect. Subbass is rather neutral. Cymbals are pretty satisfying to hear - enough shimmer, body and decay. Female vocals have a lightly warm tilt and are sweet. Vocals dont sound shrill or thin to me even though its a moderately v-shaped response. Imaging can honestly be improved (it just lacks that 5%!) and some may find fault with its somewhat BA-like sound.

    Overall very pleasant and well executed slight v-shape designed for rock. It's also pretty good for genres like pop in my opinion. It definitely favors japanese vocals over thicker western vocals. CW takes a more generic approach to their house sound imo. I think fitear and kumitate have more interesting lineups that have a lot of niche type of sounds.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
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