Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by Griffon, Nov 1, 2015.
Took the Fiio on vacation and had the same experience. Really disappointed.
I have a set arriving today. I’m hoping you guys have Vulcan ears or something. I’ll give it some time over the weekend. If fit is that bad, it’s going back.
Oh man the fit sucks. I don’t like it. The over ear cable portion is just too short. Even if it wasn’t pre-shaped, it’s too tight to get comfortable and it pulls the housing at an angle. Maybe I could get used to it but I don’t want too.
No issues with mmcx connectors, and it sounded good enough.
For the last seven months or so, I've been sampling the <$50 options from China. I wanted to (1) figure out which pair would be the best recommendation for the average, non-audiophile listener, aka my friends who are also into music but unwilling to drop cash on good headphones and/or do so without consulting me and end up buying godawful abominations, and (2) give away the pairs I didn't care for/justify keeping as Christmas gifts. Here are some quick thoughts in no particular order. Keep in mind that I like warm and dark, most of my setups are warm and dark, so my perception of what is neutral or bright or whatever may be skewed.
CCA C10: These were actually some of my favorites of all the cheap IEMs I heard. They were tuned to be generally warm and relaxed, with decent clarity and dynamics across the board. A tiny bit congested during very busy passages, but otherwise very impressive control, extension, and imaging for the price. I could imagine people paying hundreds for this kind of sound a few years ago. They're not perfect, but for my tastes, they don't do anything wrong and that's not something I can say about a large majority of headphones regardless of price. I would enthusiastically recommend these for non-audiophiles, and audiophiles who like warm headphones and want a cheap beater pair.
Tin Audio T2: While I think these are still more than good enough to blow the mind of someone used to airpods, I also don't really think they're worth the money given all the other options. They're good, don't get me wrong, but they can be a little bright and aggressive and don't have the bass performance of some of the competition. These would be my go-to for someone who was opposed to the over-ear wrap, which would be a stupid position to take but it's the only thing I can think of that makes the T2 stand out among this crowd. They are more than enough to knock the socks off of people who have never heard how good headphones can really be, but I can't really recommend them given the competition.
KZ ZS10 Pro: These score pretty decently in a few areas like resolve, dynamics, staging, and have some very impressive performance for the price. What kills them for me is that they seem to have a sub-bass and high treble boost, as though the designers at KZ were trying to envision a neutral sound signature but the concept of not boosting the low and high ends at least a little bit was just out of reach. This kind of screws the tonality and makes them sound kind of wonky, and the treble sounds kinda thin and brittle next to better headphones, although I suspect that most casual listeners would never notice or care (I suggested them to a friend before I'd heard some of the other better pairs, and he described them as being very rich and deep, and I resolved not to tell him once I heard some of the others). That said, I'm not sure I'd recommend the average non-audiophile spend money on them when the CCA C10 and BLON BL-03 are also available.
KZ ZSX: These are actually pretty decent. To understand how massive of a compliment that is, you have to understand that I usually have a violently negative reaction to V-shaped headphones. I fucking hate V-shaped sound signatures, I hate them so much. I hate how stupid and thin and fucked up and unnatural they sound. I hate getting the vocals and strings to the volume I want only to be assaulted by bass and treble. In any case, I went ahead and took a chance on these anyway. These go into the category of being the second pair of V-shaped headphones I didn't absolutely hate, the other being the JVC HA-FX850 which managed to maintain a pretty dense and organic timbre in spite of the recessed midrange, but I still didn't like them and I sold them. I like the ZSX. They have not just clarity dynamics staging etc etc, but they also have a finesse and subtlety that I don't find in any of the other headphones on this list (they also image better than the rest). The bass is gloriously satisfying and skull rattling while still being very clean. The treble is surprisingly quite good, surprisingly smooth and clear for being accentuated, not harsh or brittle at all. The midrange is tolerable for the right music. It's not disgustingly thin and unnatural, but it definitely sounds best with electronic or similar music... but sometimes I want skullfucking bass and am willing to give up a small bit of the midrange to get it. These were actually keepers, and recommended for casual listeners and even people who usually hate V-shaped sound signatures.
BLON BL-03: I've had these for the least amount of time, but I listened to three different albums with them today and feel I have a pretty good grasp on what they're about. These aren't the most detailed or dynamic pair of headphones on the list (that's not to say that they're lacking), but I do feel that they are the most organic and natural sounding. These scratch the same warm, relaxed itch as the CCA C10, and I like them a lot. I wish I still had the CCA C10 to compare, but I gifted them for Christmas. Oh well. These are good and fun and an easy recommendation.
Rock Zircon: The fuck? These are god awful. I wonder if I got a knockoff or something, but who would knock off a $12 headphone? I wanted to like these because I did my dissertation on zircon, but half of the sound is treble and the other half is mud. Zero out of five stars. I could never give these away to my loved ones, they all deserve better than this.
Still haven't tried the TRN BA5, but they're up next (and probably the last pair of cheap shit I'm spending my money on for a while). I get the feeling that they'll be good but that I'll also feel like they're too neutral for non-audiophiles. Oh well, I might like 'em and keep for myself.
Sources: LG V40 via UAPP, xDuoo X10TII > Chord Mojo
Other IEMs: Aurisonics ASG-1+, Etymotics ER4XR, Moondrop KXXS
So I've had the Moondrop KXXS for about a week and while there's a lot to like about them, ultimately their V-shaped signature kills them for me. They just don't sound natural, they're thin and bright and the bass isn't THAT great, definitely not enough to justify how thin the mids are. They're getting sold and passed on.
What's out there that's good for the price around the same range ($190ish or less) that actually sounds natural and organic? Something between the range of neutral to stupidly warm/dark, with good separation and dynamics? I've been thinking that the Tanchjim Oxygen might be a good fit?
(Edit: after reading some reviews, the Oxygen is Definitely Not For Me. Very interested in what people here would recommend for a warm, lush sound under $200.)
Is the FIIO over the cable portion the same length as the BTS20S?
Are there any IEMs under 1,000 dollars that are upgrades over the MD+ and modded JVC FD01?
I’m not sure; I’ve never tried the TRN branded version but I’m guessing it’s the same. I think it was @james444 that may have posted a pic of his JVC’s and BT20S at some point (maybe at HF?) and I remember seeing it pull at the JVC like the Fiio did in my ear. I didn’t necessarily find it painful but it was certainly tedious to take in and out and killed any convenience factor true wireless is supposed to give.
IMO a B-Stock Andromeda but you’ve been there done that if I remember right. There’s a lot of new out there I haven’t heard but I suspect there’s nothing mind blowing based on the word on the streets (reddit, discord, HF, etc).
@insidious meme I found this photo from ClieOS.
There you go: tight fit, but I don't experience much of a pull that way.
Taking it in and out requires some practice... not much of an issue for me anymore.
Campfire Vega would be my choice now when the price is below 1k, but it is what I would call a difficult case: just to get a fit and seal right took me a while, it requires burn in, and it needs power to really shine. The limitation is that this is not IEM for commuting, gym etc...
If you can get used, se846 it is an improvement over MD+, particularly with white filter. I do not know FD01.
I'd suggest looking into the Final Audio E5000. I think can be had used for around $200 or less, otherwise they're probably still $250 from most sellers. Maybe a bit beyond what you quoted (but also maybe worth the extra cost). These are on my shortlist for this type of signature but I've not heard them myself. I do have an E1000 though, which is really good for $25 and a bit more balanced sounding (at least from what measurements show). I'd expect much more warmth, smoothness and refinement from the E5000. There's also the E4000 too which is $120-150 but read up on those as well, there are some comparative reviews between the two out there.
If you like JVC, the obvious answered is a pair of (used) FW10000's.
A few other nominations - sale price CA Solaris, Noble K10u Massdrop, Audeze LCDi4 (if you can deal with zero isolation), Fostex TE200 (you'll have to get these from Hong Kong or somewhere with a dealer).
I wouldn’t describe the Oxygen as warm and lush. While it was a hair warmer/richer/darker than the Kanas Pro, it was more similar than different in overall tuning.
The Periodic Audio Be can be bad under $200 for a ‘blemished’ version. I picked one up over Christmas for 50% off. Stock it will be too V shaped and bassy but simple mods make it a slightly warm and smooth signature with a mild deep bass boost. There is a dedicated thread here about the mod. Just do the simple version (it’s reversible). The negatives are fixed cable and plastic housings; but damn it sounds really good.
Crazy that with a normal price of 200+ it still has a fixed cable.
$299 is the full msrp. That’s why I recommend going blemished for $100 off. I’ve no idea what the blemish is on my set. They tend to run sales quite often as well. But yeah, I’d really like to see removable cable at the these prices points.
I'm a total outsider to the IEM market, but borrowing someone's collection to test for purchase has me thinking it seems IEMs are better than the closed HP market at all the price points I've heard them at so far. I ended up purchasing the JH Angies from them, which I think may do warmth better than Audeze IMO. I'm wondering if someone could give me a quick primer on TOTL options in line with my tastes. I'm familiar with Crinnacle's list.
Headphones I've loved: the LCD-4, HD800 with both mods installed and EQ, I thought the Eikon was way better than the Atticus and now the vast majority of my listening is on a Verite Closed.
Probably 65% of the time I'm listening to extreme/progressive metal, another 20% is very focused on vocals above all else as I'm dabbling in learning to sing (the Angies are the best thing I've heard for this up to now), the other 15% is "literally everything" - experimental jazz to old outlaw country to pop. I dabble occasionally, but I basically don't listen to classical.
It's impossible for me to make it to meets, ever. After ordering and returning and trading for so long it got clear that it is obviously better to wait, save, and just go TOTL blind by the time I go through all of that. So what's everyone's opinion on what I should be looking at as a complement to the VC (and maybe the Angies, or maybe an upgrade from them)?
Warranty, durability, etc. is really important to me too.
My main HP is the VC LTD and my favorite IEM is the CFA Solaris. I also listen to a bunch of stuff, including some metal. I find the Solaris to have very good but balanced bass (not a bass cannon, but still has great weight and texture) as well as very good and clear vocals. They also throw about as wide a soundstage as I've heard from an IEM. They're pretty big and stick out a bit, they're not cheap ($1499) and the gold is a bit blingy, but otherwise love pretty much everything about them.
Haven't had any issues with durability issues with the Solaris or any other CFA item, and know that Ken and his team are very responsive. Do note that the warranty for the Solaris (and other CFA IEMs) is 2 years if you buy retail but only 90 days if you buy b-stock from their "warehouse deals".
Cheers and happy listening
PS - Just saw you posted this exact same question on Shane's IEM thread. Be careful with cross/multiple postings as many feel it's not too cool...
Further up on this page, I described the KXXS being V-shaped, thin, and bright. I put them up for sale in a few places and someone pushed back as I was describing something totally different than every other reviewer.
It turns out, the tips were the issue. This wouldn't be the first time the wrong tips have murdered the FR for me; when I got the JVC HA-FX850, I was using the spiral dot tips which made these otherwise very good and competent (but not my personal flavor) headphones sound like messy, muddy, bright trash. Everyone loves the spiral dots, but they did NOT work for me on any headphones.
Anyway, the KXXS are actually awesome. Now that I can hear them properly, they are extremely smooth and well balanced, with just a slight tasteful boost in the bass and upper mids, making them only technically V-shaped, but the mids are hardly what I would call recessed. Personally, I prefer a slight emphasis on the lower mids vs upper, but these are still easily keepers. They sound gorgeous, great detail and air, never even close to harsh. I apologise for my previous impressions, I would definitely recommend these to someone looking for a balanced Harman-type signature,I especially at the open box price of $130. I am so, so glad no one bought these from me while I had them up for sale! Also, the stock silver plated litz cable is the first time I've heard silver in a headphone rig and not been completely disgusted. I'm using a cheap 16 core Kinboofi cable with the KXXS and use the KXXS cable with my Aurisonics ASG1+. Really good stuff, kudos to Moondrop!!
Out of curiosity, what tips ended up working for the KXXS (and for the FX850, ASG1+) in your case? I understand the why and it can definitely make for big differences in some IEMs. As someone who's used and amassed many sets of tips over the years I like seeing these impressions when the right pairing is found.
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