RevoNext RN-QT2 Impressions


#1

As I write this, I’m listening to a hires 24/96 FLAC recording of Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto served from an old white Macbook using a $120/year music player (Roon) streamed through a $100 transport and DAC (Raspberry Pi + Hifiberry) to a $400 amp (Ember II) set to 35 ohm output impedance (?!) driving a $50 pair of Chifi IEMs (QT2), and I’m really enjoying it! Like, more than I remember enjoying my HD 600 when I still had them…

This whole situation violates a lot of what I’ve come to believe:

You get what you pay for (though diminishing returns are real)

Maybe it’s because they’re still relatively new to me, but this doesn’t feel like good for $50 but for $300 you get more. It fells like damn, these sound good! Yes I had to EQ down a treble spike, but I have to do the same with my $500 DT 1990 too.

The impact of DACs and amps is relatively minor and headphones should be where you spend the most money

The QT2 sound quite good out of my iPhone SE. They sound better (though sometimes too bassy) out of my LG V20. But they sound friggin’ great from my Ember II, with good weight down low without being boomy or loose, good speed, detail and dynamics, more smoothness and somehow a more open sound. Audio memory is poor, but I suspect I would prefer Ember II + QT2 over say iPhone + HD 600.

Dynamic driver and especially BA IEMs need sources with low output impedance relative to the headphones’ input impedance

Well, the QT2 have 2 dynamic drivers and 1 BA per side with an input impedance of 15 ohm. The LG V20 supposedly has a very low output impedance (though I don’t know the actual spec) and the iPhone SE is probably around 3 or 4 ohm. I’m running the Ember II at 35 ohm, and it’s the one that sounds the best to me. Theoretically it has a horrible electric damping factor, but if anything it’s just contributing to a smoother sound.

I originally got these as something to plug into my iPhone to use while on the go and for conference calling and I would have never expected that I’d enjoy them so much from a desktop amp. Like every other pair of headphones and IEMs that I’ve owned, they’re not perfect (I had to replace the tips with my KZ ZST tips for improved comfort, and as mentioned the treble is too hot for me without some EQ) but I’m pretty amazed at what you get for $50.

My complete impressions and a comparison to the KZ ZST are posted on Reddit.

P.S. I tried these from my Magni 3 and the pairing sounded very similar to the LG V20, with perhaps a little less low-end emphasis.

P.P.S. I’ve had less exposure to different IEMs than I’ve had to different headphones, so I don’t have much perspective on that market. This is really just the impressions of a headphone guy on some cheap IEMs that surprised him :slight_smile:

Disclaimer - I’m aware that these IEMs’ housings are clearly a knock-off of the Campfire Andromeda. This doesn’t particularly bother me because 1) being a car buff, I’m used to manufacturers aping each other’s forms, 2) using a different driver configuration and from what I gather a different tuning, I don’t think they’re really copying any of the Andromedas’ special sauce and 3) I haven’t seen any marketing materials trying to pass these off as some sort of legit Andromeda alternative.


Chinese Brands - IEMs Discussion
The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread
#2

Listening with the QT2 continues to be eye opening. I started doing some more direct comparisons with my DT 1990 and noticed that I had been listening to the QT2 at much louder volumes than I listen to the DT 1990 (or LCD2C for that matter). The DT 1990 retrieves detail so well and has such a clean and extended bass that I can listen at very low volumes and still hear everything I want to hear. Having grown accustomed to certain details on specific tracks, I think I subconsciously turned up the QT2 to the point where I could pick out those same details. I measured it, and I had been listening at levels around 85 dB SPL or more, which I think is too loud for sustained listening.

But, here’s the weird thing - when I bring the QT2 back down to a lower listening volume (70-75 dB), it actually still sounds very enjoyable. It doesn’t sound like the DT 1990 (it’s a bit thicker, more congested and less resolving), but it’s still engaging and still has a decent amount of detail, I just have to listen harder to pick it out. Also, I’m comparing the QT2 driven by an iPhone using AAC256 with the DT 1990 driven by an LG V20 using FLAC, which is a substantially better source. It’s not an entirely fair comparison, but the whole point of the QT2 is to be able to use it on the go with my phone.

We talk about diminishing returns a lot in this hobby, but it’s easy to forget because even with diminishing returns, most jumps from one headphone to the next bring tangible improvement and enjoyment, especially in the beginning. I found downgrading to be perhaps more illustrative of diminishing returns than upgrading. It’s jarring to go from a $500 headphone/$400 tube amp combo that I absolutely adore to a $50 IEM and the phone in my pocket and find that they’re still perfectly enjoyable.

The last thing that this drives home is the importance of EQ. I know I harp on this a lot, but most headphones aren’t perfect out of the box, including the DT 1990 and QT2. After my experience with these two, I would go so far as to say that properly equalizing the QT2 to my preferences is as big of an “upgrade” as switching from the QT2 to the DT 1990. In a hobby where we constantly chase improvements by buying new headphones, swapping pads or doing other physical mods, I do wish people would be more open to trying EQ which is essentially free and can make a huge difference.


#3

I like the idea of “modding” things and when I was younger and had more free time, I would mod/hack everything for days at a time. I think as I’m getting older and have more responsibilities(22month old daughter takes a lot of my free time, I’m not complaining though :wink: wouldn’t trade her for anything ). Even today I was just thinking of all the reviews I want to get done and projects I need to complete (Bottlehead Crack still needs wiring and soldering). I also just bought a 3D printer and yeezus talk about a time sink… you have to get all these little details right to get the darn thing to print without messing up your prints lol. Ok back on task… (thank you A.D.D.) that being said I find EQ very cool and would like to dig into it more…but time constraints and the fact it is for us non-musically inclined hard to dive into without a lot of research on what it does. I liked what some of the auto EQ apps try and accomplish but once again, lil bugs prevent me from enjoying them fully. Maybe I’ll dive into some EQ in the future… I like what the Hiby R3 does with its magesound eightball eq stuff… quote from Headfi review of the R3 on MSEB

"MSEB: If you are coming from R6 then you should know what MSEB is all about it. It actually stands for MageSound Eight Ball. This is HiBy Music’s own unique DSP mixer that tweaks areas using words that audiophiles love to think about. MSEB is also more involving than the standard EQ that HiBy also provides as an option on the R3.
How do you like your sound? Warm or cold, bright or dark? Do you wish your bass to be deep, light, thick or thin? Would you prefer your vocals forward or recessed? How about some additional air and crispness to your treble? You can change and tweak all of that inside MSEB with a slider that lets you adjust it incrementally.


#4

MSEB sounds like a great idea. Does the unit also have a parametric equalizer?

BTW, if you derive enjoyment from tinkering and modding that’s awesome. I derive a similar enjoyment from programming.


#5

Programming… I have always wanted to get into it… my brain just can’t sit still long enough to fully rock it though lol. I love the concept but I never seem to just sit and learn it.
Hiby R3 does have a standard EQ.

I used to be way into hacking android phones, and I used to do a lot of Linux stuff, but it has been over a decade since I was into it and it isn’t like riding a bike lol


#6

Thanks for the review. I just bought a pair for outdoor work along with the Bluetooth accessory. I’ll have to post my impressions once they come in…tomorrow!


#7

Parametric EQ like this?

Image result for parametric eq

Or Graphic EQ like this?

Image result for 7 band eq


#8

Hope you enjoy them! Please do be aware that these are very low isolation by IEM standards, so might not be great if you’re planning on mowing with them or something like that :wink:


#9

That is what it looks like…
Edit: it goes all the way up to16khz


#10

Thanks for the screenshots!


#11

Maybe mowing, but I will most likely put memory foam tips on them to help with isolation. I don’t need a ton of isolation but it is good to know that these lack that


#12

Got these in yesterday and have about 4 hours with them so far. Initial impressions are good. For $50 the bass in these is very tight. Mids and trebles are a bit rolled off and lack clarity but I am very impressed for $50. They are fairly comfortable and lightweight which is good for active work, and even with the standard eartips the isolation is good. I put some spinfits on because the standard eartips were a bit too stiff and hurt my ears. Overall I think these are a great active wear pair of IEM’s!


#13

Glad you like them!

Part of what you may be hearing is that the elevated bass response is masking the mids and lower treble. I’m currently rocking the below EQ settings, which basically make these quite neutral through bass and mids into the low treble, and then a bit elevated from there (which is a personal preference thing). Listening to something like Alicia Keys’ “Songs in A Minor” the bass still has enough thump to let me feel the beat but everything else is a bit clearer. Won’t rival my DT 1990 or LCD2C, but doesn’t feel far off. Also, with these EQ settings, male and especially female vocals sound really good to me - natural and not recessed but not too forward either.

[EDIT] This does make them sound a little grainier to me, which is interesting. The other headphones I’ve owned that sounded great for vocals were the HD600, and they too sounded grainy to me, so I suspect whatever it is about the frequency response that brings out the vocals must also bring out some sort of grain.


#14

I’m happy to report that these work nicely for poorly recorded music too. I’m currently listening to Willie Nelson’s “live from austintx” which on my DT 1990 sounded so lo-fi I had to turn it off, and I’m enjoying it. Willie’s voice is front and center and the perfunctory instrumentals provide rhythm and color but don’t distract from Willie.


#15

I just asked my wife to try these and she couldn’t fit them at all. The housings are too big for her ears. So, those with small ears might want to steer clear.


#16

What program is that for EQ? I’m using Bluetooth from my phone most of the time too so I may have to look into EQing there


#17

That program is Room EQ Wizard, it’s what I use to measure my headphones and come up with EQ settings. What phone do you use? iOS or Android?


#18

iOS


#19

iOS is sadly not as well served by good 3rd party audio players as Android. On my iPhone I use Equalizer. It’ll play my downloaded non-DRM iTunes music and allows me to apply parametric EQ. The UI is pretty horrible, and the app is a little buggy (e.g. sometimes refuses to play the song I selected until I retry 2 or 3 times), but it does have a parametric EQ.


#20

Thanks for the suggestion, I’ve done the same and they improve comfort even over my KZ silicones. It sounds like they might have brightened things up just a tad, but nothing over the top.