The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread



Who is not a consumer? The Sphear have a slower bass…a rather soft but silky low end.


haha true. But you know what I mean – the standard bose, beats, jbl, sony, etc brand stuff you find in the store. :slight_smile:

I am getting a new IEM from Tin Audio soon… exciting. :slight_smile:


After some time with single DDs I pulled out the KA AS10…and was so appalled by its boomy bass and unnatural timbre that I thought there was something wrong with polarity. So I measured the FR and everything was ok. This shows how brainwashed I was when it comes to cheap multis/hybrids. Here my argument in pictures.


The b200 looks like it’s missing a lot of midrange and lower treble… is it really dark sounding?

The spark has just a tad too much energy in the upper treble and I can hear that on songs with a lot of strings. It’s a little harsh on those songs.

As for the AS10 - I think it has a lush sound but the bass does bleed a bit more than I like and mids get lossed easily. Treble is fine though with only rare cases of harsh peaks.


Which one from Tin Audio? I have been listening to the T2 Pro’s quite a bit lately. Whilst the treble is even a little harsh for me it’s a pretty good iem once EQ’d.


New model. Haven’t seen a lick on info on it online yet. I think it’ll launch on massdrop again but with faster delivery times.


I agree that price/quality may affect BA performance, but I don’t really see it with my own IEMs (I don’t have a test rig – lots of speculation here). For me, IEMs are very tip dependent.

AS10: I do not hear boomy or unnatural bass. To my ears they are rather modest on the bass scale. My ears canals are large so I often swap factory tips for larger closed-cell foam tips. But the ZS10s do indeed have slow, boomy, and weird bass from their single dynamic driver.

Massdrop X Noble IEMs: (Midnight Blue, $250) These are certainly a high quality dual BA product, but to my ears they sounded thin and horrid in a back-to-back comparison against the AS10, ZS10, or TRN V80. I tried a lot of tips and have to use the largest I can find to get anything close to “bass” from them.

Beyond one Youtube video, I wonder if anyone has started systematically ripping apart BA IEMs to carefully measure each driver?


The B200 v1. does not lack midrange and doesn’t sound dark either…voices are rather intimate…don’t forget, the ideal, neutral sound features a somewhat linear response from sub-bass to the upper midrange.

When comparing the FR responses of the B100 and the much better sounding B200 v1., one is truly surprised.

Strictly speaking, the curves only give information on quantity but not on quality. But indirectly, these 2-5 kHz peaks point to a lack of quality. This statement can be tested by looking at FR graphs of really expensive items.

Where do I get this “subversive” information from - while adding my own interpretations? Mainly from the earphone wizards and master modders who use measurements to guide their modding steps [great example just in]. It is great to see how a V is straightened out to a flat line in the process while listening to the individual steps.

Another example of an upper midrange peak contrast. See how the ibasso IT01 gets away with less. I conclude, some of these low-budget multis have drivers just to compensate for other drivers. The ibasso is a single DD.

In the case of the KZ ZSN, the upper midrange “tower” again accentuates the otherwise rather thin voices. Next time, If I see such a curve, I won’t buy it.

Here a weird graph of a $400 earphone (sometimes $179 on massdrop). Against all expectations, this one sounds good with its four Knowles BAs. But, again, it gets away without the broad upper midrange peak.

Last but not least the universally loved Brainwavz B400 (with a healthy channel imbalance). I found the mid-bass unnaturally strong and the treble was rolling off early. It has a wee little upper midrange spike, but much less pronounced than the low-budget Chifi multis. The graphs also show that the B100/200 and the B400 are totally different beasts.

In summary, there are clearly observable FR trends between earphones of different qualities (at least good as a “rule of thumb”).


Well, it is all relative. I was using the AS10 between to single DDs. And, as said, I was in fear something was wrong with the unit.


The Noble X was a big waste of money for me. I ended up selling it. It didnt leave a good impression for me of the Noble Audio brand or Massdrop IEM collaborations at the time. The Massdrop Plus restored some of my faith, though I didnt like it enough to keep it. But to me, it seems like most of the MDxIEM combinations havent really been my thing.

The AS10 sounded fine on its own to me. But after listening to some other IEMs and going back to it, like @Brause mentions, the AS10 does sound a little boomy and muddy in the transition between bass to lower mids. I definitely hear some of the details missing or very faint compared to IEMs with more elevated mids and less bass.


It comes down to musical preference. I tickle the timbre and detail out of an earphone by listening to orchestral music, the reproduction of which is most challenging. Enjoying drum and bass or Heavy Metal, for example, may require different qualities but these kinds of music are sonically much more restricted.

Oh, and here it is, the [latest easy moddable single DD]. See HERE for modding details. What’s so great about this mod is that it is reversible.



Habituation…lots of things sound fine or good if you haven’t listened recently. That’s the secret of Bose and Beats!


Beats never sounds good ever.
Bose has more of a true argument. I mean hypothetically their headphones follow ideal target curves quite well. But it’s missing something - dynamics maybe? They do great at their intended purpose though (ANC) and I’ve grown to accept that fact. Now on their speakers front… no comment.


I have a set of BeatsX collar style IEMs. They are better than the early generations, and basically the Bose profile with quite thick but not silly bass. This works fine for where I use them: noisy streets, gyms, and trains where there’s a lot of commotion. They get sweaty and abused, and I don’t want full noise cancellation. When they die I’ll probably buy a Chinese Bluetooth product.


Som great info there, re SBAF. Thanks Jürgen. it’s not my favourite place to be but they have a great deal of good information as has Head-fi.


Well Paul,
I have had more than twice as many posts here in a few weeks than over there in 2 years. I have been corresponding with James444 on the two other forums, a nice Viennese, who is a true earphone wizard. From him (and a few others) I learnt quite a few technical things for which I am very grateful.


It’s really great when you can connect with like minded people. Especially ones who won’t judge you or jump on you if your opinion differs from theirs or the majority of the forum regulars. To be able to talk about your hobby in a decent environment is s great thing. I feel comfortable to be able to post and chat with the guys and gals on this forum.

In such an environment one can learn and participate and enjoy this great hobby.


So far, this forum has been a good experience for me: only nice people.


And it’s a better place for having your input. The more people that participate can only be good for us all. Providing we all get along. :grin:


Beyerdynamic Byron: Designed and engineered in Germany. Manufactured in China…imagine it was the other way round. Single graphene-coated DD. $51 CAD…I think they are gone now. Presently “breaking in” while warming up [we are in Canada]…for at least 30 mins.

They look much like the Pioneer SE-CH3 and the Sony MHC1.