The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread

iems

#423

I finally got these Alpex HSE-A2000s working: screens pulled off and covered with 3 M micropore tape with one hole poked with a thin wire near the edge, and bass trimmed off by adding an air duct (see 403). But I could not find the right tips…until I grabbed the ones from the ole’ Rock Zircon,.

Now they sound great…and they don’t look bad either.


#424

Here is my review of the very interesting DT6:
The Senfer DT6 is a unique IEM featuring an innovative triple-driver design. The bass driver is a dynamic type with an unusually large diameter of 12mm. The midrange is covered by a balanced armature driver (type 32066) and the treble range is handled by a piezoelectric unit (ceramic plate) with a surface area of 49 sq. mm (7x7mm). This mix of drivers has been seen before in more expensive designs (Noble Khan, Hyla CE-5 and LZ A6, all of which have 1DD, 4BA and a piezo tweeter). However, this is the only IEM so far with this particular configuration.

The earphones come presented in a white box with an illustration of the product on the front and an exploded view of the unit on the back along with the specifications. In addition to the earphones, also included in the package are the detachable cable, three sets of silicone eartips and one set of red triple flange tips, pre-fitted.

The earpieces are shaped like a cut-off cone and are constructed of a dense metal alloy inscribed with a cross-hatched design. The left earpiece bears the legend “3+3” and the right, “DT6” There are four vents on the rear of the earpieces which should create a wider soundstage at the cost of some isolation. The detachable cable is an MMCX type with a 45 degree 3.5mm plug.

The earphones were connected to a source for 100 hours to burn in the components and a mix of test tracks and music was used for this purpose. The primary source for evaluation was a Hifi Walker H2 DAP and a Fiio A5 amplifier via line out. I replaced the pre-fitted tips with JVC Spiral Dots and employed an 8-core silver-plated MMCX cable in place of the supplied one.

First impressions were very positive with the natural and neutral character of the DT6 being obvious from the outset. This neutral presentation was a welcome change from the V-shaped profile so prevalent in many current designs and brought the midrange wonderfully into focus. Bass was very linear and well-controlled and treble was clear, open and airy with no sign of peaks, harshness or sibilance. It was immediately apparent that these punched well above their weight.

Bass

The bass response was well-textured and linear. Detail and resolution were also noteworthy, and there was a mild warmth in this region. In “Vague”, an electronic instrumental piece by Simon Daum, the extension was impressive. The lowest notes remained clear and undistorted with excellent timbre and formed a perfect backdrop for the synthesised string accompaniment. Classical music benefited from this presentation too, with the wonderful resonance of the basses coming over to thrilling effect in Britten’s “Simple Symphony” conducted by the composer in a performance recorded at the Snape Maltings. The highly reverberant acoustic was reproduced beautifully and the attack of the bows on the strings was full of impact.

Mids

The perfectly balanced nature of the DT6s created an articulate and expressive midrange. Instruments had realistic timbre and character, and it was easy to follow individual strands in the music. In “Farrago”, a lively and varied suite of orchestral pieces by E.J Moeran, the woodwind and brass had wonderful colour and separation, which contrasted well with the flowing and melodic string melody lines. The Ulster Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley gave a performance full of verve and energy. The violin solo in Karl Jenkins’s “Benedictus” stood out impressively over the orchestral accompaniment and the voices in the choral section were enunciated precisely with every word being clearly audible. This was very impressive, considering the price of these IEMs.

Treble

I have two other IEMs with piezo tweeters, the Artiste DC1 and the Elecom CB1000, both of which have a clear and clean treble, and the DT6 displayed the same qualities, in fact its treble response was even cleaner and more extended than these. There was no harshness, no peaks and no sibilance. Detail retrieval was very good, with the finest subtle touches easily discernible. “Tiny Geometries” from Ray Lynch’s seminal album “Deep Breakfast” begins with fast-paced percussive electronic percussion sounds in a complex interweaving rhythm. Each element was clear and separate and combined to produce a hypnotic effect.

Soundstage

The combination of a piezo tweeter with an open-backed design produced a wonderfully wide and deep soundstage with excellent stereo imaging. Orchestras were laid out in a realistic acoustic and recorded ambience was very clear, making it possible to hear the character of the recording venue. In Roy Harris’s Symphony No. 6 (“Gettysburg”) conducted by Keith Clark, the second movement, “Conflict” features menacing chords which build up to a violent climax punctuated by massive bass drum strikes. The impact and subsequent decay here was very impressive, with the reverberation in the hall being authentic.

Conclusion

The unique combination of three different technologies was an unqualified success. The bass is powerful, clean and precise. The midrange is open and clear and not recessed. Treble has great extension and is free from nasty artefacts. At the current price of around $25 (Ali Express) these represent amazing value and must be considered an absolute bargain. They approach the performance of the CCA C16 at around one fifth of the price, only falling short in terms of resolution and, I feel, improve upon the CCA C10 in their more balanced and accurate presentation. They have a neutral, well-balanced natural sound which is a rarity at this level. They cannot be recommended highly enough.


#425

Thanks for the review. Definitely considering picking up a pair. I don’t need them, as I have the T2, but curiosity killed the cat, as they say. The cat being my wallet in this case!


#426

Another great review. Very detailed.


#427

I like the plunger tips…


#428

What IEMs would you recommend for movie/TV watching?

I am specifically looking for something to use in bed at night powered by a Topping MX3 (fed via optical from the TV) and am interested in something that would not disturb my wife or new born baby at the side of me.

My necessities in order of preference are:

  1. Isolation
  2. Comfort
  3. Sound

I would mainly be using these to watch the end of movies/series that finish late and late night sporting events etc. so I don’t really need spectacular sound, although I am obviously happier the better they are, but isolation and comfort take priority.

(Oh, and this is the Ultra Cheap IEM Thread :smiley: )

(edit: sorry, I didn’t mean to reply specifically to your post @Brause)


#429

I personally like barrel-shaped earbuds in bed because they are easily inserted and removed – no fiddling with memory wire.

Technical ability of an earphone is not so important for movies rather than timbre and tuning (mid centric). For my iPad and its simple TV sound, the sophisticated 6BA drivers don’t work very well. I’d go with a good and simple dynamic driver such as the Focal Spark (now below $30 at amazon) or the Pioneer CH3 at $25. The Spark are a bit punchier in the bass.

If you like a bit of surround, I found the Knowledge Zenith ZSR quite good for watching Formula one races.


#430

You don’t need IEMs. You need a house out in the country, an assortment of chaise-lounges
Sofas, beds, quiet servants, and braces of Wilson Audio speakers scattered about your Demenses.


#431

Insanely close to launching. Just a matter of months…working hard on the DT600…


#432

It’s funny you should say that, not quite what you said but up until a few years ago I lived in a country house (for over 20 years) with no neighbours and used to be able to have band practice on the front patio. My “home stereo” was a 10.000w PA system! I was able to play with things like Meyer Sound in my garden and my bass rig was 2000w :smiley:

I then moved into an apartment and the 10kW PA became a set of studio monitors and my 2kW bass rig became a 200w combo amp. However, my son (my older son that is) was just hitting teenager status, so I could still crank the systems around the house and could still get to play with things like Genelec in my office… the :smiley: became :slight_smile:

Just before Christmas I became a father again (16 years after my other son) and had someone move into my office with me. I am now banished to the land of closed back headphones, playing bass through a soundcard and watching movies with IEMs :neutral_face:

(BTW, I am just kidding, I am amazingly happy at having anothe child around and I have found a new musical hobby that is actually a lot cheaper than my previous ones :smiley: )


#433

Just ordered Senfer DT6 based on your review. On Aliexpress for $24 with free shipping. Will report upon arrival!)


#434

Well, thanks to @antdroid’s glowing review, I’ve joined the latest Massdrop for the Kanas Pro. Should arrive just in time for my birthday :slight_smile:


#435

Nice. I’m only halfway done with my formal review but it’s becoming my default iem. Very smooth mids and treble and just about right bass levels. I really enjoy it.


#436

Its alive: www.audioreviews.org

logo1

And it contains:

  1. An in-depth review of the NiceHCK DT600
  2. All my 20 or so Head-Fi reviews
  3. My measurements database
  4. A comprehensive overview of reversible modding

#437

Great! I think you will like them. Do try a replacement cable (the supplied one is not very good) and experiment with tips, wide bore types work best and preserve the treble response.


#438

Thanks! Can you recommend some good cheap cable to use? And custom eartips, maybe? Or stock ones would suffice?


#439

This is the cable I am using. It isn’t cheap though.

I am using Spiral Dots which are also not cheap but you should be able to find some wide bore tips.


#440

Only $20-30 wired nowadays. $35-50 for wireless model.


#441

Okay, now that I’ve got a decent IEM measurement setup, EQ became a lot easier. The ZS7 sounds really excellent out of my LG V30 with the below settings:

Pre-gain: -5dB

Type Freq Q dB
Peak 20 0.15 -5
Peak 200 0.9 -2
Peak 3100 3.0 +13
Peak 3100 2.0 -8
Peak 6000 3.0 +3

Here’s what it does:

  • Broad cut at 20 Hz cuts bassyness and reduces midrange warmth.
  • Cut at 200 Hz reduces thinkness and really improves clarity
  • Peak and cut at 3100 Hz fill in a gap in the presence region but also bring the presence region down somewhat so it’s not as hot
  • Peak at 6000 Hz helps restore some energy to percussion and fixes timbre of pianos

#442

I am a little behind on the latest and greatest but yesterday I received the Tin T2 that I ordered at some point in the past (no idea how long ago). I do remember that they cost me 24€ (less than $30) so I thought I would share my opinions as they fit the “Ultra Cheap IEM” category very well.

I don’t have a huge collection of IEMs, I have some old sets of Shure’s and Sennheisers (no idea what models without going and looking for them) but I have been trying out chinese brands for the last year or two and have lately been using the KZ ED16 mainly and sometimes the KZ ATE. I am not one for swapping around cables but I did put a silver braided cable on the ED16s and hated how sibilant it got, so I moved back to the stock rubber cable and these replaced my ATE as my walking the dog IEMs (3 times a day) as I really need the mic and button when out with the dog.

Anyway, I have sort of rambled on a little there but I think that probably proves that I like my bass and I am a treble sufferer, at least as far as IEM’s go.

So, the T2’s…

My first impressions when I put them in was that I did not like them. I had no problem with the seal, it was the cable draping over my ears that I found much too light. I suppose I have gotten used to the memory wire on the ED16’s and I just felt like these were going to float away! After about 8 to 10 hours of use (I used them all day at the office today to test them) I have gotten used to the feeling, however, I would still prefer a little tiny weight on each cable, like the ones found on the ATE’s. To be honest, I think the ATE’s are probably top of my list as far as comfort.

Another thing I am not keen on is the connector. Don’t get me wrong, the connector seems like a decent 3.5mm jack, with good strain relief, but I find the choice of a straight jack strange for a set of IEM’s. When I plug them into my phone (Xiaomi Redmi Note 4) the connector actually pokes out of the top of my pocket, which I can see being in danger of getting banged and pressured (if I sit down) which could damage the socket on the phone.

I will say that the T2’s are the first IEMs that I haven’t changed the stock tips on.

My first listen was direct from the Xiaomi and straight away I felt the amazing amount of clarity this has over the ED16’s. At first I felt it was lacking in bass in comparison to the ED16. The treble however was much smoother while being a lot clearer at the same time. The ED16, even with the stock cable that has less treble, still had the odd sibilant part, the beginning of “Violent Crimes - Kaye West” is probably a good example as the female voice can become quite uncomfortable very quickly.

Anyhooo, I felt that the T2 was better than the ED16 but I didn’t think it would replace it as my “Dog Walker” due to the lack of the button/mic and the straight connector.

On my next walk, I decided to use the T2 with an MPOW BT receiver. To be exact it is one of these:

I wear this on a lanyard around my neck when I want to go wireless (sort of) as it can be under clothes and still have easy access to the buttons due to them all being on the front.

With the BT device, the difference against the ED16 increased a little. When pushed, the ED16 got a little muddy around the bottom end, whereas the T2 had less bass but a lot more clarity. This walk convinced me that I would most definitely be replacing the ED16 with the T2 as the “Dog Walkers” :smiley:

Finally, this afternoon I got chance to try the T2’s incorporated into my portable/travel set up. Depending on where I am travelling to and for how long (which means how many gadgets I need to fit) my travel rig is either a Lenovo Yoga laptop or a Lenovo Tablet into a Topping NX4 DSD. These power either a set of M40x (if space allows) or an IEM of choice (I have mostly been taking my Sennheisers) if I am tight on space.

I plugged the T2’s into the Topping NX4 DSD an proceeded to listen to my test track playlist on Spotify. The first song on the list is “Long After You’re Gone - Chris Jones” and there is a beat that is a hand striking a hollow body acoustic guitar (at least that is what I think it is), this was so bassy that I could actually feel the strike not just hear it. I was very suprised as I had thought the bass was a little light on these, so I skipped to another track that I use for bass which is “Bury a Friend - Billie Eilish”. This track was bassy to the point of being painful :open_mouth:

Still not understanding how these could suddenly have so much bass, I switched to a less bassy track and still there was a heck of lot, then I realized I had the bass boost activated on the NX4 DSD :crazy_face:

Once I deactivated the bass boost, I listened to more tracks, moving from my test list over to acoutic tracks with mainly female vocals. I was so relaxed listening to these tracks that I forgot all about impressions and just got lost in the music (I do like me some female acoustic music).

Just before writing this, I decided to have a quick run through the test list again and I even switched on the bass boost. Now that I was expecting the extra bass (which actually works very well on the Topping) I was able to listen to the tracks and although the bass was excessive in most cases, it did not muddy up the rest of the frequencies and they still sounded very clear. Without the boost, I find these to be the best IEM’s I have listened to in a long time (there were some Shure’s I really liked a while ago but they were 10 times the price of these, or maybe even more). I find the sound well balanced for my taste, with nice smooth and clear mids and highs, without hitting sibilance on anything that is recorded a t least semi-well. The lack of bass I thought these had at the start was actually me ebing used to the ED16 and ATE which seem to add a little bass. When the track has bass, the T2 has no problem reproducing it!

Anyways, as you can probably tell, I am very happy with these IEM’s and they will definitely become my portable and travel IEM’s.

(I will probably still continue to try out cheap chinese IEM’s though, you canhave lot’s of fun for not much cash!)