The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread

iems

#41

I need this lol


#42

haha fair enough. Since I discovered Ali Express it’s helped with my ‘problem’.

1 - it’s about half the price of amazon

2 - as it takes about 2 weeks for things to arrive, you get that ‘oooh I can’t wait for new shiny shiny’ feeling for that much longer.

3 - by the time it’s finally arrived and you’ve realised what you bought is sh*te, it will take you till the following month to hunt down the best price on the next thing and wait for that for arrive - there by preventing ordering multiple items in the same week till you find a good one.

Makes things slightly more wallet friendly, and now I can get things delivered to work the wife doesn’t spot so many parcels arriving :wink: And it seems somehow the ‘import duties due before delivery’ keep getting paid by ‘someone’ before they get here which is an added bonus :wink:


#43

Can’t wait for the review of the ‘DJ’ special one eared model - clearly made for mixing and a great find. :wink: . The important question is… is it a lefty or righty? Or a combo of both? a new combined in-ear-mono-ter? it’s been a loooon day :slight_smile:


#44

RE: AliExpress

But the long wait… makes you impatient and then go to amazon and find out you can get this and that instead but only cost $2 more, so then you go buy that instead, and then need just another $5 to get free same-day delivery and the cycle continues. :slight_smile:

My fiance actually just deleted the amazon app from her phone because it was too easy. Instead, she just uses the website on her phone. lol.

She’s currently receiving 5 books a day the past 5 days straight now. I’m definitely not addicted compared to that.


#45

Here’s my review of the TRN V80

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I have never heard of the company TRN before. And so, when I got the V80 in the mail, I did not know what to expect. What I ended up receiving was not a bad little headphone. Let’s discuss.

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Packaging & Contents

The TRN packaging comes in a simple and tidy presentation with a white box. The included accessories are pretty standard: the two IEMs, a 2-pin cable, and a set of tips.

The IEM feels extremely well built and solid. It’s one of the heaviest IEM’s I’ve ever used, weighing nearly 9 grams per side. The metal housing is dense. It’s very compact and actually does not feel heavy at all wearing it. I could wear this thing for hours at a time no problem. The fit and isolation are great.

The set I got was in a glossy black finish and it looks extremely clean and well put together. If you clank them against each other, it sounds like you are hitting two marbles together. They are solid.

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Sound

The TRN V80 is a warm-tilted neutral sounding IEM. So in that regard, there may be some comparisons to the Tin Audio T2 which is totally warranted. The major difference between the two is that the V80 is warmer and actually has more upper treble and has a slightly more mid-forward sound to it. But let’s talk about it in a some more detail.

I’ve spent a great deal of time with these the past 2-3 weeks as I found them inviting and nice to listen to. But they are not without their flaws. For the past couple weeks, my main playlist selection has been pretty scattered, as is my normal music listening.

As I am writing this, I am listening to them with U137, a Swedish post-rock band who make music that’ll remind you of a movie soundtrack. But I’ve spent extensive time with these with music from Radiohead, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and other country/folk singers, a variety of bluegrass music, jazz selections, and more indie-pop bands like Chvrches, Tegan & Sara, and Cigarettes after Sex. I always try to listen to Cocteau Twins just to see how harsh the treble sounds as well.

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The Low End

The TRN V80 has a warm-rich sounding low end. The bass doesn’t slam or anything. It’s actually pretty linear sounding, much like the Tin Audio T2, but with the more-forward sound lower mids, it does have a different presentation. Whereas the Tin Audio T2 is very linear and cold, the V80 is linear and warm.

Mids and Treble

The mids are slightly forward sounding and actually sound quite good, most of the time. The treble does actually extend higher than some other IEMs in this class with decent air and details. But where I find some fault with this IEM is that while this area stands out, it also can fall flat too. I find the upper mids and treble to be very loose and sometimes sounds excellent but on other songs, sounds unusual and tonally incorrect. This seems to happen more on acoustic or country songs with vocals than anything else. Vocals have a tendency to lose clarity and sound odd. On a positive note, I never found this IEM to sound sibilant or harsh, although, if you’re not used to a neutral-signature, you may find it harsh to begin with.

I don’t typically spend a lot of time on discussing soundstage and imaging because it’s not exactly the easiest things to describe sometimes. I find the stage width on these to hover on the side of my ears, so a good medium width. The imaging has depth to it and you can hear instruments at varying heights and depths – when comparing these to other IEMs in this sub $50 range.

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Comparisons

Tin Audio T2

The T2 has a more analytical, colder sound to it. The bass sounds more linear on the T2 vs the V80, which has a more full and warmer sound to it. The T2 mids and lower treble are excellent for this price range and the V80 is nearly there. Where the V80 excels over the T2 is the extended treble, which gives the upper range frequency extra air and depth.

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Tin Audio T2 Pro

The upcoming T2 Pro, again, is more colder sounding than the V80 and shares many of the same comparisons as the T2 vs V80. Where the T2 Pro differs is the upper treble extension. The T2 rolls off in this region, whereas the V80 does not. That said, the T2 Pro extends better with more air, depth, control, and details than the V80. The Pro is the head of the class for me for the budget IEM group.

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MiniDSP IDF Compensated Comparison

KZ AS10

Spending a little bit more to get the AS10 over V80 will net you more bass and more mid-range and lower treble details. That said, the AS10 may sound muddy in comparison to the V80 because it has more pronounced bass. It’s usually not an issue on the AS10 but if you were to A-B back and forth, you may pick up on some of the upper bass overpowering the lower mids due to the AS10 having a slightly U-shape/recessed mids – where as the V80 has a more mid-forward presentation. The V80 has more air, though the AS10 is more in control in the mids and treble.

KZ ZSA/ZS6

I am grouping these together because, to me, they are similar in sound signature, with the ZS6 being more extreme on the low and upper ends of the spectrum than the ZSA. The KZ pair is more V-shaped, and with that you’ll have deeper, heavier bass, and harsher treble. It’ll give you a fun presentation vs the V80. I think in terms of technicality, the V80 wins. It is smoother all around and has good detail, even in comparison to the ZS6, which has good detail but too sibilant.

Overall

I found the TRN V80 a good IEM. It has some flaws in it, mainly due to some uneven sound in the mids. The neutral-warm sound is inviting and easy to enjoy though, as is the comfort and look. The package as a whole is a budget IEM that I find myself leaving in my ear for hours without any pain or significant issues in sound. I still find the T2 Pro a better option in this price point, but I’d take this V80 over anything that KZ offers today.


#46

Great review Anthony, I reckon you’ve done this before.:grin:. Very insightful and easy to follow. Thanks for sharing.

-Paul-


#47

Nice review.

These days I’m swapping factory tips for LARGE “New Bee” foamies from Amazon. They maximize the bass on everything and create a perfect seal in my (large) ear canals. Everything sounds tinny and analytical without them now… :expressionless:

I have a set of TRN V80s, KZ ZS10s, and KZ AS10s. My impression is that both KZs really detail out the upper half, but tend to “one note” the lower end. The AS10 bass is faster and more precise than the ZS10, but I don’t have a strong preference for either one.

I’m still breaking in the V80s, but they strike me as a great easy-going sound. As you describe, they are solid and drip with quality. Warm and bit softer, rounder overall. Must swap the tips and test again.


#48

Review: European Free IEM Battle Royale

[Humor | Satire | Fiction]

I collected three complimentary IEMs during a recent vacation, as nothing is cheaper than free. These demanded a full review. Each came from a different country, so I evaluated their performance per national styles and preferences. Effectively, each IEM represented each nations overall. It was a deeply educational experience, and one that is bound to guide my purchases for a lifetime.

The contenders:

British Airways – Representing the UK (Top in image below)

Swiss Rail [SBB CFF FFS] – Representing Switzerland (Bottom left)

Italian museum tour group – Representing Italy (Bottom right)

Unbagging:

Each vendor chose to distribute their product in a transparent polymer pouch rather than a box. None came with instructions, a case, or extra tips. However, extra points to Switzerland for a zipper closure with twist tie, and to the UK for a double sided advertisement. All the pouches were easy to open using just bare hands (i.e., frustration free packaging).

UK – Straight shafts, silicone tips, no left or right markings, and a tiny little cable slider

Swiss – Non-sealing ear hangers in the Apple style, with a tiny cable slider

Italy – Just one ear hanger. Has the benefit of working equally well in the left or right ear, and can be correctly inserted in the dark.

Music for testing:

I selected songs to reflect each region, as the drivers may have been voiced to match regional and accents. Synergies, potential synergies.

Switzerland:

Marc Reift Orchestra – “Alphorn Magic”

However, the Swiss combine the German, French, and Italian cultures, so more diversity was required. With Italy as a separate competitor, I focused on German and French music. And to preserve the Swiss mood I ate cheese while I listened.

[Germany] Rammstein – “Du Hast” and Kraftwerk – “Boing, Boom, Tschak”

[France] Daft Punk – “One More Time” and La Femme – “Psycho Tropical Berlin” (mainly for the weird album cover)

Italy:

Luciano Pavarotti – “Nessun Dorma”, Enrico Caruso – “O Sole Mio”, and Frank Sinatra – “Girl from Ipanema” because he’s a famous Italian American and was on a convenient playlist

UK:

There are a million options for the UK. These range from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Clash, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Gorillaz, etc., all the way up to contemporaries such as Jake Bugg, Wolf Alice, and Adele. I was overwhelmed by the riches, but settled on:

Right Said Fred – “I’m Too Sexy”

A Flock of Seagulls – “I Ran”

Spice Girls – “Wannabe”

Listening impressions:

I tested these first with a clean solid-state amp, to best understand the actual products themselves. I then switched to a tube amp in search of synergies and the true souls of these IEMs.

Switzerland: The tone was a bit thin and harsh, reflecting the high altitudes, rocky mountains, and glaciers of the home country. These IEMs were not isolating, following from a national identity drawn from several adjacent but highly distinct cultures. The tube amp really brought out the deep mellow tones of the Alphorn, and evoked memories of cows and cowbells. This also brought earthiness to the often too refined French music, and soul to the technology driven efforts of many contemporary German artists.

Italy: The tone was a bit thin and harsh, resembling a strong Espresso that has been watered down too much for an Americano coffee. These IEMs were not isolating, following from a friendly, social, and expressive culture. The tube amp created a tone not unlike but not as entrancing as the sound of Formula 1 cars at Monza (a racetrack that lies about 15 kilometers from Milan). But, with these IEMs the cars are actually in your ear instead.

UK: The tone was a bit thin and harsh, reflecting reverence for the working-class industrial history and punk production values. These IEMs were not isolating, following from a history of labor unions, Karl Marx in his prime, and public healthcare. The sound fluttered first to the left and then right to evoke the age of global exploration and empire. The tube amp introduced a tone best compared to an Islay Scotch whisky (e.g., Laphroig or Lagavulin). Simply undeniable. Simply inescapable. Simply overwhelming.

Comparison to Benchmark Headphones:

Unfortunately none of these approached the audio quality of products available from Germany (e.g., Sennheiser), France (e.g., Focal), or the USA (e.g., Grado, Mr. Speakers). I understand that Italy favors style over substance, and much can be forgiven of Ferrari or Lamborghini. But they could do better, and find a way to be stylish while providing sound to both ears. The UK seemed to express their national rock & roll/punk identity, with distortion coloring all music at all times. I’m most disappointed in the Swiss, as they are the world leaders in fine luxury watches—such as those from Rolex, Omega, and Patek Philippe. Where is the care with IEMs? Where is the cleverness of a Victorinox knife?

[Non Humor] Actual listening tests versus Panasonic ErgoFits ($10 to $15) at Amazon:

The ErgoFits have a good reputation as the benchmark entry level IEM. I can happily use them in the gym or on a train, and resemble the “hard to hate” profile of Koss PortaPros. Due to their ear-shaped tips, ErgoFits seat deeply and have reasonable bass. The comments below are relative to ErgoFits (I listened to all four back to back).

All the free IEMs were vastly inferior and not tolerable for more than a few minutes.

UK – Tin can tone and scratchy, no bass at all, plus weird warbling distortion (seemingly due to the poorly fitting tips)

Switzerland – Tin can tone, no bass at all, able to recognize songs but it was obviously meant for speech

Italy – Really, really unpleasant distorted merging of both channels into one highly stressed tiny driver meant for speech


#49

Review of the year. Pulitzer prize worthy candidate.


#50

Great read. I really enjoyed it. It was very entertaining.

-Paul-


#51

Did you do any sort of frequency testing. I need some graphs to fully understand the sound signature of these IEM’s…


#52

Why yes indeed, I tested each with the National Geographic and Demographic Audio Profile V2.8 (NGDAP) hardware/software suite (to include the upgraded Barometric Pressure audio isolation booth option, the one after the sudden decompression issues were fixed). This comprehensive approach integrates dominant linguistic accents with regional topography to discern the Manifest Authentic National Tone (MANT). It’s the current European Union IEEE standard, and many technical generations beyond Head Related Transfer Functions (HRTF) and the Harman Target Response Curve (HTRC).

Each nation has a distinct composite of factors that affect speaker voicing. Stated as simply as possible, the UK is mostly rolling hills expect for the Scottish Highlands, Switzerland is extremely mountainous (with just enough patches of grass to feed the cows), and Italy has a mountainous bump up north and lower hills/mountains to the south. The various altitude differences affect air pressure, which in turn affect speech perception and local accents, which in turn affect headphone voicing to compensate for the differences in atmospheric pressure.

As might be expected (and is fully demanded by sophisticated European consumers), I found voicing closely matched the geographic/topographic cross sections of each nation:

UK:

Switzerland:

Italy:

Naturally, accuracy can only be achieved by listening each product in each native location (that’s exactly what the Barometric Pressure booth duplicates). And also, if one finds the bass or treble response too elevated for their personal taste, just flip the IEM upside down and the drive will naturally/geographically reverse the emphasis toward the high or low end, respectively. So convenient.


#53

Now this is podracing!


#54

I had written a review on the KZ BA10 a while back (posted earlier on this thread) and it wasn’t very flattering. I had complained about comfort and it sounding dark, yet very treble sharp, and just wonky.

Well, for whatever reason, I received a new set of BA10s today in the mail completely out of the blue along with another IEM I was expecting to review (Tenhz P4 Pro). I decided to give the BA10 another listen since it showed up.

It still fits terribly. I felt pain almost immediately in my left ear and very soon after in my right ear, and looking back at my review a month ago, this also occurred.

The stock tips fit the best and provided the best “comfort”, however, again, they had the weird dark tonality and very harsh upper mids and treble. Like daggers jabbing you in the ear.

I decided to quickly tip-roll like I did before. I tried a new silicone-hybrid (foam+silicone) tip I made a couple weeks ago and it fit well as well but they were SUPER bright. Very harsh, yet still had over-done bass. (i.e. V-Shaped – not my thing)

I then tried a set of Rebound foam tips and they sounded more balanced. But fit was terrible. Pain was immediate on both ears, but at least they sounded more U-Shaped. The treble was still very sharp, very peaky, and over-done. Bass was toned down surprisingly though. But again, I can see why people may like it because it is very detailed, but I found it too bright and that’s coming from me who likes brighter headphones.

In the end, they are KZ’s signature V-shape. I just don’t think I am a fan.


#55

I do understand where you are coming from. I have a set of ZS10s (detailed and very bright but not painful), and AS10s (detailed, V shaped, and sibilant after swapping the tips). Neither is painful to me.

The factory tips with the ZS10 were ridiculously bad, and resulted in a cold, analytical tone. Even when I cranked up the bass via EQ. Both sets perform best with a LARGE closed cell foam tip (New Bee – very cheap at Amazon). This way they seal fully and maximize the lows and mids.

KZ seems to be working out the positioning and balance with their BA drivers. We are their guinea pigs.


#56

I just got the newest KZ ZSN in. It is supposed to be about $20. Feels great. Metal face plate with clear acrylic backing. They use a better cable with a better connector this time around.

I’ll have to post photos later. My very first listen sounded good. Not super V-shaped but i only listened to one song, so not much to judge by.

Also, not super budget, but I wrote a review on the TenHz P4 Pro recently on my blog, reddit/headfi. Will have to post it here later, but I think it sounds great if you enjoy low volume listening. It’s about $120, though $79 on Massdrop right now. Really good neutral (flat compensation curve response) sound. Doesnt do well with EQ or high volumes though, but sounds very nice and smooth, with decent extension.


#57

Knowledge Zenith just blew my mind.

They didnt make a V, a bass blaster or a treble piercer.


#58

Whoa! I’ve been messing around with EQ’ing my QT2 to my preferences, and that ZSN raw response has a fair bit in common with my target tuning (though the mid dip around 1 KHz on the ZSN is still bigger than what I like and the 3 KHz peak a little higher. Still, that looks like an excellent tuning.


#59

It’ll be like $15 on 11.11 day :smiley:


#60

My latest purchase is the Yinyoo V2, a Tin Audio lookalike with an interesting single DD and dual composite diaphragm. I have been testing it for about a week now and I would like to post my impressions of it here so here goes:

The V2 is a new product from Yinyoo. It comes attractively presented in a white box with a picture of the earphones on a blue background and the description “high-end in-ear earphones”. There is also a byline, “cute earphones, big power”, which I found amusing. The specifications are printed on the rear of the box.

In the box you get:

  • Yinyoo V2 earphones
  • Detachable silver plated 4 core cable, 2 pin connection
  • Three pairs of white silicone tips, medium bore
  • Three pairs of grey silicone tips, medium bore
  • Hard zipped carrying case
  • Warranty card

All in all, a good set of accessories.

The earphones are crafted from solid aluminium, the earpieces being barrel-shaped and closely resembling the Tin Audio T2 (which is a very popular design). They are very well made and solid, but also lightweight. On the rear of the earpiece is a vent formed from the Yinyoo logo, a very nice design detail. This should improve the soundstage.

The earpieces are engraved with channel identification and polarity indication and there is a small pinhole vent at the base of the nozzle. The 2-pin cable is of good quality and is a braided 4-core sliver-plated type which is quite supple, making it comfortable to wear either down or behind the ear. There is a metal Y-split and a straight metal 3.5mm plug, bth of which have the Yinyoo branding. I noticed no microphonics when worn in either style.

Technically, the V2 employs a single dynamic driver (described as a USA import) with a “dual composite biology” diaphragm. I assume this means bio-cellulose, a material used in this application. No details are supplied regarding frequency division.

After burning in for about 72 hours, I tested them with my Hifi Walker H2 DAP and Fiio A5 amplifier, using a wide range of music across various genres. The earphones were worn cable down. Initially I tried the largest grey silicone tips, which are very similar to the popular Spinfit tips which I have used to good effect but they lacked bass extension. After some experimentation with other tips including Spiral Dots, I obtained the best results with the large silicone tips from the TRN V80. These gave the best isolation and bass response without compromising the rest of the frequency range.

The immediate impression was of a well-balanced, neutral signature with some warmth in the lower registers and a clear, extended treble with no peaks. There was a wonderful sense of immediacy and “life” in the music with a brilliant transient performance. In detail:

Bass

There was a mild bass emphasis which lent an attractive bloom to the mid-bass but without sacrificing attack. Indeed, the transient performance here was excellent with a lively effect. The bass itself dug quite deep with good resolution and texture. There was some sub-bass rumble with good weight and natural decay. Using a test disc with spot frequencies, there was good output at 50Hz but reduced level at 30Hz, so I would conclude that the bass begins to roll off at around 40Hz. The timbre of different instruments was easy to discern which resulted in a very natural presentation, with orchestral basses and cellos having an attractive, woody tone. Drums had plenty of impact, on Peter Buffet’s “Sierra”, the bass drums were powerful and deep with good “slam”. The bass never dominated the sound but was in good proportion to the rest of the range.

Mids

The V2’s midrange is the star of the show and was open, clear and expressive with good levels of detail and resolution. The soundstage had good width, depth and height, allowing a clear sense of positioning of instruments, especially in classical music. In Holst’s “Saturn” from The Planets Suite, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, the orchestra was laid out very impressively giving a real impression of being in the concert hall. Woodwind was pure-sounding with the timbre of the different instruments clear and distinct. Detail retrieval was well above average and the overall smoothness made it possible to listen for long periods without fatigue.

Treble

The treble had good clarity and impressive extension. At no time was there any harshness or piercing sounds. Due to the single-driver design, the transition from the mids to the treble was seamless. There was a good sense of ‘air’ and separation with an attractive smoothness giving an overall relaxing presentation. There was plenty of fine detail, with the shimmering brass and complex percussion sounds in Albeniz’s “Suite Iberia” performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra coming over very clearly with superb attack, enabling every strand of the production to be followed.

The V2 is a superb earphone with a sound quality punching well above its weight. It has a well-balanced signature and avoids the “V-shaped” profile found in so many current models. This kind of quality could command a much higher price. With its neutral sound balance and excellent clarity, its superb build quality and a good range of accessories, it represents excellent value. I have purchased seven different IEMs from Yinyoo and this is definitely the best so far, and indeed one of the finest IEMs I have heard to date.

To sum up:

Pros

  • Superb build quality
  • Accurate and neutral sound signature
  • Well-balanced bass
  • Excellent soundstage
  • Clear open treble
  • High quality detachable cable
  • Good range of accessories
  • Reasonable price

Cons

Nothing of note, especially at the price