IEM general discussion thread

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by Griffon, Nov 1, 2015.

  1. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Only place I can find the BT20S for US$35 is here: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/33041970726.html
    It's more like $50-60 elsewhere. The non "S" version is closer to $35 pretty much everywhere. Have you compared the two?

    The only time I'd have anything behind my neck other than a towel would be doing squats with a barbell, and I hate doing that so it shouldn't be a problem.
     
  2. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

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    I got mine from this seller: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/33039357787.html
    (don't forget to choose MMCX where it says "Color")

    I've had the BT20 for one year now and the BT20S for a month or so. The most noticeable upgrade on the BT20S for me is connection stability. Sound quality wise it's just a subtle improvement, as the BT20 sounds pretty good too.

    Since you can get the BT20S for $35, there's no point in going for the BT20 imo.
     
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  3. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

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    Yeah, and I forgot to mention, unless you're in a very big room, bluetooth transmission can rely on reflections, so it's more of a potential problem outdoors than indoors.
     
  4. phant0m

    phant0m Rando

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    The FH7 is VERY good. Excellent balance and separation. Bass is very punchy, but never overwhelming. Doesn’t have as much extension or texture in the low end as my LCD-2F but also adds significantly less color to the presentation. Treble doesn’t really “sparkle” but has good detail and no sibilance, I’m fairly treble-sensitive and the FH7 are not fatiguing at all. Fit is also perfect for me.

    I’m auditioning the CA Polaris 2 against them and will post a in-depth comparison soon.
     
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  5. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    Went ahead and got a set for fun - will see how they work. Thanks for the link!
     
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  6. Augmentin

    Augmentin MOT - DUNU IEM Company

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    @james444 & @gixxerwimp

    I got mine locally for ~$50 --- that link seems to be a nice price for the BT20S. I haven't had any issues with dropouts outdoors (only occasional transient dropouts lasting 1 sec or less, usually when my phone is running multiple apps and I am putting it into a pocket with lots of other metallic objects like keys), even with a backpack.

    Frankly, I think SQ is pretty lacklustre for all QCC3000 series, but we shouldn't be too picky. I find the SQ acceptable for casual (i.e. non-critical) listening, and that's good enough for me because I only use the BT20S outdoors. If the electric hum of the subway and the natural gas drone of the bus can drown out that high-pitched RF squeak in the BT20S, I don't think I'm going to be dissecting music.

    If people want SQ, we can anticipate things coming down the pipeline; AKM announced a high quality DAC/amp SoC a few months ago dedicated for low-power TWS applications (https://www.akm.com/akm/en/aboutus/news/20190306AK4332_001/) but I don't think production for this part has ramped up to the point where we're going to see this part being used anytime soon. Perhaps next year; I expect FiIO to be an early adopter. They seem to order a lot of AKM parts or the order of tens of thousands.
     
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  7. Augmentin

    Augmentin MOT - DUNU IEM Company

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    And just for the record, there *should* be ZERO DIFFERENCE in sound quality between the TM2 and the BT20S.

    The TM2 uses the QCC3026, while the BT20S uses the QCC3020. Both chipsets use identical DSP clocks, support the same exact wireless codecs, and have the same exact power draw. The difference between the two is the die package; the QCC3026 uses WLCSP (wafer-level chip scale package), while the QCC3020 uses VFBGA (very fine ball grid array).

    What's the difference? A quick Google search reveals the following:
    Theoretically, this means, that WLCSP will end up more consistent in performance, but if there are problems with the soldering of the VFBGA onto the PCB, I suspect we'll get issues with connectivity and RF interference in addition to sound quality issues. I think SQ would be the least of its problems.

    It's possible that TRN soldered a resistor in series in front of the outputs, but there's no way to verify this unless someone measures and/or takes it apart.
     
  8. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I ordered one from @james444's AliExpress seller and will report back.
    Wut? Please describe in more detail. Is this when it drops out?
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  9. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

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    I'm not getting any high-pitched squeak on my BT20S / FW01 combo via aptX from my LG V30.

    There's some minor static noise, but hardly noticeable for me, even with quiet classical music at max volume in quiet surroundings. Nothing whatsoever that would bother me when I'm out and about.

    Of course, when the connection drops out temporarily, there may be noise and stuttering until it recovers. But as I said, that's a very rare issue during normal use when I carry my phone in a front pants pocket. And I've been using it on hikes for hours without a single dropout.

    Outdoors, I can deliberately and repeatably make it drop out though, by wearing a large backpack or even by just folding my arms behind my neck.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
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  10. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

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    I believe reliability of bluetooth streaming with TWS can very much depend on your individual physique. For instance, with the BT20 (the older non-"S" version), I can repeatably make the right side drop out by just turning my head to the right. However, nothing happens if I turn my head to the left. Since the left side is master and the right side is slave, I suspect this may have something to do with reflections / interference caused by my left shoulder, whenever I turn my head to the right.

    Funny enough, this only happens outdoors, because indoors, BT can rely on reflections off walls. Many people don't know that and wonder why they experience connection problems when they step out the door, virtually only seconds after everything just worked like a charm at home.

    And to make things even more complicated, the mentioned dropouts on my BT20 only happen when the ear hooks rest against the sides of my head. After pulling them only millimeters away from my head, so that they rest against the backside of my ears, the streaming connection becomes stable (likely due to more favorable radiation pattern) and I can no more provoke dropouts by turning my head.

    Bottom line, thankfully bluetooth streaming has become a lot more reliable recently, because troubleshooting these issues can be a huge PITA.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
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  11. phant0m

    phant0m Rando

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    FULL COMPARISON: FiiO FH7 vs Campfire Audio Polaris 2
    Main Setup: Roon [Tidal/FLAC] --> RME ADI-2 --> IEM Out
    Also tested: Tidal App --> Direct out from 2018 MacBook Pro



    Build & Packaging: The FH7 comes in a huge-ass box, which includes the IEMs, a cable, interchangeable nozzle filters, a leather-wrapped "hard shell" case, and a large assortments of tips that are beautifully laid out and labelled as to their type/purpose (bass enhancement, vocals, memory foam, etc). The box of the Polaris 2 is much smaller, and the flaps open to reveal the IEMs and cable in a very nice pouch with a hefty zipper and two other draw string pouches with a variety of ear tips. The draw string pouches are a big disappointment compared to FiiO's offering, since you basically have to dump them out and sort them anytime you want to switch. However, the zipper pouch is much less bulky than the FH7's hard case.

    The build quality on both units is stellar, with maybe a slight edge to the Polaris.The cable, however, is an easy win for FiiO. Campfire's cable is nice, thin with a tight twist, but the the FiiO has a 4-wire braid with a significantly more robust connector at the end.


    Comfort: I admittedly have not tried dozens and dozens of different IEMs, but the FiiO FH7 is the first IEM that I effortlessly put in and got a perfect fit & seal. No wiggling, no angling, no rolling 4 different tips The curved design of the drivers also makes them extremely comfortable to wear for long periods, I could seriously wear these all day. Fortunately, the Polaris are also very comfortable. I was also able to get a good seal fairly easily and found them comfortable to wear for extended periods, though the drivers are quite cold feeling when you first put them in (they warm up fairly quickly though).


    Sound: The FH7 is a superbly balanced in-ear. Bass is punchy but not overwhelming or boomy; treble is detailed but never piercing or sibilant. Midrange clarity and detail is excellent with good imaging. I mostly used the stock "reference" filter and stock ear tips and preferred it overall; though those that like more detail/sparkle in the high end might prefer the "treble boost" filter, I was surprised to find it didn't make the sound fatiguing.

    The Polaris 2 is not well-balanced. Gallons of bass. Gallons. Paired with crisp, sparkly high-end. Sadly, this comes as a loss of clarity and separation through the mirdange, particularly in the lower midrange as they're completely overtaken by "dat bass thump". Soundstage is much wider than the FH7 which also contributes to the difference in clarity. Stocks tips on the Polaris were ok, I preferred the included Final Type E tips and used those for the majority of my listening.

    My "gear test" playlist is about 3 hours long, but I'll admit here, this comparison was over in about 10 minutes. I ran through the whole thing, trying to pick out strengths and weaknesses of each but it was just so apparent to my ears that the FH7 were in a different tier. The Polaris 2 just sounded like "what if Beats actually made a good headphone?" (this is a compliment....i think). Further, I was looking for an IEM to compliment my LCD-2F, which has a very dark, warm signature so the improved balance and clarity across the spectrum in the FH7 has earned it a permanent spot in my gear collection. The Polaris 2 are going back.


    BONUS COMPARISON: TIN HiFi T3

    I'm always a skeptic of "chi-fi", but since I was doing this comparison I figured I would see what the hype was about on the $70 IEMs.Amazing cable. It's so soft, I don't know what voodoo they did. If it had a better end I'd prefer it to the FiiO one. Sadly, this is where my praise ends: I think they frankly sound like ass. Decent clarity for under $100, but very weak bass response and awful sibilence in the treble. Couldn't listen for more than 10 minutes without EQing them. Comfort is average at best.
     
  12. Augmentin

    Augmentin MOT - DUNU IEM Company

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    It's very soft, and not really an issue. "Squeak" is probably not the right descriptor. It's not signal dependent, either.

    Static noise is probably the better word to describe it.

    I'm getting fewer connectivity issues than you, it seems. Maybe it is a physique thing --- I'm not exactly chiseled like a Greek god, but James on the other hand... ;)
     
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  13. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

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    i like where you're coming from, but rather suspect the main culprit may be my big noggin... :)
     
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  14. Bina

    Bina MOT - Shanling

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    Reminds me of us testing our new Bluetooth products at Shanling. I, as tall and fat European, was getting vastly different quality of connection compared to anybody else in the office.
     
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  15. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

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    I've been listening to the Moondrop Spaceship casually for a week or so. It's better than I expected. Yes, it's a bit more treble forward and it's not quite as cohesive as the Crescent. It has the same good quality, tight bass though that is available on demand. For the 14 bucks I paid though this was an easy buy.
     
  16. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    So Amazon.co.jp sells the JVC Spinal Dots ++, but they are about $30 shipped to the US for a pair of two. : /

    So I got the ML size that @shotgunshane recommended. So it's to me a hybird, part silicone but part foam (in feel, not by looks). I made my Solaris lose a minor amount of soundstage but gain smoothness in the treble and added sub-bass. Yes, depending on your IEM it will make the sound more on the warm tone level of things. Not for everything, but right for me since I don't like treble spikes and a decent amount of sub-bass without being overloaded.

    On the Andros the Spinal Dots ++ made it more warm and added some sub-bass, without losing too much of why I love the Andro pair with the ZX2.

    I also received the regular Spinal Dots from Amazon US today. That's $15 shipped for a pair of six of them. I did use those on my NuForce X Drop Move, and it made it more neutral, and better tip quality than the ones that came with the IEMs.
     
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  17. taisserroots

    taisserroots Friend

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    Hs1695ti
    Fit much better than old stuff
    Bumped presence region,
    Have a hollow sort of presentation, lower mids sound dipped
    Dynamics are kind of mediocre because of the mids, although the timbre is ok, the tone can catch you off.
    Initially a relaxing listen, but the bumped presence can be fatiguing.
    Snares sound less fatiguing but almost realistic dynamics for an iem.

    Hs1670ss
    Favourite iem (complicated)
    Much more balanced tone
    Similar dynamics and resolution,
    The stage is more realistic, has less of the hollow quality
    sub bass bump and clean mid bass, helps a lot with kick drum dynamics
    Decent isolation
    Tia trio
    Really nice iem, with a very balanced tone.
    No crazy staging affects, the stage is quite natural.
    Still issues with dynamics, but little compromise compared to other iems.
    The upper treble extension is a thing with these, one of the most extended iems I've heard with ier-z1r. There is still a plastic timbre to these and the resolution doesn't compare to full-size headphones.
    Easy listen, not much else to say. Probably my favourite BA due to the fit and sound in combination

    Polaris
    Alright
    Bass rumbles everywhere, while the mids are unbalanced they are coherent to a degree.
    It sounds hollow out, which I don't think works with a lot of pop songs.
    The timbre is slightly disjointed, where the decay in the treble and upper mids is noticeably different than the lower mids.
    This doesn't work well with jazz

    Andromeda
    A much more coherent package with silicone tips.
    The resolution is quite good for a BA, with the plastic timbre taking a step back, not far off z1r timbre and further away from hs1670 timbre.
    Nice treble sparkle, lacks the upper end of treble extension like most iems.
    Less compressed than the Tia trios in some ways. Although the trios are more resolving which might highlight issues in microdynamics more.

    IO
    lower treble bump, with a bump in the upper mids for more energy.
    Alright sounding
    Don't see much of the the strength of the Polaris over this aside from bass rumble and texture.
    The resolve is quite similar.
    Looks nice, matches with most outfits (nice +)
    Kind of uneven in lower mids, doesn't sound ridiculously incoherent though.
    Can quite easily become very boring over a long period of time due to the tone and how it creates this lack of engagement with the weak dynamics.
    Maybe eq helps.
    Just Polaris isn't worth it over these, and these look cuter.
     
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  18. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    @james444, how are you wearing the FD01 with BT20S? If I hook them over my ears, the earhooks pull them out and I lose seal.

    20190906_225014.jpg

    20190906_230030.jpg
     
  19. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

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  20. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    That's beezar .... Never would have thought to wear them like that. Having the knurled end cap jammed into your cymba concha isn't uncomfortable?
     
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