Timeless 7hz Ortho iem - Finally a Good Ortho iem!

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by rhythmdevils, Dec 17, 2021.

  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Timeless 7hz Ortho iem review

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    Gear
    • Pi2AES -> AES -> Yggdrasil A2 -> Cavalli Liquid Gold X -> balanced out via XLR adapter
    • Pi2AES -> AES -> Yggdrasil A2 -> Cavalli Liquid Fire
    • Shanling M6 Pro AKM version -> 2.5mm balanced out
    • ipod touch 7
    • ipod touch 7 -> iFI Nano BL

    Comparison iems:
    • Dunu Zen Pro
    • Campfire Audio Solaris og gold

    Note: I have not tried the stock cable. I am using them with this Lunashops OCC copper cable, which I will include with the loaner in 3.5mm.

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    My review will focus on them out of the Liquid Gold X chain, then i will post comparisons to the other amps/sources and how they differ

    Build Quality
    I am happy with the build quality. They are made of plastic despite the beautiful spiraling ring pattern on the outside of the circle that makes them look like machined aluminum. And the plastic isn’t the highest quality, when you tap it with your fingernail, it doesn't exude quality, but it also doesn’t feel cheap or poorly made either. The good thing about being made out of plastic is it makes them very light weight. They’re very very light iems. Much lighter than the Zen Pro and Solaris, maybe 10% of the weight of those iems despite having strong ortho driver magnets inside. The stock cable feels shitty but at this price I can’t complain. they use MMCX connectors which is awesome so I can use my better cables without ordering something special, and they swivel (I hate 2 pin connectors). I’ve heard rumors about these falling apart, but they feel solid to me. i think the Zen Pro and Solaris would stand up to abuse much better, I wouldn’t want to step on these, but they seem durable enough for normal use.

    Comfort
    Despite their large size due to the large ortho driver, they are super comfortable. The large part of the iem is all floating just above the concha of your ear. And they aren’t actually totally round like the faceplate implies, they are round with a flat part, which is only fully round on the faceplate. The lightness and not touching any part of my ears makes them super comfortable. The tips fit well onto the nozzles as well. The nozzles are the perfect length and width to fit all the best tips and not let them slide down too far.

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    Background
    This the first good ortho iem I have heard, including the Tin Hifi P1 and LCDi4, which both had serious issues especially the LCDi4 which just sounded plain bad to me. Not only that, but the 7hz actually sound really good. To add insult to injury, they cost $200. The LCDi4 costs I believe $2,500 (their website just says sold out at the moment). I would swap those prices and feel pretty ok about things honestly.

    The 7hz Timelss iem is the most natrual, normal sounding iem I’ve ever heard. What’s with all these iems all of a sudden breaking through what had been the limits of their technology in iem implementation? First the Dunu Zen Pro is the first electrodynamic iem to have neutral frequency response, natural tone, and TOTL technicalities. Now the 7hz Timeless is the first ortho iem to have a good driver with well implemented acoustics, and it sounds unmistakably like an ortho (I am positive that the LCDi4 has a good driver in there, but A LOT is lost in the implementation, which by the way is way more awkward than the 7hz Timeless, which fits like a normal iem, and is more closed backed)

    Sound quality In Brief
    The 7hz Timeles iem is, like I said, the most natural, normal sounding iem I’ve ever heard. It’s got a beautiful, rich, airy, upfront, natural and neutral sounding midrange. It has punchy, solid, dynamic bass that is completely neutral (out of the Liquid Gold X) and has pretty good texture and detail and layering but not up to full size ortho levels, it’s a bit softer and less defined and controlled than my Audeze headphones. It has absolutely no peaks anywhere in the upper mids-treble, which is dead flat (though there could be a small recession in the upper mids and I might not notice it, this is very hard to hear despite what everyone thinks). Treble is dead neutral, with great tone. Cymbals sound metallic. They have perfect tone and timbre throughout the spectrum, rendering instruments with a very lifelike sound. Brass sounds brassy, violins sound woody. They have pretty good soundstage, but not the best in the iem market, but it’s still quite good, and immersive. They are very resolving but they don’t shove it in your face like the Zen Pro, they have much softer attacks, so they don’t scream resolution at you, but it’s there, I believe equal to the Zen Pro or just slightly behid. They have very natural sounding attacks and leading edges of notes that are possibly a bit soft if anything. They fit well despite the odd shape. Did I mention they are $200?

    The only real negative is a slight plastic timbre throughout the spectrum that is hard to place to any one region because it’s not obviously coming from anywhere, but it comes across when listening to the big picture. But it’s subtle, on the level of the HE6SE. Not anywhere close to as bad as Hifiman’s modern orthos. i would call this nit picking. And my Liquid Fire gets rid of

    Bass
    It is very neutral, and extends all the way down past 20hz though it doesn’t have tons of impact down at that extreme. It is dynamic and punchy and hits hard when called for with lots of impact. It can be a bit soft and lack delineation and texture though, but it is only something I notice in bass test tracks. It sounds like slightly underdamped ortho bass. But most people like the sound of underdamped ortho bass and don’t even hear it so I wouldn't worry about it too much. I would say the bass response is neutral and accurate and really quite good but not up to TOTL full size headphone technicalities. I would say it’s some of the best bass in any iem though. I can’t think of many iems that do bass better than these. The Dunu Zen Pro sounds noticeably more controlled but is also a bit rolled off and not as impactful.

    Out of the Liquid Gold X, these are not basshead iems, but as you will read later, with the right amp synergy, you can make these bassy without loosing bass quality or bleeding into the midrange at all.

    Midrange
    Gorgeous. Uprfont, not recessed at all. Male vocals have good richness and weight, female vocals have good air and breath. Very realistic and lifelike, just completely neutral and natural. The 7hz is the most resolving in the midrange. It really is full of detail here which is layered very well with good depth and seperation. My favorite midrange of any iem I’ve head.

    Treble
    Neutral, and natural. No peaks. Cymbals are nice and brassy. Not tinny at all, no plastic timbre. Not as resolving in the treble as in the midrange, but still some of the best of any iem I’ve heard. They seem extended pretty well with plenty of air, but not to the extreme. I could see wanting a bit more air here, but this is nit picking.

    Resolution
    This is a tricky part of this iem. They are very resolving, but in a very natural, efffortless way. They don’t have sharp attacks like the Dunu Zen Pro that make them scream detail. I would liken their resolving ability to the way (other people) hear the HD650’s resolving ability. they don’t scream detail, but the detail is there more than most other headphones. I would say these are some of the most resolving iems on the market at any price. But like I said, they don’t shove it in your face. I have heard that people have complained about lack of resolution, but if so they just aren’t listening very well, and are likely coming from BA iems which have super fast sounding transients but aren’t actually that resolving.

    Soundstage
    Pretty good but not huge or anything to be amazed about. I’m not picky about soundstage, but I feel they are pretty immersive and wrap around front to back and top to bottom pretty well creating a nice half dome on both sides of the head.

    Sensitivity
    They are harder to drive than most iems and so hiss won’t be an issue. They are dead silent on my Liquid Gold X and Cavalli Liquid Fire. And they take more volume to get to normal listening levels than CA iems. some desktop amps will proably hiss but not all.

    Amplifier Synergy (all vs Liquid Gold X)

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    Cavalli Liquid Fire with Siemens E88CC Gray Shield tubes
    • warmer than the Liquid Gold X, the warmest amp here in terms of tonality
    • Best bass control, same bass quantity as Liquid Gold X but better controlled, hardly any looseness at all anymore, very nice
    • Most natural sounding of all the amps here
    • No hiss, even with the volume turned all the way up with no music playing
    • Removes all hint of the plastic timbre
    • Technicalities start to compete with the Zen Pro with the LF amp.
    • Best sounding amp with them IMO

    Shanling M6 Pro akm version -> 2.5mm balanced out
    • Pretty similar tonal balance
    • Lesser technical ability
    • Less resolution by a bit
    • Less natural tone
    • A bit more upward tilting FR
    • Less bass, I think the least bass of any of these amps

    iFI Nano BL (no ieMatch)
    Similar tonality to the others, closer to the Liquid Gold X, more natural than the M6 Pro
    A step down in resolution from the M6 Pro and another step down from the Liquid Gold X
    Vocals and treble have very similar tonality and presentation to the Liquid Gold X
    Bass is more in quantity than either the M6 Pro or Liquid Gold X, though still in the realm of neutral. I wouldn’t cal this overdone.

    ipod 7 -> headphone out
    • Similar tonal balance
    • A bit leaner than the iFI Nano BL and Liquid Gold X, closer to the M6 Pro
    • least resolving, but surprisingly close to the others
    • least natural tone, a bit off, a little sharp and artificial sounding, maybe bringing out that subtle plastic timbre more than the other amps.
    • Slightly tinny treble that sounds a bit emphasized
    • Most bass response of any of these amps. Above neutral. It doesn’t bleed into the midrange but it looses a bit of definition and tightness and is a bit looser. Listening more, the bass is just a bit too much for me. I would call this mild basshead territory. I dont like anything above neutral with iems because it’s going straight into my ears and hurts my brain.

    Amplifier Conclusions

    They scale well with better amps, their slight weakness can be mitigated or eliminated by better amp/source and you can get different bass levels with different amps (surely there are some other amps that produce the same bass quantity as the ipod touch 7 but with better technicalities)

    iem Comparisons balanced out of M6 Pro (the only source that will work with all 3 iems)

    vs Dunu Zen Pro
    • Treble tonality is surprisingly similar, though the Zen Pro wins here in clarity and resolution, you can hear more going on in cymbal work and other parts of the treble
    • Bass is more controlled with noticeably better definition and detail and layering though doesn’t extend as far down, it rolls off a bit at the extreme but not much. Bass is definitely much better with the Dunu Zen Pro in term of quality
    • Midrange is more refined with faster attacks, giving the sense of a faster response. I’m not sure they’re actually more resolving in the midrange though.
    • Zero plastic timbre, it shows there is a plastic timbre to the 7hz, even if it’s subtle.
    • Can be overly sharp, the 7hz sounds more natural and smooth. I admittedly did not notice this sharpness when I first reviewed the Zen Pro becaue they were so much better than every iem I’d heard before. But it is now something i hear and bothers me a bit, espeicially when compared directly against the 7hz
    • Sound faster than the 7hz
    • Technically, they are better than the 7hz but the 7hz wins overall for me in it’s natural tone and that ortho sense of realism and weight to notes.


    vs Solaris og gold
    • lack the sharpness of the Zen Pro, they are smoother
    • faster sounding than the 7hz but not more resolving
    • least bass of all 3, with the worst extension.
    • Exaggerated treble response with a peak somewhere. Faster sounding treble. Worse tonality, cymbals don’t sound as much like cymbals
    • Biggest soundstage and sense of space
    • Less natural sounding than the 7hz, about the same as the Zen Pro. The sharpness of the Zen Pro vs the BA timbre in the Solaris
    • Most expensive by far, $1,300 more than the 7hz and $600 more than the Zen Pro. You can tell me that these are old so the prices are not comparable, but the Solaris 2020 sounds worse than the Solaris og gold by a lot, so I’ll consider the MSRP what they are worth

    Comparison Notes
    Despite everything above, the 7hz has a sense of realism to it’s presentation of notes that beats both of the above iems. This is the ortho driver, and that ortho sense of weight and body and realism that BA’s and electrodynamics can’t compete with.

    Conclusion
    My new favorite iem (though I am admittedly an ortho-head so these sound very right to me in a way they may not to others). I might have to return the Zen Pro becaue I don’t need the smaller form facor and the 7hz while not as technically proficient is better in some ways and good enough for me. I also like the fact that I can unplug my Audeze's from my Liquid Gold X and plug these in. No special ams or DAPs necessary, which makes it seamless. They are extremely well balanced from bass to treble with no peaks, ups or downs in the FR at all. Very good tonality. Very natural sounding. Resolving, but doesn’t shove it in your face. These are a great iem for anyone who likes a neutral to slightly bassy sound signature (with the right amps). I can confidently recommend this iem if you’re a neutral head or mild bass head. I think HD650 lovers (run on a good amp) would really like this iem as they have similar balance and tonality. At this price point, I think every iem user on SBAF should own a pair. They are really that good and that cheap.

    All of this being said, these are still iems, and they sound like iems, not full size headphones. All my favorite full size orthos beat them in every way but portability.

    I hate writing positive reviews, it’s so stressful. So much responsibility. o_O

    THESE WILL GO ON A LOANER TOUR WHICH I WILL POST NEXT WEEK
     
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    Last edited: Dec 17, 2021
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    This is epic. I've heard proto attempts at normal IEM form factor orthos (Audeze with their open batwings don't count*), but they weren't quite there yet.

    *Seriously, I don't want to look like Lobot while wearing IEMs.
    [​IMG]

    It's about time. Can we have a special version where there is an anime version of you engraved on the faceplate? Would be willing to pay $25 more. Of all the people in the world, you would deserve such an honor for an ortho IEM.
     
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  3. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    Of course. I hate being too hasty to recommend gear because I want to be certain I really like it myself (because stuff is expensive and I don't want to be responsible for putting others at such risk for disappointment).

    Recessions are way more listenable than bumps. I'm pretty sure Ive read this before but too lazy to look for links atm.

    Bold. Have you heard any of the basshead dynamics like TH900 or ETA GenG? Please compare?
     
  4. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    Agreed. Which reminds me. Are you going to try modding these @rhythmdevils ?
     
  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Haha thank you Marvey. |\/|

    Not bold. That's how I feel about ortho drivers in general in comparison to other technology. I was not comparing these to full size electrodynamics, nor will I it would be a waste of my time. This was a general statement about ortho technology and relating the 7hz to BA/electrodyamic iems.

    I can't open them up so no, plus they don't need mods. But when I first listened to them straight out of the iPod touch and they sounded too bassy, I did damp the enclosure vents with a little strip of micropore tape, which brought down and tightened the bass but also brought up the treble of course. But they're not bassy out of the right amps, or IME most amps. So this isn't necessary.
     
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  6. YMO

    YMO Chewbacca's hairy brother

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    I heard so much mixed things about the Timeless 7hz that I'll wait for the loaner. For the price it seems right...
     
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  7. FlySweep

    FlySweep Friend

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    Indeed, I've followed the insane hype on these at other places and there's been reports of QC issues significant enough to affect the tuning/sound. Also, the stock cable appears to have decently high impedance which may affect tuning (I know orthos typically have pretty linear impedance curves, but I haven't seen the 7Hz'). All this is based on what I've read elsewhere, just posting here for visibility. Glad to see these get the RD seal of approval though.. they've been on my list to get.. but I've been waiting for trusted heads here to get ears on them.
     
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  8. DrForBin

    DrForBin Friend

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    hello,
    neutral and affordable?
    sounds really good to me!
    cheers!
     
  9. joeexp

    joeexp Don't ship this man FD-X1 ever

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    Best-tuned planar IEMs, according to Mr. crinacle.

     
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  10. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    Wow...wasn't expecting to see these hyped here. I succumbed to the hype train and got a pair myself a couple days ago. Simply amazing IEMs. As a dyed-in-the-wool DD enthusiast these lack some of the ballsy character that a good DD can bring to the table-- the bass is amazing but you can't feel it in your chest to the same extent that you can with even the more subdued bass of the Zen Pro...but everything else about these is so astoundingly good that it boggles the imagination that they're only $200. This is my first experience with a planar of any kind and the most striking feature of the sound to me so far is that they're simultaneously more resolving than any BA set I've ever heard while having a timbre that's just as natural as any DD-- it's really quite amazing. On top of that is the fact that the tuning is simply masterful and you've got one hell of a package for $200. I'm currently enjoying them through the Cayin RU6 dongle-- a nice analogue sound that brings out the best of the Timeless.

    D05F8DC4-05E8-4534-A6A4-CB07D5A1CCE8.JPEG
     
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  11. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    Cliff notes?
     
  12. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    They are pretty good. I find them an enjoyable listen.

    I still haven't found a pair of tips that I find work well in terms of comfort. I might try ordering some longer triple flange ones, that might work.

    My pair arrived with a pretty severe rattle with bass at higher volumes and distortion with piano strikes and similar in the mids on the right side. Have read others having issues on head-fi also. Seems to be a bit of a lucky dip in that sense.
     
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  13. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Has anyone been able to compare these against the UM 3DT? Curious if the 7Hz significantly outperforms.
     
  14. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    OG Sednas-- they're made of a firmer material which helps keep the Timeless locked in place in my ears. Otherwise due to its size it tends shift and dig into my ears a little.
     
  15. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    3DT being DD has some advantages due to the inherent strengths of the DD driver but I will gloss past those for now.

    I haven't heard the 3DT in a long time but I would say the Timeless is much more coherent & cohesive and also more resolving. I haven't heard resolution like this in any IEM that didn't have e-stat drivers. Also 3DT is more intense in the upper mids-- I couldn't listen to it for long without a filter mod. Timeless by comparison is a much smoother listening experience.
     
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  16. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Thanks! The upper mid peak even with the mods can be a bit much on the 3DT. Going to see if these are a good replacement. The one thing I imagine the 3DT might do better on is bass reproduction because of the dual bass drivers in the 3DT.
     
  17. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    The bass on the Timeless is pretty damn good. It's missing perhaps the last 10% of the weight and grip a DD can provide but the extension, timbre & decay is spot on.
     
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  18. minimus

    minimus Rando

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    As this is my first non-introductory post, I just want to say that I agree that the 7Hz Timeless are similar in a lot of ways to the HD650s. By way of comparison, the 7Hz sound much better to me than my custom JH Audio Roxanne’s, although those have always been a big disappointment to me.
     
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  19. Ksaurav402

    Ksaurav402 Friend

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    How does it compare to Moondrop Kato? Both are in same price bracket and are among crowd favorite at the moment. I personally want something warmer and smoother so I feel Timeless will be more to my taste but would love to hear someone who has heard both.
     
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  20. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    They are tuned similarly but the 7hz walks all over the Kato in every way IMO. The Kato is pretty dull and lifeless and seriously lacks resolution. They're a well tuned cheap DD iem. The 7hz is something really special IMO.
     
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