Antdroid's In-Ear Monitor Ranking List & Impressions/Reviews

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If you don’t click on this link, you’ll never forgive yourself.

Also, it’s a really interesting interview.


What do you think of the 400SE? Seems like a great budget choice, maybe even the budget choice nowadays.

“SINAD IS NOT IMPORTANT: See what Antdroid Thinks!”


Since HE6/6SE V2 is baby sus, I call HE400SE fetus Sus.

It’s a really solid headphone at $149, and I use it more than Susvara nowadays since I leave this headphone at work and go into the office half the week. This and the Sennheiser HD600-series of headphones are really really nice entry-level audiophile headphones that I think a large group of people will be totally satisfied with.

The only thing I don’t like about the 400SE is its headband does give me a hotspot right in the center. I took a piece of leather, cut it to make a suspension strap and punched 2 holes on either end and used a very small length of twisty tie and secured it around the headbands to make a working suspension strap that makes this headphone have ultimate comfort.


LOL. Would that make the Drop + Hifiman HE-X4 the “glint in the postman’s eye” Sus?


Sounds like a great budget candidate then, especially if you jerry rig the headband like you have. Good idea!

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This is a quick review of the TRN X7.
I don’t have it ranked in my list yet, as I am working on a major revision to it right now which will rescore some IEMs…

Today we will take a quick look at the latest in-ear monitor earphone from Chinese brand, TRN, dubbed the X7. The TRN X7 is the second most expensive model that I am aware from this brand and is priced at $129 USD and available at, which is who provided me this review sample discussed here.

The X7 is a 7-driver in-ear that consists solely of balanced armature drivers. As some may know, purple is one of my favorite colors if done right, and TRN makes my heart beat just a little bit more with its all-purple design that is nicely colored and lightweight. The inner-shell is translucent and the outer faceplate has a subtle marble-like look to it, all in a violet/purple hue.

The form-factor is just below average in terms of size/width/height/etc. based on many other recent releases. This one fits my smaller ears very comfortably without any pain or long-term aches.

The X7 in-box accessories include a silver-colored braided cable that is lightweight and generally easy to use, but can get tangled from time to time. TRN also supplies several tips and a typical round-tin can with a screw-on top for storage.

Sound Impressions

I used the X7 with a combination of players: the Sony NW-A55 digital audio player with off-line FLAC files, the Chord Mojo/Poly combination with streaming Roon, and a little bit of time off my Asus Chromebook. I did not find any of these sources to have any problems with playing the X7 to loud volumes, or give any noticeable hiss or noise, or any additional “scaling” or “synergy.”

The TRN X7 has a sound signature that is slightly above what I consider neutral, with an elevated bass, lower midrange, and a darker treble range. It has little to no treble extension which is a little sad to hear given it uses a 7-driver setup. Could you spare one of them for upper treble?

Instead, the X7 is very focused on the mid-range and lower mids in particular. I found the level of quantity in the lower-mids to be a bit heavy for my personal liking, but it does do really well with male vocals and lower end music. At times, the combination of the heavier low-end and the lack of upper treble give this IEM a closed-in and compressed sound that lacks a lot of air. Still, though, I thought the soundstage width was quite fine and did not see any congestion of instruments and imaging didn’t suffer.

In certain pop tracks like several songs I heard from Jorja Smith, Chvrches or BTS, I found no issues with sibilance (surprisingly given this is TRN), and no real issues with fatigue. Higher octave vocals from Lauren Mayberry or the BTS boys occasionally sounded a tad stretched, but nothing unpleasant or totally unnatural.

My main concern with the overall listening performance was just that it sounded a little too heavy down low and really lacking good quality bass resolution and texturing. Funny enough, I found the overall resolution and clarity of the mid-range and treble to be good, but the lower mids and bass area just sounded a bit lacking and dulled out.

The X7 did work with every genre I threw at it and I did not find any one particular type of music to be a deal breaker. It offered a pleasant sound to everything, with just a little over-emphasis in the low end. Many may appreciate that thicker sound though, with the loss of detail and agility as its biggest nemesis.

The X7 is a my favorite TRN IEM to date, but that’s not saying a lot at the same time. It’s different than the rest of their lineup in that it does not present an over-emphasised and exagerrated upper-midrange and treble, but at the same time, it does come across a little dark.

This one may not be the best IEM for its asking price, but it has a decent sound and nice styling.


Plus One for purple.

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Campfire Audio’s new lineup. Quick impressions after about 5-10 minutes of listening to each one this afternoon:

Satsuma -

My first impression of this was, wow this reminds me of the Campfire Comet or the Campfire Orion. It’s been a while since I’ve heard either one, but it sounds very much like a Campfire IEM of the past. Looked up the FR and yes, its the Comet with a new shell… at least in terms of FR.

This one is safe. It’s a tad hazy, meaning there’s some lack of clarity in the upper midrange, but nothing offensive to me. It lacks a little bit of upper treble, and it has a neutral low end. Vanilla is a good word for it.

Mmm Vanilla and Satsuma = Orange Creamsicle? Or maybe its those orange and vanilla ice cream cups that I can’t find at the grocery store anymore…


My first word that I thought was… “wow this is stupid”

Its stupid bass. Bass is completely dominant here, and its hazy at the same time. It has character…

I’ll listen to this more later… if I can bring myself to it.


This is the blue one. It is also heavy on the bass, and reminds me of something of a mix between Satsuma and Honeydew but with better resolution, clarity, and quality, but still tonally strange. It’s not really v-shaped, but it kinda is? The bass is just too aggressive for my taste, but again, I need more time on this one as well.



This was my first impressions I think I typed as I was writing down my impressions live on Discord. I was listening to this at normal to loud volume for me, and it sounded so dang loud. Everything was loud. Then I turned the volume down a bit and, wow, it sounded a lot better. It was definitely hazy. Everything from Campfire Audio is hazy. Its the campfire smoke?

Anyway, this one has nice quick transients, snappy and defined notes, and decent detail and imaging. Its weakness I found so far are: must be played at lower volume, and it sounds a tad flat and doesn’t have adequate pinna-compensation for female and strings for my taste. It measures like an audio speaker and not a headphone. If it were a speaker, it’d be a nice FR.

Graph Tool: https:/


The Shozy Ceres is a dual driver hybrid in-ear monitor featuring a single 9.2mm dynamic driver and a single balanced armature. The IEM retails for $179.99 and is available on for purchase. Linsoul provided this review unit for me to assess and here we go…

A couple years ago, I was sent the Shozy V33 Pro. It was an interesting ear phone to say the least. It was marketed as an analog-vintage sounding IEM and even had a round shell with a vinyl-record like appearance on the faceplate. It sounded terrible to me. Low-resolution, mushy, blunted, and sucking the life out of pretty much everything I’ve heard. I did not like it at all.

The Ceres seems like a continuation of this concept. It takes some of that “vintage-analog” sound descriptor and adds a little bit more depth to it. The overall sound is very much “lo-fi”, meaning it gives everything a heavy, dark haze to it. Imagine low hanging smog in your town, covering up most of the glistening sun and only letting parts of it through – That’s how I feel the Ceres presents itself to a lot of the music I listen to.

In actuality, this has a lot to do with it’s lack of upper-midrange, and elevated low end. The missing pinna compensation in its frequency response gives an overall hazy sound effect that makes everything sound smothered and veiled. Female vocalists in my playlist take the biggest hits here, and for the most part, male vocalist sound decent.

The Ceres works best for instrumental music that lacks guitars and strings which I feel need that upper midrange gain to really sound accurate. Instead, they all sound muted and constrained.

An example of this effect is when listening to Cocteau Twins and really any track. Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals are not piercingly high (a good thing) but lacks the dynamics and power that she can exhibit. The swirling guitars sound especially restricted and too controlled, and the drums, specifically cymbals sound off and inaccurate.

I am a fan of lo-fi chill hop, and this IEM gives the semblance of that to pretty much every track I threw at it. Unfortunately, that’s not how I think those songs should sound like.

The worst now is presented. What’s good about this Ceres?

The Ceres has decent imaging and soundstage. It surprisingly has a layers of depth and is slightly wide, and that allows instrumentation to have some presence to it. I was a little surprised about this after my initial hatred of the IEM in general.

Still, the tonality is just not what it should be, but with a bit of brain-burn-in, I can live with this more relaxed and analog sound. I don’t think I could listen to this for everything, but perhaps certain older instrumental music in the right mood.

This is definitely not one for those who want a hi-res sound with clearly defined notes and a lot of texture and resolution. This is very much a smoothed over, warm-bodied, punchy, and haze-fi sound. It’ll take a lot of getting used to for the majority of us and not one I’d easily recommend.


Campfire Audio’s latest batch of in-ear monitor releases includes the $549 Mammoth and the $649 Holocene, both of which fall within the middle of their pricing line-up. These two IEMs were provided on loan from who are one of Campfire’s official online retailers.

Both of these units come with very familiar Campfire metal alloy shells that are very much the same design as many within their arsenal, including their most famous Andromeda. The Mammoth looks similar to the Polaris, but with a darker blue finish and black nozzle, while the Holocene has a metallic brown color tone with the same black nozzle.

Both of these are triple-driver products, however they differ in the configuration. The lower-priced Mammoth is a hybrid, with a single dynamic driver and two balanced armatures, while the Holocene sports a triple-BA configuration.

Like other Campfire products, these two packages come with a carrying pouch, a variety of tips from Comply and normal silicone tips, Campfire pin, and mesh pouches. For the cable, Campfire took the likable Smokey Litz cable and decided to add Glow-in-the-Dark connectors on both the mmcx and 3.5mm ends. This matches the small and subtle glow-in-the-dark CA logo on each shell.

While I don’t mind the look on the shell, it does look a bit tacky on the cables. It reminds me of growing up as a kid and seeing toys made for 6 year olds with glow-in-the-dark features. Or those stars you put on the ceiling of a nursery for your baby. Are we supposed to be children now?

Mammoth Sound Impressions

The Mammoth has a typical V-Shaped sound signature, which heavily emphasizes bass, has dipped midrange, and elevated treble, although, I don’t think the upper-mids and treble area is overdone, and actually are nicely placed.

It’s been quite a while since I last heard the Polaris, but from memory, I believe these two share the commonality of a bass-friendly sound signature, while the Mammoth may be overall better balanced than either of the Polaris iterations. That said though, I still think the Mammoth’s tonal balance is very heavily skewed towards the bass and lower mid-range, to the point where it can be a little distracting and the lack of the vocal portion of the mids makes this sound like its lacking clarity and a bit low-res.

In most tracks I listened to, whether that be instrumental trio-jazz, soul, or pop music, I found the suck-out in the midrange to stand out, and the emphasis in the mid-bass to be slightly overwhelming. It’s not totally distasteful though, and with constant listening and mental burn-in, I was able to comfortably listen to the Mammoth for a period of time.

The Mammoth has a very consumer-friendly sound signature, and people who are used to listening to brick & mortar headphones and in-ears should find this signature safe and familiar, but with better quality resolution, transient response, and sound stage. I found the technical capabilities of the Mammoth to be decent to good, but the tonal balance to be rather boring.

Holocene Sound Impressions

The Holocene is a different sound signature. If one were to look at its frequency response measurement, it could be considered a pretty decent speaker, as it’s fairly flat with a gentle bass bump, and a down-sloping treble, granted with some extra upper treble energy for clarity. But, a speaker response and a headphone response which has to compensate for other factors within your ear are not one in the same.

The Holocene comes across a tad hazy and forward sounding, perhaps a tad boxy. This is mostly due to the lack of ear pinna compensation in the upper-mid range and low treble that is typical in many IEMs and headphones. Instead, it follows a flatter trajectory here, and those who may favor something like the Audeze headphones tuning may like this a little more. It’s slightly darker, and slightly thicker, but has just enough treble gain to make it not overly compressed and midnight dark.

The tonal balance takes a little getting used to, and in fact, my initial impressions were quite blasphemous. I had them playing at or maybe a little louder than my normal listening volume and the music I was listening to at the time, Chvrches’ latest record “Screen Violence”, was just utterly shouting at me. Everything came in at full volume, no matter where it was coming from or what instrument or who’s voice (well, its mostly just Lauren Mayberry’s sweet voice). This thing WAS SHOUTING AT ME!

I hated it. But, then I turned the volume back a little bit, and everything was alright with the world again. The Holocene, while having a kind of strange fuzzy haze to its upper mids, sounded alright. Imaging was improved, and soundstage opened up at the same time. There was no more a congestion of full blast audio, and instead, there was actually decent to good depth, width and height.

The Holocene is a pretty good technical IEM. It lacks tonal-correctness, in the way that I would consider correct (see my Target Curve), but this IEM has a lot of good qualities to it, like many of the multi-BA Campfire IEMs can demonstrate – even the wretched IO. It has nice transient speed and a decent amount of punch, and resolution is quite solid for this price range.

As with all Campfire products, my main concern with this Holocene is how it presents the mid-range, and unfortunately that is one of my most important areas of concern. This doesn’t do it totally wrong, but coming from an IEM with adequate pinna compensation, this one sounds just a little strange. Now that said, mental/brain-burn in is real. This one takes a little getting used to and then it does not sound too bad. It has decent technical chops and so it’s not a bad package overall.

Fans of the original Andromeda may enjoy this one, though it doesn’t have nearly the same level of bass quantity, but it is a little more polite and dapper.

Which of these to Buy?

If I had to choose one, I’d take the Holocene. Why?

This is because it demonstrates better technical performance than the Mammoth in pretty much every way. The Holocene may not have the best tonal balance for my personal preference, but neither does the Mammoth. The Holocene, though, doesn’t come off as trying too hard to pound bass into you, but also falling flat on its face in that aspect as well.


This is upcoming ranking chart:


Last week, I took a look at the Campfire Mammoth and Holocene, which are the company’s two latest mid-tier in-ear monitors. This week, I’ll take a look at their new budget sets, the aptly named Satsuma and Honeydew. These two bright and flamboyant orange and yellow IEMs cost $199 and $249 and come with a similarly designed shell to some of Campfire’s smaller IEMs, however, the Portland-based company decided to save costs by going with a plastic shell instead of their traditional aluminum-alloys.

These two IEMs were provided for loan by and can be purchased from them directly at They also sell other Campfire Audio IEMs as well.

The new shell design gives these IEMs a slightly lighter weight which provides excellent comfort. I never had a problem with fit and long-term use with either of these, and are easily the most comfortable Campfire products I’ve worn. The plastic colorful shells look fun and vibrant from afar, and adds a new character to the Campfire lineup that was starting to get boring with their re-use of the same colors on the metal shells they’ve perfected over the years. The housings’ cost-cutting look does show itself when looking up-close with a very plasticky look, but that’s not that big of a deal, as I find the cute stand-out look to be appealing and a much needed change.

Despite being on the budget class, Campfire’s unboxing experience remains the same as their higher price brackets, with the same box designs, a colorful carrying pouch, plenty of tips, IEM mesh sacks, and a lower cost Smokey Lite cable, that for the most part, does not look any different than the original version.

Campfire Satsuma Sound Impressions

The Satsuma is a single ported-BA IEM that essentially replaces the Campfire Comet as their new budget single BA solution. In fact, I think these two sound almost indistinguishable, at least from memory. Tonality is pretty much the same, with a general neutral low-end, a slightly hazy mid-range, and a tame treble range that lacks extension. It’s a slightly darker than neutral overall sound to me, which is extremely reminiscent of the Comet.

In fact, when I measured the Satsuma, it pretty much measures the same as the Comet. Very interesting.

There is nothing flagrantly wrong with the Satsuma. It’s not bad in any way for its price point. Perhaps it’s a little dated sounding though. The Comet sounded average when it came out a few years ago, and the Satsuma doesn’t really add anything special to it and given the rise of various new brands out of China and even competition from Etymotic and other western brands, something that sounds just like the Comet starts to lose some of its value.

My biggest complaint with the Satsuma is really that it lacks originality and flavor. Its really bland and vanilla. It’s characteristic is perhaps the slightly hazy midrange and the lack of treble extension keeping things relatively smooth and gentle and easy to listen. Is that a good thing? Maybe? Its safe.

Campfire Honeydew Sound Impressions

Whereas the Satsuma is a bit plain vanilla, the Honeydew is anything but. The Honeydew reminds me of the dirty bass you experience when you’re riding in a tricked out car with dual subwoofers in the trunk or below the seats. Its bombastic.

There’s a pretty significant bass shelf on this single dynamic driver IEM, but the bass is even more accentuated due to the relative amount of upper mids, or lack-thereof. The Honeydew is filthy. It’s not clean, but the bass bangs. It’s like going to a club and hearing the boom booms all around you, and not a lot much else, since the mid range is sputtered out.

The one thing keeping it from being a mud-fest is its treble gain starting at 5K and beyond. This provides a much needed lift in the upper end to provide some clarity, and while it’s overall quite a compressed sound, it’s also a little fun and entertaining for a short while.

I don’t think the Honeydew does well to re-represent vocals, and I’d rather stick with instrumental music for this one – think EDM. But then again, I didn’t find these too troubling with deeper male vocals, but found it a bit way too closed-in and hazed-up with female singers.

The Honeydew is a one-trick pony. It’s a slammer.

Which to Buy?

I wouldn’t buy either given these IEM’s price points and their crazy competition in this range. There’s just so many other products under $250 to look at with either better tonal balance, technical performance, or both, that I do not know if these truly stand out enough to justify buying them over something else.

If I had to take one, that’s a hard one. The Satsuma is probably a better overall genre-swapper, as it’s tonality is a little more pleasant all-around, and its non-fatiguing in every way. The Honeydew will probably be fatiguing over-time with its heavy pounding of bass, and it’s really not well-suited for those who care about mid-range like myself.

It’s a tough call. I’d probably get Satsuma personally, but I can see why many would probably take the Honeydew, since it offers something just a little bit different than what else is out there.

Campfire, you can do better.


I would change this to: Campfire Audio is a one-trick pony.
They have the Andromeda and that is more or less it. They try so hard, but almost all other IEM releases have not been successfull. Can someone please help them, because they seem lost.


Totally agree! They’re the most overrated and overpriced IEM manufacturer in my opinion. With that said, every time they announce a new release l, I’m rooting for them. I truly do want them to succeed, but in order to do so, they need to start listening to the audio community; wish they’d release more game changers, like the Andromeda. One can dream…


Dunu Falcon Pro Review

Antdroid | October 05, 2021

The Falcon Pro is Dunu’s latest ECLIPSE-based single dynamic driver in-ear monitor that uses trickle-down technology from the Zen and Zen Pro and their flagship Luna. This new IEM comes in at a relatively low price of $219 and is packed with goodies, which I’ll talk about a little bit more below.

First off, I’d like to thank Tom of Dunu for providing me this review unit to try out and provide my impressions here.

The Falcon Pro is not only just a new IEM, but it also features the first use of Dunu’s new modular cable connector system that I’m aware of. This new mmcx and silver-colored wounded and braided cable is very clean looking and easy to use. The new connector is a little bit easier to use as it is just pulled on without any moving mechanism to secure it into place. You do have to make sure you have it aligned correctly for it to fit. The new connector may look large in marketing images, but in reality, its actually a lot smaller than I thought and is a little more compact than the original Dunu modular connectors.

As with other Dunu products, there is a lot of tips provided, as well as a zipper carrying case. The case included with the Falcon Pro is a green canvas-like material and has a netted pocked on the inside. There’s plenty of space for the IEM and tips and small accessories. My little Sony Walkman NW-A55 will actually fit inside this case as well!

Dunu uses a metallic shell that has a polished mirror look with 5 vent holes on the interior side. The shell design is tear-drop shaped and small to medium sized with a medium depth nozzle. My overall comfort level wearing these with SpinFit tips was excellent and I never felt like I needed to take these off nor had trouble with seal.

Sound Impressions

The Dunu Falcon Pro exhibits a warm-bodied and smooth sound no matter the filter choice. Now, each one does something with the amount of bass and treble output, but overall the Falcon Pro has a warm and elevated bass response, and a slightly dark and relaxed treble range that makes it a comfortable listen for long periods of time. If anything, the Falcon Pro has a very vanilla, yet elegant sound.

For most of my listening, I decided upon the least bass, and more treble filter called the Transparency filter. This one provided a little bit less mid-bass, and just a tad more treble than the standard Reference filter, and the very interesting Atmospheric filter. With the Atmospheric one, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is going on, as it doesn’t necessarily sound as dark as it graphs, and provides an interesting level of depth and imaging that sounds a bit diffused out, and I don’t tend to notice the dark FR response that it exhibits.

With the Transparency filter, I found the bass to have the least amount of bloat, though I wouldn’t necessarily say that the other filters are excessively bloated. They have a very mid-bass focused sound but does not necessarily translate into a great amount of punch and slam. Instead, I find this to be a smooth and warm-bodied experience, with any of the filters. The Transparency filter, however, allows just a little bit more texture to shine, but at the end of the day, the Falcon Pro isn’t the most resolving and texture-filled experience there is for an IEM nor does it compare to Dunu’s higher-priced sibling, the Zen.

The Falcon Pro’s midrange is even-keeled. It’s warm and subtle and does not do anything to make it really stand out. Perhaps, this has to do with the elevated lower bass, and the Hifiman-like subdued 1KHz range, which gives the Falcon just a bit more space to play with in an otherwise warm-tuning that can cause music to come across just a bit more intimate than my normal preferences.

The treble response of the Falcon Pro shows a mature smoothness to it that isn’t overly bright or sharp, but also not too dark either. It’s got a decent amount of treble extension, but a softness to it that makes it sound very refined, especially at the price point it is targeting. Many IEMs in this price range don’t really give the listener proper treble extension, and many mask treble extension-less with just peaks in the lower treble to give an overly sharp but “clarity” sound. In the case of the Falcon Pro, treble is present, but it does not stand out, which is nice. I wouldn’t classify it as sweet totally, but it’s nearing that type of sweetness that I desire.

The Falcon Pro’s technical performance is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s solid given its low price point, but I wouldn’t consider it above average against other competition either. It has solid separation, and treble extension, but it lacks microdynamics and punch. It doesn’t slam as hard as you may think given its FR graph, nor does it provide a great level of bass texture given its dynamic driver. But it does not falter in any of these cases either. It’s just, average.

I gave out the sample units of the Dunu DK2001 and DK3001 Pro a couple years ago to the boys at and they still have them, otherwise I’d love to compare how these fare against one another. I think the Falcon Pro may go well head to head against these two, as a very similar cross of the two IEMs, with the bass/warmth of the DK2001 and the relaxed sound of the DK3001 Pro, but with more treble extension than both.

I did compare this to the smaller, but pricer Zen from Dunu. The Zen is punchier, more dynamic, and just an overall better IEM in many of the technical categories. The Falcon Pro does best the Zen in soundstage distance and treble extension though, and provides better instrument separation, but the Zen has better resolution, slam/punch, and a more exciting overall sound. I do like the Falcon Pro’s tonal balance just a tad more just because the Zen can be a bit too forward in the upper mids, which can be fatiguing to me. That’s never a problem with the more chillax Falcon Pro.


The Falcon Pro is a nice entry for Dunu. While I don’t think it’s something that is uniquely great or a world beater, I do think its a nice overall package when you consider the cable, accessories, and build quality. The tonal balance works well for many genres, and is smooth and warm and should work well for long listening sections. Plus, it has some treble extension!

Its not the most technical IEM on the market, nor even in its price class, but it sits in the average to above-average category of IEMs as a whole. That’s not a bad thing, as it probably won’t disappoint those spending their hard earned cash on this little package.


Again a great review; that makes me wanna go out and buy… the Zen.


Or the Zen Pro, even though I don’t believe it’s officially on sale yet.


I made a big update to the IEM Ranking List:

I also created my headphones list too:


Helios in top 3 now? Wow wow wow! I need to get my ears on a pair of those bad boys.

Nice work Ant - love the headphone ranking.