Chinese Brands - IEMs Discussion

Great review.


The TRN V90 is a great-sounding budget hybrid (4BA +1DD) IEM. It has a bassy V-shaped tuning with surprisingly smooth treble. It is very comfortable but has an annoying venting issue.
Besides the venting issue, its biggest flaw is that the bass has average speed and articulation and can become confused and indistinct during fast and complex passages. The bass may be too much for listeners who prefer a more neutral sound.
All things considered, it replaces the CCA-C10 as my consumer-friendly budget hybrid IEM recommendation.

My full review, with measurements, pictures, and comparisons with the Blon BL-03 and KZ ZSX can be found on my blog: TRN V90


I just posted my review of the TFZ S2 Pro on my blog.

The TFZ S2 Pro is a good if unremarkable in-ear monitor with a single 11.4mm graphene-diaphragm per side. It has fast, well-articulated bass. It can be sibilant and has a potentially harsh lower treble peak. The cable and accessory set is much nicer than its competitors but there are other options at this price point with more refined tunings.

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Nice review. I haven’t tried the BL-03 yet, but I found that the V90 has a much smoother presentation than the ZSX. ZSX tended to have overly forward / sharp lower treble / upper mids, to the point where high vocals sounded somewhat jarring. The V90 is really scooped in the mids but somehow managed to sound pleasant and not regressed.


I have recently received the Shuoer Tape IEM from Sunny at Better Audio US,at Amazon. I feel it seta a new standard in its field. Here is my review:

The Shuoer Tape is an innovative IEM featuring new technology. It employs two drivers, a 10mm “nanotechnology” dynamic driver (presumably carbon nanotube) and a “low-voltage electrostatic unit”. There is some uncertainty about the driver complement as the dividing network is described as “three-way frequency distribution” and this would require an extra drive unit.

The packaging, too, is unusual, being drum-shaped and bright orange with a design of piano keys encircling the lower part of the container. Removing the lid, the IEMs are displayed in a foam holder, below which there is a green metal tin shaped like a UFO. Unscrewing this reveals the cable, five sets of silicone tips (one is pre-fitted on the IEMs) and some documentation.

The cable is an MMCX four-core loosely-braided copper type terminated with a 2.5mm balanced connector. A 90 degree 3.5mm adapter is included and there is a cylindrical metal Y-split and a small silver-coloured chin slider.

The IEMs themselves are solidly constructed from CNC machined aluminium and are finished in anodised black. The faceplates feature two large bolts which are designed to resemble cassette tape spools (hence the name, “Shuoer Tape”), with a silver mesh grille between them. It is not clear whether this acts as a vent for the dynamic driver. There is clear channel identification on the earpieces, which are rectangular in shape with angled corners and are surprisingly comfortable to wear. Using the pre-fitted tips, I obtained an excellent fit and seal.

Before testing, I completed a burn-in period of 100 hours, after which the IEMs were evaluated using an Xduoo X20 DAP via line-out with a Topping NX1a amplifier. I did try the balanced output of the DAP but discovered that the advantages of this were outweighed by the improvement gained by the extra power, which is when the Tape really came to life.

The benefits of the electrostatic driver were immediately apparent, with the Tape displaying superb speed and transient attack, impressive levels of detail and excellent timbre. Moreover, the character of the dynamic driver possessed a similar clean and immediate quality which blended perfectly with the treble unit, resulting in a seamless transition across the frequencies. The overall balance was neutral with well-extended bass, a slightly forward midrange and a bright and airy upper register.


The superb transient capability of the Tape endowed the bass with wonderful clarity and impact. Extension was also very good whilst avoiding boominess and colouration. The powerful percussion in Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” performed by the Eos Orchestra was a perfect example. Timpani and bass drums sounded clean and potent with a great sense of weight behind them. This contrasted very well with the incisive trumpet solo, providing a perfect backdrop for the rest of the orchestra. Jonn Serrie’s “On a Frontier of Fables” is a large scale space music epic from his album “Planetary Chronicles Vol.2”. It is an episodic piece containing some deep synthesised tones which reach far down into the sub-bass. The timbre and texture here were maintained at the same time as delivering serious depth and power and remaining musical at all times. The electronic interpretaion of Faure’s “Libera Me” by Schonherz and Scott was another instance with the rhythmic bass line plumbing the depths while complementing the beautiful flowing melody.


The clean delivery and low colouration extended from the bass into the mids, which were free from bass bleed. This produced a very transparent presentation. Benny Andersson’s “Piano” album consists of solo renditions of his compositions. Linn Fajal’s wonderful recording is clear and open and the Tape really shone here. “The Day before You Came” explores the whole range of Andersson’s Fazioli instrument and the authentic timbre was very impressive. The reproduction of the overtones and the natural decay of the notes added to the realism of the performance and took you right into the studio with the artist, drawing you in to the music. Hennie Bekker is an accomplished electronic musician and on his “Mirage” album he displays his prowess with the Synclavier. “On and on and on” features a cyclic motif with the principal voice resembling a harpsichord. This came over with clarity and precision and excellent timbre accompanied by woodwind samples and sweeping string synth patches, which all combined to magical effect.


Perhaps the highlight of the Tape’s sound, the treble possessed superb clarity, resolution and precision, with a wealth of detail on offer and often allowing me to hear subtle details I had not noticed before, even in familiar music. Listening to Grace Jones’s “Private Life” resembled sitting in front of the monitors in a recording studio, with everything precise, clear and well-defined, enabling me to hear every detail of the track as the producer intended. Percussion was snappy and incisive and Ms Jones’s voice clear and articulate even above the complex many-stranded production. Kevin Kendle is a British electronic music artist and his latest album “Terra” explores the landscapes of the earth. “Ice” portrays the polar regions and the shimmering crystalline sound effects recalled frozen snowy vistas, with the high string voices complementing the percussive elements beautifully, producing a very atmospheric scene. Pachelbel’s “Canon in D major” in a stately interpretation by the J. Paillard Orchestra featured a bright harpsichord continuo backing graceful strings. The harpsichord solo was very well-defined and the rhythm of the piece was attractively rendered.


The Shuoer Tape managed to reproduce three-dimensional elements very accurately. Where the production demanded it, the presentation was either intimate or wide-ranging. Trevor Horn’s vocals in “I am a Camera” by The Buggles stood out beautifully from Geoffrey Downes’s atmospheric synth accompaniment, with studio reverb and other spatial effects perfectly rendered. The sense of depth in this track was particularly notable. “Elesewhere” from Vangelis’s album “Direct” contains a wealth of electronic effects dancing around the stereo image, creating a perfect foil for the anthemic melody line. Electronic woodwind and deep resonant bass filled out the production and it was all contained within an expansive acoustic. “Aragon” is the third movement of Albeniz’s “Suite Espanola”. In a colourful and vibrant orchestral transcription by Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, the position of the various instruments was accurately portrayed, taking the listener direct to the concert hall which was laid out impressively before me. The quality of the vintage Decca recording shone through.


There have been a number of new driver types appearing recently. Piezoelectric units (BQEYZ Spring 1 and NiceHCK NX7), Planar drivers (Tin Hifi P1 and TRI i3) and now electrostatic drivers. The Shuoer Tape has remarkable speed and clarity with excellent fine detail. It is tempting to ascribe this to the electrostatic unit but we must not forget its partnering dynamic driver which keeps up in terms of speed and resolution. The crossover is also well designed, delivering a smooth transition from bass to treble whilst maintaining a timbre across the frequency range. Being a new type of hybrid, it is difficult to make like-for-like comparisons, but of the earphones in my collection the sound of the Tape most resembles the Senfer DT6 Pro (1DD + 2BA + Piezo). The treble tonality does resemble that of a piezoelectric driver but adds a crystalline quality which is very appealing. Listening to the Tape is like dusting off all your music tracks and hearing them sounding shiny and new! With a wide frequency response, excellent accuracy and detail, the Tape manages to combine a crisp analytical quality with entertainment and musicality. It does it all, and could be described as the Swiss Army Knife of IEMs.


The iBasso IT04 is a hybrid in-ear monitor with one graphene diaphragm dynamic driver and three balanced armatures on each side. The IT04 retails for $499. I received the IT04 through’s Community Preview Program and will ship the IT04 back shortly after this review goes live.

This review can also be read on my blog: iBasso IT04 Review


I have used the iBasso IT04 with the following sources:

  • JDS Labs The Element
  • Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle

I have tested these headphones with local FLAC and Spotify Premium. Visit my page to get an idea of what I listen to.


The iBasso IT04 comes in a rectangular black box with a white slipcover. The IT04 is pictured on the front of the slip cover. The back panel of the slipcover lists the IT04’s technical specifications in eight different languages. Inside the box is a large round screw-top metal case containing the IT04 earpieces, a black cardboard box containing a braided detachable cable with MMCX connectors and a 2.5mm balanced termination, a 2.5mm balanced to 3.5mm single-ended adapter, five sets of silicone eartips in varying colors and bore sizes (S, M, L), and 1 set of foam eartips (M, L). The metal screw-top case will not fit the IT04 unless one removes the foam insert.


The iBasso IT04’s teardrop-shaped, pseudo-custom fit earpieces are made of glossy black plastic with blue-grey carbon-fiber patterned face-plates behind a clear laminate coating. The faceplates are marked with the text “InTune” in silver script and “iBasso Audio L/R” is printed in white text on each shell. The shells are likely the largest of any IEM I’ve worn. The shells have two circular vents on the ear-facing side, one at the base of the nozzle and one in the center of the shell. The IT04’s nozzles are plastic with metal mesh protective grills. The nozzles do not have a lip for securing eartips, but I did not have any issues with tips coming loose in my ears while using the IT04. The right side earpiece had significantly worse driver flex than the left side earpiece.

The IT04 comes with a beautiful mixed silver and copper MMCX cable. The MMCX connector housings, chin slider, Y-split, and 2.5mm jack housing are all metal. The MMCX connector housings are labeled “L/R.” The braided cable does not have pre-formed ear-guides or memory wire. The cable is not tangle-prone or microphonic. There is strain-relief above the straight 2.5mm jack and below the MMCX connectors but none at the Y-split. The 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter uses the same cabling and hardware materials and has strain relief above both terminations.


The iBasso IT04 is intended to be worn cable-up only. The large size of the shells makes them uncomfortable for me to wear for more than an hour or two. The nozzles provide a deep enough insertion depth to facilitate a good seal with all of the included eartips. Secureness of fit and isolation are both above average.


My measurements were conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler and a calibrated USB sound interface. The headphones are driven using my Element, which has an output impedance of no more than 1 ohm. The measurements use a compensation file derived from relating my raw measurements to published measurements from Crinacle and Antdroid. The measurements are presented with 1/24th smoothing. The magnitude of the valley around 7k is a coupler artifact. There is a resonant peak around 8k. Measurements above 10k are not reliable.

I have measured the iBasso IT04 under two test conditions. The blue line is a measurement taken with the vent closest to the nozzle taped over, while the green line is a measurement taken with the vent uncovered. As shown, the IT04’s frequency response varies wildly depending on the degree to which the vent closest to the nozzle is covered. Depending on the tip used, the insertion depth, and one’s ear anatomy, one can get a completely different sounding IEM depending on the degree to which the vent is blocked.

Below is a measurement under ideal conditions, where the nozzle-adjacent vent on each IEM is completely taped over:

I think it is a poor design to require the nozzle-adjacent vent to be completely covered to get what I assume is the intended, non-anemic bass response and an uncompromised upper midrange. Even putting that aside, I expect better channel matching from a $500 IEM.


Under the ideal conditions described above, the iBasso IT04 has a U-shaped tuning with a strong lower treble emphasis.

The iBasso IT04 has excellent sub-bass extension. The lowest sub-bass is more prominent than the mid-bass. There is a fair amount of impact, slam, and rumble. The bass has very good speed and articulation but does not sound as effortlessly quick as more recent offerings utilizing diamond-like carbon diaphragm dynamic drivers. The IT04 has excellent bass resolution. Bass texture is good but not stellar.

The midrange has a slightly cool tonality. Instruments in the lower midrange have adequate body but clarity is emphasized over warmth. Female vocals are a tiny bit more forward than male vocals. Male vocals are conveyed with grit but are slightly dry. Female vocals are rich and vibrant without being sibilant or overemphasized. There is a healthy amount of presence.

The treble prioritizes sparkle and detail retrieval over spaciousness. This lower treble emphasis can be too pronounced depending on the recording but is not usually harsh. Treble transients are quick and do not smear. There is limited air.

Soundstage is larger than average. Imaging and instrument separation are very good. Timbre is mostly realistic if cool and slightly dry.


The iBasso IT04 can easily be driven to comfortable listening volumes with a smartphone or dongle. I did not notice hiss with either of my sources.


iBasso IT04 vs Tanchjim Oxygen

The Tanchjim Oxygen uses a single diamond-like carbon diaphragm dynamic driver. The IT04 has more prominent sub-bass than the Oxygen, with greater rumble. Impact and slam are roughly comparable between the two IEMs. The Oxygen has a faster, better-articulated bass with slightly greater texture. The two IEMs have similar bass resolution. Female vocals sound slightly more vibrant on the Oxygen. The Oxygen has a more even treble presentation with a more restrained lower treble region and more air in the upper treble. The Oxygen has a much smaller shell size and is more comfortable for me to wear for long periods, but requires extensive aftermarket tip rolling to get a secure fit. The Oxygen has a slightly larger soundstage and better imaging. The Oxygen is harder to drive. The IT04 comes with a much nicer cable and a more impressive set of accessories. The Oxygen uses slightly recessed 2-pin connectors instead of MMCX.


Under ideal conditions, the iBasso IT04 is a highly detailed and resolving IEM but its shell design may not be comfortable for all listeners. However, I do not feel it is a reasonable design assumption to rely on the nozzle-adjacent vent to be completely blocked by variable ear anatomy in order to get the intended frequency response. Not recommended.


Excellent review. As always full of information and fine detail.

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Another great review.


My latest acquisition is the Tin Hifi T4. I have been testing it and here is my review:

Tin Hifi (formerly Tin Audio) are probably best known for their T2 model released a couple of years ago. With a neutral and well-balanced sound, rather than the more prevalent V-signature, it became very successful. This was followed by the T2 Pro and then the hybrid T3. The T4 is the latest model in the series and employs a single dynamic driver featuring a 10mm carbon nanotube (CNT) diaphragm.

The T4 is packaged very luxuriously, being presented in a discreet black box bearing the Tin Hifi Logo with the product name T4 below. Opening the box reveals the IEMs in a foam cut-out above a very nice tan case which contains the spare eartips, which include three sets of dark grey wide-bore silicone tips, three sets of white narrow-bore silicon tips, (one of which is pre-fitted to the earpieces) and two sets of white foam tips. Removing the foam layer you will find the supplied cable, which is a two-core high purity silver-plated copper type with an MMCX interface. The straight 3.5mm plug is silver coloured with knurled detail. There is a small clear spherical bobble which acts as a chin slider. The Y-split is cylindrical and of shiny metal matching the earpieces, and the reinforced earhooks are soft and supple, giving a very comfortable over-the-ear fit.

The IEMs themselves are beautifully constructed from machined stainless steel and are similar in shape to those of the T3 and T2, but the finish is shiny metal throughout. They are very light in weight. There is a small pinhole vent beside the MMCX socket and another further up the barrel at the base of the nozzle. The rear of the earpiece features a radiating metal grille resembling a jet engine turbine. The channels are identified by coloured rings on the MMCX sockets, red for right, blue for left. The MMCX connectors fitted very securely, and I did find it very difficult to remove them when changing to a different cable, so I would recommend retaining your selected cable once fitted.

The earphones were left burning in for 100 hours before testing and included tracks of white and pink noise, glide tones and other audio conditioning tracks. The principal equipment used was an Xduoo X20 DAP set to high gain. I did not obtain a secure fit with the pre-fitted tips, so I fitted my go-to JVC Spiral Dots (size ML). Their rounded shape and domed profile ensured a good seal. I also replaced the cable so I could use the balanced output on the Xduoo X20 and employed an 8-core copper balanced cable for this purpose.

It was clear from the beginning that the T4 displayed the traditional Tin Hifi sound, that is a neutral profile with good extension in the treble and a slightly brighter tonality with good detail. Where the T4 differed from the T3 was in the bass which had more sub-bass weight and power. The midrange was particularly articulate and expressive, and the treble clear and very transparent. It was hard to believe this wide frequency range emanated from just one driver.


Like the T3, the bass was largely linear in nature but with improved depth and power, especially in the sub-bass, where some decent rumble was on offer. This helped electronic music to show its full range, a good example being Jonn Serrie’s “Land of Lyss” from his “Midsummer Century” album. This track delves deep into the sub-bass and along with the very good extension the texture and resolution was top-notch and this deep bass background formed a perfect foundation for the flowing electronic effects floating over the top. “Escales” by Jacques Ibert is a colourful suite of lively orchestral pieces depicting exotic locations. The third movement, “Anime” features the whole gamut of the orchestra in a dynamic and powerful performance. In a recording by the Minnesota Orchestra under Eiji Oue, the bass drum displayed excellent depth and impact as well as an impressively natural decay. The ambience of the recording venue was beautifully rendered. “Something Inside So Strong” by Labi Siffre features a powerful bass accompaniment with drum and bass synth playing together. The T4 managed to distinguish between these very clearly while at the same time possessing excellent musicality and impact.


The T4’s midrange was a tad forward but exceptionally transparent and free of bass bleed, allowing a wealth of detail to be revealed. Vocals, both male and female, retained their individual character very well. Cat Stevens’s “Father and Son” was authentically reproduced with the individuality of his voice well-defined, and the guitar accompaniment clean and bright and the various members of the band accurately positioned within the image. “Lo Siento mi Vida” by Linda Ronstadt equally showcased the T4’s abilities with the acoustic guitars and backing harmonies beautifully depicted and the emotion of Ms Ronstadt’s vocals abundantly evident. The T4 also excelled with classical music, with the accurate string timbre in The Guildhall String Ensemble’s version of the Nocturne from Borodin’s String Quartet No. 2 very impressively presented. The separation of the various string sections and their positioning in the stereo image was also immediately apparent, producing a musically satisfying result.


I was surprised by the T4’s treble reproduction, not expecting a single DD to rival, or even exceed the resolution and extension of multi-BA models or more exotic driver types now becoming more common. With a brightness just north of neutral, transparency, detail and delicacy were all on offer and no disturbing peaks marred the sound. Mark Dwane’s MIDI guitar productions always impress with their high-quality sound and “Paragons” from his “Archives” album was no exception. Jangly rhythm guitars panned left and right overlaid by synth string patches, with a bright synth melody line over the top. Percussion and other layers came into the mix with the treble detail remaining clear and articulate, even during the complex passages. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.4 in a classic 1960s recording by the Saar Chamber Orchestra under Karl Ristenpart’s baton also impressed with the woodwind and violin solo parts soaring over the string accompaniment and harpsichord continuo. The counterpoint was easy to follow and capped a wonderfully musical performance, full of vitality and joy. Juice Newton’s “Queen of Hearts” displayed expressive vocals set against a bright backing of rhythm guitars and percussion. The diction remained precise and clean throughout and the lively rhythmic qualities of the track were reproduced entertainingly.


The T4 possessed an expansive airy soundstage which improved upon that on the T3 with an unusually natural depiction of space. Width, height and depth were all above average in dimension, and layering, separation and positioning were all top class. Added to this, the excellent detail retrieval and resolution added to the effect. “Elsewhere” by Vangelis from his album “Direct” showed what the T4 could do in this respect with complex percussive elements interweaving across the image accompanied by sparkly electronic effects. The melody line occupied a high central position and the whole was contained in an attractive reverberant acoustic. The dynamic range in the climaxes was also impressive with decay and reverb particularly well-rendered. Pink Floyd’s “Cluster One” is an instrumental track from their “The Division Bell”album. Once again, the stereo imaging impressed with the electronic effects at the beginning occupying all parts of the stage and Dave Gilmour’s guitar solo nicely complementing Rick Wright’s keyboard work. When Nick Mason’s bass drum kicked in later in the track it had real weight and character and, being set back somewhat in the production, produced a good sense of depth. “Benedictus” from “The Armed Man” by Karl Jenkins is an expansive choral piece. The vocal line alternates between male and female choirs and then unites them in an impressively powerful climax. The words could be heard clearly at all times with the character of the voices nicely differentiated. During the climax, “Hosanna in Excelsis”, even with the bass drum and the choir in full cry, clarity and focus were maintained.


The CNT driver has been seen in a number of recent IEMs and possesses a wide frequency range and excellent dynamic ability. It is tuned more neutrally than the popular BLON BL-03 which uses a similar driver and has a warmer tonality with powerful bass and mid-bass. It has a more recessed midrange but lacks the detail and precision of the T4. It does have an attractive “analogue” tonality which is a contrast to the more accurate presentation of the T4.

The T4 continues the evolution of the “T” line. Adding a more solid bass foundation, a transparent and expressive midrange displaying good presence and a clear, extended treble, it maintains the largely neutral presentation of the earlier models in the series. The bass is well extended but linear in nature, so bassheads may want to look elsewhere. The midrange and treble are even more refined than before and detail retrieval is up a notch. Nicely presented with a good set of accessories and with the excellent build quality we have become used to from Tin Hifi, the T4, with its even-handed approach suiting multiple genres. is close to being the complete package.
This sample was provided by Sherry at Yinyoo from


Excellent review. :+1:t4:

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Great review, thanks!! Any headphone or IEM that is Vangelis approved, is right for me!!


Really great review like always @Nimweth.


The KB EAR Diamond, which uses a diamond-like carbon coated PET diaphragm dynamic driver, is hands-down the the best IEM I’ve heard under $100 (it currently retails for $79). It has excellent technicalities and a clear and engaging tuning. Other IEMs I have heard in this price range, like the Shozy Form 1.1 and Dunu DM-480, are simply outclassed.

Its sound signature can be described as a slightly exaggerated Harman Target. Compared to the Tanchjim Oxygen, another IEM with a DLC dynamic driver and a Harman-ish tuning, the KB EAR Diamond has more bass and more elevated upper mids between 3-6k. If you think that a Harman-tuned midrange is thin or shouty, you should pass on the Diamond. Otherwise, I highly recommend it.

I will update my review with a comparison to the Moondrop Starfield at a later date.

You can read my full review, with additional images, measurements, and optional EQ tweaks, on my blog:


Thanks!! Good to hear about the KB ear diamond, I have my eyes on it, but Tin Audio T4 is making it hard for me to decide. Also TRN v90 which is way less expensive and had very good reviews.
I keep my IEM under the $100 budget so that allow me to buy more from time to time without hurting that much on my wallet. For what I use them $100 is a good price range .

Hello prfallon69, ValentineLuke and Hansel! Thank you for your responses. Glad you liked the review.


Yes, Vangelis is great, isn’t he? Try “Intermezzo” from the "Nocturne’ album. Brilliant!


Believe me, I’ve been following Vangelis work since I was 10 or 11, same for Jean Michel Jarre and Isao Tomita. I probably known more about their work than themselves :crazy_face::wink:

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How would you compare it to the non-Chinese Sennheiser IE-40 Pro at $99?

I have not heard the IE-40 Pro, sorry!

Tomita and Jarre are two more of my favourites! Another is Jonn Serrie. Do you know of his space music?