Sign me up! I want to see what a single dynamic driver IEM is capable of in that price range. Thanks
Always up for reading anything you wish to send our way Tom.
I have owned 2 pair. 1st pair lasted about 1 year then when trying to change cables one IEM housing came apart due to the overly tight fit. Bought a 2nd pair, replaced the stock cable and plan to never change it. Love these bargain IEMs. Good review.
That’s very wise. My review set had the same problem, eventually the MMCX connection failed. The seller sent me three returned pairs with damaged boxes and superficial marks. All these work fine and I don’t plan to change the cables!
Hey everyone, back with a look at the Thieaudio Legacy 4. Still trying to get through my backlog of IEMs!
After the release of the Thieaudio Legacy 5 a few months ago, I could’ve sworn I saw a comment on the Linsoul Discord saying that there weren’t any more plans for a new IEM from Thieaudio for a while. Well, here we are with the Legacy 4. At a $200 price point and a 1 DD + 3 BA driver setup, it lands right between the older Legacy 3 (1 DD + 2 BA) and the newer Legacy 5 (1 DD + 4 BA). What makes the L4 interesting is that it takes the concept of tuning switches from the L3 but builds off the design philosophies of the L5. It also introduces a new DD that’s supposed to be an upgrade from the one found in the L5 and Monarch/Clairvoyance. Thus, the obvious question that immediately follows is: is the L4 better than the L5 for $50 cheaper? With that in mind, lets take a look at the Thieaudio Legacy 4.
Disclaimer: The Thieaudio Legacy 4 was provided to me by Linsoul in exchange for this honest review. I am not or will be compensated in any other way.
What’s in the Box?
I must say, I am extremely impressed with package that the Thieaudio Legacy 4 comes in. You get a massive carrying case that holds the IEMs, tips, and IEM case. This case is made of rather decent material and does NOT feel cheap at all. You get 6 sets of generic S, M, L tips. The smaller rectangular IEM case is very similar to the larger overall case and houses a 2-pin cable. The inside of this IEM case even has a soft furry lining and a pillow-like bed. To be honest, I can’t help but think that Thieaudio probably could’ve saved everyone like $10 with simpler packaging but hey, this unboxing experience was a welcome step up from your standard cardboard box.
The 2-pin stock cable that comes with the L4 has pre-molded ear hooks and is very good. Soft, pliable, light, little cable noise, little cable memory. Every cable should aspire to be at least of this quality. The fit and comfort of the L4 is excellent as well. The shell is small and very light. I get a tight seal that causes a little bit of DD crinkle upon insertion. There is a lack of a nozzle lip on the L4. Combined with the tight seal, sometimes ear tips get stuck in my ear when I try to remove the L4. It’s a minor annoyance, but an annoyance nonetheless. Finally, there are two tuning switches on the L4 for a total of four tuning options. You will have to use a SIM ejector tool or similar as these switches aren’t accessible otherwise.
My first impressions of the Legacy 4 were positive. As expected from the newer Thieaudio IEMs, the mids tuning is on point. The real difference maker is the new DD. Compared to the L5, the bass is much tighter and responsive. Coupled with a forward treble, the Legacy 4 sounds lively. From this standpoint, I think the L4 is differentiated from the L5 which has a more relaxed and laid-back signature. I find myself more inclined to listen to energetic tracks with the L4 than slower ballads.
There are four total configurations for tuning the Legacy 4. I don’t know why Thieaudio insists on using ON and KE as names for the switches. So I’ll opt for a standard 00, 01, 10, 11 system.
Interestingly enough, the first (ON) switch ostensibly has no effect on the frequency response. I was pretty surprised by this as I was ABing the switch quite extensively before graphing and thought that it affected the bass by a little bit at the lowest registers. For me, when that switch is up (0 position), I felt that the bass right at the interface between subbass and midbass had a little more of a thump to it. By contrast, in the down position, the bass was cleaner and better defined. But looking at the graphs now and trying to AB it again, I feel like I can hear that difference but it’s diminished enough that I’m starting to wonder if it was some sort of placebo effect in the first place. Ah, the wonders of psychoacoustics.
The second (KE) switch has a much more straightforward dip in the mids. Though it looks pretty significant on the graph, it’s a lot less drastic in practice. The biggest deviation is about 2.5 dB in the mids at about 500 Hz. I’m a lot less sensitive to changes in this part of the audio spectrum compared to say, the upper mids and treble. Thus, this switch adds a noticeable but subtle mild V-shapedness to the L4. What’s also interesting is that if you normalize the curves to the 1 kHz mark, they look extremely similar. But since I didn’t change my volume between AB testing, the un-normalized curve is how I interpreted it.
I prefer it in the up position and will move forward with this review using the 10 setting. Just keep in mind these two points on the tuning switches if you want to translate my review to a different setting.
The bass of the L4 is reasonably elevated to provide a consistent bass presence without being overbearing. It extends nicely to give subbass rumble. But really, the L4 is more of a midbass IEM. It opts of a controlled presentation rather than a booming bass response. The bass quality in the L4 is a breath of fresh air from the slower, tired feeling DD of the L5. The driver is fast and punchy. It feels tight and raring to go. Resolution is solid with a nuance that isn’t smoothed over like other DDs. Instruments are well defined and the L4 particularly shines with the bass guitar and kick. If I had to nitpick, I’d say I wish the bass had more impact and better texture. But given the price point and overall quality, the L4’s bass is plenty enjoyable.
I’m not sure how the 1 DD + 3 BA is exactly configured on the L4, but I can say that I don’t notice any oddities in the transition from the bass to the lower mids. It sounds natural and done cleanly without sloppiness. There’s not much to say here other than it sounds great on my 10 setting. The mids tuning is comfortable and just feels right. There’s a very good balance between instruments and vocal presence. Vocals never fight for space on the L4 and takes a clean center stage. Try as I might, I can’t really think of anything to nitpick here.
But if you were on the 01 or 11 setting, the mids do change a little. It becomes thinner and less full. With instruments, I barely hear a difference. But with vocals, the lower harmonies sound a little sucked out. To be honest, it’s pretty subtle and if I didn’t actively AB test it to see which I preferred, I probably wouldn’t have cared if I was just using the L4 casually for commute. At any rate, I strongly suggest that if you do get an L4 to try it for yourself and see which you prefer.
I really like the treble of the L4 but those treble sensitive should be a little wary. It’s well elevated and doesn’t try to smooth over or hide anything. However, there is a small peak right around the 5 kHz that can occasionally make music sound a little harsh, depending on how well the track is recorded anyway. Thankfully, I don’t hear any vocal sibilance despite that peak. This bit of treble elevation does make the lower treble of the L4 sound crisp. As the rest of the region is similarly elevated, decay rings out naturally.
In fact, other than the slight brightness, I’d say the treble of the L4 represents a starting point of what a well tuned treble should look like. It passes my hats/cymbals tests rather easily and avoids a lot of the common pitfalls that IEMs have in the treble. It doesn’t try to hide the lower treble nor does it have major dips and valleys that throw the timbre off. The only thing I’d say is lacking on the L4’s treble is upper treble extension for air/sparkle but you only ever truly see that on a small subset of IEMs anyway.
I’d say that the soundstage and imaging of the L4 is on the good side of average. There’s a bit of depth, not a lot a height, and decent horizontal width. Imaging is relatively nuanced within that stage. Layering is constrained due to a lack of perceived depth but separation isn’t an issue thanks to how well defined instruments are with the L4. Resolution is solid for its price class. Altogether, the L4’s technical performance here is what I would consider the benchmark for $200.
Now I will note is that the Legacy 4 does sound kinda compressed. But when I compared it to the L5 or other IEMs I had lying around, they performed at about the same level. I think it’s less about the L4 being compressed but rather the fact that thanks to the L4’s energetic tuning, it amplifies this limitation commonly found on IEMs.
Should You Buy It?
Yes. It’s a very good IEM. As strange as this may sound, I think of the Thieaudio Legacy 4 as an upgraded version of the Tin HiFi T2 Plus. Beyond the technical improvements, the bass is fixed, the tonal balance of the mids are improved, and the L4 retains the brighter treble tuning. With the ~$100 price range being dominated by the Tin T4, Moondrop Starfield, and Etymotic ER2, it’s nice to see an IEM that anchors the $200 price point. That said, if you’re happy with the T4/Starfield/ER2, I wouldn’t upgrade to the L4. It’s better if you’re coming for the budget $50 class of IEM like the aforementioned T2 Plus.
For the most part, I think you can safely skip the Legacy 3, save a bit more cash, and opt for the Legacy 4 instead. Whether or not you should get it over the Legacy 5 is a bit of a tricky question. I think for most people, the Legacy 4 should be the one you get. But if you specifically want a more laid-back tuning for listening to music as you work, the Legacy 5 remains the better option. I find the L4 to be a great commuter IEM but if I’m working, it’s a bit too energetic for me.
Overall, the best thing I can say about the L4 is that I really did enjoy listening to it over the course of this review. I try to spend a couple of weeks listening to gear before I review them and sometimes it’s a pain to listen when I’d rather spend my time with something better. With the L4, it was easy to reach for it and enjoy music. For now, at the $200 mark, I’m satisfied with the Thieaudio Legacy 4. I do have the Seeaudio Yume in my review queue, which is another $200 IEM that’s been gaining some traction, so I look forward to seeing how that stacks up.
Another very enjoyable review @Fc-Construct. Great stuff.
I have CCA c10 and c12 and I love their signature, quality, and bass properties. Now I would like to make some improvement regarding the music I listen towards maybe to increase the details and soundstage. What can you recommend to me with a budget of around 50?
(PS. I’m using iphone mainly for source)
The KZ ZAX are decent for the price, at least I find them to be. They have a bit more soundstage than is usually found in the budget range also.
Check out the ultra cheap IEM thread also for plenty of reviews in your price range.
Anyone have Tiandirenhe TD06?
I received a set of Tiandirenhe yesterday but I am not sure what model they are because there are no model numbers anywhere on the IEMs or on the listing.
They are these ones (if that helps identify them):
Answering myself, they are the TD02.
My latest acquisition is the Whizzer Kylin HE01, a single DD design retailing for around $79.
This product was supplied for review by Kiwi from Whizzer Official at AliExpress. Product link:
A discount coupon is also current:
Global Online Shopping for Apparel, Phones, Computers, Electronics, Fashion and more on Aliexpress
It is also available from Amazon:
The HE01 is the newest model in the Kylin series from Whizzer. “Kylin” is a mythical Chinese creature embodying both the male essence “ky” and female essence “lin”.
The HE01 features a single dynamic driver with a composite metal film/polymer diaphragm 10.2mm in diameter. It is described as a “4th generation” design from the “Bright” series and a flux density of 1.2 Tesla is specified. It also features the HDSS, a tuning system claimed to "improve the sense of sound density and transparency, creating a cleaner and mellow listening atmosphere”. The quoted impedance is 18 ohms and the sensitivity is 112dB/mW and it has “Hi-Res” certification.
The HE01 is attractively presented in a deep, square matt black box embellished with glossy embossed writing. A smart black envelope containing the documentation fits inside the lid and the back of the box features the specifications. The IEMs are displayed in a black tray. Lifting this out reveals the case, in which the supplied eartips are placed in two discs, beside which there is a long black box containing the cable.
The contents comprise:
- Whizzer HE01 IEMs
- 2-pin 4-core 5N OFC detachable cable
- Aluminium carrying case
- Cleaning brush
- 3 pairs silicone eartips “vocal” (S, M, L)
- 3 pairs silicone eartips “reference” (S, M, L)
The build quality is impressive and the appearance very attractive. The earpieces have a silver metal faceplate with a rose gold Whizzer logo in the centre and a rose gold border. The body is formed from a clear resin with the copper-coloured components clearly visible and the nozzle, which has a prominent lip, is also in a matching rose gold colour.
The cable is a 5N OFC 4-core design and is coloured rose gold. The straight 3.5mm plug is finished in a grey metal with a copper accent, as are the chin slider and Y-split. It can be a bit tangly and there was some cable noise. The 2-pin plugs feature a decorative copper ring. A red spot on the right connector matching a similar one on the IEMs, serves as a channel indicator.
The earphones were auditioned using a variety of sources, across a wide selection of musical genres, primarily my Xduoo X20, but also a Huawei smartphone and a CD player. The supplied cable and the medium “reference” tips were used and I obtained a comfortable fit and good isolation. A burn-in period of 100 hours was carried out before evaluation.
The HE01 produced a clean, very transparent sound with excellent detail. The bass was impactful, the mids were clear and forward and the treble was detailed, extended and airy. There was a large, spacious and open soundstage. A notable feature was the “dynamic shading” or ability to display subtle changes in volume. The impression was reminiscent of an all-BA design rather than a single DD, such was the immediacy and speed of the reproduction.
The bass was deep, resonant and nicely textured with good resolution and possessed a natural tonality and good speed. It was very linear and transitioned into the mids without colouration or bleed.
In Abinoni’s famous “Adagio in G minor” performed by the Guildhall String Ensemble, the organ was very naturally portrayed with a clean and fast delivery and plenty of “air”. It was easy to distinguish the pedal notes from the lower notes of the keyboard when sounding together which resulted in a very authentic performance. The timbre of the solo violin was unaffected by the bass even in the most dynamic passages.
The bass was powerful and immediate with excellent speed and weight. Jason Edward Dudley’s bass-driven “Stargazer” was a perfect example of this with the deep, punchy delivery driving the track along in an entertaining way and the accompanying lead synth and percussive effects remaining clean and precise.
The midrange possessed excellent timbre, copious detail and an attractive open quality which allowed every detail to come through. Subtle dynamic changes were beautifully rendered, enabling the feeling of the music to be conveyed.
Vocals were very well presented. In “A Great Day for Freedom” from “The Division Bell” by Pink Floyd, David Gilmour’s lead vocal was extremely clear with the studio reverb abundantly evident and the double-tracking later in the song was precise and well separated. The balance between the vocals and the keyboards was perfect and the incisive lead guitar solo cut through the production very effectively.
“Forestland” from the album “Purple Sails” by Japanese synthesist Shiho demonstrated the subtlety of the HE01’s reproduction. The effect depicted by small changes in volume and dynamics allowed all the emotion of the piece to be appreciated and the excellent layering and separation produced a wonderful atmosphere, with the solo voice set against changing chords and nature effects.
The HE01’s treble was remarkably clean, clear and detailed. There was no trace of harshness and it was very extended, revealing subtle micro-details.
In the conclusion to “Venus” from Holst’s “The Planets”, performed by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under Charles Dutoit, a celesta plays descending arpeggios set against rocking string figurations. The clear bell-like tones were perfectly reproduced in perfect balance with the strings and it was even possible to hear the pedal action of the keyboard.
Rossini’s “String Sonata No. 1” is a lively and entertaining piece. In the version by the Age of Enlightenment Orchestra, the HE01 showed excellent transient attack with the leading edges incisive and clean and the details of bowing and pizzicato very authentic, endowing the whole performance with a real sense of being there.
The soundstage was exceptionally spacious with precise imaging, separation and layering. The location of instruments was very clear leading to a very natural perspective.
“Mausoleum at Halicarnassus” is the fourth movement of the “Seven Wonders Suite” by Stuart Mitchell. It features a prominent solo flute which was particularly well rendered, floating over an imaginative orchestral backdrop. The hall ambience was nicely reproduced in the recording by the Prague Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mario Klemens, with the percussion section displaying a believable distance and a natural decay in the timpani strikes towards the end of the piece.
“Elsewhere” by Vangelis, from the album “Direct” was very impressive in its depiction of space and stereo imaging. Various electronic effects spiral around in a figure of eight pattern, percussive elements swell and subside and a noble anthemic theme fills the stage. All these were effectively portrayed by the HE01 in a soundstage of prodigious dimensions with a wonderful sense of ambience.
Tin Hifi T4
The T4 employs a 10mm dynamic driver with a carbon nanotube diaphragm within the familiar “bullet” design and MMCX interface. The tonality follows the traditional Tin Hifi neutral/bright profile but with a more powerful sub bass. The soundstage is very spacious and detail retrieval is high. The HE01 is similarly neutral and matches it in detail, but exceeds it in transparency and has a similar treble. It is perhaps better balanced overall although there is not a lot between them.
The Diamond uses a dynamic driver 10mm in diameter with a DLC coated PET diaphragm. Its profile is strongly V-shaped with powerful bass, somewhat recessed mids which have good timbre and a more relaxed treble which still has good detail. The HE01 is more balanced and neutral with better detail in the mids and a more open and extended treble.
The Smabat NCO features an 8mm Graphene diaphragm driver in a very compact housing. Its USP is the Maze system, a mini transmission line labyrinth which produces a deep and powerful bass. The NCO’s sound is big, bold and cinematic and is U-shaped with excellent impact. It is warmer than the HE01 which is more detailed and cooler in tonality and arguably more accurate.
The HE01 is impressive in all areas. Well made and beautifully presented, it also achieves sonically. It has a fast tight bass, an open and natural midrange and a clean, detailed and extended treble, and endows music with a “live” quality. Add an expansive and spacious soundstage and it is hard to beat. With its superb coherence, it shows what is possible with a single high quality driver. Highly recommended.
Bqeyz Spring 2 review
Pros: Natural Tuning
Good textured and body weight on mid
Very Premium Build Quality
Includs all needed accessories
Cons: Not Detailed
Treble Sensetive may not like it
Bleed on Sub Bass
After using about 8 months now I am writing about my feelings, about my experiences about the BQEYZ Spring 2
Since it was my first tribrid earphone so I was very much excited about it. I have never heard about bqeyz before 2020. So, Spring 2 was my first earphone from Best Quality Earphone for You Z (Full form of bqeyz) brand. Before getting the spring 2 I saw some reviews about the spring 1 and then decided to give a try the spring 2.
After searching on Facebook, I found Elle from BQEYZ brand. We talked about some technical matters about the Spring 2. Elle showed me some photos of spring 2 during production. I will be attached those below. While I was waiting for my shipment to be arrived, I talked to Elle more about it. The main differences from spring 1 was Different Tuning, Dynamic Driver, Piezo Electric driver
The 1st Spring came on September 2019 and the 2nd spring came on August 2020.
So now let’s jump to the main review
The package is perfect in size and also perfect in weight. The package weight sometimes means a lot who imports from abroad. The front design of the front side box was outstanding
Inside the Box:
4 Core Single Crystal Copper cable
1 pair Foam Ear tips
Hard zipper carrying box (Very Useful)
6 Pairs Ear tips (I didn’t like the Ear tips quality though, nowadays many companies provide branded ear tips. So, I was expecting something like that)
I think they have used the same body that they produced for the spring, only the difference is Wave and round cut on the edge between them. As like the iPhone 5 and iPhone SE Body. But it is a good initiative to not to waste anything from previous production.
Aluminum Body, CNC cut, Smooth metal polish and the finishing is matte. There will be feelings that you are holding a premium Earpiece. Metallic red ring around the surface of the faceplate. 3 vents on the inner body. Sufficient, Nozzle is slightly long but not a problem for me.
Many people want to know whether they can use while sleeping, or will it be painful if they sleep on the bed attaching their ear to the bed/pillow surface. Some people want to know whether they can use while using transport/in sub way. There is so much noise on public transport and all They want to buy an earphone which can completely the outside noise.
I will say yes definitely you can use while sleeping, no sharp edges, not aching on the ear. The earphone is very comfortable to wear. Infect the cable is not itching on the ear if you use this spring 2 for a long time.
For sound isolation if you chose an ear tips that perfectly fit in your ear then no outside sound can enter into the ear.
Tribrid. The exceptional driver in it is the piezoelectric driver.
“Piezoelectric speakers are similar to electrodynamic speakers in that they are able to convert a potential difference into motion. … Traditional electrodynamic speakers are made by passing electrical current through coils of wire in the presence of a magnetic field. “(Source: Internet)
Sound: I didn’t like the provided ear tips actually. So, I changed the ear tips before trying the earphones. And I used the provided cable. Since I do not have the spring 1 so I cannot make comparison between them.
SO as this has a planer magnetic driver which actually needs a great power source to drive it, an external amplifier is mandatory for it to drive to its maximum potential.
The sound is W shaped. The three drivers respond differently in terms of speed.
The sound frequency is linear in the bass section. The bass seems to be neutral & tight. The more accurate word for the bass section is it is balanced. From the frequency curve it also can be verified. But not a bass heavy earphone obviously. Sometimes the mid bass bleed. The sound is not that much in detailed for all kind of song but it is articulate and detailed if the song is voice centric or very few 2/3 instrument is playing. The sound has More Natural Tuning.
The male vocal has good textured, warmth. The vocal has lively appearances. Mids. smooth. There were enough drum kicks, Body weight is good which makes the vocal clean. Crisp more likely. The treble section is handled by the piezoelectric driver. Here the magic begins for treble by the piezo electric driver. This material driver was invented many years ago but the producer could not make it such that it can coherently work with the other drivers. But I think BQEYZ made that possible and this uncommon 9-layer Piezo electric driver is the main reason to exceed 100$ price point.
The treble is not harsh nor fatigue. Sibilant is pretty sharp. Air is not sufficient. I think this earphone is great for those who loves treble and intolerable for treble sensitive people
The Problem I have Faced:
While I connected directly to my laptop sometimes, I feel an electric spark on my left ear and it cause me itching on the ear. Changing the cable has not solved the problem also. But when I use it with a mobile device/ dac then nothing happens. Please let me know if you also faced same kind of issue
You can Buy this from HifiGo who ships worldwide
I have recently received the BQEYZ for review. Here is my opinion of it.
The Summer is the latest development of the triple hybrid design previously seen in the Spring and Spring 2 models. The drivers in the Summer are all new and comprise a revised 13mm dynamic driver with a liquid crystal polymer and PU diaphragm covering the bass frequencies, a second generation balanced armature for the midrange and a new 5-layer piezoelectric unit handling the high frequencies. These drivers are housed in a new resin shell instead of the metal one in the Spring models.
The Summer comes attractively presented in a chunky rectangular box with a printed slip cover. The front features the name “Summer” in a simple font on a blue background and a BQEYZ logo in the top left corner. The reverse has an image of the IEMs and a list of specifications. Removing the cover reveals a simple black box with a silver BQEYZ logo, which opens like a book. Inside, the IEMs are displayed in a foam cut-out in a card insert and under this there is a square carrying case containing the accessories. In a further layer below are stored the spare ear tips. In all the package includes:
- Summer IEMs
- 8 core single crystal SPC cable
- 3 pairs “reference” tips (grey)
- 3 pairs “bass” tips (white with blue bore)
- Zipped carrying case
- Cleaning brush
- Velcro cable tie
The package is quite generous although perhaps some foam tips could have been included.
The IEMs themselves are formed from a smoothly contoured resin with an attractive wave-like pattern on the faceplate. They are shaped somewhat like a leaf and are available in two colours, blue and black; I received the black colour which is in fact a dark purple with silver sparkles and looks very good. There is a small circular vent for the dynamic driver on the top surface near the silver-coloured metal nozzle. The left earpiece features BQEYZ branding and the right earpiece has “summer” written in a white font. The 2-pin sockets are flush with the surface and take a standard connector (not Type C).
The 8-core silver-plated cable is of very good quality and is supple and the ear guides are not too tightly curved. There is a straight metal 3.5 plug and a metal Y-split with BQEYZ branding and a sliding ring serves as a chin slider. The metal 2-pin plugs have channel identification.
The Summer was tested using the stock cable and medium “reference” tips which provided an excellent fit and seal and the earpieces were light and comfortable. An Xduoo X20 DAP was used as the source and a burn-in period of 100 hours was carried out. Adequate volume was achieved without augmentation, but extra power resulted in a tighter, more focused delivery. I found an amplifier with a more neutral sound was preferable and chose a Topping NX1a rather than the Fiio A5 which has a warmer sound.
The Summer displayed a warm, well-balanced mild W or U-shaped profile with high resolution and expansive staging. Bass was deep, firm and well-textured. The midrange was clear and nicely detailed and the extended treble was a notable feature, courtesy of the well-tuned piezo driver. The musical quality of the reproduction was an outstanding feature and music was displayed in a bold “cinematic” fashion.
The bass was fairly well extended but there was a bit of roll off in the lowest frequencies and a little more rumble would have been welcome. There was a smooth transition into the mid-bass which was somewhat elevated but had plenty of impact and was lively and entertaining. There was a small amount of bleed into the midrange which endowed that region with a bit of warmth and the mid bass did sometimes become dominant.
“Fantasy Passages” is an electronic soundscape by Jonn Serrie from the album “And the stars go with you”. It begins with sound effects evoking outer space and includes some extremely deep sub-bass tones. The Summer reproduced these well with good depth and power and free of distortion. The piece then opens out into a joyful anthemic melody with sparkly treble underpinned by deep bass drones. The effect was very atmospheric.
“Anime” is the fourth movement of Jacques Ibert’s colourful suite, “Escales” (Ports of Call). It features all the instruments of the orchestra in a varied and lively performance. The version by the Minnesota Orchestra under Eiji Oue features a prominent bass drum. The power and impact of the drum was cleanly conveyed by the Summer with a realistic ambience and decay and the experience of a large orchestra in full flight was beautifully presented. The overall impression was, perhaps, somewhat over-romanticised.
“Welcome to the Machine” by Pink Floyd begins with mechanical sound effects and a deep pulsing bass motif. This was powerfully portrayed by the Summer and when contrasted by the incisive guitar chords, produced a thrilling effect. The foreboding and slightly menacing atmosphere of the piece was authentically preserved.
The Summer’s midrange possessed a very good natural timbre from the proprietary BA unit. There was plenty of detail and little harshness. The lower region received some warmth from the bass but in general the tonality was natural and smooth.
“Keltic Lament” by John Foulds begins with a duet for cello and harp playing a beautiful melody. In the version by the City of Birmingham Symphony under Sakari Oramo, the timbre of the two instruments was very believable with an attractive “bloom” deriving from the bass influence. When the full orchestra repeated the theme later in the piece there was a wonderful swell to the sound and great dynamic range but it was maybe just a little larger than life!
Benny Anderson’s “Piano” is an album of instrumental versions of his compositions. “Thank you for the music” is arranged in an entertaining ragtime style reminiscent of Scott Joplin and it is performed with verve and humour. His Fazioli instrument is placed in a resonant acoustic and the details of the piano’s timbre and overtones were perfectly captured by the Summer in Linn Fajal’s fine recording with excellent rhythmic integrity.
The ethereal voice of Moya Brennan produced an otherworldly feeling in “Theme from Harry’s Game” by Clannad. Her voice was beautifully rendered and contrasted nicely with the dense synthesised accompaniment and well separated backing vocals with the strangeness of the Gaelic lyrics adding to the effect.
The Summer possessed a very detailed and extended treble with excellent resolution and detail. The piezo driver managed to produce a delicate and airy quality to the upper frequencies and only occasionally displayed a minor thin quality often found in piezo drivers.
Richard Burmer’s “A story from the rain” from the “Western Spaces” album begins with the sound of thunder and rainfall. Less accomplished earphones struggle to reproduce the subtle detail here but the Summer succeeded admirably. The piezo driver revealed all the atmosphere of the piece and the speed and impact of the percussive elements later in the track was really impressive.
The classic recording of Charles Ives’s “The Unanswered Question” by the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein received a stunning rendition from the Summer. Set against a serene, sustained string background, the assertive trumpet solos and aggressive woodwind tone clusters produced a startling effect with the various instruments’ individual timbres easy to discern and remained clean and clear even in the most dynamic passages.
Canadian synth duo Mychael Danna and Tim Clement have produced a series of electronic albums. “Ice and Air” is a track from their debut album, “A Gradual Awakening”. It begins with descending swirling arpeggios in the high registers evoking snowfall. Each sound was cleanly depicted and displayed good separation and extension. The crystalline tones were notable for their detail. As the track continued a powerful bass drone added depth but the high frequencies remained clean throughout and retained their clarity.
The Summer’s staging was very spacious and expansive with equal height and depth and a greater width. Layering and separation were very good due to the detail retrieval and fast transients of the piezo driver. Imaging was also of high quality.
“Andalu” by Chris Spheeris from his wonderful album “Desires of the Heart” showcased the excellent soundstage of the Summer. Bass and percussion introduce the track accompanied by piano with each element clearly depicted in its own space. A characteristic guitar solo appears high in the centre of the image and bass synthesised effects enter behind and across the stage. The Summer produced a real three-dimensional effect which was very spacious and enabled the superb production to be appreciated.
Vangelis’s score for the Kurosawa film “Antarctica” is one of his best works. “Antarctic Echoes” employs a variation of the main theme in a calm and meditative style. Set in a very large resonant acoustic, the principal synth voice hovers in space accompanied by inventive string patches and electronic effects making full use of every square inch of space and the Summer rose to the occasion superbly, conveying a wide and spacious image with pinpoint imaging and delicate detail.
“Merok” by Eric Fogg is an orchestral piece written in 1929. It is based on a simple yet beautiful theme which is taken by a variety of instruments and accompanied by a soft string backdrop. In the version by the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Rumon Gamba, the Summer took the listener to the concert hall very convincingly with the orchestra laid out realistically and the interplay between the various instruments handled very well. The timbre of the woodwind was especially memorable and the ambience of the recording venue well rendered.
I have not heard either of the Spring models but have compared the Summer with another IEM with a piezo driver, plus two other multi-driver examples.
Elecom CB1000 (1DD + 1 piezo)
The CB1000 has a neutral/warm profile. It is much lighter in the bass than the Summer and does not have a mid bass emphasis, being quite linear. Texture and detail are very good. Mids are also fairly neutral, perhaps a little recessed but possess good timbre. The Summer is preferable here with more detail and resolution and is not as recessed. Treble is similar, the CB1000’s coaxial design delivers good coherence and phasing and the transition to the treble is smooth. The extension is not as good as the Summer, though, and there is a thinness of tonality at times. Soundstage is not as expansive but layering and separation are good.
TRI Starsea (1DD + 2BA)
The Starsea’s USP is the two tuning switches providing four different sound profiles. My preference is for the “Balanced” setting (both switches on). All comparisons are made with this setting engaged. The Starsea has a neutral and very transparent sound. Bass is fairly linear with some sub bass presence but no mid bass emphasis. Texture and resolution are excellent. The Summer is more emphatic in the bass, with some extra mid bass energy and perhaps a little less resolution. There is a smooth transition into the mids to the Starsea’s Knowles 29869 driver which has good timbre, in fact, it is very similar to the Summer in this region and there is little to choose between them. Both have good timbre for a BA with only occasional sharpness in both cases. In treble, the Starsea is preferable with the proprietary TRI “Hi-A” unit delivering a smoother and just as extended response but avoiding the characteristic thin tonality piezo drivers occasionally tend to display. Soundstage is also superior in the Starsea, it is remarkably open and transparent with excellent layering and separation. The Starsea, in my opinion is the best tuned IEM I have heard in this price sector.
TRI i3 (1 DD+ 1 Planar + 1BA)
The i3 has a similar bold and expansive presentation to the Summer. Its bass is more focused in the sub bass region and there is superior extension and rumble. The i3’s bass is exceptionally good. The Summer has a mid bass emphasis and there is still a good sub bass presence but it is not as impressive. The i3’s planar driver is a true star. When adequately amplified it is accurate in timbre, smooth and detailed. The Summer’s BA driver does well with good tonality for a BA but cannot compete with the i3 here. Treble is honours even with the Summer having better extension and excellent detail, but the i3 is deceptively accomplished as well. The smoothness and timbre makes up for the slight roll off in the upper frequencies and is better integrated with the midrange and bass. In soundstage, the i3 is exceptional, even though the Summer is very good in this regard. The overall presentation of the two is similar in the bold, cinematic and expansive quality they both display.
If I could choose one word to describe the sound of the Summer it would be “colourful”. The effect is exciting and dramatic. The Summer’s well-balanced profile and wide frequency range is testament to its high quality driver combination and excellent tuning and the piezo HF driver is the best implementation of this type I have heard, improving on those in the Elecom CB1000 and Artiste DC1, although there is still that occasional thin tonality associated with piezo units. Combined with the accurate timbre of the new BA unit and the robust performance of the dynamic LF driver, the Summer delivered an entertaining, powerful performance. There is a little extra energy in the mid bass colouring the lower mids, but in general, the tuning is musical and it produces a big, bold and enjoyable sound picture which suits many genres, making it a must for any shortlist of quality IEMs in this price range. It is highly recommended.
This product was supplied as a review unit by Lu Xinyi from BQEYZ via Amazon.co.uk. Product link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Earphones-Isolating-Balanced-Sounding-Detachable-Black/dp/B08ZD5GGQZ
Another excellent review @Nimweth. As usual packed full of detail and explanation. Great stuff.