Yes it’s a really nice review and a good read. I enjoyed all the detail you put into it.
I just received the T3’s in courtesy of antdroid to do some listening, so thank so much to him for giving me this chance to hear them. I wanted to post with my really initial impressions of the T3, and do some quick comparisons to the T2, and the Hifiman RE2000, which are the other IEMs I have present. After a week or so of listening, I’ll write up a proper full post and review of the T3 with longer comparisons.
OK, lets get the physical stuff out the way. The T3’s come in a similar box to the T2’s, its just bigger. Instead of one pair of blue foam tips, there are two pairs grey foams in what looks like small and medium sizes. The cable is a nice braided piece, and for all I prefer the silver-ish colour of the T2’s cable vs the yellow/clear of the T3’s cable, the T3’s cable is much better. It is thicker, more substantial, and feels more supple. The T3’s come with what looks like spinfit knock offs in S/M/L, and maaaayyybe final E knock off tips in S/M/L. The T3 look very similar to the T2’s minus a couple small design tweaks. I always wore my T2’s reversed, so the T3’s fit exactly the same way in their stock configuration. The T3 is very similar in terms of fit to the Campfire Audio Vega.
All listening was done with Spinfit tips
Without doing any reading of graphs or comparisons to the T2 or RE2000, the T3 strike me as a pretty neutral sounding IEM with a little bit of a treble emphasis. For my personal preferences, they are a bit light in terms of bass. I’m not going to play around with EQ yet, as I want to give them a go in their stock tuning, same goes for any T2 or RE2000 comparisons to follow. The mids are….ok? They aren’t spectacular in anyway, just sort of there doing their job. Interesting. As I mentioned before the treble is on the emphasised side of things. I’m getting a bit sibilance on vocals, both male and female, so far. Hi hats have this “CH CH CH” that’s a bit grating on the ears, but not too bad. From everything I have read, the T2 Pro had even more treble emphasis than the T2 or T3 so…wtf. Not going to be buying a T2 Pro any time soon.
Soundstage on the T3 is ok. It’s not amazing, and it’s not very closed in sounding. However in relation to other IEMs I have heard in recent memory, the soundstage is pretty small. Detail retrieval is mediocre as well, but I have definitely heard worse.
T2 Comparison: Ok so in terms of sonic comparisons I am confused. Really confused. So confused that I went searching for measurements, which is unlike me. The T2 and T3 measure pretty much exactly the same in terms of bass, but I am hearing the T2 as being way more emphasised. Like…at least 6db more emphasised. I wondered if maybe the way I was wearing the T2 was covering the vent and boosting the bass, but the vent is in the same place as the T3 so you would think it would happen with both pairs. I don’t have any EQ or DSP running. Its really weird. So yeah, for my ears, the T2 has a lot more bass. It thumps way more. I think this is messing up my ability to compare the two in relation to other reviewers, who seem to be hearing the bass as very similar between the two. The T3 seems to be a bit more detailed than T2, for what it is worth. Until I can figure out this bass issue, I prefer the T2. I think once I get into playing with EQ I will prefer the T3, as I will be able to bump the bass a little bit, making it more inline with my preferences.
RE2000 comparison: These two are quite different. The RE2000 has a much more pleasing tone for my ears. A little bit more bass than the T3, but not as much as the T2, which again, is weird. The RE2000 definitely brings more detail to the table, and has improved technicalities. I suppose comparing a $60USD IEM to an $800USD IEM isn’t particularly fair, but I think the T2/T3 are good enough that they warrant comparison to more TOTL type IEMs.
At this point in time I prefer the T2’s tonal balance. Once I start experimenting with EQ and bumping the bass a few DB on the T3, I think I will prefer the T3 as it has superior technicalities and detail retrieval compared to the T2, in my opinion. The bass level discrepancy is weird. I’m going to keep experimenting
I can’t speak about the T3 as I haven’t heard them, however, I was wondering the same thing about the T2 myself. I find it to have plenty of bass when the track does, especially when powered from an amp (my phone seems to struggle with power even though they are pretty efficient IEMs).
When I found out yesterday that I was wearing the T2 upside down, I turned them the other way up and bass seemed to disappear as they didn’t seal as well.
Maybe try wearing the T3 with the cable down to see if it fixes it
See how far your tips recede back. It’s very easy for a foam tip to go far enough back to cover the vent hole on these IEMs. The T3, in my opinion/hearing, has just a little bit more bass than the T2.
Its happening regardless of the tips being used, but I’m going to continue experimenting!
So how did you find you were wearing the T2’s upside down?
Honestly, when I was originally wearing them the “right way round” I found them uncomfortable. I looked at the shape, and was like “these look like the Vegas” and tried reversing the sides. It worked well, so I just kept doing it. When I saw the T3’s come out, I was surprised that they had done what I was doing already
Great comparison. Thanks. I have the T2 Pro’s and would agree that they have rather hot treble. I like lots of treble although these have a little too much. Though nothing a little Eq won’t sort. For the money they are quite impressive.
And they aren’t very comfortable either. I use them cable down. I can wear them though.
BGVP DM6 vs Moondrop Kanas Pro vs Tenhz T5: Battle of the sub-$200 Chinese IEMs
This review shoot-out will take a look at three IEMs I have been listening to lately that are all in the same price range: $179-199. They are new, but very hyped-up Chinese brands that have seen a lot of discussion in the headphone world lately.
The first IEM is the BGVP DM6, which has been in limited supply for months now due to their overwhelming amount of orders and inability to keep up with demand, since they are all individually hand-made. This headphone was provided to me by Linsoul for the purpose of review. You can find this headphone for $199 through Linsoul.com or LSR-Direct on Amazon.com.
The second IEM is the Tenhz T5, which was also provided by Linsoul for review. This headphone is also priced at $199, and is the successor the next step up in price from the P4 Pro I reviewed previously.
Finally, I will compare both to the Moondrop Kanas Pro, which I recently did a full review on and gave high marks to. As a reminder, this one was purchased by me and was not given to me for reviewing purposes.
Build & Accessories
All three of these IEMs come with premium braided cables and a selection of tips. The Moondrop Kanas Pro only came with 1 style of silicone tips in a variety of sizes, while the other two came with foam and different silicone tips and sizes. None of these came with a proper carrying case. The Tenhz package actually came as a surprise since the lower cost P4 Pro came with a very nice carrying case, so not seeing it in the more premium T5 model was a surprise.
The T5 and DM6 have nearly identical shells, with the DM6 just slightly larger. The Kanas Pro is quite a bit different with a smaller metal alloy shell. Of the three, I think the Kanas Pro and the T5 are most comfortable with the slightly larger DM6 trailing behind. All three are comfortable for long periods of time though, with the DM6 sealing off significantly better than the other two.
The T5 and DM6 both use MMCX connectors while the Kanas Pro uses 2-pin connection. This is really preference, but I prefer the 2-Pin connection more since they are easier to handle and more secure. They also don’t freely rotate after being inserted.
These three IEMs share some similarities in sound but primarily have distinct sound signatures. The most neutral of the three is the Kanas Pro, which strictly follows the Harman Target curve except with upper end emphasis. The T5 is a warm, rich and laid-back sounding IEM which does roll-off in treble significantly, while the DM6 is a U-shaped IEM with emphasis in bass and treble.
The bass response of the DM6 is the greatest, and surprisingly not muddy. It’s generally very clean however elevated. The T5 and Kanas Pro have similar bass responses in terms of punch and impact, but the T5 does have a richer and more filling sound compared to the Kanas Pro. The DM6 is easily the punchiest of the three and also extends well down more than the other two. I like the Kanas Pro signature the best as it’s just north of neutral for me and it’s easily the cleanest and most detailed of the three bass responses. The DM6 is the most fun though.
The mids is where these three start to divert even more. The DM6 mids are recessed compared to the rest of its sound profile. It’s not completely missing though, and is generally coherent. Some female vocals tend to be a little harsh as the sound response starts to elevate again in the upper mid region. The T5 has excellent male vocals with rich and full sounding low mids and coherency through out this region. The Kanas Pro is similarly very coherent, but with a more leaner sound. The T5 does start to sound a little compressed in the upper mids due to some drop off in this region and completely rolled off treble.
Like I mentioned, the T5 treble is rolled off and generally very tamed down. This keeps the signature very warm and laid-back and lacking clarity and distinct details. The Kanas Pro finds a good balance in the upper mids and treble hovering around neutral generally until the upper treble where it does spike up. Some people may be sensitive to it, however I am not one that is. The DM6, on the other hand, does have elevated treble and unevenness in this region which can be harsh on many tracks. It has a pretty large peak around 6-7KHz which can sound piercing in some songs. I never found music to be sibilant though, as it does drop off in the sibilance range. Generally, I found the DM6 to be a slightly harsh, especially on bad recordings or treble-focused songs.
The Kanas Pro has already been heavily reviewed by me and was given high marks. When comparing it side-by-side in detail with these other similarly priced contenders, I find no reason not to continue to recommend it as a great all-around IEM for many listeners. It strikes a great balance in sound and should work across many genres, giving users a very clean, detailed, and balanced sound signature.
The Tenhz T5 is definitely on the warmer side, and it’s roll-off on treble even more defines its target. While it seems to be lacking detail and sparkle, it does provide a very comfortable listening experience that can easily be used for hours and hours at a time. The soundstage is also a bit forward and really accentuates vocals, particularly male vocals. I generally am not a fan of this type of sound signature, but I can see users of mid-tier Sennheiser over-ears and Audeze LCDs to like this sound profile.
The DM6 is the fun one of the group. I don’t believe this deserves as much hype as it has gotten, but it is a step up from the DMG and the Whizzer Kylin which are a tier below in cost with a V-Shaped sound signature. The DM6 does provide coherent mids, despite being recessed, but the treble is a little harsh and disjointed sometimes. There also seemed to be a little shoutiness going on in the upper mids, which led to music just sounding LOUD. I don’t know if I would recommend this IEM when compared to the other two, and especially with the highest price tag and longest wait time. It’s still a good IEM, but I personally like the other two more.
I have a question for those of you that have plenty of experience with current IEMs… How would you say they compare to the current closed back over ear headphones?
I know they are different beasts and obviously come down to personal preference as far as comfort etc. Also in both camps there are good and bad, but in general how would you say they stacked up as far as sound quality for price goes?
Something like the Kanas Pro at around $180, would you say it is more or less on a par with a closed back at a similar price level? Better sound quality? Worse sound quality?
Again, I know that it is not good to generalize, but say you were in a specific price bracket and needed isolation with decent sound quality, which way would you turn?
They’re unorthodox, but I think there are alternatives.
@antdroid what do you think? Compared to the Elegia let’s say…what is your comparative favorite IEM? The moon drops?
I use closed backs for long term comfort in stationary noisy environments and for air travel. I currently own AEON Flow Closed ($800) and Sony WH-1000XM2s ($300).
I use IEMs for situations that require physicality or traveling light, to include gyms, subways, and when carrying a bunch of other stuff to a temporary work location. I dislike the in-ear feel, and avoid them if possible. As such, I keep the costs down and rarely spend more than $100 on IEMs.
With the rapid rise of Chinese balanced armature (BA) IEMs over the last few years, I think you get more for your money than with headphones. A $25-$50 IEM can equal or best many $100-$200 headphones (and best some $250 IEMs too).
Closed headphones are often warm and muffled, and have internal echoes (until you reach the Focal Elegia or AEON Flow Closed level). IEMs do not echo for me, but are a step down in bass impact, just as headphones are step down from real 12" woofers in tower speakers. On the plus side, BA IEMs have an uncanny ability to localize sound. You can pinpoint tinkles and chimes as well as any headphone or better. While amazing and sometimes entertaining, it isn’t necessarily realistic. BAs can also be narrow and piercing.
Comments on my recent IEMs (may fit better in the Cheap IEM thread than here):
- CCA C10 ($40) - 4 BA, 1 dynamic driver per side. Clear and localized highs and mids, comfortable shape, balanced tone, but confused and sloppy bass (typical of cheap hybrids with a dynamic bass driver). Still, my preferred IEM these days.
- TRN V80 ($35) - 2 BA, 2 dynamic drivers per side. Generally balanced and enjoyable, but tends to get muddy at the mid to bass crossover region (i.e., where the dynamic drivers take over). My second choice for everyday listening behind the CCA C10.
- KZ AS10 (<$50) - 5 BA per side. Clear and localized sound but not very impactful bass. The typical V shaped KZ tone profile can sound odd and be fatiguing with some sources. My third choice.
- Xiaomi QTEJ02JY Pro HD ($25) - 1 BA and 2 dynamic drivers per side. Collaboration with 1More (of Triple Driver fame). Generally clean and pleasant mids and highs, but I’m thrown off by the abrupt bass cut off. The bass is further undermined by the factory selection of smallish tips; it improves a bit with larger aftermarket tips. Fourth choice.
- KZ ZSN ($15) - 1 BA and 1 dynamic driver per side. Has a genuine reputation of quality for the price, but can’t compete with more expensive products. Has typical KZ brightness. I may sell it; last choice of those I still own.
- KZ ZS10 ($30) - 4 BA, 1 dynamic driver per side. Weird, weird, weird. Extreme V tone profile and wildly bright. The bass driver is slow and disconnected from the BA drivers. Odd physical shape hangs outside the ear and requires larger tips. I sold them! Last choice.
For listening preferences, the CCA C10 falls a step below my Sennheiser HD-600s ($300) and well above my (now sold) Grado SR80e ($100). The Sony closed backs are noise canceling and a different beast – somewhat muffled and very processed.
I came across a set of these on offer for 17€ last night but didn’t click buy (I try not to buy under the influence ) now I can’t find it
I am a huge Iem fan. I don’t have a huge amount of experience with closed back as I predominantly use open backs. I use iem’s much more though. The main aspect that is better in my opinion is that iem’s resolve more. There’s bags of resolution and detail in certain iem’s. I have recently bought the U18t (I still need to write up my review) and although initially I was a little underwhelmed given how flat they were with just a little equalising more treble and upping the mids a little it becomes a totally different beast. It’s by far and away the clearest and most detailed iem ever be had the pleasure to listen to. The BA drivers used I in some iem’s can give them a fast attack with th great transients. My andromeda’s aren’t in the same league though I do love them too. My opinion of course.
I guess what I am trying to say in a long winded way is that for me iem’s can give you lots of detail and resolution. There are also iem’s that can do great bass, though the best closed backs will do it better. You’ll also get a better soundstage than iem’s with the drivers on the much bigger closed backs giving them an advantage in the way they can be tuned. I am sure @Torq can explain this much better than I can.
Just as an aside the decent iem’s I have owned/heard are Shure SE425, SE846, iSine 20’s with Cipher cable. Audiofly af1120, AKG N40, Etymotic er4sr and er4xr, Andromeda, Massdrop Plus, Westone W60 and W80, Vsonic GR09. This is just to put into context my impressions and thoughts.
This is very useful. For me, almost any IEM with a spinfit tip feels the same in the dark. But like you, after a while, no matter what tip I use, they are not comfortable.
I went a lil nuts last month or two ago and picked up 4-5 IEMs in the CCA,ZSN, and DMG line…I’ve given all away except the DMG 6??? I agree with @prfallon69 IEMs can be better at detail retrieval and come in at a much lower price, but like @generic I can’t stand having them in my ear holes for more than a couple hours(1-2)… Surprisingly the Andromeda have been the most comfortable for me, along with the T-2. I have the T-3 incoming, looking forward to it.
So as of right now I have the DMG 6?, and CA Andromeda, and CA Comets attached to a Bluetooth neck cable for the gym.
Oh the Comets are great and are similar in comfort to the T-2 for me. I try to wear all my IEMs with the cable over ear as I’ve found that to be the most comfortable, and less likely to disrupt the seal (this is more for the Comets and TinAudio IEMs as they can technically go either way)
I will 100% choose my over ear before IEMs in listening preference. But having a good set of IEMs is like having the right tools for a specific job. I can’t always be running around with headphones on, not practical.
IEMs bring convenience to listening to music on the go, plus most can be run from your phone with little to no add on dongles…except the Andromeda (between the Dongle DAC, and iEmatch it adds another 6"+ to the cable, at weird angles).
CCA10 was probably my favorite of the group I gave away… and I’m tempted to try the CCA 16, but the Moon drops @antdroid raves about make me question which I would want to try. But then I realize I don’t like IEMs lol and go back to browsing the wasteland known as the internet.
Sorry for the chaotic ramble…I don’t take my ADHD meds on weekends lol
I think that iem’s can be far harder to get a comfortable fit with than overears as obviously you’re inserting something into your ear. This along with the plethora of tip materials and sizes of ears makes a much more personal experience trying to get the right iem’s for yourself. Add to this the unique anatomy of everyone’s inner and outer ear then it can be minefield. This can be solved of course if you go Custom. Something I haven yet done. Just a few more random thoughts.
My favorite chinese IEM is the Kanas Pro and there’s a big gap between that and the others… and guess what? It’s a dynamic driver! Single driver too!
All the BA IEMs I’ve listened to have their flaws and while some are quite good, I still find the Kanas Pro to beat them all out in terms of sound balance, build, and fit as well as price. I’m getting some other ones in soon that are much higher in price, but we’ll see. The Fearless S4, for example, is over double the price of the Kanas Pro and I find it a bit too V-shaped for my liking with some harsh treble. I’m working on a review for that soon. Will be getting the S6 soon as well.
With chinese IEMs, the majority of them have brighter treble and bigger bass than the Elegia (@DarthPool) so it’s a little hard to compare. The smoothest chinese IEM i’ve tried recently was the Tenhz T5 which has a Sennheiser HD58X/6XX type sound – smoother mids and treble. They would probably be close to the Elegia sound too, but obviously not as detailed and dynamic – like the Sennies are.
Right now, my best budget to performance IEM is the Kanas Pro. I also throw in the Audio Technica LS200iS that I reviewed on this site too (which is here: https://www.headphone.com/blogs/news/audio-technica-ls200is-in-ear-monitor-review). Really similar sound in both of them and price is in the same neighborhood.