IEMs Discovery & General Discussion

I think there is a reason to have both. The fit and soundstage of the Audeze is like nothing I’ve found in IEMs before. Comfort is a big deal.


Metal Magic Research

This article will dive into my impressions of the new line of IEMs from Joseph Mou’s Metal Magic Research (MMR) brand. For those that may not know, Joseph Mou started Jomo Audio several years ago, which also produce IEM products. With the MMR brand, the products seem to be going after a full metal design and artistic geometries using CNC milling along with luxurious packaging and a price tag to go along with it.

The MMR Thummim retails at $4500 USD and the MMR Homunculus at $1700 USD. Both of these products were sent on loan as part of the MMR Tour at Audio Tiers, and will be sent to the next listener in-line following this review.

Thummim Specs & Unboxing

The Thummim is a 9-driver tri-brid that features 4 balanced armatures (BA), 1 custom Foster dynamic driver (DD), and a 4 electrostatic tweeters (EST), with a 4-way crossover. The Thummim has an impedance of 35 ohm and also features premium internal wiring from Eletech and premium titanium shell.

The unboxing experience was pretty unique and interesting for this one. It seems like MMR’s goal was to capture what it would be like to unearth a hidden scroll or treasure map. The Thummim comes in a round tube container with papyrus-like artwork on the front. Opening it up reveals a very fun, attractive and peculiar leather case with buckles that is rolled-up like a scroll. This is quite a fancy carrying case that reminds me more of a very fashionable sunglass case than one that houses IEMs and accessories.

Within the case are the IEMs and various accessories such as tips, cable, and manuals. The package came with 6 sets of silicone tips in its own container, and a silver-braided cable that is quite nice looking and easy to handle. The cables terminate in 2-pin connectors.

The Thummim has a very interesting design that is ultra flashy. It’s titanium-milled with a very geometric oblong pentagon shape that has many sharp corners and is rather thick, and very heavy for an IEM. The nozzle is round and sticks out quite a bit from the thick shell, and looks rather intimidating to wear.

Wearing it is an experience. It sticks out like no other for me. with almost the entire main body outside of my ear. The sharp corners and edges hit my ear and makes it a bit uncomfortable at times, though not as bad as I had originally thought. And while it is heavy, it actually does not cause any internal ear pain like I had with the Campfire Solaris or Sony IER-Z1R.

Still, the shape of the shell design may not work for some ears, so your miles may vary.

Homunculus Specs & Unboxing

The Homunclus is also a tri-brid, though has only 4-drivers this time. It has a single BA, and the same single Foster DD, and 2-ESTs. It is also rated at 35 Ohm impedance and has similar Eletech Litz wiring.

The Homunculus is also crafted from titanium for it’s shell, but goes about it differently. In this case, the shell design is more of a disc-shell look with a copper-color exterior and a titanium finish on the inner side. The shape is also quite large and intimidating with sharp edges around the circumference of the shell.

Unfortunately, the edges of the shell do hit my ears and it feels like a dull knife’s edge along my ears. Not the best feeling in the world, though I have not been sliced open, so that’s a good thing! They are not quite as heavy as the Thummim but still on the heavier side for IEMs.

The unboxing experience is not quite as fancy, but still a unique one on its own. The box has a skeleton chest on the front, which opens up down the middle. Unfolding it reveals a very nice feeling black leather case with a heart-with-wings-artwork on the front. Funny enough, to me the Homunculus IEMs look like a pair of lungs, which would make sense if you unbox a chest to reveal lungs and a heart, but who knows what they’re going after here.

The same tips are included, along with a thinner silver-braided cable with 2-pin connectors. This one is also nice to handle and use as well.

Sound Impressions & Comparison

Both the Homunculus and Thummim feature a balanced, but bass-shifted sound with warm mid-ranges and an odd treble tonality that is mostly due to the dips and valleys in it’s frequency response. I do find that the Homunculus is more neutral of the the two, if you can call it that, while the Thummim is a more warm and heavy sound. Both are warm and laidback, though decently technical in their performances.

The measurements of both, using IEC-711 compliant coupler are shown above, with the thick blue line being the Thummim and the thick yellow line being the Homunculus. Below each are separate graphs of each and their individual channels. It is noteworthy to point out that there is a little bit of a channel imbalance on both sets and I remeasured these several times to make sure it wasn’t a user error. For the large graph, I used the average of both channels.

When listening to a variety of music, one thing that stands out are on a random mix of rock songs, I do find that ones that are more female-centric or have more emphasis in the presence region have an odd timbre to them that makes them sound hazy and muffled. It’s more apparent on the Thummim to me than the Homunculus, but it’s also present there. Sometimes, a more gentle upper mid-range and lower treble region can make a female vocalist sound a little back on the stage and not up and at the front, but with both of these, to slight varying extents, I feel the vocalists is in the far back.

With the Thummim, it can be to the point where I feel like some of the lower ranged instruments can feel overwhelming. It does have a larger lower mid-range and mid-bass accentuation and it’s clearly demonstrated. Maybe “clearly” is not the right word, as I do find it can be occasionally muddy, or at least over-bearing.

That said, the Thummim, and Homunculus have a nice punchy bass with a nice amount of natural decay and provide a decent amount of texture capability down-low. It’s not the best I’ve heard, but its good. I may scoff at the price tag to quality here though, as I do find bass layering and resolution on a different playing field with IEMs such as the Unique Melody MEST, Sony IER-Z1R and 64 Audio Nio which also use dynamic drivers for the low end.

The Thummim’s bass though is kind of intoxicating, as it’s large and engulfing and it knows it. Its thick and wet and may not be the cleanest bass around but its got a lot of power behind it, which was readily apparent in Nirvana’s Unplugged live album where Krist Novoselic’s bass guitar display was in full-force. The Homunculus sounds more in-line with how I prefer bass being presented, but it did lack that extra oomph that does make the Thummim more engaging, and I did feel it did not quite have the same life to it.

Both of these products are on the warm and laid-back side of things. I never found them sibilant or harsh nor fatiguing. The most fatiguing aspect of them is just the shear size and weight of wearing them, but not in sonic performance. I do think the Thummim does a better job of sounding present, while the Homunculus is a touch more toned-down but does extend better.

In terms of technical performance, I think both are good in some areas and not in others. In general resolution, I think both are pretty good, though I do feel the tonal issues mask some of the resolution capabilities by making certain instrument sound a bit dull – like the drum hits in James Taylor’s “Fire and Ice” or the same effect in Tingvall Trio’s “Vulkanen.” I think the resolution is there, it just sounds like the FR issues hinder it from excelling through its foggy nature.

Unlike what I’ve read from others, I do find the soundstage on the Thummim to be a bit narrow and shallow, giving you both a more front row experience with the band not too far separated from each other. I don’t really think that there’s a problem with image separation with this IEM, but I don’t think it’s a wide soundstage and definitely more forward overall than, say, my Unique Melody MEST and Hidition Viento-B. I tested both of these against the Thummim on various live acoustic, jazz and rock tracks and each came out with the Viento-B and MEST ahead of the Thummim in terms of both width, depth, and separation and imaging capabilities.

The Homunculus does have a little more open character to it though, but I do think it’s average to perhaps above average in scale, and more along the lines of the Viento-B in staging.


In just general tonal performance, I think I prefer the Homunculus over the Thummim, mostly because I prefer a more neutral-ish sound signature and the bass-centric signature of the Thummim can be a bit overwhelming for me. That said, the Thummim has less treble wonkiness than the Homunculus though both are not necessarily my cup of tea either in this range, as I find both with timbre issues and lacking any liveliness.

While tonally neither of these do much for me, technical capabilities are somewhat there for both. I think both have nice resolution, and imaging, albeit soundstage on both are a bit too forward and intimate for my tastes. The bass decay and thickness of the Thummim can be a guilty pleasure…

And with that, I really don’t know what to say about these. For my personal tastes:

  • They both lack the sound signature I desire.
  • The technical performance is good, but not at the levels I expect at prices higher than the IEMs I own already.
  • They have beautifully designed shells, but also have scary fit and pointy and sharp edges.
  • They have really cool box art and style.
  • They both have nicely made cables that are stylish and usable.

In the end, I don’t think these two are for me. And especially at the asking price. These are definitely luxury art piece items in my opinion.


They look cool… at least =)

Bit late to the party here but here’s my dual review of the Thieaudio Voyager and Legacy 3!


The Voyager 3 costs $160 and is a 3 BA IEM while the Legacy 3 is a 2 BA 1 DD hybrid that costs $120. Disclaimer: I received both the Voyager and Legacy 3 from Linsoul in exchange for this honest review. I have not been or will be compensated in any other way.

For those unfamiliar with the Thieaudio brand, they’re a ChiFi IEM brand with a number of products at common price segments, with the Voyager and Legacy 3 being their entry-level products. More recently, they’ve made waves with the release of the Thieaudio Monarch and Clairvoyance, two ~$700 IEMs that genuinely challenge some of the very best on the market. What’s interesting about Thieaudio is that they’re actually the in-house brand for Linsoul; you likely won’t find them on some of the other common ChiFi stores like those on Aliexpress (e.g. NiceHCK) or Penon Audio. Notably, the Voyager and Legacy 3 are some of the only IEMs in the <$200 range that feature dip switches for tuning.


What’s in the Box?

The Voyager and Legacy 3 ship in a minimalist green box featuring its logo. You pull a green loop to slide out the inner box that presents IEM shells and a faux-leather carrying case. Inside the carrying case you’ll find the 2-pin QDC style, over-ear IEM cable, a standard set of S, M, and L tips, and a SIM card ejector tool you can use to adjust the switches on the IEM shell. Between the two, I like the Legacy 3’s shell design more. The gold clockwork faceplate is striking against the translucent light blue shell. It also has more customization options for the faceplate and you can even get it in custom form for not too much more depending on the customization, making it quite an attractive CIEM option for <$200.

The fit on both the Voyager and Legacy 3 are quite similar, with the typical ergonomic shape that’s becoming increasingly common with resin shells. The Voyager 3 however is slightly bulkier than the Legacy 3. Both isolate fairly well. I find that the Legacy 3 does have some driver flex with its DD, marking a slight inconvenience when walking around at times. The cables these IEMs ship with are great. The Voyager 3 in particular ships with the Tripowin C8 cable and one of the best stock cables to come with an IEM that I’ve encountered. There’s next to no cable noise, no cable memory, and is soft and pliable. The Legacy 3’s cable isn’t up to the same level but still beats out the vast majority of stock cables and is a bit rubbery. Needless to say, there’s little need to cable swap unless they die for some reason.



As mentioned before, both the Thieaudio Voyager 3 and Legacy 3 each feature two dip switches for a total of four possible tunings. For the Legacy 3, the switches have essentially no effect and I won’t make a distinction between them for this review. For the Voyager 3, the switches have a noticeable difference. I’ll post measurements at the end of each review. For reference, I refer to the four tuning options as 00, 10, 01, and 11 where 0 refers to the switch in the up position and 1 in the down position. The settings are read left to right i.e. ON then KE. This picture provides an example of the 10 position.


Don’t ask me what ON or KE stand for. I’ll chalk it up to some odd lost-in-translation problem from the manufacturers.

Legacy 3:


Bass: The bass of the Legacy 3 extends down to 20 Hz with the slightest of roll-offs. It has a nice sense of impact and responsiveness that makes up for its relative lack of texture and nuance. As far as budget IEMs go, this is one of the better bass responses I’ve heard. It provides the much needed low end presence that makes music engaging while maintaining a balance that doesn’t emphasize either subbass or midbass.

Mids: The transition into the low mids is tastefully done. A lot of budget IEMs can struggle here but the Legacy 3 handles it with no issue. There isn’t much bass bleed or muddiness from the DD and nor a jarring DD/BA transition at the crossover. The Legacy 3 has just a hint of warmth in the lower mids. The upper mids has plenty presence with a forwardness that brings out clarity in vocals and electric guitars. Combined with the slight warmth in the lower mids, the Legacy 3’s mids response nicely handles the tone of a majority of instruments. From the quiet strumming guitar coupled with a vocalist’s whispered words to the screaming overdriven notes of lead electric guitar, the Legacy 3 is well suited to modern pop/rock genres.

Treble: Where the Legacy 3 stumbles is its relative lack of treble. Right at the transition between the upper mids and lower treble, there is a sharp drop-off in volume. This is not to say the Legacy 3 cannot produce treble at all . It can and the Legacy 3 is certainly not a dark IEM. It is simply de-emphasized. The sharp, crisp sound of the hats or delicate shimmer of the the cymbals have less presence, leading to a duller tone. For those sensitive to treble, the Legacy 3 would be a good choice as it is far from fatiguing with no sibilance issues. I liken it’s lack of treble to that of the Etymotic ER4 line. It’s there but its far from the focus. I find that the overall tonality of the Legacy 3 isn’t negatively affected by this, with the exception of instruments that specifically rely heavily on the upper harmonics.

Technical Ability: On a technical level, the Legacy 3 is a solid performer for it’s price bracket of about $120 but won’t be taking home any medals. Imaging is a bit better than your standard budget IEM though its soundstage is mediocre with a flat 2D, in-your-head type of sound that’s in line with 90% of other IEMs out there. Resolution and separation are competitive with some of the better products in this price range but are decidedly a step down from the best performers (i.e. Etymotic ER2, Tin Audio T4, Moondrop Starfeld).

Conclusion: As a whole, I quite like the Thieaudio Legacy 3. While it lacks the treble response that I generally look for in my IEMs, the mids balance and bopping bass response kept me listening to it for longer than I’d normally do for a review. While I don’t think it provides the greatest value from a price/performance standpoint, it is a solid contender to the $100 or so IEM range. Where I see the Legacy 3 be undisputed is as a CIEM. The number of CIEMs you can buy <$200 can be counted on one hand and the Legacy 3 has a firm foundation in both tuning and technical performance.


My set has very slight imbalance but this is not noticeable at all.


You can see in this graph that regardless of what setting you’re on, there’s effectively no difference.


  • Disclaimer: The Legacy 3 has a unit variation issue. Antdroid has previously documented it here . My unit has the old (orange) tuning. Based on the measurements, I would probably enjoy the newer tuning even more. That said, I still find the old tuning enjoyable as demonstrated in my review.

Voyager 3:


Technical Ability: The technical performance of the Voyager 3 is quite similar to that of the Legacy 3. Both imaging and soundstage are about on par for most IEMs - a flat 2D, in-your-head sound. Resolution and separation are very middling and a step back from the Legacy 3. Dynamics are blunted. For $160, I’m fairly disappointed. The technical performance of the Voyager 3 is on the level of some of the better $50-80 IEMs. BA timbre is not bad but is absolutely noticeable in the bass when comparing to the Legacy 3.

Tuning 00 : This is my second favorite tuning. The bass is bloated but there is serviceable upper mids clarity to balance things out. There’s a peak around the lower-mid treble that manifests as splashy cymbals and brings out the crack of the snare. Some may find this fatiguing. As with the other tunings, upper treble is lacking and there is no sense of air or sparkle.


Tuning 10: This is my favorite tuning. The bass is dipped just a tad while adding a bit more upper mids and treble. It’s essentially a cleaner version of tuning 00. Although the bass is still slightly bloated, it’s not an issue. My only complaint with this (which also applies to tuning 00) is that the splashy treble sometimes sometimes jumps out at you and the lack of treble extension makes the tone a little wonky. The Legacy 3’s tuning is better IMO. There’s just a much better balance between the mids and the bass in the Legacy 3 despite it’s lack of treble. The Voyager 3’s 10 tuning passes the bar for decent and that’s about it.


Tuning 01 and 11: Like 00 and 10, these tunings are quite similar. For the most part, I dislike both. Compared to the 00 and 10 tunings, these sound bloated and muddy with a severe lack of presence in the mids due to a very small pinna gain. The 01 tuning is worse by a little bit. These tunings essentially dampen the uppers and treble. Because the low-mid treble hump is tamed, there is a further lack of clarity and the treble now just sounds cheap. Interestingly enough, the 11 tuning graphs fairly closely to the pre-2020 CFA Andromeda. While I also did not like the Andromeda’s tuning when I had a chance to demo it, it was a lot better than this. I think the significantly improved technical performance and upper treble extension of the Andromeda play a big part in that. All that being said, I can see how some people like this sort of laid back, warm tuning. When I compare it directly to the Legacy 3 which has a much better balance, the 01 and 11 tunings are hard to enjoy. But after a good 30 minutes or so my ears started to adjust and I began to enjoy the music through this tuning. For some tracks, the lack of pinna butchers the vocals. But depending on the mix, other tracks aren’t really affected at all. Of course, YMMV depending on what you listen to.



Conclusion: It’s hard for me to recommend the Voyager 3 beyond the novelty aspect of playing with tuning switches. Its technical ability is middling at best. The best tuning setting is relatively decent. For $160, the Voyager 3 really shouldn’t exist. To be fair to Thieaudio, the Voyager 3 was their very first foray into IEMs and the <$200 market is phenomenally competitive. The one case where I can see the Voyager 3 be worth it is if you’re curious about tuning switches as I can’t readily think of any other <$200 IEM out there with switches that meaningfully contribute to the overall sound. Though there are a number of other IEMs out there with tuning filters.


You can see the channel matching is quite good on the Voyager 3.


Here are the four tuning options. You can clearly see that if the second switch is in the “up” position, it has a lot more upper mids and treble presence.


Should You Buy It and Which One?

As evident in my review, I would consider the Legacy 3 to be worth it while the Voyager 3 can be safely ignored. The Legacy 3 beats out the Voyager 3 in almost all respects unless you specifically want that Andromeda-like laid-back, warm tuning with minimal vocal forwardness from the Voyager 3. At $120, the Legacy 3 is a good value and I feel comfortable recommending it, especially if you want a CIEM. And while there may be better value propositions on the market, those may not fit your needs. As always, make sure you think about what exactly you want out of your IEMs and do more research into what fits your needs. If the Etymotic ER2, the Tin T4, or Moondrop Starfield have some sort of deal breaker for you, the Legacy 3 is worth a look.


I won’t be buying one, but I like the steampunk motif with the gears. I wish they were an operational mechanical graphic equalizer.

1 Like

I’ve been spending some time EQing the Final Audio A8000 - in part because I think it’s one of the most technically impressive single DD IEMs out there (in addition to the Dunu Luna). My only complaint with the A8000 has been that it’s got some strange sounding treble with a substantial 5.5khz peak going on along with a few other oddities that make it just a bit too bright/sibilant for my taste. I had originally planned on trying to modify it in some way since I don’t typically EQ IEMs (on the go and whatnot). Unfortunately I haven’t found anything that works yet for that - maybe in the future I’ll have something more concrete.

Default Frequency Response:

Note that this uses the GRAS RA0402 coupler which subdues the coupler resonance at 8khz you might see on other graphs - the downside is that in reality it’s somewhere in between.

In any case, for those who use IEMs at their desk and do have the luxury of being able to EQ, I’ve put together a profile for it using EQ APO and PEACE UI.

  • 40hz Pk +2 Q=1.41
  • 800hz Pk +1 Q=1.41
  • 2500hz Pk -4.5 Q=1.41
  • 3250hz Pk +2.5 Q=2
  • 4500hz Pk +2.5 Q=2
  • 5400hz Pk -2.5 Q=2
  • 5600hz Pk -6 Q=3
  • 6000hz Pk -2.5 Q=2
  • 8000hz Pk -3 Q=3
  • 8670hz Pk -2.5 Q=4
  • 10000hz Pk +2 Q=2
  • 11900hz Pk -4 Q=5
  • 15000hz Pk +3 Q=2

And here’s the curve we end up with after applying this EQ:

Note again that the dip around 8khz here is just the coupler dampening, and this FR matches the target almost exactly. A little more energy in the lower mids is also welcome since this target is essentially the Thieaudio Monarch’s tuning.


2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Vision Ears Custom and Universal IEMs – Offical Thread

Hey all, I wanted to share some thoughts on an IEM I’ve been enjoying (yes, really haha) a lot lately. Not a full review, mainly just impressions.

The DUNU SA6 is the company’s foray into the full-BA side of things, sporting - as the IEM’s name might imply - six BA drivers. The physical design itself is terrific with recessed 2-pin connectors, an ergonomic shell, and of course, the unique stabilized wood faceplates. I really like the recessed connectors in particular, as it’s a critical stress point. The cable, while it’s not to my tastes aesthetically so much, also sports DUNU’s clever, swappable connectors.

Of course, there’s no shortage of pretty faces in the IEM world, so let’s get into the fun stuff: the actual sound. The SA6 utilizes two Sonion Acupass vented subwoofers. Generally, BAs are not vented, and the intangible benefits here are unmistakable: While transient attack seems to exhibit a slight blunting, the SA6 certainly slams harder and has more texturing than your run-of-the-mill BA IEM. Decay is still non-existent, but this is impressive. The midrange tonality is also on-point with something of a subtle bump at 4.5kHz which brings the upper-midrange forward. A tad bright at times, and likely in an effort to boost perceived resolution; however, no less a worthy means of doing so in my eyes. I think my main issue is actually with the SA6’s treble. Similar to the qdc Anole VX, the SA6 exhibits a strong dip from 5-7kHz; there’s something of an upward skew as a result with too much mid-treble energy for my preferences. Slap on a lack of presence in the utmost highest frequencies, and the SA6’s treble can run somewhat plasticky, artificial, and contributes to an overly “clinical” sound a times. Nonetheless, the tuning here is nothing short of very good, and even though the SA6 doesn’t hit my preferences super closely, it hasn’t stopped me from jamming to it a good deal the last several days.

Technicality-wise, the SA6 is a competent performer. It doesn’t make me go “wow” or anything of the sort, but resolution is fine, and in particular, macrodynamic contrast is fairly good. That said, it does seem to have the common issue in which it’s always riding “high” on decibel gradations, which made it seem a bit dry on first listen. The SA6 also seems to struggle with layering, especially in terms of positional cues; that is to say, there isn’t sufficient “air” between instruments and their placement on the stage.

But these are minor quibbles, and I could find many, many more faults with most every IEM in its price bracket. On the merit of its sound alone, the SA6 is impressive. As a whole? It’s probably one of the most solid IEMs in the $500 bracket, one that I would not hesitate to recommend. I think it presents a worthy step over the Moondrop B2, the de-facto king of the sub-$300 bracket. Of course, if you already have a B2, I’d also hold-off as the jump isn’t as significant as I’d like it to be, and they’re more so different flavors. I suppose that’s a testament to how good the B2 already is; we’ve been seeing a lot of very solid IEMs hitting the streets this past year - the SA6 is the latest.


Great writeup. I love the look of them just not the colour. On another note I loved your EE Hero review and having just bought them agree wholeheartedly with what you said. I think is shall replace them with the Odin.


Fearless Audio S8Z & Tequila Review: Duality of IEM


Fearless Audio is part of the “new” wave of Chi-Fi manufacturers that have popped up over the last couple years. Most of the manufacturers in this wave have gone one of two directions: either adapting existing target curves like the very successful manufacturer Moondrop, or churning out a plethora IEMs and hoping something sticks. Fearless Audio, however, seems to have fallen somewhere in the middle with a house tuning that their “S” lineup follows, and then a separate, more experimental lineup.

Unfortunately, none of their experimental tunings have enjoyed much success, and in this review I’ll be taking a look at the Tequila - their latest IEM - plus the S8Z, the most recent addition to the S8 series. The Tequila is the real wild-card, though. Will the Tequila fall into their house tuning lineup or their experimental lineup? And if it falls into the latter, could it be Fearless Audio’s first successful mad experiment?

These units were kindly provided for review by Linsoul. You can find the Tequila here, and the S8Z here. As always, what follows are my honest thoughts and opinions to the best of my ability.

Source and Driveability

Holy cow, these IEMs are sensitive. We’re not talking Campfire Andromeda levels, but they’re close. I might be more sensitive to it, but I hear minor hissing off of both my iBasso DX160 (volume ~8) and A&K SP1000M (volume ~30), so I’d consider picking up something to kill the sensitivity if that might be an issue. All critical listening was done using the stock cables, stock tips, and with lossless FLAC files. My genres of preference include the following: K-Pop/J-Pop, Country music, EDM, and instrumental scores.

The Tangibles

Fearless Audio has outdone themselves with the presentation. You’re presented with a sleek, but substantial package with a magnetic enclosure, and the following accessories inside:

  • Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • Faux leather carrying case
  • An assortment of silicon tips
  • Manual (it’s all written in Chinese, so I don’t know how useful that’ll be for most people)

Both the Tequila and S8Z feature a revised cable; the original was extremely heavy - I think it literally used lead for the hardware - and part of the reason why I sold my own Fearless S8P. The Tequila’s cable uses a more generic, plastic wrap, while the S8Z’s cable is more pliable and premium in feel. I had no issues with either cable.

Something that Fearless doesn’t slack on is the build quality of their IEMs. Both IEMs feature recessed, connector joints which are a critical stress point. The faceplates themselves are also nothing short of stunning; the gaps likewise seamless between where the plate and body meet. The Tequila is slightly larger with a less ergonomic design than the S8Z; my guess is that this is to facilitate the dynamic driver, although I had no issues with fit or comfort on both IEMs. The S8Z also seems to sport orange, plastic hardware inside to fill up some empty space in the shell and prevent components from coming loose - pretty sweet.

Sound Analysis

I think it makes most sense to cover these two IEMs separately given - if you’ve read the title of this review - how different they are. So first, the Tequila.

Frequency response measured off of an IEC-711 coupler. There is a resonance peak at 8kHz; as such, measurements after this point should not be considered accurate.

…and well, the Tequila falls into that subset of experimental tunings I was talking about. As usual, I feel the need to disclaim that tonality is subjective; however, there are most certainly better tunings than others in terms of majority appeal. This is not one of them, and not by a long shot.

Frankly, I struggle to find words that sum up the Tequila’s overall sound signature, so let’s just start from the bottom. The Tequila utilizes a single DD for the lows, and while it unmistakably slams like a DD, what little texture is present is obscured by the overly blunted transient attack. Yep, this thing has next to zero macro-detail in the bass. Oh, and this is the best part of the Tequila by far. To this effect, the midrange is plain wonky. I hear surprisingly good detail to the lower-midrange; however, the upper-midrange is smothered due to a lack of adequate ear gain. Between this strange disjointedness and outright poor macro-detail like what the Tequila’s bass exhibits, I really think I’d prefer the latter. And then we get to the treble, the Tequila’s biggest problem…or at least that’s what I’d like to say. But the thing is, the Tequila basically has zero treble after 7kHz. It’s not like it’s laid back either, as what little treble the Tequila does have is stick impact, sibilant stick impact at that.

You might think that, hey, maybe the Tequila has some decent technical chops. Sure. The Tequila might be slightly above average in the sub-$100 bracket for resolving ability, but not much more to my ears. It falls within the realms of average - frankly, I’m inclined to say far below - for imaging performance too. Sometimes it’s difficult to gauge an IEM’s technical performance by virtue of how poor the tuning is - or the tuning neutering technicalities - and I think this is a good example. But I digress. On the bright side, while I’m not much of a drinker, hey, I have the Tequila to listen to! It seems to aptly emulate what it’s like being inebriated; I think Fearless nailed the naming.

Thankfully, the S8Z is a departure from the Tequila in most every way. If I had to describe the S8Z’s overall sound signature it would go something like “neutral-aggressive”. This means linear bass, a balanced midrange, and unfortunately, some egregious treble. The S8Z exhibits strong lower-to-mid treble presence which, aside from being fatiguing, lends itself to a hollow, metallic smearing on instrument crashes. This is probably my biggest grip; otherwise, the tuning is darn solid on the S8Z, and I’m inclined to say it’s the most balanced of the Fearless S8 series.

Technicality-wise, the S8Z’s standout is no doubt its sheer resolving ability. Transient attack is quite snappy, as is decay, and the S8Z has no trouble scaling quicker tracks. Now, if that’s all there was to qualifying good technicalities, then the S8Z would probably be leading its price bracket. But it doesn’t stack up that nicely in practice, and I find myself in strong disagreement with the S8Z’s more latent intangibles - particularly the BA timbre. For those who might not be familiar with this term, BA IEMs are generally characterized by a sense of weightlessness or “plastickiness” to their notes. In turn come the issues with the compressed dynamic range, transient grain, and characteristically weak bass - all of which the S8Z suffers from, helped in no part by the metallic treble response.

Imaging is also not a strong point of the Fearless S8 series, with staging being more intimate and positional cues somewhere within the realm of average (which to be fair most IEMs are). While I wouldn’t go so far as to say the S8 layers poorly, there’s a certain crampedness to the presentation. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing though, as it seems to complement the more aggressive tuning. It stands that the S8Z’s a pretty good IEM, one that I think I would’ve enjoyed much more had it fallen in-line with my preferences closer.

The Verdict

Let’s briefly, very briefly, go back to the Tequila. In my humble opinion, the Tequila does not offer performance comparable to many IEMs a tenth its asking price - I think that says enough about where I stand. The S8Z, however, is a competent performer. While it might no longer punch beyond its price point given the release of marketshakers like the DUNU SA6, Moondrop B2, and the Thieaudio twins, it’s still a very solid option relative to the market as a whole. Going forward, I hope that Fearless Audio recognizes that sticking to their house sound, or simply taking a more calculated approach to tuning, will ultimately reward not only them, but their customers in the long run. As they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.


Great review @Precogvision. I really enjoyed reading it.


Moondrop S8 Review - Kilobuck Solution


Moondrop. Progenitor of the perplexing dynamic that is waifu and high-fidelity audio; one of the most distinguished Chi-Fi brands in the IEM world thanks to their calculated approach to tuning. It’s also no secret, however, that they seem to have met something of a plateau with their recent SSR/SSP and Illumination IEMs. So why not take a little trip back in time to the Solution S8? The S8 is an IEM that was on my radar almost a year ago, but quickly dropped off given the release of the smash-hit that was the Blessing 2. But it’s here now, and better late than never. In this review, I’ll be taking a look at if the S8 still has what it takes to play in the highly competitive, kilobuck bracket - though I’m sure you’ve already inferred my thoughts given the title of this review, so perhaps why would be more apt.

Source and Driveability

The S8 takes more power to drive than most BA IEMs, but you should have no trouble powering it off of mobile devices. In fact, I find this preferable as the S8 doesn’t exhibit hissing off of any of my sources, and most of my listening is done at lower volumes. All critical listening was done off of an iBasso DX160 (volume ~18) and A&K SP1000M (volume ~45) with lossless FLAC files, stock tips, and the stock cable.

The Tangibles

Like most Moondrop IEMs, you’re presented with a box featuring one of their waifu mascots. It’s okay if you don’t like anime. You can just toss the package; of course, you know what they say: No waifu, no laifu. But I digress, and anyways, the following accessories are included inside:

  • Airplane adapter
  • Soft-carry case
  • Assortment of silicon tips
  • Moondrop 2-pin 0.78mm cable

As usual, the cable is a bit of a letdown; aside from featuring a janky, plastic Y-splitter, there’s no choke to cinch where the cable separates. The S8 itself, though, is very, very nice. From the contoured acrylic shell, to the implementation of the faceplate, it all screams smooth, slick, and refined. Because the acrylic shell is see-through, you’re given a clear view of all the drivers and circuitry inside too! The S8 seems to capture the essence of the word “moondrop” perfectly. I also really enjoy the fit on the S8, and it seals superbly for my ears. As usual, your mileage might vary and all that. It’s also worth considering that because this IEM is not vented, pressure can build-up over prolonged periods of listening.

Sound Analysis

Frequency response measured off of an IEC-711 coupler. There is a resonance peak at 8kHz; as such, measurements after this point should not be considered accurate.

Moondrop tunes many of their IEMs to what they call the VDSD target curve; this is essentially their take on the popular Harman target curve. For those who might not be familiar with it, the Harman target curve is an aggregate tuning that reflects the sound preferences of the majority of listeners. Because this is a majority curve, it does not reflect the minority; however, Moondrop has also taken some creative liberties here and there on the S8, and I think the result is pretty darn solid.

We can see from the frequency response graph the largely sub-bass oriented curve the S8 follows; it hits my preferences very closely sans knocking a couple dB off the Harman target. The biggest bottleneck here, then, is going to be the S8’s intangibles. Transient attack is quite snappy, but like most BA IEMs, the S8 expectedly struggles with reproducing bass texture and dynamic slam because, you know, there’s nigh zero decay.

Of course, when Moondrop IEMs (and the Harman target by extension) are in the picture, there’s one other thing that comes to mind: upper-mids. Upper-midrange presence generally has two key consequences. One is a thinner note weight, that is the perception of thickness (or lack thereof) to notes, and the other is greater perceived resolution. Indeed, the S8 presents very good macro detail here to my ears, albeit with the characteristically thin transients that most BA IEMs exhibit. Some might also find it borderline shouty, perhaps bright, on first listen. Still, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the midrange has been done very solidly on the S8, and like most Moondrop IEMs, it flies particularly well with female-vocal tracks.

But where the S8 deviates heavily from the Harman target and Moondrop’s other IEMs is in the treble. The Harman target is generally characterized by a gentle slope off of 10kHz and the subsequent “air” frequencies. But on the contrary, it sounds like the S8 peaks right around the cusp of those air frequencies at ~8kHz (irrespective of the resonance peak shown on the graph) after which it slopes fairly linearly to 19kHz, perhaps with a minor peak somewhere in-between. I have to admit, this is a very interesting quality I’ve not heard before. It lends the S8 to a “floaty-bloaty” quality in which there’s a certain inflatedness to the decay of instruments, and yet said decay is quite smooth and well-extended. Stack on a minor, lower-treble peak at 6kHz, and this is most definitely a treble-head’s IEM. Tunings like this tend to be more divisive, and whether this is good or bad I think is better left to personal preference; admittedly I quite enjoy it.

Technical Performance

And we haven’t even gotten to the S8’s bread-and-butter: technicalities. It excels in this metric, carrying over a lot - and then some - of what made its younger sibling the Moondrop Blessing 2 great. Whereas the B2 exhibited minor image diffusal (certainly above average for its price), the S8’s staging feels a good deal more sonic-wall free; I hear a greater sense of physicality between instruments and their sharp, precise positioning. The S8’s resolving capability is also nothing short of astounding for the price. Transient attack exhibits excellent speed, and from the quicker tracks I threw at it like Tiffany’s “I Just Wanna Dance” to more nuanced tracks like Tom Day’s “Where Were We,” the S8 never congested. One could certainly make the argument that the S8 is pumping out detail simply by virtue of its strong upper-midrange presence and lower-treble peak; however, this is no less a worthy means of achieving resolution in my eyes. Furthermore, the S8 has the resolving capability to back it up.

What do I mean by this? I often make a distinction between resolution and detail retrieval, which are subsets of overall resolving capability. Resolution is simply the clarity with which a note is articulated, and it’s generally a consequence of quicker transient attack or more upper-midrange and treble presence. This can often lend itself to the perception of detail; however, I would not necessarily consider an IEM with good resolution to be entirely resolving either. To this end, detail retrieval is sometimes referred to as “internal” or “true” detail, and it’s indicative of an IEM’s ability to bring the smallest of details to the forefront of the sound. While this certainly still has some overlap with frequency response, I tend to think of it more as an intangible property, one that’s much more difficult to achieve. Like so, I’d wager even the S8’s detail retrieval is comparable with many of the best in the kilobuck bracket.

On the flip side of the coin, there are little things here and there that prevent the S8 from claiming coveted top-tier status. Imaging is still not holographic to my ears, and disappointingly so given the copious amounts of pseudo-air the S8 exhibits up top. I also hear minor macrodynamic compression, and in particular, I’m led to question the S8’s microdynamic ability on tracks like Sawano Hiroyuki’s “Cage” where the S8 smears over the small shift in the snare drum hit at 0:35 that should echo considerably more throughout the stage, as well as the nuance of the hits at 3:15 onwards. Nonetheless, these are trifles, and I freely admit that if you told me there was another IEM that could match the S8 for technicalities at this price point, you’d be falling on deaf ears.

Select Comparisons

Blessing 2 / Blessing 2: Dusk - $320 / $330

I know - there’s no shortage of listeners that’ll attest to the B2 trading blows with its older brother, the S8. But I have to say, I just don’t think the B2 is comparable. Often the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and this is where the B2 stumbles hard. The lackluster DD bass, the minor 6Hz peak which exacerbates the rather thin note weight, and the plasticky, gritty treble, all impress the notion of a less than coherent IEM. You’ll note that these are mostly intangible flaws; I’d posit the B2 is tuned just as well - perhaps even better - as the S8 for those who enjoy less bass and a more linear treble response. Synergy on a more intimate level, however, tends to be the distinction between a “very good” IEM and an “excellent” IEM, descriptors with which the B2 and S8 fall into respectively to my ears.

But what happens if you put the tuning of the B2 into even more capable hands? Enter the Blessing 2: Dusk. The Dusk is a Moondrop collaboration with popular IEM reviewer Crinacle. It fixes some of the aforementioned issues with a thicker, more sub-bass heavy sound. While the S8 still holds a solid technical edge, the tonal balance on the Dusk is nothing short of exceptional. Likewise, whereas the B2 fell somewhat short by comparison, I really do think the Dusk deserves to be in the same conversation as the S8. Go for the Dusk if you enjoy heavy, DD bass and a thicker midrange, and go for the S8 if you enjoy a leaner sound that prioritizes treble and technicalities.

Campfire Andromeda 2020 - $1099

The Andromeda 2020 is one of my favorite kilobuck IEMs. From it’s terrific holographic imaging to its spacious layering chops, it has that special sauce with which I can’t help but find the S8 lacking, despite the S8 trading blows technically. Their tonal balances are also quite different. The Andromeda 2020’s biggest issue lies in its midrange presentation; there is a fundamental disconnect between the thicker lower-midrange and the dipped upper-midrange. This lends the lower-midrange to a bloaty characteristic which I can’t say I’m a fan of, and the S8’s midrange is leaner, more balanced by comparison. Both IEMs exhibit characteristically poor BA bass, but conversely, very good treble extension. I wouldn’t feel comfortable confidently recommending one over the other, as they both do so much right and so little wrong. Maybe go for the Andromeda 2020 if you want ever-so-slightly better technical chops (mainly the holographic imaging), and go for the S8 if you want to save some money.

Sony IER-M9 - $1000

Here’s another difficult comparison to make. On paper, the IER-M9 is probably the better IEM. From its tuning to its intangible performance, it’s an incredibly safe IEM. Too safe for my preferences, in fact, and the more I listened to it, the more boring it got. But credit where credit is due, the IER-M9 circumvents a lot of the issues that plague both the S8 and the Andromeda 2020. Its bass response exhibits some decent density and texture at the expense of minor bloat, and the timbre is a good deal more weighty than your typical BA IEM. In this reviewer’s opinion, the IER-M9 is the safest IEM you can buy for a grand, and if you enjoy a warmer, more relaxed tuning that maintains a high degree of technical chops, this could be the ticket.

The Verdict

As much as I enjoy weebing out over Moondrop’s waifus, I’ll be the first to admit that the sound is what I’m ultimately here for. And the S8 delivers. This is an IEM that comfortably trades blows with the best in the kilobuck bracket, not to mention an IEM that also undercuts said best IEMs by a couple hundred dollars. This is the kilobuck solution, and while it might not hit every listener’s preferences (after all, no IEM will), it’s an IEM I think should at least be on every discerning listener’s shortlist. And in a lot of respects, at least for me, the S8 captures the essence of Moondrop in their heyday; it’s this same essence with which I hope Moondrop is able to continue endowing upon their future IEMs.

Reference Tracks

  • Aimer - Hakuchuumu
  • David Nail - Let It Rain
  • Dreamcatcher - Silent Night
  • Illenium & Excision - Gold
  • Girls’ Generation - Galaxy Supernova
  • Joe Nichols - Sunny and 75
  • Keith Urban - Defying Gravity (2009)
  • Sabai - Million Days
  • Sawano Hiroyuki - Best of Vocal Works Remastered (2020)
  • Taeyeon - My Voice (2017)
  • Tiffany - I Just Wanna Dance
  • Tom Day - Where Were We

I love reading your reviews. Your EE Hero was spot on in my opinion. This sounds like a great iem punching above its weight.


Thank you for this review. One thing is reading a review and deciding to buy an IEM, another is to read it AFTER you bought the IEM. Then you have a better way of understanding it, at least that is my take, as I am not that adept in the audiofile vocabulary or to use it to descibe my own experience.

I got the S8 2 months ago and it has been my daily driver ever since.
I can only agree with your review in everyway and find it the best IEM I have tried so far. I was curious to see if 8 BA’s alone could give me the sound I like, but oh yes, they could. If I need the bass to shine, I can go to my Polaris 2, but I do prefer the mids and the treble to be the heroes in my music, so the S8 is really up my alley.

One thing your reveiw made me wonder, is if an Andromeda 2020 is worth buying, now when I have the S8?

Thanks for another great review and thanks for the section where you explain your take on resolution and detail retrieval, that helped a lot :+1:t2:


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For about an hour I have been listening to one of the “wildest” in-ears ever with a big smile :blush:.

It’s such a mixture of perfection & completely out of control :dizzy_face:, which is so fascinating that you don’t even want to take these small, heavy monsters out of your ears.

Knowing that you don’t always have to spend thousands of bucks :dollar: :dollar: to have fun, I strongly recommend the IKKO Audio OH-10 for everyone who likes bass :grinning:, lots of bass :grin:, who has no frequency curve fetish :smirk: and who has no general problems with In-ears, because these plugs are relatively heavy.

Assuming all of this, fun is the determining factor that you can calculate with when you get involved in a music session with them.


I am 100% behind your statement.
IKKO OH-10 is such a gem and one all fans of IEMs should try out. They are among the favorites in my collection both re sound and build. They are heavy in both aspects. :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp:

And for the price I see them as a “must-have” IEM.


Just getting through my backlog of reviews. Haven’t had a chance to write a review like this in quite a while.


For today’s review, I’m going to be looking at the Shuoer Tape Pro. It’s Shuoer’s follow up to their popular Shuoer Tape that I reviewed a while back and thought was fairly decent. At $130 IEM, the Tape Pro costs exactly the same as the regular Tape does, and I believe uses a similar “composite electrostatic dynamic driver”. Please note that this is not a true estat driver as it does not require a specialized amp to power it. Technical trifles aside, how does it sound? While Antdroid released a rather unfavorable review of these recently, having heard the Shuoer Tape, I do have some expectations that comes with the Pro moniker.

Disclaimer: I received the Shuoer Tape Pro as a review unit from Linsoul in exchange for this honest review. I am not or will be compensated in any other way.

What’s in the Box?

In an unusual turn of events, the first thing you’re greeted with in the box is… a Shuoer product catalogue. At least the booklet is rather high quality. Moving on is the IEMs themselves and a small plastic case with a number of goodies. In it is a spare set of tuning filters and nozzles, a cleaning brush, and a set of S, M, and L tips. Below the foam compartment lies the included hard carrying case with the cable, a tuning tool, and another set of tips.The cable is a straight jack 2-pin 2.5 mm cable and they do include a 3.5 mm L-shaped adapter. The cable itself is of OK quality. It tangles easily, there’s cable noise, and is rather hard to touch. But at least it does feel rather sturdy.

The build of the IEMs is a full metal shell that looks identical to the regular Tapes. There’s a vent in the middle of the shell. It does feel a little thicker than the original Tapes and has a monstrous 7 mm removable nozzle. I’m not entirely sure why the nozzle is removable as it doesn’t affect tuning. It’s just a feature that’s there. Despite the insane nozzle size, I don’t find the Tape Pros painfully uncomfortable. The fit is shallow but it does seal reasonable well and stays in place. Isolation is subpar due to the shallow fit and large vent(s) on the back. The sharper edges of the shell can get a little uncomfortable at times. I guess this just goes to show that beyond nozzle size, the actual shape of the IEM matters quite a bit too as the Tape Pros use that popular Shure-style over the ear design.

As alluded to previously, one of the ways the Shuoer Tape Pro distinguishes itself is through its tuning filters. It comes with these blue and silver tuning filters that you swap on the back. Here’s Shuoer’s guide to installing them with the tuning tool.

You basically unscrew the filters and swap their places. The back filter (i.e. closer to the 2-pin jack) is the important one as it acts as a tuning port to the second vent. The front filter doesn’t actually need to be there; it just screws in for convenience and aesthetics. My Shuoer Tape Pro set came with the blue filter installed in the back despite the image saying that the stock tuning is with the silver. I can confirm that the blue is the bassier of the two.


To describe the sound of the Shuoer Tape Pro, imagine witnessing a trainwreck. You see the train coming. You see the obstacle in its path. Right now it’s chugging along just fine but deep down you know that something very, very wrong is going to happen. That is the Shuoer Tape Pro. When I listened to it for the first time, I opened with rock track starring a vocally driven opening. Immediately, the vocals felt off. Not enough that it was unlistenable but enough to fill me with a sense of dread for the next passage of the song. And sure enough, as soon as the drums kicked in, the Tape Pros turns into a messy trainwreck.

Blue Filter

There are a number of problems with the Tape Pro on the blue filter. The first is that there’s pretty only two instruments. It’s vocals and everything else. The Tape Pro is so vocal forward that it completely isolates the vocals from all other instruments. Yet it doesn’t even do vocals well. Female vocals are shouty and hollow with little upper harmonics. Male vocals have a smothered veil on them despite being so forward. The second problem is the bass quality. It’s probably among the worst I’ve ever heard, topped only by cheap dollar store IEMs and headphones. It’s muddy, bloated, incoherent, sloppy, and every other negative adjective you can throw in there. There’s just no definition at all. It’s like Shrek’s bubbling swamp, where each bubble represents a nondescript drum beat somewhere. I don’t say this lightly: With the blue filter, the Tape Pro is close to unlistenable for a lot of music. Only on slower paced tracks is the driver able to keep up.

Silver Filter

Thankfully, the silver filter is much, much better. Despite measuring pretty much identically on the frequency response, it adds a much needed level of definition to the notes, partly salvaging the Tape Pro. At least the different instruments can be heard now instead of being just a smear. But it’s still quite poor overall. The bass is still muddy and low resolution. It still sounds boomy and bloated. There’s still very little dynamics and sense of impact. But at least it’s not wholly incoherent and I can look past it to begin enjoying music.

Aside from the bass, the mids and treble are pretty scuffed too. I already mentioned the vocals but the rest of the mids have a distinctly off tonality due to the Tape Pro’s midrange suckout and absolute Mount Everest for upper mids. The timbre of pretty much every instrument is wrong by some extent. The treble is completely muted and lifeless. After the 4 kHz mark where the upper mids generally ends, there’s just a cliff where the treble drops off and never recovers. If there was any less upper mids, I’d call these IEMs dark.


On the technicalities portion, the resolution is pretty much low budget tier on the silver filter. Forget about the blue. The only saving grace for this IEM is its large horizontal soundstage. Like its predecessor the Shuoer Tape, the vents on the shell does give it a wide stage. But otherwise it has absolutely zero height or depth. There is also pretty much no imaging beyond the 3 blob left, right, center.

Should You Buy It?

No. Absolutely not. At $130 this is a travesty. I’m frankly shocked that Shuoer decided the Tape Pros were good enough to be let out of the factory, let along as a successor to the Tapes. The blue filter Tape Pros is the worst sounding IEM I’ve heard in recent memory. The silver filter is better but its a bit of a stretch to call it acceptable. Even the Kinera Freya that I reviewed a while back wasn’t this poor. It’s a real shame because clearly the person tuning this had put some thought in designing the filters. I wish the Shuoer engineers good luck with their next design but I’m not holding my breath. Of the three Shuoer IEMs I’ve tried to date, they all share a very similar V-shaped tuning. And of the three, only one was decent: the Shuoer Tapes. With the <$150 IEM market being so fiercely competitive, Shuoer has a long road ahead of them.