its really hard to estimate a frequency response just by listening but here is my best effort. if you look at the bottom of the image you will see a thin blue line that i have drawn which shows a bump around the vocal range and one close but not dominating sibliance area with the rest of the range being relatively prominent but not as high as these areas. note that there is only a hint of sibliance just the faintest touch, not annoying at all but there must be a bump somewhere here to account for the spaciality (compared to very cheap iems) and air detail (compared to very very cheap stuff)
What IEMs is the estimated FR of?
Sorry I assumed my posts would be approved in order. I had a late night listening session on some super cheap knock offs of these
When I get home I’ll post the link for you again. They only cost 4 pounds! Hopefully by then the rest of my posts will be approved
I think I’ve been lucky as some uiisii ear buds that I have left over from a broken earphone fit these really well and are providing my ears with good isolation. I suspect the air volume turns out perfect by chance and the result is incredible (at least for my ears)
I still can’t believe what I heard last night. It rivalled and marginally exceeded my moondrop spaceships for 4 pounds gbp. The build quality is crap but the sound addictive. N.b I think earbud tuning may be critical
Just found them but my phone can’t copy the link on the app. Search on Amazon for “aydino cherry wood 054” they are £3.99 gbp and have a light blue cable.
I buy cheap and cheerful stuff and am amazed at these!
The Reecho SG01 have been kindly loaned to me by CqTek of hiendportable.com so I could test them out and create this review. Of course CqTek has not requested anything from me in exchange for sending these IEMs over but if you would like to see his review of these IEMs, you can find it here: Reecho SG-01 English Review - Hi End Portable
This means that my review will follow the usual rule of being as unbiased and sincere as possible but, as I always say, I have not actually spent any of my own hard earned cash to try out these IEMs, so you may want to keep that in mind.
CqTek has actually sent me a few models of IEMs to try out, for which I am grateful as I hadn’t tried any of the models he sent me, or anything else from the brands.
The loan of these items started with a subscriber to Acho Reviews who commented that he would like to see me review the Reecho SG03. I remembered that hiendportable had published a review of them (although I couldn’t remember anything about them), so I reached out to CqTek who kindly agreed to send them to me (the SG03) and also included some more models at the same time, the Reecho SG01 being one of them.
I must say that I know absolutely nothing about these IEMs, so I did a bit of research before sitting down to write this review. From the brief search that I did, it seems that the SG01 are available for just over 40€ (at the time of my search) and features a single graphene 10mm dynamic driver.
Apart from that, I didn’t find much info, without reading reviews of course (which I always avoid doing when I plan on reviewing something myself). I do know that the review on hiendportable contains more details and information, so I suggest that you give it a visit to see more details.
As this set of IEMs was sent to me by someone who has the exact same issue as myself, too many IEMs which means too many boxes, which means too little space to store them all, he just sent me the IEMs in their travel case along with a cable that is not the original (without any tips or other accessories).
This means that I can’t comment on the presentation of these IEMs. I can say that the way the reached me, nicely coiled inside a semi-rigid transport case, is something i have absolutely no complaints about.
Build and aesthetics…
Again, as I just said, the included cable is not the original, therefore I can only comment on the build and aesthetics of the IEMs themselves (well, I can comment on the cable also, which is quite nice, but it is irrelevant to the product at hand).
As far as the IEMs, to be honest, it took me a while to decide if the shells were made from a lightweight alloy or plastic that has been painted to look like metal. In the end, I am 99% convinced that they are actually a lightweight metal in their totality.
This means that they are extremely lightweight and I also find them very comfortable. The size is rather and sits well inside me ear, being almost flush. Using silicone tips I found the seal to be very easy (I didn’t even try Xelastec or foam on these, which is usually a sign of immediate comfort for me) and different tips did do the usual change of sound but none of the ones I tried sounded awful.
As far as aesthetics, they remind me of something that I would associate with Fiio, with the wavy face plates. I don’t mind this look to be honest, it is something that breaks from the normal smooth finish but is not too over the top.
As far as build quality, I don’t know how old these IEMs are or how they have been treated (although I know that CqTek treats his stuff very well) but they aren’t showing any signs of wear or damage, which is always positive.
There are times when specific IEMs or headphones inspire me to listen to certain genres of music, although the day and my mood also play a big part. In the case of the SG01, they were the IEMs I picked up to go back to work on the 3rd of January, without listening to them previously. Upon sitting down at my desk to start making my way through the hundreds of backlogged emails, I connected them to the Atom and started listening. After about 10 minutes, the SG01 just kept making me feel like listening to female pop.
Who am I to disagree with my subconscious? So the first 5 or 6 hours of my work in 2022 was spent listening to people like Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child, Macy Gray and many other similar artists, which I feel that the SG01 did a very good job of presenting.
Not everything was perfect, I’ll mention more about the flaws, but I was happy with the tuning and quality of the music I was listening to, and that was before I knew the price of them. Now that I know that they cost 40€, I must say that I am impressed.
Anyhow, starting off with the subbass, there is a clear roll off as we reach down to the lowest notes, therefore these are not a set of IEMs that will appeal to those who want plenty of that low end rumble. The subbass is not totally absent, there is enough to appreciate that the music has information in the lowest registers but those looking to tickle their eardrums will need to look elsewhere.
In the mid/high bass rangers, I find that the presence is a little north of neutral for my preference. However, although there is a little too much presence in this area, the SG01 does still manage to be smooth and it is only on occasions when this extra bass is noticeable. For example, the start of “No One” by Alicia Keys comes across as slightly too much and can seem as though it is about to distort.
The transition from the bass to the mids also suffers due to this extra presence of mid-bass and lower mids, with the bass clearly bleeding into the mids on tracks that are a little busy in those areas. Listening to simple acoustic and vocal music, this muddyness is not overly apparent but when moving onto tracks that are a little busier in those regions, it does become a little overpowering. The sensation is very similar to when you are in a venue listening to live music and you end up standing in just the wrong spot for those 300Hz notes. The difference is that in a live venue you can take a few steps sideways and resolve the issue, whereas with the SG01, you can’t fix it that way.
The mids themselves are pretty smooth also, with no real issues until we get to the highest of the mids, the 2kHz to 3kHz mark. Around this area I find that the SG01 are tuned very similar to the Yuan Li that I like so much, however, the SG01 increase this area more than the Yuan Li, and this can present some sensation of harshness depending on the song. This increase works well to bring back presence to the vocals, and on voices that are not harsh in those 3kHz frequencies, it works very well and gives a nice clarity to the voices. However, when coming across a voice that is overly hot in the 3kHz range, the SG01 make it become rather harsh on the notes that are centered around those regions. It is a shame because this is something that attracts far more attention from me than if the peak was somewhere else. There are occasions when the harshness appears out of nowhere and draws attention to itself, only to disappear again when the damage is already done (in other words, when it has already drawn my attention to it).
Moving into the higher frequencies, I find them to be rather smooth and fairly airy for a single driver. There is a decent extension in the top end but it is not boosted, meaning that it keeps the smoothness that I find constant in these IEMs except for when the 300Hz or 3kHz issue arises. I don’t find these IEMs sibilant, at least on tracks that are not overly sibilant themselves. For example, “Code Cool” is quite listenable on these IEMs, which is a good guide line.
As far as stage width, I find that the SG01 is actually larger than the average I have come to expect from IEMs. There is a decent amount of space which, partnered with that smooth and extended treble, gives room for the music to breath and for there to be space between instruments. I wouldn’t say that these SG01 are the most detailed IEMs I have heard, nor that they are amazing at placing those details with millimetric accuracy, but they are not something that I could really complain about, there are far worse IEMs out there in this regard (some at much higher price marks).
The SG01 is very close to hitting my preferred tuning for IEMs, if only those boosts around 300Hz and 3kHz were resolved. They don’t need to be eliminated, not at all, they just need to be reduce slightly. In fact, if those two areas (say 100Hz to 300Hz and 2kHz to 4kHz) were reduce slightly, the SG01 would be almost identical to the Yuan Li at less than half the price.
As it stands, those peaks don’t actually affect all the music, I can spend hours listening to certain artists and genres without any negative effects, but then with another artist of genre, the peaks will suddenly become noticeable, at least to me. I guess it is also due to the fact that the 100Hz to 300Hz is a frequency range that I focus on a lot due to being a bassist and the 2kHz to 4kHz range is something I focus on a lot due to my preference for vocal orientated music. This means that these two peaks probably stand out to me more than they would other people.
Honestly, other than that, I have no issues with the SG01 at all. I find them comfortable, they seem well built, the tuning is aimed towards my preferences, they don’t suffer from the single DD drop off in the higher registers… in general they are a decent set of IEMs for around 40€.
I am not going to rush out and purchase a set but I am glad to have been able to try them out and will certainly take more notice of Reecho as a brand.
I figured since the Dunu Titan S is only $80, it fits into this category. Doing a live stream impressions today:
The CCA CRA have been sent to me free of charge by KZ, the brand behind CCA. The only request they have made is that I publish this review including a few links that I will post on my blog. They have not made any other requests or comments, therefore, this review will be the usual combination of being as sincere as possible and avoiding any bias, however, as I always point out in these cases, the IEMs did not cost me anything to try them out and that is something you should consider when reading (or watching) my review.
To see the links, you can visit the post on my blog (here) but they did also send me a discount code that you can use on their site which I will leave here. I actually don’t know how much the discount is but the code is: DRCRA
If you are not really into the budget IEM market, you may not know that CCA are actually a brand that is part of KZ (Knowledge Zenith) and that their products are designed and manufactured by the same people. The reason for this is something that you would need to ask KZ about but my guess is that it allows them to cover more ground and, although they compete against themselves, if you are competing against yourself, you have more chances of winning
The reason I mention this, apart from sharing the info, is because I have reviewed quite a few KZ IEMs on Acho Reviews (and tried quite a few more that I haven’t reviewed) but I have never actually reviewed, or tried, a CCA product.
It is not that I have avoided CCA for any specific reason, it’s just that models sent to me for review have, coincidently, all been KZ and the models that I have purchased (which have been more than I have been sent!) have also been KZ.
Basically this means that I was expecting KZ style with a different name, which you could say that the CRA is (to a certain extent), but what if the best KZ is actually not a KZ?
The presentation of the CCA CRA is very similar to the usual KZ presentation. A simple white box that shows an image of the CRA on the front with some basic information on the back.
Removing the outer sleeve reveals the IEMs in a plastic cutout at the top, with another white box below them containing a couple of sets of tips, the cable and the usual KZ style warranty card.
There really isn’t anything exciting about unboxing the CRA, with the contents being the minimum that can be expected for the price which I haven’t mentioned yet but I probably should give this review some perspective, the CRA cost less than 20€!
Therefore, for the price, I really can’t complain about the contents or packaging as I would rather something at this price have 99% of the cost dedicated to the sound of the IEMs!
Build and aesthetics…
The CRA are IEMs that use a generic shape found on a lot of models but it is a shape that is ergonomically comfortable for most people, including myself. The interior of the shell is transparent with the faceplate being silver and a small transparent window to see the insides. They are also available in black for those who prefer them.
I must say that the aesthetics of the IEMs are simple but do have some thought and effort put into them, which I can’t complain about as I find the resulting looks to be non-offensive, with nothing that really stands out but doesn’t scream “cheap” either.
The included cable is the same as the cables that have been included in all the recent KZ models, with the wires covered in a transparent silicon type material. I will say the same here as I have said in other reviews of IEMs using the same cable: it is not the best cable in the world but it is miles ahead of the older style cables that they used to include and I feel that it is more than adequate for the IEMs.
Let me start off by sharing the first thought that came to mind when I first tried the CRA, “ Wow! These have a lot of bass! ”. If you have followed any of my other reviews (or ramblings) in the past, you will probably think that this will lead to me saying that these IEMs are not for me, as I don’t like bass. But that is not the case.
Let me just clear up the part about not liking bass first. It is not that I don’t like bass, I love bass, I’m a bass player! What I don’t like is bass that takes over the sound, making itself the center of attention. Sometimes I will be in the mood for a bass boost but in general I prefer a bass that is good while not taking over the whole sound signature. There are plenty of models out there with lots of bass that manage to keep themselves balanced at the same time, mainly because they have good bass that they control and not an exaggerated uncontrolled low end.
I have to say that the CRA are a set of IEMs with lots of bass but it is well controlled, clean, detailed and does not take the rest of the sound signature hostage. So, let’s take a look at the usual frequency ranges and my opinions of them.
Starting with the sub bass frequencies I feel is a good description as the lowest of notes on the CRA are also the most elevated. I like an increase in subbass as we get lower as this counteracts the natural hearing roll off, making things still seem balanced. The CRA have a subbass that is more than an increase, it is actually the start of a long slope that drops at the same consistency all the way to almost the center of the mids. If you look at the graph, you will see what looks like a ramp that spans from the lowest of notes (20Hz on the graph) to almost 800Hz.
Now, if I had looked at this graph before listening to the CRA, I would have immediately dismissed them as being far too bassy and probably muddy for my tastes. The thing about receiving things for review sent by others is that I (mostly) don’t get to choose what they send and this, for better or for worse, means I get to spend time with stuff that I would usually not choose. This is one of those cases, also being one of the occasions when I didn’t get what I expected (which is not always bad!).
Due to the way that the subbass and midbass (and even the lower mids) are presented, I really need to lump the subbass and midbass together as I feel they are one big part of the sound signature of these IEMs, so let’s just refer to bass in general in this review.
The bass is elevated, without doubt, being far more present than I would ever choose but at the same time, the bass is clean, articulate, controlled and… well… good. I found that these IEMs inspired me to listen to some old school Hip Hop (80s and 90s) and I found myself enjoying the sound signature of some of the better recorded stuff, such as Tupac, Snoop Dogg, etc. However, I will say that the stuff that is not well recorded, many times due to the bad quality of samples used for the instrumentals, does not translate well on the CRA. These IEMs do have a way of pinpointing issues in the bass areas, which is a good thing if you listen to well recorded music. If you are looking for something that boosts the bass on an early Eminem mixtape, then these are not the best candidate.
Listening to other styles of music, such as the acoustic based music that I usually listen to, I did find them to be a little bass heavy but not really offensive. For example, “Way Down Deep” by Jennifer Warnes, has some bass hits that can be very overpowering with bass boosted IEMs, but with the CRA it was still a pleasant listen, even with a little too much bass.
Moving over to something a little more electronic, such as “Sun is Shining” by Bob Marley & Robin Schulz, again there is far more bass than is needed but it doesn’t take over the sound and make itself the centre of attention. The bass is clean enough to let the remaining other frequencies break through without feeling that they are totally disconnected.
Obviously I couldn’t skip over my usual “sub”test on a set like this, which is “Chameleon”. There is a wall of bass with this track, as is to be expected, but it actually controls the low end on this track much better than some other sets with much less bass.
Moving on to the mids (finally!), these IEMs do have a V shaped tuning to them, with the lowest part being found around the 800Hz mark. Starting off with the transition, this is remarkably clean if we take into consideration what I would expect from the graph. However, the cleanliness of the low end again works in the CRA’s favour to not cause a sensation of muddyness or bleed. It may not be the cleanest transition ever but it is certainly not something I would complain about.
After the 800Hz mark, the presence starts to climb towards being more present in the higher mids. This is again a smooth rise and the presence around 3kHz is enough to bring voices forward a little but the highest point is around the 4kHz to 5kHz range. I feel that this helps even more with the presence when that huge low end is happening. When songs have less bass presence, I was expecting the voices to be a lot harsher and fatiguing but to be totally honest, they are not actually that bad at all. I was expecting Sara Bareilles to sound a lot harsher on her live cover of “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” but she was actually quite and enjoyable listen, even though it is not the best presentation of her vocals, it is still rather impressive for a 20€ set of IEMs with this kind of tuning.
Up in the treble there is another little peak of presence that adds a some sense of air and extension in the higher ranges. The extension of the highest ranges is not spectacular but is better than a lot of other single dynamic options, with that little peak that seems to increase the sensation. This can cause some sibilance with certain tracks and voices, for example “El Cuenta Cuentos” by Nach has quite a bit of sibilance, especially if raising the volume a little. The typical test of “Code Cool” is proof that the sibilance is just a little too much.
Soundstage is on average with the majority of IEMs in the lower price brackets. It is not terrible but does not present itself as wide and open. Inside the space the placement is actually not bad though. They seem to do a fairly good job of separating layers and placing images in a way that make it seem like there is a little more space than there actually is. “Strange Fruit” is nicely presented and it is easy to place each of the voices, as it is also easy to get a feel for the live recording by Sara Bareilles I mentioned a moment ago.
Detail is also more than acceptable for an IEM at his price range, in fact, I would say that it is acceptable for IEMs that sit in a much higher price range. Things like string slides, microphone placements, or even the noise of the room that “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” was recorded in, are all easily identified on the CRA.
Ok, so we have a budget set of IEMs with a crazy amount of bass on tap and I don’t dislike them, in fact, I actually like them quite a bit. They are not a set of IEMs that I would personally use all the time (you all know my tuning preferences by now) but the time I have used them over this past week has been a very pleasurable experience and they are going to become another new reference point for me.
If the Titan S that I reviewed recently have become a reference point for me for their tuning and build at that price point, the CCA CRA are a reference point for me as to how to get a huge amount of bass into a budget IEM and avoid it taking the rest of the sound as a hostage.
Yes, there is a bit of sibilance that can irritate me but is more than tolerable, especially if avoiding sibilant tracks. The build is decent enough, the comfort is fine and the whole package is just a decent option.
If you are looking for a budget set of IEMs that has enough bass for even the biggest of bass heads but is still coherent and well presented, the CCA CRA are a great option. I am sure that these IEMs will make a lot of people happy.
Very nice, @SenyorC. I might look for these for some young audio Paduans. (Too much Star Wars recently). I do note that you, as most of us here use Trentemoller’s Chameleon to test bass. However, having heard Herbie Hancock a few times, including during the tour when Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon came out, I would point out that you might want to point out which Chameleon you mean in other forums. I strongly suspect that Hancock’s is much better known. And is an awesome track itself.
Very true, that is why I make each track I mention a link, so you can click on it and it takes you to the track I am referring to on the platform of your choice.
However, maybe I should start pointing out that each track name is clickable.
Hi , can you suggest me any best 1dd+1 or 2 BA that is slight neutral with good low mids to mids body and imaging ? price at around 60 usd .
my current favourite pair is HZHM, also Tin T2 plus occasionally .
loved dd very much . but just wanna experience a nice hibrids once .
- KZ or CCA aside please.
My suggestions would be Moondrop Aria or Titan S, depending on how neutral you want to go. However, neither of these have a BA and are slightly over $60.
If you must have a BA or hybrid and stay under $60, avoiding KZ, then I’m afraid I don’t have much to suggest. You can check out my blog and filter by “sub 50€” which will give you a list of everything I have reviewed in that price bracket but nothing springs to mind.
Jade Audio (Fiio) JH3. I bought these for $40ish from Amazon.com (US), but I think they will eventually go up to $60. I am impressed for the $.
The Tripowin Leá have been sent to me by Linsoul for me to test them and publish this review. There have been no specific requests from Linsoul, although I will leave a (non-affiliate) link to the Leá via the Linsoul web site on my blog.
This means that I will do my best to be as sincere and unbiased as possible but, as always, it is a good idea to keep in mind the fact that these IEMs have not cost me anything to try out.
Tripowin is a brand that is fairly well known in the IEM segment, having gained even more traction lately due to collaborations with HBB, from the “Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews” YouTube channel.
The Leá is a new budget option from the brand, coming in at just over 20€ and placing them firmly inside the sub 50€ category that I like to mention on Acho Reviews.
I have not had any previous experience with Tripowin so I was quite interested in giving them a whirl and seeing what they are capable of at such a budget price point.
The presentation of the Leá is very simple. They arrive in a small black box with a clear plastic cover. Inside there is a sponge insert containing the IEMs and two extra sizes of tips, with the cable stored below. That is all.
I am not one to complain about the contents or packaging of extreme budget IEMs, as I have said many times, I would much rather the cost be invested in the sound than anything else at this price point, and the Leá are no exception.
Build and aesthetics…
The IEMs are small and completely made of metal. The design is simple, all black, and features the brand stamped into the faceplate. I must say that I like them. Yes they are simple but they are also elegant and well made for their price point, absolutely no complaints from me in this regard either.
The included cable is not something that I like as much. For some reason it reminds me of the cable that was included originally with the HE400se (they have since changed the included cable), although the Tripowin is not as bad.
I can’t say that the cable is bad, it does its job, but it just feels cheap and plasticky. The cores are covered by what seems to be a silver foil, which is then covered by a transparent rubber material that gives that plasticky feeling I just mentioned. The 3.5mm connector is plastic, as are the slit and the chin slider, although the 2 Pin connectors are metal. A positive side to the cable is that it doesn’t have a preformed shape for the ear, but I stil find that it doesn’t feel nice resting over the ear.
The fit also disagrees with me for some reason. I had quite a struggle to get them to fit and seal properly, trying all kinds of tips (although I reverted back to the included L size tips for this review) and they never really felt comfortable in my ears.
This is obviously something that will be completely different for each individual, however, in my case, I just don’t find them comfortable.
(note that all songs mentioned in this review are clickable links that will allow you to listen to the song on the streaming platform of your choice)
If we start off by looking at the graph that compares the Leá to my personal preference target, we can see that they are really not that far away from my preferences, especially with regards to the mids.
This would mean that, on paper, I would find them to be tuned in a way that that suits me, however, while I have listened to many songs that I have found pleasurable on the Leá, it has been an experience similar to the fit and comfort, I have had to actually pick specific music and specific volume levels to enjoy them.
My listening volumes are usually quite low, which helps the Leá quite a bit, but when increasing the levels a little, I have found that they can quickly become harsh. I have also found that tracks that I usually don’t have issues with will again sound quite harsh on them, whereas other songs I expected to be problematic were not actually bad, as long as volume levels are kept in check.
Let’s take the usual walk through the categories and I will try to explain more as we go.
In the subbass region, there is some roll-off as we reach down to the lowest notes. Using the usual “Chameleon” by Trentemoller, there is sub bass but it is not a rumbling low end, being more present in the higher ranges of subbass and into the midbass.
The midbass does add some presence to the low end, doing it in a very clean way, but it always seems to remain rather polite. Now, I know that I am not someone who likes overly present bass, and my preferences have not changed, it is just that it seems to be lacking a little warmth in the lows, making instruments feel a little sterile. Listening to “Way Down Deep” by Jennifer Warnes, there is enough bass to give those hits a little life but again, it just comes across as being too polite.
Moving into the mids, the transition is pretty good, the bass doesn’t seem to invade the lower mids, keeping the lower mids present but without bloat, seeming to actually be rather detailed in these areas. I expected busy tracks in these regions, such as “The Room” by Ostura, to lose their composure in these areas but it is not the case, guitars and basses remain well separated and although I would like some more warmth to fill them out a little, it is nice to be able to separate the instruments in this area without needing to focus.
As we climb towards the upper mids, this is where I start to get a little cold with these IEMs. Now, there are tracks that sound fine in these areas when volume is kept low, but once volume levels are increased, or certain songs start playing, they suddenly become harsh and even painful at times.
For example, “Walking on the Moon” by The Police, has the guitar strikes that happen throughout the intro and these are not the most enjoyable experience if my volume levels were anything above very low. However, while the guitar strikes are not pleasurable, around 18 seconds in, there is a hit on the rim of the snare (at least I think it’s a hit on the rim of the snare) which starts to happen with each guitar strike. This rim strike is outright painful.
As “Walking on the Moon” is not exactly a modern recording, we could blame the recording, if it wasn’t for experiencing the exact same things on other tracks such as “Breezeblocks” by Alt-J. I could literally name a bunch of songs from my usual test list that cause this experience. From Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” to “Bang Bang” by Dr. Dre, as soon as the volume is anything above my usual listening levels, I suddenly find them to become harsh and even painful.
Moving up to the higher registers, the same story continues. At low listening levels there really isn’t much to complain about, the extension is decent and they are clear and articulate, however, once the volume level increases…
Listening to the usual sibilance test, “Code Cool”, they are a little hot in the “S” department. They are not the most sibilant set of IEMs I have listened to, far from it, but the harshness I have been mentioning doesn’t help them feel any smoother in this regard either.
I am at a bit of a loss with these IEMs. The tuning is good and the performance is good, when the music and the volume level allow. As soon as I leave the comfort zone, things become unpleasant for me very quickly.
I am very much aware that opinions differ greatly from one person to the next and that means I can’t say that the Leá are bad, they just are not for me. I could use them at low background levels and not dislike them, but as I said, my normal listening levels are low, so I think that anyone who likes to raise the volume more than I do (which I should immagine is the majority of people) will discover those sharp edges that appear.
The build is great and the price is also, so I think that they are worth trying out if you feel these are something you would enjoy but they won’t make my list of recommendations.
Here is the link to Amazon UK
The reviews are not very good, though!
Hey Nimweth, long time no read!
Yes, things have been a little quiet. I have some KZ’s coming so I may contribute again soon. I have enjoyed reading your reviews.
I really wasn’t sure where to post this, as I don’t think it’s own thread would get too much traffic. Maybe a dedicated Koss Utility Series thread? But anyways, for now, I will leave it here as the IEMs do come in under the $100 which is what I believe we established as the soft limit for this thread.
I recently reviewed the Koss KPH40, from the new Utility Series from Koss, and mentioned that they had also sent me the KEB90, a set of IEMs from the same series that also makes use (or can make use) of the Utility Cable.
The same disclaimer that I posted in that review also stands for this one, while Koss have not requested anything at all, not even that I post links, it is good to take into consideration that it has not cost me anything to try out these IEMs.
You can find out more about the KEB90 on the official Koss site here: Utility Series - Koss Stereophones
If you haven’t read my review of the KPH40, you can find it here: Koss KPH40 Utility Series. While these are obviously completely different earphones, in the KPH40 review I went into some detail about the series and more specifically the Utility cable in the “Functionality” section.
While I will still mention the Utility cable in this review, I will not go as far into details and include a “Functionality” section in this review, so if you are contemplating the Utility cable, please refer to my previous comments.
As a brief recap, Koss have recently launched the Utility series, which feature two sets of on-ear headphones (the KPH40 that I reviewed and the PortaPro) along with a set of IEMs that I will be focusing on today. One of the main things that stands out about this new series is the use of a detachable cable, allowing you to remove the included 3.5mm TRS cable and swap it for the Utility cable, which includes a DAC/Amp and controls on the cable, terminating in USB-C or Lightning, meaning it can be connected directly to a phone, tablet, laptop, etc.
Although, at the time of creating this review, the KEB90 are not yet available in Europe (in fact, the whole Utility Series will become available in the near here in Europe), Koss did inform me that these IEMs will have a retail price of 89.99€ and the Utility Cable, which is sold separately, will cost 49.99€.
When I reviewed the KPH40, I said that they are up against some tough competition from inside their own brand because, let’s face it, there really isn’t anything quite like them. The KPH40, KSC75, PortaPro & KPH30i, are 4 models that I feel compete amongst themselves, all being worthy of consideration and the “best” being dependent only on the subjective tastes of the listener.
In the case of the KEB90, they have a lot more competition. There are so many sub 100€ IEMs on the market, some of which are extremely good, that it would be impossible to name all of them. This means that Koss needs to do something special in order to be in the running, and while Koss is a well known brand name, that isn’t enough to cut it in this IEM world that seems to have multiple new sets released every day.
So, enough with the chit chat and lets get to the real subject, how do the Koss KEB90 perform?
As with the majority of their models, Koss opts for a very simple and basic packaging. Although in this case they are a little more complex than the usual “cardboard only” packaging. They arrive packed in a simple white sleeve that shows the KEB90 on the front with some more basic info and details around the sides and on the back, with a black box that slides out from the inside.
Inside the box we receive the IEMs and the standard 3.5mm cable in a smaller box, a few sets of tips in different sizes of silicone and two sets of foam tips, also in their own small box, along with a Koss branded pouch for transporting them.
The tips I find quite pleasant and are what I have been using throughout this review. A nice little touch is that the cores of the tips are coloured, blue for left and red for right (although they will still work the opposite way ), which makes the sides instantly recognizable when picking them up.
The storage/transport pouch is rather simple but it works and seems to be quite durable. It’s not quite a case but I am not going to mention other brands that include nothing at 20 times the price.
My opinion of the Koss packaging and presentation is that I like the fact that they usually only use cardboard, packed in a way that keeps them safe for shipping and then can be totally recycled once open. However, in the case of the KEB90, there is a large plastic insert, which, while still being quite simple, does mean I cannot make my usual comment about applauding the use of only cardboard.
Build and aesthetics…
The shape of the IEMs is a little different from usual, as are most things Koss. The metal shell is like a larger version of the Tanya, with an opening on the back that seems like a vent, although covering the vent does not seem to drastically change the sound, which leads me to believe that it is mostly aesthetic, maybe with a small vent inside.
The nozzles are offset and point towards the front, meaning that they are actually quite comfortable once inserted. I still maintain that the flat cable is the best cable that I have tried from Koss, although I prefer it on the KPH40 than on the KEB90. On the IEMs it can be a little microphonic when moving my head around.
The build quality seems to be good and actually inspires me with far more confidence than other Koss models do, but as I said in other reviews, I have never had an issue with Koss, therefore I don’t expect these to have any issues as far as build.
The aesthetics, while not being anything extraordinary, do have a bit of a “Utility” vibe to them, which I actually like. They are not going to win any prizes for beauty but they are certainly not ugly.
As with all my reviews, the songs mentioned are clickable links that will allow you to listen to the track mentioned on the streaming service of your choice.
I have tried the KEB90 from my usual setups but to be honest, I find that the Utility Cable works really well with them and that is what I have used for the majority of my listening test. As I mentioned also in the KPH40 review, I can’t spot any difference between the Apple Dongle and the Utility Cable, which I see as a positive because the Apple Dongle is actually a pretty good device (especially if we factor in price). The sound with the Utility Cable is just as good and has the extra benefits of volume control, play/pause and a microphone.
Starting from the bottom of the frequency range, these IEMs have plenty of subbass. In fact, they have a crazy amount of subbass, and mid bass, and lower mids. I think that the KEB90 are actually the IEMs with the most low frequency presence I have heard. The overall signature is very “V” shaped and I must say that the higher frequencies are boosted in a way that actually makes these IEMs listenable, but I will get to the higher frequencies in a moment.
Just to put this into perspective, here is a graph that shows the KEB90, the CCA CRA (which I found to have a large subbass/bass presence) and my preference curve:
As you can see, the low end is almost off the map, being almost 15dB above my personal preference and 10dB above the CRA.
This obviously results in a sound signature that is far bassier than I personally like, but I have to say that I do not hate it. It is not something that I would choose to listen to all the time but it does provide a sound signature that can be very exciting.
There is ample low end rumble for anyone no matter how much of a bass-head they are. This can become overpowering on some tracks that are already boosted in the low frequencies, such as “Bury a Friend” by Billie Eilish, although her voice doesn’t quite disappear as much as I expected it to with the huge wall of bass.
The “Chameleon” test is basically a rumbling massage of the eardrums, with a huge amount of bass, although the higher ranges still manage to break through somehow.
As the whole of the low end is boosted, all the way up to almost 1kHz, there really isn’t much point in trying to divide the frequency ranges, so let’s move straight to the higher mids and their transition into the lower treble.
As you may have noticed on the graph above, the tuning is quite close to that of the CRA, rising to a peak around 5kHz, which is a little higher (in frequency) than the CRA but is also about 5dB more.
I would have expected this to make the sound very harsh and it is actually not the case. Vocals do come across a little recessed, as is to be expected with such a sound signature, but they are nowhere near as absent as I would have imagined. That peak actually balances out the sound signature quite well, although it is still clearly a V shaped profile.
Beth on “Don’t You Worry Child” in not as harsh as she is on many other sets with less boost in these areas, and although she is not as forward as she usually is, she doesn’t get lost too much in the mix.
There are times, such as the break in “Shot Me Down” by David Guetta, where the upper ranges do sound a little too harsh due to those parts of the song not having the wall of bass to smooth things out, but it is really limited to those kinds of occasions. Think of it like when a DJ boost the highs and cuts the bass, it can seem so wrong but as soon as the bass comes back it balances out.
The extension is not great, there is some treble but it is much more focuse on the lower treble (and higher mids) than on the higher treble ranges which roll off fairly quickly when we hit the “Air” regions.
I will say that the soundstage is actually fairly decent, again, much better than I expected from this kind of presentation. Listening to “La Luna (binaural)” by Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra, there seems to be plenty of space for the instruments to spread out around you.
Detail is not the KEB90’s strong point but it doesn’t sound mushy, which would usually be the case with this amount of bass, and it actually separates things fairly well, all things considered. The bass also seems to be kept clean and fairly precise, something that is quite an achievement with this quantity.
I’m sorry to say that the KEB90 sound signature is not for me but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been able to enjoy listening to them. I wouldn’t choose them to listen to the majority of my usual music selection but when I feel like some of “dat bass”, they are a fun listen.
The problem in this case, I feel, is the price point. For 90€ there are a lot of good IEMs out there, such as the Titan S or the Aria. Admittedly the KEB90 aims for a completely different crowd with their tuning, and I can actually see a lot of general consumers listening to these and finding them great, as the bass is certainly not what you expect. In the realms of things like consumer grade JBL, Skullcandy and the other mainstream brands you find in electronics stores, I feel that the KEB90 can easily give them a run for their money.
However, moving back into the audiophile side of IEMs, I think that there are better options for less money. I mean, the CCA CRA is less than 20€ and does similar things in a more balanced way. I am probably not the most ideal person to value these, as I am not one for large amounts of bass (except on occasions when I am in the mood), but I personally wouldn’t rush out to buy a set.
The other side of the coin is that they are very well built and you have the option of using the Utility Cable with them.
In fact, I really feel that “Utility” is a good way of describing the KEB90, they are a rugged set of IEMs that provide a ton of bass that will impress most general consumers even in noisy conditions, they are small enough to always keep in a pocket and I think that they have a market that they will be well received in, I am just not that market.
HZsound Heart Mirror. It sounds superb, works well for hearing footsteps too.
Tipsy TTROMSO Pine Stone Sea
The Tipsy TTROMSO Pine Stone Sea (more on the name in a second) have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for me publishing this review. They have not made any special requests or comments, meaning that I will try my best, as always, to be as impartial and sincere as possible. However, as always, it is good to consider the fact that these IEMs have not cost me anything.
To find the TTROMSO via Linsoul, please visit the version of this review published on my blog to see (non-affiliate) links.
Tipsy is a brand of IEMs that I had honestly never heard of until Linsoul reached out to me about them. A brief search does bring back another few models from the brand but I honestly cannot comment on them as I have neither tried them, nor read anything about them. I see this as a positive because the less I know about a product before I listen to it, the less expectations I have, making it easier to avoid any preconceived impressions.
The TTROMSO Pine Stone Sea are priced at 80€ at the time of publishing this review which is not quite extreme budget level but is still at the more affordable end of things.
The name TTROMSO, according to the Linsoul page, is in honour to the town Tromso, located in the north of Norway, which served the brand as inspiration. I am not quite sure how the original town name Tromsø developed the extra T (maybe in translation?) and the addition of “Pine Stone Sea”, which I guess is in reference to the colour, does make for quite a mouthful when referring to them. Therefore, throughout the review, I will refer to the Tipsy TTROMSO Pine Stone Sea, as just “Tromso”.
The presentation of the Tromso is actually quite nice for a set of IEMs in this price range. I know I say that I am all for the budget being spent on IEMs and not packaging, but if the IEMs sound good and the presentation is good, then I am certainly not going to complain.
The box is fairly simple but has a nice cheerful colour scheme, matching the colour of the IEMs. Inside the box, the contents are also adequate for something at this price range.
We get the IEMs themselves, a cable that I am quite fond of, 3 sets of silicone tips, 1 set of foam tips, a storage bag, a microfiber cloth and the typical warrant documentation etc.
Build and aesthetics…
The IEM shells are hand painted and have quite a nice finish to them. Using blue and green as the colour scheme, they do remind me of the colours found in the Northern skies, and reflected onto northern waters, hence the “Pine Stone Sea”.
The shape is smooth, following a usual ergonomic shape, with quite long nozzles. I found that by using the medium silicone tips included, the fit was good and they seal quite deep, resulting in a passive isolation that is superior to usual. I used these on a few flights during this week and had no issues with being able to block out the drone of the engines.
The cable is also quite nice. It is a simple fabric covered cable but uses nice hardware (even though the 2 pin connectors are plastic), feels quite comfortable over the ear and I did not experience any issue with microphonics.
(as always, the tracks mentioned in this section are clickable links, allowing you to open the song in the streaming service of your choice)
Starting from the lowest notes, as I always do, there is a little roll off as we get down to the lowest subbass frequencies. While these are not the most powerful of IEMs down in these ranges, they still have enough subbass to fill in the low end well and I didn’t really find my usual “Chameleon” to be lacking. Ok, they are not going to vibrate your eardrums but they are far from anaemic.
Moving into the midbass regions, there is a bit of extra presence here in comparison to my personal preferences, with them running a little over into the lower mids. I can’t go as far as to say that they sound muddy or that there is a lot of bleed into the lower mids, but they do present a sound signature that is not the cleanest in this regard.
Listening to acoustic instruments, such as guitars, basses, etc. This extra presence does give them a bit of extra body and warmth, trading a little clarity and detail for more of a pleasant and relaxed sound.
On tracks like “Free Fallin’”, the timbre of the acoustic guitar is not quite as I would expect it to be but it doesn’t sound bad. The difference in timbre of the acoustic guitar is more like I would expect when listening in different venues. Not that it is wrong, it is just a little different to what I am used to.
Moving into the mids, there is a bit of overlap like I just mentioned, again, it is not something that sounds bad, just a little warmer than one may expect. As we move up towards the higher end of the mids, while there is a little climb, there really isn’t much of a boost until we get to above the 4kHz mark. This does mean that vocals are also a little bit further back than I would like but, once more, they are not bad. The low end, combined with this smoothness around the 3kHz mark, adds to the overall smooth presentation of the IEMs.
As we start to get into the higher ranges, it is easy to notice that treble starts to roll off, however, it doesn’t just fall off a cliff. Personally I would like a little more sensation of air and brilliance up top, but once more, the Tromso is not terrible in this regard, it just continues with it’s overall sound signature.
The soundstage is about average for a set of IEMs, nothing extraordinary but not claustrophobic, with placement of images being fairly decent but without pinpoint accuracy. The details in general are there, they are just subtle and don’t scream “look at all this detail!”.
I find that the Tipsy TTROMSO Pine Stone Sea, are quite a relaxing set of IEMs. If you are looking for a bright set of IEMs that scream detail at you, then these are not going to fit the bill, however, as a relaxing “enjoy” kind of signature, I find they work quite well.
I find they look good and are comfortable (which are obviously very personal opinions), performing at a level that is decent enough for their price if you are looking for this kind of sound signature.
The included accessories are not out of this world but they are more than adequate for something in this price range, although maybe a case rather than a bag would have been nice. Again, not really something to complain about.
All in all, I find that they are an overall pleasant package, both in sound and quality, that should be a good option for those looking for a smoother overall sound.
The Tanchjim Ola have been sent to me by HifiGo in exchange for the publication of this review. They have not requested anything other than the inclusion of links to the Ola on their site (which you will find below), therefore, my review will be as sincere and unbiased as possible. Having said that, it is still a good idea to consider the fact that it hasn’t cost me anything to test these IEMs.
You can find links to the Tanchjim Ola by visiting the version of this review published on my blog (here).
Tanchjim are a brand that do not need any introduction in the world of IEMs. Personally I have only listened to their budget orientated Tanya (which remain a very good option for their price) but was very interested in trying out the Ola when HifiGo reached out to me.
I haven’t actually seen any information or reviews of the Ola as it is a recent release, therefore it is another case where I have been able to avoid any kind of expectations, even though I do expect something decent from Tanchjim.
The presentation of the Tanchjim Ola is certainly impressive for a set of IEMs that costs just over 35€ at the time of writing this review. Inside a white cardboard sleeve showing an anime girl on the front (which also arrived with a separate anime postcard), we get a simple but elegant grey box, sporting the Tanchjim logo.
As far as contents, we receive the IEMs, the cable, 3 sets of silicone tips labelled as “Bass Enhancing”, another 3 sets labelled as “Treble Enhancing”, a storage bag and plenty of documentation.
It may not seem like a lot but it is more than can be expected at the price and everything is well packaged, giving a fairly premium feel for something that costs less than some sets of ear tips.
Build and aesthetics…
The Ola are a bit of a break from the norm, with a shell that is shaped like a teardrop. The outer half of the shell is some kind of aluminium while the inner half is transparent plastic. This actually gives them a nice and clean look while being very lightweight and rather small.
The nozzle is angled forwards and makes these a set of IEMs that are very comfortable when finding the correct fit. I say “finding the correct fit” as I did have issues getting them to seal with the included “Treble Enhancing” tips, as the fit is so shallow. However, with the “Bass Enhancing” tips I find them to be comfortable and after listening to them, I don’t think I would opt for treble enhancement anyway (more on that under sound).
The included cable is not bad but it is not my favourite style of cable. The positive side is that it doesn’t tangle easily and it is not microphonic. The hardware is also metal and of good quality.
In general, I would say that the build quality is good and although aesthetics are very personal, I don’t think that many people will find it offensive at all.
Let me start off by saying that the Ola are quite mid focused towards the brighter side of things. I actually enjoy the overall sound signature quite a bit but I have found myself activating the XBass on either the Go Blu or Gryphon for certain songs.
Also, while these IEMs are rather lean on the subbass side of things, I feel that these are a set of IEMs that don’t sound like they measure, at least in the lowest frequencies.
Here is my graph of them compared to my personal preference target:
(all my measurements can be seen and compared on achoreviews.squig.link)
Now, as you can see on the graph, the subbass rolls off a lot and is way below my personal target in this area. However, when listening to the IEMs, I don’t get the impression that the graph gives me. Yes, they are lower on subbass than many other alternatives but they are not completely lacking in subbass like the above measurement would suggest.
Putting them through the usual “Chameleon” test, I find that they are obviously not a wall of low end rumble but they still have enough subbass to appreciate the song, especially if engaging the XBass I mentioned above.
Once we are clear of the subbass, the sound signature quickly conforms to my preferences in the midbass and lower mid zones. I would say that the midbass is right on target for me, enough to give some body to the low ends of guitars and basses, while not coming across as too warm.
Listening to more electronic music, such as “Sun Is Shining”, I feel that the majority of people might like a little more bass presence, the same will probably apply to those who listen to a lot of hip-hop. I did find myself listening to things like “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” with bass boost once again activated.
One thing that is certain is that the bass is very clean and articulate, with absolutely no sign of bleeding into the lower mids. This makes complex bass playing very easy to appreciate, such as “Elephants On Ice Skates” or the fretless playing on “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes”.
As we move through the mids, I have absolutely no complaints, everything is clean and nicely balanced. There is nice presence in the upper mids, making vocals sound forwards and again very clean. This is at the expense of some of the more harsh voices coming across as exactly that, harsh.
Moving into the higher frequencies, there is a slight hint of sibilance which can be more or less prominent depending on the recording. Paul Simon, in “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes” I already mentioned, was a little too “hot” for me on occasions, as were some of the higher percussion notes on things like “Still D.R.E”.
There seems to be plenty of extension in the higher treble and I have no complaints about the sense of air or clarity. Seriously, my only complaint in these ranges is due to certain songs that coincide with that extra bit of harshness and sibilance, but is it far from being on the majority of music.
Soundstage is around average for a set of IEMs, maybe towards the higher end of average, but I do feel that the space has been well used. The placement of images and layers helps give a bit more of an “open” sensation and while it is by no means spacious, the Ola never feel too closed in.
As I said at the beginning, I didn’t know anything about the Ola but I did have some expectations from Tanchjim and I feel that they have been met and exceeded at this price range.
Obviously I am going to enjoy something that resembles my preferences more than someone who is more into elevated bass, but even if we just ignore sound for a second, the overall package of the Ola is very impressive for 35€.
As far as sound, I feel that they have come up a little short in subbass quantity and could possibly have even given the midbass a little more presence, in order to meet the preferences of more people. However, while I do find myself using Xbass with some tracks as mentioned, I am a fan of the overall sound of these IEMs. I feel that they are IEMs that allow you to focus on the details of the music and the detail that they achieve at their price point is rather impressive.
Yes, they can be improved upon, just a little more in the lowest notes and make that upper harshness/sibilance go away by just a touch, and it would fit my overall preferences almost to a tea.
In all fairness, I am actually looking for negatives to point out. For the price of these IEMs and what we get in exchange, I really don’t think they deserve any complaints.