The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread

I think it’s a woofer. Going to have to read again to see if it’s a ported design. Nearfield ear monitors.

Lol, that would have made them interesting to say the least.

(Typo fixed)

Interesting? You actually invented the first headphone-sized IEM. Next up, you’ll invent a speaker-sized headphone that’s 1000mm tall.

How about going for broke with a 1000mm IEM?


KBEAR Qinglong

The KBEAR Qinglong have been sent to my by Keephifi in exchange for the publication of this review. Keephifi have not made any specific requests and my review will aim to be as sincere and unbiased as always. However, it is always good to remember that it has not cost me anything to try these IEMs.

As always, I refrain from posting purchase links on forums where I am a guest, so you can find a (non-affiliate) link to the Qinglong via KeepHifi by visiting the version of this review published on my blog (link at the end of this post).


KBEAR is a brand that have been around for a while and they have released quite a few models, spanning a range of prices from the extremely low cost up to models in the multiple hundreds. I have reviewed a few of their sets and although none of them have been ground breaking, they have been decent IEMs.

The Qinglong is their latest release, which come in at just under 60€, on the Keephifi website, at the time of writing this review. That places them just outside the sub 50€ bracket that I consider the extreme budget category, yet they can still be considered quite an economic set of IEMs.

The Qinlong use what the call a 10mm PU+PEEK HD Composite Diaghpragm which, being totally honest, I have no idea what it actually is. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just say it is a single dynamic driver IEM with some fancy technology :wink:


The contents that come bundled with the Qinglong are nothing extraordinary but are more than adequate for a set of IEMs in their price range. A simple white box featuring some dragon style artwork and showing the brand and model (in English and Chinese, which, if my google-fu doesn’t fail me, means blue dragon), opens to reveal the IEMs in a felt covered cutout.

Below the top layer we receive a nice storage/transport case, the cable, 6 sets of sillicone tips and a microfiber cloth.

As I said, nothing out of the ordinary but certainly enough to not have any complaints about presentation.

Build and aesthetics…

The IEMs shells are made of aluminum alloy (aviation grade 7, according to their spec) and while they are farily simple in shape, they do have a slight angle and a shape that makes them quite original.

The shells have a mirrored finish, which is obviously something that attracts finger prints at crazy speeds, with the brand and a design in matte silver, again, simple but enough to have a bit of originality. They are not the lightest of IEMs but they are far from heavy and I find that the shape and weight is comfortable even for longer sessions.

The included cable has originality also, or at least I haven’t come accross this type of cable before. It is a simple 4 core twist, that later splits into two 2 core twists, and is covered in a grey plastic or silicone type material. While it is not my favourite cable, I find that I prefer it to a lot of the other cables included with IEMs, including those from KBEAR.


All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Spotify, etc.)

Let’s start off by taking a look at the graph in comparison to my usual personal preference curve. I know I have said this before (many times) but I still get asked, so let me remind you that my personal target is just a guide as to my general preferences, it is by no means a rule. In other words, there are things that deviate quite a bit from my target and I like, and other things that are much closer to my target that I don’t. Again, this is just a guide for reference.

In the subbass regions there is enough and it is kept clean when dealing specifically with subbass frequencies. By this, I mean that when tracks, such as my usual “Chameleon” test are focused on subbass, then the Qinling do a decent job of keeping the subbass clean and defined. However, when the subbass and midbass sum together, I find that things can become a little overwhelming in the lower ranges. No specifically in the subbass range, more of the whole subbass when it is busy in these lower ranges.

In the midbass section, I actually expected to dislike these more than I do. I find that the midbass is nicely detailed and controlled, except when coming across situations like I just described under subbass. When both the subbass and midbass zones are busy, th Qinglong start to lose definition and struggle to keep things as clean.

A lot of the music that I listen to (depending on the day and mood) is not really busy in the lower subbass ranges and I find that in this case, these IEMs do a very good job or providing clean and detailed subbass. Even busy tracks with complex bass lines are easily appreciated, making for a very pleasant lower range.

Moving into the mids, again these are nice and clean, as long as that low end is not suffering. In the case of music that focuses on midbass and lower midrange, the response is quick, clean and detailed. Yet, in the case of those overpowering low ranges, they can bleed a little into the lower mids.

The center of the mids does have a little dip which is actually not too apparent. I would have thought that certain vocals, especially in the case of female vocals, would lose a little warmth in their lower ranges due to that dip but I haven’t found it to be the case. The backing vocals in “Strange Fruit” may not be the warmest but Ihaven’t found it to be something that jumps out at me while listening in general.

As we reach the higher end of the mids, here I do find that the Qinglong is just a little too hot between the 2kHz and 3kHz mark. This can make voices, especially those that are already harsh such as Beth in “Don’t You Worry Child” to come across just a little too spicy. It is not terrible, even Beth is listenable (which isn’t always the case), but I would much prefer them to be tamed a little more in these regions.

The 5kHz region is tamed, which is something that I am greatful for, and while there is a bit of a roll off, there is still enough presence in the higher ranges for them to provide a decent sensation of air.

The thing that I have found most impressive with the Qinglong are the details. These are a set of IEMs that provide a good sensation of detail, which is paired with good image placement and a soundstage that I find to be a little above average.

With tracks such as “Strange Fruit” (that I already mentioned), “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” or even “I Concentrate on You”, it is nice to be able to appreciate the little nuances of the recordings. These are not the most detailed IEMs I have ver heard but they are well above the average of many other sets in similar price brackets.

As far as isolation goes, they are above average in all of the frequency ranges. They are not going to give you ANC levels of isolation but they are still better than many other sets.


KBEAR have done a good job with these IEMs, they have just missed a couple of things to make the a very good set. The first being that sensation of “lack of control” when subbass and midbass get busy at the same time, and the second being that extra bit of spice in the upper midrange, which could have been tamed just a little.

I have been happily impressed by the level of detail, along with a decent sound stage and good image placement, they reproduce a lot of my vocal focused (especially live) tracks well and I have enjoyed putting them through their paces in this regard.

As always, this review is available also in Spanish both on my blog ( and YouTube (

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on


Tangzu Wan’er

The Tangzu Wan’er have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. They have not made any comments or requested anything, therefore, my review will aim to be as sincere and unbiased as possible. Saying that, as always, it is worth considering the fact that these IEMs did not cost me anything.

You can find a link to the Wan’er vua Linsoul by visiting the version of this review published on my blog (link at the end of this post).

As always, it is a non-affiliate link.


I have said it a lot recently and this set of IEMs is more proof of the point, there is a hell of a lot going on in the 20€ price bracket at the moment!

Not too long ago (earlier in 2022) I reviewed the Shimin Li, a set of 30€ IEMs from the brand which was the second part of a trilogy (although the first part was branded as T-Force). I can’t say I was overly excited by the Shimin Li, although they were not a bad option for the price at the time. Since then, there have been a lot of sets around the same price (or cheaper) that have really raised the bar in this extreme budget range. Although this may be a spoiler, I believe that the Wan’er has just raised that bar a bit more, becoming probably the best set of IEMs I have heard in this price range, in fact, maybe even at double or triple the price.

Of course “best” is subjective and my “best” will not necessarily be your but I am going to try and explain what it is that makes these IEMs such a great option in my opinion.


Although I have always said that the presentation is the least of my worries with a budget set of IEMs, and I maintain it, there are a few brands/models that are getting quite impressive with the presentation and accessories even at this low price point.

The presentation of the Wan’er may not be the most impressive in the ultra budget category but it is still way above average. The box itself stays with the classic chinese artwork that we have seen on the previous models. Upon opening the box, we are greeted with a cleaning cloth that has artwork matching the box cover.

Underneath this we find the IEMs, sitting in simple cutouts but with some designs and the model name printed on the card, nothing special but that one step more over simple white card.

Underneath the top layer we get the cable and 7 sets of silicone tips, again, nothing super out of the ordinary but in general I feel that it is a presentation that is a step above adequate for the price range.

Build and aesthetics…

The shells are made of plastic, using a semi transparent inner shell with a dark faceplate, although they are also available in white. There is nothing really special about the design but a closer look does reveal a nice design on the face plate which again, shows the put a little more effort into them.

The IEMs are extremely light and I find them very comfortable also, being able to completely forget about them while wearing them for extended periods.

The cable is a simple white and cheap feeling cable which uses plastic hardware and has the recessed connectors on it (QDC). I am not overly keen on the cable as I find the pre-molded ear hooks to be at too sharp of an angle and too stiff for my tastes. Also, the choice of the connectors means that any of the aftermarket cables which are normal 2 pin will protrude from the sockets a fair bit. Saying this, this is really nitpicking as the cable does its job and is not that bad. I mean, come on, this set of IEMs costs less than 20€!


All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Spotify, etc.)

While the above so far has been decent, it is the sound section that has really impressed me with the Wan’er. As usual, I receive a set of IEMs, plug them into my burn-in rig, listen for a few moments to make sure they work ok and then don’t listen to them again until I get around to testing them for review.

I pulled them out for testing this week, plugged them in and just hit play. The first track happened to be “Drum Solo” by Maun Katché (with Luca Aquino, Tore Brunborg and Jim “James” Watson). I was immediately mesmerized by the sound of the Wan’er. Now this track is not on my test track list (although it probably should be) but the lifelikeness of the drums was just so impressive during the first few minutes of listening to the Wan’er that I felt it had to be mentioned.

But anyway, for the sake of consistency, Let’s get on with the review of the Wan’er and how they perform with my usual reference test tracks.

Here is the graph of the Tangzu Wan’er in comparison to my personal preference target:

Starting off with the subbass, there is plenty for my tastes. This is not an overly bass focused set and I feel that the amount of subbass works well for the tuning in general. “Chameleon” has plenty of low note presence without it becoming the center of attention, well, at least not more than usual as this track already has the low bass as a focus point.

Subbass is also kept clean and defined, with Lorde’s “Royals” being just “dirty” enough for me to feel that it is a good representation of the track. “No Sanctuary Here” has the bass focus more on the upper subbass / lower mid bass and again, the Wan’er keeps it clean, with the notes showing definition and control throughout the track.

This is not a set of IEMs for the bass heads out there but it is still not lacking bass. Personally I wouldn’t put this at the top of my list for EDM, I feel that something like “Sun Is Shining” could maybe do with a little more to please those who listen mostly to this genre but when moving over to less electronic and more instrument focused tracks, I feel that these IEMs really come alive.

The bass guitar in “Bombtrack” has just the right amount of warmth for my preferences while still being capable of transmitting the effects of the track. Things like “Seven Nation Army” or “Crazy” have the necessary body at the lower end of the guitar but stay away from that boominess that can be found in sets that put too much emphasis on midbass and lower mids.

Vocals are well presented, with clarity being good although I do feel that things like Monica Naranjo in “Sobreviviré” could take just one step further forwards, the same goes for Eric Clapton in “Tears In Heaven”. Having said that, they are not bad in this regard, far from it, I just feel that this is not the strongest point of the Wan’er.

I feel that in the mid range, the instruments are the actual strong point of this set of IEMs. With good separation and a nice tonal balance, I really enjoy the mids. On tracks were the vocals are actually the center of attention, such as in acapella tracks like “Hallelujah” or even “Billie Jean” by The Civil Wars (which does have instruments but vocals remain the focus), the Wan’er do a good job and vocals don’t seem out of place or to be missing anything.

The climb in the higher mids is smooth and I feel it works well, although I do think that the extension of the plateau could reach just a little further. However, there is no harshness in this area and, while it could take one step further forwards, I have no real reason to complain.

In the upper ranges, the extension is not terrible although it is not amazing either. There is enough extension for it not to give the impression of being rolled off in these upper ranges but a tiny bit more air would have been a positive. Again, this is something that is not an issue, remember these are a set of 20€ IEMs and are more impressive in these ranges than many other more expensive sets.

Sibilance is also very much kept in check on the Wan’er, with my usual “Code Cool” test placing Patricia Barber just beneath the verge of sibilance. This means that these IEMs are dampening that sibilance range just a little but not enough for it to become noticeable without direct comparisons. I am sure most people will prefer this slight reduction in sibilance than a slight increase in sibilance.

Details are pretty impressive also, not amazing but still impressive for a set of IEMs in this price range. There is a bit of roll off to the reverb in things like the into of “All Your Love (Turned to Passion)” but by no means do these leave you feeling like there are details missing (unless you are directly comparing them to more detailed sets).

Soundstage I would also place on the higher side of average. It is not a huge soundstage (very few IEMs are) but there is enough space for things to spread out and the image placement is also decent, making for a nice presentation in this regard.

Isolation is also pretty good on the Wan’er, being above average in most of the frequency ranges except for the bass. Low rumbles will make it through but they will work well for most generally noisy areas, such as cafeterias, offices etc.


The Wan’er are a very impressive set of IEMs and I feel that they have raised the bar even more in the 20€ bracket that seems to be exploding at the moment. Until now, I would have probably voted the 7Hz Zero as my top pick in this category but I feel that the Wan’er have just entered the race and are immediately competing for first place.

While they are not perfect, there are things that can be improved upon, as soon as we remember the price, there are no complaints that can really stand. Yes, there may be other tunings that you prefer personally, we are all different, but if you are someone looking for a balanced set of IEMs with a great performance in the extreme budget section, these are something that should be one of your first considerations.

It really is amazing how much we can get for so little at this time!

To not break tradition, this review is also available in SPanish both on my blog ( and on YouTube (

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on


And they seem to come with the best waifu art ever.

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Kiwi Ears Cadenza

The Kiwi Ears Cadenza have been sent to me by Linsoul for me to test and to share my opinions in this review. As always with Linsoul, no specific requests have been made and I will do my best, as always, to be as unbiased and sincere as possible.

As always, I have shared a non affiliate link to the Kiwi Ears Cadenza via Linsoul on my blog, you can find the link to my blog at the end of this review.


I ended 2022 on a good note and with the aim of 2023 being a good year, I am going to start it on a good note also.

Over the last 6 months or so, the extreme budget range has seen some very good entries, each one raising the bar just a little bit more than the last. Some had tunings that I preferred more than others but there was no doubt that the ultra cheap IEM world has seen some fierce competition, which is great for those looking for good sound at an even better price.

The last set of IEMs that I reviewed were the Tangzu Wan’er and I said that they were a very good set that raised the, already high, extreme budget bar a little bit more, placing themselves in the top spot for ultra cheap sets together with the 7Hz Salnotes Zero. Well, I’m afraid that their time at the top didn’t last long as the first set I am going to review this year just placed itself firmly at the top, in my personal opinion of course.


The packaging and accessories are nothing special, including just the IEMs, cable and 9 sets of silicone tips (which is actually quite a generous number). The packaging is a simple black box, with the Kiwi Ears logo, that is packed inside a blue sleeve and not much more to really discuss.

If you are looking for an amazing unboxing experience, well, these are nothing special, but does that really matter when we are focusing on the contents and not the container?

Build and aesthetics…

The build is also simple, with plain black shells which I believe are 3D printed, yet the front plate sports a nice design on it. In my case they have a purple swirl with “Kiwi Ears” in gold text and I have to say that I have absolutely no issues with the aesthetics. Ok, I am not saying these are an amazing looking set of IEMs but they do have a nice touch to them and we really can’t ask for more at this price range.

The included cable is not exactly top of the line but it does do its job and the only real reason to swap it out would be for either a balanced connection or for aesthetic reasons. It is thin and comfortable, without me having to suffer it tangling too many times.

I would say that, in general, build quality and aesthetics are more than adequate for the price range and, due to the size and shape, I find them to be comfortable also.

My only real complaint would probably be with the included tips. They are by no means the worst tips I have encountered with IEMs (regardless of the price) but I did find that I preferred the comfort and performance when paired with Moondrop Spring tips. Obviously tips are a very personal thing but in this case, I feel that the swap benefitted the performance of the IEMs and not just the comfort.


All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Spotify, etc.)

Now we get to the good part!

As usual, let’s start off with a look at the graph in comparison to my personal preference target.

In the low ranges we can see that they are elevated above my usual target, however, the clarity that these IEMs offer make that a non issue. There is no sensation of bloat nor loss of control, with every note being clean, clear and decisive.

The subbass in my usual “Chameleon” test is a demonstration of how the lower notes can be very present without being intrusive. There is no lack of definition, nor does the rumble interfere with other frequencies. The Cadenza just present the subbass as it should be.

Midbass, which is always more of a worry for me when it is too elevated, is a continuation of the subbass performance. While we can see on the graph that the midbass is elevated, it is again well controlled and never seems to lose control or definition. There is enough warmth to enjoy the bass guitar in older rock recordings, such as “Whole Lotta Love”, yet at the same time, tracks like “Crazy” that can become boomy in these regions do not suffer from that issue.

From impressive bass response in “No Santuary Here” to just the right amount of body in things like “Tears in Heaven”, the Cadenza seem to adapt to the music and never seem to interfere with the timbre of natural instruments nor lack punch with electronic alternatives.

The mids are well balanced, without anything seeming to lack presence and as we move up to the higher part of the mids, the climb is smooth and is almost perfect for my preferences. I find that vocals such as Pentatonix in “Hallelujah” have just enough balance of warmth and presence, without either male or female vocals taking preference.

There is no real harshness, although recordings that are already harsh in their presentation are not tamed, showing no sign of anything being dampened in this regard.

In the higher regions, the extension is good although we do find a couple of little peaks in the treble regions. These are not really irritating but they can sometimes give a slight artificial “airyness” to certain tracks. This is really a minor thing but can be noticed in the higher regions of things like “The Next Episode”.

Sibilance is not exaggerated, with my usual “Code Cool” test placing the vocals just on the verge, noticing the sibilance but without it being uncomfortable. Based on the intro of “Hope is a Dangerous Thing”, I would say that the Cadenza even tame sibilance just slightly.

Details are impressive on the Cadenza, presented in a way that just blends in with the music. They didn’t strike me as detail monsters yet when actually paying attention, they do a very good job and things are just where they should be.

Soundstage is about the average for a set of IEMs but the image placement is good and they use the space to their advantage, seeming to leave space between layers in tracks like “Strange Fruit”.

Isolation is also decent, with most of the frequency ranges falling above average and not really lacking in comparison to other models in any specific range.


Based on the performance we are seeing lately in the budget ranges, I really shouldn’t be surprised that the Cadenza offers the quality of sound that they do, but I still am. It really is crazy how much improvement there has been in the extreme budget section over the past 6 to 12 months.

I honestly feel a little guilty when I say that something is amazing for the price and then in the following review, I say that this is even more amazing, as it feels like I am following the “FOTM” trend. Yet, when the quality is there, it can’t be denied.

If you are looking for something in the ultra cheap bracket, there are some very good options, however, up to now, the Kiwi Ears Cadenza would be my first choice. Now let’s see who is next to take the crown!

As always, this review can also be found in Spanish both on my blog ( and on YouTube (

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on


All of this goodness in the extreme low end raises the question of how do we tier the cost ranges. Recently, I bought several gift pairs of the DUNU Titan S (which Siri insists should be “do new tighten ass”) at the $60 price point.

Is there still a clear demarcation between the under $40 and over $50 price range? What about at the $100 range. Where do we see noticeable increases of performance?


I will simply say that the Dunu Titan S is the absolute peak of “fun/dollar” ratio for me. I love me my Monarch Mk II, my Moondrop Variations, my Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020… But I also love me my Dunu Titan S. S’fun.


As always, there is good and bad in all ranges, yet the % of good in the extreme budget categories has really exploded in recent times.

I wouldn’t say there is a clear demarcation of price but obviously, as price increases, it’s the smaller things that start to appear like slight increases in driver performance, better build qualities, more candy in the boxes etc.

As far as tuning goes, the extreme budget range has got really good and performance is also high. I think that the people who just want to enjoy music and not get involved in the whole equipment side of things and chasing that extra % of perfection, can be very happy with things costing in the lower end of the double digit price range.


Another 3D-printed dynamic driver option at this same price range with twice as many drivers as the Cadenza is the Fanmusic TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero. They seem to measure quite well, but are definitely geared towards Crin’s bass preference. This also matches my own preference, thankfully :grinning:


Tin Hifi C2 Mech Warrior

The Tin Hifi C2 Mech Warrior have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. They have not requested anything specific so, as usual, I will aim to be as unbiased and sincere as possible in my review.

As always, a non affiliate link to the C2 Mech Warrior via Linsoul can be found in the version of this review published on my blog (link to my blog at the end of this post).


I actually received 3 sets of Tin Hifi IEMs from Linsoul at the same time, the C2 Mech Warrior, the C3 and the T4 plus. For no real reason, I decided to start with these and move my way up through the numbers.

The C2, which are also called the Mech Warrior (for reasons I am unsure of but I guess it is due to the aesthetics) are another set that enters the extreme budget battle, coming in at around 30€ (at the time of writing this review).

They feature a single dynamic driver which is supposedly a new development from the brand and as far as looks, they certainly break away from the usual Tin Hifi offerings.


The C2 arrive in a small white box with a sketch of a robot on the cover and C2 Mech Warrior written beside it. I really have no idea what a Mech Warrior is but I actually like the fact that it is not the usual anime girl that we find on so many packages.

Inside the box there isn’t a lot but there is enough for us to grab the IEMs and get listening. Apart from the IEMs, we get the cable and 6 sets of silicone tips.

That is it as far as presentation, simple but nothing really to complain about.

Build and aesthetics…

The shells are completely made of 6063 aviation-grade aluminum and opt for a shape that is very reminiscent of some CFA models, or even some of the older KZ models. WHile not completely original, it is a change from the usual Tin offerings and while the shape is a little strange, I actually find them quite comfortable. They are not the most lightweight of IEMs but are nowhere near as heavy as they look.

The included cable is coloured to match the IEMs and while it uses plastic hardware, I can’t bring myself to complain about it at this price range.

In general I would say that the presentation and contents are ok, nothing amazing but certainly acceptable.


All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Spotify, etc.)

First let’s take a look at the graph of the C2 in comparison to my usual preference curve.

Starting off with the subbass as always, there is enough rumble for the lowest frequencies to be present, however, I can’t really talk about the subbass without mentioning the midbass at the same time.

The issue I find here is that the midbass is more prominent than the subbass and it is not the most controlled and clean of bass representations. When trying my usual subbass test with “Chameleon”, I found that the midbass took the focus and made itself too much the center of attention. This meant that to actually test the subbass, I found myself needing to resort to isolating the subbass frequencies.

As you all probably know by now (if you don’t, you are about to find out :wink: ), I am not someone who enjoys an overly present midbass. If there is enough subbass to compensate and the midbass is clean and controlled, then I do find myself enjoying it a lot of the time. However, in the case of the C2, it has the midbass presence that causes me fatigue and can actually give me a headache after some time.

This doesn’t mean that it is bad per se, just that it doesn’t work for me personally and I do not enjoy the lower ranges of the C2. For example, the low end of the guitar in “Crazy” becomes far too boomy for my tastes, and while it is compensated by the higher ranges, it doesn’t eliminate that sensation, just tries to mask it.

Once we get out of the lows and into the mid range, things do get better. I find that vocals are decent and nicely defined, yet they can find their lower ranges competing with that lower boominess that can bleed into the lower mids.

The upper midrange has a smooth climb to it, reaching quite a nice level of presence in the upper mids of vocals, yet, the extension of the presence is just a little too much. This doesn’t actually become painful for me in the way a 5kHz peak would, yet it does give vocals, such as Johnny Cash in “Hurt”, the sensation of being too flat and dry in these ranges. It is as though the upper mids are a 2D representation of a 3D image.

As we move into the higher ranges, there are a few peaks that help give the C2 a sensation of being a little more open and detailed, yet, again, they seem to not quite be smoothed out correctly. It doesn’t become harsh, although there is some sibilance introduced in the usual “Code Cool” test, but things are just a little… unnatural.

Details are acceptable, although the “fake details” introduced by those peaks I find actually work against the real details of the driver, so it is difficult to judge. Usually I would focus on the lower mids in these cases, to see what detail retrieval can be found in those ranges, but I find that the excessive mid bass makes that difficult to do.

Soundstage and image placement is nothing extraordinary, it’s not terrible but it is by no means above average in this regard.

Isolation is about on average with just the 3 to 4kHz range being slightly above the majority.


While I can understand others maybe liking the C2, I’m afraid that to me it leaves a lot to be desired.

The midbass is excessive for my tastes, causing me fatigue, and the upper mid range and lower treble seems to be quite unnatural. Again, it is like they are presenting a 2D rendering of a 3D image and it just doesn’t work that well. It’s sort of like a blunt knife, the cutting edge is there but it doesn’t do things like it should.

This may sound a little harsh but with all of the excellent models that occupy this price bracket, I think the C2 falls quite a bit behind.

As always, this is my personal opinion based on my personal tastes, you may love them!

As with all of my reviews, this review can also be found in Spanish both on my blog ( and on YouTube (

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on


Tin Hifi C3

The Tin Hifi C3 were sent to me by in Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. The usual disclaimer applies, I have not received any specific comments or requests but it is always good to consider the fact that these IEMs have not actually cost me anything.

You can find a non-affiliate link to the T4 Plus via Linsoul in the version of this review published on my blog (link at the end of this post).


As I mentioned in my review of the C2, Linsoul sent me three sets of Tin Hifi IEMs, the C2, the C3 and the T4 Plus. After deciding, for no specific reason, to follow the number sequence, todays review is of the C3, which is currently available from Linsoul for just under 50€. This places it inside what I consider to be an extreme budget set, however, it is quite a bit more expensive than the C2, which comes in at under 30€.

While I will judge the C3 on its own merits, a few comparisons to the C2 along the way are inevitable.


The packaging of the C3 is almost identical to the C2, just without the robot. A simple square white box that opens to reveal the IEMs sitting in the top half and another smaller box containing the accessories in the bottom.

Inside the accessories box we find the cable and 5 sets of silicone tips. Again, nothing to really praise but nothing to complain about either.

Build and Aesthetics…

The build and aesthetics of the C3 are very different to the little brother, with Tin reverting back to a style that is much more common (for them and others). Using 3D printed resin shells in a much more generic shape, they are much more reminiscent of something like the T3 Plus.

The face plate features the Tin Hifi logo in silver over a carbon fiber weave background, simple but by no means ugly (at least in my eyes).

The more generic shape will mean that it should be quite a comfortable fit for most people and while I didn’t have any issues with the fit of the C2, the C3 shape is probably a safer bet for the majority of users. They are also lightweight and I have to say that I haven’t experienced any discomfort from them even during longer listening sessions.

The included cable is a step up in quality, at least as far as hardware is concerned, opting for metal connectors, splitter and chin slider, which features the Tin logo. I am actually quite fond of the cable. It is not my favourite cable ever but I have absolutely no complaint about the build or ergonomics of either the cable or IEMs.


All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Spotify, etc.)

Here is the usual look at the graph, comparing it to both my personal preference curve and the the C2 for reference:

Starting off with the subbass, we can already see that it is quite a bit north of my preferences in this regard, however, I don’t find it too overpowering in this regard. Using the obligatory (for me) test of “Chameleon”, there is a lot of presence in these lower areas and the control is not the best but it is not the worst either. The C3 seems to defend itself fairly well even in the more populated areas of the track and while I do find it to be a little loose when overworked, I have heard much worse in these frequencies.

Moving on to the midbass, we can also see that the presence is very similar (slightly reduced) to the C2 and I complained about the C2 being far too focused on the bass. Well, the C3 is a good example of how the presence of subbass can actually mitigate the issues I have with midbass. Yes, it is still too present for me in the midbass range but as the subbass takes a little more of the spotlight, along with that (ever so slight) reductuction in the higher part of the midbass, I find that it doesn’t cause me the fatigue that the C2 does.

The midbass doesn’t really bleed over into the lower mids and I feel that the performance is similar to the C2 but that, as the focus is shifted away from these specific frequencies, it comes across as being more coherent. One of the main tests that proves this to me is the low end of the guitar in “Crazy” by Daniela Andrade. In the case of the C2, the guitar becomes very boomy, which is part of my fatigue. Yet the C3, while still having a slight bit of boominess, it is far from the point of the C2, making for a much more pleasant low end for me personally.

The center of the mids has a slight dip but nothing really worth noting and as we climb into the higher mids, the presence of vocals and other instruments is quite nicely balanced.

From around 2kHz to 5.5kHz is where I find a huge difference between the C2 and the C3. As I mentioned in the C2 review, I found the presence in this range to extend too far, giving things a sensation of being compressed. With the C3, there is a bit of an extra boost around 4kHz that can make some tracks become a little harsh, yet it rolls off about 1000Hz before the C2, giving things much more life and making them seem much more dynamic in this range.

I know others have really liked the C2 and I understand that we are all different, listening to different music and having different tastes, so I can only speak for myself but I much prefer the upper mids and lower treble on the C3.

Moving up into the higher ranges, things do seem to roll off more than on the C2, while still presenting some peaks that can cause a little imbalance in these areas, yet, as the 2k to 5.5k frequencies are more dynamic to my ears, I find that I actually notice the treble more on the bigger brother.

Detail I would say is similar between the two, which is to say decent. Saying that, due (again) to that lack of “compression” and the reduction of those high peaks to some extent, I find that I can appreciate the details much more on the C3.

Soundstage is around average for a set of IEMs and while the image placement may not be perfect, I do find it to be a step up from the previous model, or at least the way it is presented.

The isolation of the C3 is very good above the 1kHz mark, much better than the C2 and way above average.


The Tin Hifi C3 are a good set of IEMs in my opinion. I don’t think that they are going to break any molds yet the performance is still above average for a budget priced set. In comparison to the C2, I find that they work much better for me in just about every category.

That doesn’t mean that they are better than the C2, as I have seen a lot of love for the C2, it means that they work better for me personally and that I enjoy them much more. I find them more dynamic and that I can appreciate the music much more, both in the low and higher ranges.

As I keep saying in what seems like every review lately, the budget section is full of good choices at the moment and while I don’t think the C3 is to be considered king, it is still a very valid option.

This review can also be found in Spanish both on my blog ( and on YouTube (

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on


Great, in depth review as usual @SenyorC ! I lost 90% of my use case for IEMs with my new job. So I’m not really in the market anymore but always enjoy reading up on what’s new in your reviews.

From the pics… these are really handsome IEMs!!


Great set of reviews, @SenyorC, thanks. I appreciate that you are straight-forward about your preferences. The “ultra cheap” IEM market is rather fascinating now, with a rapid pace of evolution. Sound quality - for the good IEMs - is dramatically improved compared to when I went through my KZ phase 4-5 years ago. Even though I have reference IEMs in my collection, e.g., U12t, I find that I really enjoy listening to the Salnotes Zero, Kiwi Ears Cadenza and a few others in this range for balance. I also find myself being less analytical/critical when listening to the “cheap” IEMs - as long as they are well tuned - which adds to my enjoyment. I am curious to see where the next “breakthrough” comes, better tuning (more collabs or otherwise), better components (via economies of scale?), or some uniqueness (design or technology).


That IEM looks very like the Revonext QT2!

1 Like

Yes it does! And now I’m thinking, I once swore by the QT2 as I thought it was the fun IEM to beat in the $50 segment… How times change!


Yes, that’s right. What happened to Revonext? The QT5 was quite good too, but IEMs like the TRN ST5 typify what is achievable in that price band now.

Truthear Hola Review​


The Truthear Hola is an in-ear monitor (IEM) featuring detachable cables and one 11mm dynamic driver per housing. The Hola retails for $18.99 at ShenzhenAudio. ShenzhenAudio sent me a unit in exchange for my impressions.


I have used the Truthear Hola with the following sources:

  • Qudelix 5K
  • Hidizs S9
  • Truthear Shio
  • Apple Dongle


The Hola comes in a small grey cardboard package with a white slipcover. The slipcover features the anime mascot “Shiroi” on the front face and details the Hola’s technical specifications on the rear face. The rear face of the slipcover also features the Hola’s frequency response graph. The text on the packaging is inconsistent as to whether this set of headphones is named “Hola” or “Halo.” In addition to the IEMs, the Hola includes an Truthear-branded pleather carry pouch with a magnetic closure and a Truthear-branded plastic mounting tray for the included eartip selection. The Hola includes three pairs of generic black silicone eartips (XS, S, M) and four pairs of squat, wide-bore black silicone eartips (XS, S, M, L). In terms of documentation, the Shio comes with a warranty card and an owner’s manual written in Chinese, English, and Japanese. The Shio also includes an illustrated postcard providing key biographical details about Shiroi.


The Truthear Hola features 3D-printed black resin shells with a pseudo-custom fit paired with CNC aluminum faceplates. The faceplates feature a geometric pattern printed in white. Directional indicators are engraved into the shell just below the slightly recessed 2-pin ports. The shells are unmarked otherwise. There is a small circular vent at the base of each nozzle and a larger bean-shaped vent towards the edge of the inner housing body. The nozzles have mesh covers and raised lips with which to secure eartips.

The Hola uses a different cable than the one included with the Truthear Zero and Truthear Hexa. This plain two-strand cable features a double-helix pattern below the Y-split. The wires are wrapped in a shiny black plastic sheath. The 3.5mm jack uses stout rubber hardware in an L-shaped form factor, whereas the Y-split and chin-adjustment choker hardware are made from black anodized aluminum. The Y-split hardware features the text “Truthear Co.” There is substantial strain relief above the 3.5mm jack but none at the Y-split. The cable has pre-formed heat-shrink earguides. The 2-pin connectors are embossed with “L” and “R” indicators. The cable is virtually silent in terms of microphonics, especially when the chin-adjustment choker is used.


The Truthear Hola is intended to be worn cable-up. The earpieces have a shallow insertion depth. The Hola is comfortable but required the use of the largest size of included wide-bore eartips to maintain a secure fit. Isolation is above average. I did not experience driver flex with the Hola.


My measurements of the Truthear Hola can be found on my expanding database:

Truthear Hola — Squiglink by Bedrock Reviews


The Truthear Hola has an overall warm tuning with a neutral midrange and a relaxed treble response. The Hola has a nearly identical tuning to the Moondrop Aria below 1 kHz, with the most noticeable differences between the two appearing in the upper midrange.

The Hola scores well in terms of both sub-bass rumble and mid-bass slam. The Hola’s bass response is also highly textured. Bass resolution and articulation are very good for the price but I do not agree with other reviewers who place the Hola in the same league as the Aria in terms of technical performance. There is still a gulf in technical performance between the Hola and the best IEMs in the $80–100 price bracket, especially with the arrival of the Truthear Hexa to the market.

There is a touch of bloom from the mid-bass into the lower midrange, but not enough that I would consider the Hola to suffer from mid-bass bleed. The effect is mostly positive, in that the Hola has a little extra warmth in the lower midrange. However, I can think of other IEMs around this price, such as the Moondrop Chu, which have greater midrange clarity. Switching back and forth between the two IEMs, I get a distinct feeling that the Hola is over-dampened.

The Hola centers its pinna gain region at 4 kHz, whereas the Aria centers its pinna gain region at roughly 2.5 kHz. I prefer the pinna gain region to be centered right at 3 kHz, so neither approach is ideal for me. With the Hola, male vocals are pressed too far forward for my tastes. On the other hand, I really enjoy the presentation of female vocals on the Hola. Vocal intelligibility is very good for both male and female vocals, though female vocals are slightly clearer. Timbre is very natural.

The Hola has a safe and relaxed treble response with limited sparkle and moderate air. While it may be unreasonable to expect more from a sub-$20 IEM, the subdued treble response hurts the overall listening experience for me. The Hola’s overall resolution is very good for the price point but is edged out in this respect by the Moondrop Chu. Instrument separation and soundstage are both better than what I would expect from an IEM at this price point, but again, I feel the Chu is slightly superior in both respects.


While it is possible to power the Truthear Hola with the Apple dongle, doing so required the volume level on Android devices to be nearly maxed out, at least with Spotify volume normalization set to “Normal.” Depending on your typical listening volume, I would recommend using a different source without the Apple dongle’s limitations if you regularly use an Android device. I did not notice hiss with any of my devices.


The Truthear Hola is a solid contender at the sub-$20 price point. I do think there are real gaps between the Hola, the Moondrop Chu, and the 7Hz Zero with respect to various aspects of technical performance. With that said, while these gaps are concrete, they are small enough that your primary decision point should be based on the subtle differences in tuning between the three. The Hola is the warmest of the three, the Zero the closest to textbook neutrality, and the Chu the brightest. In addition, each present what is ostensibly a Harman-ish midrange in slightly different ways. For those just entering the IEM space, my recommendation would be to purchase all three to better inform your more expensive purchases down the road.

The Truthear Hola can be purchased below:

Truthear HOLA Earphone 11mm High-Performance Dynamic Driver In-ear Mo (