The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread

The Go Blu I can live with :wink:

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Blon Fat Girl


The Blon Fat Girl have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. They have not requested that I say or do anything specific, however it is always worth considering the fact that these IEMs have not cost me anything, no matter how unbiased I try to be.

As always, I will leave a (non-affiliate) link to these IEMs via Linsoul on my blog, as it’s the least I can do.


Intro…

I really can’t start this review any other way than with the name of the IEMs. I haven’t read any reviews or comments about these IEMs but I am guessing that this is something that has already been commented on by many, all I am going to say is that I don’t think the name is a very good choice, no matter how much you want it to be remembered. Yes, there are probably a lot worse names out there but still, I’m sure Blon could have come up with something better. Let’s just call them FG.

I just said that I haven’t read anything about these, which is true, but I do remember them being launched recently as an ultra budget set, coming in at around 10€, which is probably within the top 5 of the cheapest IEMs I have ever reviewed.

So let’s see if they are any good for such an extremely cheap price.


Presentation…

There is not a lot to say in this section, I mean, what can you expect for this price?

A simple box containing the IEMs with their fixed cable and a couple of spare tips. That is it, but again, we can’t ask for more.


Build and aesthetics…

The build of these is actually not bad. It’s not stellar (did I mention 10€?) but it is completely made of metal and the attached cable is not the worst you can get, even in higher price brackets.

The size and shape are going for a smaller bullet type style, similar to something like the Quarks or the Tanya, but a little bit bigger then either of those. They are sort of reminiscent of the Koss KEB90 but without the angled nozzle.

As far as comfort, they are not bad either. They aren’t small enough to disappear inside the ear but aren’t overly large either, so I really don’t have too much to complain about at this price.


Sound…

Before getting into my opinion of the sound, let’s look at a graph of the FG compared to my personal preference target. Also, at the same time let’s add the BL03, Blon’s most successful model, to the graph.


(all IEM measurements can be found on achoreviews.squig.link)

Ok, now, for those of you that know what to look at on a graph, I don’t think that you will be surprised at what is coming. For those that prefer my subjective findings…

There is an elevated bass range that is something that I don’t personally care for. Usually I would break this section down into subbass and midbass but I feel that there is no real need here because the IEMs don’t do a great job of distinguishing between them.

Looking at the graph, you can see that there really isn’t much difference in the bass zone between the FG and BL03, in fact, the BL03 has slightly more. However, the big difference is in the quality of the bass. The whole low end just seems to merge into a large… I’m actually looking for a word to best describe this here… maybe “blob” would be a valid description.

There is just an overall lack of definition and clarity in the bass section, making things feel congested.

As we move into the mids, we have the opposite problem. Instead of a large blob, we have a large hole. There is a space in the center of the tuning which is where the mids should be, and they are just not there. I can’t say the mids sound bad, in fact, I played some simple mid focused tests and the mids aren’t terrible, but bring back anything that has lows or highs (we are getting to the highs!) and the mids just fade away into the shadows.

And the highs. The highs are over elevated and not elevated enough, all at the same time. There is a mismatch of frequencies happening in the upper ranges that can really create a weird sensation with instruments in these frequencies. There are peaks, including a fairly large one at my dreaded 5kHz range, which just present a treble that sounds… again searching for words… wonky?

Sound stage and image placement is very difficult to judge, well, actually it’s quite easy to judge negatively, as the mass of bass, lack of mids and random treble, all contribute to things not sounding like they should nor where they should.

Details… Well, I imagine you can guess.


Conclusion…

Blon really made a name for themselves with the BL03, a set of IEMs that was loved by a lot of people. I don’t mind the BL03 even though they are not something I highly praise as I preferred the BL05s, but that is a personal opinion. Since then they have released quite a few models, some quite “off the wall”, but none have really had the success of their first model.

I’m afraid that I can not relate anything from the FG to the BL03. While I may not have been the biggest fan of the tuning of the BL03, it’s performance is fairly decent, whereas I have struggled to not be more negative in this review towards the FG.

I really don’t like leaving negative reviews, as I feel that this hobby is so subjective that somebody is always going to like things that I don’t. That might also be the case with the FG, who knows, but there are just so many good alternatives out there, even at the same price (and sometimes even cheaper), that I really can’t see the point in owning these IEMs.

(As always, this review is also available in Spanish on www.achoreviews.com and on www.youtube.com/achoreviews)

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I would have thought that in view of the name you might have tested them with a certain famous Queen song.

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That treble + Freddy Mercury… :hear_no_evil:

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Like me for example!

Crucial for this, however, is a good fit in the ear, actually the choice of amplifier and also the preference for the music genre (As always actually :laughing: ).

I use 14.5mm diameter silicone tips, the Ifi iDSD Signature (no, that’s not overkill), or one of my xDuoo tube amps, and hear, for example, from the Beasty Boys:

And you’re happy and thinking; what more do I need!

What matters is, for example, WHO first recommended (and hyped) this device, BGGA, in this case, so you know that this plug cannot promise audiophile delight, but is rather designed for the music that this gentleman prefers, and this criterion the BL-03 meets :100: %.

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It is interesting to see that many brands, such as BLON, TinHiFi, KZ, ……… yes even Moondrop actually, (in music we would say); one hit wonders, are.

At BLON, an attempt was made to find an audiopile solution in terms of sound, which in my opinion failed miserably.

After the, in my opinion, fantastic OG T2, TinHiFi has tried to release one plug after the other, allegedly with sound improvements, even developed planar drivers, but they no longer come close to the revolutionary level of the T2 across the board.

Even KZ had “ONE” lucky hit, the ZS10 Pro whose sound spectrum was never reached again before or after, on the contrary this company has completely dismantled, in every respect, and despite 1.347 million attempts to produce a high-end in-ear for 19$ :rofl: .

At least Moondrop makes an effort and keeps the sound level of their devices at least to some extent. Personally, I found that with the KXXS they had reached its zenith,

the rest either sounds similar, or is technically superior, especially with the more expensive models, but the sound is too peaky and too thin, and quality control has also decreased with this company.

There are still a few lucky punches in the $100-200 range in the past, such as the IKKO OH-10 or the KBEAR Believe 9mm Pure Beryllium, otherwise not much came from these companies either.

Devices like the 7Hertz Timeless, or other planar ChiFi in-ear attempts, are in my opinion not technically and sonically mature and not worth the money, even if Crin tries to push these plugs endlessly, they just sound too thin, too peaky , too flat and without sonic substance, only airiness and imaging are usually quite good.

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For me, after an experimental phase of about 4 years, the topic of ChiFi in the in-ear area is over.

It doesn’t “really” get any better in terms of sound, these cheap plugs will never reach a high-end level, and with most of these companies the haptic level “also” drops enormously.

Broken:

Broken:

Broken:

Broken:

Broken:

Broken:

So,
how can I still trust companies like ThieAudio or Shuoer, and now order considerably more expensive in-ears from them if 100% of the ordered goods from these companies were delivered defective, or after a short time, the drivers bless the time :question: :question: :question:

Even companies like FiiO and iBasso are no longer building anything really “revolutionary” in this segment.

My conclusion from this is:

ChiFi and ifi harmonize very well together,

and the TinHiFi T2, like the Koss KSC75, scales exceptionally well for such a price range, and some ChiFi in-ears really like tubes.

(both, my most used devices, the reason: sound and convenience)

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Thus, the drumming and roar of the YouTube reviewers for the “innovations” in this device segment is more of an instinct for self-preservation,

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in order to possibly make ends meet financially and to maintain the channel.

Nothing against these guys, but sometimes I wonder what their subject-specific basics are to be allowed to separate such “specialist comments”.

All sound engineers :question: ,

certainly not, but their influence is simply too great for that, and is passed on blindly in the forums, with emphasis.

P.S.:
It’s all well and good that some have an opinion about of their own sound perception and then pass it on with a reference to it.
But this idea of ​​absoluteness, passed on with a certain “arrogance”, like one or the other YouTuber does,

hmmm;

not my cup of tea, and to be enjoyed with caution (especially with regard to your own wallet).

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AND: I’m certainly not talking about you here @SenyorC

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The CCA CRA+ is an in-ear monitor which uses a single 10mm dynamic driver per housing. The CRA+ retails for $33.

The CRA+ is perhaps the best IEM to emerge from under the KZ umbrella and is one of the best IEMs at this price point from any manufacturer.

My full review, which includes measurements, is available on my blog:

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At least with a single driver, you know it is actually connected to something.

The Truthear Zero has been a pleasure to listen to, but frustrating to review. It is an unqualified recommendation at $50, but it easily could have been even more groundbreaking with some minor tweaks.

My full review is up on my blog:

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7Hz Salnotes Zero


The 7Hz Salnotes Zero have been sent to mby Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. They have not requested anything specific and I will, as always, aim to be as unbiased as possible. However, you should always consider the fact that these IEMs have not cost me anything.

You can find a non-affiliate link to the Zero by visiting the version of this review published on my blog.


Intro…

When I received the Zero, they were not yet on sale and I had no idea what the price was. Since then, they have become available on Linosul at a price of less than 20€, placing them firmly inside the sub 50€ bracket that I consider ultra-budget orientated.

7Hz are a brand that have made quite a name for themselves recently, with the 7Hz Timeless, a breakthrough in the planar IEM market, and the recent Dioko (in collaboration with Crinacle), amongst a couple of other models. The Zero I believe is their attempt at entering this ultra-budget IEM market with a single dynamic driver set of IEMs.


Presentation…

As is to be expected for less than 20€, the presentation is rather basic. Arriving in a plain box that a plastic covered tray slides out of, these are very reminiscent of some of the KZ presentations.

Inside the box we get the IEMs, the cable, the user manual and the same collection of multicoloured tips that were included with the Dioko that I reviewed recently.

I really can’t see any reason to complain here, as I would much rather IEMs in this price range have as much budget put towards the actual IEMs as possible.


Build and aesthetics…

The Zero are available in various colour options, these being black, blue and white. The version I have received are the blue ones, a colour that I would actually refer to as “smurf blue”.

I have to say that I have not had a set of IEMs come across my desk in this colour, so bonus points for originality, even if I do find them to look a bit like a toy (especially with the red tips that they arrive with).

The build is a combination of a plastic shell along with a metal faceplate. The shape is also original, with the use of plenty of straight lines, forming a shape that I really wouldn’t know what to call. This may mean that for some people with smaller ears, the square corners may result in some discomfort but I haven’t personally noticed any.

To be honest, I am not quite sure what to say about build quality. As I said, they do look a bit like toys and there is a clear seam where the shells are fixed together but at the same time, I really can spot anything that shouts “this is going to break”.

The included cable is nice enough, although a little stiff. It does refrain from tangling though and in general does its job, so I don’t have any complaints either. Yes, the cable included with the Dioko was much nicer (at 5 times the price) but this is still far better than many other cables included with ultra budget sets.

At the end of the day, aesthetics are very personal and while I am not a huge fan, I am also not going to put too much into how a set of 20€ IEMs look.


Sound…

(Note: As always, tracks mentioned are clickable links that will open the referenced track in the streaming service of your choice)

This is the category that is “make or break” for an ultra-budget set of IEMs in my opinion. I mean, sound is obviously the most important part of any IEM (maybe along with comfort) but in this price range, if something manages to sound good, it is 99% of teh way there (in my opinion of course).

So, here is the usual graph comparing them to my personal preference target:

I have said it before but I will say it again, my target is just a guide, I don’t always like things that are very close to it and I don’t always dislike things that aren’t. Saying that, on paper, we are off to a good start with the Zero tuning.

Starting off with the subbass frequencies, there is enough for my tastes, giving a nice sensation of rumble when the track calls for it, such as in the case of my usual test track, “Chameleon”. They also stay fairly clean and articulated in these lower ranges, without giving a sensation of muddying up the low end.

I am not sure if these IEMs were developed after the Crinacle collaboration but I must say that the bass in general is very reminiscent (in quantity) of the Dioko, something that I find very positive.

Midbass is more of the same story, not overly done and staying out of the way of the lower mids. This makes for a very clean bass region in general, allowing me to appreciate what is going on in the low ranges, even in complex songs. Ok, the speed may not be up to that of certain planar models, or other dynamic drivers in higher categories, but is is still pretty good, better than a lot of models I have heard coming in at many times the price of the Zero.

As with the low end of the Dioko, this tuning may sometimes give the impression that the lower notes of guitars are missing a little bit of body, maybe the guitar of Johnny Cash in “Hurt” being a good example, yet I would much rather take this presentation over something that is too bloated.

The mids are very well balanced and follow my preferences almost exactly. This, in my opinion, gives just the right amount of presence and balance to vocals and instruments located in these frequencies. There is no huge dip in the mids, nor is there a huge spike at the top of the mids that is needed to compensate for any lack of lower midrange. The presence between 2kHz and 4kHz is almost perfect (again, in my opinion), starting to roll off before we hit 5kHz, a range that I am very sensitive to.

This is actually something that I equalized the Dioko to while I was testing it and it resulted in things becoming rather harsh in this area, that does not seem to be the case with the Zero. In the track “Don’t You Worry Child” by Beth, her voice can become very harsh and almost unlistenable on many set that have too much in the higher mids, in the case of the Zero, she is still harsh (the recording is harsh itself) yet listenable.

Moving into the upper ranges is where I find the issue with the Zero. There is plenty of extension and feeling of air, yet there is also a spike that does make these upper ranges a little brutal on occasions. This peak does not actually create too much sibilance as “Code Cool” is a little hot but not painful (which can certainly be the case), yet there is a bit of a metallic shine to the upper range, making it not feel natural.

My guess is that 7Hz have used this extra presence in the upper ranges to make the Zero seem like it has more details than it actually does. This is something that many brands have done with various models to give that impression of detail. This is something that can make a set of IEMs sound very impressive during the initial listening phase, yet can be fatiguing on longer listening sessions.

My take on this is that the Zero don’t really have a huge amount of detail. I mean, they are not bad, certainly more than acceptable for the price range that they sit in, but they are not as detailed as that upper range peak would like you to think. To be honest, this does give the sensation that they extend much better in the treble than other dynamic driver sets, yet they really don’t, it is more of an illusion created by that peak.

Soundstage is not bad but is another thing that is conditioned a little by that upper peak. That sensation of more air does sometimes add to the sensation of more space, yet when isolating certain instruments and sounds (such as in “Bubbles”), the soundstage is actually around average for a set of IEMs.


Conclusion…

Everything was going so well with the Zero until that upper peak. Now, that does not mean that they are a bad set of IEMs, far from it, they are a great set of IEMs for their price (and could could probably compete with sets priced quite a bit higher), I think it is more of me finding so many good things about the tuning that the one error, or maybe that is not the correct word, let’s say that one “choice”, is something that was probably more of a let down due to everything else being so surprisingly good.

Obviously this can be corrected (again, maybe corrected is not the right term) with a little eq, but I actually feel that maybe it is simpler than that and it can be corrected with a filter that just tames those highest ranges a little. When I get a chance (I have quite a list of backlogged items) I will certainly try a couple of things because I feel that these IEMs are almost perfect as far as tuning in their price bracket.

Again, please do not take this as a negative review, the 7Hz Salnotes Zero do almost everything much better than can be expected for their price.


As always, you can find this review in Spanish both on www.achoreviews.com and on www.youtube.com/achoreviews
My IEM FR measurements are available on achoreviews.squig.link and my IEM isolation measurements can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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KBEAR Little Q


The KBEAR Little Q have been sent to me by KeepHifi in exchange for the publication of this review. They have never requested anything specific and I will do my best to be as unbiased as possible, always reminding you that these IEMs did not cost me anything.

You can find a non-affiliate link to KBEAR Little Q via KeepHifi by visiting the version of this review published on my blog.

Intro…

I have reviewed quite a few of these small bullet style IEMs but I have to say that I think the Little Q are the smallest of all of them. When I first opened the package, I was very surprised at how tiny these IEMs really are.

Coming in at around 15€, these are another set that are competing for the ultra budget category but do they do anything that so many other models don’t?


Presentation…

The presentation of the Little Q is about as basic as you can get, with a white box that contains the IEMs and a few set of spare silicone tips.

Not a lot to really talk about here but as I have repeated many times, in this price range I don’t want to see a lot of accessories.


Build & aesthetics…

I already mentioned how tiny these are, so again, there is not really much to say. They opt for an elongated cylinder type shape, very similar to the shape used by Final Audio on their E series, yet slightly smaller.

They are available with or without a microphone, with a 1€ difference, in black grey and blue. As KeepHifi asked which version I would like, I opted for the blue version with a microphone and I am glad I did. As these are so small and compact, they are a perfect candidate to store in a pocket or even a small container on a keyring, allowing you to always have a set of IEMs (with mic) available.

The build quality is all plastic (at least I think its plastic) yet is is well constructed and the finish is very well done. There is the KBEAR logo down one side in black and the back of the IEMs has a small honeycomb design printed on in white (something that could also be reminiscent of the Final Audio logo on the back of their IEMs).

Even though I say that aesthetics are not really something I care about in these price ranges, I am actually quite fond of them and they are very comfortable, even when laying on my side.


Sound…

So, the important part, sound. Let’s start off as usual with the graph of the Little Q compared to my personal preference target:

Ok, maybe we are not off to a great start here, as far as my personal preferences go, but all is not lost!

Down at the lowest frequencies, the Little Q are pretty elevated, giving quite a bit of presence to those lower notes. Now, if you remember (for those of you that follow my reviews), I recently reviewed the Blon FG which had less presence down low than the Little Q and I said it was not good. Well, the Little Q has something that saves it, it’s this thing called definition. Even though there is a fair amount of elevation in the lowest ranges, it doesn’t fall apart and become a huge… “blob” I think was the word I used.

This goes for the midbass too, which is also way above my preferences in this area but, as it actually has some clarity and definition, I don’t hate it. In fact, I actually find it kind of fun. I think those that like a lot of bass and are looking for something that is very cheap will have no problems with the low end of the Little Q.

I am not saying that it is amazing in the low end, nor that it is as clear and defined as higher range IEMs, I am saying that it is surprisingly good for the price and I find it enjoyable, which is quite a compliment from me for something with this amount of bass.

As we move into the mids, the tuning is again very similar to the FG, yet the Little Q actually performs rather well in these frequencies. Yes, there is a noticeable dip in the center of the mids but at least it stays defined, even if it does lean towards (or rather point towards) the warm side of things.

I found acoustic music to be quite enjoyable and while I wouldn’t pick these as my reference IEMs, “Crazy” by Daniela Andrade had nice warmth and clarity in the mid range, as did Caro Emerald in “Back It Up”. Vocals were easily appreciated and overall fun to listen to.

A lot of this presence is due to the boost as we get up to the 2500Hz range. This climb is actually quite smooth and does a decent job of making sure vocals get the spotlight they deserve. Voices certainly don’t get pushed up front, there is too much going on in the lower ranges for that to happen, but there is enough presence to be pleasant.

There is another peak around 6kHz before they upper ranges start to roll off and this is something that does help brighten things up a little but can be a little hot on certain tracks, along with some presence of sibilance, especially when elevating the volume level.

Soundstage is not huge, as is to be expected with such a deep fitting set, but it is not terrible either, with image placement that helps make things seem a bit better distributed.


Isolation…

This is something that I haven’t really mentioned much in reviews over the years but I have been working on putting together a collection of isolation measurements of the IEMs I have reviewed. The photo above is the isolation measurement of the Little Q but you can compare it with other isolation measurements by visiting achoreviews.squig.link/isolation (its the same address as my FR measurements but with /isolation on the end).


Conclusion…

The KBEAR Little Q are a set of IEMs that I have grown quite fond of while trying them out. They are not highly detailed, nor are they going to win any awards for amazing sound, yet they are a pleasant listen that work great as a cheap “out and about” set.

Due to the size of them, plus the fact that they have a mic, they are a great option to store in a tiny case that can be easily kept in a pocket or even on a keyring. This means that you have a set of IEMs that you can pull out at any time and plug them straight into your phone (if you have a headphone jack of course, if not, you can add an Apple dongle for another 10€), enjoy some music and make some calls, without worrying about them being damaged or lost.

They might not be the best isolating IEMs (although that will depend on the tips used of course) but as they have that elevation in the lower ranges, they should also work pretty well in noisy environments.

All I can say is that, for 15€, I think the Little Q are more than worthy of their price tag.

(As always, this review is also available in Spanish both on www.achoreviews.com and on www.youtube.com/achoreviews)

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So @SenyorC (or others), do you have a favorite in the under $25 range? I’ve never had IEMs, and wouldn’t mind dipping my toe in the water for something to use on the go.

@SenyorC has much more experience, but I abandoned the ultra cheap IEM realm a long time ago. They just involve too many compromises. The treble usually becomes far less scratchy, harsh, and painful in the $100 class.

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I’ll take a $100 recommendation too! Since it will be awhile before I can pull the trigger on my future Atrium purchase, I need some new toys to play with.

In that range, sometimes seen for about $79 is the

A few of us on here have them. Pretty nice for the price range. Designed for stage/pro sound market, not the audiophile market. But they are not objectionable and have a balanced sound.

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In the sub 25€ bracket, depending on your tuning preferences, I would personally say that the ones worth trying out would be the 7hz Zero, the CCA CRA, the CCA CRA+ or maybe the Moondrop Chu.

In the sub 100€, again depending on personal tuning preferences, the Dunu Titan S, the Moondrop Aria or the 7hz Dioko if you want to try out the new planar hype.

My personal picks in both categories would probably be the 7hz options but, again, it will depend on what kind of music you listen to and what kind of tuning you prefer.

There are a few other sets, such as the Olina, that are highly praised and recommended but I haven’t tried them personally.

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The ultra economic range is really improving a lot recently but as with anything in this hobby, if you already have what you like, then there really isn’t much point in catching them like Pokemon (unless of course that is part of the hobby that you enjoy, which it seems to be for many).

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Second the recommendation for the Aria at under $100, especially if they are to be used with less than ideal sources, like a phone direct (at least a cheap pos like mine), lousy recordings, or lower rate bt. They are very forgiving, and their flaws are mostly errors of omission rather than commission.

Don’t know if I’m man enough to walk around with those Dioko in my ears. A little too much like giant earrings… :rofl:

I did order a Moondrop Chu last night to at least try something out. Definitely appreciate the recommendations, and will check them all out.

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You’d surely look like a Diok.

Yea! I have their old Kanas Pro (discontinued) and still use it sometimes.

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I don’t have SenyorC’s vast iem experience, nor his iem review prowess. However, I do own both the CCA CRA and the Moondrop Chu from his listed recommendations. I can vouch for the extreme fun value of either one. I favor the Moondrop Chu by a large margin over the CCA CRA treble sizzle. I carry them to work every day just incase I need an emergency listen. Moondrop Chu has also been my recommendation to my non audio enthusiast friends when asked which IEMs to purchase.

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