The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread

seeing how the product link describes these as “gaming”, I was wondering if these aren’t knock-offs of the Final E500? Have you or @SenyorC had a chance to listen to them to compare?

Also the E500 is supposed to excel with binaural recordings, can the KBEAR claim the same?

I’m sorry I do not have the E500, but based on the staging and imaging I would imagine the Little Q would be excellent for gaming.

1 Like

My review of the E500 should be in this thread somewhere. However, I’m not a gamer so I can’t comment on that part.

I also didn’t find the stage of the Little Q very large personally.

Edit: The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread - #1142 by SenyorC

1 Like

I’ve been meaning to grab a pair of the E500 just for the sake of checking out their binaural performance (and the bonus eartips), except you couldn’t get a pair in Canada for a less than obscene price (not to mention, you just can’t find them anymore - discontinued perhaps)

They are still available on Amazon here for 25€.

Can you walk me through the methodology for your isolation measurements? That’s super cool.

Basically take a free field sweep measurement and convert it to a compensation file. Then take a sweep measurement with the IEM in place, add the compensation file and this will give you the negative comparison.

This one fits this thread also:

Tanchjim Zero

The Tanchjim Zero have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. As always, they have not made any specific requests and I will aim to be as unbiased as possible, however, you should always factor in the fact that these IEMs have not cost me anything.

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


It has been a while since I reviewed anything from Tanchjim, yet the previous models I have reviewed have been sub 50€ IEMs which exceeded my expectations. The Zero is another set that is firmly inside the sub 50€ category, coming in at under 15€.

I have to say that there have been some very impressive entries around this price point lately, moving the quality bar of ultra budget IEMs higher and higher. The Tanchjim Tanya, a set that cost around 18€, was already a very good set of IEMs in this price range, getting a lot of praise from many, including myself, even if the sound signature wasn’t exactly something that matched my personal preferences.

The Zero aims for a completely different tuning to the Tanya, but I will get to that in a moment.


For a price of 15€ we can’t expect a lot and the Zero I feel includes more than enough to meet expectations.

Arriving in a white box with an anime character on the cover, inside the packaging we get the IEMs with a non-detachable cable, 7 sets of silicone tips (in two different styles), a small bag for storage and the usual user manual & documentation etc.

I feel that this is plenty for a set of IEMs at this price and the packaging looks a lot more professional than many other presentations at a similar price point.

Build and aesthetics…

The IEMs have a completely transparent plastic shell, with a faceplate that looks like it is aluminium. The shape of the shells is completely round and while they are slightly larger than something like the Little Q I reviewed recently, with a shallower fit, they are still small enough to fit inside the ears. The nozzles are aimed slightly forwards and result in a fit that I find very comfortable.

The cable is fixed, as I just mentioned, and although it is nothing special, it is good enough to not receive any complaints from me. It is fairly thin, yet does not seem to tangle, covered in a clear silicone type sleeve that is not sticky to the touch (something that I appreciate). The hardware used is also plastic but is again of good enough quality for me not to complain considering the price that we are talking about here.


As I already said, the Zero is aiming for a sound signature that is quite different from the Tanya, with much less bass and more presence in the upper mids. Here is a graph of the Zero in comparison to the Tanjim Tanya and also my personal preference target for reference:

Let me say straight away that if you are someone who likes an elevated quantity of bass, you can stop reading now, that is not what you are going to get from the Zero.

The subbass does not lend itself to producing any kind of rumble in the lowest regions, with my usual subbass test track “Chameleon” sounding rather thin and polite in the lowest regions. There is some subbass there, just that it maintains the same level of presence as the midbass, which I will mention next, resulting in it sounding as though there isn’t much going on way down low.

The midbass is also very polite, without any kind of boost in these frequencies, making these something that I wouldn’t recommend if you are looking to add any kind of warmth or extra punch in the lows. EDM such as “Sun Is Shining” is not really something that is going to sound impressive on these IEMs.

However, although the quantity is not there, the quality is. The lower regions are very clean and can keep up the pace even with the fastest moving tracks. Complicated bass lines do not make the Zero suffer, making each note easily appreciated, with great definition.

Moving into the lower mids, there is obviously no bleed from the bass, due to the fact that there isn’t a lot of bass to bleed over, keeping everything very clean. I find that this clean and tamed low end does leave me wanting a little more warmth from acoustic guitars, such as in “Long After You’re Gone”. Listening to a some complex flamenco, although I did miss some warmth to the guitars, the Zero did a great job presenting all the small nuances of the guitar playing.

As we move through the mids, there is a slight reduction in presence before we start to climb (around the 1kHz) towards the 2kHz area that gives the presence to vocals and other mid centric instruments. As this area is more of a plateau, or shelf, rather than a peak, the Zero actually do a good job of not being too harsh and although my dreaded 5kHz mark is where there is most presence, due to the presence leading up to it, it doesn’t jump out and attack me as it does on many other set.

But… I do feel that the whole 2kHz to 5kHz is too elevated, which, combined with the reduced presence of the low end, does push the sound signature of these IEMs towards a harsher “high mid forward” presentation.

The Tanchjim Zero does do a decent job of extending up in the higher ranges, better than a lot of single dynamic drivers at similar prices, giving a decent sensation or air and clarity, which is obviously helped by the overall tuning.

I also find the sound stage and image placement to be above average on the Zero, lending itself well to the appreciation of multiple layers of details. These are not a spectacularly detailed set yet the tuning and the sound stage help give an impressive overall “picture” of the music.


The Tanchjim Zero are a set of IEMs that aim for a very forward tuning, something that will please some people and not others. As I said at the beginning of the sound section, if you are someone who likes warmth or present bass, these are not going to be for you.

I don’t dislike the overall tuning, I just find that those upper mids are a little too forward in my opinion, slightly less in that area would have worked better for my personal tastes.

What the Zero does well is keep up with fast moving tracks, keeping well defined with all kinds of things going on. They also have a soundstage that I find above average, with decent image placement.

With music that has the vocals a little too recessed in the recordings, these will certainly bring those vocals forwards, adding clarity to the whole area.

I don’t think I can say that these are going to be for everyone based on the tuning but I will say that the performance is good and with some EQ (I used the XBass a fair bit with these), they turn into a very nice set of budget IEMs. Without EQ, then it is going to depend on your music preferences and how you like it presented.

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

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on



The TRI x HBB KAI have been sent to me by KeepHifi in exchange for the publication of this review. There have been no specific requests, therefore, I will do my best to be as sincere and unbiased as possible, but it is always good to consider the fact that these IEMs have not actually cost me anything.

I will leave a non-affiliate link to the KAI via KeepHiFi in the version of this review published on my blog (link available at the end of this review).


I think that at this point, most people in the IEM world have heard of HBB (Hawaiian Bad Boy), the person behind the YouTube channel, Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews. Apart from a large following of his reviews, he has increased his presence in recent times with quite a few collaborations. The TRI x HBB KAI is another of these collaborations and if I remember correctly (someone will certainly let me know if I don’t), it is his first collaboration with TRI and it is also the first single dynamic driver offering by the brand.

Strangely enough, while I have consumed a lot of content by HBB over the years, and discussed a few things, I have never actually tried any of his collaborations (unless we count the KZ fiasco, which I am not going to).

There really isn’t a specific reason behind not trying out his collabs, the ocasion just didn’t arise. I actually got a feeling for HBB’s preferences quite some time ago, when comparing his opinion to mine on specific sets, and while we may not share the same tuning preferences (depending on the music), there is no doubt that his input to the IEM world has been quite notable, whether you like his style of doing so or not.

Anyways, as some of his collaborations are not only recommended time and time again in their price brackets, they are also models that I get asked about regularly, to which I always have to respond “sorry, I haven’t heard them”. I guess that is something I need to work on fixing, and the KAI is as good a place to start as any.


I have to start this section with praise for what is almost the perfect presentation for me personally. I don’t mean perfect because of what is or isn’t included, I mean the actual way things are packed.

Inside the products box, which is quite compact, we get the storage/travel case (which is the same size as the box). Inside this case are all the contents included with the KAI. That is, the IEMs, the cable, 6 sets of tips (wide and narrow bore), a cleaning tool and a microfiber cloth, along with the usual user manual etc.

For a set of IEMs that come in at around 80€, I really don’t think there is anything to complain about here, you have everything you could need to enjoy the IEMs. Yes, there are always “wishes” that some people would like to see (like specific tips, etc) but seriously, the contents are more than enough in my opinion.

And my praise for the way things are packed is because there isn’t a ton of packaging that needs to be thrown away (or thrown in a drawer). There are still plastics used for the small bags that contain the tips and microfibre cloth etc. but these are minimal and I feel that more manufacturers should take note.

Build and aesthetics…

I have to say that I am not someone who favours anything gold coloured (as I have mentioned in past reviews of gold items), I find that it just seems to make things look cheap. In the case of the KAI, while it is still not a colour scheme that I would pick personally, they actually don’t look too “tacky”. Combining a light gold colour with a light blue faceplate, overall aesthetics work well together and I can see many people liking them.

The build is all metal, seemingly well assembled (although time is the only true test as far as build quality), with the small text and logos on the faceplate being discrete enough to not stand out but also done well enough to stand up to close inspection.

The included cable is also of good quality, with hardware that matches the IEMs, and while nothing extraordinary, it is better than so many other cables that are included with other sets. Swapping out the cable is something that each person will decide for themselves but I honestly don’t see any need in this case.

Finally, the storage/travel case is also of good quality. It is of a style that is included with a few brands and works well. I have quite a few similar cases and I have absolutely no issues with it, it is more than adequate for a set of IEMs, regardless of their price.


*As always, all tracks mentioned are clickable links that will allow you to reference the track in the streaming service of your choice

As I said in the intro, I don’t always share the tuning preferences of HBB but that depends a lot on what music we are referencing. I do listen to a lot of the same music that he does, although probably not as often, and from past references, his tuning does work well for a lot of that music (actually, it works well for all of that music, it is just personal preferences that change).

Where our tastes usually differ are in the midbass area, with HBB preferring more warmth in these regions. This extra warmth is something that I also enjoy a lot with genres like rock, where it works well to give the bass guitar and lower end of electric guitars a little more warmth and roundness, especially with some of the older 70’s and 80’s recordings.

But anyway, let’s get on with it, here is the comparison of the KAI against my own personal preference. Let me say again, something that I have repeated in many of my reviews, that the preference target is just a guide, I don’t need things to stick to the target to enjoy them, and I also don’t always enjoy sets that do stick to it.

Starting off with the lowest frequencies, as I usually do, there is plenty of extension and rumble down there. It is also presented in a way that keeps things fairly clean and defined. I find that there is more than enough to enjoy things like “Royals”, or to make a decent job of my usual “Chameleon” test track.

Moving into the mid bass, the presence does reduce as we move through them towards the bottom end of the mids. Although there is more midbass (and subbass) than I would usually pick, I must say that I am a fan of this style of tuning, where the amount ramps up the lower we go. This is something that I find works very well to keep the low end impressive but non-invasive in regards to the mids.

There is enough midbass to give classic rock some warmth (such as “Whole Lotta Love”, to name a track from my test list), make the low hits of hip-hop impressive and yet not get in the way with more relaxed acoustical tracks.

I don’t think that details are the strong part of the KAI, even in the lower ranges, yet I really can’t fault the tuning at all in these low ranges.

Moving into the mids, there is no real sense of anything being pushed back, with things like the fretless bass of “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes” (which is highly dependent on those mid frequencies) being present enough to easily appreciate the great bass playing of Bakithi Kumalo.

As the mids start climbing towards their higher frequencies, the ramp up to bring vocals (and other mid centric instruments) starts to appear quite early yet it is not overdone. In fact, the KAI has the upper mids tuning that I said I would have liked the D13 to have, in other words, they aren’t as exaggerated as the D13 and don’t fall away as quickly, bringing vocals forwards without making them seem harsh.

Another positive is that they start to drop off before hitting my dreaded 5kHz range, although, with the ramp and presence between 1kHz and 4kHz, I probably wouldn’t have found the 5kHz mark too irritating even if the presence had extended a little further. However, as they ramp down before then, it’s a mute point anyway.

Moving into the higher frequencies, the KAI do roll away quite a bit, as is the case with so many single dynamic driver sets. While I would like a bit more in these upper ranges, I find that it does work well with the overall tuning, making the KAI more of a fun listening set than something you would pick to focus on details and nuances.

To be honest, I feel that the details are the weakest point of the KAI. Not that they are terrible, far from it, but they are not a highly detailed set of IEMs either. But, again, this does work in favour of the general vibe that they are aiming for (in my opinion of course). I am not saying that I wouldn’t have preferred more detail from these IEMs, I am saying that they way they present music does not put the focus on detail, so it is not something that is missed too much.

The isolation of the KAI is also pretty good, better than the average, meaning that, together with their additional bass presence, they do make for a good set to use while on public transport or just out and about in general.


As I said at the start of this review, this is the first HBB tuning that I have listened to and I must say it’s pretty darn good. These are certainly IEMs that are focused on having fun listening to music and not sitting down to dissect the nuances of the reverb in the background of “All Your Love” (not that dissecting music isn’t fun also, depending on personal preferences).

They are not a tuning that I would personally pick as my daily driver but that is due to my personal preferences and not because these IEMs do anything wrong. In fact, they do a very good job of what they are aimed at, without even taking into consideration price to performance. Yes, there are things that can be improved upon, no doubt at much higher cost, but I think that these are something that most people could just pick up and enjoy.

I hope to try out a few more of the HBB collabs in the near future and if the KAI are anything to go by, then I’m sure I will enjoy reviewing them.

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


Blon Z200

The Blon Z200 have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. As is usual with Linsoul, they have made absolutely no requests, therefore, my review will aim to be as unbiased as possible (as always).

You can find a link to the Z200 on Linsoul by visiting the version of this review published on my blog.

As with all of the links I publish, it is a non affiliate link, meaning that I receive absolutely nothing in exchange for any clicks or purchases made by using the link.


I really don’t think that I need to go into details on who Blon is or what they are known for, I have done that many times in the past, as have many others.

There are no shortage of Blon IEM models, some of which are better than others, but they have never really managed to hit it out of the park like they did with the BL-03, a set of IEMs that still remains highly praised after many other models have been and gone, even if I personally preferred the BL-05s.

The Z200 is the latest model from the company (unless any other models have been released since I received it, which is always possible in the land of IEMs) and with the quality of budget IEMs getting better and better lately, I was actually quite excited to try it out and see if they had developed something that could compete with the many other great budget sets that are on the market at the moment.

In their publicity they say that the Z200 features a Carbon Diaphragm driver that has evolved from the BL-03 with better acoustical performance. Seeing the praise that the BL-03 got (and gets), that is quite a claim.


Not much has changed with the presentation of Blon IEMs except for the spelling of their catchphrase. The Z200 arrive in a rectangular white box with clear plastic cover sporting their usual blue lettering and showing the IEMs inside.

The IEMs sit inside a cheap plastic moulded tray, something that doesn’t give the impression of quality at all. I have said many many times that I really don’t care for how a set of IEMs is presented in such a budget range, these cost less than 20€, but other brands manage to give a much better first impression in the same price range.

Inside the package we get the IEMs with a non-removable cable, a few sets of the typical Blon silicone tips, the usual Blon drawstring bag that gives off a recycled vibe and the user manual.

As far as presentation, in general it is pretty poor. I will say once more that the presentation is something that I pretty much ignore on budget sets such as this one but it really does give off a cheap vibe when opening.

Build and aesthetics…

The IEMs are made of an alloy metal, meaning they are very light and use a shape that is similar to many others that I have used lately. I normally find this shape very comfortable and the Z200 is also comfortable except for one thing, the length of the nozzle. Many people had fit issues with the BL-03 due to the short nozzle and although I can still get them to fit (and they are fairly comfortable), I find that I have to use larger tips which allow them to seal with a much shallower fit.

I must say that I am not a fan of the Blon tips and after some testing, I found that I had to opt for either the Spring tips in a larger size than usual (which is what I have used for this review) or a larger set of Xelastec which seal better when inserted for a while but make it a pain to remove and reinsert the IEMs regularly.

The aesthetics are a little more complex than the usual Blon offerings, with a gold moon crescent on a black shell. They are not my favourite design but they don’t look bad and are a nice touch on such a budget set.

The cable is non-detachable, even though it does look like a detachable cable (if you try to remove it, you will pull the cable out of the IEMs). This is not the end of the world on a budget set (in my opinion of course) as it does its job and stops people worrying about cable upgrades, yet I do feel that it is a step backwards in comparison to other Blon models such as the BL-03 or BL-05s.


I guess the first million dollar (or $20 dollar) question is, are they better than the BL-03?

Well, better is very subjective and it is a term that I try to avoid. I was also not the greatest fan of the BL-03 (as I said, I preferred the BL-05s), even though I do feel that they (the BL-03) are a decent set of IEMs in their price range. In fact, the BL-03 was one of the better options until recently when many sets have come along and raised the bar quite a bit.

But let’s get on with the usual descriptions and categories, first starting off with a look at the graph in comparison to my personal preference target, the BL-03 and the BL-05s because, well, why not?

Starting off with the subbass, there is plenty of it on the graph yet it doesn’t come across as boosted to my ears as it looks on paper, at least with the Spring tips. It could be that I am turning into a sub bass-head but I feel it is more due to the way the subbass is implemented, with that slope down into the midbass which I find works really well on IEMs (in my opinion of course).

Testing the Z200 with the usual “Chameleon” workout, the subbass is definitely there, giving plenty of rumble to those lowest notes, yet it doesn’t become overpowering and actually does a decent job of keeping things defined. It is certainly not the best subbass I have heard but I can’t really bring myself to complain at 20€.

The midbass is the part that I feel brings these IEMs down. One of the things I disliked about the BL-03 was the excessive midbass that just made things a little too incoherent in the bass and lower mids. The Z200 is very similar in this regard.

On the graph I showed previously, you can see how the midbass is very similar on both sets and I would venture to say that the Z200 is even more congested in this regard. This is due not only to the overly present midbass, which is elevated into the lower mids, but also the lack of mids in general, being even more recessed than the BL-03 in this regard.

This could probably work well for certain genres of music, especially for those who like a very present (and bloated?) bass, but for the majority of music I listen to, I find that it makes things sound too congested throughout the mids. Even with very simple tracks, such as “Happens to the Heart”, the voice of Leonard Cohen seems to just be too smoothed over.

At the higher end of the mids, there is a bit of a boost to try and bring back the presence of vocals yet it is just not enough to compensate for that elevation in the lower ranges. I find that most vocals seem to be struggling for presence in tracks that have things going on in the lower ranges. With acapella tracks featuring female vocals, such as “I Concentrate on You” by Nellie McKay, there is a lot of warmth to her voice that could be pleasant if it wasn’t for the fact that it comes at the expense of clarity and definition.

Moving up in the frequencies, we hit a peak at the 5kHz mark which, as you may know by now if you follow my reviews, is not something I like at all. I am very sensitive to the 5kHz mark and that is probably the only part of the tuning that I preferred on the BL-03 to the BL-05s. I’m afraid the Z200 is even more pronounced in this area than the BL-05s, giving a peak that I find painful at times. It is not quite as bad as it could be, due to that extra warmth in the low end that (over)compensates, but it is still something that can jump out at me in certain tracks.

The extension of the upper ranges is actually not bad for a budget single dynamic driver but once again, the additional low end takes away from the clarity, removing the appreciation of those higher ranges.

The sibilance, tested as usual with “Code Cool”, is also quite acceptable. There is a little throughout the song but in general it is kept in check and is certainly not the focus point (again, due to the low end and recess in the mids, smoothing Patricia Barbers voice more than usual).

Soundstage and imaging is around average, maybe on the lower end of average, as is the detail retrieval. I feel that the driver could do much better in regards to details yet that overall sound signature is smoothing things over far too much to be able to appreciate the details.

And last but not least, isolation. The Z200 is actually much better in this regard than the BL-03 or the BL-05s. The added isolation, along with that presence in the bass, should mean that it will be able to compete quite well in noisy environments without too much of a change in performance.


I really wanted this to be something new and exciting from Blon, yet I haven’t come away with that sensation. Yes, I am sure there will be people who really enjoy this set of IEMs but I am not one of them.

At the moment of creating this review, there is a difference of less than 5€ between the Z200 and the BL-03 and while I am not a huge fan of the BL-03, I think I would still opt for it over the Z200.

In my opinion, the Z200 gives a better response in the subbass and a better paint job, for 5€ less. However, the cable is fixed, the nozzle is still too short, the tips are still bad, the mids are more recessed, there is more of a peak at 5kHz and while there is a little more extension in the upper ranges, it is difficult to appreciate.

Again, I am sure there will be people who love this set of IEMs, unfortunately I am not one of them.

As always, this review is also available in Spanish both on and on

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on



The TRN ST5 have been sent to me by Linsoul for me to test and share my opinions on them. As usual, Linsoul have made absolutely no requests, therefore I will do my best to be as unbiased as always in this review.

You can find a non-affiliate link to the ST5 on Linsoul by visiting the version of this review posted on my blog (link at the end of this rreview).


The TRN ST5 are a hybrid set of IEMs that feature a single dynamic driver for the lower ranges, 2 balanced armature drivers for the mid range, along with another 2 balanced armatures for the higher ranges. Currently priced at just under 60€, they fall outside what I would consider the ultra-budget category (the sub 50€ range that I mention often on the blog) but can still be considered an economic set of IEMs nonetheless.

I have to say that when I first listened to the ST5, I was actually surprised by what I heard and was interested in spending more time with them. There are many sets of IEMs that are tuned in a way that is impressive upon first listen but can then become tiring very quickly over longer periods of use. I have to say that, while the ST5 are by no means perfect, I have found them to be something that I can use for extended periods and enjoy them without growing tired. I will give more details in the sound section but as always, let’s start off with the presentation.


While the ST5 have a no frills presentation, the contents are actually quite good, except maybe for the lack of a storage/transport case.

Arriving in a white box with an image of the product on the front and a basic diagram of the breakdown of the IEM on the back, we open it to find the IEMs, a cable with interchangeable connectors (more on that in a moment), 6 sets of silicone tips (in two different styles), a set of foam tips and various documentation.

My only complaint would be the lack of a case or at least some kind of storage bag. For me personally it is not an issue as I have plenty of cases (far too many!) available to use but I feel some kind of storage option at this price point should be expected, even if it is only a small drawstring bag to protect them from scratches etc. when placed in a pocket or bag.

Build and aesthetics…

Let’s start with the bit that surprised me the most, the cable. The cable is a nicely weaved white cable with black hardware except for the two pin connectors that have a silver accent to match the IEMs. While I find the cable itself to be nice enough, without being spectacular, it is the modular connector system that surprised me.

This is obviously not the first time that I have received a modular cable system with a set of IEMs but I do think that these are the cheapest set of IEMs that have arrived with a cable featuring this. Basically the connector to the source is removable and TRN include a 3.5mm, a 4.4mm and a 2.5mm connector, allowing you to connect them to (almost) any output of your choice. The connector system is a little more rudimentary than some of the higher priced alternatives, as it uses just a simple push on/pull off system but it works well and is something that would cost almost the price of the IEMs themselves if purchased separately from other brands.

As far as the IEMs, they use the common teardrop shape that is found on many models of IEMs and has proved to work well for the vast majority of people. The IEMs are made completely of metal, in a matte silver finish. They have a small, raised, area that sports the TRN logo and have a simple design of circles around this.

I can’t say that they are beautiful IEMs (although beauty is always in the eye of the beholder) but they are not ugly or offensive in any way, to me at least.

The comfort is good for me, which is to be expected seeing that they use a shape and size that has been used many many times before.


Some months ago I reviewed the TRN TA1 Max and I found them to be fairly decent performers but with a tuning that did not fit my tastes. I find that the ST5 have a similar tuning with a few tweaks that make them far more enjoyable for me personally, even though they are still not my usual preference in tuning.

Here is a graph of the ST5 in comparison to my preference target, alongside the TA1 Max so you can see what I am referring to:

I am not going to go into comparisons between the two, you can read my full review of the TA1 Max if you would like to know more what I felt about them, but the main differences are around a 10€ difference in price (the ST5 being more expensive) and the ST5 using 1DD+4BA rather than the 1DD+1BA of the TA1 Max. “Better” is something that is very subjective but personally I find the ST5 to perform better and be tuned more to my liking, so let’s focus on the ST5.

Starting off with the subbass, there is enough of it to do a good job with content that relies on the lowest notes. It deals with my usual “Chameleon” test pretty well and while it is not the cleanest of subbass out there, it is more than acceptable. There are times when the rumbling may be a little too much for me personally, being a little too prominent in the lowest of lows but it is a minor complaint and I do not find it unbearable. I actually feel it is more due to the fact that the drive struggles a little with excessive subbass (“Chameleon” being a good example in parts), rather than the actual elevation of the frequencies.

The midbass is a little too elevated for my tastes and I would personally prefer to tame the low end by a few dB in general but the performance is again acceptable, especially with tracks that have a little less presence in the subbass regions, allowing the driver a little more freedom to perform better.

Listening to something like “The Expert” by Yello, the bass has a bit more breathing room and the bass is a little less prominent, although the detail in the bass is still not quite as good as it could be. It is by no means terrible, as I said earlier, I have been using these IEMs and enjoying them, but it still leaves room for improvement.

I don’t know at what point the crossover between the lower ranges of the bass moves into the mids of the BA’s but I do get the feeling that the bass frequencies can sometimes “linger” and roll over a little into the lower mid ranges. It doesn’t seem to affect the lower end of vocals, it is more a case of the lower bass and guitar notes just sneaking into those lower mids and making things seem just not quite as clean as they could be.

The mids themselves are clean and articulate, with the BA’s doing a good job of keeping things coherent and while, again, they are not the most detailed of IEMs in these ranges, I do not find things to be blurred or to suffer throughout the mids.

In the higher mid range, there is a climb starting around 1kHz that peaks around 2kHz and does a decent job of giving presence to vocals and other mid centric instruments. However, I do feel that the presence could have extended just a little more to make things a little cleaner and defined.

Where these differ vastly from the TA1 Max is in the 5kHz peak, which is not present on the ST5 at all. This is something that I am happy about, however, that does leave that 2kHz peak as the only real boost that is trying to give presence in the upper mids.

The upper ranges have good extension, obviously helped by the use of separate BA drivers for these frequencies. The sensation of air is present but… again that lack of a little extra in the upper mids doesn’t really help the treble ranges sound quite as clear as they could.

The soundstage is about on average for a set of IEMs, although I would say that image placement is on the higher side of average. This means that, while they aren’t going to give the sensation of a huge space, they do make the most of the space they work in and make for a pleasant listen.

Isolation is not great, maybe around average for a set of IEMs for this style, but the additional sub and mid bass will do a decent job of combating external noise when listening to music.


I started off by saying that I enjoyed these IEMs and then it seems that I went on to list a whole lot of things that I feel could be better. I think that looking back on the review, it would be easy to interpret this as a negative review, yet that is not really the sensation that these IEMs give me.

Yes, all of the things I mentioned are points that I feel could be improved upon, yet in general, these are not a bad set of IEMs by any means. I think that these can (and will) be enjoyed by many people. In fact, I am one of the people that has enjoyed them, even if they are not the set I would pick personally.

As always, this review is also available in Spanish both on and on

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on


The $20 7Hz Salnotes Zero directly competes with the similarly priced Moondrop Chu. Overall, the Zero and the Chu are neck-and-neck in terms of sound quality. They each have certain strengths and weaknesses compared to the other, but both put other options at the price point to shame. The two IEMs also make different trade-offs in terms of build and accessories. While buyers will need to weigh which characteristics they value more in choosing between the two, both are solid buys for $20.

My full review is available here:


Tripowin Rhombus

The Tripowin Rhombus have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. They have not made any comments of specific requests and my review will aim to be as sincere and unbiased as possible. However, as always, it is good to consider the fact that I have not paid for these IEMs.

You can find the Tripowin Rhombus via Linsoul here by visiting the version of this review published on my blog (non-affiliate link as always).


I have actually received two sets of Tripowin IEMs from Linsoul, the Rhombus, that I will be talking about today, and the Cencibel, which I haven’t actually listened to yet.

The Rhombus is a hybrid set of IEMs, featuring a single DD and a single BA, coming in at a price that is just under 80€. So these are not an extreme budget set of IEMs but they are not something that can be considered expensive either.

I can’t say that I have had much experience with Tripowin IEMs, in fact, I think I tried another set briefly but the only set that I have reviewed were the Tripowin Leá a set that left me rather confused. Therefore, I was looking forward to listening to something else from the brand.

Unfortunately I can’t say that I have fallen in love with the Rhombus either but we will get to that as we go through my usual review process and sections.


The Rhombus arrive in a simple black cardboard box with Tripowin written on the top. There is no mention of the model except for a small sticker with the barcode and model on the back.

The box opens “flip top” style, to reveal the IEMs sitting in a foam cutout in the top half of the box, with the cable attached and running through some channeled cut outs.

The bottom half of the box has a space where we find two kinds of tips in 3 sizes each, a small carrying pouch (drawstring bag style), the user manual and the coil of the cable.

Nothing to get to passionate about here but there is enough included to not say that there is anything missing.

Build and aesthetics…

The aesthetics of the Rhombus are, I guess, inspired by the rhombus shape, with lots of small shapes that angle and give them quite a modern or even futuristic look. They are finished in what looks like a simple black at first glance but is actually a very dark purple when viewed in better lighting.

The inside of the shells are smoother than the outside, making them more comfortable than I would have thought at first. They are not the most comfortable IEMs I have ever tried but they don’t seem to cause any hotspots over long listening sessions.

The shells themselves are made from “aerospace-grade aluminum” (Tripowins words) but I have to be honest and say that these are the most plastic feeling metal shells that I have experienced in a long time. They are light, however, and that adds to the comfort for those longer listening sessions.

The cable is nothing spectacular but it does its job, it’s also rather lightweight and is very similar (or even identical) to other cables that I have received in the past. The connectors and hardware are metal and in general, it does its job without issue.


So I said that the Tripowin Leá left me a little confused, as I didn’t mind the tuning and overall sound but it got a little harsh as soon as the volume was raised. In the case of the Rhombus, I just find it to be a little harsh in general.

Here is the graph of the Rhombus compared to my personal preference (which is by no means something that is obligatory for me to like an IEM) and against the Leá for reference:

Now, straight away, looking at the graph we see that the low end has been raised quite a bit in comparison to the Leá, eliminating that roll off that the Leá presented in the lowest ranges. However, I don’t hear it.

While the measurement would suggest that it is rather present in the low end, I find that the rest of the tuning detracts from that low end presence. It is a bit of a strange sensation, as the low notes are actually there when isolating the lower frequencies but when the rest of the frequencies come into play, the focus is moved dramatically.

For example, with my usual sub bass test, “Chameleon”, there is a fair bit of rumble in those lower notes when the track is just bass focused, yet when the rest of the frequencies start to appear, it is as though those low notes somehow get lost and fade into the background.

With other tracks that focus more in the mid bass ranges, such as “No Sanctuary Here”, there is more of the same. Parts of the tracks that are mostly bass come across as present and well defined in those low ranges, yet in more complete sections, there isn’t as much bass as I would have guessed.

Now this is not necessarily a problem, as I have said many times before, I am not really someone who enjoys overly boosted bass for the most part, and the Rhombus are actually fairly clean and articulate, but it is the higher ranges (especially the higher mids) that push the sound towards something that doesn’t really appeal to me.

I will get to the mids in just a second but their affect on the lower ranges seems to take away the warmth and body that the lower end of guitars and other acoustic instruments should have (and is expected by looking at the graph).

The center of the mids have quite a dip to them which puts even more emphasis on what I feel is an overly present upper mid range. There is quite a boost in the 2 to 4kHz range and, while it does drop away before my dreaded 5kHz mark, it makes things sound overly fragile and thin.

Snare hits can become harsh and even quite painful on occasions (if the recording is already a little too present in these ranges) and voices again sound thin and fragile rather than present. As an example, Alison Kraus in “Down To The River To Pray” lacks warmth and body to her voice, created by the combination of the dip in the mids and the boost in the upper mids.

There is also a metallic touch to the sound which is very reminiscent of some of the older BA or Hybrid models that were known for their “BA timbre”. I am not a huge BA fan, although I have heard some very good BA sets (the Helios still being the best IEM I have heard to date and that is all BA), and the Rhombus encapsulates what it is that I (usually) don’t like about BA drivers.

There is another peak located higher up in the treble range that does give the Rhombus a sensation of good extension and it actually deals with sibilance better than I expected it to do based on the overall signature, but there is still some sibilance in “Code Cool”, which added to the boosted upper mids, can make the song quite uncomfortable.

As far as detail, there is a bit of a false sensation here due to those overly present frequencies, but I can’t say it’s terrible. When isolating the lower frequencies, the DD performance is actually pretty good.

The isolation is actually pretty good, better than average, which means that these could be used while out and about without too much issues (at least as far as isolation is concerned).


I am sorry to say that I haven’t really enjoyed my time with the Tripowin Rhombus. I would really love to only review sets that I like as I much prefer to listen for 4 or 5 days to something I enjoy rather than not. However, I can only say what I feel and the RHombus just aren’t for me.

I don’t necessarily think that the components are bad, I just feel that they either don’t work well together or that they need some polishing as far as their implementation. It is as though the BA driver just takes over the sound and is focused on those upper mids, pushing everything else into the background.

As always, audio is probably one of the most subjective experiences out there (at least when listening to music is concerned), so I have no doubt that there will be some people who enjoy these IEMs. I’m afraid I am just not one of them.

As always, this review is available also 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


Just wanted you to know I really enjoy your reviews. Very thorough, thoughtful and easy for me to follow to get an idea of what the set would sound like. I also like that you have some consistency in the tracks you use in your reviews to allow you to dissect the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different sets. I know “cheap iems” may be your thing, but would also love to hear your thoughts on other gear outside that niche!


I review (almost) anything that ends up on my desk, just that 90% of those are usually from the cheap end of the scale :slight_smile:


Tin Hifi T2 DLC

The Tin Hifi T2 DLC have been sent to me by Linsoul for me to try them and share my opinions. They have not commented or made any requests, so my review, as always, will aim to be as unbiased as possible. Saying that, it is always good to consider the fact that these IEMs have not cost me anything.

I will leave a direct link to the T2 DLC via Linsoul in the version of this review published on my blog (link at the end of this review).

As always, this is a non-affiliate link and I do not gain anything by clicks or purchases via the link.


If there ever was a model of IEMs in the budget category that made itself a name for a very long time (and is still talked about now) it is the T2 by Tin Hifi. The amount of times that the T2 has been talked about, recommended and praised is incalculable. They were the first set of IEMs that many picked up when looking for a “good balanced set at a budget price” and although budget IEMs have come a very long way since then, you will still see them brought up regularly in the budget IEM world. They really were a “stepping stone” for many people, opening up a world of budget sound that those people hadn’t really experienced until then.

Tin Hifi have released many many models since then, with varying degrees of success, yet I believe that the T2 is probably still their most successful model.

I can’t say when the original T2 were released but I believe I picked up my first set in 2018, which seems like centuries ago in this IEM world. I have to say that I was rather unlucky and had 3 out of 4 IEMs fail on me, all related to the MMCX connectors, which made me move on and also started my dislike for MMCX connectors (which have given me various problems over the years on different models).

As I just said, IEMs, especially in the budget world, have come a very long way since then and although Tin did recently release the original T2 with the connectors changed to 2 pin (well done Tin, although a little too late in my opinion), they have also just released the model that I am reviewing today, the T2 DLC. This new set is based on the original T2 IEMs but with a new DLC dynamic driver, aiming to put the T2 back on the radar.

Coming in at 59€ (at the time of this review), they are around 10€ more expensive than the original model (with the updated connectors). That is just outside the sub 50€ range, which I consider to be “extreme budget”, but still a price that can be considered a budget friendly set.


Opening the T2 DLC was a bit of a blast from the past. The packaging and the contents are all very similar, in fact almost identical, to the original T2 presentation.

Arriving in a black cardboard sleeve (rather than the white one of the originals), inside we find a box that resembles a book, yet is wider than it is tall. The cover of the box is also black (where the originals were blue) but inside we find basically all of the same contents that we did with the original T2.

In other words, we get the IEMs, the cable, a selection of silicone tips, some foam tips and the user manual etc.

I think that the original T2 were one of very few sets to include foam tips with the IEMs and it is nice to see that this tradition has been maintained. I used foam tips for quite a while before finally finding silicone tips that I preferred, and I still find them very comfortable to use now, even if they do age pretty quickly.

Build and aesthetics…

The build and aesthetics are also easily identified with the original model, sticking with the round shells made from aluminium which allow you to wear the IEMs orientated both up and down (although the cable has preformed ear hooks, so you would need to either swa the cable or remove the heat shrink to wear them “cable down”).

The aesthetics have been tweaked ever so slightly, with the center circle now being recessed just a tiny and featuring the Tin logo in the center. The connectors have also been switched to the 2 pin variant, which is something that I personally appreciate.

As far as the cable, it is a little different from the original and is actually the cable that Tin have included with other models of theirs. The cable is white, with silver hardware that matches the IEMs, and is rather simple but quite adequate for the job it does. Tin list it as an 8 Core silver plated cable in the specs, in case that is something that interests you.


Let’s start with the important question, is the T2 DLC and upgrade from the original T2?

Although very subjective, I have to say that yes it is.

Ok, being totally transparent here, it is a long time since I last listened to the original T2, as the two sets I have only have 1 IEM working in total (so I can’t really rehash an impression with just one ear) but the impression that the T2 DLC give me is that they are certainly a step up in performance. I don’t remember the T2 ever giving me the sensation of being very detailed, their main attribute was the balanced tuning, and the T2 DLC do seem to have improved both in detail and in overall performance, including a tuning that matches my preferences (which will have evolved since back in the OG T2 days). But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Let’s start with the usual look at the graph of the T2 DLC, with my personal preference target and the original T2 for reference. At the risk of being repetitive (I say this in almost every IEM review), my personal preference target is just a rough guide, it does not guarantee that I will like something that sticks close to it, nor hate something that doesn’t.

Starting off with the lowest notes as always, we can see that the T2 DLC has increased the presence in the subbass ranges, no longer presenting the roll off that the original did in these frequencies.

Putting them through the usual “Chameleon” test, I find that the subbass is at a level that I find pleasant and enjoyable, without being overly present nor lacking rumble. Those that prefer more of a brain rumbling subbass may not agree with me but in my case, I find it works well.

Moving over to “Royals”, with a subbass that is slightly less controlled than “Chameleon”, I find that the T2 DLC does a good job of keepin the low notes tight and while it is not groundbreaking, it certainly performs well enough.

In the midbass section, things are a little more present that I like. However, it is not a midbass that I find offensive. It works well to give classic rock some warmth in those lower electric guitar and bass notes, while still being clean enough to sound fairly balanced with newer productions.

With acoustic guitars, the midbass presence gives plenty of warmth and body, and while it is not what I would consider 100% correct in the timbre department, it is close and it does give a nice tone to tracks like “Hurt” by Johnny Cash.

The mids are well maintained throughout and the climb into the presence area in the upper mids is smooth, matching my personal preferences very closely. In fact, the T2 DLC is a good example of something that I have mentioned in many other reviews regarding the upper mids. I am quite sensitive to the 5kHz mark and sets that have a peak in that region come across as very harsh and uncomfortable to me. However, in the case of these IEMs, while there is plenty of presence in the 5kHz region, it is not a peak but rather a “plateau” that covers the 2kHz to 5kHz range. This makes things sound much smoother to my ear, giving a good presence without becoming harsh. This obviously depends on the recording of tracks but in general it works very well for me.

As we move into the higher ranges, I find the extension to be good, with a nice sensation of air and presence. Sibilance is kept in check well, tested as always with “Code Cool”, which is quite a pleasant listen on the T2 DLC. There is still a presence of sibilance on certain parts of “Hope is a Dangerous Thing”, which proves that they are not overly dampening sibilance, just controlling it well.

Details are not bad either. I wouldn’t say they are amazing but they are good enough for tracks to not sound smoothed over or missing info. In the case of the intro to “All Your Love (Turned To Passion)”, they present the reverb and other background details fairly well, with them being easy to appreciate. Ok, we are not talking high end planar levels of detail, nor IE600 DD levels of detail, but they are still more than acceptable. It may become difficult to

Soundstage is not the widest, falling into the “average” range that I find 90% of IEMs to fall into. However, image placement is decent enough, making layers such as in “Strange Fruit” be easily placed and identifiable. In busy tracks with many layers, it may not be quite as easy to place and track the individual sounds but I feel that is more due to the detail than the placement.

Isolation of the T2 DLC is not bad but not excellent either. They should work well enough for normal use while surrounded by normal noise levels, yet they will suffer if used on a plane, train or other places with constant low rumbling noises.


I honestly think that the T2 DLC are the most enjoyable tuning I have heard from Tin Hifi so far, making them a very worthy successor to the original T2 model. They are not perfect and they may verge on being a very “safe tuning”, yet I think they have done a good job here.

I reviewed the T3 Plus a while back and basically said that they were enjoyable because Tin had tuned them similar to many other successful models from other brands. In this case, Tin have taken a similar tuning with a few tweaks that push it even more towards my preference.

They are not perfect of course, the details are not the best and the driver does seem to struggle with very complex and detailed tracks, yet in general, they do a job that I have no complaints about.

I could probably list a few more things that I feel could be improved yet I feel they should be given credit where it is deserved and the Tin Hifi T2 DLC certainly deserve it in my opinion.

As always, 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


The TinHiFi T2 DLC is competent in all respects and is a great addition to TinHifi’s lineup. I could not ask for more from an IEM with a street price of around $50. I am happy to recommend the T2 DLC to new IEM listeners.

1 Like

I still like my Tin T4. It’s one of my favorites, irrespective of price.

1 Like

The T4 is a model that I haven’t heard.

1 Like