The Ultra Cheap IEM Thread

First of all, good to see you here. I recommended this forum to the few people over at Jude’s blog I can still reach per pm.

I already said it all above and find that reviewing “business” is generally getting out of hand. But there are a few grumpy guys who don’t hold back…such as audiofool or soundphilereview. We need more grumpy and gritty guys…check the intro on sbaf…they have been making fun of Jude’s blog all along…about their 4 to 5 star ratings. Here I can live very well without any stars.
These grumpy guys trashed the odd highly overrated Knowledge Zenith product in a way that made me laugh. Very witty.

As to these NiceHCK P3 iems: if I gave those to charity, they would probably sue me. But I will try my very best to make a child unhappy with them.

Last word on the Pioneer CH3…not sure yet…they have good definition when it comes to classical music but they may lack a bit of body when playing Metallica.


Well, perhaps I could write an honest review on how much I would like to have the top of the line STAX in my personal collection… :wink:


Update on the Pioneer CH3: They appear to be very tip sensitive: the included tips are very thin and flimsy and the sound was rather crowded in the midrange. Replacing them with the thicker-walled Tennmak wide-bores opened up the image and added richness and volume, but also made the bass a bit boomier.

They sound impressive now.

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It looks like you got a later revision of the V2. Mine is not as bassy:

Measured using a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler, calibrated but uncompensated.


Following up on the KZ ZS7 … as I now have three sets of them.

All three sets exhibit the crackling/driver flex issue. Each does it to a different degree. They are consistently more of an issue in my left ear (clearly indicating that the seal is different for my left ear vs. my right ear, though this is the first time it has caused an issue beyond occasionally needing a different sized tip for left vs. right ears).

The first set is absolutely unusable in my left ear. Any movement of my jaw (even just swallowing) or the IEM, or even my outer ear (e.g. I scratch it) and it’s all obnoxious crackle and flex. It also is a 50/50 proposition as to whether having it seal properly results in in being significantly muted. Yet the right unit only occasionally crackles/flexes when being inserted or removed and is otherwise perfectly well behaved.

The second and third sets all exhibit the issue on insertion and removal but more or less severely. And again the left side is much more of an issue than the right, and will sometimes exhibit the problem if I just swallow or chew as well.

A shame … as I like their native sound better than any of the other KZ models I’ve tried. And also surprising that this is the first time I’ve run into driver flex in an IEM, ever.

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Have you tried different tips to help “reduce” seal?

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Yeah … I went through all that I have, which is an extensive collection including every variation of the Spinfit, Spiral Dots, Comply and various others, and some helped a bit.

None fixed it completely though and the ones that did help caused other issues.

Only thing I can think of would be use the EDM in the lab to put a few 0.0001” holes in the shell. Might provide enough of a vent to prevent flexing after insertion without killing the bass.

That’s a small hole!

Driver flex bugs the heck out of me. Gives me bad memories of that Hifiman Bolt POS which was by far the worse. My ME1 iem had it too when it was a universal but went away with the ciem.


Nice review Brause. I found I very informative and easy to read. Thanks for a great read.

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I really admire your attitude as well as the one from ZMF. This sort of thing should be standard practice as I feel that the whole process should be as transparent as possible.

Just as an aside have you used the T2 Pro and what are your thoughts on it versus the first implementation of it ie the Standard version.

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Sorry they’re not working for you. I know I’m getting a good seal but FWR I only notice cracking on insertion and removal.

As far as I can tell, the shell does seem to have a tiny front vent. Maybe it’s not actually a hole and just a dimple though…

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I’ve found this to be true on my pair as well. Really pronounced driver flex in both sides but worse on right side for my pair. Shame too as otherwise I think it is a big improvement over the Zs6 in signature.

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Oh, it’s no big deal - they’re Amazon purchases, so two of the sets will just get returned, and the third I will butcher in various ways in the name of attempting to remedy it.

On the upside, it’s introduced me to a phenomena that I’d not personally encountered (only read/heard about) before - specifically driver-flex. And in doing so has shown me that simply means any IEM that exhibits it is a non-starter for me personally (I might make an exception if it was only occurring on insertion/removal and was otherwise getting me $1,000+ level performance out of a $50 IEM).

And beyond that all it really means is that my intentions towards a “take everywhere” DAP/IEM combination will now require either a rather more expensive IEM, a DAP with proper EQ capabilities, or both.

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Yes, you are totally right. Yinyoo have done at least 4 revisions…one of the guys who helps them out with the re-tuning is Larry Fulton…if you follow the discussion on the audiobudget Facebook page.

Three ZS7s? I am looking forward to your three honest reviews!

An update on the Pioneer CH3: they are absolutely stellar - grab a pair for below $30 while you can.


  • The microdrivers are small and therefore comfortable…no big lump in your ear.
  • They have a very cohesive and organic sound - great for classical music. Not too much bass and not too little but definitely not the classic V-shape of cheepos.

I am actually quite impressed and start again preferring single DDs over multis.

What the Pioneers don’t offer - they are obviously for adults:

  • Fancy braided, detachable cables
  • Bling bling design

PauI, I don’t know the T2 Pro and this is a good example how useful it is to read the broad body of reviews - and being presented with FR graphs: apparently, the only difference between the standard version and the Pro is the Pro’s pronounced treble - which nobody really needs.

I am therefore even happier with my standard version. Another success of my latest hobby “shopping the house”.

Yep, three pairs.

I tend to buy audio-things on a whim, especially if it’s an Amazon same-day deal, and for ultra-cheap stuff like this it’s usually easier to just buy a couple more when I run into an issue and then just return them all at once if they all remain problematic. The time factor is vastly more of an issue than any monetary one.

Wouldn’t hold my breath on my reviewing them though … they’re catastrophically flawed for me, so spending further listening time with them isn’t going to happen.

Now … if they survive being subjected to the EDM process, and it helps, who knows … but as it is the set I’ll be keeping to butcher is likely just parts-fodder for some future liquid-intoxication-driven-tinkering.


Put up two reviews today, both for products that I cannot say were good. Need to go listen to something worthwhile for a bit and reaffirm my faith. Kind of sucks writing up reviews for products you don’t care for as there is that impetus to find something redeeming you can say about them. Truth is, one I wrote up today, I would have rather just told the maker “you really don’t want me to do this” and just left it off the review list.


Great to see you here!

Thanks very much for your thoughts. :grin:

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