Thus could certainly be interesting, or even as a solution for taking ear impressions at home for IEMs, sort of like a kit that is not quite as scary as some of the actual DIY solutions.
A few additional comments
Have listened to the Fits a bit more, and they seem to improve after a short break in. In my first notes, I did not talk about the design of the fits. It is powered by a 10mm DD. As such, the sound is coherent, and does not display issues of crossover. Comparing with some wired IEMs like the Sennheiser IE 40 Pro, or the Kanas Pro, there is a noted similarity of sound, typical, I think of lower mid-tier dynamic driver IEMs. I wish that I could try these with wires to get a more direct comparison without the wireless codec getting in the way.
On the Ultimate Ears website, I see they have many more models, although this is the only one with the light goo setup. All are custom, either an at home or pro mold to be taken. And all way more pricey.
Anyone here have experience with the Devialet Gemini?
They sound incredible - best I’ve heard and I’ve tried just about all of them.
The Bluetooth, though, is just as buggy as most other TWS (other than Apple); i.e., one will connect, the other won’t, they don’t disconnect properly when you put them back in the case, etc.
The most irritating thing is they apparently use the right earpiece for some sort of auto-reconnect functionality and … it runs down to 0% overnight, even inside the case. The only way to avoid this is (apparently) to “forget” the right earpiece on your phone, which apparently disables some Bluetooth functionality.
I’m keeping them and hoping for a firmware update soon that will fix some of the buggy stuff, becaue the sound is wonderful.
Thanks. Devialet have stopped selling this set and even started recalling. Apparently they’re working on an improved version.
I’ve been looking for a decent sounding TWS for a while and now have the Microsoft Surface Earbuds which work reliably. Sounds is ok for TV and headset use but for music less so.
I tried others too from Sennheiser, Bose, B&O, Sony, Jabra and RHA. The RHA were the best sound wise, but connection was bad. The Microsoft ones are the best compromise right now.
Still, I’d rather pay more than 300$ and have something that works and sounds really good.
Any other suggestions?
Sony WF-XB700 “Extra Bass” IEMs: Initial Impressions
I purchased a set of Sony WF-XB700s for my annual sports/work-out IEM replacement. Per the noise and distractions when used, I don’t care a whole lot about tone or audiophile quality. These have a retail price of $129.99, but are easily found for less than $100. I snagged a perfect and unopened new box for $39 at Amazon. Hmmm.
Fit and Function
While these look bulky in photos, they are the most comfortable IEMs I’ve ever owned. Sony describes a 3-point balance system – believe it. With correct size tips, these are rock-solid stable. Comfort also follows from probably the thinnest silicone tips I’ve ever seen. They’ll easily flip inside out during removal from the ears. I’m concerned about long-term durability, but they are quite comfortable.
The buttons have simple and conventional functions, including play/pause, forward, reverse, volume, and phone. I never use a phone with IEMs, so I can’t comment about call quality.
Tone and Sound Quality
In a picture, these IEMs are the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of audio:
First, these are plainly consumer products with a mass-market bassy profile. This seems to be a function of the super large 12mm dynamic drivers. They take a lot of energy to get it going, but slam once moving. Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight comes to mind – the drum break comes out of nowhere and dominates. It’s the most memorable part of the song and his career (and the only Phil Collins song I can make it through). The WF-XB700 turns most every song into In the Air Tonight.
Sony may have intentionally created a two-stage driver, as they have three personalities depending on the music source:
With non-bass music, such as female voice and guitar, they are neutral and even thin. In comparison with other bassy tracks, these tracks sound like someone suddenly turned down the music.
With contemporary mixes and bass-oriented tracks, they become car-thumping, club-shaking, high-school party beasts. Beats beasts. However, the bass doesn’t bleed much into the mids and highs. They come across as an over-boosted subwoofer paired with bookshelf speakers.
With poorly mastered and some older bass-oriented music the bass takes on a one-note character. The lows dominate but doesn’t actually go very low. Again, this resembles a consumer-grade subwoofer.
These are indeed fun for a paired source, but distracting and weak with quiet, acoustic, gentle vocals, or old rock that had the bass cut off. Odd product. We’ll see how much I like them over time.
Those Sony’s look super interesting. Proudly a member of the Gbuds Pro fam here though! Very happy with it to tide me over until I get my first proper set of IEMs.
Great writeup @generic.
That Jekyll / Hyde photo is so racist. Look at those creepy washed out eyes on Dr. Jekyll. And he’s scrawny too.
I’m just going to post some of the measurements I’ve been taking recently of some budget TWS IEMs. There will be an upcoming comparison video, but I figured this is the best place to post the data for now.
For the target, this is my own personal preference target - not what I think is 'neutral’ (with apologies to Sean Olive). It’s what I like, and in general, it’s loosely based on the tuning of the Thieaudio Clairvoyance.
Earfun Free Pro Oluv Edition (ANC) ($70):
Moondrop Sparks ($90):
Powerbeats Pro ($150 - $250):
Aukey T21 ($30):
Soundcore Life P2 ($40):
Soundcore Liberty Air 2 ($80):
Tozo T10 ($30-$50):
Raycon R25 ($80):
Tozo T6 (wtf is this???) ($36 - $60):
I’ll be adding more to this list, but for the moment, the two clear winners in my opinion are the Moondrop Sparks, and the Earfun Free Pro Oluv Edition. Neither are perfect, with some question marks still surrounding the balance between upper mids and treble. The Sparks handles that better, but is still a bit too shouty for me there (not unlike the typical Moondrop tuning), while the Earfun lacks the lower and mid-treble to balance out the upper midrange, yielding a more forgiving tuning generally, but still ends up being a bit congested sounding at times. Additionally, the Sparks has noticeably better technical performance than everything else on this list. It’s still not on the level of the Starfield/Aria/KXXs etc., but not far behind - while the rest compromise more significantly for TWS convenience.
In third place, surprisingly it’s the Powerbeats. Its limited mostly by just being overall a bit congested sounding due to some minor imbalances - but really it’s not that bad for the price. The only other consideration here is that it’s not strictly a TWS, because it has a cable that goes between the units (behind the neck).
The other two TWS IEMs are truly some of the most horrendous sounding products that are capable of producing sound that I’ve ever heard. The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 wouldn’t be so bad if not for the stabbing sibilance peak, and being marred by some of the worst grain I’ve come across ever, but its saving grace is that the Tozo is so much worse at everything else.
Just posted my latest vid doing a comparison between the Sony WF-1000XM4 and WF-1000XM3. Check it out here:
Wonderful review as always @resolve, and it caught me at the right time. I have a pair of Senn MTWs that are losing their battery capacity and need to do something different, and it seems like in the short term the XM4s are my best bet.
Personally, I’d glady spend well out of this pricepoint for a stellar true wireless option, but no one seems to be targeting us yet.
Ran out to try to find these after I posted this. Stock is low right now, it and it took me a half dozen phone calls to find a store that had a single pair left in stock.
They don’t sound as good as the Senn MTWs to me (less clarity, less separation, warmer by default), but the ANC, ambient sound control, and call quality are outstanding. Do I wish they had the drivers from the Andromeda? Of course, but their day-to-day utility makes them an easy, enthusiastic, recommend.
Thanks for pushing me over the edge on these, @Resolve posted this. Stock is low right now, it and it took me a half dozen phone calls to find a store that had a single pair left in stock.
They don’t sound as good as the Senn MTWs to me (less clarity, less separation, warmer by default), but the ANC, ambient sound control, and call quality are outstanding. Do I wish they had the drivers from the Andromeda? Of course, but their day-today utility makes them an easy, enthusiastic, recommend.
I use generally use Sonarworks for mobile listening, they don’t have a profile up for these yet, and I tried the M3 version and experienced a few drop-out issues that didn’t happen with the MTWs or Airpod Pros. I have no idea why.
Thanks for pushing me over the edge on these, @Resolve
Just picked up the wf-1000xm4 and I LOVE them. I’ve been using the airpod pros for maybe 6 months now and I’ve hated them every day. I couldn’t have the airpods in my ears for more than 10 mins before my ears were super sore and tender. I cannot grasp how so many people claim these are the most comfortable in-ear they’ve ever worn. When I have to wear them for 8+ hours a day I could cry when I take them out. Due to the unusual oval shape and lack of stem, they will not stay in my ears. If I was doing anything but sitting with my jaw shut, they would be sitting on the edge of my ear canal only. They fall out of my ears completely if I eat. I tried them with custom comply bullet tips and they didn’t work. To top all that off the ANC nor sound was anything good. I was super disappointed considering they’re worshiped by so many people. I just want to be a cool apple fan. The features are only kinda cool. To get to the really neat stuff you have to dig into accessibility settings like they’re categorized to be hearing aids? Instead of just sound, or it’s own settings menu. The stem controls were ok I guess, but still not intuitive if I hadn’t looked up how to use them.
The Sony’s solve all the issues above. Immediately after I put them in I notice how cozy they are to wear. I was concerned how the bulbous shape sits on my ear would put too much weight on that one spot, but they seem to match the shape of my ear perfectly so they just do it just right. I not only didn’t want to take them out after a long-wear, but I didn’t even want to take them out when I got into my car. They sound so very good too. Not any sort of subjectively good. I also have some wh-1000xm3’s and to me, they sound muffled and bland. I wasn’t excited for the wf-1000xm4, or even the wh-1000xm4’s because I assumed they’d sound just as muffled. But the wf-1000xm4’s surprised me! They’re quite pleasant, clean, and have relatively good detail. They don’t have any obvious flaws that the above headphones had. Again, they’re something I enjoy listening to, opposed to being just some utility I have to deal with.
And if comfort and sound weren’t enough, the ANC is really neat. Compared to the wh’s above, they work noticeably better. I work in a data center so fan noise is a concern. Both the airpods and wh’s had a hard time getting a seal. And when the wh’s did seal it still didn’t feel that impressive. But the wf’s do really well. I contribute it to the ear tips.
I’m pretty picky about tips. Silicone always fall out, and foam is hit n’ miss. I’ve had an assortment of comply foam tips that didn’t work. Even tried the silicone hybrids on the airpods, but didn’t fit. I have a pair of tin t2’s that I would say the sony’s are comparable to. There is a certain sticky tackiness to them that sticks to earwax-flesh well. The sony’s have a long stem length that penetrates deep so that they give more surface area to grab, oppose to the studies I mentioned on the lame airpods.
The controls were easy to use and I got used to them very quickly. They’re still not as perfect as I imagine headphone controls could be. The wh-1000xm3’s controls were clunky at best. There was only a 50% chance I’d get them to work on the first try. The wf-1000xm4’s are so snappy and responsive that it makes me realize how long of a delay all other wireless headphones have with controls. The voice is a nice addition and is pleasant to listen to. Although the wf’s do not have a way of adjusting volume unless there’s a way to custom set it.
I found pretty much any feature I’ve wanted in a wireless ANC headphone in these. The touch to pass through ambient sound is instant so there’s no asking someone to repeat what they’ve said if someone starts talking to you. A new additional feature is when you talk, the headphones immediately detect your voice and will pass through sound without the need to touch the controls at all! This is SO COOL. This is the futuristic stuff I’m excited to see in tech. In 2021 you’d think neat innovation like this would exist but does not. It should not be as good as it is. It’s so responsive I actually trigger it if I simply clear my throat! It will resume ANC after 15 seconds which is just long enough for someone to finish what they’re saying, and if you accidentally trigger it you can reenable it with a single tap.
As always, for the Spanish speaking crowd, you can find this review in Spanish on Youtube and my blog, links at the end of the post.
The Moondrop Nekocake have been sent to me by Shenzen Audio in exchange for the publication of this review. They have not requested anything specific but my usual warning stands, I will do my best to be as honest and impartial as possible but it is always good to consider that these earphones have not cost me anything.
As always, I avoid posting purchase links (even though they are non-affiliate) outside of my own blog and channel, so to see the link to the Nekocake via Shenzhen Audio, please visit the version published on my blog.
As some may already know, I am a fan of Moondrop. My experience with them has been that they offer quality that is at least as good as the price range they sit in, sometimes competing with others that are quite a bit higher in price.
This was one of the main things that made me happily accept to review the Nekocake when Shenzen offered to send them out, although I don’t usually review many bluetooth products, mainly because I am not a huge user of bluetooth.
I do have a few TWS IEMs, although they are getting a little long in the tooth (in Chinese product release time at least), but my main bluetooth set up of choice (when I want to be cable free) are the Moondrop Aria connected to the Shanling MW200. The Moondrop Nekocake come in quite a bit cheaper than that, costing less than 40€ (around 100€ cheaper than the MW200+Aria option) and placing them easily inside the sub 50€ bracket that I focus on.
The IEMs themselves use a 13mm dynamic driver, with a titanium coated dome and a Daikaku ultra-thin CCAW voice coil imported from Japan, which they say is to “ensure the lowest possible suspension system mass, so that the earphones can offer a more rapid transient response and further enhance detailed performance”. This sounds pretty impressive on paper, especially for 40€, but let’s see what it’s like in the real world.
Continuing with the anime theme that Moondrop have on the majority of their products, the box is a white box with a sketch of an anime girl on the cover. On the back they show the specs along with a graph of the FR, but we’ll get to sound in just a moment.
Inside the box we find the IEMs along and the charging case on the top level, with a manual, 3 sets of spare silicone tips and a charging cable underneath.
There is nothing really exciting about the presentation or contents but for 40€, I would much rather see that not much has been spent on packing and accessories.
Build and aesthetics…
The aesthetics of the IEMs are very reminiscent of the Apple options. Although not identical, they do have that kind of vibe to them and I could see someone who has never heard of Moondrop mistaking these for some kind of Apple imitation. On the part that extends down there is the logo of the cat (which I guess I should have mentioned that Nekocake means “Cat Cake”, not sure who came up with that name but it is at least a break from the usual Pro, X and Neo that we keeps seeing everywhere) along with Moondrop, both in brown.
The charging case is also a very simple white case with the cat logo on the front and Nekocake across the top cover. It is actually quite a nice and compact case, not the smallest I have ever seen but compact enough to easily be carried in a pocket.
The comfort of the IEMs is not bad, not the most comfortable but they don’t irritate me over periods of 2 or 3 hours, and they are nice and light.
The build quality seems to be pretty decent, it is obviously still completely plastic but in general it does seem to have been well put together and I see no obvious flaws.
The functionality of the Nekocake is simple, much the same as 90% of the TWS offerings available. You take them out of the case, they connect to your phone and you are ready to go. The only thing that is slightly different is that you enter pairing mode by holding the button on the case while the IEMs are in it (with the cover open). Other than that, you get play/pause by tapping either side once, you get next/last track by tapping the right or left side (respectively) and you get the assistant by triple tapping. You can also activate ANC by tapping and holding either side for a couple of seconds, with a VTuber voice that tells you it has been activated or deactivated. You can also answer calls, hang up and refuse calls by using the same system.
The functionality of these single/double/triple taps can be reassigned in the Moondrop Link app, letting you choose which you would like each combination of taps to do, although there are no extra functions you can assign. To be honest, I have no issue with the way the functions are assigned as they are, however, I do miss not being able to raise and lower volume from the IEMs themselves, something that I would like all bluetooth IEMs and headphones to have, as getting my phone out of my pocket to change volume is something I would rather avoid when going wireless.
In the app you can also change the EQ of the IEMs and it gives you a choice of 5 different settings, I will mention more about these in just a second.
I can’t say that I have had any issues with connectivity, although I haven’t really tested the distance (10m according to the spec) and the battery life has been enough for my daily use, which is 4 hours for the IEMs and 12h with the case (according to the manufacturer). As I usually place them back in the case when I don’t have them in my ears, they have never run out of battery on me and the case has lasted over 2 days easily (no warning light for the battery), although I automatically recharged it at the end of the second day.
I made a few calls and the other end said that while I didn’t sound perfectly clear, they could easily understand me, so I can’t complain about using them for calls either.
The last thing to mention is codecs. While the Nekocake uses bluetooth 5.0, which seems to be good to not experience any glitches in connection or lag, they only support SBC or AAC codecs. Now, I would much prefer to have the option of a higher quality codec, such as LDAC, but I haven’t found it to be that important, my opinions on sound will probably clear this up.
As I just mentioned, the Moondrop Link app (which is the same app for the Moondrop Sparks) allows the choice of 5 EQ presets: Balanced (the default option), Moondrop Classic, X’ Dynamic, Nobass and Wennebostel.
Balanced is, as I just said, the default option and, in my opinion, is the only one that I found to be usable for me. I will talk more about this preset in the sound section, as it is the one I have been using and have based my opinions on.
This is what the Balanced EQ looks like on paper:
Moondrop Classic is strange as it seems to cut the volume level in half, I mean, it actually drops the output by about 8dB in comparison to the Balanced option. I have no idea why this is a preset or who came up with the idea but here is the graph of it vs Balanced:
X’ Dynamic is a bass boost but not in a good way, at least in my opinion. I know that I am someone who is not a bass head and that I don’t favour overly present bass (except on occasions) but this preset just seems to make everything muddy and, well, wrong. It boosts everything all the way through the mids also. This is the graph of the ‘X Dynamic vs Balanced:
Nobass is just that, no bass. This is certainly not a tuning that I would choose but, to me at least, it is much better than the X’ Dynamic option. This is what it looks like on paper, vs the Balanced option, although the impression when listening is of even less bass:
Finally we have Wennebostel, a very strange name for an EQ preset. Wennebostel is a place in Germany and from what I have read, this preset brings “Sennheiser like” characteristics. Now, I haven’t had much experience with Sennheiser TWS IEMs, except for some brief tests, but this doesn’t remind me of any Sennheiser I have heard, at least that I can remember. Maybe I am remembering wrong and it is reminiscent of a Senn product but I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it if I hadn’t read it, it reminds me more of the X’Dynamic preset than anything else.
Here is the Wennebostel graph vs the Balanced:
So, finally, on to the sound section. As I said, I chose the Balanced profile and all of my opinions are based on using this preset.
Starting off with the subbass, I would say that it is on a par with the rest of the frequencies. There is a roll off that happens due to the fact that there is no boost and our hearing rolls off naturally as we get to the lowest end of the spectrum. There is some rumble present when listening to “Chameleon” but by no means is it to a level that I would consider “bassy” in comparison to so many other sets. This is not really an issue for me with the majority of music I listen to but it is something to consider if you like deep rumbling subbass.
Moving into the mid bass frequencies, as you can see on the graph, there is a bit of a dip going on. This dip works fairly well to stop any muddy transitions between the bass and mids but can also remove some of the lower body of acoustic instruments. To be fair, it is not as bad as it looks on paper, I still find acoustic guitars and basses to have a nice body to them but they are missing a little bit of warmth down there.
The lower mids are clean due to the dip in the upper mid bass that I mentioned and are actually fairly well balanced up until the higher mids where there is again a bit of a dip. This does avoid the vocals becoming harsh in their upper mid range but may make some voices feel a little further back than usual. For example, Leonard Cohen has a voice that is usually placed quite a bit forwards in comparison to the instruments (using “Happens to the Heart’’ as an example) yet on the Nekocake it is much more balanced. It is as though Moondrop has used these two dips (upper bass and upper mids) to stay safe and it seems to work ok. It is not my favourite FR in this regard but it is definitely not offensive.
The higher ranges are rather smooth, once again avoiding any harshness or even sibilance. My usual “Code Cool” test did not present any more sibilance than it should. However, in this same track, the treble itself does sound a little wrong.
I know that wrong isn’t really a good way of explaining anything, but it sort of sounds like there is a slight delay between the hit and the roll off of the higher notes, giving a sort of strange misaligned effect. Again, this is not exactly a very comprehensive way of explaining it but I am struggling to describe it.
The higher end of the treble does roll off, lacking a little bit of extension and air, but that is something that I find on 99% of single DD IEMs that I try.
The soundstage is actually rather decent, better than I would have expected, with a placement of images that is actually fairly well done. No, this does not make you close your eyes and focus on images with millimetric accuracy but I find it to be better than many of the wired alternatives at similar prices.
As far as detail, these are not the most detailed of IEMs. There is a bit of a smoothness to the overall sound, meaning that small details do get lost in the overall picture of things, but that doesn’t really take away from the enjoyment of the Nekocake for what they are, which I guess brings me to the…
I feel that the Moondrop Nekocake are a set of TWS IEMs that don’t pretend to be something that they are not. They are a simple, economical, set that just delivers sound in a smooth and simple way.
I found myself using them with Spotify most of the time and enjoying them. I did not spend my time focusing on the music and looking for details (except when actually consciously doing so for this review), I just got on with my life with the freedom that TWS brings. That is, in my opinion, what these IEMs set out to do, they give you a way of listening to some background music while you go about your day to day.
They follow a tuning that is fairly balanced and safe, at least in “Balanced” mode, which some may think is a bit boring but I, personally, found it quite pleasant and non offensive, again, meaning that my attention wasn’t really brought to the music, it was kept on whatever other tasks I was doing at the time.
The ANC is not the greatest but it does tame constant rumbles (such as the AC) reducing them by quite a bit, although voices and other non-constant sounds are still easily audible.
I don’t have a huge amount of experience with TWS IEMs, so I really don’t know what these are up against in the price bracket they sit in, but I certainly don’t think they are bad value for 40€ if what you want is the commodity of TWS and not ultra defined high resolution audio. Yes, I could pick plenty of things that I would prefer to improve on them but they are things that are not really important (to me) when I am doing something that brings me to choose TWS.
I think that the vast majority of people who just want some wireless buds to go with their phone for when they are out and about would be more than happy with the Nekocake, unless they are someone who wants a lot of bass, but then they could just turn on the X’ Dynamic mode and have more bass than they wished for In fact, I think if moondrop could release a few more (i.e: better) EQ presets for these, they would be a great buy for the price.
hello Resolve…can u put the eq seting for the earfun free pro oluv edition?.i whant to equalize my earfun with ur measurement,thx so much,
I haven’t done an EQ profile for those, nor do I intend to. For best results, you should probably reach out to Oluv for that. I know he’s got that stuff far more dialed in on those earfuns.
thx,i have all the oluv eq profiles for earfun free pro and free pro 2 but i am curious how whe sound for ur measurment for earfun free but,but i am understand u only measured this ,u don t have eq profile,th so much and good day.