TWS Guide Update: Advanced Model X, Hifiman TWS600, Jaybirds Vista, KZ E10, QCY T5

This post serves as a changelog for the TWS Buyer’s Guide.

Advanced Model X

"The Pandering"

Product page: https://www.adv-sound.com/products/model-x

MSRP: Discontinued

Alright, so technically the Model X is discontinued per Advanced’s site, but it’s still available for purchase where I am so whatever I’m adding it to the guide.

I don’t have much to say about it, it’s a very typical V-shaped sound taken to the extreme and, while it doesn’t sound outright  horrible, it’s far too intense to be taken seriously.

Bloated bass combined with sharp, piercing treble is not a great combo for any IEM, wireless or not. And considering the relatively quick discontinuation, it just gives off the impression the Model X is Advanced’s pandering response to the TWS market.

Grade:

Jaybird Vista

"The Has-Been"

Product page: https://www.jaybirdsport.com/en-us/vista.html

MSRP: $180

I remember the brand Jaybirds for their insanely popular “Bluebuds” lineup. The original X was such a popular model that it went on to have another 3 further iterations, now plateauing at the X4.

Comes as no surprise that Jaybird’s entry into the TWS market came with massive fanfare. I’ve personally gotten at least one request a week asking to add the Vista to this guide, but I think I’m about to disappoint a lot of people today. The Vista is… well, not the worst for sure, but definitely losing the fight.

I’m not a bass hater by any means, but the Vista has too much. Now this is a preferential thing of course, you may personally like this level of bass emphasis and I’m in no position to tell you that your own tastes are wrong. But for the purposes of this comparison, against everything else on “The List” or even just this guide itself, the bass tuning of the Vista is poorly done. It starts to smear into the midrange and it’s not the most defined bass out there, so I have to dock points in both regards.

The Vista attempts to counter the extreme bass boost with a less extreme treble spike, but in my opinion it kind of makes things worse. The treble is uneven, sibilant and fatiguing for longer listening sessions. I personally felt the listening fatigue set in after just two songs.

Sorry Jaybird, times have changed.

Grade:

QCY T5

"The Threat"

No proper product page so here’s an affiliate-less Amazon link instead:
https://www.amazon.com/HIFI-Wireless-Bluetooth-Headset-Headphones/dp/B07YZ6CKS8

MSRP: $35

Yeah, you saw the price right. A sub-$50 TWS IEM that can dip below $30 if you’re lucky. And, it’s not utter trash.

Even calling the T5 “not garbage” would be doing it a massive disservice. The T5 is good, not just in the realm of the highly-priced TWS market but even in the highly competitive budget IEM market.

You’re obviously going to have to make concessions in terms of build, usability and unit QC, but you all know that I’m not here to talk about all those. In terms of sound and tuning, the T5 is tasteful. Inoffensive yet competent, exciting yet clean.

Everyone else should treat the T5 as a massive threat to the status quo of highly-priced, average-sounding TWS buds. You don’t have a place in the market anymore.

Grade: ★★

More info on the “Stars à la Cenric” award system

KZ E10

"Mould Breaker"

Product page: https://www.linsoul.com/products/kz-e10

MSRP: $60

Driver configuration: 1DD + 4BA hybrid

This E10 was kindly provided by Linsoul.

Colour me surprised, KZ made a pretty good pair of IEMs. And it’s TWS!

The E10 has its fair share of flaws, for instance the overly-shouty midrange that pushes vocals straight in your face, or perhaps the slightly thinness in the midrange that isn’t as satisfying as the other lower-midrange heavy stuff on the guide. But apart from all those, the E10 does the whole neutral Diffuse Field-y signature very well.

It’s definitely the most un-KZ sounding IEM in KZ’s lineup, so diehard fans of the brand should stay away. It’s not going to have KZ’s traditionally massive bass boost nor its liberally-tuned treble response, and it’s for that reason that I really believe that the E10 is the best KZ IEM you can get.

As a TWS IEM though? (Almost) no contest. At 60 bones max, it outshines many of the mainstream competitors and establishes itself as a unicorn in the TWS market: a neutrally-tuned option.

Grade:

More info on the “Stars à la Cenric” award system

Hifiman TWS600

"TWS: The Worst Sound"

Product page: https://hifiman.com/products/detail/299

MSRP: $200

What is this.

Why does this exist.

Who signed off on this.

How does this have positive reviews?

Look, I get it. Hifiman’s a popular audiophile company and it’s hard to believe that they would intentionally churn out garbage thinking it would sell regardless. I had the same thought going into the TWS600: man these suck, maybe somethings broken with them? 

… welp, both channels match. Guess this is how it’s really supposed to be.

The TWS600 is a tonal monstrosity that probably singlehandedly tanked my last remaining respects for Hifiman. It sounds like a 1950s telephone with just as much resolving ability, and doesn’t even come with the courtesy of a budget pricetag. No, you’re going to get the full-fat Fang Bian experience here, just without the final pricing justification.

Why are they so expensive? Because they sound so good.

I wish, Mr. Fang. I wish.

Grade:

Support me on Patreon to get access to tentative ranks! I probably won’t be writing Cliffnotes for every IEM, but you can expect them for the ones that stand out, either positively or negatively.

My usual thanks to my loyal supporters and shoutouts to my big money boys:

“McMadface”
Denis
Nicholas
Alexander

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