AKA: I mass-dump all average IEMs into the ranking list
I’m someone who tries a lot of stuff as I go along. IEMs for sure, but headphones too, and other source-level components if I’m curious. And regardless of what other reviewers may tell you, a huge chunk of them are… average.
To be fair, that’s the whole definition of “average” in the first place. You need the Average Joes to exist in order to contrast with the true blue Brilliant Bruces, else the term “better than most” just loses its lustre. After all, a weird troll doll once said: “when everyone’s super, no one will be“.
These are the entries that I feel no desire writing more about. They are average (or lower) in my own definition, and so makes them even harder to write for. I have the linguistic capacity to praise the greats and admonish the scum, but what about everything else in between? Those are the hardest things to write for, and I find myself in the worst kind of the writer’s block every time I’m obliged to write something about them.
So I say, skip it all. No point locking these Insignificants away in the Patreon vault forever, so I’ll just dump them all in the ranking list right here, right now.
Perhaps the word “Insignificant” is a little too heavy-handed to describe some of the following IEMs considering that they may be average-sounding, but priced so cheaply that they create their own value. But at the end of the day, they aren’t exactly great in their own right but rather great in terms of their price tags.
The following table is arranged according to the grade awarded.
|Unique Melody Mason V3+||A-||3200||Bright neutral||Decent resolution, nothing really special otherwise.||16BA|
|Lime Ears Aether R||B||1350||Variable||A downgrade from the original with weirder midrange tonality.||6BA|
|Kinera Nanna||B-||850||Mild V-shape||Surprisingly good implementation of the EST tweeters, but lacking details.||2EST 1BA 1DD|
|qdc Fusion||B-||920||Warm||Dulled transients and lacks detailing. Tonality is merely okay.||4BA 1DD|
|Tansio Mirai TSMR-5||B-||430||Variable||Alright tonality, decent detailing but nothing that makes it stand out.||5BA|
|CCA C10||C+||40||V-shaped||Surprisingly well-tuned hybrid from a KZ-style company. Definitely the best in its lineup.||4BA 1DD|
|Future Sonics MG5HX||C+||875||V-shaped||Typical V-shaped DD signature with minimal focus on technicalities.||DD|
|Shuoer Tape||C+||130||V-shaped||Decent technicalities but it basically screams in your face.||“Electrostatic”|
|Tanchjim Cora||C+||50||V-shaped||Well-controlled bass boost, though coupled with a slightly odd midrange tonality.||DD|
|Audiosense T800||C||300||V-shaped||Generic tuning that’s nothing special in terms of tonal accuracy nor technicalities.||8BA|
|BGVP ES12||C||1500||Variable||Slightly honky midrange tonality with the usual EST tweeter roll-off.||4EST 8BA|
|CCA C12||C||50||V-shaped||Nothing much to say; typical KZ-style tuning with shouty midrange and subpar technicalities.||5BA 1DD|
|iBasso IT03w||C||260||Bright V-shape||Its sibilant and sharp treble is a tough trait to endure.||2BA 1DD|
|IMR R1 Zenith||C||Variable||Not very detailed with a persistently odd tonal balance regardless of filters used.||1Piezo 1DD|
|KZ ZSN Pro||C||20||V-shaped||Nothing much to say; typical KZ-style tuning with shouty midrange and subpar technicalities.||1BA 1DD|
|Noble M3||C||600||V-shaped||Strident and harsh midrange only saved by its somewhat competent bass presentation.||1MS 1DD|
|Stax SR-001 Mk1 w/ CES-A1||C||Neutral||Sounds surprisingly dull and undetailed for a “true” electrostatic.||Electrostatic|
|Tiandirenhe TD1||C||25||V-shaped||Generic V-shaped DD with alright midrange tonality and technicalities.||DD|
|Unknown Custom UCD-2||C||220||Warm V-shape||A common 2-driver signature with passable resolution.||2BA|
|Venture Electronics BIE||C||20||V-shaped||Generic V-shaped DD with alright midrange tonality and technicalities.||DD|
|Brainwavz B400||C-||150||Neutral||Dulled transients and dynamics makes this a boring listen.||4BA|
|Cayin YB04||C-||500||“Balanced”||An odd take on neutrality that sounds weird and uneven.||4BA|
|Fatfreq Eden||C-||220||“Balanced”||A strange sounding monitor with no clear direction in its tuning.||2BA|
|Heir Audio Tzar 350||C-||Bright||Its detail would be appreciated if it didn’t come with ear-splitting treble.||2BA|
|I-INTO i8||C-||25||“Balanced”||Somewhat downsloping signature. It’s an IEM that exists.||3DD|
|Kinera IDUN Deluxe||C-||140||V-shaped||Not a bad hybrid, considering Kinera’s track record.||2BA 1DD|
|KZ ZS3||C-||10||V-shaped||Simple DD tuning. It’s an IEM that exists.||DD|
|Meccaudio ME-04||C-||Neutral||A not-quite-neutral “neutral” monitor.||4BA|
|Pai Audio DM2A||C-||140||V-shaped||Weird midrange. Oddly similar to the Kinera IDUN.||2BA 1DD|
|Stax SR-001 Mk1||C-||Warm||Sounds like an old-school on-ear headphone from the 80s.|
|Tin HiFi T1||C-||36||Warm||Could use some more high frequency response. Seems like squandered potential.||DD|
|TRN BA5||C-||70||V-shaped||Low resolution, passable tonality.||5BA|
|Venture Electronics Duke||C-||Warm||Oddly tuned dynamic, but at least it’s not the Monk IEs.||DD|
|fineEars TSH-HR1000K||D+||70||V-shaped||Pretty decent tonality but is severely lacking details.||DD|
|KZ AS16||D+||125||V-shaped||Nothing much to say; typical KZ-style tuning with shouty midrange and subpar technicalities.||8BA|
|Unknown Custom Quad 2.0||D+||390||V-shaped||Low-resolution, low-detail, passable tonality.||4BA|
|Unknown Custom Juno||D+||640||Variable||Something odd going on in the midrange. Same issues in resolution.||6BA|
|AAW ACH/Kingfisher||D||190||Warm||Persasive warmth just puts a blanket on all the transients. Lacks definition.||1Piezo 1BA 1DD|
|Audio Technica ATH-IEX1||D||1200||V-shaped||Sounds weird, sounds wrong, needs a complete overhaul.||2BA 2DD|
|Campfire Equinox||D||1500||Bassy||Extremely different from the Atlas. It’s a lot worse.||DD|
|CCA A10||D||60||Bright V-shape||Typical KZ-style tuning with even shoutier midrange.||5BA|
|Unknown Custom UCD-3||D||270||Warm||Mushy, blunted transients with a warm yet strangely sibilant tuning.||3BA|
|JH Audio Diana||E||700||Dark||Mushy transients and the detailing capability of free phone earbuds.||3BA|
All entries have been updated on the IEM ranking list.
New month, new year, new decade. My thanks to all my patrons who have stuck with me through the year and followed me through my journey of audio journalism. Shoutouts to my big money Patreon boys: