The Big New Year’s Update: The Insignificants

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.

ModelGradeMSRPSignatureCommentsDriver setup
Unique Melody Mason V3+A-3200Bright neutralDecent resolution, nothing really special otherwise.16BA
Lime Ears Aether RB1350VariableA downgrade from the original with weirder midrange tonality.6BA
Kinera NannaB-850Mild V-shapeSurprisingly good implementation of the EST tweeters, but lacking details.2EST 1BA 1DD
qdc FusionB-920WarmDulled transients and lacks detailing. Tonality is merely okay.4BA 1DD
Tansio Mirai TSMR-5B-430VariableAlright tonality, decent detailing but nothing that makes it stand out.5BA
CCA C10C+40V-shapedSurprisingly well-tuned hybrid from a KZ-style company. Definitely the best in its lineup.4BA 1DD
Future Sonics MG5HXC+875V-shapedTypical V-shaped DD signature with minimal focus on technicalities.DD
Shuoer TapeC+130V-shapedDecent technicalities but it basically screams in your face.“Electrostatic”
Tanchjim CoraC+50V-shapedWell-controlled bass boost, though coupled with a slightly odd midrange tonality.DD
Audiosense T800C300V-shapedGeneric tuning that’s nothing special in terms of tonal accuracy nor technicalities.8BA
BGVP ES12C1500VariableSlightly honky midrange tonality with the usual EST tweeter roll-off.4EST 8BA
CCA C12C50V-shapedNothing much to say; typical KZ-style tuning with shouty midrange and subpar technicalities.5BA 1DD
iBasso IT03wC260Bright V-shapeIts sibilant and sharp treble is a tough trait to endure.2BA 1DD
IMR R1 ZenithC VariableNot very detailed with a persistently odd tonal balance regardless of filters used.1Piezo 1DD
KZ ZSN ProC20V-shapedNothing much to say; typical KZ-style tuning with shouty midrange and subpar technicalities.1BA 1DD
Noble M3C600V-shapedStrident and harsh midrange only saved by its somewhat competent bass presentation.1MS 1DD
Stax SR-001 Mk1 w/ CES-A1C NeutralSounds surprisingly dull and undetailed for a “true” electrostatic.Electrostatic
Tiandirenhe TD1C25V-shapedGeneric V-shaped DD with alright midrange tonality and technicalities.DD
Unknown Custom UCD-2C220Warm V-shapeA common 2-driver signature with passable resolution.2BA
Venture Electronics BIEC20V-shapedGeneric V-shaped DD with alright midrange tonality and technicalities.DD
Brainwavz B400C-150NeutralDulled transients and dynamics makes this a boring listen.4BA
Cayin YB04C-500“Balanced”An odd take on neutrality that sounds weird and uneven.4BA
Fatfreq EdenC-220“Balanced”A strange sounding monitor with no clear direction in its tuning.2BA
Heir Audio Tzar 350C- BrightIts detail would be appreciated if it didn’t come with ear-splitting treble.2BA
I-INTO i8C-25“Balanced”Somewhat downsloping signature. It’s an IEM that exists.3DD
Kinera IDUN DeluxeC-140V-shapedNot a bad hybrid, considering Kinera’s track record.2BA 1DD
KZ ZS3C-10V-shapedSimple DD tuning. It’s an IEM that exists.DD
Meccaudio ME-04C- NeutralA not-quite-neutral “neutral” monitor.4BA
Pai Audio DM2AC-140V-shapedWeird midrange. Oddly similar to the Kinera IDUN.2BA 1DD
Stax SR-001 Mk1C- WarmSounds like an old-school on-ear headphone from the 80s.

Electrostatic

Tin HiFi T1C-36WarmCould use some more high frequency response. Seems like squandered potential.DD
TRN BA5C-70V-shapedLow resolution, passable tonality.5BA
Venture Electronics DukeC- WarmOddly tuned dynamic, but at least it’s not the Monk IEs.DD
fineEars TSH-HR1000KD+70V-shapedPretty decent tonality but is severely lacking details.DD
KZ AS16D+125V-shapedNothing much to say; typical KZ-style tuning with shouty midrange and subpar technicalities.8BA
Unknown Custom Quad 2.0D+390V-shapedLow-resolution, low-detail, passable tonality.4BA
Unknown Custom JunoD+640VariableSomething odd going on in the midrange. Same issues in resolution.6BA
AAW ACH/KingfisherD190WarmPersasive warmth just puts a blanket on all the transients. Lacks definition.1Piezo 1BA 1DD
Audio Technica ATH-IEX1D1200V-shapedSounds weird, sounds wrong, needs a complete overhaul.2BA 2DD
Campfire EquinoxD1500BassyExtremely different from the Atlas. It’s a lot worse.DD
CCA A10D60Bright V-shapeTypical KZ-style tuning with even shoutier midrange.5BA
Unknown Custom UCD-3D270WarmMushy, blunted transients with a warm yet strangely sibilant tuning.3BA
JH Audio DianaE700DarkMushy 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:

“McMadface”
“Desertscrub”
Rahul
Denis
Nicholas
Alexander
Galactus

13 thoughts on “The Big New Year’s Update: The Insignificants”

  1. It feels rather insulting to see the Shuoer tapes on that list, considering I just made the conscious decision to shed a quarter of my biweekly salary to buy them…

    1. Maybe this hobby isn’t for you, if you have so little disposable income. The tape isn’t particularly well regarded, and crinacle isn’t here to make you feel better about your purchases. He posts his own personal analysis and you can take that however you want.

  2. Seems that the most insignificant one is the reviewer.
    In your top ranking only very costly iems…
    And so much iem tested in so little time by the same person makes your reviews irrelevant IMHO.

        1. At the end the goal of this site is to generate money and income for the publisher. So mixing in some disputable reviews helps to reach this target – this is normal nowadays.

          If the reviewer has good ears or not, good taste or not means nothing, only traffic sells.

          And you will see this note will vanish at the blink of a eye, don’t help to make money ;-).

          So, what do you think, is this a trustworthy source?

          1. I’m assuming that something I panned in this article was something you liked. If you want to read positive reviews, better find a different review site.

  3. oh look at the tears of the fanbois here who spent their money on the gear listed trying to downplay the review and reviewer. salty tears are nice.

    As for the guy who claims that only expensive stuff is ranked high, theres a couple of bargains on his list- including the one i personally own, s8pro. At sub 500 dollars, its a bargain and Crin ranks it high deservingly so since its sound matches up great to some of the reallly expensive stuff on his list. So yeah Crin doesnt mince words. He panned some expensive gear even from the most known companies.

  4. Wow, actually I was considering the Equinox as my first High end Custom IEM. The only prospect that held me back was the insane price tag, now I got another reason to look elsewhere.

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