Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 “Yiss” Review: The Other BL-03

Table of Contents

Introduction

Look, the name “YBF-ISS014” is awful to remember and to type out, so I’ll henceforth refer to this IEM as the Urbanfun “Yiss”. That should save me and everyone else the headache of typing out its whole name or vaguely referring to it as “those Urbanfuns”.

I’ve honestly never heard of the brand Urbanfun till the Yiss hype, but from a little extra research it seems that they’ve had a small (but very dedicated) cult following before the boom. More notably, the Urbanfun “Hi-Fi” which is a $20 IEM that put the brand on the audiophile map, though it seems that Urbanfun is closer to an OEM company than a retail brand given models like “generic unnamed dynamic driver headphone” or the “generic unnamed dynamic driver IEM #1“. Though to be fair, they have some decently named models as well like the “generic unnamed dynamic driver IEM #2“, and who could ever forget the legendary “generic unnamed dynamic driver IEM #3“.

Apologies for the Aliexpress links, that was the only place I could find any info on Urbanfun products.

So what makes the Yiss so different from its generic brethren to be gaining all these newfound attention? Well, it’s an IEM that pretty much rides on the coattails of the much-hyped BLON BL-03, some would argue due to its passing resemblance in its housing design. In reality, they couldn’t be more different from one another, but more on that later.

I guess the big question on everyone’s mind now is, does the Yiss have what it takes to dethrone its lookalike cousin?

Product page: https://www.linsoul.com/products/urbanfun-ybf-iss014

MSRP: $60

Driver configuration: single DD

This YBF-ISS014 was kindly provided by Linsoul.

Sound Signature

(And tonality)

I don’t like to use the term “generic chifi V-shape”, but then again there’s a reason why it’s named as such.

The Yiss embodies the typical traits of such a response, namely the 10+ dB pinna gain from 2kHz to 5kHz  into a  dip in response imediately thereafter (specific ranges may vary but the pattern is there), coupled with the wideband bass boost that’s not the cleanest but still passable overall.

Unfortunately, the pinna gain is a bit too overdone for my liking, surpassing that of the already-shouty Tanchjim Oxygen:

Comparison courtesy of the Graph Comparison Tool

So yes, the Yiss is an IEM that makes for a very intense listen, even if the upper midrange emphasis is somewhat counterbalanced by the less significant midbass hump, which cuts through the shrill nature of the Yiss’ upper harmonics with much needed warmth.

Ultimately, the Yiss has a very coloured sound; not necessarily one that is inherently inferior or naturally unlikeable, but when the question is “Does this have the right tonal balance?” my answer would be no. This kind of tonality works for some instruments, notably winds and percussions, but would fall flat on brass and bowed strings due to the screechier protrayal of upper harmonics and the thinner notes. And when it falls flat, it really falls.

Technicalities

Technical performance is where the Yiss redeems itself, if just for a little bit.

I was surprised at how clean the Yiss sounded despite its tonal quirks; the attack was sharp and precise, the decay was quick but with enough linger for proper timbre, and the imaging capabilities were slightly above average. Separation between the instruments was definitely above that of the average $100 IEM and the soundstage managed to extend to slightly beyond the ear, which is a rarity in the IEMsphere. Ultimately there wasn’t much I could fault the Yiss for in terms of intangibles, especially at a $60 price tag.

Essentially, the Yiss performed at the same level as “the benchmark” Tin T4, but with its aforementioned tonal quirks I unfortunately could not see the Yiss being ranked the same.

Versus: BLON BL-03

Ah yes, the inevitable comparison that always crops up whenever you mention the Yiss: the legendary BL03. Honestly, apart from the general shell shape (and this is a very huge generalisation still), both of these IEMs are just about as far apart from one another as any other model. Hell, even the aesthetics aren’t that close either given the BL03’s earbud-shaped housing compared to the Yiss’ smaller and more “triangular” housing.

The other major difference to note is that the Yiss actually has a pretty decent cable, while the BLON’s is basically a nightmare both in skinfeel and in that god awful memory hook. Which means that most people should get at least a passable fit on the Yiss, while the BL03 basically forces you to strip the memory sheathing off for a proper fit or resort to getting a whole new cable altogether.

In terms of the sound, the comparison between the Yiss and the BL03 seems to be a give-and-take situation in numerous aspects. Here is how I’d elegantly summarise the two:

The Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 performs with good resolution and clarity, but with a generically subpar tonality.
The BLON BL03 has a great tonal balance that most people would enjoy, but it lacks the technical performance that would elevate it to a truly legendary status.

If, somehow, you could combine the technical performance of the Yiss with the tonal balance of the BL03 (at the price of the BL03 too), you’d get an IEM that would surpass even the Moondrop Starfield and establish itself as the ultimate “default recommendation”. Alas, this is not the case and going with either the Yiss or the BL03 would be trading off either of its strengths in a reluctant compromise.

Personally, if given the choice, I’d go with the BL03 due to its cheaper price and focus on tonality. Decent technical performance is a dime a dozen in the sub-$100 range, but decent tonal balance is a rarity not often found in the vast ocean of budget chifi. But of course, this is only my opinion and the decision for your own purchase is yours and yours alone.

Conclusion

The YBF-ISS014 “Yiss” definitely has the potential to dethrone the BL03 (and ultimately compete toe-to-toe with the Tin T4) but is held back by the subpar tuning. It’s shouty, shrill and can even sound downright telephonic when compared to other tonal specialists.

At $60 though, these are probably nitpicks and the Yiss would still serve as a decent value pick. However, with the existence of the $38 BL03 and the $30 Final Audio E1000 (both with even lower street prices), even the Yiss would struggle in the fight for the title of “Value King”.

Grade:

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12 thoughts on “Urbanfun YBF-ISS014 “Yiss” Review: The Other BL-03”

  1. Urbanfun made their name a 1+1 cheapo (the DD was coated with Be) back in early 2017. It retailed at around $20.

    [link removed]

    Bass was boomy and stage was not very high for my ears.

  2. From what I see, this is just BLON with midbass, less bass, and info past 18kHz which BLON lacked.

    >>The Yiss embodies the typical traits of such a response, namely the 10+ dB pinna gain from 2kHz to 5kHz
    This works for monitoring female voice or violins but for listening experience it overshadows everything else. I can’t even use BLON for female vocals playlist without getting instantly fatigued.

    [preamp]
    -4.0dB

    [apply as desired]
    30 +0.8 dB
    60 +2.5 dB
    119 +2.1 dB
    238 +2.2 dB
    475 +1.6 dB

    [reduce shout]
    947 -4.7 dB
    3k -3.3 dB
    4.5k +3.2 dB
    9k +1.4 dB

    /don’t apply for YBF-ISS014
    [treble extension]
    11k -3.4 dB
    13k +1.5 dB
    15k +1.1 dB
    18k +5.4 dB

  3. Great review, I expected that the hype was a bit too much for what it was but it’s still great value regardless.

  4. When I compare the T4 and the YISS Graph, the T4 is more shouty (2k and 5k peak as you stated). I do not see how the T4 is rated as B- and the YISS as C+ because of “tonal quirks”. The YISS graph looks safer. This review was too negative to the YISS because people are comparing them to BLON and hyping it. Your T4 review was pretty fair to the T4 with text like “If the T4’s signature is for you”.

    1. what do you mean.. if you normalize both FR graphs at 1khz, yiss shows more presence at 2khz to 5khz, and t4’s FR has a bigger dip than yiss at 3khz
      also yiss has bigger peak at 8khz than t4 which could make sound more fatiguing

  5. The graphs I’ve seen on the Ysss are quite different…

    Soo the Urbanfun is a C+ and the Fearless Audio S8pro is an A? (Check the graphs please)

    I really enjoy reading you when you want to prick the “hype bubble”… but damm… you are getting very predictable on the reviews like this.
    Anyway to be honest you get me when you recomended the Blon over the Ysss… and you excused yourself by the “aliex” links… (I guess that don’t pay the rent :P)

    Take care and have fun mate!

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