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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
Driver configuration: single DD
This YBF-ISS014 was kindly provided by Linsoul.
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:
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.
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.
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: C+ ★
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