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After months of waffling and rumours, it’s finally here. The next stage in the “x crinacle” collaborative lineup, this time with none other than the measurement-based Chinese company that has taken the IEM community by storm: Moondrop.
Like the previous Behind the Scenes post on the Dawn, I’ll have to remind all readers that this article is not a review. More an informative #Ad, if you will.
Product page: https://shenzhenaudio.com/products/moondrop-x-crinacle-blessing2-dusk-1dd-4ba-in-ear-monitor-earphone
(Or simply “crinacle.com/dusk” for an easy redirect.)
Driver configuration: 4BA + 1DD hybrid
PREORDERS OPEN ON 12/12/20.
Q: What exactly is the Blessing2:Dusk?
A: It’s self-explanatory; the Blessing2:Dusk is a retuned Blessing 2. I go into further detail into the tuning changes further down below.
The Dusk is a continuation of the Dawn, and is a project to create an IEM beyond the initial “experimental proof of concept” stage (Dawn) into something more accessible to the masses. The main concept behind the Dusk is essentially a reduced price in comparison to its predecessor, whilst sacrificing little to no sound quality in the process.
Q: If it’s only a retuned Blessing 2, why is it $10 more?
A: Man’s gotta eat. To be fair, a lot of people were expecting this to be about $400 so I consider this an absolute win.
Q: Why come up with a modified Blessing 2? Why not a completely bespoke product?
A: The simple answer is cost. A completely new model made from scratch may certainly get closer to my true “endgame” ideals, but will also raise the cost due to the R&D involved. Modifying an existing product is less taxing on the production line processes and allows me to keep the final MSRP low, keeping to the aforemention goals of the Dusk project.
Besides, the Blessing 2 is already something I’d consider to be at the top of its price bracket and very close to my ideal tuning (again, explained below), so it’s not exactly a big compromise either.
Q: Is this custom engraving for the Blessing2:Dusk available?
A: Yes, but also only for the box art mascot at an additional cost of $30. See below.
Q: Where can I try a demo unit?
A: I will be setting up an NA tour, EU tour and Asia tour in the coming days/weeks. Reviewers take priority first, after which I’ll have to arrange how it gets sent around.
If you’re in Singapore, just contact me and a meetup can be arranged.
Q: What happens to the Fearless x crinacle Dawn now?
A: Nothing. The Dawn is still available for purchase and still remains a significant step forward in my collaborative efforts. The Dawn is also tuned slightly differently from the Dusk, further elaborations below.
Q: What would be your ranking of the Dusk?
A: Like with the Dawn, I will not be publicly reviewing or ranking the Dusk due to conflict-of-interest.
Q: Is the Blessing2:Dusk better than the Blessing 2?
A: See answer above.
So, this is the Blessing2:Dusk. The rough idea around the Dusk’s sound is to have something that’s perceptibly neutral, in the sense that no region seems overly boosted nor dipped in normal music listening.
Here we take a look at my own proprietary “IEF Neutral Target” (for IEMs), a target curve that I finalised about two months back:
The IEF Neutral Target is a lot more conservative in the pinna gain region compared to traditional Diffuse Field or even Harman, along with an interesting hallmark: flat response from 900Hz down. Most “neutral” targets tend to roll off in this area, more notably in Diffuse Field experiments where it’s about 4dB down relative to 1kHz (for a total of about a 15dB difference between 20Hz at the lowest point and 3kHz at the highest).
Note that this is my neutral target, but most would know my thoughts on neutrality: it’s boring. At any case, according to my own experiences it takes quite a bit more bass boost in an IEM relative to headphones and speakers to get the same perceived bass response, so obviously the Dusk will get some extra oomph in the low-end.
And when it comes to bass, you all know I preach the word of “sub”. No dirty 1kHz bass shelf for the Dusk here, only the highest quality boost concentrated from 150-200Hz down. The placement of the bass shelf is a fine balance in itself; too high and you get muddiness and warm colouration, but too low and you lose the sense of weight behind the bass.
Roughly 6dB emphasis is the sweet spot for the bass to be “safe” for most listeners I feel; obviously if I were tuning solely for myself I would have shamelessly boosted the Dusk to 15dB at 30Hz and just bask in sheer rumble. But here I’d have to consider the tastes and preferences of the IEM community at large, and besides I don’t think the Blessing 2’s dynamic driver is up to that monumental task.
Now the other obvious question here is, what are the differences between the Blessing 2 and the Blessing2:Dusk?
Let’s flashback to my Blessing 2 review, where I’ve stated the following back in May:
“… I’d love more sub-bass and rumble, but the B2 already has more than adequate slam and texturing to the bass notes so this is more a preferential complaint than a critique.
The midrange is almost where I’d be perfectly content with it. If I had the choice I’d probably kill the 3kHz response by just 2, maybe 3dB (that whole “a little too shouty” thing that I’ve mentioned before)…”
Basically, the Blessing2:Dusk addresses most of my taste-related complaints of the Blessing 2, namely the slightly forward upper midrange and kind of bass emphasis that I like. It’s not like the Dusk is a completely different IEM from the Blessing 2, after all I already consider the tonality of the Blessing 2 to be pretty much “all there” and so awarded it with the “S” grade in tonality. Just some minor changes here and there to “improve” what is already a great IEM.
Not much I can do without completely changing the driver configuration. Which, again, would add to the cost of the IEM and I’m sure nobody wants that.
Where the Dusk represents “balance in all things” approach in tonality, the Dawn was originally “pleasantness above all”. As such, the Dawn was a little thicker in note weight overall to impart a little extra warmth and “emotion”, the Dusk is more neutral and more about being a punchier, less upper-mid-forward version of the Blessing 2.
Both are similar to identical in the upper midrange where I’m more rigid in my approach to tuning. The frequencies at 1kHz and above primarily have more to do with the harmonics of music, and so there isn’t much room to deviate from my target curve without having the timbre and tonality of the IEM stray into some form of colourations. I personally prefer to add colouration with lower mids and bass rather than with upper mids and/or treble, and this comparison shows it best.
The reduction in lower mids and bass in the Dusk in comparison to the Dawn also has to do with the driver choice; the BA woofers in the Dawn require a lot more SPL to get to the level that I found satisfactory, while the Dusk easily displayed my desired texturing and rumble with less of a boost.
The final question I guess people would be curious about is: how would I improve on the Blessing2:Dusk? I guess the biggest improvement I can see now would be to improve the treble extension, though it would basically be impossible when limited to the current 4BA + 1DD setup. And of course, adding the required supertweeters would drive the cost of the Dusk even higher, which goes against the concept of the Dusk project in the first place.
In essence, where I would consider the Blessing 2 to be pretty much the pinnacle of what an IEM can be for $300, a similar situation is to be had with the Blessing2:Dusk. I doubt there would ever be a time where I would come up with another collaboration in a similar price bracket because I can’t see myself doing any better. But who knows.
So right now, the future of the “x crinacle” lineup basically forks out to two very different routes:
- The budget (~$100)
- The money-no-object
I’m more interested in the latter, personally. I’ve got a lot of weird and whacky ideas that can only be fulfilled with a blank cheque, but as such will most likely be out of reach for most people given that it’ll probably be a highly limited edition model at wallet-breaking prices.
For everyone else for the foreseeable future, hey, the Dusk exists. Buy it.
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My usual thanks to all my current supporters and shoutouts to my big money boys: