Firstly I would like to thank 1More for sending me this sample to review, I always try to write honest reviews, these received over 50hrs of burn-in before review, no differences were noted.
OnePlus 2 / iPod Classic > Triple drivers (testing mic and buttons)
Audio Opus #1 DAP > Triple drivers (critical listening)
Drivers > Dual balanced armature + one dynamic driver
Frequency Response > 20-40,000Hz
Sensitivity > 99dB
Impedance > 32Ω
Cable Length > 1.25m
In-Line Remote > Included
Weight > 18g
Price > $99
Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The packaging feels very luxurious for the price, you get a sturdy card box with a side opening magnetically closed flap. On the back of the box you get the specs and info, once you open the flap you are greeted by the IEM’s sitting in a card in-tray with a brief history of the brand written next to them.
You get an exploded view of the IEM’s on the inside of the flap also, once you open another flap (the one that hold the IEM’s in place) you will find boxes holding the included accessories. I really like the packaging, it looks very nice and the black/champagne gold colour scheme goes very well, along with protecting the IEM’s during shipping.
Build quality feels solid, the cable is sheathed in fabric below the y-split, above it is slightly stiff and has a slightly ribbed rubber coating. The jack and y-split are metal, the jack has good strain relief, halfway up the right side after the y-split you will find the in-line 3 button remote. The remote housing is plastic with metal buttons, the housing of the IEM’s is fully metal and uses a gun metal / champagne gold colour scheme, unfortunately the housing does not have flexible strain relief for the cable. Overall I think these will last with some care, and the metal housing feels well finished and machined, along with feeling strong.
Accessory wise they give Dunu a run for their money, there really is a full complement of accessories on hand. First off you get a leather like carry case which is hard and features a magnetic closing mechanism, a cable clip and airplane adapter that match the colours of the IEM’s, and last but not least different size tips. With these you get a choice of silicone and foam tips, the silicone tips come in 5 different sizes, the foam in 3, you get plenty of tips so be sure to try them to find the ones that fit you best.
Comfort, Isolation, Cable Noise and Mic Quality:
The comfort is excellent once you have the right tips, the angled housing I found offers very good comfort and ergonomics, I found both foam and silicone tips to work well for me and both offered a very comfortable fit. I didn’t use the included cable clip, but if you do not wear the cable under your shirt I would recommend using it.
Isolation is good but not great, it is enough for most uses but if you have a noisy commute or want to use these for long flights I would recommend something with better isolation. I think this is partly due to shallow insertion depth, and also partly due to the housing being vented.
Cable noise can be problematic if you do not tuck the cable under your shirt, It is not as bad as some make it out to be, but I would recommend keeping the cable under your shirt, or using the cable clip that is included.
Mic quality is very good, it successfully picks up your voice with unwanted background noise and the quality is surprisingly good. The remote works for volume control and play/pause functions, I couldn’t get it to work to skip tracks.
Lows: With a dedicated driver for the lows you would expect the lows to be excellent, and they are. Their patented 3-layer driver is working well here, it has the speed and precision to keep up with fast rock tracks, yet the fullness and subtle details to fill out acoustic songs. They are very articulate and fit right in with the rest of the sound, they are not overbearing or bloated. Kick drums had impact and body to back them up, bass guitar lines are easy to follow, there is a slight upper bass boost which can lead to a slightly congested sound during some tracks, but this is also track dependent.
Mids: The mids are nicely separated from the lows with no bleeding, which means vocals are left to cut through without having to worry about warming from the lows. This leads to very clean mids which render detail easily, without sounding clinical or artificial. You can hear subtle details, but you do not get any upper mid peaks that lead to sibilance. Guitars come through with precision and power and I really like the natural presentation of the mids on these.
Highs: The highs are not boosted on these, they sit quite nicely in the mix but do sometimes take a bit of a back seat making these sound a little too smooth on occasion. I find the highs to be a little splashy and not precise enough, they are not refined and don’t extend effortlessly. Again this also is slightly track dependent as it happens more during complex songs that they get pushed to the back. Alternative rock like The Maccabees is a slightly different experience as you can easily keep track of the cymbals, but again they do have the presence to make these sound wholly balanced, and they end up being a little too polite.
Tip differences: I prefer the silicone tips for a more balanced and spacious sound, the foam tips are better for comfort but also have a warmer sound with less space and air.
Soundstage isn’t huge, but it is bigger than average in height, depth if nothing too remarkable. Instrument separation is good on these, everything is in its correct place, but they do become a little congested during more complex sections.
Conclusion: If you are looking for bang for buck, these are well worth it. They are a fairly balanced sounding all rounder, with very good detail retrieval for the price. You would still have to spend about double to get a significant upgrade over the sound of these. The fact they packed 2 balanced armatures and a dynamic driver into this housing, and got it to sound this good for $99 is very impressive to say the least, and I look forward to seeing what they have in store for the future. They have the full articulate lows you expect from a dynamic driver, with the detail retrieval and speed you expect from balanced armatures, all together working in harmony to create a coherent and balanced sound.
Sound Perfection Rating: 8.5/10 (Impressive for the price, but the highs could be better)