Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Spider Realvoice Quick Review

Spider Realvoice Quick Review


Brief: It looks like a chavy Sony MDR-XB40EX

Price: RRP US$90

Specification: Dynamic Driver 12.5mm Impedance – 18 ohms Frequency Response – 5Hz~20000Hz Sensitivity – 107dB Cord Length – 120cm

Accessories: A bunch of tips and quite a nice little case.

Build Quality: Erm the case looks great; the buds feel very lightweight and plastic. The jack feels really tough though so probably all okay.

Isolation: About normal for a dynamic, enough to get run over if your not used to it but certainly nothing id want for the Tube or long flights.

Comfort/Fit: Actually pretty darn good. They do require to be worn down which I don’t like but even though they are huge they are so light they were very comfy in use. Fit wise they were good too despite their size.

Aesthetics: I must confess I didn’t like their appearance. Too shiney plastic and gaudy but to each their own.

Sound: This really is where the meat of any review is and I was really so looking forward to getting my hands on a pair of these. I love mids, I love mid centric IEM’s and vocal heavy songs. So with these being named the Realvoice and quoting from the box “Our earphone is designed for the premium listener of acoustic music.” On paper they are just what I want. Then I put them in my ears. My first thought was, oh maybe they really need a burn in. Some 200 hours later and not much changed. These sound about what I’d expect their Sony look alike cousins to sound like. I was expecting something glorious and beautiful but instead I got mud soup. Maybe I have a broken pair? I cannot discount that possibility but comparing these to the mids champion (PL-50) and there is no comparison. I hand on heart hope the pair I have are broken as for a product with an RRP of US$90 these should be at least able to go head to head with things like the Brainwavz M2 and PL-50 if not wipe the floor with them. Even the Sony EX500 I have cost less than these do and are just so much better. These are just thick, muddy, flabby bass with a moderately present mid range. They sort of have some highs but only a hint of what should be there. As I say I really hope I have a broken pair because these are rubbish.

Value: Terrible.

Pro’s: Erm the headset could be useful to some.

Con’s: How they sound.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Hisoundaudio Crystals Quick Review

Hisoundaudio Crystals Quick Review

Thanks to Frogbeats for the sample

Brief: Oooh, bassy but it isolates!

Price: Circa £65

Specifcation: Erm it’s a 7mm dynamic driver, it’s really small and I couldn’t find the specs anywhere. Like they matter anyway.

Accessories: 5 Pairs of tips (I think) and a rather attractive case.

Build Quality: Very good, certainly there is not a thing I could fault about the construction. It all looks and feels very sturdy and solid.

Comfort/Fit: These do rather want to be shoved in rather deep and if you not used to that you may feel a little violated. I’m very used to that so it never bothered me and I found them perfectly comfortable. I did have a little venting issue, slight but it existed. A minute or two in the ear and they equalised, comply’s removed the issue however.

Aesthetics: The pair I had was a bronzy brown but all the pics show a grey silveryish colour. Frankly they look fine and they sat so deep in my ears you couldn’t see them anyway so it mattered little. They look fine but nothing special.

Sound: Big ass kicking bassy. These really reminded me of the SE215 and their freakish ability to isolate yet produce a bombastic, thumping and powerful low end. The is no question what is centre stage here and it’s of a fine quality too. The mids are very good too but a bit behind and very much on the rich and warm side of things. Accordingly the treble is a little pushed back and its somewhat dark. The treble is decent but it is inoffensively smooth and softened and really laid back compared to that big ass bass. I feel like I should write out bass several times just in case you missed the point. I should point out that it isn’t the tightest bass that ever there was. It has a hint of softness to its edge and its impact looses a touch of punch but at this quantity that’s absolutely fine. It’s like having a hugely powerful sub in the room but one that maybe isn’t the very highest quality. Still if you want this quantity you will not find better, it is very impressive and articulate with this kind of force. At this amount you’ll be hard pressed to get this quality without paying a ton more and that’s ignoring the isolation. These isolate every bit as good as a BA IEM’s, they are just excellent.

Value: If you want this bass and isolation only the SE215 anywhere near, these are better and cheaper.

Pro’s: Big ass kicking, thumping bass, fantastic isolation and teeny tiny.

Con’s: You had better want a lot of bass and not the most detailed you can get.

Hisoundaudio Crystals Review

Hisoundaudio Crystals Review

Thanks to Frogbeats for the sample


First Impressions: I see they still have the tiny box barely bigger than the case they come in. I rather like that, okay so a big fancy box might be nice too but I appreciate the efficiency of it. It’s a really nice little case too. The buds though, erm they are bonze, every pic I’ve seen of them they are a silvery grey colour. I haven’t seen anything about there being a choice but I guess there must be. Oh also they really are on the small side of things, really, really small.

Having a little listen to them and the first thing that strikes me is holy crap that a bit of a low end. I can hear there is quality there too but make no mistake, this is no analytical IEM we have here. Fingers crossed it gets even better with a burn in since it’s a dynamic. I think I’ll like this one.

Source 5G iPod Video line out through a Practical Devices XM5 with LM6171 opp amps


Lows: Oh my oh my, these tiny little miniscule babies have a thunderous low end on them. They physically fit in to the teeny toaty, so small you could lose them in your ears category. This in my experience is occupied by dual driver BA things like the excellent q-JAYS and the not excellent UE700. They both arguably are on the lighter side of bass. The same most certainly cannot be said about the Crystal, not that’s it’s too bassy either even if it gets close to that level. Yes it is a touch on the heavy but its more about its ability to move air and power out a low end when it’s called for. If you ask it to it can power out like a large, if not the best sub out there. It can roar and go deep with just oodles of power and fullness. Now I must confess its isn’t the tightest bass, it lacks the precision and articulation of Balanced Armatures and even that of the fabulous RE-0/ZERO but none of those can come close to the tactility found here. It has such power and vigour that the only thing that I recall feeling similarly about is the Shure SE215. It’s not something I have to hand but from what I recall I think the Crystals are a good step above them. These have seriously plentiful and seriously good bass.


Mids: The mids too are just great, not blow you away great but they have a rich, dark warmth to them. They flow like a melting milkshake, rich and thick. While they are very pleasant they are well over on the warm side and have a bit a struggle to do airy or dry. It’s not that they don’t sound great because they do, they just have their own flavour going on and they will present vocals as rich and flowing. I’ve also noticed that if you let them sit shallow in the ear they can on occasion get a touch sibilant. That’s really odd for something warm but it only happened on very sibilant songs anyway and if they were sitting shallow.

Now if you want rich, sultry smoothness (Norah Jones, Cold Cold Heart) then these are arguably about as good as it gets. All dark, rich , warm, gooey goodness.


Highs: Treble junkies look elsewhere. As I mentioned above these are all about the dark, warm etc etc and accordingly the treble presentation is slight, sweet and smooth. They can do treble, do it pretty well too but clearly it’s not where its talents lay. The detail level is rather good but it’s no challenger to things like the RE-0, not even close but then it’s not trying to be. The treble here gives you everything you need to know and gives it smoothed, polished edge. Even on treble heavy songs the treble never seems to take centre stage. It’s that rambunctious low end. If it sound signature were a seesaw then the fat kid is sitting at the treble side. Yeah the treble fine but its lack of edge and hardness means it really doesn’t stand out which is just fine if that’s what you want. There is certainly no splashy brutal treble causing offense here. Actually its rather like the SE215, a bit pushed back and a bit polite. This can be a good thing if the recordings a bit poo, its rather forgiving.

Soundstage: It is a dynamic driver in there so as you might expect it’s not bad, not bad at all. It may not sound immense but it’s very rich and full sounding. Placement and instrument separation suffer a little but then this is about enjoyment. It’s not trying to be a monitor so it doesn’t really need to do those things.


Fit: As a dynamic and unvented the fit did give me some venting / air pressure issues. It wasn’t anything major and would gradually correct itself after a few min but given I’m reviewing and pulling them out constantly and trying other things it became annoying. It’s not alone in this but as someone with sinus issues it annoyed and so I stuck on comply’s, that instantly fixed the issue. YMMV.

Comfort: Just fine. I could wear these fairly shallow with a bigger tip but they didn’t sound as good so I mostly wore them deep. They are so tiny they can just melt away and disappear inside your ear. They were perfectly comfortable always but I could see those not used to things going so deep maybe feeling little violated. Don’t worry you’ll get over it.

Cable: It’s a little stiff and bouncy but otherwise great. Feels sturdy and strong and looks like it should last a good long while. I do miss a chin slider though; not a big deal but it lacks one.

Microphonics: I wore these up like I do pretty much everything and I got none at all. I dare say wearing down with the lack of a chin slider may yield different results however.


Accessories: You get a really nice little case, it’s nice the attention to detail. You get a shirt clip and a bunch of tips, erm 4 or 5 pairs I think. I confess I think I’ve managed to lose some and as I have 3 bags of tips on my desk right now I may have miss paired things. Oops.

Amped/Unamped. Well they sound just fine unamped but they do like a little power. They scale pretty well and in my opinion like a brighter amp. (They are rather dark and warm after all.) The more power you can throw at them the better but don’t feel you need to in the same way the RE-0 needs an amping. These just clean and tidy up they don’t alter in sound signature significantly.

Isolation: I remember commenting at how Shure and all their boat load of R & D money had managed to make a dynamic that isolates like a BA IEM. Hisoundaudio have done it too. When you take these and stick them in they isolate excellently, the only way you’ll get better is using some etys and even then there won’t be much in it. These are easily good enough for daily Tube use or flights to everywhere and anywhere. Be warned though, if you’re not used to it you had better remember to look for traffic before crossing, if not you will die. Seriously you will die because you won’t hear that bus hurtling towards you.

Value: This really depends on the price and I’ve been told circa £65. As the only competition as I see it is the SE215 and a quick look around and I can’t see them for less than £84. Given going by memory these are better sounding (but I don’t have to hand to compare directly) then how is that not great value? These kick ass.


Conclusion: Now those familiar with my rambling scrawling’s will know that I’m not really a big bass lover. So personally I’m not loving these because the bass is just too big, too abundant, too powerful. Too, if it was a sub it would be like getting kicked in the guts by the bass, that kinda power and energy. That said I did find it fun in short bursts, like holy crap its big energetic and enthusiastic bass. Still much like I said with the 215 it’s a sound that is going to just be hugely popular in some circles, in the mainstream audio world huge bass is what’s wanted and these do it. They are fabulous, just fabulous. That they have managed to get this big yet good bass going on and isolates is a real achievement. As I say the only other in the 215 but its more expensive and you must wear it up and not everyone likes that.

What you do have to remember though is that these are taking aim at the 215, a big meaty mainstream sound that is a pretty good quality too. It is not trying to take down the audiophile kings of the price range like the RE-0. It’s trying to take the sound that’s popular and add quality, making no judgement about how much bass is too much bass. The fact is lots find the RE-0 to be horrifically bass light, it’s not what they are used to and not what they want. The Crystal’s give the people what they want and I can see many just loving what they have to offer. It’s not what I want to hear every day, but if you like your low end to kick it with real vigour then you’ve really got to give this a thought. Especially if you want some isolation too as it’s practically unheard of to offer both at the same time.

DUNU Trident (DN-12) Quick Review

DUNU Trident (DN-12) Quick Review

Thanks to Frogbeats for the sample

Brief: A cheapie but goodie.

Price: £19

Specification: Model No. Ares. Fil20v (DN-12) Type HQ (6.8mm) Sound pressure level 95+-2dB Impedance 160 F. Response 10Hz-20KHz Noise Attenuation 26dB Weight 22g • Plug Size 3.5mm Gold-plated Cord Length 1.2 m

Accessories: A baggie type case, and 4 pairs of tips.

Build Quality: Excellent, for something so very cheap they feel absolutely first class and have a real heft to them. They are solid metal and the cable feels of a likewise very high quality.

Isolation: Its fairly good, it’s a dynamic so it’s not earth shatteringly good but its certainly quite reasonable. If you’re not used to these sorts of things then I’m sure it’s enough to get you run over because you didn’t hear anything coming at you. Still not what I’d personally want for a lengthy flight.

Comfort/Fit: absolutely fine. They were a case of shove in and that was that. Comfort though they are quite a weighty IEM and after several hours in they did feel rather heavy. Nothing major but I could see it maybe be a bother if you were jogging or something like that possibly.

Aesthetics: I honestly really quite like them, the shape is a little blingy but the colour of them in the flesh is a lovely silvery grey. The hint of colour with the red and blue stripes nicely offsets them. Looks is highly subjective but I liked them greatly, it’s nice but not chav blingy.

Sound: It’s a thick, rich and warm sound. The detail isn’t going to wow and amaze but for the money it’s a good as you can really ask for. Most importantly I think, these get nothing wrong. They don’t cause offence to the ear in anyway and as such are a real pleasure to listen to. Okay maybe they are a bit heavy on the bass but I like bass lighter than what would be common in the world on normal (i.e. junk) headphones. They have a enough speed to them to stop form being too heavy and lumbering but not so much it makes them feel brittle. At this price you’re going to be making pretty big compromises and the Tridents takes a path that negotiates every pitfall. It’s a fun, warm sound that is eminently likeable. The mids are clear and pretty liquid sounding. The treble is a little soft than some may want but I think it’s the way to go, better soft and sweet than ear ravaging. It doesn’t do air so well but I can’t fault it at the price.

Value: £19 is practically nothing if you ask me; I think these represent pretty outstanding value. And I cannot realistically anyone even trying to propose otherwise. They look good, sound good, are well built and are dirt cheap. What more would you want?

Pro’s: Bargain price, sound good, well-built and look good.

Con’s: A touch bassy and treble could have more air

DUNU Trident (DN-12) Review

DUNU Trident (DN-12) Review

Thanks to Frogbeats for the sample


First Impressions: The box looks exactly like that of other DUNU’s but I not the absence of the hard case. That’s a bit of a shame but I guess it’s not really the end of the world, particularly given the look of the hard case. The rest looks the same, the high quality cable, the jack is straight though. The buds I must say look very pretty and probably in my opinion are the best looking of the DUNU range. Pretty and different but not too LOOK AT ME!!!!!

A quick listen and I rather like them. A touch heavy on the low end but pretty evenly balanced. Now it’s been a while I had anything at this price in my ears so I can’t say anything with certainty because the ears do forget but….. this may be the best you can buy for £19.


Source 1G iPod Shuffle with and without a 75 ohm adapter added

Lows: Good, maybe too good at this price. Right now, pre M6 A/B’ing I am very impressed. This is what I would consider to be a dirt cheap IEM (okay I know normal people may think of almost £20 on earphones as a lot) and they are actually enjoyable. The bass is biggish but a good halfway between punch and bloom, as good as you can possibly expect at this level. A little listen to the M6 and its every bit as good but its bigger, fuller, richer, and god help me, more likeable. Yes that’s right it’s bassy but I like it. Is it that’s its August, the festivals on and the sun is beaming in through the plate glass window like a giant laser beam? No idea but I am really liking it. It abundant but is ever so carefully walking the line between fun and too much and getting it just right. This might not be all the bass some want but I cannot for the life of me seeing anyone finding it deficient. It’s also quicker than it really has any right to be at this price and quantity level, it’s nimble enough to turn its hand to quick punchy pop and do it well but in the next breath do a little Julie London and ever so softly let a low note linger and flow. I really cannot fault it in anyway other than in quantity. For many round Head-Fi its will be a bit on the abundant side but for normal consumers used to farty bass cannons at this sort of price it may well be too little.


Mids: I do think these while a little V shaped are still pretty good stuff in the mid range. Vocals come through cleanly and with a grand level of fluidity. The only thing I could possibly nit-pick is that these prefer a liquid vocal to a dry one. I really couldn’t ask for much more in this price range. It might be nicer if it stood out a little from that pretty substantial low end too. Still I’m being overly picky. This does a grand rendition of every vocal I’ve heard through it. Acoustic guitars are very nice too but aren’t just quite as snappy as I want but then I remember what is costs. So while they aren’t crisp they do sound wonderfully rich and textured, it’s a very pleasurable and enjoyable sound.

Highs: This is where you would always expect the cheap stuff to show themselves up a bit and this does a teeny tiny touch too. The only reason I mention this is because the rest is such an impossibly high standard that the treble can on occasion be a little scratchy. You really have to work at it for that to happen though and these are not inclined to spit out a huge amount of treble. Should you force the issue the Tridents will do their best to smooth and sweeten those highs but ultimately it’s still a low cost product. I should point out though that is does a much nicer job than the M6 does and retain much more composure. It is on the whole beautifully smooth and genteel but with enough light and shimmer to keep everything alive, its exactly the right way to do it.


Soundstage: Grand. These have a rich full sound and offer a pretty sizeable sense of scale. They may not have pin point placing or super clear instrument separation but they offer a very appealing soundscape before you.

Comfort: On the whole these were comfortable but they are a touch weighty and after a long day in my ear they did feel in need of a little rest. You can never quite say how this will translate to others but if you were going to be bouncing about all day I could see these maybe not being the world’s most suitable.

Fit: Not a problem, shoved in ears and I was done.


Cable: It’s very nice. Probably not the best in the world but it very much looks like one that should stand up to a bit of punishment. Note, the jack is straight on this unlike the other DUNU’s I have seen. Its looks sturdy to me but I know not everyone like straight jacks. Oh and it still has the cable tie attachment on the cable.

Microphopnics: As I wore these up I pretty much got none. If you wear these down then you do get a chin slider to combat the problem so it shouldn’t be a big issue either way.

Isolation: Maybe on the slightly better side of things for a dynamic. They gave no venting issues so I assume there must be a vent in there somewhere. It’s fine for normal use, out and about, on a bus etc etc. You know the usual, enough to get you run over if you’re not used to it but not what you want for flights to New Zealand.

Accessories: You get a bunch of tips and a rather nice little baggie case thing. Not the best package in the world but given it has the cable tie things built in and its dirt cheap you should be thankful for anything really.


Amped/Unamped: Was there a difference? Yeah of course there was but it’s wasn’t night and day and just when is a £20 IEM getting plugged into an amp. Never is when I’m thinking.

Value: Well take a guess. Yes that’s right these are fantastic value, they sound pretty fab for this price and in my opinion they are one of the best looking IEM’s period. The cable is great, the build is great, just what more could you really ask for? For the money there is nothing I can really hope to pick fault with.


Conclusion: As time has marched on the venerable M6 has remained great value and has steadily decreased in price. The Trident has swung in out of nowhere and is taking it on head to head and let me tell you it’s a real fight to the death. They are both great but in the end I think the M6 makes a couple of mistakes, a hint of sibilance here and there a bit of harshness now and again. The Trident does none of these things. Its only arguable failing is that it’s a bit big on the low end but that’s hardly a failing, to many it’s a boon. I really cannot think of anything else right now that’s anywhere near as good as those two at their price, there is the Brainwavz M1 but it’s 45% more expensive. Okay so that percentage isn’t a lot in numerical terms but proportionally it’s a lot. I honestly and genuinely cannot fault how the Trident does anything. Not just that, hand on heart I can say I actually like it and have enjoyed my time listening to it, believe me, for a £20 IEM that’s a pretty impressive achievement.