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Best 'Bang for your buck' IEM - Poll

Best 'Bang for your buck' IEM under $100.

  • 7Hz Salnotes Zero

    Votes: 85 26.2%
  • BLON BL-03

    Votes: 13 4.0%
  • DUNU Titan S

    Votes: 5 1.5%
  • HZsound Heart Mirror

    Votes: 2 0.6%
  • Moondrop CHU

    Votes: 18 5.5%
  • Tanchjim Tanya

    Votes: 4 1.2%
  • Tripowin x HBB Olina

    Votes: 5 1.5%
  • TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero (Original = Blue)

    Votes: 52 16.0%
  • TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:RED

    Votes: 152 46.8%
  • Other

    Votes: 66 20.3%

  • Total voters
    325

CedarX

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Distortion may be a little higher than desired these days above 8kHz
Curious as why would you care? H2 distortion would be >16 kHz, H3 >24kHz... Is this really audible? Or are you referring to some kind of IMD, then could you elaborate...
I also agree with you about the Trio is one of these pretty darn good "as-is" KZ/CCA IEMs.
 

USER

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Curious as why would you care? H2 distortion would be >16 kHz, H3 >24kHz... Is this really audible? Or are you referring to some kind of IMD, then could you elaborate...
I also agree with you about the Trio, it's one of these pretty darn good "as-is" KZ/CCA IEMs.
I don't care about it in terms terms of how it affects the sound quality. Plus I can't hear it and don't expect to for the reasons you mention. But I want to provide as much info as possible within reason and I am interested in it generally because these are a different kind of IEM with the switches and I think it would be a good topic for technical discussion as we are on ASR. A place like Reddit on the other hand... When I posted about a possible 2% distortion with the Artti's I felt that I had to refocus things with additional information as I thought it was starting to be received the wrong way as if it was bad.
 

muza_1

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Posting these more dependable measurements as the CCA Trios were discussed on this thread and are going for $20 at AliExpress now. Yes, they really do try to follow Harman. These were taken with the foam-type tips that come with them, not the softer ones also in the package.

View attachment 365987View attachment 365991

Great match with Paul Wasabii. However my normalization better shows why these are a bit bright sounding to the people that have heard them here. For me and my ears anything that passes Harman is too much and needs adjustment.

View attachment 365990

The 1010 switch configuration was mentioned here as a corrective. I was not able to find any measurements online so I am posting my own. I can see why boosting the bass gives the effect of a seemingly more balanced sound. I have many other configurations on my squig.link page.

View attachment 365993

Moondrop spring tips are highly effective on these and I recommend trying them out if you like the 1010 configuration, though of course this is all relative to your ears.

View attachment 365988

In the end, I like these a lot with Spring Tips (though I feel that for my taste I need to EQ the bass bump at 80Hz down a little more). They are the heaviest IEMs I own but they are comfortable. It may likely only be in my mind because of visual bias but I feel that the vents make these have a wider soundstage than normal and it is enjoyable. Distortion may be a little higher than desired these days above 8kHz (boosting the treble via switches seems to effect it) but I am not seeing anything too horrible nor am I hearing it, though it is worse than with the Artti R2s. Plus I think it is likely a good thing to bring that area down with EQ anyways. There may be an interesting little artefact at around 900Hz (due to the switches??) but on my measurements it is below 0.5%, which likely means it is actually lower than that so it is not an issue. Still it would be interesting to know what the effects of the switches are so I bring them up. I will wait until I have a better set-up before posting any distortion numbers so as to avoid confusion.

For $20 bucks and with some alterations, I recommend them as they are different than most other IEMs with the large vents and switches. Boy is KZ/CCA such a strange company with their race to the bottom prices.
Thanks for the measurements.

I use the Trio with 1010 switch configuration and I found that for me the treble looses a bit of the edge they have with all switches on and the bass sounds a bit more clear but it could be bias knowing what the switches are supposed to do, I am trying now the different configurations and still found them less bright with 1010 config but it might be the difference in bass, man the brain is a finicky thing.

Also tired the spring tips, it might be the seal or something but the sound becomes thinner and isolation also suffers a bit.
I also tried 1110 but I think it just add more mid-bass than the 1010 config.

I have been using the Trio almost exclusively since I got them and I like them a lot.
 
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markanini

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Thanks for the measurements.

I use the Trio with 1010 switch configuration and I found that for me the treble looses a bit of the edge they have with all switches and the bass sounds a bit more clear but it could be bias knowing what the switches are supposed to do, I am trying now the different configurations and still found them less bright but it might be the difference in bass, man the brain is a finicky thing.

Also tired the spring tips, it might be the seal or something but the sound becomes thinner and isolation also suffers a bit.
I also tried 1110 but I think it just add more mid-bass than the 1010 config.

I have been using the Trio almost exclusively since I got them and I like them a lot.
Are using the black silicone tips?
 

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Does anyone know if this decay graph is saying anything?

CCA Trio Decay.jpg

I've realized that I still hear something at around the 80-120Hz range that slightly bothers me. A bit of boominess that seems to be triggered by specific frequencies. It's not bad sounding and can be thought of as likable warmth, but after removing room modes in my main system with EQ I am sensitive to and dislike anything resembling boominess. I looked back at my posts on this thread and I've been complaining about it since I first got the Trios, lol. I can control it with EQ but I realized that I am bringing the bass down more than I do with other IEMs, which has me a bit confused.

graph (2).png

I can't find anything wrong with the FR and distortion measurements so I am wondering if that sharp spike at around 120Hz in the graph above has anything to do with it as it seems like more than a coincidence.
 

muza_1

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To me they sound a bit warm but not boomy without EQ all switches on, the curious thing is that the bass seems a bit cleaner with 1010 even when the measurement points to the contrary but I like a bit more bass than Harman (+0.5-1db) though.
Have you tried to lower only the peak and see how does affect the sound?

Also I think ear canal and IEM (physical?) design can affect the sound more than one would think, as an example to me the Zero:2 sounds brighter (with very little detail) than the Chu II which is not as bright but more detailed and way more mid-bass heavy and extremely boomy (Z:2 is not boomy just mid-bass heavy).
graph(1).png
graph(2).png
 

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To me they sound a bit warm but not boomy without EQ all switches on, the curious thing is that the bass seems a bit cleaner with 1010 even when the measurement points to the contrary but I like a bit more bass than Harman (+0.5-1db) though.
Have you tried to lower only the peak and see how does affect the sound?

Also I think ear canal and IEM (physical?) design can affect the sound more than one would think, as an example to me the Zero:2 sounds brighter (with very little detail) than the Chu II which is not as bright but more detailed and way more mid-bass heavy and extremely boomy (Z:2 is not boomy just mid-bass heavy).
View attachment 366068View attachment 366069

I just tried something that I should have tried earlier. I listened to the IEMs connected to the Apple dongle used in the measurements. The bass is tighter now as it should be with the bit of boominess gone in that frequency range and the results makes sense given the measurement results. So now I am thinking it has something to do with impedance and my laptop. Anyways, something to consider. These could be sensitive in this respect.
 

mc.god

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I just tried something that I should have tried earlier. I listened to the IEMs connected to the Apple dongle used in the measurements. The bass is tighter now as it should be with the bit of boominess gone in that frequency range and the results makes sense given the measurement results. So now I am thinking it has something to do with impedance and my laptop. Anyways, something to consider. These could be sensitive in this respect.
They mount 3 driver and some kind of electronic to manage the switch so most likely they don't have flat impedance curve, add that nominal impedance is really low (15-20 ohm) and that laptop 3.5 output impedance is often pretty high, than you have a good chance to get altered FR (se Zero:RED behavior with the bass adapter).

I experienced it myself with my Senn HD 599 that is pretty sensible to higher output impedance when I used it with HP output of the Denon PRA1500 (150 ohm), boosting their already elevated mid bass, resulting badly bloated.:
120-ohm-r1.png


HD599 with low impedance amplifier (0.2Ω) and a high impedance amplifier (120Ω)
credits to @solderdude
 

muza_1

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I just tried something that I should have tried earlier. I listened to the IEMs connected to the Apple dongle used in the measurements. The bass is tighter now as it should be with the bit of boominess gone in that frequency range and the results makes sense given the measurement results. So now I am thinking it has something to do with impedance and my laptop. Anyways, something to consider. These could be sensitive in this respect.
Yes they are sensitive to impedance changes, at first I try them without a dongle on a tablet, phone and PC and the bass levels vary a lot between devises.
 

muza_1

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Posting these more dependable measurements as the CCA Trios were discussed on this thread and are going for $20 at AliExpress now. Yes, they really do try to follow Harman. These were taken with the foam-type tips that come with them, not the softer ones also in the package.

View attachment 365987View attachment 365991

Great match with Paul Wasabii. However my normalization better shows why these are a bit bright sounding to the people that have heard them here. For me and my ears anything that passes Harman is too much and needs adjustment.

View attachment 365990

The 1010 switch configuration was mentioned here as a corrective. I was not able to find any measurements online so I am posting my own. I can see why boosting the bass gives the effect of a seemingly more balanced sound. I have many other configurations on my squig.link page.

View attachment 365993

Moondrop spring tips are highly effective on these and I recommend trying them out if you like the 1010 configuration, though of course this is all relative to your ears.

View attachment 365988

In the end, I like these a lot with Spring Tips (though I feel that for my taste I need to EQ the bass bump at 80Hz down a little more). They are the heaviest IEMs I own but they are comfortable. It may likely only be in my mind because of visual bias but I feel that the vents make these have a wider soundstage than normal and it is enjoyable. Distortion may be a little higher than desired these days above 8kHz (boosting the treble via switches seems to effect it) but I am not seeing anything too horrible nor am I hearing it, though it is worse than with the Artti R2s. Plus I think it is likely a good thing to bring that area down with EQ anyways. There may be an interesting little artefact at around 900Hz (due to the switches??) but on my measurements it is below 0.5%, which likely means it is actually lower than that so it is not an issue. Still it would be interesting to know what the effects of the switches are so I bring them up. I will wait until I have a better set-up before posting any distortion numbers so as to avoid confusion.

For $20 bucks and with some alterations, I recommend them as they are different than most other IEMs with the large vents and switches. Boy is KZ/CCA such a strange company with their race to the bottom prices.
Based on the measurements I tried a high shelf filter @ 2.5kHz. -1.2db (all switches on) and that takes care of the extra brightness (and thinness) I was hearing, that also cleaned the bass, now is a bit less but clearer and better defined. I didn't want to use EQ for convenience but it sounds better so EQ is it.
 
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digitalfrost

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If you think the new Moondrop x Crinacle DUSK is the improved version you may want to check out the Artti R2 for 1/9th the price! **For me** the slight bump between 4-6kHz (which you can control with tips) makes the Artti R2s the superior IEM. You may also get a supposedly better increased response above 15kHz too, lol!

So I just go these an I am impressed. This might be the best out of the box IEM experience I had. I really like the sound, the sub-bass is maybe a bit too much but still very good, but most importantly: The highs do not bother me. I have EQed down every IEM I own, with these at the moment I do not feel the need to EQ.

They are surprisingly small compared to the other multi-driver IEMs that I have, but that makes them comfortable. I got a good seal immediately with the standard tips, and they stay where they are and don't work their way out. Just wow.

One observation: They are fairly inefficient. I need to raise the volume knob higher than with other IEMs, but if anything that's a good thing for me.

Even the cable is good with no microfonics.
 

InfiniteJester

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So I just go these an I am impressed. This might be the best out of the box IEM experience I had. I really like the sound, the sub-bass is maybe a bit too much but still very good, but most importantly: The highs do not bother me. I have EQed down every IEM I own, with these at the moment I do not feel the need to EQ.

They are surprisingly small compared to the other multi-driver IEMs that I have, but that makes them comfortable. I got a good seal immediately with the standard tips, and they stay where they are and don't work their way out. Just wow.

One observation: They are fairly inefficient. I need to raise the volume knob higher than with other IEMs, but if anything that's a good thing for me.

Even the cable is good with no microfonics.

The R2 is not a multidriver, though. The R1 is.
 

muza_1

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I got the KZ D-Fi from AliExpress they were $4.70 and to my surprise I like them more than the Zero:2 and Chu II, they are relaxed, clear and spacious the non switch version has about 1dB more of low end than the switch version in the bassier configuration otherwise they sound the same. The body is all metal but light, small, good looking and comfortable.

graph(2).png
graph(4).png

This are now my travel set, no need to worry about them, they sound good without EQ and isolation is not that bad either.
 
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muza_1

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I am sure I just saw a comment about the Hola before mine I don't recall who made it but it was right, I just quickly compared the Hola to the D-Fi and indeed the Hola sounds better especially the high end and is a bit more open, the D-Fi in my configuration has a bit more bass but if I use it with +/- 1dB less they sound more a like but still the high end of the Hola is better but for $4.70 is incredible that the D-Fi can have the sound and construction it has.
It's a shame is discontinued, I checked the available measurements of the GATe but they vary too much I think I am going to wait a bit to decide.
 

markanini

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I am sure I just saw a comment about the Hola before mine I don't recall who made it but it was right, I just quickly compared the Hola to the D-Fi and indeed the Hola sounds better especially the high end and is a bit more open, the D-Fi in my configuration has a bit more bass but if I use it with +/- 1dB less they sound more a like but still the high end of the Hola is better but for $4.70 is incredible that the D-Fi can have the sound and construction it has.
It's a shame is discontinued, I checked the available measurements of the GATe but they vary too much I think I am going to wait a bit to decide.
I liked Hola better myself. I'm pretty excited about Gate.
 

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Last edited:

InfiniteJester

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I have come to the conclusion that the best budget IEM is one that has been measured with a 5128 and you can EQ to whatever you want.

The Kiwi Ears Quintet is terrible at 250€. But, thankfully, Crinacle has measured it, and you can fix everything wrong with it.

The EW200 is very cheap and you can make them sound perfect thanks to Crinacle's measurements.

Hydro is pretty good, but you can't make it sound as good as the EW200, despite being 100€ more expensive, because it hasn't been measured with a 5128.

JM-1 -1dB/oct tilt and +10dB bass and Dolby Atmos on automatic on.

Warm, smooth. Extremely non-fatiguing, spacious...

You can make a 20€ IEM sound better than a 600€ one with just that.

You don't believe me?


To test the accuracy of method, ten trained listeners evaluated the overall quality of both actual and virtualized versions of twelve different IE headphones binaurally recorded and reproduced through replicator headphone. The results show evidence that the virtualized headphones produce sound quality ratings that are similar to those produced by the actual headphones.

Buy any IEM measured with 5128 and tune it to you liking adjusting the tilt and the bass of either DF or JM-1. You will get a TOTL experience at 1/20 of the cost. I have many very expensive IEMs that are destroyed by an EQ'd cheap EW200.
 
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markanini

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I have come to the conclusion that the best budget IEM is one that has been measured with a 5128 and you can EQ to whatever you want.

The Kiwi Ears Quintet is terrible at 250€. But, thankfully, Crinacle has measured it, and you can fix everything wrong with it.

The EW200 is very cheap and you can make them sound perfect thanks to Crinacle's measurements.

Hydro is pretty good, but you can't make it sound as good as the EW200, despite being 100€ more expensive, because it hasn't been measured with a 5128.

JM-1 -1dB/oct tilt and +10dB bass and Dolby Atmos on automatic on.

Warm, smooth. Extremely non-fatiguing, spacious...

You can make a 20€ IEM sound better than a 600€ one with just that.

You don't believe me?




Buy any IEM measured with 5128 and tune it to you liking adjusting the tilt and the bass of either DF or JM-1. You will get a TOTL experience at 1/20 of the cost. I have many very expensive IEMs that are destroyed by an EQ'd cheap EW200.
That's conflating two separate issues. One is price versus performance. The other is 5128 validity for people in general.

If someone said that their 5128-based EQ didn't satisfy them I would not question them, it's very likely 5128 doesn't match every persons anatomy.

If someone said they preferred a pricier set then I would not question them, because fit is a crucial aspect, and cheaper sets generally have smaller shells leading to a less secure fit.

I'm saying this not as a spendophile snob. I'm literally hyping up an upcoming $20 IEM in another thread, before anyone tries to come at me.
 

InfiniteJester

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That's conflating two separate issues. One is price versus performance. The other is 5128 validity for people in general.

If someone said that their 5128-based EQ didn't satisfy them I would not question them, it's very likely 5128 doesn't match every persons anatomy.

If someone said they preferred a pricier set then I would not question them, because fit is a crucial aspect, and cheaper sets generally have smaller shells leading to a less secure fit.

I'm saying this not as a spendophile snob. I'm literally hyping up an upcoming $20 IEM in another thread, before anyone tries to come at me.
I'm a junkie of buying IEMs, I have spent thousands of euros in the last two years.

Maybe 5128 doesn't work as well for the rest, I concede that. But after seeing what a HE400SE and an EW200 can do with EQ when I have things that are 30, 40 times more expensive, I cannot rationalize the logic of my constant expense on new gear.

Beyond reasonably quality drivers with no evident distorsion, tuning seems to account for almost everything. And you can achieve a lot with tuning on your own if you have good data.

My only issue is that 711 clone measurements over Squig don't seem to work for me at all. Maybe for some people 5128 measurements are also like that. But it is really worth the try, in my opinion.
 
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