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Jan 25, 2018
Alright... I finally got my Schiit stack in and I think I can finally give this product a fair review. TL;DR: If you don't have an amp, walk away. You will be disappointed. They're fantastic otherwise. Before we get started here, I'd like to say that I'm not by any means an audiophile or professional... I also don't really have any high end gear to use or compare against, so I'm going to be speaking from the perspective of an average Joe. My gear: Schiit Magni 3 (new) Modi 2 Uber (new) Sennheiser Urbanites (commuter headphones) Logitech UE 9000 (daily desktop headphones) Source: Optical out from desktop into Modi (amped) or plugged directly into my motherboard's on-board DAC (no amp). 320Kbps audio (specifically Ninja Sex Party's Under the Covers) and some various youtube videos, Pandora @ 192Kbps and some assorted 260ish Kbps clips. Without the amp... I couldn't really understand why I just paid $60 for these. They sound dull, muted, bland... just plain bad. The highs were muffled, the mids were kinda alright, and the lows were like a kitten pawing at a door levels of kick. They were just, uninspired. There was no sparkle, no kick, no pump... nothing. What even, I couldn't believe how absolutely terrible it made this album sound. Granted, I know the audiophiles out there will lynch me saying I shouldn't compare a product plugged into my motherboard and how motherboard DACs suck, blah blah blah. No. My Sennheisers and Logitechs sound great through the same port. Something is wrong here and it sure as hell isn't my motherboard. Yes, these aren't true audiophile headphones (I got them because bluetooth is awesome for mobile) and I know it's apples to oranges comparing cans to buds, but hot damn are these just the worst things I've ever listened with. Thankfully, before throwing them across the room into the bin, I read online that most of the reviewers were listening to these through some kind of amp and many said they came to life with an amp. So, I went ahead and ordered a Schiit audio stack + the HD6XX (in case these still sucked). Fast forward a month of anticipation and backorder nonsense... I now have something to work with. As a point of comparison, I listened to the same album on my existing headphones and then followed up by listening on these buds. I'll skip the specifics on the other headphones and jump straight into these buds. Do not buy these if you don't have an amp. Absolutely necessary to have some kind of an amp on these bad boys... Once amp'ed up, these do really come alive. The highs a sparkly, the mids clear and crisp and the lows actually have some kick (not a whole lot mind you, but it's pretty decent for earbuds). The detail of the low end is fairly defined, not too rumbley (rumbly?) or gravely. I feel that sometimes the lower end of the mids gets muddied out by some of the lows, but in general they're not overpowering of fatiguing. Also the highs sometimes bleed over the mids if there is a lot of high going on, like a flute or lots of high hats tinning away. In general they do a good job of isolating the layers to give a fairly enjoyable experience. I can't say these are the most fun sounding bud I've ever listened to, that might still belong to the VModa Vibe 2s I owned a long while back, but these aren't going into a bin anytime soon. They sound pretty great through the Schiit stack. Oh, and don't try to listen to these anywhere you're required to be quiet... these things are freaking loud. They leak harder than a burst pipe. You'd think there was a small speaker in the room by how loud they sound... my mic would pick them up clear as day, causing some of my discord clan mates to get a bit cross with me. So I would recommend these more for home listening (unless you're that jerk on the bus who blasts his music for everyone to hear...). In terms of portability... For someone with an amp, these are a pretty good value for $60. But for the person without an amp, who would then need to dish out probably another $100 for the amp... that's a hard pill to swallow for some buds, especially when buds are kinda meant to be light and portable. They sounded pretty alright, but only slightly better through my iPhone X's adapter... so there's that, I guess... I still can't really recommend them without a proper amp. I think most people who will want to EDC these will probably be put off by the idea of needing an additional amp if they don't already have one. Me personally, I don't like the idea of a portable DAC & Amp; It's just more junk to carry, more weight, more bulk, more cables. Bleh. If you're like me and don't like the idea of carrying a DAC to go with your phone, just walk away from these. They're not for you, sorry. To everyone else, these will be a pretty decent sounding set of buds at a relatively economical price. Personal nits: I've never really caught on with earbuds, they fall out and generally feel annoying after long sessions. These don't fall out as easily, thanks to the hooked cable situation, but they're not exactly the most comfortable things in the world. Sometimes they sit perfectly and I can listen for hours on end, sometimes the plastic just rubs my ear raw and I can't stand them. I don't know what it is. The foam tips suck, they fall out constantly and just refuse to stay in for me so I'm still on the stock silicon tips (medium size I think) and that works fairly well. The braided cable looks neat, but I wish there was a kevlar or nylon wrapped variant. Also, I wish the bit of cable that rests on the ears was rubberized or something. They hurt a lot more than normal cylindrical or flat cables when they snag and pull on my ears. Edit 12/2018: So the left bud just up and died on me. I don't use these very much because I found them uncomfortable, but now they're 50% broken, 50% uncomfortable. I think maybe removing the cable caused some damage, maybe pulled something loose, I dunno. Either way, I haven't exactly man-handled them nor have I even used them often enough to say it's "wear and tear." Pretty lame.
Jan 25, 2018
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