Review by Paolo Tellano
Introduction on the maker
“We like surprises, and we like delivering them just as much. Mushrooms are known to grow out of nowhere and at a spontaneous rate after all.” – Marco Santos (founder)
A quirky introduction for the brand indeed. Did I exaggerate a bit on the title? Probably not, atleast in my view. From fit to no compromise on details, the Kabutips has it all. It has dethroned my favorite eartips for IEMs, the JVC Spiral Dots. Plus, you have to admit that they look really aesthetic. To add to that, the customer service is topnotch. I suggest contacting Marco Santos or Matt Uy if you want to inquire about these tips. They sent me three pairs of the Kabutips. The small size fit me the best.
I was not paid by Kabutech Customs to do this review. I would also like to remind people who are reading that our ears vary significantly. My ears are enormous and usually a size medium fits me. However, swapping from different IEMs taught me that sometimes I need to use a small or a larger tip in order to get a good seal. That’s probably because of different nozzle types.
The fit on the Kabutips takes a lot of getting used to. At first, the fit will be too good of a seal. It’s tight. However, after a minute it will feel seamless in the ears. The tips that usually fit me best are medium ones. Apparently, the Kabutips that fit me best are the small ones. Hopefully Kabutech Customs, in the near future, consider “middle sizing” (e.g. like Spiral Dots MS or ML). The memory foam is pliable and the outer silicone part is quite tough. This means that you can easily maneuver your nozzle in the Kabutips without fear of tarnishing them. This varies a lot from your foam tips which usually break if you’re not careful.
If you’ve been using IEMs for awhile now, you’ll understand that tips can make or break your audio experience. The Kabutips deliver in this department. In my perception, it adds a little bit of bass. The good thing is that it doesn’t make things muddy. The mids retain their detail. What I notice was that it pushed it a little forward. People who find the DM6 to be a little bit recessed can try these out. Lastly, it controls the highs. This is usually the case for most of the foam tips I’ve tried. However, it doesn’t dampen it. If you’re a treble-head, you don’t need to fear that your cymbals would significantly be affected. Also, it doesn’t reduce your perceived sound stage. A descriptive enumeration of the overall effect is as follows: adds a bit of sub bass, a tinge of mid bass, adds weight to the mids (alongside a more forward presentation), and controlled highs.
Okay, these things look fantastic! As far as I know, you can order different memory foam colors. Let’s be real, a lot of audiophiles want their gear to look coordinated; I mean it’s all about the sound, but why not if you can get both sound and aesthetics?
Comparisons (Spiral Dots, Symbios, Spinfit)
In comparing with the Spiral Dots, the Kabutips would probably be not as light to the ears. Spiral dots offer less pressure. However, this has a trade-off. Kabutips wouldn’t compromise your isolation like Spiral Dots do. In terms of the sound, it would be the reaction with your gear and preference. If you like a more open and brighter sound, the Spiral Dots would do the trick. If you’re looking for an overall effect in sound (refer to the sound section), that would be the Kabutips.
The best comparison would be with the Symbios. Since they have the same design, they should fit the same. On the onset, that felt like the case. However, my ears adjusted better to the kabutips. I found its memory foam to be more forgiving. In the sound department, they have the same effect in the bass and treble regions. However, the Kabutips would edge the effect on the mids. It has better detail retrieval and positioning there, in comparison with the Symbios. Also, it seems like the stage is bigger with the Kabutips.
Lastly, the Spinfits. Between the Spinfits and the Symbios, the former would have a better seal and fit. Objectively, that would be the case. It has better depth insertion and a tighter feel to it. However, the Kabutips doesn’t wear the ear down that much. There isn’t much pressure as well with the Kabutips. In terms of sound, I just found the Spinfits too thin in the mids to be my cup of tea. The Kabutips dominate the sound department in my opinion.
Yes, this might be the most loose I have been in a review. Sound is subjective, but I believe fit varies more from one person to another. If people would suggest to try audio gear out before buying them, I would suggest that with tips as well if you’re buying by the pack. Unfortunately, that’s a rare option in this hobby. On the bright side, buying different tips wouldn’t hurt the wallet as much as buying a new IEM. Kabutech Customs allow demo with their tips, so you can definitely give Matt Yu and Marco Santos a pm for that.