Review by Paolo Tellano
Source, cables, tips, etc.
DX120 (Digital Filter: Sharp roll off, Sound Mode: Reference, High Gain)
Kabutips and stock tips
FLACs, DSDs, DSFs, and MP3s
Rather simple and straight up. It came with stock tips that are honestly not of good quality. So it would be up to the user to find good tips for the best seal. The small hard case and mini pouch were great though, nothing too fancy here.
A few people find the fit to be alright. For me, it was excellent as long as you find the right tips. These are one of the most comfortable IEMs that I have tried. It’s a great beater IEM as it doesn’t put too much weight on your ears, nor does it put too much pressure when inserted. Sometimes you don’t even notice that it’s there.
The only good thing about the cable is that it’s light, other than that there’s nothing noteworthy really. It has a tough earguide, which would be great if you’d wear these over ear. However, it’s kind of weird if you’re wearing it down like I do.
It’s generally balanced with minimal extensions on both ends. These got gorgeous mids. In addition, they respond well to cable-rolling and adding extra juice. In my case, I only tried to give these high-gain and balanced cable to funnel enough power. According to the distributor here in the Philippines, it scales up well with an amp. However, that would totally defeat the purpose of acquiring these for portable usage at least for my lifestyle.
The sub bass doesn’t extend too far. While it doesn’t roll-off unnaturally, one shouldn’t expect that much depth in the sub bass. The bright side to this is that the sub bass won’t mess with the clarity. So no, there isn’t much quantity here. If you get your hands on the SS1, I would encourage you to try out the track “I’ve Got All This Ringing In My Ears” by Fall Out Boy. The intro of the song (0:00 – 0:26), which supposedly goes deep, doesn’t go that deep here.
It has very good texture and natural decay, nothing overly tight. The repeating mid bass attacks in “All The Stars” by Kendrick Lamar & SZA has good resolution and good decay, whilst not intruding with the mids. I wouldn’t call it neutral though, it has a minimal bump in this frequency.
There’s good detailing here, the positioning isn’t too forward and the vocals aren’t shouty. I kept repeating “All Out of Love” by Air Supply. Good resolution on the instrument on these little IEMs. It has no bias over the vocals, so both male and female vocals are presented beautifully without being too upfront. Evanescene’s “My Immortal” (Orchestra Version) sounded good on these, the pianos and violins were rendered really well.
Early roll-off, that’s basically the SS1 with the treble. I personally wouldn’t recommend it for treble-heads, especially for people who like to hear everything in a Michael Jackson track. The brilliance is just adequate, but it makes a good daily beater if you don’t want to tire your ears out. The shimmer that you’ll be looking for with cymbal crashes decays a bit quick.
Soundstage and imaging
While these have good resolution, I wouldn’t say the same for the imaging. Just like the LZ-A4, the detail is there but the positioning is a bit off. That’s the same fact with the stock cable and when you roll to more expensive ones, such has Vikabel Akustik’s cables, although the latter did help them improve in this department. The soundstage is quite narrow, similar to that of the Etymotics’ Er3xr. Although the Etymotics would beat these in imaging and layering.
Conclusion (w/ brief comparisons)
Do I believe that they compete with sub $200 IEMs? That would probably be due to the fit. However, to say that they are better than the competition wouldn’t be honest of me. In terms of technical performance (i.e. imaging, resolution, staging, clarity and texture), the DM6, DMG, and the Toneking T4 would best these. I’d even say the TFZ Exclusive King and Anew U1 would compete, and they are cheaper. Is it because of the sound signature? I don’t know about that. I love my neutral sound and the Etymotic ER3XR is my reference IEM right now. The house sound of that brand is neutral, but it definitely performs better than the SS-1. However, these have become my daily beaters but they’ll be sold soon. Maybe the distributor is right, they probably need amping. However, if you’re looking for some IEMs you could carry around that wouldn’t be an option.