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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

[REVIEW] VE Asura and Zen

Prelude: A few weeks ago I was contacted by a mutual 3rd party on Head-fi regarding whether I will like to give some Chinese made high-Z earbuds a review. Immediately I recalled a review article I read awhile back in that comes with fairly high praise (and subsequently get knocked around a few times, see reason below). We don’t see a lot of high-Z earbuds around so I was fairly certain they should be the same things. I don’t keep high hope for earbuds these days but I am still an earbuds lover in heart, so I agreed to give them a look, and indeed they turn out to be the same model I saw earlier. They are made by a small Chinese company called VE (, with a Chinese name translated to ‘micro wing’). No sooner after I agreed, the news spread out on some Chinese forums, which in turn came back to HF, and I received some ‘friendly suggestion’ that, perhaps it might not be the best of idea to do a review on VE. It would seem that there are a lot of heated discussion (or controversy?) on whether VE is a genuine company or just a quick DIY job for money. Even more so is whether VE actually makes TOTL earbuds as they and their Chinese supporters have claimed. Different from the international market where IEM rules, earbuds still hold a high esteem among Chinese audiophiles and they really don’t mind paying for premium earbuds – mixed that with the fact that there are a lot of shady companies employing shill marketing tactic, it is understandable on why people are always skeptical and will act defensively when confronted with such a bold claim. If there is anything I learned from reading Chinese audiophiles forums over the years, it will be the bad ‘SNR’ that often ruins the days. You can never quite sure whether you are reading genuine impression, shill marketing, over-enthused writing or maybe some other types of hidden agenda. So I decided not to take things written on a those forums too seriously but instead let the products speak for themselves, which I kind of glad that I did. Nevertheless, I think a prelude is needed to shine some light on the unusual circumstances surrounding VE. Regardless of what have been said, it will be a mistake to dismiss VE – that much I am sure.

It said: "torture one-self, reject mediocrity, all for our sound."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

[REVIEW] Signature Acoustics Element O-16 Live

It might be a bit odd to name an IEM the O-16, as in ‘oxygen’. But given their first IEM is the carbon (C-12), I guess the India based Signature Acoustics does meant to create a real ‘Element’ series based on the periodic table. As their second product, the O-16 continues to target the budget IEM market and one can be found for just US$30 or so (*MSRP is double that).


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Classic Reborn

JAYS has announced the relaunch of the company's previous flagship, the dual balanced armature based q-JAYS, but with a bit extra. For those who are too young to remember, q-JAYS was born in an era where multi-driver IEM were rather rare and q-JAYS was immediately held as one of the best sounding IEM around. It was supposed to be replaced by the quad-driver x-JAYS though the project was dropped after the 2009 financial crisis. Then q-JAYS was phased out more or less around the same time frame... and for all these years, JAYS has never really made any IEM that is worth to take the flagship title.

Though the new flagship is stilled called q-JAYS, with dual BA driver and similarly styled design, there are a few noticeable difference upfront. The first will be the user removable cable with what seems like a specially modified screw-in MMCX connector. I am not a fan of MMCX in general but a screwed in and secured MMCX should at least be less fragile. The second is the steel body, as oppose to the original plastic construction. Last but not least is the USD$450 price tag, which is quite a lot to ask these days for a dual driver, given a very good three driver hybrid can probably be had for $150 less. I can only hope q-JAYS will impress us again - even more so, will we see a comeback of x-JAYS as well? I am crossing my fingers now.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Natural Stereo Sound

Hong Kong based custom IEM and portable amp maker LEAR is looking for some kind of crowdfunding help to bring their new IEM to the market. It is simply called the 'NSS earphone', where NSS stands for Natural Stereo Sound, a technique LEAR developed for stereo sound enhancement. Judging from the picture, I'll have guessed it used a second transducer feeding an delayed sound of the opposite channel, which should gives you a crossfeed-circuit-like effect, but all done in the analog domain.

Check it out here.

[UPDATE] The crowdfunding price will is US$160 and the final retail price will be US$220+.

Amazon's Deal

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Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

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