BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: 650 Ohm Earbud Shootout

I was posed a challenge by two good friends, Light and Peter. These two are both comrades in terms of love for earbuds (apart from Max who of course should be the head honcho when it comes to everything earbuds in my opinion) and I must say, the proposition that they offered is quite hard to resist as much as it is quite hard to do. You see, I would like to knock the heads of these two when they offered me to do a shootout between the Seahf 650 Ohms and the TY Hi-Z 650 Ohms, I honestly am not sure if they were just making fun out of me as they know it will be quite a tight fight and would like me to have a bit of a challenge or if they themselves are curious as to whether get the other. Either way, I would like to thank these two knuckleheads for allowing me a chance for a lengthy time to compare the two as I admitted that it will be a very tough review.

True enough, I needed more time in comparing the two as it has similarities and difference which may not always be seen easily by most people. Yes, they may sport a bit of difference but then again, closer scrutiny is necessary to identify the discern which performs better or, whichever suits one’s taste.

Let’s now go through these two wonders and see how they fared against each other. Continue reading “BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: 650 Ohm Earbud Shootout”

BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Master & Dynamic MH40

Hello again and welcome to another edition of the Bus Ride Impression! For today’s edition, I am pretty much a lucky guy having been granted an opportunity to try the Master & Dynamic MH40. This can has been in my radar for quite some time now and to be honest it has caught my fancy given the feedback I have been reading about it on top of how it looks. Pardon me, but while the aesthetics did catch my attention, I have been interested as to how it sounds. I believe that the MH40 is one of the underappreciated brands in the market that deserves some attention thus my interest.

Lo and behold, upon getting my hands on one (thanks Pete for the loaner), my suspicions has been allayed; it does sound fantastic as it looks. I therefore think that it is about time the local market pay attention to one of these babies given how well they sound especially if it meets your preference. I would say that this should be part of a personal audio enthusiast’s collection given how well it works with a few of the sources that I tried it with.

Let’s get on with the review and find out how well it does. Continue reading “BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Master & Dynamic MH40”

BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Chord Hugo 2

Was waiting for this for a very long time. Was even shaking with anxiety as to when I can make this happen. And then good friend Gef told me that I can have the Chord Hugo 2 for a couple of weeks. I froze. I felt like I won the jackpot.

Welcome to another installment of the Bus Ride Impression and I am writing today quite jittery as I have something really good in store for this episode. Man, I know these are the kinds of toys that I should be saving up on, but given that I am such an obedient husband, I have relinquished my plans of getting one of these bad boys to probably next year as I prepare for something REALLY big for Aurem Fidelitatem in the next couple of months. However, since I have a very generous friend as a benefactor, I am not planning to pass up on the chance to have this baby sleeping with me for the next few weeks so here it is: the Bus Ride Impression on the Chord Hugo 2.

Chord started shipping Hugo 2 to its fans around April of this year, and boy I can picture the anticipation on the faces of these fans given the success of the first iteration of the Hugo. Who wouldn’t? I mean if Mojo was already a breakout success, much more with its bigger sibling who has been making waves since a few years back. And now the new iteration of the Hugo is out in the market, I kind of expected it to be more impactful given its reputation. Continue reading “BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Chord Hugo 2”

BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Trinity Audio Sagaris Icarus III

One would probably wonder as to what else can Trinity Audio offer now that they have laid out most of their recent outings for the season. Sure, Trinity Audio has the 12 pair tuning filter on every product they currently have, so most of the TA fans must have memorized each and every tuning filter there is for the brand. Apart from that, one might probably ask, “what else is new?”.

Enter the Trinity Audio Sagaris Icarus III. One would think that the said IEM would just offer the fanciful face plates you can switch around based on your preference. Yes, it is nice and nifty, but upon trying the IEM, one would wonder how in the world does Trinity Audio able to come up with yet a different style out of its tuning given its usual formula.

Let’s read on and find out how the Icarus III fare.

Build

As mentioned, TA pulled some bells and whistles in terms of looks with the new Phantom Master and with the Icarus III through the face plates which allows users some sort of customization. This should be nice as it allows one not to only change the sound signature through its tuning filters but also with how it looks. For some, this allows some updates on the looks once one gets tired of it, and can even allow ease in identifying which earpiece goes to which ear. Not only aesthetic, but should be quite functional. The Icarus comes with a pair each of gold fibre, polished blue and polished red face plates, but given the current air of technology, some pretty crafty dudes can even come up with other colors through a 3D scanner and printer.

The Icarus III also emulated the new Master with its cable management tech by terminating the earpieces at the cable splitter, which according to TA is to allow the IEMs to be used in single ended connection and in balanced connection in preparation for its Sagaris DAP and DAC. This I think is quite a good move as the package comes with a single ended 3.5mm-3.5mm cable (TRS) and a 3.5mm-3.5mm balanced cable (TRRS), which means it can be used with balanced sources like the HM901S. Furthermore, one can still opt to get a custom 3.5mm-2.5mm TRRS cable for other balanced sources should this be the case for their DAPs. Only issue I have is that it would have been nice if the earpieces are detachable with either 2-pin or MMCX termination, although for some it won’t really be much of an issue since the cable splitter already allows one to switch around cables for SE to balanced options. This is really just a matter of what floats their boats.

Shells are obviously where TA invested on improvements. While the older IEMs of TA has an uncanny issue on durability, TA decided to make this issue a thing of the past. The shell halves are now secured by screws, which mean only the totally clumsy ones can wreck havoc on the otherwise sturdily built earpieces. Overall, it is a kudos for TA to keep on improving their craft. This should quell some people’s malicious claims on TA IEMs’ durability.

As usual, the Icarus III carries twelve pairs of tuning filters, which should allow its users a wide array of tuning options.

In terms of weight, the Icarus is also significantly lighter compared to the new Master. Perhaps it was because of the number of drivers the new Master has, that I really am not sure.

Overall, the build of Icarus III has indeed been incredible, perhaps one of the best in terms of durability. Paired with TA’s one year warranty, the Icarus should be one of the best, at least on its price range when it comes to durability.

Sound

As I have said, one would wonder if TA has anything else to offer with their new line Sagaris. Fair enough, based on my initial impressions I was able to draw some differences on how TA tunes their usual lines particularly the Phantom series.

With Sagaris, TA opted to go for a couple of different drivers. They are pretty much driven off the typical BAs and DDs, and I was not really sure how the dual coil electroacoustic transducers and the series 2 wideband balanced armatures would sound differently from the typical ones. This we will tackle as I take the Icarus III for a spin.

For the test, I will go with my trusty Hifiman HM-901S and Aune M1S. Will also be switching the SE and balanced cable around to see how much difference it will make in comparison to each other.

Gravity (Sara Bareilles, Brave Enough: Live At The Variety Playhouse)

Perhaps this is where the strength of the Icarus III lies: live tracks. It places you in the midst of the crowd with relatively close seating from the stage. You won’t hear any echoes, Bareilles’ voice stands out well while harmoniously accompanied by the piano. The crowd erupting in applause only adds to the sense of realism you hear off the track, and it actually gave me goosebumps especially around 3:30 of the track. Bareilles’ voice was really made to shine with the Icarus III. Perhaps it was because of the gold undampened filter that I used, but the mid ranges are definitely spectacular, more so when using the balanced connection on the HM-901S which added an even wider soundstage and better clarity of the higher frequencies.

The Day I Tried To Live (Soudgarden, Superunknown)

This track sounded quite very interesting for me. Started off using the purple filters and balanced cable, the guitars at the start of the track sounded very distinct and crisp, with the drums entering with such resonance. Sub-bass is just lovely, with that very clean rumble that doesn’t spill over the neighboring frequencies. Cornell’s voice also stood out, but a bit of a downside is how rolled off the cymbals sounded like. Not too rolled off, but me being who I am feels that it somehow rolled off a bit too early for my taste. Soundstage still is superb, width is far more superior to the point that I feel this usually from open backed cans.

Dreams (The Cranberries, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?)

On the third track of the test, one thing stood clear, that is the Icarus III sounded with such excellent clarity. I tried to do some filter rolling and I still get to be satisfied with the level of clarity the Icarus III delivered. With Dreams, details sounded crystalline and no hint of veiling was observed. The details are amazing to the point that micro details are easily distinguishable. Of course, there’s also the separation which is, I must say, is better than most IEMs I have tried at the same price range. The rumbles on the track was amazing, guitar strums lingered quite well (pun unintended), vocals showed such assymetry that is truly awe-inspiring. I just realized that I am getting hooked with the Icarus III at the moment.

Between the balanced and single ended cables, I will have to say that I urge anyone who gets an Icarus III to please, please try the balanced cable. While the single ended connection is already excellent, I will have to insist that you try to use the balanced cable and be blown away. I think with the balanced cable, the dynamics and soundstage improved even further.

Wrap-Up

So the verdict? I am hooked with the Icarus III. I will have to laud Trinity Audio for coming up with the formula. You see, most cases in the IEM sector of the hobby would depend on the regular BA and dynamic drivers, but TA did something that not every manufacturer is always willing to do: venture with new techs for better sound. It is understandable, in fairness, as catastrophe might hit if they try to tinker with a rather little known technology. With TA, they took the gamble, and with the skills (and ears) they have, it is no wonder they were able to capitalize on the technology quite well.

The Trinity Audio Sagaris Icarus III retails for 235 GBP, but trust me, the IEM sounded way much more than the value. I may be overstating it, but I haven’t come across something like this for quite some time now. If you got the budget and you want something amazing, I highly recommend it. I am not asking you though to take my word for it, but I highly encourage you to take it for a spin, and I assure you that if every you have doubts, all of those will be allayed.

BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Fiio X5III

The Fiio X5III, or otherwise known as the X5 3rd Generation has been quite hot in the market for the past weeks since it was released. This doesn’t strike me as a surprise though, as it is quite hard to find an Android powered DAP in the market with X5III’s price tag ($459.99 at Fiio’s AliExpress official store). Currently, other Android DAPs in the market would normally be priced at around $600 at least which makes you think whether Fiio’s latest DAP outing may be short changing the consumers or may have cut some corners to get to such price. With that, I think it will be best for us to see for ourselves how it does.

Luckily, I got a loaner from a very good friend to see what makes the X5III tick the audio enthusiast masses. To begin with (and for transparency), I am not a very big fan of Fiio (in spite of the fact that my humble beginnings were littered with several Fiio devices) but I will try and see if the X5III is any different from how the usual Fiio fares do.

With this, let’s get it on and see how Fiio’s flagship player does. Continue reading “BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Fiio X5III”

BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Sony MDR-CD900ST

Hello, hello! Welcome back to the Bus Ride Impression and honestly, it feels so good to be back writing reviews and impressions. For quite sometime I have been hounded by relentless deadlines from my real-life job (I consider the hobby as my Utopian paradise) that it held me from writing for quite some time. However, my semi-hiatus allowed me some time to acquire some gems which I think are going to be a joy to read as most of them aren’t exactly something you will easily get within our shores. I will tackle them one by one in the next editions of the BRI. Continue reading “BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Sony MDR-CD900ST”

BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Rock Jaw Audio Resonate

I am the type of guy who is quite easy to please. Fact is, every single time I get presented with a new gear my mood is easily lightened up. Doesn’t matter if it is cheap or expensive, loaner or a gift, I am just practically easily thrilled by the fact that I got something new to try.

Naturally, I felt the same way when I finally got a nod from Rock Jaw Audio for a demo unit of their flagship IEM, the Resonate. Yeah sure, my online shop carries it anyway and it is quite inevitable that I will get a demo unit anyway, but I still haven’t lost that sense of excitement when unboxing a new toy. With the Resonate, I felt that a bit more of thrill as this is a flagship IEM of a brand.

Continue reading “BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Rock Jaw Audio Resonate”

BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Multi-Driver IEM Shootout

With the personal audio market continually progressing every single day, it is no longer surprising that what used to be very rare and expensive innovations are now replaced with more affordable stuff that proliferate the industry. Before there only used to be drivers in our IEMs or earbuds, which later developed to micro-drivers. Nowadays, multiple drivers are being crammed in the shells of our toys to offer better sound details if done properly and correctly against the objective of manufacturers. Continue reading “BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Multi-Driver IEM Shootout”

BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Trinity Audio Phantom Hunter

Aaaaannnnddd we’re down to the last IEM for the Trinity Audio week, and what finer way to cap it off but by doing the Bus Ride Impression on Trinity Audio’s premier, limited edition in-ear monitors, the Phantom Hunter?

At first I was dubious: why would TA’s supposed top of the line, limited edition IEM carry only 5 drivers while the Master 6 has, err, 6? Truly, is it not the case of which carries more drivers, but with the price difference, surely more drivers would be in order given the price premium? Yes, the shells of the Hunter is truly breathtaking, but what can the Hunter offer that the other TA IEMs can’t? Continue reading “BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Trinity Audio Phantom Hunter”

BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Trinity Audio Master

As we continue with the Trinity Audio week, we are now about to embark on reviewing the modular Master. Trinity Audio went to the direction of adding a little bit of pizzazz on this IEM by adding a bit more of customization through the included face plates. While some naysayers would say that it really is more of an improvement to the aesthetics of the IEM, it should be fancied by a lot as this allows a bit of distinction to the Master without having to go through buying multiple units just to have that flair of using a different looking one should you get tired of the design you are used to. Continue reading “BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Trinity Audio Master”