Goober's Journey Into the IEM Game or "Why Are You Not As Good As the 7Hz Zero....?"

It’s winter so a beef stew and dumplings :+1:

image

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I accept this food porn on my channel!

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Here are typical Bulgarian dishes :grinning:
bulgarian-traditional-food
You must not have eaten it, it is very tasty!

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Ahahah, soulmates :call_me_hand:

My specialty is Italian as I don’t eat that much meat :hear_no_evil:

My GF specialty is deserts. Life changing ones.

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Well look at that - I happen to be Italian, good sir :pinched_fingers: :pinched_fingers: :pinched_fingers: :pinched_fingers: which probably explains the overwhelmingly strong contrast that is my eyebrows to my skin :rofl:

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Ahahah that explains a lot. Do you do some mean fresh pasta? I’m booking a ticket now :upside_down_face:

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Book that ticket, buddy - I‘ll make you some fresh Ravioli, a beautiful red sauce, little basil to finish it off - I got you :sunglasses::handshake:

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What are the items on the left, like packages? I had some when I was young and have had no idea what to search to find them. What are they called and what are they filled with?

Edit: Maybe stuffed vine leaves? Then I think they’re still not the mystery food from once or twice in my childhood. What’s inside them?

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Exactly. Vine leaves are called “sarmi”. Vine leaves are stuffed with rice, minced meat, spices and served with Bulgarian yogurt. :slight_smile:

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Then this does sound like what I had once or twice as a child. Thank you! Could really use some right now! I appreciate you sharing the pics and info. My grandmother was from the Mediterranean (Palestinian), I think she introduced stuffed vine leaves to us.

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Tin Hifi P1 Max or Would a Planar By Any Other Name Sound As Sweet?

I recently got my hands on, and had a good amount of time with my second planar IEM, the Tin Hifi P1 Max. I didn’t have high expectations, but I also had a feeling that if any of the multitude of planars on the market were going to catch my eye, the Giant Panda might be the one. So when I had a chance to give it a try during 11/11 sales, I took the plunge. How did that turn out for me? Well let’s sit and have a chat about it.

Songs to Listen to and Follow Along:

As usual, I’m going to write my thoughts in generalities, but I’ll give you a sample of songs that I listen to, that will relate to the concepts I write about. Feel free to ask for specifics, if you don’t keep up with my thought processes.

Vertigo - Alice Merton (For bass elements, female vocals, clarity)

I Can’t Give You Anything But Love - Red Garland (For piano tonality, layering, note weight)

All Comes Crashing - Metric (For imaging, clarity and resolution, mids performance)

Holdin’ Onto Your Silence - Jozels (For female vocals, imaging and layering, bass response)

Going, Going, Gone - Wires and Lights (For male vocals, drum and guitar elements, treble response and resolution)

Sometimes I wish I was the Hero In Your Story, I’d Save You From Yourself

Aesthetically speaking, I think there is a lot to like about the Panda: It’s a simple IEM design, not too busy or gaudy but also not bereft of any flavor in the visual of the set. I think it’s more traditional than Timeless, but less ordinary than S12. The fit is right in the sweet spot for me; it’s not as small and won’t disappear in your ear like Olina, or a bullet-style IEM, but it’s got no chunk to it at all. It fits like 7Hz Zero or Rosefinch for me. I can put any tip on it, and it will work for me. YMMV, as always.

Now as for why it took me a while to jump onto a second planar, after trying S12, and why I dragged out writing this review: I don’t think I’m a planar guy. I found the S12 to be a bit shrill and bitey. I’m not trying to cast aspersions that S12 is a BAD IEM, because it certainly is not. I think some of the hallmarks of planar drivers that work in its best favor just don’t necessarily jive with me. The speed and attack that planar are known for don’t necessarily marry well to having the best note weight, especially when the IEM is pushing more of a v-shaped signature. The bass comes and goes with speed, but it doesn’t have that linger which adds to note weight, and when added to an elevation in the upper-mids you lose some balance for the technical pop. And these issues are especially exacerbated if you listen to a planar IEM single-ended and not on a balanced source. I know where I stand on that spectrum, for the most part, so it does leave me in a bit of a lost position as to how to address listening to planar sets.

Sometimes I Wish I Could Take Something a Little Bit Stronger to Drown You Out

So where does that leave me and the Panda? Well when I listened to them for the first time, I was greeted by quite a surprise. I heard a very solid note weight and timbre from the P1 Max. The funny thing is that this does not come from some kind of elevated bass. I would put the bass quantity in the region where the Olina SE (and to a lesser extent a set like the 7Hz Zero) sit. There is enough bass; an adequate (but no more) amount of sub-bass, and a pleasant amount of mid-bass. Where the change in note weight comes in is from the fact that the Panda is NOT a V-shaped sound signature. The mids are not recessed, they are front and center, and I enjoy it VERY much. Red Garland was just a delight, listening to how clean and precise everything sounded, without making a compromise of the midrange. Vocals a spot on, neither males nor females stand out as having an advantage. Both are forward and present and the P1 handles whatever you throw at it.

The upper-mids and treble are also very solid. They smooth out the bite that is present in planars like the S12 and make them easy to listen to. You won’t have a problem of them being too intense or too much. They are the planar you can ride with all day long. That easy-listening does come at a small price, where they could stand to be a touch brighter. But that’s more or less a nitpick, as if I had the choice of the two options, I’d take smoother over brighter. And even with that small pullback of the treble there is no problem with the technicalities here. Layering, imaging, and separation are all on point here, as that’s a standout feature of planar in general. Soundstage is also very good on the Panda, as it’s got a nice width and some depth. I wouldn’t call it a tall soundstage, so there’s an amount of “outside of the head” feeling but not as much as I’ve had with other sets, particularly Starsea.

But Why Aren’t You as Good as the 7Hz Zero?

Well, the P1 Max is not as good as the Zero because it is better than the Zero. It’s a more neutral set, with better bass, more note-weight, and technicalities that are far beyond the Zero. And now that it can get under $90 on sale, it is currently the cheapest version of the planar in the Timeless, and the one I would grab first full-stop.

Versus KBear Aurora - The P1 Max has a better sub-bass, but the Aurora has better mid-bass thump. In fact, I would lean to say that overall I’d call bass a tie or a SLIGHT lean to the Aurora. The mids is a bloodbath for the P1 Max; Aurora is a V-shaped set all the way through and the cut in the mids opens up the space for the bass, but the P1 Max is simply on a different level here. Treble performance is mostly a wash, but the P1 Max has a more balanced and deeper extension than Aurora. Aurora is an underrated performer in technicalities and, especially on single-ended, can go toe-to-toe with Panda. To my ear, Aurora also has a bigger soundstage than P1 Max as well. On balanced sources though, Panda torches Aurora in the technicalities as the advantages of feeding planar more current are on full display!

Versus Penon Fan 2 - F2 is better in bass to me, full-stop. The amount of sub-bass extension is there for both sets, but F2 is more capable in terms of quantity. Panda does not bring the same quantity of mid-bass as Fan 2, and while it does have a speedy and capable bass replay, the Fan 2 has immersive bass. Particularly for drum hits, I absolutely adore F2 and don’t think anything matches it in my current collection. I think both sets are phenomenal in the lower-mid area, but Panda has the advantage in the upper-mids. F2 is a little more relaxed through most of the upper-mids, while Panda is a touch more forward and energetic. I think the sets are pretty close in overall treble response, as P1 Max is a more balanced response. There’s no discernible peaks or valleys, it’s a gentle glide through the harmonics with pleasant overall tonality. The F2 foregoes that balance to have a bit of elevation in the early treble and a spike in the late treble, with a cut in the mid-treble. This does push details further ahead, but removes any concern about the F2 being too bright and pushy. Overall, I prefer its playback over P1 Max. Fan 2 has a fully better soundstage than Panda, and its hybrid technicalities are at least on par with what the planar driver in the Panda can produce. The biggest notch in the Panda’s column is that it has the best mids replay I’ve heard. But it does not do enough for me to take it over the Fan 2.

What Does This All Mean?

I would have to say that what I learned from the Giant Panda is that I may not be a planar guy. When listening to the P1 Max, and comparing it to the sets I have and the planars I have heard, I feel like the Panda sounds more like a very highly resolving DD set than a planar set, and that is a big positive for me. I don’t dislike the speed and agility of planar, but I’m not a huge fan of the general tuning planars have been adopting that leaves them sounding a little bit thin and bright, in order to accentuate their technical chops. I can respect that they do that well, but I don’t find it pleasing to me. So if the planar that I like the most is the one that sounds the least like a planar, then I don’t know what the draw is for me. That being said, I’m not going to lie like I didn’t really enjoy the Panda and would buy it if I had to pick one planar to own. Because I certainly would. I just don’t think that that is quite enough to pull me down the planar rabbit hole. But at the end of the day, if you want to enjoy the hallmark advantages of the planar technology, without some of the negatives of planar timbre and tuning, then the P1 Max is the cuddly panda you want to hug. That’s going to be it for this review. Enjoy your days, and take care till next time!

Rank: A- (A on a balanced source)

Rank With Personal Bias: A (A+ on a balanced source)

And in a new little twist:

Rank As a Food: Au Jus

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LOL I love the food reference.

Fantastic write up, man. I agree with pretty much everything you said - the P1 Max is a smooth replay, almost addicting, with all the benefits of a planar (fast transients, great layering, top notch resolution) but absent of all the negatives (unnatural Timbre most notably).

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This was my thread. There’s now planars here.

Not my thread

Even though I said it’s not my thing? And I brought food?

Such a rude Airbnb guess!

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Why are you a planar hater? After getting HBBs retune of the Hook-X I feel like any other driver type is straight irrelevant lol. I get the hate for the ones with timbre problems but even the OG Hook-X dodged that problem entirely.

Because there are too many? I don’t hate planars lol

We have different definitions of timbre tho.

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To be fair, Hook-X isn’t a pure planar, it’s a hybrid. So you like the mix of techs, but that certainly doesn’t make other driver types irrelevant. Quite the opposite, in fact

Well, let’s dive into the mind of Nymz a little here - what is your definition of Timbre? Or better yet, acceptable or “good” timbre?

This ain’t my thread, so I’ll bite.

To me timbre is a combination of elements which ultimately result mainly as Tuning and Transients (ADSR). To note that a great timbre for vocals might not be the best for piano which might not be the best for strings or brass, for example. Good example would be Serratus vs Ripples, but more on that later.

The first one is pretty explanatory. Instrumental timbre will be shot if you over raise areas in the harmonic extension, which as 5 to 6k peaks, 8k peaks, over boosted 12k without any support, etc etc. I think anyone that understands what we are talking about here will at least understand how it affects the harmonic wave (easier to be visual about it).

For vocal timbre, as an example, if you mess with the upper-mid range or lower treble, you will get the usual suspects of shoutiness, nasal sounds, sibilance on consonants like “sss” and “tttssss”.

You can also check it on bass. Cut the bass shelf short too soon before its correction and you get the sense of no decay.

Pretty standard so far, right?

Now the shit storm arrives when we meet transient response or ADSR, short for attack-decay-sustain-release. Theres actually a great article by Crinacle on this, which I’d encourage anyone to read.

Now this is the part that affects people differently. I have friends who can’t distinguish this and its fine, other can hear nano-differences 100x better than me (TGX comes to mind). For me, it’s the major deal breaker.

To cut it short, imagine a wonky driver that is too slow to attack and too fast to decay. That instantly pops up, as there’s no trail to a note but the initial attack is blurry and not accurate. I’ve encountered this before but I srsly can’t recall since I’m too fried, but u get the idea.

The most usual suspect is when everything is (too) fast. Balanced armateurs and planars are perfect examples of that, with the first being the fastest. The attack is too fast (imagine yourselve doing a very quick punch instead of a regular one) and the decay follow suit, leaving a very short decay with almost no sustain or release times.

Example: a cymbal that goes regularly “TTTSSSssss” will go out as “TSs”.

In the opposite spectrum are slow dynamic drivers, that will prolong too much. Over exposure of the that timings makes notes blurry into each on busier passages, while the above example is the opposite, and enche why most metal heads love speed and impact.

Last but not least, transient sharpness or lack of. DUNU VULKAN has great timbral accuracy but lacks sharpness to it, coming out as rounded or, as it’s usually called blurred transients. Will come out as soft and mushy, giving a sense of (due to a lack of better word right now) note compression and blurrness.


Now, on planars. Planar IEMs are somewhere between the middle of the road between DDs and BAs, but closer to the latter usually. This means their transient response is fast overall, which gives that typical “planar timbre”. To be honest, it’s way less noticeable on IEMs that it is on HPs like Fostex or Hifiman, maybe due to driver size.

Major planar problems are the tuning they come out with. Mid-treble heavy exurbitates all the problems and for that, it’s not ideal.

Do I hate them? No.
Am I’m fed from them? Yes.
Why? No innovation. Everyone is using the same driver. Sure, Hook-X uses a full range Piezo driver and that adds some “flavour” to it. I like it, especially the HBB version.

TL:DR Do I like eating apples everyday all the time? No. Do I hate apples? No.

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See that’s the weird thing for me. I’ve never in my life heard any dynamic driver that doesn’t have too much decay. Not in ear or over ear. I do think most planar over ears have too fast of a decay but there are at least some that nail it.