IEM discussion thread (Part 2)

Continuing the discussion from IEM discussion thread (Part 1) - #10060 by GooberBM.

Previous discussions:

Whoops, I broke the thread. And now it’s watch is ended! :coffin: :headstone: :coffin:

13 Likes

Damn, that is so dope - 10,000 posts on thread 1… that’s incredible.

3 Likes

The only other pt 2 I have seen is HBBs thread!

2 Likes

Thanks bro. The kid’s like 7 and he’s gonna be my little audiophile protoge. I already have him listening to a pair of HD58X through a JDS Labs Element 2 I had laying around. IEMs and buds are the next step so I’m gonna give him those KZs, TinHifi T3+ , and some of the NSC Audio 80 LCP buds I love with decent cables and cases for all and my Fiio BTR3k to get him going on mobile hifi. :sunglasses:

5 Likes

You make me think of my little cousin who was eating lobster as a toddler.

Good luck making a true snob out of the kiddo!

5 Likes

My son has already claimed the Monarchs for when he’s old enough to handle handling them :sweat_smile:

My son is going to be a menace, making fun of his friends with their Airpods and beats, pfffff :smirk:

8 Likes

Careful Dom, next thing he’ll be asking for the annihilator :grimacing:

4 Likes

He better start saving his allowance like, now then dude :rofl:

3 Likes

Random thought - This is a histogram. It represents the levels of exposure in a photo. I’m sitting here editing some images I took and I can’t help but make the comparison to frequency response graphs. It even behaves like an FR too. The left side of the graph represents shadows/black areas (Bass), the middle is your mid-tones (like skin tones) and the right side is your highlights (total whites and skies, things like that).

Histogram

Idk why I never made the comparison before, but I learned how to read a histogram before an audio FR, and I can’t help but feel like I’ve been training my brain to understand an audio FR since I started taking photos 14 years ago.

It’s crazy how things go hand in hand.

8 Likes

Listening to tonight and What did you buy today also on pt 2’s :+1:

Uh oh, is this correct what I am hearing about? The so called newest flaghship IEM set from Moondrop called the Darksaber is apparently having QC issues? Man there are things never changed huh? Like the days when I first got both the OG Starfields and the OG Arias, good set of IEMs for me at that time but mildly infuriating as hell when it comes to the QC issues I had with them, particularly with their paints chipping off and the cables of the Starfield and OG Aria are not up to par for my liking.

Man, I hope there are other IEM brands that are not facing this issue, but so far on what I am seeing and basing on the current IEMs I have, looks like Simgot is taking Ws this year, I am sure Truthear as well for the EA500s, EM6Ls and the Holas are so far so good with me being used.

1 Like

Is there anyone here from Denmark that would be willing to help me with sourcing one item to Poland?

2 Likes

Ljoma 5 BA

I want to share about an IEM from my country Norway, had it on demo for some good time now.
The driver configuration is 5 BA. This is made by one man called Kåre, I recently met him and tested his IEM. This was at a local hifi show where he had booked a room to let people demo his creation. I listened for a long time and compared it to some of my own IEMs. Price is on the more expensive side, around 1400 usd. But I understand how expensive it is to manufacture in Norway, so the price is acceptable.

I had a chat with Kåre about Ljoma, he clearly has a big understanding of the tech and what driver he chose to use here. He used Aroma Jewel as tuning inspiration, but with 5 balanced armatures instead. He also has worked hard to get maximum out of the drivers, as you can see on the measurement below it has very good extension in the upper treble.

The shell is slightly large in size, but even so very ergonomic. I have no problem using it for many hours without any pain spots. It’s not ventilated, similar to my Neon Pro. But I guess due to the large shell it’s never any pressure buildup, I know this is personal and your experience can be different. The texture of the IEM shell is quite special, it does feel more grippy due to the slightly textured surface. It’s also super light, one of the things he also had marketed on the fliers outside his demo room.

The design is quite unique and looks really nice, the faceplate has a 3D effect to it. Color changes with angle and lighting. The white ring is also fluorescent and lights up in the dark if it has been under a light source. The cable and connector is very new to me, it’s the T2 Estron connectors. It’s like an improved MMCX, much more easy to insert or take out than MMCX. Few brands like the new models from Etymotic and Westone have started to use this style of connection.

Subjective impressions:

Bass is very nice on Ljoma, it is among the best BA IEMs in this regard. It’s tuned in a way where it gives you some note weight without bleeding into the mids, some would have preferred maybe it to flat out earlier but not me personally. Bass is impactful and fast, not the soft BA bass some IEMs have. This passes for me, even if I do think it would have been even better as a hybrid with a nice DD here. As for amount, it’s okay and one the more neutral side. Personally I would have liked some more, but I regard myself as slightly basshead.

Mids are forward and clear, vocals and instruments are both in focus. There is plenty of presence in male and female vocals, also instruments for that matter. I find male and female equally good, but I do think people more sensitive to midrange energy would find this too much.

Some instruments thread a thin line where they are very detailed and forward without having too much of a sharp sound. For example listening to some Miles Davis I find his trumpet clear and forward without being piercing, but still have that aggressive tone trumpet is supposed to have.

Treble is executed very impressively, with plenty of resolution and extension. For me personally maybe more than what I prefer, but I know this is sort of tuning very few IEMs do and many also lust after this. Even if it’s plenty forward and extended it is not overly sharp, it just has plenty of detail and air going on. Upper mids/lower treble has a sibilance dip that is there but not too big, my kind of dip where you get all the presence and detail.

Soundstage is spherical with good depth and layering, not the best I heard but better than your average IEM.

Overall the Ljoma is very resolving, fun, energetic and musical.
Strongest positives is the extended and airy treble, few IEMs do it this well. Also being tuned coherently on the whole range, where no range is lacking. And being highly resolving.

If there is a negative it’s the price, but even so it’s made by one person in Norway.

ljoma.no

16 Likes

These look both exceptional well tuned and exceptionally well made, I love the matte black shell + the beautiful faceplate.

Well done on the write-up my friend and of course, this goes without saying but your images are simply incredible :pray:

2 Likes

Just saw the EA1000 on Linsoul, I am curious about it but I don’t think I wanna pull the trigger on that one yet, for it’s best to wait for reviews to serve as a guide and basis for my purchase decision at some point. Might or might not be an upgrade from the EA500, if it’s not and it’s an another sidegrade again? Might have to pass it on.

So far, it’s looking promising from Simgot’s part and I hope they continue to do better with their future line of IEMs.

3 Likes

Some guy made a comparison about it @K4sh1ma

7 Likes

I will confirm or deny that HACK’S finding as well :+1:t5::stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes::heart:

1 Like

First full review in some time. I decided to put the extra effort in because it’s somewhat of a unicorn, so I wanted to put out some thoughts and data for anyone as curious about it as I’ve been for some time.

:zap: Debauche Bacchus - “Monroe” :zap:
Baby, baby, baby, you’re out of time.
(Coincidentally a track that would be great on these.)

Pros:

  • Design and packaging
  • Timbre from dual DD
  • Mids are not recessed
  • Male and female vocals are smooth
  • Treble is at least sufficient
  • Both weight and bite for rhythm guitar
  • Good stereo imaging

Cons:

  • Potentially fragile paint finish
  • Treble is not a focus (not an issue for tuning, but if that’s what you’re after)
  • While I think the bass quality is pretty great, it’s not the cleanest/fastest.
  • Stage is wide but not deep / imaging isn’t going to transport you

One sentence review: A good bass-leaning all rounder with a tasteful FR and OK technicalities, even so, hard to recommend as a new purchase in today’s market.


I bought this set with my own money, after years of it living in my cart (at least three 11.11 sales).

I was attracted to it for several reasons:

  • One of the very few available reviews referred to it as analogue / a revisit to the tapedeck days.
  • It relies on DDs for its sound.
    • Fun fact: I was going to guess graphene for the low-end driver based on the sound of the sub-bass. I was correct! A slightly smaller titanium film driver apparently deals with higher frequencies. (10mm and 8mm)
  • The over-the-top design and packaging
  • How little coverage it has. I’ve always been delighted by “discoveries” and by owning unicorns for which there are no pre-established comparison/upgrade/sidegrade path laid out.

I decided to commit to the gaudy aesthetic. The black might look a little sleeker, but get lost with other ordinary IEM picks on my desk. I went for yellow :yellow_circle: (so much for any of the few MMCX cables I have to hand matching the theme with it!


Included accessories/packaging

I’ll segue from the cable mention to what is included, and the overall quality of it. I don’t usually care for too much to be included, I live in a small house so the box has to be got rid of in fairly short order in most cases - and as someone who has accrued carry cases and other accessories already, I’d prefer costs be diverted to the sound and build if the IEM itself.

This set is a bit of an exception. A bit like Paulthings’ MIXXTAPE, there’s a lot of nostalgic glee to be found in the included accessories when they fit a strong novelty theme. This set comes with some stickers cards with designs relating to each colorway, a pin, and a hard case emblazoned with a tape cassette. (I would not recommend using it for the IEMs due to a lack of padding inside, more on how that would not pair well with their finish later. There is a foam block that can go into the har case, but who disconnects their cables just so they can pop the IEMs into presentation blocks?)

The cable looks nice enough and has a button on it (I was unable to test this on Apple/Android). However the cable, which has a majority woven finish and is fairly narrow, might be one of the worst for self-tangling, and resistance to untangling. Even with no stylish matches for the shell, I had to swap the cable before long.

The included tips are Sony look-alikes, I didn’t use them but I tested it out with similar narrow-bore silicone tips.


Build quality/notes

The shells aren’t heavy despite feeling solid. The caps are metal but the main body of the IEM, continuing into the nozzle, is plastic.

A nice attention to detail is how the screen in the nozzles with the lines of its lateral grate matching the overall look rather than being default off-the-shelf picks.

An issue with construction which will be returned to at the end, because buyers should be aware of what support they will get if there are any issues, is the paint. This is followed up in the “customer service” section.

Something not at all obvious is that the set has significant exterior venting. I have had IEMs where the venting is a big part of the design language (FiiO FD5 as one example) but when the nozzle is covered, you can hear little/no sound escaping from the “vented” side. While the DB Monroe doesn’t draw special attention to its venting (or it gets lost in the “greebling”) it has some of the most notable sound leaking out of any set where I’ve covered the nozzle and put the cap to my ear. I do think this plays a role in sound later.

Channel matching was really good. The included graph was by my good friend @MMag05 and makes it officially the available graph to my knowledge.


What worked for me:

I was actually ready to discount the set fairly quickly to begin with, but as always, tip rolling is key.

Using a set of SPinfit CP145 in a small size, everything changed. I also found small Final E tips to work. For my ear anatomy, either of these:

  • Reduced some higher peaks
  • Controlled the bass
  • Made sure the mids were not suppressed

The Final E tips rounded edges down to an analog sound, probably more than this tuning has room for. The SpinFits allowed for greater depth and stage. The slightly wider bore alone makes sense of this. I find the bass has even more prominent immersion/resonance with the Spinfits though. They’re the tips that saved this set for me, and then lifted it a good deal beyond just OK. Thanks to my friend @CTJacks336 for the tips!

With either tip, isolation with the Monroes was fantastic for my ears. It’s very rare that I feel a shell sinks to “flush” with my ear like these seem to. I had no issues with pressure, but as mentioned it’s a very well vented set.

Photos of just how good of a fit it turned out to be for me:


My preferences:

It’s worth knowing what my “library” resembles to see if any of these opinions are relevant to what you like to listen to. I can’t really nail down what my taste covers, it’s easier for me to list what I know is excluded from my listening:

  • K/J-Pop: I have a lot of female vocal music, but no vocaloid music or songs produced in this style
  • Metal: The metal I have probably overlaps better with hard rock than the majority of metal, because it doesn’t include the usual 8000RPM drums, fully distorted/screamed vocals, and shredding on guitar. I have Nightwish, Pantera, Judas Priest, Motorhead and some others. I enjoy Neue Deutsche Haerte in general, and some Ewigheim with is more gothic.
  • Rap: I do have some bass-heavy spoken-word type hip-hop (Buck 65, Aesop Rock) but very little from the 90s/00s and nothing at all from the recent waves of rap genres
  • R&B: I’m trying to think of a category for things like Drake and the Weeknd etc. Basically no radio hits from the last couple decades is probably the easiest description. Is that called Top 40?
  • Modern country: I have plenty of folk and singer/songwriter music, and music that shares timbre/instruments with older country music - but nothing from modern “country”.

A good sign when writing a review of a set is if the set has been free-playing while getting thoughts going, with few to no skips. So far on shuffle I’ve listened to Weyes Blood, Jordi Savall, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Buck 65, and Linkin Park, Massive Attack, Lyla Foye and Dead Pirates… and it’s all been very enjoyable. (This stayed true even as I added to and reworked this review).

(Assuming there’s a length/image filesize limit, I’m going to preempt that by splitting the post here. Second section coming.)

13 Likes