So my Variations arrived and I have been listening for an hour or so and would like to share my initial impression (subject to change):
- overall I am somewhat disappointed, because it isn’t really what I hoped the Variations to be
- from memory I would say it is clearly better than the Blessing 2 (which I haven’t heared in a long time, so take it with a grain of salt). There is some treble and air, which I can’t remember the B2 had.
- also the B2 was sounding super boring to me, which the Variations isn’t… but it isn’t great either. Maybe that’s because I have listened to more expensive IEMs in the meantime, but then again I really do enjoy the Chu and CRA as well.
- I would be gladly trading a lack of midbass for a more analytical “ethereal” sound paired with a good amount of subbass, but somehow the Variations falls flat. While the timeless has the better treble&air, I wouldn’t even say from a quick comparison that I like the Variations bass any better… and I say that thinking that bass is a weak point of the timeless. The Mest murders in terms of bass (while also falling behind the timeless in terms of treble&air)
- resolution wise I don’t have any complaints, it’s pretty good… in the same league as timeless and Mest and yes, to me it’s all the same league. The bass resolution of the Variations is the worst of the three though imho
- the Variations may be a B2 upgrade, but I don’t consider it necessarily a upgrade to the timeless. I can’t say so far that the Variations is bad or you shouldn’t get it, but for me there are better alternatives.
- I think the Excalibur and IE600 are better IEMs
I will do some more listening and ABing, but so far I think, I will probably try to return the Variations. I had really high hopes, but oh well… I learned the lesson already before: don’t expect an expensive IEM to sound better than a great 20$ IEM. At least now I pretty much listened to all IEMs I wanted to listen to (or at least I could afford to listen to :D)
Ok, I did some ABing. I compared the Timeless, Variations and Mest MK2 and if I had to get rid of one, which would it be?
- Mest MK2 vs Variations: What I like about the Variations slightly better is that vocals seem ever so slightly more forwared when compared to the Mest. Besides that the Mest beats the Variations in pretty much any other aspect if you ask me. Most notably with the Mest everything sounds cleaner while the Variations often sounds somwhat dampened and flat. While I don’t find the Mest to be tuned perfectly to my liking, the Variations seems even further away from that ideal.
- Timeless vs Variations: This is easy. I just like the tuning of the timeless better. I even prefer the treble&air better tuned on the timeless than on the Mest. The technical aspects of both Variations and Timeless are too close together to make a difference considering the better tuning on the Timeless either way. To be honest I haven’t used the Timeless much since I got the Mest and I am ready to sell it because of that. But at least the Timeless has something that neither Variations nor Mest have, whereas the Variations is my least favorite of those 3.
With that I am pretty sure I will get rid of the Variations, after a day or so of more listening/evaluating.
I barely listened to the Variations as the hollowness after the sub bass was something I expected and it was just as I would have thought.
I really thought it sounded good though for whosoever is into that tuning (sub bassy then skip to mids). It guarantees a certain clarity with no possibility of mid bass fuzz. I for one can’t skip mid bass, even as someone who leans harder into sub bass typically.
That is what was disappointing to me: The timeless and mest still sounded clearer to me. When I was extensively EQing the B2 the midbass tuck did wonders though.
I’m interested to try out the MEST MK2 if I’m able to now.
The midbass and the male vocals in the mids of the variations really is it’s weakness, but due to me not being much of a basshead, I’m quite lenient to it.
I’ll never forget when a friend of mine who is a basshead tried the Variations and she went “I don’t hear much bass…” and she listens to Kpop like I do and listens to more bass-heavy tracks than me. I gave her my Fiio FD5 to try and she loves that tuning instead. She still loves the Fiio FH3 that I gave her.
I just noticed when seeing resolutions picture of his set, that mine didn’t came in a plastic wrap/seal… so far all my interactions with shenzhen audio were subpar… don’t think I will order there anything again.
But what I really wanted to share: Since I wanted to sell my Variations and I had it laying around here anyways, I thought “why not give it a second try”, since I really just listened to it for 2-3 hours before repackaging it. My second impression was pretty much like the first one, until I noticed, that the tips cover the nozzle holes to some extent and I saw that the Chu’s spring tips seemed to have a wide boar. To my surprise I could fit the spring tips on the Variation’s nozzle pretty easily and it really doesn’t cover the nozzle at all. With the spring tips pretty much everything improved, I feel. Better bass, clearer highs, more stage. I know about the power of tips, but I guess I should pay even more attention
First impression without ABing:
- still less air&treble than the Timeless, but on a much better level… maybe on par with IE600 and more than Mest MK2
- I am starting to think, that what I am missing with the IE600, Variations and Mest MK2 compared to the Timeless is really just the fast decay. On the other hand I think the Excalibur was pretty satisfying as well, but can’t really say with confidence from memory alone
- I remember when I went from EQed Blessing 2 → Timeless I was missing the dynamic bass impact. The Variations (now with the tip change) gives me that bass feeling, which probably is overall more satisfying than the Timeless, but still I would say that the Timeless has the better quality/resolving bass. However both are pale in comparison to the Mest MK2 bass.
- I said before that the IE600 is the better IEM (imho), but I can’t say that anymore with the tip change. I liked the Excalibur still better, I believe, but take both comparisons (IE600/Excalibur) with a grain of salt (memory comparisons).
Hopefully will do some ABing with Timless/Mest later…
My Spring Tips just came in yesterday and I’ve been using it ever since.
I can vouch for @lilhm . It’s not a night and day difference for me cause I’ve been using the variations as my daily driver with the spinfits cp145 but yes. The mid-bass feels kinda fuller to me while that sub-bass still retains.
It definitely sounds slightly warmer for me but I didn’t mind it since the rest of the sound remained intact to my liking. I’m able to use it comfortably while I’m working in long sessions.
These tips might just stick to my variations. The bass rumble is just
I need a link for that cable!!!
Looks like the XINHS 4-core graphene with custom connectors.
So spring tips are the best choice for variations?
Well I am not in the best position. This thicc nozzle is really uncomfortable and spring tips and even cp145 get uncomfortable after some time. I probably do I need a S size CP155 for this to be comfortable. Never knew I had a small ear canal. With normal size nozzles I usually use Medium ones but once I come across something that goes deeper it’s a trouble (FH3)
I’ve read extensively that CP 155 is a preferred tip for Variations. Also the Monarch mkii. Outside is those two, I’ve rarely seen it mentioned.
Ah. I totally empathize with your situation.
Like you, the Variations were too thick for my ear canals. I tried many tips - CP145, CP155, S and M. For me, I believe M gave the best seal but the thickness made it less comfortable than the S.
I ultimately gave up on the Variations and sold them. Fun IEMs while it lasted but the sore ear canals were a deal breaker. The silver lining is that there are other IEMs out there to fill the void. After sometime, I have found alternatives that I actually like better than the Variations. Have not looked back since.
Hope the new tips make a difference but if not, the IEM world is large and diverse. You will find something that fits better and sounds good.