New and i have couple of questions and concerns

Hi guys, new here and to the hobby, first post. I’ll try to make it brief and straight forward to not waste your time reading a wall of text. Ive been educating myself since im an enthusiast but not a musician. so please keep that in mind. below are the list of my questions and “i wonder about” :

(background into how i discovered the hobby - no need to read if you dont want to)
My journey began 10-12 years ago with a Bose set ME2i if im not mistaken. The iconic stay here silicon tips and black and white twister pattern cable. When i first heard that I though Bose was the best and music sounded completely different to me. fast forward to about 3 months ago when my pair broke and i had to replace it but couldnt find any since they are LONG discontinued. This is when i first discovered Chi-Fi per se

  1. KZ AS10 - my first ever true IEM and i am to this date please. maybe too please but we will get to that. Why does this sound so good to me while othe rmore expensive stuff doesnt? I recently dropped $450 plus shipping and tax on Fiio FH7 and I am … meh ! why is that? why cant i find $400 more quality compared to AS10? and i know alot of KZ fans dont even think AS10 is the best KZ anyway. like FH7s sound just a teeny teeny tiny bit fuller but at the cost of being dark tuned like FH5s, at least to my ear. AS10 sound crisper and more airy to my ear but it shouldnt, right? anyone else would say FH7 is WAY better, in a different league even, than AS10s.

  2. I am mostly using my phone as the audio source where AS10s at the same volume level sound a teeny teeny tiny bit louder. my phone is Galaxy Note 9. silicone tips for both as i get the best fit, i cant do foam yet. FH7s have the stock cable, AS10 has upgraded KZ silver 8-core cable. no EQ config change on phone. Is it the quality of music or source amplification? what is the issue with my set up? is youtube a good source for raw music? do i need to buy original artist album to enjoy it fully? so many questions.

  3. I have Blon-BL03, Tin T4s, Moon drop Starfield, FH7s, AS10s, and like mentioned Bose MIE2s, and a few TWS sets not really relevant (Lyperteck Tevi, Mifo 07, Bose true sound free, liberty 2 pro, etc). BUT I am contemplating dropping $999 on Voyager 14 in hopes that i actually pick up something that would take AS10 experience to next level. I hear good reviews and it sounds like my type of tunning. I like details and clarity and quality. bass is ok but only if its the last thing the manufacturer focused on. Im all about mids and highs and details and clarity and quality. not sibilant but crisp. do you think ill be disappointed like FH7s since there is really no justifiable difference that would explain the $400 delta between AS10s and FH7s or do you think Voyager 14 is truly next level sound?

Sorry for the long questions, feel free to just skim through. and thank you for your time and help.

So first it is entirely possible you just prefer the tuning of the of the KZ stuff which is fine. Sounds gets pretty subjective pretty fast. Second for higher end IEMs, it is recommended you have a better amp. Looking at the FH7’s they seem to be high sensitivity. While I’ve not used them, the pair of IEMs I daily drive rate a little bit lower sensitivity. If I plug them directly to 3.5 they sound a bit wonky, some sounds are very muffled or recessed in comparison to running off my BTR5 which overall sounds much cleaner, clearer, and even(?). I would highly suggest upgrading your source with some kind of portable dac/amp before investing in 1000+ IEMs. You’ll see improvements across all your IEMs with that. I’m sure some of the more experienced members can give you a more detailed explanation. Hopefully that made sense, as I’m still learning myself

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Let us know what happens with better amplification. Try with iFi Hip dac. I guess it might ‘unlock’ the untapped potential of your iems so far. Then if you want an upgrade, go for iems with a slight v shape. Maybe that’s your preference.

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Thank you very much for your response. That really helps and I will be looking into “source” for my gear. Unfortunately i dont really have much of knowledge at all about dacs or daps or amps and what have you. But its an opportunity to learn.

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Yeah there are quite few options depending on what you value. Nail down a price range and features you like and there’s a ton of members here that can help you figure out what might be best for your needs. Off the top of my head

wired portable amp/dac like the one upgrade suggested the hipdac or ifinano black label

bluetooth reciever amp/dac like the btr3/btr5 and the shanling up2/up4

dongle dacs like the xduoo link (probably not recommended for high end IEMs)

alternatively a DAP as a dedicated music device

and probably a bunch more, but figure out what features in the device are most important to you

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And if you look at the Audioquest Dragonfly DACS (there are better), don’t get the cobalt.

Also worth noting when you get your full set up whatever that may be listen to your equipment for awhile before deciding how you feel about it. Sometimes gear will make an immediate impact on you and other times it takes a few hours/days of listening before I clicks with your brain and last sometimes it just won’t be for you. I have all 3 happen since I started this hobby.

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I think your source will make a world of difference for the FH7s. They sound good into the phone but they would open up with a portable Dac/Amp. And even after that, the sound would tighten up switching to a balanced cable. They’re very sensitive and respond to those things pretty well. But outside of that you could honestly just like the sound of the AS10 more. But I definitely think it’s worth a shot to get them plugged into something other than the phone.

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More specifically, something to help your phone beyond plugging a wire in directly to the specific headphone jack since that is your primary music player.

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Ive been doing some research and am considering Fiio Q5s Dac/Amp solution and I will order a 4.4 MMCX balanced cable for the FH7s. what do you guys think or recommend? The Q5s is around $350 with some nice features. Do you think there is a better portable dac/amp for around the same price that would be clearly superior to Fiio’s Q5s?

Aslo a side question, sorry if im asking a lot, im new and all of his is new to me. When you say balanced, why is 2.5 and 4.4 balanced but 3.5 is not? Is the balanced part coming from the connector jack alone or is there something going on throughout the lengt of the cable? (i know the difference between balanced signal vs unbalanced where balanced carries a copy but precisely out of phase signal to get rid of unwanted noise) but how does that tie into 2.5 and 4.4 but NOT 3.5 ? whats the deal im so confused… please advise.

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2.5 and 4.5 have additional poles, the black bands around the plug where they interface. Can’t help too much with the other questions but i’m sure some of the other members can give you an opinion on the Q5

edit: i guess that didn’t actually answer that question entirely. It is the jack, not sure if its through the whole cable I would imagine it is as it’s sending more signals to the additional poles but i’m not sure. 3.5 poles are left, right, and ground, not sure how the additional balanced poles work

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