Reviews, Impressions, Rants, and More from darmanastartes

EPZ Q5 Impressions

I received the Q5 directly from EPZ in exchange for my impressions.

The EPZ Q5 in-ear monitor (IEM) arrives in a large, premium package that includes a generous selection of eartips, both conventionally shaped and shallow wide-bore. The package also includes an EPZ-branded microfiber cloth and a clamshell-style semi-rigid zippered carry pouch.

The design of the EPZ Q5 is extraordinarily similar to the Meze Advar, but sports a milky white and copper color scheme that I am a big fan of. The cable is a bit tangle-prone but untangles easily and includes a chin adjustment choker.

The IEMs have a moderate to deep insertion depth. However, the vents can be blocked if the IEMs are pressed on while worn, making them not a good choice for sleeping despite the low-profile fit.

EPZ Q5 — Bedrock Reviews (squig.link)

In terms of performance, the EPZ Q5 offers very good technical performance across the board for its price point. It has very good bass articulation and texture, although the sub-bass extension is perceptually less than measurements would indicate. The note weight is average, but the instrument separation is excellent.

Both male and female vocal intelligibility are great. Female vocals are very far forward, and while not sibilant, are oversaturated. Male vocals have average body but a good amount of grit and definition. The upper midrange and lower treble are too forward, creating glare and some harshness. The presence region has too much emphasis, causing distorted electric guitars to sound like buzzsaws. The timbre is a little thin, and cymbals are too prominent. However, treble transients are passably realistic, and the upper treble extension is very good. The soundstage is wide but short, and imaging is average.

Overall, the EPZ Q5 is a good candidate for EQ because of the dynamic driver’s strong underlying technical performance, but it is not an IEM I would recommend without it.

The EPZ Q5 can be purchased at the link below:

EPZ Q5 Earphones Wired HIFI Ceramic Carbon Nano Moving Coil IEM In Ear Monitor MMCX Detachable Cable Earbuds Gaming Headset — AliExpress

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Simgot EM6L Impressions​

The Simgot EM6L was provided directly to me by Simgot in exchange for my impressions.

The Simgot EM6L comes in a large box with a surprisingly spartan accessory selection. It includes a clamshell-style zippered semi-rigid carry case and three pairs of silicone eartips (S, M, L). However, the quality of the silicone used for the eartips felt cheap and I did not use them for this review, opting instead for a pair of white wide-bore eartips from one of my Truthear sets.

The earpiece design is clean, but the large earpieces are not ergonomically shaped. As a result, my comfort was average and the fit was poor for me. The earpieces tended to migrate out of the ear canal over time. However, the earpieces are well-vented and there is no driver flex.

The Simgot EM6L offers good bass articulation and resolution. However, the note weight and impact are limited, and the bass texture is average. The bass has a soft, pillowy timbre, and the sub-bass extension is middling.

The midrange tuning is on the brighter side and emphasizes vocal delivery. Both male and female vocals are clear, present, and intelligible without being sibilant, oversaturated, or overly forward. Male vocals have body, grit, and power, while female vocals sound smooth and vibrant. In general, the EM6L has excellent presence, clarity, and instrument separation. Timbre is generally good as well. The kick drums during the chorus of Five Finger Death Punch’s “Lift Me Up” sound incredible.

The lower and middle treble are also forward of neutral, and cymbals can be too prominent on certain tracks. I was impressed by the EM6L’s upper treble response, which rolls off gradually instead of dropping off sharply. The EM6L has an expansive soundstage and above-average imaging.

While I did not personally find EM6L’s treble harsh, this is probably not a good recommendation for treble-sensitive listeners. On the other hand, this is a great alternative to the Truthear Hexa if you prefer brighter tunings and is more in line with my own preferences.

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Colorfly CDA-M1P Review

The Colorfly CDA-M1P, a DAC/AMP combination device, is equipped with both 4.4mm balanced and 3.5 mm single-ended outputs, and an AK4493SEQ DAC chip. It is priced at $79.99. This review is based on a unit provided by ShenzhenAudio.

HEADPHONES:

The Colorfly CDA-M1P was tested using the following headphones:

  • Moondrop S8
  • Moondrop Para
  • Dunu Vulkan
  • Truthear Nova

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:

The Colorfly CDA-M1P is packaged in a square black cardboard box with a black slipcover. The device is securely nestled in a foam mounting sheet inside the box. The package also includes a USB-C to USB-C cable and a user manual.

DESIGN AND CONTROLS:

The Colorfly CDA-M1P is sleek but heavy, weighing in at 45.16 grams. It has physical volume controls. A short press of both volume buttons swaps between low and high resistance modes, while a long press switches between the six selectable digital filters. Swapping between filters 1–5 produces a single flash of the CDA-M1P’s LED indicator. When the user reaches filter 6, the LED indicator flashes twice. This is an elegant solution to inform the user what filter is active in the absence of a display.

STANDARDS COMPLIANCE:

The Colorfly CDA-M1P does not support headset controls or pause on headphone disconnect functionality, and it does not relay connector status to the host device.

POWER USAGE AND HEAT MANAGEMENT:

Power consumption was measured using an IEC-711 clone microphone and a WITRN U2 USB power meter, with the CDA-M1P connected to a Windows PC and the system volume set to 27/100. The test involved playing a -10 dBV 1 kHz test tone from REW through the Moondrop S8, achieving an SPL of approximately 94.1 dB.

CDA-M1P In-Use

This represents a slightly higher power consumption than the Moondrop Dawn Pro.

Moondrop Dawn Pro PC In Use

The CDA-M1P does not seem to have an idle mode.

CDA-M1P Idle

The high resistance mode draws slightly more power to reach 94 dB but requires a lower Windows system volume setting (18/100) to do so.

CDA-M1P In-Use High Gain

The CDA-M1P gets quite warm with prolonged use.

POWER DELIVERY:

With the Moondrop S8 connected to the Colorfly CDA-M1P’s 4.4mm balanced output, I reached my typical listening volume at a Windows system volume setting of 12/100. When I played a -10 dB full-range pink random noise signal at this volume setting, my clone IEC microphone indicated a dB level of roughly 83.8 dB. Please note that the dB reading of my microphone has not been calibrated using an external SPL monitor. To reach a perceptually similar volume with the Moondrop Para using the 4.4mm balanced output, I increased the system volume to 20/100.

SOUND QUALITY:

Note: The following observations were made while switching back and forth between the Colorfly CDA-M1P and the Moondrop Dawn Pro under sighted conditions. There was a delay of several seconds when switching between devices. The two devices were volume-matched to within .2 dB. The Moondrop S8 was used as the transducer for this comparison. In most cases, any differences between competently designed sources are infinitesimal and not necessarily apparent under uncontrolled testing conditions.

In addition, I made the following observations with a system-wide -4 dB pre-amp setting as suggested here. While I recommend using this pre-amp setting to preserve fidelity, it does reduce the headroom of all connected source devices.

The CDA-M1P is more resolving than the Moondrop Dawn Pro, with slighter better treble detail and greater vocal clarity. There is more separation between instruments and the bass is more textured. The CDA-M1P also seems to do a better job of conveying dynamic swings.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The impressive sound quality of the Colorfly CDA-M1P was a pleasant surprise when compared head to head against the Moondrop Dawn Pro. However, the power consumption of the CDA-M1P is notably higher than the most efficient dual-output dongles currently available, and I would recommend pairing it with a dedicated portable transport device or using it with a laptop or desktop.

The Colorfly CDA-M1P is available for purchase at the link below:

COLORFLY CDA-M1P AK4493SEQ Portable USB DAC/AMP (shenzhenaudio.com)

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Colorfly CDA-M2 Review

The Colorfly CDA-M2 is a DAC/AMP combination device equipped with both 4.4mm balanced and 3.5 mm single-ended outputs, dual CS43198 DAC chips, and an OLED display. Priced at $159.99, this review is based on a unit provided by ShenzhenAudio.

Headphones

The Colorfly CDA-M2 was tested using the following headphones:

  • Moondrop S8
  • Moondrop Para
  • Simgot EA1000
  • Dunu Vulkan

Packaging and Accessories

The Colorfly CDA-M2 comes in a square black cardboard box with a black slipcover. The device is securely nestled in a foam mounting sheet inside the box. The package also includes a USB-C to USB-C cable and a user manual.

Design and Controls

The Colorfly CDA-M2 is slimmer and much lighter than the Colorfly CDA-M1P. Unlike the M1P’s polished gunmetal grey exterior, the M2 sports an anodized cobalt finish. Like the M1P, the M2 features physical volume controls and a multifunction button that, when long-pressed, allows the user to configure various device parameters. These parameters include gain level, left-right balance, digital filter, S/PDIF output through the 3.5mm jack, a de-pop function, display brightness, display rotation, and the display sleep settings. Additionally, the current firmware version can be displayed, and the M2 can be reset to its factory defaults through this set of menus.

Standards Compliance

The Colorfly CDA-M2 does not support headset controls or pause on headphone disconnect functionality, and it does not relay connector status to the host device.

Power and Heat Management

Power consumption was measured using an IEC-711 clone microphone and a WITRN U2 USB power meter. The test involved playing a -10 dBV 1 kHz test tone from REW through the Moondrop S8 (Impedance: 16Ω±15%@1Khz, Sensitivity: 122Db/vrms) and increasing the volume until an SPL of approximately 94 dB was achieved.

Screenshot 2024-02-07 204249

The M2 does not get as hot as the M1P but will still get warm if left running in a pocket or under a blanket.

Sound Quality

Note: The following observations were made while switching back and forth between the Colorfly CDA-M2 and the Colorfly CDA-M1P under sighted conditions. There was a delay of several seconds when switching between devices. The two devices were volume-matched to within .1 dB. The Moondrop S8 was used as the transducer for this comparison. In most cases, any differences between competently designed sources are minor and not necessarily apparent under uncontrolled testing conditions.

In addition, I made the following observations with a system-wide -4 dB pre-amp setting as suggested here. While I recommend using this pre-amp setting to preserve fidelity, it does reduce the headroom of all connected source devices.

The CDA-M2 provides surprisingly greater insight into treble details than the M1P. There is a hint of extra brilliance to cymbal clashes that is particularly noticeable. There is slightly more breadth and separation to the soundstage with the M2. I also noticed the same phenomenon comparing the M2 to the M1P as I noticed comparing the Topping D90SE to the Topping D30 Pro and E30, which is that I can turn the volume up louder with the M2 before I lose the perception of separation between instruments. The M2 just sounds more resolving and cohesive. The M1P does seem a bit punchier in the bass region and seems to dig a hair deeper into the sub-bass, at least with the Moondrop S8, which is arguably least competitive in its lower frequency response.

Final Thoughts

There are many perfectly competent, powerful dongles for less than half the price of the Colorfly CDA-M2, and as with many aspects of this hobby, diminishing returns are very much in play here. However, as an audiophile who chases detail retrieval above all other intangibles, I can hear the CDA-M2 push the Moondrop S8 far enough beyond what is possible with more affordable dongles that it would be worth purchasing on my own dime were I to misplace my review unit.

The Colorfly CDA-M2 can be purchased at the link below:

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@Rikudou_Goku I’ve started a spreadsheet for dongle power draw measurements, I should have some time this weekend to start filling it with my older data. Let me know if you have any suggestions as far as how I’m presenting the table.

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Awesome.

image
I would move the “power saving mode?” column to the right and remove the “W” in the values themselves.

I would specify the columns like this “Low Gain Balanced Output (W)” and so on instead of writing “W” in the values themselves which can prevent you from sorting it later or using conditional formatting.

Add some different colors that makess it either to distinguish between bad, average or good scores.

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Simgot EA1000 Review

Introduction and Disclaimer:

The Simgot EA1000 is a single dynamic driver in-ear monitor (IEM) that retails for $219.99. Simgot sent me the EA1000 directly in exchange for my impressions.

Packaging and Accessories:

The EA1000 comes in a medium-sized square purple box. In terms of documentation, the package holds an intriguing fold-out infographic on Fermat’s Last Theorem, along with a metallic warranty card and a user manual. The EA1000 includes three pairs of tuning nozzles and a selection of colored O-rings for differentiating them, though I only used the default pair of nozzles for my evaluation. Simgot also includes six pairs of silicone eartips (2xS, 2xM, 2xL) with the EA1000. Unfortunately, the eartips are the same type included by Simgot with their products since I first reviewed the Meeture MT3 in 2018. The silicone quality is poor and irritates my ears. Also included is a grey pleather rigid carry pouch. The lid is embossed with the Simgot logo and features a magnetic closure.

Build Quality and Design:

The physical presentation of the EA1000 is nothing short of stunning. The gorgeous polished stainless steel shells feature glass-backed ceramic faceplates adorned with a delicate geometric pattern. The included braided detachable 2-pin cable with a 3.5mm single-ended termination is similarly beautiful. The cable features pre-formed earguides, strain relief above the straight 3.5mm jack hardware, and a chin-adjustment choker. On the inner face of the IEM shells are large passive radiators and two small circular vents. Despite the vents, I experienced mild driver flex with larger eartips. This is unfortunate because the EA1000’s shallow nozzles make achieving a secure fit challenging without large eartips. Tip rolling was essential, and I ultimately settled on large-size Softears Ultra Clear eartips to achieve a reasonably secure fit. Sound isolation is also fairly poor.

Sound:

Simgot EA1000 (Red), Simgot EA1000 (Clear), Simgot EA1000 (Black) — Bedrock Reviews (squig.link)

The EA1000 offers a clean and resolving bass presentation with excellent texture and dynamics. While sub-bass extension is decent, the emphasis leans more toward mid-bass. While bass intangibles are noticeably punchier than the soft-sounding Simgot EM6L, more sub-bass and better sub-bass extension would make electronic music more satisfying to listen to.

The midrange takes center stage with a vocal-focused presentation. Male and female vocals benefit from excellent clarity and intelligibility. However, there’s a fine line: the strong presence region emphasis can occasionally lead to sibilance, especially with female vocals. The EA1000’s timbre is natural-sounding and avoids any percussion compression.

The lower treble is clear and present without veering into harshness. Detail retrieval is excellent, with sharp and well-defined treble transients. However, the mid-treble is slightly overemphasized, offering more treble sparkle than I consider realistic. The upper treble is well-extended and reasonably emphasized. The EA1000 mostly avoids creating a “fake hi-fi” sheen over the rest of the sonic presentation but can cross that line with some mainstream hard rock recordings. The soundstage is spacious, with above-average imaging and excellent instrument separation, especially for a single dynamic driver design.

Closing Words:

The Simgot EA1000 evokes memories of the legendary Tanchjim Oxygen, and can easily be viewed as a modern evolution of that vocal-forward, detail-focused single dynamic driver design. However, I would not recommend the EA1000 to bassheads or the treble-shy. Considering the technical performance, build quality, and price, the EA1000 is a very good value. However, Simgot’s included eartip selection could benefit from an upgrade.

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