I’m not a great writer so if you wish for me to elaborate on anything specific please ask. So I can improve whatever this is.
As some of you may have noticed I have been buying a few earbuds as of late on the “what did you buy today?” thread. This all started in a discussion with a fellow budget oriented audiophile about the merits of the airpods and airpods pro. In which I took a stance of defending the airpods pro not so much the airpods but I mentioned I did used to use apple earbuds and earpods which the airpods a slightly better sounding wireless version of the wired models which does not make the original airpods or airpods 2nd gen any good or worth it. Anyway he was pretty dismissive and kept saying “I doubt airpods or ear pods sound any beter than $2 Vidos.”. Intrigued, I looked them up read and watched some reviews full of praise by mainly IEM focused reviewers and seeing as they’re $2 I said fuck it why not.
Things I Noticed
Most of these Earbuds tend to use a clone of the mx 500 shells a shell developed by Sennheiser around 1999-2001.
Why use this shell? Most likely due to the shell being widely used by many other companies and being easily mass producible the ability to buy these in bulk from dealers and Shenzhen allow chifi manufacturers and hobbyists and easy and good foundation to work with they are a very light and to my ears comfortable design. Not to say it has any flaws I personally prefer the fit and finish of EarPods. Due to the innate flaw of this design. Which also brings the importance of the little spongy foam thingies we often lost as kids. These earbuds sit right in the concha part of the ear( I’m no ear expert but correct me if I’m wrong). Due to it just sitting there sounds just tends to fire right on the wall and eventually make its’ way to the hear canal. Without the foam depending on how the earbuds are sitting on your ear and the shape of your ear you might hit the issue of a loss off seal losing this seal loses a lot of the low end- mid range just like an IEM. But unlike an IEM seal issues are much harder to fix due to the lack of options to fix this issue. The foam also allows that extra space between the earbud and the wall for sound to travel. This is where I feel the EarPods succeed where instead they take the hole and put it to the side and just directs all the sound to your ear canal. But the sound and tuning for the price I have found unsatisfactory.
This shell has a nice design true to Sennheiser’s best designs gives you a pretty open somewhat wide sounding result.
The Vido is the earbud that kicked this little adventure off. A month after the previously mentioned events transpired I got these not so great looking earbuds very reminiscent of the old earbuds that came with our phones pre from the 2000 to early 2010’s. plugging them in to my fiio ubtr I was shocked at how not shitty they sounded at $2. Initially they sounded pretty good somewhat neutral bright. It impressed me the timbre wasn’t the horrid tinny sound I was expecting. I then added the foams and did some more listening they started to sound warmer and impressively enough noticeable bass extension and little midbass bump. The foams cut a little bit of the treble leaving me with a fairly warm sounding and somewhat laid back sound. The mids can sound kinda hollow at times though and treble maybe a little unrefined. Separation is surprisingly good and due to the mx 500 shell it actually soundstage and imaging capabilities while not great impressive for the price. But the overall performance is pretty excellent at this price. At $2 these are killer and everyone should have a pair. Honestly think I’m more impressed with the price to performance than how these actually sound but I have found myself using them at work a lot for listening to podcasts. The cable and build isn’t the greatest but you know… Its hard to ask for more at this price.
The Phony Review$2
After doing some ali express exploring I found these cheap also $2 earbuds. They have a upside down Walkman logo .pretty nice feeling cable putting them on and putting a track on this is what I expected a $2 earbud to sound like just garbage.
Nice HCK B40 $10
I ran into these looking at the ali express description touting the a strong Bass response. These do not deliver. It has noticeably less midbass to subbass than the vido. But what the B40 does seem to shine in is their mid and treble region. Compared to the vido where it can sometime sound slightly hollow, the mids on these are quite competent. The upper mids to lower treble can be a a little hot though especially with female vocals I can sense some peakyness which was sometimes unpleasant. But your male vocals and even male falsettos can sound quite nice. At $10 these are worth the look.
The shell is not a mx 500 shell made from cheaper plastic than the vidos but cable quality is much better. Comfort is pretty good feels lighter than the mx 500 shells.
Ry4s plus $8 (no cable)
I initially dismissed this earbud because of its initial utter lack of subbass and kinda sharp highs a little more than the b40. Even after burn in nothing changed. I put it away Soren also ordered a pair and said his pair sounded nice and v shaped compared to his vidos and said maybe mine was defective. I accepted that as a defective unit ordered a ry4s non plus and just dismissed it and moved on to my newly acquired lavended Hurcules. (more on that later). After soren’s messages and trying the ry4s non plus I though I would give it a revisit this time double foaming it. Doing 2 foams resulted in the Bass coming in as advertised the treble calming down and the mids getting a little bit more body. I attribute this this to the 2 foams adding more seal allowing bass to have more body.
The actual sound signature , is a V shaped earbud that’s pretty enjoyable has noticeably more bass than the vido. Vocal performance isn’t too pulled back and definitely does not take back seat to the other frequencies the treble without the 2 foams I found can be a bit much but with 2 foams is really nice and non offensive to my ears no hint of sibilance either. At $8 this is worth a buy the build quality is pretty excellent they use a pretty good mmcx port comes with no cable though.
Lavender Hurcules $60(no cable $70 with stock cable)
These are custom buds known in the earbud community a little bass cannons: I had to order though facebook and PM the Page: I ordered through a very friendly maker. being a bit of a bass head I may or may not have run too much power through them while testing. my initial thoughts were:
-very bassy, loose and noticeable muddiness in the mids.
-hollowlower mids upper mids had a little bit of aggressiveness.
- highs laid back
-bass would clip when loud.
The clipping was an issue I contacted the maker and he said he may have sent me a broken pair. After some investigating he came back to me and said “I found it is limit of the driver. When put too much voltage on this driver the driver may hit the body” so he offered to send me a upgraded more robust model that should not have this issue , the Lavender pure class A. I accepted.
I continued to use the hurcules anyway to give it a fair chance. After the recommended burn in period of 300+ hours of break in as it uses a titanium driver. Mids gained a substantial amount of body I lost some bass but in exchange I lost the upper mid aggression some muddiness leaking in the mids. I didn’t end up a with bass monster that was advertised. I got something better due to my recklessness or the modder’s intended sound signature after burn in. I may have made a very warm bassy laid back earbud that’s just a overall pleasant listen.
The build is similar to the ry 4s plus but it uses noticeably higher quality plastics a metal grille
To say its worth the buy is hard to say. For me earbud itself isn’t 30X the sound of the vido but I gain much better build quality, a more refined more resolving sound. A better higher quality driver and hand made and personally tested by a friendly thai man. For this experience and good sounding earbud to me its pretty worth it to see what the custom earbud world can show me.
not really much to say about this one. It’s in essence a less refined ry 4s plus I would recommend spending the extra dollar for the plus.
Lavender pure class A $60
This sounds like the lavender Hurcules without the clipping issue with more bass and a little less treble. It is harder to drive slightly than the Hercules. it has a pretty L shaped sound sig and is a bit darker than any earbud I own. its a very forgiving earbud very comfortable. I find the mids to sound a bit hollow and can get a bit muddy depending on the songs. But I found the sound sig to be perfect for watching anime in bed due to it’s forgiving nature. it makes adds bass and smooths out badly compressed audio especially if im in those sketchy anime sites with badly compressed audio. build quality is slightly worse than the Hercules but to me sounds better due to the lack of clipping
Kbear knight $10
Pretty decent buds the most impressive part of it is pretty much build and comfort. it has a really decent cable metal body. sound is pretty neutral bright sounds pretty airy, some mids, decent amount of treble. the Timbre is a bit metallic and unnatural and a little grainy the they sounded pretty good in podcasts though as the treble isn’t too sharp and the comfort really made me use them for a couple of week at work.
Earbuds in testing:
Earbuds on the way
Vido (red) supposed to sound different
Moondrop shiro yuki