Burning in all dem 5 budget earbuds I’d ordered: VE Monk Plus, Qian 25, QIan 39, SeaHF 32, TY Hi Z HP32
I’ve burned them in simultaneously on the same tracks and at the same time swapping them off my ears to note the differences. During their first 30 hours, my impressions for them are as follows.
- Monk Plus may appear to be inferior to others tho widely praised elsewhere. I believe that because the Monk Plus is a power hungry buds, it may need a more powerful source to drive dem out properly. My reviews are subjective and should not be used as an absolute guide to the SQ of these crazy cheap yet insanely good sounding buds.
- The reviews are arranged in orders of tones so that the formerly reviewed can be used as a ROUGH reference to the latter ones. And through comparative nature of this writing, I hope newcomers as I am will get the picture better and quicker.
Sources: MacBook Pro 2016, iPod classic 7G, iPod touch 4G, iPhone 6S
Others: NuForce Icon Mobile (2 outputs)
Qians 39 & 25: Darker side of the five with more bass.
Qian 39: 22 Ohms, 106 dB/mW
Qian 25: 32 Ohms, 108 dB/mW
For me the Q39 has a bit less treble extension to my liking though the mids are very full bodied. The Q39 has fuller mids, and unarguably the fullest of all five. The Q39’s bass is VERY WELL PUNCHY and the amount makes it the most suitable for bass heads (of the five, of course). The Q39 also has very decent separation. The highs are not harsh but not very far extended. Q39 also fits the most comfortably as the other four have very similar if not the same form factors. I prefer Q39 naked because the amount of bass is already enough for me and any darker mids wont suit my liking. (In the picture the 39 was equipped with thin foams because the picture was taken when they just arrive and I still couldnt find the sweet spot for the 39 yet.)
Q25 overall tone is like the Q39, yet with more laid back and less full bodied mids and with less amount of deeper bass. The Qians have the biggest amount of bass, overall. I enjoy both Qians naked.
Monk Plus: The balanced sound, with laid-back mids and little bass
64 Ohms, 112 dB/1mW,
With 64 ohms rating, I must admit I dont have a decent source to drive these bad boys. When used straight from my weak sources, they sound muffled, like something is being held back. I have to amplify the signal via my only dac/amp NuForce Icon Mobile (80mw@16Ohms) to get the impact. Highs are present, though can be harsh. Mids are more open than the Qians with a bit laid back position. Bass is quick and small with upper bass being the most observable and deep bass is barely present. As a Grado fan myself, I do like the quick bass and a bit thin mids, so I’m use the Monk Plus naked to avoid the mids being more recessed into the background.
SeaHF 32 (not sure if S or non-S, with mic) & TY Hi Z HP32 (L plug): The brighter side, more balanced with decent bass
SeaHF 32: 32 Ohms, 106 dB/1mW
TY Hi-Z HP32: 32 Ohms, 115 dB/1mW
I like this pair because it reminds of some Grado goodness. That bright and forwading vocals. It’s a lot brighter than Monk Plus possibly because the mids are also forwarding and hence make the overall sound more higher toned. The highs are of the same quantity as the Monk Plus’s and can be harsh, which I really enjoy abusing my ears with such high highs. The highs are more detailed than those of the Qians’. It has more mid and deep bass than the Monk Plus despite the brighter overall tonal balance. Compared to the Monk Plus, SeaHF’s bass is bigger, punches more, and the upper bass is as quick which make both good for fast rock/ metal tracks. SeaHF’s soundstage is also the largest of the five. The surprisingly wide and deep soundstage, paired with balanced tone, easily makes this my favorite of the five. The SeaHF covered with donut foams is still brighter than naked Monk Plus and I like this combination.
The SeaHF and TY sound very similarly possibly because they are from the same manufacturer. The mids of TY is a bit thinner than SeaHF’s. The higher mids like electric guitars are also brighter than SeaHF’s.The bass is abundant and well sized for bass-heads.The TY Hi Z HP32 probably has the best bass for me; it is well present, punchy, controlled. Tho the bass is controlled, sometimes it tends to intrude into the mids and hence make the overall tonal balance a bit darker than SeaHF, tho this is barely noticeable to my ears. I have to admit, in tracks where little to no bass is present, it’s very hard to tell these two apart. The highs and treble extension of both TY and SeaHF are the best to me of all five. I use my TY Hi Z 32 with donut foams.
I personally prefer TY Hi Z for more drum-intensive songs because I love the detailed and easily reachable bass although the SeaHF would actually do the same. I also prefer to listen to most vocals, jazz or less heavy tracks with the Qians since they have fuller mids but these do not do well for metal (for me, I prefer rock/ metal to be bright, very subjective)
In conclusion, the SeaHF and TY together rank third in my inventories (not only buds) while the first being my 5 years old Alessandro MS1i and the second being Astell&Kern Michelle IEMs that I’d got on March 2017. These four head/earphones are really good for rock music and are easy to drive from my smartphone with ease. Half the volume and the drums start to kick in. Add more dB and you’re in the recording room. As all of the items reviewed here are sub $10, it’s very surprising how these budget earbuds perform against a much more expensive IEMs like a $499 Michelle or a hundred buck Alessandro. Though not the same level of details and impact are achieved, the overall sonic qualities for all five are impressive and for sure worth every penny paid. Next time before buying an expensive pair of cans, I’ll make sure that I’ve checked all the budget ones already