It's been a while since I write this type of article. Though thanks to the Sony WF-1000XM4 review (and the fact that I just finished my mid-term exam). I decided to go ham and spend as much of my soul allowed into trying some notable IEM on my log at E-Earphone for several days. Oh, and have I mentioned that they have moved to a new building since April?

Nothing much to say here, let's get into it.

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Sony WF-1000XM4:

No, this isn't an impression, I am just putting this here to inform you that I have written my EQ impression with the WF-1000XM4 which you can check out by clicking here.

The actual impression started down below.

Sennheiser IE 900:

Sennheiser IE 900 Frequency response - Can be seen from the Frequency Response Index

I find it a bit funny that while I held Sony IEM line-up in strong regard, that same thing cannot be said for their headphones. Sennheiser is literary the polar opposite of it, their headphone department if anything, is solid, yet I cannot say so for their In-ear models.

For the record, the first thing I have to jab on Sennheiser is on their tuning methodology which usually results in a recessed gain. Admittedly, if one argues that this tuning choice increased Soundstage, all power to them. But the main issue that I usually found within Sennheiser IEM models is that this tuning choice leads to a big compromise with vocals or instruments like Electric Guitars, where a lot of bite and energy are lost.
Hence, it's definitely not something I would recommend for Rock, Metal... or Pop.

And that's what I feel about the IE 900 tonal performance in general, in addition, their treble response can sometimes be a little bit spicy depending on the track that some sensitive ears might beware of, though it sounds pretty nice for Acoustic Guitars.

On the flip side though... I have to give Sennheiser some credit on this one: The IE 900 is a technically good IEM especially for a 1 DD set.

Tight and clean bass response, coherent yet detailed. The treble despite sharp have decent sparkles which I would argue is better than that of the Acoustune series (And by any means, I have regarded Acoustune's Dynamic Driver as being quite capable).
That said, there is some sense of compression in its soundstage presentation, but isn't something I would fret much about considering a lot of IEM are like this one way or another.

Judging by the metrics of the IE 900 is a 1 DD set here, then I would say it's worth a shot considering the other possible consideration that might be on par or slightly better would be the DUNU LUNA, Victor HA-FW10000, or the Sony MDR-EX1000...

Again, by the other metrics that the IE 900 being a Sennheiser product, I would say this is the best Sennheiser IEM I have heard thus far.

But, by the metrics in the grand scheme, I would say the IE 900 can easily be overshadowed by many other competitors, with cheaper prices.

Though, don't make this discourage you from trying the IE 900 out because as far as how I recommending IEMs, the justification is there.

Cheers for the Sennheiser fans, you guys have a clear upgrade route now.

Recommendation ratings: Niches/Recommended

QDC Anole V14:

QDC Anole V14 Frequency response - Can be seen from the Frequency Response Index
This impression will be based on the 0000 settings, meaning no switch tuning on due to its performance over other modes.

Ah, QDC, despite I don't see a lot of conversation around them. I really love the QDC VX. It's a solid earphone with top-tier resolution among the top contender in the IEM game.

But, back to the main topic, the V14 is a good IEM. It's engaging, has good detail retrieval: notes are sharp and well defined. Its imaging isn't bad either, the instrumental positions are quite pinpoint, there is a sense of depth and height that decently make the positional quite "over the ears" for me. Last but not least, timbre is decently done, despite there is still some sense of BA coloration going on at times during my audition.

That said, the main pitfall of this IEM lies in its bass performance. For the record, it's decently fast due to its BA implementation, the sub-bass performance isn't that bad either. But, despite how much I try to ignore this, it undoubtedly has a bit more upper bass harmonic than what I would prefer. Thus, the bass presentation of the V14 is quite boomy, worse, this notion of presentation is often quite upfront in a lot of songs that I threw it into.

Moving on to its treble performance is where I will bring the QDC VX in. Admittedly, the V14 treble performance isn't bad, it has decent sparkles and admittedly quite snappy. Though falls short in terms of extension and sharpness which is something the VX managed to have while ticking off almost all of what the V14 achieved in this section.
I mean, there might be some justification for this, but it ultimately boils down to the preference point of whether one would find the VX treble too much to bear compared to the V14.

Spotting at a price of around 3000$, the V14 has a bar to surpass, especially with the VX having such a high reputation among the high-end portion, with a way cheaper price too.
Hence, It's hard for me to even recommend the V14 considering the VX exists, not to mention the pricing of the IEM itself is already reaching an uncomfortable point to justify a recommendation at all already.

You would want a really good reason to pick the V14 over the VX, that's all I want to say.

Recommendation ratings: Niches/Not recommended

Softears RSV:

Softears RSV Frequency response - Can be seen from the Frequency Response Index

It takes a while (since last year or so I think), but finally, Softears now open to the global audience. And out of the IEM that I got the chance to experience in E-Earphones, besides the RS10, I choose to cover the RSV first.
And there is a reason for it: I like the RSV tonal performance.

It isn't hard to know why especially since my preference target is out in the open in the Graph comparison tool. That said, I find it hard to recommend the RSV, though the first thing I have to address is its technical performance - which is sub-par.

Right on the get-go, what hit my ears is a representation that is a little bit blunted and veiled. This IEM also lacks treble extensions and its bass performance isn't the best either. Imaging and Soundstage are average like a lot of IEM out there. Honestly, I feel like the RSV could be really solid if its resolution can be improved just by a little bit.

But it isn't too bad... right?

Even under these criticisms, I can still consider the RSV is a good IEM technical-wise since admittedly it does have its technical edge comparing to the lower-priced bracket. It arguably is better than the ER4XR with is one of the IEMs I considered the gateway to the realm of being good solely due to its tonal performance.

But then, there is also another little issue the seals the deal in my consideration list here: Moondrop.

I mean, come on, for about 300$ you have the Blessing 2 or the Dusk which has better staging performance while also having slightly better resolution with similar tonality. And if I am even being fair and take a similar priced IEM in this assessment here, the Moondrop S8 trumps the Softears RSV in terms of resolution.
I would still take the RSV if I am going all in its tonality though, it's one of the IEM that I wish isn't being overshadowed like this.

But sadly, in the market, it is.

Recommendation ratings: Niches

64 Audio U18s:

64 Audio U18s Frequency response - Can be seen from the Frequency Response Index

I believe outside of the U18s, I haven't heard any news from 64 Audio thus far, but I digress.

To begin with, I would say that my impression of the U18s is around that level of the Softears RSV. Though, obviously, with different reasons. Overall as the RSV is more on the upfront side of things, the U18s is tamer, warmer and darker despite slightly more detail in comparison.

Admittedly though, what both of these IEM achieved is that their overall experience can be quite pleasing, but the U18s is slightly better in terms of its bass performance. Plenty of bass in terms of quantity here, all are cleanly executed with tight and fast response, though admittedly, its timbre is somewhat limpy, bass hits are slightly compressed - in contrast to the U12t bass performance at most.

But on the end of the spectrum though... is where I have a lot of mixed feelings. There seem to be a peak post 15kHz with this IEM, and while it's not egregious as the Tin Hifi P1 (or even more terrific is the P2), for someone who is still in the age of hearing higher frequencies... the U18s treble is "mildly infuriating". To be more precise, this peak creates an uneven sense with percussions which I find it hard to ignore once the instruments start playing.
Though on the other hand, the U18s treble isn't far from bad despite leaning into the slightly tamer side, there is a bit of air retaining in the frequency spectrum if you ignore all that peak together. It supports well with the overall tuning of the U18s here, but admittedly this makes the whole sound presentation of the IEM a bit underwhelming.

In terms of technicalities, the U18s is decent, decent in terms of detail retrieval, though great in terms of positional cues and soundstage. The positioning is quite sharp on this one, with vocal positioning deadly on center and each instrument having its own space to perform. It's not as spacious as the IER-Z1R mind you, though through my own A/B experience, what the U18s lacks is a bit of width and that's all it would take.

That said, 3000$? That's a little bit hard to swallow, I would say the U18s is in the same or even worse position than the QDC Anole V14. Though I am leaning into the latter considering the fact that I deemed the Anole V14 better than the U18s while both face the same issues in regards to their respective brand's offering.

Again, not that the U18s is a bad IEM though, but I would recommend checking out 64 Audio cheaper offerings if you want something from them, arguably these cheaper ones have similar or better performance too, surprise surprise.

Recommendation ratings: Not recommended

With all of the IEM needed to cover done. I save the best for last...

Hifiman Susvara:

Ah yes, my beloved ritual since the beginning of May.
"Wait, a headphone, are you really going to review headphone from now on?"

Yes, and no I won't review headphones in the near future yet, doing that will drain more energy out of my soul than the current workflow I have to handle, I am just writing this because I feel like so.
And yes, I find it a little bit bold for me to write an impression of a headphone, especially this specific one. So, consider this portion out if you think I am sloppy with headphone impression in general (I mainly would just rant anyway). I have a fair share of headphones time before moving to Japan, and now?

You can imagine how much of an advantage a guy who currently is just 10 minutes away from Akihabara has.

Anyway, let's back to the main topic and pardon me that I have to write this out first:

God damn, trying this piece of gear is a hell of an experience.

That basically sums up my "Sus experience" in a nutshell. The Susvara by far is one of the most balanced Headphones I have ever experienced while having excellent technicalities to boot. To be a bit more specific, note transient on the Susvara is snappy: Bass is tactile, fast yet impactful - Treble is sharp, having enough sparkles while not going too far.
Headstage on the Susvara is also one of the notable points of this can also, with its presentation noticeably goes well around your head, this, combining with its imaging creates a sense of grandness that's too fit for Instrumental and Orchestral. Though, it's not a slouch that I would slap anything on this set due to how well-rounded it is to my personal preference.

Of course, this doesn't mean the Susvara is the best in any category ever. Take the point about its imaging and resolution again then you would realize that something like the HD800(S) might be on a similar level or better than the Susvara in this department. Or the fact that its treble can still be a bit piercing.
But how much I try to find a negative point about this headphone, there is one thing hard to ignore: The Susvara performance ranged from Great to Excellent in any category I try to throw it into.

This is by far the best Planar I have ever tried. And by extension (at least until I can see how HE1 fairs), the best headphone I have ever experienced.

But HOLY THE PRICE THOUGH!

I think I am not the only person who fells in love with the Susvara despite its horrific price tag along with the fact that you would need an equally comparable source to pair it with - even if you exclude the whole "synergy" notion and went purely in terms of power. So THANKS E-Earphone for indirectly telling me that I would need to shell out more than half of ten thousand bucks if I want to get my headphone game contempt.

But what am I kidding? I will just play the Speaker game if I have considered shelling that much money.
For now, 300 yen traveling for a listening session of the Susvara seems fine to me :p. And by any means, this has become my ritual whenever I visit the store since.