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KZ DQ6 Unboxing and First Impressions

KZ DQ6 Unboxing and First Impressions

Hi everyone,

Today, I got the KZ DQ6. This IEM contains 3 dynamic drivers per side, which is a bit different than the usual BA and dynamic drivers combination they usually make. It is made of a single 10mm “Xun” unit that handles the bass and 2x 6mm drivers that handles the mids and treble. KZ is well known to experiment with different driver configurations and this is no exception. We’ll see how they perform below.

Unboxing

The box is the usual we get with KZ IEMs. It’s small and practical.

In the inside, we can see both units. The form factor is similar to their previous KZ ZSX “Terminator”.

KZ DQ6 3

We get the usual offering with these IEMs: A silver 0.75mm 2-pin cable, which is what KZ is now packaging, the tips, and the usual instruction manual.

The headphone tips are no longer the “star” tips. Rather, they decided to change them to a soft white tip. Unfortunately, these tips are way too soft and they make the DQ6 not fit the ear properly. This is no problem, as most would use third-party tip, but there is actually another problem: The nozzle diameter is smaller than the previous KZ IEMs, making some of the tips not compatible with them.

I tried the SednaEarFit Light to replace the stock tips, but the nozzle diameter of them are bigger than the KZ DQ6 and therefore, they would get out and not seal properly. Fortunately, the SednaEatFit Xelastec fits as well as the Spinfit CP100:

First Impressions

This IEM has a great tuning and I consider it an improvement over their latest hybrid IEMs. In the bass region, there is more presence without being overblown or being too fast. The mids are less recessed. Vocals are clearer, not metallic and warmer. The treble sounds extended without being sharp and fatiguing, something I had issues with their hybrids. The instruments are very well separated and well coordinated. None of the frequencies dominate the audio and seem to work together to produce a beautiful, musical, detailed, warmer sound.

I also own the KZ ZS7, ZS10 Pro, AS16, ZSX and ZAX, and I feel these DQ6, while being cheaper and having less drivers, do sound better than all of the previous mentioned models. I can also listen to these for more time without having ear fatigue. For me, these are the most balanced KZ IEMs I have ever tried.

Conclusion

It’s interesting to see KZ try something different than their usual hybrids. They nailed it with the tuning on these, really! Just be sure to change those stock tips to something better like the SpinFit CP100 or the SednaEarFit Xelastec. You’ll note how comfortable they will be and the sound will not disappoint you.

KZ DQ6 8

You can get these on Amazon at the following link:

The HP BD-R DL 50GB Blu-Ray Discs

The HP BD-R DL 50GB Blu-Ray Discs

Hi everyone,

Early this week, I ordered more Double Layer Blu-Ray discs. Unfortunately, the Philips 10pk BD-R DLs that were at $9 each were out of stock, so I had 2 options, both listed at $11 dollars:

  • Philips BD-R DL 10pk – Logo surface
  • HP BD-R DL 10pk – Logo surface

I decided to go with the HP ones since I’ve already tested the Philips BD-R DL 10pk printable discs, and maybe the Logo surface ones were the same CMC Magnetics discs. With the HP ones, I have the opportunity to review these and see if they are the same or different than the Philips discs. Because the Verbatim 100GB discs are still very high on price and seem to be low on stock, I need to get more BD-R DLs than usual. This is why I ordered 5 of these packs again.

Basically, last time I wasted a full 10pk of the Philips discs doing tests, until realizing that the Pioneer BDR-2212 drive was the one that handled them best. Will the same happen here again? We’ll find out.

The disc packaging is very similar to the Philips discs, except that these spindles have a paper on the top as well as the branding on the sides. Both were made in Taiwan. They are also rated to be burned up at 6x, although the burning speeds available depends on the burner capabilities and firmware itself.

Opening it, we have the shiny top logo surface discs:

The discs does look to be very well made. The data surface also look very smooth too.

It also has a dark gold-colored look, as opposed to the dark grey color of the Philips discs. This is important because it may tell us that the manufacturer is different.

My first thought was to insert this into the Panasonic UJ-260, to see what it thinks of this disc.

VERBAT-IMf-000 Panasonic UJ-260

ImgBurn says these discs are made by Verbatim! The media code ID is VERBAT-IMf-000. The Panasonic UJ-260 can burn them at 2x and 6x. This is higher than the RITEK-DR3-000 and CMCMAG-DI6-000 discs, both of which could be burned up to 4x on this drive (Note that the CMCMAG-DI6-000 failed on this drive, but it could burn the RITEK-DR3-000 perfectly fine).

Given this, let’s try to burn a disc with Nero at 6x.

VERBAT-IMf-000 Panasonic UJ-260 Burning 6x on Nero

It did seem to start burning great, but unfortunately, the disc failed to burn with just a generic burning error:

VERBAT-IMf-000 Panasonic UJ-260 Burning 6x on Nero Failed

This is the first time the Panasonic fails on me while burning a disc. This is also unexpected, given that Verbatim discs should be the best of the best. Usually, this drive would burn a disc fine but may fail on the verification, like it did on the CMCMAG-DI6-000 discs. Maybe it couldn’t handle burning at 6x.

HP BD-R DL 10pk 6

As we can see, it failed at the first layer.

My next try was of course, on the Pioneer BDR-2212. It burned all of the Philips spindles flawlessly, altough on just one of the discs, it wrote a bad sector and this drive was able to read it back while the others failed on that sector. I discarded this disc, but the others wrote and verified just fine.

VERBAT-IMf-000 Pioneer BDR-2212

The Pioneer drive reports that this disc can be burned at up to 8x.

I fired up Nero and attempted to burn the disc at 8x. The CMCMAG-DI6-000 burned great at this speed and the verification went really well too. No speed slowdowns happened at all when reading them.

Nero was able to burn and verify this disc successfully. In fact, it also read back fine in my LiteOn iHBS112.

HP BD-R DL 10pk 7

The finished disc has a dark grey burned color. Here we can see it compared to a burned CMCMAG-DI6-000 disc:

HP BD-R DL 10pk 8

The CMCMAG-DI6-000 on the left has a darker burned color than the VERBAT-IMf-000 disc on the right.

Next are the usual quality scans. I really don’t pay attention to it, as it’s been proven that the drives can handle high amounts of LDC/BIS numbers and the only discs that failed on me were scratched or rotten ones. This happened some years ago, but none of the discs I’ve burned so far has given me issues.

Test results of an 8x burn

VERBAT-IMf-000 Burned with Pioneer BDR-2212 at 8x and scanned on LiteOn iHBS112 at 4x

The LiteOn iHBS112 seem to read the disc just great but reports high numbers on the first layer and a bit on the 2nd one before going back down to numbers that stays within the limits. Besides this result, the disc was completely readable.

VERBAT-IMf-000 Burned with Pioneer BDR-2212 at 8x and ScanDisc on LiteOn iHBS112

Now, let’s move on to scanning and verifying it on the LG WH16NS58:

VERBAT-IMf-000 Burned with Pioneer BDR-2212 at 8x and scanned on LG WH14NS58 at 4x

The LG drive stayed between the tolerance numbers except once it reached the 20GB mark, where it went up. It stabilized again on the 2nd layer at around 29GB and stayed within its limits. The disc once again was completely readable according to Nero DiscSpeed.

VERBAT-IMf-000 Burned with Pioneer BDR-2212 at 8x and ScanDisc on LG WH16NS58

Test results of a 6x burn

I burned a disc at 6x, which was successful too. The difference between a 6x and 8x burn is about 5 minutes.

Now, let’s see how it scanned:

The scan on the LiteOn drive is very similar to the 8x burn. On the LG drive, however, it seems the first layer was burned better. The start of the 2nd layer did present a spike but seem to correct itself. Remember that the Pioneer drive performs some calibration while burning. It usually does it at around 56% after starting to burn the second layer of a BD-R DL disc. The rest of the disc burned with good quality and no spikes.

Even with those spikes on both scans, the disc read fine on both instances.

Burning on the Panasonic UJ260 at 2x

I decided to give this drive another try, but this time burning at 2x. Surprisingly, it handled burning it and succeeded in the verification stage.

Testing on the LiteOn and LG drives looked way, way better too

We can see once again that the LG scanned it a bit better, but the difference between the LiteOn and LG is not so much. Overall, this looks way better than the Pioneer burns at 6x and 8x.

This is very good to know because before the Pioneer drive, I was always burning on the Panasonic drive. This means that the only media this drive cannot handle well is the CMCMAG-DI6-000, but it could be because of the tint of those discs that I mentioned on that review and may not be the case with other branded CMCMAG discs.

Conclusion

The discs from the batch I got are all Verbatim 6x media. They are burning reliably on the Pioneer drive and at 2x on the Panasonic drive. The LG and LiteOn drives can read back the data on all of the above cases regardless of the quality scans without any speed slowdown. I’d recommend this media because of how cheap it is, considering they seem to be Verbatim media but branded for HP.

You can order these discs on Amazon at the following link:

Gigablock DVD+R DL 8x Blank Media

Gigablock DVD+R DL 8x Blank Media

Note: I had this post written since the summer, but somehow forgot to publish it. I apologize for my lateness on publishing it.


Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the 50-pack Gigablock DVD+R DL media I brought on Amazon. This 50-pack cost about half the price of a standard 100-pack DVD+R spindle. They are rated at 8x.

Gigablock DVD+R DL 1

The discs do not come in a standard spindle, so you have to be very careful when opening it.

Gigablock DVD+R DL 2

They have a branded surface:

Gigablock DVD+R DL 3

The recording surface has a dark purple color:

Gigablock DVD+R DL 4

Disc information

When the disk is loaded in ImgBurn on a LiteOn iHAS524 drive with OverSpeed turned on, it will detect them as having a speed of up to 16x:

The disc media ID from this batch is RICOHJPN-D01-67.

Unfortunately, burning these discs with either 12x or 16x will not work and will produce coasters. They will actually write at 4x but will fail the verification. This is why I recommend turning off OverSpeed and burning at the rated 8x speed.

Here’s the disk information with OverSpeed turned off:

Burning

The LiteOn iHAS524 was able to burn the discs successfully when burned at 8x. I burned them with HyperTuning, Online HyperTuning and Smart-Burn turned on. OverSpeed was turned off.

Interestingly, it seemed to have burned some discs using a CAV strategy while the rest were burned using a Z-CLV strategy.

CAV Strategy

The disc started burning at 5x but eventually reached 8x. Then it went backward:

Data verification was successful going up to 16x:

Z-CLV Strategy

The drive burned the discs starting at 4x, then going up to 6x, and finally up to 8x. It then did the same on the opposite direction:

Data verification was also successful having a maximum read speed of 16x:

Disc Quality Test

I used Nero DiscSpeed to perform quality tests on these discs. It seems that there is a problem around the layer break when the scan is performed at the maximum speed which is 16x:

However, when we reduced the speed to 8x, we got some decent results with no issues at the layer break:

Conclusion

With a price of just $19.99, I think this is a good media to backup data. A 100pk Single-layer DVD+R spindle cost somewhere between $20-$25 these days. While these media are Double Layer, you’re getting half the discs with almost double the capacity for around that same price.

When burning these discs, just don’t overspeed them. You’ll have coasters. Burn them at their rated speed of 8x and always verify the data. While none of my discs had issues verifying the discs burned at 8x, those burned at 12x and 16x did experienced issues. This is why you should disable overspeed and burn at 8x.

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano: AC600 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano: AC600 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 1

This is a USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter about the size of a mouse USB receiver, very small. It follows the Wireless AC protocol and should theoretically give us speeds of up to 600Mbit/s. If that’s true or not, we’ll see later in this post.

This wireless receiver is currently being sold at about $13 dollars on Amazon, or at $12 if you buy them as a “Renewed” item, which is Amazon’s terms for refurbished items.

The above ones were purchased renewed, as this is more friendly to the planet and should work just like a new one. In fact, you can see one of them is packaged differently than the other. This doesn’t matter, but you know they are repackaged items because of how they are.

Unboxing

The front of the box shows the overall product details, like saying it should be faster on the 2.4Ghz band and that it also supports the 5Ghz band, given it’s a dual band adapter:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 2

On the back, we have a better description of the adapter:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 3

The receiver is packaged inside this big box:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 4

The reason for it to be big is that they have packaged a regular CD with the device driver. It has to be known that Windows 10 detects the adapter natively and uses its own driver, as we will see later too.

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 5

We also have the user manual and an Amazon Certified Refurbished card.

The adapter is really small:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 6

Taken out of the box:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 7

Now it’s time to plug it into my laptop. Almost unnoticeable:

Testing

The TP-Link Archer T2U Nano is natively recognized by Windows 10, and uses Microsoft’s native driver:

TP-Link T2U Nano speedtest 4

However, it only seems to be using a fraction of my wireless router, only showing it is running at a rate of 86.7Mbit/s:

TP-Link T2U Nano speedtest 1

In fact, running a speed test doesn’t give the maximum speed of 250Mbit/s of download I’m supposed to be getting:

In comparison, when using the laptop’s integrated Wifi card, it indeed reaches the full 250Mbit/s speed:

I then decided to use TP-Link’s driver to see if that would improve things, but infortunately that wasn’t the case:

And even switched to the other adapter to make sure it wasn’t defective. Unfortunately, I also got a slower than expected speed:

TP-Link T2U Nano speedtest 9

Conclusion

The TP-Link Archer T2U is a small wireless adapter. Maybe it’s because of that the fact that we don’t see the full speed being utilized, but one thing is for sure; it serves its initial purpose of bringing Wi-Fi to a laptop. While it may be slow, we can also see that the adapter works simply by inserting it. No extra drivers are needed on Windows 10, and we can start navigating the web fast.

For just $12 or $13 dollars, we can’t expect it to do miracles with the speed, but it will keep you connected with no dropouts.

The internet plan used for the purpose of this review is 250Mbit/s of download and 25mbit/s of upload speed.

If you’re interested, you can purchase this item on Amazon below:

SednaEarFit Xelastec Review

SednaEarFit Xelastec Review

Ever since I got my Hidizs MS4 IEM, I became a journey to try several ear tips, after I lost one of their “Bass” ear tips. This journey began with me trying some Chinese replacements tips, in particular, some called “Spiral ear tips”. They were good, but I still tried other tips, including the highly acclaimed Spinfits.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t pleased with the Spinfits, as I found it degraded the sound to my likes. It was until I found the AZLA SednaEarFitLight that I was really pleased with how the sound came from them.

SednaEarFit Xelastec 5

AZLA is known to make one of the best ear tips. Their SednaEarFit line improves both sound and comfort, but one of their issues has to do with getting the right fit, and the high price. However, once you find the correct size for you, you will be really pleased with how they sound.

AZLA recently released the SednaEarFit Xelastec, which is made of different material that adapts to your ear. This makes them fit great and will not, theoretically, fall.

SednaEarFit Xelastec 1

I found that one of the most important thing that affects the size is the nozzle size and diameter. The smaller the diameter, the more dull the sound will be, and the longer or shorter the nozzle length is, is how the sound frequency will get affected.

SednaEarFit Xelastec 2

On the Hidizs MS4, the shorter the nozzle length is, will produce more bass, great mids, and tame the treble. The longer the nozzle length is, there may be less bass, with more treble sparks, and the mids, well, fall in the middle or may get behind.

Once I tried the SednaEarFit Xelastec, they became my favorite ear tip. Here’s why:

Ease of use

Some ear tips have a hard time getting placed in the IEM nozzle, because of its diameter. This was the case when I got the Spinfit ear tip, as the diameter was small. With the SednaEarFit Xelastec, they just fit without having any struggles. This may be due to its adapting material.

Sound

The nozzle length of the Xelastec is shorter and just a bit smaller than their SednaEarFitLight. However, due to the material it’s made, the sound doesn’t get affected much. In fact, it does a great job to reproduce a great frequency response. The bass isn’t overwhelmed but is improved. The mids comes more forward but not too much. The treble is tamed with no sparks to it. The sound stage is very good to my likes, which is a forward sound with great instrument separation and energy.

Fit

This really depends on the tip size used. In my case, the best size is their ML (Medium-Large) size. They are very comfortable and fits very nice in my ears. I can use them for hours without getting itchy or without causing discomfort. They also do not fall. The material they are made will give you a sticky feeling, unlike silicone tips which depending on the one used, may cause you some itch and discomfort.

SednaEarFit Xelastec 7

The only downside is that due to them being kind of sticky, you may have to clean them often.

Price

Let’s be honest, these tips are not cheap, but they are really worth it. The main problem you’ll probably face is spending money to test the different tip sizes. I used to be a medium size when it comes to tips, but for the AZLA tips, the best ones are their Medium-Large. Fortunately, you can get various tip sizes but at a premium.

Personally, I got the pack that comes with medium, medium-large, and large tips, just to see if the medium-large would still fit or I needed to go down to the medium tips. The large ones are large indeed.

SednaEarFit Xelastec 3

So, for starters, you may want to start here. At a price of $28.00, each tip size comes at $9.33 approximately.

Conclusion

I can recommend these tips if you’re looking for comfort without compromising the sound. It may even improve it depending on which tips you are using. Remember that not all tips will produce the same sound with every IEM, so your mileage will vary here, but if you, like me, own the Hidizs MS4 IEM, I can recommend them. AZLA makes one of the most amazing and high quality ear tips I’ve ever used.

You can get these tips on Amazon here:

Individual sizes:

Comparison of the sound of the different Hiby R3 models

Comparison of the sound of the different Hiby R3 models

Hi everyone,

Today, I want to talk to you about the different sound signatures of the different Hiby R3 models.

Hiby is a company that specializes in audio hardware and headphones. They have created Digital Audio Players, Bluetooth receivers, and headphones. They have also created a modified Android version for their Hiby R5 and R6 players while also having developed the HibyOS operating system that powers the Hiby R3. They also use a range of DACs in their products that ultimately gives them their signature sound.

Two years ago, Hiby launched the Hiby R3 player on Kickstarter. This particular model used an ES9028Q2M DAC. It also offered a lot of great features for a price of just $189 at that time. Then, in the last months of the last year, Hiby launched the Hiby R3 Pro, changing the DAC to not one, but 2 Cirrus Logic CS43131. Finally, a few months ago, Hiby launched the new Hiby R3 Pro Saber which went back to using ESS DACs. This time, powered by two ES9218p DACs.

These players each have their advantages in the sound department, but none of them sounds the same. This is why I’ll be giving my thoughts on this.

Hiby R3

The original Hiby R3 is musical in the mids. The highs are not bright and the bass is not overwelmed. The sound is neither warm or bright, but rather neutral. This is why it seems like the mids have a better presentation.

Hiby R3 Pro

The Hiby R3 Pro changed the DAC to dual CS43131. Cirrus Logic DACs are warmer than those from ESS, which sounds more analytical and sometimes bright. Because of this, the bass and mids have a warmer tone, including making the vocals be warmer, The sound is also a bit more open due to the two DACs.

Hiby R3 Pro Saber

The Hiby R3 Pro Saber went back to the ESS DACs, particularly, the ES9218p. These DACs sound different depending on their implementation. On the Hiby R3 Pro Saber, the sound is more analytical, airy, and more open. The hights are bright but not to the point where they will cause hearing fatigue. I rather like the sound this way because it makes the highs be more detailed. The voices have a lot more air and are more forward and clearer than on the R3 Pro, which was warmer.

Below, you’ll find a video I recorded talking about these different models and their sound signature:

Which DAP is your favorite? Let me know in the comments.

The Avantree DG80 USB Bluetooth Audio Transmitter

The Avantree DG80 USB Bluetooth Audio Transmitter

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the Avantree DG80 Bluetooth USB Audio Transmitter:

Avantree DG80 - 1

This is a Bluetooth adapter that works as a PC audio card. It transmits audio via Bluetooth using the SBC, FastStream, aptX, or aptX Low Latency codec, depending on which codecc your headphone or adapter supports. Having the aptX codec provides us with a better audio experience.

The aptX Low Latency codec allows us to watch movies and videos without any audio delay. Most Bluetooth receivers today support this codec and having a transmitter with it makes us take advantage of this.

Avantree DG80 - 2

Unboxing

The DG80 packaging is small and simple.

Avantree DG80 - 3

We can see the adapter along with its manual and documentation behind.

We can see the transmitter is really small.

Finally, we have the included documentation.

Avantree DG80 - 9

Package content:

Avantree DG80 - 10

Using the transmitter

Using this transmitter is as simple as plugging it into a USB port and going into pairing mode.

Avantree DG80 - 11

We can see Windows detects it as Avantree DG80.

Avantree DG80 Settings 2

The transmitter has a bit depth and sample rate of 16bit/48khz, which is common with these adapters.

Avantree DG80 Settings 3

I paired it with my Fiio BTR5 and we can see it is using the aptX Low Latency codec.

Avantree DG80 - 12

Here’s a video of the pairing process of the adapter:

Audio Quality

Becuase this transmitter uses a Qualcomm chipset, the sound quality is realy great, thanks to its support of the aptX and aptX Low Latency codecs.

Signal strength

Avantree claims the adapter will work up to 30 meters or 100 feet. This may be true unless there are some obstacles in the way. In my tests with the Whooshi adapter, known to have signal issues, I was able to listen to music while I was in the same room. However, going away I could hear the audio getting cut. If you’re looking for the best signal range, the Avantree DG60 is a better choice.

Conclusion

If you still do not have a USB Bluetooth audio transmitter, the Avantree DG80 is a good start. It’s small, portable, and cheap. It also supports the aptX and aptX Low Latency codecs to provide excellent audio quality.

The Hidizs Mermaid MS1 and MS4 IEMs with their cables and accessories

The Hidizs Mermaid MS1 and MS4 IEMs with their cables and accessories

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I received the brand-new Hidizs Mermaid MS1 and MS4 In-Ear Monitors Absolute Kits.

Hidizs Mermaid MS1 and MS4 IEMs with their cables and accessories
Hidizs Mermaid MS1 and MS4 IEMs with their cables and accessories

The Hidizs Mermaid MS1 is an IEM with 1 Dynamic Driver, while the Hidizs Mermaid MS4 is an IEM with 1 Dynamic Driver and 3 Knowles Balanced Armatures.

Hidizs Mermaid MS4
Hidizs Mermaid MS4

My initial impressions are excellent. These IEMs do a lot to reproduce the music. I found that the MS1, with just the Dynamic Driver, produces a warm sound with great mids and smooth bass and treble. The MS4, on the other hand, improves the bass and treble while having great mids. Since the MS4 uses 3 balanced armatures for the mids and treble, they do a great job, and since the Dynamic Driver is focused on the bass, it also does a great job. The MS1, on the other hand, produces a warmer sound since the Dynamic Driver needs to reproduce the entire frequency spectrum.

The Hidizs Absolute Kits come with a choice of a 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced cable, USB-C 2-pin cable and an aptX Bluetooth Cable using a CSR8645 chipset. They are also compatible with other 2-pin 0.78mm IEMs and you can also use other aftermarket cables due to their 2-pin connectors.

The IEMs can be driven easily since the MS1 only has an impedance of just 15Ω while the MS4 has an impedance of just 12Ω. However, you can use your favorite DAC like the Hidizs DH1000/Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus and use the balanced output to enjoy an even better sound. You can also use them with the 3.5mm cable with the Hidizs AP80.

Now, here’s my unboxing video I recorded yesterday where I unbox both kits, their cables and accessories:

I personally like the MS4 due to their more punchier bass and their extended treble. The MS1 have more forward vocals, so if you’re looking for that, the MS1 is for you, but if you want the treble and a bit more bass, go for the MS4.

Here’s the review video I also recorded with my thoughts on the IEMs and the cables:

Overall, Hidizs did a great job with these new In-Ear Monitors.

You can purchase these 2 Hidizs IEMs at Amazon using the following links:

The TRN BT20 2-pin 0.78mm IEM Bluetooth Adapter

The TRN BT20 2-pin 0.78mm IEM Bluetooth Adapter

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll be reviewing the TRN BT20 Bluetooth adapter for 2-pin In-Ear Monitors (IEM):

TRN BT20 1
TRN BT20 1

The TRN BT20 is a Bluetooth 5.0 adapter that is available in 3 different versions:

  • 2-pin 0.75mm
  • 2-pin 0.78mm
  • MMCX

The version I purchased is the 2-pin 0.78mm for my KZ ZS7 IEM’s.

The adapter syncs together to bring you stereo sound. It uses a Realtek Bluetooth 5.0 SoC that while it is not specified which specific chipset it’s being used, I suspect it may be using the Realtek RTL8763B.

Because of it using a Realtek chipset, it doesn’t support the aptX audio codec, but it does support AAC along with SBC. This means that when paired with an iPhone or Android device, it should use AAC instead of SBC, and for backward compatibility, the SBC codec will be chosen if a device lacks the AAC codec.

Packaging

The packaging is very simple, as can be seen in the following images:

Here, you can see the sides:

And here you can see the back:

TRN BT20 3
TRN BT20 3

To open it, you have to slide the box outside:

TRN BT20 5
TRN BT20 5

Opening the box, both pieces of the TRN BT20 are revealed:

TRN BT20 6
TRN BT20 6

As you can see, they are very well protected and can be easily taken out:

TRN BT20 11
TRN BT20 11

Continuing unboxing the box, we need to take out the cable and manuals which are after taking out the following:

TRN BT20 7
TRN BT20 7

There’s a Micro USB Y-Cable that allows us to charge both Bluetooth pieces at the same time:

TRN BT20 8
TRN BT20 8
TRN BT20 18
TRN BT20 18
TRN BT20 19
TRN BT20 19

Finally, we have the manual, warranty card, and the card that says it passed quality checks:

TRN BT20 9
TRN BT20 9
TRN BT20 10
TRN BT20 10

Using the TRN BT20 with the KZ ZS7

I was using my KZ ZS7 IEMs with a Revonext 3.5mm 3-button cable before using this TRN BT20 Bluetooth adapter.

TRN BT20 12
TRN BT20 12

I removed the IEM from the cable so that I can plug them in the adapters:

TRN BT20 13
TRN BT20 13

Plugging them was straightforward and they are tightly attached:

TRN BT20 14
TRN BT20 14

Fitting

This is a part where these don’t work well with my ears and the KZ ZS7.

This adapter is supposed to be hanged behind the ears:

TRN BT20 15
TRN BT20 15

Unfortunately, My KZ ZS7 doesn’t get sealed in my ear and the TRN BT20 pushes them out, so I’m using them without hanging them behind my ears:

They are not heavy and now my KZ ZS7 seals fine in my ears. I think if TRN releases a version of the BT20 with a larger ear hook, then they may fit better. Otherwise, I don’t have a problem using them this way.

Pairing

Pairing the TRN BT20 with my phone was extremely easy. You just turn it on and it will enter in pairing mode automatically. From there, you can choose it in your phone and it will pair:

TRN BT20 Pairing
TRN BT20 Pairing

Charging

I haven’t yet discharged the TRN BT20 battery entirely, as I don’t listen to music at loud volumes. My Android phone reports 50% of battery left after about 3 hours of continuous usage. The volume is set around 1/4 of the slider and that produces a comfortable audio level to my liking. Past it, and it’s too loud. As mentioned above, the TRN BT20 supports the AAC audio codec which my phone is using. Because of this, charging normally takes around 45 minutes (Remember I have not discharged this completely). I’m not using the supplied cable to charge them. Rather, I’m using the UGREEN Micro USB Y cable:

TRN BT20 20
TRN BT20 20

There’s one side that will always charge faster because one side acts as a receiver while the other is receiving and transmitting the audio to the other BT20 side. I have paired the left adapter to my phone so that one takes a couple of more minutes to finish charging.

Audio Quality

I’m actually surprised by the quality of these. I think, personally, that the TRN BT20 has an advantage given that it uses a Realtek SoC on both sides. This means each side is decoding its own audio channel. This is similar to how balanced DACs work, in that each DAC decodes a specific channel. This has the advantage of improving the sound stage and channel separation. That’s exactly what I’m experiencing with the TRN BT20. The tonality is just awesome.

Because each side is decoding their own corresponding audio channel, I feel this improves the sound separation much like how balanced DACs work, except that there are no cables around.

It’s true that the TRN BT20 doesn’t support aptX nor LDAC, but given its ability to decode AAC, the audio quality is of very good quality. Even using the SBC codec, I find the quality to be amazing.

TRN BT20 AAC codec
TRN BT20 AAC codec with my Samsung Galaxy S9+

There’s a bit of a hiss when used with sensitive IEM’s, but it’s way less than other Bluetooth adapters, especially those that are not using dedicated audio DAC’s in their implementations. The sound quality is not degraded because of this, but I’m sure some may not like the hissing.

Overall, I’m pleased with the sound quality, and I’m using this Bluetooth adapter rather than my USB DACs with their cables.

Compatibility

I’ve been using the TRN BT20 with my Samsung Galaxy S9+, where it uses the AAC audio codec. The sound quality is excellent.

I also tested this with my HiBy R3 and Hidizs AP80 which I use as a DAC and Bluetooth transmitter to transmit my PC audio to the BT20. In this case, the SBC codec is used, as Hiby OS does not support transmitting AAC audio yet, although HiBy replied to a comment saying they may add this in a future firmware.

TRN BT20 21
Hidizs AP80 using in DAC mode and transmitting audio via Bluetooth

I normally set the volume between 7 to 13. Going up, it is too loud.

The only problem I found is that when using some Qualcomm transmitters with Windows, the volume will be extremely loud.

Conclusion

At around $33-34 on Amazon, you can’t go wrong with the TRN BT20. They do not have aptX, but their ability to decode AAC means the audio quality is not compromised.

The use of Realtek on both sides means each side decodes their own channel audio, which can improve the sound separation and sound stage.

There’s a bit of hissing which could be distracting for some, but it’s not very noticeable compared to other adapters.

The battery life is great and will last some hours. Charging should take at maximum 2 hours, but it charges in way less than that, having a 70mAh battery on each side, and charging at about 50mAh, it should take about an hour and a few minutes.

Unfortunately, it’s the fitting that didn’t work for me, but this part is one that depends on the IEM’s being used and your ears.

I’d rate this 4 out of 5, that last star being because of it not playing nice with my ears.

You can get the TRN BT20 on Amazon. Select the version that is compatible with your IEMs:

Unboxing and Review: Jack by Podo Labs

Unboxing and Review: Jack by Podo Labs

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I finally received the Jack by Podo Labs, after 2 years of waiting for this Kickstarter project:

Jack by Podo Labs 1
Jack by Podo Labs 1

The project was funded on February 25, 2017, and yesterday was April 8, 2019, the day I received it.

The Jack is a bluetooth receiver that turns standard 3.5mm headphones into bluetooth. The receiver supports Qualcomm’s aptX and uses a CSR8670 chip. It also uses a Maxim MAX97220 amplifier, and it’s stated to handle 2 Vrm up to 600Ohms, according to the project FAQ. The battery size is 300mAh, stated to last up to 12 hours per charge.

The Jack is also one of the few bluetooth adapters that supports headphone inline controls, so you’ll be able to control the volume and play/pause the music using the headphone cable inline remote and also use the Jack’s buttons, whichever method you prefer to use.

Going back to the pictures, the box was a bit crushed when I took it out of the package:

Jack by Podo Labs 2
Jack by Podo Labs 2

Kickstarter Edition! It includes the Jack (Obviously) and a USB charging cable, which where both protected by this bubble wrap:

Jack by Podo Labs 3
Jack by Podo Labs 3

Taking them out of the bubble wrap, here’s the Jack and the cable:

Jack by Podo Labs 4
Jack by Podo Labs 4

I turned it on and connected my headphones, then I paired it with my phone, which was very simple to do:

Jack by Podo Labs - Pairing
Jack by Podo Labs – Pairing

As soon as I started playing back music, the LED turned from blue to green:

Jack by Podo Labs 5
Jack by Podo Labs 5

I’m using my KZ ZS7 IEM’s with the Jack:

Jack by Podo Labs 6
Jack by Podo Labs 6

Unfortunately, the gold clip isn’t in good conditions, but this is purely cosmetic, and of course, does not affect the sound quality:

Jack by Podo Labs 7
Jack by Podo Labs 7

The Jack also came with a simple rubber case:

And that’s it with the pictures. Now, let’s talk about the sound quality.

Sound Quality

The Jack can provide a loud volume, so the amplifier is doing its job. The sound quality is good, thanks to the aptX audio codec. Unfortunately, there’s a noticeable noise that can be heard and can be annoying on quiet tracks. This is pretty common with bluetooth adapters that doesn’t use a dedicated DAC, and is noticeable on sensitive headphones and IEM’s, like the KZ ZS7 that I’m using. Other than that, the sound quality is very good but that noise is annoying. Here’s a place where Podo Labs can improve if they every decide to do another iteration of the Jack.

Music playback showed a flaw, where sometimes the blue LED will not change to green and there will be no audio at all. Sometimes, pausing a music track and resuming it will activate the Jack again and the led will change to Green. Unfortunately, this didn’t worked when I played back music files using my Hidizs AP80 portable audio player, which also supports aptX adapters and headphones.

The best way I’ve found to prevent above’s problem is to use an aptX bluetooth transmitter like the Tunai Wand or the GENKI, where it is continually transmitting the source audio. This way, the Jack is always active and receiving audio and will not have this problem.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I think what stands out the Jack is its ability to handle headphone’s inline control and its battery life. Most other adapters have some 3 to 5 or 6 hours, but I haven’t seen any other reaching 12 hours like the Jack.

The Jack does not have a dedicated audio DAC so the audio quality is comparable to other standard adapters that use a CSR chip, which is acceptable and will satisfy most of the croud, unless you’re using sensitive IEM’s like the KZ ZS7.