Review - Aune Flamingo

Ranking 2022 - What I liked the most (and least) this year

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Also available on YouTube in Spanish: Acho Reviews YouTube 

Seeing that we are now in December and 2022 is coming to an end, I wanted to follow my tradition of doing a quick (or not so quick) recap of the things that I have been lucky enough (sometimes more than others) to try out during this year.

As you may or may not know, depending on how long you have spent reading or watching my reviews, I am not someone who makes lists and ranks them. It is not because I have anything against lists, I completely understand their use and the effort that goes into them, I just feel that “better” or “best” is such a subjective term in this audio and headphone world, that there can be a million lists and none of them would be 100% right or wrong.

All I can do is comment on how much I like or have enjoyed something personally. There are tons of things that I really enjoy but others will hate, and vice versa. And that is where I am going to break my own rule and make a list… with a ranking!

Before anyone thinks that I am going to put things into tiers and assign a letter (the typical S, A, B, etc.) to them, that is not what this list is about. All I am going to do is take a look at what I have reviewed this year and rank them based on how much I have personally enjoyed said item.

While there has been a variety of things that I have tried this year, such as DACs, DAPs, Amps and headphones, there is no denying that IEMs have been a huge amount of my content. In fact, there really isn’t enough content outside of IEMs that is worth ranking. So, before getting on to the ranking list (which will be of IEMs), let me just mention, briefly, the other categories.

As far as headphones go, the two that jump out at me from those that I have reviewed would be the Hifiman Edition XS and the Koss KPH40. It is no secret that I am a fan of Hifiman headphones and the Edition XS is a great set of Hifiman planars at a great price. The Koss KPH40 is in a completely different league but it is the set of headphones that I have most used this year. It lives on my desk in the office, connected permanently to the Modi 3+ & Atom setup, where it gets used for countless conference calls and easy listening in between.

DAPs haven’t seen much attention on the channel, with the Tempotec V6 being the only one to actually get reviewed. I found it to be a great sounding device but am not a fan of Android based DAPs. While not a DAP, the NEO Stream does fall into the music playback category and it is another iFi product that I really enjoyed.

In the land of DACs and amps, I have been very lucky to review some excellent devices this year. Being totally honest, I have enjoyed all of them! Each one has had its own flavour and I could honestly live with any of them. Saying that, if I had to pick my favourites, then I would obviously go with the iFi Gryphon for my portable set up (although the Go Blu does see quite a bit of use also, especially when travelling). I also like the Aune B2 but the Gryphon has become my main device for listening away from my home system but also for testing and reviewing IEMs.

As far as desktop amps and/or DACs… The Questyle CMA15 is an excellent piece of equipment, yet I have really fallen in love with the Hifiman EF400 and the Feliks Audio Echo Mk2. Both of these are great on their own, yet combining the two, I have a desktop set up that I enjoy immensely, pairing well with almost every headphone I have in my possession.

So, with those out of the way, now let's get to the list, my ranking of IEMs that I have reviewed (so far) in 2022.

Disclaimer: I will start from my oldest review of the year and place them on the ranking list as I move through the year, commenting on what I remember sticking out about said IEMs as I go along (remember, some of these IEMs I reviewed almost a year ago and probably haven’t listened to since, so its also a test on how much they have stuck in my brain 😁 ). This means that it is going to be quite a long journey, so if you just want to see the finished list, jump to the end of the entry and I will leave the full list.

One last thing, I will make each IEM a clickable link that allows you to go to the full review of the IEM should you wish to read it.

And now… IEMs 2022, the Acho Reviews ranking…

Reecho SG03 - This was the first IEM that I reviewed in 2022 and I can’t say I was a fan. The bass was excessive and the overall V shaped tuning just wasn’t for me. However, as this is the first IEM, it gets to spend (a short amount of) time in first place.

NF Audio NM2 - This set of IEMs had decent technical performance and was quite balanced, even if the midbass was a little too much, yet the comfort didn’t work great for me. It certainly placed itself above the SG03 though.

Reecho SG01 - The SG01 was something that I found very similar to the NF Audio NM2 and I also enjoyed, although, again, the midbass was a little too much and there was also a bit too much in the 3kHz range for me. I would place this just below the NM2 but way above the SG03.

Dunu Titan S - The first set of Dunu IEMs that I reviewed and I thoroughly enjoyed them. It isn’t a set of IEMs that is necessarily the best at anything in particular but is a set that I have used quite a bit for general listening. They also have a very original look and go straight to the top of the list for now.

CCA CRA - I remember the title of this review being “what if the best KZ are not KZ?” and I think that is a good description. The tuning of these IEMs is nothing like my personal preference yet they have really good bass and I have really enjoyed these IEMs. I would still highly reccomend these for someone looking for an elevated and good bass at a very cheap price. I can’t bring myself to place them above the Titan S on the list, as I prefer the tuning of the Titan, but they can slide in just below them.

Tripowin Leá - This was a bit of a strange experience. While listening at low volume levels, I enjoyed the Leá, yet as soon as I turned them up even slightly, I found that they got harsh very quickly. At low levels, they may deserve more, but in general, I have to place them below the SG01.

Koss KEB90 - Bass, bass and more bass. I think these are probably still the IEMs with the most bass that I have graphed. Added to that, they also have a rather large peak right on the 5kHz mark. Saying this, I didn’t hate them as much as I would have thought judging by the graph, but they are still not something that Ihave returned to since reviewing them. I’m actually going to place these below the SG03 but it would be a hard decision between them.

Effect Audio Axiom - This set of IEMs had so many good things going for it, yet the sound (as far as tuning goes) wasn’t one of them, at least in my opinion and with the supplied modules. The alternative modules supposedly make these IEMs sound much better but I haven’t had chance to try them out. Also, they are the most expensive set of IEMs I have reviewed.  However, price is not a factor on this list, I am not evaluating price to performance, just my enjoyment of the IEMs, and these are going to slot in between the CRA and the NM2.

Tipsy TTROMSO Pine Stone Sea - I found these to be quite a relaxed listen. They are not high on the detail scale and have too much in the bass range but are enjoyable for long BGM sessions, so I am going to drop these in above the Axiom.

Tanchjim Ola - The Ola are certainly lean on the bass side of things. Personally I find them tolerable in this aspect, although I too would like some extra down in the lower ranges, I found myself using XBass with these quite a lot which did improve the overall experience. I’m going to place these between the NM2 and the SG01 (using them with XBass).

7Hz Timeless - While I only got to spend a brief time with these, they were impressive and I really enjoyed them. They were the first planar IEMs that I tested from this new wave of planars and easily go to the top of the list in its current form.

7Hz Eternal - Another 7Hz set that I only spent a brief period with but with the opposite result to the Timeless. I really didn’t enjoy my brief time with the Eternal and these place low on the list, in fact, I am going to drop them to the bottom, not because I feel they are the worst (like “best”, “worst” is very subjective) but as far as enjoyment goes, these are the only set of IEMs so far that I didn’t make it through a full day with as I just couldn’t get to grips with the sound.

Fiio x Crinacle FHE: Eclipse - Although brief, the time I spent with these was very pleasurable and I was surprised when I found out the price, thinking it was very reasonable at the time. These are going on the list above the CCA CRA. I find the CRA has better bass but the Eclipse is a much more pleasant all rounder.

SeeAudio x Crinacle Yume Midnight - I spent a brief time with these following the Eclipse and while I didn’t really have any complaints, I preferred the Eclipse (which is also cheaper, although that is not a consideration for this list). I am going to place them just below the Eclipse on the list.

Unique Melody Mest Mk2 - The last of the series of mini reviews and the Mest Mk2 was the best by a large margin. It was the better performer of anything that I have on the list so far, however, I did expect something more from it. That is why expectation biases are never good! So, while from a “better” point of view, it would need to go to the top, yet from an enjoyment point of view, I am going to leave the Timeless in the top spot with the Mest Mk2 just behind (yes, blasphemy, I know!)

Ikko Opal OH02 - The Opal is a set of IEMs that aims to be different from the majority. I found the upper ranges (mids especially) to be very pleasant yet the lower ranges (midbass especially) could be impressive or irritating, depending on music choice. This is going to place below Ola on the current list as the Ola does need the XBass but is more consistent across genres.

Letshuoer S12 - I have praised these IEMs a lot and I still do. I got to try these side by side with the Timeless and found that the differences were minimal but that the S12 just suited me better. These became my daily driver for a long time and they are still one of my frequent choices for those times when I just want to relax and listen to music away from whatever I am testing and reviewing at the time. There is no doubt that these get first place in the current standings.

Moondrop Chu - These are probably the most hyped IEMs in the extreme budget category this year and I agree that they are a very good set for the price. Unfortunately they have a 5kHz peak that is something that I am very sensitive to, but they also come with tips that I have used on many other sets which gives them bonus points, so they go on the list above the NM2.

Tin Hifi T1S - These I found to be basically the T1+ in another format, a very “safe” tuning that didn’t really excel in anything and had too much in the midbass for my liking. They get a spot on the list just above the Leá.

TRI Meteor - These are a set that I enjoyed for general listening, with a tuning that is not really my preference but is still something I enjoyed. While I wouldn’t pick these as a set for a music listening session, where I am focusing on the music, I did enjoy them for BGM while focusing on other things. I’m actually going to place these above the NM2.

CCA CRA+ - These are a follow up from the CRA and place the focus more on the midbass than on the subbass, due to the roll off in the low end. As far as performance goes, they are on a par with each other, although I feel that the CRA+ has better upper mids. Saying that, I prefer the bass on the CRA (even if they are both quite a way from my usual preferences). I am going to say the CRA have the edge over the CRA+ for my enjoyment.

Dunu Vulkan - The most beautiful set of IEMs that have been across my desk. I find the treble to be a little hot on occasions but I still enjoy them and use them for certain genres when I am in the mood. There is also no denying that the make for some great photos, which adds to the enjoyment. While I am sure that many will disagree with me (which is why I keep saing “best” is subjective), these are going to go between the Timeless and the Mest Mk2.

TRN TA1 Max - With a sound signature that I am not a fan off, these IEMs were destined to not be high on my enjoyment scale, however, they do perform pretty well for those who are into the tuning. Personally, I am dropping these on the list between the T1S and the Leá.

Tangzu Shimin Li - The second part of the trilogy was not as impressive as the first part. Although these are an extreme budget set of IEMs, there is a lack of detail and performance is just not that great. I said that price is not a factor on this list, so they get placed below the T1S.

Seek Real Audio Airship - These IEMs really surprised me and I enjoyed (and still enjoy) them very much. Added to the overall sound and performance, I find them to be extremely comfortable and they are small enough to be packed almost anywhere. On my enjoyment ranking, these are going to go above the Vulkan, not because they are better IEMs than the Vulkan or the Mest Mk2, but because I have enjoyed them for many hours.

Blon Fat Girl - There were so many things I disliked about this IEM that it is just going to drop to the bottom of the list.

7Hz x Crinacle: Salnotes Dioko - This set of planar IEMs proved that a good set could be produced for a lot less than other available models at the time. I am a fan of the tuning and while it does fall a little behind on details and performance in comparison to other planars, I find this to be a very decent set of IEMs. Grabs itself a spot above the Titan S

7Hz Salnotes Zero - This is an outstanding set of extreme budget IEMs. While price is not a factor, these are still a very good set of IEMs that I got a lot of enjoyment out of listening to. They may not be my thing as far as aesthetics but they still deserve to go on the list above the CRA.

KBEAR Little Q - These have gained a permanent spot in my tech pouch. A set that is there for “emergencies” (as if forgetting ot breaking a set of IEMs can be considered an emergency) and they are a set that I will use for general media consumption while laying in a hotel bed etc. They are not high on my list for music listening but they have still given me plenty of hours of enjoyment, so they earned themselves a spot just below the CRA duo.

Sennheiser IE600 - Probably the best IEMs I have heard this year and by far the most comfortable. I enjoyed these IEMs a lot, even if they are way north of my bass preferences, and have no doubt about putting them in the top spot.

Letshuoer D13 - Amazing bass quality without feeling the need to boost it, with an overall tuning that I find very enjoyable. Another set that I still grab now and again, especially for that dynamic driver bass, even if the details are not their strong point. These are going to grab themselves a spot between the Mest Mk2 and the Titan S.

KZ AS16 Pro - While there is nothing really wrong with these IEMs, I just find that they lack life for most of my preferred music. While I have heard sets with amazing bass from BA’s, this set is one of those that reminds me of why I am generally not a huge fan of BA bass. Again, nothing inherently wrong with them per se, but on an enjoyment ranking, and the fact that Ialso find them uncomfortable, they drop below the Leá.

Tanchjim Zero - Decent performance but with a very forward tuning. Not much warmth to be found here. While the form factor works well to compete with the Little Q, the tuning not so much for general media consumption (such as movies, etc.). Therefore, while performance is probably much higher than the Little Q, for enjoyment they place quite a lot lower, just below the Ola from the same brand.

TRI x HBB KAI - This was the first HBB collaboration that I tried and I must say they impressed me. They are not my preferred sound signature but they are good performers and work well for a lot of genres of music. I enjoyed the time I spent reviewing them and I have grabbed them a few times since. I’m going to place these between the D13 and the Dioko.

Meze Audio Advar - Excellent in so many ways but the upper ranges just made a lot of music a bit too harsh for me. While the bass is above my preferences, the performance and clarity make it a non-issue and in general, these are a great set of IEMs, except for that brightness up top. They are also very comfortable IEMs and they deserve, based on enjoyment, a spot just below the Timeless.

Blon Z200 - Not a set of IEMs that I enjoyed very much, they get relegated to a spot between the TA1 Max and the Leá.

TRN ST5 - These are a set that I feel could be improved in many ways but I still enjoyed them, even though I would not pick them as a set for me personally. I am going to place these on the list above the T1S but below the SG01.

Tin Hifi T3 Buds - These are the only TWS that Ihave reviewed this year and I am not someone who really uses TWS. There is some background hiss to the IEMs that can be annoying and they have a bit too much of a boost in the upper mids, which leaves them placing between the Meteor the NM2.

Tripowin Rhombus - I did not enjoy these IEMs, finding the BA driver harsh and too much of a focus on the upper mids (even if they have plenty of bass on paper). These go on the list below the Eternal.

Tin Hifi T2 DLC - A nice surprise from Tin and a worthy successor of the original T2. I think these are the best tuning I have heard from Tin so far and they place quite high on the list between the D13 and the KAI.

TRI i One - These are a set that I can like or hate, depending on the song. They seem to react differently to each track and while they can be impressive at times, it takes away from the enjoyment as I can’t just relax and listen to music. I am going to put these on the list below the TRI Meteor.

KZ PR1 - These have far too much bass for my tastes. The performance is ok and they would be a lot more fun (for me) if they didn’t have that overwhelming low end. As it stands, they slip in between the TA1 Max and the Shimin Li.

Tripowin Cencibel - These suffer from the same issues as the Tripowin Rhombus, just with no BA to blame. However, they did come with a nice case which I have repurposed for the iFi Gryphon, so that puts them above the Rhombus on the list.

Dunu Talos - These are in a very close battle with the S12 for being my favourite planar IEMs. I swapped tips on both sets and while the Talos is more detailed, the S12 are more relaxed. Depending on the day, I will prefer one or the other. However, as the Talos is much better looking (in my opinion of course), they are going to steal the second place from the S12.

HZSound Heart Mirror Pro - A set that I have enjoyed using, both during the review and for some general listening since then. They are not spectacular in any way but they are a solid performer in every way, so they are going to place just above the D13 on the list.


So, with all of that, the final standing of the list of IEMs that I have reviewed in 2022, at least so far, based solely on my personal enjoyment and nothing more, is as follows.

1. Sennheiser IE600

2. Dunu Talos

3. Letshuoer S12

4. 7Hz Timeless

5. Meze Audio Advar

6. Seek Real Audio Airship

7. Dunu Vulkan

8. Unique Melody Mest Mk2

9. HZSound Heart Mirror Pro

10. Letshuoer D13

11. Tin Hifi T2 DLC

12. TRI x HBB KAI

13. 7Hz x Crinacle: Salnotes Dioko

14. Dunu Titan S

15. Fiio x Crinacle FHE: Eclipse

16. SeeAudio x Crinacle Yume Midnight

17. 7Hz Salnotes Zero

18. CCA CRA

19. CCA CRA+

20. KBEAR Little Q

21. Tipsy TTROMSO Pine Stone Sea

22. Effect Audio Axiom

23. Moondrop Chu

24. TRI Meteor

25. TRI i One

26. Tin Hifi T3 Buds

27. NF Audio NM2

28. Tanchjim Ola

29. Tanchjim Zero

30. Ikko Opal OH02

31. Reecho SG01

32. TRN ST5

33. Tin Hifi T1S

34. Tangzu Shimin Li

35. KZ PR1

36. TRN TA1 Max

37. Blon Z200

38. Tripowin Leá

39. KZ AS16 Pro

40. Reecho SG03

41. Koss KEB90

42. 7Hz Eternal

43. Tripowin Cencibel

44. Tripowin Rhombus

45. Blon Fat Girl


I am going to say this one last time, so as to avoid confusion about this ranking. This is not a list of “best to worst” IEMs, there are IEMs that are “better” in many ways than those placed above them on the list, yet I didn’t get as much enjoyment out of them as I did with other sets.

I think that the most “unfair” are probably those that I did a mini review of, as I only spent around a day or two with each of them. Many times I will find that a set of IEMs grows on me after a few days, or I grow to dislike it on occasions also, so it is possible that these would have ranked differently had I spent more time with them.

And I think that I should wrap it up here, as this has turned into probably the longest post I have made. But it has been fun looking at all the stuff I have reviewed this year. There are still a few more to come but for now, here is my first (and probably last 😉 ) ranking list of IEMs.

By the way, I would love to hear what you have most enjoyed in 2022 or what changes you would make to the list. Remember that no list is wrong as long as it is viewed from the perspective of the person who creates it. You can comment by visiting any of the social media links below.


All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link
 
All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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