Target Audience

The reviews on this site are not targeted at audiophiles and I'm not a professional audio engineer. I'm not claiming to be technically correct, and it is not the purpose of these reviews.

I'm just someone who listens to a variety of music genres, and these reviews are for average consumers who need help finding good earphones at a low price, without tinkering too much with technicalities, which is definitely a possibility.

This site's aim is to explore both popular and obscure brands and share experiences, not to provide commercial promotions.

Dynamic Reviewing

When it comes to sound - opinions tend to change. What sounded good before, might not sound as good after experiencing other earphones of better qualities, and vice versa, what sounded bad before, might actually sound good in comparison to even worse earphones.

Even the score scale of 0 to 5 is a dynamic one, which means earphones with an already determined score might lose half a point just to clear room for something better, or even gain half a point to clear room for something worse.

As a result, you will notice that scores of already reviewed earphones change now and then, some sentences change, cons and pros change. It's all part of the "dynamic reviewing" method.

Equipment

All of the earphones were tested on a desktop PC and a Xiaomi Mi 5 Pro smartphone.

On the PC side, the on-board audio codec (ALC892) is connected to an external budget amplifier: SMSL sAp II which implements the TPA6120A2 chip by Texas Instruments. The amplifier's volume knob is set at about 25%.

The Xiaomi Mi 5 Pro is notorious for having a rather low-power audio output, much lower than in an iPhone, for instance. Thus, I have manually installed 2 powerful system-level DSP's on it: The first being Arkamys (for bass and volume mostly), and the second is Dolby Atmos (for clarity, loudness and equalization).

Measurement

All of the earphones were measured with ARTA (Sweep, 1/12 octave smoothing), using Vibro Veritas connected directly to a microphone input jack (input volume set to 100%) of the on-board audio codec (ALC892), and the included ear tips are used whenever possible, always silicone ones, never foam tips (to prevent major loss of highs).

The output is the on-board audio codec connected to the SMSL sAp II budget amplifier for some signal amplification, its volume knob being set at about 25%, and PC's volume set to exactly 50% (for consistency).

No calibration/compensation has been done to the input or the output. As a result, these graphs are not technically accurate and cannot be compared to graphs measured by other sources. These graphs should only be compared internally, to other graphs on AudioBudget, and not to external graphs.

Commonly Used Terms

  • Bass Shaker - a quality test which can be found here, under "Quality" headline.
  • Dynamic range - the ratio of the loudest to the quietest sound that can be reliably transmitted or reproduced by a particular sound system, measured in decibels.
  • Frequency response - the quantitative measure of the output spectrum of a system or device in response to a stimulus, and is used to characterize the dynamics of the system. It is a measure of magnitude and phase of the output as a function of frequency, in comparison to the input.
  • Note - the basic building block of music. Different instruments may issue distinctive tones, each with an individual timbre and color, but they all have one thing in common: the ability to emit a note.
  • Pitch - the quality that makes it possible to judge sounds as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies. Essentially, the frequency of a cetrain note.
  • Timbre - the perceived sound quality of a musical note, sound, or tone. Timbre allows to distinguish common notes produced by different instruments.
  • Tone - a steady periodic sound, characterized by its duration, pitch, intensity (or loudness), and timbre (or quality/color).