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 average consumers' equipment: a Xiaomi Mi 5 Pro and a desktop PC with ASUS Xonar DGX sound card with an on-board headphone amplifier (later replaced by the external SMSL sAp II headphone amplifier).

ASUS Xonar DGX's amplifier is set to "Pro-gaming Mode or for 32~64ohms headsets" setting, which is the medium setting. When testing an earphone's reaction to additional amplification, the amplifier is temporarily set to "Exciter Mode or for >64ohms headsets" setting.

On February 2017, ASUS Xonar DGX's on-board headphone amplifier was turned off and replaced with an external budget amplifier: SMSL sAp II with a TPA6120A2 chip by Texas Instruments. The amplifier's volume knob is set at 9 o'clock.

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, using Vibro Veritas connected directly to a microphone input jack (input volume set to 100%) of an on-board audio codec of a Gigabyte motherboard, and mostly with the same ear tips for a perfect seal, the included tips are used whenever possible. Earphones with nozzles narrower than Ø4mm are the exception, in which case I use the included narrow-bore tips.

The output is that same ASUS Xonar DGX with its amplifier set to "VOIP Mode or for <32ohms headsets" setting (the lowest setting) and PC's volume set to %50.

Since February 2017, ASUS Xonar DGX's on-board headphone amplifier was replaced with SMSL sAp II, its volume knob being set at 9 o'clock, and PC's volume set to %35 (in order to replicate the original measurements as much as possible).

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.