disclaimer: I have reviewed pretty much the entire BQEYZ product line and with the exception of having a few issues with the bluetooth cable, all have been exceptional values catering to those who like several different signatures. If you love EDM, the BQ3 is a great option, if you want a neutral iem, the KB100 is hard to top at its price point. So, when Elle on Facebook asked if I was interested in trying out their new model, I wasted no time saying “yes, please”. I was told this new model was to stray into new territory both driver wise and price wise and when I asked about comparing it to KB100, I was told “way better”. This made waiting for it to arrive almost unbearable. It finally arrived 8/29 and I’ve put about 100 hours on it for this review since. Should you want to purchase a Spring1, they can be purchased directly from BQEYZ or from their Amazon Store here.
Unboxing / Packaging:
The outer box on the Spring1 shows a picture of the earpieces along with the model name on the front, and an exploded diagram of the same on the reverse. Specs are on the side of the box. Once the outside box is removed the inner package is a book-fold style. The earpieces sit in a foam tray at the upper end of the box with an envelope with the manuals hiding the soft-sided case underneath. The case has a metal card with 6 sets of Silicone eartips (3 balanced and 3 bass enhancing), a small clear plastic box with a pair of foams, and the cable completes the kit. No shirt clip is provided, but otherwise a fairly complete kit. The addition of a 2.5mm balanced cable with a 4.4mm adapter would be a welcome one but the included cable is a large step above those that came with other BQEYZ models to date.
The earpieces are 3 part shells with the body being machined from aluminum and the nozzles of brass. The seam between faceplate and body is roughly 3mm from the lead edge and is well mated with no gaps, and on my particular pair it is easiest to find by feel with a fingernail as it blends very well visually. By feel, the faceplate is just ever so slightly smaller than the body. Bi-pin connectors have a raised frame around them that is machined into the faceplate and the body rather than making it from a single piece and is extremely well mated as visually the lines formed by the mating of parts show no separation or misalignment. The shells are finished in matte black with a gold ring around the perimeter of the faceplate and a gold colored nozzle accenting the package. L and R are stamped on the inside of the earpieces with a small vent below the lettering with a white filter? beneath and two larger vents nestled in a slot cut in the space immediately behind the lettering. I include the question mark as I cannot tell what the material is, only that there is something white and non-descript over the single vent while the two other vents appear to lead directly to the internals without any such filter.
Size is about average and is roughly comparable to the Fiio F9 or the TFZ series 2 albeit slightly thicker than either of those. I found the Spring1 to be comfortable for long wear with very little weight felt in the ear. I did find that while I liked the sound better with the Foam tips, I did fatigue more quickly from them than I did some of the silicone styles. Because of the thickness of the earpieces, the Spring1 sits a bit further out and is likely to be level with the surface of the ear or just slightly raised above it. Overall, I would give the Spring1 average to slightly above average marks for comfort depending on the tip style chosen.
The only thing I found odd about the aesthetics is the cable hardware is all brushed gunmetal gray while the earpieces are matte black. This is most notable at the junction of the bi-pin connectors where the two colors sit within a millimeter or two of each other.
This is where the Spring1 gets interesting. Drivers in the Spring 1 are a dual diaphragm 13mm dynamic with a 7 layer piezo element built into the same housing and a single balanced armature driver. The Dynamic provides the low end grunt, the BA supplies the mid-range, and the piezo elements are responsible for upper end duties. Per BQEYZ, all are custom tuned in-house specifically for the Spring1. Nominal impedance is listed as 43Ω with a sensitivity of 108 dB/mW. I found the Spring1 could be used with a cellphone but sounded better, more coherent, and had better bass weight when combined with a more potent source. The LG phone was capable of driving the Spring1 well if forced into high output mode, but lacked the power to do the same when in normal output mode. I found the Xduoo Xp-2, the iFi xCAN both provided plenty of power to run the Spring1 to their full potential.
The cable is a marked step up from those previously bundled with BQEYZ in-ears. The cable is an 8 core silver-plated oxygen free copper in black casing braided up to the splitter and 4 wire braids above the splitter. Hardware is all brushed aluminum in gunmetal gray with a straight 3.5mm TRS jack, a barrel shaped splitter, chin slider, and .78mm bi-pin connectors. At the north end, the cable has clear plastic earhooks that are considerably looser than those of previous models. The cable is well marked with Both L and R on the connectors and red on the right connector housing as well. A velcro cable tie is also provided for use when in storage. I found the cable supple enough to resist microphonics and solid enough to resist tangles. When coiled and stored, then pulled back out for use the cable shows no memory and no tendency to kink.
The Spring1 comes with 7 sets of tips. There are two styles of silicone tips one for Atmosphere (Bass) and one for Reference (more linear signature) in sizes small, medium, and large, stored on a metal card about the size of a credit card. The card itself tucks neatly into the carrying case should you decide to take extra sets of tips with you on the go. A single set of large foam tips is also provided as well. I found tips were quite effective at altering the signature so those who want to alter the default should probably start there before moving on to more costly items like the cable. I have included several FR graphs with different tips to show how they alter the signature and personally find the Comply round f0ams from the comfort series. They balance out the lows and bring everything into nearly perfect linearity for me.
Reference tip (Size L) used:
One of the few knocks on earlier BQEYZ models is that sub-bass rolls-0ff a bit higher than some would like. The good news is that is not an issue on the Spring1. Roll-off only becomes noteworthy in the 30Hz range and even then is not pronounced. Sub-bass is not only good in quantity, it is very good quality as well and is extremely textured and detailed compared to most at the price point. Mid-bass is also well defined, tight, well textured, and has good speed so transients are not lost in the mix. Again textures are good and bass comes off feeling well weighted but not overly forward and I think the FR over-states the bass as It does not seem as forward as my FR would indicate. Overall, the bass manages to walk a line between having good weight and thickness without sounding slow, heavy, or boomy. Well done. Mid-bass bleed is very slight and does add a touch of warmth but lets the mids shine through.
Again the keywords are textured and detailed. Mids are the star here with vocal presence at once seeming to jump to the front while at the same time feeling perfectly proportioned and in-line with the instrumentation. For lovers of classical music, the Spring1 is one of the best at rendering strings I have heard at below $500. Violin and Viola are spot on in both timbre and transients which is a hard thing to pull off. I was told that the Mids are mostly the product of the balanced armature that is tuned in-house by BQEYZ and I have to give them props as it seems they have chosen and tuned extremely well. Upper-mids do have a slight push which allows vocals to cut through but not so much as to make higher vocals appear to jump in front of lower register vocals.
Treble is well extended and linear without any big spikes or dips to ruin the party. Lower treble is mildly forward and then tapers off a bit before rolling-off significantly at slightly above 13kHz. Detail is again quite good with cymbals being well done and snare having a good realistic snap. The treble feels effortless, it delivers enough energy to feel lively without ever crossing the line into strident or harsh. I kept expecting some fatigue as a result of the tuning, but it does a masterful job of walking the line between providing enough energy to have good air and sparkle without going past the line.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage is well shaped with good depth, width and a good sense of height. Overall, width is the largest of the dimensions. I would equate the stage size to being seated in a smaller theater as it is not as cavernous as the kings (HD800) but is well shaped and gives a good feeling of space and movement. Instrument separation is a special case here. Instruments seem to line up with little space between them, and yet are very precisely placed and show little or no overlap. Seating the orchestra seem like child’s play as everything drops into its exact space with no overlaps or anomalies but the result is more compact than some which is probably more technically correct than those that make the orchestra seem spread out left to right more than normal. Movement around the stage is immediately evident and very trackable again with good precision. Even when fed fast complex tracks, I was unable to get the Spring1 to sound congested or compressed.
Comparisons will be done in two different ways. First a comparison of the Spring1 vs other offerings at roughly the same price point, and second, a comparison of the Spring1 vs the KB100, the previous BQEYZ champion.
Moondrop KXXS – Here we have a battle royale. The Single dynamic pitted against the hybrid. Both have build quality that is impeccable, the cable on both is solid although I prefer that of the Spring1, I could live with either. Signatures are both similar with movement away from neutral only where it adds life and air. Detail is good on both but texture goes to the Spring1 as it just manages to pack in that last little bit that somehow feels lost on the KXXS when directly A/B testing the two. This one is going to come down to personal preference as well as both are great, but target slightly different endpoints.
Ikko OH-10 – These two are different animals and while I really like both, they suit different purposes. The OH-10 is a good bit more V-shaped than the Spring1 and I would class the Spring1 as much more of a reference signature (albeit with life) than the OH-10 which is more of a guilty pleasure for listening to popular genres. Both are great efforts and I can take nothing from either in build or sound, but they are different enough sounding that personal preference is going to decide the winner. I’d advise auditioning both.
Brainwavz B400 – The B400 has been the sub-$200 king of the neutrals for quite awhile and the Spring1 probably wont unseat them as the Spring1 is not quite as linear as the b400. Having said that, the b400 can come across as a bit dull and well boring at times. The spring1 shows no such tendency. Kit on the b400 is larger, but build on the Spring1 is a quantum leap ahead. For my dollar, the Spring1 is the better call.
Kinboofi Mx3 – These two have similar signatures and vary mostly as a matter of degrees. The Mx3 rolls off sooner at the low end, and pushes the upper-mids/lower treble further forward than the Spring1 by comparison. Detail is better on the Spring1 and tonality seems a bit more natural as well. Overall again both solid efforts but the Sping1 just edges it out in detail and resolution for the win.
BQEYZ KB100 – I did the FR comparison on these two and I think it helps to show how little we can really learn from them. If you look at the chart below you’d expect the KB100 to be more linear in the bass with a bit of a drop-out in the treble region. To date, I have not read anyone saying the KB100 had poor treble, I also think one could reasonably conclude that with the exception of that treble dip, the two should sound similar. They don’t. No ifs, ands, or buts, these are not the same in-ear. The Timbre is better, more textured, more detailed, and as a result the Spring1 has a much more engaging tonality than the KB100. (Which is not to take anything away from the KB100 which is superb for a sub-$50 model). The differences in detail level between these two are like equating what can be seen using a magnifying glass vs breaking out an electron microscope.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
These are great in-ears and belong in your collection unless you are deaf. That simple – go buy them! Honestly, there were a lot of questions circling when BQEYZ announced a price-point of $139 for the Spring1 because it was such a jump from previous models. The biggest of those questions was “Do these still represent good value like the other models, or are they going to be an also-ran because of the change in price?” I can say unequivocally, the Spring1 still represents the value we have come to expect from BQEYZ and while I’d like to see a balanced cable in the mix, I can’t fault much about them. A stellar effort by a rising star in Chi-fi.
Pros: Details, details, details, timbre, and texture.
Cons: limited kit compared to some others at pricepoint.