Hello! Welcome to another episode of the Bus Ride Impression! I just got through a tough week, as I am currently recuperating from an accident last weekend that immobilized me due to a foot injury (how I wished it was due to a diving or a mountaineering accident; it was all due to clumsiness actually as I was unloading the car with some of our bags in our weekend holiday). Given that I am unable to really go around and about, I decided to turn the week into something productive other than annoying my siblings and my wife, that is, to write a couple of articles for Bus Ride Impression.
I was able to get off a review for the 1More Piston Fit a few days ago, and the original plan was to do a series of review for various IEMs from 1More (as I was fortunate to land a review job for 4 IEMs from the said brand, who’s spoiled now?) but I manage to have my wife claim my recent review samples from my usual benefactor, Lillian. I am talking about the Geek Wold GK3 and the TRN V80, of which I shall be writing for today and possibly next week. There seems to be a lot of fanfare about these 2 brands as I can see these being reviewed a lot lately, probably given how new it is in the market today.
Given these two, I opted for the Geek Wold GK3 for 2 reasons: it seems to be driving a bit of frenzy as to how people find it quite a basshead friendly and how my initial impressions to have a bit of contrast from what other reviews stated. Not sure though if I was unfortunate to receive a defective unit or possibly because my view of the GK3 upon listening to it out of the box kinda left me a bit disappointed. Curious, isn’t it? Well, let’s get on with the review and see how the GK3 fares.
Packaging seems to be pretty simple and straightforward for GK3; box measures at about 4″x4″, and as you pry it open, you will be revealed with the earphones and the extra 2 pairs of ear tips plus the warranty card it goes with. That’s pretty much it, no bells and whistles really, but then again, with the price of about $20, I really would be surprised if the packaging got any fancier.
Earpieces are not detachable to the cable, and are made of what seems to be a standard acrylic. However, I liked how the earpieces are designed aesthetically, and are actually quite comfortable to wear as it sat snugly on my ears.
Plug seems to be pretty ordinary, but seems good enough given the reinforcement it has with the cable cinch.
That is about it with the build. To be honest, if I were asked, the build is decent for the GK3 given the price point. There are other brands and models that have much better design in terms of build at the same price point, although I won’t say GK3 is bad. Fact is, one would even think that the simple approach done by Geek Wold is pretty desirable for the conservative users, as it played with a no-fuss but seemingly fairly durable build given the price point. I am talking about conservative standards here, so I guess it wasn’t so bad but is not spectacular in my opinion.
This part I have to thread lightly just to set the expectations properly. I would want to try to be as objective as I can as I was pretty disappointed with my experience with GK3 upon trying it off the box. Initially, the bass was quite too hefty for my taste, with the quantity tending to bleed over lower mids. Mids sounded a bit congested and thin; it was as if the mids are playing through a narrow spaced walls. The trebles seems to be too rolled off; I kinda thought the splashes and harmonics on the higher frequencies were absent, if not too little. I was initially disheartened that I was almost discouraged to write about it.
Then again, I thought that maybe a few hours of burn in can do some miracles on what I thought was a mediocre pair of earphones. It was worth giving it a shot, so I thought of giving it a go. I know this topic is a highly debated, but then again given the state of what I heard, might as well give it a go. So I let it play with my Sony NW-A35 for 3 straight days to give it what I hope to be the improvement it needed, and alas, it did show quite a good amount of it. I guess at this point, I can go ahead and get started with the review then. Will be asking you, my beloved readers, to take this with a few grains of salt as the distinction whether to love or unlove the GK3 relies heavily on tonal preference.
For the sound test, I will try the GK3 with the Hifiman HM-901S, the Sony NW-A35 and the Centrance HiFi-M8 as I go through each test tracks. Take note that I will be using base resolution FLAC files unless otherwise stated.
Hunter (Pharell Williams, G I R L)
One thing I liked about the Centrance HiFi-M8 is its honest tonality. I oftentimes use it to reveal how an IEM or headphone would naturally sound like, thus allowing me an initial impression on the tonality of the IEM or headphone. Paired with GK3, I can already feel the punch of mid-bass, however I felt the sub-bass a little bit subtle. Vocals were a tad recessed, at some point being overshadowed by the bass. Treble, as mentioned earlier, was a bit rolled off and seems to lack a bit of presence in spite of the improvement through the burn in. I think the cymbals lack some luster but was definitely a lot more present than how it was out of the box.
Two Of Us (Aimee Mann, I Am Sam OST)
Much as I usually liked the sound of the Hifiman HM-901S, the pairing with GK3 yielded somewhat a congested sound off the vocals, at some point making Aimee Mann sound a bit nasal. Bass still was pretty punchy, a bit more than what I would normally enjoy off a pairing with the HM-901S. Good to note though that the analoguish sound of the HM-901S is still evident, however the imaging of the GK3 is less to be desired.
Come Away With Me (Norah Jones, Come Away With Me)
Jones’ voice sounded a bit odd for me: while it sounded okay, it kind of lacked the depth and body from how it usually sounds while listening to the track from Sony NW-A35. Piano seems decent, fact is it sounded how it should. Spacing seems decent, if you will just go for casual listening, it should be pretty good enough. I think the GK3 would sound decent to good with these kinds of genre.
I would probably go about listing down a few things at least, but given my personal preference, I will highlight a few. Bass is too strong for me; given some genre I listen to, it kind of lacks the versatility that I hope to get from my daily. The treble roll off also is an issue for me, what with me having affinity to sparkly tonality. Mids also seem inconsistent, as GK3’s mids may vary from decent to not so decent depending on the source and the track. As I have HM-901S as my primary player, the less than satisfactory sound particularly the congested vocals is quite an issue for me.
It was good with NW-A35 though, so I guess it will be entirely dependent on the source and the signature preference of the user. It is an affordable option after all, and would probably be great for people who likes its tonality.
Competition in the market nowadays are quite tight given the horde of budget IEMs being released, and I think GK3 might have a challenge as I think there still are a lot more options to consider. GK3 may be a good contender if it finds its way to its right market, but I guess it will be quite a very specific market.