Welcome to another episode of Bus Ride Impression! Past couple of weeks has been quite crazy, perhaps crazier than the coming season as the team has been quite busy planning for a few stuff, among them primarily the future of BRI (oh boy, do we have a lot in store for you folks), plus a few events happening in the near future (we realized that the November HiFi Show reared its head), so we had to get rolling with this as this year’s event seems to be quite bigger than the last one. Thus the delay on the reviews.
BUT, excuses are worthless, so we will go ahead and publish yet another one for you before we get missed by you guys. Fortunately, I was able to land several more toys to review (again, mostly by my generous benefactor Lillian, thank you so much ma’am) and I promise that the website should be fully stocked in the next several weeks.
Now, on with the review. For today, we will be touching on a rather curious IEM created by Senfer, which happens to be one of the Chinese brands to start their business in the past year. They have had success with a few of their designs, perhaps the most prominent is the PT15 earbuds. I must say, they did have a knack for tuning their IEMs and earbuds that really matches the preference of most new audio enthusiasts.
Today’s review is for Senfer’s newest IEM, the EN900, of which I think is quite curious given that it seems to have picked up the design of another IEM, the Simgot EN700 (funny how the naming convention also seems to be similar) and while they do have a difference in tuning, both seem to follow the same line in terms of tonality so this should be interesting, at least to answer a few questions like how similar they are and which is better on a price to performance ratio.
Let’s go ahead and get started then.
I will have to be honest but in this department, the design seems to disappoint me a bit. For one, if there is anything that I dislike about this brand is their inclination to copying shell designs of other brands or models. Senfer XBA 6-in-1 looks like Sony XBA-H1 (as mentioned earlier, even the naming convention tends to be taken from where the shell design was emulated) and now the EN900 practically looks like a somewhat cheaper looking version of the Simgot EN700. Not sure with the Senfer 4-in-1 and the PT15, but I was hoping that Senfer could have done a better job by at least coming up with their own shell design. Not that the design is bad (well, sort of), but it does make the IEM look cheap.
Cable seems to be quite common, nothing really special with the way it is constructed. Good to note though that Senfer somehow had the mind to add a strain relief on the 3.5mm TRS plug. Splitter seems pretty standard, while the MMCX plugs, albeit looking pretty common, somehow displays some tightness while plugged into the earpiece so I will say that the cable is decent.
Packaging wise, the box seems decent; a sleeve covers the inner box which houses the earpieces in a foam molding, so nothing really spectacular with the packaging. The thing also includes a set (3 pairs) of silicon ear tips that should allow the user to find the right fitting, although it would have been really nice if Senfer added some variety like wider bore silicon tips or even foam ones.
Overall, I find the build falling short of what I expect from a $40 IEM. Honestly, if it were all about the looks and the build, I find the EN900 a bit lackluster compared to other similarly priced IEMs.
The first thing that would register in mind upon trying a fully burned in Simgot EN900 is its affinity to mid-range. While it is not exactly as detailed as other IEMs with similar tonality, you can somehow find a certain level of richness across the mids, which may be a good thing for those who prefer such sound. On the bass region, sub-bass seems present but subtle while mid-bass seems to fill my taste. It would have paid to have a fuller sub-bass, especially for those who are into heavier, darker sound. Highs seem to be pretty decent, allowing ample sparkle to properly and decently accentuate the mids but may not necessarily be enough for those who prefer a brighter sound. Imaging is pretty decent, and the soundstage is surprisingly good with the EN900. Not exactly very wide, but should allow a good sense of spacing while using the IEM.
Let me walk you through what I heard using some of my sources and tracks with the EN900.
Sinking Inside Yourself (Hammock, Asleep In The Downlights)
Upper mids register a good sound using the EN900 with the Pono Player. It allows that vibrancy that I don’t usually hear from IEMs with the same price point, so I guess this is one of the plusses of the EN900. Vocals were delineated quite well from other instruments, while sub-bass has a decent rumble that doesn’t seem to bleed over any frequency. Overall sound is roomy, allowing some sense of realism in that aspect for staging.
Use Me (Bill Withers, Still Bill)
The imaging actually sounded amusing with this track when played with the EN900 paired with the Centrance HiFi-M8 and Cayin N3. The soft yet prominent flicks on the drums with the splashes of the high hat harmonizing the keyboards and Bill Withers’ voice was such an enjoyable experience that somehow, you will forget that you actually are listening to a $40 IEM. I guess that is enough to speak of the sound, at least for this pairing.
Everglow (Coldplay, A Head Full of Dreams)
This perhaps is the bassiest pairing with the EN900, with bass being most pronounced among the 3 test tracks and sources I tried with the IEM. Sub-bass rumbles pretty well, mid-bass being tight yet clean enough not to bleed over the mids. Piano was distinct with the pair, with the trebles allowing a decent amount of sparkle. I just thought that the soundstage sounded a bit less here compared to the 2 pairs earlier, but nonetheless is still quite enjoyable in terms of musicality.
I will have to point out again, I was not exactly happy with the build. I think Senfer could have done a better job with the build as there’s a lot of parts available in the market that they could have capitalized on; somehow the build makes me think that Senfer’s more concerned on how this IEM would sound like, which in some sense would be good, but considering that this is an entry level IEM, some would still hope some encouragement on the durability of the item lest be thought of something impractical.
Sound-wise, the EN900 should be good at certain levels. Enthusiasts who have an inclination to mid-ranges will probably enjoy it, as Senfer seems to be able to work on this part. It would have been better if the trebles are improved; it could have avoided it from rolling-off, but then again this isn’t exactly a bad thing to some users.
At $40, the Senfer EN900 isn’t exactly bad. It sounds good enough to be worth the price, and I honestly think this might appeal to some enthusiasts. However, considering its competition in the same price point, I will be blunt in saying that you can always find something better than this. But if you are indeed in the cheap thrills of an IEM with a good mid-range for a limited budget, then it should be part of your list.