Can a sub £200 do it all and still deliver?
I was approached by Simgot recently through the hallowed pages of head-fi. The introduction has resulted in my being able to bring you the latest, and greatest, this company has yet built. I bought an EN700 Bass IEM on impulse several years ago. I liked the sound of it, despite it’s obvious affinity with lower frequencies. I still have it knocking around the offices, and have customised the body shell, which, although it has my favourite pebble shape, had this urge to keep pushing away from my inner ear. Unknown to Simgot, I can say that this is a company for which I already have a feel. I got the impression that Simgot wanted to push the boundaries, in every direction, of what could be achieved in a budget earphone. The Simgot was the best of several AliExpress purchases made on a slow day between review samples. We all get those days. Such days now feel more like moments as my reviews have taken on a momentum, but, if you’ve got the time I’d encourage you to do a random dive into Ali and see where it takes you. It can get pretty interesting. Simgot is a Chinese Company, they make pebble shaped single driver in ear moniters their speciality. The EN1000 review sample here came with all the packaging of the retail model. The packaging has been as well thought through as the engineering process. There is a question mark over the title “King Wonder”, however, with it being stencilled in every conceivable crevice of the EN1000, familiarity will overcome any initial misgivings. More detailed reactions can be found in my YouTube vid :
About the King Wonder
I’m going to call them the EN1000 from now on I think…. This is a single driver IEM design. The single driver is a dual dynamic. It is housed in a pebble shaped body shell. There are 2 designs for the face plate; the black and gold leaf filligree as shown above, and it’s white and gold cousin. The iems are connected to a detachable cable which is terminated with a 3.5 mm jack. I have deliberately given you just the basic facts here; this is the essence, the core, of the EN1000. To each part of the IEM there are various tweaks, which at least deserve a little more discussion.
A single driver is a bold move for an IEM in these driver heavy days. A classic design is never really going to disappear though, is it? A single driver needs no crossover. It needs to be a good driver. That’s it. Many years ago, AKG decided to give it’s engineers a free reign to create a Flagship Headphone. They came up with a dynamic single driver model – the mythical AKG K1000. The Sennheiser IE800 remains 1 of the best sounding IEMs ever made, despite it’s terrible fit, overly heavy cable which (shock horror!) is fixed. The IE800 is a single driver dynamic, and is unashamedly so. This particular design has a few updated things going on compared to the 2 I have described. It is housed in a dual cavity. The wiring connecting the driver to the electrics is pure silver.
The diaphrahm of the driver is stronger than your standard paper cone. It has a beryllium coating. If you have followed my writings over the last few years you’ll know that I’m a great fan of the linearity that beryllium appears to bring, having seen this in the KBear Believe and the Final D8000 In Ears. The diaphragm also contains DLC. This is short for diamond like carbon. Diamond, being, of course, one of the hardest materials on the planet. Not quite as tough as beryllium though. Beryllium was used for the shields surrounding the space shuttle, to protect it from melting on re-entry. The body shell is made from CNC Aluminium Alloy, the face plate from crystal, to protect it from scratches. The results of said are all hints of quality. Attention to detail, important selling points yes, but also not only should this produce a better feel than the standard plastic iem, it should provide a better resonating surface for the driver, and thus a better sound quality.
I am pleased to say that, from the tasteful professionalism of the outer cardboard, to the earphone case that comes as a pleasant surprise,
Simgot have sat down and thought extremely carefully about what will keep the customer satisfied. The mark of quality has been cast over the entirety of the EN1000. Other comapnies take note – the gauntlet has been thrown down here. The only thing I can criticise is the eartips. I’ve got better ones, and eventually I’ll start using them. The tips are not quite there; they tend to slip out of the earlobe. A little more grip is called for, be it slightly larger tips or different material, or a patterned finish – I’m not that hard to please folks at Simgot. I’m a medium guy, so those large tips supplied are too large. Everyone’s earlobes are different and I have a small ear canal entrance which bends ridiculously away as soon as it gets the chance. The fit, absolutely critical for me, i.e sweet spot or no sound, may not be as bad for you. My advice is to hold onto your existing eartips if you are upgrading to the EN1000 – the fit is everything.
This is the showpiece for the EN1000. The previous stuff is all typical of what is being offered in many good IEMs out there in the sub $200 category. The EN1000 comes with an 8 strand silver plated oxygen free copper cable which has a .78mm 2 pin fit and is 1.2 metres in length. It has memory wire and is angled at the end. It has a soft feel, is shiny and is fairly weighty. What I have left til the end is; this cable has a replaceable plug design. The Simgot comes with 3 different sounds before you need to touch your eq settings. The box reveals not only a leather effect carry box – there are 2 plugs contained inside- a blue and a red one. Simply put; you can alter the signature of the EN1000 dependant on which plug you use. This allows bit perfect to be utilised, which, of course, means you cannot use eq. All it takes is a quick unscrewing of the barrel, 2-3 pulls of the male and female bits and in 10 seconds, you have a different plug on.
For this bit I will give a synopsis of the differences between plugs 1, 2 & 3. I will then go on with the show with my favourite plug, the grey, and tell you about my impression in more length.
I don’t blame you for being skeptical regarding just how much a plug can alter the sound from an iem. I am very wary of such claims, having tested the Tri Starsea which had a switch system on the body shell, much more convenient than taking a cable apart. The review of the Starsea is here : https://subjective.reviews/tri-starsea-unique-4-tuning-switch-allows-you-to-beat-the-engineer-but-can-you/
In summary, I found the Starsea didn’t sound that good unless you kept the switch on default. The switch made the sound worse. The plug design is more radical and does create an audibly altered signature which has good things going for each of the plugs. Good news! Let me tell you a little more as to what I heard when I put these different plugs in.
The Grey plug
This is the stock plug. I reason this because it is the plug they put on to get you up and running. This is what you listen to for the first time while you are checking that everything is working properly. And, as I have preached many times before, first impressions are really important. This is never more crucial in todays blind purchasing scenarios, whereby there is nowhere to try out an iem one is interested in, and the closest you’ll get will be from reviews like this. Companies know this and offer (well, it’s the law) a 28 day return policy. The most critical part of that timeframe, in my opinion, is the 1st 15 minutes of a listen. A product simply has to perform to it’s intended level during those 1st few moments. Therefore, nothing too risky should be tried. The eartips will have medium ones fitted, and they will be the most neutral of any particular grades offered. All goods will be dressed in their best clothes, all middle of the road, all judged to be the least controversial. In the case of the EN1000, the grey plug fits that description to a T. The grey plug has a bit of visceral bass but not overly, has a sweetness in the highs and a clarity in the mids, with the widest of the sound scapes. It is my opinion that this plug squeezes out the best the EN1000 can give. It the sound signature that the engineer would be happiest with. It’s my favourite because it’s not the blandest sound of the 3 plugs; it technically has a faster bass and more micro details are present in this version than in any of the others. I’d pick the grey plug for rock, pop, and classical music.
The Blue Plug
This is my 2nd favourite plug, although I could find a use for all 3 when the need arose. The bass on the blue is turned up, and to enhance the experience the mids and highs have been tuned down slightly. The lows have real punch and will make a lean track sound fuller. The mids and highs have been toned down, but the iems have a sparkle that won’t go away completely, so there is plenty to enjoy, even if you’re not an r&b, grime, hip hop or rap fan, these blues have a decent sound stage and clarity, despite it being pulled in slightly compared to the grey plug.
The Red Plug
The red plug is perhaps the way to tune into todays remixed, remastered, over compressed music. It tones everything down, from taaking some of the annoyance from modern bass and subbass tracks and the shrill density of the ceiling of acceptable noise in the mid to high frequencies. The sound stage is more intimate and there is little chance you will be annoyed by too much energy in the upper range. This plug is the least fatiguing of the 3. I’d use this for all day listening sessions, and I’d be quite satisfied.
The EN1000, on sale in US an Asian markets is retailing at slightly under $200, and that is where I shall set my impressions. If this comes in at under £200 in the UK & European markets, then it’s an absolute steal. If you have 2 pin earphones, you may even be lucky enough to be able to transform them with this modular cable. They fell out of my TruthEar Hexa IEMs, so they won’t fit everything, and, as far as I’m aware, they aren’t claiming to be able to do wonders with any other product than a Simgot. The sound signature, at it’s best with the grey plug, is crisp, like a cold bright Winter’s morning, and clear, like the crystaline coating on the shell outer of the EN1000. The bass is not understated, instead a fast linearity with a teasing of viscerality is offered. The mids capture the beauty of a husky voice. The highs open the curtains of the sound stage and let the stars in.
I have raved about the Truthear Hexa, this is the last IEM I reviewed and I did that less than a month ago. The Hexa is a player indeed, but it sounds thin and lacking compared to the EN1000. The Hexa sets the standard for £79.99, the EN1000 is much better, at what is likely to be more than twice the price. The only thing the Hexa wins out on is the fit. The hexagonal shape actually creates 6 points of contact with the earlobe. Not only that, but the shell has less depth, so it doesn’t stick out as much.
Apart from this King Wonder name, which I’m not sure about, and the eartips, which don’t keep the shells firmly in my ears without a lot of jostling, there ain’t much I can think of to criticise about the EN1000. They’re great. They’re a man for all seasons. You can go 3 ways with the Simgot – linear, bass or laidback. The EN1000 promises even more in the future. There is scope , and a plan, for Simgot to incorporate a USBC, a lightning adapter, a 2.5 and a 4.4 plug. I would be disappointed if Simgot didn’t try to make this into a nice little Dac Dongle. How cool would that be? A little nod to the rest of the cast – used in this review were; courtesy of Amazon Music HD, lots of weird and wonderful streaming tracks, USB Audio Player Pro (in bit perfect mode, of course), Astell & Kern AK380 DAP, Little Bear BX4 Dual Mono Tube Headphone Amp, Samsung A52 5G, unbranded Portable Headphone Amp,
and an open minded reviewer that, after all this time, still gets impressed by the products out there that add the word ‘extra’ to the ‘ordinary’ that for so many years was considered the pinnacle of Portable Audio. This is me signing off for now, there are many many more products I am anxious to talk to you about, so please keep your eyes peeled and your ears attached to that which makes you happy.