Not too long ago, KZ brought out the first Chi-fi designed to look like the Campfire IEMS the Zs5. Shortly after a new version appeared that not only mimicked the shape but was made of metal and screwed together in almost exact duplication of Campfire’s shell. Now the floodgates seem to have opened and a steady stream of new similar designs are hitting the market. I have recently received the Revonext QT2 and QT3, The PHB EM-023, and the Yinyoo Ny-06. While the Ny-06 differs in shell design I include it here as the sound is almost exactly a match for the Revonext QT2. So with all these choices springing up, who makes the better clone? I’d like to thank Easy Earphones (Wooeasy on Aliexpress) for providing some of the review samples at a discounted rate. I did purchase all of the samples in this review, but did receive a discount on two of them (QT3 and Ny-06). The other two I purchased outright with no discounts or incentives.
Here all the clones are within easy striking distance of each other but the PHB wins this part of the contest. Most all ship in a cardboard box with a tray holding the buds and the cable hiding underneath while the PHB ships in a pressboard box with a round hard case inside it holding the buds and tips. A soft case is also provided that wasn’t present with the others.
Here again, we have very similar offerings. All came with 3 sized tips, cables include options for a microphone for those who prefer. (I don’t so none of mine have the mic except the PHB that ships both). Most did not come with a shirt clip (again PHB being the exception) and roughly half came with a velcro cable wrap (Revonext and Yinyoo).
All of the shells are about equally well executed with no large gaps or fit issues. Polish and finish seems to be on par with the others in the group and I would expect all will suffer from scratches over time as the anodizing is extremely shallow and can be scraped quite easily. The QT3 shows an obvious evolution from the QT2 with a bit more embellishment to the shell but shape remains the same. The NY-06 differs in case design as while it is an all metal shell, it does not use screws and is shaped more like the Mee M6 Pro Gen 2 than the Campfire series. It should be noted that all of these designs have at least one Dynamic driver and, as such, all have some form of venting. The Revonext and PHB have large vents on the outside of the case that are easily visible. The Ny-06 has vents to the inside below the bi-pin connector. To me this arrangement is questionable as it can mean the vents are easily obstructed if not positioned carefully.
Cables are a bit different in quality with the PHB losing a few points in this category. The PHB is mmcx while the Revonext and Yinyoo are bi-pin designs. None are especially well done, but the Yinyoo looks a bit better than the others with its braided design, decent strain reliefs, and earhooks without memory wire. The Revonext use a black/gray rubber coated cable that is functional but may collect dust. The revonext also are missing the chin slider present on the others but this is easily corrected with a couple of dental rubber bands. The Cables for the PHB are a copper cable with a 1 button mic and a silver plated cable without the mic. Both have strain reliefs at the jack and splitter but neither has them at the MMCX connectors and both suffered from occasional cut-outs during playback that required repositioning of the MMCX to fix. Overall the PHB had the best looking cable, but when combined with functionality, lost out as it was the only one of the lot with functional issues.
Just like the original Campfire, the Kz Zs6 clone, and others, fit is going to vary by individual. If any fit you acceptably, they probably all do as none is dimensionally much different. The Ny-06 with its rounded edges may be a bit more comfortable for some and might be a deciding factor if looking at the Ny-06 vs the Revonext QT2. Otherwise the Ny-06 is very much the same size as the others.
There is some variation in sound signatures amongst this group so unlike previous sections where we lumped them together, I will have to discuss each separately here and then do some comparisons at the end.
Revonext Qt2 – 3 drivers per side – 2 Dynamic and 1 Balanced Armature
Bass: having two dynamic drivers handling the sub-bass and mid-bass frequencies gives the QT2 very good low end extension and a sub-bass rumble that reaches way down without muddying the mid-bass in the process. The only drawback for me is the bass is extremely forward and dominates the signature. A bit of EQ is necessary to bring it back into balance.
Mids: Mids are well controlled, but recessed considerably when compared to both ends of the spectrum. I found the mids a bit warm and vocals could at times seem a bit distant. This distance was more pronounced on tracks with heavy bass as it again dominated the rest of the signature and made the mids feel even more sunken in. With the EQ adjusting the bass presence back a bit the mids are still recessed but not tremendously so and vocals can be brought forward with a bit of tuning.
Treble: For an IEM with two drivers handling lows and only one handling everything from the lower mids up, we might expect it to be be a bit treble shy but this is not the case. The Qt2 has good, if not spectacular treble extension and a prominent hump in the lower treble range.
Stage: Soundstage is wider than it is deep but is proportional and not undersized in any dimension.
Imaging: Imaging is good up to a point where separation becomes a problem. Particularly busy tracks can stress the QT2 and it loses some of the clarity and things start to gum up a bit. (Blues Hand me Down was bad for this).
Thoughts: The BA rolls off about 1.2kHz and the true mids are being handled by the upper dynamic. Upper-mid and treble is handled by the BA thus the bump at 4kHz is the rise of the BA from the X-over. The vents can cause some issue with isolation and outside sounds can interfere with playback at times.
Revonext Qt3 – 4 drivers per side – 2 Dynamic and 2 Balanced Armatures
Bass: The Bass of the Qt3 shares a lot of commonality with its sibling the Qt2. The Qt3 has good sub-bass that reaches down almost as far as the PHB and about equally with the QT2 and Ny06. Mid-bass is still forward in the overall signature, but not as predominant as it is one the Qt2. I did not find any perceptible bass bleed into the mids either.
Mids: Mids while recessed are still well rendered and an EQ can bring them forward a bit by bringing down the 100-250Hz range that tends to obscure them. The upper mids are slightly lifted which gives vocals a bit of extra presence but can lead to a tendency to have slightly nasal vocals. The detail level in the mids is nearly as good as the Tin Audio T2 which says a lot for its capability.
Treble: Treble is where we see the biggest divergence between the Qt2 and the Qt3. The Qt2 was rolled off and a bit treble shy with a hump in the lower treble while the Qt3 goes on an all-out assault on the ears by keeping that lower treble hump and pushing the upper treble forward by almost the same amount. This gives the Qt3 a harsh very metallic sound that borders on piercing even with tracks that are not normally. Tracks that naturally have a bit of sibilance, will likely be unlistenable without EQ.
Stage: Soundstage is good with width and depth being roughly equal but height is lacking behind both.
Imaging: Instrument separation is good and imaging follows with good precision and a sense of space on the stage. Here the extra treble energy does help give the Qt3 a bit better performance than its predecessor.
Thoughts: The QT3 fails to be an upgrade in all respects to the QT2, while its soundstage is improved and it has retained the excellent bass performance of the QT2, it went too far in correcting the slightly recessed treble of the Qt2 and created a signature that needs EQ to do its best work. Those willing to EQ will be rewarded with a better than average sound at this price point. Those wishing not to use EQ should look elsewhere unless you just really like extreme treble.
Yinyoo Ny-06 – 3 drivers per side – 2 Dynamic and 1 Balanced Armature
Bass: The Ny-06 has good low end extension and sub-bass rumble reaching down easily to 30Hz with a pretty steep roll-off below that point. The mid-bass is predominant, but not muddy and does not bleed into the mids perceptibly.
Mids: Mids are well behind the treble and bass and gives the Ny-06 a V shaped profile. Mids are very similar to the Revonext Qt2 as is the overall signature.
Treble: The Ny-06 has acceptable treble extension and a forward lower treble and presence region. Upper treble is behind lower considerably and can leave things lacking in sparkle as a result.
Stage: Soundstage is wider than it is deep and about average for its class
Imaging: Imaging is good up to a point where separation becomes a problem. Stop me if you’ve heard this before… Typical of the price point, extremely busy tracks cause the stage to get smaller and separation to fall apart.
Thoughts: The fact that these are the same driver configuration as the Revonext QT2 and share so much of the same sound signature would make me suspect some parts commonality between the two models. Any differences in the QT2 and Ny-06 in sound could well be accounted for by the differences in venting.
PHB EM-023 – 4 drivers per side – 2 Dynamic and 2 Balanced Armatures
Bass: Bass extension is good with sub-bass being slightly ahead of mid-bass in quantity. A slightly recessed mid bass and slightly forward lower mids combine to give the sound a bit of warmth and smooths out the low end. The bass does seem a bit less detailed than others in this review. This was particularly true of the sub-bass, which while it had good depth, did not have great texture.
Mids: lower mids are slightly forward of mid-bass while upper mids are slightly forward of everything in the signature giving the overall sound a warm tone. The lift in the mids gives male vocals good presence while female vocals can be overstated due to the tuning.
Treble: The lower treble can only be defined as scooped as it is distinctly behind the rest of the signature. Upper treble does have a bit of extra energy and gives back a little brightness but not enough to really give a feeling of air at the top end. These will be good for the treble shy, but too rolled off for those who like a bit of extra energy in the treble to add a little life to things.
Stage: Soundstage is above average for an iem in this class. Width is greater than depth, but both are above average. Height is not great as it does feel that everything is on one level
Imaging: Imaging has good accuracy and separation is good until tracks get really busy. Here again blues hand me down gave the PHB trouble as it started to feel a bit congested on the fast passages.
Thoughts: The PHB EM-0234 has a sound profile that is sub-bass and mid forward as well as treble shy. This gives a very smooth, generally non-fatiguing sound but at the expense of detail and upper end extension.
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