The floodgates have recently opened for aluminum shelled hybrid in-ears. First was the Zs6 and more recently revonext, Yinyoo, PHB, TRN, BQEYZ, and now Senfer have joined the crowd. While the aluminum shell makes a good looking iem, have they really done anything with the sound quality that makes any of these stand out? I’ve recently reviewed most of these but the Senfer Dt8 was released later and took a bit longer to arrive from AK Audio than some of the others. Was it worth the wait?
Interesting packaging. White slip cover with only the top open so the inner box slides out the top. Details of what is inside make the packaging appear very western and retail oriented compared to most Chinese brands. This is the kind of box you would expect to see on a shelf at BigBuy or the like. For those familiar with the EN900, the package is very similar. Inside the earpieces are secured by a tray with other accessories hiding below.
The Dt8 differentiates itself from most of its competition immediately by providing two high quality cables. The First is again similar (if not exactly the same) to the EN900 with rubber coating and microphone while the second is a nice braided design of half copper and half silver plated copper. This second cable is in the class of cables typically sold around the $40-50 USD price point by itself. A shirt clip is included by only works with the mic’d cable as the clip is too small for the braid to fit. 3 sets of silicone tips along with one set of foams are also hiding in the box.
The shells are gold anodized aluminum with a grill on the face and screen beneath the grill to protect internals. The shells are two piece with a pronounced seam between the inner and outer half of the shell. Fit is good as the seam cannot be felt, but no attempt to blend or hide it was made. On the inside, a single vent sits immediately behind the nozzle and each earpiece is marked L or R behind the vent. The nozzles themselves take standard t400 tips and have a pronounced lip. The face of the nozzle has 3 ports and again a screen behind them. This may annoy some as removal of the screen would require either drilling out the face to a single opening or opening the shell, removing the ba drivers and then removing the screen from the inside. The aesthetic is good, not sure about the practicality. Connectors are standard mmcx type with no obvious gaps, slop, or play between the connectors and the metal housing.
The first cable is fairly thin and rubber coated which makes it a bit sticky. The Jack is a straight 3.5 with a good strain relief. The splitter is roughly 2/3s of the way up the cable and is brushed aluminum to match the jack housing. No chin slider is provided but the shirt clip will hold both cable above the split if you wish to use it that way. The mic is a single button design and again encased in a brushed aluminum shell which should help with durability. The microphone is positioned slightly low on the cable but this is more a preference issue than a problem with the design.
The Second cable is of higher quality than the first with a mix of copper and silver plated strands in a helical braid. Fittings are polished stainless for the jack and splitter with good strain reliefs throughout the length of the cable. The MMCX connectors are of a heavier grade than the mic’d cable as well. This cable could easily be sold as an upgrade cable by itself as it is considerably better than all of the KZ or TRN upgrade cables.
The earpieces themselves are on the small side and sit comfortably in the ear without overhang. Fit is fairly shallow as the nozzles are fairly short and tips seat deeply on the nozzles. In comparison to some others in the class, the nozzle is recessed inside the tip by roughly a ¼ of the tip length. Isolation is minimal due to the large vents and shallow fit.
Slater pointed out to me that both my portable sources are fairly high powered (AK70mk2 and Opus #1s) and the DT8 definitely likes power. The dynamic drivers seem more sensitive than the BAs in the DT8 and as a result they can be boomy and dark as the bass is all you get with lower powered sources. Notes below are all with a high powered source.
The Dt8 reaches well down into the sub-bass range with good quantity and quality. Unfortunately, its mid-bass is not as clean as the sub-bass. Mid-bass is a bit forward and bleed into the mids is perceptible. About a 4db decrease of the 100-250Hz range improved listening for me. The adjustment pulls the mid-bass down and makes the signature more linear and less warm.
Mids are well controlled, and have good texture once the mid-bass is adjusted a bit to allow the mids to show through. The lower mids are thicker than the upper and female vocals lose a little bit of texture as a result.
Lower treble is a bit recessed when compared to the mids or the upper treble with a pronounced spike in the 8-9kHz range. Again I found that about a 4db drop at 8kHz brought that back in line with everything else. Once adjusted, the detail level is very good and the amount of air and sparkle are good without getting sibilant or fatiguing in the process. The Dip at the upper-mids/lower treble seems to really be key in preventing some of these otherwise treble forward designs from being overly fatiguing.
Soundstage is wider than it is deep and is about average at its price point. Instrument separation is very good until passages get particularly busy and then the mid-bass bloom takes a toll on the rest of the signature. (Blues Hand me Down again).
After a distinctly disappointing purchase in the EN900, I had mixed feelings about the Dt8 especially considering it is Senfer’s highest priced IEM to date. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised by the cables with the Dt8 and can actually say that the cables alone may be worth the asking price. With the addition of what I think is easily Senfer’s best IEM to date to the package, you can hardly miss in the sub-$50 bracket. For my money, the Dt8 is better than any Kz to date and well worth a listen.