The UE700, the q-Jays, and the DBA-02
Moving to the UE700 from the SuperFi 5 Pro, there is quite an increase in technicalities. Most noticeable is a bigger soundstage, a more linear treble extension, more detail, and lower bass extension. The sound on the UE700 is also more mature and less raw than the SuperFi 5 Pro. Although the improvements in technicalities doesn’t always necessarily mean a good thing (the UE700 is more prone to sibilance than the SuperFi 5 Pro), but the overall change does feel like an upgrade. The only thing that I miss from the SuperFi 5 Pro is the bass punch, as no other IEMs here can compete with it except the JH5Pro.
The UE700, the q-Jays, and the DBA-02 represents the more mature driver tuning in this crowd, hence I’m comparing the three of them together. As I’ve mentioned in the first page, the automotive analogy works quite well. You’ll find more similarity between the Trio than say the UE700 to the SuperFi 5 Pro. The sound of the Trio is quite universal, and able to play well from one genre to another. Among the three, I take the q-Jays as the benchmark IEM because I find it to have the best frequency balance. The UE700 is great sounding as well, but it stands out less between the q-Jays and the DBA-02. Finally, the DBA-02 has the ultimate technical advantage, but I find the overall sound not as musical as the UE700 or the q-Jays. Still, it’s a very slim difference between the Trio, and anyone should be happy to own one of these three.
In short listens, the Fischer Audio DBA-02 is very impressive from top to bottom frequencies. The DBA-02 is an IEM that’s created to excel in reviews and comparison tests. It’s pretty flawless from top to bottom, with good amount of detail, midrange body, bass, etc.
Mostly due to the brighter presentation, the DBA-02 has a better perceived treble detail and clarity when compared to the q-Jays and the UE700. This continues to the midrange area, where the midrange is full and smooth, yet with top notch clarity, that’s again unmatched by the q-Jays and the UE700. Finally the DBA-02 finishes with a good amount of bass, and a slightly more punch than the q-Jays and the UE700. If you were evaluating the IEMs strictly on tables and scores, then the DBA-02 would reign as the king. Being a mostly classical music listener, I was very happy when I first heard the DBA-02. The extra dose of treble presence really makes the music alive. Yet when I started to listen to mainstream music, the presentation becomes a little too bright.
Treble balance is one of the most difficult thing to achieve, as too much treble will give you a bright/hot treble that’s very fatiguing to listen, yet too little treble will make the IEM sound too dark and not lively enough. For classical music, the DBA-02 has the perfect treble amount. Yet for mainstream music, it’s a little excessive (some people call this “bright”). The UE700, although more prone to sibilance than the DBA-02, is actually more relaxed in the treble. But the q-Jays is the best in obtaining the most balanced treble. The q-Jays gets the dark/bright balance just perfect, and is really quite the best in this comparison, even beating the JH5Pro. There is just the perfect amount of treble with the q-Jays, just being sparkly enough yet quite safe from being hot, regardless the recording I play on it.
Although the DBA-02 shines in technicalities, I actually have a hard time of enjoying it with mainstream music, mostly due to the treble. The UE700 is not as clear sounding or as articulate as the DBA-02, but overall the sound is less bright and easier to enjoy. However, I do think that the q-Jays is the most special of the trio.
In terms of bass punch, the q-Jays’ and the UE700 has roughly the same punch, but the q-Jays’ punch hits deeper. The DBA-02 is slightly more punchier than the two, but each punch is not as weighty and not as deep. When you’re playing some music with mild bass, the bass levels on all three sounds quite similar, but playing some bass heavy music like the Prodigy, and you’ll actually hear that the q-Jays has a weightier bass than the DBA-02 and the UE700.
The q-Jays doesn’t have a glaring weakness in any of the frequency range, but if I can pick on one thing, it would be the slightly less smooth and slightly less full midrange, compared to the UE700 and the DBA-02. Overall it’s still a fairly full bodied midrange, and really not a a big glaring mistake. What’s I particularly like on the q-Jays is the treble and upper midrange area, as it is less forward than the two, but still maintains enough intimacy. The articulation on the upper midrange is also better on the q-Jays, as I can hear busy passages better on the q-Jays than on the UE700 and DBA-02. This is one of the main reason that I recommend the q-Jays to my friends who listen to fast paced music. It’s not too uptight in the treble, but it’s able to maintain good clarity and articulation, as well as the PRaT factor in fast paced music.
If your music is quite safe from hot treble and sibilance, you’ll appreciate the added treble presence on the UE700 and the DBA-02. In fact, the UE700’s treble is quite special as it is very airy in comparison to the others. The DBA-02’s treble is also blessed with good articulation and detail. I particularly like the UE700’s treble for acoustic instruments, as I think the rendition is perfect for those music. The DBA-02’s treble is great when I want to listen to classical recordings, as it really brings up the detail in the recordings. But most people today listen to a wide variety of music, and many of the recordings are bound to contain heavy sibilance and boosted treble levels, and in that context, the q-Jays would be my best recommendation.
As a second recommendation, the DBA-02 is actually great for treble lovers. It’s quite a great treble performer, as it’s the first IEM that I found to have a better treble and detail than the ER4, with a more balanced and linear frequency response. Finally, the UE700 is a very good IEM, with a very good tonal balance. However, it doesn’t have the DBA-02’s clarity, or the q-Jays’ balance and articulation, and as a result, doesn’t really stand out among the trio. But when compared to the SuperFi 5 Pro, the UE700’s improvements are quite evident, and it really represents a more mature tuning from Ultimate Ears.