I purchased these after seeing various positive reviews because I wanted something to upgrade from my Sennheiser CX300 II pair for holiday use. I thought these seemed a decent compromise in terms of likely sound quality and cost/loss value. There are only so many places I am willing to risk my Shure SE530 pair.
Out of the box (after a bit of a wrestle): first impressions were that the cute black mesh effect pouch won’t do much to protect the ‘phones from anything beyond everyday hazards you might get if carried with other items in your baggage or pocketses. It certainly won’t keep them dry or prevent them being crushed.
The ‘phones themselves are unspectacular and unobtrusive in appearance, which is perfect since I don’t want sneaky pilferers on holiday fancying them. The cable seems no better or worse than various others I have come across to-date, and is of ample, if not generous, 1.2m length. Oh, and personally, I prefer the symmetrical L/R split of the cable. As for its durability, that’s much too soon to comment upon. However, regarding reports about noise transfer from person/clothing to cable to ‘phones, I don’t think it’s all that bad – I’ve experienced worse. Maybe if you’re thinking of using them whilst exercising it could become an issue, but otherwise I am inclined to discount it as much of an issue at this price point. The Shure SE530 pair I have are close to zero transfer of such noise, but I would expect that, considering their cost!
So, bunging them straight into the lugholes and directly into the computer output socket, I fired up Winamp and a few recently ripped FLAC, Apple Lossless and also MP3 files. First impression was that these ‘phones are light and quite comfortable, fitting easily into the ear canal with little fiddling necessary. Then came the music: I noticed straight off that the sound seemed at once concentrated but clear, backed by a very solid lower end. The bass heft of these is much greater than that I experience with the Shures. But equally, the top end is clear and precise, providing detail that begins to support my purchase and a move away from the Sennheiser CX300 IIs I have been relying on for holiday listening. Greater clarity and less woolly bass lead me to think that these aren’t money wasted thus far.
It is also noticeable that isolation from the outside world is good – even at lower volumes the background office hubbub all but disappears and a pestering colleague finds it hard to attract my attention.
Having established that this purchase shows promise, I decide to up the ante. I remove the as-provided smallest buds and try the medium size buds from the polythene packet to give a snugger fit (the large size is a non-starter). Next, it’s on with the HRT HeadStreamer.
Wow! There is a difference! The sound stage widens a touch and there is better separation of performers. The mid to upper range is somehow that bit more refined and balanced. Ah, but here’s the kicker: the bass increases in power too and, I regret to say, for my ears, becomes too weighty and over-powering. What’s caused that? Is it because I have really and truly established a snug in-ear fit? Or is it something to do with the dynamics of the HRT – Byerdynamic combo? At this point I can’t tell for sure and decide I will have to experiment further. It is also true that this is based on the ‘phones aren’t yet ‘run in’ (if you subscribe to that school of thought).
At this point I was all set to ramble on about trying these ‘phones with various sources and DAC/amps, but feel it is not really the place for that. Suffice it to say that I have been trying them with an assortment of both and the general trend is that, for my taste at least, the DTX 101 iE earphones are just too bass heavy. I can appreciate that some listeners will really enjoy the power and weight that these are capable of delivering. However, with or without DAC/amp supplement, I find that the sound is too dense and concentrated and lacks the sense of space I appreciate. That’s not to say they don’t provide punch and a clear and detailed top-end. With the right music, they easily provide that; it’s just that if there is a strong bass line, I think it can easily cause an imbalance. Too much listening to the Shures? Yes, probably, but that’s where my preference lies.
It’s early yet, and maybe with a few more hours of use they will settle down, but do I think they are worth the money over and above the Sennheiser CX300 II (or even the CX400) earphones? Well, I did buy the CX300 II pair at approx £15 when they dropped to silly prices. Given the current price differential, I would err on the side of caution. Swapping back to the Sennheiser pair, I note a distinct drop in bass impact and the overall sound is diminished in presence – it’s thinner by comparison but ultimately maybe less tiring and overwhelming. The Sennheisers do benefit from a DAC/amp – it really seems to boost their performance nicely. Add a DAC/amp to the Beyerdynamics and that bass just bursts with too much pondrous St Bernard puppy enthusiasm onto the eardrums!
So, will I be taking the DTX 101 iE pair away on holiday? Damn straight! I paid good money for them and they need to earn their keep! Who knows? I might get to like them with more listening.