Where to buy: [link]
Specifications (from Head-Fi):
Frequency range: 7-40kHz
Driver unit: 3BA+2DD In Ear Earphone
Weight: About 25g±5g
Cable Type: 0.78mm Pin
Thanks to Elle from BQEYZ for providing this review sample.
Never thought what BQEYZ stands for? They claimed “Best Quality Earphones (for) You”. And then Z, because why not.
Unboxing and first impressions
I’ve never tried any BQEYZ products before. But I know it’s a famous brand in the Chi-Fi game. The BQ3 come in a black cardboard box, with some information around the box itself and a picture of the buds on the front. On the inside, there are the buds and the silicon tips (3 pairs) inside a foam, and a soft carrying pouch which contains the cable. The buds are completely made of metal, which is great, and they have an unusual design which is original but it doesn’t seem very comfortable. After trying them, I have to say they are not only extremely comfortable, but they also isolate incredibly well! The cable is a good unit, which reminds me of the TRN IM1/V30 cable, but it’s not the same one. There’s a mic on my version, which works very well. The only disadvantages of the cable are: the chin slider is there, but on a wrong position, because it’s below the mic and it cannot reach your chin; it tangles pretty easily. Overall, I’m not a fan of the design but I like everything about the build quality, the accessories and the comfort.
My sources: FiiO M7, Mi MIX 2 with DAC Zorloo ZuperDAC-S and MacBook Pro 2012 with USB audio interface Focusrite 2i2 first gen, iFi xDSD, XDUOO XP-2
My files: DSD, FLAC, ALAC, MP3, M4A, MQA on TIDAL Master Quality
My music: “Colour the Small One” by Sia, “Djesse Vol.1” by Jacob Collier, “Where are You?” by Frank Sinatra, “Ghost Stories” by Coldplay, “O” by Damien Rice, and many other tracks by Queen, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Radiohead, …
I don’t know why, before trying the BQ3, I was biased, thinking these IEMs were sibilant, sparkling, sharp. Luckily, I was completely wrong. The first thing I’ve noticed was the good sense of space: the treble is slightly elevated, so the perceived stage is wider than average. And there’s a good imaging too, very smooth around the soundstage. What doesn’t convince me is the instrument separation: when the mix is full, I hear some congestion, like the crossover had to be improved. So, I can say that I would work a little bit on the layering, but the tuning is absolutely mature. In fact, there’s a balanced graph here (from what I perceive) if you think about a frequency response reproduction. I would say this is a similar sound signature to the Tin HiFi T2, with a little bit more bass. I like the control of the mid-bass which doesn’t fall on the midrange, and I like the depth of the sub-bass which is very noticeable. Mids don’t feel recessed, even though there’s a smooth U which gives a pleasant dark background; vocals are forward enough to sound embracing and they can shine through the mix. I particularly appreciate the male vocals here, because of the timbre. That being said, the female ones are great too, because of the sparkling treble; this is usually a con for me, because it tends to cause some sibilance (I’m very sensitive to it), but surprisingly they kept the good and left the bad of this kind of tuning. It’s important underlining that these earphones don’t need amplification, even though the driver configuration may suggest you could (3BA+2DD!). I’ve easily used them with the stock dongle of my Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 with Tidal on MASTER quality, and when I switched to something like the Zorloo ZuperDAC-S or my audio interface on a desktop setup (Focusrite 2i2), I didn’t feel like there was a massive increase in the performances. I feel like there’s a slight upgrade on the layering definition, but very marginal. They are very pleasant with the iFi xDSD, which I have in test, because it’s a pretty warm DAC in my opinion. I like them slightly less with the XDUOO XP-2 because it’s on a brighter side, and it doesn’t mitigate the emphasis of the IEMs’ treble. Overall, there aren’t really a lot of negative things about the BQ3’s sound. In my opinion, they are one of the more complete choices for about 50€.
Tin Audio T2 (2019 version): even though I prefer the look and the presentation of the T2, I find them a little bit too big for my ears, so… comfort-wise I’d go for the BQ3. As I’ve said before, I find the sound signature of the two being very similar, with less bass on the T2 but a better instrument separation. Consider that the T2 can be sometimes found for half the price of the BQ3, and they are very close. If you find the T2 for less than 30€, go for them. If you want something less mainstream but extremely valid, the BQ3 are absolutely great for being a sub-100 IEM.
KZ ZS7: I love their look (I know, Campfire, it’s your look), and I like their warm sound. I have to admit that sound-wise the BQ3 are a better choice: more clarity, better vocals, a more controlled bass. But I’m a design lover, and BQ3 don’t shine that way. The stock BQEYZ cable is better than the KZ counterpart. And the isolation provided by the BQ3 is superior to the ZS7 one. And KZ doesn’t give you a carrying pouch. Neither their stock ear tips are very good. BQ3 here are a rational choice. But I still love the ZS7 to be a “wannabe” Andromeda.
SIMGOT EM1: a little bit pricier, they are one of my all-time favorite IEMs. Not the widest stage, not the craziest detail, but a reliable sound signature for every situation. BQ3 have better materials, a wider stage, more detail and air in the vocals. Speaking about quality for the price, BQ3 are a bit superior. But Simgot provides a better cable and a magnificent set of silicon eartips to tune the earphones finely.
For being my first BQEYZ experience, it’s been a great start. This is a solid product with just a little refinement to do, to reach the top for the price range. I’m very impressed by the build quality, the isolation, the mature tuning and I’m surprised to appreciate a sound signature which is closer to the brightness than to the neutrality. I’d say it’s incredible to find something like this for under 100€, but these last two years have been so absurd for the Chi-Fi market that I’m not so surprised anymore: you will absolutely love the BQ3, but at the same price you find the Tin T3, too (which I didn’t compare before because for me they are not so worthy for the price, considering the crazy cheapness of the T2… but that T3’s cable!) and you can buy two sets of Tin T2 themselves. Think about it. I recommend the BQ3, but l suggest to find a great deal for a special occasion.
Soundstage and imaging
Almost no sibilance
Easy to drive despite the high amount of drivers
Mediocre instrument separation
Bad position of the chin cinch