- Tonal Balance
- No fatigue
- Better stage than direct competition
- Great technical value for the price bracket
- Bass shy
- Treble is better than direct competition but still a bit wonky
- Less technical than the other planars I’ve tried
- Fit is as it looks
Disclaimer: This unit was sent to me as a loan by another reviewer, SenyorC. No incentives of any kind were given and the review you are about to read are my own thoughts and opinions. Thanks once again to SenyorC for the opportunity and don’t forget to check his website.
Table of Contents
Driver Setup: 14.6mm Planar Diaphragm Driver
Product Link: Linsoul
Comfort, fit and isolation: Fit is a bit wonky, but comfortable for me. Isolation is average.
Source used: Topping E30 + L30 stack, Singxer SA-1
Tips used: Final E
Test playlist with some of the songs used: Tidal
Prologue: The Planar Year
Well, at this point I’m no longer sure if the 1st of February marked the Chinese Year of the Tiger or the Year of the Planar. Two trends are settling down and Crinacle just decided to mix them: planars and colabs.
Partnering with 7hz, the gate opener thanks to the release of the Timeless, Crinacle’s plan was clearly to take a gauge on a better tuned planar while still making it affordable to the masses. It is no news that most of the planar IEMs suffer from tuning wonkiness so let’s delve straight into the sound and check if the marks were reached!
Just by glancing at the graph while measuring, I had no doubt the tuning would be something I would enjoy and close to my prefered target. Despite the still wonkiness of the planar treble tuning, everything looks clean and balanced until that point, but let’s hear it, shall we?
Going against the tide of the planar trend, the tuner decided to soften the bass region by focusing on a less elevated but clean shelf. Its sub-bass over mid-range is still evident but is now more polite and with a leaner transition into the mid-range.
Truth be told, I am not 100% sold on Dioko’s bass. In my mind planars need a touch more energy in the bass department than your regular off-the-shelf dynamic driver. Due to its nature, planars tend to bleed a lot less but require more brute force to be felt, especially in the dynamics department, an effect that is amplified by their own ultra-fast speed.
Given my preferences, I prefer something more polite than something totally overcooked, and for that I’d rather have this softer bass presentation than an over elevated one, so I’m not hating on it, just leaving with the water on my mouth feeling that I could have ate a desert and I didn’t, especially on the microdynamics.
Looking at the 3:25m bass drop, the Dioko replays it without much effort due to its great speed and extension, having some rumble to it. Again, this is one of those cases I’d like a touch more elevation to its shelf to get that enclosed feeling the track demands. Other than that, there’s not really something I can pick on.
In this track I tend to pay attention to two things: the bass line throughout the whole track and the busy passage once the drum pedal and the piano also chime in around the 1:40m mark and onwards.
This is the first time we will notice planar advantage: its speed. To me planars are something in between the typical BA and DD drivers, both in speed, dynamics and texture. The speed helps the perception of the bass line much easier, with good note definition and separation to easily spot what is what and once the track gets busier, the Dioko just stays as cool as ever.
As for the bass line (not just on this track, and the same applies for kickdrums), I would enjoy more impact and elevation, but it still has enough to feel present and ever so tilted into the warmer side of neutral.
Before jumping into the next section, I’d like to just add a quick note on bass texture and articulation by using the Dark Prince’s OPR to do so.
At around 0:36m, the bass drop shows good signs of both by Dioko, especially due to its speed to make it cleaner, just sinning by lacking a hair of elevation for my own tastes (that is higher than usual with planar drivers, especially in the mid-bass).
The mid-range is pretty clean and not really too much to point at, especially at this price point. Due to its bass shelf, Dioko has enough weight to not feel thin, but just about that.
Pianos, keystrokes, pedal sustain and female vocals – Leaving has it all.
Despite not being my favorite mid-range of all time, the Dioko is no slouch in this regard and the mid-range is by far the star of its show. As expected, the details and separation of the keystrokes and back vocals are great. Other than that, the clarity of them is commendable without feeling overly thin, but not thick either.
Despite the forward mids, they come across as not much as in-your-face kind of mids but rather just north of neutral. The pianos sound very balanced from top to bottom and nothing else that can be added at this price range.
In this track, Govi plays an acoustic guitar and the only thing I’ll be checking here is the guitar’s balance in the overall frequency range, the plucks and the finger slides.
Well, as seen in the track above the mid-range balance is very good, so it goes the same way on Espresso. Regarding the chord plucking and finger slides, as expected, planars do it better due to their resolving power and driver speed. At this price range it’s really hard to find these types of characteristics and Dioko just proved everyone wrong. Touché.
Checking for vocal tonal balance between male and female vocals with some hidden gems in the background, Pentatonix is a great example with even some extra beatbox.
The first part is easy, and I got the idea right in the first passage: the female and male vocals on the Dioko are very even and for that, the advantage goes for the female ones. The lean bass shelf takes some of the power male vocals usually have over females, who usually have more bite and which this set has.
The sounds in the background, showing out of nowhere like hidden gems come out clear with resolving power and that’s no match for planar like Dioko.
Treble range, the Achilles tendon of the “recently” released planars. Dioko sounds better in this area than other planars I’ve tried, just from memory, but don’t fool yourself as some of that “wonkiness” is still there.
High pitched sounds and lots of harmonics to analyze treble and its extension, as well as its elevation and the overall timbre.
Extension on the Dioko is great and nothing to point of, as it has lots of information up there backing up a nice sense of air to never feel a claustrophobic replay during all the tracks I have tried on it.
Despite its graph, the treble elevation was just in the fine line of energetic but never coming across that, which is great for sensitive and easily fatigued people like me. I would say there’s a couple DBs more than I wish to around the 8k hz, as per usual on the new planar catalog, but nothing that bothers me as much, but if you are ultra sensitive to this area, be aware. I would say that on very treble heavy songs, the average user can expect at least medium sized listening sessions
As for the timbre, it’s a very fast and sharp transient so expect the usual “planar timbre”, with a fast attack and detail with no smearing left behind.
During Caravan I’m usually looking for the cymbal strikes coming out of nowhere and also checking how they feel compared to the rest of the frequency response.
Dioko doesn’t have much for me to point out. Cymbals feel energetic enough but not overbearing or fatiding. Again, it’s not an immersive dark set, but for sure ain’t as bright as some other planars out there.
Regarding soundstage, Dioko falls under the category of “It’s an IEM!”. Stage width is fine but height and depth could use some love. Imaging is average as well.
Polyphia – Playing God
Planar’s speed makes a commendable replay and Dioko ain’t no exception. This level of transition speed between notes and instruments is something most dynamic drivers can’t achieve. As for macro dynamics and separation, I would consider Dioko average and, as per planar usual, very good for the price bracket.
Great replay if you ignore the softer than usual drop around 0:27m.
For this section I will do a quick shootout between three of the current market favorites, plugged into Singxer SA-1 all at the same time, just switching and adjusting volume between them. The lineup:
- Raptgo Hook-X (using W01 tips)
- LETSHUOER S12 (using Final E)
- 7hz Salnotes Dioko (using Final E)
Tracks used to pin down the final notes:
Both S12 and Hook-X smoke Dioko out on bassier tracks like Chameleon due to the nature of its tuning, leaving it a couple of steps behind the other two in the bass department.
As for between S12 and Hook-X, they both do great on this song but the S12 takes the plate home due to showing better texture and rumble capabilities.
Dioko has a better position of the mid-range and less warmth, feeling more transparent while the other two are more recessed. Also shows a better sense of air between the vocals and the instruments, causing a better replay of this song in the vocal aspects.
Between the Hook-X and S12, the latter has more recession in the mid-range and more sharpness to Agne’s voice. On the other hand, it comes out as the most resolving of the three and the one with better dynamics by a step or two.
Hook-X is the middle of the road, being the warmer of the three, more “analog”, packing more energy in the treble than Dioko but not feeling as wonky as the S12 in this region. Comparing the stage air, it’s also a step above S12, just not as much as Dioko.
Dioko shows better control over this frequency range, despite still being a bit odd, by compensating the lack of bass shelf with a treble reduction as well, being more polished.
The Raptogo Hook-X has the most energy and feels somewhat crunchy, but has the bass to back it up and kind of plateaus after the pinna gain, so won’t feel as piercing as expected, at all.
The S12 is the worst replay of the three by having not only the energy but also the grainy feel, adding that to being the least well extended of the three.
The 7hz Salnotes Dioko is no 7hz Timeless, but costs less than half on release. It surely is an improvement on Timeless’ stage and imaging wonkiness, but at the cost of less resolving power.
What it lacks against competition in technical prowess compensates with a much more palatable tuning, sinning only by being a couple of dbs shier than it needed to in the bass-region.
As for those who think planars are great but too V-shaped or too bassy, Dioko might be for you. As for those who love the other planar offers, this might not be for you. Hate it or love it, there’s no denying the obvious: the 7hz Salnotes Dioko is an incredible offer at $100 and overshadows most of the sets until that price range, at least. Given that, there’s no way for me to not recommend it.
This is all about giving credits where they are due and Dioko is a great example of that, probably by starting a war on how cheap can planars go after this.
As for Crinacle, good job.
Value ranking: 4.5/5. Personal rank: B-.
Thanks for reading!
Leave a Reply