With all the recent positive chatter about the NICEHCK Graphene Driver Earbud, I just couldn't help myself and contacted Jim at NiceHCK to send one to me. I'm really happy that I made this decision. This Earbud sits just below the top tier of my collection, right out of the gate. I'm sure my earphone collection is at well over 30 now, so eventually I'll have to have an honest intervention with myself about what I'm actually trying to do, other than delay retirement. That aside, here's my take on the DIY Graphene MX760 (*note: name varies from seller-to-seller).
This is my first earbud with this type of shell and I'm liking the results. To that end, it may be improperly labelled MX760 by certain sellers because the original Sennheiser MX760 is a slightly different shape. Interestingly, it has more leeway with fit - for my ears anyways - but alas, YMMV. I can fit the shell in my ear on an angle which may be a great option for people that struggle with fit of standard bud shells. Speaking of which, manufacturers seem to be moving away from the classic MX500 shell to some degree, and this is probably a good thing. The 20Ohm resistence and 108DB sensitivity means that the driver is easy to, er, drive - on paper. This is true in practice as well. There shouldn't be any issues scaling down to a phone or older DAP or up to more powerful amp, which is always great. The cable is twisted, but not braided and seems strong while not retaining memory. Shells and cable are both very light. I sense that there could be some slight microphonics if there was enough rubbing from a shirt collar (for example) closer the shell. Barring that possibility there shouldn't be any issues with regards to this.
The DIY Graphene, leans towards warm, while being bright (depending on the recordings) with a slight v-shape. There's some sharpness in the upper treble, yet there's no sibilence to be found on any genres I throw at it, but I would say that I would go to it for classic rock and jazz than, say, vocal oriented music or newer recordings. The sound is extremely musical and engaging, yet clear while being a tad peaky in the treble region only sometimes. This earbud excels with older recordings that don't have any over-emphasis on treble. Newer recordings that sound too processed can come across as too sharp, in some cases. A/B-ing between the Monk+ SPC Edition and DIY Graphene left the Monk sounding slightly veiled from my iPhone SE. However, directly from my tube amp, the Monk battled back, potentially needing the extra oomph, being a 64ohm driver. That said and considered, there's only a slight boost in performance from the power output of the tube amp in regards to the Graphene bud. It plays really well directly from a phone, and with my portable amps to be sure. At first blush, the sound of this earbud had me thinking of the Venture Electronics Zen 2 and this was because of the musicality and slight recession in the midrange. In direct comparison, the Zen sounds slightly more resolving and is and a bit warmer, while being more circular and larger in its staging. The Zen cost me about 7x the price and I can't leave that tidbit out.
I would consider staging would be slightly above baseline for the DIY Graphene, however, the midbass response is excellent and vocals sound warm and thick, but not overly so. The attack is fast, and the decay is medium for an earbud. It doesn't have the boomy subbass that's found in the Vido or Yincrow X6, but I doubt it will be missed, because it's emphasis is improvements in quality, speed and general musicality, with regards to a direct comparison. The soundstage is ovular, but not overly large. Things can be heard in my peripheral, however, only slightly out of head and not incredibly deep. In that regard, I would say it's above average. Imaging is quite good - on John Coltranes "Love Supreme PT. 1: Acknowledgement", the piano plays behind my head as I would expect and the spacing and soundscape is wonderful and ever-so-slightly narrower than the same with the VE Zen 2.
Playing more jazz, I did become concerned with the sharpness of the drivers attack. As a point of reference (*an unfair point of reference) I pulled the Blur from my arsenal to do some A/B-ing. I was correct in my concern, as Coltranes saxaphone sounded more natural and rounded from the Blur - it's presentation is more organic. The same can be said for all instruments but is not as noticeable with vocals to my ears. Playing Kate Bush recordings from the early 80's was enthralling and sounded perfect. As I've mentioned, this driver plays well with older recordings. To be fair though - the driver has not been burned in (about 10 hrs so far), and this will probably improve with 20-50 hours on it. I'm not too worried. Adding a donut over the foam, really cleaned this up for me as a workaround for now.
Overall, it's another excellent value proposition for anyone looking for a new earbud. This earbud will suit people looking for a consumer friendly and extremely fun sound signature while on a limited(ish) budget. Or people looking for a moderate improvement in sound in stepping up a price tier. I'll be looking forward to the subtle sound changes as the driver properly burns-in. Happy listening!
*Note: I did receive a discount from NICEHCK, however, discounts are commonly available from Ali Express sellers for Facebook Friends.