The Ti7 is an earbud that sits in the outer ear, producing very minimal seal. As such, their sound is very fit sensitive, I received the version without ear guides which I would recommend since the earbuds are light enough not to budge in the ear even when moving vigorously. In addition, the Ti7’s sound noticeably different when worn cable up or down, which would be impossible with guides. When worn over the ear, the Ti7 sits a little looser in the ear, somewhat similar to the MRZ Tomahawk, achieving a notably airier, more balanced response though one that may lack the bass slam to satisfy some listeners. However, inverting their fit to a more conventional cable down style provides a deeper fit depth, increasing bass quantity and adding some extra body to lower mids. While I do personally prefer their more balanced sound when worn over the ear, I can definitely see some listeners forming an affinity towards their thicker, more impactful sound when worn cable down.
The Ti7 is a balanced earbud, more so than the BS1 but not quite to the extent of the higher end Music Maker earbuds. It carries a u-shaped tonality with a fuller bass response and a slight treble bump that aids shimmer and detail presentation. They are still more laid-back and don’t sound neutral by any stretch, but the Ti7 has one of the better balances between frequencies that I’ve heard from an earbud.
The Ti7 has a bass response that I would describe as snappy. They are on the meatier side as far as earbuds go but retain an impressive amount of technical ability. They are much tighter than cheaper earbuds pursuing a similar style of sound but still fail to match the level of bass detail that the Shozy earbuds achieve. Extension is above average, they have some rumble but lack any real slam though few earbuds really do. Mid-bass is plump with some bloat though it is still very nicely textured and defined. Upper bass has lesser emphasis but is still fuller than neutral and some warming of the midrange is apparent.
Still, lower mids never become overshadowed by the bass response due to their excellent space and separation. Bass has nice fullness overall without compromising overall balance and the Ti7’s more rounded tone well complements its full bodied midrange. And despite their tubbiness, bass remains mostly tight and controlled, clearly more so than the BS1 and Yinyoo Z&W for instance. So even if they do carry a thicker voicing, their form factor prevents any muddiness by aiding bass separation. The Ti7 may not provide the most insightful listen, but they craft a compelling experience overall.
The Ourart Ti7 has a darker midrange with polite upper mids and more powerful lower midrange elements. This presentation is underpinned by a profound sense of body, mids are thick but vocal clarity is pretty nice so things never become overly muddy or veiled. That said, female vocals don’t extend as effortlessly as the Rose Masya or Shozy Cygnus and they are lacking some delicacy and nuance. Thinner tracks are well compensated and mids are very smooth but poorly mastered tracks have a tendency to become congested. Lower mids are warm and full but well present and defined.
They are more on the natural than clear side and resolution isn’t enormous though layering is surprisingly clear and delineated given their style of tuning. The Ti7 is a more laid-back earbud that lacks any harshness or sibilance but retains just enough clarity to service more analytical listening. Despite this, detailing is great for an earbud with pleasing crispness to strings and guitars and enough transparency for piano. Their thicker nature does require some adjustment, especially when coming from more clarity orientated sets like those from Rose and they do lack the resolution to fully compensate, but after some time, the Ti7 produces a response that is natural and smooth, representing a step up in refinement and finesse over cheaper models.
Earbuds really struggle with treble; of the dozens of models I’ve heard, the number of earbuds with remotely commendable treble responses measure in the single digits. The Ti7 doesn’t append this but they are quite revealing as far as earbuds go. Highs are laid-back but lower treble has a tinge of extra crispness that imbues the sound with some engagement. They smooth off above that but extension is well above average and they even have some air surrounding higher notes. Detailing and clarity don’t touch similarly priced in-ears but they extend very naturally and space far outstrips essentially every in-ear I’ve heard regardless of price. Strings are smooth even if some texturing is lost and cymbals sound realistic and natural.
Furthermore, high-hats and even triangles have decent clarity that bests a lot of earbuds that don’t even reproduce these details. The Ti7, therefore, creates quite an articulate experience; the clashing cymbals and plucking of strings in Eric Clapton’s “Layla” and “Old Love” were flattered by the Ti7’s natural treble response while lower notes were reproduced with satisfying richness and body. The Ti7’s dulcet tones excel with more laid-back genres of music, they lack the energy to inspire modern pop, electronic and rock but do well to keep pace with faster tracks.
Soundstage, Imaging and Separation –
But it’s their soundstage that saves the Ti7 from congestion, they have one of the nicest soundstages I’ve experienced from an earbud. The Ti7’s are exceptionally expansive and imaging is pretty commendable considering their sheer sense of space. The BS1 and MRZ Tomahawk are also strong performers in this regard, however, the Ti7 is immediately more spacious than both. When listening to The Commodore’s “Easy”, the Ti7 reached well beyond the head with all-encompassing width and depth that was only bested by the cavernous 1More E1008, even the $160 Shozy BK was considerably more intimate. With such space, separation is no issue, they aren’t quite as defined as the E1008 nor the Shozy Cygnus, but the Ti7 never sounds congested and is clearly more delineated than the BS1. Imaging is good but not exceptional, the 1More and Shozy earbuds both hold a notable advantage here but instruments remain well placed and vocals well centred on the Ti7. Furthermore, layering is immersive and directional cues are easy to pinpoint, they just aren’t razor sharp. However, that quickly pales when you boot up a game or live recording where the Ti7’s wide open sense of space provides a delightfully enveloping experience unmatched by any similarly priced earbud or in-ear.
Removable cables may have become commonplace among in-ears, even cheap ones, but earbuds are evidently catching up in this regard The Ti7 is one of the few that supports a removable cable, using the very popular MMCX interface. As such, cable upgrades are possible and Penon were kind enough to send me Ourart’s silver plated cable upgrade. The upgrade cable actually really surprised me, it’s quite fantastic considering its modest $20/30 asking price. Starting with design, the cable looks far more expensive than its asking price with a lustrous 4-wire braid and carbon fibre Oyaide style straight plug. The y-split is unobtrusive with a plastic chin slider and the MMCX connectors are made from a nice gunmetal aluminium. All terminations have nice relief and the cable itself is supple with minimal memory.
And in listening, the cable did subtly enhance the quality of the Ti7’s sound. The first thing I noticed was their midrange, the upgrade cable provided a smoother sound with a bump in resolution and clearer delineation between foreground and background vocals. Bass also gained some control and texture and treble remained clear with slightly more detail to higher notes. The silver cable really helped with soundstage, especially separation. And to ensure it was the upgrade cable, not just the poor quality of the stock cable causing these differences, I gave the cable a go on some other MMCX earphones like the Oriveti New Primacy and Rose BR5 MKII. Both of these iems demonstrated some form of improvement including some that aren’t apparent on earbuds including increased sub-bass slam, greater midrange resolution and a little extra space to highs.
So overall, it’s a really nice budget SPC cable that I would recommend in isolation of the Ti7, Penon also offer the cable with a remote/mic which is surprisingly hard to come by but super practical during running and commute.
Penon BS1 ($40): Both earbuds have excellent build quality with ergonomic metal housings though the BS1 has a plastic face and fixed cable. The two earbuds also carry a similar style of presentation that is warm, full and more laid-back. However, the BS1 is more L-shaped in its presentation with a darker midrange and more laid-back treble response. Bass is full if slightly bloomy on both but separation and definition are surprisingly good, they are very much comparable. However, it’s within the higher frequencies that the Ti7 pulls ahead, it has more extension and crispness to its high-end with greater detailing and clarity though the BS1 has almost as much upper midrange detail despite being more laid-back. Vocals, especially female, are much clearer on the Ourart where the BS1 can sound slightly more distant and overly thick. Both have great soundstages but the Ti7 takes space to the next level. The BS1 does sound slightly cleaner overall but it is lacking some excitement for me, the Ourart is the more balanced and technically capable earbud. Of note, the Ourart is much pickier about sources, sounding quite veiled from my phone though they opened up nicely from my dedicated sources. The BS1 will be easier to drive for smartphone users, it is also much more sensitive.
Shozy Cygnus ($90): The Cygnus is an excellent earbud and my sub $100 benchmark for what a mature earbud should sound like. Both earbuds have almost perfect comfort and though the Cygnus has a plastic shell and fixed cable, Shozy’s cable is one of the best I’ve felt. The Cygnus has more bass emphasis and more bloat though lows are faster and as such, are simultaneously more textured and more defined than the Ti7 if not quite as tight. Mids are more recessed but have greater clarity on the Cygnus with superior resolution, they are still more on the natural side but lack the thickness of the Ti7. The Cygnus has similar treble extension to the Ti7 but has a more detailed, aggressive lower treble response. While the Shozy’s soundstage is more intimate, the Cygnus images better and layering is more defined.
Rose Masya ($110): The Masya is the most unorthodox earbud I’ve used, both in terms of build and sound. They are enormous, sitting mostly outside the ear and fit was pretty unreliable for my ears though they too sport a removable cable and their 3D printed housings with wood faceplates (or metal on the regular model) look stunning. The Masya carries Rose’ forward, clear and refined house sound, they demolish other earbuds with their treble air and extension and their midrange is perfectly voiced with clarity and resolution that rivals more expensive in-ears. The Ti7 doesn’t provide much competition within the higher frequencies, the Masya is both more tonally pleasing and more technical but what the Ti7 does achieve is increased solidity to its bass response and arguably more tonal balance. The Masya has below average bass extension even for an earbud and lows simply compliment the midrange and high end rather than driving the sound. The Masya is also on the brighter side so those looking for long term comfort and a more laid-back listen will want to look elsewhere. Still, they fill a very vacant niche, few earbuds are really suitable for analytical listening but the Masya truly excels.
Shozy BK ($160): Take the Cygnus, balance out its tone, add technicality and you essentially have the BK. It’s a fantastic extension of the very natural Shozy house sound with tighter bass, more open, present mids and a more detailed, extended high-end. Build remains similar but the cable is tougher though not removable like the Ti7. I do prefer the BK quite strongly to the Ourart, it represents a maturation of the same style of sound with greater clarity, resolution and more accurate body. Bass is tighter but just as articulate and mids are more balanced and transparent. High are much more open on the BK if not particularly airy or extended in the grand scheme of things. Of course, they are much more expensive and the law of diminishing returns does show its ugly face, but the BK does a lot to justify its premium price. Both are similarly difficult to drive, though the BK is more sensitive, it is also even pickier about source synergy due to its transparency.
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