DDhifi is one of the rare brands that is known for their accessories and I don’t think there is any other brand with a better range of products and reach than DDhifi. They make some of the best looking connector cables and adaptors. Last time I reviewed their BC150B headphone cable. They make high quality carry cases too. But most of us might not be aware that they make IEMs too. Yet, those who know, know that their Janus 2 was a standout product. Not because of the drivers but for its connectivity options. It was housing both mmcx and 2pin connectors on each ear pieces and was a point of talk in the community. I can see the reason how and why they were able to do this, they have enough space left in the shell to incorporate something like that. The driver is placed closer to the nozzle while the opaque back gives us a clear view of the space left in the body.
Powered by a single 10mm DD that uses lithium magnesium alloy dome and a composite diaphragm, Janus 3 only has mmcx connectors, has an asking price of $130 and goes head on against the likes of Etymotic ER3SE, Hidizs MP145 and many other lethally equipped IEMs. Does this IEM housing a basic driver stand any chance? Let’s find out.
Get one from these links:
UNBOXING AND ACCESSORIES:
Very recently I am seeing brands leaving a lot of negative spaces in their packages to make the box big. Thankfully DDhifi does not do that and their box is made out of fully recyclable materials. The outer paper cover has some art on the inner side but oddly we get no product info on it. Product info is in a booklet inside the box. Open the box and we are greeted with the earpieces and the ST35 ear tips.
The cable is placed inside the carry case. Surprisingly this cable has modular connectors and we get the 3.5mm and 4.4mm connectors inside the box.
BUILD QUALITY AND CABLE:
One of the best thing about DDhifi is their attention to details. They are very good at delivering a well crafted product and the Janus 3 is no exception. They have nicely fused the front CNCed aluminum cavity with the polycarbonate back cavity. In their words, Janus 3 mainly relies on the front half for the tuning while the back half is used for ventilation and the connection. The heavier front half keeps the centre of gravity inside the ear, providing better stability.
Any ways, Janus 3 is barely heavy and thanks to the angled design one can easily wear it over the ear too. The nozzle isn’t very deep but since the shell in its own isn’t big, the fit is aptly deep. Yes, over the ear wearing style is definitely more secure but the light weight cable means wearing it cable down isn’t an issue either.
I have seen a lot of stock cables yet this is the cable I will happily label as the best under $200. It not only looks very good, it’s supple, doesn’t have much cable noise or any memory issues and the low profile makes it much easier to manage. It uses two OCC cores with shielding. An aptly low profile cable for a small IEM. This cable looks very good on the Janus 3. The parts used on the cable are of very good quality. Made out of aluminium alloy, they aren’t heavy or big. Its Y splitter is some of the smallest I have ever seen on a cable. Both the mmcx and modular sockets are small but the modules are big as the slide over.
PAIRING WITH SOURCES:
Look at the specifications and it’s easier to perceive the power needs of this IEM. It has a nominal impedance of just 14 ohm and can as loud as 122db which means, driving this beauty isn’t a big deal. It can easily get loud and after using it with both my mobile phones a few dongles (Fosi Audio DS1, Shanling UA5) I can safely state that it doesn’t change a lot with additional power.
Yes, a good dongle will bring in its own flavors that might introduce a bigger stage and better air between instruments but that are the capabilities of the source. Janus 3 in its own doesn’t need much power for sure. It does feel compressed with weaker sources or open with power. This IEM is made to be used on the go.
PAIRING WITH TC44 PRO:
The best thing I like about the TC44 pro is its miniature profile. It’s as small as it gets for balanced USB dongles. I don’t think there is anything smaller than this and that’s the biggest USP here. It isn’t the most powerful but is the easiest one to carry around, no wired to worry about.
I know the Janus 3 doesn’t need much and this pairing is the best example of this. Even at just 122mw, TC44 Pro makes the Janus 3 sing, just like anything else. Somehow TC44 pro manages to extract slightly more dynamic as it has a bit more subtle and contrasting presentation than both the Hidizs DH80s and better upper treble extension than the Fosi Audio DS1. We are getting very good micro details, bigger than average stage, very good imaging, cue placement is high quality, sonics and details are top notch too.
The coherence between these two is superb. Yes, it doesn’t have the best definition or resolution, but I am unwilling to expect a lot from this small, budget dongle. It has plenty of power to driver DD and simple hybrid IEMs and Janus responds beautifully, delivering beautiful transparency and clarity.
I hadn’t used a single DD IEM in a while (last one was the Ikko OH5) and this is a refreshing experience. It’s not expensive but has the traits of a good DD IEM. I was expecting a bassy and V shaped signature and what we have is an IEM that favours bass but isn’t as V shaped as a bass head IEM. To exhibit superior technicalities an IEM can’t afford to be labeled as bass head and that’s the case with the Janus 3. DDhifi could have easily made this an bass head IEM but have skillfully tuned it to deliver details and clarity and having a single DD hasn’t done any favors to it. It’s a hard edged IEM which is a bit aggressive with the presentation and can feel a bit on the face, especially when the finishing region isn’t thin. It hits with a force and can feel a bit odd to trained ears.
I am using stock tips and TC44 pro for this review. Let’s go!!
This is a bassy IEM, keep no doubts about that but it’s not in the bass head range and is nowhere close to what a Campfire Honeydew can deliver yet it has enough to be comfortably north of what can be called neutral.
Subs are okay, I do not find it very deep or rumbly yet gets the job done. The real lower end starts with the lower mid bass. Notes gain plenty of body and weight delivering a punchy and wholesome experience while moving good amount of air. The area of impact is fairly big. This single DD IEM is very good when it comes to dynamics. It’s very comfortable with upper bass notes and is technically capable of delivering both softer and harder one after another without any hiccups.
The reason I am not including the Janus 3 in bass head bunch is because of its faster decay. It’s superbly paced, notes hit and leave without getting overly heavy or slow. I like the way it maintains the layers. It’s hard to expect a lot of precision in this price range but Janus 3 is no slouch and pulls off a detailed lower end without any issues.
This is where this IEM is a hit or miss. It’s a pure hit for the admirers of forward and lively notes. It does not like to hide back its W shaped signature and vocals take the centre stage with very good transparency and clarity. Male vocals are throaty with very good texture and control, same is true for female vocals too. Vocal notes have a bit more mid note body that might feel a bit bloated as the air between these notes are slightly thin but this gives it a bit of cohesion. Instruments around the vocals are slightly held back but have very good transparency and clarity. We get a bit more precision and accuracy and the air between instruments improves. There is acceptable amount of aggression in the upper mids. No sharpness or excess energy to worry about. Notes do bite, have very good finishing definition across the mid range but they do not get uncomfortable. And that’s where the only problem I see. It’s a bit single minded, lacking the contrast and dynamics of the Akoustyx S-6, Hidizs MP145 and Etymotic ER3SE.
The contrast between back and foreground notes is not great. There are no soft or subtle notes. All the notes are hard edged and similarly transparent. It totally sounds like a more evolved Tripowin Olina SE with a bigger stage, better air and sonics.
Those who liked the Olina will love this.
I would have loved the highs if it was tuned like the mid range, having hard edges with even energy and transparency but that’s not the case here. The energy at the upper mid is retained till the lower treble region and it loses energy gradually. I would have loved it if the energy was maintained till the end but not everyone likes that I shouldn’t complain either as we still get a very good treble region. Very good because it still has very good treble extension and decent energy, maintaining very good clarity without being dull or sharp. It has a more generalistic presentation. There is nothing to dislike here and those who wanted a slightly less sibilant treble than the Olina will love this.
Layering and separation are very good but has the same problem. Notes lack a clearer distinction between back and foreground notes due to similar transparency and energy.
PAIRING WITH DDHIFI M120B:
Is there a way to make the Janus 3 more dynamic and calmer? There are a few ways to do this, pairing it with a smooth sounding cable will do the Job. The other option is a lot more transport oriented USB cable from DDhifi. The M120B ships with both Type C and lightening connectors. It eliminates the need of a dongle or connector cable all together and has a built in one button remote and microphone in its Y splitter to take calls on the go. This is the best alternate to the 3.5mm jack and it’s pairing with the Janus 3 is less on the face and more comfortable for longer listening sessions.
We do get a bit more balance and a bit less coloration. Bass is tighter and rapid with a slightly smaller area of impact and a bit less sub bass rumble. Dynamics are a bit more improved with presence of softer notes. Layering and separation are as good as the TC44PRO but is a hair more airier. Treble is less hard edged and a bit calmer. Stage is still over average but is a tiny bit smaller.
M120B shows that the Janus 3 doesn’t need much power to sound good and this pairing is very good for EDC.
STAGE AND IMAGING:
Dynamic Drivers these days can be tuned to do a lot of things and DDhifi has tuned this DD with a nicely developed stage. It’s nicely rounded with presence both in and out of the head. Bass notes fire into the head and are projected inside the head. Same is true for majority of vocals too. Only taller and background vocal notes escape the head. Instruments are evenly distributed with presence both in and out of head. Even with its slight let downs this stage is still on the bigger side. Imaging though is superb with very good accuracy, and instrument placement.
VS Hidizs MP145:
I like this IEM. It has plenty going for it. We get very good transparency and details. Clarity is on the higher side and those who like a bit of forward presentation and bite will love this. Instruments are agile and have very good finishing definition too. No dull notes while the upper treble is forgiving. It’s a $130 IEM and asking more from it doesn’t seem fair. And its comfort is in a different level. Let it be the cable, weight of the earphone or the balance of the earpieces it’s a super comfortable IEM and perfect for EDC use.
Those who want smooth, relaxed and laid-back presentation may like to stay away from this IEM but it still is not the screechy or sibilant type.
I will love to see DDhifi make a Janus 3 pro with a slightly smoother presentation and more contrast between back and foreground. That being said, Janus 3 is already excellent for the price.
Thanks for reading!! Enjoy the music!!