Shuoer 09 Tape Review: is this the best you can do?
Updated: Dec 12, 2020
Hey guys, welcome back to the neighborhood. Today we’ve got the Shuoer Tape in the house thanks to Farsil the Wizard. If you’re not familiar with Farsil, he is a wizarding audiophile, who is a bit of a character… But in any case, he’s fun to watch, so check out his channel at the conclusion of this review if you want to put a mischievous smile on your face.
Link to Farsil’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq4oZDBAZABMTPdIFHi8IxA
Link to my Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDhV3KByLSY2roqZ2aQ0XKg
Anyhow… the Shuoer 09 Tape… let’s get InToIt…
So, this IEM is similar to another one that I recently reviewed the Shuoer Singer. Both the Singer and the Tapes are magnetostatic IEMs with an additional Dynamic Driver to handle the low-end. This has caused some confusion, as both the tapes the singers were advertised as electrostatic IEMs, but unfortunately, this is not actually the case. The magnetostic driver is apparently a newer, and different type of technology that was being passed-off as an electrostatic erroneously. And honestly, this makes sense, as neither of the Shuoers sound anything like electrostatic drivers.
Shuoer Singers Review on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbvjEC945bk
Having only heard the Singers and the Tapes to date, it seems that the magentostic driver might simply not be capable of reaching the resolution and detail of an electrostatic driver. But, I guess only time will tell; as more IEMs use this technology and implementation improves possibly?
The build of the Tapes is pretty stout. They’re made out of metal and are relatively heavy. I like the look of these things, as they remind me of “Lazerbeak” from “Soundwave” in “Transformers.”
The unit I was provided with from Farsil has some mild signs of wear, where the black paint has rubbed off of the edges of the metal housing, so this might be something to be aware of.
The cable these come with is decently nice. It’s a tiny bit stiff, but not the worst. The connection at the earphone itself was “iffy” at times; however, cutting out every now and then, so I ultimately switched to a balanced Tripowin cable after some time. My understanding is that new versions of this earphone also come with a balanced cable, which may have resolved this issue, but I was not provided with this cable, so I had to employ my own. I will note that I tested balanced vs. nonbalanced operations here, and I could not discern any notable differences for this set.
The black tips, this set came with, were relatively thin, and produced some unbalanced sonic effects, so I experimented with tips to find a more favorable sound. CP100’s (pictured) offered the best fit for the smaller diameter of the stem, and produced the most balanced sound in comparison between stock and other tips. Fit was "OK," but the Tapes were rather heavy, and the cornered bottom edge of the earphone did press slightly into my Antihelix. So, unlike the Singers, which were lightweight and comfortable for extended listening sessions, I might be able to deal with the Tapes for shorter periods of listening, but not all day long.
So, what does the Shuoer Tape sound like. It has a sub-bass emphasis with decent impact, but both its impact and sub bass emphasis also contributed to some fatigue rather quickly. Perhaps because it has a dryer and somewhat airy sub-bass, and is missing some liquidity from the midbass and upper bass regions. Additionally, there is some shoutiness to the vocals and upper mid-range, even if the mid-range was boxed-in a bit, and somewhat narrower than other parts of the sound signatures. The intensity of the Tape’s shoutiness was dependent on the source, it’s volume, and track particularities; however. For example, on Queens of the Stone Age’s, “No One Knows,” sonics were most offensive and intolerable, even though they were better on others.
In general, I found that the Tapes performed better on smoother, warmer, lowered powered sources rather than stark, neutral, higher power ones. Shoutiness was decreased most on the Gold Note DS-10, and somewhat, on the iFi Zen DAC; compared to other starker sources such as the Centrance DACportable or THX AAA 789. Surprisingly, my Note 8’s headphone jack actually produced my favorite sounds on the Tapes.
Volume level also influenced how shouty the Tapes were. At higher listening volumes, clarity generally decreased, as harshness increased, while at lower listening volumes, things smoothed things out a bit more; but this also generally resulted in obfuscated details somewhat.
While I did not always have an immediate negative reaction to the Tape’s shoutiness, my eardrums would still begin to hurt after listening beyond 15-20 minutes, and they felt like the end of my ear canals had been through a prize fight. I don’t think it’s too harsh to describe the Tapes as assaultive immediately on some music, and assaultive overtime on all music.
Despite its shoutiness, at lower volumes, the tapes did excel with 80’s style pop music and electronic music. Timbre wasn’t terrible, but it was slight, somewhat thin and bright in the upper registry, and had a certain smoothed-out, rounded-off, dull quality to it; despite the treble extension actually sounding quite good. However; in the end, I could not call the Tapes natural. Instead, the word plasticky comes to mind. Since electronic music generally uses synthetically produced sounds, genres, such as these, were not as bothered by the Tapes’ timbre issues.
Another drawback of this unit was that its separation wasn’t particular stellar. It’s not like there was smearing going on here, or anything like that, it’s just that individuation between instruments was not great. I didn’t think separation was particularly good on the Singers either, and the Tapes have similar amounts auditory distinctiveness, but they might actually be the worse of the two sets in this department.
Sound-stage on the Tapes was less restrictive compared to the Singers though, which made sense considering the Singers are a bullet-sized IEM and the Tapes are a full sized one. In general sound stage was relatively average on the Tapes. Transients were more accurate on the Tapes, and their overall presentation was also more effervescent and somewhat more fluid than the Singers were. Integration between the dynamic driver and the magnetostatic was slightly worse on the Tapes, but neither set has particularly well integrated drivers in my opinion.
Additionally, the bass on the Tapes was notably bombastic, and all over the place; whereas the bass on the Singers was somewhat more predictable. Unpredictably, the bass on the Tapes would go “hog wild” on certain tracks, while remaining rather balanced on others. When I was experimenting with tips, switching to something like a wider, bored silicone made the bass imbalanced and over emphasized.
In the end, there were a lot of consistency between the Tapes and the Singers due to the shared driver tech, but there were also some notable differences as well. Overall, I would say that both IEMs lack general resolution; despite displaying details decently well. The Tapes were generally brighter, more shouty, and more fatiguing than the Singers were, but, nevertheless, had better transients, liquidity and a bigger scope to their stage.
If these are good examples of what the magnetostatic driver is capable of, then count me out for future. Their timbre is ultimately too dull, and they simply aren’t resolving enough to even be misidentified as electrostatic drivers in my eyes. Overall, I would say that the Tapes are lackluster, and not worth their price at 100-120 dollars. If you are interested in this driver despite my take on things, between the two, I would pick the Singers as they were the most tolerable of the two sets.
*Gold Note DS-10 available at: https://gestalt.audio/
InToit Reviews YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDhV3KByLSY2roqZ2aQ0XKg
InToit Reviews Twitter: https://twitter.com/IntoitReviews
InToit Reviews Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/intoitreviews/
Farsil's YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq4oZDBAZABMTPdIFHi8IxA