Winter Is Here
- Excellent bass driver.
- Remarkable implementation of the PZT Bone Conduction driver for treble.
- As usual with BQEYZ, the design, packaging and accessories are attractive and appropriate.
- Remarkable level of detail.
- The soundstage is wide, holographic, three-dimensional, volatile and gaseous.
- Good separation.
- Neutral and slightly shiny tuning.
- Choice of three terminations 3.5mm SE, 2.5mm BAL and 4.4mm BAL.
- Suitable cable for the price
- The midrange is a little thin.
- Despite the great bass quality, I would have liked a little more emphasis in the lower range.
- The price is higher than previous models.
Link to the Store
It’s quite impressive that the BQEYZ brand, with every model it releases, tries to find a new evolution. Their line of IEMS with piezo drivers is well known, which started with the Spring. It continued to evolve with the passing of the seasons (Spring 2, Summer). But something changed when Autumn came along and they created a single dynamic with the best tuning filter change design I have seen to date. When it looked like the Winter was going to be the new model, a new DD+piezo hybrid emerged with another name, called Topaz. Without a doubt, this was their most homogeneous model in its profile in this saga. And, at last, Winter arrived and with it a new hybrid with a 12mm dual-cavity dynamic driver, plus an 11.6mm PZT bone driver. According to the manufacturer’s own information, the dynamic driver takes care of the low and mid frequencies. The bone conduction unit is used as a compensator for the mid and high frequencies, delivering the sound in coordination with the bone conduction support and the headphone cavity. The high frequencies are transmitted through the bone conduction, and all high-frequency roughness is cancelled out in the conduction process. Therefore, the mid and high frequencies of the Winter have a good resolution without being aggressive. After all this introduction by the manufacturer, it only remains to check whether this is the case.
- Driver Type: 12MM Dual Cavity Dynamic Driver, PAR Diaphragm + PZT Bone Conduction.
- Frequency Response: 5Hz-40kHz.
- Sensitivity: 113dB
- Impedance: 38Ω
- Cable length: 1.2m
- Jack connector: Choice of 3.5mm/2.5mm/4.4mm
- Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm.
The BQEYZ Winter comes in the classic branded box, with dimensions very similar to the rest of the products. The size is 157x119x48mm. The box is moved in grey tones, on the main side is the brand name in white letters in the top left corner. In the middle is the model name in turquoise capital letters. Underneath is the description in Chinese and English. On the back the name is at the top, the specifications in the middle and the contact details at the bottom. All this is also in Chinese and English. Removing the cardboard reveals a black box with a sandy texture. In the middle is the brand name inscription. If you open it up like a book, you can access the inside, where there is a cardboard cover that only allows you to see the capsules at the top. Underneath is the mould containing the capsules and a black zippered case. Behind the capsules there is another small box with the accessories. The complete contents are as follows:
- The two Winter capsules.
- A black zippered case with the brand name inscribed in the middle.
- A 4-strand, 49-core (0.06mmx7x7) silver-plated, hand-stranded, single crystal copper wire.
- A metal blister for storing the silicone tips.
- Three pairs of Atmosphere grey silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- Three pairs of grey silicone tips Reference, sizes SxMxL.
- Three pairs of black silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- One pair of foam tips.
- One cleaning brush.
- One certificate of guarantee.
- Instruction manual.
BQEYZ raises the number of tips included to three sets, plus a pair of foam tips. It still retains the cleaning brush, a large cable with a choice of 3.5mm/2.5mm/4.4mm and a spacious carrying case. The result is a superior value in this respect, compared to previous models. High marks.
Construction and Design
I also find the shape of the capsules clearly reminiscent of their previous models. Actually, I think it’s a mix between the design of the Spring and the Autumn. From the former, it recovers that different coloured rim, in this case, the colour is a very striking turquoise green. From the latter, the general shape of the whole capsule. Both the inside and the outside of the capsule have similarities. It is clear that the inside is very similar, except that in this case there is no magnetic tuning filter. On the outer face, the surface has changed with a different pattern. In this case, there is a protruding profile in the centre, in the shape of an open L, which bifurcates into two lines, leaving a gap in the middle. What does change is the thickness of the capsule, which is generously enlarged compared to the Autumn. The lettering on the inside remains the same. There is a hole covered with a white grid near the base of the mouthpieces and closer to the rim there is another almost triangular indentation, with a hole at each vertex. The 2Pin connection is slightly different, although it keeps the oval base, the rim is slightly more projected outwards. The mouthpieces are slightly gold-plated and metallic, of a different material and colour than the capsule. They have a wider base (7.5mm), a narrower neck (5.2mm) and a slightly larger crown (5.9mm). The grille is also metallic. The rim of the right capsule reads BQEYZ and the left one WINTER. They are made of aluminium alloy by CNC-machining. The surface is anodised by sandblasting. Two colours are available, black with a metallic teal rim or silver with a rose gold rim.
The cable seems to have increased in thickness from the Autumn and is more similar to the Topaz. With 4 strands and 49 cores (0.06mmx7x7) of silver-plated, hand-stranded, single crystal copper. It has a more greyish appearance. The sleeve of its connectors is simply a smooth metal cylinder. On the 4.4mm connector (in my case) you can read BQEYZ in white letters. The splitter piece is the same but smaller, a little less than half the size. The brand name is also written on it. The last one is a metal ring, which doesn’t do its job very well, because the hole is a bit too big for a more durable fit. It continues with the smooth metal cylinders for the 2Pin connectors, with a ring on the edge and white lettering to identify the colour. The cable has a transparent plastic ear guide.
Again, impeccable construction, very attractive design, quality cable. Very good materials, choice of two colours, choice of three cable connectors. I find no need to use a different cable. Only that the thickness of the capsules is higher and it seems slightly heavier than previous models.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The size is still very ideal, although the rim is now larger and overhangs the ears more. I would say that the protrusion is subtly sharper and more pronounced than on the Autumn, which reduces the overall comfort. Although, depending on one’s morphology, it may even be beneficial in terms of fit and anchorage. There is a little more projection in the mouthpieces, the base of the body seems a little longer compared to the Autumn itself. Although the length is almost the same.
The insertion is superficial and can be medium, depending on the tips used. Even bi-flange or tri-flange tips can be used, with remarkable results. Improved soundproofing because the greater projection of the nozzles allows a slightly deeper insertion than the Autumn.
I could comment that the profile is an average of the Topaz model and the Autumn model with the normal mouthpiece. In general, it also bears a similarity to the Spring II, but without the piezo snap. It is true that it has the lowest bass rating of them all, but it is also more balanced in mid-high and treble. The result is a smooth, almost W-like tuning, where the greatest enhancement is in the high-mids, with extended treble. Actually, I think that the treble curve does not match reality and that the BC driver is not reflected in the frequency response. I think there is more energy in the high band, but without implying that it is a treble-head set. It may also help that the bass is almost neutral.
The Winter’s bass is really tight. It feels not very pronounced in the sub-bass, but the execution of pure tones is really very realistic and pleasing. The tone at 40Hz is totally exemplary, subtly coloured, but beautiful, precise and restrained. In development it is close to the behaviour of the planar IEMS I have reviewed, but with the more accurate sonority, behaviour and timbre of a big, technical DD. It is also true that it is not very powerful, nor is it capable of moving much air. It feels fast, tight, dry, precise and concise. Technically enviable. There’s no aftertaste, the decay is immediate, there’s not a hint of rubberiness in the reproduction, just enough to offer realism and a not so aseptic touch. It’s very detailed and its punch feels compact, like a muffled gunshot. As is often the case with technically advanced bass, the roughness and texture is less prominent and its nature is smoother. But the great descriptive ability it possesses manages to bring a pleasant and subtle rumble, which adds an allure and beauty, capping off a great lower range.
In terms of quantity, it focuses on the mid-bass, without standing out from the rest of the range. It is a fair, neutral presence, never overpowering. Lightweight for those who like more powerful LFOs, classic as a higher priced audiophile IEM. I think BQEYZ has done well with this driver and the recreation of a very clean, expressive and technical lower range.
Thanks to a neutral bass, there is no noticeable bleed and the mids start quite clean, with a remarkable level of light and transparency. I would say that the first half is also neutral, there is an average between physicality, presence and thinness, the sound is on the edge of all that. Although the tendency is to sound thinner. There is no oppressive capacity, nor much density. What’s more, it’s a rather loose and free-flowing first part. Coming from the S12 Pro’s and their wall of sound, the Winter’s offer a less full and opulent response. The IEMS are more delicate and brighter in that area. In this case, the emphasis on the upper mids makes female vocals and nuances more explicit, sounding more forward. Although it can’t be said that they are mid-centric IEMS either. BQEYZ manage to keep a relative distance from the listener, without sounding intimate. That more pronounced exposure borders on the hot spot and there are those notes with frequencies between the mid to treble transition, which can sound above even the female vocals, something that gives it a prominence that can be unwanted. But on most of the test tracks in my collection, the Winter was kept in check, even smoother than I might think. I might conclude that these are IEMS for enjoying detail and nuance at low to moderate volume levels. They don’t require a lot of power to demonstrate their technical ability, but you might miss more body and a bit more power in the low-mids. But, really, that’s what neutrality is all about and the Winter’s are like that.
On a technical level, this new model is very advanced throughout the range. I would give better marks to its technical skills than to its timbre. It is very fast and precise, very capable of separating and unravelling nuances and details, and presenting them coherently, in an orderly and musical manner. I appreciate that he is delicate in this respect and does not focus solely on that aspect.
In principle, the high end should be dominated by the bone conduction driver. But although the operation of the bone driver should be beneficial through physical contact, it seems that the overall sound benefits from it. I don’t know the ins and outs of this technology as applied to these IEMS, but my sense is that it delivers more treble than the graph depicts. After all, microphones don’t have bones… The theory put forward by the brand is that such a driver offers a more delicate and softer sound, not as abrupt and harsh as other emitters. This allows the exposure to be high without the sound suffering from overly bright or excessive behaviour in this area. The detail, expressiveness and information extraction capability may lie in that principle, hence these IEMS are technically very advanced in these respects. But the conjunction of the neutrality of the lower range and the first part of the mid-range also helps to make the sensation of light, detail and brightness feel more prominent. In this way, although the graph starts with the classic roll-off or control zone, this goes unnoticed and nothing else can be observed other than a certain compensation for the initial work of the bone conduction driver. This is how the sense of brightness feels measured. I went through the harder songs in this respect and the Winter always presented the treble with good control. It doesn’t feel overly energetic or bright, the behaviour is bright but well weighted, vivid and explicit, but measured at that high point. So I think the theory expressed by the manufacturer has paid off.
It is clear that there is an emphasis on this range and that the hot zone is centred here. The sparkle is concentrated in this area, but it is a well expressed level. It is only worth pointing out that this is so for those fans who are more sensitive in this respect.
On the other hand, somehow, the BC driver seems to have a special ability to add a different sonority to the treble. My feeling is that, just as a DD or a BA has a different timbre, there is something of that here, but this is not a derogatory statement by any means. Perhaps there is a physical point to take into account. After all, that is what it is all about.
Be that as it may, the treble is boosted, but restrained to a remarkable degree. They are clearly expressive, defined and full of resolution. They have good extension and an excellent informative capacity. Moreover, their speed and technical ability are responsible for the outstanding expressiveness they possess. The Winters are very resolute in this area.
With a clean, technical and luminous presentation that favours transparency and exposition of detail, the Winters feel spacious and airy. They are very good at presenting and spacing nuances. The level of layering of these is appropriate and the scene takes advantage of this expansive capacity. The expressiveness of detail is surrounding and rather than generating a wide or very full scene, what happens is that the presentation is distanced and forms a cloud around the head, with sounds and nuances coming from all directions. This creates a volatile feeling and the music seems to escape from the head, although there is control there.
On the other hand, I miss some more depth and a bit of cohesion. Rather, a more physical or corporeal feeling, to generate a more forceful scene with more presence. But I understand that combining both characteristics must be much more complicated. In this case, the Winters advocate a spatial and gaseous delicacy.
Finally, I would like to comment that, despite its ability to extract information, I don’t find the Winters to be clearly analytical or cold. Perhaps this is due to the softness that the BC driver offers. Although it is also true that offering more visible detail does not place it among the most capable IEMS in the representation of micro details, although it is quite good.
NiceHCK F1 Silver Filter
Once again, I am comparing these planar IEMS that I have not yet reviewed. First, because they are a big surprise, as far as sound is concerned. Second, because they bear a certain similarity to the Winter. At the time of writing this review, the Winter is priced at 247€ for the 4.4mm version. The F1, in the same version, is priced at 166€.
Design-wise they are very different. The Winter follows the trend in terms of the shape of the capsules and NiceHCK changes the model with a design reminiscent of the Letshuoer D13, but with shorter mouthpieces. Everyone has a say in which design they like best, in terms of appearance. But for ergonomic reasons, I prefer the Winter. The short nozzles of the F1 have given me a headache when it comes to finding tips that can extract their full potential. I don’t even think I’ve been able to find them. With the more classic Winter shape I have had no problems. The Winter comes with slightly more accessories and a better cable. Both cases are very good. The F1 tips are a bit generic. But there is also a price difference to consider.
As far as sound is concerned, my surprise has been in a quick change from one to the other. Compared to the F1, the Winter sounds more muted, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say warm, analogue and organic. Everything is brighter and shinier with the F1. There is a more striking, explicit and direct expressiveness with the NiceHCK planars. But the bass level seems almost the same, despite the visible differences in both frequency responses. Maybe it’s because the sealing with the F1 is not as good as with the Winter. I think that the tips I use are not the most suitable to get the best presence in the low end of the F1s. In this aspect, I don’t miss anything with the Winter. As I mentioned in the review, the Winter has a low end that reminds me of the planars, in terms of speed and behaviour. But they improve their less coloured and less realistic sonority compared to the F1s, something that is noticeable when reproducing pure low frequency tones. The result is a more sensory bass, with more air movement in the BQEYZs. Otherwise, in technical matters, the similarities are great and the differences lie more in the higher amount of sub-bass in the F1s, which provide a slightly more powerful and punchy feel and a little more depth.
In the mid-range there is a point of higher density in the F1 planars. Also noticeable is their more frontal sound and wall-of-sound feel. The Winter’s volatility creates a more hollow, yet expansive feel, something that also thins out the sense of physicality and body, both in vocals and instrumentation. The mid-range presentation is more explicit on the F1s, with a homogeneity throughout. Whereas on the Winter there is a more natural and organic flow. In the F1s everything is exposition, in the Winters there are sensations, a movement of voices and instruments. In the F1s the perception is of a more static sound, closer, nearer… that wall I talk about so much. There is nothing wrong with either of them, but each one must value the informative, frontal and expressive presentation of the F1s, instead of the more traditional, more moving exposition of the Winters.
In the treble, despite the Winter’s high level, the F1s feel more elevated, with a higher level of energy. Not for nothing do they present a vast plateau all the way to the air zone. The Winter’s control zone, though small, balances this feeling. The generation of a full and homogeneous sound in terms of energy is maintained in all ranges of the F1s. The Winters provide a breath in every range and feel more suitable for extended use. The F1s are so explicit that they can become saturated and the presence of the high end has an impact on this. The detail is more explosive, more so than the Winter. That’s why I still value the good performance of the BC driver over a planar that is excited in the high end.
In terms of scenery, the Winters are more three-dimensional, volatile and gaseous. They don’t have much depth, the separation is more circular. The F1s are wider and more frontal, not that they are very deep either. But the feeling of their vast sound offers a wide, generous soundstage with good laterality and height. The Winters win in spatial recreation and in their ability to project sound from more angles. The physical feel of the F1s projects an image that is easier to locate, where elements are more fixed to the scene and more distinguishable. The Winters are more vaporous in this respect, offering a more diluted reconstruction.
The Winters are a further step in BQEYZ’s exploration of high-frequency drivers. Fans of the brand are familiar with their development of piezo drivers. Now they innovate once again with a bone driver that delivers an explicit, yet silky treble. True to a design idea, the great appeal of its shape means that each iteration continues to look beautiful and contemporary. The accessories live up to the price, although the price is somewhat higher than their standard siblings. They also have a slightly thicker capsule.
In terms of sound, the Winters have created a dynamic driver with the technical characteristics of a planar, but with the sonority, timbre and presentation characteristic of traditional drivers. But it is the new bone driver that gives it a distinctive effect in the high end. Undoubtedly, this is a boost that tends to make up for the shortcomings of a full-range DD, despite the effectiveness of these in today’s day and age. The result is a neutral sound, with a low end of enormous quality, a midrange that moves between two waters, a thinner first part and a higher and more explicit second part. It is in the treble where the potential of the BC driver is exposed to extend a superior energy, but always controlled and suitably educated, with the aim of maintaining the balance of neutrality that they treasure in the rest of the bands. The sound of the BQEYZ Winter proves R&D right.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Aune Flamingo.
- Earmen Angel.
- TempoTec Variations V6.
- Hidizs AP80 PRO-X Red Copper Limited Edition.
- ACMEE MF02s.
- xDuoo XD05 BAL.
- TempoTec Serenade X + iFi Zen Can.