Like Sand in the Vaseline
- Delicate, warm and enormously rich mids and voices.
- Sweet highs, very detailed and extended.
- Immense scene and separation.
- Level of construction and design.
- Cable and transport box.
- Light and coloured bass.
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As it could not be otherwise, Ourart has released some TOTL earbuds, following the line of design initiated with his brothers, the twins Ti7 and ACG. For this occasion, the design is still inspired by car tires, but this time the grid of the QJ21 is based on a supercar, something that could not be more premonitory about its exclusivity and, of course, sound quality. With this new model, Ourart has surpassed in ergonomics and fit to other models, creating asymmetric capsules, thinner, whose fit is superior and more stable. The sound comes from the Ti7, based on its immense capacity for the scene, improving the midrange and voices, to offer a sound of higher resolution, detail, much richer and unique. Also the high area has been improved, extending more, but, above all, recreating some treble with much more detail, greater delicacy, which provide much more information, with a soft texture, but a rich timbre full of nuances. The QJ21 are Flagships that do not disappoint.
- Type of Drivers: 14.6mm PET composite PEEK titanium-plated diaphragm driver.
- Frequency Response: 15 Hz to 45 Khz
- Sensitivity: 127 dB/1mW
- Impedance: 45Ω
- Cable: 8 strands 27AWG>99.996 Single crystal pure silver conductor.
- Distortion Ratio: <1% @1kHz
- Jack Connector: 3.5mm Audio
- Capsule Connection Type: MMCX
The Ourart QJ21 comes in a large, black, elegant box. Their dimensions are 238x182x56mm. In white letters and larger, is written the name of the model, in the upper left. On its right, inside a white oval, the brand is read. Under it, there are the classic symbols play, pause, stop. The photograph of the earbuds and the cables in vertical, occupies the rest of the space, in addition to other legends in Chinese. On the back side, the specifications, also in Chinese. On the sides there is also more information, but in the same language. After removing the cardboard cover, you can see the box of a dark black matte, with OURART in gold letters. Once the box is open, it becomes clear how big it is: the capsules are encased in a mold of velvety black foam. Underneath them is a light brown leather box, with the letters of the mark engraved on the flap. The rest of the accessories:
- The MMCX cable, a leather ribbon to collect it.
- 4 donut foams
- 13 O-rings
- A plate card with the serial number.
- Instruction manual.
The presentation is very neat and elegant, the cable is impressive, the box is beautiful and very useful. But complete foams and more donuts are missed.
Construction and Design
Ourart follows the brand design of the house, this time the grille of the QJ21 simulates the wheels of a supercar, whose spokes are shaped like Y. The openings are very large and can be seen clearly, the diaphragm of the drivers. Built entirely in grey textured metal, it has an asymmetrical design: the capsules have the axis of the cable displaced from its center. They also have a reduced thickness, are thinner and more rounded. The axis of the cable is a P-shaped piece. In the area of the P hole, there is the letter that distinguishes the channel. This piece, at the junction with the capsule, has gently rounded edges. But in the lower half, this rounding is greater and is accentuated when it reaches its end, where the MMCX connection is located, becoming completely circular at this point. The union with the cable is made with the help of O-rings, I suppose to protect the connector parts. The conical connectors of the cables are made of the same material as the capsules. From each connector come four braided cables of pure monocrystalline silver, forming a total of 8 strands. The splitter is cylindrical, smooth, made of the same material as the capsules, as is the Jack connector jacket. The sleeve has two parts, a narrow, smooth cylinder with a larger diameter. Next to it, another much longer textured cylinder. The 3.5mm connector is gold-plated, as are the other MMCX connections. The dowel is a piece of transparent whitish plastic, in the shape of a disc. The cable is thick, although light, very malleable and pleasant to the touch, it does not get tangled and does not have any microphones.
As an accessory to collect the cable comes a leather tape, which is attached by means of a metal rivet to the holes in it.
Finally, the transport box is a semi-rigid mini leather briefcase in the shape of a pouch. The flap is magnetic and the letters of the mark are engraved on it.
The construction and the design are of the highest level, the materials are of first quality and the finishes are completely Premium, completely what is expected by the price level.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The ergonomics have been improved compared to their younger brothers, its asymmetrical shape and thinner thickness, makes the capsules fit in a much more natural, firm and durable, even deeper. Its position in the ear is traditional, downwards. Comfort is quite high, as all its edges are rounded and its textured surface increases that sensation. In this section, Ourart has taken good note and has achieved an ergonomics totally according to the price, to guarantee the best sound.
The QJ21s have a balanced profile, with a mid-centric tendency. They have a slight warmth, great mids, excellent voices, very detailed and descriptive bass, very precise treble, fine and delicate. Among its great sonorous qualities, we can emphasize the great capacity of resolution, the excellent opening of its sound and the kindness and sweetness of the whole.
The bass starts from the typical sonority of his younger brothers, but improved and with more emphasis. On this occasion, the ergonomics clearly improve their perception: it can no longer be said that the QJ21 have a light bass, but openly balanced. Even so, their presence is perceived behind the mids and high zones. But its texture is clear and it feels without a hint of doubt, being easy to concentrate on the area. The sub-bass is still light and you notice something coloured, a hue that spreads to the rest of the range. Although the real characteristic of the bass is its descriptive capacity and level of detail. The speed of execution allows us to create a great number of planes, separating, in a remarkable way, the low frequencies, in order to be able to easily identify all the existing bass lines. The middle zone of the range still does not offer a big hit, but its execution has a precious, pleasant and sweet gomosity, which never interferes in the mid zone, but always stays behind.
As a result, the lower zone is responsible for giving warmth to the whole, as well as depth, although on this occasion, not because it gets too low, but for its ability to stay in a different plane to the rest of frequencies, which extends the distance between ranges, frequencies and planes.
In my humble opinion, the mids are excellent. The voices are totally evocative and are recreated with a totally overwhelming spatial positioning. It’s extremely easy to follow the singers, their movement, their origin, their location. Their perception is close, but there is a lot of air and space. Thanks to their capacity for movement, the voices do not feel only close, but they travel freely within the big scene. As I said, the profile of the QJ21 is warm, relaxed, not analytical, but very detailed, not strictly soft, but sweet and extremely rich in nuances. Such are the voices, with a lofty body, warm timbre, highly descriptive and clearly perceptible textures, totally overwhelming and magnetic. And so, too, is the instrumentation of the range. In spite of the preference for voices, the instruments coexist perfectly with them, existing a great mutual respect. There is so much space and capacity for resolution that everything naturally sounds harmonious within the scene. The multitude of planes is as great as the depth it is capable of generating and, despite the warmth, the clarity and definition feel enormous. When there are no voices, the instruments reveal themselves at the same level, expanding like a gas, recreating and filling in as much space as possible, to be able to develop with the maximum precision, resolution and detail possible.
The balance is manifested in the high range: the highs are delicate, very precise, very fine, with good extension. They are never strident, nor too sharp, but have extraordinary control, which demonstrates the excellent resolution and detail that the QJ21s are capable of providing. This is what is expected of a TOTL: the ability to generate what others cannot. In the end, my experience tells me that one of the most complex and determining areas is the acute range; any excess or lack determines the sound. But it is not only a question of quantity or of greater or lesser emphasis, but also of the capacity that each earpiece has to reproduce them. In this case, the QJ21 are not brilliant earbuds, but the high frequencies stand out for their precise and millimetric execution, without anything sounding analytical, due to their warm profile. It is, in fact, a very complex duality, within the reach of very few drivers. With the QJ21 I have been able to reveal all the details I know of my entire song list, but also in an exemplarily delicate, concise and very, very pleasant way. Each high note can be perceived in an isolated and individual way, its follow up is simple, as is its location. The separation and the air between each flash, favors this fact. In this way, the upper zone is extremely rich, full of micro details and never tiring.
Ourart has designed eartbuds with a great scene and separation. The three-dimensionality is excellent and the ability to place every note, instrument, voice, noise or detail is spectacular. Its opening is immense, typical of large headphones. In fact, the auditory sensation is very similar. The scene is spherical, with remarkable height and depth. The sound planes are perfectly distributed, both in width and length. The sensation of immersion is very great, as is its enveloping capacity. The whole ensemble invites us to listen to the music with our eyes closed, so that our imagination can generate, with little effort, the sonorous recreation of each song, to remain inside it for hours and hours.
The first differences between the two are external, constructively speaking, the QJ21 are more ergonomic and comfortable, with better fit. The fit is better, and more durable, its asymmetrical design and thinner thickness improves all these aspects. That makes the lower zone feel fuller, even though the loudness is similar in this range. In terms of timbre and color, the difference is clear and favorable to the QJ21, as they have fuller bass, with a more delicate texture, rugged and expressive, better travel, more depth and more complexity in its development. The detail and resolution in this range is perceived qualitatively better, more perfected.
In the middle zone there is no discussion: the QJ21s feel warm, while the Ti7s feel colder and somewhat brighter. The difference in resolution is big, as well as the execution capacity, its cleanliness, definition, richness… Actually, both are in different ranges. Comparatively speaking, the mid zone of the Ti7 is more unbalanced, the voices are farther away, while their high mids is more emphasized. This generates a feeling of hollowness in the central part, something that does not happen in QJ21, where the range is simply quasi perfect, without fissures, with incredibly defined and well placed voices, with a full body and very much in line with the rest of the instrumentation. I have always wanted to defend that this detail in the Ti7 is not the fault of the driver, but its ergonomics and design, which does not favor a better fit. Luckily, that is something that is totally resolved in the QJ21.
Even so, the delicacy provided by QJ21 is not comparable. And Ti7 are not aggressive earbuds, but in comparison, their sound is more crisp and marked. The QJ21 provides an extra softness, a velvety and very rich sonority, which makes the capsules stick to the ears. All these characteristics also affect the treble, which is more extensive, more nuanced, rich and detailed. Although they are very pleasant, this quality is not at odds with the final result.
At scene level, I spoke of Ti7 wonders, but the differential jump is still great. The amount of resolution of the QJ21 generates a sonorous definition that allows a greater space, that still widens the sound even more, improving the instrumental location, offering more details and a singular richness, of sonorous planes, to the width and length of the sound. They are simply at another level. The difference in sound is not just a whim, it is the difference between one level and another. The Ti7, with that hole in its central zone, makes your scene more concave. The QJ21 go further, in all directions, their scene is degreased by sound layers that expand 360⁰, where the location is much more precise and exact.
The Ti7 are excellent earbuds for their price, the QJ21 are much more expensive, but their sound quality and qualitative leap is totally justified, even surpassing the best expectations.
One of the most popular earbuds I have is the Smabat ST-10. Their sound has a clear reference to the IEMS, while the QJ21 sound more like large format headphones. The profile is different, the ST-10 have more emphasis in the lower zone, really good, with more depth and much more incidence in the final result. Clearly, the QJ21 are more bass light. But in the midrange, the QJ21s are something else. First, their immense scene recreates a different sound. Smabats are more direct and present, their voices are close, in the foreground, with a fuller timbre in their lower zone. While the QJ21s are more delicate, deeper, with a richer sound in nuances and details, less frontal, much less direct, more ethereal and volatile, more relaxed and sweet.
In the upper zone, the marked atmosphere of the Smabat persists, where the QJ21s have that highly descriptive capacity to move the highs to an area in which they can be perceived in a decoupled way from the rest of the frequencies, sounding more extended, soft, sweet, but with a lot of information. Something that does not happen in the ST-10, whose sound is impregnated and agglutinated by its greater power in the lower zone. Their highs sound together, without so much extension, more focused, crisp and centered.
The scene is very different, the power of separation and resolving capacity of the QJ21 is not within reach of the ST-10, passing from one to another is like passing from the open air to a room. Something similar happens with the level of detail, the richness of nuances, micro-effects and subtle highs: the drawing that the QJ21 makes of all of them is much more descriptive, with greater resolution than that offered by the Smabat.
Remembering the Talkings Heads, the sound of the QJ21 is like sand in the vaseline: you can’t escape it. At first, one dips one’s feet in its sound, feeling the terrain, in order to get used to its out-of-range musicality, to its soft warmth, to its immense scene. Meanwhile, with each step we take, we sink deeper and deeper into the magma of sound. It is then, when the voices catch us, with their disproportionate magnetism, being in that moment, when one realizes that there is no turning back, that the point of no return has been surpassed. There, the notion of time disappears, time relativizes, like the rest of priorities: all these sensations are simple grains of sand mixed in that vaseline of sound, from which one does not want to leave. But we keep trying to move forward and that’s when we look at the highs, the details, the micro nuances, those high notes that we want to touch with our fingers, chasing them, running after them, through the huge scene, through each sound layer, through the spacious musical field…
The Ourart QJ21 is not only pure design, unique and special, the super sporty earbuds. They’re not just an extraordinary construction, they’re not just an extra-comfortable earphone with a great fit. They’re not just earbuds with a stellar cable. They are not just a minimalist and elegant packaging. They’re not just sound…They’re just about everything.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Burson Audio Playmate
- ACMEE MF-01
- xDuoo X3II