A Matter of Personal Taste
- Excellent sound, brilliant and analytical, with great technical ability, detail and level of resolution.
- Very good accessories.
- High quality construction.
- Small and ergonomic.
- Exceptional price/performance ratio.
- The cable is the weakest point of the set, it is advisable to change it in order to exploit the potential of the SG-01.
- The rather bright tuning may not be to the taste of all enthusiasts.
Link to the Store
Reecho continues to expand its catalogue and this time it opts for an economical model, the cheapest of the Star Gate series. The low price does not imply a cheap or weak design, quite the contrary. The acoustic cavity of the SG-01 has been made of a lightweight, all-metal zinc alloy, constructed by metal injection moulding. The finishing touches are CNC machined for an elegant, beautiful and unique finish. The diaphragm of the dynamic driver is made of graphene, with a thickness of 6μm and a diameter of 10mm. The connector is 2Pin 0.78mm and the cable used is 4N OFC high purity, to guarantee a purer sound. It includes a remote control and a microphone, as well as being nylon-jacketed. Next, it remains to talk about the rest of the accessories, the ergonomics and, of course, the sound. But, as usual, these and other issues will be dealt with in depth in the following review.
- Driver Type: 1 x 10mm N50 dynamic driver with 6μm graphene diaphragm.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Sensitivity: 110dB±2dB(1mW@1kHz)
- Impedance: 32Ω
- THD: <2%(@1kHz/1mW)
- Jack connector: 3.5 mm gold-plated straight jack plug
- Cable length: 1.2m±0.1m
- Cable Material: 4-wire high purity oxygen-free copper wire
- Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm
- Microphone: Yes
The Reecho SG-01 comes in a box covered with a uniform grey cardboard, whose dimensions are 175x129x58mm. In the centre of the main side, the letters «SG» stand out in a special font, in black ink. Underneath them is «STAR GATE», in a much smaller font. The model is named inside a black oval in the lower left-hand corner. On the back is an exploded view of the capsule and the rest of the specifications, in white letters. The address of the company’s headquarters can also be read. Once the cardboard is removed, a black box is revealed, the texture of which is reminiscent of leather. In the centre are Chinese letters in gold ink. The box opens like a book, through the longer side flap, which is slightly magnetised. Once opened, you can see the capsules inside a thick black foam mould. Underneath is a cover just like the outside, including the gold Chinese lettering. Removed from the lid, folded at a bottom crease, is a clear grey zippered case. The exterior is textile and the same Chinese lettering is printed in white rubber ink. Removed from the mould and the zipped case are two dark cardboard boxes, each with the word ‘YUSICON’ printed in gold lettering in the centre of each. Underneath them and inside the zippered case are the rest of the accessories. In a summary:
- 2 Reecho SG-01 capsules.
- 1 cable with microphone.
- 1 zipped case.
- 3 pairs of white silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- 3 pairs of white silicone tips with coloured core, sizes SxMxL.
- 3 pairs of dark grey silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- Instruction manual.
- Warranty cards.
The packaging seems to be of very good quality, although it is a bit large, but the contents and accessories are excellent for the price. It is unusual to find three sets of tips and a zippered case as good as this model in this price range. Less sets of tips or a simpler pouch is the norm, but not both. Clearly, this is a very positive thing.
Construction and Design
The capsules are made of a lightweight, all-metal zinc alloy, constructed by metal injection moulding. A CNC machine was used for the final finish, achieving a very smooth and polished surface on the inside, as well as the wavy shape of the outer face. The shape of the capsule resembles an equilateral triangle, with one side fairly straight (major side) and the other two more rounded (minor side and hypotenuse), which would end up forming a single curve. The size is medium to small, although they are relatively chubby. The weight, even if a light alloy has been used, is clearly higher than that of a resin or aluminium capsule. Not that they are heavy, but they are noticeable in the hands, because they are robust and forceful. At the apex of the flat rim is the transparent plastic surface plate, where the gold-plated 2Pin 0.78mm connections are located. This plate is rectangular with slightly rounded corners. Near them, towards the inner side, are the letters indicating the channel. They are printed in dark ink and are barely distinguishable. At the opposite end of this inner face, there is a small hole, plugged at the bottom by a white mesh. The nozzle is approximately 5 mm long. It starts with a diameter of slightly more than 6mm. Immediately there is a step that reduces the diameter to 5.8mm, ending in a 1mm thick rim, with a diameter of 6.8mm. Its interior is protected by a micro-perforated metal grid. On its edges, traces of the glue that secures the grid can be seen.
The cable consists of two strands sheathed in black nylon. High purity 4N OFC copper is used inside. The plug is covered by a straight, dark, thin, metallic cylinder. The connector is 3.5mm, gold plated. The cable has a remote control and microphone. The splitter piece is another dark, metallic cylinder. The termination of the cables to the 2Pin connector is protected by a plastic sleeve which gives it rigidity and shape over the ear. The connector sleeve is made of plastic, angled at 90°. The pins are inside a rectangular tub and protrude slightly over their edges. The cable, while sturdy and of high quality, is not the best cable to do justice to the sound quality of the SG-01s and I recommend replacing it with a purely audiophile style cable. Due to the neutral/bright character of its profile, it could be paired with a good copper cable. But the final choice will always be the user’s, of course.
Overall, the build quality is almost excellent, very robust and well finished between the two sides and at the 2Pin connection bracket. It is only marred by those small traces of glue and the microphone cable.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The capsules are small/medium sized, smooth and soft. Their rounded shape gives them a very pleasant feel. The mouthpieces have a good length, but also a good diameter. The first allows a medium insertion, but the second limits the depth and will depend on each morphology, up to where it can be introduced. In my case, insertion with large tips is somewhat superior to shallow insertion. In this sense, the tips that come as standard play a fundamental role. They are not just any tips. The black tips have a long core, which allows a deeper insertion, they are the narrowest, both in inner and outer diameter. White tips, with a coloured core, have a medium length core, as well as an inner and outer diameter. While the complete white tips have a shorter core, but a larger diameter and are the widest, for a shallower insertion. In my case, the tips with the long core are the ones that fit the best, obtaining a better seal, greater insertion and a clearer, cleaner sound, with more detail.
It is clear that the SG-01s have very good ergonomics, with a very varied and versatile fit, as a result of both their shape and the standard tips. The only negative aspect is the weight, although it is not very heavy, the metallic construction increases this value over capsules made of resin. However, it is true that the great fit and firmness reduce this sensation once they are in our ears. In the end, this weight is not superior to other metal IEMS, which are so popular.
You could define the profile of the Reecho SG-01 as a lower-case ‘w’, with a slightly bright tendency. Their emphasis on high mids and treble is not hidden, while, to a lesser degree, the sub-bass accent also appears, without predominating.
The fact that the bass tuning is focused on the sub-bass is not just a question of frequency response. Then you have to know how to execute them, and it seems that Reecho has no problem with that. Coming from an LFO monster like the SG-03, Reecho has slightly educated the bass response towards something more neutral, without the rogue and wild character of the lower range disappearing. And that’s great news. Just give the SG-01 sub-bass, and it kicks it right back in the shin, there, at that key point, quickly and concisely, without a second glance. It’s not the beast of the SG-03s, but this little guy doesn’t flinch, and it’s precise and clean, a lot. The bass decay is very slight, barely noticeable, they disappear very effectively. But the punch is noticeable, it lingers in our memory, in a bold and greedy way. And on top of that, they have texture and descriptiveness. The SG-01 probably has one of the best bass definition, cleanliness and resolution in its price range, something that more expensive IEMS can’t even do as deftly as the Reecho SG-01. Despite all that, this model is not labelled bass-heads, but bass-lovers. The tuning is very good, the timbre is very good, the depth is very evident and on top of that, the bass is very permissive with the rest of the frequencies, so much so that it is not the predominant range. Every Hz of sub-bass it delivers is worth its weight in music, not just in dB. In this way, the bass is very dynamic and agile, leaving room for darkness, for light and detail, for different planes and for a subtle, delicious and delicately well-executed roughness. I’m not much given to linking driver construction with the sound produced, but perhaps the 6μm thick graphene diaphragm has something to do with the excellent bass performance of this model, among other things.
Again, cleanliness and clarity are the predominant tone, too, of the midrange. Coming from a fast, sub-bass-accentuated low end, the first half of the midrange is very neutral, without warmth and slightly thin. The body of this initial zone is characterised by a medium/thin thickness. There is no hollowness, and the effective rumble of the lows brings energy, not contamination. Male voices are not thick, but more delicately rendered, with a lot of detail and harmony, but they are not fleshy or juicy. Female voices do not require as much grounding and this characteristic is less noticeable. In general, the voices possess a level of resolution that draws them with a more analytical point of neatness and are described with a great deal of rigour, but without losing musicality or soul. But they do not possess the complete exuberance and weight that a fuller lower midrange would bring. Even so, there is no lack of presence in this area and they manage to get ahead of the lower range, no problem at all. Voices are not going to feel distant, they can even be perceived as very emphatic, at times exalted and predominant, due to the intensity in the upper mids and upper treble. This weight is greater than that offered by the bass and must be taken into account. As I indicated, the brighter, more prominent character shines through at first glance, and SG-01s can be spicy in this upper zone. It’s not a penetrating level, let alone a lacerating one, but I think it should be noted, this elevated representation of the upper midrange. On the other hand, the level of dynamics that is achieved is substantial, also thanks to the speed of note execution, something that helps the sound to have a more flashy, splashy and sparkling character.
The instrumentation is infected by all of the above, and while its representation at the top can be splendid, the thinness and thinner base in the first half detracts from the strength of its foundations. Despite the great definition and capacity for resolution, detail and nuance expressed on the musical surface, I miss something more full-bodied, a greater density that fills the bottom and lower base of the instrumentation and gives it more power, punch and substance. But this is a matter of personal taste.
The upper zone is free and as such it expresses itself explicitly and with forcefulness, feeling above many things, without implying an exaggerated brilliance. If you want highs, here they are, and of high quality, with an execution that follows in the wake of the cleanliness, speed, precision and definition of the previous ranges. Control? Also, but expressed in playability, in a very revealing performance of great resolution. There is no flaw in the tuning of this band, without hiding the fact that it is a clear presence, which can become predominant. But it is not a discordant predominance, because this tuning hides its tricks to avoid a tonal mismatch that could lead to an eminently sharp and unbalanced sound. This is not the case. Despite the sparkle and crackle of the high notes, the presentation remains on the medium/high edge of brilliance, without crossing the threshold between pleasure, explicit sensation or a more annoying predominance. Translated to my personal taste, the treble of the Reecho SG-01s is on the borderline of good and bad, suitable for fast or more moderately timed listening. But it is still a matter of personal taste. Finally, I would especially like to mention the amount of air that a dynamic driver of such a low price range as this one gets. It is commendable, something that raises the treble level above that of the competition.
The SG-01 scene has a volatile representation, the result of the delicacy of its notes, as well as its capacity for definition and resolution. The result is an ethereal, light, expandable image, more liquid than gaseous, but with a tendency to take up a lot of space. The sense of depth is very good, almost more palpable than the width. In this way, the scene is more round than oval. Three-dimensionality is created by a remarkable perception of height, although the image feels more frontal than enveloping, despite the escapist tendency of the musical notes. The positioning of the elements is precise and well-defined, not mixed up or altered by the vaporousness of the scene. The level of separation, the feeling of air between elements, of emptiness and darkness, the level of detail, micro and macro, as well as the revealing amount of nuance, totally out of range. Excellent.
KB Ear Robin
One of my last reviews was about the Robin. These are slightly more expensive IEMS, which have 5 drivers in each capsule (1DDD+4BA). Built in resin, with a metal mouthpiece and outer face, they are larger in size, but lighter in weight. The zippered case is the same in both models. The ergonomics are remarkable in both models, but in the SG-01 the smaller size may benefit many, while the lighter weight of the Robin may also be more pleasant for many others.
The frequency response has a similar shape and its changes are determined by the slope of the final profile. However, these changes polarise the sound greatly, with each earphone clearly tending towards one extreme or the other. The Robins have a more prominent bass and a more relaxed mid-high and treble. While the Reecho is the other way around, there is more emphasis on the upper half than the lower half, including the air zone. They also have a sub-bass orientation, although their overall dominance of the low end of the sound is less than that of the Robins. Even so, the SG-01s have greater depth, better definition, resolution, speed and agility. The KB Ear’s bass is more focused, powerful, perceptible, somewhat more rubbery and expansive, with a tendency to flood the rest of the sound more easily and evidently.
In the mid-range, the warmth of the Robins is clear, as is the aftertaste that carries over from the lower range. In this way, the density and body of the first half is evident, as well as its greater darkness. This generates a greater sense of congestion, a sensation that does not exist in the SG-01, where the sound is cleaner, clearer, airier, separated, although also thinner and with less base, in this lower range. In this first half of the sound it is clear the character of each model, while the Robins are smoother and more pleasant, suitable for long listening, the SG-01s are more analytical and bright, more appropriate for critical listening. Although this will always be determined by one’s acceptance, preference and tolerance of the bands with more emphasis. I tolerate bass more easily than mid-high or treble. However, I prefer the overall quality of the SG-01s for their analytical character and better low-end quality, although they would not be the best companions on a long trip unless paired with a clearly warm source.
In voices the timbre orientation is also very distinctive. It is difficult to determine which is more natural, because they both reach the two opposite extremes. There are voices that sound more natural on SG-01s, but if they are too high pitched, they enter a more complicated terrain, which can make them less natural. The same thing happens on the Robins, but towards the opposite range. Without getting into the muddiness, the voices are darker and softer, they have less definition and nuances, that’s why they are less bright and more filed, even with less presence, in some situations.
The same is true of the instrumentation, with the Robins’ greater forcefulness building a more energetic wall of sound that can benefit some genres of music. On the other side, the Reecho’s thinner, more liquid sound favours lighter genres or more airy preferences.
It is in the high zone that the differences are greatest. The Robins are mostly in the safe zone, while the SG-01s are closer to the permissive limit, but without losing control, offering high notes with a lot of definition, clarity, sparkle, speed and resolving power. The representation of the high notes is finer and more delicate, the brilliance is superior, but the sparkle is dazzling and very thin, disappearing very quickly. In the Robins, the treble is wider and the peak below 10kHz stretches them in time. Another big difference is the amount of air, clearly greater in the Reecho, which gives it many advantages, as well as a superior extension, something that seems unbelievable coming from a single dynamic driver, as opposed to 4 BA drivers dedicated to mids and treble.
The soundstage seems to be slightly wider on the Robins, but in the rest of the coordinates, the SG-01s win. Thus, the image they generate is more three-dimensional, airy, ethereal, with greater separation, distance between elements and more darkness. The dynamics are more evident in these Reecho and the micro details as well. In other technical aspects such as positioning, precision, resolution or spatial recreation, the analytical capability of the SG-01 is above that of the KB Ear.
Undeniably, the Reecho SG-01 is one of this year’s great IEMS and one of the best in the $25-$50 range. Their metal construction is excellent, they come with a good handful of tips (three complete sets), which are also enormously useful. They come with a nice zippered case and a nylon covered cable with microphone. They are small and very ergonomic. In all of the above areas they are excellent, while in sound, most importantly, they are also outstanding. The low end is technically exceptional, the mids are remarkable high and the highs are superb, as is their stage and separation level. On top of that, the tuning is very attractive, with a brilliant tendency. But they also possess a surprising analytical capacity, with a level of detail and recreation of nuances that is not easy to find in this category. Whichever way you look at it, the SG-01s are very good, an incredible value for their price.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Tempotec Sonata E35.
- Tempotec Sonata MHD.
- E1DA #9038D.
- Earmen Sparrow.
- Hidizs S9 Pro.
- ACMEE MF02s.
- xDuoo X2S.