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BGVP DN3 IEM Review


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I received the BGVP DN3 to review from HifiGo.  The DN3 is a dual-driver, $75 IEM.  My full video review is available here: BGVP DN3 - A Moondrop Aria Alternative

 

This is merely a summary of my video review.

 

BUILD & COMFORT

 

The DN3 is robust.  It's made of aluminum.  There is a grill on the outer shell, but this is not an open-back IEM.  That grill is just for looks.

 

 

The DN3 has no sharp edges.  While the front of the shell looks like a triangle, the IEM is indeed contoured to sit inside the ear. 

 

 

The DN3 comes with a multitude of eartips.  You get 6 different sets of silicone tips, and one set of foam tips.  The silicone eartips come in two varieties—either for the Vocal tuning, or Bass tuning.  There are slight differences between these types of eartips.

 


All the eartips seem well-made, and I cannot find anything at fault with their construction.

 

 

The DN3 comes with an MMCX cable.  You can select between standard 3.5mm, 2.5mm or 4.4mm termination when you buy the DN3.  The cable is rather utilitarian.  It has a rubber coating, and the cable tends to develop kinks.  It also transmits some microphonics.

 

 

As for comfort, I found the DN3 to be of average comfort.  In my opinion, the Final Audio B2 and Moondrop Aria are comfortable IEMs.  I'd place the DN3 along with them in this category.  I can wear the DN3 without concern for about 2-3 hours, though after that my ears do become a little sore.

 

 

Overall, the DN3 has good build, and mostly good accessories.  It is not often you see such a variety of eartips for an IEM under $100.  But, the stock cable needs to work.  While it is perfectly useable and sturdy, it also tends to tangle easily.  The DN3, I think, is a fairly comfortable IEM.

 

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OVERALL SOUND SIGNATURE

 

It's a little difficult to summarize the stock tuning of an IEM when it comes with multiple types of eartips.  Which eartips are the stock tuning of this IEM?  Is it the bass, vocal, or foam eartips?

 

 

I conducted my tests using the bass eartips.  I summarized my impressions of all the eartips early in this video, and chose the bass eartips as they seemed to be the middle ground among the three variants.  So, for the lack of a better starting point, the bass eartips are the ones I will use to describe the tuning on the DN3.

 

 

The DN3 has an emphasis in bass.  Mid-bass is elevated a little more than sub-bass.  Both sub-bass and mid-bass tend to meld, creating about average decay and at best average clarity in this region.  The bass does tend to bleed a little into the mids.

 

 

The mids are slightly forward, but close to neutral.  There is marginal emphasis to female vocals, and no emphasis that I could pick up with male vocals.  Instruments seemed to have correct timbre and average decay and clarity.  Vocals were typically 1-2 steps ahead of instruments.  In some tracks the bass does tend to rival vocals for presence.

 

 

Treble is fairly gentle with what appears to be a slight roll-off at the upper end.  Even at high volumes, treble instruments do not sound harsh or piercing.  Clarity in the treble region is about average.

 

 

Detail retrieval and soundstage is average.

 

 

In my opinion, using the bass eartips, the DN3 seems to have an S-shaped sound signature.  In other words, elevated bass, close to neutral mids with vocals that aren't pushed or shouty, and close to neutral treble that has a roll-off at the upper range.

 

 

Change eartips on the DN3, and you'll get a slightly different experience.  Push the eartips further into your ears, or pull them out a little bit, and some of this will change.

 

 

While the DN3 does nothing exceptional, does not excel in any technical aspect, it does its job competently.  You may want more or less of something in the sound signature, but I don't think the overall performance and signature will offend most.

 

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COMPARISONS

 

I think it's important to compare products as often as possible.  That way you have a better idea of where everything fits.  After all, today's hyped product will be forgotten in tomorrow's newest exciting review.

 

 

I decided to compare the DN3 to several IEMs.  This includes the Moondrop Quarks and Aria, and the Tin Hifi T2.

 

 

I used stock accessories for all IEMs, except for the DN3.  On the DN3 the only thing I altered was that I switched to a spare  MMCX cable so that I had all IEMs connected using 3.5mm jacks.

 

 

I connected each IEM to a passive A/B switch.  That switch was connected to my RME ADI-2 Dac and Modi/Liquid Spark stack.  I listened to my test playlist on Amazon Music HD.  Of course, I tried to volume-match.

 

 

On the DN3, I used the stock bass eartips.

 

 

The Quarks have closer to neutral bass rendition compared to the DN3.  Going back and forth, there's a distinct feeling that the Quarks have a bass roll-off in comparison.  The truth is that the Quarks don't have the bass emphasis of the DN3.  Bass clarity is greater on the Quarks; separation of sub-bass from mid-bass is also greater on the Quarks.  Decay is similar on both IEMs.  Mid-bass impact is harder on the DN3.

 

 

The mids are closer to neutral on the Quarks.  Vocal sibilance is neutral on the Quarks, while it is slightly emphasized on the DN3.  Vocals are a bit clearer on the Quarks.  Mid-centric instrument seem to have the same timbre on both products.  However, the Quarks are generally clearer, providing a little more separation among instruments.

 

 

Treble energy is similar between the DN3 and Quarks.  The DN3 might have a marginally greater roll-off in the upper treble area, but it's a little hard to tell.  Clarity is about the same.

 

 

The DN3 has a little more detail retrieval when bass is not heavily involved in a track; both IEMs have about the same soundstage.

 

 

The Aria and DN3 seem to have very similar bass response.  However, I think the Aria's sub-bass is marginally more emphasized—but this is splitting close hairs if you ask me.  Separation of sub-bass from mid-bass is hard to distinguish, but the DN3 might be slightly better at it.  Mid-bass slam is marginally harder on the DN3.  Clarity in the bass region is about the same.

 

 

The mids response is also similar, but there is a bit of a difference.  I think the Aria has slightly more emphasis of vocal sibilance and grain.  The DN3 has a little more bass bleed into the mids region.  This results is marginally greater separation of mid-centric instruments on the Aria.  Timbre of instruments is the same, however.

 

 

Treble response is different.  The Aria seems to have a bit more emphasis in the mid-treble region, and closer to neutral rendition of the upper treble region.  In contrast, the DN3 has what appears to be close to neutral treble until the upper treble area, at which point there is a slight roll-off.  Clarity is marginally greater on the Aria.  Separation is very similar, but the Aria usually presents a little more of it.

 

 

Detail retrieval and soundstage is similar between both IEMs.

 

 

The T2 has a bass roll-off compared to the DN3.  In fact, it has a bass roll-off compared to the Moondrop Aria and Quarks.  Compared to the DN3, the T2 has greater separation of sub-bass from mid-bass, and faster transience.  Mid-bass impact is harder on the DN3.  Clarity is noticeably greater on the T2.

 

 

The mids are also different between these IEMs.  The T2 has greater emphasis in sibilance; it's a noticeable departure from the DN3's presentation.  Vocals stand out more in a mix with the T2, and are typically 2 steps ahead of instruments.  The DN3, in comparison, has less clarity and mid-centric instruments tend to meld among each other.

 

 

Treble, once again, is different on these IEMs.  The T2 has a greater treble push than the DN3.  While the DN3 appears to have fairly neutral rendition until a roll-off in the upper treble region, the T2 has a slight emphasis starting in the mid-treble region, and a noticeable emphasis in the upper treble region.  Clarity, separation, and detail is greater on the T2 in the treble area.

 

 

The T2 has greater detail retrieval and wider soundstage.

 

 

My favorite part of a review are doing comparisons.  Nothing puts a scrutinizing spotlight on the hype like direct A/B comparisons.

 

 

As far as the DN3 is concerned, it has a different sound signature than all the IEMs against which I compared it.  But, it does not in any way outshine any in technicalities.  All four IEMs provide different ways of experiencing your music.

 

 

For example, the Quarks are as neutral a pair of IEMs as I have heard, especially under $100.

 

 

The Aria is a warm-sounding IEM with a bit of attention to vocals and treble.

 

 

The T2 provides clarity, detail, and soundstage.  But this comes at the cost of bass and some sibilance and treble emphasis.

 

 

The DN3 has a sound signature that is closest to that of the Aria.  It's not the same, just similar.  The DN3's bass emphasis is a bit greater than that of the Aria, its vocal presentation is slightly less clear, and its treble rendition is moderately rolled-off at the upper end.

 

 

As with any product, you may like or hate any or all of these IEMs.  What I think is important—and impressive—is that you can get a wide range of sound signatures and performance well under $100.

 

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VALUE & CONCLUSION

 

I started getting into IEMs only a few years ago.  Before then, I dabbled in some expensive stuff, mostly from Shure and Monster.  Yeah, you heard me.  I used to have IEMs from an established audiophile and professional brand (Shure), and from the original king of marketing fluff (Monster).

 

 

About two years ago I decided to slowly get back into the IEM game.  Over the last few years, I've bought IEMs from Campfire Audio, Noble Audio, Fiio, Blon, Final Audio, Meze, Audio-Technica, and a bunch of ChiFi stuff.  My IEM collection is starting to rival my headphones.

 

 

If there's anything I've learned about IEMs, it's that you can get some quality options under $100.  Yes, I'm sure a lot of people would be happy with more expensive products--and products from hyped brands like Campfire Audio and Fiio--but I don't think anyone needs to go down that route.

 

 

The BGVP DN3 is at the upper end of the sub-$100 market.  It's the same price as the Moondrop Aria.  The Aria is an IEM that I was fairly impressed with.  It has good build, good accessories, good comfort, and a sound signature that is hard to distinguish from the more expensive Starfield.

 

 

But there are other options--such as Tin Hifi, Hidizs, and iBasso, among many others--that offer something for a wide swath of audiophiles.

 

 

So, where does the DN3 fit in?

 

 

This brings us to value.

 

 

Yes, I think the DN3 is in fact value.  You get a lot for your money.  This IEM has sturdy build, a decent cable, plentiful eartips that, depending on which versions you use, will provide slightly different sound signature.  Unlike some ChiFi IEMs under $100, the DN3 does not have an aggressive V-shape sound.

 

 

Instead, the DN3 tends to exhibit a bass emphasis, close to neutral mids, and a treble response that is slightly rolled off.  The DN3 has average detail and soundstage.  It's got average comfort.

 

 

Compared to some alternatives, the DN3 has a warm sound signature with fairly smooth rendition throughout the frequency range.  While it does not exactly mimic the sound of the Aria, the DN3 does lean heavily towards that type of signature.

 

 

This begs the question:  between the Aria and DN3, which IEM stands above the other?  As far as sound quality is concerned, that's a personal preference.  You might love one, both, or neither.  But as technicalities are concerned--detail, soundstage, clarity, separation, and placement--both the DN3 and Aria perform very similarly.

 

 

What, I think, sets these IEMs apart from each other is what's included in their boxes.  The DN3 has the eartip options.  The Aria has a better-quality cable and a carrying case.

 

 

If you're in the market for a warm-sounding, fairly smooth and intimate IEM, then the DN3 is a good  option.  If you want something similar, but with a bit more vocal push, then the Aria might be your cup of tea.

 

 

If, however, you want a neutral sound, then the $13 Quarks is a bargain that's yet unmatched.

 

 

If you want clarity, soundstage, and detail, then the Tin Hifi T2 and T2 Plus will provide those technicalities.

 

 

So, frankly, you've got plenty of good options under $100.  The DN3 happens to be one of them.

 

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