Today, I’m reviewing the 7Hz x Crinacle Salnotes Dioko earphones. The Salnotes Dioko features a 14.6mm planar magnetic driver, an aluminium body and sapphire-coated glass faceplates. It’s priced at $99.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Yaoyaotiger for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
7Hz Crinacle Salnotes Dioko Review
A somewhat gaudy appearance mixed with a highly resolving sound.
The Salnotes Dioko comes in a white box with an image of the IEMs on the front and back. Inside the box, there’s an extra large faux leather carrying case. The case is totally impractical for pockets but it is pretty awesome nonetheless. All of the other accessories can be found inside the case. Here’s a list of what you get:
7Hz Crinacle Salnotes Dioko IEMs
Detachable 2-pin OFC cable
7x pairs of silicone eartips
Once again, we see 7Hz opting for a tempered glass faceplate with sapphire coating. It’s rugged and durable despite its appearance. Speaking of appearance, it’s probably going to be a love it or hate it thing. I’m not a fan; I feel like a shaman or a back alley fortune teller with these in my ears, but that’s purely subjective, of course.
The rest of the body is made of aluminium with a smooth matte finish. There’s a single small vent near the base of the nozzle and another 3 vents on the back side of the shells. The nozzle has a proper lip that does a good job of holding eartips securely in place.
Despite their large size, the shells are comfortable in my ears and I can happily wear them for long listening sessions. Passive noise isolation is slightly above average due to the shells filling pretty much the entire outer region of the ears.
The stock OFC cable is in a word, good. In two words, it’s very good. It’s a 4-strand braided silver-plated copper cable with a nice uniform braid. The 2-pin connector housings are plastic but the Y-splitter and plug are metal. Tangling is not an issue, nor is microphonics. This is one of the better cables you’ll see in this price range and it handles really well.
If you’re familiar with Crinacle’s preferences when it comes to tuning, you won’t be surprised to hear the Dioko is tuned largely for clarity and technical performance. This has both positive and negative effects on the sound which we’ll cover momentarily.
The Dioko has a fairly balanced and mature sound signature with an emphasis on speed and the aforementioned clarity. I’d call the overall tonality somewhat neutral. It’s a relatively easy IEM to drive and any dongle or DAP is sufficient to make it sing.
The bass is similar to that of many recent IEMs: elevated sub-bass with a punchy but insubstantial mid-bass. It’s got satisfying planar driver speed but it often feels watered down and lacks impact.
Leading edges are well-defined but kick drums peter out quickly and bass notes, in general, lose inertia too quickly. Sub-bass notes feel disproportionately large compared to the mid-bass which lacks weight and body.
The midrange is Dioko’s strongest area. It’s upfront and clear with good spacing and instrument separation. This is bolstered by an accurate tone and an abundance of clean air between instruments.
Vocals sound natural and are presented with a satisfying mix of clarity and body. There’s a good amount of forwardness and vitality to both male and female vocals without any shoutiness. Listening to “Common Ground” by Robben Ford & Bill Evans feat. Max Mutzke, the vocals are prominent and intimate. The guitars and saxophone sound good as well, even if the transients are a little too abrupt.
The treble is a bit of a mixed bag for me. On one hand, it provides ample detail and plenty of width to the stage. On the other hand, there are moments of sharpness and occasional sibilance.
Furthermore, percussion attacks are a little too sharp; most of the emphasis is on the opening of the note which then falls off too abruptly. However, it’s fine for the most part and not anywhere near as scary as it looks on the graph.
Soundstage and Technicalities
The soundstage is wide and has good spacing but a limited amount of depth. As a result, the stage lacks a sense of scale and immersion. Left and right stereo imaging is good but there’s little in the way of layering: the sound is presented in a wide, flat plane rather than an elliptical or rounded space. Dioko’s resolving ability, however, is very good for an IEM in this price range.
7Hz Timeless ($219)
The 7Hz Timeless (review here) is another planar IEM made by 7Hz. So how does it compare to the Dioko for more than double the price? Besides the noticeable physical differences, these 2 also differ in tonality.
The Timeless is slightly more V-shaped, having additional lower midrange body and upper mids presence. As a result, Timeless has a warmer and more robust sound. On the contrary, Dioko’s leaner midrange and upper bass bring the treble forward, making it brighter.
Timeless’ bass is more authoritative and carries more weight. It doesn’t have as much clarity in the mids as Dioko but the Timeless mids are richer and more natural. The Timeless isn’t as edgy or sibilant in the treble.
Timeless’ soundstage is even wider than the Dioko’s but both create a 2-dimensional flat space and lack depth. In terms of overall resolution, they are on about the same level. Overall, I think Timeless is the better IEM but it’s only slightly ahead and more than double the price of the Dioko.
Letshuoer S12 ($152)
The Letshuoer S12 (review here) is another planar magnetic IEM. It has a more standard shell shape and is considerably smaller in size than the Dioko. Like the Timeless above, the S12 has more fullness in the upper bass and lower midrange. This gives notes extra body and warmth compared to Dioko’s leaner presentation.
The S12’s bass is punchier, especially the mid and upper bass. Vocals are richer and more powerful on the S12. Midrange resolution is similar on both IEMs but the Dioko is slightly more revealing when it comes to detail.
Although both of these IEMs have an energetic treble, the S12 is more controlled and free of sibilance. In addition to having a more natural note size, the S12 has a better quality soundstage. It has more depth and layering, allowing for better imaging and immersion.
Both are good value for money but I think it’s worth spending a bit extra for the S12 unless you’re really endeared to the visual styling of the Dioko.
The 7Hz Crinacle Salnotes Dioko has a lot to offer at its price point. It’s a highly resolving and detailed IEM bristling with clarity and forwardness. On top of that, it comes with an excellent stock cable and a good accessory bundle.
There are better choices out there for the money. However, if you’ve been wanting to get yourself a planar IEM but didn’t want to spend upwards of $100 then the Dioko is just what you’ve been waiting for; assuming you don’t mind having big purple baubles in your ears.