See Audio is a relatively new Chinese brand that specializes in making in-ear monitors. In this review, I’m checking out their first product release, the See Audio Yume. The Yume is a hybrid triple-driver earphone with 1 dynamic driver and 2 balanced armature drivers. It has been highly praised by the community so we’re here to check it out.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
- Midrange clarity
- Tone & timbre
- Tight, controlled bass
- Comfortable fit
- Lacks engagement and musicality on some recordings
- Moderate resolution
- Soundstage quality
- Vague imaging
See Audio Yume
- Driver: 1DD + 2BA
- High-quality 5N OCC cable
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Sensitivity: 106dB
- Frequency Response Range: 20Hz-20kHz
- THD+N: <2%
- 2-pin 0.78mm Connectors
- Termination Plug: 3.5mm
Package & Accessories
The Yume comes in a large box with a cardboard sleeve. The sleeve has an illustration of See Audio’s waifu mascot Rinko. There’s a description of Yume’s features on one side and on the back of the box there is some more information, specifications and frequency response graph.
Here’s what you get inside the box:
- See Audio Yume earphones
- Detachable 2-pin OCC cable
- 4 pairs of silicone eartips
- 4 pairs of foam eartips
- Metal carrying case
- Various Rinko stickers
The See Audio Yume has a pseudo-custom type shell made from lightweight acrylic. The faceplates have a speckled glitter design plus some branding and logos in silver colour. A single vent sits just in front of the 0.78mm 2-pin sockets.
The aluminium nozzles have a solid lip to hold eartips securely in place plus a protective mesh cover. Overall, the build quality feels good and the design looks premium.
See Audio has done a great job shaping the shells as they are very comfortable and feel natural in my ears. Thanks to the longer than average nozzle section I am actually able to use the included regular size eartips (opposed to my regular XL ones) which is a very welcome change for me.
Noise isolation is quite good and a bit above average due to the way the shells fill up the ear concha. The Yume is perfect for noisy bus rides, public spaces and could even be used for live performances as a stage monitor.
The included 0.78mm braided cable is 5N OCC with a straight 3.5mm single-ended termination. The components are all matching aluminium and there’s a chin slider included too. In terms of handling, the cable is supple, drapes well and doesn’t have any significant microphonics. This is an all-around quality cable and is a worthy addition to an IEM in this price range.
Gear used for testing includes
Yume has been tuned to a certain target: I’m sure you can guess what it is. It’s one that has slightly elevated but tame bass, forward midrange and lifted upper midrange/lower treble and tame upper treble. If you’ve heard any Moondrop or BLON IEMs you’ll have a general idea of what to expect.
Yume doesn’t require much in the way of power and is fairly easy to drive. You should be able to use it with just about any source.
The bass is tightly controlled and clean. It leans slightly more towards the sub-bass and then starts to fall off fairly quickly as it transitions into the lower midrange. Yume’s sub-bass is pretty satisfying and although it has a light rumble, the bass overall extension is good.
The mid-bass and upper bass are a little less saturated than I prefer and while kick drums are punchy enough, I find that bass guitars and synth bass sound distant and at times barely audible. This is probably the underlying cause of the lack of engagement I experience at times with the Yume. It feels as though it’s lacking soul and groove. On the upside, the bass doesn’t bleed into the mids.
Yume has a fairly forward midrange and above-average clarity. Due to the lean upper bass, the lower mids are on the cooler side of the scale. Male vocals sound clear and articulate but lack a bit of power and body. However, in general, vocals and instruments sound fairly neutral and accurate.
Guitars sound great making Yume a good choice for songs like Long Distance Calling’s “The Very Last Day”. There’s plenty of texture and bite in the electric guitars and the energetic crash cymbals don’t overpower the upper mids.
Fast transients are a hallmark of Yume. Snare drums are sharpened from the 2-4kHz rise and sometimes sound like gunshots which can be fatiguing over time. Detail retrieval is adequate but deteriorates along with the resolution during busy segments.
The focus is mainly on the lower treble but the upper extension is pretty good, resulting in a crisp, airy sound. It is a bit bright for my taste and sounds a bit splashy but thankfully, there’s no sibilance.
If there’s one single area where Yume underperforms it’s the soundstage. The stage dimensions are small, creating an intimate presentation in a space that’s narrow and has little depth. Stereo imaging is okay but the lack of depth results in a wall of sound without layering. As such, positional cues are vague and the overall resolution deteriorates during complex passages.
ThieAudio Legacy 4 ($195)
The ThieAudio Legacy 4 is a hybrid quad-driver (1DD+3BA) IEM. Both IEMs have similar build quality, the main difference being Yume’s aluminium nozzles compared to Legacy 4’s triple-bore resin nozzles.
Legacy 4 has comparable sub-bass rumble and depth. The mid and upper bass are more lifted compared to Yume. As a result, Legacy 4 sounds more musical albeit not quite as clean and uncoloured. Legacy 4 has a slightly softer leading edge on kick drums, giving them more impact and weight.
Both Legacy 4 and Yume are similar in the midrange. The key difference is Yume’s attenuated upper bass creates a leaner, cooler lower midrange with thinner notes and less warmth. When it comes to treble, Legacy 4 has an additional peak at 5kHz which adds presence plus the upper treble is more prominent. However, because of the extra fullness in the bass, Legacy 4’s treble is warmer but just as airy.
IKKO OH10 ($189)
The IKKO OH10 is a hybrid dual-driver (1DD+1BA) IEM. Its copper alloy housings feel very different to Yume’s acrylic shells. OH10 has a u-shaped signature with boosted bass and treble. The IKKO has more bass emphasis and an intoxicating sub-bass rumble. Its upper bass is more forward too, resulting in more fullness and body.
A slightly recessed midrange is nestled between OH10’s bass and lower treble. Vocals are placed further back on the stage creating more depth and an expansive soundstage compared to Yume’s intimate presentation but the Yume has a more accurate tone.
The OH10’s treble is warmer and more relaxed than the Yume but it has extra upper treble presence to maintain air and openness and to counterbalance its boosted low frequencies.
Moondrop KXXS ($189)
The Moondrop KXXS is a single dynamic driver IEM. KXXS has a similar sub and mid-bass response but due to its slightly recessed midrange, the bass is more forward compared to Yume. KXXS’ midrange is pushed back making vocals and instruments less intimate with a smaller note size.
Vocals are slightly thinner on KXXS and sit further behind the bass compared to Yume which places the midrange up front. While this does give Yume an edge when it comes to vocal tone, it’s also what causes Yume’s smaller and narrower soundstage.
KXXS’ upper mids are lifted but not as much as the Yume. The KXXS’ upper treble is more attenuated as well, resulting in a sound that’s less fatiguing over time but not as direct as Yume. The overall treble is rounder and slightly softened compared to the Yume but KXXS sounds more airy and spacious.
The See Audio Yume marks a strong starting point for this new ChiFi company. Although the final result is a mix of great and ordinary, it’s impossible to ignore the brand’s potential. I’m not entirely convinced that Yume lives up to the hype but I’m sure many listeners will find pleasure in Yume’s sound (and it’s already received plenty of praise). The build quality and included cable are nice and the overall package feels like good value. Let’s see where they (See Audio) go from here.