Hello guys and gals. Today I’m checking out the TSMR 7-Star series IEM. This little gem has 3 Knowles balanced armature drivers per side for a total of 6 units and 3 tuning switches allowing for 7 different sound configurations. Not only does it look great but it sounds wonderful too.
Excellent build quality
Great balanced sound with natural tonality
7 different tuning options
Value for money
The quantity of sub-bass might not suit all music genres
Supplied eartips are all very small
TSMR (Tansio Mirai) is a startup company that is currently run by a single individual who also happens to be a university student. The company was founded in 2014 and started making custom earphones in 2015.
After honing his skill for several years the 7-Star series was launched in April 2018. The series is characterized by high-cost performance, high-quality sound and low price. The 7-Star series has several models available in universal or custom shells, including a 24 driver (12 per side) flagship.
The starting price for the 3 BA unit is 899 Chinese Yuan ($131 US) and an extra 199-299 Chinese Yuan ($30-$45 US) for artwork
Special note: In order to purchase you must buy from the Taobao online store directly or through one of the Taobao agents, such as AIO Express or Engtaobao.
TSMR is currently a one-man operation. Construction time for each unit is 1-4 weeks.
This sample was purchased by me for the purpose of this review. All observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.
Frequency Range: 15Hz-20kHz
Package and Accessories
The TSMR 7-Star arrived is an unmarked brown cardboard box. Inside the box is a black, semi-rigid zipper case surrounded by protective black foam. The zipper case is a bit larger than average: it’s actually just perfect to fit my Sony NW-ZX300 DAP and the earphones.
Inside the zipper case were, of course, the earphones and the other accessories. Obviously, you’re not getting any retail packaging here but the only major difference is the outer box would normally have some branding and/or marketing hype on it. So what’s in the box?
1x TSMR earphones
1x semi-rigid zipper case
1x vinyl carry pouch
1x IEM cleaning tool
1x bag of assorted silicone eartips (all small size)
1x 0.78mm 2-pin cable
Build Quality and Design
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 7 Mountain Star for me was the build quality. The TSMR 7-Star looks and feels more premium than some IEMs that cost many times the price.
These resin shells are handmade and hand polished and have obviously been crafted with a lot of care and passion. The join between the shells and faceplates is absolutely flawless as if the whole thing had come from a single mould.
The double-bore nozzles are a little wider than average which is a good thing because there is no ridge or lip to secure the eartips. Actually, I did not have the slightest trouble with eartips coming off.
The outer surface of the nozzles are not polished like the rest of the housings and they have a very subtle texture to them. This in conjunction with the wider diameter holds tips on firmly.
As you can see from the photos there are no air bubbles or blemishes to be found in or on the housings. The 3 Knowles balanced armature drivers are clearly visible through the transparent shells and the left and right earpieces show perfect symmetry.
So what’s with the switches?
One of the defining features of the 7-Star is the 3 switches built-in to each housing. These allow you to alter the sound signature to suit your own personal preferences. The switches are located on the rear of the housings just below the 2-pin connectors.
The 3 switches each affect the sound signature. They mostly affect the bass but also have less noticeable effects on the mids and treble. These things are tiny and can be difficult to manipulate. I used a Q-tip (cotton bud) cut diagonally in the middle to move the switches around.
It’s worth noting that the included cable is just a basic OEM one. The one I received actually has TRN branding on it and is identical to the one that comes with the budget earphone TRN V80. This is actually a decent cable, which I talk about more in-depth in my TRN V80 review.
The TSMR 7-Star uses a 0.78mm connector so there are plenty of third-party options out there if you want to change it up. During testing, I used both the Purdio Vector and Effect Audio Ares II cables (which by the way the 8-Star reacts very well to).
Comfort and Noise Isolation
I get the most amazing fit with the 7-Star. It feels almost as if it were custom made specifically for my ears. In fact, I would say that this is one of the most comfortable universal IEMs I have ever owned.
The hand polished resin housings are perfectly smooth and there’s not a hard edge to be found anywhere. They’re also fairly lightweight, having just enough heft to feel robust and solid.
This all BA IEM has no vents (at least none I could see) and fills the majority of the ears conchae. As a result, the noise isolation is well above average for a universal IEM. Take these with you anywhere, you won’t know what’s going on outside your own head.
Naturally, the noise leak is also pretty much nonexistent so there’s no need to be concerned about other people finding out that you still have a Britney album on your DAP.
Gear used for testing
My normal everyday kit was used for testing the TSMR 7-Star. This includes the Sony NW-ZX300 and Acoustic Research AR-M20 for portable DAPs and my desktop Windows PC using Tidal HiFi and the Audinst HUD-MX2 or Topping DX7 DACs. I used the balanced 4.4mm output on the Sony and single ended output for everything else.
In the image below you can see the effect of some of the filter configs. Note that a 0 represents Off (switch down) and the numbers 1, 2 and 3 represent the corresponding switch in the On (switch up) position. So, for example, all switches on (in the up position), is represented as 123.
Red = 123
Purple = 100
Blue = 020
Green = 003
The TSMR 7-Star is a very sensitive earphone and therefore it’s very easy to drive. It works perfectly well using a smartphone or low-powered DAP as a source. However, I found it also scales quite well and sounds even better with a quality DAP or desktop DAC as the driving source.
The 7-Star has a light, tight and punchy bass. Its mid-bass is nimble, nicely textured and not overdone in any way. It serves as a solid foundation for the music, adding some warmth and body to the overall signature.
The Knowles balanced armature driver in charge of the sub-bass extends really well but there’s not a lot of it in terms of quantity. On a generated sine wave I can easily hear below 20Hz but it doesn’t have the same kind of impact as a dynamic driver.
For my personal preference, I would like more sub-bass. Perhaps the upgraded models with higher driver counts take care of that detail. That I cannot say but I would sure like to find out one day!
Beautiful, clear and detailed is how I would describe the 8-Star’s midrange. It has good separation and doesn’t get congested on busy tracks. The timbre of vocals and instruments is excellent and sound very natural.
Neither male nor female vocals are favoured by the 7-Star, as the rise from lower to upper midrange is very linear. Male vocals have plenty of richness and female vocals vibrant. This is a great IEM for classical music too.
Just like everywhere else, the 7-Star plays very well in the treble. It’s fairly subdued and never harsh, so those averse to high frequencies have nothing to fear. But the 7-Star is far from dull up top.
It has a very natural timbre and good extension that creates great cymbal sheen and realistic decay.
The 7-Star presents a reasonably intimate but well-rounded soundstage. The dimensions of the stage can actually change depending on the chosen switch settings as well, with configs such as 020 and particularly 003 being more expansive.
A consistently black background results in good separation and average to good layering. There’s a good sense of height and plenty of depth which is only barely outdone by the stage’s width.
TSMR 7-Star vs Hifi Boy OS V3 ($159 USD)
The OS V3’s dynamic bass driver carries more weight and authority than the 7-Star, although there isn’t a whole lot separating them in the mid-bass.
It’s the sub-bass that really sets the 2 apart. The OS V3’s transition from sub-bass to mid-bass is much more linear, making it the better choice for genres that depend on dem’ bass drops.
There’s little difference between the 2 in the midrange but the OS V3 presents female vocals in a more throaty fashion while the 7-Star has an extra bump in the presence region. The 7-Star shows a bit more clarity here and both IEMs have similar separation and resolution.
The OS V3’s treble is slightly more energetic and has a bit more sparkle to it but it’s there to offset its weightier bass.
These are both very comfortable IEMs for me and I could wear either all day long. Although the OS V3 has excellent build quality, the 7-Star goes above and beyond and stands out as one of the best I’ve seen in it’s price range.
TSMR 7-Star vs KZ AS10 ($68 USD)
My, how far KZ has come. Yes, it’s around half the price of the 7-Star but it’s the next closest multi-BA IEM that I have here. The AS10 has more quantity in the sub-bass and is a bit thinner in the upper bass and lower midrange.
The AS10 is more recessed in the midrange and lacks the clarity of the 7-Star. Male vocals sound fuller on the 7-Star and it rises more linearly into the lower treble. In the midrange, the 7-Star has a more natural tonality but the AS10 compares to it really well in terms of separation and detail.
There’s more unevenness in the AS10’s lower treble and a more pronounced dip around 8kHz where the 7-Star is more even and has a more natural timbre.
In terms of build quality, the 7-Star is far superior but the AS10’s unique style is great and its plastic build is solid for the price you pay.
While the AS10 is comfortable it tends to slowly work its way out of your ears. The TSMR 7-Star, on the other hand, is an exceptionally comfortable earphone that has a much more stable fit.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from the TSMR 7-Star. It seemed too good to be true judging by the price.
Thankfully, the earphone turned out to be good in every way. The build quality, comfort and sound are all top-notch. Not only that but the switches work really well, giving you several signature options.
So, if you’re willing to jump through a few hoops to order from Taobao there’s great value to be had right here. I can easily recommend the 7-Star and if all of the TSMR products are this good I think they have a bright future ahead.
You can check out all of TSMR’s products on Taobao HERE.