The comparison was done using Dark Sky with a stock cable, white stock eartips, and LPGT and 3MAX sources; volume matched in every comparison.
Dark Sky vs CFA Solaris ’20 – As soon as I started listening to Sky, a thought of Solaris crossed my mind, and when I had a chance to do a direct A/B comparison, I was able to zero in on similarities and differences. There is definitely some resemblance between the lower and upper mids of these two IEMs. When it comes to bass, Sky scales up in quantity across the sub-bass with more weight and rumble and stronger mid-bass punch. Sky bass is faster and with shorter decay, while Solaris bass has a longer decay. Treble is another interesting comparison where Sky lower treble peak is closer to 6k, giving the sound more clarity and higher definition, while Solaris lower treble peak is somewhere between 7k and 8k, which is pushing the sibilance more forward in poorly recorded tracks, making the sound a bit harsher and grainer up top while Sky sounds more natural. Soundstage expansion is similar.
Dark Sky vs DUNU Luna – this was another interesting comparison because despite Luna’s pure beryllium driver, Sky performance felt as fast. The main differences between these two IEMs are in bass quantity where Luna is noticeably scaled down, closer to neutral level, while Sky is elevated, being scaled up across sub-bass and mid-bass regions. But the technical performance of the bass is very similar. The mids have quite a few similarities as well, though in upper mids I hear Luna to be more forward. With treble, both have a similar mid-treble response and extension, but lower treble of Sky is more forward and elevated in comparison to a smoother and a bit rolled off lower treble in Luna. The scaled down bass and lower treble response pushes Luna toward a more balanced and smoother tuning while Sky has a livelier fun w-shaped tuning with more elevated bass and more vivid lower treble. In this comparison, Sky soundstage is a little bit wider.
Dark Sky vs CFA Vega – Some would probably wonder, why would I bring up a 4-year-old CFA iem into this comparison? Well, they share D.L.C. dynamic driver tech, and I thought it would be an interesting comparison, especially since I haven’t touched Vega in years. But I found a big difference in tuning here. First of all, Vega bass is more elevated and slower. The actually FR response is slightly scaled up when you compare both, but the characteristics of the bass is totally different, with Sky being faster and more articulate, while Vega being slower, with longer decay and more laidback presentation. Mids is where I hear the biggest difference, upper mids of Vega are completely scooped out to create a deeper V-shaped sig, while Sky mids are scaled way up to form W-shaped tuning. Surprisingly, treble has a lot of similarities, though Sky has a better extension. But due to attenuated upper mids, Vega sounds more like a basshead tuned iems, while Sky has a lot more clarity and resolution. Sky’s soundstage is also wider.
Dark Sky vs Final A8000 – another huge surprise because both of these IEMs share a vivid presentation of the sound. As a matter of fact, the upper mids and the treble are close between these two monitors, both having a vivid and a very detailed tuning, with an exception of Sky scaling down the quantity and being more natural in comparison to harsher A8k. When it comes to bass, A8k sounds like a low shelving EQ filter was applied to Sky, attenuating down its entire bass. A8k bass is very neutral in quantity, despite a good sub-bass extension. Sky scales up the bass to a higher elevated level with a deep rumble and fast articulate punch. And that elevated quantity also extends into the lower mids of Sky that give its sound more body relative to a very lean A8k lower mids.
Dark Sky vs 64 Audio Trio – this comparison came to my mind based on similarities in bass I heard between these two iems. They both have a very similar deep sub-bass extension and mid-bass impact quantity. Bass response here definitely comes close, but Sky bass is faster and more articulate, while Trio bass is a little slower and with a longer decay. Mids are different, with Trio having a scooped out upper mids, bringing more focus to its treble, while Sky mids being more forward and higher in quantity. This is a key difference which brings Trio tuning to V-shaped while Sky being W-shaped. Trio’s treble is also brighter and crisper, while Sky scales it down with a more natural tonality, still vivid but definitely less “energetic” in comparison to bright tia treble in Trio. Also, soundstage of Sky is noticeably wider.
Source pair up.
In each source pair up, I was using a stock cable and while stock eartips. Dark Sky is very easy to drive considering its 114dB sensitivity and 24ohm impedance. No hissing was detected. For your reference, these are brief pair up notes. And by brief, I just focus on any changes related to signature and general tonality, without going into too many details of technical performance difference.
Lotoo LPGT – this as my baseline sound tuning with W-shaped signature, articulate layered bass with a deep sub-bass rumble and fast mid-bass punch, vivid detailed upper mids and clear extended treble.
Cayin N6ii w/R01 – this pair up takes Sky tuning into a more natural direction with deeper and more textured sub-bass rumble that gives bass more weight, a little more body in lower mids and a bit smoother upper mids, still crystal clear but with more natural texture, and similar treble as I found in LPGT pair up. Really enjoyed this pair up.
L&P P6 Pro – this pair up scales up N6ii/R01 to sound even smoother and with a more natural tonality. The sub-bass rumble is a bit more elevated than with R01, which also gives bass a little longer decay and more textured analog quality. Mids have fuller body and smoother tonality while still remains very detailed and resolving, and treble also sounds a little smoother with addition of some warmth. Another fantastic pair up
A&K SP2000 SS – similar bass presentation as LPGT, a touch more body in lower mids, while upper mids are similar to LPGT as well. The biggest change in this pair up was lower treble being smoother in comparison to LPGT, which made overall sound a little more natural.
iBasso DX300 MAX – the result of this pair up is very similar to LPGT, with the sound having a fast speed and vivid presentation, but I found 3Max to elevate the sub-bass rumble a little more, and expand the soundstage to a maximum holographic level.
iBasso DX300 MAX + Cayin C9 amp – was curious about this pair up to hear what effect C9 with its NuTubes will have on tonality of Sky. To my surprise, in combination of 3Max + C9, the Sky bass became more elevated and lower treble was also lifted up, not harsher but just higher in quantity. As a result, the sound became a little more U-shaped rather than W-shaped.
L&P W2 w/Samsung Galaxy S9 – very similar sound presentation and quality as when paired up with LPGT, very close.
Overall, I enjoyed the most a pair up of Sky with R-2R based DAPs, with LPGT and SP2k SS coming in second. More neutral and brighter DAPs will be OK, but might push the sound to be more vivid and less natural.
It is always a pleasant surprise when you don’t know what to expect and end up with a discovery of a new pair of IEMs from a brand I never heard of before. Of course, everything is a matter of personal preference, but I enjoyed everything about these IEMs, from the tuning to the design, and all the included accessories. While I do have a handful of other single DD iems, I usually don’t spend as much time with those due to either a bright revealing tonality or the opposite with too much bass and poor retrieval of details. Here, in my opinion, FAudio found a perfect balance between a powerful articulate bass and a vivid presentation of clear and detailed upper frequencies. And considering its reasonable pricing, Dark Sky also has a good price/performance ratio. FAudio is definitely going to be on my radar moving forward.