Graphs are measured using an IEC711 coupler setup.
Summary – Volume has a bass boosted, neutral tending fun signature which complements Moondrop Blessing2’s neutral-bright tuning very well. DD has nice organic slam and the overall signature is quite versatile and easy to like. It has a nice 8-9dB bass shelf at 100Hz, neutral lower-midrange presentation, forward upper-midrange with around 10-11dB pinna gain and well balanced exciting treble presentation which makes for a fun and engaging listen. I really like the well sorted stock ear tips; they all fit a bit differently and effect Volume’s sound signature slightly differently too. Here are my measurements with different ear tips –
Let’s dig in deeper…
Bass – Volume’s bass is handled by the 10mm dynamic driver which has a PEEK suspension diaphragm coil with a Beryllium-plated dome structure. Its bass presence depends a bit on the ear tips and fit you go for as it is more present and punchier with the stock silicone ear tips and a bit less with eartips which have a looser fit, like the Moondrop Spring tips. It has a 8-9dB boost which boosts sub-bass the most, followed by mid-bass. That’s 2-3dB more sub-bass than Kato and Moondrop S8 and boy does it have rumble for days! I’d classify it more as a bass lover’s IEM, not really a bass head IEM per se. It has very natural tonality, fast but organic transients as well as great slam and rumble, most of the stuff we casually expect from a dynamic driver.
Mids – Volume has a very neutral, warm sounding lower-midrange presentation. The pinna gain rise at 1kHz has a slightly lower slope than Kato and Blessing2 as well as primary peak at 3.2kHz instead of Kato and Blessing2’s 2.85kHz (as shown in the graph below). The slight dip around 2kHz takes it a bit away from absolute reference natural tonality, but it’s not as prominently noticeable as one would expect with all songs. It does reflect more in some and not as much in others. With around 10-11 dB of pinna gain, vocals and instruments have a nice forward presentation, with guitars particularly having excellent definition. Even though Volume’s pinna gain graphs more than Blessing2’s, it doesn’t sound peakier/shoutier because the extra bass boost adds enough warmth and punch, which restricts the 3kHz or the treble from sounding too prominent. Blessing2 still comes across as the brighter of the two.
Treble – Volume’s treble response again depends on choice of ear tips, as visible in the second graph in the article. It all depends on the kind of fit you’re getting. It comes across brighter with looser fitting eartips like Moondrop Spring tips and warmer with the more snug, deeper fitting eartips like the stock silicone tips. In general, the treble balance is more lower-treble based, with easier mid-treble and upper-treble response. It has enough energy to make for an exciting listen, with good detail retrieval and decent upper-end extension (no perceivable roll-off as such) but isn’t the airiest of IEMs, which is generally an expectation from IEMs a segment or two above.
Technical performance – Volume has a very nice engaging soundstage, particular impressive for its price segment. It has a slightly fuller bodied soundstage than Blessing2’s leaner and cleaner character, primarily because of more bass presence. Resolution and detail retrieval too are pretty good for its price but the thing I appreciate most is that it resolves and brings out details and nuances without sounding clinical, which the Blessing2 sometimes does, especially at louder volumes. But at the same time, Blessing2 does come across slightly better at detail retrieval and resolving of little nuances in music.
Heads Up! (Role of Source Output Impedance) – One thing to know here is that Volume’s bass quantity levels are affected by the source’s output impedance. It’ll have a 8-9dB bass boost with low impedance sources and get a 2-4dB extra boost with higher impedance sources. It’s just something to be aware of! I prefer pairing it with very low output impedance sources.
I’ve already covered a lot about these two in my sound analysis but here it is again for people who would like a condensed form for ease. Let’s get one thing squared away right off the bat for people concerned about Volume’s pinna gain graphing a bit more than Blessing2’s – it doesn’t sound peakier than Blessing2 since the extra bass boost adds more than enough warmth and punch, which restricts the 3kHz or the treble from sounding too prominent. Blessing2 is a slightly more clinical take on neutral whereas Volume is a more fun take on the same. Volume has much more sub-bass rumble and slightly more mid-bass than Blessing2. This makes it a great alternative to Blessing2 for people who wanted more bass out of their Blessing2s. They both have similar neutral lower-midrange presentation, a forward upper-midrange presentation and sparkly lower-treble but Volume has a warmer, fuller bodied presentation in comparison. On the other hand, Blessing2 has a sparklier and leaner presentation. Blessing2’s 9kHz lower-treble peak is slightly more prominent than Volume’s 7.6kHz peak whereas Blessing2 is slightly airier in upper-treble. Blessing2 has a thinner, cleaner and more open soundstage whereas Volume’s is a bit fuller – it has similar width boundaries but slightly less depth than Blessing2. Blessing2 has slightly better detail-retrieval and resolution but also comes off brighter in comparison, which can be a double edged sword, especially for the treble sensitive wanting to listen to it at high volume levels.
DM8 has 8BAs and is another IEM from this price segment that has really good performance to price ratio. Sound wise, Volume’s bass tuning is more sub-bass focussed whereas DM8’s is more mid-bass and upper-bass oriented in comparison. DM8 has good punch and slam but Volume has a more refined/mature bass tuning with stronger rumble. Bass transient presentation is also different – DM8 has slightly quicker attack while Volume has a more organic and natural transient presentation. DM8’s 250-400Hz of lower-midrange is slightly fuller whereas Volume’s is more neutral in lower-midrange overall. Both have a similarly forward upper-midrange presentation and lower-treble sparkle but DM8 has slightly better, more linear treble presentation post 6kHz with better mid-treble than Volume in comparison. Both have warmer upper-treble and aren’t that airy, with Volume being a smidgen better. Volume has a slightly fuller bodied soundstage whereas DM8’s is very slightly leaner. Their width and depth boundaries aren’t too different. DM8 has slightly better resolution while Volume takes the cake for the more musical and natural tonality.
Tanchjim Prism too has 1DD+2BA and follows the Harman target the closest out of all the IEMs I’ve tried in the market with this philosophy of tuning. This here is not that fair a comparison since Prism is priced twice as much as Volume at $600, but since they have the same config and have similar tuning ideologies as companies, I thought I’ll write a quick one anyway. Prism has a slightly cleaner presentation with a more open and airier soundstage compared to Volume. It has a signature with more contrast between the frequency bands and as a result, a better sense of separation and layering between bass, midrange and treble. Volume has a fuller bodied and musical presentation in comparison to Prism’s. Prism does have a bit more sub-bass and mid-bass but Volume’s relatively slightly more intimate presentation makes bass seem more upfront. Lower-midrange is ever so slightly fuller in Volume. Both have a similarly forward upper-midrange presentation with similar pinna gain but Prism has stronger instrument definition. Depending on fit, Prism’s upper-midrange can come off peaky if one doesn’t have the snuggest fit. Prism has a better balanced treble presentation but also one which is airier and has more mid-treble. Prism has better detail retrieval and resolution but Volume is no slouch and performs quite well for its asking price and segment. Overall, Volume has a more fun and romantic approach to neutral tuning while Prism is a more clarity and detail oriented IEM. Prism does a lot of things better but it is also twice as expensive.
Volume is another great addition to Softears’ line up as well as the sub-$500 price segment. It hits above its asking price and makes for quite a fun and engaging listen. A bit more mid-treble presence and upper-treble air would’ve added the icing on the cake and given the +$1k biggies a run for their money, but that’s me nitpicking it to bits. Regardless, Volume is one of those IEMs that I can safely recommend as a more fun take on a reference-neutral signature. If that’s what you’re looking for, definitely give it a shot!
Gear used for testing and review.
- DAPs – iBasso DX240 & DX160 | Hiby R6 2020| Lotoo PAW6000
- Laptop – Apple Macbook Pro 15″
- Phone – OnePlus 7 Pro
Artists I like and listen to.
- Rock – Foo Fighters, Linkin Park, Switchfoot, Imagine Dragons, Daughtry, Green Day, MuteMath, X Ambassadors, Dave Matthews Band, Vertical Horizon, Our Lady Peace, Lifehouse, Fall Out Boy, Breaking Benjamin, Muse, ACDC, Audioslave, Rage Against the Machine, Biffy Clyro, I Am Giant, Normandie, Paramore, Slash & Guns N Roses, 3 Doors Down.
- Pop Rock – John Mayer, Coldplay, Paul McCartney, James Bay, Hunter Hayes, Niall Horan, Keith Urban, The Bros Landreth, Bryan Adams.
- Progressive Rock/Metal – Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson, Karnivool, Tool, Dead Letter Circus, Periphery, Lamb of God.
- Pop/Soft Rock – Ed Sheeran, Adele, Taylor Swift, OneRepublic, The Script, Gavin James, Magic Man, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Charlie Puth, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Oasis, Panic! At the Disco, TwentyOne Pilots.
- EDM – Chainsmokers, Zedd.