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CHEAPER TIMELESS – S12 Review

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Once in a while, an IEM comes out that’s so good you wonder how the rest of the market will ever compete with it. That IEM was the 7Hz Timeless…

Once in a while, an IEM comes out that’s so good you wonder how the rest of the market will ever compete with it. That IEM was the 7Hz Timeless released back in October 2021. The Timeless is still known today as the “best planar IEM” ever created and one of the best IEM you can buy for under $300. With those titles in mind, no one ever expects anything to come even close to competing with it, especially not within mere months. However, in comes the Shuoer S12, the IEM that’s positioned to give the Timeless a run for its money. 

In today’s article, we’ll explore the S12’s sound signature, compare it with competitors, and determine whether or not it is as market-breaking as the community hypes it to be.

Sound Signature: The S12 has a v-shape signature slightly leaning towards the treble.

Bass

The bass on the S12 is powerful but not overwhelmingly so, and it’s fun and engaging while not going overboard. Bass control is also clean, separated from the midrange, and doesn’t sound muddy or bloated. Sub-bass and mid-bass are represented relatively evenly here, with sub-bass maybe slightly more forward. Overall, there’s not much to fault about the bass quality on the S12, especially not for its price. The one thing that could be mentioned is the bass detail, it’s not as nuanced as I would like, but honestly, that’s being very nitpicking on my part. For the price, the bass is excellent.

Midrange

Being a v-shape IEM, the midrange will feel slightly recessed, though it still represents the range quite well. Thanks to the excellent bass control, the clarity level is good, and the overall sound is as accurate and organic as a v-shape could be primarily due to how well the upper-midrange is tuned. The upper-midrange on the S12 has great energy that helps create a sense of liveliness in vocalists and instrumentals. Overall, a very well-tuned, clean, and energetic midrange that’s quite rare to see at this price.

Treble

Treble here is energetic and tends to be a bit piercing at times. There’s more good than bad here, though. The bright treble highlights details in the songs very well and brings forth nuances that otherwise would’ve been drowned by the powerful bass. Of course, the trade-off is that you will feel the treble being “too much” on certain tracks. 

Details

The S12 has surprisingly good details for the price, being just below the Timeless. The treble here helps with the micro details, while the clean bass and midrange separation keeps vocals clarity at a high point. Notes also feel pretty distinct, and while not top-class resolvability, it competes well within the top brackets of its price. 

Soundstage & Imaging

This segment is always boring to write as there’s never much to say for most IEMs as most are average at best. However, in this case, the S12 is more than average at a soundstage! It’s not end-game quality by any means, but I appreciate the fact that it’s wider than your average IEMs at similar prices. Imaging wise though, average. 

Comparison: Timeless

To put it simply, the S12 is a slightly more bright baby Timeless. The tuning is 90% the same, just a touch more “energy” overall. The resolution is half a step down from the Timeless, and while that’s a minor negative, the flip side is that it sounds more musical and easier to enjoy. For most, the Timeless can be called an “analytical” listen as it is very detailed oriented, but the S12 is smoother, giving it a more pleasing natural listen.

The timbre on the S12 is also more natural than Timeless’ planar timbre.

Comparison: IKKO OH10

Another IEM close to the S12 in tuning is the OH10, though not as close as the Timeless is. Ikko Oh10 is a more extreme S12 with more bass and sub-bass power and a more recessed mids, and details are about similar. Quick summary, if you want a more “V” sounding S12, then OH10 is the one to grab.

Comparison: Moondrop Kato 

Moondrop Kato and its related siblings (Aria, Starfield, KXXS, KXXX) are some of the best IEMs out there under $200. The selling point of these was the versatile and easy-to-love Harman tuning and its great details for the price. However, the one concern people have with these has always been the tamed treble response. The S12 keeps the Harman-like bass quantity while delivering a more energic treble response and retaining the competitive level of details. Now it’s not an improvement of the Kato, but more of a sidegrade. While the treble bump is a nice quality, it’s the fact that it might be too much that keeps it from being a straight upgrade to the Kato. While the Kato is tamed treble-wise, the S12 can be too much. An actual upgrade from the Kato here is still the Timeless.

Summary

If you want a cheaper Timeless, get the S12. Just bear in mind the treble. If we look beyond the shadow of the Timeless, however, you will see that the S12 is easily one of the most worth the money IEM under $250. The details are competitive, and the tuning is on par with the greats that occupy the same price bracket—a very high recommendation.

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