THE CHEAPEST PLANAR ON THE MARKET!! – 7Hz x Crinacle Dioko
7hz is known for releasing the Timeless, the first ever planar IEM tuned exceptionally. No doubt, with Timeless as the benchmark, expectations are high for this newest addition to their planar line-up, the Dioko. With tuning guidance from Crinacle, who’s known as one of the leading tuning experts in the industry, how does the Dioko fare against today’s top mid-fi and planar options?
Sound Signature (Tuning Breakdown)
The Dioko has a balanced neutral sound with a slight elevation in the sub-bass. The midrange is cleanly separated from the bass, delivering an uncolored mid experience void of any warmth, mud, or bloat. The upper mids carry enough energy to give an organic feel to the vocals and instruments without coming across as too shouty or deemphasized. As for treble, the Dioko does an okay job with extension though marred by slight unevenness overall.
Dioko has bass, but with the focus on the sub-bass rather than mids, many may find the “Fun” element a bit lacking. The hits and slams you get primarily in the mid-bass are noticeably shy in the Dioko, so those who need the bass power or authority may find this a little underwhelming. However, in terms of bass quality, the Dioko delivers an incredibly clean and cohesive experience, void of any color or bleeding in any way. That’s something that under $300 IEMs struggle to achieve, let alone at under $100. If you haven’t experienced a clean bass before, this is an IEM I highly recommend to sample. In terms of who might enjoy this bass tuning the most? I would say it’s universally enjoyable unless you are a bass-head who wants bass that has more authority.
The mids can be described in a few words, natural, uncolored, and safe. The bass does not influence the lower mids, allowing for a transparent signature that sounds as clean as it can be without coming across as “thin.” The upper mids energy is on the tamer side, which benefits from being completely safe for everyone. It’s never going to be shouty for those who are sensitive while being energetic enough to pop from the background. The only downside is it can feel flavorless to some, including myself. While it’s non-offensive and correct sounding, the reduction in emphasis makes for a less engaging listen, though I should say that this is 100% preferential on my part. In any case, it’s a near-perfect midrange with a relaxed tonality that will be likable for most.
You might see the peak around 8,000 Hz and think, “that must be painful,” but in reality, it lacks all of those unwanted qualities. There are no sibilances or fatiguing elements in any songs I tested on. The treble is well extended with good energy, the only issue being it’s uneven. The 8,000Hz rise makes instruments and some vocals (especially females) have a slightly metallic timbre. This timbre is not an issue across every song, but if your library consists of mainly female vocals that live in the higher octaves, you will encounter this more than others. It’s not a glaring problem by any means; it’s a nit-pick at best and preferential at the least.
Technical Performance (Resolution, Soundstage, Imaging)
The Dioko is quite resolving for the price. A good comparison would be the Moondrop Kato, Dioko coming relatively close if not just a half-step behind the Kato. The soundstage has good width, which gives enough space for each instrument to shine through. However, it lacks a bit of height and depth to deliver a truly holographic “3D” experience. Imaging is decent across the board with good instrumental separation, though not pinpoint accuracy in placements.
Dioko VS. Timeless & S12
Timeless and S12 are both v-shape signatures with more midbass presence and treble sparkles than the Dioko. Both IEMs are more resolving than the Dioko, though the Dioko is not far behind. The one thing the Dioko wins over the Timeless and S12 is midrange, the Dioko being cleaner and more natural sounding. In terms of upper-mids, the Timeless and S12 are more engaging, while the Dioko is more relaxed. In summary, if you want fun in your IEM, then the S12 and Timeless are still preferred choices. If you want something neutral, the Dioko is the way to go. The small cut in resolution is balanced out by the fact that the Dioko is $50-$120 cheaper than the other two.
The Dioko is another benchmark IEM for the price, and it stands out for being the only IEM under $100 with as clean of a midrange. While lacking a bit of fun factor, the tuning is exceptional, safe, and enjoyable to most. Not to mention, the resolution is competitive with higher-priced IEMs as well. If you’re looking for an IEM that can deliver a hi-fi tuning, the Dioko is a fantastic option that punches above the MSRP in overall quality. Ultimately no IEM is perfect, and the Dioko certainly can be improved. However, for all the quality you get at such a low price tag, the Dioko is an easy recommendation and comfortably sits in the Top 5 best under $100.