BQEYZ Topaz ($89)
I have always been a fan of Bqeyz. They always seem to go out on a limb to showcase newer tech. Trying new things and taking chances puts Bqeyz on the cutting edge I suppose. I have personally tried many of their budget iems as well as their more expensive sets and I’ll be perfectly honest… I’ve liked them all. The Bqeyz iem which I’m featuring today is the Bqeyz Topaz.
I wanted so badly to get my hands on this set yet just didn’t have the funds. That is until Elle Zhou of BQEYZ reached out to me and offered Topaz on a very generous discount. I am so very grateful for the gesture but obviously this will not affect my review at all. Friends…if I ever have a bias of any kind… I’ll simply tell you. You can still review with a bias so long as everyone knows that. It is nice to receive discounts and review samples but there has to be integrity and truth as the staple to an honest review. Just be honest. So as honest as I can be, there is no bias here. What I hear is what you’ll read and nothing more and everyone understands as much.
Also, for a different perspectives please check out Mahir’s or Chrisol’s Topaz reviews at mobileaudiophile.com here:
-The Topaz look nice
-Mature balanced tuning
-Warm, melodic, engaging sound
-Full bodied male vocals
-Midrange in general
-Smooth & buttery sound
-Could be more dynamic (subjective)
-Treble extension lacks sparkle up top
-Very slight Piezo Timbre at note ends
-Resolution could be better in areas
-Upper mid glare on some tracks
-Congested tracks sound congested
-Needs just a bit more low end energy (subjective)
The Topaz came to me in a rectangular box with “Topaz” written across in a purplish-blue coloring. I opened the box and was to see the earphones themselves, as they sat gorgeous within some cardboard/foam cut-outs. Next to the Topaz was the round case. Nothing special but made well enough. Possibly faux leather I’d imagine. Underneath the iems is the ear tips which also rest in cut-outs inside the box. Next to the ear tips is the cable. In my case I opted for the 4.4 balanced cable. You also get some warranty stuff but… I’m trying not to bore you though so…lets move on.
I happen to think the Topaz are flat out tough looking. All sleek and slick and svelte with a minimalist design which screams sophisticated, classy and confident. I’m digging the color of the set that I received. Looks like the paint on my Chevy Silverado. Just tough! I received the coffee-colored brown with golden accents version. Most certainly the Topaz are stylish with a certain debonaire swagger.
On the faceplate is a contoured & lopsided triangle with “Topaz” on one and “BQEYZ” on the other. The Topaz has nice curves and distinguished lines on the faceplate as well which is a nice touch. Elegant and Dapper in the same sentence and done in a tasteful way. The shell is a transparent black resin which has a solid feel. Up next to the light I can see through the dark plastic just enough to make out the Driver. The nozzle is nice too, sporting a golden appearance with an actual lip for ear tips and a nice metal grill.
Fit / Isolation / Comfort
The fit is okay… when I work at it for a couple seconds. There is some moving around in my ear to get the best seal but nothing painstaking. Also, I had to tip-roll to achieve the proper seal. I’m sure these will fit someone like a glove, but I do have to fiddle a slight bit. No worries though, I’ve been at this game a long time and I kind of expect it anymore. After playing around with the fit, the Topaz are very comfortable and lightweight and hug my ears well enough.
Isolation is about average. Obviously, the Topaz aren’t going to cancel out the world completely. Let’s put it this way, they cancel out about the same as most iems. Especially with music playing from my library. Isolation is average, I suppose. Truthfully, I don’t really think about it, but I know some of you think this is important, so…average.
Bqeyz does well to create well-built iems, they always have. The material used on the faceplate is some sort of alloy metal, possibly aluminum. Also, like I said earlier the Shells are a very hard and durable Resin type material. Some say that “plastic is plastic ”. Um, this is not true. There is a difference to a shell constructed with a solid and durable type resin material and some chintzy plastic with a softer feel. I have to assume that the Topaz are as durable as you can responsibly take care of them. They aren’t cheap feeling at all, not even in thee slightest.
I love different driver technologies and now that we are seeing better tech hit the lower end of the market it is clear that we are in a great time in audio. Topaz is no exception. Bqeyz chose to use a 13mm Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) Diaphragm Dynamic Driver. Paired with that is a second generation Nine Layer Piezoelectric Ceramic Driver. Bqeyz have really zeroed in this tech as the Piezo is something of a hallmark or specialty of the company. Bqeyz also added a dual cavity structure which is promoted to make “Vocals airier & thicker”. We shall see.
The ear-tips provided are actually not bad at all. As you can see, they are differing shades of gray. Three of the pairs have a narrower bore which is denser and sturdier with a firm flange. The other set of ear-tips have a wider bore with a more flexible and flimsier flange. Both counter the additional tuning touches of each other. I have to admit that I did tip-roll to a pair of KBear-07’s and the Fiio Bass Tips (Basically the exact same ear-tips) as it seems that I always fall back on those tips. They simply fit me perfectly.
During check-out you have the choice between a 2.5, 3.5 or 4.4 cable connection. Like I said earlier, I chose the 4.4 jack as the devices I most use are 4.4 balanced sources. The cable feels well enough made. Basically, as good as most upgrade cables. It is a 2-pin 4-core OCC silver-plated cable, white in color. It has a nice feel to it as the braid isn’t too tight and I love the contrasting accents of the cable Y-split and the jack termination. (Pictured Below)
The Topaz does ok with lower powered sources as it is rated at 32 ohms and a sensitivity of 108 dbs. In my case I used the Zooaux Dongle Dac, which I use for review purposes because I really don’t have a very low powered source. Also, I’m sure anyone purchasing the Topaz will likely have a decent Dongle Dac to listen with already. Using the Zooaux I am able to get to decent volume yet with far too relaxed of a sound as dynamics and harmonic expression aren’t as full and lively. Moving to the Qudelix 5k and the IFi Go Blu there is an instantly more gratifying sound. I gravitate more toward the Go Blu paired with the Topaz. The CS Dac chip along with Ifi’s implementation of it seems to nail what I like.
Using something like the Fiio KA3 is nice as well but I did notice some very slight Piezo timbre at note ends in the upper midrange to lower treble approximately. It doesn’t sound bad at all and is easy to go unnoticed, but it was there. So, I then attached the Fiio Q1 MK2 to my Galaxy Z-Fold 4 and the sound is warmer and lusher with this pairing. There is plenty of power on high gain and I was happy with it.
Still, most of my listening was done using the Ibasso Dx240 w/Amp8 MK2 on medium or high gain and there is a nice synergy there. I found that with more power the Topaz isn’t as tampered down in the upper-mids, and I found the stage opens up a bit as overall harmonic extension increased at both ends of the spectrum. I do think that with a slight bit more power added I was able to maximize the sound to suit my preferences. If you do happen to have a lower powered source I dont think this is much of an issue as the Topaz are sensitive enough to replay well.
Quick Sound Impressions
When I first began listening to the Topaz I immediately wasn’t hugely impressed. With all the hype I was expecting a bit more, I guess. I thought they sounded nice, and I could listen happy enough, but I didn’t get that “wow” feeling. 50 hours of burn-in later and there seems to have been a refinement in the sound. It was almost as though more energy was able to crack through in different places which simply made the sound more musical and enticing.
Quick Sound Impressions
The Topaz has a very balanced yet lush sound with what I would call an almost relaxed W-shape sound profile. Within that relaxed soundscape is a controlled & energetic rhythm and pace. The bass is emphasized only a little bit which doesn’t cloud any other area of the mix. The midrange has a velvety and forward nature that comes across warm and full. The energy in this area has a cap to it which can hold back some shimmer in the upper midrange. There are some issues at times which I’ll explain later. The treble is balanced with the rest of the spectrum with some hints of sparkle yet remaining mostly reserved and warm but falling off with nice extension.
The sound has a snap to it, or a bite. In the same breath I call this sound reserved and relaxed. I realize these are conflicting observations. The energy on the Topaz seems to be held back to a strategic point which never spills over into chaos or glare or fatigue. There is a snappiness mixed with a certain warmth which never encroaches into the veiled or dark side of things. I’d say there is a relaxed clarity within the warmth. Restrained is the word which comes to mind. I don’t mean restrained as in… ‘Held back’ or ‘not enough’. I mean, the energy is restrained like a balloon tied up tight, to hold its form. There is a control here which finds its way into all parts of the frequency.
The bass as a whole is represented very well in my opinion. I feel the sub-bass as well as the mid-bass have a nicely detailed and punchy sound with good clarity. Warm in tonality with a certain bold sounding agility.
The sub-bass has a slightly restrained rumble which is adequate to most genres. I still feel a satisfyingly tactile reverberation when a track calls for it. Basically, I can still feel the sub-bass. Also, there is nice texture and a layered low bass area, yet it is still not overdone at all. “I Love” by Joyner Lucas, a song from his “ADHD” album has a deep and firm vibration when the beat drops. While I would never call the Topaz a basshead iem, it still displays a low reaching and strident bass line. Granted this is an easy track for definition but the Topaz keep some good hidden authority and couple it nicely with the rest of the frequency.
The mid-bass runs on a linear path with the sub-bass, for the most part anyways. Again, not overdone, or sloppy, or in bad taste…not in the slightest. Slam is present just not as emphasized as the bass boys would like. I know this because I do like a healthy dose of bass in my music. I grew up on rock, metal, country and gangster rap (another conflicting statement on my part), and big bass captivated me. It is something which I will always silently hope for. In a quality manner that is. That is what I came from, and I can easily say that I am perfectly content with the quantity on the Topaz.
To some, the Topaz will have too much and to some it’s too little. Like I said, for myself, my ideal for a good low end anymore is quality bass, which is tight & colored with a punchy attack and with a slight decay to add atmosphere. The Topaz get very close to that.
The mid bass has a nicely controlled decay and a sustain which lingers just enough for good presence which I feel is a nice touch. I wouldn’t call this bass slow, and I wouldn’t call it fast. Also, the attack in this region has a punch to it, not overly forceful but it is felt and heard, and it’s controlled and clean.
Bass as a whole
All in all, the low-end hits with decent authority which does not overstep in a sloppy and bloated way. Still, the mids are affected by the bass spilling over a bit, however I think it is to the benefit of the lower mids, adding clean heft and presence to vocals and instruments.
The only other thought I have is, at times there is a slight restrained feeling in the bass. I still very much like the energy here; it has an almost round nature and comes with a detailed and textured response to most songs. The bass has a solidified tidiness or a firmness which testifies to the tuning of Bqeyz. They added just enough to balance out the spectrum and I’m glad they did. The Bass has good pace and timing and nice cadence with enough speed to carry most tracks without blurring the sound. Texture isn’t top notch and layering is decent here, as a whole…I’m a fan.
The lower midrange has a character of richness in men’s voices. The bass runs right into the midrange bringing an energetic warmth which dials in the hardy nature to male vocals. Note weight is nice here and I hear no muddiness or veil at all, but instead a crisp and tepid sound which is pretty well resolute.
“On My Way” by Avi Kaplan shows off his resonant baritone voice which echoes with a rotund and sonorous sound. Avi’s voice is bold and hard edged yet has an emotional dictation. Instruments like the soft acoustic guitar do get lost a bit behind the heft of his voice but I think this is by design perhaps, per the recording. There is a more open and natural sound to his voice which I can appreciate listening with the Topaz. Maybe I could use a bit more “pop” in most male vocals but all in all I hear a good presence and weightiness.
On the flipside, a male vocal like Zach Bryan on the song “Sun to Me” is much more pronounced and even edgier with the Topaz. His voice has a higher pitched rasp in his normal one-take acoustic style of country music, and this set nails it. He’s a singer-songwriter type who needs the inflection in his voice to emotionally carry the song along with the acoustic guitar as he strums with equal presence and volume. His voice is forward and has a command to it that almost breaks through to glare yet stops short of it. The guitar comes through perfectly and with a more natural timbre to my ears.
The upper midrange walks a very fine line between too relaxed and glare. It’s in this area where the low-end warmth begins to lose its effect leaving a little bit of levity and airiness. I hear good energy in this region as female voices sound full and have some vibrancy behind them. Still there is a small lack of that “shimmer” which we talk about so often. However, shimmer or not, the Topaz carry enough kinetic amplitude in the inflection of a woman’s voice to make up for it. Softness in a breathy vocal has emotion behind it, like Olivia Rodrigo in “Traitor”. The emotional pull of her voice is not lost on the Topaz. The sentiment within the song is captured and the artistry isn’t devalued as the Topaz is able to properly convey what she is going through. At least in my opinion this was done very well.
Females in general sound very nice on the Topaz. I love the energy without the spiking shout or odd timbre which can derail a woman’s voice. Females are highlighted in a melodic way that makes me want to enjoy the Topaz often.
The only minor con is the few times the Topaz added just a bit more bite to my music, getting mighty close to glare. Yet the Topaz stops just shy. There is a spot within the spectrum around the upper-mid area which can almost have a bit too much grating-luster. It’s an edgy shoutiness which doesn’t sound like a controlled shimmer. I labeled this a “Con” earlier but in truth I don’t think it is a normal problem and instead a situational slight glare in the right songs. For the great majority of my library, I don’t hear this.
Instruments have a natural cadence and tone with nice clarity and energy. Granted, every detail is not brought close to the ear and perfectly illuminated. Though I wouldn’t call the midrange deficient in details. The Topaz isn’t a detail monster which is dry and analytical sounding, but rather a warm and inviting and musical iem. I would call this set a very enjoyable and euphonic sounding earphone which is empathetically musical and emotionally warm and more so caters to the casual listener.
The treble region is more laid back as well without any real dazzle or sparkle up top. This area is taken care of by the Piezo driver which brings okay technicalities even in the face of this laid-back style. There are Instances in the lower treble where that Piezo timbre can sound fizzy at note ends, some would refer to this as ‘Piezo Timbre’. Quite honestly it doesn’t bother me but is worth noting. Extension on the Topaz at the highest regions seem to die off a bit quicker than I’d like. I think it could use a bit more air and even some vibrancy within the presence region.
There are simply some casualties of this laid-back tuning. No doubt, the Topaz is a smooth operator with a very non-fatiguing sound and the treble stays true to that. I noticed average resolution and even some details along the way. However, if a track has a lot going on, the rest of the mix can drown out the subtleties in the upper parts of the spectrum.
I noticed cymbals get muted a bit in busier tracks. Truthfully this may not be an issue to you. It all depends on what you enjoy. I don’t hear the most natural extension in the treble region but what I do like about the treble is the smooth long listening style which it caters to. Let’s put it this way, when I’m simply chillin, listening to my music, I am more apt to pick up the Topaz than something with more energy and bite up top.
To me the stage size of the Bqeyz Topaz is rendered just wider than intimate. The Topaz portrays an imaginary stage pretty nicely. In my opinion the tuning is not one which normally breeds an airy and open style staging, but I hear a decent size considering. Overall, the width is about average, nothing too expansive. The tuning pushes much of the soundscape forward and leverages only ear width of the space to each side. Height seems to be above average compared to iems that I’ve listened to at the price point. This height does well to add some much-needed space and headroom. As far as depth there is an adequate sense of forward and backward imagery, depending on the track of course. For the most part depth seems to aid the overall presentation and therefore is not bad at all.
The Stage simply has to make sense
The stage size of the Topaz conveys what I always say that I absolutely require, that is…the stage has to makes sense. I realize this is not exactly an “audiophile” statement but… I’m no audiophile, also, I actually enjoy music. You can call me a bona-fide audio geek, I can live with that. Nothing is too closed in or too oblong or narrow. Granted this also isn’t colossal in size but there is a sense of intimate continuity and placement of the different parts within a song which gives a feeling of a partitioned off imaging to a degree. I could use a bit more air in the upper parts of the frequency or a sharper cut-off between the bass and the Mids which would help but, Bqeyz wasn’t shooting for that. Basically, it is a more concentrated stage, but I wouldn’t call it congested or cramped. It makes sense to my music being played.
Separation of elements within the stage varies depending on the track being played. If I choose a track which simply has a lot of congestion, then separation seems less effective and feathered together. Separation isn’t bad or under par at all. Then again it isn’t the best that I’ve heard, of course I don’t think this set is tuned to be a technical wizard…and I don’t mind that. This tuning is mostly warm and laid back and not very analytical or ultra-speedy or dry. Imaging takes a subtle hit in this regard though I would say that imaging is pretty well done. Placement of instruments and voices sounds somewhat distinct. While separation is about average there is some layering that happens and that helps distinguish different parts of the whole. Not the best but not the worst.
Okay, there is a common theme which will continue in this small section. No details don’t flood your ears-holes with miniscule subtleties, but really…who cares. Yes, there are some macro-details which sound resolved enough and highlighted enough to carry a song very well with the Topaz’s melodic and warmly musical nature. No details don’t jump out at you but why would they?
The sound has a smoothness to it and a heft to it which gives a more ardent and musically spirited expression to my library. This isn’t to say that the Topaz is devoid of any detail or is at a loss on the technical side of things. In truth I think for the tuning the Topaz is well resolved and sounds pretty darn awesome. This is a set to sit back and enjoy, it is truly melodic and ear friendly for long periods and still will resolve some details and finer nuances providing the song is not too chaotic.
Tripowin Olina (Mesh Mod) ($99)
The Tripowin Olina needs no introduction. A standout performer around the $100 price point which is a staple in my everyday rotation. This was the brainchild of HBB (Hawaiian Bad Boy) which was supposed to mimic the sound of the Tanchjim Oxygen at a lesser price by incorporating the same driver within the Olina housing. That being a 10mm high performance Carbon Nanotube Diaphragm (CNT). My set I modded with the infamous “Mesh Mod” which smooths out the upper-mid glare and bumps up the low end a bit.
The Olina is more resolving and carries better details and technicalities across the spectrum. The bass is tighter on the Olina and has a faster and punchier initial attack. Still the low end has better presence in my opinion on the Topaz with a bit more raw texture. It’s much deeper with more of a haptic growl on the Topaz. Vocals are thicker and more robust on the Topaz as well. Timbre sounds more natural to me on the Olina however, as a whole that is. Treble extension and shimmer brighten up the Olina where the Topaz are warmer and reserved.
All technicalities, ranging from separation, imaging, details, both macro and micro and even stage width, height and depth all go to the Olina. Truthfully the Olina is almost in a class of its own in many of these categories within the under $100 crowd. Albeit some of the newer Planar iems can trade blows, but I digress. Again, note weight is more dense on the Topaz and they have a more emotional spin to my music. Also, the Topaz are much more forgiving rendering less of a peaky replay and are much easier for longer periods of listening for me.
Two different styles of replay. The two are both top performers at the price point and both for entirely different reasons. This is a matter of taste, like most iems. Do you want smooth and melodic or more technical and melodic? I personally will always have a certain affinity for the Olina which I can’t quite explain but I still love to sit for hours with the Topaz in my ears. I think fit and comfort probably go to the Olina for me as I don’t have to fidget and move things around too much for a seal. Obviously, you may be completely different. I do like the look of the Topaz a bit better but that isn’t saying much because the Olina are beautiful in their own right. In my mind it’s a toss-up and I’m very happy to have both within my collection.
Letshuoer D13 ($113)
One of Letshuoer’s newest iems to grace the world of audio is the D13. A single Dynamic Driver which sports a custom 13mm DLC Driver and a tiny housing which nestles nicely in my ears. The D13 comes equipped with tuning nozzles to ever-so-slightly change tonality. I have still not reviewed this set but that is coming soon. You can check out Mahir’s impressions here.
The D13 has a warm of neutral lower half of the spectrum and a more vivid and airy top half. Some people with the community have given the D13 mixed feelings, yet I quite like this set. I’d say the two are another story of differing styles. The Topaz is quite a bit warmer in tonality and more laid back while the D13 has a more sprightly and vibrant sound.
The differences between these two are pretty stark for me. Again, the Topaz has a warmer and a more reserved sound while the D13 are cooler in tonality with harder edges to notes and a crisper sound delivery. In this case “crisp” translates to more unnatural to me. The more earthy sound of the Topaz simply has a more naturally articulate tone and timbre. The D13 has more slam in the bass region yet is also less balanced sounding in the same breath. Male vocals sound thicker and fuller on the Topaz while the D13 interprets males a bit more recessed and less sonorous.
The D13 has a more forward female vocal which has a very nice and emotive sound even if they have a slight thinness. Females do have a slight recess yet still remain mellifluous and honeyed. Both give females nice texture to their voices. The D13 treble region possibly has better details yet with less reigned in dynamics and almost a less musically cohesive upper area of the mix. The Topaz are more buttery and seem to have better control and command of the spectrum…to a point. That is, the Topaz ‘can’ get more easily congested in complicated tracks. The D13’s dynamic and vivid presentation can replay edgy & shouty at times. In fact, the D13 can bring on fatigue when listening to the right genres. I don’t get that from the Topaz with any genre or music type.
The D13 has many nice upsides though. The bass of the D13 is deeper and I do like this aspect of the sound as I could use a bit more authority on the Topaz. Another aspect of the D13 which some may like is the crisper sound to vocals and instruments with a snappier attack and a quicker transient response. There are many times that I want a more energetic sound in my music without a sheening glare inside my ear holes and the D13 can give just that most of the time.
In fact, I quite enjoy the D13. One upside to the D13 is the fact that it sounds a bit more extended in the low end as well as the highs. Details float to the surface easier by way of tuning alone. The stage sounds wider and has better separation of sounds and elements of a stage. Imaging is basically a wash as both sets do well to pinpoint instruments and vocals to create a nice stereo image. Still the contrast between these two earphones is enough for me to comfortably label this showdown as simply a preference battle. To me they are more different than they are alike.
*Note: The only reason I added these comparisons was to hopefully make some distinctions against some other nice iems in the price point. I never really try to stage a showdown but more so use comparisons as a tool to help a person make a purchasing decision.
People, I gotta tell you, I really do like the Topaz. I love that suede sound, that warmish ease that moves like butter through the airwaves. The Topaz isn’t too much of anything or doesn’t push the envelope at all, yet it excels in a lot. I am constantly reaching for the Topaz amongst more expensive iems when I actually have a chance at some casual listening. I want to thank BQEYZ and Elle Zhou once more for their kindness and the boldness to let their product speak for itself.
Every review I say this; please take in other reviews of this set. It is very important not to hang on any one person’s word or experience. Everyone is different, we may have different gear, tolerances, likes & dislikes. Not everyone hears the same and not everyone has heard the same gear to achieve the perspectives which they may have. All I’m saying is, please read or watch or listen to other angles.
I am not perfect; I am not the most experienced or knowledgeable and would never claim to be. Leave that to the “Audiophiles”. I am simply a man with a love of music and a constant drive to find the best way possible to replay that music. Also, I absolutely love to express my opinion and to share my experience with you all. It is so very therapeutic to define what I hear in the written word, and I love to write. Hey, maybe one of these days I’ll start to get good at it.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my review. I can only hope that it helps you to make a decision in some way or another about some of these iems that I review. As for the Topaz, this one is a winner. Give the Topaz some time to level with your brain a bit and also some burn-in helps as well. So with that I am off, take good care everyone.