Review written by Precogvision
SeeAudio is the latest brand to hit the crowded Chi-Fi scene; having purportedly made waves on their domestic market, they’re now expanding into the international market. The Yume (short for the word “dream” in Japanese) is their entry model, a 1DD/2BA hybrid that clocks in at $169. I probably don’t need to tell you that this is one of the most, if not the most competitive price brackets amongst IEMs. Luckily, SeeAudio’s sporting a certain advantage: They’ve got the experience of one of Chi-Fi’s most renowned brands, QDC, backing them up. But does the rookie brand’s entry model actually have what it takes to make its mark, to fulfill the dreams of listeners anxious to get their hands on this IEM? Let’s take a look.
This unit was kindly provided by Linsoul for review. You can purchase the Yume from here. As usual, what follows are my honest thoughts and opinions to the best of my ability.
Source & Drivability
All critical listening was done off of an iBasso DX160 and A&K SP1000M with lossless FLAC files, the stock cable, and the stock tips. I neither experienced any hissing, nor did I have any trouble driving the Yume off of any of my sources.
So, ah, what’s the best way of putting this? SeeAudio’s not pulling the punches here, and they have a very clear target demographic in mind for their IEMs. The Yume arrives in an anime-art style box with their mascot character in front. On the back, you have the specifications and a graphic depicting the frequency response of the Yume. I’ve noted this before, but I think it’s awesome that more manufacturers are beginning to include this stuff in the interest of transparency. You can knock the waifu; you can’t knock that. Included inside are the following accessories:
- Assortment of eartips
- Plastic, hockey puck case
- 0.78mm 2-pin, 3.5mm cable
- Anime waifu stickers
I’m not going to lie, some of the aesthetic choices are pushing it even for me, a self-proclaimed anime aficionado; case-in-point the logo on the hockey puck case. I do like the case itself, though, which uses a friction seal. While it doesn’t seem super high-quality, it’s lightweight and should provide sufficient protection for the IEM. The cable of the Yume is more than usable, and I don’t have any complaints on this front.
The Yume itself sports an acrylic shell with a mix of green and purple glitter for the faceplate. There are silver-colored inlays with the brand’s logo; you can see the QDC roots here, as the placement of the “See” text is reminiscent of where QDC inlays their own brand name. The Yume’s ergonomics are stellar; it’s on the smaller side, so I had no issues with fit or comfort. As usual, fit is subjective, and your mileage might vary and all that. Overall, the Yume’s build is a classy, attractive ordeal.
Normally, I’d break down each part of the frequency response in depth, but let’s eschew that trend here. I think it makes more sense to approach the Yume from a more abstract perspective, to capture its sonic qualities in their entirety.
Frequency response measured off of an IEC-711 coupler. There is a resonance peak at 8kHz; as such, measurements after this point should not be considered entirely accurate. It’s worth noting that the coupler itself is also only certified up until around 10kHz.
Supposedly the Yume adheres to the “Harman@2020” target. Aside from this target technically not existing last I checked, someone also recently pointed out to me that reviewers would say the same of most all Harman-tuned IEMs: “A healthy sub-bass boost (but no mid-bass bleed!), the upper-midrange is a tad forward but with a nice pinna compensation, and maybe it just needs a bit more treble extension”. I got a laugh out of that because, well, it’s mostly true. But there are small deviations here and there with the Yume. The Yume is less sub-bass oriented, slopes off cleaner in the upper-midrange, and there appears to be a minor peak at around 8kHz in the mid-treble. All of this culminates in a slightly leaner, more reference-oriented presentation that’s just as much easier on the ears. The Yume’s tonal balance is, to put it lightly, class-leading.
And I do want to highlight the midrange tuning - the heart and soul of the music - here. The Yume sports a nigh-identical midrange to the Moondrop B2: Dusk, and I can’t attest enough to how well this aspect of the tuning has been done. While it’s still upper-midrange oriented, slightly lean in note-weight and prioritizing crunch, it’s sloping off of 3kHz wonderfully without resulting in the characteristic edginess that most Harman tunings exhibit. It hits closer to how I perceive neutral than anything else I’ve heard; while nothing particularly shines or stands out, that’s not what the Yume’s tuning is going for. The extra treble energy also pays compliment to the “crunch” in the lower-midrange; simultaneously, addressing the oft-cited lack of treble energy in Harman-tuned IEMs.
I think it’s equally true, then, that good sound is good irrespective of how it’s been inspired. And here, we come back to my “to put it lightly” sentiment. The Yume’s not just class-leading for its tonal balance. No, no, no. It punches well-beyond the realms of “for $200,” and competes more closely with a lot of kilobuck stuff on the basis of tonality. It’s really just that pleasing.
Now, I know that’s a bold claim. But a stellar tuning does not necessarily qualify a stellar IEM; here, I recall some fellow reviewers’ sentiments about the Yume sounding somewhat “mushy” despite its excellent tonality. This is where I’d like to tell you that they’re blatantly wrong, and that the Yume is a highly-proficient, technical IEM for $200. Except I can’t. Transient attack is fuzzy, largely undefined; to my ears, the Yume seems to congest quite easily relative to even the likes of the Moondrop Starfield. It stands that layering takes a hit and imaging is decidedly 2-dimensional, largely constrained to the width plane. I’d put overall technical performance somewhere between the level of the Blon BL03 and the aforementioned Starfield, skewed toward the former.
There also appears to be a certain grittiness to the midrange’s transient behavior; it’s walking the line between note texture and grain. Fun fact, the Yume sports the same BA driver used in the Etymotic ER4XR which I don’t recall presenting this quality as closely. This inclines me to say it’s largely the product of more egregious decay. To a certain degree, I think it works well with stuff in the lower-midrange, even matching the slightly scratchy treble, but on more soprano-oriented stuff, I find it somewhat unnatural. Your mileage might vary and all that, I just thought it was interesting.
Something I definitely think needs work, though, is the Yume’s bass. Sure, it’s clean, but it’s lacking in slam to the extent of which it feels like I’m being punched halfheartedly behind a training bag. And regardless of how it graphs, if you ask me, it’s strangely lacking in subbass, failing to dig into the deepest of octaves or present adequate rumble. Perhaps it’s the way it declines in more of a “U” shape. Either way, I’m in the business of telling you what you need to know, not what you want to hear: The Yume does not punch beyond its price in the technical department at all.
The way I see it, the Yume only has a few, real competitors: the Etymotic ER2XR, the Moondrop Starfield, and the Thieaudio Legacy 4. Sure, you’ve got stuff like the Fiio FH3 and the Thieaudio Legacy 3 which might be more apt comparisons (you know, because they’re 1DD/2BA and all), but honestly, I don’t find either of those IEMs particularly competitive.
Despite being down two extra BA drivers, the ER2XR has a pretty significant edge over the Yume when it comes to technical performance. Transient attack is tighter, and some semblance of soundstage depth is actually present despite imaging being the off-cited weak point of the Etymotic monitors. You also have all the inherent coherency and timbre benefits of a single DD.
Why even go for the Yume, then? The answer is simple: comfort. The Yume’s tonality is more pleasing, particularly in the ear compensation which some might find overly forward on the ER2XR. And then physically, of course, you’ll have to deal with the infamous Etymotic triple-flange tips and fit memes.
It’s a tight battle with the Starfield. The Starfield is a good deal bassier, less clean, but it makes up for it by, again, having a technical edge over the Yume. Midrange-wise, I give the edge to the Yume - at least in terms of tuning competency - as the Starfield exhibits a slight peak at around 4kHz which some might find overly bright. This does impart a sense of clarity over the Yume. By contrast, as opposed to the slightly scratchy treble on the Yume, the treble on the Starfield is somewhat hazy thanks to a 12kHz peak.
If you want a more “organic,” smooth presentation, I’d look at the Starfield. On the other hand, if you prioritize a more neutral midrange, less bass, and a tad more treble energy, I’d gravitate towards the Yume.
Here’s another new kid on the block. The Legacy 4 takes on more of a mild V-shape tuning with the upper-midrange and lower-treble emphasized. You can expect the Legacy 4 to be a good deal brighter, more in-your-face with its presentation, lending to a strong technical showing. The Legacy 4 also hits my preferences more closely in the bass with better tactility and slam. The only problem? Listening to the Legacy 4 can be a fatiguing affair, and here, the tonal balance of the Yume really shines through as much preferable for extended listening.
There is no question in my mind that the Yume has lowered the bar of entry for which one might expect not just good, but even stellar tuning. Like so, if one desires the most well-tuned IEM under $200, then I say look no further than the Yume. You will, however, notice a recurring theme in the brief comparisons I made: The Yume’s intangibles are lacking relative to other heavy-hitters in its price bracket. If SeeAudio could reify the Yume’s technical performance a step further, I believe the Yume would be set to take the $200 benchmark position. For now, the rookie brand has demonstrated a gift for tuning, and I excitedly await what SeeAudio decides to release next. Recommended.
- Aimer - Hakuchuumu
- David Nail - Let It Rain
- Dreamcatcher - Silent Night
- Girls’ Generation - Galaxy Supernova
- Illenium - Broken Ones
- Joe Nichols - Sunny and 75
- Keith Urban - Defying Gravity (2009)
- Sabai - Million Days
- Sawano Hiroyuki - Best of Vocal Works Remastered (2020)
- Taeyeon - My Voice (2017)
- Tiffany - I Just Wanna Dance
- Tom Day - Where Were We
Discuss the SeeAudio Yume on the HEADPHONE Community Forum.