Our guest for today is from Queen of Audio, their latest budget IEM the Gimlet. QoA is known for its exquisite craftsmanship and design treatment of its products. The Gimlet has also an elegant design theme. The pair is available in two color options, emerald green and pearl white. I will review the white version as you can see and I feel lucky for that, this color looks amazing.
The Gimlet is made from metal with a quality coating. I say quality because the IEM feels like it’s made from ceramic, both in look and feel. And it makes this one of the best-looking IEMs at its price. Its pearl white shell and gold logo plate make for a striking appearance. The craftsmanship is amazing for the asking price I think.
The Gimlet comes bundled with a high-purity stock cable. It’s a 4N OFC (Oxygen-Free Copper) silver-plated cable with 2-pin connectors and 3.5mm single-ended termination. The high-purity wire cores allow for smooth signal transmission with low interference during transmission (compared to standard thin wires).
Under the hood of the Gimlet is a 10mm dynamic driver with a liquid crystal polymer (LCP) diaphragm. You can use the Gimlet with any device that uses a 3.5mm headphone jack. You’ll get a good amount of loudness from them and getting them to a comfortable volume is easy to achieve as its impedance is only 32 ohms.
The strong low end on the QoA Gimlet is pretty fun, if not the most detailed. Ample energy was given to throbbing kick drums, and bass guitars found a little extra rumble and punch. The trade-off for this emphasis was that these low-end parts lost a little bit of their unique character, with the deep, demented-sounding bass notes coming through powerfully but a bit generically.
There are certainly times when I was appreciative of this handling of the low end, which could retain detail on tracks that weren’t particularly crowded but busy mixes left the low end losing some definition in favor of a nondescript warm, bass energy.
The QoA Gimlet has a V-shaped frequency response. It reduces its center mids while moderately emphasizing low mids and high mids. Generally speaking, there are many fans of this mids balance (tuning). Low mids were present just enough to impart a little extra warmth on vocals and guitar fundamentals but avoided muddying the balance.
Boosted high mids kept guitars retaining a bright drive, and balanced out the low-mid fundamental boost on vocals with a little extra emphasis in their overtone fry. The only minor casualty to this balance were snare drums, which lost a little body and realism in the Gimlet’s fairly gentle center-mid scoop.
Though my impression of the QoA Gimlet wasn’t what I would explicitly call bright sounding, it provides some exceptional high-end detail for a budget IEM. Upon some extended listening, I started to notice that reverbs were extra pronounced but avoided overemphasis. In a similar vein, vocal air also had a healthy presence, which provided a pleasant, contrasting synergy with the warmth provided to them in the mids balance.
The same case for acoustic guitars: strummy transients sat well balanced with the lightly boosted low-end guitar hum found in the low mids. Hi-hats and cymbals sounded natural, and ride cymbals had a healthy dose of their harmonic overtones present in their long decays. Overall, the high-end seemed boosted just enough for some detailed layering without running into issues with sibilants, shrillness, or artificiality.
The QoA Gimlet may have a smaller, more insulated soundstage, but it’s impressively fluid and dynamic. Height isn’t exactly its strong suit, but what impressed me was its ability to produce an angular listening experience with movement. Depth was inconsistently present but seemed to spring out when a mix demanded it.
A $60 IEM that I can genuinely recommend for its clean balance and engaging imaging, not just for its relative affordability. The Gimlet has a very full tone, at times almost too full, but one I would choose over many of the emptier-sounding IEMs in this price range. Overall, QoA Gimlet should be bookmarked by anyone shopping for IEMs at this price point.