TANGZU Audio, formerly known as TForce, announced its second IEM for the budget segment, the Shimin Li. It houses a dual-cavity single dynamic driver configuration that is enclosed in ergonomically designed ear shells. The pair features a specially designed 10mm dual-cavity dynamic driver with an N52 powerful magnetic circuit.
The ear shells of TANGZU Shimin Li have a full metallic build. They are made up of high-quality aviation-grade aluminum alloy material. The cavities are designed with a jewel-like face panel. They have a really ergonomic shape. And these might be the most handsome shells I have ever seen under the $50 mark. And this color just looks amazing.
TANGZU Shimin Li is an easy-to-power pair. Users can use it straight out of their smartphones. It has a low impedance rating of just 18Ω with a high sensitivity of 109dB. It will work pretty well off your onboard 3.5mm audio output. But of course like always I rec to use a USB DAC-AMP for better results.
The Shimin Li has a reasonably balanced presentation with a lifted upper midrange and subdued upper treble. The overall clarity and resolution are satisfactory for a budget IEM.
Imaging, instrument separation, layering, clarity, and micro-details are decent enough, though not class-leading. Imaging is a tinge fuzzy, and while the Li won’t win any awards in technicalities, they are more than adequate considering the price. The soundstage is wider than deep, though the music may at times sound compressed with busy tracks.
Timbral accuracy is okay, but the Li is not as natural sounding as some other single DD competitors. There seems to be a lack of heft and note weight, especially at the higher frequencies, with acoustic instruments having a bit of a metallic sheen.
The Shimin Li is a sub-bass-focused set. The sub-bass extends moderately well (when properly amplified), and overall, the bass is just a slight tinge north of neutral.
The bass is speedy, with good texturing and no mid-bass bleed. The Shimin Li’s bass is clean and of high quality, even though it is lacking in terms of quantity. Think of the Shimin Li as a neutral set with a slight bass boost.
With a strong focus on the sub-bass, Shimin Li’s low-frequency extension is pretty decent. It will rumble when you need it to and is present but not dominant. Due to the emphasis on sub-bass and scooped-out mid-bass, kick drums sometimes sound thumpy rather than punchy.
I hear decent texture in the bass guitar but the kick drum thumps and sounds heavy while lacking slam. The attenuated mid-bass creates a drier sound that is clean but lacks richness.
The lower midrange of the Shimin Li is clear and transparent, aided by the lack of mid-bass bleed. The upper midrange of the Shimin Li is a mixed bag though, as this area is rather boosted and can get shouty with louder volumes or with poorly recorded material.
Shimin Li’s mids are fairly neutral, even leaning a little towards thin due to the lessened upper bass. While the clarity is good the midrange comes across as cool and somewhat analytical. Female voices are upfront but male vocals lack power and richness. At higher volume, the upper midrange tends to get shouty. Having said that, the guitars are crisp although the overall resolution is nothing to write home about.
The Shimin Li’s lower treble continues on from the boosted upper mids and can get glaring with louder volumes. The upper treble rolls off early, and there isn’t much brilliance or air. Sibilance is minimal, but there is some loss of micro-details.
The treble is perhaps Shimin Li’s biggest weakness. It lacks presence in some areas and is splashy in others. It falls off heavily after 8kHz and then peaks again in the upper region. The end result is a treble that sounds a little off-timbre.
Certain crash cymbals sound thin like breaking glass. Furthermore, treble notes are truncated and get cut short as though they’re in a room with a low ceiling. It’s not all bad – the tonal balance is about right and the level of detail retrieval is good.
The soundstage has average dimensions and more width than depth. Spatial imaging is mediocre due to Shimin Li’s moderate resolution and instrument separation. The stage position is neutral so vocals and instruments are neither too intimate nor distant. The attenuated mid-bass allows room to breathe so the stage isn’t congested even if it’s not especially tidy.
Around 3dB gain on the sub-bass region and the abnormal elevation on the upper mids tamed down around 5-6dB. The rest of the spectrum after 3.5Khz also tamed around 3-4dB but altogether the sound character became more balanced and more mature, at least to my ears and I started to enjoy these amazing-looking metal shells which just cost $35.
Here is the graph comparison after the mod with the TRI Kai. What do you think?