If Head-Direct’s RE series is a benchmark for how far Chinese-made headphones have come, Yuin, another great Chinese manufacturer, should be considered the standard by which even Head-Direct’s products are compared. Back in 2006, the Yuin PK1 startled the audio community not only with its high price, but excellent sound. In 2009, the tradition continues with the excellent G-series of clip-on headphones which start at 49$. The G2A isn’t cheap by an realistic definition of the word, but I will sum up why it simply rocks the house and will keep listeners coming back for more for a long, foreseeable future.
Impedance: 60 Ohm (±3 ohms)
Sensitivity: 110dB (± 2)
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Cable: 120cm, straight 3.5mm gold-plated plug
Accessories: Spare foam pads
Fit and Package
Packaging often gets tossed; it is unneeded, plastic, garbage that deserves to be thrashed to pieces when opened. Well, a few Chinese companies have cooked up a good packaging recipe: high-quality cardboard boxes which not only protect the headphones, but are a breeze to open. Yuin are one of those companies. The G2A comes firmly mounted in pressure-moulded sponge with two extra ear-pads and a tiny, nearly illegible spec/guarantee sheet. Personally, I am keeping the box; it is sturdy and acts as a great holding drawer for the G2A when they are out of use on my desk. While sparse, the accessories are completely par for the course, even when compared to the more expensive v-Jays.
The good news doesn’t end there, but is stifled: The G2A are clip-on headphones. This category is and either/or genre of headphones which you will either love or hate. Here are the reasons: firstly, clip-ons don’t fit as snugly as head-band toting headphones. Depending on the shape of your head and ears, they may stay firm, or they may bounce all over your ears. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category because God created me with smaller than average ears. And, to make matters worse, the ear-hooks are 100% plastic, so fit issues can’t be eradicated by simply bending the hooks. Still, the G2A isn’t uncomfortable, it’s just okay. And like the v-Jays, the ear pads swivel on fulcrums so that even the most strangely angled of ears can enjoy full sound.
Build Quality and Cable
Strange at this price point, Yuin have opted for hot-looking aluminium, not the plastic which adorns nearly every headphone below 100$. Even Ultrasone’s Zino and the excellent v-Jays come in some flavour of plastic. Leave it to the Chinese to up the ante, eh? The brushed aluminium is beautiful and adds an unexpected touch of class to this 49$ headphone which is always welcome, but in turn, has its own failings. Aluminium is a bit heavier than other lightweight materials, and because it is a soft metal, it will scratch. In keeping with the oxymoronic parade of quizzical comments, there is more to lament in the ear-hooks than just fit. The plastic is brittle and comes in hard-angles – both which negatively affect the headphone’s durability. Fortunately, nearly any cheapo airline headphone band should snap off to work with the G2A, allowing you to take Yuin’s otherwise fine headphone to new heights (yes, a pun).
Moving down the line, we find an energetic, cheap cable. Yuin make great-sounding earphones, but they still haven’t figured out where to invest a few more dollars to make a truly perfect headphone. The rubbery affair is noisy, lacks melted stress-reliefs, sports a straight-angle headphone jack, and in general, is an unfortunate choice for what is otherwise, an excellent headphone. The upside is that if you know anyone who has a halfway steady hand an a solder kit, you can do better with just about any 3rd-party cable. Still, no matter how underwhelming, the G2A cable isn’t subject to body-oil induced rot or crystalisation. It also well-insulated against channel leakage from left to right.
If the Yuin G2A looks good for the price, it sounds even better – trust me. I can already see nitpickers bringing out ticker boards, critically scratching the left side of their papers under the heading: ‘bass quantity’. The truth is that the G2A isn’t a bassy headphone, but it has no lack of of quality or control in any frequency. Still, for users who value more, it might be better to consider options such as the v-Jays or even the Ultrasone Zino.
But overall, there is little if anything to fault with the G2A. Immediately, the headphone presents itself crisply in all frequencies, but its bass, while smooth and detailed, is rolled off in its lowest registers. In terms of quantity, the mid range stands 4-5 decibels louder in across the board, but despite its drop off, the G2A’s bass notes are great. They don’t hang on too long, nor shut up shop before closing time. This presentation is great for female vocal genres, classical, electronic music, and surprisingly, trance.
Indeed, because low frequencies are not heavy-handed and remain smear-free, they lend themselves very well to fast, punchy genres whose complicated textures can confuse certain headphones. Since the G2A is free from bloom at normal listening volumes, it simply rocks for trance, as long as you aren’t looking for sheer head-pounding bass. As volume goes up, bass response also increases, but I won’t recommend listening very loudly. Firstly, it is bad for your ears, and secondly, the bass eventually will rattle the manifold. An amplifier doesn’t really eek out more bass response from the G2A, but it does help a portable achieve lower distortion levels.
Where bass is tight, but ultimately subdued, the midrange is this Yuin’s strong point. Most vocals and the biggest lot of instruments exist largely in the midrange, and thank God they do – the G2A is a beautiful performer. It retains the quick response and recovery time like its low frequency playback, but stuns with beautiful vocals and deft inistruments. What I am hearing is not a 49$ headphone. Actually, the G2A sounds better than the v-Jays for vocals and a variety of mid-strung instruments simply because its presentation is more dynamic in comparison to its bass.
The two are also more or less comparable in terms of space and detail. The v-Jays no doubt is a more powerful, well-made product, but both lack a little space. The G2A isn’t crowded or inarticulate, but a lot of the music from the back of the driver rebounds from the plastic manifold and the aluminium back plate back into the ear. Surprisingly, nothing is congested, but the sense of space which I really appreciate with a lot of music is somewhat stunted.
Still, the midrange is dynamic and a great fit for most musical genres. For the price, there may not be a better clip-on headphone.
I will have to continue with the praise here. The Yuin is great in just about every way. It is well-extended despite softening at its extremities; it is free of grain, fatigue and sibilance. For these reasons, music which relies heavily on treble effects is simply a spot-on listen. I have been enjoying The Orb with the G2A more than I should have for the price and again, trance is nigh on perfect. It is needless to say that high frequencies stay within the lines, retain the G2A’s crisp edges, and great attack and decay.
If I were to criticise any thing, it would be that at loud volumes, the mid range jumps up with regards to treble response, covering over some of the more delicate instruments, but then again, listening at loud volumes is not recommended with any headphone anyway.
Soundstage and Separation
As mentioned above, the closed/semi closed design of the G2A has its drawbacks. Instruments never mash up against each other, but they don’t have much room to draw their own, individual breaths. Not all closed headphones are like this: my Ultrasone DJ1Pro is airy, dynamic and spacious. The G2A isn’t a spacey headphone, but it does throw music to the back and slightly forward from the ears, but overall, like the v-Jays, it keeps music right at the transducers.
Sound in a Nutshell
The G2A is a fun listen by all accounts: with good bass, a forward mis section and smooth highs, it simply sings with most music. Add at 60 ohms and 110db sensitivity, it can be powered for a engaging listen at any volume level. In terms of audio performance alone, it is almost in a league all its own. Its only real problem is that it isn’t a spacious listen in comparison to a few competitors. The v-Jays which also come on swivel cups are slightly better, but both rely heavily on their dynamics to carry a sense of space rather than following through with properly vented rear ports. Still, for 49$, the G2A is stunning by all accounts and fortunately for many portable players, doesn’t reveal too much background hiss.
I set the iPod touch’s volume slider at about 40-50% for modern, dynamically compressed music, and for other music, anywhere from 50-70%. Apart from volume, the G2A doesn’t over stress the iPod touch, suffering the player to lose only a small bite of very low bass while maintaining high levels of channel separation, good distortion figures, and well-extended treble.
Out and About with the G2A
Like the v-Jays and Zino, this headphone is at least semi-open, meaning that your music will leak out and the environment will leak in. The G2A like the above mentioned headphones was not designed to block noise, it was designed to sound good and work in a variety of controlled situations. Well, it does, as long as you don’t stray too close to loud environments such as the underground, buses, and crowded streets. It is best in a room, or used while exercising indoors, away from the wind.
The G2A probably blocks around 5-10 decibels of noise at best. Saying that, where it was intended to be used: away from heavy noise, it is great. But if you are daring, it will work at loud volume levels outside. Keep in mind of course, that it is detrimental to your hearing to turn the volume up loud enough to overcome traffic and people on the street. At extremely loud listening levels, it also distorts slightly, causing the manifold to vibrate uncontrollably. Also, despite its feather-weight, the cable has a mind of its own. Since the ear-hooks cannot be bent to fasten the earphones securely, the G2A may struggle slightly to stay on the head when there is too much movement. Adding to that, the cable splits about 30 cm below the earpieces, making it a hazard which will catch on lose pieces of clothing and passersby. I prefer to twist the cables so that they open about 15 cm below the earpieces to alleviate the danger of losing my headphones to someone’s bulky many-pocketed rucksack (there is a story there). Finally, microphonics arent’ too much a problem, but measure in worse than the v-Jays.
From packing to product, the G2A is impressive. It sounds lovely, has great looks, and in general, works flawlessly. No one should expect a 49$ headphone to sound so dynamic, controlled, and tight. But the G2A does and it is. In fact, its mids better the more expensive v-Jays and Zino, but it loses out in terms of impact and space. Nothing is perfect. While only slightly recessed at both extremes, both bass and treble should satisfy demanding listeners who want the best bang for the buck. But the G2A fails in one important area: fit. Both its ear hooks and strangely designed cable contribute to the only downfalls of this truly incredible headphone which I reckon will be up for an editor’s choice this year (hint hint).
Hot damn! Headphones really are a rockin’ way to enjoy music, right? Feel free to explore TMA’s headphone oubliette.
v-Jays in Review – Jerry Harvey JH13Pro in Review — Victor/JVC FX500 in Review — Shure SE530 in Review — Ultrasone Zino Headphones in Review