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Joyodio Shine Review: Shine (Overly) Bright Like a Diamond
February 17, 2023 Andrew Cheng

IEMs with built-in switches that grant you the ability to alter the tuning aren’t particularly new or groundbreaking, though the feature usually doesn’t come cheap. “Switchable” IEMs like the QDC Anole VX, for example, retails at over RM9,000. On the other end of that scale, there’s the far more affordable Thieaudio Legacy 3 for about RM500.

Joyodio, a newcomer to the ChiFi space, is making its debut with the Joyodio Shine; an IEM with tunable switches that retails for just $79.99 (about RM355) on Linsoul, which sent us this review unit. The entry of yet another brand in the ChiFi market is not uncommon, but making your debut IEM a tunable one is a quite the bold move.

Even if it’s not executed quite right.

What It Is

The Joyodio Shine is an IEM with a single dynamic driver and two balanced armature drivers. As mentioned, the Shine is a tunable IEM with four tiny switches on each of the shells that allow users to swap between five main profiles with 16 possible configurations.

Looking at the handy pamphlet that comes with the Shine – you probably shouldn’t lose it – the four switches let you tweak the “low, high, ultra-high, and full-frequency overall regulation” respectively. In simpler terms, you’re able to adjust the bass, upper-mids, treble, and a…somewhat global frequency boost.

At least, that’s what it says on (literal) paper. I’ll elaborate more on the tuning of the Shine further down the review.

The Joyodio Shine comes in a rather sizeable box, the inside of which houses the IEM itself, six pairs of ear tips, and a carrying case that holds the cable. There’s also a pin included that’s thin enough to adjust the individual tuning switches on the IEM’s shell. This pin is practically no different to a SIM eject tool that you get with your smartphone.

One set of ear tips is your standard translucent silicone tip, while the other has a spiral pattern on the inside. Despite the different deign, they sound pretty similar to each other, which can be attributed to the fact that both of them are wide bore tips.

With that in mind, I would’ve appreciated the inclusion of narrow bore tips as well, especially due to the bright tuning of the Shine.

The included hard shell, faux leather case is actually quite nice. In fact, it’s one of the nicer elements of the Shine. The cable is a silver-plated four-core braided cable, and this review unit includes an optional built-in microphone. The cable is soft, but still prone to tangling, not to mention the fact that it also has a…peculiar odour.

As for the Shine itself, the faceplate is made of metal, while the inner shell is 3D-printed resin. Fit and comfort are decent, though the longer nozzle makes it a tad troublesome for me to find the sweet spot to get a proper seal in my ears. I actually find it better to tip roll and use the large sized tips from the QKZ x HBB Khan instead.

How Does It Sound?

Given that the Joyodio Shine’s tuning can be switched up with the switches on its shell – excuse the pun – the following sound impressions are based on the IEM’s Standard tuning, where all of the switches are turned down. In my opinion, even with the different settings, the inherent tonality of the Shine still remains essentially the same, aside from some dips and peaks in certain areas.

Tonality of the Shine is bright and treble-centric. The 1DD and 2BA IEM has a predominantly BA timbre, and the soundstage is airy and horizontally wide, but it’s not extended extensively vertically. Clarity and imaging is quite good, though instruments tend to mush together and congest the stage on busier tracks.

Bass

Sub-bass of the Shine is starkly rolled-off and virtually absent. There is no notable rumble, and the texture of the bass is also rather thin. Mid-bass is present but bashful, barely making itself known within the frequency range.

There isn’t, to my ears, sufficient impact in the Shine’s bass production, especially for genres like pop and rock. Vocal-centric or classical tracks might fare better in this regard, though bassheads should probably steer clear of the Shine.

Mids

Male vocals are clear, but almost unnaturally so; breathiness is in abundance, but this makes the note weight far too thin; female vocals sound very forward and airy, but borderline shouty to my ears. Basically, a substantial amount of extra low-end would help add warmth and body to vocals, and bring it closer to what’s more natural to my preferences.

The same can be said for instruments like keys and strings, where there is clarity, but lack of structure and integrity.

Treble

This region is where the Shine truly…shines, albeit overly so. The treble region of this IEM is just too bright to my ears, to the point where it gets a bit fatiguing in long listening sessions. In the Shine’s defense, the treble isn’t sharp or shrill, but it is on the cusp of sounding as such, especially for a treble-sensitive listener like myself.

This emphasis in the highs does mean that the Shine has ample amount of air and clarity, though I still wish the energy of the treble is a bit more tame.

Differences Between Different Tuning Settings

So does the Shine’s tuning switches actually work? Of course. But are they really effective as an alternative to EQ or switching to different IEMs depending on the song and mood? Other reviews of the Shine have graciously measured and graphed each of the five default tunings, so you can refer to those for a more visual idea of the differences. The following is what each of the profile sounds like to my ears:

  • The Standard profile aside, all four switches pushed up will give you the Pop profile. This profile sounds sharper with crispier treble, and vocals are also more forward. However, the obvious pinna gain rise makes this already bright IEM even brighter. Ouch.
  • Classical, which is just the third and fourth switches up, gives you a similarly bright experience sans the low end and upper mid-range.
  • Having only the first and fourth switches up will yield the R&B/Rock tuning, a profile that doesn’t accentuate the upper mids as much as the Pop profile while still sounding mildly exciting.
  • Finally, there’s the “HiFi” tuning, which is just lifting up the fourth switch, producing the most detailed and revealing sound profile. That being said, it’s also the profile which sounds like it has the least amount of bass. If you like a bright sound signature but don’t want to be overwhelmed by too much bass, this profile is decent for a more clinical listening experience.

Personally, I like Standard for most things and R&B/Rock for others. The latter has more presence and energy, while Standard is just more laid back and doesn’t sound as artificially boosted as the others. Personally, none of the profiles have strong enough bass presence to my ears, and it is an IEM that is a bit too bright for my liking.

Is It Worth It?

One of the most highlighted selling points of the Joyodio Shine is its flexibility to get different tunings by tweaking the switches on the IEM, but the differences aren’t incredibly drastic. You’re still limited by the hardware that is the 1DD and 2BA driver configuration.

It’s a neat novelty, to be sure, but if you’re already not a fan of the Shine’s inherent sound signature (bright and treble-centric), flipping several switches on the IEM won’t change that. Of course, if you do like such tonality, the Shine is certainly worth checking out.

Li Jin Soh contributed to this review.

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