My background - I am a professional musician, producer and audio engineer with experience in the performing, recording and pro-audio industry. I test products on a technical and musical level and try to write reviews as simple as possible from a music fan’s perspective.
Genre preferences - I majorly listen to rock, acoustic, pop, metal, and occasionally popular EDM songs.
About the company - BGVP is a company based out of Dongguan, China. They manufacture and sell a wide range of products like in-ear monitors, earbuds, cables, cases, etc. They came into prominence with successful products like DMG and DM6. Now, they’ve launched an even wider range of products including EST hybrids ES12 (4EST+8BA) and ES8 (2EST+6BA), V12 (12 BA), DM7 (6BA), VG4 (4BA) and DH3 (2BA + 1DD).
Disclaimer - The products were provided to test and review. I am not affiliated with the company or its sellers in any way and write this review with my best unbiased opinion regardless of how the review turns out.
You can buy the EST8 from BGVP's Official Store on AliExpress – BGVP EST8
Technical Specifications -
- Drivers: 2 EST + 6 BA “Knowles & Sonion”
- Switches: 3 Tuning Switches (9 style options)
- Sensitivity: ≥109dB SPL/ MW
- Impedance:28 Ω
- Frequency Response: 10Hz-40kHz
- Distortion Rate: ≤0. 5% (1 KHZ)
- Channel Difference: ≤1 dB
- Rated Power: 9mW
Included in the box - Since BGVP sent me a couple of their earphones together, I had them ship it to me without branded packaging for ease of sending them in one box. As a result, earphones along with all accessories were sent to me in cute little earphones cases. I was surprised to see that they fit everything in their small rectangular cases.
Here is a list of everything I got, most of which will be available in the official package as well.
- 8 -core Furukawa OCC + silver-plated mixed braided cable
- Black silicone ear tips – SML
- Grey silicone ear tips – SML
- Blue silicone ear tips – SML
- Foam ear tips – 1 pair
- Cleaning tool
- Carry case
- Manual and warranty card
Build Quality - According to the company’s description, all the shells are developed using German Envision TEC 3D-printing equipment and use PMMA acrylic fiber (resin) made of medical grade materials.
To my surprise, BGVP sent me customized shells (different from default stock shells) and I dig them. The craftsmanship, attention to detail and quality are all very high, one of the finest I’ve tested recently. The shell curves are ultra-smooth and are designed to snugly fit the shape of the concha. The faceplate and shell integration is so smooth that you can’t differentiate them being 2 parts that are glued together.
My EST8 shell has a classic red and blue combination with a retro funky twist. It has resin nozzles and the shells are bigger than EST12.
- Sockets – EST8 uses MMCX connectors. The sockets are of very good quality. You hear a nice reassuring loud click when you plug the cable in. They are nice and tight and yet easier than other MMCX sockets with unplugging cables. I swapped cables a lot of times and in my tests the MMCX showed no signs of wear and tear.
- Cable – EST8 comes with BGVP’s 8-core cable Furukawa OCC + silver-plated mixed braided cable. It’s a looker and feels ultra-soft and flexible but sadly this is the same cable that comes with DM7 and VG4, which are way cheaper than EST8. I would’ve loved it if BGVP would’ve provide a nice UP-OCC Litz cable in the package instead.
Fit and Comfort - EST8 has semi-custom shaped shells. EST8’s shells are substantially bigger than EST12’s, even though the driver count is less. I asked BGVP about the same to fulfill my curiosity and they got back to me saying that EST8 uses different drivers and are arranged differently which makes EST8’s totally volume bigger.
Moving on to fit, EST8 isolates outside noise pretty well but with the shells being bigger, feels slightly more weighted and protrude outside my ear, more than EST12’s. That’s not a con by any means, just an observation but people with small ears may have a problem fitting the big shells in.
Sound Analysis – You would imagine that EST12 and EST8 being siblings 4 drivers apart would be tuned similarly because of having similar tech, but that is not the case.
In comparison to EST12, EST8 is ‘relatively’ darker, with a ‘relatively’ intimate soundstage and has a peak presence in 1-2kHz range which primarily differentiates it from EST12. What defines it is a balance tilted slightly towards the lower spectrum with bass and lower mids playing a fun role and a signature that is targeted towards an audience that likes a smoother and intimate presentation with an X-factor, which is resolution without overly boosted treble.
EST8 sounds as if you’re listening to the band in a old wooden room with an intimate audience but with a decently wide soundstage. Very earthy and organic. What may sound contrary to the tech used is the treble being rather smooth even though EST8 uses 2 EST drivers which are specifically designed and famous for treble duties.
Switches – EST8’s switches are not as effective as EST12. Most modes besides 000 did not sound as good to me, so I’m going to keep this simple and write the sound analysis based on the 000 combination which is alright by itself.
Volume power – Before starting the sound analysis, I’d like to point out that EST8 needs more volume power than EST12 and sounds best at average to slightly louder volumes. As soon as you reach its sweet spot, it’ll show you what it’s got with full zeal.
- Bass – EST8 has nice organic and impactful sounding bass. Imagine a nicely aged vintage Gretsch kick drum’s sound. What is cool is that like in EST12, you can precisely hear the boundaries of the room reverb when used in the track, but the feeling of space is different. As I said above, it sounds as if the band is performing in a nice sounding wooden studio room. For example, listen to Niall Horan’s Slow Hands. You can hear the boundaries of the warm drum room in the intro kick drum very accurately. Bass guitar is well present, with sub-bass and mid-bass taking the spotlight more than high-bass. It has good rumble, sustains well but is not as fast as EST12. It gives you the illusion as if a Dynamic Driver is handling bass duties but is actually done by Balanced Armatures.
- Mids – Lower mids are pretty neutral but a little warmer. It doesn’t make anything muddy, just warm. I hear the curve starting a gradual linear dip around 100-120Hz, dipping lowest at around 700-800Hz, very linearly. This keeps the lower mids decently clean from bloat or mud. Post 800Hz, the curve further rises to make up the peak which lies around 1-2kHz. Technically, big peaks in this area tend to make some instruments sound a little honky and vocals a bit nasally, but luckily, EST8’s peak is not too prominent and vocals sound nice, intimate and very organic (Reference – Chris Cornell’s unplugged version of ‘I Am the Highway’ Live at Queen Elizabeth Theatre). Snare body is portrayed with good authority in songs like Muse’s Panic Station and Karnivool’s Simple Boy. They have the smack and presence but not the peaky upper mids which makes you cringe every time a rock snare is slammed in a song when listening at louder volumes. Sometimes those same upper mids can feel slightly lacking because the 3-4kHz region's peak comes a bit early at 1-2 kHz, but this completely depends on your liking of the upper mids boost. I hear another small peak around 5kHz but again it’s not too prominent and keeps the organic warm character of the IEM intact, though does help stringed instruments like acoustic guitars and orchestral instruments like horns and strings shine. It also helps drum shells with nice attack.
- Treble – Treble is again pretty smooth and warm. It feels a bit rolled off in songs which are demanding of the treble sizzle but then also helps make EST8 a very easy listen without tiring one’s ears in long sessions. It is not for people who look for a bright V-shape sound in an IEM or extra clarity with boosted treble. It is more like how old vinyl records sound; sound that is associated with vintage instruments and analog tubes.
But if you are someone that likes extended treble and some exciting sizzle, EST8 is not for you. You should look towards the EST12 instead because that’s the IEM with great balance, clarity and openness throughout the frequency spectrum.
Soundstage, Imaging and Separation - EST8 has a slightly intimate soundstage compared to EST12. Overall the soundstage is still decently wide, wider than average, and has good depth too but the warmer character increases the feeling of intimacy. Imaging and resolution are also very good but fall short of how well EST12 does it. Of course, EST8 is half the price of EST12, yet for the price, EST8 does this section well.
Comparisons - I’ll be comparing EST8 with all switches in off position (000).
- Campfire Audio Andromeda ($1099) – Andromeda has 5 BAs and is Campfire Audio’s most successful product. It is a widely loved IEM. Build wise, Andromeda has a metal shell whereas EST8 and EST12 have resin shells. Resin shells are not a con, they’re just different. Tech wise, EST8 is a hybrid and have many more drivers. Both are starkly different. EST8 has a smoother relatively darker signature with more bass presence and smoother treble. Andromeda on the other hand has cleaner and tighter bass, very detailed mids and sparkly upper treble.
- Fearless Roland ($1000) – Tech wise, Roland is a tri-brid with 1DD + 2BA + 2EST. Roland is more expensive than EST8. Sound wise, Roland with its darker presentation is a good competitor to EST8, though sounds slightly darker. EST8 has more sub-bass and mid-bass presence, a peak in the 1-2kHz range and another one around 5kHz. Roland on the other hand has very nice neutral-ish bass, a peak around 2.5kHz and another one around 4kHz. EST8 has slightly more treble presence but Roland maintains a good balance of a darker presentation whereas EST8’s sound signature falls mid-way. Both do a good job in their own way.
- ItsFit Fusion ($950) – Fusion is a very cool tri-brid with 1DD + 2BA + 1 Magnetostatic driver from ItsFit Labs, which is a new company, hardly a few months old, and is already making waves in the community. It is also the first I’ve come across which uses a magnetostatic driver. EST8 and Fusion are again quite different. Fusion sounds very modern, energetic and lively whereas EST8 sounds warmer. Both do bass very well but Fusion has a dynamic driver with higher resolution, nicer character and energy. Fusion has better mids with more resolution, better details and more liveliness. Fusion’s treble has more sizzle, sparkle and energy whereas EST8 is smoother, more natural and warmer.
- Shozy Pola39 ($900) – Tech wise Pola39 has a 1DD + 2EST drivers. It’s the newest flagship from Shozy, which is a cool brand from Hong Kong making innovative products, some in collaboration with brands like AAW. EST8 and Pola39 are starkly different with EST8 being smoother and Pola39 being open and airy with some sparkle up top. EST8 has more bass presence, meatier mids and controlled clear treble whereas Pola39 has good refined bass, thinner mids and treble with nice energy and sparkle.
Conclusion - EST8 does most things well but is targeted towards an audience which likes a smoother and warmer sound with some sparkle up top and appreciation for it will completely depend on your liking and preferences of upper mids and treble balance. I personally dig it for its vinyl-ish mojo and character. It is also very well built and comes with the same accessories that EST12 does. Give it a shot if you feel that this falls in your preferences category.
Gear used for testing and review -
- Logic Pro X session with hi-res test tracks played through Universal Audio Apollo or Focusrite Clarett Pre X audio interface headphone out.
- Hiby R6 Pro
- Oneplus 7 Pro*-