Today we’re checking out an interesting new hybrid from BGVP, the DMG.
I’ve had a bit of a checkered history with BGVP in that while I found their designs and build quality excellent for the most part, sound quality was never elevated much beyond average. The DMG is set to turn the brand on it’s head with a pretty impressive lineup of drivers; two dynamic drivers and four balanced armatures, per side.
I can’t think of another brand that has managed to bring this driver setup to market at such an affordable price (139.00 USD), and it’s not like BGVP skimped on features or build either. It has a drop dead gorgeous MMCX removable cable, three tuning filters, aluminum-magnesium alloy housings, a 4 way-crossover for accurate frequency division, graphene and titanium coated dynamic drivers, and custom tuned balanced armatures. I’ve seen it rumored that they are using custom Knowles branded armatures, but none of BGVP’s marketing information supports this. Given how much flack Chinese brands seem to get for using cheap, “no-name” drivers, you know this is something BGVP would be emphasizing were it true. Not that it would matter anyway. There are lots of earphones out there using drivers from budget makers like Bellsing that sound fantastic.
Now, all that said, those flashy features mean jack if the DMG doesn’t perform. So… does it? Let’s take a closer look and fine out.
Thanks to Lillian from DD Audio/Linsoul Tech for arranging a sample of the DMG for review. The thoughts within this review are my own and do not represent DD Audio, BGVP, or any other entity. No financial incentive was provided to write this review.
Note that I was sent a second review unit as the first suffered from a severe 9dB channel imbalance that was not simply resolved by adjusting the balance of my player. I have not read of another instance where a DMG suffered from such an imbalance and suspect this is a one-off issue, maybe even caused by damage during shipping. Balanced armatures are somewhat fragile after all.
At the time of writing, the BGVP could be picked up for 139.00 USD.
The DMG doesn’t seem to be greatly affected by source, and as such I spent most of my at-home time listening to it piped through my TEAC HA-501 with either my Asus FV53V or LG G6 sourcing the music. For portable use it was run straight out of the LG G6, via Bluetooth using the Radsone ES100, or via the Shanling M1. It also spent a bit of time with the budget-friendly Ruizu X02. I found the DMG very easy to bring up to my typically low listening volumes, and as such didn’t feel the need for an amp, though it did sound a bit more controlled when run through the TEAC.
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy.
- Sensitivity: 110dB/mW@1KHz
- Impedence: 18 ohms
- Frequency Response: 15-45KHz
- Channel Difference: </= 1dB
- Distortion: </= 1%
- Rated Power: 10mW
Packaging and Accessories:
BGVP’s packaging for the DMG is quite pleasant. The exterior sheath shows off a black DMG on the front with the color and mic designation being noted on the right side. On the back you find another image of the DMG along with a detailed spec list. Removing the sleeve reveals a surprisingly nice, naturally colored cardboard box that is emblazoned with BGVP’s new logo that I’m quite fond of.
Lifting the lid of the box you find two smaller boxes. The top houses the DMG’s ear pieces on display under appropriately shaped viewing windows. A smaller box below, once again featuring the new BGVP logo, holds most of the accessories. Lifting out these two boxes reveals one more compartment that houses the cable and literature. The accessory kit is pretty extensive and in all you get:
- DMG earphones
- 5N OCC silver-plated MMCX cable
- Single flange, wide bore tips (s/m/l) Black
- Single flange, medium bore tips (s/m/l) Grey
- Single flange, small bore tips (s/m/l) Blue
- Medium foam tips
- Silicone ear guides
- Shirt clip
- Three pairs of tuning filters
One thing BGVP has always provided is a ton of accessories. However, in the past what they included was very redundant. Three full sets of tips, all the same but in different colors for example. Here, they did it right. About the only inclusion I question is the set of ear guides as the cable already had preformed guides built in.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The DMG’s construction is quite impressive. The aluminum-magnesium alloy shells are made from two component parts that fit together perfectly. There are color coded plastic bands that surround the MMCX input ports denoting red for right, blue for left. Even cooler as that that coloring extends inside the shells. With the nozzle filters removed, you can see the red or blue plastic latticework that holds the drivers and ports their sound output to the nozzle, along with a filter for one of the sets of armatures. On the inner side of the shells facing your ear there is a pinhole vent. Along the top of the shell, at the base of the extension for the MMCX ports, there is a larger vent. This one has the unfortunate habit of picking up wind making the DMG almost as noisy when worn outdoors as the Campfire Audio Polaris. The threading for the filters is smooth and accurate on both samples I have. It is very easy to screw the filters on straight. As a general note, if you have to force them on you’re doing it wrong and will probably damage the threading. My only concern about the filters is the lack of rubber o-ring. This missing feature lets them work themselves loose over time, something I noticed when tip rolling. Be sure to check that on the regular to avoid losing a filter.
The DMG’s cable has got to be one of the best at this price. The clear sheath shows off the silver-plated wires within. The twin strands are extremely flexible, have no memory, transmit zero noise, and are coiled neatly up to the y-split where they separate and lead up to each ear piece. The 90 degree angled jack is well-relieved and fairly compact, so plugging it into a DAP or phone with a case shouldn’t cause issues. The y-split has no strain relief, but you do get a useful chin cinch. There are flexible, preformed ear guides in place or memory wire which does a great job of holding the cable behind the ear. The MMCX plug are sheathed in aluminum with blue and red plastic bands to denote left and right channels respectively. The cable plugs in securely and while it can swivel, the connection is tight enough to keep it oriented correctly unless you choose to move it.
The DMG has a very ergonomic shape, similar to something like the Stagediver series from Inear or KZ ZS3. It’s slightly smaller than those, however, with a compact, well-rounded protrusion that nestles into your antihelix and locks them in place. There are no sharp edges anywhere and the nozzles aren’t overly large leading to something that feels very natural to wear. This is certainly one of the more comfortable and stable earphones I’ve used, requiring little to no re-adjustment during listening sessions.
Isolation is pretty good, slightly above average in my experience. The vent on top and fairly minimal insertion depth lets in some outside noise, but not a ton. Tapping away on my keyboard, clicks and clacks are minimized significantly. As are voices, as evidenced listening to my beats in the local Tim Horton’s. You can further improve isolation with the included foams tips.
The DMG is a fairly well-balanced earphone with emphasis on the low end, mid-bass in particular. This gives them a fairly warm-leaning signature. Treble is well extended with a fairly smooth, easygoing presentation. Separation and clarity are excellent, with just enough emphasis above 5k, to give them some air and shimmer to cymbals and other effects. Tossing on the silver treble filter seems to boost this region, giving them a more energetic but slightly less refined presentation. The gold bass filters dull the treble a notable amount, reducing clarity and air but making them easier on the ears. The body-colored reference filters find the right balance in my opinion, suffering from none of the issues of the silver or gold filters.
The mid-range sees a reserved dip in emphasis but retains a strong presence so as not to be overshadowed by the low end or treble regions. Running through Supertramp’s 1974 masterpiece, “Crime of the Century”, I found vocals to tilt ever so slightly towards a leaner output. That’s not to say I find them lean or thin, they’re just not as full-bodied and dense as some other products, take the Brainwavz B400 for example. Instruments sound pleasantly accurate with a fairly natural timbre, something BGVP tends to do well. This presentation does a great job of emphasizing how detailed the mid-range can be, such as when it picks up the tiny snaps of saliva (gross…) shifting in the mouth while Paul Williams sings on “Touch” from Daft Punk’s 2013 release, Random Access Memories. Sibilance is present, but I found it very minimal and not intrusive.
I found the DMG’s bass extension to be quite good, able to give off some solid physical feedback. The emphasis on mid-bass does have a tendency to take over when a wide range of tones are present, so unless sub-bass is the clear focus they can come across rolled off before hitting those deep notes. That said, Gramatik’s “No Turning Back”, Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Dirtyphonics Remix)”, and Rage Against the Machine’s “Pistol Grip Pump” do a good job of showing off how articulate and flexible the DMG’s low end can be. It’s quick, well controlled, and has excellent note separation.
The DMG’s sound stage I found only slightly above average. Imaging was fairly accurate with smooth and consistent channel to channel sweeps. It is certainly a couple steps up from their 2+2 hybrid, the DM5, which has some interesting imaging quirks. I was most impressed with the layering and separation which are outstanding. It’s fairly easy to pick out and follow individual track elements and layers with the DMG. I generally find brighter earphones better for track analysis since they exaggerate detail and clarity, but the DMG holds its own.
The DMG comes with three filter options. You have silver which enhances treble, gold for enhanced bass, and a body colored filter (red, black, or blue to match the color of your earphone) which is the balanced option. After swapping between the various filters, I have a feeling the DMG’s system follows the same concept that ADVANCED applied to the GT3, altering a fairly narrow band of frequencies which in turn affects your perception of how the overall sound is balanced. In particular the upper mids and lower treble.
I found the three filters to have a small, but significant affect on the presentation, most noticeable when swapping between the bass and treble filters. The treble filters have a brighter, slightly harsh edge to them which gets tiring. The bass filters up the warmth and reduce clarity but also seem to have the effect of dispersing the sound a little more. The balanced filters are just that, finding a middle ground between the two. They were by far my favorite and what I spent the majority of my time with.
In addition to the stock filters, I found the filters from the LZ A5 fit the DMG perfectly. These are something to consider picking up if you find the DMG too bright with it’s stock options. LZ’s filters focus most of their tuning on the upper mids and 7k region, and all four seem to tone down the DMG’s treble peaks making it an even smoother, more refined sounding product. Part of this may be that they are longer and have a smaller nozzle opening.
Of the four options from LZ, grey and black were my favorites. The grey filters sound really similar to the body colored/balanced stock filters but with a silkier presentation. The black filters are akin to the stock silver/treble filters but not as bright, and again with a overall smoother presentation. Both filters nullify the occasional sibilance, rounding off those harsh s’s and t’s.
Kinera IDUN (DMG w/ silver filters): The IDUN has more treble emphasis with better extension. It has more sizzle and less control, and as a result is more fatiguing and less natural sounding. It’s more airy though, giving the IDUN a larger sound stage. Note separation is more impressive on the DMG and it sounds more layered, but the IDUN is more accurate in terms of imaging. The IDUN’s mid-range is less full and more subject to sibilance. The DMG has more bass in all regards, though the IDUN seems to extend a little better due to a more balanced sub-/mid-bass presence.
The IDUN acrylic shells are drop dead gorgeous, extremely ergonomic, and even better isolating than the DMG. In terms of durability, the DMG’s metal construction takes the cake, but the IDUN certainly looks the part of a more premium product. Like the DMG, the IDUN has one of the best cables in the segment. It’s braided beautifully with a two tone coloring and is thicker, yet just as flexible as BGVP’s cable. Everything feels beefy and durable with only the 2-pin plugs letting them down. Aesthetically they don’t match, and don’t sit flush with the earpieces making them a clear weak point. While I thin Kinera’s cable is nicer, BGVP did a better job of implementing their MMCX connectors.
TFZ King Pro: The King Pro and DMG go punch for punch. The DMG has a touch more treble energy with less forward mids. The DMG’s bass is more engaging with a punchier presentation, however, the King Pro has better balance and extension which really shows itself on EDM tracks. The DMG can’t touch it’s awesome sub-bass. Detail and clarity goes to the DMG, but overall coherence is in the King’s court. When it comes to staging qualities, the King Pro sounds larger and has more accurate imaging, but it lacks the same sense of depth and layering you get with the DMG. I feel they they perform on an equal level, though I prefer the DMG for the extra treble energy. The King Pro is excellent, but a touch too polite for my tastes.
They goo head-to-head in terms of build too. The King’s aluminum shells are just as well constructed, though the gap under the faceplate, which is purposeful and hides the King’s vents, takes away from the design’s cohesion. Not an issue on the DMG. Comfort is good on the King, but it doesn’t conform to the ear as naturally as the DMG. Isolation is also not as good letting in more outside noise. TFZ’s cable is fantastic, but falls a step behind the DMG’s. It’s not quite as flexible for one, but the real kicker is the weight of the steel y-split which makes it’s presence known at all times. It tugs and pulls, and will probably shorten the life of the cable.
BGVP has really impressed me this time around. It’s not wholly average like the DS1 or a one trick pony like the DM5. They clearly did their homework so they could bring an impressive performer to market with some awesome features, and at a price that is more than reasonable for what you’re getting.
The tuning filter system could be a little more varied out of the box, but if you’re willing to put in a bit of time to mod the existing filters you can change things up. Or, you could spend an additional 20 USD on the LZ A5’s filters and unlock four completely new tuning options.
Overall this is a pretty easy earphone to recommend. The shells are well constructed and absurdly comfortable. The cable is tops in this price range and equipped with MMCX connectors so you can swap it out if it breaks, or to install something even more premium, or to run it balanced should you so choose. Last but not least, the sound quality is excellent. Save for when the silver filters are installed, the treble is smooth and easygoing, the mids are reasonably well-bodied and very clear, and the bass is punchy and dynamic, all set within a spacious, well-layered and separated sound scape.
If you’re in the market for something under 150 bucks, BGVP has a strong contender in the DMG.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)