Today we’re checking out the much adored DM6, a quintuple armature earphone from BGVP.
BGVP and I have had a checkered past. Most of their earlier products were wonderful to look at and feel, but fell flat on their face when it came to how they sounded. Uninspired, generic, dull, etc. just to toss out some unflattering terms. All this changed with the DMG, a beast of an earphone with beautiful aluminum shells, a top tier cable, and a mind blowing signature provided via a complicated six driver setup; two dynamic driver and four balanced armatures per side.
The DM6 arrived on the market around the same time and showed a further maturing of the BGVP brand. With five armatures per side and a handmade, custom-like resin shell, it was certainly an eye-catching product. It sounded like it would be too thanks to some extremely positive feedback. This great feedback and some overenthusiastic AliExpress retailers who applied some intense discounts without proper consent led to the eventual sale of so many units, BGVP couldn’t keep up with the demand. Showing their class, BGVP honoured those unwittingly discounted orders (which they didn’t have to do), though it took a few months for everything to be fulfilled. Knowing this history, I’m quite honoured and humbled to have been sent one for review, especially given how in demand they still are.
Does the DM6 warrant the unabashed love and fervour it received starting in November of 2018, continuing through the ensuing months? It absolutely does so let’s take a closer look.
A big thanks to Lillian at Linsoul Audio for arranging and providing a sample of the DM6 for the purposes of review. The thoughts here are my subjective opinions based on my time listening to the DM6 over the course of over a month. They do not represent BGVP, Linsoul, or any other entity. At the time of writing the DM6 retailed for 199.00 USD. You can check it out here: https://www.linsoul.com/product-page/BGVP-DM6-Earphone
For home use the DM6 was powered by my TEAC HA-501 with a ZiShan DSD or Shanling M0 providing source duty. For mobile use, the DM6 was powered by a Shanling M0 or ZiShan DSD. Sometimes with the Periodic Audio Nickel amp tossed into the mix however that would generate some background hiss. The HA-501 on a higher damping setting would too. The DM6 is extremely easy to drive and doesn’t need an amp.
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. My preferences for earphone tuning are quite relaxed and as such their is no one signature I look for. The HiFiMAN RE800, Brainwavz B400, and Massdrop x MeeAudio Planamic are examples of earphones with wildly varied signatures that are enjoyable for different reasons. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when perusing my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.
- Drivers: 5 balanced armatures including Knowles 22955 and 30017
- Impedance: 20ohms
- Sensitivity: 122dB/mW
- Frequency Response: 10-40,000Hz
- Distortion: < 0.5%
- Rated Power: 5mW
- Channel Difference: < 1dB
Packaging and Accessories:
The DM6 arrives in some fairly unassuming packaging. The exterior sheath is quite generic with the BGVP logo and slogan “The Best Experience” sharing space with a Hi-Res AUDIO logo on the front. The sides contain more BGVP branding while the back displays a large sticker containing the specifications and model information. Sliding off the sheath reveals a naturally coloured cardboard box with the BGVP logo printed on the lid.
Inside you find the DM6’s earpieces nestled within a foam insert coated in a classy black felt-like material. Underneath this foam insert we find the cable tucked inside a separate Ziplock bag, along with a QC pass card, instruction manual, and an instruction card for attaching and detaching the cable. A second smaller cardboard box adorned with the BGVP logo contains the rest of the accessories. In all you get:
- DM6 earphones
- Silver plated MMCX cable
- Black single flange wide bore tips (s/m/l)
- Blue small bore single flange tips (s/m/l)
- Foam tips in a tip case (m)
- Cleaning tool
Overall a nice accessory kit that is missing only one thing; a carrying case for the earphones. Balanced armatures are fairly delicate and a case is a necessity in my opinion. While cases are exceptionally inexpensive and can be picked up from a third party for less than a dollar, including one would have added to the overall value on offer here. The included tips are pretty solid, though nothing particularly unique or special. The wide bore set, of which the medium size comes preinstalled, was my preferred set for listening as it offered a more balanced experience. The small bore tips boosted mid-bass more than I’d like.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The BGVP DM6 has 3D printed resin housings made using German Envision TEC 3D printing equipment. This means they look and feel absolutely phenomenal, rivalling the uber impressive FiiO FA1 in terms of raw quality. The face of my particular sample is a little more simple than some of the more extravagant customization offerings available, but it still looks stellar with the BGVP logo floating above the drivers and MMCX port. The resin wraps flush with the MMCX port with no gaps or misalignment. The nozzle is well defined with a lip for retaining tips, and a number of sound ports are visible inside. About the only thing missing is a nozzle screen to protect the drives from debris.
The DM6 can come with either a 6N 8 core silver-plated cable intended for vocals, or a copper and silver-plated mixed braided cable for enhancing bass. Unfortunately, at least according to the product description, the cable is randomly assigned. I personally fall into the ‘cables don’t make a difference save for impedance’ camp, so I don’t really care about the materials within. Based on the descriptions, I’m pretty sure we have the copper and silver-plated mixed cable here. First impressions of the cable were great. It looks fantastic, feels durable, has high quality metal hardware and handy preformed ear guides. The chin cinch is a useful addition too. After spending some time using it, this cable has some downfalls. First, it is pretty heavy and has a habit of tugging the earphones out of position making constant re-adjustments necessary. Unusual for a low profile earphone of this design, in my experience. Second, the sheath is somewhat stiff and sticky. While it thankfully doesn’t tangle often, if doesn’t slide smoothly across cloth or other surfaces, further adding to the tugging. Without those faults it would be an amazing cable. The MMCX plugs have a firm fit. The knurling is helpful when unplugging the cable. The 90 degree angled jack is bulky, but it has an extension to compensate for DAP and cellphone cases. It’s a nice cable as is, but the aforementioned faults found me replacing it with something similar from FiiO.
BGVP dipped into Siemen’s image database when designing the DM6. As such the shape comes from averaging tens of millions (I question that number…I thought it was 10s of thousands, but okay) of ears to come up with a shape that should be as universal as possible. A couple other companies have done this recently, such as Kinera with the H3 and IDUN, and in my experience it results in a very comfortable product. Few earphones using a different design philosophy conform to the outer ear quite like it. While this certainly has it’s benefits, it also results in a earphone that is larger than average so smaller eared folk won’t be able to wear them. It also means those with an unusually shaped outer ear, or an outer ear than has been damaged in some way or another, will either not be able to wear the DM6 at all, or can with great difficulty. If you’ve got a “normal” outer ear, you’re very likely to find the DM6 extremely comfortable.
This ear filling design also results in a product that is highly isolating since there isn’t any place for sound to bleed in. The shells are completely sealed forcing sound to bleed through the resin itself. As such, the DM6 makes for a great traveling companion on the bus and to other noisy areas. Don’t worry about pressure either. Despite being sealed, like the Fearless S6 Rui there is no feeling of pressure upon inserting them. I don’t know how these companies managed it, but I’m thankful.
The DM6 has a light v- or u-shaped signature is quite engaging and technically impressive. Treble extends fairly well with a fairly even emphasis between upper and lower regions. The DM6 isn’t overly shimmery and ‘usually’ lacks the brashness and harshness resulting from an overextended presence region. As such the DM6 find itself having a spacious but not airy presentation, and is quite detailed but not quite analytic. This sort of balance is quite pleasing to my ears for long term listening since it’s not fatiguing and yet it doesn’t smooth over or omit fine details. Going back to that ‘usually’, I find the DM6 can get harsh at the sort of unsafe volumes I refuse to test at…I value my hearing for reasons that should be obvious…and with some tracks, such as Aesop rock’s “Shere Khan”. I suspect this is due to the lack of any filters on the midrange and treble drivers.
The midrange is slightly recessed and at times male vocals fail to stand out like they should, instead blending into the instruments around them. I fist noticed this on “Cause a Riot” by Skindred. Female vocals seem unaffected and retail quite a strong presence with required. Instruments sound quite fantastic through the DM6 without the somewhat dry tonality that can be prominent with some armature, not that it is always a bad thing. EarNiNE series of armature-only earphones in particular does a great job of turning it into a distinctive quality of their in-house developed armatures, working it seamlessly into the presentation so it sounds natural. Anyway, the DM6 sounds quite natural and accurate in it’s timbre too, with an element of artificial reproduction creeping in at times.
The DM6 uses Knowles’ 22955 low-range armature for the bass, a driver I haven’t been the greatest fan of in other products, such as the Tenhz P4 Pro and Shozy & Neo CP. In those earphones bass was a little too tame and it rolled off too early (less so with the CP’s alternate filter set in place). That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, it just fell short of expectations, especially when the low range armature in KZ’s armature-only earphones easily outperforms it in terms of extension and texture. In the DM6 it is a much more prominent aspect of the presentation and fares better. Extension is plenty deep and gives an almost dynamic driver level of visceral feedback. Add to that a punchy mid-bass and good transient behaviour and you’ve got yourself a fun presentation. Texture is still a bit smoother than I prefer, but it’s still within reason and fits in well with the overall tune.
Sound stage isn’t massive but it’s not quite in-the-head either. Instruments play just outside the ear with the ability to toss effects into the distance. This helps show off the DM6’s imaging which is quite good, smoothly moving sounds from channel to channel without any vague areas or dead zones. Layering to very good too, with a clear depth of space between planes. No congestion here to my ears, even when tracks start to get messy.
Select Comparisons (volumes matched using Dayton iMM-6):
Tenhz P4 Pro: The P4 Pro and DM6 are both all-armature models using Knowles 22955 low-range armatures, though the P4 Pro contains one less driver. The DM6 does a better job with the 22955 offering up more presence, extension, and impact, though with less texture than what the P4 outputs. The P4’s midrange is more forward and similarly detailed, but there is some grain present that is lacking in the DM6. The same goes for the treble, though in addition to displaying grain it’s also slightly brighter. Sound stage goes to the P4 Pro which feels more open and spacious, but also kind of distant. The DM6 simply sounds more complete and refined in it’s tune. While the P4 Pro does a great job bringing up the mids and providing a fair bit of detail and clarity, it does so at the expense of it’s low end and with some grain not present in the DM6.
In terms of build, their plastics feel of similar quality. Looking inside the drivers are neatly laid out in both with cleanly soldered crossovers. Both have smooth sound tubes directing sound. In the P4 Pro’s favour, it includes a nozzle filter to protect the drivers from dirt and grime. Neither has an amazing cable. The DM6’s is clearly of a higher calibre, but it is stickier and stiffer, lacking the usability of the P4 Pro’s simpler cable. If you want to upgrade from the P4 Pro, the DM6 is not a bad choice.
BGVP DMG: I’ll just get it out of the way now; I find the DMG and it’s 4BA/2DD hybrid setup superior. A/B’ing the two, the first thing I noticed was the extra clarity afforded by the DMG. It has a slightly leaner midrange presentation that really shoves forward details the DM6 presents, but without the same level of sharpness. Bass on the DM6 doesn’t dig quite as deep, but it has more punch and slightly more texture. Treble on the DMG offers more sparkle and is a touch smoother. Sound stage on the DMG is larger and more spacious, though not quite as accurate in terms of imaging quality. Layering and separation are similar, though the DMG’s larger presentation makes it feel more natural. You can also tailor the DMG’s capabilities as well thanks to the implementation of a filter system.
Build is excellent on both but I find the DMG slightly more comfortable thanks to their smaller size. It should be more durable too since we’re talking aluminum vs. plastic resin. DM6 looks a heck of a lot nicer though given the translucent shells and visible inner workings. The DMG’s cable is my preference as well. It’s more flexible and not as heavy and simply feels better around the ears.
Fearless S6 Rui: The S6 does for the DM6 what the DM6 does for the P4 Pro. In this case, the signatures are more alike with the S6 Rui being more balanced, less bassy, and with a more even midrange. The S6 Rui sounds more detailed, more refined, and simply better all around. That said, the DM6 still sounds excellent after A/Bing the two, it just comes across less clean and smooth and without quite the same level of detail. It also has a smaller sound stage with more limited depth to work with for layering and separation.
Build is much the same story. The S6 Rui’s plastics feel nicer with a softness to them you only get with the highest quality plastics. Inside it’s a bit more distinct thanks to the company name printed on the midrange and treble drivers, and the model name printed on the low range drivers. The DM6 makes due with the standard Knowles markings on the low range, with the BGVP triple slash logo printed on the treble and midrange offerings. The S6 rui’s cable is very similar but is lighter, more flexible, and not sticky. The DM6’s cable has a chin cinch though, something Fearless’ cable would benefit from. If you’re looking to upgrade from the DM6, the S6 Rui is what you need.
The DM6 lived up to my lofty expectations. It’s quintuple driver setup is well-tuned and capable of providing a full-bodied listening experience. They don’t lack bass, the mids are fairly lush, and the treble is detailed and well-extended. The sound stage is reasonably compact but the DM6 moves sound well enough to make it a non-issue. Male vocals can sometimes be drown out by the rest of the performance, but this wasn’t a common experience during my testing. The heavy, sticky cable is also a mild detriment to achieving ultimate comfort, but the DM6 is equipped with MMCX ports so replacing it is easy enough if you find it troublesome.
I have to hand it to BGVP. With the DMG and DM6, they have won me over. Not only do their current products retain the good looks and amazing build of their previous offerings, but now the sound is a standout too. Can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – Skelethon (Album)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (Album)
Elton John – Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Converting Vegetarians (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 Bone) (Album)