BGVP DM7: Flyin’ High
Today we’re checking out BGVPs newest flagship and follow up to the uber successful DM6, the DM7.
BGVP has really been on a bender lately with their releases. The DM6 and DMG were some high value, high performance products that looked and sounded fantastic, and were a huge step up from past products of theirs, at least those I’ve tried. The DM7 looks to take the brand even more upscale with a six balanced armature setup that combines drivers from renowned brands Knowles and Sonion, dampened by Knowles filters. Like the DM6, the shell is 3D printed using high precision German Envision TEC 3D printing equipment. None of that matters though if the tuning doesn’t warrant the price.
Let’s see if it does. Follow me!
Thanks to Lillian with Linsoul Audio for asking if I would like to review the DM7 and arranging a sample. The thoughts here are my own subjective opinions based on time listening to the DM7. They do not represent BGVP, Linsoul, Drop, or any other entity. At the time of writing the DM7 has not yet been released. That will happen on May 6th, 2019 at a cost of 299.00 USD and be available through Linsoul and Drop.com. Useful links below.
https://drop.com/buy/bgvp-dm7-iem (formerly Massdrop)
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.
Mobile: Shanling M0 + Periodic Audio Nickel, ZiShan DSD
@home: ZiShan DSD or Asus FX53V + TEAC HA-501 desktop amp
While the DM7 is not a challenging earphone to drive, easily brought up to volume, it sounds somewhat dull when not amped or when run straight out of a less powerful DAP. Tossing in an amp makes it more dynamic and lively and is recommended.
- Drivers: 6 balanced armatures (Knowles SWFK-31376 [super-tweeter], Knowles ED-29689 [tweeter], Sonion 33AP007 [mid-range] and Knowles CI-22955 [low range])
- Sensitivity: 115 dB SPL/mW
- Impedance: 13.5 ohms
- Frequency Response: 10Hz-40Hz
- Distortion: <0.5%
- Channel Difference: <1dB
- Rated Power: 7mW
Packaging and Accessories:
The DM7 arrives in packaging consistent with the DM6. The outer sheath is all black. On the front you find a Hi-Res Audio logo (not a sticker this time around), the usual branding and model info, as well as thin white outlines of the left and right earpieces. On the sides you have more branding and a sticker denoting the color of the product inside, which is white in the case of my sample. Flipping to the rear you find the specs, contact and location info for BGVP, and a frequency response graph. The graph is unfortunately not particularly useful because it is so small, and the line is red which really blends well into the black background. Why they didn’t enlarge the graph and stick it in the 5”x3” void of nothingness above all the specs escapes me.
Sliding off the sheath reveals a wide but not very deep cardboard box with the BGVP logo front and centre. The rest is just plain cardboard. Lifting the lid you find the DM7’s earpieces and most of the included tips set tightly within a foam cutout. Below is a compact BGVP branded cardboad box containing the cable and a couple other extras. In all you get:
- DM7 earphones
- 8-core mixed copper + silver plated copper MMCX cable
- White, small bore, single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
- Orange core, medium bore, single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
- Black, wide bore, single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
- Foam tips (m)
- Cleaning brush
- Velcro cable tie
Overall a fairly basic unboxing experience, but with an awesome selection of ear tips. You should definitely find something to suit your needs here. The orange cored tips in particular are worth noting since they feature a Spintfit-like tilting system. Pretty cool stuff. The only thing I wish was included was a hard shell carrying case. There is plenty of room in the package for it, they’re inexpensive, and the DM7 is necessarily an inexpensive product. Balanced armature drivers are generally on the delicate side, and with six of them per side the DM7 is not something you want loose, banging around inside a pocket or bag. Make sure you order a basic carrying case or have one on hand to protect your investment.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The DM7 has a 3D printed resin shell made using German Envision TEC 3D printing equipment and medical grade resin. The sample here has a beautiful pearlescent white face plate with an integrated BGVP logo. Up top is a gold-plated MMCX port moulded flush with the body of the earphone. The rest of the shell is transparent allowing you to see the drivers, Knowles filters, and BGVP’s neat soldering job within. The 4-way crossover is visible, but the specific workings are hidden since it is placed parallel to the face plate, on top of the drivers.
While the DM7 looks quite nice, once you take the tips off and check out the nozzle you can see it’s a little rougher and less refined than the DM6 was. I understand why though as the DM6 was a more straightforward product with fewer fine details to work around. The DM7 has four sound tubes, three Knowles filters, and a fourth custom filter (looks like a piece of foam stuffed into one of the bores). All of this need accommodation in the same amount of space as the DM6’s two much shorter sound tubes that end within the nozzle itself, and only one Knowles filter. The DM7 is also missing a nozzle lip, meaning some tips slide off with little to no effort. I experienced this with the preinstalled medium wide bore tips. Since the DM6 had a nozzle lip, its absence on the DM7 sticks out. Despite the noted nozzle concerns, the DM7 overall is very nicely built. The soft touch feel of a high quality resin is present, and everything fits together as it should. The driver layout inside is neat and tidy with a quality soldering job to back it up.
The 8 core mixed copper plus silver-plated copper MMCX cable is a gem. The 8 cores are intertwined in a somewhat loose braid giving it some desirable qualities. For one, it is very flexible acting more like a shoelace than a traditional cable in the way it moves and rests. Tangling is not an issue whatsoever, nor is the transmission of noise up the cable when it rubs against your clothes, or bumps into something. The attached hardware is quality stuff too. The metal straight plug is gold-plated and has a soft strain relief exiting out the top protecting the cable from bends. The compact metal y-split is only in place to hide where the 8 cores split of to 4 per ear piece. It lacks any form of strain relief, but this isn’t a concern given the thickness of the cable. Above the y-split is a bead-like chin cinch that seems to be popular right now. It slides comfortably up and down the cable, and remains in place when in use. Heading up to the metal, colour coded MMCX plugs (red = right, clear = left) are preformed ear guides made from heat shrink. The curve of the guides is natural, comfortably carrying the cable up and around the ear. It is stiff enough to hold the cable in place while running, but not so stiff to cause discomfort. This is a great cable.
BGVP once again partnered with Siemen to use their ear image database to design the DM7. The resulting shape comes from averaging tens of millions 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. That said, while it 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 DM7 at all, or if they can it is with great difficulty. If you’ve got a “normal” outer ear, you’re very likely to find the DM7 fits like it was meant to be there.
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 DM7 makes for a great traveling companion on the bus and in other noise plentiful areas. Unlike the DM6, this sealed design does cause some back pressure when getting seal, though it’s not as extreme as I’ve felt from other sealed designs. It can be mitigated during insertion by pulling up on your outer ear, and/or opening your mouth. These tactics let the pressure escape. Look weird, but they works.
Tips: Since people were worried about tips sliding off, I tried the DM7 with a fairly wide variety and this is what I found:
- JVC wide bore – slide off and get stuck in the ear
- Sony hybrid – core is too small and they slip off by themselves even before being used
- Spintfit CP100 – secure
- Final Type E – secure
- RHA Dual Density – secure
- KZ “Starline” – secure
- Magaosi wide bore – secure
- Ultimate Ears (from the UE600) – slide off and get stuck in the ear
- Generic green single flange with orange core that you get with every budget iem and their mother – secure
Medium bore tips with a stiff core, like the Starlines and RHA, felt the most secure to me. Stock clone Spinfits too, but they use a very flexible silicone.
BGVP generally tunes their earphones to be much bassier than neutral. Prior to the DM7, that holds true of all their products I’ve heard, from the YSP04 to the DM6. The DM7 is the first to break this trend. While it still certainly isn’t a neutral sounding earphone with lightly elevated bass and treble to keep things somewhat lively, everything is well-balanced.
Treble is reasonably even with mild peaks, including up until the brilliance region where there seems to be some additional emphasis. While this certainly helps with the perception of sparkle on cymbals, chimes, etc, and aids in the DM7’s reasonably airy staging, it also results in those same instruments coming across somewhat harsh and unrefined at times. This was particularly noticeable when listening to King Crimson’s live rendition of “Indiscipline”. Lower treble also feels slightly peaked which is evident comparing to the DM6. Clarity is quite good with a solid note definition. I also found these drivers fairly snappy, as is to be expected from balanced armature, with a rapid decay that helps keep notes from blending into each other. For the most part the treble is quite smooth, but it can occasionally overstep.
The mid-range is probably my favourite aspect of the DM7’s presentation. It sits just behind the treble, less so the bass, in terms of emphasis. This gives vocals, guitars, and other instruments a strong presence on tracks where they are present, without them ever overstepping and becoming shouty, sibilant, or overly aggressive. I find this applicable regardless of whether we are talking about classic rock like Lynard Skynard’s “Freebird” or modern pop like KDA’s “POP/STARS”. Note weight is thin-leaning but I wouldn’t classify it as lean. This helps highlight the pleasing clarity and detail available.
The low end of the DM7 is very mildly elevated with a mid-bass focus and good extension. Still, given it is not a strong presentation the DM7 comes across somewhat bass light compared to many earphones, an impression helped along by the lower bass roll off I’m hearing on Kavinski’s “Solli”. That said, it can still answer the call when it comes time to thump, as evident running it through The Prodigy’s ‘The Day is My Enemy’ which is a fairly bassy album. It also shows off the DM7’s texturing and speed, both of which are quite good for an armature-based earphone. You won’t find the DM7 tripping up on snappy, complicated bass lines or boring you with a one-note presentation.
The DM7 has a pretty satisfying sound stage that bests most of the armature-only earphones I’ve used to date. Depth is good but width is better, allowing the DM7 to reproduce sounds at a fair distance away from your head. I find this particularly helpful when playing games, like PUBG, Halo, or any other competitive game that benefits from accurate positioning. Layering and separation is also very good keeping the DM7 from sounded congested or flat at any time.
BGVP DM6 (199.00 USD): While there are some similarities between the two, the DM7 is a notable improvement over the DM6. Treble on the DM7 is more emphasized with a bump to the lower treble that greatly improves resolution and clarity over the DM6. Extension and upper treble presence is more apparent thanks to the addition of a super-tweeter. The improvement in clarity moves through to the DM7’s mid-range. Not only is clarity and detail improved over the DM6, but it is more forward eschewing the v-shaped sound of the DM6. Despite using the same driver, bass on the DM7 has been dialed down from the DM6, further aiding in it’s more balanced presentation. Along with the extra presence, the DM6’s bass provides more visceral feedback and kicks harder in the mid-bass. It is slower and less textured than what you get from the DM7. The DM7 has a much larger sound stage thanks to the improvements in the treble which. It sounds wider and deeper than the DM6 with more precise imaging and greatly improved layering and separation. I really didn’t think the DM7 was that big of an improvement until I started listening to them back to back. It’s pretty dramatic.
When it comes to build, I actually think the DM6 comes out slightly ahead. For the most part the overall shape and fit is the same. The DM6’s printing for the nozzle is much cleaner looking, lacking cloudiness present in the DM7. The opening is also better formed and contains a nozzle lip, something the DM7 lacks. Now, in the DM7’s defence, the nozzle design is much more complicated. It has four fully extended sound tubes versus only two in the DM6 which end well down into the nozzle. 3D printing can only be so neat once you’re dealing with such small details. Both have high quality cables though I’ll give the edge to the DM7’s for it’s improved flexibility and lower weight. It’s a lot nicer to have draped around you ear for any period of time.
Fearless S6 Rui (389.00 USD): The DM7 and S6 Rui are similarly tuned 6 BA earphones having slightly warm, neutral-leaning signatures. The DM7 has more upper treble energy but sounds a tad more metallic in comparison. Resolution and detail is very similar with a slight edge going to the more refined S6 Rui. The DM7’s mid-range is less forward with a leaner, slightly colder presentation than the S6 Rui’s. Vocal clarity and overall detail is again very close with the edge going to the S6 Rui. One of biggest differences between the two is in the bass where the S6 Rui feels more full and dynamic. It has more sub-bass presence and additional punch in the mid-bass with better texturing to back it up, all without giving up speed and control. DM7 has a slightly larger and more open sound stage, particularly when it comes to the impression of width. Imaging is similarly stellar between the two with the S6 Rui having better layering and separation. I think the S6 Rui offers a more mature, refined sound and the better performer. To me it is worth the extra cost, but I suspect most would be more than content with the impressive performance offered by the DM7 for nearly 100 USD less.
The S6 Rui is a nigh flawlessly constructed acrylic earphone. Like the DM6 it only has two sound tubes, and like the DM7 they extend to the end of the nozzle. Due to this simpler design, the S6 Rui’s nozzle is cleaner and more uniform that what you’ll get out of the DM7. Both are missing nozzle lips to hold tips in place. Inside the S6 Rui, the driver, crossover layout, and associated wiring is cleaner and more organized, though the DM7’s bright gold wiring looks pretty sweet. When it comes to cables, both are top tier and I’d happily use either. The DM7’s uses a softer more flexible sheath while the S6 Rui has higher quality hardware (jack and y-split) and feels tougher and more durable. In terms of comfort, the DM7’s slightly smaller, more shapely shell is a hint more comfortable for my ears.
Overall I find the DM7 to be a very competent earphone with impressive technical ability. The mid-range is engaging, bass mildly emphasized and quite capable, and the treble clear with a tendency towards harshness every once in a blue moon. The sound stage is vast for an earphone of this style with great imaging, layering and separation. However, despite all of these positives, the sound of the DM7 doesn’t grab me like others do. This might sound flaky, but it lacks emotion and comes across somewhat sterile. I’m not going to fault it for this since that is 100% a subjective impression, but reviews are a reflection and expression of one individual’s experiences. I still like it and have no issues recommending it, it’s just not something I see myself using on the regular.
That’s no fault of the rest of the product since it is well-thought out. The construction quality is excellent minus some roughness around the nozzles. Comfort and ergonomics are good, and isolation is above average. The cable is flexible and comfortable around the ear (for me) with tight MMCX ports shared with Shure. They should last a long time. The accessory kit is nearly complete with quality tips and useful extras like a cleaning brush, the absence of a carrying case to protect the DM7 being the one notable exception.
The DM7 is clearly not an earphone BGVP put together last minute in an attempt to capitalize on the success of the DM6. If you’ve been holding off on trying something from the brand, now is the time to give it a go. This is the best earphone they’ve released to date and a strong competitor for the price.
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)