Today we’re checking out the Summer from fan favourite, BQEYZ.
I was first introduced to the brand with the KC2, an affordable 2+2 hybrid that is still quite popular three years after it’s release. Such staying power is a rarity in what has become a very fast-paced consumer space. Next up was the Spring II, a tribrid earphone that very successfully combined dynamic, balanced armature, and piezoelectric drivers into a coherent, capable earphone. It was one of my favourite releases of 2020 and the earphone that, in my experience, best showcased what a piezoelectric driver could do.
The Summer borrows it’s driver configuration from the Spring II but comes in at a lower price point of 129 USD (vs. 169 USD). Where the Spring II featured finely crafted aluminum housings, the Summer makes due with a more lightweight translucent resin. The piezoelectric driver has also been changed with the 9-layer unit of the Spring II swapped out for a 5-layer unit.
Is the Summer a worthy entry into BQEYZ’s product lineup, or should you be looking towards the competition? Let’s find out, shall we?
What I Hear Piezoelectric equipped earphones prior to BQEYZ’s Spring II showed plenty of promise for the tech, but failed to capitalize on it. Amazing detail and clarity, but also harsh and peaky. BQEYZ with their 9-layer driver kept the good qualities while more-or-less eliminating the bad, and it resulted in a pretty darn amazing earphone for the price. While the Summer shares it’s driver layout, the downgraded 5-layer piezo simply isn’t as good.
Tuned virtually the same, the Summer’s ~7k peak is noticeable but I never found it overly sharp or aggressive. You get a pleasant sparkle and shimmer with plenty of detail, clarity, and spaciousness between notes. Notes also attack and decay rapidly giving the Summer’s treble presence a very nimble, well-controlled presentation that is free of splash or looseness. Where things take a step down from the Spring II is in the smoothness of the presentation, or lack thereof in this case. The Summer’s piezo lacks refinement and comes across quite grainy compared to the Spring II which is a disappointment, greatly hindering what is otherwise a nearly class leading presentation.
The midrange fares better with a nearly identical presentation to the Spring II. Vocals are warm and dense with a focused clarity that leaves them very coherent, even amidst overly busy tracks. Fine details aren’t hidden. The Summer’s bumped midbass region adds just a bit more warmth giving female vocals an even sweeter presentation. It leaves male vocals sounding maybe a bit too dense for my tastes, however. Compared to the Spring II, I found the Summer less resistant to sibilance. While the Summer doesn’t add to existing sibilance, it doesn’t negate it to the same extent as the Spring II does. Timbre is quite pleasing with a realistic instrumental replication. It’s not dry, metallic, or plasticky as armatures can sound, but just right. Excellent stuff overall.
The low end is where I hear some improvements over the Spring II. Depth into sub-bass regions is similarly satisfying giving the Summer a solid rumble and plenty of visceral feedback. Midbass is still a little more robust than I prefer, but it fits in well with the overall tune and avoids coming across as bloated or bloomy. Where the Summer pushes the Spring II to the side is in texturing and speed. It comes across more nimble and better controlled, more easily tackling rapid basslines. Where the Spring II smoothed out grungy bass notes, the Summer better replicates them. It more-or-less nails the micro-details and provides a more dynamic experience.
Leading into the sound stage the Summer remains an impressive piece of kit with a well-rounded staging presence that comes across neither huge nor overly compact. It has no issues presenting intimate moments where vocals or effects need to sound ‘in-the-head’, nor does it struggle to toss effects well off into the distance. Channel-to-channel transitions are smooth and nuanced with great off-centre movement. I found it especially helpful when gaming, and it certainly helped with immersion when using the Summer for movies. I’ve been on a horror kick lately and a good set of headphones is either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you feel about scary stuff. The Summer also does a competent job of effectively layering and separating individual track elements to avoid congestion. It enables the listener to follow specific elements if they’re in the mood to dissect their tunes, though these aspects are not class leading.
Overall the Summer is a nice sounding product. I’m a little disappointed at the graininess of the piezoelectric driver, but the improved dynamic driver performance is welcomed. The three transducer technologies in use are well-implemented and sound coherent which remains an impressive quality at any price point.
Compared To A Peer (volumes matched with a Dayton iMM-6)
Tin HiFi T5 (129.00 USD): The single-dynamic T5 has less bass emphasis with a more linear transition into the lower mids. It sounds less meaty, cooler, and more lean than the notably bassier Summer. The T5 comes across a bit speedier with similar texturing. The midrange of the Summer peaks just before 2k then slowly tapers down as you head into the treble whereas the T5 peaks around 2.5k then remains fairly even in emphasis until you slip into the presence region. These differences result in the T5 being considerably more detailed and crisp, but it comes at the expense of note weight and some realism. The Summer’s timbre and vocal reproduction are more full-bodied and natural. Treble on the two is quite different with the T5’s presence region bias giving it a huge advantage in detail retrieval and general clarity. The Summer pulls this region back in favour of a ~7k treble peak resulting in a more sparkly but distant presentation. Both earphones have a good sound stage with the T5 coming across deeper and more layered. Imaging is a touch tighter on the Summer, but they’re both quite competent.
Overall I find both extremely enjoyable, though the T5 fits in more with my preferences for less bass and an upper mid push. I also appreciate the smattering of detail it outputs, though the Summer isn’t a slouch by any means. If you prefer a thicker, warmer, bassier, more natural presentation, the Summer will be the better choice.
Dunu SA3 (139.99 USD): The triple-armature SA3 is a less bassy, more mid-range focused product than the Summer. Bass quantity is considerably less with the SA3’s armatures unable to provide the same level of visceral impact and physical feedback, though they both extend plenty far. Expectedly, the SA3 is quicker and more textured, though I find it gets overwhelmed more easily on heavy basslines that the Summer’s dynamic driver has no problems with. The SA3’s midrange is elevated to a similar extent, but doesn’t drop off after ~2k like the Summer. This plus a more reserved bass presence leaves the SA3 sounding quite a bit more mid-focused with vocals that remain prominent at times where they fail to stand out through the Summer. Timbre from the Summer is more accurate, but the SA3 does a much better job of reducing sibilance. They have a similarly thick presentation with about equal levels of detail. Treble is another area where the two vary widely. Beyond around 3.5k the SA3 really cuts emphasis, then brings things back a bit with a small peak at 7k. There’s an almost 15dB difference in upper treble emphasis between the two. This leaves the SA3 sounding considerably more relaxed and much less aggressive with a dry tonality that only adds to the lack of energy. When it comes to sound stage the Summer takes my pick. Wider, deeper and with a less intimate default vocal positioning, it just sounds more spacious at all times. I also found the Summer to provide more precise imaging, alongside improved layering and instrument separation, especially at higher volumes.
Overall I found the Summer to be the more technically proficient of the two, and generally more enjoyable. That said, if you are treble sensitive or want something less v-shaped and closer to a typical “reference” sound, the SA3 is the clear choice. For everything else, I’d take the Summer without hesitating.
In The Ear The Summer trades in the Spring II’s premium aluminum body for a lightweight, translucent plastic one, subtly enhanced with reflective metallic flecks throughout. The face plate features wavy ridges that remind me of Mazda’s short lived Nagare design language. It was featured on a number of concept cars, with the 2012 Mazda5 being the first and last production vehicle to utilize the language. Even though it is plastic, the Summer still feels fairly substantial. The material feels stiff and dense. While light, it doesn’t feel weightless. This all helps to ensure it doesn’t feel cheap or compromised. Further adding to this is some excellent fit and finish. The face plate, main body, and metal nozzle all fit together tightly, free of gaps, misalignment, or excess glue. The 2-pin port up top is slightly recessed, though not quite enough to ensure the cable sits flush with the body. Overall a really nicely built earphone.
The cable is my favourite part inclusion. 8 strands, 18 cores with a nice tight braid. The tangle-resistant, flexible clear sheath does nothing to mask the silver plating and as such it has a very vibrant look to it. The hardware used is top tier and the same found on the excellent cable included with the Spring II. A compact metal, BQEYZ-branded straight jack is present with comfortable pre-formed ear guides that lead into compact 2-pin plugs adorned with clear channel labels. Strain relief at the jack is mediocre and absent at the y-split, but this style of cable doesn’t really benefit from it anyway so no big loss. Lastly, the bead-style chin cinch from the Spring II has been swapped out for an aluminum ring and can be found resting just above the y-split. It does a stellar job of tightening up the fit when necessary and doesn’t slide out of place. This is a fantastic cable, and just like the Spring II’s, something that wouldn’t seem out of place on a much more expensive product.
The Summer is a comfortable iem. The half-moon shape is similar to the Spring II, but ever so slightly longer and deeper, mostly due to a larger protrusion that locks into the antihelix of the outer ear. The angle of the nozzle is fairly natural angle, but also somewhat short. Those that prefer a deeper insertion or who find shallow insertion earphones unstable might want to consider some longer third party tips, like the Spinfit CP145. Despite similar ergonomics to the Spring II, I find myself adjusting fit less with the Summer. I suspect this is due to the drop in weight and added stability provided by the deeper shell.
Isolation is below average, not completely unexpected given the shallow fit and ample ventilation. With no music playing I can easily hold a conversation with someone, hear the snicking of key caps on my laptop while I type, and other ambient noise. Sounds are dulled but not blocked. Turning music on obviously helps, but in particularly noisy locations like a busy coffee shop, a bump in volume is necessary to listen to music comfortably. Foam tips certainly help with making the Summer a more suitable earphone to use in noisy environments and outdoors, so be sure to pick up a set if passive isolation is important to you.
In The Box The sky blue exterior sheath of the Summer’s packaging has only the brand and model name on the front, with specifications and a small product image to the rear. Slipping off the sheath reveals a dark grey, textured cardboard box with BQEYZ printed in silver foil. Lifting the fitted lid you find a slender cardboard insert with a cutout showing off the lovely blue earpieces, safely nested in dense protective foam. Removing the cardboard insert reveals a semi-hard clam shell carrying case with an attractive faux-leather skin. Lifting out the foam insert, you find a series of ear tips set within individual cutouts. In all you get:
- Summer earphones
- 0.78mm 2-pin, 8 strand, 18 core copper silver plated cable
- Clam shell carrying case
- Cleaning brush
- Velcro cable tie
- 2x wide bore single flange ear tips
Overall a nice kit for the price. The carrying case is spacious but still small enough fit in most pockets. The cleaning brush is nice to have, even if you think you’re never going to use it. The ear tips are of good quality but similar enough in design to be more or less interchangeable, at least in my experience. I would like to see BQEYZ replace one of the sets with something else, be that foams, bi- or tri-flange tips. Just a bit of variety for those who prefer something other than single flange tips.
Final Thoughts The Summer is another great release from BQEYZ, though I feel it is overshadowed by the Spring II given there is only a 30 USD price difference between them. The Spring II’s improved build quality, considerably more refined piezoelectric driver, and better sibilance management make me feel it is worth spending the extra, despite the Summer offering slightly better ergonomics and improved bass quality. If the Summer was priced at 109 USD, putting it in direct competition with the Moondrop Starfield, TinHiFi T4, etc. it would be a much stronger offering. As is, it is certainly a wonderful product with a plethora of positives backing it up, just the pricing keeps it from standing out.
Taking price out of the equation, you get a good looking, well-equipped earphone with a fantastic cable. It is well-tuned and technically satisfying, and BQEYZ continues to showcase their tuning chops by making the three driver types in use sound tonally coherent. Other brands fail to match this coherency within multi-driver setups of the same type.
Overall, I like the Summer and I think it’s worth picking up… if you can’t spring [nyuk nyuk nyuk] for the Spring II.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer A huge thanks to Elle with BQEYZ for asking if I’d like to review the Summer, and for arranging a sample for review. The thoughts within this review are my subjective opinions and do not represent BQEYZ or any other entity. At the time of writing the Summer retailed for 129 USD: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002351172998.html
- Drivers: 13mm coaxial dynamic + nine layer piezoelectric + balanced armature
- Impedance: 32 ohms
- Sensitivity: 110dB
- Frequency Response: 7-40kHz
- Cable: 0.78mm 2-pin connector, 4 core single crystal copper wire with 3.5mm gold jack straight plug
Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, FiiO M3 Pro, FiiO BTR3K, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501
Some Test Tunes
Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends