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Shozy X Neo BG Review – Primo

Pros – 

Class-leading extension and resolving power, well-balanced signature, Visually stunning design with excellent ergonomics

Cons – 

Crinkly ear guides, Vocals and treble on the thinner side for those valuing a natural timbre

Verdict – 

The BG represents excellent value at its asking price, delivering outstanding technical ability realised through mature tuning all wrapped in a thoroughly arresting design.


Introduction –

Shozy’s first IEM, the Zero, really shocked a lot of people. It was a pioneer of Chi-Fi, flaunting a reasonable price tag and performance that punched well above its weight. Three years later and Chi-Fi has taken leaps and bounds with seemingly dozens of new models hitting the market each month and every one of them claiming ever higher performance at the same low price. In such a market we must redefine our perception of performance or risk stagnation. The BG seeks to differentiate, featuring an opulent gold-flecked housing, deluxe internally braided MMCX cable and a 5-BA driver setup with special mention to a custom hand-made dual tweeter system that promises extended treble. Most of all, Shozy are offering the BG at a modest $280 USD. You can read more about the BG here and purchase one for yourself here.

 

Disclaimer – 

I would like to thank Shozy very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the BG for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Accessories –

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The BG comes within simple packaging reminiscent of the BG, that being a satin silver box with simple type. Inside, buyers will find a zip-up case in addition to a slew of ear tips. The tips are a curiosity with a unique shape that gives me a terrific fit and seal.

 

Design –

BG is wonderfully designed, a visually arresting, hand built stunner with a reasonable price tag. The smoke housings dispersed with opulent gold flake ooze style and premium quality as does its metal nozzle and faux custom design. The BG is a compact earphone, especially given its 5 driver count and it barely protrudes from the ear once fit.

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As a result of its ergonomic styling and compact dimensions, the BG is also one of the most comfortable earphones I’ve worn. It disappears in the ear and forms no hotspots over time. Its fully sealed design ensures excellent passive noise isolation suitable for commute and air travel, especially when equipped with foam tips. I am a fan of the included mushroom silicone tips that give me an excellent seal, trading just a touch of fit depth with their flush outer face for superb comfort and less pressure on the ear.

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Up top, the buyer can observe an MMCX removable cable. The included cable is brilliant, featuring pure copper conductors coordinated in a 4-wire braid beneath an external sheath. The cable inspires confidence with its thick yet supple jacket and it promotes a stable fit with its pre-moulded ear guides. That said, the jacket chosen on the ear guides crinkles and one MMCX plug on my unit had a sharp edge that required a nail file to smooth down. However, besides these caveats, the cable is terminated in a well-relieved 3.5mm straight plug and the noise isn’t irksome when the earphones are in use. The metal connectors contribute to the earphone’s air of quality, this is an earphone built to last.

 

Sound –

Tonality –

Off the bat, channel matching is terrific indicating stringent QC. In terms of signature, it is well-balanced with a slight tilt towards the higher frequencies and a main focus on vocals. Nonetheless, the BG retains a natural sense of body with a slightly full, warm mid-bass imbuing richness and filling in its midrange notes. It doesn’t overstep boundaries with its approach, featuring delicately metered emphasis in all respects.

 

Bass –

The BG’s low-end is characteristic Shozy, though it is least present, it is lightly warm, very punchy and well-separated on account of its slightly leaner sub-bass. Nonetheless, as extension is quite impressive for a midrange BA earphone, the BG delivers solid slam at the very bottom without bass stealing focus. Bass is also a touch warm due to slight mid-bass emphasis and slightly slower decay than is typical for a midrange BA earphone. Combined with its extension, the BG delivers a dynamic and pleasantly euphonic low-end with smoothly textured notes that still retains plenty of definition and separation on behalf of its restrained quantity.

 

Mids –

Upper-bass feeds smoothly into a neutral lower-midrange before a climb to two midrange peaks at 2 and 3.5KHz that bring vocals to the fore both male and female. The BG isn’t even within its midrange with a dip between its peaks and a main trough at 4KHz. In subjective listening, this manifests as a vocal forward presentation with great clarity set to a just slightly cool tone and thinner note body. The BG isn’t especially realistic in timbre as a result, which is a departure from the usual warmer, more natural character carried by past Shozy models. Nonetheless, its 4KHz dip aids density, preventing over-articulation or raspiness. As such, vocals assume a light, delicate character over a metallic, artificial or sharp one.

 

Highs –

Treble is defined by dual peaks at 6 and, to a lesser extent, 8KHz producing a crisp foreground with concise note attack and enhanced air. The BG is well detailed with a brighter character, forgoing absolute cleanliness in favour of atmosphere and pristine treble note clarity. As the peaks aren’t isolated, treble sounds fairly well-controlled and isn’t splashy. Still, with silicone tips, these peaks are a touch sharp though the included foam tips offer just enough attenuation to smooth treble without sounding dull or closed off. Most impressive is the BG’s treble extension, with fairly linear extension into the upper-treble. A small peak in the highest registers adds a hint of sparkle and air while drawing attention to this trait. While not to be taken as TOTL performance, one would be hard-pressed to guess the BG’s real asking price in listening and resolution is stunningly good.

 

Soundstage –

Strong treble extension aids a wide soundstage even if forward vocals result in a slightly more intimate sense of depth. Width extends well beyond the head, representing an outstanding performance for the price. Imaging is also quite precise, vocals are anchored to a strong centre image while instruments reside to the sides. The BG produces a coherent presentation at the cost of defined layers. Though it separates very well on account of its excellent balance and mostly neutral note size throughout. This augments its higher detail retrieval by ensuring that each intricacy is easy to discern.

 

Driveability –

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The BG is an efficient earphone with an impedance of 22ohms and sensitivity of 118dB. It reaches high volumes from portable sources and doesn’t require a lot of power to sing. Despite its lower impedance, the BG isn’t hugely affected by high-impedance sources. From Shozy’s own Alien+ with a ~15ohm impedance as opposed to the Shanling M2X with 1-ohm impedance, the BG sounded slightly warmer, fuller and smoother up top. To some, this may be desirable and I did not notice a huge degradation in quality or loss of detail or bass extension as is experienced on most earphones. As such, impedance adapters are a viable option for those looking to extract a smoother and slightly more natural sound from the BG. The BG does scale well, especially with regards to soundstage width and top-end extension. However, it remains suitable for smartphone users who can listen assured that the signature will stay mostly intact.

 

Comparisons –

Fiio FH5 ($260): The FH5 has a full metal housing and 4 hybrid driver setup yielding a W-shaped sound but with noticeably more heft. This is on behalf of its significantly more present sub-bass both in terms of extension and quantity. The FH5 has more bass in general, sounding considerably fuller but also less agile, clean and defined, it is rather slightly warmer and more impactful. Within the midrange we observe a similar focus on vocals, however, with differing approaches. The bassier FH5 is fuller bodied and if not especially warm in isolation, this is amplified by its greater density, with less upper-midrange. Meanwhile, the BG is cleaner in tone and more transparent, its body is closer to neutral, even lying slightly on the thinner side. It isn’t as dense but also sounds more extended, most noticeable with female vocals. The FH5 commands more power with its male vocals, in particular, and it does so without sacrificing much definition.

Still, the BG is more transparent and is ultimately more revealing. The FH5 has a slightly crisper lower-treble, however, this is not the case because it is brighter, the BG has the more prominent high end. Rather, it has more contrast to its more recessed upper midrange. Both earphones employ twin peaks granting them both enhanced foreground detail retrieval and an ample sense of headroom. However, the FH5 does offer a slightly darker background which makes its layers more defined. Meanwhile, the BG offers a touch more top-end extension and its resolution is higher. Its presentation of details is less brittle even though it is brighter as it has more foundational body stemming from the upper-midrange, its emphasis sounds less isolated. Both have large soundstages, the BG is wider while the FH5 Is rounder and has better layering.

Final E5000 ($270): The E5000 is a well-executed single DD with a warm, natural sound. Much like the hybrids in this comparison, the E5000 has substantially more sub-bass quantity and it has better extension too. It, therefore, delivers greater slam and rumble in addition to fuller low-end notes with less separation. Its decay is natural too, though control is high much like the Oriveti. Still, the BG is faster and more detailed down-low, representing greater accuracy in tone and body in addition to retrieving more texture and detail at the cost of fullness and extension. Both have bumps through the centre midrange that emphasizes vocal presence, the BG more so, while the E5000 sounds less forward by virtue of its more emphasized low-end. Both earphones also take a dive into the upper-midrange, generating dense and well-bodied vocals without sacrificing too much clarity. Where they differ is with regards to tone, the E5000 being slightly warmer, delivering nicely well-bodied notes and a more natural timbre.

The natural midrange of the E5000 is derived from its slightly warmer low-end, more linear centre midrange and smoother treble. On the flipside, the BG’s dual peak treble is certainly crisper and its notes are more defined. The E5000 rather has quite an organic treble, valuing body over attack and utmost detail retrieval. Still, it is well-detailed and delivers pleasing top-end extension. The BG extends further yet, delivering more micro-detail and resolution though its treble does sound thinner and cooler. The E5000 has a darker, cleaner background, its layers aren’t hyper-defined, but it crafts a well-sized soundstage and its instrument positioning is very coherent if bass does tend to draw disproportionate attention. The BG is a touch wider but isn’t as rounded, it separates better on account of its more neutral tone and tone size.

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Campfire Audio IO ($299): The Campfire IO actually has quite a similar presentation besides its more exaggerated midrange spike. Both feature lightly warmed bass and good sub-bass extension for balanced armature earphones. The BG has a touch more depth and slower but also more natural decay, sounding warmer as a result even though it has a similar bass quantity and almost identical low-end signature. The IO sounds a touch cleaner and more defined at the cost of impact and texture. Within the midrange, the IO is more clearly vocal forward where the BG passes as a rough W. This is on behalf of its significant 1.5kHz spike that brings vocals to the fore alongside a 4KHz emphasis that enhances clarity. The BG, on the other hand, is more linear and even through its midrange. It sounds more natural and has a more consistent sense of body.

Its greater density enables a more accurate body and a more neutral tone where the IO is somewhat cool and its timbre is somewhat metallic. Within the treble, the BG has a notably crisper foreground which brings details to the fore. The IO attenuates and smooths this region in order to counteract its more forward upper midrange and it is less crisp as a result. The BG’s emphasis extends to the middle-treble before gently falling off. Meanwhile, the IO ramps up emphasis into the middle-treble and sustains, creating a brighter background. The BG nonetheless, appears to have more extension and its darker background draws greater focus to its crisper foreground detail. The IO has more atmosphere and clarity. Both present large soundstages for the money, the IO has more depth while the BG images better and is more coherent with its greater linearity.

 Oriveti OH300 ($299): The Oriveti shares a similar vocal focus but with a smoother top-end and its hybrid config yields a deeper bass. It too is vaguely W-shaped but has deeper troughs and taller peaks making it sound more vivid. Like the FH5, the OH300 immediately has greater sub-bass extension and emphasis by a fair degree. However, unlike that earphone, it has a sharper slope in the upper-bass that reduces warmth. The result is a very clean bass yet one that is also satisfyingly full and impactful. The BG is leaner, faster and has an edge with regards to definition, though the Oriveti does impress greatly with its control with the benefit of extra body, slam and rumble. It is surprisingly defined for a dynamic in this price range. The OH300 has a similar midrange presentation but there is a notable contrast between the two with regards to the 4KHz range that is enhanced on the OH300 and slightly recessed on the BG.

The result is the BG being denser and a touch warmer and fuller. Its timbre is not perfect but it sounds slightly more linear than the OH300. On the flipside, the OH300 provides slightly greater clarity as a result, and it is more even weighted between male and female vocals, the BG slightly biasing female. Up top, the BG has more foreground crispness and attack, its background is brighter but it also has more air and headroom where the OH300 has a clean black background and trades attack for slightly more treble instrument body. The smoother presentation of the OH300 also does favours for its vocal presentation where the denser BG can get away with larger lower-treble emphasis. The BG extends slightly further up top and it delivers slightly higher micro-detail retrieval. The BG has a larger soundstage where the OH300 is more clearly layered.

 

Verdict –

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The BG makes a convincing case for itself through its undoubtedly gorgeous styling and strong end to end extension. However, it’s in-between where the earphone falters, biasing vocals over instruments through a presentation that’s a touch sterile on behalf of its cool tone. Meanwhile, treble looks a little scary on graph but actually sounds quite modest in person. Detail presence is ample and retrieval punches above its price. The BG doesn’t have the most layered presentation but its imaging is coherent and its presentation expansive with heaps of atmosphere and sharp directional cues. The BG remains is one of the most technically proficient earphones I’ve heard within its price range. It especially suits vocal lovers also wanting a natural, dynamic low-end and extended top-end with a wide soundstage. These finely tuned and refined traits make the BG a highly desirable option at $280 USD.

The Shozy BG is available from in 2-pin and MMCX on Amazon (International) for $280 USD at the time of writing. Please see my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.

One thought on “Shozy X Neo BG Review – Primo Leave a comment

  1. Hi Ryan,
    Thanks for the read. Do you think it will be an upgrade over my kinera idun? I’d really appreciate it if you can give some suggestions in the same price bracket.

    Like

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