See Audio is a newer brand but it’s out to make a splash with its Yume earphones. They come to market at $169, which is enough to be premium but isn’t crazily priced for an excellent pair of earbuds. The question is whether they are an excellent pair of earbuds, and simultaneously if they deliver enough to warrant the price, especially with so many excellent options in this range over the last year. Designed after the 2020 Harman Target, they’re made for mass appeal, but do they succeed?
- Current Price: $169 (Linsoul)
- Key Features:
- Liquid Silicone Diaphragm Dynamic Driver Unit.
- Two custom-tuned BA drivers.
- Low-Frequency Filter Conversion(L.F.C.) Technology.
- Tuned by professionals following the 2020 Harman Target Curve.
- Impedance: 32Ω.
- Sensitivity: 106dB.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz.
- THD+N: <2%.
- Termination Plug: 3.5mm.
- Connector: 2-pin 0.78mm
Unboxing and Impressions
I had to smile laugh when the Yume’s arrived at my door. Like Moondrop, See Audio embraces anime with a princess-like waifu on the box. I’m not a big anime fan but the packaging is filled with personality and is much more artistic than most of what I review. I can dig that, even if it’s not my thing.
Inside the box, there the earphones are skillfully presented at an angle to catch the light and show their color. Below them is a nice metal carrying case that also holds the detachable copper cable. To the right of the box is the tray holding the different sizes of ear tips. There are eight pairs total, four each of silicone and foam in assorted sizes. Also included is some documentation and a selection of stickers.
The earbuds are very nice. Externally, they are made from a glossy resin and have that in certain light looks black and others more of a midnight blue. The faceplates are especially striking with their green and purple/pink sparkles and what I consider some of the coolest iconography I’ve seen in an earbud yet. Kudos to See Audio for making a great-looking IEM that doesn’t over-do the flair but still manages to be quite beautiful.
Inside those shells, See Audio is using a hybrid system (sometimes called a “tribrid”) that’s become quite popular over the last year and includes a single dynamic driver and two balanced armatures. Where it steps forward from the pack is with its 9.2mm liquid silicone dynamic driver. This is largely responsible for the bass and more resilient to temperature changes, which See Audio says helps ensure the tuning applied in the lab is exactly what the listener will hear. That tuning, as it happens, is hallmark of the Yume, which I’ll explain more in the listening section.
Turning to the accessories, and beginning with the cable, I’m quite pleased. The cable is 8-core, oxygen-free copper and connects to the earbuds with a 2-pin connection. I’m not one to go all-in on cables, but I appreciate the rope-like braid and resistance to tangling this one offers. The case is also nice and its hard shell offers excellent protection, but is too large to easily carry in a pocket. I do prefer this style of case, however, because it can easily be thrown in a bag without fear of getting damaged or popping open to spill the headphones out.
Finally, I found the tips to be quite good. I prefer silicone tips and was able to find a secure, isolating fit quickly. For foam tips, only medium and large are provided, but since they’re meant to be rolled before insertion and then expand, this should fit most users fine.
Fit and Comfort
Leading up to this review, I read that before making its own IEMs, See Audio specialized in crafting CIEMS — that it, IEMs molded to users’ ears. I haven’t been able to verify that personally, but let’s just say that it wouldn’t surprise me. The Yume’s offer a very easy and secure fit.
Turning them on their side, we can see that the nozzles project outward, allowing the tip to fully secure in the entrance to the ear canal. The rest of the shell is also formed to rest in the natural ridges of the outer ear. As always, fit and comfort will vary depending on your unique ear shape, but I have been able to wear these for upwards of three hours at a time with no discomfort whatsoever. Likewise, once they’re in place, I rarely had to readjust them, making these a good fit even for exercise.
Listening Impressions: Music and More
So far, the Yume has done very well in my book, but it’s all for naught if the sound quality isn’t there. These are $169 earphones, after all. How do they fare? Simply put: these are some excellently tuned earbuds. They don’t excel at everything but they do sound great and have a tuning that’s sure to make them a safe buy for a wide swath of listeners.
The big things to know are two. First, these headphones have been tuned after the Harman 2020 audio target. This is a specific, research-based tuning designed to appeal to a majority of users’ tastes at a given time. Consider it the “popular” sound at any given point. Second, See Audio are masters at tuning. Here’s a breakdown of the audio design on these earphones:
Focus your attention on the frequency response curve and you’ll see a slight u-shape. This indicates a slight rise in bass, tempered mids, and elevated treble.
In practice, I hear this a bit differently. Bass actually sounds tamer to me. It’s higher than neutral but not heavy and doesn’t have a big punch. Instead, it sounds clean and round. Mids, on the other hand, aren’t loud (which matches) but sound closer in the soundscape. Middle-highs and true treble are spot on, however, and are clear without ever sounding harsh.
The best part of the Yume is how easy it is to listen to. There is nothing fatiguing about this headphone, which means you can listen for hours and enjoy it the entire time without needing a break in between. They’re not the most detailed across the board — the Thieaudio Legacy 3 and Legacy 4 are both a bit better there, highlighting the texture and timbre of notes and sounds — but depending on the track, these details can still come forward quite clearly. As always, good recordings make the most difference, but expect a touch more variance here.
What I really loved these for is guitar music. See Audio’s expert tuning shines in the middle-highs where guitars live, rounding out notes that would usually come across sharp to the ear. As a guitarist, I love instrumental metal. This is music intended to sound sharp: overdriven guitars, tons of distortion, exceptionally hot pick-ups. Through the Yume, Angel Vivaldi’s solos on Synapse sounded almost liquid. They were rounded just enough to remove the edge that leads to fatigue but not enough to detract from the fun, high-intensity drive of the music.
Later, listening to Polyphia’s Goose and Nightmare, I was struck by the depth of the sound. The Yume’s do a good job of separating instruments and sound sources so they all can all be heard clearly and for longer through fade-outs. The soundstage isn’t the widest — these are IEMs after all — but the imaging is very good to my ear.
So, they sound good, but how about for gaming? In general, IEMs have a hard time when it comes to competing with over-ear headphones and gaming headsets due to their reduced soundstage. A good earphone will still sound good when it’s a game piping through, and that’s the case here, but I would still suggest turning on Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos for a much better sense of space, especially in shooters. The edge these gain over many others in their long-term comfort and non-fatiguing sound. You could game for extended periods in comfort, but I would suggest a good pair open-back over ears as a first-choice for gaming.
The See Audio Yume aren’t the most resolving earphones I’ve heard, but they are some of the best tuned. At $169, they feel a bit expensive given the competition at that price point. If you’re looking for a great pair of IEMs in that range, the Yume are an easy “safe bet” for a pair you’re likely to enjoy.The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.