Tl;dr: Warm sounding set of earphones with good mids and great build quality.
Pros: Build quality, mids, bass presence
Cons: Slight congestion with complex music, not kind to poorly-mastered recordings
Just got my Shozy Stardust yesterday. As background, Stardust is the second earbud in Shozy’s lineup after the Cygnus, with a better quality cable and more refinement at the top end. These retail for $165US from Penon Audio, I got these from Shozy at the pre-order price of $150US shipped, so they are quite in line with VE Zen 2.0 in price, which I have replaced with these. Here are some impressions on Stardust/BK from me after a few hours of late night listening, with comparisons made to to VE Monk/Zen/Campfire Andromeda:
Build quality, accessories, etc.
Build is really good. Stardust’s cable is probably the best IEM/earbud cable I’ve handled yet. Great quality feeling, no memory effect or microphonics. Feels more supple than the already supple Litz cable of Andromeda. Great looking jack as well, reminds me of a nice Oyaide item. Accessories are a bit (well, very) light for the price, with only one pair of (really nice) donut foams and a carrying case of okay quality. Wish they included more foams in case yours get damaged from use.
Housing is made from a nice matte black plastic, same housing shape as the old Yuins. These are smaller than the Sennheiser housings VE bases their earbuds off of. It’s extremely comfortable and very easy to sleep on. Stardust has the best build quality I’ve encountered yet from an earbud, although the standards for this segment is pretty low.
– Stardust is a fairly bassy earbud out of box, subbass and lower midbass is surprisingly prevalent. Lot of impact, bass quality is good for price but a bit “wooly” when compared to Andromeda (admittedly tough comparison for Stardust). More bass impact and cleaner bass than both Zen and Monks.
– Strong mid-focus. Vocals and strings sound great on these with a rich timbre and balanced sound. I feel that mids are the strongest part of this this earbud. Mids blows all VE models I have out of the water. Zen’s recessed midrange gets really noticeable on anything with vocal emphasis, and Monks mids are better balanced, but not as smooth.
– Treble-wise, there feels to be a bit of treble-roll off but nowhere near as bad as VE Zen. Treble also more even than VE Monk. One niggle is that lower mids (esp. guitars) was not the most clear relative to the rest of the FR on some J-indie songs I was testing. This is reflective with the slight congestion I found on other tracks.
– In general sound signature I’d feel would look like this: \^_ (elevated bass, mid emphasis, flat/slightly rolled off treble). Their clarity is great for the price range, around UE 900s level. Stardust is not the most friendly towards poorly-mastered recordings though (one Musiq Soulchild house remix I was listening just turned into pure adfsfdksflsdf in terms of how mushed up everything sounded).
– Soundstage-wise, Stardust is very out-of-head with a good sense of height and depth. Need more time to assess width and instrument positioning. They have much larger soundstage than Monk and are at similar level to Zen and Andromeda, .
– Commenting on source, I found Stardust pretty easy to drive, it sounded quite nice from my Samsung S7 Edge Exynos and 1st gen iPod Shuffle. Generally find it to pair better with a brighter source to pull out more sparkle in the treble. When paired with a nicer source like LH Lab’s Geek Out V2+, I’m getting more clarity and more body to the sound, but at the fairly high listening volumes I was playing songs through, Stardust can get a bit congested at times. Listening to EDM highlights Stardust’s relative weakness in micro-detail. I think these suit best relatively simple music with mids/bass emphasis such as acoustic, non-orchestral classical, hip-hop/R&B, and jazz.
Overall, Shozy Stardust has a much more coherent sound signature than any VE product I’ve tried. The build is great, although the accessories are slightly lacking. They are the best earbud I’ve used yet by a fairly significant margin, and quite in line with other IEMs/headphones around this price range. I don’t expect Andromeda level sound quality, but Stardust captures most of the wonderful tone on those with more bass and less treble emphasis. Hope you guys enjoyed this review!