With the increase in popularity of “ChiFi” IEMs, more listeners get to save money on an audiophile sound. We’ve taken a look at a ton of affordable IEM option here on MajorHiFi, each one with their own unique sound and value. While some have been a hit, others have missed the mark. Sometimes you’re better off saving that money on something in the mid-tier than these more economical options if it means a more impressive product. TForce is yet another brand new manufacturer trying to make a name in the realm of IEMs. Their first major effort is the Yuan Li, a $99 set of earphones that house most of the major Chi-Fi staples you’d be expecting. Is it a success?
What You Get
Going along with some of the most notable ChiFi IEMs around, such as certain models from Shanling, the Yuan Li features an assortment of ear tips. Each set is separated by a specific form of use, like bass and balance. You get three sets of each, with an additional pair of foam tips as well. The packaging overall has a stylish design, a nice display of the contents are kept inside. You’ll se a scaled leather pouch containing the Litz cable. A few IEM staples like the cleaning tool and quarter inch jack are missing here, but depending on how you’re using the earphones, they might not be essential.
Look and Feel
If there’s anything given about a new set of ChiFi earphones, it’s that you can always expect a cool aesthetic that’s unique to its brand. The Yuan Li features a reflective surface, almost like a mirror. It has a ridged edge, and is overall very lightweight. If I had any reservation about this design, its that the entire face of the shell is a fingerprint magnet. Only handling the earpiece a few times gave the body a ton of prints, and there’s no cloth in the package provided to combat this. Otherwise the fit is perfectly ergonomic and provides a good level of comfort through hours of listening.
There’s a single 10mm dynamic driver within the housing of the Yuan Li. It’s an easy to drive IEM with good protection encased in an aluminum shell. Having a single dynamic driver assumes that there should be a good amount of bass boost to be expected, but TForce hopes for a more neutral sound signature.
Although the imaging might not be very wide, the level of layering and separation are top-notch for a $99 IEM. With an average amount of height, the Yuan Li appear natural and consistent in its positioning and maneuvering in the stereo field. The sound elements are dispersed evenly and have a clear resolution. Sometimes busier tracks aren’t handled the same way though, with certain instruments and effects not cutting through the mix as well as others. It never devolves into messy territory, but the difference between a folk track and a classical one is noticeable when it comes to spatial imaging.
While I can see some passing off this bass response as nothing special, I believe they deliver all the attributes necessary for a consistent sound. Their timbre is well-balanced and reliable for a good amount of punch when needed. Its tone is surprisingly dynamic, supporting a resonant sub-bass that softly crawls up the tracks, to clean textures that showcase just the right amount of detail. In way, it might not bring as much impact as you may need, but its output remains smooth and engaging throughout.
The Yuan Li’s great separation is fully on display in the midrange. Frequencies in this range strike a natural timbre, featuring crisp instrumentals that dissipate with a good amount of air. Vocals sound especially lively, emanating with a clarity giving off a commanding presence.
I liked the treble here a lot. The timbre is rarely bright or sibilant, but the frequencies keep a smooth texture without sacrificing any of its fidelity. There’s some nice sparkly details to be enjoyed, and it all goes down with ease. These highs offer the perfect amount of naturality and glisten.
Going in, I didn’t expect much from the Yuan Li, but I was happily surprised. The sound signature might not offer everything you’re looking for, but you’ll find the Yuan Li to be exceptionally clear and natural. Even when dealing with a more limited space, the Yuan Li uses its layering to create a spacious image without the width. For $99 this is a good choice for listeners with a more folky taste in their music, as that’s when the Yuan Li shines the brightest.
Pros and Cons
- Natural timbre
- Unique design
- Limited width
- Smudge easily