Have I met you before?
2018 was certainly a great year in the personal audio industry, with so many great hits across the board regardless of price range. The most competitive price bracket is in the entry-level range, with several enticing options available from various brands that would have made top tier selections from several years ago looked like underdeveloped pieces of tech. Yet, when I was first approached for this review, this question immediately popped in my head:
BGVP? What are they?
While I’m been a self-pronounced audiophile for almost the past decade (realizing that I’m getting old quick), I honestly had no idea that this company existed, nor were I aware of their products. A quick internet search and browse section on the company told me two things, that being:
- I still have no idea what BGVP stands for. Best Grade and Value Products? Belgium Goods for Voice Production? I tried my best.
- BGVP has for recent years produce and sell a stellar range of products, ranging from the lower end to the highest of tiers, with most if not all products getting good reviews from both consumer and media.
The level of excitement increased exponentially upon my short research, and while I did not do any research save the specification sheet (to allow for, as much as I could, an unbiased review), reading the sheet made me even more excited, and that’s before I even opened the box.
Does the BGVP DMG’s live up to the generated excitement? Read on and find out!
- Sturdy build in a light case.
- Does not isolate well.
- Comprehensive accessory set.
- No carrying case provided.
- Flexible sound with filter system.
- Pleasing sound signature for most modern genres.
- Recessed mids leading to unconvincing vocal performance.
- Plenty of bass quantity and impact.
- Too much bass for some.
How many did you say?
For a relative small IEM, the DMG definitely surprises with what’s inside it, with a combination of 4 Knowles balanced armature drivers and 2 dynamic drivers on each side. Deeper investigation shows an exact breakdown of the configuration: 2 SWFK 31736 drivers for the ultra-high frequencies, 2 SWFK 10006 for the medium to high frequencies and the other 2 dynamic drivers for the low end, that is wrung together with a 4 way passive crossover, or what BGVP describe as an excellent 4 way frequency divider system, achieving a frequency range of 15 Hz – 25 kHz.
With an impedance rating of 18 ohms and a sensitivity rating of 110 dB, I found the DMGs to be fairly easy to drive them to ear bleeding loudness even on my least powerful source – my mobile phone. Hence these IEMs do not need a dedicated music source but will benefit from it in other ways, just not loudness.
The BGVP DMGs retails at USD$139, though you can occasionally find them sold at a cheaper price in the market for $119 or less. Even at full retail, I think it is a fair price considering the overall package and the internals included for a hybrid IEM.
For those who prefer not to buy off Amazon, you can get your hands on the BGVP DMG here from linsoul.
Packaging and Accessories
(Almost) Everything in a brown box
The BGVP DMG comes in a small-to-medium sized brown box that was emblazoned with the BGVP logo, sleeved in a piece of white cardboard which has a picture of your IEMs (in your chosen) color at the front along with a simple diagram illustrating the filter system utilized by the IEMS. More on that later.
Opening the brown box reveals two separate smaller black boxes, one holding the IEMs (pre-installed with a set of filters that match its casing color) themselves while the other carries all the included accessories. Accessories that are provided include:
- An MMCX cable
- A set of black (wide bore) silicone tips (S/M/L)
- A set of grey (medium bore) silicone tips (S/M/L)
- A set of blue (narrow bore) silicone tips (S/M/L)
- A pair of black, medium sized foam tips
- A pair of silicone ear hooks
- A shirt clip
- 2 extra pairs of tuning filters (Silver/Gold)
It was great to see that such a large variety of tips were readily available (and nicely sorted in small ziplock bags) to facilitate better tip pairing, allowing the end user to have more control over the fit and comfort of the DMG plus the added capability of making minor sound adjustments based on the tip material and bore size.
The filters were also well kept in a mini plastic case that should help in storing, with the silicone ear hooks and shirt clip providing wearability customization.
For my usage, I would have loved to see BGVP include a well-built case or even a small pouch to store the IEMs for on the go use. That was a missed opportunity to me and frankly surprised me as many options at an equivalent or lower prices have the case provided to serve as protection when placed with several other items in your backpack or other forms of carrying case.
Sure I may lose out on a few tip options but I see that as a “good to have” option whereas I see the case as a necessity.
Design and Build Quality
Build, Fit and Isolation
Its shell is well built and fits comfortably. Just don’t expect it to isolate much.
The DMG is built with what feels like an aluminum based alloy material, allowing for a solid touch but not the least weighty at all. In fact, when held in hand it felt more like the weight of a mainly plastic made body – very light and thus does not feel like someone or something is pulling on your ear when wearing them.
Its lightness is also heavily (ironic) contributed by the size and shape of the IEM. The size leans towards the medium-small end of the scale, where its just large enough that with the right tip size it’ll not fall off my ear. The contours consist of mainly rounded edges, which lends to a less obtrusive fit on the ear while allowing the IEM to have a nice, firm grip on the ear.
The body was finished in a matte textured color scheme of your choice between black, blue or red, hence it’s easy to blend in with your ear in black or subtly stand out in the blue or red color scheme. From the looks and immediate feel of it, the quality of the paint is adequate/high so I will not be worried about it scraping off unless excessive force is utilized. The shell, with its nice smooth finish and fairly ergonomic shape that has no sharp edges found on any side of the piece, is pretty comfortable to wear even for longer listening sessions.
Noise isolation was a let down for me, potentially stemming from a mix of design factors such as its more shallow insertion and the vent hole on the shell. Using the DMG frequently on the subway, I noticed that the background noise while muffled is still more prominent compared to most of my other non-custom IEMs, and I could clearly hear chatter and footsteps from my surroundings during my walk to work.
I did find some improvement in this aspect after switching from the stock tips to my favorite SpinFit tips but it was not a substantial improvement. Trying tips from other brands yield the same results, so this may be a dealbreaker for some. However, I can see this factor being a strength for a portion of consumers as it will allow them to pay more attention to announcements or conversations made around them despite wearing the IEMs.
A positive trend that I found in the ever-developing world of IEMs last year was the emerging abundance of lower cost models that come equipped with removable cables, and the DMG is no exception.
The DMG’s removable cables were made with MMCX connectors and may be ordered in mic form or non-mic form. The model I received did not have the mic connected therefore I have limited knowledge in the differences between the two cables except for the mic presence (duh) and the color of the cable’s plastic sheath (mic cable uses a black sheath).
Measuring at a length of 1.2m, or ~4ft, the clear, non-mic cable is made with 5N OCC silver plated cable, in MMCX style connectors that were color-coded to allow for quick identification of its connecting sides. The cable comes with a cylindrical Y-slider that is made with the same silver material as the MMCX connectors and has a clear rubber for the chin slider, with one end finished using a gold-plated 3.5mm right angle plug.
PVC tubes wrap act as ear guides, something uncommonly found when compared to more typical configurations such as the use of memory wires. I was pretty confused for a while as these PVC tubes rendered the silicone ear hooks almost redundant as they perform the same function.
And truth is, I still am pretty confused by the addition of the silicone parts. Perhaps some may find it more comfortable than the PVC? Or maybe it is more sweat resistant? Please do let me know if you ever find out.
Another design element that seems to be populating the market (other than hybrid driver designs, which yes, the DMG is one) is the incorporation of a filter system which would allow the user to make tweaks to the IEMs original sound that may provide a boost to the listening experience. I don’t own many IEMs with different filters so I’ve yet to find them an absolute necessity in IEM design but appreciate the amount of flexibility in sound that they may offer.
The DMG’s filters come in 3 options – gold, silver and lastly a filter that matches your body color. The default sound signature for the DMG comes through the usage of the body color filter, while the gold and silver filter boosts the bass and treble region respectively.
I’ve found the filters to have achieved its intended design purpose, with the silver filter producing a brighter but harsher sound while the gold filter produced more low-end energy but had a reduction in clarity. Honestly, my preference was for the body color filter, so I made my sound impressions with it as the focus. So if you prefer a sound signature which is similar to what I’m going to describe below but wants a brighter or bassier touch, you will have the option to configure for it.
- iBasso DX150
- iBasso DX90
- Questyle QP1R
- HiBy R3
- Samsung Galaxy S8
- Massdrop x NuForce EDC
- Massdrop x NuForce EDC 3
- iBasso IT01
Looking for hard-hitting bass and crisp highs? Look no further.
Overall Sound Signature
*All impressions were made based on the body color filter.
DMG’s has a V-shaped overall sound signature, with the overall sound driven by a strong bass presence, slightly recessed mids and a forward, sparkly treble, and remains the case even with the use of its tuning filters. Depending on your perception for mids, the sound signature may be even be described as an inverted L-shape, with the overall sound leaning heavily towards the low end.
This effectively makes the DMG a solid IEM choice with a pleasing sound for everyday use in all genres, especially if you appreciate an extra layering of bass in your music.
All About That Bass
There is never enough bass to satisfy everyone, but for most people, the DMG definitely has a lot of rumbles to go around. Sub bass is lifted and weighty, with plenty of punch which should surely knock the socks off even the most demanding of bassheads. Listening to my favorite techno tunes, the sub-bass is well extended, with each thump conveyed with conviction and realism.
The midbass is the most boosted region among all, but rather than promoting a mindset of “more is better”, it led me to think that perhaps everything is better in moderation. It comes across full with body, though often it will stray towards being a little too thick. It never strays too far and reaches the boomy effect, nonetheless, I would have appreciated a little more clarity and articulation in this region.
Mids for Hire
DMG’s mids to me is arguably the weakest area within its arsenal, where it’s far more recessed or hollow than what I’m accustomed to for full music enjoyment. The mids are often congested, especially in the lower mids, with its heavier handed counterparts of the bass and treble taking up most of your head stage. I found that the DMGs struggle to portray male vocals to my expectations, coming across pretty boxy, further decreasing the enjoyment factor of my listening experience.
The upper mids faired a little better than lower mids, and while it’s not the sweetest and most euphonic of upper mids, it still does a fairly decent job of achieving a cleaner sound. Female vocals certainly performed better than male vocals, with the overall presentation a little smoother and more towards my liking.
Surprisingly, treble was the star of the show for me with the DMGs. It’s given a touch of emphasis, especially when compared to the low end, but is neither too sharp nor piercing. Instead, each upper register note was played with absolute crispness, with the sweet highs carrying through in instruments like your cymbals and snares.
It is not the airiest of highs, with treble extension acceptable rather than exceptional. What indubitably won me over is that for the amount of emphasis in the region which was place to enhance the brilliance and clarity of it, there were no signs of sibilance at all.
Details and Soundstage
The DMG’s aren’t the most detailed or tight IEMs you would find, even in this price range, yet there are enough resolving capabilities to prevent it from entering the realm of blurriness. The overall sound, though not entirely transparent or clear, never felt veiled and opaque, particularly with cleaner execution in the treble region.
On the other hand, soundstage was a source of great strength for the DMGs, with the overall picture one that is airy and wide, undoubtedly helped with the use of its vent hole.
Massdrop x NuForce EDC
The Massdrop EDC is a strong contender in the sub-$100 range, with the EDC (and the IT01) my go-to for (pun intended) everyday carry. Retailing, or rather exclusively sold on Massdrop, for $59.99, the EDC, configured with a single dynamic driver, comes at less than half of the DMG’s retail price.
Packaging wise, the DMG came with what is likely a better quality cable, filters and more tip options. However the EDC had both mic/non-mic cables ready plus a decently sized carrying case, so the better overall package is down to your own preference.
Of all the made comparisons, the EDC and DMGs are closest in terms of overall sound signature, with both driven by a largely V-shaped response. Both went in a similar direction for its bass attenuation as well, focusing on a larger boost compared to its sub-bass. Side by side, the DMGs definitely have more overall bass quantity and bass impact, yet in terms of cleaner execution and detail, I felt that the EDC performs better. Perhaps its due to the increase in the bass that led me to think that the DMG is relatively muddy sounding in comparison.
The EDC’s midrange may be considered as more relaxed than recessed when compared to DMG’s more hollow mids. In continuation on their similar tunings, the upper mids seems to be the highlight and both pieces, with the DMG having the more detailed one whereas EDC has a smoother touch to it.
On the treble end, there is a similar amount of detail for both. The EDC’s upper registers are carried with an extra bit of energy, and as such a little more perceived detail is carried through, yet the DMGs treble is smoother and has more crispness to it. It’s really a toss up on this, though when push comes to shove I’ll more than likely lean towards the DMG’s treble.
Massdrop x NuForce EDC3
Another strong contender for the sub-$100 produced by Massdrop is the EDC 3, again sold exclusively on Massdrop for a price of $99.99. The overall package and the IEM itself is almost identical to the Massdrop EDC, save for a design change on the driver configuration to a single high, single mid and single low 3 balanced armature driver design. Therefore, similar to the EDC, your preference on the overall package of the DMG versus the EDC 3 may differ.
A complete departure from the original EDC sound, the EDC 3’s overall sound signature is focused on producing a warm and smooth sound compared to DMG’s V-shaped sound. Similar to the DMGs, the bass lift is primarily focused on the mid bass, and yet again the DMGs dominate in terms of low end punch and quantity. While the EDC 3s have more controlled and extended bass, it certainly lacks the bass dynamics of, coincidentally, a dynamic driver.
The mids is where I largely preferred the EDC 3, in which it has an overall forward or upfront presentation. EDC 3’s mids are clearer, more detailed and presented in a smoother manner, which brings out the best of my vocal tracks. When compared one after the another, it was obvious to me that the DMG’s mids left much for desire.
In the treble region, both are smoothly presented however there is a slight roll off found with the EDC 3. The EDC 3’s treble comparably lacks detail and energy, yet both IEMs have common strengths in the region in which no sharpness or sibilance was experienced. I largely preferred the brighter and more energetic treble of the DMGs, which lend for a clearer picture of my music.
The iBasso IT01, selling at a retail price of $109, is my gold standard for IEMs that are within the ~$100 price point, with its overall package and performance hard to beat in terms of price to performance ratio. Like the DMGs, it offers a well-built shell and is paired with high quality, removable MMCX cable, however, differs in design with sound mainly produced by a dynamic driver utilizing a near 1 Tesla magnetic flux and an ultra-thin diaphragm.
The overall sound signatures for both are pretty similar, though the IT01 is slightly more balanced in its borderline U-shaped sound signature. Bass emphasis, apparent in both IEMs, are done differently, as the IT01’s bass emphasizes more on the sub-bass region whereas DMG’s focus is on the midbass. The level of attenuation differs as well, with the amount of bass emphasis found to be larger on the DMG, so bassheads would tend to lean towards favoring the DMG.
In the midrange, the IT01’s mids are less recessed when compared to the DMGs, with male vocals presented in a more rich and realistic tone for me. It is also more detailed than the DMGs, as there feels to be less bleeding in from the bass to smear the midrange image.2018 was certainly a great year in the personal audio industry, with so many great hits across the board regardless of price range.
Concluding with the treble, there is a fairly similar amount of lift included in both pieces. Both display good control in the region, with perhaps the DMG sounding just a tad sharper though that is merely nitpicking on my end. Both have a reasonable but not outstanding extension, with the focus being the production of highs that are smooth and pleasing to the ears.
There’s a new player in the personal audio wheelhouse, and it has brought forth a highly intriguing prospect that will shake things up in both design and cost to performance ratio particularly in the entry-level scene. The BGVP DMG, at its attractive price point, gives all the usual hitters a run for their money and at the same time allows more consumers to get a taste of hybrid designs that were typically only accessible at more expensive ranges in the past.
BGVP gave it their all to provide a near complete package with the DMG, with a wide array of tips available along with a well-designed cable to pair with their sturdily built shell. The V-shaped sound signature, suitable for most if not all genres, should prove to be pleasing for most people, and the added touch in the bass would play well with the modern genres such as pop and techno.
The DMGs does have its downsides, where I had hope the mids to be richer and found the bass a little too much for my personal liking. I also wished it had isolated more environmental sound.
I’m excited that BGVP is providing new options to the market for everyone who’s looking for a bargain piece, and am more excited to check and see for what else is in store (such as their DM6). Here’s to BGVP continuing with their effort in making a name for themselves with great designs at unbelievable price points.