-well balanced bright W shape
-cohesive drivers implementation
-fast thumpy textured and well layered bass
-crisp mids with good note weight and edgy definition
-intensely revealing and detailed treble
-fast snappy energic highs
-very extended treble
-can deal with complex busy track without going muddy
-sharp definition of each instrument
-fun, exciting and analytical
-incredible technical performance
-excellent modular cable
-high sound value
-high pinna gain that can be fatiguing for female vocal
-not the most natural nor thickest timbre
-sub bass roll off-lack of rumble and extension down to 20hz
-compressed spatiality, feel a bit in your head
-upper treble pass 10khz can pick up hiss and noise artefact with bad recording
-bright and energic=not for treble sensitve people
-micro details can be distracting sometime (or fascinating other time)
SOUND VALUE: 9/10
Geekwold is a chinese audio company that specialize in hybrid and tribrid earphones, cabled and TWS way. They aren’t well known in western world, but have good success in China.
The only IEM I have try from them is the entry level tribrid Geek Wold GK10 which is a 2DD+1BA+2piezoelectric IEM that encounter lot of quality check issue and receive mixed opinion. My pair work well but doesn’t offer a well balanced tonality, still i’ve find it’s technical performance impressive for the price.
The GK100 I will review today is aimed to solve all issue of the GK10, begining with the quality check and built quality, which is greatly improved.
Priced 200$, it’s a tribrid 9 drivers IEM with 2DD for bass, 1DD for mids, 2BA for lower and mid treble, and 4 piezo electric for upper highs and ultra highs.
”High resolution composite 2 balanced armature (high frequency)
Composite 2 high performance 8mm piezoelectric ceramics (high frequency)
Composite 2 high-performance 8mm piezoelectric ceramics (ultra-high frequency)
8mm DLC driver (middle frequency)
2 8mm dual cavity 2-way crossover coaxial dynamic, LCP diaphragm dynamic (low frequency) + composite titanium diaphragm dynamic (ultra-low frequency)”
This type of tribrid IEM in sub-200$ price range is exceptionaly rare, but this mean it’s harder to tune in a cohesive way too, so let see in this review if both technical and musical performance is competitive enough and worth to be excited about.
The construction os GK100 is quite good. It’s made of thick resin plastic and have a metal nozzle. The 2pin connector feel solid but isn’t perfectly flush with the shell, it’s not a big deal because it does permit better fit than polised curvy connector.
The shell is big and chunky, but light and very smooth, this design isn’t thinked for deep fit since nozzle is short and better fitted for shallow fit. The back plate is very beautifull and eye catching, giving a sens of artsy luxury to it.
All in all, the construction and design is impressive for the price and feel sturdy and durable.
And this isn’t all, the included cable is just incredible. It’s an Hakugei modular cable with 8 strands 6N single crystal copper silver-plated wire. Their 3 plug included: 2 balanced (2.5 and 4.4) and one 3.5mm single ended. This cable scream quality and durability, it’s thick, flexible and smooth and don’t create microphonic. It’s eye catching and even feel like a bargain at it’s 50$ MSRP. This is quite ironic to find a modular cable of this high quality after having review Hifiman Svanar that I praise sound wise, but rant intensely about it’s basic cable.
But the GK100 is all about the IEM and cable, as well as maximizing price value. So, don’t expect a fancy box and luxurious packaging. This is basic. The carrying case is basic, but big enough. And you have 6 pair of silicone ear tips. I don’t use them, but they are similar to wide bore KBear KB07 ear tips I use. You have a cable clamp too, of nice quality, if your the kind of person to use this.
All in All. We have few accessories, but they are of very high quality and value.
To say the GK100 is overpacked with exotic drivers is an understatement. We have 2 different type of DD for low frequency, a DLC DD that cover full mid range, 2 composite BA for low and mid treble, 2 piezoelectric for highs and 2 other piezo for ultra highs.
This mean we have 6 driver for the treble only too. So, don’t be surprise these IEM might be extremely appealing for treble head because main tonal focus of the GK100 is all about highs, texture and details!
This is why to my ears the GK100 offer a treble centric W shape balance, which i’m not afraid to call vividly analytical. It’s bright, it’s energic, it have a thumpy bass with impressive speed and sub and mid bass layering, full yet understated mid range and speedy snappy highs with sharp note definition and x-ray like resolution.
Those aren’t bass head, but bass lover will be impress by the quality of low end, yet, it’s evident that these will please people seeking very high technical performance and boosted resolution only multi driver tribrid can achieve. I would never suggest the GK100 for audio enthusiast favoring warm, mid centric, smooth, dark or laid back musicality, nor for those sensitive to naturalness of timbre or vocal.
But if you are like me when I begin my audiophile passion and discovery and was all about finding those IEM that can pick up the most micro details possible, the wow effect is guarantee here.
Now, even if logically I should begin with the treble section because it’s the one that dominate the attention, I will describe how I hear the dynamic, punchy yet slightly distant sounding bass part.
Firstly, the 2 drivers permit a fluid layering between sub and mid bass, so you are able to discern the bass line and kick drum which have both full bodied presentation but are a bit close to each other, mixing their impact vibrancy. The rumble is fast in sustain and don’t have amplify resonance, it’s round and rich with vibrancy and air density. The slam can be quite heavy at high volume. Its not the cleanest and most transparent sub bass, but the speed of bass line is impressive with good definition and fundamental texture.
The mid bass is a hint warmer, strangely…their a mix of brightisth lower end with warmer punch sticken above it…oh, well, it might be due to titanium diaphragm of sub bass DD, which add a bit of grain to air vibration. So yes, bass line have sharper resolution than kick drum, yet, i would never say kick is too dark or not well rounded. We are really into a great bass quality territory here and in fact i would have love a bit more sub boost, or perhaps more spacious separation from mid range because while well layered it can feel a bit condensed with the mids which are leaner.
Yet this timbral imbalance between 2 DDs can affect the presentation of contrabass, where the fundamental will lack a bit of texture and bite, mix that with the slight sub bass roll off in linear extension around 50hz and you have a boomy contrabass.
This is less problematic for electric bass, which sound quite good in fact, abrasive, thick enough and lively in presence, but it will tend to swallow kick drum presence with it’s more texture and bright and dynamic rendering.
Nonetheless, this is fascinating thumpy bass, tight and fast, where the presence is more focus than roundness density of body, yet, it’s not bass light or bass less and offer lively punch with bass line with fast sustain-decay.
Keywords: textured sub bass and bass line, punch but not edgy mid bass, fast resonance-decay, not basshead nor bass light
The mid range is bright and boosted in presence, yet doesn’t sound thin or dead flat too. We have good amount of lower mids and good sens of fullness but the upper mids are the most boosted part of the mids, this and treble texture of mids instrument will tend to affect tone and timbre naturalness negatively by over focusing on presence grain. But this isn’t what I would call a disastrous mid range at all since both male and female vocal are fowards and clear, but in a bright way that boost the texture. At least, this isn’t balanced armature mids, yet, the lower treble is deal with BA, this is the issue here, i would throw off those BA or at least damp them since they are in front nozzle (yep, I check) and add fuzzyness to texture, loudness to female vocal and texture spike to some instrument like contrabass, saxophone and woodwinds instruments.
But the GK100 surprisingly do well with piano, a sign that we have a full mid range without scooped fundamental for proper note weight. Yep, we have both the texture sharp definition of note stroke and the weight of it, not ultra heavy not warm, but we feel the hit of each piano note and this is wonderfull for a sub-200$ IEM. So the mids are highly resolved, have great imaging and layering capacity, a speedy attack with great bite and enough transparency, it’s a monitor like mid range we can say, not a melodious, lush or highly musical. The GK100 are technical sounding but not plain clinical due to the bass boost and slight mid bass warmth that embrace lower mids.
Instrument and vocal are edgy in definition, full in tone, hyper realist and magnify in texturing and fast in decay without being shouty like alot of DD+BAs hybrid (anything KZ for ex). It’s not the most open and clean sounding presentation since their too much sound info going on, silence have ”texture” too with the GK100.
Keywords: bright and very detailed, edgy definition and weighty note weight, excellent layering and presence clarity, nice but very fowards and loud female vocal or violin
And the treble, the bright star of the show, the pumped up details maestro! It’s logical that the highs range need more drivers since it cover from 5khz to 20khz, yet most of IEM will concentrate treble effort up to 10khz. So, the question here is: did the piezo driver can replace EST, which with supreme quality DD are only drivers able to properly produce sparkle and natural decay?
The answer is no. The ceramic piezo have a rougher attack, less flexible in snap for proper sparkle resonance sustain-release. Piezo are similar to magnetostatic in timbre and attack release,its more crunchy and less crisp than an EST. At least, based on my subjective empirism. Speed wise, all of these are crazy fast and in fact the piezo seem to be fastest driver of them all in the GK100.
But we have those 2 BAs too, for lower and mid treble and they are quite excited too, in a different way, more about grain, texture, loudness of presence edge.…
Ok, enough disgression: the highs are bright and crunchy in lower treble, abrasive and detailed in mid treble and snappy, brilliant, ultra speedy and energic and in your face un upper section.
These are extremely revealing highs, that boost the whole resolution big time and and extra spatial dynamism and attack edge to the lively, immediate musicality we are rushed into.
The percussions are crazy detailed, thight and fast in timing, well define in each stroke, and in your face too, they can be overwhelming sometime and stole the show to anything else in music, with some piano jazz trio it was very problematic since the drummer seem 5m in front of pianist.…
As it pick up lotta sound info and micro details, listening to some track can become a psychadelic experience with the GK100. I mean, their infinity of it and again, this can distract you from main singer sometime, but for instrumental music it can magnify immersivity and richness of it’s one-of-a-kind analytical musicality.
I listen to wide range of music style and the GK100 tend to impress me with acoustic music using guitar (not electric or distorted), violin, clavichord and to a less extend harp. It have this bright snappy bite in lead attack that is very engaging and excting, violin or guitar plucking is highly resolve and dynamic, doesn’t sound thin or dry, have hint of appealing brilliance and sens of texture fullness that certainly impress.
Keywords: Vividly detailed and analytical, high amount of micro details, excellent separation and attack speed, hint fuzzy crash cymbals, non forgiving of bad recording or background hiss
The Soundstage isn’t the highlight of the GK100. It’s quite tall and deep but lack wideness and proper sens of openess. It feel like your in a small studio with 3 monitor speaker, center one being 2meter away, while stereo one being 1 meter away. To some extend, we can say GK100 can sound in your head too.
But this doesn’t mean the imaging is bad, since now were into one of main highlight of the GK100. If I praise crisp and ultra detailed resolution as being analytical, it does mean instrument placement is clear and well define. Even with fast complex busy track ,the excellent layering of instrument will be preserve, but space between instrument in X axis will not be very wide and clean. This doesn’t mean accuracy is bad at all, I don’t struggle to pin point instrument position with the GK100 even if it feel it’s stock in a tunnel and a hint compressed in stereo channel separation.
VS MAEAOS EAGLE (2DD+2BA-150$)
Simply put, the Eagle is like supreme downgrade version of the GK100, its a bright wonky W shape that put all details in your face, but in a unbalanced and uneven way.
Bass is less punchy, have inferior separation between sub and mid bass, less texture too, sub bass bleed way more on mid bass and lower mids and is less fast in attack. Mids are horrifious with the Eagle, they are more shouty, thin and fatiguing, timbre is off and tone too, and it feel more recessed, its all about upper mids here but shouty way. Treble is dryer, less extended more shouty and less generous in micro details as well as more fuzzy in definition edge, GK100 treble is cleaner, more extended, snappy and sparkly and more resolved in a effortless way.
Soundstage is wider, taller and deeper with the GK100 and feel compressed with the Eagle. Imaging is notably superior too, without a mid range scoop and it’s crisper, more accurate in positioning.
All in all, their zero doubt that for 50$ more the GK100 feel like a TOTL IEM compared to the technicaly and tonaly inferior Eagle.
VS KINERA IDUN GOLDEN 2.0 (1DD+2BAs-190$)
The Golden is more neutral and mid centric, smoother and warmer too. The bass is less boosted, warmer in punch, less well define and notably more rolled off in sub bass. Mids are more fowards, lusher, smoother and fuller with a more natural timbre and wider less compressed presence. Vocal are way better with the Golden. GK100 mids is brighter and more detailed and transparent, have superior imaging but more agressive upper mids, dryer thinner timbre and more distant presence. The treble is way more vivid, snappy and detailed with the GK100, it make the Golden feel not very extended, lacking brilliance and airy openess, level of micro details is higher with Gk100 too, but overall dynamic is louder and can induce more fatigue than more buttery highs of the Golden.
Soundstage is notably wider with the Golden, but less tall and deep. Imaging is sharper and more accurate and crisp with the GK100.
All in all, GK100 is superior technicaly but not as cohesive and musical in balance than the Kinera which have fuller and more natural and fowards mids but darker and less detailed treble and bass.
The GeekWold GK100 is one-of-a-kind IEM that certainly will leave nobody indifferent by pushing the bundaries of sound resolution to a level i’ve never heard under 200$ and in fact perhaps in all price range of 300 IEMs i’ve try. The only IEM that come to my mind offering a level of resolution that WoW me that much is the Unique Melody Mext.
While the tonality will please more the treble head, and while i would not suggest those to treble sensitive people, it’s not out of wack violently bright IEM and in fact tonal balance is well done with such high number of different drivers.
I mean, these aren’t for mid centric or timbre lover because they will perceive slight timbral imbalance or texture boost that can affect their sens of musical enjoyment, but it’s really cohesive in its vividly analytical musicality and hard to fault in the main goal this IEM try to achieve which is: magnify resolution, note definition and analytical imaging.
The GK100 push the limit of technical performance to it’s breaking point and achieve something inimaginable at this price range. Unlike the cheaper GK10 that receive mixed impressions due to bad quality check (look at graphs on the net) and questionnable tonal balance, the GK100 is a way more serious IEM with better outside and inside built quality and good channel matching.
The sound value in term of technicalities is sky high with the GK100 and for this very reason, they are highly recommended from me.
PS: I want to thank Penon Audio for sending me this review sample, after I manifest my sincere curiosity of this 9 drivers tribrid GK100. As always, i’m not affiliated, nor officialy sponsored, nor pay, nor influenced by the price value of this free sample since I’ve review so much more expensive IEMs….those are my honest subjective sound impressions.
You can order the Geek Wold GK100 for 200$ here:https://penonaudio.com/geek-wold-gk100.html