DDHiFi Janus 2 (E2020B): Retuned, with better sound.
Pros: DDHiFi build
Retuned with better detail
Better bass response
Clarity is better on V2
Interchangeable cables (Air works superbly)
Off-center looks (da bomb!)
Cons: The color of the case, I agree…it’s just off
Insanely tough price point
Not a mainstream brand, therefore overlooked?
A tad too bright for me up top
DDHiFi Janus 2, E2020B ($199): Retuned, with better sound.
*Better late than never, I post this while revisiting the Janus2, which I still really, REALLY like.
Intro: After the Janus E2020A made the rounds, DDHiFi asked for and received tuning recommendations. While I enjoyed the tuning, something seemed off. Moving to a more “consumer-oriented” tuning, the E2020B comes across with changes, which might make it better. I thank DDHiFi for the support and sending of the unit. It is understood that the unit may be asked back for at any time, but until then, it is mine to keep; but not sell. That’s still really, really uncool to do.
*George hangs stuff from trees, I use stone blocks cut from our historic quarry…
- Type: IEM
- Style: Dynamic Driver
- Driver: 1x Dynamic, 10mm (new)
- Socket: MMCX + 2-Pin (0.78mm)
- Cable: octo-core silver-plated OFC + copper OCC
- Shell: acrylic + 316L steel
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Impedance: 12 ohms
- Sensitivity: 105dB/mW
- Cable length: 120 cm (Effect Audio designed/built)
In The Box:
Janus 2 (E2020B)
Upgraded MMCX cable, 3.5mm se
C80A earphone case (different color)
C10A magnetic cable clip (matches case as before)
MMCX dust cover plugs x10
3 sets silicone bass tips
3 sets silicone treble tips
CFA Honeydew ($249)
CFA Satsuma ($199)
Thieaudio Legacy 4 ($195)
BQEYZ Spring 2 ($165)
DDHiFi Janus-E2020A ($199)
Cayin N6ii (E01 motherboard)
Shanling M6 Pro
HiBy R3 Pro Saber
Buena Vista Social Club
Stevie Ray Vaughan
I unabashedly love the unboxing experience of DDHiFi products. Originally coming in small bamboo boxes, the company went towards a more environmental route with recycled cardboard boxes. I applaud this push, and while I miss the bamboo boxes, don’t regret the switch.
The Janus-B comes in an elongated rectangular box, with a lift off lid. Remove the lid and you will find the new colored goldish-bronze carrying case on one side and a same sized box labeled “Janus.” Inside that box you will find the Janus-B set in a foam protective square. The cable and accessories come within the new case. A full set of accessories comes with the Janus-B including two different styles of tips, one for treble oriented sound, and one for more bass orientation. Also included are 10 small plastic plugs to be used for the MMCX side of the Janus if you choose to use a 2-pin 0.78mm cable. This came with the original Janus as well, which gives a nice touch and can keep dust out of the earphone itself. A very competent owner’s manual is also included, complete with pictures. DDHiFi has had this right from the beginning, so it is nice to see this pattern continue. The new color is certainly unexpected, and an almost brazen attempt at one-upmanship to the competition. So far with everything that DDHiFi has done, they have the good to back it up.
Listening to the users and reviewers of the Janus-A, DDHiFi didn’t just tweak the new one, they redesigned it. I will admit I liked the Janus-A, but felt it was lacking in a bit of tonality. The Janus-B “corrects” this by using a new 10mm dynamic driver and redesigned acoustic chamber. A faster driver to boot, the rear of the cavity is now two chambers, cutting down on the resonance of that driver. Think of it this way. Sometimes resonance is good, for it gives good depth and a 3-dimensionality to the bass. But the downside is that it can be slow to respond and allow a certain muddiness of sound to pervade your listening pleasure. The new one does not, and I can admit the bass is faster in responding and with better control while reaching a bit deeper.
A nice trick from the old one is gone as well. Instead of using PCB to connect the wiring to the driver, which not only looked cool but allowed a quick response across the sound spectrum, the new one uses regular old wiring. But that wiring was developed in conjunction with custom cable maker, Effect Audio. I can remember a meme from not too long ago that made fun of users who spend too much on cables, only to be bound by merely 10 cents of inside wiring connecting the crossover, driver and cable. It makes sense, and Effect is quite good at cables, so I suspect the connecting wires inside the Janus-B is as well. Again, DDHiFi fixes a problem we may not know we had. They certainly did not have to but jumped ahead yet again. While the wiring may not offer the exact same “precision” as the PCB, it works nonetheless, and we should expect the same level of performance. Add in a new venting system with a ring set around the short nozzle of the ear side shell and you can understand how the bass is richer, deeper and with better control.
The cable is new as well, made of silver-plated OCC also by Effect Audio. The aftermarket Air cable of the previous version was a really fine cable in its own right, but some may not have liked the color (No big deal to me…). The new one looks more mainstream while providing quality sound. There is a bit of microphonics involved, but not like many of today.
I could write this in one sentence stating that the build of the Janus-B is exactly like all of their adapters and wires, as in as good as it gets. But there is more to it than that. I did find the look to be a bit less premium than the Janus-A, until I listened. Made of two halves, one is a clear plastic material and the other of steel. Fit is very much like an ear bud, but as per the original can be worn either up or down. I will state that when wearing down, there was much sou8nd leakage from the outside on the Janus-A. Not so with the B, as isolation is much, much better. Not sealed, but using the included bass tips, very adequate.
Still using both MMCX and 2-pin of standard 0.78mm, you still get versatility. There are no ear guides on the cable so wearing the bud up like and IEM is a trick in placing the wire properly. I will also add that when worn up, the fit is a smidge better for me, with a deeper reach of bass than down. But when worn down, the fit and sound is much better than from the Janus-A. Whatever voodoo was done here, I approve.
The polished steel shell does draw fingerprints, but to be honest, it is lying inside your ear most of the time, so who cares. Combine that with the still easy to grab back shell and you get an IEM/ear bud, which is quite easy to handle. The case may be a new color as well, but is the familiar open clipped top, complete with magnets. Why change a good thing? The cable clip also still has a magnet for roping in the cable. When not in use, as in when I’m listening, I close the clip, and allow the magical magnetic forces to grab onto it, staying put on the case. It is rather fun to try the other side, so you can make the case magically walk away from you…oh to be kids again…I would rate the Janus-B easily as good as the Janus-A, if not better.
If I had to sum up the new tuning on the Janus-B, it would be more “consumer-oriented,” but in a good way. While there is more bass emphasis, both in reach and quality specifically quality. While there can be a bit of rumble, this would not be quantified as a bass-oriented ear bud. Hence the quality. Better speed and response are definitive differences, and this helps tighten up the signature across the board as there is little to no bleed in my less than stellar hearing. The treble is still thankfully distinct and present in sufficient detail. The mids to me are also pushed a small bit forward or maybe it has better presence than the old, which was very good in its own right. Treble as mentioned does not become tiresome, rounding out a thorough upgrade to the sound, of which I approve; even if it may be more consumer oriented.
Sometimes going with a new signature is good, sometimes bad. Sometimes this is driven by marketing or consumer response. Any way you look at it, this can be a bit risky. Taking a tried and true model, and “upgrading it” can have devastating consequences if done wrong. Going from the Janus-A to the Janus-B has been a positive move in my estimation. I did like the Janus-A for reasons other than it was simply different from most of that time (last year…). But the Janus-B simply doesn’t fall into the “mee too” signature to accommodate market fluctuations. The change is a result of customer feedback for the better.
The new driver is faster in response, which tightens up the bass making for a tauter, less intrusive bass. While not necessarily more in quantity as I mentioned, the bass response is better in that decay, hence you get less intrusion into the mids. Sometimes bleed into the mids is good for it can lend a certain richness to the signature. Not here. It is not needed. Allowing the notes to speak for themselves, the bass plays in quality over quantity, adding in rumble when needed. On Reckoner, I find the bass quantity just right. The rumble, which is present complements the guitar work of Frampton nicely, but does not intrude. A well behaved bass is all I could ask for here, and a nice change from the lifted sub-bass of some lately. It has been mentioned among some peers that the new signature norm is one of lifted sub-bass instead of the near neutral with composure. I would agree and some reviews of IEM’s, which tend towards neutral are called “thin” in response when a better description would be “neutral.” I like a bass signature, but appreciate and respect neutral, or reference. I do think it is important to clarify both with the way tuning seems to be going. The Janus-B in response is neither neutral nor sub bass lifted or heavy. A nice balance of richness pervades my senses.
The balance carries over into the mids as a result. It can be rightly said that here the B “falls behind” the A in mid response. Not as frontal, or pushed forward, the B does fall a bit behind the A as a result. To me (and others) timbre is better though. So, the tradeoff is a less prominent mid-section, but added musicality. On Wish You Were Here from the Pink Floyd tribute album, Joe Satriani’s wonderful guitar licks do seem a bit less prominent on the Janus-B, but it is not bad mind you. Call it a compromise in working together.
The treble on the Janus-B is to my liking, even if it can be a bit frontal. Those who have better hearing than I may not appreciate this, but the air between notes is better on the new version to me. Call it competent and slightly lifted in comparison, but with slightly better detail. I do not find this offensive.
A fault I had with the Janus-A, if you want to call it that, is the soundstage. Smaller than I thought it should be, the Janus-B “corrects” this, with better depth and height. As a result, instrumentation & separation are aided, giving a certain spaciousness to the sound, but without being what I would call thin. Certainly not molasses thick, but the richness of the mids helps to fill the spatial awareness in the soundstage. Shane Hennessy’s Raindance is a cacophony of guitar plucks, plinks, and strikes; which comes across with excellent spaciousness on the Janus-B. A very complicated track once it gets going, I find the Janus-B holds its composure well during those sections. Nicely done and nicely presented.
Just by the sheer number of comparisons listed below, you can see there is incredibly tough competition for the Janus-B. I would even venture this may be the toughest market segment out there…
DDHiFi Janus-B ($199) v CFA Honeydew ($249):
The reincarnation of the two CFA models has been met with outright hate by some. And love by others. I really, REALLY wish the hate would stop. It is almost like certain reviewers have an agenda against CFA. If you do not like them, stop listening to them.
Marketed as the “bassier” of the two, the Honeydew is a wonderful addition to the CFA line up, and from my review note that bass can bleed into the mids a bit, but this is where that is a complimentary action. Detail and clarity are still very good, and the lineage from the Andromeda can clearly be heard. If we were to gauge these two on clarity alone (even with the added bass note), the Honeydew would win out. Add in that additional bass and it may be a runaway. But, the Janus-B is a worthy competitor for it has better soundstage to me (which is a surprise), and I like the treble treatment better on the B. I could not pick a winner, nor should I for each has their own merits.
DDHiFi Janus-B ($199) v CFA Satsuma ($199):
Where the Honeydew shines in richness and bass, the Satsuma wins out in details. It does seem odd that the less expensive model may in fact have the better detail response, but that is what I hear. And this hearkens to what some have referred to as thin. The Satsuma is nothing like that. Excellent detail highlights a thoroughly pleasant signature, with an expansive stage. Less bass than the Janus-B for sure, but also more air between notes. If you prefer a slightly richer signature, then the Janus-B might be the better choice. If you want an affordable detail-oriented IEM patterned after the Andromeda, there are far worse choices than the Satsuma.
DDHiFi Janus-B ($199) v Thieaudio Legacy 4 ($195):
The Legacy 4 continued the excellent success of the Thieaudio lineup. Think of Thieaudio as an all-star rock band, who took stars from other bands and formed a super group, like Asia of old. That one did not work out, but the Thieaudio line has. The Legacy 4 is one of my top picks at this price as a result. A bit less bass than I would like, but good nonetheless, the Legacy 4 makes up for that in its richness of signature. The Legacy 4 is more mid-centric to me as well. As a result, it does not have the sheer width of soundstage the Janus-B has. But that midcentric sound comes across with excellent detail. This also leads into a treble note, which is too bright for my liking. The treble note is excellent in response and detailed, but there is a bit too much for my liking, especially when compared to the Janus-B. These two are very different in character and should be looked at individually rather than competitors.
DDHiFi Janus-B ($199) v BQEYZ Spring 2 ($165):
Another favorite of mine at this price, the Spring 2 was a very pleasant surprise. With a richness, that belied its character to me, it really does feel like that first fine, warm Spring day. Bass is equally taut in the Spring 2, but mids again are lifted. Not as much as the Legacy 4 thankfully, and the treble note is much more akin to the Janus-B. In other words, not strident or pulsating. Of the models compared here, to me these two are closest in signature (others may hear something completely different). Equally spacious in stage as well the Spring 2 really is a fine unit for the price, and one that could be looked at equally in comparison to the Janus-B.
DDHiFi Janus-B ($199) v DDHiFi Janus-E2020A ($199):
The comparison everyone wants…new v old. Improved v old. Well, the Janus-A had its merits in mid presentation and detail response. Especially when complemented by the Air balanced cable. I like it still, but find it lacking in bass response. A really cool design in shell cannot make up for the lack of bass response to me. The Janus-B has better reach down low and is tighter and tauter. If you want a model, which leans towards a detailed warmth, that represents the musicality of the song, then the Janus-A would indeed be a good fit. If you prefer a more spacious soundstage and better, faster bass response along with that timbre mentioned above, the Janus-B is a “clear winner” and step forward. That “thinness” mentioned as a response to tuning might be called upon here for the Janus-A, but it is not thin, just not as prominent a sound signature as the Janus-B. If I had to choose though, the Janus-B to me is the better choice.
To me, DDHiFi has yet to put a foot wrong. Some might find the Janus-A not to their liking, but so what. It is different tuning, because that’s what DDHiFi does. Different. As mentioned in my very first review of their wares, DDHiFi finds solutions to problems we may not even know exist. And those solutions are stellar in creation, build, and usage. I have yet to find flaw in any of their wares, which says something about how they approach business. It is said that if you work for Lamborghini, that you sign strict confidentiality contracts, extending even to your use of social media. There is a reason that Lamborghini’s are so sought in in the luxury car market, the brand is as much the sell as the actual car.
I liken this to DDHiFi and their wares. While they may only produce accessories, adapters, cables, and the Janus-B; the approach is the same. You work for us, our goal is to provide the best product no matter if it is a $10 magnetic strap, and adapter or the $199 Janus-B. This is our passion as much as producing amongst the best cars on the planet is to Lamborghini. Different price points, but the approach holds true. Provide the customer with the best possible unit we can and if they like it, good. If it is not for them, we cannot fault how we presented and built the product.
The Janus-B is pretty much an entirely new unit, and I like it more than the Janus-A, which I also liked. If I had to choose one, it would be the B 8 days a week. Please, keep up the excellent work, DDHiFi.
Many, many thanks to Lily and DDHiFi again for the support offered me by their wares. They are excellent and the customer service is as well.