BQEYZ Topaz ($89): A Gem by name and sound
BQEYZ build, fit & quality
Sound on the mellow side
Very good reach of bass
Not the mainstream
Sound on the mellow side
Not all like this signature
BQEYZ Topaz ($89): A Gem by name and sound
Intro: BQEYZ has produced many models, but not so many that each new iteration seems to fall directly upon the previous. With a seasonal tone, I liked the Spring, Summer and other models such as one of the originals, the BQ3. I have appreciated the tonality of all; but with differing signatures. While not perfect, BQEYZ went their own decided path; eschewing the common theme of the time; which seemed to be a bright, vibrant signature to the detriment of actual quality. BQEYZ went for a smoother, more mellow signature and some did not like that. I do and recommended many of the models to those looking for alternatives to the mainstream flow from mainland China. I still appreciate BQEYZ, and the Topaz is the next iteration coming from within.
The model was graciously sent to me by Elle and BQEYZ. I am thankful for the continued support, and while this may not be an absolute new model time-wise; it is still a pertinent example at the $100 price. It is also understood that the model is mine to keep but may be asked back for at any time. Selling the unit is not cool (still) and should never happen to review samples; and will not happen here.
Dynamic Driver: 13mm
Pin Type :0.78mm-2 Pin
13mm Coaxial Dynamic Driver
9 Layers Piezoelectric Drivers
silicone ear tips*6 pairs
Thieaudio Legacy2 ($109)
Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000
Shanling M6 Pro
For many, the unboxing experience is a true event. Other models I have in-house currently are experts at presentation and this makes for a true experience. Others let the unit themselves speak. BQEYZ while not too over the top lies on the more tasteful end of the unboxing experience. I am OK with that. The top lid lifts off, revealing the gray circular case on one half and the Topaz on the other. I opted for the purple and I do not regret it at all. Stunningly subdued, it exudes a certain beauty to it of quality while not shouting to you. Think of any Lauren Bacall sultry look from the shadows in a Bogart black and white movie and you get the idea. Stunningly simple in presentation and looks.
Also included are six sets of tips in S, M, L configuration with two types. One is for a more bass-oriented sound while the other is treble-oriented. Many manufacturers have gone this route and I do approve.
I have never had issues with BQEYZ quality offerings, and the Topaz is no different. Made of three pieces, the shell, faceplate and nozzle each are of different color. Coming in either black (with a bit of glitter/sheen to it) or the purple, the shell itself and nozzle are black and gold for each. The nozzle has a good lip to it, which helps keep tips on. Plus, it is not so large to make it a bear to mount said tips. With three vent holes, two on the inside directly in front of the ear nub and one centered on the faceplate among the letters (Q on the right, O on the left) there is plenty of ventilation for the 13mm dynamic driver to breathe. The black shell is also semi-translucent, allowing you to see the insides a bit.
Coming with a silver coated wire, in 2-pin 0.78mm jack formation, the overall look is one of stateliness. The cable is thick, but little to no microphonics were heard and it lays quite well, with minimal retention of being wound tightly to fit inside the circular case. No ear guide is attached to the 2-pin connection, but the cable lays well behind my ears, even with my reading glasses on (cataract surgery gave me 20/15 vision for distance!!!). To compliment the colors, gray rules the roost for the headphone jack, splitter and 2-pin connectivity. Softer in color there is a tinge of a lighter color as well; which makes for a subtly unobtrusive look.
Everything about the Topaz gives the impression of not wanting to be a bother. And it works.
Coming as a dual-hybrid driver unit, the Topaz houses a larger-than-normal 13mm dynamic driver for the low end (and mids) along with a 9-layers piezoelectric driver. Many companies have started offering piezo drivers either singularly or as part of a hybrid system. We are now to the point where if included it is no longer a strictly new technology, and many are onto their second iterations of the drivers themselves. The BQEYZ offering works for the high end, complimenting the dynamic driver nicely.
Tito Puente’s Oye mi guaguanco is a vibrant danceable song, with mich going on. The Topaz highlights the ability to hit the lows with aplomb, allowing the mids of vocals and percussion instruments to shine through without too much interference. High end does come with a bit of sibilance on certain passages along with some “funkiness” in the piezo. The detail retrieval to me overshadows both concerns, making for a thoroughly enjoyable sound, with a warm slant to go along with abundant bass.
Safari, also from Tito Puente rides a deep and rich bass line to start, which continues as the high flutes come in; complimenting each other nicely. When the bongos enter, there is very little interference as well, allowing the incoming sax quartet to play the main line without too much bother. If I had to quibble here, it would be that the bass tone does reach into the mids a bit much with some bleed; which does not allow the mids to shine on their own. The tonality of the Topaz is such, that the fun factor to me still overrides any potential problem. Plus, with that prevalence of bass, you can hear the electric bass guitar with ease. Something not all songs allow as it is predominantly a background instrument. Trumpet and sax solos come through but seem to be slightly back from the center stage as a result of the way the tone is mixed. I do still enjoy the relaxing, warmer signature; but this should be taken into consideration by some.
Moving to Kenny Burrell & Coleman Hawkins superb Bluesy Burrell album and Tres Palabras, that overlying bass comes through but is meant to with the bass cello. Always a strong point in jazz of the era, the bass sets the tone for the song and it is sumptuous. Turning the volume up on the equally superb A&K ACRO CA1000 (review forthcoming) I find the song intoxicatingly sweet. I do prefer a more mellow signature, on the warmer side of life and the combination is quite good here. Yes, that bass still semi-gets in the way; but is meant to as the line on which the song lies. Deep of reach, and with decent thump, the bass gives way to excellent clarity when the piano comes in. Strong of note, each hit of ivory comes across as quite clean, but not dry nor analytical. This is smooth jazz at its best (preferably on a 2-channel vinyl set up…), and the Topaz proves its worth across this genre quite easily. Hawkins enters about the halfway point and I stop to listen. Smooth of character, you relish his playing while knowing the limitations of the Topaz. To me, on anything, which would provide a brighter signature would ruin the whole scene, and the moment. A very good match together here.
Moving on to a much more raucous song in Feel It Still, from Portugal. The Man, and you run into the limits. A vibrant song to begin with, the high line of beat seemingly reaches the limits of the piezo, and the volume comes back down…a bit. This is such a great song with which to kick, you dare not retreat the volume wheel too much. Tolerable, but clearly present. This is also a very good song for judging soundstage. Wide and deep with excellent height you get the feeling of a vaulted ceiling. But one with very good acoustics. Moving to Dire Straits seminal song Sultans of Swing, order is mostly restored. A semi-complicated song with much going on, nothing is lost in the Topaz’ presentation. Layering might suffer the most, except for the aforementioned soundstage. As a result, the Topaz copes well with the multi-layered song. Knopfler’s voice is so good, that you can do nothing but kick back and enjoy it. That said, it is here where cymbal hits and clashes can sound a bit strained, due to the piezo I believe. Not nearly as bad as some piezos I have heard (nameless for the do not deserve to be mentioned…) but strained a bit. Another reviewer (Prime Audio, one of the best out there imho, here) mentioned that the timbre of the cymbals was off, and I would concur. That is a very good assessment of the treatment. Even with that, the treble remains very, very good, adding enough sparkle up top without becoming brilliant in texture. Evidence of this comes across on another Dire Straits song (and one of my favorites) Down to the Waterline. High cymbal hits sound very good, and when Knopfler’s guitar reaches into that realm the signature rings true. A thoroughly enjoyable moment in the song, when you might expect something less.
I will openly admit that I have not reviewed much gear in this price range lately, but when called upon for this, I was pleasantly surprised that the price point remains a very viable category; especially when for many this would be a reach. We certainly need to keep that aspect in consideration. You could do much, much worse than any of the three mentioned below in my opinion.
BQEYZ Topaz ($89) v Thieaudio Legacy2 ($109):
I can remember reviewing the Legacy4 first in the Thieaudio lineup. It was (and is) and excellent unit, with much detail retrieval (more than the Topaz), and excellent bass response, even if it bled into the mids. It also ran a bit too hot for me. The Legacy2 follows that same pattern, but with a bit less clarity. On par with the Topaz, it follows the same pattern, except for the mids, which sit in a more frontal position to me. I really like the offerings from Thieaudio, and they seem to hit many points quite well.
But here, that frontal position of the mids, even if they sound cleaner; is a bit too far forward to me. I prefer the way the Topaz comes across. So, for those wanting a more natural sound, that is also laidback; the Topaz would be the choice. If you prefer a more vibrant upfront signature, that really does not offend me; then the Legacy2 would be the better choice.
It is nice to have choices.
As I play Celia Cruz’ excellent La Vida Es Un Carnaval, I am reminded yet again of the deep reaching bass in the Topaz. Like a deep shine of a precious gem (yes, yes, I did that…), the bass mends the line for the signature of the song. With the punchy bass shining through, the Latin sound is unmistakable. You cannot help but tap the toes or get on your feet and dance. The Topaz presents those who like this sort of sound with a fairly well-rounded laid-back signature, that oozes with a richness in sound quality. Clarity is very good at this price, and that bass has a slower decay, which aids in lengthening the sound and thus giving the warmth provided. Providing cover for the rest of the signature, yes there is the overlap with the mids a bit; but as witnessed on this song it does not hinder my enjoyment.
With treble reach that does not bother me nearly as much as some piezos on the market, we can see the maturation of the technology. A viable alternative to balanced armatures it has developed with each new model present and I can see a future where it becomes a worthy addition to driver technology. Right now, it is quite adequate at delivering solid sound, with minimal distraction. Much like the Topaz overall.