Guide Ray GR-I Review
The Guide Ray GR-I is dual-driver hybrid featuring a single balanced armature and a single dynamic driver. This IEM comes in a few different colors, each adding a number to the model name. In my case, I received the GR-I18, a purple translucent shell version of the Guide Ray earphone. This was provided to me by Linsoul for a review and can be found on Linsoul’s website or on Amazon.
The IEM comes with a nicely made 2-pin cable with an in-line mic. The one I received was silver colored and tightly wound, but still remaining flexible and easy to handle. The package also contained a series of white silicone tips of various shapes and sizes. All of them were on the smaller side though, which is a bit unusual, but good for me as I tend to use the smaller, if not smallest sized tips.
The overall fit of the IEMs are comfortable with my choice of tips being the Sony Hybrid medium sized tips. I normally wear small tips with most IEMs, but felt these fit the best with a slightly larger size than normal. Isolation was pretty good and there is a small vent hole on the side of the IEM as is the case with most in-ears with a dynamic driver.
The GR-I has a punchy and warmer than neutral bass response and a clear upper-midrange and a slightly exaggerated treble region. This gives the GR-I an overall sound profile somewhere between a V-Shape and a Balanced sound signature. It’s nowhere near what I’d call neutral though.
The bass is well extended and elevated. The GR-I has both rumbling subbass and punchy mid-bass. This is present on a track like Haelos’ “Dust” where the electronic soundscape provides a deep low tone, while the drums pop and my ears feel every beat.
The mid range is a little mixed. The lower mid-range has a nice warm thickness to it due to the extended bass, but the middle of this range does feel a little flat. The Upper midrange does have a rise that helps add energy to female vocals, but doesn’t sound overly forward and this helps create a little bit of space.
Treble is a little scattered. This is mostly due to a large peak around 8KHz. In most songs, I am perfectly fine with it, and it actually helps bring out some exacting details. In other songs, mainly pop songs, this peak can be overly harsh and fatiguing.
With the type of bass boost and treble peaks present on this IEM, I find that listening to this at lower volume works quite well, as it minimizes the possibility of the bass and treble over-taking the song and becoming a little boomy and sharp. When I listen to this louder, I don’t particular like it, and it actually sounds a little lifeless to me.
The GR-I is just one of many new IEMs that have come out recently in this budget-tier bracket, which continues to impress me with surprisingly decent sounding earphones at prices well below previous competition. I haven’t gone through my entire backlog of IEMs that have come out in the late-Summer and early Fall time period we’re in now, but here’s my attempt at some quick comparisons to some of the ones out today:
The ZSX has a more balanced sound, in that the bass is less elevated but is definitely present, and the mids are less recessed and treble more laid back. I find the ZSX to be a very likable sound signature not unlike the Campfire Solaris, but many leagues back on technicalities and resolution. The GR-I does sound more clean in some ways due to the elevated treble and that does give the impression of more resolution and a more airy sound signature.
The TRN V90 is a V-Shaped IEM that I find to be similar to the BL-03 but more balanced since it’s treble region is more elevated and does not let the bass take over. In terms of the V90 and the GR-I though, the V90 has much more elevated bass and a more elevated upper mid-range and treble.
The BLON BL-03 is a bassier Harman-like sound signature that has a similar sharp treble peak at 8KHz as the V90 above and the GR-I. I found the BL-03 bass to be much more present and sometimes overwhelming with it’s punch and rumble and always being there. The BL-03 also does not fit me as well as the GR-I and this is mostly due to the shallower fit of the nozzle. That said, the BL-03 is nearly half the price of the GR-I and presents a good value.
The Guide Ray GR-I series is a nice little addition to the IEM market that has exploded recently out of China. It’s got a likable sound signature that I believe will find a lot of enjoyment from people. I do find that it can be a little overly done in both the bass and treble department, however, listening to it at lower volumes does help compensate for my dislike of big bass and sensitivity to 8K peaks.
The accessories are well supplied, though the box presentation is rather simple, but the fit is nice and works well for lengthy wearing and listening. I generally do like the GR-I and think it’s a good value for its price. There are quite a few other IEMs out on the market today that competes strongly with it, and picking the right one for each individual is really going to be a case-by-case basis. This one should be considered though.
If you are interested, please check out the following links for buying the Guide Ray GR-I.