TFORCE Yuan Li – Beauty Personified
As a longtime single Dynamic Driver IEM enthusiast, it was easy for me to get attracted to TFORCE Yuan Li the moment it was released. With the IEM market getting more and more congested with new releases almost every week, TFORCE did well to release the Yuan Li with a very attractive theme. Yuan Li, the first Emperor of Tang Dynasty (year 618–907). As the name suggests, Yuan Li the IEM is all about elegance and authority.
When I noticed that my favorite Online Audio Store (HifiGo) listed Yuan Li in Amazon, it was a quick check-out for me considering that HiFiGo Amazon offered shipping cost included with the base price. So that’s a value that I just simply can’t ignore. The shipping was fast and hassle free.
You could purchase it on HiFiGo's Amazon Store:
The base build of Yuan Li is aluminum with chromed mirror finish. It is surprisingly lightweight and sturdy at the same time. There’s no sign of sloppy build whatsoever. Simply beautiful and elegant
Yuan Li uses a 32Ω 10mm DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) Dynamic Driver (105db Sensitivity) which suggests that it is solid in build density yet flexible enough to perform with great speed.
Yuan Li came with a 1.2m 6n OCC Pure Copper cable terminated in 3.5mm Single Ended configuration. The cable itself has been explicitly designed to match the overall theme with transparent sleeving, exposing the gold-ish copper which looked very solid – yet surprisingly subtle to the touch, not stiff at all as the thickness suggests. The chin slider works perfectly as intended, helps to secure the cable further and eliminating any chance of microphonics.
For the rest, Yuan Li did not disappoint for the $119 price asked. It came with a beautiful box which contains custom crafted Black Pouch and an arsenal of tips for tuning purposes. Three types of tips offered: Balanced (Silicone), Bass Enhanced (Silicone) and a pair of short Foamies.
Yuan Li apparently has been carefully crafted to a size and dimensions that I would imagine fit many types of ears. It was easy to wear, and I absolutely enjoyed the comfortable fit once anchored in my ear concha. Even the cable hooks seem to be designed intentionally to offer comfort, with graceful curve over the ear to not introduce any pressure point for prolonged use. And I did wear my Yuan Li for over 6 hours straight a few times.
PLAYING IT RIGHT
I have an arsenal of DAC/Amp Dongles at my disposal and for these impressions I have opted to focus on the following sources:
- Ovidius B1 (3.5mm SE, USB 3.0, Samsung Galaxy S20)
- hiliDAC Audirect BEAM 3+ (3.5mm SE & 4.4mm BAL, USB & LDAC BT)
- Avani (USB 2.0, Sony Xperia Z5 Compact)
- Tidal Masters (MQA & HiFi)
- HiBy Player Android (FLAC, USB Exclusive Mode)
- Stock Yuan Li 6n OCC Cable
- TACables Obsidian Black Litz Silver Plated 5N OCC
- VE Black Litz (Solid OCC)
As with many IEMs, using the right tips is especially crucial to attain proper sonic indulgence to suit the listener. For my own usage, I opted to use the short foamies instead of the Silicones as I am already very familiar with the usage of Foam tips. To my ears, foam tips will always provide the best seal with well balanced sound that will not emphasize on any frequencies.
* The impressions were done after over 50 hours of burn-in. I only spent an hour after unboxing and then tucked my Yuan Li aside for continuous burn-in on my laptop.
Timbre & Tonality – Yuan Li offers neutral balanced sound which is not exactly warm or bright. Being balanced means it edge closer to organic and analogue presentation especially when paired with an already neutral balanced sources like the Ovidius B1 and BEAM 3+. My own preference is more on sparkly bright Diffused Field Neutral side of things; however, this signature often can be less musical and fatiguing due to the flat bright nature of it. Having an option for Balanced Neutral is something that I embrace wholeheartedly especially after acquiring the TIN HiFi P1 Magnetic Planar, which I adored immensely. As for Yuan Li, the timbre itself is admirably clean sounding without any sign of being digital-ish, however timbre and dynamic density is not as rich as how I would get from the likes of Shure KSE1500 or TIN HiFi P1, but then I am nitpicking here comparing a single DD against the mammoths of KSE1500 Electrostatics and P1 Magnetic Planar. Yuan Li is not as airy as KSE1500, VE Duke or HZSOUND Heart Mirror, putting it on the same segment with Etymotic ER4SR, ER2XR, Moondrop Aria and TIN HiFi P1.
Dynamics – Yuan Li offers very extensive dynamic range for the price asked. I am not joking on this as I know how TOTL sounds like and to my ears what Yuan Li presented is way above the $119 price point. Paired with an exceedingly technical source like the Ovidius B1, I can hear deep extensions on both end of the spectrum that is as vibrant as it can be, with commendable density and weight. Most importantly, being a single DD and with DLC, it was effortless for Yuan Li to maintain timbre coherence and hygiene.
Mids – Mids are richly textured, detailed, and intimate. There’s a touch of warmth especially for female vocals (Diana Krall, TEXAS & Alison Krauss), with natural decays that does not sound artificial. Male vocals seem to be less warm and a bit more neutral in presentation (Nick Cave & Morrissey), slightly spaced back and not as intimate.
On the instruments side, Yuan Li is faithfully neutral organic with the presentation of guitars, banjo, piano, cello & percussions. The sound is as realistic as it can be expected with proper tone and decays. There was no hint of artificial or metallic nuances to the tone. Simply outstanding.
Treble – Admittedly, for a Treble junkie like me, Yuan Li does not impress me much here. I am so used to the super extended, detailed, and sparkly Treble presentation of VE Duke MK1, Etymotic ER4SR or even Heart Mirror. However, this does not mean Yuan Li is a slacker either, in fact Yuan Li edge closer to KSE1500 and P1 type of Treble characteristics which offers less simmer and sheen but still extends far with rich detailed textures. It is so very silky smooth and tantalizing, even better than the sort of smoothness that I get from Heart Mirror (at the expense of some sparkle). All in all, this Treble presentation meant that I was able to listen to Yuan Li for up to 6-7 hours continuously – something which I can’t do with Heart Mirror or ER4SR (2 hours max). Yuan Li is totally free from any sort of Treble sibilance.
Bass – First thing first. I hate thick and overpowering Bass. Yuan Li is NOT for a Basshead. That’s one thing for sure . As I said earlier, Yuan Li is well balanced and organic, this mean to my ears, Yuan Li offer the right amount of Bass body mass and density. It is very well controlled and fast. Mid-Bass amply solid with visceral presence, properly textured with sensible amount of punch and vibrancy – actually less euphonic compared to Heart Mirror or Aria – to me this is perfect. Considering that I am actually enjoying the weak-assed Bass responses from the likes of ER4SR and VE Duke (both of which will kill any Bass lovers in agony due to lack of Bass ahahaha), Yuan Li a bit more generous than the two of them in contrast. Sub-Bass performance largely depends on the source capabilities, on Ovidius B1 it is well presented with deep seismic sensation especially for Bassy tracks like “Angel” (Massive Attack), “Harper Lewis” (Russian Circles) or “Mombasa” (Hans Zimmer). The decays longer and smoother. However, with Avani it is shorter, crisper, and less audible. So, this indicated that Yuan Li quite capable of scaling to the nature of the sources.
Details & Transparency – I am a detail junkie. Yuan Li did not disappoint. Taking VE Duke and Etymotic ER4SR as my point of reference, Yuan Li capable in handling details retrieval as competent as the two of them, perhaps not exactly on par with VE Duke but close enough. Transparency is top notch, with the pairing to Ovidius B1 and even Avani, I was able to audibly hear details presentation that are available in the tracks – played on FLAC with HiBy Player. However, it wasn’t as great when paired with Audirect BEAM 3+ in LDAC BT mode, perhaps the limitation of the source here impeded for surgical level of details handling. Yuan Li being slightly less clinical than VE Duke and ER4SR, also mean that it is a bit more forgiving on poor sources. All in all, I am very happy with Yuan Li Macro and Micro detail capabilities, it is assuredly more refined than both Heart Mirror and Aria on this section. On the other hand, Yuan Li exhibited strong sensitivity that I can hear floor noises on Ovidius B1 which is not a surprise to me. B1 being a natively super powerful DAC/Amp unit needed some dampening with the use of Impedance Adapter to emulate Low Gain and eliminate floor noises.
Speed & Transients – The measure of a great IEM to me is how they handle speed, transients, and resolution. On this end, Yuan Li is a stellar performer. The only other DDs that impressed me much with these capabilities are Etymotic ER2XR and VE Duke. In fact, Yuan Li speed is on equal level to VE Duke and the BA of ER4SR. Yes, it is actually faster than ER2XR and Heart Mirror. The essence of speed is how the drivers handle fast note exchanges/transitions/layers in complex music, or an outright fast paced (BPM) tracks normally found in Rock/Metal. Being able to respond quickly to myriad of different notes at given intervals will determine if the output is effortless or congested. I hate congested sound. This performance alone already made me love Yuan Li even more.
Soundstage & Imaging – Admittedly there’s nothing stellar to describe here. Just like many other In Ear Monitors, soundstage size, width and depth of Yuan Li is commendable at best. It is no different than Heart Mirror or even KSE1500 in comparison. But of course, Yuan Li is still a lot better than the super narrow staging of ER2XR and ER4SR. Spatial Imaging is as precise and cleanly placed as it could be, depending on the capabilities of the source quality. On Ovidius B1 and Avani I am quite satisfied with the holographic projection which is circular enough not to sound L/R oriented. Smaller headstage observed with Avani vs B1.
ADAPTABILITY & SCALABILITY
- Cable Swaps. As with many well designed and built IEMs, Yuan Li responds very well to cable swaps. The stock OCC 6n Copper, to my ears offered slightly warm presentation that is super smooth yet transparent. Swapping to VE Black Litz (Solid OCC), it edges closer to DF Neutral Timbre at the expense of some density of sound, but transparency is further improved to the point that Micro Details are crisper. Yuan Li seems to synergize best with TACables Obsidian Black Litz/SPC Hybrid – where timbre density is retained, and a bit of sparkle introduced. Great transparency as well.
- Source Scalability. Yuan Li sounded great even played directly off my Sony Xperia Z5 Compact via the 3.5mm Jack. While relatively easy to drive even with Low Gain drive, Yuan Li shines the best with beefier amplification. The sound opened up audibly with Ovidius B1 and even Avani (with smaller staging and less air)
Yuan Li. Even as I wrote this, I have Yuan Li pumping pleasurable music to my ears. As noted earlier, with overflowing options available today, it is a vicious competition in the market for newcomers to grab the attention of consumers. What is certain, none of the IEMs within the $50-$150 bracket is built and designed to sound bad. More often than not, they are built and tuned to cater for varying plateau of taste and preferences. In the case of Yuan Li, it is apparent to me the tuning was intentionally designated to be natural smooth and elegant. In that regard, I would declare that TFORCE did a stellar job. What I am hearing is a very matured sounding IEM that is exquisitely well balanced and comforting. I can listen to my music with Yuan Li hours and hours on end.
If I will draw comparisons and analogy, the HZSOUND Heart Mirror is a sparkly, lively, euphonic, and vibrant performer that will make you dance, Moondrop Aria on the other hand offers darker/warmer presentation that is closer to Harman U-Curve signature. Yuan Li, provide an elegant balance between Heart Mirror and Aria. This is not an easy thing to achieve. I recalled my time with ddHiFi Janus E2020A, another premium grade single 10mm DD which was intended to be a smooth performer as well. While Janus was indeed very smooth and clean, it was a bit too laid back and slow in comparison to Yuan Li. I will openly say that TFORCE succeed where ddHiFi fell short.
Simply put, I am totally in love with my Yuan Li. A much-needed addition to my arsenal of IEMs, the balancing option that is easy to drive compared to the rest, outstanding ability to adapt and scale with source pairing. All things considered, the value proposition, Yuan Li is a true 5 Stars performer in my book.
order here,US amzon.
Leave a comment