Initially out of the box with the tricky seal I thought they might be too bright, shallow and lacking in punch using my ipod and Theorem 720 pairing and was ready to give up on them as another Asian ‘bright young thing’ engineered top down for treble but after switching to my current favorite portable amp, the tubier SS Vorzuge DuoAmp things picked up really nicely. The dynamic drivers gave a wonderful sense of spaciousness and a better than average sound stage and much more satisfying and meatier bass response.
Overall the tonality could be best described as neutral without being too aggressive with a slightly peaky performance at the lower treble but nothing irritating or distracting. The SS01-B has quite a clean signature with above average clarity but gives off more of a hall or theater like ambiance rather than any mosh pit or intimate presentation.There is a touch of sibilance on some tracks with female vocals but its not that harsh and noticeable depending on the quality of your tracks. Lana Del Ray’s Born to Die for example has very minute traces of sibilance but the rather expansive and “grand” sound stage and satisfying without over whelming bass performance kept everything ticking along quite nicely.
The bass itself extends reasonably well actually, perhaps a feature of the way the twin drivers are tuned but the focus is more on the mid-bass than any heavy amounts of sub-bass. It does a pretty good job of keeping things tight though not as fast as BA models but hits deeper than most BA models. The mid-bass thankfully doesn’t overwhelm the mids and for me MOE did a great job with the tuning of the secondary tweeter like driver for the mids and highs to ensure they retained a high degree of clarity. Those craving for a more intimate and warmer experience might not find the SS01-B to their liking though. This is all about the big sound stage and at times the positioning can seem more mid to back row of an empty hall than right in their with the music.
The expansive and excellent mids performance of the Vorzuge Duamp was a very good match for me but presented with a little bit of roll off at the very top. The 10db bass gain switch really pumped some energy into the bass driver of the SS01-B but I wouldn’t recommend it unless your a complete basshead nut. Straight out of my AK100 the sound stage became a bit smaller and more forward but the mids seems a bit behind the bass in that respect. The whole presentation felt a bit more dynamic, less tubey but more compressed. Volume wise no issues with the SS01-B sitting comfortably at 53-55 for me. I hated it straight out of my Ipod Classic 7th Gen sounding thin and all top end with no bass reproduction to speak off and almost total loss of that big sound stage. Things sounded noticeably better with the Ibasso DX50 on low gain straight out of the jack. The bass weight returned, the treble returned to normal levels and on low gain it sat comfortably at 200-205. I did feel the vocals sounded a bit more sibilant on the DX50 more neutral signature.
After going back and forth I ended up picking the Vorzgue out as the best performer given its much smoother mids performance and being able to deliver a much “grander sound” and deeper bass response that I typically like with dynamic drivers. Now whether or not you wish to shell out $500 on this amp to match with a $60 earphone I am not so sure but any amp with a warm and smooth mid range should pair pretty well with the SS01-B. Without an amp I felt the DX50 was the more natural performer than the AK100 which though being a bit more dynamic felt too tight on the mids whereas the DX50 lost a bit of sparkle on the top end compared to the Vorzgue AK100 combination. Avoid the Ipod without an amp – not an enjoyable match for all of the reason mentioned already.