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HiSound


HiSound Crystal





Specs.
Dynamic driver
Frequency range:
Impedance:
Sensitivity:
RRP: $130

Unfortunately the specs are unknown. These are also a non-retail version, so there may be slight differences to the full retail version.


Build quality and accessories.
Build quality is good. The housing is made of plastic and metal, the slightly plasticky feeling cable is 125cm long and it terminates in a straight jack.
The included accessories are, three pairs of different sized silicone sleeves (S, M and L) and a shirt clip. A pouch would have been nice to include.


Comfort and fit.
The Crystal are quite small and very light. They can be worn with the cable running over the ear as well as straight down. They are very comfortable to wear, but can be a little finicky to fit properly. Isolation from ambient noise is very good for a dynamic IEM and microphonic noise can be minimized by wearing the cable over the ear and by using the shirt clip.


Sound quality.
As a dynamic IEM they require time to settle (burn in) to sound their best.
The Crystal offers a bass driven, very powerful sound, but it does so without sacrificing the mids and highs. As said the bass is strong yet very well controlled and most importantly, it does not overpower the rest of the sound spectrum. Mids are smooth with good detail, even if they are a bit in the background, the highs are clearly audible without sounding harsh or sibilant. The soundstage is about average, but nicely layered.
My test tracks sound great, the drums and bass really punch hard when asked to, guitars and voices sound full and smooth, cymbals and other high-pitched instruments sound natural.
For the asking price they are very good, but remember that they are very much bass driven and may not suit all tastes.



To sum up.
The good: very powerful bass driven sound, price/performance.
The bad: not easily available to buy, can be too powerful and bass driven for some.

Verdict: if you like bass, these are for you. Highly recommended.


HiSound Live





Specs.
Dynamic driver
Frequency range:
Impedance:
Sensitivity:
RRP: $99

Unfortunately the specs are unknown. These are also a non-retail version, so there may be slight differences to the full retail version.

Build quality and accessories.
Build quality is great. The housing is made of metal, the slightly plasticky feeling cable is 120cm long and it terminates in a straight jack.
The included accessories are, two extra pairs of earpads and a shirt clip. A case would have been nice.

Comfort and fit.
The Live buds are about average both weight wise and size wise. They can be worn with the cable running over the ear but are intended to be worn with the cable straight down. They are very comfortable and unobtrusive to wear, but may not fit small ears. Isolation from ambient noise is not really the strongest point of earbuds, there is next to no microphonic noise and fixing the cable with the shirt clip can further minimize it.


Sound quality.
Having dynamic drivers the Live buds require time to settle (burn in) to sound their best. That said, they do sound very nice straight out of the box as well.
The Live buds offer a powerful and airy sound, without sacrificing the mids and highs in any way. The bass is strong and punchy yet very well controlled, the smooth mids have good detail, the highs are very nice and clear without sounding harsh or sibilant. The soundstage is very big and expansive.
My test tracks sound lively and great, with excellent drum and bass reproduction, guitars and voices blend in nicely and cymbals are clear without any harshness.
I really enjoy listening to the Live buds. For the asking price they are very, very good.



To sum up.
The good: excellent, powerful and airy sound, build quality and materials used, exclusive looks, price/performance.
The bad: may not fit small ears, not easily available to buy.

Verdict: I must confess to not having heard that many earbuds before, but the Live buds have made me a fan of them. Excellent sound, excellent build quality and exclusive looks at a really affordable price. Highly recommended.





I-Mego


I-Mego Ztone





Specs.
Dynamic driver 10 mm
Frequency range: 20Hz – 20KHz
Impedance: 16 Ohm
Sensitivity: 105 dB/mW
Price: $99.99
Colours: Gunmetal/black, gold/black, chrome/black

Build quality and accessories.
Build quality is very good. The housing is compact and very well put together. The braided cable, which is one of the nicest cables I have seen, is 120 cm long and terminates in a straight jack. The included accessories are, three pairs of normal silicone sleeves (S, M and L) and four pairs of “custom” sleeves (XS, S, M and L), a 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter as well as a inflight adapter and a very nice hard case. Quite a nice accessory pack, if you ask me.



Comfort and fit.
The Ztones are about average for both size and weight. But what separates them from the average is the “custom” sleeves, they are silicone sleeves that are made to fit most ears like custom made IEMs. Once you have gotten used to them, and more importantly how to insert them, they offer unrivalled comfort, and the isolation is also above average. They are to be worn with the cable running over the ear, and there is a stiffened memory wire segment to help them stay put. There are no microphonic noises from the cable.



Sound quality.
The Ztones require time to settle to sound their best, and once settled they offer a warm sound signature with strong bass.
The bass is plentiful, but still rather tight and punchy without interfering with the rest of the sound spectrum, the mids are warm and honey like and a little in the background, the highs are clearly audible if not in any way up front, and the soundstage is very spacious and well presented with great imaging.

Due to the warm sound some fine detail will be lost and as such the Ztones are not for the detail craving listeners. My favourite tracks sound powerful and dynamic, and very musical. The huge soundstage makes for a really enjoyable experience and it makes you want to listen for hour after hour, which is possible without any discomfort thanks to the custom sleeves. Bass driven music sounds great on the Ztones, but of course they suit any music, just don’t expect them to be something they are not. They are for casual listening and enjoyment of your favourite music, not for dissecting and analysing sinus tones.



To sum up.
The good: powerful sound, the comfort of a custom IEM, excellent cable.
The bad: can be too warm and bassy for some listeners.



Verdict: for the price they offer a very nice sound in a great looking package and not to be forgotten, the comfort and fit that is absolutely fabulous. Highly recommended.





Jays


Jays a-Jays



The new a-Jays comes in three different flavours, One, Two and Three, with different accessories and finishes, as well as slightly different sound characteristics.
There will also be a Iphone headset, the a-Jays Four Iphone, which is a mic/headset version of the a-Jays Three, available in black or white.

I will be taking a closer look at a-Jays Two.



Specs.
Dynamic driver 8.6mm
Frequency range: 20Hz – 20KHz (20Hz-18KHz One, 20Hz-22KHz Three)
Impedance: 16Ohm
Sensitivity: 96dB/mW (95dB/mW One, 97dB/mW Three)
Colour: Deep high gloss black (standard black One, rubber coated black Three)
RRP: $49 ($39 One, $59 Three) ex. VAT

Build quality and accessories.
Build quality is excellent. The housing is made of high quality plastic and the cable is 115cm/45in, with a straight jack. The flat! rubbery cable is very stylish and has a very high quality feel to it.
The included accessories are, five pairs of different sized silicone sleeves (XXS, XS, S, M, L), a stereo splitter and a flight adapter. One includes the sleeves and Three includes all mentioned plus a very nice hard shell case. Finally a special mention for the very useful and gorgeous packaging.

The excellent "Pacman-esque" hard shell case included with the a-Jays Three.

Comfort and fit.
The a-Jays are light and about average size. They are very comfortable to wear even for longer periods, thanks to the vast amount of included sleeves. They can be worn both with the cable running over the ear as well as straight down. Isolation from ambient noise is very good, there are some microphonic noises but nothing too bad and wearing the cable over the ear reduces them to a minimum.

Sound quality.
As a dynamic IEM the a-Jays benefit from burn in. The print on the package says, “heavy bass impact, detailed mids and highs”, I fully agree with that. The a-Jays have a very powerful and analogue sound, the bass is tight and full of energy, the mids are very smooth if a little in the background, the highs are crisp without ever sounding harsh or sibilant. A very well textured overall sound, with a slight hint of a V shaped sound signature, all wrapped into a soundstage that is big and expansive. My test tracks sound excellent, filled with energy and very musical/fun. The detail in the overall sound is very good for a dynamic IEM, but the a-Jays are not made for monitoring and critical listening, they are made for the real enjoyment of listening to good music.
Let it also be noted that the a-Jays respond well to the use of DSP’s and EQ’s.



To sum up.
The good: Excellent and powerful/analogue sound, build quality, design, accessories.
The bad: I honestly can’t think of any.

Verdict: Excellent sound and stunning design, what more can one ask for, a generous accessory pack of course, do not worry, the a-Jays deliver on all fronts! Highly recommended!





Klipsch


Klipsch Image S4



Klipsch are very well regarded on the audio scene, where they have provided high quality products ever since 1946. The RRP of the new Klipsch Image S4 is set to $80 or around £45-50.



Build quality.
The S4’s look and feel very nice with their hard plastic casing in black and chrome. The cable measures at 125cm/50in and has a 90 degree angle on the jack, it has a durable and good quality feel to it. The accessories included are, three pairs of silicone sleeves (M and L single flange and SM double flange) that are oval shaped for easy and comfortable fit, a cleaning tool and a very nice looking steel case. All in all a well thought out accessory pack with a touch of luxury.

Comfort and fit.
They are light and small, easy to fit and very comfortable thanks to the oval eartips. They are to be worn professionally, over the ear, even if you can wear them straight down as well. Isolation from ambient noise is quite good, but not really among the best isolating IEM’s. Cable noise is nearly non existant.

And the sound?
The S4’s being a dynamic IEM require time to settle (burn in) to sound their best, I would recomment at very least 20h for this. Once settled the S4’s offer a dynamic sound experience, with a tight bass that isn’t over-powering the rest of the soundspectrum, the mids are smooth like honey, the highs are clear if a little rolled-off and the soundstage is huge. The S4’s sound very nice, they do not offer the most bassy nor the most detailed sound there is, but they certainly sound very pleasing and are more reminiscent of full size circumaural headphones than IEM’s They also respond very well to the use of equalization. One thing worth mentioning is that the S4’s are quite unforgiving on the source, they tend to expose the compression artifacts of poorly encoded files, this does not affect good quality files in any way though.
Hotel California and Comfortably Numb sound very good, the dynamic sound with a hard hitting bass and a overall pleasingly laid out soundspectrum with the huge soundstage makes for a very enjoyable listening experience, where your feet will soon be thumping along to the music.

To sum up.
What I like most about the S4’s is the dynamic sound, design and looks, the luxurious steel case and excellent comfort.
They do not have any real weaknesses.



Would I recommend them? Yes, for the price the S4’s offer excellent sound quality and a classy design. Their biggest strength is that they lack any real weaknesses.