Pros: Great Fit and Finish; Musical and organic signature
Cons: Cost and limited resale value
One of the most underrated models in the Fitear range of IEMs is the MH334. As stated on the Fitear website, the MH334 is voiced by one of Japan's top mastering engineers, Mitsuharu Harada,
In fact, the MH334 was designed to be a mastering studio reference monitor. So, this would be the natural choice for someone looking for a more natural but nonetheless clear sound. In fact, I find that it is an excellent complement for my C435, which I had previously reviewed here.
I have had the MH334 for more than a month now. This time around, delivery took just under a couple of months because of the surge of orders from the Mook Festival in Singapore in December 2013 as well as year end orders from artists in Japan.
The MH334 is a 3 way crossover configuration, 4 drivers (1 high, 2 low-mid 1 low woofer) Custom In-Ear Monitor.
The Road to MH334
When Claire from Jaben, Singapore, sent me a message that the demo for the MH334 had landed, I almost immediately jumped into my car and drove over. I have had the TG334 for more than half a year now and I've always loved the slight warmth in its sig and the lovely slow decay of the bass. Of course, the TG334 comes with a titanium tube which was reported to give it more treble extension than the MH334, on which it is alleged to have been based.
While I enjoyed the TG334, I am still occasionally irritated by having to make adjustments to the insertion to maintain a balance between isolation and soundstage. That was when I started to entertain thoughts about the MH334. Of course, there was no demo of the MH334 at that point in time. But I was assured by Claire that the MH334 demo would be forthcoming. There started the waiting game...
When I heard the MH334 demo, I was instantly addicted. How could it sound so musical and yet be so controlled? It did not take me long to decide it had my name written on it.
The build quality of the MH334 (as with all their CIEMs) is as good as it gets. The acrylic shells are lovingly polished so that there are no nasty bits which may cause a gash or two (which sadly one cannot say about all brands). The shells are carefully filled in with acrylic. My view has always been that having the shell solid allows it to transmit more sensations than CIEMs which are hollow.
As pointed out in my previous review on the C435, having the shells filled with acrylic means reshelling is not an option. The connectors are also different from the run-of-mill connectors used by other brands - they seem to more hardy and lock in with a nice click.
Comfort and Isolation
As with my C435, the MH334 fits me to a "T". Fitear kept my previous impression, as well as the reverse impression, and so used the same one which was done for my C435. The MH334 is easy to pop in and take out, which is useful when I fly when the crew come around to take orders, etc. I can wear my MH334 most of the day in the office and not notice that it's in my ears.
The isolation offered is the same as all Fitear customs - par excellence. I have flown on about 5 trips with the MH334 thus far and it blocks out more than 95% of the noise.
As indicated in my previous review, my music collection covers a very broad spectrum: all the way from medieval church music to classic jazz to modern jazz and audiophile vocals to Chinese pop to Popera to K-pop. In fact, recently, I have added post-modern rock and vocal trance to the music collection. For those of you who have always thought that trance is just head-splitting bass, you should have a listen to the Acoustic album just released in 2014 by Above & Beyond - it is something that I listen to every day. (I can hear Awry screaming already - I have him to thank for introducing trance in general, and this album in particular, to me)
What I do like about the MH334 is that it is so musical with most of the genres in my collection. However, I will say that with classical music, the MH334 may not be so optimal; you may be better off with the C435. The reason is quite simple - there is not as much treble extension as the C435. It is also not as neutral.
But with anything else, the MH334 is sheer musical bliss. You just want to sit back and relax and enjoy the music.
The MH334 is clear and slightly warm. The trebles are good but with slight roll off, the mids are sweet and lush, the bass is tight and has good impact. While the soundstage is nothing like the C435, it is nonetheless very good. As compared to the TG334, I would say that the MH334 has more controlled trebles and bass - my favorite analogy is that the MH334 is the grown up more controlled and sophisticated version whereas the TG334 is more like an exuberant adolescent. What I do like about the MH334 is that while it has more bass than the C435, it doesn't bleed into the mids and muddy them. What is particularly outstanding for the MH334 has to be the timbre: it never fails to send shivers down my spine when there are strings in the music.
If you listen to most genres, save perhaps for classical music, you will enjoy how the MH334 renders the music in a musical and organic manner: you just close your eyes and enjoy the music. It's very addictive!
The only CIEM that I have which can compete with the MH334 is another Fitear, the C435. However, while C435 renders the details and layers of each song beautifully and clearly, the MH334 offers me a glimpse into the soul of the singer and the song.
I currently run the MH334 with either Toxic Cable's Black Widow or the Tralucent silver/gold cable, depending on whether I want to emphasise the lushness and organic character of the sound or I want greater clarity.
While I am agnostic on the source, I find that the MH334 has fantastic synergy with the Hifiman HM802 and the AK 240.
For sheer enjoyment and pure musical joy, I think the Fitear MH334 is unparalleled.