Pros: Imaging, Soundstage, Clarity, Accessories
Cons: Needs an amp to run correctly.
My first quality IEM purchase was the Hifiman RE-400 when they first came out. I was used to low end Skullcandy sets at the time, and I really wanted to see what "reference sound" sounded like for a reasonable price of under $100. At the time, I felt anything above that price was absurd for me to purchase.
From the first listen, the RE-400 showed me what quality sounded like. I was hooked. It started my headphone/earphone addiction that continues to this day, and I have Hifiman and Head-Fi to thank for that. I didn't think there would be a higher ranked, better sounding IEM for the price for a long time... until I heard the Havi.
The Havi B3 Pro 1 is my favorite in ear monitor, and has been for a very long time. It has quite a bit of a storied history however, as the product would not exist anymore today if Head-Fi members had not requested Havi to re-release what is now called the B3 Pro1.
Inititally, Havi offered two versions of the B3, the "Enhanced" version, which was basically trying to mimic a bass heavy, consumer directed Beats sound (which sounded poor), and the "Professional Version", which is now called the Pro 1. The Pro version promised near transparent, balanced sound with lifelike vocals and a pristine soundstage. Audiophile oriented IEMs just do not exist for $45, which is what the initial promo price was. I was very intrigued and took a chance on ordering them through Taobao.com (A huge chinese marketplace). Havi was a brand new company at the time, and there was no information about them or the B3 whatsoever. There was no other way to purchase them either, it had to be done through a forwarding service (I use Mistertao.com) and shipped to me from overseas.
When I received them and listened for the first time, the experience was jaw dropping. They easily bested the RE-400, and they bested the KEF M200, a $200 IEM which was all the rage at the time. The clarity, imaging, soundstage.. I had not experienced anything like it. $45 bought me a balanced, neutral, reference sound quality dual dynamic akin to $200+ IEMs. I found a gem, and everyone needed to know about it. A few other people were lucky to experience them as well, but then something awful happened.
Havi discontinued the Pro version, without warning. The only models available were the "Enhanced" and "Pro 2" version. The Pro 2 was not an upgrade however. It turned into another bass heavy tuned version which could not match the Pro 1, but was better than the Enhanced version. Pro 2 was just another run of the mill V shaped $60 earphone.
Luckily, Head-Fi members and those who could interact with the company begged and pleaded for the return of the Pro 1. After a good 4+ month hiatus, Havi brought them back. Almost a year later, this IEM ranks amongst the best value/performance buys of all time.
Yes, the design borrows heavily from the Sennheiser IE80, but the tempered glass casing and four wire tangle free flat cord offer a classy touch. The four parallel wire approach was mentioned as a first in IEMs (as well as the tempered glass). The casing is a small, square plastic case similar to what the Xiaomi Piston comes in. Looks great, and would make a stellar gift.
Initially, the accessories were just the plastic case and some mediocre tips. Now, you get a carry bag, carry case, and a lot of good quality tips.
The right tips make all the difference. If I do not use Sennheiser double flange type tips or Sony Hybrids, the Havi does not seem comfortable to me, nor does it seal well. With them, it fits very well. They can be worn over or under ear with no issue, and I often sleep with them on.
It keeps the busy noise of NYC and commuting out of my head. Mission accomplished.
Incredible. I've preferred it's signature to Flagship IEMs such as the Dunu DN-2000. While the Dunu is technically a little more capable and has a bit more clarity, it does not have some of the things the Havi does, which at $300 vs $45 is unacceptable to me as a value conscious audiophile.
The Pro1 signature is dead flat.. balanced.. neutral. Nothing in the frequency range overpowers another. There is no bloat, no piercing highs, no sibilance... just pure, transparent excellence.
The main feature it has which I believe is near world class, is it's soundstage and imaging. Simply put, the soundstage envelops you completely, and you can pinpoint each instrument or effect from its exact location in your ears. It's kinda freakish, and it has to be heard to be believed. I can pinpoint everything in a mix, something people spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on equipment to be able to do. It is on par in that effect to Planar Magnetic headphones like the HE-500 (which I also sold off and no longer have). The Havi isn't going anywhere.
There is one caveat to all this. The Havi MUST be amped to sound good. It absorbs power like no other. A simple smartphone or laptop headphone jack will no be able to drive them. Luckily, there are several low cost amps out there now like the Topping NX1 which can drive the Havi perfectly. On a high quality source, the Havi scales incredibly well.
All of this, for $45 (now $60). Insanity. Instant GOAT status, and it is still widely unknown. I vastly prefer these to other major budget gems as of late like the Ostry KC06/KC06A, Tenore, Xiaomi Piston, Vsonic VSD3S, etc etc...
If you love music, you owe it to yourself to try these.