Pros: Build quality, Great bass quality and quantity, Non fatiguing highs that always present, Smooth detailed and open mids, Prominent vocals,
Cons: Really needs upgrade to a custom cable, Hard to listen to these with poor recordings and there are plenty of them! - That's it!
Heir Audio 5.0 Review
Equipment used to feed the 5.0:
Oppo BDP-105 head amp output with Sabre 32bit dacs.
Tag Mclaren DVD32R feed by Chord Indigo digital coax into Oppo dacs.
Sony X1060 Walkman & TTVJ Slim amp.
5.0 cable – stock and custom Whiplash Hybrid V2 Twag cable plus Hybrid LOD.
It’s been a while since I had to buy an iem due to last three years owning a pair of JH16Pro ciems which I have been my pride and joy but have for a while now been needing a very good back up pair to them and just a normal pair of iems I could use with the laptop or for a quick grab and go pair around town.
I would of loved to of tried another pair of customs again but currently my budget did not allow me to stretch to this hence I was looking for a very capable pair of iems that would be able to reproduce enough detail in the music that it kept the gap between my JH16’s not so great to the point of making critical comparisons to my JH16’s whilst listening to them.
I have now had the 5.0 for a good two months now and wanted to really bed in with these as I will be brutally honest in saying my first experience when I first got these I was wandering to myself if I had made a mistake as I also had the opportunity to listen to the 4Ai’s for a week along side them and from a review I done on the 4Ai when I listened to them for a week found the 4Ai nicely detailed, balanced and an addictive iem despite for me it been shy with going low on the bass region to what recordings or live presentations would actually go to which is where the 5.0’s mission I feel is to correct this void currently in their iem line up to a degree which I will touch upon soon….
My first impressions of first listening to the 5.0’s after hearing much about these been talked about as the first five driver iem lead to great anticipation only to my first ten hours with these been very underwhelming as they sounded very woolly, muffled with lack of separation between instruments making it sound closed in.
Last time I experienced this was when I listened to the JH16’s demo pair at a UK dealer after listening to the range from the base model up to finally be greeted with the same experience as with these 5.0’s which did not sound right and turned out when the UK dealer sent them back to JHA they had a blown driver which left me just wandering had I had history repeating itself again with my first 10 hour musings of the 5.0?
Well, it seems not as another week’s listening of approx another 30 hours really opened up the 5.0’s up and lost that soft, muffled enclosed sound (strange I know as these are BA drivers after all) to reveal the following experience, which is two months on, and counting;
I started out just using these with my Sony X1060 Walkman with the TTVJ Slim amp which is still holds it’s own even by today’s standards but when amped with a capable portable such as the slim it just brings more control and refinement to detailing than without an amp.
Using wav only files on the Walkman these 5.0’s where showing a similar traits in terms of signature having a slightly warm overtone with more bass presence which made these feel more familiar as I had been used to this signature which made it a fitting Robin to my Batman Jh16’s!
One thing to note with the following impressions of the 5.0 was for me, after been used to using my custom Twag cables for around three years now trying the stock cable was to painful for me with the low end been a bit loose and lacking control or definition and the highs which was the most prevalent for me was to sharp and piercing which made my mind up to try my Twag Hybrids with them and was shocked how much they improved the bass tightening it up and more importantly controlled the high end been to sharp and not so clashy during busy sections in brighter recordings or modern pop genres.
This is also why I may of experienced the same thing with the 4Ai which I can now attribute to more likely been the cable than the actual drivers tuning. All I can say is from what everyone says about the Magnus cable and for the price is to upgrade ASAP after the investment that has been made in the 5.0’s which if anything like the Twag cables I have will help tap into the full potential of the 5.0’s.
I will start with for many head-fier’s which can be a deal breaker in this one area in any iem or headphone is do they have enough low end reproduction and the answer is considering they only have one driver dedicated to this area and for anyone who loved the 4Ai wanting more depth in that bass department then this should tick the first box.
I know for some still who crave all day long the sort of JH16’s low level of bass this might still not quite keep bass heads happy enough but my reflection is if it is presented with enough detail retrieval as well timing, tempo and controlled impact, it does not have to go passed the bottom end as long as that quality is there.
I am used to the seismic outer head experience the Jh16’s are capable of with two dual BA low drivers and even though the 5.0s sound twice as deep as the 4Ai’s here they still have a way to go to be at the low frequency the JH16’s can deliver but I am still finding I am not missing that extra oomph of the 16’s simply because the 5.0’s have enough natural bass response to music as if you was hearing on a pair of floor standing speakers.
The tonal balance and speed of and decay of drums keeps listening fatigue from happening and sounds fresh all the time with whatever music is been played. The 5.0’s with their warmer side and has a textured, very analogue like back in the days of vinyl listening which makes listening to the Dire Straits – Dire Straits (re-mastered) a joy. How they tuned just one driver to go low as it does manage with the quick sharp drum kicks and yet sound quite natural is a mean feat.
What further makes the 5.0 bass work is the ability these have been engineered to have plenty of separation between the mids and bass sections with the highs always prominent and rarely struggles to keep up with quick tracks that have heavy traffic of vocals and instruments so it does not sound like everything is blurring into one and losing focus of been able to pick out something is not a arduous task.
The treble has great clarity and every song showcases this and listening to any Joe Bonamassa track highlights this especially at the start of the Black heart long track with a banjo sequence for it to just suddenly burst into life with the low bass kick of the drums and with the smooth slightly forward mids which sounds spacious and open giving a very broad soundstage although not quite as wide as the 4Ai’s for me the 5.0 are still not what I class as tunnel vision hearing iem’s where it feels to narrow and congested.
Listening to Jack White “I’m Shakin” highlight vocals been forward again with electric guitars joining both sides more to the side than front with the female backing harmonies giving a surround feel and sent a shiver down my spine with this having a raw feel like it was recorded In the studio without no engineering tweaks been added to it and the 5.0’s are definitely made for rock and blues for sure.
My favourite track for pure bass threshold is James Blake’s “Limit to your love” which is a slow mellow track which kicks in with a earth bass shuddering seismic electronica type of bass reproduction which is the lowest I have heard the 5.0’s go as I write this and it is controlled with the amount of detail I can still here in the reverb of the bass vibrating (slight feeling or sensation of cabinet rattle the bass is tuned that low) and couple that with the high hat been struck crisply and sharply with those 5.0 vocals of James Blake been really forward to the front of the stage is a stand out demo track for any system.
Woodkid is another fresh sound to 5.0’s with its vibrant feel of urban dance using big beat drums, and orchestral movement building up to a crescendo is a buzz on the 5.0s as it keep up with the tempo and manages to keep the string section very separated from the driving bass beat of the drums or the even more notorious Assassins Creed campaign track Iron captures the banging drum beats with the drums resonating and the sound of trumpets correlating around the sides and getting taller in head stage the loader they get is done well on the 5.0’s.
Listening to R&B, Dance tracks is not hampered by the warmish nature of the 5.0’s as it sounds so spacious and transient with the speed it keeps up and some brighter pop songs out there benefit from been tamed from this even though the 5.0’s still have the tendency like it’s cousin the 4Ais f the recording is bad some poor recordings can sound anaemic or to bright as the detail rendering has a slight edge over the 4Ai’s.
It’s like the 5.0 has just a bit more meat on the bones wit percussions and piano sounds a bit fuller on the keys been stoked to the 4Ai’s which is not necessarily a bad thing as some tracks I still find I prefer on the 4Ai’s depending on the song and the way it was recorded as the 4Ai’s with piano might have that more ivory tinker tone to them or vocals sound a little more less fuller than the 5.0’s but with the right female vocals this gives the 4ai’s the edge and some other vocal artist it lays with the 5.0’s which is why I honestly struggled to which I preferred between the two models. The fact that I am used to the amazing headroom of the Jh16’s and just prefer a realistic amount of bass with the slightly warmer tint made the 5.0’s more familiar with the JH16’s I adore.
More of a test I think is for the 5.0’s to maybe do just female vocal/ acoustic or orchestral pieces just as convincingly as it does Rock, blues, Dance and Pop. I started with some OST tracks from films such as Hans Zimmer Gladiator & Inception tracks and a few from Batman, The Davinci code & Good, Bad & the Ugly and the 5.0’s work well with the string sections as it incorporates the low tuned sub bass to the film soundtracks which is an atmospheric experience to listen to on the 5.0’s.
Vocals are strong, full bodied and manage to lead the procession but yet everything else behind that vocal can be picked out with accuracy and certainly gives the perception there is plenty of space between each musician on the stage with the 5.0s and female vocals like Stevie Knicks have that gravel kick in the throat or Tori Amos more polished haunting high tone vocals or just female riffs from the folky/pop sounds The Pierces sound just musical and enjoyable on the fives.
Only thing that I would prefer although the 5.0’s will not exactly handle these terribly in anyway is orchestral only pieces or acoustic guitar only albums may well just go to the 4Ai corner due to it’s less coloured presentation and just breathing a little bit more air due to it’s slightly more spacious soundstage which just make the 5.0’s slightly more darker in comparison to the 4Ai’s.
To me stripped down music is 4Ai, and anything that is busy with more real world bass reproduction is the 5.0’s.
Only negatives I found at times with the 5.0’s is if the recording is less than perfect the top end can just loose control during heavy passages were a busy rock or pop song with lots of different instruments can just clash on top end with vocals sounding harsh and been overridden by the making it a bit congested and messy to listen to which is possibly where it does not quite have the headroom as I am used to with the JH16’s but I do have to remember these are a universal costing half the price as a pair of customs and on the whole the 5.0’s are hard to push and go loud without distortion with good recordings and you only get rewarded with good as a source as you put in and hence I moved onto my Tag Mclaren DVD32R & Oppo BDP-105 Bluray player which has a dedicated head-amp built in which is no Burson, Woo or SPL amp but is above average considering it is a dedicated blu-ray player.
What gives the Oppo an edge it has a pair of 32 bit reference sabre dacs inside which plays back 192/24 files and had to listen to Dire Straits Money for nothing SACD and Muse 2nd Law in Flac HD from the USB slot and the 5.0 goes up another step from having a reasonable Walkman amped to really having a controlled, measured drum kick that is almost just as good as your going to hear at a concert.
The mids are just so open with plenty of air around vocals and strings and the attack and decay of the mid bass in tandem with the sound of the thumping sound of the kick drum of with one of the deepest bass guitars I have heard for a while make Muse Survival rock just as it did two weeks ago when I was mesmerized by them live at the Emirates Stadium in London.
Hence I played all this Flac HD album to see how much it gives that live vibe feel which unfortunately without the acoustic dimensions of 1000 watt surround speakers reverb sensation the stadium creates and the album been polished to perfection on the mixing desk will always be a bit hard to regenerate but the single driver of the 5.0 delivers a quick transient very controlled temp with a hard kicking bass line as it was live and takes me to that place in my memory appreciating what I heard and saw live on stage.
As for Dire Straits Money for nothing on SACD will test the threshold on the top end at the beginning which with the right source and material these will stay tight and within the boundary of distortion at very high levels if your in that mad place!
All I can really sum up is after thinking I made a mistake in choice with the 5.0’s (initially I thought maybe the wizard over compensated to the follow up of the 4Ai’s by making a super dark over warm iem) after time, more time than I initially ever thought it would take opened up like a flower, open, airy and detailed and can rock hard for a single bass driver but sound not over bloated whilst maintaining a realistic balanced presentation even though it exudes a warm glow to it’s signature it is a fast, yet smooth and energetic approach in a song all at once. One thing I am surprised at I can listen to these with out fatigue for hours at a time without realizing yet not feel the need to reach for the Jh16’s every five minutes because the quality is there enough in the reproduction to a high enough level it is enjoyable on the 5.0’s, although there is no denying the 16’s are another level still for detail and headroom which makes them where they deserve to be in the custom circles.
Lastly the build quality and the 5.0 shell just tops the experience off and this has put me one step on the ladder to looking at the 8Ai when I can afford those next set of ciem’s one day…. FF75.