Pros: Excellent angled earbud design; Reasonably wide soundstage; Good bass response + depth; Good Value; No major flaws
Cons: colour scheme may not suit everyone; slightly on the larger side; some may dislike sound signature
Full disclosure: these were provided to me by hisound for this review, free of charge for only the cost of shipping. i am not an expert in reviewing audio equipment, and therefore my descriptions are more qualitative than technically correct so some of the terminology used may not be accurate. I consider myself an audio enthusiast, having owned in the past (and currently) - IN EAR - beyerdynamic MMX-101i; NOCS NS400 titanium; Astrotec am-90; jays a-Jays four, brainwavz m4, ; OVER EAR - Nokia purity pro.
- overall good design, nice blend of metal (?steel) and soft touch red plastic with a metallic sheen to it. compares favourably with the competition. with a bit more "flair" than something like the beyerdynamics and NOCS and astrotecs, although (as you may have guessed, I prefer minimal design)
- seem like they will hold up over time, although the wire insulation seems thinner than on any earphones i've owned, akin to the MEElectronics insulation. On par with other headphones in this price range.
- I especially like the slightly angled design of the output tube - kind of like the way medical stethoscopes are angled slightly forwards to mimic the shape of the outer and middle ear. This is unique to the E212s out of the headphones i've owned and/or tested and definitely unique to this price range, i think. (I know that there are various other designs that try to fit the shape of the ear canal well like phonak audeo's line of IEMs, similarly bowers + wilkins and all the custom IEM manufacturers).
- would've liked to see a mic + playback controls, but it's not a deal-breaker for me.
- packaging etc is about average for price.
Comfort: (i am quite picky here)
- The only slight downside to the earphones design/build is the size. These buds are not as big as the astrotec am-90s, they're around average for dynamic driver based earbuds but they certainly aren't q-jays that you can forget about. The angled design means that they sit in the ear canal really comfortably, and should be good for long sessions, as long as you're not resting your head on one if it's sides - like lying in bed. Definitely above average. Usually it would take time for me to "break-in" new headphones (although it was probably more the headphones "breaking-in" my ear canals), with the E212s. As soon as i got the small tips on, i was enjoying a very comfortable listening experience.
- The provided silicone eartips (1 pair of small, and 2 pair of medium tips) provided a good seal, and i was able to get very good isolation due to the comfortable and stable positioning of the angled earbuds.
- I tested the E212s with mostly post-dubstep, indie rap, and indie rock etc. to compare sound quality to songs that i listen a lot using my blackberry z10. diverse stuff like das racist, foals, destroyer, etc.. I also tested them when watching videos on my macbook and smartphones.
- Again, i'm not an expert, the easiest way for me to remember and convey qualities of headphones is by comparing them to sound from other headphones. These ones definitely seem to be slightly warmer or bass heavy than the more neutral beyerdynamics or astrotec am-90s (but they suit my tastes better, so i prefer the E212s), but the bass is not just more bountiful, it's also very well layered, and blow things like the beats IEMs out of the water! the sub bass experience listening to the E212s is quality - tracks like vitalic's "stamina" and das racist's "who's that brooown?" had that irresistible wub to them! then again, for some who might prefer a more neutral soundstage - may not be ideal. but i think it's quite clear what the mainstream buyer wants. if you're not sure what you want, you want bass, trust me... and the E212s will provide that for you.
Value: decent value if you consider the audio and build quality. overall package could be improved slightly - those who need large sized tips may not be very happy - none included in the box!
Overall: Top marks to hisound for breaking the mould somewhat (pun intended) and designing a pair of ergonomically designed headphones that achieve that almost impossible balance between organic feel and machined-ness. A very often overlooked part of the listening experience. I loved the way the angled earbuds so simply moulded to the shape of my ear canal without sacrificing that clean, almost minimal aesthetic. There isn't much to complain about, either - the sound quality is solid, and for me definitely competing with much more expensive IEMs, especially if you're into bass. Therefore, they've become my current first choice as my daily-driver portable headphones that i can tuck away in a pocket. They're simply the best overall pair of portable, "not-too-expensive" IEMs i own, and i would have no hesitation recommending them to somebody looking for a good balance of value, quality design and audio quality.