Pros: Good build, minimal microphonics, nice bass presentation.
Cons: They are IEMs. I hate IEMs :)
I am a Grado fan. More precisely, I am a Grado modder. Everything I listen to is tinkered with, and woodied….Needless to say, I favor a bright sound signature, open-backs and am not very into IEMs. For all of my listening I use my FiiO X5 on low gain, loaded with 16/44 FLAC files. IEMs are a necessary evil in an occasionally noisy world, but given I have oddly shaped ear canals (thanks to a nice little head-fracture at the tender age of 3) fit has always been an issue with them, and let’s be honest, no one likes giving their office mates the chance to sneak up on and scare the living daylights out of them.
I have recently had the pleasure of acquainting myself with @EmpJ of CTC Audio and after a little conversation he very generously sent me a review sample of a pair of the HSA E212. I was skeptical at first, but after a revelatory experience (who knew…use two different sized tips if you have two different sized ear canals…) with fit, a promotion at work that moved me from my open cubicle environment to a private little office and a week-long stint at a noisy conference I find myself…*gasp* listening to IEMs and…dare I say it…enjoying them.
With regards to build, the E212 is very robust. I don’t believe they are metal, but they are heavier than they should feel if they are plastic. The cable is a nice, simple affair, braided and wrapped in smooth plastic. I experienced very little of the usual annoyance with microphonics I usually go through. The jack is a nicely angled affair that is, like the rest of these IEMs, a rather sturdy looking thing. They came in a nice little hard case, perfect for flinging into a backpack/messenger bag while on the go. Included were three pairs of red silicone tips, ostensibly small, medium and large. I didn’t see much difference between the mediums and the larges, but bear in mind this is a review sample. A simple slip of the hand is most likely the culprit here.
Soundwise, these have a nice, warm, weighty low end. As I mentioned, I am by no means a bass-head. I like it lean and clear, properly subdued. These have become my guilty pleasure. Listening to my usual jazz favorites, as well as some leftfield ambient work and a little hip-hop, they are a wonderful change of pace from the clinical, seared eardrums, brightness of my Grados and my Magnum build. Detail wasn’t lost in the shuffle either…I wasn’t hearing every pin drop, but I had to look to notice that.
I did notice that I can hear what sounds scarily like the driver diaphragm buckling and unbuckling whenever I put them in or pull them out. I am assuming this is not the case though. That would be crazy. I am not sure what it is, but once these are in, it’s gone.
Overall, these are a fantastic buy for the price. I would not hesitate to pair them with a Clip+ for a nice little on-the-go setup, or keep them for the odd occasions when I need isolation. Between you and me, I intend to have these handy to whip out every once in a while, just to balance out that crazy Grado obsession of mine…if I find a full-size can that sounds like these, I am definitely going to be having a look into it. For now, the E212 will do nicely thank you very much.