REVIEW: HisoundAudio BA100
Type: Single Balanced Armature
Size of the driver: 3.2X5.7 mm
Sensitivity: 109 db
Frequency response: 20-20 kHz
Cable: 124cm OFC, 3.5mm Angled jack
1 year warranty
Street price: $50-75 from ebay.com
Build & Design:
The overall build quality is quite decent. The tiny straight aluminum housings are almost identical to the Crystal (and Golden Crystal) model, but better finished. The nozzle width is the same but much longer, allowing a 2-way tip position (which also affects the sound).
The cable, while not of high quality as the internal braided Crystal, is quite thick from the plug to the Y-split, but noticeably thinner from the split to the housing. It looks more plasticky with a rubbery feel. The microphone is placed on the right side and the cable is terminated with an angled plug. There's still no cable cinch.
3 pairs of single tips S/M/L.
A carrying case.
And a "fish-bone" cable wrapper.
Fit, Comfort and Isolation:
The BA100 are one of the smallest in-ear phones I've seen, and like the Crystal model I previously owned, they're very easy to fit and impossible comfortable with the right tips. Unfortunately, to my surprise, I couldn't get a good fit with the included eartips, so tip-rolling was a must. Other single-flange tips, such as the Auvio and Audiofly tips, offered a more secure fit, but I ended settling with the Meelec double-flange tips as they offered better sound results.
Isolation is above average, and again, potentially better with aftermarket tips.
The BA100 are the first Balanced Armature based IEM from HisoundAudio and, according to a company insider, they've designed the BA driver themselves (and they're also one of the few companies that have the rights to design their own BA units).
As expected, the BA100 feature the typical balanced armature driver characteristics, speed, accuracy and detail that beat most of their dynamic driver earphones rivals. They're also ahead of other BA ones, such as the PL50 and A151 that use the well known Knowles Siren driver.
The overall sound is neutral with an added touch of brightness, well balanced from lows to highs. Within the HSA line they offer a totally different presentation compared to the much colored, darker or V-shaped sounding models. What that they do share with previous models is the extra volume to shine and also need some more time to get used to their sound to really start to appreciate it.
The low end is very tight, fast and detailed. As a full range single BA driver, sub-bass is very limited in extension, depth and rumble but it's more rounded than something like the SoundMagic PL50. When it comes to mid-bass, they're quite surprising. While they remain on the neutral side, there's a small extra 'hump' or kick in the mid and upper bass that adds some fun to whole presentation, making up for the sub-bass lack.
The midrange is slightly forwarded, but on the whole has fairly neutral tone. Like a true BA it's very effortless and detailed. While other similar priced single BA may focus more in bringing sweeter and thicker mids, the BA100 offer more transparency and clarity. Vocals, both male and female ones, are given higher priority than the rest of the mids. They lack the texture and sweetness that more mid-centered IEMs (both dynamic and balanced armature) can offer, but manage to be quite enjoyable on their own.
As for the highs, they have more than enough quantity and could even fall into the 'bright' category. They are very crispy and energetic. When it comes to quality they are somehow splashy at the lower treble region and lack the definition and control of higher-end and pricier BA-based earphones. There's no hint of grain, and while not exactly smooth or flat they are never peaky even with less forgiving tracks.
Surprisingly, soundstage has good width and height. Wider than the RE-400 for example, but not as resolving, and don't have that 3D feeling either. Air and separation is pretty good for the asking price, and they can handle complexity with not much effort.
While I can't really say that the BA100 is able to match pricier single or multi-BA earphones, they do compete quite well in their sub $100 price bracket and are a good option for those who want to know what a true balanced armature earphone is capable of. There is still some room for improvement, though, but I think HisoundAudio has made a nice first step into the BA market.