The BA100 from HiSound Audio is a balanced armature inner ear monitor (IEM). It has a balanced...

HiSoundAudio BA100

Average User Rating:
3.77778/5,
  • The BA100 from HiSound Audio is a balanced armature inner ear monitor (IEM). It has a balanced frequency response, and small but very well constructed form factor.

    The fixed cable comes with microphone and cable button control, which is compatible with Apple products, and may be compatible with other smart phones.

Recent User Reviews

  1. HiFiChris
    4.0/5,
    "HiSoundAudio's pretty neutral first BA IEM"
    Pros - overall pretty neutral sound, speed and clarity, better than average soundstage with good imaging and separation, good resolution for the price, air canals in the cable for betetr durability
    Cons - cable lacks some strain relief, slightly higher distortion levels compared to some other single-BA IEMs, two-stage nozzle design a little questionable


    Preamble:

    Originally posted on my German audio review site, the "Kopfhörer-Lounge", here comes my review of HiSoundAudio's first ever commercially available single-BA in-ear.



    Preamble:

    A couple years ago, the HSA-BA100 was HiSoundAudio’s first in-ear to use Balanced Armature drivers. Then some time passed and the Chinese in-ear and audio manufacturer introduced another single-BA in-ear, the HA-2 that I reviewed as well.

    [​IMG]

    According to some sources, just like for the HA-2, HiSoundAudio developed the Balanced Armature driver used in the HSA-BA100 in-house instead of adopting drivers that already existed from companies such as Knowles or Sonion.


    What the small and affordable single-BA in-ear sounds like and how it performs is the main subject of this review.


    Thanks to Penon Audio who helped with obtaining a sample of the HiSoundAudio HSA-BA100 for this review.


    Technical Specifications:

    http://penonaudio.com/Hisoundaudio-HSA-BA100
    Price: $35.00
    Drivers: Balanced Armature (1x per side)
    Impedance: 36 Ohms
    Sensitivity: 109 dB
    Frequency Range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
    Cable Length: 124 cm
    Microphone/Remote: yes; single-button remote


    Delivery Content:

    The in-ear arrives in a fairly standard package with a see-through plastic window.

    [​IMG]

    Inside, one can find the HSA-BA100, four pairs of silicone tips, a warranty card, a shirt clip and last but not least a fishbone-like cable wrapper that I would however not recommend to use because of the small radius it forces the cable to be wrapped which is not good for it on the long run.

    What I am missing is a carrying case, but at this price point it certainly is not standard must-have accessory and can be bought separately from various sources and sellers for few dollars. (Strangely most sources list the HSA-BA100 with a case, but the set I received did not came with it. #Aliens.)


    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    The in-ear shells are made of metal and appear very sturdy and well-built. They are on the somewhat smaller size and visually remind me of various in-ears from the manufacturer Zero Audio.

    A small side-indicator is present on each shell in form of a small R/L letter.

    The cable, while quite standard in appearance, is one of the better kind and reasonably soft and flexible. It also seems to have some air canals incorporated just like some of DUNU’s in-ears, to increase durability.

    What I am however somewhat missing is a chin-slider along with some better strain relief above the y-splitter.

    The microphone/remote unit is a standard one with a single-button remote that works with the vast majority of portable devices that support a 4-pole plug with a microphone/remote channel, such as smartphones and Apple’s iPods.

    [​IMG]

    The in-ears’ nozzles are horn-shaped and non-standard in terms of length and shape. Therefore it is a bit of a guessing game to get the proper position of the silicone tips – should they be placed just at the top of the nozzle? Or in the middle? Or should they be put all the way onto the nozzle?

    The first seems to be the intended position given the sound (getting the tip all the way onto the nozzle kills some of the treble extension), however the tip won’t stay on as securely.

    [​IMG]

    If you put the tips all the way onto the nozzle, be careful when removing them else it might happen that you accidentally end up with half of the nozzle being pulled out of the metal tube.


    Comfort, Isolation:

    Due to their small housings, the in-ears should also fit people with really small ears extremely well. I with my large ear canals don’t have problems with that anyway.

    The cable can be worn both around the ears as well as down. The first is the more professional way that increases fit and reduces cable noise.

    As with the vast majority of in-ears that allow this, I am also using the HSA-BA100 with the cables guided around my ears. Even though there is no chin-slider, microphonics are close to being inexistent and only appear slightly when I turn my head.

    The HSA-BA100 is a closed single-BA in-ear wherefore noise isolation is very good.


    Sound:

    I used the largest included silicone tips for personal and critical listening. The tips were placed at the top of the nozzle.


    My two main sources for listening were the iBasso DX200 (AMP1 module) as well as HiFime 9018d.

    Tonality:

    Those seeking a neutral to slightly (upper) midrange-forward tonal presentation should be pleasantly satisfied with the HSA-BA100.


    The bass the HSA-BA100 puts out is flat – flat as in “really flat”, Etymotic-like flat. And here I’m not referring to the ER-4XR with its moderate bass elevation but to the ER-4S and ER-4SR. The HiSoundAudio has only got 1.5 dB more in quantity than those two in-ears (according to what I hear when doing equalised cross-comparisons by lowering one in-ear’s specific frequency band until it matches the other’s) in the upper bass and lower root – which is certainly not much at all. So everyone who isn’t looking for a really flat and neutral bass response without any emphasise does definitely not belong to this in-ear’s target group.

    Extension into the sub-bass is good however it won’t give you the perceived impact as some of the other few in-ears that are comparably flat in the bass can give you wherefore most people will probably find the HSA-BA100 to be a tad light in the sub-bass while it actually doesn’t really lack quantity here but just loses a little level in its lowest registers close to 20 Hz.

    While the lower and central midrange remains flat, there is some lift between 3 and 4 kHz in the upper mids that can bring vocals more forward (make them appear a bit more “in your face”), increase the perceived clarity, or make vocals appear somewhat more on the brighter and leaner side (however this can also help to make female vocals stand out more).

    As long as you are not extremely “allergic” to a lift in the lower treble/upper midrange/presence area, it will be no problem though since it is done rather evenly and not overdone in quantity.

    Above that, the highs are fairly neutral and even except for an ever so slight 5 kHz lift and keep their presence until around 12 kHz where they start rolling off – so you still get a fairly good extension, especially for a single-BA in-ear, however should not expect to hear much subtle sparkle in the super treble.


    So to wrap it up in this section of my review, the HSA-BA100 has got an overall pretty neutral and flat tonality and sounds reasonably even wherefore it also sounds mostly realistic and authentic what definitely a large number of in-ears in this price range fail to achieve. The only things that can sound a bit off are artificial or sampled drums and artificial or sampled cymbals that can have a bit of an edge to them.

    Resolution:

    Nothing unexpected is happening here and HiSoundAudio’s HSA-BA100 sounds as quick, detailed, nimble and detailed as you would expect from a solid to good single-BA in-ear.

    The bass is well-controlled and fast, and while it is not the tightest for Balanced Armature standards and is heading somewhat more into the softer direction, it is by no means slow. Fast and more complex genres for example certainly do not represent a problem for the HSA-BA100’s lows at all and notes as well as instruments remain well-distinguishable from each other.

    The overall resolution is good and details are surely not missing.

    With more complex recordings where a lot is going on at the same time and where many instruments or tonal elements are present, the presentation becomes a bit less focussed though, which I think is because the HiSoundAudio HSA-BA100 might have somewhat elevated distortion levels, making it then sound somewhat less clean compared to some of the better single-BA in-ears on the market such as Etymotic’s models or HiSoundAudio’s own HA-2. To my ears, this is mainly happening in the lower midrange.

    High notes are reasonably well separated and detailed as well, with a decay that is neither too quick nor too slow although notes seem to stay a split second longer than they could.

    Soundstage:

    When I first heard the HA-2, I was rather impressed with its soundstage reproduction for a single-BA in-ear below $100: it was quite spacious, wide and not as small as most single-BA in-ears’ I have heard.

    The HSA-BA100 is a convincing in-ear, too, when it comes to the soundstage department. It doesn’t only stand out with a somewhat larger than average soundstage, but also features a quite excellent spatial reproduction with a three-dimensional, spherical and surprisingly precise sense of space and imaging as well as good layering.

    The air and borders around and between instruments feel nice but don’t stay as precise when faster or more complex tracks (or those with many things happening on the soundstage at the same times) are being played. Nonetheless, instruments still don’t bleed into each other then, even though the borders don’t remain as clear and precise as with some other more capable single-BA in-ears.

    [​IMG]

    ---------

    In Comparison with other Single-BA In-Ears:

    Brainwavz B100:

    The Brainwavz is the bassier and warmer in-ear out of the two in comparison. It has got the more (but not much more) forward upper bass and root, no lift in the upper midrange, a dip in the middle highs (around 5 kHz) and comes back in the upper treble.

    Overall, I would consider the Brainwavz’ upper end tuning to be a bit more natural/authentic even though it is also more relaxed.

    When it comes to bass quality, I hear the HSA-BA100 as being somewhat ahead in terms of speed and resolution. The B100, in comparison, sounds less well separated in the lows, and also appears more focussed down there.

    In the midrange and treble however, it is the Brainwavz that I would say resolves somewhat better and manages to separate notes with the higher precision.

    When it comes to soundstage size, both in-ears share about the same width (small advantage for the Brainwavz) while the HSA-BA100 has got the deeper presentation with more spatial depth. Instruments are separated more precisely on the HSA-BA100’s side.

    HiSoundAudio HA-2:

    The HA-2, while overall relatively balanced as well, has got a bit more warmth in the bass and lower root and also in the lower midrange. Not that much, but certainly already enough to make it sound a little warmer in comparison.

    The HA-2 has got the more linear/neutral midrange, the more relaxed middle treble, and a moderate emphasis between 7 and 8 kHz.

    When it comes to detail retrieval, the HA-2 is ahead in the midrange and treble and resolves and separates the acoustic elements just better.

    Bass speed is about comparable while the HA-2 is a bit tighter. In terms of layering and detail retrieval in the lows however, it is also the more expensive HA-2 that is somewhat superior again.

    The HSA-BA100 doesn’t have the same spatial width as the HA-2 but comes reasonably close to not sound small. It features the more pronounced spatial depth though.

    In terms of separation and layering however, it is also the HA-2 that is more precise.


    Conclusion:

    The HiSoundAudio HSA-BA100 is an inexpensive single-BA in-ear with a pretty neutral/flat sound signature and a soundstage that is larger and more spherical than many other single-BA in-ears’ in this price range.

    [​IMG]

    People who want a more sounded in-ear should definitely look away, but those who want an overall pretty flat and neutral sounding in-ear in the sub $100 price range should definitely have an eye on the HSA-BA100.
  2. Jazmanaut
    3.5/5,
    "Well balanced, but a bit bright sided IEM:s that need properly adjusted in place"
    Pros - Flat sound and decend built quality. Price. Microphone. Carrying case and cable holder.
    Cons - A bit harsh uppermid, with couple of nasty resonances. Hard to set in ears properly.
    Hello
     
    Just few words about my self: Im professional sound engineer, who enjoys pure and flat sound. Nothing hyped and no snake oil for me thank you.
     
    Just got them couple days ago, and i was very anxious to see, how they work for me. Lots of reviews i have read was very promising, but in this thread there have been so many dissapointed people, so...
    Package came from post and i plug those in to my iPhone4s and selected my soundcheck track no.1. and boy was i dissapointed. Weak bass, distorted sound and very peaky and unpleasant upper mids. Try to fiddle them out and in and try to adjust tips, and what not. Another, pro-audio soundsource did not make any difference.  No gicar. So i thought that these must be bad pair, and mailed to seller who runs local small busines and is specialised in in-ears, so he knows he´s product. He was baffled, but promised to check them out and to send me new pair.
    Then i listened my other familiar cans again, just to quadruple check, that it´s not me, and went back to BA100.s and suddenly whoa!!! Very clean and smooth soundstage. Good balance, exept slight overtightnes in upper mids. What happened? Take them off and on again and they sound thin again. Fiddling them in ears and boom, sound is back. So these things are VERY precise, how to place them in ears.
    Then i tried foamtips, that came along them and now i found that sweetspot much easier.
     
    So how is the overall sound?
    It´s quite flat overall. Subs are a tiiinybit shy, but definedly there. Bass is very clear, non hyped and precise and Lo mids are pure and nice. Upper mids are  a bit bright and there are resonance peaks at 3300 and its upper harmonics at 6600 Hz, and that bothers me quite a bit. I´m sure that many people wont even notice, and prefer this as clarity, and in a sense it is: you can find details exelently with these headphones, but do you need to find things that aren´t  naturally so visible? And it would be nice, if they could go a hint higher at the freq range.
     
    So overall: At pricepoint, they are very nice. Mick works fine as well. But you neet to adjust them very precise to get good sound off them and if you are like, me and use iems just on the go, when you want good sound, when you go jogging, biking or something like that, it´s a bit hustle. 
    So i still prefer my lost (sob) Sound Magic E10:s, wich are cheaper, not quite so flat, but exelent sounding and much more easier to use.
     
    PS: I found that when you place them so that cord points up and go from front behind you ear, they seems to settle down much easier.
     
    PPS. That distorsion that i mentioned when i first heard them, was in the record. Never before i have noticed it. So yes, they are very precise :wink:
  3. pat1984
    4.0/5,
    "Good for the price.."
    Pros - midrange, clarity, balanced sound
    Cons - treble extension, no chin slider
    Thanks to Jack and HSA for sending me the BA100 as a review unit for a hefty 50% off. It is a single balanced armature IEM with a retail price of $99. For a sub-$100 IEM, I would say that it definitely has a lot of potential with a few shortcomings.
     
    Design and Accessories : The first time I took them out of the packaging, I was quite pleased to see the metallic construction and the 45° jack. The wire is descent and has been rather tangle-free. The included tips are nice, I was using the foam tips that came with the BA100 for some time. Finally I switched to the MEElec double-flange tips which are very comfortable and also sound nice with the BA100. The included fish-thingy has been of no use and the absence of a chin slider is a little disappointing.
     
    Microphonics and Isolation : The isolation is descent and gets better by using a foam tip but not so much with the Meelec tips that I use. Microphonics is much lower than what I would have expected and wearing them over-ear eliminates it completely. I have to say that I think the soft wire used on these IEMs helps with the microphonics.
     
    Sound : Lets talk about the most important part, how do they sound? 
       Bass :  The BA100 has a tight and very well balanced low frequency response. The bass has nice quality and can redeem itself when needed. I am not a fan of bloated bass and am pleased with what HSA have achieved here.
       Mids : This is where the BA100 out-shines its competition IMO. I love the mids on them and specially how female vocals and guitars sound. I listen to a lot of Jazz and Blues and would recommend the BA100 to anyone listening to these genres if only for their wonderful midrange.
       Highs : The highs are a little weak on these babies, compared to their very well-textured lows and wonderful mids. Don't get me wrong, the treble is clearly present and sound good but without the extension as can be heard in more expensive dynamic or multi-driver IEMs. 
       Imaging and Soundstage : This is one part of the sound from an IEM that I am not very fond of. Considering that, the soundstage on the BA100 is quite wide and has good depth and height. The imaging is a little lacking but again few sub-$100 IEMs get it right.
     
    Overall, the build quality is excellent and the included accessories are good. I would say lose the fish and add a chin slider. I am very happy with how the BA100 sounds, given its price point. It is almost neutral with a slight preference towards being a little bright.  If I were asked to describe it in one word, my answer would be "clarity", especially in the midrange frequencies. I would recommend the BA100 to anyone who listens to Jazz, Country or Blues. 

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