AAW x Shozy Hibiki

Rating:
4/5,
  1. B9Scrambler
    Shozy x AAW Hibiki: Quite the collaboration
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Jul 17, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Build quality and cable - Bass quality and sound stage
    Cons - Enormous ear pieces - Next to no extras - Uneven treble
    Greetings,

    Today we're checking out the Hibiki, the resulting earphone of a collaborative project between Shozy and Advanced AcousticWerkes (AAW).

    Shozy and AAW are established brands with strong reputations and juggernauts in their respective fields, crafting amps, ear buds, universal and custom in-ear monitors, and more to great fanfare. Seeing them come together to bring to the market an affordable product that was attractive on both physical and auditory levels was exciting. They succeeded too. The Hibiki is a quality earphone.

    Let's take a closer look.

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    Disclaimer:

    Thanks to Lillian with DD Audio for arranging a sample of the Hibiki. The thoughts within this review are my own and do not represent DD Audio, Shozy, AAW, or any other entity. There was no financial incentive provided to give this a positive review or otherwise. At the time of this review, the Hibiki was retailing for around 60.00 USD.

    Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hibiki-High-Definition-headphones-Dynamic-Detachable/dp/B077Q3W5JQ/

    AliExpress: https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pr...tachable-HiFi-In-Ear/2894006_32834360602.html

    Source:

    For at home use the Hibiki was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp with my Asus FX53V laptop sourcing music. For portable use it was paired with an LG G5, Shanling M1, HiFiMan MegaMini, or HiFi E.T. MA8, all of which easily brought it up to listening volume. The Hibiki doesn't need to be amped.

    Personal Preferences:

    I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy.

    Specifications (from manual):
    • Driver: 10mm dynamic
    • Frequency Response: 20-40kHz
    • Sensitivity: 102dB SPL@1mW
    • Impedance: 18ohm@1kHz
    • THD ≤ 0.5% @ kHz
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    Packaging and Accessories:

    The Hibiki comes in simple but elegant packaging. On the front of the exterior sheath is an image of the earphones and some delicate text handling the branding on the front. The sides, outlined in a broad silver border contains the slogan “Chasing Aural Perfection” and notification that this earphone is a collaboration between Shozy and AAW. The rear of the sheath contains an exploded image of the Hibiki's construction along with some limited specifications and a feature list. There are also images of with descriptive highlights covering the unique carbon fibre faceplates, high quality Ethos Black 26AWG copper cable, the inline mic and controls, and the application of a recessed two pin removeable cable system.

    Removing the sheath and opening the lid of the nondescript black box within, you are greeted by a manual made from dense, high quality paper. Underneath is the Hibiki nestled securely and safely within a finely cut foam insert. The spare tips are set loosely within separate cutouts. In all you get;
    • Hibiki earphones
    • Replaceable cable
    • Silicone tips (s/m/l)
    The packaging is quite attractive and has a quality feel to it, but I can't help but be slightly disappointed at the lack of accessories. At this price point, some additional tip variety (foam, bi-flange, etc.), a soft carrying case, or at the very least a shirt clip is expected. The quality of the included tips is nothing special either, and are a common site among the extreme low budget earphone landscape.

    Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    You will likely find yourself being drawn first to the carbon fibre face plates finished in a brilliantly smooth clear coat. Surrounded by chromed plastic borders, they stand out and give the Hibiki a commanding presence. It's a large step up from the faux carbon fibre you generally find around this price point. The rest of the housings are just black plastic, coated in a pleasing, soft-to-the-touch matte texture that feels good on the ear but highlights the oil from your skin that sticks to it. Left and right indicators are denoted by large capitalized L/Rs printed in white on the inside of each ear piece. I wouldn't be surprised if they wore off relatively quickly. Not an issue since the Hibiki is designed to be worn cable up and with each ear piece tailored to fit a particular ear. Unlike most earphones that utilize 2-pin connectors, Shozy recessed the Hibiki's a good 4mm into the housing. This limits 3rd party cable options but makes for a much more durable connector. Worth the trade off in my opinion.

    The Ethos Black 26AWG copper cable is provided courtesy of AAW and is spectacular. The 90 degree angled jack is compact enough to fit in most cell phone and DAP cases, and is furnished with a classy brushed aluminum back plate. Leading up to the y-split are four tightly braided strands that split off into two groups leading to each ear piece. The y-split is a solid hunk of black rubber, above which sits a break-away chin cinch, one that's a little too eager to separate for my preferences. Leading up to the earpieces are pre-formed ear guides, weighted at the ends with large rubber strain reliefs that help keep them securely behind the ear. Last are the 45 degree angled, recessed plugs which feel very tough. About the only complaint I could levy at this cable is a lack of strain relief . Other than that, it's well constructed with minimal cable noise and next to no memory.

    The Hibiki's shells are light and ergonomic, but wow are they ever enormous. The ZS10 from Knowledge Zenith uses a similarly shaped shell. With five drivers crammed in each you'd expect them to be large. Despite housing only a single dynamic per side, the Hibiki is somehow even thicker making the ZS10 the more low profile of the two. Size aside, the Hibiki also features a stubby nozzle, one which exits the ear piece at a greater angle than on the ZS10. For some this will be good, for me it was not. The stock tips were unusable since they didn't extend quite far enough to get a reliable seal. With the right tips, the Hibiki is very comfortable but it sticks out quite a bit. You won't be easily hiding these when wearing them.

    Isolation is sub-par at best. For example, the Hibiki joined me on a ~20 minute bus ride to go pick up my car from the shop. Half way there I took them off and turned off my music. The volume required to have a half decent experience and drown out the bus and other passengers was too extreme to be comfortable.

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    Inline Mic and Remote:

    The mic feels really nice in hand despite being all plastic. The smooth buttons feels right and the rounded edges of the housing is natural in the hand. Depressing the buttons is met with a satisfying visceral response. The layout is little different than most with the larger multifunction button sitting below volume up/down, as opposed to being in the middle. It works well, leading to fewer mis-presses than I experience with other modules. While I didn't have the opportunity test with iOS, the controls functioned without a hitch on my LG G5 running Android 7.0

    Regarding call quality, those on the other end found my voice plenty loud enough, but also somewhat muffled. Using the Hibiki while recording a video supported this. My voice sounded overly thick and a little lacking in clarity, with the mic picking up a fair bit of background noise. Overall performance isn't great, but it's not terrible either. Pretty average here.

    Sound:

    Tips: As with the ZS10, the large housings and stubby nozzles limited alternatives tol the stock tips. KZ's large Starlines worked fairly well here as did large Sony Hybrids, but I settled on medium Spinfits which gave the depth needed to get a reliable and comfortable seal. Since the stock tips didn't work for me at all, the effect Spinfits have on the stock sound signature is lost to me. That said, KZ's Starline tips tend not to affect sound at all and the Spinfits sounded nigh identical.

    I don't know if they've changed the Hibiki's tuning over time, but to me it has a very common signature, one I'm very familiar with through my time with products from The Fragrant Zither (TFZ). The Hibiki outputs elevated treble and emphasized sub-bass with a slightly recessed but clear and coherent mid-range. It's a signature that is right at home at it's price range and is a crowd pleaser among the majority, i.e. the non-audiophile crowd.

    Treble is well extended and has a firm presence but stops short of being overly abundant or aggressive. Detail is decent but slightly smoothed over. It seems a little unbalanced with cymbals often sounding slightly too quiet or soft, contrasted by chimes which come across too forward. Pink Floyd's “Time” shows this off quite effectively. I'm not particularly treble sensitive, but overall I wouldn't say the Hibiki falls into what I would consider the territory of bright products, such as the Whizzer Haydn A15Pro, Kinera H3, and to a lesser extent the TFZ Series 2. It's upper end presentation is for the most part airy and fairly relaxing.

    The mid-range is quite clear and crisp with a strong presence that melds well with the emphasis placed on the treble and bass. Running through some hip hop by the likes of Aesop Rock, Felt, and others, vocals never sounded overshadowed or muddied. Busting out some classic rock from Grand Funk Railroad and King Crimson, guitar work is weighty and detailed with well defined notes. This seems to be a genre that is particular well-suited to the Hibiki.

    Heading into the low end, the Hibiki is big and brash with great extension and a fantastic balance. There is enough mid and upper bass to give music some warmth and weight, but it doesn't overpower the visceral sub-bass. Texture is not quite as impressive as what you'll get from TFZ's graphene coated dynamic units, but it's still quite good with notes showing solid depth and dynamism. The Hibiki's bass isn't always on either. Where a track is bassy, the Hibiki is bassy. Where a track requires subtlety, the Hibiki nails it.

    Sound stage is where I was most impressed with the Hibiki. It's default is fairly intimate, but it has absolutely no issues throwing sounds way off into the distance. I've been using the Hibiki a lot with film which seems well suited to the powerful low end, and the Hibki does a great job of surrounding you with the action. Take for example Rey and Kylo's fight against Snoke's guards. The sound design in this section is quite impressive with strong directional queues that are well layered, matching well with what the Hibiki is putting out. Also, the pulsing of Kylo's sabre sounds damn epic and so very textured, contrasting perfectly with the smooth hum of Rey's sabre.

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    Select Comparisons:

    TFZ Exclusive 3: The Exclusive 3 is brighter and more detailed with a similar bass presentation. Extension isn't quite a good as the Hibiki, but it is more textured and impactful with a quicker decay. The 3's mid-range is more forward but also a touch more lean. Sound stage is larger on the Hibiki but with more depth coming from the 3.

    The 3 uses a mix of stainless steel and plastic for it's housings. Fit and finish is good on both with the 3 taking a very slight edge. It's molding is slightly more precise, evident mostly in the nozzle and the definition of the lip. Their cables are equally good too, with the Hibiki's 2-pin system being the better implemented. The 3's plug are not at all protected from bending. Fit and comfort goes to the 3 due to it's compact dimensions that aren't reliant on ear size and tip to get a secure fit. The 3 isolates very well.

    Huawei AM175: The AM175 is more balanced with less treble and bass emphasis that falls right in line with the mid-range. Treble seems to extend more with the AM175. It has slightly better control with more defined notes. The AM175's mid-range is more detailed and even more clear with a more accurate timbre. Bass on the AM175 is less powerful and well-extended compared to what the Hibiki puts out. It is slightly less textured, though impact is similar. The AM175 has a smaller stage but with better separation and more accurate and layered imaging.

    The AM175 is majority plastic with an aluminum back plate and ring that surrounds the earphone's waist. The quality of the plastic is outstanding with a very precise mold. As nice as the Hibiki's construction is, the AM175 both looks and feels like a more quality item in my opinion. The AM175's cable flat cable is an excellent example of this style of cable. That said, I'd much rather have the Hibiki's which is more flexible, better relieved, transmits less noise, and in general is more manageable. The AM175's trapezoid shaped housings are significantly smaller than the Hibiki's and have a very low profile. They nestle more securely in the ear, though I wouldn't say they're any more comfortable. Isolation is superior though.

    Meze 11 Neo: The Hibiki has a larger sound stage all around but falls behind the 11 Neo in terms of imaging accuracy. Layering and separation are similar. Bass on the Hibiki isn't as well balanced but is more emphasized and extends deeper. It is less textured provides a more satisfying physical response. Treble is similarly emphasized on the 11 Neo but is slightly thicker and less airy. It's better controlled though. Mids go to the 11 Neo. They're more prominent, clearer, and more detailed and seem presented with greater nuance and finesse.

    The 11 Neo's all-aluminum housings are flawlessly constructed with perfect fit and finish and zero flaws. It is a perfect example of the exceptional construction quality expected from Meze. The cable though, is another story. It has a dense, durable sheath but it is stiff and the microphonics are nearly deal-breaking. I'd take the Hibiki's outstanding cable any day of the week. The 11 Neo's compact, lightweight, barrel shaped housings are much more universal and comfortable than the Hibiki's. If it weren't for the cable they would disappear.

    Final Thoughts:

    The Hibiki is constructed well and crafted from nice materials such as the carbon fibre used for the face plate. Special mention goes to the deeply recessed 2-pin cable system and the extra durability such as design affords. Ergonomics are well thought out and the Hibiki is comfortable to wear for extended periods, though the sheer size of the ear pieces will limit their audience. The sub-par isolation will too. The packaging is simple but attractive, yet inside you're left wanting more in the way of extras. Accessories are few and far between, limited only to a couple spare ear tips. The Hibiki has a grand sound stage with a bass line to match with a crisp mid-range that drew me in, yet I found myself wanting a little more finesse and balance in the treble.

    In the end the Hibiki is an enjoyable product with a lot of strengths. For its intended use as a daily driver it is a wonderful earphone, but I'd recommend spending a few extra bucks to pick up some foam tips if you're going to use them in noisy areas. You'll be needing the extra isolation.

    Thanks for reading!

    - B9Scrambler

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****​

    Some Test Tunes:

    Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
    Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
    King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
    King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
    Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
    Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
    Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
    Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
    Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
    The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
    Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
    Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
    Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
    The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
    Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
    Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
    Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
    Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
    Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)
  2. Dobrescu George
    Shozy Hibiki - Sweet and Tasty
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Jun 8, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Design, Build Quality, Sound Quality, Dynamics, Soundstage, Remote on the cable, Comfort, 2-pin connector, Good Tips incluced in the package, Great Value
    Cons - No storage solution included, On The Larger Side, Flat / Mid-centric signature will be subjectively good for some and not for everyone.
    Shozy Hibiki - Sweet and Tasty

    Shozy is a pretty big company from China, well-respected by music lovers from all over the world for their accessible yet high-quality products. We're going to take a look into the performance of their affordable IEM, Shozy Hibiki, which is priced at just 60 USD.

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    Introduction

    Shozy is a rather friendly company from China, who has worked in developing and bringing In-Ears at affordable prices to the average music lover. Their achievements are best known by those looking for an affordable IEM that still has the build quality, and the design of a higher-end product. Shozy is known to offer good support to their customers, and they are known to be great with warranty, but happily there have been very few cases of people needing warranty for Shozy products in the past.

    It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Shozy, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by Shozy or anyone else. I'd like to thank Shozy for providing the sample for this review. The sample was provided along with Shozy's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects my personal experience with Shozy Hibiki. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Shozy Hibiki find their next music companion.



    About me

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/about.html



    Packaging

    First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

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    Shozy Hibiki comes packaged in what can be called a fair package. They come seated in a sponge / foam cutout, with two more sets of tips. The outer package design is quite beautiful, and it has a good amount of detail about Shozy Hibiki on it.

    The overall package feels premium and well made actually.

    The cble they come with is detachable, it has a remote on it, and it looks to be of a pretty good quality. By contrast with Kinera Seed, where we could complain that the cable was from a third party vendor and didn't match perfectly with the IEM body, Shozy Hibiki's cable fits perfectly with the IEM body and seems to be made especially for them. There will be a V2 coming out soon, but we don't have a lot of information on what the changes from the first Shozy Hibiki are.

    Besides the IEMs and the tips, there's nothing else in the package, one of the reasons we said fair. Even so, they are priced at the very friendly price point of 60 USD, where they make a very compelling purchase based on the sound, but more on this in the sonic performance.



    What to look in when purchasing an entry-level In-Ear Monitor

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/what-to-lookl.html



    Technical Specifications

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    10mm Bio Cellulose Membrane Proprietary Full Range Dynamic
    Single Sound Bore Design
    Frequency response: 20Hz-40000Hz
    Sensitivity: 102dB SPL@1mW
    Impedance: 18Ohm@1KHz
    THD: ≤0.5%@1KHz
    Connector: 2-pin 0.78mm
    Plug:3.5mm



    Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

    Starting with the build quality, Shozy Hibiki feels quite different from the average 60 USD IEM, which usually has some minor build quality issues, or where you can notice that some build quality had to suffer for the pocket-friendly price. Usually, that point is in the cable, which sometimes is produced for multiple IEMs and doesn't fit perfectly with the IEM body, but here Shozy has proven to be a real champ, providing an excellent overall experience for their Hibiki, as the cable matches the IEM body perfectly.

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    The overall build quality is pretty good, plastic all-around, but seems durable, the pieces fit well together, there are no hard edges, and no protruding edges, the whole IEM seems to be assembled well and the cable seems to be of a good quality as well. It even has a remote if you need it, and the overall quality seems higher than the price points dictates.

    The outer face plate has a carbon fiber model that looks very sleek and is both a bit industrial and a bit modern in appearance. The inner IEM is made from a rubbery plastic material that fits quite ergonomic.

    Which brings us to the comfort, which is great. The IEMs are on the slightly larger side, but their shape is quite ergonomic and they sit well in ears. The included tips look very basic, but they actually have a good quality to them, do not get slippery, and they feel good even after a few hours of wearing.

    The cables allow only for over-the-ear wearing, but this means that there is no microphonic noise, and the best part, there is no driver flex now. Since we reviewed the Shozy Zero in the past, and we were quite a bit disappointed by its microphonic noise, we are really happy to notice that Shozy sorted it out in their Hibiki IEM.

    We've seen quite a few of those Hibiki being worn even in Romania, and since they are not available here directly, you can take into account that people are ordering them directly from Shozy or from other stores, and are still enjoying them quite a lot, so Hibiki is quite loved here, thing which further impressed us, as even some of our friends had a pair, without us knowing before we saw each other wearing it and starting a conversation on their sonic performance.

    All in all, we'd say that the build quality and the fit/comfort are golden for a IEM at this price point.



    Sound Quality

    The sound quality can be written off in one little question: "Do you like midrange?"

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    This basically states everything about Shozy Hibiki. They have a really sweet, natural, detailed, relaxed and open-sounding midrange. It is a true beauty to hear, and honestly, very few IEMs, especially at this price point, can compare their midrange with Shozy Hibiki.

    The sub-bass and the bass are good, with fair extension, although the sub-bass is not quite the best in extension, it still is good. The mid bass and the sub-bass are both less in quantity than the midrange, so if you're a basshead, this really is not the best IEM for you. The impact is fairly good, although most of the impact starts to be good from the drums, not exactly from sub-bass impact.

    The midrange is extremely good, and quite impressive for the price point. It sounds sweet, sounds natural, and has a delicious amount of detail to it. In fact, it is more impressive than we're used to seeing at 200$, but it should be noted that it is a forward midrange, so if a V-shaped signature, where the midrange is recessed, is your thing, then Shozy Hibiki won't be the best choice. But this forward midrange has one thing to it that was actually the main reason we were so impressed, it is not fatiguing. Usually, midrange-forward signatures, like Etymtoic ER3XR, are very revealing and analytical, but can also fatigue the listener, can be too much, but Shozy Hibiki has a good balance of bringing the voices forward, placing the instruments well in a scene, not sounding congested, and having a good amount of energy to the sound, all without being fatiguing.

    The treble is quite smooth and lean, it is slightly recessed when compared to the midrange, and its detail is fair. Nothing too energetic, but it is good if you're looking for a more relaxing treble. Won't work very well with acoustic or metal music, where the cymbal crashes need a lot of energy and life, but should work very well with pretty much anything else. Works especially well with vocal-forward music, and with female vocals.



    Soundstage

    The soundstage was actually a surprise. Most IEMs with a midrange-forward signature tend to compress the soundstage to a degree, but with Shozy Hibiki, you actually get a fair sense of space. The stereo imaging is very good, and instrument layering is good, especially for the price. Basically, things don't come off as congested nor as too intimate, it brings the midrange-forward signature fairly wide, offering a fairly out-of-the-head experience, at least for the price point.



    ADSR / PRaT

    The ADSR and PRaT (Texturization) is natural, to slightly slow. This means that textures are not overly expressed, and instruments like trumpets are slightly smoothed out. This also means that poor recordings and older recordings can sound very good, while instruments that are normally fatiguing are rather lean and relaxing. Textures on Mindless Self Indulgence feel fairly smooth, there is not much micro-texture revealed, and some might argue that this way their music feels more relaxing, but it should be noted that Shozy Hibiki is not a very analytical IEM in this sense. For Jazz especially, Shozy Hibiki feels really good, all instruments feel liquid and relaxing, creating a very smooth and laid-back experience.



    Portable Usage

    The portable usage is quite excellent. They come with a thin yet reliable cable, they come with a fairly good fit and comfort, and they come with a remote on the cable.


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    They isolate well form the outside noise, so you can take a walk through noisy places while wearing them, while still enjoying your music, and they have a fit good enough that they can make good jogging IEMs.

    Shozy Hibiki is easy to drive, and they sound good from the typical smartphone, and you don't really have to worry much about their build quality if they fall and hit the ground, being constructed quite well. There are no microphonics, there is no driver flex, the cable doesn't stay strangely while walking, it isn't springy, basically there's no issue that would stop them from being really good portable IEMs.

    The only thing you'd have to take into account is that their signature, which is pretty mid-centric, isn't the best to drown out the outside noise, and the sub-bass and treble are even more subtle while outside, than while inside, so this might be good to take into account when considering whether they make good walking companions or not.

    All in all, their portability scores are very good and if you already enjoy their signature, they are great IEMs to take on a walk.




    Comparisons

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    Shozy Hibiki vs Shozy Zero - Shozy Zero was a great IEM produced by Shozy as well. It came in a similar package, but it came with a carrying case. Shozy Zero did not have a detachable cable. Shozy Zero's build included wood in their construction, but they had a downside which we complained about, which was driver flex. Shozy Hibiki has no driver flex, and has detachable cables, so Shozy improved a lot on the 60 USD IEMs range. The sonic performance is quite different, with Zero being a IEM with a bassy, thick, lush and smooth sound, where Hibiki is a quicker, lighter, more midrange-centric, more revealing, more detailed, larger sounding IEM, with better overall value, and with a more versatile sound. All in all, if you're a basshead, then Shozy Zero was a fairly good performance, but if you prefer a more versatile sound, then Shozy Hibiki surely is a pretty sweet choice. The fit for Zero works both straight-down and over-the-ear, where Hibiki only works over-the-ear.

    Shozy Hibiki vs FiiO F5 - FiiO F5 was and still is a very impressive performer. The main differences between F5 and Shozy Hibiki are that F5 comes with MMCX-based cables, where Hibiki comes with 2-pin connector based cables. Both feel very reliable, but F5 are made from a metallic material, where Hibiki is made of plastic. The ergonomics and comfort are great on both. FiiO F5 has a much bassier sound, with a much thicker overall presentation, and with a more open presentation, being partially open. Shozy Hibiki feels more even, more natural and more mid-centric, with less bass, but more midrange, a bit more detail and clarity in the midrange, and a bit more energy and presence across the whole spectrum, where F5 feels a bit too thick and too smooth. The fit for FiiO F5 is mostly straight down, while the fit for Hibiki is only over-the-ear.

    Shozy Hibiki vs Final E3000 - Final's IEMs are quite nice, but the basic package is quite different. Final E3000 comes with a carrying pouch, but they don't come with a detachable cable. They come with more tips than Shozy Hibiki, thing which may come in handy. Both Shozy Hibiki and Final E3000 come with good quality tips that should work well for multiple usage scenarios. The build quality is quite different, E3000 being a "Bullet-Type" of IEM, which means that it looks like a thin tube made entirely of metal, where Shozy Hibiki is an over-the-ear IEM with a different ergonomic. Since E3000 can be worn straight-down and over-the-ear, it may be considered more versatile in this aspect, but we can't complain of the fit Shozy Hibiki either. The sonic performance is quite impressive on both, both having very similar levels of detail, clarity, PRaT/ADSR and soundstage. The main difference is in the tonal balance, where E3000 is slightly more natural, being more even across the board, with more bass and treble relative to the midrange. This means that it also sounds slightly flatter, so if you're looking for a midrange-forward IEM, then Hibiki would be that, while if you're looking for something that sounds really natural and organic, E3000 might be the answer to your quest.



    Recommended Pairings

    Shozy Hibiki is fairly easy to drive, they don't need a lot of power to get loud, and they sound great even with the most modest smartphone, making them a great companion if you don't want to invest a lot in the source, but still have a pretty good experience.

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    Shozy Hibiki + Shanling M2s - This is a great example of a low-cost but fun-to-use and good-sounding setup. Hibiki and M2s pair well with each other, M2s adds a bit of thickness and impact to Hibiki, making them sound more impactful, and giving them a more versatile signature. M2s is also pretty good on its own, being one of the few DAPs that are this small, yet provide the number of feature it does.

    Shozy Hibiki + HIFIMAN Megamini - Megamini is a very basic and minimalist player, but it is even smaller as an overall footprint when compared to M2s, and it has a very vivid and energetic sound. With it, Hibiki gets a little more forward and energetic, they gain a bit more edge in the treble, but also a bit more detail and aggressiveness, making them better for rock and metal music. Overall, with Megamini priced at 100 USD, the whole setup is sweet both in price and performance.


    Shozy Hibiki + FiiO M7 - FiiO M7 is a very portable DAP with a lot of power and abilities, especially in the Bluetooth, and wireless part, abilities which aren't exactly placed in light with Hibiki, which is a wired IEM. On the other hand, M7's abilities as a standalone player are quite impressive, and compared to M2s, which is slightly thick, and Megamini which is vivid, energetic and slightly forward, M7 feels very neutral and actually brings both the bass and the treble a little more forward, making Hibiki sound more even and giving them a more spacious sound, with more depth, and a bit more detail.



    Value and Conclusion

    At the end of the review, we must keep in mind that Hibiki is a very affordable IEM, which not only won't break the bank, but will also provide a good bang for the buck for its price of 60 USD.

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    They come in a handy yet premium-looking package, and they come with the basics one will need to enjoy them. Coming with detachable cables, you're sure you're going to have an easy time fixing them if anything goes wrong, and they also have a remote on the cable, in case you're using them with a smartphone, or with a Player that can read remote signals.

    The build quality is all plastic, but a very high-quality plastic, they have an shell plate that looks like carbon fiber, and they have a very sleek overall design. The inner plastic feels slightly rubbery to the touch, resulting in a very comfortable fit and, together with the good-quality tips included with them, providing a great overall comfort, even for jogging, or long-hours of listening to music.

    The sonic performance is quite impressive and those IEMs coming from China at affordable prices always remind us that the performance of a 60USD IEM is getting better and better, there being quite an arena for those kind of IEMs, where every company tries to squeeze the latest drop of performance for the cost of a IEM. Hibiki is a midrange-forward IEM, also called "flat" by some listeners, who feel that the midrange being more forward compared to other IEMs, especially in relation to the bass and the treble, makes them flat. Regardless, compared to most other 60 USD IEMs which are usually bass-heavy, Hibiki feels mid-centric, with a lighter, quicker and snappier bass, they feel more clear in the midrange usually, with a bit more energy and detail, and they feel smooth and lean in the treble. This kind of signature will surely work well for certain types of vocal-centric music, for Jazz, and for certain types of pop. The leaner treble means that you can enjoy them for hours without suffering from any kind of listeners fatigue.

    [​IMG]

    If you're looking for a great deal on a 60 USD IEM, you should make sure to check on Shozy Hibiki as they bring a lot more than their price tag indicates, they are one of the sweetwest IEMs we tested at this price point, and they are an amazing overall deal, especially for those in love with a clear and vivid midrange, and looking for a good build quality, or for a IEM to take on a jogging session, when working out, or when traveling.



    I hope my review is helpful to you!

    Stay safe and remember to always have fun while listening to music!



    Contact us!
    (Click Buttons)


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      B9Scrambler and hqssui like this.
  3. Selenium
    Shozy Hibiki - On The Rocks
    Written by Selenium
    Published Dec 31, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Stylish, comfortable, great (removable)cable, reliable build, spacious sound without any glaring flaws, never sibilant
    Cons - Sparse accessories, no storage case, two-pin cable system, large shells, slight plastic-y tonality, lengthy burn-in required
    [​IMG]
    SHOZY Hibiki Dynamic Driver 2-pin 0.78mm Detachable HiFi In-Ear Earphone IEMs

    Description

    • A single dynamic design for daily commuters
    • The AAW x Shozy Hibiki is unique in its form – a combination of an agronomical in-canal design fused with real carbon elements, together with a meticulously machined cable of fine audio qualities and strength. The high quality mems mic and line controls on the detachable 2-pin cable are perfectly functional on iOS and android.
    • Premium hand polished carbon face-plate
    • CIEM grade high quality copper internal wiring
    • Pull-resistance design with in-line control for iOS/android
    • High quality 2-pin copper recessed socket
    • 10mm high-efficiency dynamic driver
    • 3 buttons in-line remote control with reliable MEMS microphone
    • Hibiki comes with the 26AWG Ethos Black high-purity copper earphone cable. The 4-wire braid structure is insulated with ultra-flexible TPE sleeve, minimizing cross interference.
    • Hibiki features high quality recessed socket commonly seen on custom monitors, also an over-mold detachable cable
    • The system allows users to switch to higher-end cables or to use the Ethos Black cable on may other in ear monitors.
    Specification

    • 10mm Bio Cellulose Membrane Proprietary Full Range Dynamic
    • Single Sound Bore Design
    • Frequency response:20Hz-40000Hz
    • Sensitivity: 102dB SPL@1mW
    • Impedance: 18Ohm@1KHz
    • THD≤0.5%@1KHz
    • Connector: 2-pin 0.78mm
    • Plug:3.5mm
    Package

    • Shozy hibiki
    • Eartips
    • Case
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I've had my Hibiki for a little while now and have a pretty good handle on how they sound as well as how well I think they're gonna hold up to wear-and-tear from general day-to-day use.

    First of all, I just want to say that up until recently I thought the Hibiki sounded somewhere in the neighborhood of OK to good. Not great. I've used it off and on since receiving it, but never for very long as it's always left me reaching for something else.

    I do believe in burn-in, but some claims I've read of something needing like 200 hours or whatever always seemed slightly absurd to me, since in my experience most changes occur in the first ten hours or so of listening(Shozy recommends at least 100 hours for these). Maybe it's brain-in. I'm not sure. BUT, I'm definitely enjoying listening to them as of late more than I did like a month and a half ago.
    [​IMG]

    Build, Isolation, Comfort

    The Hibiki is well-built. The carbon fibre face plates are nice, and mine haven't suffered any noticeable scratches in the time that I've had them(almost three months). The shells are plastic but are holding up just fine.

    The (braided)cable is excellent, especially taking into account that this isn't something you have to "upgrade" to - it's the default cable. It's supple, flexible, and not terribly prone to tangling. It terminates in what seems to be a pretty durable L-plug. There's also this little...I don't know what it's called, but you can see it in the pictures. That little piece serves to adjoin the left and right cables. This is actually a pretty smart innovation since with cables that have inline controls and a mic, a typical chin slider isn't very effective. Well, they solved that little issue with that little whatchamacallit!

    I don't think the Hibiki is a tank, but you shouldn't have any problems with it standing the test of time assuming you take care of your stuff even a little bit.

    I find it to be a pretty comfortable earphone, but if you have smaller ears you might have some issues. As far as isolation goes I find them to be "good enough." Being that they're dynamic drivers, they are vented but at least it's on the belly of the earphone.

    Sound
    I find the Hibiki to have moderately elevated bass, forward mids, and relatively laid-back treble with just enough sparkle to give them a slightly shiny character.

    Both male and female vocals have good weight, but I would venture to say that there's a little more emphasis on the upper mids as female vocals tend to sound a little more forward.

    I can't imagine anyone but bass heads being disappointed with the quantity of bass on offer here. Listening to "Fire" by Jack Garratt is very satisfying, as the bass goes deep with a lot of rumble and a nice amount of air.

    One of my favorite aspects of this IEM is the soundstage. It isn't the widest I've ever heard, getting soundly defeated in that department by my Sony MDR 7550, and slightly falling behind the KZ ZS6. But it has excellent height, depth, and separation.

    Where timbre is concerned, I find it to be above average, but that's about it. If you're coming from something with really good timbre you might pick up on a slight plastic tonality, but I think you'll get used to it pretty quick.

    Comparisons

    Hibiki vs. KZ ZS6
    [​IMG]

    The ZS6 has to be one of the best values of 2017, assuming you don't mind a bright signature and aren't treble-averse. It's a quad-driver hybrid earphone with two dynamic drivers and two balanced armatures in each earpiece. It should crush the Hibiki, right? No.

    It has a wider stage than the Hibiki, with more liquid mids. Not necessarily more realistic sounding mids, but more liquid with a hint of metallic tonality, à la the Dunu Titan 1. The ZS6 is more V-shaped and less forward compared to the Hibiki. The ZS6 features an all-metal build, but is also far more likely to cause comfort issues than the Hibiki. The stock Hibiki cable is WAAAAY better than the cheap cable the ZS6 comes with.

    Both are great options but the Hibiki will probably be the safer choice for most people.

    Hibiki vs. BGVP DM5

    The DM5 also represents one of the very best values of the year. A quad-driver earphone just like the ZS6, with a metal shell and excellent ergonomics. It's another V-shaped earphone, with a punishing sub-bass presence. Tickle your ear drums kinda stuff. But because the bass emphasis is so far down the overall presentation remains pretty clean.

    I've had some build quality issues with my DM5 so I'd give the Hibiki the nod on that one despite the former having an all-metal build(well, except for the nozzles). The sonic presentations of these two earphones is pretty different - picking one depends on what kind of sound you prefer.

    Hibiki vs. Zero Audio Carbo Tenore
    [​IMG]

    The Tenore probably doesn't need much of an introduction. It made waves back in 2013 for the immense value it served up, with many people comparing it favorably to IEMs costing considerably more. Even today, they're held in high regard for their excellent tuning, jack-of-all-trades signature, and excellent ergonomics and isolation. Compared to the Hibiki, the Tenore is a little less mid-forward with less elevated bass, bass which doesn't move as much air. Their treble is similar but the Hibiki has occasional peaks the Tenore doesnt. The Hibiki does of course have a tendency to sound a little brighter which is my preference so I can deal with the occasional peak. The Tenore has the more natural timbre but isn't as spacious as the Hibiki. The Hibiki will almost certainly last longer under heavy every day use due to the Tenore's flimsy, fixed cable. I'd probably pick the Hibiki just because of the detachable cable.

    Summary

    At first I had mixed feelings about the Hibiki. I mean, I liked it. But it wasn't quite the "giant killer" I had hoped it would be, like the Macaw GT100S was over two years ago. I'm not sure if it was burn-in, or brain-in, or both. But I like it now more than I did. Could it be better? Sure. But for $60 are you getting your money's worth, and more? Yes. For your money you get a nice build, a fantastic detachable cable, very good comfort, style, decent isolation, and very, very good SQ.

    I had a hard time scoring them, but relative to their price, and considering their flaws aren't terribly pronounced, I think they deserve the score I gave them. Or, 8.5/10

    Now where's my shot glass?
    [​IMG]
      rae39852, scott1, Dsnuts and 2 others like this.
  4. ryanjsoo
    Shozy Hibiki Review – Vox Populi
    Written by ryanjsoo
    Published Oct 29, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Great clarity and midrange resolution, Excellent carbon faceplates, Sensational removable cable, Well defined bass
    Cons - Quite mid-forward, Large housings produce a shallower fit, Dip in lower treble can affect detailing and texture, Doesn't scale well
    Introduction –

    Shozy are a beloved Chinese audio manufacturer with a reputation for daring and experimental designs. A constant endeavour to reconnect with the mentality of retro audio through the lens of modern technology acts as the driving force behind the company. As such, Shozy have produced some truly innovative products such as the Alien DAPs that boasted delightful musical tones but also a questionable screen-less user interface.

    However, the company is quickly reaching maturity, bringing the same charming sound within increasingly versatile forms and ever more accessible prices. With a conservative $60 USD asking price, the allure of a hardy removable cable and a sound tuned in conjunction with AAW, Shozy’s latest in-ear, the Hibiki, is easily among the most anticipated affordable in-ears on the market. Let’s see how the Hibiki compares to existing models including Shozy’s own Zero and the best from Fiio and Final Audio.



    Disclaimer –

    I would like to thank Shozy very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the Hibiki at a discounted price for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones at a reduced fee, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.



    Accessories –

    [​IMG]

    Packaging is a huge leap over that included with the Zero, the print is bold and silver accents highlight the promise of pristine audio through Shozy’s and AAW’s collaboration. The Hibiki and included silicone ear tips are encased within a protective foam inlet. As always, Shozy provide the bare minimum with their products, there is no protective carry case, no isolating foam tips, not even a shirt clip can be found with Shozy’s affordable in-ear.

    [​IMG]

    It’s a streamlined and perfectly serviceable approach, but given Shozy’s focus on daily usability with a smartphone, I would at least expect some sort of pouch or case.



    Design –

    Upon opening the box, the Hibiki instantly impresses with its high gloss authentic carbon fibre faceplates skirted by a flawless chrome rim. From this angle you could certainly mistake them for a much more expensive product; those plates really enhance the look of the earphones providing depth through the underlying texture that catches light in a fascinating manner.

    [​IMG]

    However, removing the earphones reveals that the bulk of the housings are constructed from plastic, which pretty standard for Shozy’s asking price. And though I do prefer the Hibiki’s rubberized texture over a matte or gloss finish, the plastic does look a bit cheap and easily picks up oil marks. That said, the earphones feel solid in the hand and the finish didn’t become tacky during my month of usage; Shozy vouch for the Hibiki’s hard-wearing properties, utilizing the same paint used by sports earphones.

    [​IMG]

    In the ear, the Hibiki is a large but well-shaped earphone that produces a mostly ergonomic experience. Due to their size, they mostly occupy the outer ear and their flatter inner surface does limit fit depth. A small vent is present on the inner face though it doesn’t overly affect isolation or sound leak during wear. As a result of their ear filling design, the Hibiki has great but not outstanding isolation that is clearly better than most rivals and perfectly sufficient for public transport though a slightly deeper fit may have facilitated better isolation yet.

    [​IMG]

    Furthermore, the Hibiki’s over-ear fit is quite stable, their large housings are light and really lock into the ear with the right ear tip. The Hibiki’s also sport a removable cable using a recessed 0.78mm 2-pin connector. This is a very rare feature around this price but one that is imperative for any long-term investment. It also enables users to swap in a 3rd party lightning or Bluetooth cable which should please modern smartphone users. The cable itself is also of excellent quality; designed in conjunction with AAW, it is supple, sturdy and of excellent thickness.

    [​IMG]

    It’s smooth, braided nature resists tangles far better than competitors and the connectors are all tight and well-relieved. Furthermore, the cable has a smart remote that functions on both IOS and Android. This is easily the best cable I’ve encountered around this price and well above it, a huge step up over the tacky unit on the Zero, the thin cable on the Final in-ears and the stiffer Fiio cable.



    Sound –

    [​IMG]

    Tonality –

    The Hibiki is a bright, mid-forward earphone with an ethereal sound that embodies the more typical Asian style of tuning. Bass is a bit reserved but defined and taught, well complementing the higher frequencies, and vocals possess satisfying immediacy. Highs are also slightly forward but what the Hibiki lacks in depth, they make up for with air and speed. And while this style of tuning will not suit every listener, the Hibiki provides a surprisingly mature example of an upper midrange focussed tonality that is rather uncommon around this price range. As such, it’s a nice change from the usual warm, smooth earphones and energetic V-shaped models from manufacturers like TFZ, Klipsch and 1More to name a few.



    Bass –

    Bass forms the foundation of any great earphone but all too often it drives the sound of cheaper earphones rather than integrating into it; you would have to pay a fair sum to achieve truly exquisite balance between frequencies. On that note, if you want to relish in a rich, organic bass response, Shozy will likely disappoint. Because the Hibiki is on the conservative side in its low-end quantity, prioritizing definition and agility over impact and warmth. Bass is depth focussed and very pleasing in quality though it sits a fair way behind the midrange in emphasis. This weighting imbues bass notes with a slightly larger sense of body that prevents the earphones from coming off as anaemic though they are still not a particularly full sounding in-ear, especially when compared to competing models like the Final E2000/3000. Furthermore, extension is just above average, the single dynamic driver Hibiki creates a light but incredibly tight sub-bass impact with clearly defined rumble somewhat akin to the Hifiman RE-600.

    This is followed by a more neutral mid-bass and recessed upper-bass that contribute to the cleanliness of the Hibiki’s overall presentation. And though mid and upper bass sit a bit too far behind in the mix, texturing and definition is excellent. When listening to Toto’s “Rosanna”, the Hibiki provided excellent PRAT that easily bested the fuller but sloppier Final E2000 and the slightly muddier Fiio EX1 2nd Gen. So despite their price, the earphones are devoid of bloat or bloom. On tracks with a more separated bass response like the Pixie’s “Hey”, the Hibiki thoroughly impresses with spot on body and exquisite bass clarity that makes other earphones sound downright veiled. However, during most songs, the midrange spills over bass details which will probably bother a lot of listeners. That said, a bass-driven sound was never Shozy’s intention and this does leave the midrange, the focus of the sound, delightfully concentrated and uncoloured; the tuning will be a matter of taste, the quality is absolute.


    Mids –

    Mids are the centre of attention as the most emphasized aspect of the Hibiki’s sound. Upon first listen, their huge clarity and thinner body can sound a little unnatural, but a brief adjustment period reveals an exceptionally open, resolving midrange. Mids carry a brighter tonal tilt with upper mids holding the most authority in the entire sound, though lower mids are balanced and clear with pleasing quality throughout. Again, these won’t suit those looking for warmth or a perfectly natural response, but the Hibiki does flatter the smoother mastering of Asian albums and really brings out the detail in older tracks. For instance, when listening to Akdong Musician’s “Anyway”, the Hibiki was lacking that organic richness to acoustic guitars on account of their reserved bass response, but vocals were delightfully delicate and guitars very crisp and clean. On a whole, vocals were still too thin for my liking but voicing was well considered so singers never came across as nasal or raspy.

    Unfortunately, this style of tuning also exacerbates sibilance but these frequencies are never pushed to fatigue and the Hibiki isn’t too hard on lower bitrate files on account of their smoother treble response. Their highly resolving nature also does so much to enhance midrange elements that these concerns are soon forgotten. A culmination of brightness, clarity and pleasing resolution all contribute to the revealing nature of the Hibiki’s midrange. Vocals are layered and extend with an effortless quality, and instruments such as piano are almost lifelike in their immediacy. As an acoustic guitar player, I also enjoyed the Hibiki’s hyper clear presentation of strings even if instrument timbre isn’t overly natural. Of course, the Hibiki’s won’t be replacing my pricier in-ears but considering their asking price, they offer a nice alternative to the darker, more full-bodied Zero and E2000 while competing eye to eye with the similarly bright EX1 2nd Gen.



    Treble –

    Treble is an interesting affair, high frequencies are well presented, clear and smooth for the most part, though the Hibiki is missing some technicality at times. It’s very possible that this was a conscious tuning choice on Shozy’s behalf; the Hibiki has a slight lower treble dip that prevents high frequencies from overwhelming, since they are already quite a forward sounding earphone. However, this is followed by a subsequent rise into middle treble frequencies that imbues their sound with some extra sparkle and air. As a result, I would hesitate to call the Hibiki a laid-back earphone since higher frequencies hold plenty of emphasis in the sound, but they are lacking some bite and aggression due to the unevenness of their tuning. It is a fine balance between energy and fatigue but I did find the Hibiki to be a little too sedate for my liking. Still, the Hibiki is very crisp and clear, they also lack that spiked sound that a lot of more aggressive earphones possess, erring on the side of refinement over engagement.

    The Hibiki is well extended but both the Final E2000 and Fiio EX1 2nd Gen possess greater resolution of higher details. Lower treble instruments such as cymbals are well textured but higher elements, though granted with plenty of shimmer and sparkle, are too thin to resolve like the best. Furthermore, their enhanced sense of air does a lot to mitigate the effects of their early roll-off though instruments such as strings and high-hats don’t quite extend and resonate like they should. Detailing is also pretty mediocre, they gloss over some finer details even if those that are resolved are presented in a clear and clean manner. So ultimately, the high frequencies are pleasing but they’re definitely the weakest aspect of the Hibiki’s sound. Competing in-ears around the same price may not possess the same midrange expression as the Hibiki but a few notable models are notably more nuanced.


    Soundstage, Imaging and Separation –


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    The Hibiki’s clean, revealing sound is counterbalanced by its constant forwardness creating a nice but not outstanding soundstage presentation. Width is especially good, the earphones can stretch to the periphery of the head with the right track though depth is intimate. The Hibiki performs well amongst similarly priced sealed in-ears like Shozy’s own Zero and the Meze 11 Neo though the semi-open Fiio EX1 2nd Gen and Final E-series earphones all provide considerably larger soundscapes at the cost of isolation. Imaging is very good, they position better the vast majority of in-ears around this price due to their agile, revealing nature. Separation is very commendable in some aspects but not quite flawless overall. For instance, mids are spacious and exceptionally well-extended though they can spill into the other frequencies which overshadows details. By comparison, the more balanced, more spacious Final E2000 and Fiio EX1 2ndGen both separate more consistently though the Hibiki never comes across as congested due to their open, airy presentation.



    Drivability –

    The Hibiki was designed as a commuter’s earphone with a higher 102dB sensitivity and lower 18ohm impedance making it well suited towards smartphone use. The Hibiki is certainly an easy earphone to drive, achieving dangerous volumes from any modest smart device. And utilizing a single dynamic driver, the Hibiki is also very resistant to output impedance, sounding quite tonally similar from both my phone and Fiio X7 II. That said, the Hibiki does benefit on some level from a dedicated source, for instance, they sounded smoother in their midrange and more detailed in their treble from my Alien+ as compared to my iPod Touch 6G. That said, the Hibiki doesn’t scale like the more technical in-ears around this price though they also actualise more of their potential from a smartphone. While it is disappointing that the Hibiki doesn’t scale up at home, it is very well suited towards its intended uses and price range.



    Comparisons –

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    Final E2000 ($45): Final have a winner with the E2000, it is undoubtedly one of the best earphones I’ve heard around this price at the cost of a fragile build. When compared to the Hibiki, it is clearly more v-shaped though clarity is excellent as is technicality. The E2K’s bass is fuller, more separated and better extended than the Hibiki. On the flipside, though both are agile, the cleaner Hibiki is appreciably more defined. Mids are clearer on the Hibiki but arguably pushed a little too far towards clarity while the Final is pleasantly clear but more full-bodied. The Hibiki has slightly better resolution but the E2000 is more detailed, natural and linear. Highs are considerably more detailed on the Final and slightly more extended. The Hibiki is once again clearer in the higher frequencies but a lot of instruments are too thin. The semi-open E2000 has a considerably larger stage, especially depth though they lean out completely when outdoors due to their poor isolation.

    Shozy Zero ($60): The Zero is a more natural earphone with a considerably darker tonality. The Zero is considerably bassier with a mid-bass vs deep bass focus though it isn’t nearly as clean as the Hibiki. That said, both are very textured though the Hibiki is much tighter and more defined. Mids are quite the opposite, the Zero is more laid-back and organic while the Hibiki is brighter and thinner but also much clearer. While the Zero is very well voiced, the Hibiki has more resolution at the cost of realistic timbre. The Zero has a more typical lower treble bump though, in terms of technicality, the Zero is both more aggressive and more detailed, it simply has more body and texture to these elements. That said, the Hibiki has a lot more air and clarity to higher elements even if extension is similar on both. The Zero and Hibiki have a similar width biased stage, the Zero has a little more depth while the Hibiki is wider with superior imaging.

    Pinnacle P2 ($99): The P2 makes for interesting comparison since it carries a similar kind of sound but also one that’s more accessible. This starts with the P2’s low-end that is warmer and more extended though also more balanced than the aforementioned models. The P2 is more linear in its lower frequencies, it isn’t quite Hibiki clean but is more technically impressive in almost every way. Mids are more forward on the Hibiki but also a bit oddly voiced and thin, the P2 is similarly clear but smoother and more bodied throughout. Highs are a little uneven on the P2 but immediately better bodied and more aggressively detailed than the Hibiki. Neither are especially well extended but the P2 resolves higher details better while the Hibiki is airier due to the nature of their tuning. The P2 doesn’t have the largest soundstage, similar to the Hibiki but with slightly greater depth though it is appreciably more coherent.



    Verdict –

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    The Hibiki is a revealing, tonally unique earphone with an extensive feature set. Their carbon fibre faceplates belie their asking price as does their excellent removable cable. Though their brighter, thinner sound won’t be to every listener’s preference, after some adjustment, they do make a lot of similarly priced in-ears sound quite bloated and buyers who value utmost midrange resolution and clarity now have a very strong contender at a very reasonable asking price. The Hibiki is purported as a commuter’s earphone and though I feel their low-end is a little too lean to compensate for ambient noise, their great isolation, stable fit and rock solid build make them a perfect affordable daily. Moreover, their smooth treble, though far from the most technically impressive around this price, does a lot to help the forward Hibiki avoid fatigue during longer listening sessions.

    Verdict – 8.5/10, Shozy’s affordable in-ear makes for a strong investment perhaps not due to sound alone, but the culmination of a well-considered build, extensive feature set and accessible asking price that make the Hibiki Shozy’s most versatile earphone yet.

    Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my review, please see my website for more just like it:
    https://everydaylisteningblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/shozy-hibiki-review-vox-populi/
  5. HiFiChris
    Shozy x AAW Hibiki - Black Bass (and Upper ...
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Sep 25, 2017
    3.0/5,
    Pros - •removable cables are nice to have in this price range
    •control is fairly good given the strong bass emphasis
    •technical performance matches the price although it is not the best-in-class
    •carbon fibre faceplates are nice
    •nice cable with twisted conductors
    •sound signature might fit well for K- and J-Pop (which of course depends on personal preference)
    Cons - •solid but not outstanding technical performance compared to the always growing competition in this price range
    •midrange and treble timbre on the plastic side will likely not appeal to people who are looking for an even, natural midrange and treble reproduction
    •no carrying case included
    •large housings and short nozzles might not be the best idea for small ears
    •carbon fibre is premium, however the rest of the shells is just average
    Shozy x AAW Hibiki - Black Bass (and Upper Midrange and Treble)


    Preamble:

    Originally posted on my German audio review site, the "Kopfhörer-Lounge" with a reference in the title that not everybody might have got (without googling), here comes my review of the Shozy x AAW Hibiki in-ear.




    Introduction:

    Shozy is a quite well-known audio company from Hong Kong that got quite famous internationally when they released their Alien digital audio player, a DAP that was made of brushed aluminium but didn’t have any screen, however it did have buttons for playback control and navigation wherefore it was somewhat like the first generation Apple iPod Shuffle’s extra-terrestrial, more premium cousin.

    Shozy has not only made digital audio players (and DACs as well as portable headphone amplifiers) though, but also in-ears such as the Zero, an affordable single-driver model (~ $50) with housings crafted from rosewood. While not without any imperfections, mainly in the treble, it did and still does however definitely “punch above its weight” when it comes to technical performance, which is why it did indeed gain some fame and recognition around the world.

    Next up were some other in-ears and earbuds, some exclusively released in Asia.

    [​IMG]

    Now Shozy has introduced another affordable single dynamic driver in-ear, this time in collaboration with the Singaporean in-ear manufacturer Advanced AcousticWerkes (AAW). Being called “Hibiki”, it features a real carbon fibre faceplate and removable 2-pin cables, the latter of which is not really that unique but still great to see in the two-digit price range, considering that most better-known manufacturers do not offer replaceable cables for their lower-priced models.


    How does it perform sonically aside from just looking nice? That is what I have summarised in this following review.


    Disclosure: A good while ago, after their release of the Zero in-ears (that I was sent for review as well many months ago after having been contacted by them), Shozy told me they were about to release another new affordable in-ear monitor. It could well have been the Hibiki that I accepted to review (and then received free of charge for review purpose, be it positive or negative, without any restrictions) – mainly because I was in love with the appearance of the carbon fibre faceplates.

    So here we go.


    Technical Specifications:

    MSRP: US$60
    Drivers per Side: 1
    Driver Type: dynamic (10 mm), titanium-coated
    Sensitivity: 102 dB SPL @ 1 mW
    Impedance: 18 Ohms @ 1 kHz


    Delivery Content:

    The white sleeve already gives away that the Hibiki is a collaboration product of AAW and Shozy.

    [​IMG]

    Inside, one will find the in-ears, three pairs of silicone tips and a manual – nothing more. So a carrying case is unfortunately not part of the standard accessories, which is a bit sad although still somewhat bearable at the price point.

    [​IMG]

    The included manual is actually quite nice and introduces the buyer to AAW and Shozy, and also describes the in-ear’s internal structure (that is however unfortunately not shown).


    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    There is a thing with carbon fibre faceplates – if done well, they can look fantastic and premium, but if executed rather badly (or if carbon fibre imitation is being used), the result can look cheap and tacky. For this reason, I personally don’t really like in-ears that have an artificial carbon fibre faceplate with paths of carbon fibre imitation with a spaced woven pattern that still exposes the acrylic behind – something that can sometimes be found on cheap in-ears that are sold on AliExpress.

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    Genuine woven carbon fibre with a clear paint coating however is very much to my liking – and Shozy just nailed it. For the Hibiki, they have used a real woven carbon fibre faceplate with a layer of clear coating lacquer, which turned out very nice and looks premium (and also sets it apart from other affordable sub $100 in-ears when it comes to the design). Nice!

    The CNC-cut carbon fibre faceplate is surrounded by a shiny silver frame that seems like it is made of plastic – if that is indeed the case, I would certainly have preferred to see an aluminium frame, although that might have probably been a little too much to ask for the price.

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    The rest of the (fairly large and bulky) housings is made of plastic that is matte and has got a soft-touch surface – something you rather find on cheap headphones and products, although the Hibiki features a somewhat more premium and less scratch-prone surface.

    The big, white side-marker letters are probably an advantage in twilight for some people.

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    The cable is rather special for the price as it quite premium and features four conductors that are twisted – something you usually don’t find in this price range often at all.

    Flexibility is great and a chin-slider is incorporated above the y-splitter as well.

    The Hibiki’s cable also features a three-button-remote control that is said to work with Apple and Android devices (the volume down and play button are however reversed compared to a traditional iOS remote).
    Oh, and the cable is removable, too (the in-ears have got recessed 2-pin sockets).


    Comfort, Isolation:

    The Hibiki is definitely on the larger and bulkier side. This also means that people with small ears might not get a proper fit and seal at all, which of course limits the number of potential customers. The fact that the nozzles are rather on the short side does not really help with that either.

    Having larger than average ears certainly is an advantage for the Hibiki’s shells – and I can report that I am fortunate enough to have large ears and that the in-ears fit me just fine and seal well, but as I just wrote, this will unfortunately and likely be not the case for a larger number of people.

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    The Hibiki is designed to be worn with the cables around the ears only – which is the more professional way anyway since it reduces microphonics (cable noise) and improves fit and security (with the choice of large and rather bulky housings, this was absolutely the right move).

    The incorporated ear guides by the way do not have any memory wire inside at all but are made of soft tubes that are shaped to adapt well to the ears’ individual shape and radius.

    Despite the tiny, inner-facing vent hole (that has pretty much no effect on the tonality at all), noise isolation is rather on the pleasantly high side when you can get a good seal. It is a little below an entirely closed in-ear’s level but still comes reasonably close.


    Sound:

    My main sources for listening were the iBasso DX200 (AMP1 module), Cowon Plenue 2 and HiFime 9018d although any source will be just fine as long as it outputs a flat frequency response under load and doesn’t give in too much in general when used with a low impedance load.

    The tips I used were the largest ones that came included.

    Tonality:

    The Hibiki certainly presents a quite consumer-oriented sound with a big, bold, warm, cosy, bass-heavy bottom-end and a coloured overall presentation in general. To act as a counterweight against the really strong bass elevation and warm lower mids, the upper midrange and upper treble show an emphasis, too. Still I wouldn’t really speak of a v- or w-shaped sound and just call it “bass-heavy with some brightness as a (partially quite welcome) counterweight”.

    While the lower treble emphasis works reasonably well to retrieve the midrange balance and clarity and doesn’t appear too strong, artificial, sibilant or overpowered in any way, the upper treble emphasis that is rather narrow and located quite exactly at 10 kHz can come across as a bit sharp at times – especially when a note hits it exactly.

    Speaking sine sweeps, the lows’ elevation starts to gradually climb around 650 Hz, with its peak being formed around 60 Hz, with around 15 dB more presence compared to an in-ear that is tuned for a diffuse-field flat bass response, such as the Etymotic ER-4S/SR.

    Below 40 Hz, towards 20 Hz, the Hibiki’s sub-bass slightly loses some quantity, although it couldn’t really be regarded as a real roll-off – instead, it leads to more of a midbass- than sub-bass-biased bottom-end presentation.

    To act as a counterweight against the warm, full, but not bloated or muddy lower midrange, level climbs evenly from 1 kHz, the central midrange, up to 4.5 kHz. This emphasis is implemented quite well and isn’t that strong at all, wherefore it adds just enough clarity and upper midrange brightness to get the mids to appear more balanced without making the central midrange appear skewed, distanced or recessed.

    Still, this is a coloured presentation here in the vocal range that does not exactly meet the definition of hi-fi, although it is a well-balanced one.

    Above 4.5 kHz, level drops again, generating some headroom, with a small and inoffensive peak around 7 kHz and a stronger and narrower peak at 10 kHz. The latter leads to a splashier, somewhat more metallic and direct cymbal reproduction that can be a bit sharp at times despite the big, bold, warm bass. A pretty much exactly 4 dB lesser 10 kHz elevation would have been ideal instead.

    - - -

    Yes, the Hibiki’s upper midrange emphasis works quite well and the in-ear generally shows a quite smart tuning (with probably just a little too much sharpness at 10 kHz), although it will likely be too bold and bass-heavy for more mature and hi-fi listening preferences.

    Then again, according to the manual, the Hibiki is especially described as a partner for commuting, so the heavy bass and the added warmth do indeed make sense in a busy, loud environment with many masking effects, such as a large city, especially at lower listening levels.

    To summarise it, people with a preference for a strong, heavy and quite warm midbass elevation along with an upper midrange elevation (that works surprisingly well as a counterweight against the bass and warmth) and a rather bright upper treble will likely like the Hibiki while people who aren’t into a bold, big, heavy bass and prefer a smoother, more linear treble response are definitely not the target group.


    Resolution:

    While the Hibiki sports a smooth, mostly pleasant (<- which of course absolutely depends on personal preference) and mellow sound with plenty of warmth and some brightness and clarity as counterweight, it has only got an about average detail retrieval in the $60 to $100 class at best.

    The strong, bubbly bass can create a nice illusion of texture with slower and average-paced tracks, however this is just a side-effect of the tendentially soft, slow decaying bass that doesn’t entirely reach the speed, control and tightness of the AAW Nebula One, Shozy Zero or Shure SE215m+SPE although it somewhat exceeds the final E3000 and SoundMAGIC E10 when it comes to tightness and speed, which is however not that difficult.

    While the bass struggles quite bit with really fast and demanding recordings, it is still quite remarkable that it remains relatively well controlled considering the strong emphasis – I have heard other in-ears struggling more with such a hefty amount of lows (Beats Tour, NuForce NE800M, Sennheiser IE 80).

    Midrange details appear rather somewhat flat - not really lacking, but certainly unfortunately not uber detailed either. This certainly is a side-effect of the bass’s masking effect that seems to strain the driver.

    Although about similarly strong in the lows, compared to the Hibiki, the AAW Nebula One appears somewhat better resolving and not as flat in the mids when it comes to details.

    The treble is on the softer side and doesn’t really have the most layered presentation or sharpest separation either. Notes seem a bit compressed as a side-effect, with differentiation only being average at best.

    While definitely not bad for its price and features, the Hibiki definitely leaves some details, separation and differentiation left to be desired. It is just that high resolution and a heavy but still rather well-controlled bass rarely go well together hand-in-hand in the sub $100 price range, and the Hibiki decided to go for a very strong bass emphasis at the cost of some details and separation. Therefore it is an in-ear that works better with less fast recordings.

    Soundstage:

    The Hibiki is a quite open sounding in-ear with a wide and high soundstage, however not as much spatial depth.

    Width is quite present and more than average with a soundstage that exceeds the base between my ears.

    While there is some spatial depth, it isn’t really worth mentioning – the overall presentation appears definitely more wide and elliptical than circular.

    The spatial presentation appears not exactly “in your face” but one or two rows in the background, at least in the midrange.

    Instruments’ positions can be spotted fairly easily and separation along with placement are good, however not razor-sharp.

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    In Comparison with other bassy Dynamic Driver In-Ears:

    AAW Nebula One:

    The quantity of the AAW’s bass emphasis depends more on how much its inner-facing vent is covered. Given my ear anatomy, I’m describing its sound with pretty much entirely closed vents which leads to a bass emphasis that is quite similar to the Hibiki’s.

    The Nebula One then has got the slightly stronger sub-bass and slightly punchier, more “hammering” upper bass while midbass levels are comparable. Both carry about the same amount of warmth in the lower mids, the AAW just ever so slightly more.

    The AAW doesn’t have that upper midrange elevation, is more pronounced at 5 kHz, and less bright/elevated at 7 and 10 kHz although it is still a little above neutral around 10 kHz.

    Due to this, the Nebula One is definitely more even, natural and realistic sounding in the midrange and treble and has got the more correct timbre.

    When it comes to bass, the Nebula’s is somewhat tighter and faster, with the somewhat better control when fast tracks are being played.

    It also appears to be better layered and more detailed in the midrange and has got the cleaner separation and differentiation in the highs.

    The Hibiki has got the wider soundstage while the Nebula One’s is deeper. Instruments are separated somewhat cleaner and sharper on the AAW’s side.

    Shozy Zero:

    The Zero has got a less emphasised bass but is a bit warmer in the root and lower midrange.

    The Hibiki’s upper midrange is brighter, clearer (without really heading into the artificial direction, but it’s coloured nonetheless).

    Between 5 and 8 kHz, it is the Zero that is brighter, while the Hibiki has got the more pronounced 10 kHz elevation.

    Control and speed in the lows are higher on the Zero’s side. The same goes for speech intelligibility, midrange details and separation in the highs.

    The Hibiki has got slightly more spatial width while it portrays less spatial depth compared to the Zero. In terms of spatial height, it is the Hibiki that is more pronounced.

    Instruments are placed and separated more cleanly on the Zero’s side.

    Shure SE215m+SPE:

    The Hibiki is the bassier in-ear with just very slightly more warmth. It has got the more pronounced upper midrange that adds more perceived clarity to the upper midrange without making it sound too artificial.

    The SE215m+SPE is a little more forward at 5 kHz but darker and rolled-off in the upper treble (yet hi-hats and the upper treble can still be heard, although clearly damped).

    The Shure’s bass is somewhat tighter and has got the better control although details in the lows and lower midrange appear to be quite similar.

    Speed intelligibility and midrange details are somewhat higher on the Shure’s side though, which is also true when it comes to treble separation.

    The Hibiki sports the even slightly wider soundstage that has got a little more depth as well. Separation is almost on the same level on both in-ears but the Shure has got the advantage with fast and demanding recordings where the Hibiki’s bass leads to a less focussed and separation with the separation becoming a bit blurrier.


    Conclusion:

    The nice carbon fibre faceplates, removable premium cable and reasonable price are arguments that speak for the Hibiki.

    Due to the heavy bass that is more on the softer side, masking effects appear though, wherefore midrange details appear a bit flat and separation and definition in the highs aren’t that precise.

    Its tuning is definitely more consumer-, commuter-oriented with a heavy bass and some counteracting brightness in the upper midrange and upper treble. Although those colourations are smartly placed and make the in-ear gain more air to “fight” against the bass, the midrange and treble are what they are – coloured. More evenness and realism in the mids and highs wouldn’t have been a too bad thing.

    As an example, the about similarly bassy AAW Nebula One’s midrange and treble are flatter and more even, which leads to a noticeably more natural and mature presentation in the middle and upper frequencies.

    A turn-off for many customers with small ears might also be the Hibiki’s rather large housings with short nozzles wherefore the number of people who can achieve a good seal will be limited.

    While the Hibiki is not really a bad in-ear in its price range, there are things that could have been implemented better for sure. Therefore it is merely an average performer in its price range when it comes to technical performance.

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    Those who can let go some of the noise isolation as well as the nice, twisted, removable cable but also want a heavy bass could save up for the AAW Nebula One that can have an about identically strong bass (depending on ear anatomy/tape-modding the vent) but is more even, mature and natural in the midrange and treble, along with a somewhat higher technical performance.

    And those who want a strong and warm bottom-end but with a less heavy emphasis could look into the Shozy Zero that sports a higher technical performance.

    And for those who do not want a more modest bass elevation, there are several higher performing alternatives in the same price range, too (e.g. Fidue A65, MEE audio A151 (2nd generation), Brainwavz B100, Havi B3 Pro I, final E2000 & E3000 and others).
    1. ustinj
      thank you for this. just tried the hibiki for the first time and could not see how anyone can really praise it heavily, the midrange is insanely unnatural and thin.
      ustinj, Apr 14, 2018