Havi B3 Pro1 : Rich experience - Cheap Source
- Packaging and Accessories Build and Comfort
- Some subjective drivel
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Head-fi is rife with hype. There’s the “OMGthissupersmasheseverything!”kind and the “thissoundsignatureexecutionissuperbfortheprice” kind. Time, however, is the true test. Rarely does an IEM truly weather the hype storm; new-toy phase, influx of new products and yet, establish itself as one of the benchmarks in its price bracket.
Group IEMs according to their price range and you will notice a rough trend in the sound signatures. Budget IEMs tend to be variations of a U/V/L shaped signature while higher end IEMs are usually variations of a more neutral/balanced signature. But this pattern seems to be evolving lately with more capable /neutral balanced IEMs featuring in the budget segment.
I’ve spent around six months listening to the Havi B3 Pro 1 in order to properly grasp its signature and rid myself of any new-toy bias. And boy am I impressed with what 60$ can get you nowadays.
Disclaimer : I'd like to thank Havi for sending me a pair for review well over 6 months ago.
Packaging, Accessories, Build and Comfort
The packaging is a classy in a subdued way. I love the matte-finish, magnetic clasp and the sturdy feel. I currently use it to carry my DAP, 3 IEMs and extra tips when I travel. The semi-hard case is decent. Not as good as the Brainwavz/DUNU case, but not as mediocre as the Hifiman case. Havi has bundled a generous assortment of tips(9 pairs silicone and 1 pair foam), and ear guides that will definitely come in handy, as getting the right fit is very important (especially for the B3Pro1). The cleaning cloth is not really required unless you want the glass back of the IEMs looking shiny and pristine. The Velcro comes in handy during storage, but I do prefer the DUNU tag-system.
The polished face, angular strain relief, asymmetric pentagon shape do make for a very pretty looking IEM. It is designed to be worn over-ear, and isn’t very comfortable when switched.
The cable is thin but inspires confidence, and really works for over ear wear. The wires run parallel to each other beyond the Y split(separate L/R ground I think), all the way to the jack. I do not know the benefits of this. Perhaps it makes it easier to go balanced (re-termination). Microphonics is nearly non-existent due to over-ear wear and the earpieces are very very light.
The shape of the housing results in a shallow fit, which is a bit tricky(especially for me). The small silicon tips fit me well but took too much time to get right every time. I finally resorted to just using the foam tips just to get a “quicker” fit. I did find the Havi to be tip sensitive so my advice would be to relentlessly tip roll until you find the right balance of sound characteristics with the best fit.
Note on build : I have observed cracks near the strain relief. There is a screw that holds the front and rear halves together and the cracks emanate from this region. I have two pairs at hand and both exhibit these cracks. These cracks are only cosmetic so far. I will update this Note if it behind to affect the audio/comfort
Overall sound : Mildly coloured fairly neutral signature with good sense of space.
Primarily used my Geek Out 450. My LG G2 and Sansa clip were able to drive them to acceptable levels. For this review, I stuck to the GO450 as I felt it was a smidgen better at bass control and presentation.
I ran a frequency sweep after my review was completed, and annotated the review with my observations.
General FR observations: Sharp sub-bass roll off begins around 50Hz and I am able to hear the tone only until 27 Hz. There is a gradual rise into the mid bass that continues into the lower half of the midrange before a mild drop beyond 1K. This drop is short lived, bottoming out at 1.5K before rising again into a peak at ~4K. Drop again before rising again into a tiny peak at ~7.2K and a further peak at ~12K.
Soundstage : Let’s talk about this first. The soundstage is impressively wide for a conventionally closed IEM. Depth is above average (for IEMs). For every component of audio, for example - vocals, I felt like a part of it emanated from somewhere close to me and a part plays from further away. This defines the edges of the space clearly and my brain fills in the rest. This way the image is not stretched or exaggerated and sounds natural. There must some clever dual driver orientation/design to get such an effect from a fairly sealed IEM. More on soundstage and imaging in the Titan1 comparison.
Bass: The B3P1 has the out-of-nowhere type of Bass, but it doesn’t boom out-of-nowhere like the Titan 1 does. It is simply there to complement and complete the instruments, vocals and make them sound natural (although I feel a little more rumble is sometimes in order). The bass doesn’t grab your attention but makes sure you enjoy the music as a whole. It manages to convey a good amount of detail during fast sections and feels unrestricted due to airiness in the sound space. Sub-bass quantity is relatively lower than mid-bass, doesn’t really rumble and sounds damped. As a result, the lowest reaches of certain instruments such as the kick drum, bass guitar do not sound perfectly natural. This (Sub-bass) is a potential area for improvement.
Response to EQ: My experiments with bumping the sub-bass did not go as well as I’d hoped. The tonal balance survived a slight 4dB bump at 40Hz, but would sound increasingly distorted, the more I pushed. I tried compensating the bump with a pre-amp cut but this did not help.
Midrange: Vocal intelligibility is excellent; detailing is not exaggerated and is well behaved. Compared to the RE400 I find the depth and weight a little lacking particularly in male vocals. Female vocals have a slight emphasis but only at certain notes (I suspect from the 4K peak). This lent an engaging feel to my music (especially for Jazz). Trumpets and violins, complemented by the Bass and treble, sound natural except for the lowest reaches (where a little more rumble would complete the picture).
Treble: Just like the bass, the highs ae there to complement and complete each component and lend an engaging feel to your music (probably via a well-placed peak or two that’s not too drastic). It steers clear of sibilance, and isn’t attention grabbing (unlike the Titan 1). Don’t take this to mean that it doesn’t extend well, or is laid back. It simply “does its part” in the grand scheme. Cymbals do not sound splashy. Some may prefer a little more presence but it is certainly not south of what I would consider “neutral”. And yet, they are quite forgiving, especially compared to the Titan 1 and RE272.
And that’s why I like the Havi. No part of the FR is trying to outperform the other. It’s a shared limelight, where they work together to deliver a package and not an individual performance.
RE400 : The Havi is more similar to the RE400 than not. They are both fairly neutral, both slightly warmish, both feel like they roll off in the subbass. However, the RE400 is more laid back in the lower treble, is more mid forward(relatively) and has flatter bass. Vocals have more presence on the RE400(particularly male vocals), are layered better and portray better depth to the vocals. The Havi have slightly more midbass and subbass weight (before the apparent roll-off) which helps with versatility, features a more spacious sonic space and soundstage making the RE400 sound relatively congested. The tiny RE400 makes for an easier/more-comfy fit and is easier to drive, but has iffy build quality. As a result, both the Havi and RE400 are non-ideal for use on-the-go.
DUNU Titan 1: This comparison, despite the signature differences, makes sense because both are capable of projecting a realistically spacious sonic space. The Titan, helped by its slight V shaped sig, is airier than the Havi with its relatively forward midrange. The size of the space however is similar and this is doubly impressive given the Havi is a closed IEM. The Titan 1 features heavier bass but due to its out-of-nowhere nature, it is not intrusive and yet, will grab a part of your attention (unlike the Havi). The detail levels through the midrange are similar, but the Titan has more presence in the upper midrange and, as a result, appears to sound more detailed (during casual listening). The Titan 1 extends further in the treble and sounds more detailed (though this time, it is not only due to more presence). The biggest difference is in the presentation: the Titan 1 is “attention grabbing yet capable”, while the Havi is “more relaxed yet capable”.
The Havi B3Pro 1 is, in my opinion, worthy of its high status around the 60$ point for a fairly neutral sound signature. A star off since there is some room for improvement: smidgen more sub-bass for some natural rumble, depth to male vocals, ergonomics, source versatility, build improvements.
Some subjective drivel:
There’s this feeling when you really like something but it has niggles that makes you click your tongue and wonder “why?” with a wry expression. I love this not-so-little IEM. I love the sound signature. It reminds me of my beloved RE400 with some more bass presence, more sparkle and relatively uncongested. These are good enough reasons for me to pick the Havi over the RE400 3 out of 5 times. But it takes too long to get a good fit, I find myself wanting a bit more in the sub-bass at times, I don’t like running it off my phone/Sansa clip and the midrange isn’t as perfect as my RE400(this I can overlook).
I am often interrupted when I listen to music and, IEMs like the RE400, Titan 1 and more recently the q-jays are a breeze to pop-in-and-out. The best environment for the Havi is when I’m at my desk with my GO450 and when I don’t have to spend 30 seconds (every 20 minutes) refitting the IEM. As a result I may end up using the Havi lesser and lesser. And yet, I’ve put in over 150 hours because I really like the sound. It is definitely a keeper and for now has replaced my RE400(which has begun showing signs of wear). I think the hype is justified. This sound quality (well executed neutral sig) with unique sound characteristics (stage), at this price point(~60$) is a fantastic deal.
Havi B3 Pro 1 Thread 1
Havi B3 Pro 1 Thread 2
Penonaudio, LMUE, Amazon